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August 2010 Bush Blog
August 2010
All-busy August

Although August is traditionally the high season in the southern Africa safari scene, we have just been overwhelmed (in all the right ways) by the response we have had this last month to what we call our Explore Gorongosa slow-safari experience.  We closed off August at around 75% occupancy for the month (which for just our second year in operation is really super cool) with many of our guests from 2009 choosing to return again to be with us this past month.  Special thanks go to James & Bear (mad mountain warriors both), Chris & Julia from Pambele, as well as Ant & Rawana from Private Guided Safaris who all chose to return to paradise in August.  We also had some firsts this past month in terms of our guests’ geography, with quite a few folks joining us from Portugal, some from the far north Viking (Wiking?) parts, our favourite Italian & his camera full of animal butts, some lovely mad Brazilian ladies, and even some Canadians (real live ones, yes!)  The UK still dominates our guest scene on the whole, but the interesting diversity of late is starting to have an effect on our staff – the other day one of our staff was caught greeting the guests in German... he had apparently been taking secret lessons from one of our honeymooners who obviously had far too much time on her hand (on honeymoon to boot!)


Game viewing has been rather unusual this past month with some things in abundance and others being noticeably absent for large portions of the month.  The lions were loud and very active initially (the three little cublets and their mum wandered (wondered?) through camp one evening even!) and then suddenly someone turned off the Great Lion Tap – for at least a week none to be seen, heard or sniffed at.   We feel the full moon mid-month had something to do with it all – you can always blame the moon for anything strange and unusual can’t you?  But what we lacked in felines we more than made up for with large and rather friendly (mostly) pachyderms.  There definitely seems to be a couple of relaxed bulls who are making the Msicadzi River their new home and stomping ground, as many of our fever trees and palms will attest to.  Unfortunately they are not quite at the stage of trust to come and drink in front of camp during the day, but they are there at night and every now and then we catch ourselves stopping on the way to bed to listen to a stomach rumbling or a branch crashing... we hope they continue to chill out around camp and keep that ever- fine line between awesome resident ele bulls and camp raiders!  Andy was in camp helping us out with some guiding for quite a bit of the month and he had some fun teaching the one or two not-so-friendly lady elephants (those a little sensitive with their young calves in the herd) some rather useful phrases ending in ...off!  (Needless to say, after joining Andy on one of his drives, Joseph is now convinced that Andy could be the next elephant whisperer!)


Other news on the animal front is more sightings of the big (wild) buffalo herd in the east (now known as the Urema Herd) and the smaller male-dominated herd around the Songue (recently dubbed the Beasty Boys due to the fact that they are “escapees” from the Sanctuary from last year!)   We have also recently been seeing the large herd of sable (50-plus) we saw last year towards the end of the dry season.  We feel their earlier than usual arrival on the floodplains could be due to the many fires that have swept through the Park recently, many coming in from areas surrounding the Park.  These fires, although often out of control, do serve a purpose ecologically (although the quantity of this purpose is one of the many conservation debates doing the circuits these days..!)   Other interesting sightings in August included a regularly seen honey badger near the camp, a couple of skittish servals, a mating pair of monitor lizards (don’t ask...), and a large herd of Lichtenstein’s hartebeest coming out into the plains.  There are also some new arrivals into the extended Gorongosa family, namely some young kudus and nyalas who seem to come a little earlier than the other antelopes due to their being predominantly browsers and thus not so reliant on the rains for the season’s new flush.


Birding continues to get better and better here at Explore Gorongosa, and we were very chuffed to break our current 4-day safari twitching record with a whopping 122 species seen by Helen and Simon... sorry Peter and Anne, your record has been pipped by 2!  With the migrants on the come-back trail (is that a Carmine Bee-eater I can hear), we hope to push 150 or more in the next couple of months... will the real bird nerds please stand up.

All in all, this August was a busy and somewhat eventful month which had us all running around our tails a bit (although they say a bit of tail-chasing is a good thing from time to time...)   So whilst we await the arrival of this year’s springtime (flowers are already on the bud, birds are pairing up, warthogs are fat and pregnant, and the weather is hotting up...) we will leave you with one question:

What on earth are you doing sitting there in that boring grey office reading this on a computer screen when you could be here, with us, right here, in the flesh, watching eles, birds, views and things, whilst working on your hammock technique?

Until you have a really good answer to that question, we will love you and leave you and look forward to seeing you (back) here with us very very soon...

Happy days from us all at Explore Gorongosa!

{Pics included here are courtesy of our partner Greg taken during one of his much cherished all-day game drives at the beginning of the month}
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