Themba Sibanda elaborates on our introductory Hwange Walking Safari, which takes in the wildlife abundance of the private Linkwasha Concession.
This Exploration started with my guests checking in to Davison’s Camp on 30th June 2016. The whole party was filled with energy right from when I picked them up at the airstrip. I could tell that this adventure with them would be an exciting one for me as their guide as much as for them as visitors. Being our first Zimbabwe Explorations journey, I wanted to make sure that we set the right pace from the onset. On the drive from the airstrip to camp, we were already seeing lion, buffalo and elephant to name but a few, and my plan was to make the most of the transfer to camp as the following day we would embark on the walking trail and have less time on the vehicle.
First day – the first walk
The next morning we started off from Davison’s Camp at 7 am. We were all geared up with backpacks, packed snacks, water, cameras and a lot of zeal. Initially we were slow as I wanted my guests to acclimatise to being on foot in the wild Hwange bush; they were nervous at first but within a short time, they relaxed as I did my best make them feel safe and comfortable. The little wonders like insects and bird calls that are normally ignored while driving were covered on that first walk and a highlight was finding a rhino beetle.
Our target was Scott’s Pan where we would camp but we weren’t to make it right through due to the population of game which blocked our paths and slowed us somewhat, especially as we wanted to take pictures and discuss our sightings. We had many encounters with herds of elephants and we had great opportunities to approach them for pictures. At around mid-morning we called for the vehicle to come and pick us up and take us to the camp site for our lunch. Our walk from Davison’s Camp covered some 9 km.
At the camp site everything looked perfectly set up and we had lunch while elephant and many other species came in their numbers to drink at Scott’s Pan. Our siesta involved relaxing and watching the animal traffic around the pan. At 3.30 pm everybody was up and ready to go for a game drive.
Our target that afternoon was to find cheetah and in the hours after leaving camp, we saw great game including amazing eland. Just before sunset we found a coalition of two cheetah brothers. Our safari was complete for the day and we drove back to camp for our sunset drinks around the fire followed by stories and then dinner. After a nightcap the comfortable camping beds started calling, as did hyaena and lion, which treated us to their calls all night necessitating a change of plan in the morning.
Second day – the long walk
With hyaena calls luring us, we were up early in the morning to plan a different route. But before we set off we were treated to a hearty breakfast. Our idea was to find the hyaena den and we made more than 5 km tracking them; guests are always told that there is no guarantee but amazingly, we were able to find the den on the last morning. Everybody was happy to see the little pups nursing from their parents before hurriedly taking off in different directions to their burrows.
We then set off for Ngamo Plain where the team set up. We were all looking forward to this adventure. The total distance covered on this morning was about 15 km.
We walked through teak woodland then into beautiful acacia trees. This area had less game and we spent more time appreciating the beauty of spiders, insects and melodious bird calls. Halfway through the trip, one of the ladies ran out of energy and was collected by a vehicle and taken to the camping site accompanied by her father. Our numbers had dropped to six but we soldiered on and finally arrived at our beautifully set up camp site. Wildebeest, zebra, ostriches and many other plains game welcomed us to their beautiful spot for the night. A major highlight on this walk were the giraffe, which were on our “shopping list.”
We had lunch followed by a very productive afternoon game drive returning for sundowners at the camping. While my guests were enjoying a local beer, lions started calling from nearby. I convinced everybody to jump into the vehicle so that we could go and see them. We were treated to a sighting of two sub-adult male lions and several other species of nocturnal animals. The lions came very close to our site that night. What a beautiful way to sleep – with lions calling all night long!
Third day – walking into Linkwasha camp
This morning started with a short drive around the Ngamo open area with the aim of finding predators. A pack of nine wild dog was spotted trotting in the open area and drinking at the pan next to our camping area.
We agreed to proceed with our plan of walking and after spending some 5 km on the ground that morning the Linkwasha team welcomed us to their lovely camp just in time for brunch. All in all, a very successful walk to our destination.
Camp sites and camp team
As mentioned above, the first night was spent at Scott’s Pan with the second and last night at Ngamo Plains. Both these areas are prime locations for game, which made camping there very special. We pitched four tents for the guests, one for the guide and another three for the camping staff.
We also had a number of team members assisting in making these trails a success. The team worked tirelessly to prepare and the tents at Scott’s were pitched the day before. When the guests set off for their morning walk to Ngamo the team swiftly struck the camp to go and re-pitch at Ngamo Plains. This was done seamlessly in such a way that guests would appreciate the efforts put to this.
All meals were prepared at the camping site and guests were treated to hearty, warm and nutritious food cooked by the fire.
Written by Themba Sibanda, a Wilderness Safaris staff member. This blog has been reposted in partnership with Wilderness Safaris.
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