Josephine Bestic of Wilderness Safaris describes the "simply wonderful" Ruckomechi Camp in the sultry Lower Zambezi Valley’s Mana Pools National Park.
"An enthusiastic welcoming party met us after a comfortable Wilderness Air Cessna Caravan flight to Mana West Airstrip – so how could we not have a Zambezi beer in this, its spiritual home?
Ruckomechi is situated on the banks of the Zambezi River with the Zambian escarpment across the way forming an unforgettable backdrop for epic sunsets. As an ex-Zambian it was hard for me not to gaze wistfully at those mountains and drink in every precious moment in this amazing place, situated as the camp is on the border of two of the most evocative African countries in my lexicon.
And we were in for some lion treats! But not before our guide Nyenge had introduced us to the area on a short evening game drive. Watching the sun set over those famous mountains as nightjars dustbathed on the road behind us and a huge herd of buffalo came down to drink in an adjacent channel is a moment imprinted forever on our minds.
As is the lion encounter in the dry Ruckomechi River bed…! There we were trundling along, marvelling at the beauty of the adjacent riverine woodland scenery when guide Abiot spotted a tiny dark spot in the road some hundreds of metres ahead. Lioness! We slowly moved towards her and as we did her sister appeared out of a riverside thicket behind us.
Making eye contact with an amber-eyed apex predator as she strolled past is, never mind imprinted, laser engraved on my memory! Absolutely thrilling and terrifying, all at once.
Not long after, their boyfriend appeared and it turns out they’d been mating with him over the course of the past few days but had had enough of him. The ensuing ‘disciplinary action’ was fascinating to watch as they squarely put him in his place.
With elephant walking through camp on their way to snorkel across to the islands, Ruckomechi is the kind of place you don’t even have to leave to take in the wonders of a Mana safari – although we ensured we had both afternoon and early morning boat cruises to absorb the wonder of the Zambezi and all its aquatic treasures. However, sundowners by the pool one evening were equally rewarding as we watched in awe as a martial eagle swooped on its unsuspecting prey down on the floodplain below camp.
If you’re considering a safari on this amazing continent, do consider Zimbabwe, and when you do, make sure you bookend a visit to Hwange with an Upper and a Lower Zambezi stay. You’re guaranteed the quintessential African bush experience. Just don’t expect to leave with your heart fully intact."
Thanks to Wilderness Safaris for Jo Bestic's original article posted on their Blog.