SOUTHERN TANZANIA AND ZANZIBAR
with Michael Ellis and Footloose Forays
NOVEMBER 2 TO 17, 2005
Wednesday, November 2. About half of us begins by flying from SFO (or wherever) on KLM 606 to Amsterdam and then…….
Thursday, November 3. Arrive in Amsterdam overnighting at the Mercure. BOb, JAcquie, John, LIsa, Pat and MErrill meet us at the MErcure. Some sightseeing in the town on an absouluty perfect fall day. C and I collapse for an anfternoon nap, rally for an eveing trip into town.
Friday, November 4. Leave the Mercure around 730 or 8 to connect we our flight KLM 569 to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Busy airport but the Dutch know how to move people. WE have a brief intro and orientation at the gate E6. Beautiful views of Italy and the LIByIaN DeSeRt. Charlie and the Chocalate factory. We stop once at Arusha. It seems weird to me not to be getting off the plane here. 45` flight to Dar. Fecund, smokey afrinca night air. THe officials are very slow but we clear customs at 11 and are met by Sam Mtangi 0748 – 202615. Overnight at the Holiday Inn in Dar which is only 8 k from the airport. 5 of us have a late night drink at the bar, listening to frogs croak and the occassional odd peacock scream.
Ndovu is a beer that means elepahatn tusks in Kiswahili.
Saturday, November 5: Breakfast is good. Golden backed weavers in a colonial nesting scene right outside the Inn. Introduced Indain House crows are ever;ywhere. Brought by one of the Sultans. Royal poicinos are everywhere in flower. At 9 we leave for our city tour of Dar es Salaam – the Haven of Peace. Cloudy warm with slight ocean breeze. HUmid and powerful smnell of the Indain ocean. Just down from the Inn is the ocean We turn right and follow it past teh fish market. Happening place, I give you a very brief overvieew of Tz history. Inspired by the German Lutheran Church. Then the Angelican Church. Greek Orhtodox.Most folks around here are Muslim.
Tanzanians fought on Germany’s side in WW I. We pass a montumetn to the lost black soldiers. It is obvious that ths is not a tourist twon, this is the cap;tial and working community of 3 million. Nothing very pretty aboutg it, excedp-t the ocean. We pass the bombed US embassy. 22 killed – all Tanzanians. There is a holida today. many people are dresed in their finest at the beach. We head norht and go pass many of th Embassies. We stop fo a half hour at a Mekonde carving stores. Also this is the birthplace of the Tinga paintings. FIrst but not last shopping binges. We have to buy lightweifht things like tinga paintings. Nexty stop is the cultural village museum. This is good- we see many examples of dwellings from the various trbes across TZ. Many species of trees and their mediciaal uses are indentified. Tamarind, baobabs, grewia, commophora. Benjamin is the President who is leaving after 10 yrs in office. Elections on December 14.
Seacliff for lunch. slow service but great veiws. Next door to a mall built recently there is alot of South Africans investing in TZ right now. We go to an ATM fr money. So very easy these days.
Back to the hotel by 230 for rest. reading. naps. I walk oer to the fish markey taking noting with me but ten bucks.
Dinner at 7 very very slow service but we have nothing else tbut enjoy each others company. NOw to try to sleep perchance to dream HOliday INn e.
Sunday, November 6: BAgs out at 745 off at 8 to the domestic ariport. At 9:00 AM we leave on a charter plane CEssna CAravan 208 piloted by KAren. We will see her again. OFf we go inot the wild blue yonder. Cumulus clouds, heading southwest toward Kiba airstrip. 6500′, dry woodland below as we pass the airstrip and circle over our lodge. ELlies and hippos seen from the air.To the Selous Game Reserve, the second largest protected natural area in the entire world. ON the ground at 950. WE are met upon arrival by GOod luck, DAvid, REM. Binocs and cameras ready. For our first game drive. on our way to the lodge we drive through the miombo woodland. WHite browed sparrow weavers, play harder doves calling aka ring necked doves. MAryls spots our first wild mammal – a side striped squirrel. OK it is not a leopard but we have to start somewhere. DAm building ants have built dams around the base of trees. TErminalia and COmmiphora trees. DUom palms branching fan palms. WE see impalas, giraffes, water bucks, yellow babboons, zebras, yellow winged bats (2 hanging in the middl of a bush) , african civet dung pile (a millipede eater), lbrs (lilac breasted rollers). IT is 93 but the breeze makes it bearable 10% of the Selous is for photos and 90% is for hunting. LIons here are hard to see. They specialize on baby giraffes. WE fnd a leopard track but old.TWo male elephants seen by an ox bow lake. AFr fishing eagle near a nest. BAteleur eagle, wooly necked stork, open billed stork, Afr pink backed pelicans. more birds- golden palm weaver, chin spotted batis, afr white backed vulture. FInally to the SAnd RIver lodge, not on the sand river but on the RUfiji. THe rain have been a little late ths year so it is still dry in the drought deciduous woodland. LUnch is very good, we can eat and drink everything. ALl beverages are included, so is laundry but no credit cards. So many things seen from the lodge- hippos everywhere, saddlebilled storks, eurasian beeeaters, black faced vervet monkeys, .. we find a nice bright green snake in our cabin.A green bush snake, not poisonous. Carolyn wtinesses an African kill- a toad in our bathroom attacking and devourin a beetle.
After lunch at the Lodge we have a rest and then meet at 4 for a bit of tea I talk about our options. Carolyn and Barbara (she is recovering from damage to her neck done by stretching on the airplane) stay back. Four men – Bob S, Dan, John and moi join Good Luck in the boat for fishing. Little do we realize that this choice will result in having tg hang out together for mostof this lodge. The rest of you head out with Rem and David -the dotcom Massi- for game drives. We go up river passing African skimmers, giant kingfishers, white crowned plovers, a small fmaily group of elepahants. I spy a human on the south side of the river. This is fly in camp of hunters. We all go fishing, even me and JOhN (He HaS OnLy FiShEd TwIcE BeFoRe In HiS LiFe and never caught anything). Pleasant temp great clouds and light. John is the only one of us who succeeds. He gets s squeaker- a small catfish that, guess what?, squeaks. JOhN FeElS SoRrY FoR HiM NaD We ReLeAsE Hi BaCk InTo HiS RiVeR WoRlD.
Meanwhile the game drivers have seen many giraffaes, impalas, cape buffalos, a family of white tipped mongooses and an osprey which is very uncommon here. I put the scope on half full Venus and on the waxing crescent moon. I plan to do a star talk later beause the sky is clear. However after dinner clouds moved in. A greater bush baby cries and some of us get to see him later. At 930 most of us are ready to hit the hay and take our escort back to the cabins.
There has been an elephant hanging around at night and occassionaly drinking out of the little frong pond near the lodge. There is also a female leopard who lives in the area. Carolyn and I hear her very well this night. There is a little bit of rain that falls. But not enough.
Monday, November 7. How very delightful that hot water for coffee snobs, hot tea and hot coffee are deliverd irght to our rooms at wake up call time 6 am. Bfast at 630; we are off at 715 or so. Two boats heading up to the gorge and the four fishing guys go on a game drive. Lisa doesn’t have her binocs. She asks John to go back to the room and get them. He gives Lisa his binculars to use. John searches in vain for lisa’s glasses. SHe actually still has them. She now has two pairs and John none. Lisa is gone. Fortuntely this sweet little brother is able to borrow a pair for our game drive. We see much of the same stuff that the game drive last nigh saw including warthogs, wildbeests, four kinds of hornbills, violet backed, emerald spotted wood dove,
BOat sightings – PEl’s fishing owl, blue duiker, afr fish eagle catching a fish taht was too big – dropping it and crocs getting it. sykes aka blue monkeys,imm osprey, ellies crossing river portecting babies,
Our lodge, Sand Rivers, is a haven of natural luxury within the vast Selous wilderness. Stunningly situated on the banks of the Rufiji River, it has been designed in an expansive open style to take advantage of the wonderful setting and extensive views. The cottages are constructed from local wood and stone, each open-fronted and with comfortable en-suite bathrooms. This is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and scenically diverse parts of the Selous, ranging from gorges to open-plains, swamps, sand rivers & lakes.
. The river is a fisherman’s delight, made all the more exciting by the ever-present chance to hook a legendary fighting Tiger Fish.
The Selous Wildlife Reserve is virtually undiscovered by outsiders, yet it contains an incredible variety of rare game, including the greater kudu, sable antelope and large elephant populations. Named after Frederick Courtenay Selous, the Selous National Park is the largest National Park in Africa – it is about four times the size of Serengeti and larger than Switzerland. Frederick Selous was a naturalist, a conservationist, and a hunter and was killed in World War 1 in the Beho region of the reserve. The National Park covers an astounding 21,000 square kilometers. However, it is not very accessible and remains the least exploited wildlife sanctuary on the continent. It contains varied terrain, ranging from volcanic springs, lakes, Great Rhaha and Rufihi Rivers to savanna woodland, grassland plains and rocky outcrops. The game reserve is a World Heritage Site. Selous is almost entirely undeveloped.
At 4 I give a little overview of the Selous, hippo llfe and crocadiles. around 445 we are off. Bob S and Dan go— guess what?– fishing. The rest of us go a game drive retracing our route back toward the airstrip. We welcome the decrease in tempearture. It has been too hot to take advantage of the walking opportunites that are unique to this lodge.
We see our first elands,put in desc very hard to see. Brown headed parrott flies by.
Mr. and Mrs. Hammerkop are near their nest. We gather right after sunset at 615 for our sundowners. beer and peanuts — good though. On the way back in the darkness a African civet cat, a great shooting star and an africn hare are seen. Mercury and Antares are below bright Venus and the moon.
Another fine dinner wth the same excellent service. After dessert we have a brief star talk. Pleidies, Cygnus the swan, the square of Pegasus, the Andromeda galaxy, Cassiopea and the story of Persues. maybe just a bit over 5 minutes but not much. Leopard escort. Toniht again but this time very close we have the female leopard growling very loudly at 1130 pm. Later this night I hear spotted hyanaes whooping. A great bush baby cries all night near Dan and Barbaras.
Tuesday, November 8. Same drill as yesterday. Vervet monkey makes off with Bob abd Jacquies sugar bowl, another one gets into Dan and Barbaras Peets coffee but doesn’t eat it. A slender mongoose is huntung near our room.
Barbara asks to join us in the expedition to the gorge after getting assurance from me that the fshing will be limited.
We see much of the same things that you did yesterday morning. Bob caught some fish, one which was taken back by an Afrcn Fish eagle. Fair enough. Dan skunked but happy. We did see a male and female bush buck, black kite, crowned eagle, viole crested turaco eating red flowers, crested guinea fowl, african hobby and a young male lion on the south side. Good Luck had incredible eyes to spot this! It was hard to see even after we looked thrug our binocs.
Meanwhile you all visited the four loca lakes. GOt great tstese fly lesson from Rem. Pumping the up. Birds at the lakie – spoonbills stirring mud. Palm nut vultuire, white headed and white backed vulture.
Merrill was greatly taken with the elephants 5th leg.
You wait for us for lunch. A big monitor lizard is near the lodge. Then we relax in the heat until 330 when it si time for tea.
MORE TSETSE FLIES.
Off we go all except Bob and susan toward Magi MOTO.
Retracing our earlier drive. All is quiet The last lr is driven by Rem. We see many vultures in trees to the right. We pull over as far as we can take the lr. Rem and me decide to walk over and see if we can see the kill. We leave Marly and Carolyn and carefully walk through the dry leaves trying not to make much noise. Over to the edge of a ravine looking down , About this time I start thin king “what are we doing?” It would be hard to see a lion until we got real close. Just then REm walks back toward me rapidly crouched down and mouths lion. We slink back quckly to the lr. Get in, call the rest of you and then proceed to get stuck on a rock. Female lioness with a WB kill. pretty stinky. She is a solitary female with an interesting history.
You all join us and everyone gets a look. _Pole pole going on a pretty rough road
We stop to get one of the little five – the antlion. We are slowly getting to Lake Tagalala but from a different approach.
These guides are going ot be late now. Oh well, after susnet we fnally reach Miji Moto. Everyone gets in the hot pools but David. He must be the responsible head guide Cresecent moon and duom palms overhead, Perfect water temp and refresing air. We get a night drive on the way back. The newly wed couple from the UK spsotted a leopard on their first game drive. Portendng well for their marriage
DInner is a bit late but good as usual Nami tells us we are the best group she has ever had. Frogs are vocalizing. Geckcos are everywhre around the lights.
Leoard escort serviece
Wednesday, November 9: We get to sleep in a bit this am. Bfast at 8 Group photo taken. Goodbye to CHris and Marianna- the cuteish couple by far. We give our tip to the kitchen staff. THey were good and we meet the cook. THey really appreciate our genorisity,
After breakfast, we drive to the ar strip WEsay goodbye to our guides, tip them they were great. then we board our chartered aircraft for our one hour and twentyh minte flight to Ruaha. Flying over the Rufiji and seeing our camp and the STeigers gorge. WE see some of the other camps. Tthe confluence of the Ruaha and Rafiji. ANd the high 9K’ URang moutains which has recently been made into a NAt PArk. Iringa the largest city in the region at 250 K peole. And finally over Ruaha Nantional park full of baobabs and looking mighty dry and hot. WE are at 2600′ but it is not much cooler. THe ‘mighty ‘ RHaha looks pretty meager. Apparently a world bank project upriver created a rice project which has resulted in a greatly diminshed flow of the river. THere are ongoing meeting now about how to remedy this. THe lifeblood of the PArk is at stake. I am wondering why did I decide to stay here for four nights?
Fed from rivers, which rise in the Southern Highlands, the Great Ruaha River forms most of the eastern boundary of the Ruaha National Park. To the west of the Park lies another river…the Mzombe, a river of wild and inedible figs; a river which, in the dry months leaves behind pools filled with hippo and crocodile. From north to south, an escarpment, one of the walls of the Great Rift Valley, snakes its way through the middle of the park. Seasonal rivers rise high above this escarpment, to flow west into the Mzombe, or east into the Great Ruaha. It is from this ‘roof ‘of the park that one such river rises…the Mwagusi Sand River. Mwagusi is a comfortable tented camp situated in the central area of Ruaha, Tanzania’s second largest National Park. One of its principal attractions is its location, from which one can game-drive in virtually any direction. Set up by Chris Fox who has spent most of his life in this area it overlooks the Mwagusi River which attracts good quantities of game to its remaining pools during the dry season.
We are met by two lrs and transported to our new home for the next four nights. IT is hot hot hot.
MEt by Slyvia, the ITalian wife of CHRiS FOx we are led to our rooms on the Mwagusi Sand river. Gee there are babboons, impala, vervets waitng for us. After lunch I ask CHris to gfive us an overviw of the park, his lodge and life. INtersting but could have been eidited down more than a little bit. My brief notes:
In 1911 first put aside by the GErmans.as the Seba Game Reserve. NYere in the 70’S moved 18 million citizens into 8000 villages in a resettlement socialist experiment. It failed badly but emptied some of the game areas of people thereby enhancing the wildlife areas. THe Chinese bult the RR through the region and were paid in part by poached ivory from the elepahnts. In the 1980’s the tembo population severly dropped. ANti poaching patrols started theat virtually eleminated the poaching overnight. THtere have been two very good wardens of RHaha for thelast 20 yrs. CHris father started the RHaha RIverlodge in 1981. CHris started our lodeg in 1991. HE never thoguh the tourism industry would take off like it has. 25% of tz is protected in some form. NAtional PArks (no hunting or living), conservaton areas (pastoral use but no living in), game preserves (hunting living)
Simon for England is the only other guest so we will be wih him while we are here. HE tallks but doesn’t listen, maybe there is a reason he travels alone. We do OK with him eventually.
We have some time to rest and what a blessing we brought. It rains hard for a short time., Petrichor.
We have tea at four and I give a little talk on giraffees and baobabs.
THen off on our first game drive at this place. It has cooled off quite a bit lovely clouds. I am in a lr with Samson the guide and Zawadi (gift) the driver. THey are both from the lcoal tribe Hehe. They are of this place. BAttles with the GErmans took place in thsi region with the HEhe.
OUr highlights- baobabs, red billed and crowned hbills, superb starling, great kudu, red necked spur fowl, suasage trees, afr snipe, Ilala palms, brwon parrots We found some of the Mbagi pride of lions We saw nine of the twenty one memebers. Since the cb have decreased they have moved to killing adlt giraffes, zebrs and warthogs. There are six females and only one male (the other male died 2 yrs ago). THis is very large for a pride. As the sun is going down the ring necked dove call changes from work harder, word harder, to drink lager, drink lager. BUff crested bustard a new species ofr me. They have a whistling breeding display.,
MEanwhle one of the othr land rovers with LEo the guide sits quietly in the road is surrounded by a fmaily gropu of elephants.
IT was a highlight of their lives.
They rush to find the lions we saw and it s a wild ride through the bush crashing rapdily following our tracks looking for the lions. IT is too late. but they have fun?, THey aslos see black backed jackals, melba finches, gray capped social weavers, brown parrots. Lisa reports that Carolyn is doing most of the bird identifying and interpeting of the guide LEo.
THe last lr driven by Chris meanwhile is going too fast and the guide Daniel, is hard to understand. GUess I will have to be on that one from now one.THey do see hyanaes adn a civet cat- not a real cat but in the mongoose family.
BAck after dark — these guys are not as concerned with rangers catching them out here as in the norhtern game parks. BAck to bandas for hot showers after we get the elephant escort back. DInner at 8 out in the sand river. Very nicely lit by lanterns. Venus so bright MArs is visible to the west, the moon is half full and now providing much light. Dan left his binoculars back at th previous camp. BUt once he gave me a book on a previous trip that I forgot to thank him for. IT was a great read adn thank goodness that Dan- the one person who is really not appreciated enough- gave it to me. I am so thankful to this day for his -DAn’s – great gift. THere are you happy now, DAN?
BAck to our rooms- black backed jackal and hyanae nearby. ANd an elephant comes very close to our room. Fiery necked nightjar calling all night. Cool evening. LAla salama.
Thursday, November 10: YOu may once again have coffee etc delivered when you so desre it. Pat and Merrill pretend like they like the tz coffee but we know they have PEET envy. THe dawn chorus is not as loud as Sand RIvers but still nice. SUn rises into a very clear blue sky. YEsterdays rain was the first of the season. MWagusi means gratitude. THe water is just below the sand that is why Chris located the camp here. Elephants come and dig out water holes which attract other animals during the dry season. THe beautfiul red COmbretum trees are in flower right now. THey call them BUrning bush. IMpalas among other animals eat ths tree all the year. THere are FLowers now and after the rains the trees leaf out and provide more food. THen they set fruit for more food for the critters. THis the charactersitic tree of the region. Baobabs, ACacia tortious, as well.
People who first set eyes on this sand river, Mwagusi, are often misled into believing the river is dry. In fact a considerable volume of water flows beneath the sand…enough to quench the thirst of ten thousand buffalo and six hundred elephant twice a day, not to mention hundreds of giraffe and zebra, and multitudes of other animals. The sand, far from being a problem, makes the river more efficient, it prevents evaporation, and keeps the water crystal clear and cool to drink. Great herds of elephant are drawn to dig into the river bed, leaving behind water holes, mud wallows, A constant stream of animals, birds and insects visit, to drink water and to eat the undigested seeds and fruit in the dung. .
SOme of us take the bird walk at 645 and see dung beetles. Others take advantage of the freedom to enjoy the morning at leisure.
BIg five vs little five
LIon = ant lion
RHino = RHinocerous beetle
ELephant = Elephant shrew
BUffalo= BUffalo weaver
LEopard= Leopard tortoise
CHris and NAni (MArianna) SChmeling, email@example.com.
KIsima NGeda TEnted Camp
Breakfst at 8. Susan and Bob report a tight group of ants moving on the path. WE go and watch this small grlup of safari ants on a bivouac. THey often move after rains to a new spot and set up for a new colony for awhile. We are off on our gamedrives. We all go to different part of the park in all different direcrions. We (Chris the driver, Daniel our guide, SIMOn, Pat and Merril) head more or less south following the Rhuaha River. Highlights at one overlook along the river: a pair of crowned cranes, spur winged geese (the largest in the wrld), gobs o impalas, two or three different ellie groups, giraffes, zebras, greater kudus, wathogs, spur winged plover, marsh sandpiper, dik dik, yellow crowned lovebirds, lbr, saddlebilled stork, Afr fish eagle, white headed vultures, hammerkops, bright red dragonflies. THat was a palette of African animals.
I saw my first Oribi- a small long necked antelope. Two Egyptian or gray mongoose. many slender mongoose including a very light one with no black on the tip of th tail. Then we saw a young male lion, probably nomadic though there is a large pride down here called the Tortillus prde. 21 Ochre bush squirrel with very large testicles The usual assortment of babbbons, vervets, twigas. THen there was a large group of vultures with a hyanae and a strong smell of a kill near the river, BUt we could not see the kill. Nubian vultures, Ruppells vultures, Marabou storks The pawnbroker bush is the very common tall shrub covered with three balled fruits. We all arrive back a bit late for lunch. ONe lr sees a very large group of CB descend to drink at the river. John got good video of it. Ostriches seen in the distnace. A genet cat jumped out of the bush while they are watching a hyanae.
Another great lunch and then rest. Lisa’s passport is found in the plane where she left it. Will be to us via our plane on SUnday. At tea we gather for a little talk I give on elephants, CHris has asked if the drivers and guides could come and listen so they are here as well. Off in only two lr because fiive fo us opt to steay back to read and rest. According to Samson Greater kudus really like to eat the Combratum shrub – the burning bush. There is another very large tree amoug the baobabs the locals call the wooden banana tree. It has bark like sycamore. ITis very dense wood and bowls and other thingsare made from it. IT is in the mahoganey family. Quartz is lying aroujnd everywhere on the ground here. Very old granitic outcrops are one half billion years old. same basement rock as the kopjes in the Serengeti. The soil is variable but mostly red with plenty of iron,
THe sunset is the classic red ball droppping past baobabs, ilala palms and flat topped acacias. IT is at 630, a bit later than the Selous becasuse we are further west. BAck after dark again, so many impalas with lotsa babies aka leopard food. DInner tonight is out near M and C’s tent. THe lanterns really set a mood. Nice touch Chris FOx. HYanae whooping nearby.
Friday, November 11: LAst night was full of sounds. WE had a giraffee feeding right outside our tent, we could see his spindly legs in the half moon light. PEarl spotted owlets calling to each other. FIerry necked nightjar, hyanaes, elephants vocalizing through our tent, fluttering large bats, distant lions roaring far away just before sunrise. As BOb S reported – tthe Southern Cross is visible just across the Sand RIver at around 3 in the AM. WAke up call anyone for it?
The Ruaha National Park is the second largest national park in Tanzania and, along with the Kisigio and Rungwa River Game Reserves, covers a protected area of about 25,600 square kilometers. However, the park is very inaccessible. As a result, the park remains untouched, unspoiled and wild. Here there are over 460 species of bird, and 80 species of animal, can be seen within 45 minutes game drive from our camp.
TOday we leave at about 930 with a box lunch for an all day game drive to a more remote part of the park. IT is possible to see Roan and Sable antelope. WE have one more day here than I said at first. Four nights not three. HUrray everyone agrees. I must say that when we arrived here and i was so %$$%^ hot I was wondering why I scheduled 4 days here but now I know. IT is amazing at the life an apparently dry riverbed supports.
We re off at 930 with the three lr taking slightly different paths toward lunch. THe roan and sable antelopes are very shy and wary so we hgave a better chance of seeing them if we spilt up. We head up the escarpment into the miombo woodlands. The veiws are superb adn the tsestes very very very abundant. Up to 3400′ from 2600 at camp. We do see 3 roan but not well at all as they skitter off into the thick woodland. Two common duikers are also seen and some dik diks. We are on a road that is only 2 yrs old. There are some fires up here purposefully set by the rangers. It is 93. We stop for the grand view and a fine perspecitve of just a litte part of the park. Dropping down to the river we turn left and go just a little bit and go to our lunch spot along the mighty Ruaha. Meanwhle the two other lrs have stayed in the vally. BOth vehicles had great looks at a pride o lions with at least two cubs. Alos saw Grants Gazelles (this is the southern limit; they are very common up in the Sereengeti). Some wldebeests, dfasso’s waterbucks and a great herd of cbs. OUr box lunch is spread out on comfortable tables with chairs as we sti very comfortabley. Maasis tablecoths. Clustered together like a herd of impala. We rest, read, take breief walks along the RIver. I find some lion tracks nearby- not fresh but Samson says many times they come here there are lions at our lunch spot. Suddenly I hear the snort of a baboon and everyone is startled. No whoops that is Jackie waking herself up from sleep with a snort!
Around 4 (time passed quickly) we leave. Our lr heads back toward those lions you all saw. The male has walked away but we get good looks at the youngest cub, venturing out from the protection of the bush her mom and auntie. The cub walks out to the edge of the river. Looking out over his new world. There are impala, waterbuck, zebra to eat and magnificent baobabs to sit under. I am in that cubs head..this is his world. LOng may lions have a place to roam.
I am thankful that some of it still exists for this animal to grow up and continue the unbroken line of lions stretching back into the distnat past. As the sun drops the temperature improves we see many many elephants going down river. At least 60 in three groups. Bond and clans? We go a bit off road illegally and watch them moving in elepahatn time. As we continue we encounter 3 or 4 more ellie family units. We saw at least 100 tembos, as good as it gets anywhere. I had not seen one cb at this park yet. But just at sunset we encountered a herd of 450-500 accdg to Daniel. All the guides write down the location, type and number of the some of the mammals seen on game drives. THis is good data that will be tabulated and analysed by someone. Good for indicating population trends.
We hear on the radio that the babboons at cmap are making a racket. This alarm usually indicates the presecne of a loepard. Apparently this is a female iwth a cub who lives near camp. We hurry back speeding along the bumpy road in the gathering darkness. No leopard but you all have spotted a giant eagle owl. We also hear a Scops owl single note call. Back to camp. And this time the dinner is far from my tent. So pretty as usual. This night is very quiet though I do hear some lions off and on all night in the far distance.
Saturday, November 12: The dawn chorus is not so vibrant this monring for some reason as we have our last full day in Ruaha. Today will be a good day. Carolyn and I witness a gabar goshwak chasing a violet crested turaco around a bush and pulled some of this tail feathers out.
GAme drive time. This time I get ot ride with Leo (means today). I hear he is very good.Our driver is Bahati. Pale chanting goshawk hunts with ground hornbills anbd ratels both stir up insects to eat. We see a common duiker and then her freshly born baby – hours old- wobbling down teh road. He stops in the shade anhd rests. Leo says the mother will come back for him. We shall see. We go over to the MM hill means… heading for the hippo pool. See a black eagle soaring over the hill. They have a nest up there. 90% of their food consists of rock hyraxes. A family of dwarf moongooses seen — our first of that species. Klipspringer pair near a roack near a babobab. anothr new spesies for the list.
THen we get a call. Pack of wild dogs seen near the Ruaha RIver lodge so off we speed. Bopping along parallel to the Ruaha RIver heading toward the Ruaha River lodge started by Chriss father. But first some great looks at some roan antelope crossing the road right in fornt of us.. Then we continue and drop dwn by the river. We get there first and find a huge pile o dogs. Lycoan picta – the painted wolf. There are a total of 32, 12 are pups from the latest litter. Leo thinks by looking at their stomcahs they may have eaten yesterday evening. A big group of impalas comes down to drink. Too hot to chase them but two adult dogs decide to get up and run a bit and the antelopes scatter. These two go down to drink at teh river.
The other lrs arrive to watch. They ahve seen much of the same things as we have incuding great looks at ostrich and a sulphur bellied bush shrike. So it is midday in the hot sun there are mad dogs but our Englshman, Simon has chosen to stay back at acmp.
NOw we don’t have time to get to the hippo pool but no one is complaining. We have seen a few hippos before. On our way back we see the baby duiker sitting in the shade of th baobab still waitng for hs mother. We humans, as Pat points out, are the cause of this particular event. There is a debate in our car which was worse the smell of the wild dogs or the lion fart? THe fart seems to win.
Back for lunch. It is hot in those tents. We meet at 4 for tea time. I give a bref overveiw of the wild dogs. This is only the thrid time I ahve seen them and never this many. Simon has been waiting five years to see wild dogs,
Slyvia then gives us an overview of Zanzibar. She lived there fr two years doing envirnoemntal education. She was kicked out for her work. She has very mixed feelings. about the place. ZAnibar means place of the black people. A slave trading center then clove exprting center. NOw it is tourism and duty free zone for TZ. MUch corruption, pollution, over fishing. half million peiple on an island 80 by 30 k. 350 K in PEmba. coral island is Zanzibar. PEmba broke away from the mainland.
4 endemci species – The Z leopard gone. red columbus, agama and ? still there in southern forest fragment. UNESCO world heritage site is Stonetown. 2/5 Arab, 1/5 INdian, then African and Chinese. IN Stonetown during the first rains all the rats drowned and are floating at your feet. A very charming place though.
CHris suggests we head off soon because the dogs might get up and go. WE are off quicky toward the dogs in 2 LRS. Two batuleur eagles seen right near the missing baby Duiker. HMmmmm that is the eind of thst story. DArk rainy looking clouds in the sky, great light. MOre roan antelope seen. To the big pile of sleeping dogs by 545. THey are still there with 3 vehicles watchng. WE join in and some of the dogs are in better light for photos. A pack of 19 banded mongooses forage by and elicit mild interest But mostly we just enjoy being in the company of these remarkable predators who seem to be making a light comeback in EAst AFrica. WE left at 640 the other lr stayed long enoug to watch a hyanae walk by and be ignored and a cow/ calf hippo pair came out. WE take a different route home on the other side of the big hill to avoid the rangers, I assume. Back late for dinner. WHat! there are other people here at OUR lodge. HOw did we allow that? DInner back at the first l site on the Sand RIver, lovely with the gibbous moon overhead. OUr banda is quiet ths evening. LIttle animal activity.
Sunday, November 13. Earlier breakfast for us at 730. WE pay our bill, take pictures of the staff, Chris, Sylvia , a most unhappy couple. WHat are their odds of life together?? We leave this lovely palce around 9 to the airstrip for our 2’ hr charter flight to Zanzibar Island. We have the same pilot who flew us here. He has two packages for us. I try to sell Dan’s binocs and Lisa’s passport to no avail. We try to get in our too tight seatbetls adn Marlys says we have been eating too much. I get to ride in the front seat. Thanks I don’t think I have done that before now. We fly over the Mtera Reservoir which dams the Ruaha and provides electritiy for muhc of the country. There are many fires burning the forest for ag land, soon there will be no trees left. THis is the same story in much of the world. We fly a bit north to avoid the restricted arispace over a TZ airforce base. Cross over the newest National Park right on the coast. Salt ponds visible as we fly due east to Zanzibar Town. Touch down and out of the palne at 1215. Met by Mosoud? And an air conditioned bus for our transfer north. He is pretty boring as we watch the garbage colored by thousands of blue plastic bags and poverty sweep by out of our comfortable and protecting window. A few things I did learn – ZAnzibar FErrarie – donkey pulling a cart, bin means son of, chai is slang for bribe. WE also pass many dala dalas. buses with open seats in the back named for the currency it used to require to ride one on the ISland.
We arrive at the farthest end of the island to the Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel. Ras means CApet and Nungwi is the name of this area. Met by Charley from UK and Heather from Joburg. They have overbooked our rooms.. oh no but that means one of us will have to take the Honeymoon Suite. The Scheibels win the drawing. WE check into our rooms in this very nice ***** place. The pool and beach are mighty fine. THe thread count meets my lovely wifes approval. Essentially we are on a luxury cruise ship in a sea of Zanzibar poverty.
The afternoon is free to lounge, read, relax swim. Bob S goes sail boarding and Maryls pays the price. THe tide of 4 meter range is up, we are amazed at how much it drops exposing acreas of beach. Nikki the dive mistress comes by at lunch we all decide to combine our diving and snorkeling tomorrow leaving at 815 for TUbatu ISland.
DInner is nice but we are all missing the feeling of the bush. The food at both lodges was superb. DInner is good but different. The live band is playing western music. DO they really thnk that is what we want to hear???? THe theme from THe GOdfather and LA Bamba?
ZANZIBAR. The very name conjures up images of palm-studded white sand beaches; smells of exotic spices, crystal-clear warm waters—the quintessential paradise, the idyllic remote tropical island. A land of contrasts,
WE sleep to the peaceful sound of the crashing surf. pleasant tmperature. WE can get used to this.
Monday November 14: Our timely group shows up before 815 for outfitting. Jacquie, BOb and PAt are the scuba divers. MErrill is going to relax and read at the lodge and the rest of us are snorkelers. WE hop in our daladala and take the 15″ trip through the village of Nungwi (10K). BLue plastic bags are everywhere. OUr previously loaded boat – LAST IMAGE- is waiting just offshore. WE wade out to it and climb aboard. HEnry is the snorkeling guy. THe captain is from TUmbatu. WE are in a traditional dhow minus the sail; the boat has only been slightly modified for this use. THe village of NUngwi is the center of dhow making in ZAnzibar and people from the mainland also get their boats here.
WE slowly slowly motor out around the far north islet with the lighthouse and then slighly south on the west side. The seas are easy. 2 different species of terns see, flying fish, tuna. NO humpbacked dolphins or bottlesnose dolphins which are possible. I keep looking. FIrst dive and snorkel. much soft and hard coral, not a whole lot of fish and none very large. I think this palce gets haeavily fished. There is is fishing going on everywhere. LAdies wander out at a low tide looking for octopus, nets are set as well. We have fun and then back on the baot fr a sanck whil we move back north a bit for our second underwater adventure. Not as good here but we do see a very cool squid. DAn has a moment and is immedieately surrounded by his tribe. NOw we have lunch. very good and motor back by 230. The tide and wind is up we take the boat all the way abck to the lodge. BIg adventure as we have to swim right off the boat to the beach in some bouncy surf. THis is nothing says the gruff NIk. THey manage to get all our stuff to us DRY.
Afternoon to relax and then we meet at Jacque and BObs suite for a party at 630. I decide to have the closing circle here because ii is private and quiet. I am not sure about tomorrow nights palce. J and B really go all out and make this an absolutely perfect evenng in every way. And what a suite! I could have gotten very used to that palce though we might not have left it. I bring the scope so we can see the nearly full moon.
So thoughts from the group about our time together:
nice to have Carolyn along and the group was perfect. 6-700 cape buffaloes and elephants so close. enomrmity of the world around us. Mr. Toads wild ride and Carolyns commentary. Majesty of the giraffes walk. Being surrounded in the lr by the elephant family and having everyone in the vehicle immeditately be quiet. Getting off the plane in Selous – the smells and a big YES we are here. After the third trip a chance to observe antelope ears. Vastness of all the animals, an appreciation for the animal in me. Differenct cultures we witnessed. And the accepting they have of each other. SOUNDS. Simon ahem. No inteview.
Water at the Selous it flows but is dry everywhere else. Ruaha water there but hidden. ZANZIbar water around us. Buckets of hot water for showers.Thanks for Michael. Loving couples, Thanks for sharing the homenymoon sutie. Fish eagle rightfully got his fish. Challenges of TZ and what we can do to help. Ecotours. Elephant fmily. Matrical can run it better than the other kind. Hard to find favorite. Everything. Great group. good to just watch the behaviour fo the animals. Eyelashes of the giraffe. Downward facing dog yoga pose. EVeryone nice to the single person. Impressive lodges. Star gazing. Hippo sounds. smiles of the staff.
We could just stay here all evening but alas we must eat anothr meal. Buffet bar BQ night. Mouse for dessert is good. Maybe we will have the Stonetown rats tomorrow. Lala Salema
Tuesday, November 15: Our last breakfast at th north end. Pay our bills…. pole pole. WE leave at 840 with Taib and Hamesi in 2 small buses. THe dhows are made either from large Mangoes trees or imported mahogney from the mainland. COoking coral to make lime with coconut palm trees. WE turn left off the main road a bit and then for our spice tour at 10.
TAib is doing very well. Spices of many kinds grown here and shipped here to EUrope a;nd America. Called the Spice Islands especdially cloves. JAck fruit. Durian. SEnsitive plant. LEmon grass. star fruit. nutmeg and mace. 2nd kind of star fruit. ginger root. mangosteen (very red when ripe). vanilla bean. ylang ylang. arrowroot. cardamon. cloves main producer in the world. unopened flower bud. TUmeric in ginger family. CInnamon. and then the rain started. SO we esacped into the spice store for some purchases. THey were cheap but even cheaper in town a bit later. So as we dirve back the rain really begtins,. MAybe just maybe if we are lucky those drwoned rats of STonetown will be waiting for us. BUt alas the rain is very local.
Check in to the SErena owed by teh Aga KHan, right on the water. NOt muchtime for lunch and the service at th hotel restauratn is very very slow.
We meet at 3 and get a ride in our two buses. Quick trip up to Creek ROad to the market. We are dropped off and hurray through the bustling wotking market of veggie, meat, fish etc. Many flies. We are trying to meet the needs of many folks – shopping, walking, history, photo ops. — and maybe not meeting anyones. To the usual toursit spots – slave market, now Christ CHUrCh. Whipping block, now alter. Call to prayer every few hours from the ubituous mosques. Taib demonstrates soapberries. Then we drop down into Stone Town — the old city and cultural heart of Zanzibar, little changed in the last 200 years. We plow thourhg winding alleys and only stop at one anittque store. SHoppers are getting frustrated Hawkers are hawking their goods at us. A few are very persistent., We see some of the brass-studded, carved, wooden doors – there are more than 500 different examples of this handiwork. As SLyvia said there are no dogs but there are a few cats. Stop at the House ofWonders. WHich was wonderful in 1880 when it was built but frankly seems very plain now. ANd then the ZAnzibar Gallery for books and more shopping. Jewelry for some the rest of us back to the hotel. Carolyn and I see a falcon (African hobby) chasing the swifts outside our room.
At 7 we meet Taib in the lobby and we walk over to Emerson and Green for our dinner. Up up up we go the second highest building in Stonetown. We can see why we were supposed to be here for the sunset. THere are 9 people who appear to be waiting for us to begin dinner. Whoops! SORRY.
We have several courses all good, especailly the squid and advoacodo sorbet. But we continue to be impressed by the high quality of the food we had in th bush. We close the place down and get escorted back to the Serena. It doesn’t feel dangerous at all here. IN fact most people are very very friendly.
n Zanzibar was one of the most important trading centers in the Indian Ocean region. The coralline rock of Zanzibar was a good building material, but it is also easily eroded. This is evident by the large number of houses that are in a bad state of repair.
Lala salama tomorrow the dolphins.
Wednesday, November 16: THis begins a very long day that will end tomorrow far away. After breakfast we drive for about one hour for our Dolphin tour. We pass thorugh a fragment of the oringal forest and a few of us get to see a Red colubus monkey or two. A blue monkey also crossess the road. We arrive at the slow Kizimkazi. Equipment snorkels and fins rented for $3. The tide is out so we have to walk way out on the beach through sea urchins to board our boat – the Moby DIck. A very heavy boat- no life jackets or any other safery equipmetn that I can see. QUite a contrast to RAs NUngwi. We motor toward the very tip of the island. We have now gone from the very north point of UNgug ISland to the very souterhn point.
Then we see a humpbacked dolphin and bottlenose dolphin (flipper). We watch anoher boat load of tourists immediatleyh jump inot the water as if on cure when the dolphins show up. But then they are near us and there goes Carolyn. First in and eager to see those beautiful dolphins. THen one after anotehr the dolphin watching frenzy hits our group. THere are two other boats around them as well. ONe dolphin has alot of fun torturing a blowfish. EVryone of us that goes in – all but 4– has a grand time.
Kizimkazi is also the site of a 12th Century Mosque, the earliest evidence of Islam in East Africa.
On our way back to SErena all of us get excellent looks at both blue monkeys and red colubus in the Jornai forest. WE get a flat tire and are passd by a Zanzibar ferrari. BAck to our hotel and day rooms. WE shower cahnge clothes eat and talk to our dear FOB (friend of Bill) buddy. Say goodbye to BArbara and Dan; they go to Tarangire tomorrow. WE take a quick trip to the ariport and lo and behold there is KAren our first pilot to take us to Dar. A twenty minute flight, very scenic. WE land at the domestic airport and there is Sam waiting for us. WE get a ride in heavy traffic to the Moveenhotle – a Swiss run conference hotel. We have some time to kill. WE eat outside and watch the full moon rise over the haven of peace and some peacocks are screaming somewhere. MErrill gives us a synopsis of the political scene of Zanzibar from a few interveiws he has done. At 9 we leave for the Airport. IT is hot and confusing but we all make it to a plane that is not very full. PLenty of room to sleep as we fly north through the night to
Thursday, November 17th. Amsterdam. We get to hang our in SChipol for a while and then divide further as we take diffrenet routes home. BUt finally arrive in SFO on that same long day. home sweet home.