Climate and Landscape
Winter has come and gone but has left evidence of its effect on the vegetation in and around Ruckomechi; this is a great relief to many a traveller as the days have started warming up earlier. The bush is very dry with no inland water pans and wildlife activity is concentrated mainly along the river.
Occasional winds are now blowing, raising clouds of dust. As we march towards summer the changes that are coming are very evident with dye plants almost disappearing completely as a result of browsing by elephants and impala. Thorn apples are flowering and what a lovely sight they are. Pods of acacia albida are ripening and dropping all over the place, inviting herds of elephant right into camp as they come to pick up these delicacies which provide them with vital minerals.
Throughout July the climate changed from day to day. We would have warm, sunny days and then suddenly cloudy, cool and windy days. The temperature averaged between 12-15° Celsius in the mornings and 25-28° C in the afternoons. Overall July was actually fairly windy, and with the dry landscape, there was a lot of dust.
The game at Ruckomechi was fantastic; our pride of lions and their six cubs were a privilege to see almost every second day on the concession. Male lions visiting from beyond our concession were also seen. Female leopards were spotted on a couple of occasions and brought much joy to both guests and staff as we take pride in knowing these elusive cats are around. Hippo and lion call every day, sweet music to our ears, with songs that take us to bed and into deep sleep knowing that our guests have something to talk about and look forward to seeing come the next morning. Mana Pools’ most famous bull elephant, Boswell, brought his acrobatics show into camp a couple of times displaying his amazing ability to stand on his hind legs – to the joy and amazement of our guests.
As nature takes care of itself, there were a couple of kills during the month, most notably a leopard taking down an impala right in camp on the driveway to the main area. The female lions took down a waterbuck behind camp but then lost their meal to the big male who had done nothing to assist the stalking and subsequent kill.
Just as the month came to a close one old male lion and his partner took down an eland bull at Second Cathedral. For a couple of days there was phenomenal activity around the kill as opportunists came to scavenge anything they could find that was left over by the lions. We saw hyaena, jackals and vultures at that kill, making it one of the highlights of the month.
Canoeing and boat cruises were fantastic too, providing lovely sightings of crocodiles, hippos and elephants swimming.
Birdlife is always great, thanks to our situation along the Zambezi River where an abundance of river birds are seen. The carmine bee-eaters have arrived while malachite and pied kingfishers are swarming in numbers and are a great joy for keen birders.
Raptors were seen in numbers, including one of our specials, the western-banded snake-eagle. Verreaux’s eagle-owls call every day around the deck and vultures are seen almost everywhere on our private Ruckomechi Concession, helping us to locate kills on our drives.
White-crested helmet-shrikes are here too and are lovely to watch as they fly from one bush to the next. Fish-eagles perched on dead branches contemplating swooping on the tiger in the river are also a spectacle, whether or not they are successful. Klaas’s cuckoos and tawny eagles were spotted around Ruckomechi on many occasions.
“Thank you for making this trip one of the best that will always be remembered, I will definitely be taking a lot of great memories home. I loved all guides and all the wildlife. This trip will definitely be cherished for years to come.”
“River cruise was extraordinary and sundowners. Every day was a highlight and also the night at the platform.”
“Landscape, laughing with the guides and children (especially fishing), the outside bath, the calmness and beauty. Fabulous, well done!”
Staff in Camp
Managers: Michelle and Eddie
Trainee managers: Amy Goosen, Thys Olivier, Ishmael Nzara
Guides: Garth Adams, Chris S, Nyenge Kazingizi, Honest Siyawareva, Engelbert Ndlovu, Kambazvi Mundoga, Tendai Marufu