Category Archives: Travel Journal
A perfect elephant reflection, and one of Brian’s final elephant iPad images of the trip before he heads to Kilimanjaro. He chose to spend his last evening before sunset in the Zimbabwe bush just quietly sitting with his wife in a log blind, right beside a waterhole. From the moment he and Dee arrived, the elephants started to appear. Family group after group appeared, punctuated with solitary big bulls checking out the “social scene”. With so much food as a result of good rains this past wet season, Brian reports that there is a real sense of joy with the elephants this year with lots of excess energy around the watering holes!
Brian’s climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, in support of Calgary Health Trust, begins this Tuesday! For updates visit www.calgaryhealthtrust.ca or search the official hashtag - #conquerkili2014.
Can you see the lion? Look carefully! This lioness passed directly in front of the “Log-pile” blind were Brian and Dee had been quietly sitting. Note Brian’s tripod, his scope and jacket that he left behind on the chair. His guide noticed the lioness before she came to the edge of the pan to drink, giving them time to quietly depart the blind to sit safely in the truck. Later that evening, after sunset at the pan near their tent, they encountered the rest of the pride: 14 in all, patrolling the water’s edge.
The lioness lapped water for at least 10 minutes, before unsuccessfully trying her luck on some zebra. Moments after Brian took this photo, she walked past the “log-pile” blind that he and Dee were sitting in!
Before he heads to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro, Brian and his wife Dee have been spending several days in a remote location to share some intimate time with the elephants and lions. They are staying at a place called Davison’s Tented Camp in Hwange National Park. Brian took this photo just before sunset last night. The family of elephant strolled just 3 meters away past the log blind where Brian and Dee were quietly sitting. And yes, a lioness came to drink just moments after this photo was taken!
Note the missing K-9 tooth on this old female lion! Brian indicated that this cat, who was very fat from feeding on a very young elephant, watched his approach with typical focused attention! He and his entire safari group of 13 were able to slowly approach on foot, through the thick scrub forest. They all sat like meerkats, watching the lion watch them.
The lions in this remote park of northern Zimbabwe offer a rare opportunity for safari adventurists to experience Africa wildlife viewing via a classic, perhaps more traditional level. Here one doesn’t just observe wildlife. Instead, one becomes a part of their ecosystem, walking within the animal populations, in their habitat. He said it makes very ‘real experience’.
This lion appears to be drilling visual holes into Brian’s head!
Mana Pools National Park could be the only location in Africa where this kind of approach close to the African wild dog is possible. Brian took this remarkable photo yesterday, lying on his belly only 10 meters away, with his guide Humphrey Gumpo in the background. He had ‘bum-shuffled’ into position at first, and then switched to crawling on his belly. This rare carnivore is a top level predator, but is a specialized Impala antelope hunter. Of course if other similar sized antelope are in good numbers, they will also be taken. This is the wolf-equivalent of Africa, operating within a highly cooperative pack-society. They have huge home ranges, but can be fairly predictable with their movements during their denning season. Mana Pools has several packs denning within the park at the moment, feeding on the abundant population if Impala.
Brian Keating talks to guest host Rob Brown from Davison’s Camp in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.
Walking in on a lion kill was one remarkable experience” Brian reported in a recent email message! Yes, you read correctly: Brian and his group ‘walked’ into the kill site! Mana Pools National Park is perhaps one of the only places in Africa where this is possible, with the right guides, and of course respecting a certain distance.
He took this photograph yesterday morning of two lions on the kill, using his iPad and spotting scope!
The lions were obviously fully aware he and his group were there, perched like human meerkats, watching the lions on the kill from perhaps 100 meters away. The pride has some 24 members, and he counted 8. No doubt many more were in the bush nearby, relaxing with full stomachs. They had killed a 15 year old elephant the day before, providing a huge volume of meat for the large pride.
Brian stayed with the feeding lions until the last fat cat left. Immediately upon his departure, some 100 plus vultures descended upon the kill in a flurry of feathers and dust. Brian’s comment: “Vultures simply have no manners!”
Brian has spent the past few days on the shores of Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe, in Matusadona National Park at Changa Camp. The elephants here have a reddish coloration due to the high iron content of the mud they bathe in. This bull was feeding in the shallows of the shoreline, enjoying some of the abundant water plants growing on the muddy bottom. Brian wrote that the elephant would twist and pull small quantities of plant life from the bottom, and then whip them to remove mud and dirt from the roots before eating.