Chitake Springs Mana Pools
4 day 3 nights
Photographic opportunities : walking in Mana : game drives : professional guide : stunning scenery : spectacular wildlife : prolific birdlife
ABOUT CHITAKE SPRING
The Chitake Spring is an area of crucial importance to the great variety of wildlife occurring in this southern part of Mana Pools National Park. Water gushes up out of the ground and flows for up to a kilometre along the otherwise dry riverbed of the Chitake River. The Chitake River rises in the Zambezi Escarpment on the very southern boundary of the Park and connects with the Ruckomechi River, which in turn snakes across the valley floor to the mighty Zambezi, 70kms away.
Once the rains have begun properly, there is a torrent of water flowing in these systems but it generally dries up by April. As more of the surrounding waterholes dry out, the spring becomes essential to the survival of hundreds of creatures. The high and rugged escarpment is only 8km away but game has to come down from the hills for water. The mixed mopane, combretum and acacia woodlands of the vast valley floor are home to many thirsty animals.
As the dry season progresses the concentrations of wildlife increase, accompanied by huge flocks of doves, starlings, lovebirds, sparrows, finches, hornbills and sand grouse. With such a diverse array of wildlife on the menu, this is the ideal spot for predators – lion, leopard, hyena, painted hunting dog, mongoose, snakes and a plethora of birds of prey enjoy the fine dining. Vultures are often seen in large numbers waiting for their next meal. Of course, the greatest shows are put on by the grey herds of thirsty elephant and black masses of buffalo.
Experience the excitement of Chitake by camping right on the edge of the river, exploring its mini sandstone gorge and its wild woodlands. Long walks are taken from the spring area up into the different habitats of the hills or, when it is very dry, a hide can be made in bushes near the water – to blend into the environment and let everything come to you.
Chitake can be an extremely intense experience for the true naturalist and someone enjoys the challenge of nature. Walking, you have to concentrate particularly carefully on your surroundings, often remaining silent for hours to let the game close in. For the avid birder there is no disappointment as, with the combination of dry and wet – woodland and open scrub, mountain and plain, there are well over 300 possible bird species to be seen
Fly by air-charter into Mana Pools National Park or drive into Nyamepi, Mana Main Camp where you will be met by your guide with ice cold drinks.
You will then embark on a 1.5 hour drive through jesse bush and mopane scrub to Camp Chitake arriving in time for lunch.
You may, by then, already have met a few of your new neighbours – elephant, kudu, zebra, impala and many birds!
A mobile tented camp will have been set up by the camp staff – walk-in mosquito-proofed tents with en-suite chemical toilet, external long-drop toilets, hot showers and a dining area next to the fire where iced drinks and sumptuous bush-prepared meals will be served.
Our chef will have prepared a delicious lunch to give you strength for the first afternoon’s walk – a familiarisation walk to see the lay of the land. Then back to camp for sundowners, a hot (or cold if you prefer) shower, and a fine dinner.
An early wake up, just as dawn breaks. Hot water for freshening up will be placed in raised basins outside each tent, while tea, freshly brewed coffee and muffins or home-made biscuits are already waiting by the campfire.
The day’s itinerary depends on what guests have agreed to with the guide – perhaps an early morning walk to watch the sunrise. These walks are customised to each group with regards to preferences, fitness level and interests.
Walking options may include exploring the course of the Chitake River as it flows to the Ruckomechi river, hiking upstream towards the escarpment or visiting other waterholes in the woodlands. Alternatively, you may visit the dinosaur fossils or discover the inside of a hollow baobab that is the old lair of a leopard (and still has bones inside it).
Guests will return to camp for lunch and may set off on another walk afterwards or simply sit back and enjoy the African bush.
Then back to camp for the night where, once again, a great meal, hot shower, cold drinks and friendly staff are awaiting.
After early rising, there is the option of heading out immediately or of having breakfast before setting out on a whole day of hiking. Alternatively, stay near the spring to sit and watch for game.
In the cooler parts of the year – May to end August – we suggest doing longer walks from camp. As it gets drier and hotter – September to November – it is preferable to stay near the spring area through the heat of the day.
Early and late walks are then more advisable. Long viewing “sits” can be extremely rewarding as one gets to observe wildlife behaviours not possible when walking. Witnessing the natural daily cycle of activity gives one a greater understanding and appreciation of nature. Some of the mammals you may possibly encounter are impala, baboon, vervet monkey, kudu, Sharp’s grysbok, elephant, buffalo, zebra and waterbuck. This third night will again be spent at the Chitake campsite – with all the trimmings.
Depending on guests’ departure time, or if guests are moving on to a canoe trail or an alternative camp, they may either take another early walk before breakfast or have a lie in!
After that, there will be a game drive to the airstrip or back to Nyamepi, Mana Main Camp, where we bid you farewell!
As you depart with your memories, we know that this experience will have enriched your life and touched your soul!
the afrisafari group
Skype – africa.travel