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We came from Jongomero in the Ruaha. When we landed at Siwandu airstrip, the sky was overcast and from the plane, we could see that it was raining in some places. Last month, we stayed 5 nights at Siwandu, that belongs to the owner of Jongomero. I had been there already in October 2010 (also 5 nights), it was then called Selous Safari Camp, and twice in 1997, when it was called Mbuyuni. It was, in those times, located elsewhere, closer to the Rufiji river.

 

The Rufiji river and crocodile in 1997

 

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It had to be rebuilt several times because of damages done by natural elements, like thunderbolt or flood. In 1997, there were, of course, less lodges in the reserve. The camp is now located on the lake Nzerakera, where the concentration of game is the highest one.

 

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This dead tree is, around the lake, the most photographed one.

 

2010, the level of water was higher

 

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2014

 

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Siwandu is a place that I am particularly fond of. It has a fantastic location and the light, especially in the afternoon, is gorgeous. The lake gives you many opportunities to see animals, not only birds, crocs or hippos, from a boat or a pontoon. The camp is divided in 2 separate entities with their own restaurant, bar and kitchen. I had a very good guide, Allen. I was surprised by the fact that he did not use binoculars. He said that, for him, it was not necessary. Indeed, I quickly realized that he has eyes like a hawk.

 

The tents have an octogonal shape with the bathroom and the out of doors shower, en-suite, on one side. We had tent n° 7, for me, the one with the best view on the lake.

 

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View from the tent

 

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Concerning wildlife, first of all, sorry Hari, no cheetahs at all.

Lions in 2010 were often seen. In 2014, only 2 sightings, a total of 6 lions.

 

The Selous is the place where I saw wild dogs for the first time, in 1997. In 2010, I saw two of them not far from the lake and a pack, far away in the direction of Beho Beho. This year, one car from the camp, that went out for a full day, saw a pack near the Sand Rivers lodge, an area that they are attached to. The problem is that, in this part of the reserve, there is not much more to see. I deliberately decided not to go there, when so many other species can be seen on and around the lakes.

 

This year, I saw 3 leopards, 4 years ago, I only caught the glimpse of one. In fact, I saw it, in the dark, during one of my most thrilling african nights. Around midnight, I was awokened by the alarm call of the impalas. I opened the zip and in the beam of my flashlight, I saw, what I expected to see, a leopard, but it was a surprise to see it with a baby impala in its mouth. It disappeared in the bushes, accompanied by the wails of the mother. One hour later, I was again awokened, but this time by the racket made by a pack of hyenas, close to the kitchen. And it’s not finished, about one more hour later, I was, violently, dragged from my sleep by the roaring of a big male lion that had decided to begin its concert at the entrance of my tent.

 

There were more elephants this year, but strangely, not seen on game drives, but from the boat and every night in the camp. There were no sightings at all of zebras this year, but a lot of hyenas in and out the camp.

 

Concerning the birds, less malachite kingfishers this year, because, I think, of the lower water level. There were no black-headed herons this year, but well hundreds of great white and pink-backed pelicans attracted by the fishes trapped in the remaining pools of dry lake Manze. This year, I also noticed the great number of bee-eaters, in quantities and in species’ varieties.

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The Rufiji areas is beautiful, excellent photos of it.
I believe you said you had a good predator / prey experience in Selous - was it the unfortunate baby impala?

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@@Big_Dog

 

Thanks. I had, indeed, like I said, a good predator/prey experience last month, in the Selous. So, I was not refering to the leopard and baby impala. That was 4 years ago, and no pictures.

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Beautiful shots of the dead tree, @@Bush dog! I like the fact that you include retrospectives to previous trips in your reports, what a night in 2010... Looking forward for seeing the rest of the report, great photography and story guaranteed...

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Great stuff - i love Selous. I'm glad you saw elephants, in sep. last year we struggled to see elephants. They are more or less poached out compared to years ago.

 

Cheers

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@@FlyTraveler

 

Thank you for your comments. In fact, if I'm including retrospectives of previous trips, it's because I'm a recent member of ST. As I'm a regular visitor of Africa for more than 20 years, it's more convenient, for me, to include, where it's possible, those previous trips in recent ones.

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@@Africalover

 

If elephants are more or less poached out, it's an explanation to the fact that it's difficult to see them on game drives. And yes, they are easily seen from a boat, from a distance, but as soon as you try to come closer, they are not really running away but they are quick to join the forest. The only place where they seemed to be comfortable, was in the camp? And so it was 4 years ago.

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Love the retrospective, and the trees!!

 

Looking forward to more; have not had the opportunity to visit Sealous. Well we did after Ruaha, but timing was off and I was extremely disappointed. I'll get my fix from your report.

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The scenery is very beautiful. Looking forward to more, and I also like the reflections back to previous visits.

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1st DAY 2010

 

Afternoon boat trip

 

There are on the lake a few islets and with the higher water level, they were more looking like big floating bushes. It was thus a safe place for the birds to live or roost and it was also possible for the boat to get very close and for us to observe them from a very short distance. It was very convenient to take pictures of the smaller species like the malachite kingfisher. As a consequence, there are many pictures of it in 2010 and only one in 2014. A colony of black-headed herons was living on top of this bushes. In 2014, I did not find any trace of them. On the lake shores and in the water, I noticed, amongst others, crocodiles and hippos, of course, spur-winged plovers, a black heron and skimmers.

 

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I do not know if this is an interaction between opposite sex or identical sex individuals ?

 

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1st DAY 2014

 

Afternoon boat trip

 

The first going out, in 2014, was also a boat trip : a lot of aquatic birds, of course. Amongst others, a lot of yellow-billed storcks, great white egrets, African fish eagles and African skimmers . The latter in greater number than in 2010. Indeed, again the lower water level has an influence on the sightings. There are small sandy beaches on the islets where they congregate, as well as crocodiles. There are more hippos, in the water, than in 2010, probably because of Lake Manze’s dryness and they are quiet agressive. On one islet, many black-headed weavers and their nests. Tiger fishes play at flying fishes.

 

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On the shores, elephants, giraffes, kudus, waterbucks, baboons and, on a tall tree, black and white colobus.

 

The crocodiles, there, have a yellowish brown and green colour. It is due to the nutrition of the fishes that is the essential thing of their alimentation. It turns to intense golden brown and green in the gorgeous afternoon’s light.

 

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To be continued

 

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madaboutcheetah

Amazing bird photography, Mike - the Skimmers are just WOW

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@@Bush dog

 

And the herons too. Wow.

 

Although Siwandu looked great, I opted not to use Siwandu in my upcoming trip to Selous because of its strange late morning starts (8:30am?). I know one can request to start earlier in the morning, but I hear you are not guaranteed to get the early start unless you have a private vehicle.

 

What was your experience on this issue?

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@@madaboutcheetah

 

Thanks Hari. With an environment like this place, with also lake Siwandu and lake Mzizima, you will find in this topic many birds' shots. And even if Lake Manze was almost dry, there were still some small pools with a great concentration of fishes, and as a consequence a great concentration of birds, feeding on them.

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@@Safaridude

 

Thanks. In fact it's 8.00am, when I was there, but it's certainly dependent on the season. They explained it by the fact that, from their local experience, there is not a lot of activity before. It's the same at Jongomero, in Ruaha. I discussed the matter, 4 years ago with Moli, at the time, manager of Jongomero, because I was very sceptical about it and furthermore the same rule in 2 different places???? But he confirmed their statement. But perhaps he had no other alternative than to confirm it, after all he was their employee???

 

Now, from my personal experience this year, on 5 morning drives, we, my wife and myself, went out twice at 6.30am and did not see exceptional things between 6.30 and 8.00. Now, you can request, indeed, to go earlier if you are alone on the vehicle or, if there are more people, they all agree to it. I must also say that the last 6 boat trips and game drives, we were alone. And this is due to low season, but also, as I've been there already 3 times before, I assume that they, when it became possible, decided not to put additional people on my vehicle? Commercial thankfulness???

 

Another important thing, Siwandu has the best location. So, most of the time, the cars of the other camps, like Lake Manze, Impala or the Foxes lodge, make their game drives around Siwandu. They are even coming from Beho Beho. Those are leaving their camp at 6.30 and arrive in the Siwandu area between 7.30 and 8.00!

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Another corker of a report! The dead tree with the two crocs and the second Malachite are the standouts for me so far, terrific! :)

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Continued (1st day 2014)

 

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White-crowned Lapwing and mussels

 

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And a more unusual sighting around a lake and on a tree, a ground hornbill

 

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Kissing giraffes

 

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When the sun was about to disappear, pelicans, mainly great white, came from Lake Manze, where hundreds of them were feeding on fishes, stuck in the remaining pools, to roost safely on a sandbank on the lake. I saw them a few days later coming from the opposite direction. My guide told me that it was because of a direction’s change of the wind.

 

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Awesome photos - the colour in them and the birds is excellent. The sunset giraffes are also stunning, as is the landscape shot of all the pelicans.

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Great close up photos of crocs and Yellow-billed stork @@Bush dog! The kissing giraffes with the palm trees, the skimmers and the flying pelicans photos are out of this world! I keep enjoying this report very much and looking forward to seeing the next installment.

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@Big_Dog@FlyTraveler

 

Thanks for your kind words

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2nd DAY 2010

 

Morning game drive

 

Coming out of the camp, we followed the lake’s shores. We quickly found this young male lion under a bush.

 

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While we were there, I looked in the opposite direction and saw the african fish eagle on top of a dead tree. When I was taking pictures of it, it decided to call.

 

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Further, we noticed a buffalo, that was apparently sick, lying on the ground, with 2 or 3 others around it. One of them tried, a few times without succes, to set the sick one upright again. I had, and the guide as well, never seen that before. So I do not know the reasons and the meaning of this behaviour. I think that the others did not want to abandon the sick one and, as a consequence, had that manifestation of fellowship ?

 

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Close to the buffaloes, we saw in a pond the white-faced whistling ducks.

 

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On the way back, we found in the shade of palm trees, 3 lions, a young male and 2 females.

 

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Really like the first photo from the post above @@Bush dog - the face expression of the young male lion and the sharpness and clarity of the image. The photos of the calling African fish eagle (especially the first one) are great, as well.

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It would be interesting to have a researcher on buffaloes comment on that behaviour, it must have been very interesting to see. The fish eagle is wonderful, all the photos are very descriptive.

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@FlyTraveler@twaffle

 

Thanks for your kind words and comments!

 

2nd DAY 2010

 

Afternoon boat trip

 

The afternoon boat trip was quiet but nice and ended as usual with a beautiful sunset. There were a lot of greater kudus on the shores.

 

Common greenshank

 

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Malachite kingfisher

 

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African spoonbill

 

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