I spent two days recently at the new Little Ruckomechi camp in Mana Pools National Park.
The only thing “little” about this camp is it’s size – just ten safari tents (I guess even that isn’t so little!). Perched on the edge of the Zambezi River, in an exclusive concession in the north-west of the famous national park, it’s got one of the most spectacular locations of any camp I’ve seen. Mana is famous for it’s photogenic landscapes and teeming wildlife, and Little Ruckomechi is slap-bang in the middle of all the action.
My guide was Honest Siyawareva – he’s one of the best I’ve met on my explorations of Africa’s wild places – for several reasons. More on him in another blog, but it’s worth mentioning that as we drove the corner into camp for the first time, a young bull elephant approached us as if to say: “Hey, this is my camp, what you doing here!?”. Well, he was right of course. This is his land, and it’s one of the reasons I love Mana so much. The animals are still in charge.
Like all young bull elephants, he was full of bravado, and walked up to the vehicle, raised his huge head and tusks, and sniffed us as his trunk came within half a metre or so of us in the open vehicle! Honest was cool, calm and collected all the way through.
“There are plenty of elephants in camp,” Honest laughed afterwards. “First time guests get scared, but within a few days, they’re so used to elephants wandering around that it becomes normal”.
Well put, Honest. I like that kind of “normal”. Elephants wandering past my room and through my daily life SHOULD be normal…and it’s why I love my work, because I get to live among wild animals for large parts of the year.
What I really love about Little Ruckomechi is it’s small size and it’s personal, down-to-earth atmosphere. I felt like it was my own personal camp, without over-the-top luxury. Sometimes, some safari camps and lodges seem go too far with luxury interiors. I think they sometimes forget that the wilderness around the lodge is the most important part of the experience. At Little Ruckomechi, the rooms are large, airy and full of light (but still cool), with great views of the Zambezi Valley and alibida forests on the floodplains. I hope to go back!
Check out Little Ruckomechi on the Wilderness Safaris’ website here.