On July 10th our Boat Captains spotted the first humpback whales of the season just offshore of Fanjove. This is a point of annual excitement as the whales make their migration from their cold Antarctic feeding grounds to warmer water to breed.
The following days have brought more big splashes as we continued to see the whales from the boat, the shore and on one lucky occasion, right in front of the restaurant!
With them, the humpbacks have brought a huge hum of anticipation to the island, and it is not unusual to see Captains and guests alike dropping everything they’re doing and running towards the boats when they hear the word “Whale!” to try and view the giants closer.
You might expect that a whale measuring up to 16 metres in length and weighing in some cases 30 metric tonnes, would be easy to spot – you’d be surprised. For as impressive and powerful as the humpback whales are, in equal measures they are elusive and shy.
However being patient can be immensely rewarding; for one extremely lucky group of guests, we found ourselves in a sighting where our whale was so relaxed that we were able to cut the boat engine then slip into the water with masks and fins and swim with the enormous beauty. We observed in sheer admiration, as our 12 metre friend repeatedly dived in the shallow water then surfaced again, surrounded by relaxed bottlenose dolphins and miniscule yellow fish that gave a delightful sense of scale. We remained in awe as the relaxed humpback stayed with us for a remarkable hour as we took turns to swim in small groups.
In addition to welcoming the whales back, we were also glad to say karibu to a film troupe who visited us to document our marine conservation project. They divided their time between the ongoing projects on Fanjove and the community development on neighbouring SongoSongo Island. Although they were too early for the whales, they were lucky enough to observe a grey shark whilst diving!
We had quite a surprise on the morning of the 26th because our first turtle nest began to hatch at 8am. The nest was running late and we were concerned that it may have been spoiled by encroaching high tides. Our staff and guests gathered to see 33 little turtles make a short passage to the sea. The following morning to our delight, at almost exactly the same time a further 7 turtles hatched. We wished them luck as they began their safari in the sea and we hope we can see them again one day, perhaps diving! Watch the video of the baby turtles.
Laura, Johan, Hakim and the Fanjove Private Island team.
baby green turtle
The season at Rhino is in full throttle. And the animals are here showing off from a herd of thirty buffalo sleeping inside the courtyard, using it as a safe zone while a pride of lions stalk them. To elephants showing off a young elephant as the eat the trees in front of the restaurant as buffalo act as natural lawn mowers and keep the grass short.
A truely amazing sighting of a fully grown leopard prowling through the night just on the edge of the forest as guest are guided by Askari to watch him prowl.
Log fires in the dinning room are often a great relaxation spot in the chilly evenings as one catches up with family and friends.
Michael, Mary and the Rhino Lodge Team.
On every travelers mind and lips are the elusive Lions. We are quite fortunate at Lake Manze Camp that there are various prides scattered throughout the area that are spotted on regular occasions that give fantastic photo opportunities to all our guests. Watch video I, video II, video III, video IV and video V.
The variety of antics is what encapsulates them. Lazing on their backs, pedicure on a tree or the long treks to find food. Your camera is the one that captures these amazing animals into prosperity. Daniel Clement one of our drivers found a clever way to include Lion petting into the activities
The Manze Elephant herd has been around the camp a couple of times and we can report that the four one tusker mothers all have a new born. We would estimate that they were all born during March and April this year.
The Lake still has a lot of water in due to our basic dam wall building effort and we hope that we will still have enough water at the beginning of the small rains in November. The fingerprint of the sky sunsets are amazing to see as we head through winter.
See you soon ans safe travels,
By Shaun, Milinda and all Manze Team.
The Mdonya woodland/river area has been the place to be this month as our guests have been experiencing one incredible sighting after another just as they head out or coming back in to camp. First there was a fortunate sighting of 3 different carnivores all in one location, a pride of lions had taken down a pregnant giraffe and were happily tucking in to their meal, an unfortunate leopard was trapped just nearby in a baobab tree being reluctant to climb down due to the threat of the big powerful lions but it managed its escape when a distraction came in the form of a hungry hyena who was chased off by the lions. What a scene to take in first thing in the morning!
A great source of excitement has been the reoccurring sightings of 2 young leopard cubs just outside of camp. They are a young male and female, the male has shown to be very curious and brave approaching the vehicle whereas his sister is more timid. Could he be the son of Fundi who showed similar behaviour years ago?
There was also an incredible sighting of the common yet rarely seen Caracal. The Caracal is a small cat with big tufts on the tops of its ears resembling those of a lynx. It is very elusive and is uncommonly seen so relaxed as it crossed the road in front of the car and posing for pictures.
Watch the videos captures by the camp cameratraps this month: video I, video II and video III.
By Rebecca, Andrea and all Mdonya Team.