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Niyam's African Adventure (August 2013)


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I had to cut the Tarangire bird fest short and there's still 17 days in Katavi and Serengeti to come! You won't want to look at another bird by the end of this report :D


Yes, I will!



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This report is good ID practice for those of us going to East Africa soon.... lovely photos too, so no complaints here.




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I'm sure @@pault photographed this same Lilac-breasted Roller sitting on the Oliver's Camp sign at the edge of the Silale Swamp.


If so, he/she has been to the stylist since then!! :P



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 yes it's the sign at the edge of Silale Swamp - from which you could go to either old or new Oliver's. I found the hornbills to be quite skittish in Tarangire. Frank should get a lot of credit for my bird photos - being a keen birder himself, he was great at stopping a certain distance away from the birds (to get the "insurance" shot), and then approaching closer where possible. He worked wonders to get me close to the African Grey Hornbill (in Part 1 of the bird photos), as I missed a few in Mkomazi and it was at the top of my hornbill wanted-list.



Edited by wilddog
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Is this your first time seriously photographing birds, AP? You're up there with Rainbirder on many of these! What a nice way to start a safari - no stress, no fuss, lovely knowing that all those days are still ahead of you... I know I've said this before, but would really love to see your final Namibia itin when it is ready.


That RID is good. Like homeopathic medicine - may not work for everyone, but when it does, it is a blessing :D

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Fantastic trip report so far, but I don't think you can put the lack of leopards down to our get together LOL!!

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@@Sangeeta regarding your comment about comparing my bird photos with Rainbirder's - I'm sure it would have been too early in the day, in Washington, to have started drinking :D. His photos are something to aspire to and I was still learning how to use my new cameras. When I left, I didn't intend to focus on bird photos but Mkomazi forced my hand and then I got addicted :).


I've taken bird photos before but just "point and click" using automatic settings. This was the first time where I was experimenting with different manual settings. Regarding the next trip, I still haven't decided on whether I should do KTP combined with Namibia or just stay in South Africa and combine KTP with Kruger - I'll have all three boys with me, including a 3 year-old.

Edited by africapurohit
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Some More Highlights from Tarangire



In southern Tarangire, there was one large impressive herd of buffalo (around 800-1000 strong) as well as some smaller groups around Silale Swamp. We didn't see a single buffalo in northern or central Tarangire



They were very good at concealing themselves in the long grass



"Humpback Elephant" - this unusual looking cow was doing well and had a calf. The raised and inward pointing tusks seemed to be a genetic trait as other females in her breeding herd had tusks of similar appearance. Niyam thought she looked like a "mammoth"


This was the largest bull we saw


But this old guy had the most impressive tusks


This was one sighting at which Frank did not want to spend too much time! In Tarangire, I had to take evasive action twice by dropping to my seat as a swarm of bees flew over the vehicle. Luckily, we could hear the loud drone of the swarm in advance and they just flew over us. In the Serengeti, a swarm of bees entered our vehicle - fortunately all the windows were open and they literally flew straight through without any casualties.


Mud shower


We saw more Grant's gazelle in southern Tarangire than we did during our 10 days in northern Serengeti!


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Fringe-eared oryx sightings close to Oliver's Camp




Coke's hartebeest were also a regular sighting in the southern section of the park


Bohor reedbuck were regularly spotted along Silale Swamp as the day started to warm up


Wildebeest enjoyed grazing in the burnt areas close to the edge of Silale Swamp



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One of the three male lions seen at the edge of Silale Swamp


Unusually, this young dikdik spent a few minutes playing on the road right in front of our vehicle - we had to edge forward for it to move out of the way!


Resting a heavy trunk


Vervet monkeys at play



Black-backed jackals


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we had the first sightings of the season - only lone animals. Two days later, one of the Oliver's Camp guides saw a herd of about 30 running through the woodland about 6 km from Oliver's Camp.


Lewis, the lead guide for Oliver's (and for Asilia) said sightings of oryx and eland were the first signs that the "true" dry season was setting in. They become more visible in their search for water and, as well as the multiple swamp areas, there are also some small waterholes scattered in the southern section. During our visit, the waterholes always had groups of waterbuck nearby.

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If you're a birder or passionate about elephants, five nights in Tarangire will be amazing - otherwise I would recommend around 3 nights, especially if exploring the southern section. During our stay, there were guests who were passing through Oliver's Camp for one night only! They would arrive at the camp in the late afternoon and then have to leave early the next morning - I have no idea who advised them or booked their itineraries but it didn't make sense. They spent all that time and money getting to Oliver's but were literally only transiting through. Little Oliver's Camp was up and running and although I had the opportunity to visit, I didn't - so apologies to anyone who may have been interested in it's location and appearance.


Being a Liverpool Football Club season ticket holder (top of the Premier League as I type :D), I was also in Tanzania as a missionary. I had packed enough Liverpool shirts to ensure all my guides and trackers were given this special gift. Frank was my first convert, despite being a Chelsea supporter :D. I was hoping one of my guides would be a Manchester United supporter, but wasn't that fortunate :P.



Niyam with Michelle, Frank and some of the staff at Oliver's Camp


The "Converted" Frank at Kuro Airstrip with Niyam


Niyam getting ready to board his first bush flight

Next stop.......Katavi National Park

Edited by africapurohit
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Wow, I just climbed on board of this very excellent report AP. And, what a darling child Niyam is. Beautiful photography, really looking forward to the rest. Patsy

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Thanks @@PCNW. I've now started processing all of my Katavi photos, so the report should recommence soon.


The main reason for the delay was a power supply unit (PSU) failure on my main PC, but I bought a replacement and rewired the motherboard, hard drives and fans, so I'm back up and running (the other reason: reading everyone else's trip reports :D).

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You cursed Liverpool. Ouch!


Looking forward to the next installment.

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@@pault as long as we stay in touch with the big spending teams, up until Christmas - I think we'll have a good chance to push them all the way (for a top 4 finish).

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Football talk is off topic. But, whilst we are about it, Liverpool don't stand a chance against Palace ;)

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@@pault as long as we stay in touch with the big spending teams, up until Christmas - I think we'll have a good chance to push them all the way (for a top 4 finish).

I meant the next installment of your trip report.... ;-)


We are off topic, but since it is @@africapurohit's topic, it could be seen as on-topic. He even has photos .

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Katavi National Park


We were booked to fly with Zantas Air but the flight was outsourced to Tanganyika Flying Company (TFC). There was one other couple travelling from Oliver's Camp to Katavi (staying at Chada Camp) and we had two pilots and 12 seats all to ourselves. The scheduled flight usually departs from Arusha before heading to Katavi and Mahale (with a refuelling stop in Tabora), but diverted to pick us up from Tarangire. TFC even offered us a packed lunch and drinks as we were boarding - I've never experienced that with a bush flight before! We left Tarangire at 8:30 am and landed in Tabora 85 minutes later. We were on the ground for 20 minutes before another 60 minute flight onward to Katavi. It was a very smooth flight and any concerns about Niyam not being able to cope were unfounded. As we flew over Katavi, I had fantastic views of hippos and elephants enjoying a good water levels of the Katuma River, surrounded by beautiful shades of green. Unfortunately, Niyam had fallen asleep on my lap, so I couldn't get in position to take photos. It turned out that the TFC flight was the most pleasant of the whole trip (compared with our future Zantas Air and Coastal flights!).




After the Ikuu Airstrip was cleared of giraffe, warthogs and impala we were met by Whiteman, our guide for the next seven days. Whiteman had only been in Katavi for one week, after being flown in from Ruaha to accommodate my private vehicle request and help with a "busy" period requiring the deployment of 3 gamedrive vehicles (more than 8 guests :)). Whiteman had spent the previous five years guiding in Selous and Ruaha at the Foxes camps and had an instant rapport with Niyam. Niyam was also introduced to his first open safari vehicle, the Maruti Gypsy - it is lighter, quieter, more nimble and more economical than the usual Land Rovers and Land Cruisers, whilst also being comfortable. You could even fold the windscreen down! The only disadvantage is its lower clearance, which would pose problems when crossing deep water. Niyam loved the fact that he could see so much more.



On landing one of the first things I noticed was the big blue sky - it was non-existent in Mkomazi and extremely rare in Tarangire. It was a good opportunity to play with a polarising filter


Niyam eating the dust created by the plane as it was getting ready for take-off. Having the windscreen folded down was great for taking photos of animals in front of the vehicle. Notice the metal container/bucket bolted to the back of the Maruti Gypsy - a valuable feat of engineering for our battle with the tsetse fly!

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When the levels of the Katuma River are low enough, you can transfer from the airstrip to Katavi Wildlife Camp in about 5 minutes by crossing the river - not so in our case. Our transfer was about 60 minutes (including some gameviewing stops), as we had to drive alongside the river and cross at Ikuu Bridge to get on the other side. It was a similar transfer for Katuma Bush Lodge guests, which is around 2km away from Katavi Wildlife Camp. The Flycatchers camp is positioned on the same side of the river as the airstrip, so it's a very quick transfer (about 5 minutes). Chada Camp is roughly 10km away from Ikuu Bridge, in the opposite direction to the other three camps.


Despite the midday heat there was lots of animal activity during our transfer to camp:



Bohor Reedbucks were plentiful, especially around the Kitasunga Plains


Lilac-breasted Roller on the banks of the Katuma River


Katavi was great for elephant sightings and breeding herds were never far from the Katuma River


We came across a large group of Black-crowned Night-Herons who were happy to share the river bank with the crocodiles


Some were in snapping distance but the crocodiles maintained the peace


Niyam thought they looked like penguins - I suppose he does have a point


Basking hippos


Then only 200 metres from camp, we met some members of the Katuma Pride relaxing in the shade of a tree


Niyam's first sighting of a wild lioness

We saw more lions in a few minutes than we had done during the previous 8 days! I was just happy to be in Katavi - like a child in a toy shop :)

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Wow....love this....I was away when you began the TR, and am now just catching up on everyone. Aug/Sept have been banner months for TR's


I love that you took your 6 yr. old boy. I take mine, but he is 62!


Amazing photos. ....

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Thanks @@graceland - men never grow up, you should know that :D

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Thanks @@graceland - men never grow up, you should know that :D

LOL.....I know --- I'm social security age; he is pre-teen!! Would not want anyone else!! Life is an adventure for sure.


Love hearing your stories....when my daugther was alive we took her everywhere....she even wrote about it in college...That helped me so much in the process of grief, knowing we took her to places and experiences no friends of hers had ever been. They become wordly and more involved. Good for you! keep it going.....


What is that saying" pay it forward"....the same can be said for giving the GIFT of world experiences (rather than an" ipad" et al) - the more life experience. the better.....the world's future.

sorry, off my soapbox now.... :rolleyes:

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Great to see your report continuing. I have been keen to see the Katavi section - and I can see you are going to give a real flavour of the area

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