The 28th of September 2020 met both Karen Lowe and sunrise on the road from Harare to Bulawayo, the day and journey steeped in the promise of adventure.
Destination: Hwange. Intention: Photographic expedition extraordinaire. Reality: broken down in Kwekwe.
Finding refuge in a last minute.com and aptly named B’n’B; ‘Touch Wood’ housed Karen overnight. The evening was spent hustling to find a lift to Bulawayo, many a phone call with a mixed bag of options later - one being hitching a ride with a coal truck to Hwange, most certainly an adventure curveball. Breathing in courage with exhalations of patience, a transfer was found and Karen safely delivered to Bulawayo the following day, car remaining in Kwekwe. Touch Wood it’s still there on return!
Zimbabwe is a land and lifestyle of curveballs. This is its power and defect. It is wise to adopt an attitude of expect anything, and assume nothing. A lesson learnt from nature - which is where Karen was deposited the morning of the 30th - overcoming obstacles and ready to resume a photographic expedition with Imvelo Safaris in Hwange National Park.
The memories and images collected were beyond expectation. October temperatures rose up to 50 degrees - albeit a small price to pay for the experiences over the next few days. Greeted by heat and a host of elephants jostling over the freshwater from the swimming pool, with roan and buffalo wandering below a soaring of yellow-billed kites, Karen arrived at Nehimba Lodge, Northern Hwange. Pausing in awe at the variety of species bustling around the waterhole in front of the lodge, each seeking respite from the African sun.
Water is the most valued commodity in Hwange National Park. Ecosystem’s life source - each and every creature dependent on its existence. The proof is in the pumps which supply water to the pans in front of the lodge, a veritable animal intersection throughout the day, a constant flow of traffic from large to small. Imvelo Safaris is committed to providing the park with water, protecting the precious resources of nature, especially on dry October days in anticipation of the rainy season.
Karen is assigned private guide Brendan Judge to reveal the wonders of the wild. Five days are spent exploring, uncovering, collecting and marvelling at nature. Joined by Imvelo founder and owner, Mark Butcher, they delve into wild encounters one only experiences with those who hold Hwange in their veins. Hwange National Park is part of Mark Butcher, having witnessed its growth for decades, learning its ways with deep respect.
A walking safari with Butch finds Karen metres away from a herd of elephant, eventually approaching them on the floor to capture the perfect shot. The proximity is a sensory affair - the heat of the ground emanating up into their bodies, the smell and sounds of the elephant carried by dust they disturb with their feet and trunks. Enveloped in Africa - Karen too begins to collect Hwange in her veins. And it’s only day one.