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First Timers visiting Selous and Ruaha in the Green Season (February 2018)


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@wilddog glad you like the TR!   I see the wild dogs are special and I'm also thankful we got to see some. They're just not really an animal that excited us, like "classic" safari animals such as Elephant, Giraffes, Zebra and so on :) 

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Very nice report so far. Looks forward to the part about Ruaha, it is a special place.

Your TR makes me think of themy first safari, nothing beats that :) You have already had some comments about the wild dogs, but I just need to add some more;). I seen thousands of elephants, giraffes, zebraes buffaloes, hundreds of rhinos, lions, dozens of cheetahs and leopards, but I only managed to see wild dogs 2 times. One time in Ruaha (only 2 dogs) and the other one in Kruger (a pack of 9). So consider you self very lucky, and believe me, after some more safaris you will propably want to see them again :) 

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Day 5 (part 1): The way to Ruaha

We enjoyed our breakfast and a morning shower in Camp Bastian before leaving for Ruaha. In Camp Bastian our cook (cannot spell the name, so i refer to him as "the chef") joined us, who would take care of "feeding us" with excellent dishes the next days. The way from Mikumi to Ruaha is another 270 km and passes through Iringa town. TanZam highway is an important route from Dar to central Africa (Zambia, Congo DRC), therefore many large trucks are on this road. In Mikumi village there is some kind of "truck supply" business with food stalls, gas station and so on. It's quite interesting to get a feeling how logistics are working in this part of the world.





Trucks on TanZam highway:



Food stalls and truck service in Mikumi village:




The TanZam highway goes through the (Udzungwa?) mountains before descending to the "Baobab valley" (yes there are many baobabs :)) where a river (not sure if it's the Ruaha yet) flows through and where are many plantations for vegetables.



One of the many vegetable stalls (especially onions and tomatoes) in the (Ruaha?) river valley:




Landscape in the mountains not far from Iringa:




Perfectly balanced:




Around noon we reached Iringa town, where we had a stop over, so our chef could get the ingredients for the next days on the market. I love markets (especially in Asia) and the market in Iringa is also worth a visit when one passes through anyways. They arrange the fruits and vegetables very carefully and nice looking. Some impressions from the market:


Market hall:




Carefully arranged:




Classic scale:




Funny enough: a fire truck from a German town just 30 km from where we live :) 




From Iringa it took us about two more hours (mostly on dirt road) until we finally reached the entry gate of Ruaha NP.



"Karibu" in Ruaha NP:





Edited by FirstTimeAfrica
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Day 5 (part 2): A very wet welcome


Just when we were checking in at the park entry, it started to rain heavily. Fortunately it was a typical tropical rain, that lasted just for about 15 min, so we could easily continue. The possibility of heavy rain has also been the reason why bush camping was not possible anymore in Ruaha at this time of the year. So unlike Selous we didn't camp but lived in the "Park bandas", which are metal huts close to the park rangers headquarter (more about them later). Due to the high grass, a walking safari, normally offered by the rangers, was also not possible anymore at the season.


Not far from the entry gate is a nice viewpoint in front of a bridge crossing Ruaha river. The landscape is very different from Selous but at least as beautiful. Especially at this time of the year, with all the green, the park is simply stunning. Not comparable to what we saw on the photos from the dry season.


Beautiful Ruaha river:




This "cute lil croco" welcomed us with a grin:




Because of the clouds and the rain, the sky looked very interesting and the light was very intense. So the landscape on our way to the bandas looked very beautiful this afternoon. Just some impressions of our arrival:


View over Ruaha NP:




One of the many beautiful dry river beds in Ruaha. Love the 50 shades green:




No drive without game:




Impalas in magnificient light just a minute from the bandas:




When we arrived at the park bandas, it was already late afternoon, so we just installed ourselves and stayed around the camp. The camp consists of about 6 to 8 bandas and a central "meeting and eating" house (with kitchen, dining tables and - most importantly in the wild - a big TV screen). The location is just perfect: very centrally located in the park and right next to the Ruaha river, so you can have your breakfast while watching the animals at the river. The bandas are simple, yet have a large comfortable bed and a basic private bathroom with a cold shower. Cleanliness is a bit hit or miss. We had to change our first banda because the bathroom clearly has not been cleaned at all. Though the main reason we had to change it, was the shower, flooding the whole bathroom and part of the sleeping room. There's no shower cabin but just a sink in the floor, which should be not a problem, but a proper slope to the the sink was missing, so water flowed into the wrong direction. The second banda however was cleaner and in a much better condition and the water was also flowing to the sink properly.


Park bandas:




This pretty guy (and his friends) live around the main house. He welcomed us with a "stay away from my house" look in his eyes:





Prime location on the river bank (view from the bandas):



Since we had some time to spend until dinner, I took some pictures of the birds at the river. There were also some big crocodiles and hippos at the river, but relatively far away, so no good photos of them. A bit later also some Elephants showed up at the other side of the river, but they also stayed too far away for a good shot.


Nice construction work:




Lucky shot:




Right before our chef called us for dinner in order to spoil us with large amounts of excellent food, the sun was setting and the sky looked just unreal.


After dark it's not allowed to walk from the main house to the bandas on your own (it's at max 100m) but you have to go with an armed ranger. As much as we loved the bush camping, we enjoyed the night in a comfortable bed. Moreover, as the altitude of Ruaha NP is about 1000m, the nights are not so hot and one can sleep considerably better.


Beautiful sunset over Ruaha river: 



Sun was setting quickly:






Edited by FirstTimeAfrica
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@JayRon Thank you.


You must have been on a lot of safaris... :)   Would love to see rhinos once and also more kind of cats. From the comments it seems, we just have not been ready yet for the dogs, to appreciate them properly ;)  

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Fantastic photos - you could not have asked for a more successful first safari!

I also really like seeing the people and scenes from along the way.

Eager to see what's next.

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6 hours ago, Marks said:

Fantastic photos - you could not have asked for a more successful first safari!

I also really like seeing the people and scenes from along the way.

Eager to see what's next.

Happy you like the photos also from the transfers...  As I already wrote, I always love to see how people live, when I travel. So I loved the country side as much as the NPs. Though I was unsure, if people on here would be interested in stuff outside of the safari itself.  So it’s really nice to hear you appreciate it :) 

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Loving this trip report @FirstTimeAfrica. I also love the photos of things along the road. Like you, I prefer driving between these places. I have been to Mikumi and Ruaha but need to get to Selous. Your bush camping looks like a good option for me. Thank you for this report. 

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Great stuff, and nice one on getting wild dogs on day one! Also like the preamble and travel for the trip, really builds to making it a readable experience.
Never been to Selous,  but with it's open lakes and beautiful palms it almost looks a bit like tanzania's okavango.

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Great TR so far @FirstTimeAfrica and some wonderful captures!


I have been nodding in agreement with several of your statements (especially the time it takes to drive "short" distances) as we recently finished our first safari and can totally relate!

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@kilopascal Thanks for the feedback. If you like to be in nature and basic comfort, the bush camping is definitely a great experience and Otto is a very good guide and a great person to get along with. He's just building up his new website http://www.ottosafariguide.com in case you might want to contact him in the future.


@Big_Dog Thank you. Selous has a very special atmosphere and is definitely worth a visit.


@Dawnvip Nice to hear you like the TR and can relate to the feeling. The first safari is just overwhelming, as you have some expectations from trip reports here but when you experience the atmosphere and the wild life for the first time it's so much more intense than one imagined before...



I had a busy weekend but will continue the TR tomorrow,.

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Great pictures and a very nice report, I also like to see the places and the roads outside the parks, it gives you an idea of how the country really is.


I browsed a few things about Selous mainly because it seems to be a good place to spot wild dogs, which are number one on my wish list, and your report seems to confirm that idea, but I read that there are many tsetse flies and that would be a problem, can you confirm that?


By the way, I hope you don’t mind but the kudu in that picture in Selous ia actualy a waterbuck.

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@pedro maia When we were in Selous, there were no tsetse flies at all. The only exception was,  when we were leaving the park through the Matambwe gate, but this is not an area where you go game-driving normally. I don't know if it depends on the season, so maybe others can add some data points here.


Regarding the Kudu / waterbuck: I'm not good at remembering names and differentiating similar animals, I also forgot how to distinguish the lesser and greater Kudus. So any captions about animal species in my report should be taken with a grain of salt :)


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Day 6 (part 1): Welcome to Tembo land


When the alarm clock rang at 5:30h and we got up, it was still considerably fresh, especially underneath the cold shower. We met Otto at the main house and had our "coffee to go" mugs in the car as usual, accompanied by some cookies. After the beautiful sunset the night before followed an impressive sunrise, with sun rays coming up from the horizon. The sky actually looked every morning like this.


Good morning Ruaha:



We drove on the main track in half dark, while the sun was slowly rising and putting the scenery in a warm light. About 20 minutes after leaving the camp we heard some noises in the bushes and a group of about 10 Elephants showed up in the grass right next to the track. We stopped the engine and enjoyed to watch the Elephants in this calm atmosphere. The group consisted of both very big Elephants and also cute young ones, so one could really watch the "family life" and the small ones imitating the older ones.


The Elephants stayed the for a while and then walked along the track before wandering further in the bushes on the other side. It was really great to see them so close again and having all the time to watch their behaviour and movements. Definitely a good start for the first game drive in Ruaha and one of the moments I remember best.



Family breakfast:





Synchronized trunk showing:




Skin still coloured from red sand:



No comment:




We continued our game drive and it finally started to get a little warmer, as I was wearing just a t-shirt, which was quite a bit cold. Lessons learned for the next days :) 


In Ruaha when you leave one group of Elephants, there's always showing up the next one very quickly. Sometimes they are in groups, sometimes they are wandering alone. But its just incredible how many there are of them. So for watching Elephants Ruaha is simply perfect, as they are really everywhere. In many parts of the park you can look very far over the plains, so it's very nice to spot all the Elephants walking around somewhere in the scenery.



Single Elephant walking in the beautiful morning sun:




Wide plains:





As in Selous, Giraffes are not missing of course and show up frequently, even though they are more scattered than in Selous. The landscape is also very varied in Ruaha. You have the large plains with grass land and baobab trees but also parts where you have (mostly dry) river beds with palms and are more "tropical" feeling. Other parts of the park are also a bit mountainous and rocky.


Even after the hundredth Giraffe they still fascinated us and just look funny:




Palm tress and beautifully river bed:






We continued our game drive in a relaxed way, mostly enjoying the landscape and watching out for the animals coming across. Just some impressions following from the animals we saw.


I have no idea about the species, but a nice beak:




Little stowaway:




Ruaha is just Tembo wonderland. They are everywhere:




Finally a Zebra portrait, as they are less shy:





On the way back to the bandas for having our breakfast, we came across more Elephants and learned for the first time, that they are not always calm and peaceful, but can also be very dominant and intimidating when they feel threatened. This guy really putted on a show to impress us. And he did indeed. When he started to come very close to the car, Otto quickly started the engine and we rolled backwards. You always have to know when it's time to give up and retreat :) 


Who's the boss?  (he was):





Shortly before arriving at the bandas we watched some more Elephants from the far, while they stayed at the river bank and covered themselves with sand.




At the bandas our chef was waiting for us, to serve the breakfast. Though the term breakfast does not describe properl,y what was in fact breakfast + lunch + desert. It was very tasty again, especially with the many fresh fruits, but definitely way too much for us in the heat. When he asked about our preferred lunch time afterwards, we first thought it was a joke. But he was serious about it :)  We thankfully declined his idea of having (another) lunch after the siesta and hardly convinced him, that only having dinner would be totally fine for us.


Before having a rest, I watched a bit the lizards and the hippos around the bandas. I love hippos, but outside of the water they always look so bulky :) 






Having lunch at noon:



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I also really like the roadside pictures. They give me an idea of how people live in other parts of the world. A road safari usually gives you a more rounded picture of the place you visit. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

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Day 6 (part 2): Not only Elephants


After our siesta in the hot banda, we left the camp around 3:30pm to go on our afternoon game drive.  Just a few hundred meters away from the bandas Otto saw something in the grass and stopped. About 30-50m away from the track,  on a small elevation, a beautiful lioness showed up and had a look over the area. She was all alone, her prey probably hiding somewhere in the grass. Even though we could only watch her from distance and just a few minutes before she moved away, it was a nice start anyways.

As one can see, the grass is really high and dense at this time of the year, so it's definitely not the best season for lions and other cats.





...moving away quickly into the high grass:




We were really that we saw a lion also in Ruaha and continued our game drive. We met a few Giraffes and many Elephants again, several also very close, as they were crossing the track, or grazing next right next to the track. Very interesting how differently they behave. Some are scared and try to make you move away, by intimidating you. Other just do their business and don't care at all about you, even when you're just a few meters away.


Besides watching them closely we always liked to see them crossing rivers, as this gives a special atmosphere when they walk in a queue, one after the other.



Well organised river crossing:




Getting out of the water:




You just can't get enough of these amazing animals. And it's so nice to see them in many different situations. Also you really feel the whole national park is their living space and they are wandering around the whole area over large distances.


Sometimes it's the small things in life though and we also saw beautiful birds on our drive. Again I'm a very bad wild watcher, having no idea about the species :) 



Colourful bird one:



Colourful bird two:




The next bird was a little bit bigger, but accompanied by another one of the violet-blue birds.


Marabou and his small friend on a dead tree:




Enough birds for today, time to get back to game business. Most times you see the impalas either standing around and grazing or they run away from something (most times from your car coming too close ;) ), but these two were up for some action...


Take your chance while it lasts:




Sun was already setting so we drove back to the bandas. On the plains you could see many storks at this time of the year. And with the wide view, we could watch the rain, which stayed far away fortunately.






Rain (but far away):





About 10-15 minutes from the bandas, the road goes downhill and one has a great view over Ruaha NP and the river. The two Elephants we saw just close to the bandas had powerful white tusks I think.


On the way back to the bandas:




Not the best image, but very nice tusks:




Unfortunately the pics of the food were totally blurred, so here is just an impression of our dinner table in the "main house". It's simple but totally fine. 









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Day 7 (part 1): Golden morning


We already felt like "pros" by now, with our daily routine of getting up early and hopping on to the Range Rover before sunrise. Drinking the coffee in the car kept being a challenge due to the rough roads and many small bumps. Right next to the camp we saw two bat-eared foxes, but it was still too dark to get acceptable photos of them.


It pays off to get up early:




Ruaha is all about the birds it seems, as after all the birds the day before, we started our game drive with this "early morning eagle" (there were two actually) on a dead tree at the river bank. They both had a bit of a "punk hairstyle" :)  Some hippos passed by on the river and were also nice to watch.


Punk eagle:





Big hippo:




I always preferred the morning game drives, as I loved the atmosphere, when nature's waking up. Finally the sun rose giving us some warmth, and putting the next pictures in a golden tone.  We saw a group of black crowned cranes (yes, I googled their names ;) ) who are one of the most beautiful birds I thinks. They also showed up frequently on the river next to the bandas.

Morning game drives are the best:





Crown as golden as the morning light:




Being one hour on a game drive without an Elephant sighting is totally unacceptable in Ruaha, so it was time for nature to arrange this cute young guy for us, to put on a beautiful light and to let him do some action for the camera. Thank you Ruaha :) 



One of my favourite pictures :) 




Camera... Action!




We saw Giraffes and Zebras and again many more Elephants in all kinds of situations. Could post so many more of the Elephants, but I guess they start to get a bit boring, so I try to discipline myself...


Ok, just one more :) Elephant meeting underneath the baobab:



Zebra for a bit of diversity:





The most impressive thing on our morning game drive, was an area, which Otto called "Elephant heaven". It was about one hundred Elephants in a dry river bed or in the bushes around. It was impossible to capture it on photos, because it was just too large and also the light was very hard already. I just post a small crop to give an impression, the actual area was more than 3 times the size, all full of Elephants. Truly amazing and we stayed there for a while, just watching the many different things they did, like playing, teaching the young ones to dig for water, fighting a bit and many more.


Tembo heaven:




After heaven we got back on Earth, passed by some more Giraffes and Elephants and drove back to the bandas for breakfast.

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Day 7 (part 2): Happy endings


During our breakfast we had a great view on a group of Elephants drinking from the river and having a bath for about half an hour. It was very nice to watch them bathing, playing with each other and diving fully underwater, using their trunk as a snorkel. Could not imagine a better place for having breakfast.


For those who consider to stay in the bandas, I'll give a few impressions from the view you have at breakfast and from the property in general.


Some entertainment while having breakfast:



Breakfast table at the river bank:




One of the pavillons with view on the Elephants:




Our Range Rover next to the "main house":





After a bit of sleep in the heat it was time for the afternoon game drive. Stil very close to the bandas we watched this hippo wandering around in the heat and grazing. It was a nice view to see it outside from relatively close, as most times we only saw them going out of water on the other side of the river.


Hippo close to the bandas:



After all the Elephants in the morning it was time for a change and Ruaha delivered as usual :)  So some non-Elephant pictures are following from our afternoon game drive.



Enjoy your meal:







Serious monkey:




Happy Monkey:




After a few hours of driving around, we moved to a more mountainous and rocky part of the park. Sun was already setting when saw this little rodent.


Sunset rodent:




As the sun was setting, we were just about driving back to the bandas, when Otto saw something in the high grass, about 30m from the track. Even though we should have had a better view from the roof top, we did not see anything at all first. But then the head of a lion showed up.


Not so easy to spot a first:




A lion comes seldom alone and quickly another head showed up, and another. They were just getting up and cuddled a bit, before one after the other start to walk in the direction of our car. As it was relatively dark already, picture quality is very limited unfortunately, due to high ISO settings and too long exposure times, so some images are a bit blurry. The very blurry ones have an artistic touch though, I think, looking a bit painted ;) 


Get up! Time to go hunting:




Yes, predators cuddle too:




Nice tail:




Attentive look: 




And finally we also saw some lions with beautiful brown hair. Two very nice guys:


Action guy:



Beautiful brown hair:




It was a prey of 7 lions in total and for us it was a magical moment. Being all alone in this quiet area, seeing these animals getting ready for their hunt while it was getting dark. After they got up the were walking fast and came straightly to our car until they were just 2-3 meters away from us. But they were not interested at all of us, but just walked around us, crossed the track and went further on the other sides, going in the high grass and the bushes.


The whole sighting lastet for about 15-20min and as it was really starting to getting dark now, Otto was kind of nervous to arrive at the bandas before dark. So we drove quickly back to bandas, where the lunch already waited for us.


After many Elephants, Giraffes, Zebras and birds it was really a great finish for our second day in Ruaha. After this lion sighting we felt like, "O.K. now we have seen all we could wish for, anything that follows from now on, is just an add-on". And indeed we were lucky to see this pride, because the next day one guy at the camp asked us, if we have seen any lions at all so far, as he was driving around for two whole days trying to find lion and did not see a single one. So this seems to confirm, that February is definitely not the best time for lions or other cats. We were very lucky, but I also think it's thanks to Ottos very good knowledge of the park (he's specialised in the Southern parks), that we saw this pride, because he had a very good intuition to go in this area at this daytime. Also we would never spotted the lions ourselves at first, as they were completely hidden in the high grass. I still don't know how Otto could see them from his low driver seat position.


I know this lion sighting cannot compare to all these hunting and killing sightings others have experienced here, but to us it was very special. So the good thing was, we already saw so much more than we hoped for. Even better was, that we still had more than a full day to spent in Ruaha.



Walkin straight to the car:



Very close to us:






Edited by FirstTimeAfrica
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I’ve really enjoyed your report @FirstTimeAfrica, it’s difficult to beat that feeling on your first safari.  I’m one of those that has yet to see wild dogs, so I’m jealous you got them your first day! 

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Day 8: A relaxed day of safari


With the lion sighting the evening before we now saw everything we hoped for (and much more). It was our last fully day in Ruaha and we were in very relaxed mood, like "everything from now on is just an add-on" to the great impression we already had. As i described the other days rather extensively, i will keep this post relatively short, in order to keep the TR readable.


We started our game drive with Zebras, Kudus and a Jackal in the morning and of course Elephants, but i posted so many Elephants already, so I will skip these. Otto was really motivated to show us more lions and we also drove several times around an area, which is known for Leopards, but it's just hard to spot these animals at this time of the year, with the dense green bushes and the very high grass and reed. He once saw relatively fresh Leopard trails in the sand, but we didn't get to see one.


Kudu (lesser or greater?) in nice morning landscape:




Jackal again:




As we already saw in Selous, lions like to relax in the sand of dry river beds, so we crossed many of them to find more lion. An we were successful with this strategy, spotting a lion in the riverbed. He was all alone though, with the prey probably staying somewhere around in the bushes. When we watched him he woke up for a minutes and had a look around, but quickly continued to sleep. So for us it was time to move on and continue our game drive, with some birds, Giraffes and Elephants.



Having a look at the strangers with the car:




We seemed to be too boring for him, so back to sleep:







Looking a bit angry :) 



Giraffe in beautiful landscape:




After lunch we started out afternoon game drive and went back to the rocky area of Ruaha, we we also saw the lions the day before. Instead of Lions we saw some kind of rodents posing for us. Again Otto decided to try one of the riverbeds, which was filled with baboons instead of lions though. There were many of them, with family life and one was digging in the sand, to drink water from a hole. After some minutes my wife yelled "Lion", which lied in the river on the other side and we would have totally overseen otherwise, as we were focusing the whole time on the baboons. Again it was a single lion(ess), so no prey either. And again it was the wrong time of the day to see her getting active. Nevertheless we were really happy to see two more lions this day, as they were really scattered it seems and others didn't get to see any at all. 


Rocky part of Ruaha:



Little Poser:




Digging and drinking:



Family time:





Single lioness close to the baboons:IMG_1020.jpg.1bf38f1eec06413fb9ada34a47714115.jpg



Our last beers in Ruaha :)  


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Day 9: Good-bye Safari, time for some Mafia-business


Today it was time to leave Ruaha and we were totally fine with this, as 3 full days is definitely enough for this park. After all the game driving, as much as we enjoyed it, we also looked forward to different experiences. As our flight would start around noon, we still had half a day of game driving ahead of us and it was feeling like a nice relaxed good-bye drive.



Good-bye beautiful sunrises:




Hello and good-bye bat-eared foxes:




Good bye baby-Zebras:




Good-bye our most favourite animal:









Good-bye beautiful funny Giraffes:




Good-bye amazing Ruaha:




Summary of our Safari:


First of all, our expectations were more than exceeded. We had really no idea how dense wild-life is, and how much one can see there. Also we thought that animals would be much more far away and didn't even dream of seeing all these animals from just a few meters away. We will definitely good to a safari some time again, especially to go back to the Elephants, which we enjoyed so much. For us, choosing the Southern parks and going with Otto was 100% the right decision. We loved the very basic and remote feeling and the complete emptiness of both Selous and Ruaha. We never saw more than 4 other cars the whole day, if any at all. The road transfer were also great, so we were happy we chose the plane just for one direction.


For those who consider to go in the green season: You will be rewarded with an extremely beautiful and green landscape, with rivers actually being rivers (though in Ruaha many are dry anyways) and with a lot of birds.  But one should be aware, that there's a trade-off, especially regarding lions and other cats. They are much more scattered, as wild-life in general, because it's just not necessary for the animals to only stay around the river beds. And the grass is about one meter high, so if you're mostly after killings, etc., one should simply not choose this time of the year. Also seeing Leopards is much more difficult, as not only the grass is high, but bushes and tress are also very dense, so I guess it's much more a matter of luck than in the dry season.


To us, the season was perfect, as we preferred the larger animals like Elephants, Giraffes and Zebras anyways and they look just so beautiful in the green landscape. I want to thank this forum, which turned out to be a very helpful resource for going to the first Safari. I am usually very used to arrange and book all our trips by myself, always contacting local guides / accommodations, as I just prefer it that way instead of booking with a travel agency / tour operator. We also travelled this way to remote places like the Pantanal (Brazil) or Komodo NP (Indonesia), but the African Safari business is very different (of course also because of the price level) and not so easy to understand at first, so the TRs and comments here were really helpful.


For those, who are just interested in the Safari, the TR is over now :(. For those who like marine life and consider to go to Mafia Island, continue reading :) 



Welcome to Mafia:


Our plane was already waiting for us on the Airstrip, which is just right next to the bandas (2 minutes drive).  There was only one other (local) guy flying with us, so it was really an "Air-Taxi". We flew to Dar first, where we would pick-up other guests and continue our journey to Mafia island. We said good-bye to Otto and the chef and thanked them for the great time we had.


We like the views over Ruaha and the mountains afterwards, and also of the houses surroundings Dar.





Ruaha NP from above:



Ruaha River:








The flight from Dar to Mafia has also some nice sights, especially the river deltas. Mafia Airport is not much bigger than the Airstrips in the NPs, though has a real building at least :)    We got picked up by the driver of "Meremta lodge", one of the few properties on the island, which is run by locals instead of European (or more specific Italian) owners. We were the only guests in the whole property, so had a very private experince. Also they offer an excellent 3-course dinner at just 15 USD pp. The lodge itself is located in Utende, inside the „Mafia Island Marine Park“, therefore you have to pay the park fees of around 20 USD ppd to the park authorities. If you want to go snorkelling (like us) or diving you have to pay them anyways, so this is not a problem. Contrary to the very expensive diving resorts, Meremeta lodge is not located right on the shore but 5 minutes by bike, which you can rent for free at the lodge.


Leaving Dar for Mafia:




Image-Caption on roof:




Beautiful and very affordable "Meremta Lodge":IMG_0133.jpg.253b83d74e80856047c5c4a1739d66b2.jpg



Tropical sunset at the lodge:




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I am glad you had a great trip with Otto - since he is good friend and my guide when I go on safari in Tanzania. We have been all over Tanzania - Selous several times , Ruaha, Katavi, Mikumi and Serengeti,Ndutu. Ruaha is beautyful in feb. But definetly a dry park. There are many lions in Ruaha, in the dry season, you often see 2-3 prides a day.  I think Ruaha has the highest density of lions outside Serengeti in Africa. I allways do bush camping with Otto. By the way the Impalas,  are grant gazelle.


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I like how your report is different than a typical fly-in safari report. It gives great information on the logistics and how it would work in terms of food and accommodation if you bring in your own guide in the southern parks. I am glad you had such a successful safari and looking forward to the Mafia part.

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@Africalover  I read some of our recommendations for Otto as a guide before our trip, so they were one of the reasons we booked with him. So thank you, as he was definitely the right choice for us. He was also mentioning You, when were talking about how we find out about him on safaritalk.


I guess one can see much more lions in the dry season in Ruaha, so it might be an option for us to come back at another time of the year. We'd also like to go on bush camping there, which was not possible mid-february anymore. 


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@anocn4 I think it is really not a problem to bring your own guide to the Southern parks.  Driving takes time of course, so one should not plan with a too tight schedule.


When going to Selous, I guess it's best to buy food and equipment in Dar. For Ruaha you should get everything you need in Iringa not the market or the small shops surrounding it. In Ruaha the kitchen from the mainhouse in the park bandas can be used by anyone (if I got it right) and is also equipped with a refrigator. 



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