4 days / 3 nights
Camp Chitake is a luxurious stationary camp located near the Chitake Spring. The Spring is a hidden gem nestled deep in Mana Pools National Park. The Chitake Spring is an area of crucial importance to a great variety of wildlife occurring in this southern part of Mana Pools National Park. Water flows strongly out of the ground and flows for up to a kilometre along the otherwise dry riverbed of the Chitake River. The Chitake River rises in the Zambezi Escarpment on the very southern boundary of the Park, and connects with the Ruckomechi River, which in turn snakes across the valley floor to the mighty Zambezi, 70 kilometres away. Once the rains have begun properly, there is a torrent of water flowing in these systems but that generally dries up by April. As more of the surrounding waterholes dry, the spring becomes the focus of survival to hundreds of thousands of creatures.
The high and rugged escarpment is only 8 km away but game has to come down from the hills for water. The mixed Mopane, Combretum and Acacia woodlands of the vast valley floor are home to many thirsty animals. As the dry season progresses the concentrations of wildlife increase, accompanied by huge flocks of doves, starlings, lovebirds, sparrows, finches, hornbills and sand grouse.
With such a diverse array of wildlife on the menu, this is the ideal spot for predators - lion, leopard, hyena, painted hunting dog, mongoose, snakes and a plethora of birds of prey enjoy the fine dining. Vultures are often seen in large numbers waiting for their next meal.
Of course, the greatest shows are put on by the grey herds of thirsty elephant and huge black masses of buffalo. Experience the closeness and excitement of Chitake by camping right on the edge of the river and exploring its mini sandstone gorge and wild woodlands, brimming with nature. Long walks are taken out from the spring area to go up into the different habitats of the hills or, when it is very dry, one can make a hide in the bushes near the water, blend into the environment and let everything come to you.
Chitake can be an extremely intense experience for the true naturalist and someone who likes to feel the challenge of nature. When walking you have to concentrate particularly carefully on your surroundings, often remaining silent for hours to let the game close in. Sounds are amplified at night in the narrow riverbed; the bushes around one threatening to release some bundle of tooth and claw!
For the avid birder there is no disappointment, as with the combination of dry and wet, woodland and open scrub, mountain and plain, there are well over 300 possible bird species to be seen.
Due to the structure of the environment, a naturalist will discover bats, rodents, porcupine, honey badgers, bugs, beetles, butterflies, moths, hissing ants, spiders, scorpions, beautiful plants, giant baobabs, tracks and spoor.
This is not a "lodge". This is not a game drive. Chitake is for people who understand the Africa away from the standard brochure. For the “Africaphile” who like their wildlife wild!