Posts Tagged ‘Hwange’

Hi all

The last time I left you we were just out of Lupane having visited the Allan Wilson Memorial.  And we were heading North.

Back to Hwange National Park’s Main Camp!    We were to meet up with two other travellers – delightful ladies – CvC and CH.

We had a delightful dinner – thanks GJW – and slept like logs.   Getting up early the next day we all went out to “track down” that special bird from my previous visit to Hwange in July.

Yellow Morph Crimson-breasted Shrike

Rare Yellow Morph Crimson-breasted Shrike

And find them we did !!

The two girls are mad keen photographers and had a wonderful time.

After breakfast we packed up and departed but now GJW had a seat in CvC’s Toyota Prado.  Northwards again !  But not very far, to what is locally known as Crossroads, which is the Dete/Kamativi turn off.  Re-fuelled there and turned right going north-east towards Kamativi.

Kamativi Tin Mine Road

North Eastward

Before reaching Kamativi we turned right again and now had some distance to cover on the road to Binga.

Once out of the escarpment and into inhabited Communal Land we came across some signs of commercial activity.

Traditional axe

For sale……

Yes I did buy one.  Seven dollars.  Good value if I don’t break it !

About 20km before Binga one comes to what is called the Siabuwa Fly Gate, a reference to the control of the Tsetse fly (Genus Glossina).  As an aside Zimbabwe has eight recorded cases of Trypanosomyasis this year !! Scary.  The gate appears to be defunct now because I saw no sign of it.  Anyway we turned right and set of going directly East.  The road conditions changed somewhat too.

Gravel Road

Somewhat worse !

This prevailed for the best part of two hours before we turned onto a very much worse road and slowly made our way south.  We could soon see that we had a bit of a challenge in front of us……………

Chizarira Hills

Mind the Gap

Yes – we had to get over that !

Which we accomplished without mishap.  There was lot’s of forest in those valleys which I am sure will hold plenty of Narina Trogon‘s. (Compulsory birding reference.)

We rounded a corner and saw we had arrived at our destination !

Chizarira National Park

Arrived………..

This was a huge “Tick” for me as I had never been here before.  Close but not actually.  Many years ago I once walked the Sengwa River Gorge which forms this park’s eastern boundary.  We were looking for Taita Falcon and yes we did find them.

This post is long enough without actually taking you into the Park so I will leave you here to await the next installment.

Thanks for reading.

Cheers

Tony

Hi All

At last………… a few minutes to tell you about the trip to Matabeleland North.

Jan and I left Harare on Sunday and drove leisurely down towards Bulawayo.  At around N’tabazinduna there was a local lass on the side of the road flogging watermelons. A nice big juicy takes two hands to pick it up watermelon for a dollar !!  Yep – US$ 1.00 was the price !

Arrival in the City of Kings entailed falling amongst thieves and brigands in the form of various members of the Watson clan.  Nice to catch up with old buddies.  We spent the night at Travellers – a more than adequate and very clean hostelry designed for , well of course, Travellers.

We left promptly at 06h00 the next morning and very soon were heading north on the Victoria Falls Road.  July in Zimbabwe is mid-winter and when going through the various river valleys early in the day saw the virtual mercury in the car thermometer plunging as low as minus 8 Celsius.  Brrrr !

The Hwange National Park turnoff arrived at about 09h15 and we popped into Ganda Camp to see if, perchance, my client was still there but he had just left for our planned rendezvous at Miombo Safari Camp.  Jan and I went through to Main Camp, checked in and then returned to meet the client, Peter, on the road to Miombo.

We bumped into a large herd of elephant on the main road.

This one knew exactly where to cross the road !

Having moved into our Lodge we promptly set off to see what we could see.  White-breasted Cuckoo Shrike, White-eyes and Ground Hornbills were already ticked on the main road. Yellow-bellied Greenbul and a lovely Pearl-Spotted Owl were in camp.  On our way to Nyamandhlovu Pan we found Peter’s first ‘lifer’……

Bradfield’s Hornbill

Whilst at the viewing platform over the Pan we witnessed an interesting stand-off between the Leviathan’s !

These to bulls *really* did not like the Crocs. This stand-off lasted at least half an hour ! Then it fizzled out !

The next day, after a *very* delayed breakfast in the Waterbuck’s Head Restaurant, we spent wandering around the local sites like Guvalala where we were kept busy ticking all the Vultures, including Cape Griffon.  We had a leisurely lunch at White Hills and saw a great Dark Chanting Goshawk.

Dark Chanting Goshawk

We slowly made our way back to camp via the more northerly loop road past Balla Balla Pans where we had great views of Crimson-breasted and Orange-breasted Bush-shrikes.

Crimson-breasted Shrike

Day three brought all the really serious excitement with the discovery of a pair of extremely rare yellow morph Crimson-breasted Shrike !!  They were in camp itself and I suspect are the offspring of a ‘normal’ pair with which they were associating.

If you look really carefully you can just pick up the ‘normal’ Crimson one in the background.

And next – Jan’s work of art……..

Yellow morph Crimson-breasted Shrike

What a start to the long day ahead of us !   Off we set heading south with an incredible dearth of birds for several hours apart from a very cold pair of Scaly-feathered Finch until just after Jambile Picnic Site when we found a cracking Ayres’ Hawk-Eagle.   We then got a bit lost (the roads and the map haven’t been synchronised for a while) but eventually found ourselves at Ngweshla and then at Kennedy Two.

If you didn’t know you are about to learn – Hwange is an extremely dry park on the edge of the Kalahari Desert and the only way it can support the large numbers of various African fauna is because of the provision of surface water from either Wind-pumps or pumps driven by old Lister diesels.  All of this is expensive stuff, especially in terms of maintenance and fuel.  Then we get to Kennedy Two !!!

If the sun shines there is water !! Fantastic !!

I don’t know who the donor is but a huge thank you is due !!

We had lunch here. Peter is on the right

After briefly calling in at Kennedy One – a few parrots here – we started our northward journey and very soon found another target bird – the elusive Racquet-tailed Roller.  Peter was pleased !!

Elephant can cause long delays to your planned journey !

We returned to Main Camp quite late in the afternoon and had another great dinner and sorted out all our various lists so that Jan and I could get off relatively early for the long haul back to Harare.  Thanks Peter – a great trip.

We were very lucky to bump into a large herd of Buffalo in the morning sun…

Very soon after this we also came across a pack of Wild Dog.  Of the seven dogs five had collars.  Let’s hope all this research pays off.

Painted Hunting Dog or African Wild Dog.

It is a *very* long drive back to Harare in one day.  We were home about 16h45.  Well that’s not quite true.  Jan was.  She dropped me off to attend the monthly talk by someone from Birdlife Zimbabwe.  Well I had to show off some of those Shrike pics didn’t I  – it would have been rude not to.

Cheers for now

Tony

Hi again to whoever is out there.  Very sorry about the slow rate of arrival of new posts but………………. forget it – excuses never work !

Whilst I own a fantastically versatile little Mazda Bongo with a very “go anywhere” attitude we have to accept that she really only seats the driver (me) and one client.

The Bongo in the Jungle !

However we do have other options.  If time is limited, as it so often is for travellers from other worldly spots, I have access to a pilot and his plane !

The love of Ron’s life !

No – not the chicks – the plane.

We are off to Hwange on Monday to meet up with a Canadian client of mine and hopefully you will soon be able to read all about it here.

Cheers for now

Tony