Climate and Landscape
With signs of rain long gone, our Makalolo Plains landscape is progressively changing, revealing the thinning of vegetation and exposing the earthy colours of the land, seemingly posing for us in the low glow of dusk, making for breathtaking and picturesque sunsets. Whilst our landscape becomes sparse, wildlife continues to fill the gap as all savour the last drop of nutrition the park has to offer before the autumn foliage is whisked away by the late-night, desert winds.
As winter makes itself more at home with every passing day, we have watched temperatures plummet to a mere 6° Celcius. This makes for a somewhat chilly start to our mornings in camp as our guests head out laden with blankets and hot water bottles in search of the awakening wildlife. Bearing in mind our maximum temperature for the month has been a significant 25° warmer than this, such midday scorchers provide the perfect window from which to watch our waterholes come to life – right from the comfort of camp. Whilst our days have become shorter as the sun turns away, our early nights and later mornings certainly don’t lessen any of the outdoor activity, providing many a story to share in the warmth of our evening camp fires.
How blessed we are to have witnessed such an abundance as well as variety of game this May, and in all shapes and sizes. Regular herds of buffalo and elephant continue to pass through camp and their presence is never overlooked or taken for granted. With sightings of a cheetah and her cubs, lion on many a kill (one of which was attempted right on our doorstep), a leopard in hot pursuit of a guineafowl and an African wild cat showing off beneath the infrared spotlight, our feline species have certainly come out to play!
For something a little more out of the ordinary, we also witnessed a case of floundering, hungry black-backed jackals as they tried their luck against a den of bat-eared foxes. Despite hours of fight and flight, neither came away the winner as the quick-witted insectivores disappeared into the shelter and safety of their dens hidden in the arid grasslands of our Linkwasha Concession.
Something new on the cards this month has been the reappearance of the resident aardwolf sighted at Madison’s Pan as we toasted the end of the day with raised glasses. Although known to inhabit the Makalolo Plains area, the rare specimen (now naturally referred to as Madison), has been off the radar for a matter of months so her return was definitely worthy of celebration.
Sightings of sable and roan antelope have been on the rise too; both in frequency and in quantity, with a herd of over 20 sable spotted lazily grazing in the warmth of the midday sun. Similarly, the largest journey of giraffe featured in the concession this month included 30 of the species, ranging from young to old as well as deeply dappled to pale.
A particular highlight that simply cannot go unmentioned was the pack of six wild dog that we stumbled upon along one of our main game roads. While some of the pack lay peacefully in the glow of the first evening light, others played joyfully and at ease before moving back into the cover of the tree line. Witnessing such a natural display of their behaviour was truly a special moment. There really never is a dull day in Africa!
Wildlife percentages for May: Lion 39%, elephant 100%, giraffe 58%, sable antelope 35%, kudu 74%, aardwolf 6%, Cape buffalo 61%, wildebeest 71%, black-backed jackal 70%.
Birds and Birding
Whilst it’s always nice to have a new sighting on the cards, welcoming home the familiar favourites is just as much of a privilege. The yellow-billed stork activity, particularly exclusive to Little Makalolo’s Ngamo area, has been somewhat riveting, providing our birders with some wonderful photographic opportunities. In addition to the elusive owl families resident in and around camp, which we usually only get to hear calling during our cold winter evenings, we have had some wonderful specimens make the list of sightings including pearl-spotted and giant eagle-owls.
As Hwange’s water levels drop, our bird baths throughout camp have become a growing attraction as many species come down to quench their thirst or indulge in a light and refreshing shower. Gracing camp with his presence on a fairly regular basis is the treasured red-billed wood-hoopoe, causing havoc as he strips our trees of bark in search of his hidden treasure. Resident in another of our hotspots is a young and quirky Meyer’s parrot, whose character far outweighs its size,
“Overall excellent service and care by the staff. Definitely world class! A huge thanks to your staff, they were really amazing. Probably the best I have come across in my travels! (RSA)”
“Totally fantastic place to come to! Sure, the food and the tents are great, but the best part was the crew. The guys running and working here are fantastic. They had fun with us, and we had fun with them. They touched our hearts! (Australia)”
“This was our very first safari, and we just can’t imagine how one could be better than this. We just want to thank everyone at Little Makalolo for making this a memory we will always cherish. (USA)”
As we come to the end of yet another magnificent month in the Hwange wilderness, the passing time has brought about a significant change of pace. And as the abundant wildlife now makes a beeline for our waterholes they have attracted an equally noteworthy rise in our camp occupancies. Also exciting are the camp renovations, including the construction of both our deck and boardwalk, the completion of which is drawing nearer by the day. We have also relocated the logpile hide and it is now positioned for the perfect photograph, just at the water’s edge. With a splendid start to the first chapter of our peak season, the Little Mak Team is fired up and ready for yet another successful and memorable month to come!
Staff in Camp
Managers: Themba and Buhle
Assistant Managers: Charles and Jess
Trainee Managers: Aimee
Guides: Themba, Charles, Robert, Buli, Douglas and Eustace
Waiters: Valani, Tawanda, Jabulani, Seliot and Pino
Kitchen: Mayisa, Shepard, Innocent, Benedict and Mkhize
Housekeeping: Pagiwa, Artwell, Angel, Ernest and Rambo
Maintenence: Pious, Mpindi, Norman and Samson