Our nephew Mitchell turned 21 last month, and as a twenty first birthday gift, HeeHoo brought him from Oz to Zimbabwe especially to Mana Pools and hopefully to the Vic Falls as well.
Mitch's pal Emile joined us and the four of us had a glorious week camping at the most famous of all National Parks, at Nyamepi with out campsite overlooking the mighty Zambezi River.
We are no strangers to the vagaries of Mana and coped well with the wonderful character tests that this fabled National Park has to offer. The vervet monkeys had us 'sussed' out in no time at all. Newcomers to Nyamepi are fair bait for these clever little creatures, and they had us totally foxed with three pronged attacks, sly diversionary tactics, and general guile and cunning, making off with a loaf of bread in no time at all.
We had with us a very strong canvas kitchen tent, that could withstand their feisty teeth but they won in the end by destroying our camp site totally when we left it to go game viewing. The loo roll was scattered far and wide, the paper towel was totally macerated and they left us with monkey dung on the tent and the chairs!!
The hyaenas whooped and giggled all night, the hippos joined us grazing close by at dusk, and elephant wandered into the camp nightly seeking the pods from the Albida tree above us.
We were very careful to choose a tree this time, that was not a 'night stop' for the baboons, as the visit before this one, the baboons had gathered above us seeking refuge from predators. That was fine, their chatter did not disturb us, but at 5 am exactly, their bowels all worked in unison, all over our tents!!
Camping is great fun at any age, and the boys turned from City Slickers, to Rustic Woodsmen overnight!! They both cooked over the fires that they made, carried water great distances, showered with bats, wasps and frogs, and taught us a lot about philosophy, astronomy and a myriad other thought provoking subjects that interest modern day young men.
One is no longer able to walk freely at Mana but the lads went on a game walk with a most knowledgable armed National Parks guide called Joseph who was excellent and knew exactly where to find cats, kills and the food chain therein!!
The river was flowing much faster than usual due to the fact that Kariba is letting so much water out for hydro electric power I gather, which sadly had engulfed the vast plains in front of our camp, but the magic was still there. The white fronted bee-eaters still nest along the banks, elephant and plains game abound, and of course, Mana is a bird lover's paradise.
We arrived home this afternoon, exhausted, filthy dirty, dying for a bath but confident in the fact that we had so enjoyed one of Zimbabwe's magical miracles and forged unforgettable memories for two wonderful young men, that will remain with them forever.