Many of us probably have a favourite animal, chosen years ago – at Amala, elephants rank high on our list, amongst other reasons, due to the extreme nature of their behaviour. From delicately plucking individual leaves from trees, to knocking down entire trunks altogether through brute force, there is always something interesting to observe.
Nestled in the Lower Zambezi valley in northern Zimbabwe, Mana Pools National Park is a beautiful, tranquil place. The extensive floodplains of the mighty Zambezi River sit before large expanses of acacia woodland, with the Zambezi escarpment rising in the distance.
Part of what makes Mana Pools such a special destination is the immersive walking safaris. Zimbabwe has produced some of the most renowned guides in Africa and under the guidance of such experienced individuals, tracing a path on foot through groves of ancient trees, surrounded by wildlife, bathed in Mana’s glorious golden light – intimately connected to nature – is true paradise.
Having spent years, sometimes decades, in Mana Pools, these guides know the resident wildlife extremely well; individual lions, individual elephants, along with their behaviours and personalities, allow for incredible approaches to big game on foot. One of the most notable subjects for such encounters are the large bull elephants. Over the years, certain elephants have developed the ability to stand on their hind legs, hoisting their huge bodies high into the air to forage from the trees, where other elephants are unable to reach. Of particular fame is Boswell, whose gentle and tolerant temperament have made him a favourite with safari-goers hoping to witness this unique behaviour, as well as younger bull elephants hoping to share in his spoils.
Across the border to the west is Botswana, home to some of the highest quality safari across Africa. The world-famous Okavango Delta, sometimes refered to as the “Jewel of the Kalahari”, is a stunning kaleidescope of blues and greens; an intricate network of meandering waterways, lagoons, woodland and seasonal floodplains, standing in stark contrast to the arid Kalahari Desert sands which surround it.
Located in a pristine riverine forest in the heart of a 500,000-acre private concession to the west of the Okavango Delta lies Abu Camp, an intimate safari lodge which blends seamlessly into the natural surroundings. Luscious and contemporary, Abu Camp retains an authentic safari feel with all the creature comforts of home. In such a wild and remote setting, it is only fitting that the experience delves so much deeper still.
Abu Camp is famous for its elephant rehabilitation programme, which focuses on elephant conservation, raising awareness for the plight of the species and supporting meaningful scientific research projects. Abu provides the opportunity to interact and spend time walking with the Abu Herd, gaining a deeper connection with the individual members of the herd as you see the African bush through their eyes. The programme aims to reintroduce elephants who have been orphaned, injured or rescued from captivity back into the wild; several elephants have been successfully reintroduced into the wild, some of which have remained in the area.