"A Day in the Life" of the Nambya People and Hwange National Park
May 8 - 9, 2018
|A Nambya Homestead|
Our first stop was in the town of Hwange, where Charles, our guide, led us into the OK Mart, a large and quite modern supermarket that stocked home goods, appliances, and hardware in addition to groceries. Our tour members joined Charles in selecting staples - flour, sugar, beans, etc. - that would help sustain the homestead family through the winter months ahead.
|OK Mart is a large supermarket chain in Africa|
|Charles and some of our group selecting groceries for our visit to the village.|
|A well-stocked grocery store|
|Charles, Sue, Candy, Karen, and Sharon wait to purchase our goods.|
|Joan greets a mom and her baby|
|A homestead house.|
|Shalom shares the story of his home.|
|Women and children of the homestead.|
|The women made us feel very welcome.|
|A storage shed and the village shower stall to the right.|
|A bedroom in one of the homes.|
|Rob makes friends with an adorable baby.|
|Mother and child.|
|The homestead kitchen|
|Sheep and hens share the pen. Notice the eggs?|
|Sharing our lives with one another.|
|Sharon made a new friend.|
|Our snacks included cookies flavored with rosemary and fruit from the baobab tree.|
|This iron is filled with hot coal.|
|The singing women set the rhythm for pounding millet.|
|Roxanne and I give it a try. I wasn't as good at finding my rhythm!|
|Rob and Dennis did a bit better.|
|Millet seeds and the final product.|
|The chaff feeds the chickens.|
|Godfrey dances to the women's singing.|
|Rob is ready for lunch!|
|Karen enjoys hearing the story of Sally's life.|
Hwange Game DrivesHwange National Park sits in the far west of Zimbabwe near the borders of Zambia, Namibia, and Botswana. At almost 5,900 square miles (14,650 square kilometers), it is the largest park in the country and is renowned for its abundant animal population, including over 400 species of birds. Our tented camp, Kashawe Camp, was located in the northern part of the park, and our game drives took us through densely wooded areas filled with mopane trees that provided the resident mammals with effective hiding places.
In the winter and spring months of August through September, these deciduous trees will lose their leaves and the animals will be more easily spotted. Mad-made watering holes were dug when the park was established in 1928 to sustain an animal population that had dwindled dramatically due to lack of water, which drains quickly from the sandy soil. The plan worked and the animals returned to the area, but they are reliant on these watering holes, which are carefully maintained by the Park. Charles explained that visitors in those winter and spring months would certainly see more animals because they would be clustered around the artificial watering holes, but that our sightings would be more precious because we would observe the animals in their natural behaviors and habitats.
Following Sally's talk and our daily siesta, we climbed aboard our Land Rovers and set out for a late afternoon game drive. It was quite a different experience from our first safari through the Serengeti. We saw no other vehicles at all, and the animals were quite shy, running into the bush as soon as they heard us coming. But the next day, we enjoyed a full day of exploring the park, with many more animal encounters. The pictures below share the best of these.
|Our Land Rovers are ready for the morning drive.|
|Godfrey, one of our drivers and master animal tracker.|
|We think of Africa as a hot continent, but the early morning game drives could be very chilly. |
We all got a kick out of Charles' ear muff hat.
|Elephants and impalas were our most frequent sightings in Hwange.|
|A large herd of elephants enjoying a morning dip.|
|This baby was having trouble climbing up the embankment.|
|The mamas gathered round and helped to push her to the top.|
|A young male|
|Our guides joked that the groups of male impalas without a harem of females were the "losers."|
|Keeping a sharp watch on the intruders.|
|Sometimes the logs in the forest got us excited for nothing. This is an ALT - an animal-like thing.|
|We didn't see many monkeys on this trip - but there were quite a few baboons.|
|A troop of baboons|
|Mama and baby|
|A family of warthogs|
|This was often our view of warthogs. |
They tended to be very skittish and ran quickly into the bush with their little tails straight up in the air.
|A family of water bucks.|
When we couldn't find the animals, we enjoyed the beautiful landscape.
|One of the mopane trees that made up most of the forest.|
|An ebony tree with a spooky face.|
Our rest stop was on the banks of a large lake. Far out in the middle was a small island, and we could barely make out some hippos splashing in the water. I zoomed in on them with my camera, but got a surprise when I downloaded the photos onto my tablet and discovered that the island was also covered with large crocodiles lounging on the banks!
|Skulls on the banks of the lake|
|Island in the lake|
|Mama hippo and baby|
|An island of crocodiles|
|This is one brave heron!|
|You would not want to swim in this lake.|
|As we were getting ready to move on, some of the hippos emerged from the water.|
|We were lucky to share our travels with a very compatible group of people!|
|Thabani, Charles, and Godrey - our great guides.|
Our next stop was in a thatched building overlooking one of the man-made lakes in the park where we enjoyed our box lunches and the sight of the large bloat of hippos resting on the banks across the lake. You would never guess that this rotund creature is one of the most dangerous in Africa!
|Lunch break overlooking the lake|
|Hippos in the lake|
|A loving couple?|
|My favorite travel partner|
On the way back to camp in the late afternoon, we almost drove over a little dung beetle industriously rolling his sphere of dung across the road. There was a mound of dirt along the side of the road that the beetle had to climb to reach his home. We held our breath as we watched him toil like Sisyphus, getting his ball half way up the hill, only to have it roll down again. But he was a determined bug, and the entire group cheered as the ball finally crested the hill and rolled into the grass on the other side.
|This little guy worked really hard to get past those rocky obstacles!|
Some of the other delights of the day were the many beautiful birds in the park, including my favorite, the colorful lilac breasted roller, which I was thrilled to discover was to be found in all the parks on this trip! Who would have ever guessed that such a gorgeous creature was just a common everyday bird?
|My favorite bird - the lilac breasted roller|
|Lilac breasted roller|
|Red billed hornbill|
|White fronted bee eater|
|White fronted bee eater|
|The tiny bee eaters nested in the mud on the banks of a river|
|Cape Turtle Doves were very common in all of the parks we visited|
|Even the starlings are gorgeous here!|
|Helmeted Guinea Fowl|
|Double banded sand grouse blended almost perfectly into the background|
|Spurfowl were also common and often seen running down the road in front of our Land Rover.|
This is the Swainston's Spurfowl.
|A saddle billed stork. You'll see more of this remarkable bird in the next post!|
|African Hawk Eagle|
|White faced duck (?)|
|Spur winged geese and Egyptian goose|
|White Faced Whistling Ducks|
When we returned to Kashawe Camp in the evening, our dinner was ready...and so was the staff, who entertained us with more of the wonderful African harmonies. Hwange National Park was a great start to our trip...but we still had many adventures to come!