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This safari is a fully backed-up safari and 4x4 vehicle. You will enjoy the services of a fully-qualified professional guide who as well as guiding clients on the Zambezi River, can take clients for guided walks or game drives through the national park. Animals seen on this safari usually include elephant, buffalo, impala, waterbuck, hippo, crocodile, and plentiful birdlife. Lion, leopard, painted hunting dog, etc. are more rarely seen but are certainly in the area.
You will stay in a mobile camp throughout this safari. The camp is set up and taken down by the staff to ensure that guests spend as much time as possible doing safari activities or simply enjoying their surroundings. The team will take care of all the guests’ needs and camp chores. During the mobile safari, the camp will be taken down and all equipment and guest luggage will be transferred to the next campsite by vehicle.
All camping equipment is supplied. This is a true bush camp, but offering a little rustic luxury service. There is no electricity or plumbing and there are no permanent structures. It is a taste of the way a safari used to be, a truly authentic, African bush experience. Camps are eco-friendly, designed to be erected and dismantled within hours, leaving no trace on the environment.
Natureways has custom-built tents to guarantee your comfort. It is a spacious walk-in style tent supplied with en-suite toilet facilities for night-use and comfortable beds with fresh linen. Stationary camp tents are mosquito-proof with mosquito gauze rooves so guests can lie in bed and enjoy the night sky. All tents have fly sheets to ensure no one gets wet if it does rain! It also provides shade should one want an afternoon sleep.
The camps are fully equipped with a mobile kitchen run by an experienced bush cook, bar facilities, and a dining area with full waiter service. Further, the camps have no permanent ablution facilities. However, camps are served by the luxury of long drop toilets and, for night-use, all tents have en-suite chemical toilets. You can also revel in a luxurious hot shower underneath the star-studded expanse of the African sky.
Fly by air-charter into Mana Pools National Park or drive into Nyamepi, a Mana main camp where you will be met by your guide with ice-cold drinks. You will then embark on a 1.5-hour drive through Jesse bush and mopane scrub to Camp Chitake arriving in time for lunch. You may, by then, already have met a few of your new neighbors such as an elephant, kudu, zebra, impala, and many birds!
A mobile tented camp will have been set up by the camp staff. It is equipped with walk-in mosquito-proofed tents with en-suite chemical toilet, external long-drop toilets, hot showers, and a dining area next to the fire where iced drinks and sumptuous bush-prepared meals will be served.
The chef will have prepared a delicious lunch to give you strength for the first afternoon’s walk, a familiarization walk to see the lay of the land. Then, go back to camp for sundowners, a hot (or cold if you prefer) shower, and a fine dinner.
There will be an early wake-up, just as dawn breaks. Hot water for freshening up will be placed in raised basins outside each tent, while tea, freshly brewed coffee and muffins or home-made biscuits are already waiting by the campfire. The day’s itinerary depends on what guests have agreed to with the guide, perhaps an early morning walk to watch the sunrise. These walks are customized to each group with regards to preferences, fitness level, and interests.
Walking options may include exploring the course of the Chitake River as it flows to the Ruckomechi river, hiking upstream towards the escarpment or visiting other waterholes in the woodlands. Alternatively, you may visit the dinosaur fossils or discover the inside of a hollow baobab that is the old lair of a leopard (and still has bones inside it).
Guests will return to the camp for lunch and may set off on another walk afterward or simply sit back and enjoy the African bush. Then, go back to camp for the night where, once again, a great meal, hot shower, cold drinks, and friendly staff are waiting.
After early rising, there is the option of heading out immediately or of having breakfast before setting out on a whole day of hiking. Alternatively, stay near the spring to sit and watch for game.
In the cooler parts of the year from May to the end of August, you are suggested to do longer walks from camp. As it gets drier and hotter, from September to November, it is preferable to stay near the spring area through the heat of the day. Early and late walks are then more advisable.
Long viewing “sits” can be extremely rewarding as one gets to observe wildlife behaviors not possible when walking. Witnessing the natural daily cycle of activity gives one a greater understanding and appreciation of nature. Some of the mammals you may possibly encounter are impala, baboon, vervet monkey, kudu, Sharpe’s grysbok, elephant, buffalo, zebra, and waterbuck. This third night will again be spent at the Chitake campsite with all the trimmings.
Depending on your departure time, or if you are moving on to a canoe trail or an alternative camp, you may either take another early walk before breakfast or have a lie in! After that, there will be a game drive to the airstrip or back to Nyamepi, Mana main camp, where the team will bid you farewell!
This itinerary is just a guideline and may change due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather conditions.
Walks are dependant on animal and weather conditions at the time and there will be a backup vehicle available if required or if clients do not want to walk the entire distance between camps.
All participants are expected to sign an indemnity form upon arrival in Mana Pools. Failure to do so will result in cancellation of the safari.
Elijah or E.G. as he likes to be called as has been with Natureways Safaris for 5 years and has embarked on his career as a canoe guide with the company. Recognizing his enthusiasm for the bush and wildlife Natureways Safaris is nurturing his passion and assisting him to achieve his goal of one day becoming a professional guide. Until then, E.G. works as the team leader in Mana Pools while trying to achieve his 1,000 hours of canoeing necessary to become a qualified canoe guide.
James is Zimbabwean born and raised. From a very young age, he showed a keen interest in the outdoors, preferring to play with skeletons and birds nests rather than toys. This love of nature was developed at school and upon leaving, he started his safari career in Hwange National Park with Touch the Wild safaris. James joined Natureways in 1991 under the tutelage of Garth Thompson. He attained his canoe license in 1992 and his full professional guide status in early 1993. James has been in Mana Pools for 13 years and countless guests have benefited from his knowledge and passion for the bush.
The Chitake Spring is an area of crucial importance to the great variety of wildlife occurring in this southern part of Mana Pools National Park. Water gushes up out of the ground and flows for up to a kilometer along the otherwise dry riverbed of the Chitake River. The Chitake River rises in the Zambezi Escarpment on the very southern boundary of the park and connects with the Ruckomechi river, which in turn snakes across the valley floor to the mighty Zambezi, 70 kilometers away.
Once the rains have begun properly, there is a torrent of water flowing in these systems but it generally dries up by April. As more of the surrounding waterholes dry out, the spring becomes essential to the survival of hundreds of creatures. The high and rugged escarpment is only 8 kilometers away but the game has to come down from the hills for water. The mixed mopane, combretum, and acacia woodlands of the vast valley floor are home to many thirsty animals.
As the dry season progresses, the concentrations of wildlife increase, accompanied by huge flocks of doves, starlings, lovebirds, sparrows, finches, hornbills, and sandgrouse. With such a diverse array of wildlife on the menu, this is the ideal spot for predators such as lion, leopard, hyena, painted hunting dog, mongoose, snakes, and a plethora of birds of prey enjoy the fine dining. Vultures are often seen in large numbers waiting for their next meal.
Of course, the greatest shows are put on by the grey herds of thirsty elephant and black masses of buffalo. Experience the excitement of Chitake by camping right on the edge of the river, exploring its mini sandstone gorge and its wild woodlands. Long walks are taken from the spring area up into the different habitats of the hills or when it is very dry, a hide can be made in bushes near the water to blend into the environment and let everything come to you.
Chitake can be an extremely intense experience for the true naturalist and someone enjoys the challenge of nature. Walking, you have to concentrate particularly carefully on your surroundings, often remaining silent for hours to let the game close in. For the avid birder, there is no disappointment as, with the combination of dry and wet woodland and open scrub, mountain and plain, there are well over 300 possible bird species to be seen.
A naturalist will discover a plethora of things; bats, rodents, porcupine, honey badgers, bugs, beetles, butterflies, moths, hissing ants, spiders, scorpions, beautiful plants, giant baobabs, tracks, and spoor. This is not a “lodge”. This is not a game drive. Chitake is for people who understand the Africa apart from the one found in a standard travel brochure. It is for the “Africaphile” who likes their wildlife wild!
All products are brought in fresh and meals are prepared in camp by one of the famed bush cooks. All slices of bread and pastries are freshly baked on the open campfire. Vegetarian or other dietary preferences can be catered for you but it is advised that you must inform Natureways Safaris 14 days prior to the safari.
Breakfast may consist of cereals, yogurt, muffins, biscuits, pancakes, toast, and jams. On the last day of safari, a full English breakfast will be laid on for clients to enjoy.
Lunch is usually fresh quiche, lasagne or similar with a varied selection freshly baked bread, salads, and cheeses.
Dinners are full 3-course meals with various starters, delicious main courses and sumptuous deserts all eaten by candlelight under the stars, accompanied by an imported bottle of wine.
All safaris include a supply of local beers, spirits, imported wines, minerals, cordials, mineral water, tea, and coffee. Drinks are served by the friendly camp staff while you relax. You are recommended to contact Natureways Safaris if you have any drink preferences i.e. if a particular brand of local beer is preferred. You are also free to bring your own beverages and cooler boxes can be set aside for this purpose. There is no limit to a number of beverages you may bring.
There is the option of going for an early morning walk or game drive before breakfast or, for the avid fisherman, there is time to pull out a rod.
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