If we didn’t know it before, we discovered pretty quickly that no two game drives are the same. While Makalolo Plains keeps a log of the types of animals that guests could probably see, they cannot offer a guarantee.
During September, the time we in Hwange National Park, there was a high probability of seeing elephants (100%), zebras (100%), waterbucks (100%), widebeests (93%) and steenbucks (90%). But because of the size of the park, the animals have many places to escape the sun so sometimes, we’d drive for long stretches before we’d see anything.
However, the guides are very knowledgeable of the animals’ habits and hideouts and would use every method – from communicating with other guides to following animal tracks in the sand – so that we’d have a good experience. We were very lucky to see four of the Big Five – elephant, lion (60%), leopard (17%) and buffalo (57%) – and witness some pretty interesting animal behavior.
Game drives were never boring. While we jaunted along, different things caught our attention. Take our first day out, for example. We spotted vultures sitting high atop several trees. Others were circling and a few more were flying in – a sure sign that they knew a meal was waiting.
Godfrey told us that an elephant had died the previous day – probably from old age. As guides, they’re not allowed to interfere in animal activities. However, since the elephant had died close to the path, they had moved it out of sight so as not to upset us. We saw part of the carcass – and we could definitely smell it.
Since Hwange is a natural habitat, life and death exist side by side. Seeing the carcass was a reminder but if we hadn’t seen it, there would be other reminders as the bones of dead animals were everywhere.