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Ruaha & Selous - January 2018


mopsy

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Always nice to see bat eared foxes.

still amazed at just how green everywhere is, and the ruaha river looks so different to the dry season - it was literally just a tricke of water a few inches wide when we visited.

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Day 5   Because we are heading out all day we decide to have a little sleep in. We have breakfast in camp at 7:30 and head off on our drive at 8am. Its not long before we come across a small

Day 3   After breakfast in camp consisting of toast, fruit, cereal, pancakes, bacon, eggs and sausages we headed out for a full day game drive.   We departed at 8am, our first sigh

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elefromoz

@mopsy, another vote for the Giraffe and Boababs, that would make a great canvas. Good  on you for holding your ground, seat, with the Elephant, not easy to do. Makes for a good story.

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amybatt

Great report so far!  I love your narrative and the photos.  What an encounter with the elephant!!

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can only second what others have already said! Everything so green...I've never really seen a "green" Africa and now I'm thinking I need to. And I never would have thought of Ruaha as a park for Wild Dogs...didn't even know they were a possibility there. Years ago we had planned a Southern Circuit safari but then ended up elsewhere...I do need to revisit the idea!

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Day 6

 

Today is to be our last full day in Ruaha. After the full day game drive the day before we decide to do 2 half day drives this time around. We depart at 6:30am with our breakfast packed.

 

Unfortunately this is to be one of those days where the game seems to have packed up and disappeared. Try as we might, we just couldnt find anything of note. A herd of elephants ran across the road right in front of our vehicle as we drove along, but this was in an area where the bush was very thick on either side of the road so photos were not possible. We did however see the following, amongst other small time sightings.

 

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Rock Hyrax

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I was that desperate, I even resorted to a photograph of the often over looked species

 

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Giraffe are so hard to go past without taking a photo.

 

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I cant resist a kudu

 

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Black backed jackal

 

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Nearly forgot. When we stopped for our morning bush breakfast we did so at the spot where the BBC crew camp when filming in Ruaha. You would never have guessed that 25 or so  people had been staying there for an extended period. No sign of humans at all, except for a crude table and chair made out of large sticks. Even this was hard to spot, being right up against a small tree covered in foliage. Full credit to the BBC for leaving the bush in this way.

 

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So as you can see, it wasnt a wildly exciting day out in the bush. We are slightly disappointed with the days sightings, but know that sometimes you have days like these. And days like these make you appreciate the good ones all the more.

 

Tomorrow we pack our bags and head to the Selous. We are looking forward to seeing what the park has in store for us, and the differences between it and Ruaha.

 

 

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Day 7 - morning

 

Bags packed, we have breakfast in camp and bid farewell to the camp managers at Mdonya, Andrea and Rebecca. They have been magnificent hosts, very friendly and prepared to do the smallest of things to make the safari experience as enjoyable as possible.

 

We depaert camp at 7:30am. Our flight to Selous isnt due to depart until 11:45am so we have plenty of time to game drive our way to the airstrip. About 10 minutes after leaving camp any disappointment we still had after yesterdays drives is gone in an instant.

 

We spot this absolute beauty up a tree by the side of the road.

 

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We spend half an hour with this magnificent specimen. Such a priviledge as leopard is probably my favourite animal.

He eventually tires of our presence, climbs down the tree and melts into the bush.

 

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We hang around for 10 minutes to see if he will reappear but he does not. We suspect he may have a kill in the bushes but its virtually impossible to see anything in there as its so thick. Reluctantly we push on.

 

We come across some Eland, who in typical fashion run away whenever a camera is produced, but I manage to get a shot of them this time.

 

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Later on we find some warthogs doing what they do.

 

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We see 3 female kudu eating by the side of the road. They are initially spooked by our presence, but then get used to us and go back to feeding.

 

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We now receive notification that our flight to Selous is early and at the airport waiting for us. We race to the airstrip and say our good byes to our driver and guide. They have been great company and very knowledgable. Very sad to be leaving Ruaha, it has provided us with great memories. But a new adventure is about to begin which we are really looking forward to. Still on a high after the leopard sighting we board the plane.

 

 

 

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Thoughts and images of Ruaha

 

I simply loved this park. Thats an easy thing to say when you have seen lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dogs all in the same park as well as some other great sightings. But before we left i read several times how Ruaha felt like a truly wild park and I cant disagree with that point of view. Its hard to pinpoint, or explain why this is the case. I think there are several factors at play as to why this is.

 

Firstly I think the distinct lack of visitors, certainly at this time of year helps greatly. You can go all day without seeing another vehicle. This gives the impression of having the entire park to yourself.

 

Mdonya camp also contributed to this. There is no electricity in the tents or dining areas, so you are relying on lanterns and candles to be able to see during night time hours. The only electricity provided is at the main office and that is used for charging camera batteries and electrical devices only.

 

Lastly, and most importantly I think, is the brilliant diversity of the park from a scenic point of view. You can be driving down a road and not be able to see more than 3 metres either side of you due to the thickness of the bush. Then there are the areas of wide open spaces where you can see for miles.

 

Would I go back to Ruaha? Absolutely. I would love to see it in the dry season to get a gauge on the differences. But I would happily go back during green season as I know what a great park it is to be in at this time.

 

Images

 

For mine, the beauty of going on a safari for the 3rd time is that you get to appreciate your surroundings so much more. I found that on my first safari, that once in a lifetime trip, that the pressure to find the big 5 and other animals was quite suffocating. Now being on our 3rd and having previously seen all the major players of the African animal kingdom, we were able to sit back, relax and enjoy our surroundings. Whatever sightings came our way would be a bonus and we would enjoy each and every one of them.

 

So on this trip I found myself really enjoying the scenery as well as the game. Here are some of the images of the park that went a long way to helping me fall in love with this fabulous wilderness area.

 

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Next up, Selous!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for all the images around the park at the end - I recognize some of those places I think and it is really interesting to see them green - and the river is amazing. 

 

Glad you had some nice sightings and , most importantly, that you really liked the park.  

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Kitsafari

Ruaha really threw a super welcome (dogs,) and a fantastic farewell for you! Ruaha looks lovely in green.

 

I’m curious why the morning drive on the first day started at 8. Was it your choice or the normal start? But I did note that later drives started at 6.30 at your request.

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What a special way to finish in Ruaha with a cracking male leopard and the Eland.

Looking forward to Selous , Great report and pics thanks @mopsy

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Towlersonsafari

and to add my twopenneth worth, @mopsy what a splendid report so far, the park looks beautiful and what fine sightings! Can I ask  what size of aircraft took you to Ruaha and then Selous?

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40 minutes ago, Kitsafari said:

Ruaha really threw a super welcome (dogs,) and a fantastic farewell for you! Ruaha looks lovely in green.

 

I’m curious why the morning drive on the first day started at 8. Was it your choice or the normal start? But I did note that later drives started at 6.30 at your request.

 

Hi Kitsafari,

 

It was our choice to start the all day game drive at 8am. We could have departed at 6:30, 7:00 or 7:30 if we had wished. It's a long day going through to 6:30pm was the reasoning behind the later start.

 

You are correct regarding 6:30am starts, we usually started at that time when doing 2 game drives in a day.

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20 minutes ago, Towlersonsafari said:

and to add my twopenneth worth, @mopsy what a splendid report so far, the park looks beautiful and what fine sightings! Can I ask  what size of aircraft took you to Ruaha and then Selous?

 

Hi Towlersonsafari.

 

We flew with Coastal, their aircraft are 12 seaters. 

 

Not or sure what the official size of the aircraft is.

 

 

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Really good wildlife viewings you had in Ruaha. Great scenic photos and to get photos that good of a leopard on your way to the airstrip really tops off your visit to Ruaha

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Towlersonsafari

12 seaters are fine @mopsy  and thanks for that, my wife and I are a very sad pair-she gets travel sick on very small planes wheres I imagine I am going to crash horribly! a 12 seater is positively luxurious ( on a particularly turbulent flight in Zambia in a teeny weeny plane the pilot offered another  passenger who claimed to have a pilots licence a go--fortunately he declined!)

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Day 7 - Afternoon

 

We board our plane and head for Selous.

 

There has been a slight change of plans however. Selous has received a lot of rain a few days before our arrival so the Siwandu airstrip, where we were originally meant to land, is deemed to be unsafe for planes to land and take off from. As a result we will instead be landing at Mtemere airstrip. So what would have been around a half hour drive to camp is now around 1.5 hours. This is no big deal to us, it actually allowed us to see a part of the park we most likely wouldnt have visited.

 

Our driver Daniel and guide Calisti tell us we will be driving quickly to enable us to get to camp in time for a late lunch. This is unnecessary as Mdonya packed us a lunch box for the plane ride to Selous. We say nothing as we dont want to seem rude and unappreciative of the food prepared for us.

 

Along the way we see a lot of giraffe, already it seems its going to be close as to whether Ruaha or Selous hold the most of these elegant giants.

 

We notice a lot of vultures and maribu storks circling in the air a little way ahead of us. When we get to the spot we duck off the main road to investigate. After a couple of minutes searching we find a zebra carcass getting eaten by a  pack of ravenous birds.

 

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There are no predators around so it isnt dead as a result of a kill. We deduce that it most probably died of disease or perhaps as the result of a fight. And it cant have been dead long as there are no hyena on the site yet either.

 

Some birds had had their fill, and were trying to keep cool in the warm Selous sun.

 

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We continue our drive towards camp and spot a crocodile on the banks of a river.

 

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As we draw nearer to camp we find 2 hyena and some blue wildebeest. I was unable to photograph the latter due to shyness.

 

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We arrive at camp, fill in the necessary paperwork and force down some lunch. Then its time to head to our tent and have a quick rest before our afternoon activity. Being a sister camp to Mdonya the tent is exactly the same, although it feels bigger inside for some reason.

 

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This afternoon we elect to do a boat cruise on Lake Manze, partly to give us something different to a vehicle safari and partly because it is so muggy here we figure it should be cooler on the water.

 

Images of Lake Manze.

 

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There is plenty of birdlife around the lake. Confession time - I am not a birder, but I can appreciate the beauty of them. And there are some really nice ones. I have trouble remembering their names, so if someone can help me out that would be much appreciated.

 

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There are plenty of hippos in the lake. They mostly stay hidden with only half their heads showing. At one point we were watching a pod from about 30 metres when all of a sudden the boat was smashed into by a hippo who clearly wasnt impressed with our presence. It gives you a brief shock, but the boats are big enough that they are most unlikely to be tipped over.

 

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Approaching sunset we see 2 buffalo who have come down to the waters edge for a drink.

 

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Tonight we have a couple of nice cold Kilimanjaro's with dinner. Off to bed around 10pm ready to explore the park tomorrow.

 

 

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amybatt

Impressive wing span on that (I think) maribou stork?  I'm really enjoying this TR, it feels like you had a great safari!

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1 hour ago, amybatt said:

Impressive wing span on that (I think) maribou stork?  I'm really enjoying this TR, it feels like you had a great safari!

 

Hi Amybatt.

 

Yes it was a Maribou stork, it's hard to tell with the dead tree in the background.

 

Thank you for your kind words, I'm glad your enjoying the report!

 

 

 

 

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Day 8 - morning

 

Up early this morning, we are doing 2 game drives today so will leave at our now traditional time of 6:30am. As usual we will be taking breakfast with us to have out in the bush.

 

It started raining in the early hours of the morning, quite heavy at times. It is still raining as we leave camp, not as heavy as it had been but still heavy enough that we need to put on rain jackets.

 

This rain, plus the falls that occured before our arrival has turned the dirt tracks in Selous into a muddy bog in places. It will remain this way for the duration of our stay but driver Daniel does a terrific job negotiating the challenging conditions.

 

First up this morning we find some hyena. A large pack of them killed a baby giraffe yesterday prior to our arrival, there remains a few at the scene.

 

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Next up we find a herd of elephants having some breakfast.

 

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We spot a hare next. Always nice to see something different.

 

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Newt came some warthogs and a bird I am once again going to need some help with.

 

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Some giraffe and zebra came next. Its amazing how often you see these 2 species together.

 

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As we were driving through the muddy terrain this bird and his friends provided us with great entertainment.

 

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When we were driving through the muddy tracks these birds, quite often up to 40 of them, would fly right beside or in front of the vehicle. They were looking to feed on the insects thrown up by the tyres driving through the mud. They were very successful too. When the caught one they would glide off, quickly devour their prize and swoop back for more. At times they would follow the vehicle for up to a kilometre. It really was great to watch.

 

Next up was a small herd of blue wildebeest.

 

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Some more birdlife, including a lilac breasted roller (about the only bird name that sticks in the brain with me)

 

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Our next sighting is of a female lioness relaxing under a tree. She is all alone with none of her pride mates to be seen. Eventually she rolls over and we notice her belly looks huge. We speculate as to whether she may be close to giving birth hence why she seems to have seperated herself from the pride.

 

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We leave her alone after a while and come across a giraffe taking it easy

 

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Our last sighting before arriving back into camp is some female kudu

 

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Its been a fantastic drive, despite the rain, and full of great sightings. We cant wait to get back out in the afternoon.

 

 

 

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23 hours ago, mopsy said:

Day 7 - Afternoon

 

We board our plane and head for Selous.

 

There has been a slight change of plans however. Selous has received a lot of rain a few days before our arrival so the Siwandu airstrip, where we were originally meant to land, is deemed to be unsafe for planes to land and take off from. As a result we will instead be landing at Mtemere airstrip. So what would have been around a half hour drive to camp is now around 1.5 hours. This is no big deal to us, it actually allowed us to see a part of the park we most likely wouldnt have visited.

 

Our driver Daniel and guide Calisti tell us we will be driving quickly to enable us to get to camp in time for a late lunch. This is unnecessary as Mdonya packed us a lunch box for the plane ride to Selous. We say nothing as we dont want to seem rude and unappreciative of the food prepared for us.

 

Along the way we see a lot of giraffe, already it seems its going to be close as to whether Ruaha or Selous hold the most of these elegant giants.

 

We notice a lot of vultures and maribu storks circling in the air a little way ahead of us. When we get to the spot we duck off the main road to investigate. After a couple of minutes searching we find a zebra carcass getting eaten by a  pack of ravenous birds.

 

 

 

 

 

There are no predators around so it isnt dead as a result of a kill. We deduce that it most probably died of disease or perhaps as the result of a fight. And it cant have been dead long as there are no hyena on the site yet either.

 

Some birds had had their fill, and were trying to keep cool in the warm Selous sun.

 

 

 

 

 

We continue our drive towards camp and spot a crocodile on the banks of a river.

 

 

 

As we draw nearer to camp we find 2 hyena and some blue wildebeest. I was unable to photograph the latter due to shyness.

 

 

 

 

 

We arrive at camp, fill in the necessary paperwork and force down some lunch. Then its time to head to our tent and have a quick rest before our afternoon activity. Being a sister camp to Mdonya the tent is exactly the same, although it feels bigger inside for some reason.

 

 

 

This afternoon we elect to do a boat cruise on Lake Manze, partly to give us something different to a vehicle safari and partly because it is so muggy here we figure it should be cooler on the water.

 

Images of Lake Manze.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is plenty of birdlife around the lake. Confession time - I am not a birder, but I can appreciate the beauty of them. And there are some really nice ones. I have trouble remembering their names, so if someone can help me out that would be much appreciated.

 

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There are plenty of hippos in the lake. They mostly stay hidden with only half their heads showing. At one point we were watching a pod from about 30 metres when all of a sudden the boat was smashed into by a hippo who clearly wasnt impressed with our presence. It gives you a brief shock, but the boats are big enough that they are most unlikely to be tipped over.

 

 

 

Approaching sunset we see 2 buffalo who have come down to the waters edge for a drink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tonight we have a couple of nice cold Kilimanjaro's with dinner. Off to bed around 10pm ready to explore the park tomorrow.

 

 

 

Your birds are, in order..

Golden Weaver 

Pied Kingfisher

Malachite Kingfisher

Water Thick-knee

African Openbill Stork

 

Happy to do this as (I) these are relatively easy  (ii) I need the practice 

 

The marabou Stork pic was really confusing until I realized where the dead tree was! 

 

In the other post

Grey-headed Kingfisher

Carmine Bee-eater

Immature Bataleur Eagle (that's a tricky one for me though - not a guess, but I am not that confident)

You know who!!!T

 

The animals in Selous look very relaxed but the weather looks greyer and wetter. 

 

Further to what @Kitsafari asked, is it still true that (at Mdonya) usually the all day drives do leave after breakfast (although not as late as 8 am) but you can take both breakfast and lunch out if everyone is okay with that?  

 

Edited by pault
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@pault

 

Thanks for clearing up the names of the birds. I do remember the guide mentioning all those. On past safaris l have always taken pen and paper to record such info, for some reason it skipped my mind on this occasion.

 

At Mdonya we could have left in the morning at any time we liked. For our all day drives we just elected to leave at the later time as we knew we would be in the vehicle all day. But if we wanted to leave at 6:30 and have breakfast and lunch in the bush that wouldn't have been a problem. At the end of each day the guide would ask us "what time tomorrow" and we would tell him. Later camp management would ask what time we wanted breakfast or if we wanted it in the bush.

 

At Manze everything was organised prior to dinner with camp management. Same rules applied, you dictate what time you go out.

 

We of course had our own vehicle apart from the first 2 days so there were no dramas. However things might be different if sharing. I guess there would have to be some negotiation and agreeance when organising departure times etc.

 

Hope that helps.

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A good start in Selous- lots of species on your first day there, and Selous also looks unusual to me with everywhere so green and the lake full up with water.

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Day 8 - afternoon

 

While we were having lunch in camp a large breeding herd of elephants come to visit. They pass within 20 metres of the dining area. We count 38 elephants in total, and I am kicking myself that I left my camera back in the tent. Wont make that mistake again.

 

After lunch I am reading a book out the front of our tent when we have a couple of elephants pass by.

 

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We depart on our afternoon drive at 4pm.The skies have lightened a little since this morning so it looks like the rain has passed for now.

 

First of all we find some warthogs having a bite to eat.

 

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Then some kudu, one with a magnificent set of horns.

 

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We pass by some giraffe and zebra before coming across a hyena with her 2 pups. The pups are thought to be about 2 weeks old.

 

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We watch as one feeds on his own. The other rests, gets up for a little exercise and then flops back down again.

 

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Any room for me?

 

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Cuddles with mum will have to do then.

 

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We have been with them for about 45 minutes. Mum seems to have tired of our presence, so gets up and walks to the nearby stream for a drink.

 

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Its not until she has gotten up that we realise the size difference between the 2 pups. One is clearly feeding very well while the other may be struggling to get their fair share.

 

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With mum gone the 2 pups hide themselves inside the fallen tree they had been resting next to. The tree is hollow inside so we lose sight of them quickly.

 

We are close to the lake so we venture down to see if we can find any hippos out of the water. No such luck so we settled for these guys.

 

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There are crocs everywhere near the lakes edge but they always head for the water whenever a vehicle approaches.

 

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We start making our way back to camp and find some waterbuck.

 

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A striped mongoose came next.

 

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And last but not least a giraffe to conclude the days sightings.

 

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Its been a great day of wildlife viewing. The sun has come out late in the day, so we have high hopes for good weather tomorrow when we embark on an all day drive to the Beho Beho region of the reserve.

 

 

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