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Moli Magic in Mpululu


Zim Girl
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@@michael-ibk

 

I just use a Panasonic bridge camera, the FZ200 - no SLR's or lenses involved. These pictures are straight out of the camera.

 

@@FlyTraveler

 

I guess they do, I didn't worry about it much, it is just so amazing to be able to see all around you at night.

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This morning we drove back towards Main Camp so that we could start to walk new ground going west from where we started at the beginning of the holiday.

 

On the way we passed a lovely giraffe creche.

 

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Over the holiday we had a lot of Lesser Kudu sightings, but always running away from us. This was the only one I managed to photograph.

 

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We started our walk and made our way down to the river.

 

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A Little Bee-eater that we saw on the way.

 

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After a while we stopped to watch a small group of hippos. Then right by the bank ahead of them we saw a pride of lions who had obviously just spotted us and had made a break for it across the river.

We walked forward as quick as we could but they were not hanging around, so these next few pictures were taken on the move and are a bit blurry.

 

Notice the hippos watching the lions in the first picture.

 

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This walk was proving to be quite fruitful as not long after the excitement of the lion crossing we found a small group of elephants eating in the grass.

 

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Next up, Mpululu.

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Fantastic lion sighting you had there. Really enjoying your safari with Kichaka. Will do that one day.

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Fabulous lion sighting. That Goliath Heron must have nerves of steel, or perhaps he knew the lions were beating a hasty retreat.

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@@Treepol

 

I know, I didn't even see it until I looked at the photos a lot later.

There was also one that popped up in the 2nd ele picture as well.

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Fabulous lion encounter on foot! I love the photos of the lions running over the river, especially the big male looking back towards you. The running Lesser kudu is nice, the elephants and the giraffes photos are very nice, as well.

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Earlier in the holiday, Moli and Noelle had discussed with us the possibility of travelling up to the Mpululu area of the Park and staying 3 nights to explore along the Mzombe river.

Apparently no other tourists had stayed overnight here let alone explore the area on foot. Moli had not been in the area for a year and even then had not had the chance to walk very far. The down side would be that it would take nearly two days of travelling to get there and back. However, this was an opportunity not to be missed and we jumped at the chance.

 

So, today was the day. Two vehicles were packed with the fly camp and enough food to last the 3 days.

Our initial drive would take us through some of the regular game drive area and then we would turn to drive up and over the escarpment.

 

These are some of the characters we saw early on in the drive.

 

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I am not a bird person but I have been trying. A Bateleur?

 

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We were keeping our eyes peeled for Sable but no luck. However, just as we hit the escarpment someone shouted Roan! On our left and running into the bush was around 4 or 5 Roan antelope. These fuzzy shots were all I could manage in the rush but at least we saw them.

 

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So far this holiday we had not had much trouble with Tsetse flies, until now!

 

Driving beyond the escarpment we hit a really bad fly area. We were watching them all congregate in the roof of the vehicle and everyone seemed to have taken up a bit of semaphore practice!

 

Then all of a sudden the vehicle came to a halt and Noelle shouts Hartebeest. In the bush were two Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest. I got in position to take a picture but the tsetse’s had other ideas. All the flies that had been sat in the roof suddenly descended around us and I literally could not see through the viewfinder for flies in the way. I took a couple of shots and hoped for the best, but then we were shouting at Moli to start driving again. I have never had so many tsetses around me at once before.

Just to prove I saw it!

 

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Luckily the tsetse area didn’t last long and we were soon driving through Miombo woodland.

 

The rest of the drive was fairly non-eventful and eventually we arrived at Mpululu. It was now mid afternoon and the priority was to find a place to set up camp.

 

Checking out the area while Moli looks for a suitable spot.

 

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It didn’t take too long to find a little bit of shade by the riverbank, so this is home for the next 3 nights.

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While camp was being set up we went for a drive. Moli and Noelle had somewhere they wanted to show us. In the distance was a beautiful rock formation called (you guessed it) Mpululu Rock. Moli said, that is where we are going to have our sundowners.

 

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To be fair, we didn’t actually climb to the summit of the rock because that would have taken far too long, but there was an outcrop just to the side and that was an easy climb. By the time we reached the top the sun was just starting to fade.

Now, my photos are not going to do this justice, but I am not exaggerating when I say the view from here is the most far reaching I have ever seen. It is MMBA in the truest sense of the expression. It felt like you were on top of the world and you could see to the ends of the earth.

It is also a very special place for Moli and Noelle as it was here a couple of years ago that they made the decision to go it alone and set up their own business.

 

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Of the 3 nights we stayed in Mpululu we spent 2 of them up here watching the sun go down. []

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The 2nd time we came up, Salem, one of the staff, came with us and it was lovely to watch him also in awe of the view and taking photos on his phone.

 

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Edited

Edited by Zim Girl
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I love those tents - but I guess you lie still and dont sit up, if lions are very close:-) Exciting TR

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I'm reading along and looking at photos but I have to stop to comment on those boulders. They are absolutely beautiful! And you did a great job of getting them in attractive light.

 

The camp location is superb. I can see why you took so many sundown photos of that location.

 

The hippos watching the lions who were watching you is a great series. I'm glad you mentioned the hippos or I might have concentrated on only the cat.

 

You've added a new dimension to Ruaha. Can't wait for more.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Mpululu magic! Really terrific place, and what a sunset! Great you saw Roan and Lichtenstein´s Hartebeest. Definitely a bateleur you have there btw.

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@@Zim Girl I'm envious of the Lesser kudu and Lichtenstein's hartebeest photos - great to have seen these hard to find animals.

 

MMBA indeed, also true African wilderness.

 

Really enjoying your walking adventure...

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So, this morning we decided to drive out from camp to the road/track that runs through the area. It is a ranger admin road that runs about 5k inland from the Mzombe river. On our way out we see a herd of buffalo disappearing off in a cloud of dust.

We are dropped off around 10k upstream. We walk the 5k from the road in a direct line to the river and then start walking along the riverbed and up and down the bank.

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Then we hit it. Hippo Alley! In front of us is a boulder strewn section of riverbed.

We climb up on top of the boulders and start hopping and jumping our way across. Then we notice them.

A hippo climbs out of the river on one side, another one climbs in on the other side, then we see another, and another.

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Some are trying to hide.

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In between the boulders are large pools of water. In the pools are hippos.

Then you get your eye in, and that boulder in the distance, it’s actually a hippo.

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Spot the hippo!

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If we stay on top of the boulders, we will be fine, says Moli.

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So we carry on, keeping a watchful eye out for moving boulders. We sit down at one of the larger pools to rest and watch a group of hippos for a while.

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Eventually it felt safe enough to climb up and out to the bank although a heart-attack bird flying out of a nearby bush made everyone jump, including Moli.

 

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Wow, @@Zim Girl

 

This is great. I had thoughts about exploring the northern reaches of Ruaha since way long ago. I only managed to see some of the areas up on the escarpment in 2010 (much more west than where you were). Mpululu/Mzombe looks amazing. Keep it coming.

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That night we had a bit of excitement after dinner. One of the staff came up to Moli and whispered something, Moli then got up and disappeared. So straight away we were excited as this usually means one thing - Animals in camp!

 

Sure enough, a minute later we are asked if we would like to see the lions that have just wandered into camp. Yes, please!

 

Just the other side of the vehicles, on the track into camp were two lionesses and a cub.

 

One of the females and the cub were now hiding in the grass but the other female could be clearly seen on the track only a few metres away. There was a stand-off for just a minute, then she was away with the others. Wonderful. The sort of after-dinner entertainment money just can’t buy.

 

It did make sleeping in the mosquito net tents all the more interesting, especially as the lions could be heard roaring in the night.

 

The next day we drove out further still and started a long walk back to camp.

The riverbed area is extremely scenic.

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Some sections dry, some with pools of water, some with lots of boulders. Also the landscape along the river was quite varied. Some of it quite open and sparse but other sections had beautiful woodland areas. There were big rocks to climb for good viewpoints as well.

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This picture below shows the access road across the Mzombe river

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I will leave you with this one. Can you spot the animal(s)?

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Klippspringer(s). :)

 

Gorgeous scenery!

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How exciting and wonderful to go on a Moli adventure where no one has walked before.

 

I must say the hippos give me a fright.

 

Lions in camp.....total excitement.

 

Great going, Zim Girl, enjoying the magic along with you!

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@@michael-ibk

 

Yes, not too hard. When we spotted them, there were three, but I have searched that picture and I can't find the third, he must have jumped out of shot.

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@@Zim Girl

Those hippos do look like rocks. The scenery is beautiful here and you capture it really well.

Lioins in the camp sounds exciting - and I can see why the mosquito net tent would be interesting on a night like that. A canvas tent would offer more psychological protection but I suspect would be no more barrier to a lion if it wanted to get in!

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During our walks in Mpululu we saw Kudu, Common Duiker, Waterbuck, Giraffe, Zebra and Buffalo as well as loads of Impala and Dik-Dik. A Pels Fishing Owl feather was found one afternoon, in good condition, which prompted a lot of sky watching for a while.

A closer picture of a Klipspringer.

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This guy was a long way from any water when we found him.

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We also saw plenty of fresh signs of elephant but we never actually caught sight of one. Moli wondered if they were only coming out at night, as the other side of the Mzombe borders a hunting area and because there are no camps anywhere here, it's possible there may be some poaching activity.

 

Just as an aside, since Moli set up Kichaka a year ago, poaching has been pretty much eradicated from the Lunda and eastern areas of the Park in which they walk. Which just shows what having a presence in an area can do.

This vervet monkey was watching us pack up on the last morning.

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And these yellow-billed storks were in a tree opposite our camp.

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So we began the long drive back to Lunda.

Our trip to Mpululu was a highlight of our visit to Ruaha and I will never forget the views from Mpululu rock.

Driving over the escarpment.

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On our drive back to camp we came across this group of elephants. This baby wanted to suckle Mum, so we stopped to watch.

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It's little trunk lying on top of it's head looks so cute.

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A better view of it suckling.

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This giraffe was sitting down looking very chilled.

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