After leaving the Mara we took the night flight from Nairobi to Lusaka. The next morning we encountered the other guests who arrived directly in Lusaka, and at 6.30 we were on our way to Mana Pools. It’s a few hours drive, with border crossing at the town of Chirundu, on the Lower Zambesi river. Our first stop in Mana Pools was at the Chitake spring, in the inland, a permanent source of water in an otherwise dry area, about 70kms from the Zambesi river. All animals of the area rely on it for quenching their thirst. Kudus, Impalas, Baboons, Buffalos, Elephants, and of course the predators, Lions, Leopards, Wild Dogs.
The camp is set up on the edge of the dry river bed fed by the spring. A trickle of water runs along the course of the river. Animals come and go continuously to drink. Just by staying in camp you can enjoy the action, but we walked morning and evening along the spring. It’s an extremely wild and remote area, there were no other people besides us, and it’s an unforgettable feeling to be completely surrounded by wild animals, their sounds, their footsteps, the Lions’ roars at night, the Baboons’ alarm calls. The most fascinating moments were when big herds of Buffalos came down the banks of the river to drink at the spring, among clouds of dust. Sitting there right above them was fantastic, hearing their steps in the distance, watching them spread in the river bed and trying to see whether a Lion came out to ambush them. When we arrived Lions had already killed a Buffalos the days before and were feeding on it inside a gulley in the banks. Two males were in the area, a bit shy, and a mother with three cubs, who regularly visited our camp to drink with the cubs. Evening times were always special, animals came to drink barely a few meteres from our dinner table, including Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Wild Dogs. We would turn a dim light on to enjoy the view without disturbing them or blinding them. Chitake is a special place, and I just can’t wait to get back there!