As the season has progressed we have noted the gradual changes that the year brings. The start of the season, June and July, have the chill of winter in the air, progressing on to the high winds of August, before the sweltering heat of October, and finally November with its huge rain clouds building on the horizon and the promise of much-needed rain. The temperatures in the Zambezi Valley were very high this month, as the mercury was often pushed to the 40° C mark.
The vegetation in Mana Pools has its own regular cycle with the change of the seasons. Many of the trees lose their leaves and store all their nutrients in the cambium layer (the inner bark) or the roots. Unfortunately for most animals, (except the elephant) this means the nutrients are almost unusable. There are a few trees that are therefore the main source of food during the dry season - most famously, the ana tree, or winter-thorn as it is otherwise known. It is called this as it produces its leaves and pods in winter, which makes it a lifesaver for the herbivores of Mana Pools.
The mighty Zambezi has thrown us a few challenges this season but Henry, our lead guide, has coped well and seen that every one of our guests fully experiences the Zambezi and its way of life. Towards the end of the season we started making use of the many smaller channels braiding the shoreline of Mana Pools National Park. The use of these channels means you are much closer to the wildlife, as they twist and turn, cutting through the floodplain, and crowded with the resident species.
As expected, the game viewing this season has been incredible. Early in the season, with many pans and surface water around the park, game was spread out making use of the huge expanse of surface water away from the river, south towards the Zambezi Escarpment. As the season progressed and the surface water slowly started to dry up, the animals made their annual local migration from further inland towards the river, the only reliable source of water in the park during the dry months. Huge congregations of mixed game can now be found on the floodplains, awaiting the life-giving rain.
The birdlife in the Zambezi Valley has been exceptional. Towards the end of the season, the migratory species started moving back into the area. The most noticeable was the southern-carmine bee-eaters who nest in the high sandbanks along the river. In their huge colonies these beautiful birds make a stunning sight. The African skimmers have been spotted sitting on a nest on an island; this is very exciting as these rare birds are very sensitive to any changes in the environment, including climatic changes.
Staff in Camp
Managers: Daniel and Russel.
Guides: Henry and Matthew.