From my throne I was privy to all the comings and goings at the waterhole, and they were numerous and frequent. As I arrived in the camp, my luggage hadn't even touched the ground when I had my binoculars firmly planted on my face, observing 8 different species of raptors either drinking at the pan or hunting among the thick foliage of the towering African Ebony (Diospyros mespiliformis) and Nyala Berry (Xanthocercis zambesiaca) trees that provide thick shade to the camp’s public areas throughout the day. Once I was done ogling the birds of prey I turned my attention to the bustling waterhole, full swing into the mid-morning rush hundreds of green spotted, african mourning and cape turtle doves were noisily flapping down to the waters edge, often spooking the notoriously shy family of kudu.
Taking no heed of the raucous birdlife was a pair of grumpy looking ‘daga boys’ - old buffalo bulls who have taken retirement from the larger herds in their advanced age and find solace in each others cantankerous company. A troop of 50 plus baboons complete the bustling scene with their inherent human like poses and expressions, adding a chaotic sense of humour to the otherwise peacefully industrious scene.
I settled down into my feathered throne to watch the myriad of fascinating encounters unfolding in front of me, just in time to observe a thirsty herd of elephants run the last 100 meters of dry, dusty plain to the waters edge, so grateful for the quenching coolth of the water that they visibly couldn't decide whether to drink deep or drench themselves from head to wrinkly toe.
I reveled for most of the morning in the diversity of bird and animal life congregating around the pan, until a polite call for brunch stirred me into action and I used musclesfor the first time in several hours to haul myself over to the delicious looking meal. Eating was no easy task though, as soon as I looked down to decide what tasty morsel to devour next there was some commotion from the waterhole, a juvenile African goshawk catching a green spotted dove or a large bull elephant noisily drinking from the borehole output just meters from where I sat.
Brunch, delicious as it was, totally exhausted me and I was thankful to avoid the scorching midday hours in the sanctuary of my luxuriously appointed room. Even from the cool comfort of my bed I could keep half an eye on the action at the pan, all the rooms at Kanga Camp have their own unique view of the waterhole.
Back on my throne in the late afternoon, the manic activity of the morning seemed to have cooled along with the temperature and I was able to watch more intimate moments a bit more closely. A mother Zebra nuzzling its nervous young foal towards the water and a pair of saddle billed storks repeatedly probing the shallows. The subtle sounds of the bush enveloped me and all seemed well and at peace with the earth as it slowly turned a glowing orange then red as the sun slid rapidly towards the horizon. As I lazily contemplated the many salubrious advantages of my “Armchair Safari” I was jolted into action and a hasty grab for my camera by the sudden arrival of a pack of 11 Wild Dog and their 7 pups, eager for a drink they unknowingly provided the coup-d’etate to my day of quiet observance.
Kanga Camp offers one of the best “Armchair Safari” experiences you are likely to find and should be on anyone’s list of things to do when visiting Mana Pools. The lush environment of Kanga Camp and laid back but fruitful wildlife watching provides the perfect way to ease into bush life, especially if you are hot off a long international flight and several bumpy domestic ones. Mana Pools offers some of the most diverse landscapes and unique game watching opportunities in Zimbabwe, so it would be wise not to halt your journey at Kanga Camp. African Bush Camps, who own and run Kanga also operate a mobile tented safari operation, Zambezi Life Styles, that will afford you the opportunity to see the Mana Pools floodplain in all its glory and in luxurious style. For more information contact African Bush Camps on firstname.lastname@example.org and see their website www.africanbushcamps.com