Hwange is really wild. You aren’t allowed out of your car at this park but even if you did get out the animals would all runaway before you got anywhere near them anyway. You really feel like you’re in Zimbabwe the way Zimbabwe used to be before any development hit. There are times that you drive through the park, the grass is above your car on either side and even down the center of the track that makes you questions the essence of what it means to call something a “road.” At any moment an elephant could charge out of the reeds next to you and you’d never see it until it was right in front of you. Then again, it is too afraid of the noise of the car. It is long gone before you get anywhere close to it.
Despite the car-high grass at times and a few cases of disappearing roads (or roads where bridges inexplicably collapsed but it still somehow finds a way around) we did see some animals while we were here.
Hwange is known for its massive amount of elephants (over 40,000 by official counts) and the elephants certainly did not disappoint. We saw herds upon herds of the largest land mammals. Eating, drinking, playing, scared, angry, pooping, running, walking, young, old. We saw it all when it comes to elephants. All except reproducing I guess. That one remains on the elephant bucket list even after this park…
Elephants using the road to get where they need to go
Two young elephants playing at a waterhole
Besides elephants we of course saw the usual suspects of buck: impala, zebra, wildebeast, waterbuck, kudu and all of their antelope friends. Typically we saw their butts as they charged off away from us but I was certainly able to add to my photo count with some great pictures of things other than elephants. And don’t forget the giraffe, crocs, buffalo, jackal, warthogs, ostrich and birds upon birds upon birds upon birds. Now that we’ve got a professional bird book we could even name a few of them.
Giraffe looking dapper
Jackal posing nicely
Lilac breasted roller hanging out
We didn’t get to see any of the large cats (not yet at least, we still have this evening and tomorrow’s drive out of the park) but Michael and Lisa did spot 3 cheetah on their way out of the park yesterday morning. I guess our bad luck when it came to big cats trumped their good luck until they separated from us.
Not to disappoint though we did see some really cool and unique animals while we were here. Cheryl and I came across a caracal (small cat but totally awesome) on a mid-afternoon drive from one camp to another. Unfortunately this one will have to just live in our memories as I missed a photo of it. We approached an animal lying in the middle of the road and from afar it looked like a jackal. Since I already had 50 solid jackal pictures I decided not to force another one through a dusty windscreen and I left my camera off and on the seat next to me. As we got closer the animal got up, turned and snuck off into the woods. When we saw its profile it was clearly not a jackal. It was a caracal. Rarely seen. Always striking.
Our luck continued the next day when we came across 3 bat-eared foxes lounging and playing in the road. These don’t really live in South Africa so we had never come across them before. (One of the rangers called them Aardwolfs but we later figured out he was incorrect when we read up on them.) This time I didn’t wait to see what the animals on the road were as we saw them ahead of us and I snapped three shots through the dusty window. Not pretty but they are clearly visible.
Bat-eared foxes hanging out in the road
Then, last night we were joined around the dinner table by two bush babbies hopping between the trees. It’s amazing how far those little critters can jump. Right before going to sleep we were also joined by a hyena trying to drink from the water remaining on the ground where we washed our dishes. It was dark but I got fuzzy photos of both. Count ‘em!
Night time visit from a bush baby
Hyena trying to drink from where we just washed our dishes
The last night we said something that I thought we would never say. “Gosh, these hyenas are annoying!” They kept coming to our camp to try and take our food. They ran away with tail tucked between their legs when shooed (the bright spotlight was also used once they got really annoying) and we quickly got over it when we just wanted to sit back and enjoy the enormous fire we had built to use up the last of our wood. Who would have thought?