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Soukous

Tanzania, Bush & Beach. Northern Tanzania & Zanzibar

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Soukous

It is 5 years since I was last in Tanzania and, by chance that safari had also been timed to coincide with the wildebeest migration.

 

This trip would be much shorter though, just 6 nights on safari before a couple of days relaxation on Zanzibar.

 

Our itinerary was as follows:

 

1 – arrive at Kilmanjaro International and transfer to Lake Manyara

2 – visit Lake Manyara NP, then drive to Ngorongoro

3 – Safari in the Crater then drive to Ndutu

4,5,6 – Ndutu

7 – fly to Zanzibar

8 & 9 – Zanzibar

10 – fly home

 

Arrival formalities went smoothly. Visa on arrival was straightforward, apart from local reps constantly pushing to the front of the line with a handful of passports and a German woman who was trying to explain to the immigration official that she did not have a visa but she had come to stay in Tanzania for a few months. After an extended debate that resembled the UKs Brexit negotiations (ie, going nowhere), the official told her she must see someone else.

 

We were met by our guide, Joseph, after baggage reclaim, and shown to our vehicle.
Because our safari was a combination of road travel and game drives, we’d be using one of the ubiquitous Land Cruisers that are the staple safari vehicle in Tanzania. An extended body with 6 seats, sliding side windows and a roof hatch.

 

On our way to Arusha, the heavens opened and we were treated to a torrential downpour. We reached Arusha to find a carpet of white on the ground. At first I thought it was blossom that had been blasted from the trees by the rain, but quickly realised that it was in fact hail stones.

 

Arusha was awash; with torrents running in all the gutters and potholes hidden under vast puddles. The traffic had all but come to a standstill and it took us an age to get across the city.

At one point, as we sat locked in traffic, a young lad approached the car and tried to sell us a bottle of ‘barafu’, Swahili for ice. He’d filled an old Fanta bottle with hailstones.

 

The delays meant that we didn’t have time to stop in Mosquito Town, Mto wa Mbu, and reached our lodge at about 6 pm.

 

Kirurumu Tented Lodge – Lake Manyara is a good lodge at a good price. It is located in a forest on a cliff top. The rooms are well spread out, very well spread out and some involve quite a hike from Reception. But there is a reason for this, every room has a view from the cliff top out over Lake Manyara.

The bar is also well laid out with views over the forest to the lake.

 

The rooms themselves are very large, with comfortable beds and a decent sized bathroom. The layout of the lodge means that the rooms are very private, you can only get glimpses of the next door rooms through the trees. Each room has a private verandah overlooking the forest to the lake.

 

I wish we’d arrived a little bit earlier so we could have enjoyed the views.

Food was good, without being outstanding. A decent 3 course dinner without frills and a good breakfast buffet. Plenty to eat.

 

Lake Manyara NP

 

 

Gate to Lake Manyara NP

 

Although it is 5 years since my last visit to northern Tanzania, I had not been into the Lake Manyara NP since 2003. Mainly because the feedback from clients suggests that they find it disappointing and no-one wants to waste one of their precious safari days staying there.

The park is, and seems to have always been, promoted as the place to see tree climbing lions. This does Lake Manyara NP a disservice.

 

 

sign by gate to Lake Manyara NP

 

I have seen tree climbing lions, in Masai Mara and at Lake Nakuru, but never here. But because they are promoted so relentlessly people expect to see them and are disappointed when they do not; this expectation has a negative effect on their perception of the park.

But whilst the chances of seeing lions in trees is slim, Lake Manyara does have a lot to recommend it, especially if you like birds. A keen birder should have no trouble collecting 100 species in a day.

 

My travelling companions had not been to Tanzania before and were keen to see as many places as possible, so Lake Manyara was on our itinerary.

 

The trees by the entrance to the NP are covered in Yellow-billed Storks. When we flew over on our way back to Arusha I could see that there were even more than I had thought. All the tree tops along the edge of the park by the road were full of them.

 

 

Yellow-billed Storks

 

 

Yellow-billed Storks in flight

 

Silvery-cheeked Hornbill

 

Silvery-cheeked Hornbills

 

Silvery-cheeked Hornbill

 

Eurasian Roller

European / Eurasian Roller

 

European Bee Eater

European Bee Eater

 

Lake Manyara hippo pools

 

Marsh Sandpiper

Marsh Sandpiper

 

Fan-tailed Widowbird (f)

Fan-tailed Widowbird (f)

 

Squacco Heron

Squacco Heron

 

Glossy Ibis

Glossy Ibis

 

Glossy Ibis

 

Great White Pelican

Great White Pelican

 

Grey-crowned Crane

Grey-crowned Crane

 

Grey-hooded Kingfisher

Grey-hooded Kingfisher

 

Red-cheeked Condon Bleu

Red-cheeked Cordon Bleu

 

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TonyQ

A great start @Soukous with some excellent bird photos. I imagine hail was a bit unexpected!

What were the dates of your trip?

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Soukous
1 hour ago, TonyQ said:

A great start @Soukous with some excellent bird photos. I imagine hail was a bit unexpected!

What were the dates of your trip?

 

We arrived in Arusha on 25th Feb and departed from Zanzibar on 6th Mar

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Soukous

A large herd of buffalo at lake Manyara

 

 

 

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Julian

Interesting to read your views on Lake Manyara, especially regarding the tree climbing lions.

We spent three days in Lake Manyara NP in Oct 17 ( trip report on here ) staying in the only camp actually in the park, in the south,  Manyara tree lodge.

 

It appears to be a self-perpetuating myth that this park is not very good for wildlife viewing. The reason being that visitors spend hardly any time there, and the time they do spend is in the busy northern sector, where they are less likely to see the more interesting wildlife- especially lions and other predators.

so the perception of being poor for wildlife viewing continues, so much being published based on copying what has previously been published, rather than time spent in the park.

 

Whereas the reality is far different. We saw lions on almost every game drive, including our first ever successful lion hunt, and the classic pose of two lions on the sloping boughs of a fig tree. We also went on a proper night drive 8.00pm to 11.30pm including off-road. We also saw hyenas at night ( they are very rarely seen in daylight here). We also saw lots of varied wildlife and birds throughout our stay.

 

We were told there are three prides of lions in the park - just 4 lions in the north to central area, then a pride of six or seven occupying the central area to further south, where they overlap territory with a pride of 15 that controls all of the southern sector. So hardly surprising day visitors to the park can’t find the tree climbing lions.

 

Lake Manyara is definitely the most underrated park I have been to anywhere on Safari.

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Soukous

Well said @Julian The southern part is definitely more interesting, as long as you can tolerate the tsetse flies.

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Game Warden

I had this dream, a long time back about staying in the park for an extended period, working with TANAPA to provide a detailed interactive map, species list and so forth. Like @Julian I also have very positive memories and would love to explore it more again should I one day get the chance.

 

Matt

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Julian
39 minutes ago, Soukous said:

Well said @Julian The southern part is definitely more interesting, as long as you can tolerate the tsetse flies.

@soukous

we were there at the end of October , the very end of the dry summer period, and although there were Tsetse flies there were not many. I understand Tarangire is far worse for tsetses.

 

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Soukous
Posted (edited)

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

 

After yesterday’s late arrival into camp we planned to arrive a bit earlier today, and left the park after our picnic lunch.

The drive to the NCA gate was short and there were few vehicles parked there so we got through in record time, which of course meant that we reached our camp much earlier than expected. That was no problem though as the camp, is located right on the rim of the crater itself, and has magnificent views across the plains below.

 

Looking down on the crater from the viewpoint

20190226_113312.jpg.196f68369d0292e40926d1393440a873.jpg

 

Pakulala Safari Camp (sometimes referred to as Kirurumu Ngorongoro Pakulala Camp) claims to be the ONLY camp on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater.

I must admit to being a bit confused by the name though. I booked it as one of the Kirurumu camps but when we arrived the staff were wearing Pakulala shirts. I asked them about it and was told it was a joint camp, promoted by both companies – Kirurumu Under Canvas and East Africa Camps.

 

The view from our camp

 

Crater view

 

Ngorongoro Crater

 

The tents were super, spacious and well equipped.
I can only assume that they do not get many guests arriving as early as we did, because the camp has no actual lounge. There is a dining tent, which houses a table large enough for all guests to eat, and then a bench and some chairs set out around a fire pit, positioned to overlook the crater.

 

The dining tent

 

Dining tent Pakulala

 

 

The setp for equipment charging was interesting; not sure how it would fare in our world of H&S.

charging-station.jpg.4f6d15cc3bf4892a70a2429a874a263d.jpg

 

Pakulala Camp was let down by a few things.

 

As we sat by the fireplace, enjoying the view we were presented with a bar menu. The first 2 things we asked for were not available. When the other guests arrived, they fared even worse. Of the 8 wines on the menu, there was only 1 white and 2 reds available; the white wine was warm and they had no ice.

 

The other disappointment was the food, which was mediocre at best. Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day but it was so poor I declined.

 

Would I stay there again? Yes, definitely. The location is stunning and more than compensates for a couple of poor meals. I also hope that they have taken comments on board and improved the catering.

 

Ngorongoro Crater

The closest gate to our camp was the Seneto (descent) Gate.

This is a spectacular way to enter the crater. The road winds through massive euphorbias and gives magnificent views of the plains below.

 

 

the road down into Ngorongoro Crater

 

the road down into Ngorongoro Crater

 

the road down into Ngorongoro Crater

 

Most other vehicles seemed to be in a rush to get down to the crater floor so we just pulled over and let them pass.

Once on the crater floor, you find yourself in the forest which is, in my opinion, by far the most attractive part of the crater.

 

 

Zebras

 

Many of the other vehicles we saw were in radio contact with each other and seemed to be constantly rushing to get to a sighting. In their hurry to get to see a rhino grazing 100 metres away, or lions visible only as dots, they missed so much.

The birdlife in the crater is terrific.

 

Kori Bustard in mating display

 

Kori Bustard

 

Abdim's Stork

Abdim's Stork

 

Singing Busk Lark

Singing Bush Lark

 

 

Singing Bush Lark

 

Rufous-naped Lark

Rufous Naped Lark

 

Rufous Sparrow

Rufous Sparrow

 

Red-capped Lark

Red-capped Lark

 

Red-billed Oxpecker

Red-billed Oxpecker

 

Northern Wheatear

Northern Wheatear

 

Northern Anteater Chat

northern anteater chat

 

Martial Eagle (imm)

Martial Eagle (imm)

 

Lanner Falcon

Lanner Falcon

 

Hildebrandt's Starling

Hildebrandt's Starling

 

Black-shouldered Kite

Black Shouldered Kite

 

Capped Wheatear

Capped Wheatear

 

Augur Buzzard

Augur Buzzard

 

Ashy Flycatcher

Ashy Flycatcher

 

Northern White-crowned Shrike

Northern White-crowned Shrike

 

Flamingoes

Flamingoes

 

Malachite Kingfisher

Malachite Kingfisher

 

elephant

 

 

We only had one traffic jam to contend with, and I think that was only because the animals that people really wanted to see were so distant, they were queueing up to see anything close to the track. We could see the jam from quite a way off, but there was no way to get around it because going off road is not an option. When we eventually managed to get past, we could see that the attraction was a pair of golden jackals that were scavenging the remains of a carcass.

 

 

Landcruisers in a queue

 

Cruiser jam

 

Golden Jackal

 

I can honestly say that, even though our ‘big game’ sightings were meagre, this was the most enjoyable drive I have had in the crater. Certainly my travelling companions, who had never been here before, absolutely loved it. Though even they agreed that whilst it was a ‘must see’, it was not a ‘must go back again’.

 

The Lerai Ascent road is an equally spectacular way to leave the crater. Unlike the other roads it is paved the whole way and so makes for a much more relaxing drive. The views looking back down were wonderful.

 

 

Looking back on the way out

 

We stopped for a quick picnic lunch once we reached the top and then set off for Ndutu.

Edited by Soukous

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Soukous
Posted (edited)

I got a wonderful book for Christmas "The top 100 birding sites of the World."

It has already been a huge help with planning my next trips.

One thing that surprised me though was that the Serengeti is rated as #31. Having been there several times, I would certainly not have rated it so high.

BUT, on this trip I have to say that it was pretty amazing. The sheer number and variety of raptors alone was incredible.

 

Here's my list for our Tanzania safari

 

01

Stork, Yellow-billed

02

Goose, Spur-winged

03

Fiscal, Long-tailed

04

Guineafowl, Helmeted

05

Crane, Grey-crowned

06

Egret, Cattle

07

Lapwing, Crowned

08

Hornbill, African Grey

09

Wagtail, Yellow

10

Robin-Chat, White-browed

11

Coucal, White-browed

12

Wheatear, Capped

13

Batis, Chin-spot

14

Starling, Violet-backed

15

Boubou, Slate-coloured

16

Roller, European

17

Roller, Lilac-breasted

18

Kingfisher, Malachite

19

Swallow, Barn

20

Swallow, Wire-tailed

21

Kestrel, Common

22

Kestrel, Lesser

23

Buffalo-Weaver, red-billed

24

Bulbul, Common

25

Buzzard, Augur

26

Seedeater, Streaky

27

Canary, Yellow-fronted

28

Goshawk, Dark-chanting

29

Babbler, Arrow-marked

30

Moorhen, Lesser

31

Cordon-bleu, Blue-capped

32

Cordon-bleu, red-cheeked

33

Courser, Two-banded

34

Crake, Black

35

Cuckoo, Great-spotted

36

Raven, White-naped

37

Swallow, Grey-rumped

38

Sunbird, Eastern Double-collared

39

Drongo, Fork-tailed

40

Hornbill, Van der Decken’s

41

Bush Lark, Singing

42

Fish Eagle, African

43

Flamingo, Greater

44

Flamingo, Lesser

45

Stork, marabou

46

Longclaw, Yellow-Throated

47

Lark, Flappet

48

Lark, Rufous-naped

49

Bee-eater, Cinnamon-chested

50

Bee-eater, Little

51

Sunbird, Variable

52

Flycatcher, African Dusky

53

Flycatcher, african Grey

54

Flycatcher, Ashy

55

Kestrel, Grey

56

Falcon, Pygmy

57

Woodpecker, Grey

58

Barbet, d’Arnaud’s

59

Ground-hornbill, Southern

60

Harrier, European Marsh

61

Harrier, Montagu’s

62

Harrier, Pallid

63

Eagle, African Crowned

64

Hawk-Eagle, African

65

Bateleur

66

Eagle, Long-crested

67

Eagle, Martial

68

Eagle, Verraux’s

69

Shrike, Northern White-crowned

70

Hoopoe, African

71

Ibis, Glossy

72

Ibis, Sacred

73

Jacana, African

74

Kingfisher, Grey-headed

75

Kingfisher, Striped

76

Kite, Black

77

Kite, Black-shouldered

78

Stilt, Black-winged

79

Eagle, Steppe

80

Eagle, Tawny

81

Bustard, Kori

82

Falcon, Lanner

83

Hornbill, Silvery-cheeked

84

Heron, Black-headed

85

Heron, Grey

86

Stork, Abdim’s

87

Stork, White

88

Bee-eater, European

89

Pigeon, Speckled

90

Vulture, African, White-backed

91

Vulture, Lappet-faced

92

Vulture, Ruppell’s Griffon

93

Goose, Egyptian

94

Dove, Dusky Turtle

95

Dove, Laughing

96

Lovebird, Fischer’s

97

Falcon, Amur

98

Ruff

99

Mousebird, Speckled

100

Night Heron, Black-crowned

101

Ostrich, Common

102

Francolin, Coqui

103

Francolin, Hildebrandt’s

104

Lark, Red-capped

105

Oxpecker, red-billed

106

Shoveler, Northern

107

Wheatear, Northern

108

Pelican, Great White

109

Pipit, Grassland

110

Cisticola, Hunter’s

111

Pratincole, Collared

112

Quelea, Red-billed

113

Bishop, Southern Red

114

Teal, red-billed

115

Dove, Ring-necked

116

Starling, Hildebrandt’s

117

Starling, Superb

118

Starling, Wattled

119

Sandgrouse, Chestnut-bellied

120

Sandgrouse, Yellow-throated

121

Sandpiper, Common

122

Sandpiper, Marsh

123

Secretary Bird

124

Cuckoo, Diederik

125

Cisticola, Desert

126

Cisticola, Pectoral-patch

127

Woodpecker, Cardinal

128

Bustard, Black-bellied

129

Bustard, White-bellied

130

Heron, Squacco

131

Plover, Kittlitz’s

132

Snake Eagle, Black-chested

133

Vulture, Hooded

134

Vulture, White-headed

135

Sparrow-Lark, Fischer’s

136

Weaver, Rufous-tailed

137

Sparrow, Rufous

138

Weaver, Speckle-fronted

139

Spoonbill, African

140

Spurfowl, Grey-breasted

141

Woodpecker, Bearded

142

Sunbird, Beautiful

143

Swallow, red-rumped

144

Fiscal, Common

145

Fiscal, Grey-baxked

146

Weaver, Lesser Masked

147

Weaver, Northern Masked

148

Weaver, Vitelline Masked

149

Stonechat, Common

150

Wagtail, African Pied

151

Wagtail, Mountain

152

Lapwing, Blacksmith

153

Lapwing, Long-toed

154

Lapwing, Spur-winged

155

Egret, Black

156

Egret, Great

157

Egret, Little

158

Chat, Northern Anteater

159

Widowbird, Fan-tailed

160

Wood-dove, Emerald-spotted

161

Dove, Namaqua

162

Wood-Hoopoe, Green

163

Barbet, White-headed

164

Sparrowhawk, Great

165

Hornbill, Crowned

166

Eagle Owl, Verraux’s

167

Swallow, Grey-rumped

168

Silverbird

169

Tchagra, Black-crowned

170

Crow, Pied

 

 

 

 

Edited by Soukous

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Game Warden

Looking forward to seeing these, or at least some in your BY thread @Soukous.

 

Matt

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Soukous
16 minutes ago, Game Warden said:

Looking forward to seeing these, or at least some in your BY thread @Soukous.

 

Matt

 

Aah, If only I had managed to get photos of them all. :(

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Soukous
Posted (edited)

Some of the roadside scenery

Maasai Boma

 

Maasai Boma

 

and the traffic hazards

 

cattle in the road

 

Although there had been some light showers, the road was very dry and very dusty. We wanted to keep the window open for ventilation but had to slam them shut every time a vehicle passed us.

It was a relief when we turned off the main ‘road’ to cut across the plain instead of continuing towards the Naabi gate and then turning west.

 

On the horizon there appeared to be a line of ants stretching as far as we could see in either direction. The migration was here.

 

As we entered the Ndutu woodlands our progress was constantly interrupted by wildebeest charging across the road in front of us.

ndutu-wildebeest.jpg.9c82ff6c0d622520c6acbdb4f7b74c08.jpg

 

 

Our camp, Kirurumu Serengeti Camp, was set up on a rise near the shores of Lake Ndutu. Kirurumu Serengeti is a mobile tented camp that from December to March is in Ndutu and then in June it moves to Moru Kopjes.

 

Kirurumu Ndutu

 

Guest tent, Kirurumu Ndutu

 

The tents all had power for charging and solar powered lights.

Good flushing loos as well.

Bucket showers with hot water delivered on request. 

One slightly bizarre thing was that once the crew had filled the shower bucket they stayed behind the tent while you showered, just in case you needed more water.

I wasn't expecting this and was surprised when I'd finished my shower to hear a voice call out "Finished?" "Do you need more water?"

 

Dining Tent

Kirurumu-dining-room.jpg.c74591e869fcebba505d17500bf2f3ec.jpg

 

The dining tent was OK with plenty of room for all guests to dine.

When we were there it was also doubling up as the lounge - the actual lounge had just been re-located to a private camp in Serengeti. This was a small nuisance but we were assured that this was not a normal situation and that there is normally much more space to relax and read and chat.

 

There were 4 other guests in camp when we arrived and we quickly learned that sightings had been excellent.

 

I spent an hour before we set out on our evening drive trying to get some images of the Beautiful Sunbirds that were flitting around in the bushes just outside camp. Yes they really are called Beautiful Sunbirds, and they really are beautiful.

 

 

Beautiful Sunbird - male

 

Beautiful Sunbird - male

 

It was really good to be in Ndutu again, there were wildebeest everywhere and lions sleeping under every second bush.

 

I think our guide, Joseph, was a bit puzzled when he stopped by a pair of sleeping male lions and none of us started taking photos. I explained to him that we had all seen sleeping lions before and couldn’t see any point in taking yet more photos of them. Find us some active lions and you’ll hear shutters click.

 

Our first afternoon was a good ‘test the water’ game drive and gave us a feel for what we could expect, both in terms of animals and in terms of other vehicles.

I reminded Joseph what I had said to him in Ngorongoro; namely that we had no desire to be part of the circus that gathers around some sightings. We were perfectly happy for him to drive wherever he wished and see what turned up.

 

This worked out well for us.

 

The following morning we headed in the direction of the big marsh, where there were apparently some lionesses with 8 young cubs between them.

We arrived to find a few other cars milling around, but no sign of the lions. Instead of searching for the lions, we drove off, in the opposite direction to everyone else.

 

And within 10 minutes we had found ourselves a female cheetah.

She wasn’t hunting but just seemed to be changing her location. We stayed with her for about half an hour as she strolled along.

 

 

Cheetah - female

 

Cheetah - female

 

Cheetah - female

 

We’d hardly said goodbye to her when we spotted what looked like another cheetah chasing a small group of wildebeest.

Once again, I don’t think he was actually hunting, but the wildebeest were spooked anyway and ran.

 

When we got closer we could see that this one was a male. He was calling out as he walked and Joseph told us that he was one of two brothers, and was probably calling for his brother.

He wasn’t in a hurry and didn’t seem bothered by us following him.

 

 

Cheetah - male

 

Cheetah - male

 

At one point he climbed into the fork of a small tree where he surveyed the surrounding area, calling all the time.

 

Cheetah - male

 

Cheetah - male

 

His brother didn’t show up while we were there.

 

We saw plenty of Kori Bustards, mostly males, and many of them strutting their stuff trying to impress females; of which there didn’t seem to be many around. Maybe they were just trying to impress each other.

 

 

Kori Bustard

 

Lots of kestrels - this one is a Lesser Kestrel

 

Lesser Kestrel

 

and a Grey Kestrel

Grey kestrel

 

and a first for me, a Great Spotted Cuckoo. Actually a pair of them.

 

Great Spotted Cuckoo

 

Great Spotted Cuckoo

 

As were driving across the plains flocks of small birds would rise up from the grass and fly alongside us for a short way then settle back down again. When I asked Joseph what they were he said they were Vicious Sparrow Larks. I’d not heard of these before and wondered how they had got the name. Were they really vicious?

A quick check in my birding guide revealed a slight misunderstanding. They were not vicious at all, but rather Fischer’s Sparrow Larks. Shame, I liked the idea of a vicious sparrow lark.

 

 

Fischer's Sparrow Lark

seems harmless enough

Edited by Soukous

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TonyQ

@Soukous

Lovely photos of the cheetah and the wide variety of birds.

Useful pictures of the camps also

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Atravelynn

The golden jackals created quite a road block.  Great cheetah in the tree.

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Soukous

Our evening game drive was not as eventful as the morning, although we did manage to get eyes on one of the lionesses and a couple of the cubs.

They were resting in amongst the bushes and completely surrounded by vehicles.

 

Liones with cubs

 

We were late to the party and had no chance of getting any closer, so we decided to leave.

As we were leaving, the lioness decided it was time to move her cubs from the bushes and into the safety of the marsh. Because of this, instead of being able to quietly drive away we got caught up in a mass scramble by all the drivers to get their vehicles out of the bushes and into the open.

What a bloody circus!

The poor lioness had to shepherd her cubs through the melee of vehicles.

 

Liones with cubs

 

A lovely sunset on the way back to camp.

 

Tree at sunset

 

To improve our chances of exploring areas away from other vehicles we arranged to leave early the next morning and take a picnic breakfast with us. This would allow us to venture a bit further out onto the plains.

 

Once again, the night was full of the sound of lions calling out. It was almost non-stop from the time sat down for dinner until dawn.

 

The light was terrific as we made our way towards the big marsh and we got some nice bird sightings.

 

Wattled Starling

 

Wattled Starling

 

Grey-breasted Spurfowl

Grey-breasted Spurfowl

 

Verraux's Eagle Owl

Verraux's Eagle owl

 

Verraux's Eagle owl

 

We’d decided that it was worth at least swinging by the marsh to see if we could catch a glimpse of the lions and cubs before they hid themselves away for the day.

Luck was on our side; the lionesses and cubs were just emerging from the marsh as we approached and, even better, there were less than half a dozen vehicles there.

 

Lionesses with cubs

 

 

Lionesses with cubs

 

We just turned off the engine and enjoyed it. By pure fluke the cubs decided that they were interested in our vehicle and they all trotted over, mewling like crazy, before the mums escorted them away.

 

 

 

The video itself is not great, but the sound of the cubs is wonderful.

 

 

 

Just so you know, I didn't take all 3 videos. I took the middle one, the others are from one of my travelling companions.

 

Lion cubs

 

Lion cubs

 

Some of the other vehicles chose to follow the lions as they moved away. I figured we were unlikely to get any better shots than we’d got already and we moved away.

 

As we were leaving, we saw more lions – the rest of the pride – emerging from the trees to cross the river bed.

 

Male lion

 

Male lion

 

It was immediately obvious that one of the males was not healthy at all. He was just skin & bone. With the abundance of food and the rest of the pride looking so well fed, something must be stopping him from eating. Very sad.

 

 

lioness

 

Lioness drinking

 

Lioness

 

Nice sighting of a Secretary Bird as well

Secretary Bird

 

The plains were teeming with wildebeest. Many of the on the move, others just hanging around in groups while females dropped calves.

 

Wildebeest nursery

 

We were on the lookout for females about to give birth and finally found one that seemed to be on the point of delivery. The birthing process had clearly begun as she had a leg sticking out of her backside.

We watched her for ages as she walked around, waiting for her to lie down and deliver. I think we should have chosen a different female as we never did see her calf arrive.

 

Eventually we admitted that we’d seen enough wildebeest.

 

Making our way, by a slow meandering route back towards our camp, we came across a male cheetah, probably the brother of the one we’d seen yesterday. He was just lying in the shade of an acacia tree. We stopped for a while to see if he would do more than just lie there.

Other vehicles came and went. Then, all of a sudden, one of the vehicles that had only just arrived, started his engine and raced off across the plain. He was about 70 – 80 metres away from us when another vehicle went zooming past, following the first one.

 

We were still trying to work out what was going on when Joseph started laughing. “That one is a Ranger” he said, meaning the second vehicle.

Sure enough the second vehicle soon caught up with the first one and they both stopped. After a brief discussion, the ranger vehicle turned around and came back to where we were; he was escorting a group of six 4x4s on some kind of expedition.

 

“He saw him coming from Serengeti.” said Joseph. We were very close to the white bollards that mark the boundary between Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti NP. It seems that this particular driver had been in Serengeti without the necessary permit.

 

I couldn’t help thinking what a total dick he must be. Not for straying into Serengeti; I’m sure lots of drivers take the chance every day, but for being so stupid as the try and run for it.

I mean come on. (a) He’s in a tour vehicle with the company logo on the doors and spare wheel covers; hardly incognito. (b) The fact that he tried to get away makes it clear that he knew he was doing wrong. If he had just stayed put and pleaded ignorance he would surely have stood a better chance.

 

Had he been a self-driver I might have had some sympathy – I myself had been caught and fined in 2003 for unknowingly briefly crossing over into Serengeti - but as a professional driver/guide he should have known better.

 

Once again there was an abundance of raptors on show. Pallid Harriers, Montagu’s Harriers, assorted kestrels, Tawny Eagles and a variety of vultures. The Tawny Eagles in particular stayed close to the calving mothers so they could swoop in and grab the placenta.

 

 

Tawny eagle

 

 

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Atravelynn

Nice pile of lion cubs.  That driver must have panicked and thought he could flee the ranger.  Very stupid.  Since you were fined in 2003, may I ask how much it was?

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Soukous
12 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

Nice pile of lion cubs.  That driver must have panicked and thought he could flee the ranger.  Very stupid.  Since you were fined in 2003, may I ask how much it was?

 

I wish I could remember @Atravelynn

It was not so much the fine as the inconvenience. The ranger took our passports and we then had to go to the ranger station where he made us wait an inordinate amount of time while did very little. It took out a whole game drive.

For the professional drivers it is quite serious as they get their licence taken and have to go to the ranger station to reclaim it and pay their fine. It does not make them look good in front of their clients.

 

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Atravelynn

That's good you cannot remember.  If it had been an astronomical fine, you'd never forget.

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Soukous
11 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

That's good you cannot remember.  If it had been an astronomical fine, you'd never forget.

 

Bizarrely, I can still remember the name of the ranger because we were all so incensed at his attitude. We even went to the parks office in Arusha to file a complaint. Ho hum. It got us nowhere.

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Soukous

A few more bird photos. They don't really fit into the narrative as we were grabbing the shots wherever we could.

 

Eurasian Roller, they seemed to be everywhere, far more prevalent than the Lilac Breasted Rollers 

Eurasian Roller

 

A pair of Secretary Birds

Secretary Birds

 

Lappet Faced Vulture

Lappet-Faced Vulture

 

Yellow-throated Longclaw

Yellow-throated Longclaw

 

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse (m)

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse (m)

 

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse (f)

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse (f)

 

Black-bellied Bustard

Black-bellied Bustard

 

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

 

 

Yellow-throated Sandgrouse

Yellow-throated Sandgrouse

 

Yellow-billed Stork

Yellow-billed Stork

 

White Stork

White Stork

 

Pygmy Falcon

Pygmy Falcon

 

Kitlitz's Plover

Kittlitz's Plover

 

Two-banded Courser

two Banded Courser

 

African Hawk Eagle

African Hawk Eagle

 

African Hawk Eagle

 

Grey-backed Fiscal

Grey-backed Fiscal

 

 

 

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monalisa

Hail would have been a sight to see in Tanzania! Did you happen to take any photos?

 

I too have fond memories of Lake Manyara NP but full disclosure it was one of my first parks so I was still wide eyed and spent 20 minutes at each zebra, and didn't see any cats. I did notice the guestbook was full of frustrated messages in it from guests who hadn't seen tree climbing lions.

 

Ngorongoro Crater is one of my favourite places. It is just so stunning. I love the cub sighting!! Fantastic pictures. I am soaking in all the cuteness!!

 

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Soukous
8 hours ago, monalisa said:

Hail would have been a sight to see in Tanzania! Did you happen to take any photos?

I love the cub sighting!! Fantastic pictures. I am soaking in all the cuteness!!

 

 

Sorry, no pictures of the hail. Or the traffic. I should have done.

 

Yes, the cubs are unbearably cute; but then you can't beat a bit of cuteness.

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lmonmm

Just as an aside   @monalisa     I was in Botswana last late Oct/early Nov and we ended up with a hail storm on an afternoon drive. Craziest thing I ever saw. Cameras were tucked away as we knew a storm was coming and we were high tailing it back to camp so no pictures. Honestly I was thrilled to have experienced it. Just never anything I would have expected in Africa. So, @Soukous  a very cool experience :)

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monalisa

@lmonmm, I can only imagine how thrilling and trippy it would have been! Not many can say they have experienced hail in the middle of the African wilderness!

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