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Mana Pools,Kariba & Matusadona

11 September to 21 September 2021

There’s tranquility in the African Bush that creeps up unexpectedly and nestles in your soul. Maybe it is because nature is so close – the wildlife and the birds, the wind in the trees- or maybe it’s just Africa and its rhythms”-Anon

Easily the largest river in our part of the continent, the Zambezi flows 2,524 km across Central Africa before meeting the sea just above Beira in Mozambique. In the process, it passes through, or borders, Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

The Zambezi is a life force supporting great numbers of hippos and huge crocodiles that resemble floating logs. Many people come here to fish for tiger fish, perch, bream and catfish.

Destinations

Lower Zambezi valley (Mana Pools and Chirundu)

The lower Zambezi Valley is one of the last great wildernesses in Africa. The area stretches from the Kariba Gorge in the north to Cahora Bassa in the south. The Zimbabwean side of the valley is, at places 70km wide, and is almost entirely uninhabitated, as much of the area is in the national parks.

The best-known national park is Mana Pools, a world heritage site.

The meanders of the Zambezi in years gone by have left behind the remains of old oxbows, shaping small seasonal pools scattered over an area of 2,000 square kilometres. The Park is named after the four main pools on the old riverbed, with Mana meaning “four” in the Shona language. The pools support a variety of game and numerous species of birds, along with the unique vegetation of the Zambezi valley, dominated by Nyala Berry and Natal Mahogany.

This portion of the Zambezi Valley is a true wilderness area with one of the highest dry-season concentrations of game in Africa. The big Five mammals all call this region home, as does the endangered African Wild Dog. In the drier months (May- October) the wildlife is drawn to the river as most inland sources dry up. At this time, great herds of elephant, buffalo and antelope can be seen on the riverbanks. The open Albida woodland provides good visibility and allows visitors the unique privilege of walking escorted by a guide or unaccompanied in an area with carnivores and larger mammals.

Mana Pools abounds with over 300 species of birds. During August to December the banks of the Zambezi are burrowed by nesting Carmine, White-fronted and Little Bee-eaters. Colourful kingfishers include Malachite, Brown-hooded, Grey-headed, Woodland, Pied and Giant. African Skimmer, Goliath Heron and Black Egret are also found along the river.

Our home in Mana Pools for three nights is an exclusive owner-run mobile safari camp, one of the best ways to experience the magic of this special place. The camp is situated on the southern bank of the Zambezi River, within the National Park and World Heritage Site, and looking out across the natural river boundary towards Zambia. The camp offers stunning views across the river to the Zambian escarpment beyond, with an almost endless parade of birds and animals on offer on the surrounding floodplain and islands in front of camp. We enjoy blissful privacy and our only neighbours are the inquisitive, confiding animals and birds which regularly pay us a visit.

Accommodation for a maximum of twelve guests is in spacious, comfortable twin-bedded tents with en-suite facilities. For our safety, we have a professional armed guide in camp at all times.

From the camp, we can walk unaccompanied in the open Albida woodland because visibility is good and there is little danger of being surprised by dangerous animals. The chance of walking or driving alongside some of Africa’s magnificent big game like elephant, lion, buffalo and a variety of bird species will leave you with lasting memories.

Kariba & Matusadona

The construction of Lake Kariba in the late 1950s finally tamed the Zambezi, and this was followed by the completion of another great dam midway between Kariba and the ocean, being Cahora Bassa in Mozambique.

Kariba Recreational Park contains one of the largest man-made lakes in the world, created by a hydroelectric dam built to provide power to both Zimbabwe and Zambia. The lake has a surface area of 5,000 square kilometres and a maximum depth of 116 metres. It extends to a length of 282 kilometres with an average width of about 32 kilometres. Kariba supports a successful fishing industry and the annual Tiger International Tournament is held here, drawing fishermen from all over the world to pit their wits against the cunning and fighting tiger fish. The main fish in the lake is kapenta, or the Lake Tanganyika sardine, which was introduced in the early 1960s from Zambia.

Stunning sunsets are a distinctive feature of Kariba, as are the bleached skeletal trunks and bare branches of dead trees that were drowned by the flooding of the lake all those years ago. They make excellent perches for fish eagles, cormorants and other water birds.

There is considerable wildlife on the banks of the lake including elephant, buffalo, crocodile, impala and common waterbuck.

Matusadona National Park

Matusadona National Park lies along the southern shores of Lake Kariba and is bounded in the west by the Umi River and in the east by the dramatic Sanyati Gorge.The Park takes its name from the local Matuzviadonha Hills and is a stunning combination of flat plains and rugged mountain country. The area is a photographer’s dream with “drowned forests” containing fossilised trees still standing from when the dam was flooded. Sunsets are irresistible

Inquisitive yellow-billed kites swoop down to have a look at you and other raptors and vultures circle high in the thermals. Carmine bee-eaters flit about in a purple blur as they emerge from the sandbank pitted with their nesting holes.

African Fish eagle is common along the lake shore, and there are good populations of Grey and Goliath Herons, Augur Buzzard, Verreaux’s Eagle, Bronze-winged, Double-banded and Three-banded Coursers, Trumpeter and Crowned Hornbills, Great Egrets and Saddle-billed Storks. Waders are generally plentiful and there are notable populations of Osprey, Woolly-necked Stork and African Openbill, White-crowned Lapwing and Collared Pratincole. Several large colonies of Darters and Reed Cormorants can be found within the many fossilised trees on the lake.

Spurwing Island

Two nights are spent at Spurwing Island Lodge, a one of a kind retreat, in the heart of nature, merging seamlessly with the great African outdoors. The lodge is situated on an island, some 30km across the lake from Kariba town and is overlooked by the majestic Matusadona Mountains. The lodge offers a range of activities including scenic boat trips and game viewing on foot, by boat or open safari vehicle.

Birding Attractions

Lower Zambezi Valley

White-headed Vulture, Ayres’s Hawk-Eagle, Western Banded Snake-Eagle, Martial Eagle, Dickinson’s Kestrel, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, African Wood-Owl, African Barred Owlet, African Scops-Owl, Southern Ground Hornbill, Crested Guineafowl, Meyer’s Parrot, Rufous-bellied Heron, White-crowned Lapwing, Long-toed Lapwing, African Skimmer, Collared Pratincole, Three-banded Courser, Double-banded Sandgrouse, Wood Pipit, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, White-browed Coucal, Retz’s Helmet-Shrike, Orange-winged Pytilia, Bohm’s Spinetail, Mottled Spinetail, Racket-tailed Roller, Broad-billed Roller,  Arnot’s Chat, Lilian’s Lovebird, African Golden Oriole, Eastern Nicator, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Red-throated Twinspot.

Kariba and Matusadona

Osprey, Western Banded Snake-Eagle, Ayres’s Hawk-Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, African Cuckoo Hawk, Black-bellied Bustard, Black Crowned Night-Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, African Skimmer, Collared Pratincole, White-crowned Lapwing, Greater Painted-snipe, Senegal Coucal, White-browed Coucal, African Golden Oriole, Tropical Boubou, African Mourning Dove, Collared Palm-Thrush, Eastern Saw-wing, Grey-rumped Swallow, Mosque Swallow, Icterine Warbler, African Yellow White-eye.

Harare

Wood Pipit, Whyte’s Barbet, Black-eared Seedeater, Spotted Creeper, Southern Hyliota, Miombo Rock-Thrush, Green-capped Eremomela, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Miombo Tit.

This 11-day tour leaves from Johannesburg. We travel in an air-conditioned VW Caravelle, 4-wheel drive Microbus.  

Itineraries

Day 1

Date : September 11, 2021

Johannesburg to Harare-Charara

Depart on a morning flight from OR Tambo to Harare, arriving before midday.
Travel via Banket and Karoi to Charara, Lake Kariba
Late-afternoon arrival and overnight at Wild Heritage Lodge.

Day 2

Date : September 12, 2021

Charara

Day spent birding around Charara.
Overnight at Wild Heritage, Charara.

Day 3

Date : September 13, 2021

Charara-Spurwing Island

Early morning birding along lake shore.
Depart after breakfast on ferry to Spurwing Island.
Arrive at Spurwing Island around lunchtime.
Afternoon birding around camp
Overnight at Spurwing Island Lodge.

Day 4

Date : September 14, 2021

Spurwing Island

Early morning boat trip to Sanyati gorge.
Rest of morning and early afternoon spent birding/relaxing on Spurwing Island.
Afternoon game drive in Matusadona National Park.
Overnight at Spurwing Island Lodge.

Day 5

Date : September 15, 2021

Spurwing Island-Chirundu

Early morning birding around lodge.
Depart after breakfast for mainland.
After visiting Kariba Dam Wall, head for Chirundu.
Arrive early afternoon and overnight at camp on Zambezi River, Chirundu.

Day 6

Date : September 16, 2021

Chirundu

Early morning boat trip on Zambezi.
Rest of day spent riverside and woodland birding around Chirundu.
Overnight at camp on Zambezi River.

Day 7

Date : September 17, 2021

Chirundu-Mana Pools

Early morning boat transfer to Mana Pools.
Birding and game viewing on route, arrive at Mana before lunch.
Afternoon game drive and overnight in mobile safari camp in Mana Pools.

Day 8

Date : September 18, 2021

Mana Pools

Days spent birding and game viewing in Mana Pools.
Overnight at mobile safari camp.

Day 9

Date : September 19, 2021

Mana Pools

Days spent birding and game viewing in Mana Pools.
Overnight at mobile safari camp.

Day 10

Date : September 20, 2021

Mana Pools to Harare

Early morning boat transfer to Chirundu.
Travel via Karoi and Chinhoyi to Harare, arriving late-afternoon.
Overnight at Guesthouse in Harare.

Day 11

Date : September 21, 2021

Harare-Johannesburg

Early morning birding in Haka Park, Harare.
Depart after breakfast for flight to Johannesburg.

Includes

Services of dedicated guide throughout

Return flights, Johannesburg/ Harare/ Johannesburg

All transport, border charges, tolls

All accommodation and meals

Park entrance fees – Mana Pools and Kariba

Daily conservation fees – Mana Pools and Kariba

Boat transfers to and from Spurwing Island

Game drive in open safari vehicle in Matusadona National Park

Boat trip to Sanyati Gorge, Kariba

Return boat transfers between Chirundu and Mana Pools

Game drives in open safari vehicle in Mana Pools National Park

Dedicated Game Ranger in Mana Pools for walks (on demand)

Excludes

Alcoholic beverages, gratuities and items of a personal nature

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