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


michael-ibk

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michael-ibk
18 hours ago, janzin said:

Hopefully the new camp was drier

 

Which is bringing me to our replacement camp. We really had no idea what to expect - surely they would not dump us at some cheap dosshouse, would they?

 

Not at all. We were actually pretty surprised when we finally reached Impala Camp - this is a place more upscale (and expensive) than Lake Manze. And I have to say they really treated us like royalty there, not at all like we were just refugees from a cheaper camp. There was only one other couple in camp which enjoyed a private dinner by the pool (of course there was a pool) since it was their last evening. They had told us that they had been the only guests for all their 4-nights-stay. So we had about 10 members of staff dancing around us and trying to do their very best to make us feel at home and comfortable. And they succeeded big time, we really enjoyed this.

 

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Not too bad, eh?

 

As mentioned before I really like simple camps - but for one night this was a very nice change. A great cocktail with snacks at the bar, chatting with the two managers and the barkeeper, then a private dinner with five (excellent) courses and our very own private waiter, a good bottle of wine (or, ahem, maybe even more). We really felt like being on holiday from the trip. :D

 

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The dining room

 

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Breakfast with a view - camp is right at the banks of the Rufiji.

 

I mentioned "dining with pistols" right at the start - this was that night. The reason was quite a delightful one - camp is full of Bushbabies, and they have become very bold. To the point that they will actually try to steal your food!:D So our waiter had a squirt gun and regularly used it to scare them off. Without success, they never went far. And from time to time he had to go to the kitchen or the bar (both pretty far away) and knew the Bushbabies would take that chance. So he put me on weapon duty, and whenever the cute little thieves came too close I put on my best menacing look and directed my gun at them. And that was enough, I did not need to "fire" (or is it to "water" in this case?), they sure respected the huge water pistol. But still, once or twice they even hopped on the table!

 

Unfortunately I broke safari rule Nr. 1 - Always, always bring your camera. We both did not, so I just managed a poor photo with my mobile. Here´s the gangster:

 

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We had a leisurely "full breakfast" next morning and were then collected by our guide and driver from Lake Manze for the short drive to the airstrip. Only some birds (mainly from camp), and at 0900 we took off for Ruaha.

 

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"Breakfast Birds" - White-Browed Sparrow-Weaver and African Golden Weaver

 

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Puffback

 

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Sombre Greenbul

 

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African Spoonbill. It was only five minutes out of camp we also had a split-second glimpse of some Bushpigs. At least our guide said so.

 

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Hamerkop.

 

And that was the Selous! A really beautiful park, we enjoyed the mix of land and water-based activites a lot. It might only be my impression but I always got the feeling that it is somewhat overshadowed by the much more popular Ruaha. Undeservedly IMO, it´s a great place in its own right.

 

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Peter Connan

Late to the party, as usual, but I am really enjoying this trip report Michael!

 

The photos are spectacular, as always.

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BRACQUENE

@michael-ibk

 

I have not been to this camp but our good friends Judy and Ian we had 10 nights in Ruaha with spend 4 nights there just before meeting us in Mwagusi  and as Judy gave me in Brussels her photobook of the Selous and Impala Camp I know the place and the wildlife around it quite well ; like yourself they were full of praise for that camp and of course the wild dogs close by !

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janzin

Ah that's interesting that they put you in Impala camp. The owners of Lake Manze (Adventure Camps) used to own Impala Camp (as well as Kwiala) but they sold them years ago. I know this as I'd actually priced out a trip back in 2014 for Impala, Lake Manze, and Kwihala in Ruaha, but in the end didn't go to Tanzania at all (don't really remember why...!  but that's the year we ended up going to Botswana instead.) Anyway I guess they still have a good relationship with Impala camp.

 

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Atravelynn

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

How long do you suggest? ;)

 

Your move from Manza due to flooding turned out very well with a complimentary private vehicle. 

 

The birds are oil paintings!

 

Is the hyena in #64 missing an ear?

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janzin

I also wanted to add I was a bit let down in the reveal of the "dining with pistols"  :D  I was expecting kidnappers, poachers, terrorists, or something exciting like that...not marauding bushbabies! :lol::lol:

 

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Zim Girl

Just caught up with this @michael-ibk.

Funny how things turn out sometimes on safari.  Despite the rain it looks like you had a marvellous time in the Selous.  Stunning landscapes from Andreas as expected and your birds are beautiful, especially the Kingfishers.  The colours of green season shine through. Lots to enjoy!

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Kitsafari

I'm so late to the Selous party!

 

what gorgeous close-ups of the birds! and absolutely beautiful landscape photos of Selous, @AndMic. i'd never been very very keen on Sealous, but the photos and the amazing number of birds will surely win me over. I can't wait for AndMic's photos of Ruaha which is another beautiful place. 

 

 

 

 

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michael-ibk

Apologies for the delay - and I don´t even have a really good excuse. But no harm in retarding a report this year with no trips happening now and in the immediate future for all of us.

 

Chronologically I should continue with Ruaha but in the interest of diversity I´ll fast forward to destination Nr. 3 - the Udzungwa Mountains. A more off the track destination but still relatively easy to get to. We flew from Ruaha to Mikumi NP. From there its´a two hour drive through a quite densely populated area - the Tanzania highlights are very fertile.

 

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When we landed nobody was there which always is a bit of a worry.

 

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But it was only 10 minutes and our driver arrived. A sure sign that we were no longer in a tourist hotspot was that his English was very basic.

 

We only got a much too short glimpse of Mikumi while driving out but as a park it seems to be quite interesting, there was a good number of game around the airstrip and I regret that we did not do at least a night there to get a better feeling for this rarely visited but very classic African open savannah park.

 

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Already more Elephants than in the Selous!:)

 

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The park is biscected by an important motorway with quite a lot of heavy traffic so I´m afraid there will be many roadkills. There are many signs warning of hefty fees for killing animals though - always the question if and to which extent that ´s enforced of course.

 

This Martial Eagle was waiting right by the road just like our Common Buzzards do at home for some casualties.

 

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Some snippets of the drive - I never take many photos on the road and always regret that afterwards. I quite enjoy seeing a bit of African countries roadside, such a different perspective from the bubbles of fly-in safaris.

 

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michael-ibk

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The Udzungwa Mountains National Park with a size of 1,990 km2 (770 miles) includes tropical rainforest, mountain forest, miombo woodland, grassland and steppe. There is a vertical height range of 250–2,576 metres (the peak of Lohomero). There are more than 400 bird species, 2500 plant species (25% of which are endemics) and 12 primate species. It has the second largest biodiversity of a national park in Africa. The park is a continuation of the Eastern Arc Mountain chains with their origin in Southern Kenya (Taita Hills) running through North and South Pare, East and West Usuambara, Nguu, Uluguru, Ukaguru, Rubeho, Malundwe, Mahenge, Udzungwa and ending in Makambako Forest. "Udzungwa" has its origin from the word "Wadsungwa "referring to one of the native sub tribes of the "Hehe" people  who once lived on the slopes of the mountains.

 

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On the plateau and farther West there are more open areas which are home to iconis safari animals like Lions, Kudu, Sable or Buffalo but I don´t think it´s possible to even get there as a tourist - at least not easily. There are no accommodations inside the park, and its main access points are all on  the Eastern side of its towering forest slopes. Here´s the mammal checklist - quite impressive but apart from the primates and a Duiker one might accidentally run into I don´t think it´s really possible to see much of any of them:

 

http://www.udzungwacentre.org/documents/Species/rovero_deluca_udzungwa_mammal_checklist.pdf

 

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"Hondo Hondo" Udzungwa Forest Camp seems to be the only viable option for international tourists in the area. We were advised by our operator to expect a pretty basic camp but were very pleasantly surprised. The tents were spacious and clean, well equipped with hot water and electricity, the (all local) staff very friendly, and the food was actually the best of the trip. Yes, definitely better than in all our "luxury camps". Their chef really knows how to prepare familiar dishes just a tad differently.

 

We loved sitting in the garden and looking up to the majestic impenetrable green in green slopes.

 

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Having a wonderfully cold beer in the deck chairs after a hike was just perfect.

 

Birding in camp was not very prolific but Hornbills were coming through steadily, especially Trumpeter and Crowned. "Hondo" means Hornbill.

 

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Collared Sunbird

 

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Diderik´s Cuckoo

 

Camp is pretty much snake-free - this is the reason, Serpents nightmare:

 

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Rikki-Tikki-Tavi!

 

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Baboons are also a constant presence but they are not a nuisance - they just ignore people and have apparently never been a problem with the tents. (The bathrooms are open and it would be easy for them to get in - but they don´t).

 

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Angolan Colobus, also popping up around the garden from time to time.

 

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Blue Monkeys as well - a bit shier though.

 

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michael-ibk

So why did we come here? Well, we enjoy diversity, and given how much we love the Aberdares thought this could be our cup of tea. Hiking was also an appealing prospect, and I also hoped for getting some new birds. We stayed three nights, and our first full day was reserved for a hike to the Sanje Waterfalls.

 

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We had booked nothing in advance but it was easy to work everything out with camp. As it turned out their head waiter Manuel was also a very good birder and would accompany us for the next two days. Getting the hike started was a bit frustrating as these things sometimes are in lesser visited places. First you have to go to HQs, and getting everything sorted and paying was quite cumbersome. I think I had to fill three forms. At least. You also have to take a forest guide with you - there´s always the chance you might run into an Elephant or something. (We did see fresh tracks) Not sure what they would do in a critical situation but it´s good never to have to find out.B)

 

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After clearing the formalities our park ranger gave us quite a long introduction speech to the park. Apparently they have to do this but I really had to take an effort to remain patient - all of this could just as well be done on the actual walk, and it was already past 9. First we had to drive to the starting point - we did not use the main one but a lesser visited trail from a ranger´s station. A bit longer but more secluded and thereby a higher chance to spot some animals.

 

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The trail began gentle enough but became quite steep soon - and it was hot and humid. Birding, as so often in thick, dark primeval forests was incredibly difficult, we did not see much, especially none of my targets, and it was mostly impossible to take photos of what did turn up. Since the sun never came out it was so dark the camera would not even focus in many places. And really, try to get a focus on something moving inside this:

 

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Dark-Backed Forest Weaver, looking quite different with the blue eyering from other birds of this species I´ve seen before.

 

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Probably a Pallid Honeyguide - a bird I had many discussions about with the experts on the Birding Tanzania FB group.

 

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A heavy crop of a Crowned Eagle flying over. This magnificent bird is quite common here but not easy to see it through the closed canopy.

 

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But even though birding was an unmitigated disaster we greatly enjoyed this walk. There´s something ethereal about Africa´s ancient primeval forests and it was great being in the middle of this very different wilderness - alone of course, without other people.

 

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A bit easier than birds - Butterflies! Many beautiful ones on the path.

 

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Our park guide (who was actually a very nice guy) found this cute tiny Chameleon - my best guess is Beardless Leaf.

 

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And we had a really, really nice sighting of a family of Udzungwa Red Colobus.

 

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This is one of three endemic primate species in the Udzungwas. A vulnerable species - as so often habitat fragmentation is the biggest threat to them. Many of the surrounding forests have been degraded, and the park itself is their last stronghold. IUCN estimates their numbers  about 30,000.

 

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Interestingly they form friendly relationships with Baboons, Mangabeys and Colobus, apparently this provides extra protection against predators.

 

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All colobus monkeys lack true thumbs. There is only a small nub where their thumb would be. In fact, the name colobus comes from the Greek word meaning “cut short” or “maimed,” in reference to their lack of a thumb. However, colobus monkeys make up for this with their four hook-like fingers. This hand structure actually makes it easier for the colobus to leap from branch to branch in quick succession.

 

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Udzungwa red colobus monkeys live in groups of 20 to 40 individuals. Some groups number as high as 81 while other monkeys wander alone. The monkey troop wakes up around sunrise and forages during the early morning. They rest for most of the day and spend much of their down time grooming each other and building social bonds. They forage again in the evening before retiring for the night. Red colobuses often sleep in the same trees where they were feeding that day, preferring to stay in the tallest trees they can find.

 

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Apparently this one was not too happy to see us.

 

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michael-ibk

Even though I´m fairly used to hiking I´ve been in better shape and was pretty exhausted when we were finally on the top. No idea how many kilometres and about the difference in altitude but this trek is certainly no walk in the park.

 

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Oh wait this sign tells:

 

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But even though my legs were shaking and I had sweated out every last gallon of sweat the human body can possibly hold it had been so worth it - when we were finally getting to the creek which will thunder down to the plateau we were treated to one of the most beautiful viewpoints we have ever enjoyed.

 

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A mobile pic - this pano setting is pretty useful:

 

IMG_20200210_143012.jpg.083946338fbd21d0034d9a65c18a0fbc.jpg

 

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The Wagtail also seemed to like a good view.

 

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Watching out to the vast sugar cane plains of the Kilombero Valley.

 

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The girl with us was a ranger apprentice.

 

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The viewpoint is at the top of the falls - this picture was taken on the way down obviously. Much better pics of the falls can be taken in the morning when they are in the sun.

 

Invigorated by the beauty of this place we decided to also go to the falls higher up. They are not as impressive but do form some nice pools - it´s actually possible to swim there.

 

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Our ranger also seemed to be pretty energized:

 

 

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1983619990_0066_1273_SanjeCircuit.jpg.199151282f1cd0cdfd4c3f21e210894f.jpg

 

After a relaxed lunch we slowly started our descend. We tried very hard to find the Udzungwa endemic Rufous-Winged Sunbird and succeeded -but again the place where they were feeding was just too dark to get any pictures. There were more Red Colobus, and I was totally thrilled when our guide alerted us to a Green Mamba some 20 metres in front of us, right next to the path. Green Mamba, this ultra-venomous and beautiful snake has fascinated me already as a child, and it felt almost unreal to see one. It was mostly concealed by a log, only the head and a bit of the body were out. When I was slowly putting up my camera it retreated - invisible! A good reminder to always watch your feet here.

 

And then we had another really cool sighting:

 

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The Sanje Mangabey, another species endemic to the Udzungwa Mountains. It was discovered in 1979 and only described in 1986. Habitat degradation and poaching are of course a problem  - they are classified as endangerd.

 

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I was very happy to see this rare animal - it was a bit of a David Attenborough moment. There´s a habituated group somewhere in the park and it´s possible to book a visit. We had considered doing that the next day. But it was so much cooler to just find them this way, a delightful surprise.

 

1976845365_0057_TR3571_Udzungwa_SanjeMangabey_(Sanje-Mangabe).JPG.0ce58ab5299455566195caa06e3b5571.JPG

 

2001629771_0059_TR3580_Udzungwa_SanjeMangabey_(Sanje-Mangabe).JPG.e3dc27c776f6aa51975a22f7596b51e1.JPG

 

@inyathi - your trip report way back was the main reason to come to the Udzungwas at all, so this post is for you, Safaritalk´s intrepid traveller Nr. One!

 

1836538845_0055_TR3555_Udzungwa_SanjeMangabey_(Sanje-Mangabe).JPG.0573b9f97b76646634dfb561686c304a.JPG

 

The Mangabey is hunted for food and for the pet trade, with traps being set in the forest and the meat being on sale in local villages. The number of mature individuals is declining and the monkey is particularly vulnerable because of its semi-terrestrial habits. In 2005, it was estimated that there might be about 1300 individuals in total.

 

There´s another endemic monkey in the Udzungwas, the Kipunji (or Highland Mangabey), only discovered in 2003(!). I´m not quite sure where exactly they are found in the park but I guess it´s safe to assume they are far from the hiking trails.

 

0060_TR 3583_Udzungwa_Sanje Mangabey_(Sanje-Mangabe).JPG

 

So Rob, I dedicated a good monkey post to you so now show your mettle and tell me which Squirrel this is - a tail should be everything you need.B)

 

0062_TR 3586_Udzungwa_Unid. Eichhörnchen.JPG

 

 

Edited by michael-ibk
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Anomalure

@michael-ibk

 

Really loved the Udzungwa report! I have to go visit someday. Your photos of the colobus and mangabeys in particular are wonderful. Keen to hear about what other mammals you saw there. I'd really love to see Checkered and Gray-faced Elephant Shrews and an Abbott's Duiker, though I imagine the latter especially is near-impossible without a multi-day camping trip deep into the park. Not that I wouldn't say no to that though...

 

I hope it's ok to steal the squirrel from Rob :D I'm going to guess Paraxerus lucifer (Tanganyika Mountain Squirrel). I'm afraid I don't have any experience with either of the 2 squirrels there (Tanganyika or Swynnerton's), but the tail on Swynnerton's seems to have a bright red tip (if the photos online are ID'd correctly).

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kilopascal

So glad this trip report is on again. I was going to leave it for Saturday coffee but my resolve lasted all of 5 min.   We spent a day at Udzungwa several years back as we drove from Arusha to Katavi. Love this place and the drive there was so much fun. 

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Treepol

Wonderful views from the top of the falls and great sightings of the Sanje Mangabey and the Angolan Colobus.

 

Really enjoying this report and looking forward to Ruaha.

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shazdwn

What a fabulous place - love all the monkeys, the martial eagle shot and the flying hornbill.  Great story telling too.  

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inyathi

@michael-ibk 

 

Thanks, I'm glad I inspired your trip, and I hope your report will inspire other visits to Udzungwa.:D

 

Fantastic, really glad you saw the mangabeys, and just on a regular hike too, the ones along the trail to the Sanje Falls must be well used to tourists by now, so if you get lucky and they happen to be close to the trail, you should get good views, you seem to have demonstrated that. Unfortunately, so far as I know the kipunjis don’t actually live in the national park, they live in the Ndundulu Forest, if you look at the map you put in, Ndundulu Forest is that patch of green extending from the western boundary of the park, why they have not been recorded in the park, when as you can see this forest is contiguous with the forest in the park, I’ve no idea, it seems to be a complete mystery. I also don’t know why the government hasn’t shifted the park boundary westwards, so that Ndundulu is inside the park, except maybe, that the president is John Magafuli and his record with regard to conservation isn’t exactly that great, at present the forest, is apparently in what’s known as the Kilombero Nature Reserve, I don’t see that it would be a big deal for local people, if it were turned over to TANAPA and made part of UMNP, which logically it should be. The population of kipunjis in the forest is very small and whether it will remain viable long term is uncertain, but I feel they should be safer if they are inside the park rather than outside. The population of Kipunjis in the Livingstone Forest in Kitulo National Park is bigger and should be more secure, whether this forest is still connected to nearby Mt Rungwe I’m not sure, how secure the monkeys on the mountain are long term, I don’t know, but I would hope that Mt Rungwe is properly protected even if it's not in a national park. Kipunjis have so far, not been found anywhere else in Tanzania, they just occur in these three locations. I've not seriously looked into trying to see them, but I think you'd have to be very lucky to see them in Ndundulu Forest, and it would be a bit of an expedition to get there, but I'm sure you can do from Udekwa on the western side of the mountains, anyone who does want to see Kipunjis would be better to visit Kitulo NP and try in the Livingstone Forest.

 

I think the blue monkeys in the Udzungwas, are technically Tanzania Skyes’s monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis monoides), but I wouldn’t criticise anyone for calling them blue monkeys, the blue/Sykes’s group is pretty complicated.

 

@Anomalure

With regard to the squirrel, having consulted the Kingdon Field Guide second edition, Mammals of Africa and Squirrels of the World, I’m inclined to say that it has to be Swynnerton’s bush squirrel (Paraxerus vexillarius) based on distribution. Confusingly the Kingdon Field Guide suggests it should be Kilimanjaro mountain squirrel (Paraxerus (lucifer) byatti) it states that it occurs in the Udzungwas. Then around the western side and top end of Lake Malawi/Nyasa, you find the red Tanganyika mountain squirrel (Paraxerus (lucifer) lucifer) and on the north eastern side of the lake, the Kipengere mountain squirrel (Paraxerus (lucifer) Laetus). I guess the taxonomy has recently changed, MOA and Squirrels of the World seem to be in agreement, they show the Kilimanjaro mountain squirrel (Paraxerus vexillarius byatti) in the northern half of the Eastern Arc Mountains and Swynnerton’s (Paraxerus v. vexillarius) in the southern half from the Udzungwas all the way down to the lake, while the red Tanganyika or black and red mountain still occurs around the northern and western end of the lake, down to the Nyika Plateau in Malawi, the books don’t suggest this species occurs in the Udzungwas, but it is on that mammals checklist, but that is for the whole of the Udzungwa Mountains, not just the park, it doesn’t say where it was recorded. So, my guess would be Swynnerton’s, but I can’t be sure, my view though is based on distribution rather than appearance, there are no sun squirrels in the Udzungwas, so there aren't I think, any other options.  

 

Having offered an opinion on squirrels, I thought I’d take a look at your butterflies, because I think I know two of them for certain, the first butterfly in post 85 I think might be a beautiful tiger (Tirumala formosa) but I’m not certain, the next one in post 86 is I think an Acraea and I would guess it’s an East African forest acraea (Acraea pharsalus), I’m confident that the next one and the final one are gold-banded foresters (Euphaedra neophron) and the one in between them is definitely a forest glade nymp (Aterica galene). The following website is very useful for birds and butterflies

 

Tanzanian Birds and Butterflies

 

Nice chameleon, that’s something I missed. `

 

I didn’t go to the top of Sanje Falls on my second visit, but I did on my first, that view is still just as stunning as when I saw it then, you were wise not swim at the upper falls, I can tell you from experience that the water is pretty cold.

 

It may be possible to get up onto the plateau and into drier area of the park, where the savanna game is, but this involves serious hiking, you obviously have to camp along the way, this means you need to hire porters to carry all of your gear and you have to have an armed TANAPA ranger, because of buffaloes, elephants, etc, I wrote about the different hiking trails in my original report on UMNP, I've just looked up what I wrote, the longest trail is one that takes you up the highest mountain Luhomero, but this starts from Udekwa over the other side of the mountains and takes 6 days. The longest trail from Ma'angula the HQ, is the Lumemo Trail which is 65 kms is pretty difficult and takes 5 days, the description of this trail I've just read elsewhere, says it takes you through Miombo woodland, grassland and forest, but from what I can see you're still on the eastern side of the mountains, as you finish up on the road to Ifakara and have to arrange for a car to pick you up. Whether you really get onto the plateau, I'm not quite sure, but I presume so, if you are at some stages walking through grassland, Hondo-Hondo can apparently arrange all of these hikes and provide equipment. The Lumemo Trail  is certainly not a trip for the casual tourist, you need to be seriously fit and an experienced hiker, of the sort who'd quite happily climb Mt. Mwanihana the second highest mountain, along the way, just because it's there, so they might as well, if I were an awful lot fitter or just a good deal younger, I think it would be a fantastic thing to do, now, while I'll very happily walk in the wilds of Africa for 5 days, I'd rather do it somewhere that's mostly flat.:D    

 

Your visit to the Udzungwas certainly brings back happy memories, I look forward to seeing Ruaha in the green, after my last Udzungwa visit, I stopped off there just for a night, before flying north, but some years back I went on a proper green season safari in Ruaha and was very impressed with what I saw, except for the water level in the river, but that’s an issue I won’t get into in your report, at least on my one night visit, the water level was a good bit higher.  

Edited by inyathi
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Caracal

Wonderful sightings of the Red Colobus and Sanje Mangabey checking you out @michael-ibk - I never got to see either unfortunately but that view from the top still stays with me after 15 years now. Just stunning and worth the climb.

I did a day trip from Mikumi where I was staying at Foxes Camp for a few days at the start of my safari. Can't speak of it now but I was pleasantly surprised with the park then which exceeded my expectations.

Now looking forward to Ruaha - a favourite.

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Nice that you actually spent some time in the Udzungwas @michael-ibk. I followed @Caracal route 14 years ago going from foxes and yeah Mikumi was very worth it though game viewing from a highway is a strange experience! 

 

You mentioned the heat and humidity which is my main memory as I don't think even Zanzibar was even close to the humidity on that hike. Literally buckets of sweat rolled down me that day with not a monkey in sight.

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michael-ibk

Thanks @Anomalure, @kilopascal, @Treepol, @shazdwn, @inyathi (especially for all the in-depth information provided!), @Caracal and @dlo.:)

 

On 5/13/2020 at 10:54 PM, Anomalure said:

Keen to hear about what other mammals you saw there.

 

I´m sorry to disappoint but that was it.  But I´m sure for a proper mammalwatcher like you there could be much more, we did not do any spotlighting. There´s a little track right by the lodge along the forest edge and I´m sure it could be very interesting at night.

 

On 5/14/2020 at 1:42 PM, inyathi said:

the ones along the trail to the Sanje Falls must be well used to tourists by now, so if you get lucky and they happen to be close to the trail, you should get good views, you seem to have demonstrated that.

 

They were not overly shy but the park ranger said it´s pretty rare for them to hang around so close to the trail and we were lucky to see them. Of course he might have just said that to make us feel good. :)

 

On 5/14/2020 at 1:42 PM, inyathi said:

but I wouldn’t criticise anyone for calling them blue monkeys, the blue/Sykes’s group is pretty complicated.

 

Phew, off the hook. ;)

 

On 5/14/2020 at 1:42 PM, inyathi said:

It may be possible to get up onto the plateau and into drier area of the park, where the savanna game is, but this involves serious hiking, you obviously have to camp along the way,

 

Apparently there is one hike which seems to get you to more open areas than can be done without camping:

 

Hidden Valleys Trail (Campsite 3 trail)14km, 6-8h, height gain 1000mThis trail follows a big loop around the large peak rising behind Hondo Hondo Camp. It starts fromCampsite 3, just after the turning for the park HQ and arrives back on the decent trail fromNjokamoni Waterfall, right back into Hondo Hondo. It is a long and steep walk that climbs to over1300m above sea level so you should plan to leave early. You discover that what you thought wasa ridge looking up from the camp is actually just a step into the hidden valleys, where the streamsbecome meandering and almost level, with open grassy areas favoured by elephants - it isnecessary to take a ranger on this hike as there are several large mammals deep in the forest. Thetrail goes behind the peak above Hondo Hondo and the forest up there is full of large trees. You willhopefully see plenty of wildlife on this trail.

 

Would certainly have been interesting but the Sanje trails was quite sufficient for me in the heat, thank youB)

 

Sorry, not moving on to Ruaha yet, still some birding to cover from our second day!


 

 

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TonyQ

An amazing hike, but if you found it tough, I know I would never attempt it:D

 

Everything is so green, really beautiful. You had an excellent selection of primates . Fascinating.

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Hads

Thanks @michael-ibk for an amazing report, apologies I am just catching up on it (not sure how I missed it :( ).

Your bird photography is out of this world.

What an adventure in Selous in regards to the 4wd skills of your guide.

Did you find out if the young Giraffe got eaten by anything? Very odd.

Have I missed the story behind the 2 snakes on the first page (the mamba and puff adder)?

Great to also see a stunning Woodland Kingfisher :) .

Cant wait for the Ruaha section.

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michael-ibk
On 5/18/2020 at 1:18 PM, Hads said:

Did you find out if the young Giraffe got eaten by anything? Very odd.

 

No idea - I like to think it refused to give in and made it, happily browsing on some leaves right now.

 

On 5/18/2020 at 1:18 PM, Hads said:

Have I missed the story behind the 2 snakes on the first page (the mamba and puff adder)?

 

No - coming up in the Ruaha section. One of the most intense sightings I´ve ever had. Cobra by the way.

 

And thanks, @TonyQ and @Hads!

 

 

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michael-ibk

1730119735_0088_1289_KilomberoValley.jpg.d233ee584cd4cdde33d9aa9d15987ad6.jpg

 

Our second full day in Udzungwa was very relaxed - we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and then walked around the fields of the lodge´s rural vicinity. We were lucky that head waiter Manuel was also an excellent birder who managed to show us a lot of good stuff. A delicious lunch inbetween, a couple of beers in the afternoon, more birding, then a nice dinner with wine and G&T - good times. B)

 

1113064011_3649_Udzungwa_Black-WingedRedBishop_(Flammenweber).JPG.1f7762a8894fc968f6a02564d711d3b3.JPG

 

Black-Winged Red Bishop

 

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And its cousin, the Zanzibar Red Bishop. The fields were full of them, fluttering red spots everyhwere.

 

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1901442606_3653_Udzungwa_Tawny-FlankedPrinia_(Rahmbrustprinie)-3.jpg.8fa7b360c197ef61d35796b9a2a1772c.jpg

 

Tawny-Flanked Prinia. The forest had been incredibly tough to see anything at all. Out here I had a field day - I think we recorded more than 80 species. (Don´t panic, I won´t post them all. ;))

 

0090_1290_Schmetterling.jpg.6ecb87403d18e0b433886c1c35efeaed.jpg

 

3680_Udzungwa_Unid. Schmetterling.jpg

 

See? I can do Butterflies just as well.

 

1672023225_3749_Udzungwa_Black-and-WhiteMannikin_(Glanzelsterchen).JPG.9179d6e657a6adc5eecc72aa327bf169.JPG

 

Bronze Mannikin is one of the most common birds in Africa but this was the first time I´ve seen its cousins - a Black-and-White Mannikin here.

 

140210726_3759_Udzungwa_MagpieMannikin_(Riesenelsterchen).JPG.ca9cc6c7acf0e0f008058fe418fedd93.JPG

 

And Magpie Mannikin, a pretty rare bird - a special treat.

 

1705186155_3766_Udzungwa_StripedKingfisher_(Streifenliest)-3.jpg.959b644a43fd49f38b6d3f02470829a6.jpg

 

More familiar - Striped Kingfisher

 

0087_3807_Udzungwa.jpg.81365db87516cf0aa67bf048fde6ae82.jpg

 

Black-Headed Heron. The locals are not fond of them, so they are pretty wary.

 

1161761598_3775_Udzungwa_Pin-TailedWhydah_(Dominikanerwitwe).jpg.6f680b2d333a6be6bb02ba2c6ef0c061.jpg

 

Pin-Tailed Whydah

 

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This is not a tourist area, and we were certainly an unusual sight in the village.

 

1011509010_0095_1307_Mangula.jpg.5dcfaea6a9a12a9ea24188a98460dabb.jpg

 

1309705235_0096_1309_Mangula.jpg.47f324625ec35baa3a72aa857ec26e90.jpg

 

Some of the locals were unsure what to make of us and very reserved. Others warmed to us a bit more. :)

 

599267249_0106_1321_Mangula.jpg.122cc635010f9273f67da9061bedc1b3.jpg

 

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It was a good experience, this was certainly a totally different Africa from tourist hotspots like Arusha. The village was nice, quite tidy, lush and colourful. Of course living is not so easy here as it may look. Snakes (especially Cobras) are a real issue, especially in the wet season. Elephants come down from the forest when it´s dry and wreck havoc. And medical care is extremely basic, I talked to a nurse who described the limited supplies she has to work with.

 

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It was quite a long walk out to the fields behind the village - Manuel wanted to show us some endemics.

 

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Here´s one of them, the White-Tailed Cisticola. Listed in all bird books as a good species but still not recognised as one formally. The local farmers were asking why the hell we would walk all the way out here. They could not believe it was a) for a bird and b) for this bird - they see it every day after all. :)

 

0116_3900_Udzungwa.jpg.3196e72f4245d2459ec5788187b3f14d.jpg

 

And the second one, the Kilombero Cisticola. Yes, I´m a bit sorry myself that the endemics of the area decided to be Little Brown Jobs and not Turacos or Kingfishers.

 

1346516793_3665_Udzungwa_KilomberoWeaver_(Kilomberoweber)-3.jpg.11f570b94ad2bea39a2e3ab4aa69cab3.jpg

 

The third one, the Kilombero Weaver. All are confined to a small part of the valley and found nowhere else.

 

499339916_0101_1316_KilomberoValley.jpg.73b9ce01550dd2e55ed8a8acf646bbb4.jpg

 

1956449423_3833_Udzungwa_LizardBuzzard_(Sperberbussard)-3.jpg.37f990ceb361436d0bb936a9608541ab.jpg

 

Lizard Buzzard, perching in the middle of the village.

 

626611078_3978_Udzungwa_LesserSeedcracker(Kleinastrild).jpg.16a98ade1bb1eb5481e0e5ebc0b2340e.jpg

 

A bird we had to work for. Lesser Seedcracker, a rare species and a lifer for me. It was nesting in the backyard of an old lady. Of course we asked permission to enter which was no problem at all.

 

656489968_3987_Udzungwa_LesserSeedcracker(Kleinastrild).jpg.0bbf731d49c35ddc751760266badca8f.jpg

 

We also tried hard for Peter´s Twinspot - anybody who has ever seen a Twinspot will surely understand why. Glimpsed it but could not get a photo unfortunately.

 

860111008_4011_Udzungwa_LesserSeedcracker(Kleinastrild).jpg.b08c771e54f73864c1f953a0b9daec74.jpg

 

0103_3842_Udzungwa.jpg.a68a5897e0f414e2d9d79e4185b7b684.jpg

 

0077_1285_Udzungwa Mountains.jpg

 

And that concludes the Udzungwa section. We really enjoyed our stay here - a very nice "off the track" destination. It enriched our itinerary by showing us a totally different habitat, and the lodge was really good - much better than expected. So I totally recommend this place, it´s really easy to work into any Southern Tanzania trip and certainly worth it if you do like primates, birds and hiking.

 

Up next - Ruaha! Hooray, finally? Don´t get your hopes up - given my pace with this report so far don´t expect any new additions before mid-June or so. :P

 

Edited by michael-ibk
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Hads
4 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

 

No idea - I like to think it refused to give in and made it, happily browsing on some leaves right now.

 

 

No - coming up in the Ruaha section. One of the most intense sightings I´ve ever had. Cobra by the way.

 

And thanks, @TonyQ and @Hads!

 

 

Okay thanks Michael - Cobra, I was abit unsure due to how black the snake is - Ruaha bring it on.

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