Singita Pamushana Lodge
Singita Pamushana Lodge
It’s wonderful to have guests filling up the villas at Singita Pamushana, and there’s no greater compliment than when repeat guests return with their nearest and dearest friends, wanting nothing more than for them to fall in love with this part of Africa too.
I describe this as a more “advanced safari” destination – one where you spend a longer time out on drives and take in all diverse creatures great and small, as well as the rock art, bush walks, photographic hide and luxury safari cruises on the Malilangwe Dam. That said, this week one group of guests described seeing the Big Five in two hours when they returned from their evening drive - a herd of thirty elephants feeding below Chikwete Cliffs, a lion and a lioness in the same area, five white rhinos and one buffalo bull sharing the water at O2 Pan, and a male leopard walking along the Binya Road marking its territory between Sosigi Hill and Sosigi Dam.
The weather has been autumn hot but we had a cold snap with some heavy downpours – late but welcome for this time of year.
A sightings snapshot for March follows:
- The majority of sightings have been of the Nduna Pride, numbering up to 11 lions together at one time. They’ve been attempting to hunt buffaloes in the Nduna and Lojaan areas. Towards the end of the month we heard a commotion of lions fighting over something. We drove to the noise and found that lions had killed a buffalo calf and dragged it into a rocky area and were fighting over it. The males were feeding while the lionesses lay on the rocks waiting, and the cubs tried to feed with the males. The males were not willing to share – hence all the growling. The next afternoon one of the lionesses ambushed a sub-adult buffalo calf, and sprung onto its back! More than twenty buffalo came charging towards the lion and the calf, and the lion ran away leaving the bleeding calf with its life saved.
- Five lions were seen at Mabhakweni Pan, where a young male put on a show by climbing up a tree.
- The River Pride with 12 members were seen along the Chiredzi River trying to hunt a dazzle of zebra, but the element of surprise was lost when the wind changed direction and their scent gave them away.
- At the end of the month the two Nduna males were seen in the south-east corner of Banyini feeding on a buffalo calf they’d caught.
- Excellent rhino sightings, as always. Often both black and white rhinos were seen together at waterholes.
- One afternoon an elephant bull was drinking alone at a pan, then it was joined by one male white rhino, one young female black rhino and three dagga boy buffalos. After sunset when driving back past a central waterhole there was a breeding herd of buffaloes drinking, while four white rhinos, one elephant bull and one black rhino waited for their turn to drink.
- Guest saw a total of 14 white rhinos in groups of twos and threes one morning. One afternoon, while sitting in the photographic hide, a total of 12 white rhinos came to drink and wallow at different intervals, with nine being counted together all drinking at the same time.
- On one epic evening more than15 white rhinos came to drink, plus a phenomenal six black rhinos. What an unforgettable sundowner evening that was!
- A mother white rhino is shepherding a brand new baby. They have been seen alone with the mother drinking at quieter times from the central and south-eastern pans.
African wild dogs
- We are seeing two packs of wild dogs at the moment – a group of six, mainly males, and another group of 11 that includes one dog with a broken leg. (It is possible they are all members of one larger pack.)
- The pack of six have been hunting in the central areas, and are all looking fit and strong. An epic sighting with them was when they were seen chasing a lioness around Hwata Pan.
- The pack of 11 were seen at Chikwete Pan, very relaxed, and having a social interaction showing dominance amongst themselves over a female that was in oestrus. The dog with the broken left front leg was calling and whining, begging for regurgitated food from the other dogs, but unfortunately they had come back from a hunt without results. It is simply amazing that this dog has survived for so long thanks to its family regularly feeding it and staying with it.
- Herds in their hundreds congregate daily to drink at the larger water sources like Banyini Pan or Nduna Dam. The dagga boys have been having a fine time wallowing in the muddy quagmires.
- There have been lovely sightings of breeding herds near the river, and one herd has been drinking regularly at Sosigi Dam in the late afternoons. They’ve been very relaxed and completely surround the game viewers much to the delight of the guests.
- The bulls have been in evidence during the heat of the day, at the waterholes. Some guests inside the sunken photographic hide had a muddy shower when a bull aimed his trunk into the hide and sprayed them from head to toe!
- Most of the leopard sightings have been after dark – like the relaxed adult female walking along the Binya Road, stopping every now and again to groom herself.
- Guests on an afternoon fishing expedition were lucky enough to spot a male leopard sleeping on top of a rock.
- A terribly difficult situation to witness one morning was when a zebra mare had complications giving birth to her foal. She was lying in the open area at the airstrip but couldn’t move. Of course every compassionate person wanted to help, but in a situation like this we have to let Nature take its course.
- By the afternoon we found hyenas busy finishing off the carcass. The next morning revealed one hyena and many vultures feeding on the remains, while the hyenas digested their meal at a nearby pan. In a way we must be thankful that these very necessary scavengers were able to end the trauma more swiftly for the mare, and that a newborn foal wasn’t left to suffer a slow death of starvation.
- One of the guides described the Banyini area being like a little Serengeti, such is the prevalence of plains game in that area currently.
- The bush is still quite thick to do long exploratory bush walks, but shorter walks to the rock art sites are ideal. Our guests were so impressed with state the paintings are in – pristine sites and clearly distinguishable art.
Safari boat cruises
- This unique offering within the Singita stable is a must do! Inevitably after guests experience one they request another! Sightings of hippos, crocodiles and water birds are guaranteed, as are the best gin and tonics you could ever dream of, and every now and again guests are also treated with a sighting of elephants, a black rhino or a leopard on the shoreline.
- The water is getting cooler, but there fishing for bream and tigerfish has still been good.
Gonarezhou Day Trips
- Guests have enjoyed these long day outings, and the more reactive breeding herds of elephants prevalent in Gonarezhou ensure you are jolted out of your hypnotic reverie every so often.
Kambako Living Museum of Bushcraft
- Julius has been showcasing the vanishing culture and skills of the Shangaan people, much to our guests’ delight.