Dawn offers a mixture of promise and uncertainty in Mana Pools National Park. Life amidst the animal kingdom is one which requires curiosity, awareness, presence and learning to expect the unexpected. This is the nature of the untamed, and the thrill of the wild.
The wilderness displays a variety of characters throughout the year, its personality changing with the seasons. It is fascinating to observe the adaptation of animal behaviour as times turn, from the heat of summer, to golden autumn, the reprieve of winter and growth of spring. The wild innately knows not to expect daily events to unfold in a routine manner, each day a matter of survival. As pre-dawn steals the sky from night, those who have survived the dark are gifted a moment of reprieve as the sun rises over the earth, a golden hour of peace before a new day begins. Expect anything, assume nothing.
The element of the unknown is where the addiction to Mana Pools National Park lies. Its untouched landscapes and wild ways summon the safari seeker, the adventurer and lovers of the outdoors. It is rugged and raw in nature, wrought with beauty and uncertainty, a web of life both resilient and fragile.
“Everything in Africa Bites, but the Safari Bug is Worst of All” Brian Jackman
It is the landscape itself which maintains sovereignty over all, creatures great and small adapting to its ways. Animals rely on the availability of food, the life-source of water, shade for reprieve and ecosystems which provide habitat. During the rains and green season, the bush thrives, food and water plentiful, ecological diversity abundant. It is the dry season where uncertainty increases; if water deposits remain, the availability of food and endurance of the heat.
Wildlife has learnt survival skills over eons, approaching seasons with different techniques. This may sometimes be referred to as ‘stress-growth’, taking adversity and turning it into opportunity. For example, if a tree falls and dies in the forest, it becomes the home to a variety of smaller creatures, as well as nutrition for the earth. Each facet of nature has a purpose beyond its survival, every segment intertwined and dependent on the fate of another. This type of daily crisis has taught each and every organism the art of survival, those which are able to adapt, reign. It is here where uncertainty proves positive, intimately tied up with resilience.
A stay at Mana Pools Safari Lodge offers the opportunity to witness the ways of the wild. One can immerse themselves on a walking safari, following in the footsteps of guides who lead you into the belly of the bush. Being on foot allows for an intimate encounter with the successes, adversities and tumultuous tales of nature through reading its signs, becoming aware of its stories. We are given insight into the strategy of stress growth and the consequent strength which transpires.
A game drive through the bush provides the chance to cover more distance and absorb the biodiversity of the park, from its open grassland, wild waterways as well as the golden light within the Albida forest. One can embrace the scope of its ecosystems, and how each element affects the whole, appreciating its intricate nature, as well as the necessity for adaptation. Simply sitting at the lodge observing the scenery beyond grants one wildlife wonders, animals moving freely towards the Zambezi River to quench their thirst. The lodge is located upon the banks of the river, therefore a thoroughfare for game, the Zambezi their life-source.
Waking with the dawn, one must simply arm themselves with curiosity, ready to receive the gifts nature is willing to deliver, each day unique in presence.