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Ruaha and Zanzibar - September / October 2014


FlyTraveler

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@@FlyTraveler

Thanks for all those photos; the outside and the inside of the cabins looks very nice; specially for the price paid. What was the temperature inside the cottage, during night time?

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I and my wife came back from a trip to Tanzania three days ago and I am rushing to get started with the trip report. Most of the photos are not edited yet, so there will be a new installment whenever

Sept. 30, 2014. Ruaha National Park, morning game drive.     The first lions that we saw in Ruaha NP, right on the bank of Ruaha river. it was a pride of 9 to 11 lions (it was hard to tell, since t

Sept. 30, 2014. Ruaha National Park, morning game drive.     Continuing with the morning drive on our second day in Ruaha.     Impalas on the opposite side of Ruaha River:          

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FlyTraveler

@@FlyTraveler So you are looking at per couple, 100 US$ per night, per cottage - did you notice if there were any larger to accomodate families?

 

I am not sure Matt, I believe one can send them an email, or you can always ask @@PauloT to check this for you. I think that there was one bigger structure. My understanding was that the price for kids up to certain age was half of an adult ($25 US per night).

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FlyTraveler

@@FlyTraveler

Thanks for all those photos; the outside and the inside of the cabins looks very nice; specially for the price paid. What was the temperature inside the cottage, during night time?

 

Temperature inside the cottage at night was fine, the hot period was between the game drives (14:00-16:00 h) at least this was the time that we were there.

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michael-ibk

Who needs Meru style atmosphere and fancy dinners when you have that view, decent food, a good bed, working shower, private car and guide and park fees for just USD 200,-- pPpn. Best value for money I've ever heard of for Ruaha, would do this in a heartbeat! You're certainly giving me ideas for 2016...:)

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FlyTraveler

Who needs Meru style atmosphere and fancy dinners when you have that view, decent food, a good bed, working shower, private car and guide and park fees for just USD 200,-- pPpn. Best value for money I've ever heard of for Ruaha, would do this in a heartbeat! You're certainly giving me ideas for 2016... :)

 

That is correct, I just mentioned that theoretically it feels better in a Meru style tent. I was very happy with this safari and if I have to choose a good safari camp + shared vehicle or the TANAPA cottage + private vehicle, I would go for the second choice, left alone the price difference. Even more money can be saved if you fly Auric Air to Iringa both ways, the guide is coming from Iringa and then going back anyway and there is no surcharge for the transfer to Ruaha.

 

The good thing about this park is that there are different options for different budgets, it is like a cinema or an opera house - you can get the best seats for more money or last raw on the balcony for less money, but you still get to see the film / opera. Park fees are almost three times cheaper than Masai Mara and there are a lot less visitors. I would consider this option again for a future trip to Africa, especially during the green season - I would love to see the park green.

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Heck, it seems that I need to get in that waiting line fast .... speaking of visiting Ruaha, is April/May or June/July a viable period or is August much better?

Edited by xelas
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FlyTraveler

Heck, it seems that I need to get in that waiting line fast .... speaking of visiting Ruaha, is April/May or June/July a viable period or is August much better?

 

There are people here who know a lot more about Ruaha than I do, but I would assume that June/July should be fine (already a dry season).

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Park fees and park accommodation are half price for children under 15 if I remember correctly. As far as I know all the park cottages are doubles or twins.

 

Green season is very much an overlooked time of year everywhere, including Ruaha, this setup would be a good option in April/May as most of the lodges are closed. A lot of people will tell you the game viewing is better during the dry season, which may be just about true, but the green season with the river, birds and scenery should not be missed. This is also low season when you can pay significantly less at lodges and camps.

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FlyTraveler

Park fees and park accommodation are half price for children under 15 if I remember correctly. As far as I know all the park cottages are doubles or twins.

 

Green season is very much an overlooked time of year everywhere, including Ruaha, this setup would be a good option in April/May as most of the lodges are closed. A lot of people will tell you the game viewing is better during the dry season, which may be just about true, but the green season with the river, birds and scenery should not be missed. This is also low season when you can pay significantly less at lodges and camps.

 

 

Hi PauloT, I would like to use the occasion to thank you once more for the information you provided about Ruaha before we left for this trip and for the willingness to help in case we encounter problems.

 

The structure on the photo below looks to me bigger than the rest of the cottages, it must have more rooms:

 

 

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FlyTraveler

Sept. 30, 2014. Ruaha National Park, afternoon game drive.

 

 

We agreed with Alphonce to start the afternoon drives at 16:00 which would give me just about enough time to back up my photo and video files and have a shower or two (too hot) after lunch, no time for a snooze :) The drives would last about two and a half - three hours and we would be back at the cottage just before dark.

On this drive Alphonce took us to the Mwagusi river area, which we will revisit several times during our stay in Ruaha.

 

 

Land of giants, both trees and animals:


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Quite a lot of sausage trees in Ruaha:


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As we approached the Mwagusi riverbed, except the candelabra trees and the baobabs, we started seeing tall palm trees:


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I spotted a shy female Bushbuck, which ran away as soon, as we stopped:

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Then it turned out that the male was there, as well. Like the Dik-diks, the Bushbucks just stop in the bush and freeze when scared. This hiding instinct helped me take several shots of the male:

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It was interesting to see the Bushbuck frozen in such a position:

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Then I saw the female again:

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First sighting of Bushbuck for me and my wife.

 

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FlyTraveler

Sept. 30, 2014. Ruaha National Park, back to the morning game drive.

 

 

I just remembered that there were photos taken with the second camera I brought on this trip during the morning game drive, so I will go back a bit with the story and post some of them here.

 

Mrs. FlyTraveler and Alphonce in the Land Rover, the box on the left side of the guide was a small fridge:


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Baobab trees:


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The Great Ruaha River:


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I am obliged to give the credit for the next few photos to Mrs. FlyTraveler.

 

 

The Great Ruaha River and a baobab tree:


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Fallen tree and a hippo in the river:


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The first pride of lions that we saw on the morning drive:


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After they moved under a sausage tree on the edge of the riverbed:


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FlyTraveler

Sept. 30, 2014. Ruaha National Park, afternoon game drive.

 

 

Back to the afternoon game drive and the Mwagusi River area.

 

 

Some scenery shots (lots of tall palm trees along the dry riverbed):


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Impalas with a Masai giraffe in the background:


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The Mwagusi dry riverbed. The shadows of the palm trees were really long at this time of the day:


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Impalas crossing the dry riverbed:


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@@FlyTraveler

Beautiful landscapes - you capture them very well. (and congratulations to Mrs FlyTraveler for her contribution to the thread!)

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Soukous

Great job @FlyTraveler

not just the TR & photos but your whole approach to organising your safari.

Your efforts certainly paid off.

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FlyTraveler

Great job @FlyTraveler

not just the TR & photos but your whole approach to organising your safari.

Your efforts certainly paid off.

 

Thanks very much @@Soukous! I just read the wildlife photography tips on your website and realized that I have been using VR (exactly on Nikon 70-300 mm lens) with shutter speeds quite a lot above 1/500 and with a beanbag used for camera support. Should have read this before the safari... :(

Edited by FlyTraveler
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FlyTraveler

Oct. 01, 2014. Ruaha National Park, morning game drive.

 

 

When we were leaving the cottage we saw a giraffe nearby and took some photos of the sunrise and the giraffe. I have already posted one of them, here is another one:

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As already agreed with Alphonce, we skipped breakfast and left for the morning game drive at 06:30 h. The main idea about this drive was to hang around the Mwagusi River area and look for the big herd of buffalo.

 

 

As soon, as we started the drive we saw another giraffe:


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I will certainly need some help with this bird ID:


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The next one looks like a Fork-tailed drongo to me:


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Some scenery shots on the way to Mwagusi river. Not quite sure if the small sand riverbed on the second and third photos is Mdonya (it must be):

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Edited by FlyTraveler
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Sangeeta

I think it was very enterprising and adventurous of you to set off with no more than a promise, but your instincts were obviously taking you in the right direction! The bandas are a great find. They were still building them when I was there in 2008 and look much nicer now than when they were under construction! Those views are tremendous. Clearly Ruaha reveals itself slowly...

 

Very interesting TR and even though Michael teased you, the details were fun to read! :D

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FlyTraveler

I think it was very enterprising and adventurous of you to set off with no more than a promise, but your instincts were obviously taking you in the right direction! The bandas are a great find. They were still building them when I was there in 2008 and look much nicer now than when they were under construction! Those views are tremendous. Clearly Ruaha reveals itself slowly...

 

Very interesting TR and even though Michael teased you, the details were fun to read! :D

 

I had the phone number of @@PauloT, who is a safari guide based in Iringa, just in case something goes wrong, so there was some sort of a back up.

 

Michael is a funny guy and I like his sense of humor. :)

Edited by FlyTraveler
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graceland

Great shots by Mrs. FLY....and taking me back to Ruaha is delicious. Thanks so much. I like those Bandas; If you have a great guide, who really cares. He seemed to work with you whatever you wanted!

 

Much drier when we were there; nice to see some water,

 

Once again a great trip report!

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FlyTraveler

Great shots by Mrs. FLY....and taking me back to Ruaha is delicious. Thanks so much. I like those Bandas; If you have a great guide, who really cares. He seemed to work with you whatever you wanted!

 

Much drier when we were there; nice to see some water,

 

Once again a great trip report!

 

 

Thanks for the good words @@graceland! To me this was dry enough, haven't seen anything dryer than this except deserts. Ruaha river was flowing, though and later on during the safari we saw lots of water based birds.

 

These are actually the cottages, there are also TANAPA bandas, located right on the river bank, we went to see them on our last day in Ruaha, I will post photos of the bandas when I get there with the report.

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Soukous

 

Great job @@FlyTraveler

not just the TR & photos but your whole approach to organising your safari.

Your efforts certainly paid off.

 

Thanks very much @@Soukous! I just read the wildlife photography tips on your website and realized that I have been using VR (exactly on Nikon 70-300 mm lens) with shutter speeds quite a lot above 1/500 and with a beanbag used for camera support. Should have read this before the safari... :(

 

 

Thanks @@FlyTraveler great to know that at least one person has read it. :D

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Soukous

Although those bandas do look a bit un-natual at the moment, after a couple of good rainy seasons the vegetation should have grown up around them and helped them blend in better. Of course we now rely on TANAPA to keep them in good order.

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michael-ibk

Glad you don't hold my little jest against me, I mostly post first and think later. Thinking sometimes resulting in wondering if posting what I did had been a good idea. :)

 

I think that's a White-Browed Coucal there.

 

Your photos always look like you had perfect light for all of them, don't know how you are doing that. Great stuff, keep it coming. Particularly like that giraffe, beautiful pattern on that one.

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FlyTraveler

Oct. 01, 2014. Ruaha National Park, morning game drive.

 

 

Some bird photos from this drive.


Ruaha hornbill (Tockus ruahae):


post-46619-0-99370300-1414230443_thumb.jpg

 

 

White-headed Buffalo Weaver:

 

 

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Some photos of a Zebra mare with a foal:


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post-46619-0-49973600-1414231728_thumb.jpg

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FlyTraveler

Glad you don't hold my little jest against me, I mostly post first and think later. Thinking sometimes resulting in wondering if posting what I did had been a good idea. :)

 

I think that's a White-Browed Coucal there.

 

Your photos always look like you had perfect light for all of them, don't know how you are doing that. Great stuff, keep it coming. Particularly like that giraffe, beautiful pattern on that one.

 

As I said, I liked your little jokes, I can take a lot more without feeling offended at all :) On the other hand you are so perfect (a German - will see your reaction on this) that I can not find anything to tease you about :)

 

Thanks for the bird ID! It's late to edit my post, but will do it on Facebook and most important - will know what this bird is.

 

About the photos - as we all know, light is almost everything, so I have learned when I don't have good lighting to somehow imitate it in post processing, jiggle around with a few variables until I believe that I have taken the most out of the raw file.

Edited by FlyTraveler
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