Hwange National Park
Trip Start Jun 05, 2012
30Trip End Jul 10, 2012
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We stopped at the Painted Dog Conservation and they had 3 of these endangered species in the rehab center
We met the other Intrepid bus and gave them their necessary paperwork. Their bus had a working fridge and the windows had nice shades to keep them cool, and apparently while eating lunch a pack of wild painted dogs came up to them
We continued into Hwange National Park. We got to camp, set up the tents and prepared for lunch, with lots of bees also excited about our presence. Victor had us set up our tents in the wrong spot, so we had to carry them across the park to the spot where primitive campers were. We ate a of lunch meat, veggies, and cooked rice left over from last nights dinner, and waited for another group to arrive so we could start our first game drive. We had time to walk to the park office and pick up a map and list of birds that we might see. We bought some airtime minutes to try to call the Zambezi Swing place. Apparently the number didn't exist so we will have to figure out a different plan tomorrow. We found out that our game drive wouldn't start until 2:30 because the group meeting us was behind. We watched the news and some churches in Kenya were bombed and 16 people were killed. The group was even later than expected and around 3:00 we had finally loaded into a jeep. Ernie took the front seat, Marlene, Miles and I took the next row, and made the rest of the group squeeze in the other two rows.
We saw quite a lot of life including crocs, hornbills, brubru birds at Dom pan, then kudu, an elephant, and some impala. Then we went to the Nyamandlovu pan. These are areas that in the rainy season have water. Right now, everything is very dry and dead so the park has bore holes that they pump water from and create watering holes so the animals won't die of thirst. There is a platform at the pan so you can climb up and have an amazing view of the whole watering hole. When we arrived there were 14 elephants, 3 crocs, 2 hippos and a giraffe drinking. Then 2 bull elephants came, then a herd of 16, then a herd of 47, then another 6. That is a lot of elephants including some that were still nursing from their mothers
Then we hurried back because the gate closes at 6:00 and apparently the people at the gate take this pretty seriously. We saw a sable antelope (our first in Africa) on our way out and 4 buffalo, which made us get to the gate at 6:01 but the lady just gave our driver a dirty look and let us through. Kioko had popcorn ready when we got back. Then we ate dinner and had to the option of a night game drive. The other group had to pay $30 extra per person but it was included for us. An option because it is an open air jeep and the temperature was about 40 degrees! Of course we weren't going to miss this chance. I would have been so upset if the group would have seen something cool when I was sitting at the tent. Five layers of clothes later, a stocking cap, and the sleeping bag we were headed out on the night drive.
There used to be 40 rhinos in the park, but now there is only one bull left. The last female and her baby were poached a couple of months ago. The horn sells for about $50,000 per kilogram so even though it is horrible, that amount of money can change a poachers life. The baby only had a little bump when it was killed which is very sad. The rule if you see a poacher is to kill them on sight. Shoot first and ask questions later
We aren't allowed a spotlight in the national park so we went out of the park and onto the roads. Boy am I glad that I went. We ended up seeing 6 species that we hadn't seen before including 3 that are rarely seen. We saw several dika which are a small deer like animal that is active at night. Apparently they will eat just about anything, including human excriment. Next, we started seeing several night apes which only weigh a couple hundred grams. Their eyes glow bright red in the spotlight and they jump around the trees like crazy at night. Some people keep them as pets, but they pee on their hands and feet to mark their territory. Next, we saw a huge number of checkum babboons on the powerline towers. Then we saw the endangered species the bat eared fox run across the road. Usually, they are in pairs because they mate for life. Then we saw 4-5 kudu. Next we saw the, as our guide said, "very elusive"genet cat with a bushy black tail, then 2 white tailed mongoose, the largest of the mongoose family.
Next, we went to a lodge, squirmed out of the sleeping bag, had a cup of hot chocolate and visited a pan that was lit by the hotel. The lodge was very nice with about 250 rooms but apparently they are only renting about 45 beds per month. As far as tourism goes, Hwange has really been hit hard
Budget $50 Souvenirs $8 Food $1.10
Spent $12.10 Phone card $3