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A couple of questions about Ruckomechi at Mana Pools

Sydney
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A couple of questions about Ruckomechi at Mana Pools

Hi everyone. I've been looking into the Ruckomechin camp, in Mana Pools, as part of an August trip. The camp is in a gorgeous spot, and from what I've read the game should be in abundance (and the guiding very good). If anyone has stayed at Ruckomechi, I have a few questions remaining:

expertafrica says that the Ruckomechi concession is small, and the game drives don't travel very far into the NP. Did you feel like you were travelling the same ground all the time?

Are the walking safaris taken seriously, or are they "light"? The reviews I've read say that the walking trips are very good, but the Ruckomechi website simply lists them as "nature walks", which is not very encouraging...

And those late afternoon winds, that arrive in August, a real drag? Dusty?

And how bad were the tse-tse flies, when you were there? Quite a few folk say that the flies were in abundance, although less so when you are close to the river.

Mmmm... Sorry about the long list of questions. Ruckomechi certainly looks great.

Thanks for your time.

Mfuwe
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1. Re: A couple of questions about Ruckomechi at Mana Pools

Before you get carried away with this, I suggest you check to see if the lodge will be open this year. The water authority of Kariba Dam opened 4 sluice gates in February and the results were flooding of floodplains of the lower Zambezi. Each gate opened raises the water level of the Zambezi River by approximately 1 metre. Already one Lodge in the Lower Zambezi NP across the river in Zambia announced it would not open this year. It is expected with the record rains this year in Zambia and Angola, there will be additional releases at the Kariba Dam.

Alternatively, you can check out the tented camps in Mana Pools that set up camp each season. They should be open by June or July.

Sydney
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2. Re: A couple of questions about Ruckomechi at Mana Pools

"I suggest you check to see if the lodge will be open this year. The water authority of Kariba Dam opened 4 sluice gates in February and the results were flooding of floodplains of the lower Zambezi. ... there will be additional releases at the Kariba Dam"

Wow. I didn't realize the extent of this. I feel sorry for the camps that are so close to the river edge, such as Ruckomechi. I would also guess that with more water flooding into the parks, that game will be less likely to congregate around the river edge, even with the drying out that occurs before August.

"Alternatively, you can check out the tented camps in Mana Pools that set up camp each season. They should be open by June or July."

Thanks for the tip. Is the Chitake Mobile Tented Camp one of these? Could you suggest another camp for me to look at?

Thanks again.

Mfuwe
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3. Re: A couple of questions about Ruckomechi at Mana Pools

The game will move back as the river recedes, although I suspect that game drives will be a bit more interesting with some water in the pans in the latter part of the dry season.

Chitake Springs is over 40kms from the Zambezi River(as the bird flys) and will not be effected by the flooding. Chitake actually has more wildlife showing up as the dry season progresses.

This is the safari I recommend: http://tinyurl.com/65whrx9

Unfortunately, it appears not to match your schedule.

Sussex
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for Mana Pools National Park, Marco Island
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4. Re: A couple of questions about Ruckomechi at Mana Pools

Interesting news regarding all 4 gates being opened on the Kariba dam wall, I hadn't heard that.

Last year they opened 3 (I think) and there were flood warning inforce downstream. We visited Mana in October and whilst the architecture of the Zambezi braded channels had certainly been re-arranged, there was little evidence of significant water encroachment onto the floodplane / rearrangement of the river banks. It will be interesting to see what impact this latest man-induced flood has on the river and its immediate environs. We are booked to spend 8 days in Mucheni 3, which last time I looked, was right on the banks of the river!

As for the OP's original questions - I have never heard a bad word said about Ruckmechi, though I have never stayed their myself. Having said this, I must say we do normally encounter their vehicles in the western part of the Park - Ruckomechi is (was!) just outside the Parks north western boundary.

The afternoon winds are an occupational hazzard and certainly can stir up a lot of dust. If you are staying in an organised camp I would have thought they would deal with these regular events and make things comfortable for their guests. These windy sessions also occasionally occur overnight which makes life 'interesting' with large quantities of dust joining you in the tent! It is a good idea to ensure all optical equipement is safely storred somewhere (relatively) dust free when not in use.

As for bugs, despite all the standing water around Mana I am contiually amazed by the lack of mosquitos...there are a few about, but they are rarely a problem (which is most certainly not to say you shouldnt take anti-malarial precautions).

Tsetse flies are another matter all together - they seem to vary in number and voraciousness by year - last year they were especially bad. If you run through jessie bush (either on foot or in a vehicle) they will make a bee-line for you and they will bite!!!! In Mana, around the floodplane, I find them tollerable.

In the Chitake area, suggested by LB, they are an absolute menace! In conjuction with the Mopane flies ('sweat bees') they contrive to make life pretty uncomfortable. Which is not to say Chitake is not worth a visit - it is a fascinating area, and there are great game viewing opportunities in a true wilderness area. Though I wonder whether action has been taken with the Chitake lion pride after the attack last October - have you heard anything LB?

If you want a safari in Mana in relative comfort with lots of proper walking, I can highly recommend Strech - he is an absolutely top man, great company and few people know Mana and its animals as well as he does. He is famous for getting his guests incredible close to elephant he has got to know and trust over many years. Also, if the Wild Dog are about (and the Mana Pack is once again increasing in size after some unfortunate encounters with lion and hyena over the last 2 or 3 years) he will literally get you in anoungs the pack if the opportunity arises.

This is a link to his website:

http://www.goliathsafaris.com/

Unlike Ruckomechi, which is just outside of the NP, Stretch runs a semi-permanent camp right in the heart of Mana.

Sussex
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5. Re: A couple of questions about Ruckomechi at Mana Pools

I was hunting around on the internet for news of the Kariba gates being opened, and found this short article which puts a very positive spin on the release of water towards Mana:

zambezi.com/news/…kariba_dam_opens_4_gates

****I have just realised this was an article from (nearly exactly) a year ago....sorry!****

Edited: 07 March 2011, 14:34
Mfuwe
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6. Re: A couple of questions about Ruckomechi at Mana Pools

Regarding action on the Chitake pride. None was taken. From what I was told, the South African made a terrible decision for an experienced camper.

Before the dam was built, the floodplains used to get flooded every year. For campers and tented camps, this is no big deal. But with the permanent structures, lodges, maybe another thing.

Sussex
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7. Re: A couple of questions about Ruckomechi at Mana Pools

I am pleased to hear that the lions didn't get killed.

The guy who was killed was Ziimbabwean, not S. African, and whilst with 20-20 hindsight it is easy to say showering after sunset is unwise, I must say this is want we have tended to do for many, many years at Mana.

A change of routine will be in place this year.

Mfuwe
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8. Re: A couple of questions about Ruckomechi at Mana Pools

yep. Zimbos. Slipped my mind. I may still shower around sunset, but I choose the shower area well and keep an eye out regardless. I've seen lions at that time of day strolling through camp too many times. Great when you are enjoying a sundowner, not so good when you are all soaped up.

Durban, South Africa
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9. Re: A couple of questions about Ruckomechi at Mana Pools

Hi

Ruckomechi is always a great place to be and I dont think the opening of the floodgates will have any effect on this area.As for the wildlife Mana is a wonderful place at the time of the year you will be there,we have been there at that time of the year for about the last 18 years and have always had a wonderful time.Chitake is another option but does not as a rule have the volume of animals as Mana but is a very wild place like very few places on earth.The Lions need to be watched but we are in their territory and dont forget night time belongs to the predators .If you are in Mana you could contact Stretch Ferreria who runs Goliath Safaris he knows the Mana area like nobody else and has a camp in the Mana area.Hope this helps but make sure you get to Mana.Regards Graham McDonald

Sussex
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10. Re: A couple of questions about Ruckomechi at Mana Pools

Mana Pools & Ruckomechi categorically have been impacted by flooding this year.

Up until last week, Zimbabwe National Parks are still advising that visitors check before travelling into the NP.

Agree that Stretch is a great person to show you Mana - see post #4 above for a link to Goliath Safari's - Stretch's company.

Edited: 11 May 2011, 14:58
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