Singita Pamushana Lodge: April 2023
April is one of my two personal favourite months at Singita Malilangwe. The colours of the trees changing to precious metals and the way gold-leaf confetti from the Kirkias flutters down around you is delightful. The weather is also ideal – a nip in the air in the early morning hours, sunny days, and saturated sunsets. There were a couple of misty mornings too which add a sense of mystery as you don’t know what animal could materialise from the invisibility cloak. The mist is also sensational for wildlife photography. There is still a lot of water around for this time of year, as Cyclone Freddy topped up dams, pans and temporary waterholes as it dissipated over Zimbabwe last month.
The sightings have been very good and in addition the terrain is looking incredible; in fact it is often the landscape that impresses our guests just as much as the wildlife they have seen on drive.
Here’s a sightings snapshot for April:
River Pride: We’ve been seeing this pride of five lionesses, five sub-adults and three cubs regularly on the eastern side of the Chiredzi, and watched in awe as they leapt across the Chiredzi back to the western Hippo Valley side near the end of the month. They were seen attempting to hunt a nyala bull, and seen feasting on a Cape buffalo just below Malilangwe House.
The Nduna Pride have surprised us with spending time far west of their usual territory, around Nhanga and Nyari Pans. We’ve see 12 lions, including two cubs. The cubs gave the game away on one occasion when the pride showed interest in hunting a buffalo, but we’ve seen them feast on two buffalo bulls, a female kudu, and two kudu bulls in the month. A mating pair was observed at month-end.
Wonderful sightings of a fairly relaxed male leopard in the Nyamasikana Crossing, West Valley Hyena Den, Pamushana Access and Sosigi Dam areas. On these various occasions he was seen: trying to hunt impala but the wind was not in his favour, perched in an umbrella thorn tree, looking for hunting opportunities, relaxing in the shade, and being simultaneously curious and aloof while stargazing!
Guests were delighted to see a female leopard drinking water on the side of the road. She was spotted again hunting around Kwali. She is possibly the mother of the fairly relaxed male.
With lots of water still available in temporary pans the rhino sightings are slightly less frequent than usual, and by that we mean you may see five on a drive rather than 15!
White rhino sightings are almost guaranteed on a drive if you go specifically in search of them. There’ve been occasions when a crash of six rhinos have been seen together.
Black rhino sightings are more erratic, but one group of guests were treated to a black rhino on the side of the Binya Road in Malilangwe, as they were travelling back from a daytrip to Gonarezhou National Park.
You can often predict fairly accurately when and where a breeding herd will choose to drink. Waiting at the river or a dam and seeing the extended family arrive and enjoy all that the water offers is a delight.
The bulls are seen singly or in small bachelor groups. Some are sporting some impressive ivory.
Banyini Pan is a favourite gathering place for buffalo, but it is due to be dredged which has instead seen the large herds gathering at 02 Pan and at Ray’s Drift on the river, to drink.
A pack of 11, with a heavily pregnant alpha female have been hunting in the central regions and have pretty much stolen the show this month. To see them on the move or finishing off a kill is an intense experience.
There has also been sightings of a pack of four wild dogs. They too have been hunting impala, and one of the females is pregnant. Hopefully both these packs will choose to den on Malilangwe in May, and raise their pups here.
Known for their scavenging prowess it was no surprise to find 10 hyenas feasting on the remains of a kudu carcass that they’d usurped from the Nduna Pride in the Hunyugwe Dam area. What was a surprise was finding two hyenas with a fresh impala ram kill, on the Hippo Valley side, that were so skittish they temporarily abandoned the kill when we spotted them. We surmised they’d made the kill themselves as there wasn’t a sign of another predator around.
Plains game abound which includes giraffes, wildebeest, zebras, impalas and even some sightings of sable antelopes and eland.
The prize for this category went to a honey badger that was bustling around at Chikwete Cliffs, taking no nonsense from man or beast!
It’s a wonderful time to embark on a walking safari, and it’s what our guides love doing most. Walks included:
Tracking white rhinos for over an hour and finding six of them resting in the Delagoa thorn bushes, and with the wind in the group’s favour getting to about 20 metres without the rhinos being disturbed.
Getting guests who had been on many safari drives in their lives to get out on foot for the first time to track an elephant bull. After 20 minutes of tracking with the wind in their favour they got to about 40 meters of the giant.
One of the guide and tracker teams crossed to the Hippo Valley side to conduct a walking safari, and while giving the safety briefing an impala darted past with a wild dog chasing it! This turned out to be one of the members of the pack of four wild dogs.
Boat cruises are the ideal way to finish a safari experience. By that stage guests will have seen much of the wildlife on the reserve and can simply relax and take in the magnificent scenery and birdlife from the water. But every now and then there’s a final surprise, like the black rhino cow with a calf that showed themselves on the banks of the Malilangwe Dam.
As the saying goes, “The best month’s for fishing have an A in them.” April still delivered with some excellent catches of tilapia/bream and tigerfish.
A road twists through the Chidhumo rock art site making it one of the most popular places to visit to see the artworks left behind by the San people over 2 000 years ago.
Gonarezhou day trip
Two experiences are guaranteed on a day trip to Gonarezhou National Park – herds of elephants and the striated Chilojo Cliffs.
Kambako Living Museum of Bushcraft
Guests thoroughly enjoyed observing and participating in the bushcraft demonstrations, and especially enjoyed the traditional food they were offered to sample.