Office Trip ReportsSouthern Africa

Mark & Miles Nolting: Zimbabwe & Zambia July 2019

Close wildlife encounters are trademarks of both Hwange & Mana Pools National Parks

Follow the AAC Blog as Mark & Miles’ trip transpires. They’ll be sure to post spectacular photographs and incredible stories during their time in Johannesburg, Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Mana Pools National Park & Kafue National Park.

August 1st, 2019 – Kafue National Park

Not even the alpha male of the Busanga pride is free from cubs’ shenanigans

Mark & Miles’ next, and final, destination was Kafue National Park in Zambia. Getting there from Mana Pools was an adventure in and of itself: Mark & Miles took a boat transfer to the border town of Chirundu, took a road transfer to Lusaka then flew a scheduled charter to Kafue. The floodplains of Mana Pools would give way to the pristine, uncrowded wilderness of Kafue’s Busanga Plains.

Mark & Miles visited Busanga Bush Camp & Shumba while at Zambia’s Kafue National Park

For those who don’t know much about Kafue National Park, here’s some facts to help you understand it better. The park is one of Africa’s largest: it’s equivalent in size to the state of Massachusetts! With 19 antelope species, Kafue has the greatest antelope diversity of any park in Africa. But most strikingly is how few visitors there are: in 2015, Kafue had 12,000 visitors. To put that in perspective, the similarly-sized Kruger National Park in South Africa had well over a million!

Mark & Miles visited Busanga Plains in Kafue’s far north. Think of Busanga Plains as a cross between the Okavango Delta & Serengeti. Small channels criss-cross an endless, Serengeti-like plain. This means two things: wildlife descends upon this area due to the scarcity of fresh water elsewhere, and you will be treated to unobstructed views of plains games and predators (e.g. lion, cheetah & leopard).

Isaac (Mark & Miles’ guide at Shumba), Mark, Miles, & Simon (Wilderness Safaris’ North American Business Manager)

Simon Stobbs, Wilderness Safari’s North American Business Manager, joined Mark & Miles for their 4 nights at two Busanga Plains camps: Busanga Bush Camp & Shumba Camp.

Busanga Bush Camp (Kafue National Park, Zambia)
Shumba Camp (Kafue National Park, Zambia)

And what a treat it was! Mark & Miles had some spectacular lion sightings and saw a great variety of both antelope & birdlife!

Two sub-adults of the Busanga pride play-fighting
Kafue’s Busanga Plains is one of the best place in the world to see the near-endangered Wattled Crane
The gorgeous curved horns and jet-black coats of the Sable antelope are a common sight in Busanga Plains
Seeing Red Lechwe gallop across Busanga Plains’ shallow channels is a dramatic sight
In the dry season, hippo pods occupy increasingly smaller wetland areas

July 26th, 2019 – Ruckomechi Camp – Mana Pools

July 22nd, 2019 – Vundu Camp – Mana Pools

We arrived at the magnificent Mana Pools National Park! They days have been action packed with us walking up to the iconic bull elephants Tusker and Boswell. The painted wolves (wild dogs) started denning just a week ago and we saw the adults at the den as they returned from a hunt. Also took an afternoon canoe trip along one of the channels.

Vundu Camp, Mana Pools National Park
Boswell rising on his hind legs
Mark’s AAC group in Mana Pools National Park (Miles, Bonnie, Dan, Chris and Marsha)
Group # 2 in Mana Pools National Park (Fred, Karen, Mike and Susan)

The highlight for our group of Dan, Bonnie, Chris and Marsha is that we witnessed and participated with Nick Murray and the national Parks team and vet collar 5 elephants. Other AAC guests staying in camp,  Fred and Karen, Michael  and Susan, also witnessed the collaring.  Bruce and Lisa were on hand to see their donation of the collars being fitted.

Collaring the elephant

The collars that could help save elephants
Waking up!
Dan and Nick with Tusker

The 3 big Bulls to be collared where  West Point, Impi & Bruce. Plus 2 Cows – Mrs Tusker & Lisa.  And a 6th Dennis was darted to clean up a wound on his foot.

Collaring the elephant, Mr. Tusker and the collaring team


July 19th, 2019 – Somalisa Acacia – Hwange

Mark and his guests arrived at Somalisa Acacia to a warm welcome from the Hwange Elephants and more!
The watering holes are a much needed resource as it is a dry winter this season.
AAC Group at Somalisa’s Pool
Dinning with the AAC group
AAC group at Hwange waterhole
Sundowner at Hwange
Guide Nic Polenakis took the group on an exciting bush walk
Had a great sighting of a lion pride with six young cubs
Also found two males lions the next morning
This was a thirsty giraffe coming down to drink at mid-day
Our final sundowner at the last evening in Hwange

July 12th, 2019 – Johannesburg & Victoria Falls

Soweto and Apartheid Museum tour in Johannesburg is very worthwhile

La Residence is a luxury boutique hotel in the suburbs.  Mandiba suite is dedicated to a Mandela theme!

Rhino drive at Stanley and Livingstone – saw a mother and calf black rhino

Helicopter flip over the Falls

Bungee Jump

Meeting with Wilderness Safaris Vic Falls office staff

Enjoyed our dinner on the patio at Victoria Falls Hotel

July 8th, 2019 – Pre-Departure

Itinerary Destinations: Johannesburg, Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Mana Pools National Park & Kafue National Park

Mark & Miles are doing what many of you have done right before embarking on your trip: making sure they’ve packed everything, confirming their land & air arrangements, and just as importantly, getting excited!

It’s not too often a guest gets this kind of an opportunity for such an immersive walking & canoeing safari experience. Zimbabwe & Zambia were chosen because they are prime destinations for these kinds of safaris. This ultimate reason for this is the quality of the countries’ guides. It will be an immeasurable pleasure for Mark, Miles & company to experience the trip’s two featured guides’ world-class guiding first-hand!

Nic Polenakis (left) will be guiding in Hwange, while Nick Murray (right) will in Mana Pools

Nic Polenakis is the featured specialist guide while the group is in Hwange National Park. Nic was featured in National Geographic Traveler Magazine as one of the World’s Top 10 Tour Guides; quite the accolade! From the comfort of his own camp, Somalisa Acacia, Mark, Miles & company will surely be transfixed by his expansive knowledge, but also his contagious passion.

When the group proceeds to Mana Pools National Park, the specialist guide Nick Murray will take the reins. Nick Murray owns & operates Vundu & Little Vundu Camps in Mana Pools National Park. These two camps are ideally situated for what Nick does best: walking & canoeing safaris. Mark, Miles & company should expect to see some Elephants, Wild Dogs, and who knows what else!

Here is Mark & Miles’ finalized itinerary:

Notice that Mark & Miles will stay at least 4 nights at each of the 3 national parks they’ll visit!

At the start, Miles and Mark will be split up: Miles will stay a night in Johannesburg before meeting up with Mark in Victoria Falls.

Check back onto the AAC Blog for their report from Johannesburg & Victoria Falls this Friday!

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