A Private Mana Pools and Tswalu experience combines two of the most iconic and unique parks in Southern Africa.
The walking experience you get in Mana Pools is unmatched to any other destination in Africa and gives you the unique ability to view and photograph potentially dangerous game on foot.
One of the main attractions to Mana Pools is viewing Elephant's in the famous Albida forests and along the Zambezi floodplain, both of which make for spectacular photographic opportunities.
During our 7 nights in Mana Pools we were treated to everything you would expect in Mana Pools and so much more. From being on foot with Elephants along the floodplain and in the forests, to experiencing a boat cruise along the Zambezi, this week was undoubtedly one of my best in Mana to date.
The highlight of the trip no doubt has to be seeing six three week old puppies at the den site...
As we landed at Mana Main airstrip, I asked our Guide and owner of Vundu Camp, Nick if there had been any sightings of the dogs in the past few days. When he delivered the news that they were denning and that only a few of the puppies had been seen, I was immediately overwhelmed with excitement and the prospect of potentially getting a glimpse of these endangered animals.
Parking next to the road in an area filled with thick "Jesse-bush" we approached on foot through some dense vegetation on a 20 minute walk to reach the den site. With the safety of the animals always the main priority we kept a good distance, taking cover in a nearby drainage line and the waiting started...
The silence was almost deafening as the familiar call of the Cape Turtle dove was the only sound as they perched in one of the Leadwood trees close by. Slowly some of the pack members started surrounding the den, until we could see the Alpha Female making her way into what was the entrance of the den site. We could hear the high pitched call of the puppies as the excitement reached boiling point for all of us. Then... There they were!!! Six beautiful little puppies, all trying to find their way to mom's teats for their morning feed. At this point you wish you had 6 arms and 4 cameras as the decision whether to take still images or video was just too much to handle and I found myself eventually constantly shifting between the two.
The viewing of the den site was not the easiest, with a lot of thick vegetation surrounding it, but from an experience and viewing point of view it was simply incredible to be a part of.
After an incredible 10 days in total in Mana Pools, we overnighted at York Lodge in Harare to get our PCR tests required to enter South Africa and then departed on an early morning flight to Johannesburg. Upon arrival we were greeted by a Fireblade Aviation representative and transferred to the Fireblade Hangar.
After a short and very comfortable flight (about 1 and a half hours) we landed at Tswalu, clearly recognisable from the air with red sands covering the land as far as the eye can see.
Our Private Mana Pools and Tswalu experience would end off with 7 nights at Tswalu, where our focus was to try and find the rare and nocturnal species that are virtually almost impossible to find anywhere else. Species such as Aardvark, Pangolin, Cape Fox, Bat Eared and other species thrive around Tswalu. We also wanted to focus on endangered predators like Cheetahs and Wild Dogs, both of which can also be found at Tswalu.
During our 7 nights we were treated to some amazing sightings and we managed view and photograph pretty much all the species we went out to look for including Pangolin, two Aardvark, Cape Fox, Bat Eared Fox and multiple sightings of Cheetahs and the famous Kalahari male Lions.
Once again there were too many highlights to mention, but a sighting of a pride of Lions on a fresh Zebra kill and two Male Cheetahs also feeding on a fresh Oryx kill are two of the standout sightings we had during our time at Tswalu.
The combination of Mana Pools and Tswalu is an incredible one, and like I mentioned, the diversity from an experience and photography point of view is a hard one to match.
A special thank you to Chris, Le Anne and Chase for choosing Wild Eye for their Private Guided experience and for allowing us to change the way our guests see the world.