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Lakes, Baobabs, Falls and Islands - Green Season in Southern Tanzania


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No @xelas, most of these were done before I switched.


3 minutes ago, Africalover said:

I have heard of heavy trucks driving to and from the building site. 


We did not see any trucks - while the road from Dar was apparently still in use it was badly damaged from what we were told. About double normal driving time.


10 minutes ago, Biko said:

Bush breakfast brings back warm memories of our conversations with Mgomo and Kalisti, our driver and guide.


Yes, that´s one of the nicest things about eating out in the bush, chatting and getting to know them.


9 minutes ago, janzin said:

We are still hoping against hope for our Patagonia trip with Michael and Andy to happen!


Indeed we are - and there´s always hope! :)

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The world has changed. But two months everything was still good - it was "before". Corona was just some obscure thing happening on the other side of the world, and we did not think twice about going o

A short video to give an impression of the Lakes:     I was in birding heaven - and since we had the luxury of private car/boat I could go all out without bothering anybody (w

So off we where about 1600 in the afternoon, our last drive in the Selous. The roads were still incredibly tricky to maneuvre, and I can only admire our skilled driver Abuu - what a tought job this gu

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@michael-ibk As soon as I saw the red colobus and the waterfall in your first post I thought I'm going to enjoy this, it's always very satisfying to know that the effort of writing reports is worthwhile, and that they do have an influence. :)


I'm not any kind of expert on zebras, but according to the map in the Kingdon Field Guide Crawshay's occurs from the Rufiji River south to the Zambezi, and then there is what he calls a Rukwa/Usangu type this zebra is intermediate between the Boehm's or Grant's zebra (Equus quagga boehmi) found further north in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda and Crawshay's zebra (E. quagga crawshaii), I wonder if that is what these zebras in Selous are, the true Crawshay's should have very narrow stripes, Grant's has broad stripes especially on the rump, your zebras do have pretty narrow stripes, I think you could say that they are intermediate between narrow stripes and broad stripes. 


Great view of wild dogs, always a good way to start a safari.

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3 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

Very sorry about that, I hope I can make it up to you.

All is forgiven.  Stunning photos.  Great report.  I'm a huge Ruaha fan but have yet to go to Selous.  Hopeful for the future.

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pedro maia

Dogs right after landing, that’s not fair, I never saw them...


Great start Michael!!

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Great start @michael-ibk I have been eagerly awaiting your report!


Green season in Ruaha and Selous is a very rewarding time to visit.

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In October 2017 we only did Ruaha NP for ten nights staying one night at Dar to start our safari ; we twice landed at the Selous airstrip but did not visit it which probably we should have done  as I see once again that wild dogs are certainly more around then in Ruaha and even in the rainy season ; glad you praise Expert Africa as we have booked our next safari with them 

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Your bee eater and kingfisher shots are bejeweled, since you like that word.  The abundant rain has even bejeweled the landscape, and it has washed off the dogs nicely.

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Hi Michael,


In fact, being forced to land at Mtemere rather than Siwandu is a good thing.  Thanks to this, you could see the wild dogs especially if you did not see them any more the following days?  Indeed, Siwandu does not have the reputation of being a good place for wild dogs.  The odds are greater on Sands River and Beho Beho.  Anyway, excellent photos.  Since I have known you, I think that of all the contributors to ST, you are the one who has made the biggest progress in photography.

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On 4/16/2020 at 10:19 PM, inyathi said:

it's always very satisfying to know that the effort of writing reports is worthwhile, and that they do have an influence.


Well, I think it´s fair to say that few people here have been more influential than you @inyathi! Thanks also for your input regarding the Zebras there. Slightly confusing stuff. One would expect the "Selous´ Zebra" to occur in the Selous but as I understand these are down in Mozambique.


@Bush dog Awwww, thanks, I´m blushing now. :DVery kind of you to say - I do hope seeing the work of so many great photographers here on ST made an impact. Still leagues to go for me until I am at your level though.


And thanks everybody else as well of course!



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One of the nice things in the Selous is the option to do boat drives. I always love this activity, much more relaxing than driving around on bumpy roads, always a nice breeze in your face, and lots of stuff to photograph. The afternoon was fairly cloudy but ever so often we got nice splashes of sun on the water.




After 20 minutes or so we found an Elephant in the water having a good time:








We stayed with the big guy for quite a while until he left the water into the thickish.








The Selous, an Elephant´s paradise? A former paradise - I think we´ve all read about the horrible poaching onslaught which reduced their numbers to little more than 10,000.






It was somewhat sadly fitting hence that this would remain the only Elephant we´d see in the Selous.






We were told that this was quite a quirk, normally there should be good numbers in the tourist area in the North, who knows where they all wandered too during these extremely wet times. I guess the huge amount of rain changed formerly very arid areas into perfect feeding grounds so no need for them to hang around the waterbodies along the Rufiji river and its lakes.








Apparently the freefall of the population has fortunately come to an end, the numbers seem to have stabilised:










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A short video to give an impression of the Lakes:



I was in birding heaven - and since we had the luxury of private car/boat I could go all out without bothering anybody (well, except @AndMic of course) with my birding craze.




White-Fronted Bee-Eaters were very common and delightfully approachable on the water.




Same for their Little cousin.




Scarlet-Chested Sunbird was shier but too nice a bird not to post.




We visited a small Heronry with a few Greys and Greats:










Mommy´s Darling.


Suddenly our boatsman Jimmy frantically hit the reverse gear and drove away as if all seven Hell Hounds were chasing him. When we were a bit farther away he explained why and we fully understood why he had panicked: He was stung by a bee - and a couple of weeks before he had been stung at that very same place by more than 20. His situation had been quite critical for a while but he thankfully recovered completely. Made us think about that horrific incident in the Selous when a group of tourists was attacked by a swarm and one even died. (https://www.tellerreport.com/news/2019-11-01---twenty-dutch-tourists-attacked-by-bees-in-tanzania--one-dead-.HkxUoN0YcS.html)


Better to be cautious!




Captain Jimmy (with Andreas), all well again. A very, very nice guy and good guide.






"The voice of Africa" was very common. I love their calls.






The artfully weaved nests of some birds are small miracles:








There were plenty of Hippo in the water but I´m afraid we didn´t take pictures - small heads and eyes popping up from time to time are not too photogenic.




A good reminder not to stick one´s fingers into the water for too long. :)






We had some nice company - a pair of Wire-Tailed Swallows had built a nest in the boat and were constantly flying with us. Try as I might, I failed to get a picture of this dashing small bird in flight.






Pied Kingfishers were numbering in the dozens. I´m afraid I neglected them a bit - the fate of too common animals.




Cannot happen to Malachites - we saw up to 10 I´d say and some of them were really extremely cooperative.


My favourite bird however was an even smaller one - African Pgymy Kingfisher. They are not as bound to water as some of their cousins since they feed mostly on insects. But they definitely use similar nesting opportunities - I saw this one disappear in the steep riverbank.



Edited by michael-ibk
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@michael-ibk the malachite kingfisher is such a colourful and beautiful bird . I also like  your other photos, especially your landscapes. You were so lucky to have seen Ruaha and Selous. I will have to wait 2 more years:(

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Thank you @Athene. Important for me to point out that a good portion of the pictures was taken by @AndMic, especially - but not exclusively - landscape shots.


A lot of uncertainty about the near future unfortunately, but I´m sure you will get there - it is a beautiful place!

Edited by michael-ibk
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Whoever took the landscape photos certainly capture the beauty of Selous.  Now back toward the top of my list. Did you arrange a private driver and boat or was it because of low tourist numbers. If you have already said this I apologize. 

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Superb photos from both of you. The green makes a stunning background to the wildlife. The kingfishers are beautiful.

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Thanks @TonyQ!


Thank you @kilopascal! We arranged private drives, they are good value at Lake Manze camp and were even better value in our case. I´ll get to this in more detail when I´ll cover Camp - which I can absolutely recommend btw!




Next we had opted for an all-day drive - camp actually encourages this. It was maybe not as useful as in better conditions -because of the rains many roads were not passable. For example it was impossible to venture further South to seek out specials like Sable and Lesser Kudu. Would have been nice but we have seen both animals before a couple of times so not a big deal. And their habitats are also Tse-Tse heaven, so @AndMic (who reacts quite badly to them) was quite happy about not going there. :)




It was a bit of a quite morning, and cloudier than the day before. Still birds were out in galore!




The Selous truly is a Bee-Eater paradise with many different species. I was especially delighted about the high numbers of White-Throateds, a bird I had seen but never photographed before. No challenge here!




Woodland Kingfisher, the wonderful trilling sound of Green Season Africa.




Predatorwise the Selous was not too action-packed for us. We actually only saw Lions once - and that had been on our way to camp fresh from the flight when we were told we only could linger for a short while.






As far as I know nobody else saw them again during our stay. Who knows where they went, the area might have gotten too wet for their taste. Cheetah are virtually absent from the Selous. Leopards are around but much more elusive than in other areas. We even had one in camp, I´m very sure I heard one "sawing" at night very close to our tent. Our guide also told us he had seen one in staff quarters killing a Hare a few days ago.




Worth pointing out that we did not make an effort for cats, so with a bit more of a focus on them I think we might have seen more. But this was our "Laissez-Faire" holiday, we did not care so much about specific things but just enjoyed being out in the bush.




We very rarely encountered other vehicles. I only remember two not from our camp when we were on the main road, two very absurd striking yellow safari cars apparently coming from DAR. Should have taken a photo, they really looked totally out of place.




We did not have Vervets (nor Baboons) in camp but saw them quite regularly while out. I much prefer seeing them this way - although they can be a good source of entertainment during siesta.






This young one had apparently just about survived a nasty attack in the night, the wound was fresh. The resilience of animals is astounding, it moved like nothing had happened. Fingers crossed this little Giraffe is still around!




We saw a fair number of Wildebeest but unlike their brethren in the Serengeti/Mara ecosystem they are not very relaxed and tend to run off.




Red-Necked Falcon




Wood Sandpiper. Given the huge amount of suitable habitat in these extremely wet conditions I was surprised to not see more wading birds.




Egyptian Goose, also surprisingly scarce. Photobombing a Spoonbill here.






Warthogs with their "Bejeweller". A really fun thing to see - and interesting that the Carmines seem to pick different animals for this. In Botswana´s Savuti area we saw (Southern) Carmines perching on Kori Bustards very often, and as I remember @Safaridude observed this behaviour with Northerns on Arabian Bustards in Ethiopia.






Miombo Blue-Eared Starling. Very similar but more magenta on the belly than its also present Greater Blue-Eared cousin.






Long-Tailed Parardise-Whydah. Nomen est omen, a bird with an absurdly long tail.






Lappet-Faced Vulture


This is not a natural pool. At this place most of the material for the main road was excavated. The rains did the rest, and the Hippos found a perfect home.






Our guide suggested to take lunch here but this was too close to the main road for us, and as mentioned before this was the only spot where we did see other vehicles. We asked to go somewhere more secluded and 40 minutes later enjoyed our meal at a wonderful tranquil little spot by a small lake.







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pedro maia

Enjoying the TR and all those great pictures.


One question, how about tsetse flies (in the Selous and Ruaha)?

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None at all in the Selous @pedro maia (although mosquitoes could be irritating at times). Wish I could say the same about Ruaha - many of them in some areas although nowhere near as bad as certain spots in the Kafue.

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After lunch we were informed the Dogs had been sighted quite close to the airstrip again. We decided to go there again - after all Dogs do not move much (or rather at all) during the day. We knew we could not really stay with them once they´d get active because of the long way back to camp but still thought it was worth it. I love the Dogs after all.:)


Some more birdies on the way there:




Diederik´s Cuckoo - never before have I seen this beautiful bird so often. I´d estimate all in all we saw more than twenty  - everywhere we went.




African Hoopoe - quite scarce this time. Only seen now and then on the main road in the Selous.




Dickinson´s Kestrels posing nicely for us.




Litte Weird-Long-Legged-Insect-Eater.


It took us a while but we finally found the Dogs resting under some bushes.




The trick was to get one of those rare instances when one of them would open his eyes or even look up for a second - and go back to sleeping!:D






It did not smell like roses here - a few metres apart a young Giraffe had died. Might have been a natural death, our guide mused. Many Vultures around but they did not dare to approach the carcass, the Dogs were too close for that apparently. Or maybe they did not like this meat? I found it quite puzzling why nothing was eating with a huge meatberg there open to all. Yes, the Dogs don´t do carrion but no Hyenas or Jackals? And the Vultures indifferent? Strange.






A weird pose for a Vulture, have never seen that before:




To our delight a few of the Dogs (there were more than ten, not sure about the exact number) came out to cool off in a rainpool on the road.




First one then two then three. :D








We were less delighted when we saw that three of them were limping badly. Snared!:( Not many animals can get away from something awful like that but the social nature of the Dogs means they´ll have a chance. Very sad to see this, I love my wild, free-running Dogs, and how awful to see them crippled like that. They roam widely, also out to the farmlands, and of course the people there don´t like them.





Ignore after the first 15 seconds, just to show the limp (Shaky and OOF afterwards).


We had to go back -  a long way to camp! It started to rain, first gently but soon very strongly. Out with the Ponchos, and we soon huddled down in fetal positions, our gear under the ponchos, the wind blowing the rain in from all sides. It was not too comfortable but in a way quite exciting. Also here at home I´ve always loved thunderstorms, and the thrilling factor is higher in the wilderness.


Well, that´s what I told myself. Everything was ok while we were on the main road. But once we had to go off to camp our hearts sank.




This is what it had looked like around noon. Now, only a few hours later the rains had totally transformed the road into a creek.Most of the track was under water already, and we knew we´d have some pretty difficult areas to get through later on. Oh my!


Hold on, hold on, our driber Abuu told us, and that´s what we did. He could not stop when trying to tackle the difficult spots - if he did we would never get out again. The car was sliding and shaking left and right, often losing its grip, and the mud came splashing into our faces. Good thing the heavy rain washed it right off again!


Even in this torrent I could not help myself but asked to stop (at a relatively dry part of the road) to photograph a Martial Eagle defying the elements.




We made little progress, it was a constant battle to be fought, every 100 metres a victory. But then we came to what had been a small trickle of water in the morning crossing the road, not even a creek then. Now it was more of a stream, 10, 20 metres broad, the water running fast and impossible to see how deep it was. I simply could not see how we would get through that and mentally prepared myself for a night in the bush. It was impossible to go back as well, there was no space to turn around and even if we did we had only barely managed to pass through some parts. Now it would be even worse.


Abuu clenched the wheel (and his teeth) and gave it a go! Through the water we went - for a scary second slithering badly, losing grip. We were holding as tight as we could - and then were through. Hip Hip Hooray!


We cheered and applauded Abuu, wow, that guy can drive! We finally returned back to camp well after 1900. Rarely before have a shower, food and beer(s) been that wonderful!


Edited by michael-ibk
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Enjoying the TR very much.  The birding is soooo good in the Selous, isn't it?  It was great even in the dry season.


I actually tried to stay at Lake Manze a few years back, but they were keen to start their day after a full breakfast (something like an 60-90 minutes after sun-up), so I opted for another camp.  Do they still do that?

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Thanks, @Biko and @Safaridude. About timings Wow, no, not at all. We always went out with packed breakfast before sunrise. Other guests chose full breakfast and left quite late (8ish) but all of this is very flexible. 

Edited by michael-ibk
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Excellent dog viewing Michael it's another great start for you. I did a day trip to the Udzungwas from Mikumi years ago so I'm pretty sure you enjoyed the hikes. Mikumi btw was actually excellent for us and is probably dismissed by many by the highway running through it. Glad you're doing this report as I'm trying to get enough time to add Ruaha to my Tanzania trip in Jan 2022. Hopefully by then things will be back to normal.

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fantastic bird photography, may I say you've gotten better and better over time! Those Kingfishers, wow!


So great to see the lush green season, the lone elephant, and the wild dogs...so sad about the limping. But these wild animals seem to have remarkable powers of recovery so hopefully they make it.



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Beautiful Kingfisher photos, and the ele sequence is good fun. It took me a while to work out the photo of the raised foot and toe-nails.



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