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Day Five: Mana Pools, Zimbabwe

Posted on Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Dave!Attempting to sleep while baboons, hippos, and all manner of other creatures are screeching, howling, grunting, chirping, and making a racket is no easy trick. I certainly hope I get used to it over the next week, because this is going to be a really interesting vacation if I'm sleep-impaired the whole time. I'd use earplugs, but I'm worried about missing the 5:30am wake-up for breakfast and our morning game drive.

One thing adding to the pain of my inability to sleep is having to get up for a bathroom break in the middle of the night. For reasons completely unknown, the tents at Ruckomechi have stone imbedded in the floor and, while they look pretty, they hurt like hell to walk on with bare feet. I stubbed my toe on one last night and it is still throbbing...

Ruckomechi Floor Rocks


Ruckomechi has a nice bar area where you can help yourself to drinks or sit and relax any time you want to escape from your room for a bit...

Ruckomechi Lounge

The tents don't have electricity outlets, but there's a power generator you can tap into in the dining room if you need to charge camera batteries and such...

Ruckomechi Recharging

After a nice continental breakfast, it was time to hit the grasslands for a game drive.

I considered myself lucky to have seen two lions on my first day, as there were people ahead of me that stayed for four nights and never saw one. Today I was even luckier, getting to see a lioness and her three young ones enjoying the sunrise right off the bat...

Ruckomechi Floor Rocks

Ruckomechi Floor Rocks

Ruckomechi Floor Rocks

After watching the lions wander around a bit, we came across a flock of helmeted guineafowl, well-known in Zimbabwe for their spotted bodies and bright blue heads...

Helmeted Guineafowl

Followed by a baboon on a termite mound...

Baboon in Zimbabwe

And... inexplicably... yet another lion sighting. This time a beautiful young male with his mane growing in pretty good...

Lion in Zimbabwe

It's rare to see hippos out of the water during daylight hours, but we managed to catch one as it made its way from a marshy refuge to the Zambezi River...

Hippo in Zimbabwe

A member of the antelope family, impalas have a rigid social structure where all the boys of the heard battle it out to determine who gets to be the dominate male each season. The winner gets to breed with the females and has the important job of managing the herd. The male is the one with horns...

Impala in Zimbabwe

Impala in Zimbabwe

The losing males form their own herd where they will practice fighting and growing stronger so they can (hopefully) be victorious the next season.


Spooky Crane

As if I wasn't already lucky enough, we happened across a pack of wild dogs. Our guide said a group of people were in a while ago specifically to see them, but never did after a week of searching. They had just made a kill, so all thirty-two of them were sleeping in a big pile...

Wild Dogs!

Every once in a while a pup would stand up and look around, so we sat around waiting. All of them have interesting calico-type coats that must do a good job of camouflaging them in the bush...

Wild Dogs!

Wild Dogs!

The Mana Pools are home to all kinds of wildlife, and it's all fairly close to camp...


After four hours of wandering around the concession, it was time to head back to camp. When we got there, I was ready to go back to my tent and take a nap, but an elephant was on the path...

Elephant of Ruckomechi

I tried to go around, but another elephant was lounging by my tent...

After five minutes or so, he moved on... but not before staring me down first.

Elephant of Ruckomechi

One of the features of Ruckomechi is an outdoor bath. I haven't taken a bath in over ten years, but it was an opportunity too good to pass up...

Ruckomechi Outdoor Bath

Ruckomechi Outdoor Bath

Our evening game drive began where the lions made their kill last night. They left a heck of a mess...

Zebra Kill

A few of the lions were still in the neighborhood, which meant the vultures and hyenas were kept away...


As we drove around looking for a place to have our sundown snack, we saw some really cool birds goofing around. So many of the birds here are colorful, but these were on another level...

Ruckomechi Outdoor Bath

Eventually we found a spot next to a troop of baboons...


Africa Sunset

Africa Sundowner Snack

The drive back to camp was fairly uneventful, but it was hard to complain given all the cool stuff I got to see today.

One more day left in Ruckomechi...

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Categories: Photography 2014, Travel 2014Click To It: Permalink


  1. Catherine says:

    I would have taken a nap but there was an elephant in the way. I tried to think whether I personally know anyone else who can say anything remotely like that, and nope. Wow! And then ANOTHER one was in the the OTHER way! Holy heffalumps, Batman. It sounds like a wild romp of a children’s safari picture book, if you think about it. Maybe you should get on that. With your outstanding illustrations? Holy cow, can you say Newbery Award? And what an amazing way, the more I think about this seriously, to memorialize your visit & share it even more broadly & spectacularly.

    I Would Have Taken a Nap, But There Was an Elephant In The Way, by Dave Simmer II.

  2. Catherine says:

    Yup *squinting*, no comma. Between Nap & But. The way I wrote it originally.

  3. Lora says:

    This is amazing…a safari is on my travel list and I’m bookmarking the heck out of your posts for future reference. The elephants? I would die right there on the spot. They are my favorite and I can’t believe they are just right next to your tent!

  4. Barbara says:

    Such a cool trip! Love you travel updates 🙂

  5. Absolutely amazing shots. Nicely done.

  6. Bill says:

    Love the pictures of the Painted dogs. We were in Ruckomechi Sept 10th-14th. We too saw the pack of Painted dogs but there were 38 including 15 puppies. We spent 2 days with Researcher Greg Rasmussen. Love your blog. We can’t wait to go back!

  7. martymankins says:

    The rare hippo shot was nice to see. So was that young male with the growing mane. Pretty cool pics.

  8. hello haha narf says:

    an outdoor bath where elephants are roaming. i think that is my new happy place…

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