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Tanzania, Bush & Beach. Northern Tanzania & Zanzibar


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Our drive back to camp was not a quick one and we were easily distracted; by various birds and lines of wildebeest marching in one direction and then another.


I neglected to mention one of the great things the makes the NCA such a great place for wildlife viewing; unlike Serengeti NP, you can drive off road. Our guide, Joseph, took full advantage of this as we roamed all over the plains.


By now we’d reached the stage where we were looking forward to getting out of the vehicle and having a nice cuppa when we spotted a stationery vehicle and recognised it as the same one we’d seen yesterday, parked close to one of the cheetahs.

We had surmised that they were on a mission to film/photograph a cheetah hunt. Sure enough, once we’d spotted them, we quickly located the cheetah they were shadowing. At the moment she was just sitting in some tall grass and weeds, but she was clearly alert.

In the distance we could see some gazelles grazing, but they were at least 150 metres away from the cheetah.



Cheetah (f)


We decided to wait for a while and see what happened.


For quite a while, not a lot. Apart from sitting up every now and then to take a look around, this female cheetah was in no hurry.


some Barn Swallows using the same patch of weeds




After almost an hour of waiting, during which two or three other vehicles had come to see what we were doing and then moved on, we were debating whether to throw in the towel and head back to camp. Joseph urged patience; this, he said, was the time when cheetahs would be hunting.

While we were discussing how much longer we would wait, the other vehicle started to move. They re-positioned themselves about two thirds of the way towards the gazelles that were the only prey in sight for the cheetah.

We did the same.


Once again we settled in to wait.


After a while more vehicles arrived and soon there were six game cars watching the cheetah, which was still more than 100 metres away from us.


A small group of wildebeest wandered past. Then, quite unexpectedly a lone wildebeest calf trotted in amongst our vehicles. It was very young and very lost, calling plaintively for its mother as it stumbled from one vehicle to another. The other wildebeest were quite far away now and presumably could not hear its calls.


Whether it had heard the cries or seen the calf, the cheetah was now fully alert. She was on her feet and looking in our direction – which was the direction of the distressed calf. She started trotting and then she was running, slowly at first but gathering speed all the time.


Cheetah hunting


Cheetah hunting


The poor calf had no idea what was happening as the cheetah ran between the vehicles and chased it down.

It wasn’t much of a chase really as the calf wasn’t even old enough to have received basic evasion training.


Cheetah with kill


The sound of the cameras all around us was quite intimidating. One vehicle in particular was bristling with them.


Yes, I Photoshopped the tyre covers. No sense promoting someone else's business eh.


Once she had suffocated her prey we expected her to start feeding, but although she dragged it back and forth, she seemed reluctant to start eating. In the end we concluded that we didn’t really need pictures of her eating the wildebeest and decided to leave her in peace.


Cheetah with kill


Cheetah with kill


It had been quite an eventful morning.


In the afternoon, keen to explore somewhere different, we set out for Lake Masek. Which turned out to be a big disappointment. Although we did see some flamingoes, we saw almost no mammals at all and ended up zig-zagging back through the trees on the edge of the plains.

Lots more raptors, especially Tawny Eagles, but not much else, apart from lions sleeping under bushes.

Edited by Soukous
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Greater Flamingoes, at Lake Masek.

Greater Flamingoes


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There was a wonderful sense of tranquillity as we set out for our last morning game drive.

We’d had fantastic sightings of lions and cheetahs and so the pressure was off. This morning we could take it easy and spend time with some of the other animals.


Our wish list consisted of Bat-eared Foxes and Giraffes. We’d spent some time looking for the foxes previously, but without success and although we’d seen plenty of giraffe, they had only been in ones or twos and had not been a priority.


Before we’d gone very far we came across a sight that brought home vividly just how abundant the food supply is at this time of year.


A Silver Backed Jackal (Black Backed Jackal if you’re from Southern Africa) with the remains of a zebra carcass.

Jackal with zebra carcass


Jackal with zebra carcass


But this wasn’t just the leftover skin and bones, this was half a zebra, a lot of meat. And yet this wee jackal had the whole thing to himself; no lions, no hyaenas, no vultures to compete with.

It was quite strange to see this as I’m so used to jackals scurrying around the edge of kills, waiting for all the bigger animals to finish so they can grab a few scraps.


A short while later we found our Bat-eared Foxes. These were quite young ones, enjoying the early morning sunshine.

Bat-eared Fox



Bat-eared Fox


Bat-eared Fox


A roundabout route brought us to the Big Marsh.

Off to the right we spotted some giraffes emerging from the trees. Unfortunately could not drive straight there and had to wind around the marsh. This meant that by the time we got there another couple of vehicles had beaten us to it.

It wasn’t a big deal though as, unlike cat sightings, most people were content to give the giraffes some space.



More giraffes were coming out from the forest onto the river bed. Eventually there were 24 of them spread out around us.





As more cars began to arrive, we decided it was time to move along.


We’d hadn’t gone very far at all when we found another family of Bat-eared Foxes coming out into the morning sun.

Bat-eared Fox


Bat-eared Fox


Bat-eared Fox


Our wish list for the morning had been ticked off in no time at all and we now had to think of something else to go in search of.


Luckily for us there was always something to look at – especially raptors.


Long-crested Eagle

Long-crested Eagle


Black-chested Snake Eagle

Black-chested Snake Eagle


Augur Buzzard

Auguer Buzzard


Dark Chanting Goshawk



Edited by Soukous
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One of the most remarkable, and most alarming, aspects of our safari in Ndutu was that we did not see even a single elephant. 
I had not expected to see a lot of them but certainly expected to see more than none.

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We flew from Ndutu, via Arusha, to Zanzibar with Coastal Aviation.

This was Arusha airport, not Kilimanjaro International. Arusha airport is for all the domestic and light aircraft flights.

The flight was on time and pretty good with very friendly service. Ndutu air strip was positively buzzing; there were safari vehicles everywhere and a constant stream of light aircraft landing and taking off.


looking down on Arusha



Only one class of seat



Zanzibar town, not as pretty as Stone Town




I was a bit surprised that we had to fill out another arrival form at Zanzibar airport, even though we had not left the country.

It had been raining quite heavily just before we arrived and the sky was still grey and overcast. Zanzibar Town was not looking its best and some of the party were wondering what they had let themselves in for.


The traffic and ramshackle buildings of the town soon gave way to lush green countryside and moods lifted a bit.


Our destination was Pongwe Beach Hotel, which is located on the opposite side of the island from the airport, the eastern side, about half way up.



It was wonderful. Very relaxed and very well run.

Pongwe has one of the best beaches in the area. I took my shoes off when I arrived and didn’t look at them again until I left.


The food was terrific. Even though it added a bit to the bill we decided that we could not pass up the opportunity for great seafood. The seafood platter was so huge we invited people on adjoining tables to help themselves.

The line fish – Red Snapper – was also far too much for one meal so we asked the chef to make us a fish curry with the remainder. It was terrific.


My one complaint – the sea was too warm. It must have been over 30 degrees and not at all refreshing.


The difference between high and low tide was massive. At low tide we could walk a few hundred yards out towards the reef, whilst at high tide, the water was only 30 metres from our cottages.


Low tide



The view







When the tide was out, fishermen would wade through the shallows that remained with their nets and women gathered seaweed.




Once the tide started to rise, there was the opportunity to join local sailors for a boat ride out beyond the reef. Serious sunblock needed as the trip lasted around 4 hours, until the tide was well on its way back in.





We had planned to make an excursion into Stone Town, but the weather was so humid that we scrapped that plan, choosing instead to leave a bit early on our departure day and stop off on our way to the airport.


A good plan, but by the time we arrived at the airport, and had stood in the check-in queue for an hour we were melting.

Edited by Soukous
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