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Buffalo Bend
My first safari to the Southern Lowvelt

In 1970 my mother decided she wanted to see some other parts of Zimbabwe so my next school holiday was spent camping at Buffalo Bend. This was the Western section of the Gona re Zhou National Park Gona and turned out to be a very different experience when compared to the camping in the Zambezi Valley. Not so hot and definitely much less wildlife. I did see some new wildlife species such as nyala antelope and Livingstone's suni. After four weeks camping there we left for home having seen no other vehicles other than our own. I liked that!

1/ :Unable to hire a pickup we set off for Buffalo Bend concerned that a Toyota saloon car might not be up to the rigors of bad bush roads. Amazingly - in the far south of the country and in the middle of nowhere - the roads were in perfect condition!
An image of a saloon car parked on the side of a wide gravel road in the heart of dense bush country.
2/ :Even a hundred kilometers from the entry point to Gona re Zhou elephants were pushing trees over the road. The surrounding bush was part of the vast Nuanetsi Ranch.
An image of Paul Augustinus examining the spoor of elephant in the dust of the road where a tree had been pushed over, blocking the way.
3/ :We arrived at the Game Department campsite on the banks of the Nuanetsi River. This was a very idyllic location and there was no one else there for the entire time we were there.
An image of Paul Augustinus looking through binoculars across the Nuanetsi sand river towards the forest on the other bank.
4/ : We camped in a dense grove of trees adjacent to the riverbank and in full view of the sand river bed.
An image of a tent pitched in among some trees on the Nuanetsi River.
5/ :On the opposite bank lots of wildlife would come out to graze in the evenings.
An image of a herd of waterbuck antelope on the opposite bak to the campsite location.
6/ :The Game Department had just built this ablution block for the campsite. In the afternoons a game scout would come by and polish the brand new brass taps.
An image of a  small shower and toilet building in the bush. On one wall was written.
7/ : These black rhino had been captured in the North of the country and were being released in Gona re Zhou.
An image of a woman touching the horn of a black rhino that is standing serenly inside a paddock.
8/ :Several nights in a row we were kept up by lions walking along the sandy Nuanetsi river bed.
An image of the spoor of a lion in the coarse sandy bed of the Nuanetsi River.
9/ :The elephant encountered at Buffalo Bend were much more shy and skittish than I was used to. They always moved off very quickly.
An image of a herd of elephants in a lush grove of Mopane trees.
10/ : The bridge over the Nuanetsi at Malapati. This was one of the most beautiful stretches of untouched African riverine scenery I had ever seen.
An image of  Paul Augustinus standing on a bridge that spans a sand river. Riverine forest is in the background.

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