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


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Incredible sighting, what a fight, would love to see that!!

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What an outstanding trip report. The bird photographs are simply superb. But what takes the cake is the battle between puff adder and the cobra. In India we have their counterparts in Russell's viper and spectacled cobra respectively. 

Cobras are known to actively hunt vipers and eat them! The most weird thing is that I was discussing this with a friend who is a snake expert just an hour back! 

Thoroughly enjoyed the report. 

Looks like there will not be an Africa trip for me in 2020. But I am encouraged to plan it in early 2021 in green season after reading this! 

Thank you for sharing. 



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On 9/19/2020 at 9:49 PM, janzin said:

I love snakes...used to have a pet python.)


Please don´t bring any snakes to Chile! :ph34r:


On 9/19/2020 at 9:56 PM, ice said:

I was once lucky enough to the see the end (KTP 2013, albeit with a cape cobra)


Great video! It seems the Puff Adder is still moving? What a gruesome death. And yes, it´s very true what you say about shape - never really thought of that.

On 9/19/2020 at 10:29 PM, inyathi said:

but otherwise I would say it is fantastic to see the Great Ruaha with that much water in it,


I agree - it was impressive to see such a powerful river. Very interesting to see the difference.

On 9/19/2020 at 10:34 PM, ice said:

but I am pretty sure that these are indeed chance encounters


Agree - our guide/driver Ayoubu has worked in the bush for more than 20 years, and had never seen anything like that. I guess most of these battles would not happen on roads and would therefore be more or less invisible?

On 9/20/2020 at 6:17 AM, campsafari2015 said:

I wonder how long it'd been going on for before you arrived and how much venom it had in it. 


Wondered about that too - very likely it had been bitten at least once. I guess otherwise it would have tried to get away.


And thanks everybody - it was one of the most intense sightings we ever had, felt like being in the middle of one of the Attenborough BBCs.

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1 minute ago, michael-ibk said:

Great video! It seems the Puff Adder is still moving? What a gruesome death. And yes, it´s very true what you say about shape - never really thought of that.


yes, it was still moving, that's my impression, too

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@michael-ibk, well goodness knows how,  but I have totally missed this fantastic report. Just finished the Selous part, quite the adventure, good job you're seasoned African travellers. I would have been really worried flying in and seeing what lay below and how the heck you were ever going to negotiate all that water and mud. Beautiful photos and deserving of the high praise. Gulp..Green Mamba, I saw one from a Jeep once and that scared me enough.

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I just couldn't watch the videos as i'm allergic to snakes. I too wondered why the adder didn't slither away and was not moving much when you arrived. but u did say the cobra went into the grass when your truck came on the scene. so it sounded like the cobra already had its fangs in the adder well before you arrived. I don't like snakes, but felt sorry for the adder too. 


BTW - love that shot of the common sandpiper at the edge of the rock with the water splashing around it. 


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Thanks, @elefromozand @Kitsafari!:)


Not much left to tell on our time in Ruaha, we´ve already come to the last morning. After a late breakfast (0700, that´s almost noon by safari standards!) we were taken to the airport. Nothing too exciting showing up there, and the place where the two snakes had battled was empty.




This very chilled Giraffe close to camp did not mind us at all.






Fork-Tailed Drongo. Not the most pleasing poser but at least close enough the get the red eye.




White-Browed Coucal




Namaqua Dove couple




One last Dik-Dik. Really love them, they should be around everywhere!




Purple Roller




A lifer for me - Buff-Crested Korhaan




Last Elephants






And a Black-Chested Snake-Eagle showing up to say Good Bye - we had reached the airport.




Good Bye Ruaha, what an awesome park, we´ll be back for sure.




Edited by michael-ibk
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19 minutes ago, michael-ibk said:

Good Bye Ruaha, what an awesome park, we´ll be back for sure.


I fully agree with you @michael-ibkand thanks for your great TR and inspiring photography.

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Thanks @Biko- TR not completely over yet, a little coda about Mafia Island still coming up. 

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Until now to be honest my favorite park for the scenery of course but even more for the abundance and diversity of wildlife especially in the northeastern corner around Mwagusi Camp ; thanks again for sharing !


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Great stuff @michael-ibkyou had some outstanding sightings on the safari legs of your trip.


Thanks very much for sharing with us.


Cant believe its been nearly 3 years since I was in Selous and Ruaha, am longing to go back again!


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  • 4 months later...

Bad Michael, no biscuit. I promised a final chapter for this report months ago but never delivered. It´s a cold and grey Sunday today - a good day to return to Tanzania once more.




After our safari time in the Selous, Ruaha and the Udzungwa Mountains we spent three nighs on the Coast. We both love the Sea, and of course I also was hoping for different birds here. Zanzibar is the obvious choice for a Tanzanian safari add-on but we´ve been there and wanted to do something different. And so Mafia Island it was - the cool name alone was a good incentive to go here!




I probably was too lazy to post this section because this is where we ran out of ouf Green Season luck weather-wise. We had a lot of rain, and of course that impacted on our stay as well. A huge draw on Mafia is Whale Shark diving, and I certainly would have tried that - but the strain this extrem rainy season had brought on the environment also meant that this did not really work. Apparently there was too much turmoil in the water, and only one or two out of ten Whale Shark dives were somewhat successfull - meaning that they actually were around. But given the murky water visibility was not great so I ultimately decided against it. A sensible choice - none of the Whale Shark trips succeeded while we were there.




We did not stay on the main island but on Chole - a miniscule speck of land just East to the most South-Eastern end of the island. The look of the somewhat quirky nature of the lodge there, Chole Mjini Tree Lodge, had appealed to us.




Not tents, chalets or bungalows here - one stays in actual open treehouses!




They are very, very cool in fact. Normally I´d rate them as just wonderful. But like I said - it rained a lot and that´s when completely open accoms like these are slightly less wonderful. We had to carefully store our belongings in strategically well chosen spots because the heavy curtains were not completely effectie - most of our room was often wet, and the beds would just about stay dry - mostly dry. Of course not the fault of the lodge, and if the weather is fine the treehouses would be awesome. Slightly less so under these circumstances although we still enjoyed them.






The toilet and shower were down on the ground, and one had to take care stumbling down and up there half-asleep in the night.




Otherwise the place was ok. Breakfasts were fantastic, and the other meals pretty good. The atmosphere was a bit lacking though. The owners/managers were almost never around. There were two other guest couples. One preferred absolutle privacy, and the other was a bit weird, with very strong views on everything (including politics), so some converstations were a bit uncomfortable. We started to avoid them quickly. :)





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The absolute best thing about Mafia was the snorkeling - unfortunately this is the part I don´t have photos from, have never done underwater stuff. But this was unbelievably cool, especially our first outing. I´m not overly enthusiastic about fish and stuff, and I´ve done snorkeling before and, yeah, it was kinda nice. But just that. But here it was mindblowing. It was like swimming in an aquarium, with the whole cast of "Find Nemo" and much more! all around us. Orange, Green, Violet, Yellow, Blue, Hyacinth, a never-ending cascade of swimming rainbows was swirling circles around us. No matter where we were looking, left or right or down or up - thousands of the most colourful creatures imaginable were going about their maritime life, totally relaxed! So often I felt I could just reach out and touch one. It was almost surrealy beautiful. We were very lucky because we also had a bit of sun during this outing which added to absolute magical atmosphere.


And I am actually not sorry I did not have a camera. It was liberating in a way not to worry about pictures but just to soak it all in. I´ve probably gone way beyond the point where I can still do this on land, especially with birds. And sometimes I do feel I´m too much behind the viewfinder. Not here, no pressure at all if I could get this fantastic green little fish with these weird spikes or the majestic star-shaped one looking like the leader in the aquarium from the Disney movie. Oh, or the dangerous looking moray our guide showed us. Or the stingray hidden on the ground.


Seriuosly, I´d rate this  among my Top 10 wildlife experiences ever, and that alone would have made Mafia totally worthwhile. The magic was not really there for our second outing. Then the tide was already a bit higher, the water a bit murkier, the fish just a bit farther away and a little less colourful. Still cool but not the same. But the first snorkeling - Wow, I will never, never forget that!




The magical reef.  There were a few others there but certainly not an issue. The weirdest thing was that somebody shouted "Michael?" to me as I was getting air. Our Dutch friends we had shared camp with at Ruaha and the Selous were also there - what are the odds? I was very impressed that they recognized me with my diving goggles on. B)




The rock was full of Egrets.




Another really nice excursion (the lodge provides) was a sandbank cruise. Chole itself does not really have sandy beaches, it´s all mangroves. But they do offer one Dhole trip to a sandbank and that is really nice.




The sandbank is only there during low tide - a good chance for me to get some waders.




A Crab Plover, probably the Nr. 1 bird I had really wanted to get here.






Greater Sand-Plover, another lifer for me.




Greater Crested Tern




Curlew Sandpiper






As you can see it really was not a sunny afternoon - but the atmosphere was pretty cool.






Our boatman caught some fish for us.






Simply served with a bit of lime - it was absolutely delicious!




We had to abort prematurely because the rains caught up with this. Quite a spectacle, the trip back was a bit rough, and I´ve never before been so wet.  But good fun, we really enjoyed it.




We also managed a sunset cruise - and we were lucky, stayed dry this time and for a few minutes the sun valiantly fought through even!










Edited by michael-ibk
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So you can see we were quite busy - always something to do here. And during "downtime" I was of course always after birds on Chole.




African Paradise Flycatcher




Our European Spotted Flycatcher - very common there.




Mangrove Kingfisher - another species I was really delighted to get, one of my "missing" African KFs.






Amethyst Sunbird








Black-Bellied Starling - another new one for me.




Collared Sunbird






While the island is very beautiful I was not always completely comfortable exploring it.  Chole is densely populated, and the few tracks often lead right through someone´s yard. I was told it is ok and people don´t mind but it still felt a bit wrong to me just intruding like that.












No privacy problems on the beach - tricky to walk there but quite productive during low tide.














Crab Plover - I was delighted to see them here as well.




Good old Common Sandpiper




African Goshawk - right in the garden, less than 30 metres from our tree house.






Dimorphic Egret - another Coastal specialty. Quite an attractive bird in breeding plumage especially.






Another delightful surprise was waiting for us right by the school - Chole hosts a good colony of Flying Foxes.










Immensely cool creatures!



And that´s already it - our holiday time ended all too soon. True to Chole style our transfer to the airport was very wet again - it was raining cats and dogs. I decided to do the final boat trip just in bathing gear and get dressed in the car - otherwise I would have been soaking during the flight. :)



Edited by michael-ibk
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Phew, finally properly finished. :)


A really good trip, would go back to Southern Tanzania in a heartbeat - great parks indeed, very much lived up to their reputation. Sorry for the huge delays in this report!


And one final remark on the mystery of the thing they call the internet. You might remember the very uniqe snake fight in Ruaha, Cobra vs. Puff Adder?




Unlike many of our contributors here I know nothing about videoing. Once in a while I click "Record" on the camera, just for the sake to include motion snippets in my reports. For whatever reason this short clip exploded all of sudden, and how has more than 1,3 Million views! A total mystery to me.:huh:


The comments have been quite funny, mostly telling me (rightly so) that the video sucks and is much too short ("Did you run out of film wtf?") and I know nothing about videos (totally true). Quite hilariously I´ve even been accused of faking this whole thing:

"What are the chances that a cobra and a puff adder cross paths directly in front of a person holding a camera? I'd say very unlikely... unless...the snakes were put close together cos this is staged The world has people cruel and sick enough to do that so that's what I choose to believe has happened here!"


Yeah, they got me, carefully catching Cobras and Adders to have them fight to the death!


Cruel and sick Michael over and out.:D


Edited by michael-ibk
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Thanks for this report on Chole, I will put it on the list for next year’s visit to Tanzania

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A great report Michael. The snorkelling sounded fantastic and a great way to end the trip; did you snorkel straight from the beach where you were staying, or was it an excursion?

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Thanks! No, it was an excursion by boat, a few kilometers off the island. 

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Thanks Michael.


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