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August 2009 Bush Blog
August 2009

And before you know it... blink, blink... and it’s already the middle of August! How time flies while you’re messing around in the bush. Not any bush, mind you. No, Gorongosa is a unique and dynamic park with all sorts of exciting things happening at all sorts of times that we hardly have time to breathe, let alone jotting down some of the great events of the past few months.

So, in a nutshell then: mating lions, lions hunting in camp, lions walking through camp, lions roaring in and around camp, lions fighting with other lions, lions chasing bushbuck, lions sleeping, lions, lions, lions. In between these beautiful cats, we’ve had some great elephant sightings including a sunset with some 80 or so on the Albida floodplains. Some classic “aaah” moments with youngsters, grumpy mums, sparring bulls, and one enormous bull dubbed Tiny by one of our guests. We also have seen huge herds of waterbuck, reedbuck, hartebeest, sable and impala gathering on the Urema floodplains for the winter, and have recently encountered a lone wildebeest on a walk which was great considering most of these unusual beasts had been shot out during the conflict and only a few survived. There are already a couple of hundred brought in from South Africa awaiting release in our sanctuary so whether this chap was an escapee or a survivor from the war days is unsure; but he still provided us with much fun galloping and snorting along with us in the fever trees.

Talking trees, the spring flowering flush has begun with the knobthorns, wild pears, flame creepers and fever trees leading the bunch. The pod mahoganies above the mess tent have not yet burst out in bud – but when they do we can expect birds, bees, butterflies, bushbabies and other b-animals all hovering for their delicious nectar.  We also have had some humour with the pods of these trees which has me clambering up them once a week, collecting “specimens” for my display shelf, which keep on getting pinched by visiting civets, genets and bushbabies at night. We’ve had other visitors at night too and our staff recently disturbed a group of 10 bushpigs drinking in the dwindling river in front of camp whilst setting up for early morning tea. The bushbuck are also really relaxing down now and it won’t be long before Jos has them all named and accounted for in her “aren’t they just the cutest?” catalogue.

Birding continues to astound, amaze and even perplex us at Explore Gorongosa. We’ve had a Narina Trogon floating around in camp – really relaxed and curious as to our goings on. We have a resident Pel’s Fishing Owl in the big trees across the river now and we have seen regular sightings of a juvenile Palmnut Vulture which is very exciting. These three birds alone are worth the air-ticket out here – and we can add a whole stack of other specials to the list including a fantastic sighting of a flock of Pink-backed Pelicans fighting for a few spots on some palm trees near the lake the other day. We also have watched as an Osprey has followed, caught and eaten a poor unsuspecting rat. We were a bit put out by this one because Osprey’s are fish eaters and are meant to be summer visitors to our region. This one was seen eating rodents in winter... go figure?! I got my monthly fix of Green Headed Oriole too with two visits to the Gorongosa Mountain rainforest.  I also got to swim in the seriously stunning Murombodzi waterfall on what must have been the hottest day this winter so Jos thinks I’m very spoilt!

Oh, and on the subject of spoilt – Jos and I both had the opportunity to take to the skies the past few months... twice! Greg Carr kindly offered a couple of rides in his chopper that were not turned down – oh no.  One took us on a whistle-stop tour of the Park from above with some incredible sightings including the Dingue-Dingue swamps (think Okavango), Bela Vista (an old lodge site on the hills near the mountain) and the crocodile-lined Urema Lake. On the second trip, we went off to the dramatic limestone gorges, perching the helicopter and ourselves on the top of these magnificent cliffs overlooking a huge gorge forest. On route we saw the wild herd of buffalos (the ones that survived the war), the only zebra known to still be in the Park (including one young foal which is good news for Gorongosa’s zebras), great elephants, hippos and other fun things like Silvery-cheeked Hornbills from above, and a rather unfortunate Great White Pelican caught in the jaws of a really fortunate croc. All in all, both of these trips took our breaths away – this Park is truly a wildlife wonderland and one that will amaze and astound all those who take the opportunity to visit it before it becomes old hat. Old hats are nice, but new ones are so much more appealing!

So then, with talk of receding recessions, spring coming to the bush, direct flights to the Park, and a whole bunch of exciting new beach and island destinations to explore in Mozambique in combination with us... what is your excuse for not being here with us right now, sipping Gin Cities, breathing in some serious ozone,  and giggling with our resident Samango monkeys... or would you rather be in your boring four-walled, grey office in cold, wet and miserable wherever with nothing but traffic and crappy TV to look forward to this evening?   Your choice...

When you come round to your senses... we’ll see you here soon. We can’t wait.

Until then – happy days from all at Explore Gorongosa!
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