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Selous, Ruaha, Katavi, Serengeti Mara - Sept 23rd to Oct 9th 2015


Julian

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OK, that seemed to work so here's a few more, just as a taster, I'm intending to start editing the photos in the next few days , so should be starting to post the detailed report in about a weeks time

Too busy at home recently with other jobs, but I am eager to start this report, so as this is my first trip report I am just going to attempt to post a few photos from the trip, as a taster, assuming

It feels as though we have been here for quite a long while now but, as always on safari, the time seems to pass so slowly for the first 24 hours, and then gradually speeds up as the trip progresses.

 

I haven't seen (or at least don't remember seeing) a tent elevated in quite that way before - looks like it works perfectly to give you a really nice view! Camp looks good as well.

I think that type of elevation is quite common. Other camps I have been to in the past with similar elevation of tents include Kirawira in the Grumeti area of the Serengeti and Camp Moremi in the Moremi reserve.

The reason they were elevated to the hight they are at in Selous Impala camp are because of the proximity to the Rufiji river, meaning hippos frequently wandered through the camp at night - i understand they have poor eyesight and if you have ever seen a disturbed hippo running in a panic it just flattens everything in its way.

 

 

Yep, it's easy to see the practical safety advantage it confers, as well as giving you a nice vantage point to see over the bushes.

Looking forward to more!

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It's really good of you to share the details with us. These are useful markers for me. Thanks for not being coy about it.

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Good start! Long start, but that"s all good. Take your time, please.

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Atravelynn

Heck of an itinerary! Some great spots. I just read further to see the specific details. All very helpful.

 

Thanks for the details of your good experience with ATR. Those poor friends of yours who had to back out.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Atravelynn

 

5000 shots is actual quite sane. You had outstanding locations. Looking forward to your excellent results.

 

A night time crossing? I thought they did not cross at night. Wonder what prompted them to do a night time crossing.

Possibly the crossing was just after sunset or at dawn, Both situations where there would be no vehicles out.

 

That's what I was wondering. Thanks for the clarification.

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twaffle

Great start, looking forward to this with lots of anticipation.

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The room is very nice, a large comfy bed, plenty of storage space, and has a partial view of the Rufiji river. A few minutes later and it time for lunch.

 

We relax admiring the view, the sounds of the bush, and the great feeling of being on a safari again. Lunch was very nice rather too much with each course served up to you (would have preferred buffet style and a choice). Also seating each party of guests on their own means that there is little opportunity for any socialising with the other guests.

 

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After lunch we head back to the tent to unpack, put our valuables in the room safe (very secure bolted to the floor), have a much needed shower (great showers here the water is high pressure).Then its time for the twice daily routine of putting on the sun protection lotion and insect repellent. The room also has a socket for charging batteries, etc which is convenient. A quick read through the camp info book, and by then its already time to head back to the dining area for light refreshments before the afternoon game drive.

 

We fill up our permanent metal water bottle, which the camp provides, from the water cooler the camp has a borehole with purified water. Chania, the manager, is there to see us off on our first game drive. Gerard, our guide, has the vehicle ready for us, with the cool box of water and assorted chilled drinks, and we set off immediately in the pleasant afternoon sunshine.

 

Within the first hour or so we see giraffe, warthogs, baboons, more giraffe, impala, zebra and even more giraffes. A few of the more common birds put in an appearance the drive, (and even back in the camp some birds are frequently seen such as the white browed sparrow weaver and the village weaver -or is it the spectacled weaver ?).

 

The most interesting wildlife so far was definitely the baboons. We came across a noisy very active group that decided to race up a couple of close large trees and call loudly as they swung through the branches. Pieces of foliage were knocked down or branches broken off. They were clearly having fun and after a few minutes one of them high up came crashing down through the foliage on a very large branch, and all their calls reached a crescendo, which appeared as though it was a round of cheering for the one who broke off the largest piece. At which point they all scuttled off noisily through the bush into the distance. Even Gerard found it all very amusing.

 

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As we approach one of the lakes connected to the Rufiji river sytem an elephant comes into view. We drive up closer to the lake and close to the bushes to see if there are more elephants. Gerard is convinced there are more concealed in the bushes and after a while driving around we find another and can hear signs of more in the dense bushes, but the rest remain elusive We also see some crocodiles of assorted sizes and a few birds including a pied kingfisher, a goliath heron and an egret.

 

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We get out of the vehicle as the sun begins to set and have a nice cold sundowner and some snacks from the cool box. We watch as the elephants move back into the bush and then its time to head back to camp our first game drive over.

Edited by Julian
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Really nice giraffe closeup. Quite a stylish mane on it, too. ;)

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Very helpful detail about transfers etc and then on to the first drive - lovely. I am glad that someone else likes baboons!

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offshorebirder

I haven't seen (or at least don't remember seeing) a tent elevated in quite that way before - looks like it works perfectly to give you a really nice view! Camp looks good as well.

 

Besides improved views, increased elevation also helps catch more breezes.

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..........................As we sat eating our dinner we found it strange that this was still our first day - it had been a very, very long day, from being woken up on the plane at 4.15am as it approached Nairobi to then travelling on the next plane to Dar, and then on the four-seater light aircraft to the Selous, with a further 40 minute drive to the camp.

 

Since then we had settled in to our accommodation and been on our first game drive and it was still only 8.15pm. Rachel commented on how coming back on a safari it all felt so surreal, and she was concerned that maybe nostalgia was making our previous safaris seem better than they really were, but all that changed the moment we arrived, and now we had been here just a few hours, everything seemed as wonderful as before, and we both felt this was now reality, and our lives back at home seemed to be totally surreal.

 

As soon as darkness fell we heard the bushbabies calling, they often visit the dining area here bread is what they are after but tonight they were absent. However we did have another visitor a genet which surprisingly also only wanted bread. We were both really tired out and headed off to bed as soon as we had finished our dinner.

 

Day 3: Fri 24th Sept- Selous Impala Camp

 

Jambo, good morning - our tea coffee and biscuits had arrived 6.00pm - and a few minutes later the vervet monkeys who come to the tents at this time hoping to receive - or steal some of the biscuits. We feel surprisingly wide awake this morning, having slept well, and are keen to get out on our first morning game drive.

 

The game drive started off with plenty of the same species we had seen yesterday, plus buffalos, wildebeest and a variety of birds added into the mix.

 

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We headed off to a different lake this time one that has a resident pride of lions. They were out in the swampy area of the lake, some considerable distance away from us. Various wildlife were coming to drink at the lake impala and wildebeest, as well as giraffe and a few other animals and birds.

 

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We decided to have breakfast here and hope that the lions might become more active with many animals gradually arriving to drink at the lake. There is something about bush breakfasts that is amazing always a wide choice of good food, and just sitting there watching and listening, with a beautiful landscape and wildlife all around it has to be the ultimate way to have breakfast.

 

As the breakfast items are packed back into the landcruiser we decide that we will head off round the lake to get closer to the lions but we discover it wont be necessary the lions are coming to us. We quickly get settled in the vehicle as five lions - three lionesses and two adolescent males decide that the nearest tree to us just a few yards away is where they want to sit in the shade and snooze, but also observe the wildlife coming to drink.

 

This creates numerous photo opportunities and we decide to stay here and wait to see what develops as the lions are clearly showing an interest initially in a young giraffe, and then a small herd of wildebeest that have arrived. However there is a considerable distance between the lions and the drinking wildlife and unfortunately the impala keep staring towards the lions.

 

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One of the adolescent males moves close and settles down under a broken bough of a tree successfully blending in to the background. This makes the other lions observe the wildlife more eagerly.

 

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However eventually they all gradually settle down and start to sleep except for the male under the tree bough who in frustration eventually launches himself at the wildlife without any possible chance of getting remotely near to them.

 

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Time to head back to the camp for lunch - and we are really looking forward to the afternoon - as we are going for a boat cruise on the Rufiji river................

Edited by Julian
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michael-ibk

Totally can relate to your reality-surreality comment, it perfectly describes what I always feel on my first evening "out there". Very much enjoying your report, I particularly like that morning landscape photo - beautiful!

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Really like this one with its landscape of bleached trees.

Eagerly awaiting the Rufiji river cruise...

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Another nice leisurely lunch, a bit of time to chill out, then something a bit different for the afternoon - a cruise on the Rufiji river - which we were very much looking forward to. As we stepped aboard the boat and Gerard introduced us to the captain – Moshi – the river and landscape looked beautiful, and we headed off immediately. Hippos sporadically appeared as we cruised on the river and waterbuck were grazing on the vegetation at the edge.

 

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Moshi and Gerard:

 

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I think the smile on my face sums up how wonderful it felt just to be there:

 

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It was quite astonishing just how many crocodiles of all sizes we saw, from young ones of less than 18 inches in length through a range of sizes to those that were much larger and old. Usually any crocodile on the edge of the bank moved into the water as we approached but one large crocodile decided to stay still. The captain drifted the boat silently closer and closer until we were less than 10 feet away. After a couple of minutes the croc decided we were too close and launched himself at the side of the boat - it made us all jump, especially Gerard who was on that side of the boat.

 

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There was also a range of fish eating birds from the ever-present African fish eagles to storks, herons and various kingfishers – pied, malachite and even the giant kingfisher. Being an angler myself, I quickly realised that this river must be literally stuffed full of fish. At one point some bubbles appeared about ten feet in front of the boat, then a disturbance in the water through which the head of a crocodile rose up with a large catfish in its mouth, turning it around until it swallowed it, and then disappeared back below the surface.

 

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After cruising a bit further, what was to be the highlight of the afternoon suddenly came into view in the distance – elephants. First we could only see a couple then it became clear there were more and as we came closer we counted 12 in total. We spent about an hour or so at this spot watching them – they are always so fascinating to observe, and it was great to see young calves – I could watch elephant calves all day long, if only I had the time.

 

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All too soon it was time to make our way back towards the camp. The sun was getting lower and the later afternoon light looked wonderful. A few more birds were seen including more pied kingfishers, a hammerkop, and a colony of white-fronted bee eaters.

 

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For the last half hour of the cruise we drank our sundowner drinks while watching the sun go down over the Rufiji river – a great end to our second day in Selous.

 

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@@Julian

 

I am specially grateful for the details in your opening post. Costs of a safari are not mentioned often, and for newbies on the limited budget, it is one of the most important fact on which we (= me) are deciding where and when to visit.

 

Your photography is lovely! If only you could have spotted the "spot" before, as you could have adapted the camera settings to it. It reared its "ugly head" only when the f-stop was in high numbers (f22, f29) and luckily it is seen only on the clear sky.

That one will be easy to remove from those photos you are planning to print. And you have taken a couple of them already within your first 3 days!

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This evening we were ready for dinner early and so headed for the bar and had a sociable chat with a few other guests and the camp manager. Dinner was very pleasant – our table had been placed in a quiet spot at ground level. The food was good as usual and again we had wildlife visit – this evening it was two genets, but the bushbabies failed to show themselves.

 

Day 4: Sat 25th Sept- Selous Impala Camp

 

Our last full day here in the Selous. We were up promptly and eager to head off on our morning game drive. Gerard decided to take us initially to another lake that has a resident pride of lions. There was plenty to see on the way – lots more giraffes (already probably seen more giraffes here than on all our previous safaris combined), baboons, impala, warthogs, buffalo, and a variety of bird life.

 

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However when we arrived at the lake the lions were nowhere to be seen, but there was a fairly large family group of Eland and a solitary hartebeest among the wildlife at the lake.

 

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We soon moved on to the lake where we had seen the lions yesterday, as they had not fed that morning and Gerard was hopeful we would have the chance to see them hunt, as the other wildlife came to the lake to drink. On the way we came across a group of vultures feeding on a small carcass, but there was no sign of any predators around. It turned out to be a baby buffalo that had almost certainly died of natural causes, so we moved on quickly towards the lake.

 

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The lions were there but we were too late to witness a hunt – they were resting by a tree - almost in the same spot where they were yesterday morning, but now there was the remains of a wildebeest carcass next to the tree. A group of vultures waited in a nearby tree – hopeful that the lions would eventually move off – but for now the lions just wanted to sleep having eaten a large meal.

 

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We decided to head off and stop at another lake – just in time for another lovely bush breakfast. No lions around but we were able to watch a group of elephants on the far bank as we ate our breakfast and then a solitary bull elephant on this side of the lake giving himself a mud bath.

 

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Soon after we moved off from the lake we spotted the (same?) eland family again.

 

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Gerard then said he hoped to find us some more lions, as this was our final game drive here, as this afternoon we had decided that another cruise on Rufiji was a ‘must do’ (no option of a river cruise at the rest of our safari locations). After stopping frequently to check the footprints Gerard carefully followed the tracks of what he knew to be another small pride with two young cubs.

 

The tracks kept disappearing and after an hour or so of searching he said he would just re-check one area we had already driven through without finding them. He knew they were likely to be settled down under one of the ‘clumps’ of palm trees and bushes – but there were so many possible locations. It was now midday, becoming very hot, and we were about to head back when he discovered them. The lions were making good use of the large palm fronds to shade themselves but the two cubs were tucked right underneath the dense vegetation so we could only get a glimpse of those , but fortunately the two pride males gave us some good photo opportunities.

 

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On the way back to camp there was still time for two new species of wildlife to put in an appearance - first of all a small family group of lesser kudu then a solitary hyena resting under a tree.

 

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michael-ibk

Looks like a very enjoyable time you had in Selous! I love that lion hiding under the palm leaves shots. I hope you don´t mind but I think you have Greater Kudu there, not Lesser.

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Looks like a very enjoyable time you had in Selous! I love that lion hiding under the palm leaves shots. I hope you don´t mind but I think you have Greater Kudu there, not Lesser.

 

Yes, you are correct - Greater Kudu not lesser.

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Safaridude

@@Julian

 

I am re-living my trip!

 

I recognize that male lion in post #42.

 

Has anyone else noticed the helluva specimen of an eland in the same post? (the bull whose face is slightly obscured)

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@@Julian

Your photos are beautiful!

I love the elephantsfrom the water, lots of great lion shots(another vote for the male in the palm) and a good variety of antelope.

It looks like a great trip

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Can anyone tell me what the bird is in the 4th photo in post 42?

The guide did tell us but we cant remember.

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It feels as though we have been here for quite a long while now but, as always on safari, the time seems to pass so slowly for the first 24 hours, and then gradually speeds up as the trip progresses. This is now our third afternoon in Selous and for our finale we are off on another Rufiji boat cruise. This time we are not the only boat from the camp as another couple of guests who we were chatting with in the bar yesterday evening have also opted for a cruise – their boat heads off just in front of us.

 

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Plenty of wildlife again as soon as we start – hippos, crocs and a variety of birds. At one point we drift slowly towards a perched malachite kingfisher which remains there just long enough for me to get a close photo with good sunlight on it.

 

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We head towards the location where we saw the elephants yesterday afternoon but they are absent. However the guides know another location to check out where they might be and we turn off into a backwater channel where the water gradually shallows up to a very boggy area in the distance. On the right bank of the channel, which is a sort of island between the channel and he main river there are a few elephants, and on the left bank where there is dense tree cover and woodland we see a couple of elephants feeding on the vegetation.

 

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After a few minutes we gradually hear, then see signs of, more elephants coming out of the dense bush. They all then decide to cross over the shallow very muddy water to join the others, which was really nice to observe – especially seeing how slowly and carefully one elephant crossed with her very young calf – which struggled through the mud and at one point fell head-first into the mud ............... but the mother levered it out using her leg, and as the calf approached the dry land another calf was watching it closely and waiting to greet it..........................

 

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That was a really superb highlight of our time here in the Selous, and as the sun was beginning to get low we headed back in the direction of the camp. A short distance from camp and Gerard, who had briefly been talking on the radio, said we were going to stop the boat on the opposite bank, as a colleague had discovered a hyena den very close. As we stepped up the bank it turned out there were no hyenas but a surprise for us – a table set out with a bottle of champagne and some nibbles – a lovely gesture – even more so as this holiday was in celebration of our 20th anniversary (20 years together – we’ve never got round to the actual marriage).Then as we sat drinking the bubbly and watching the elephants on the island as the sunset approached, some different elephants on our side appeared out of the trees behind us.

 

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A wonderful end to our game viewing in the Selous. Shortly it will be our last dinner here, followed in the morning by a leisurely breakfast in camp, and then we are off to Ruaha .............................

 

 

 

(There will be a delay before I continue posting this trip report , as I have to edit, - ie reduce the numbers of- the Ruaha photos, and upload them, before I can continue posting on here - hopefully recommence in a week or so)

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