Jump to content

Northern Tanzania Abundance, August 2018


Recommended Posts

katon

I know I'm missing new trip reports, so I guess I should contribute too!  Not having anything recent, I'm going back to 2018 and a lovely trip in Northern Tanzania with the peerless George Mbwambo, who I know many others here have also travelled with.

 

Before we even got to Africa, we had an adventure that makes me both cringe and laugh. 

Coming from the Wet/west coast of Canada, it's a long, long trip to get to Africa.  In 2018 we went via Vancouver > Seattle > London > Nairobi > Arusha, stopping overnight in London as we went.  We had a hotel near the airport, and arrived after some 20 hours of travelling, checked in, and went to sleep almost immediately.  It was probably only about 5 pm but for our bodies, it was somewhere in the middle of the night the next morning.  We fell asleep and at some point I woke up and it was light outside and I looked at my watch and it was 8:00.  Only problem was that our flight was for 10.25!  How could the alarm not have gone off?  Ah well - think about that later.  We jumped up and rushed to the airport, checking out very quickly along the way and saying we were late for our flight.  We got to the airport and went to the check-in counter - only to be told 'your flight isn't until tomorrow'.  Baffled and still half asleep, I looked at the ticket, and the time, and the very nice airline check-in guy - and eventually figured out that by then it was about 8:45 PM of the same night; not the next morning at all!  I was so embarrassed, but we went back to the hotel and happily they hadn't touched our room yet and were happy for us to check in again and go back to sleep (giving the staff there a good laugh along the way)...  

I'm not sure what the moral of the story is, but I now know to check whether it's morning or evening even if I think I've slept through my alarm and am about to miss a flight...

 

When we got to Arusha, we were very happy to see George waiting for us with his big smile and warm hugs, and the next morning we set out directly for Tarangire.  We stayed three nights at Lake Burunge  as I am very fond of Tarangire, and happily explored the park.  Our first day was a lovely drive from Arusha to Tarangire, and then within the park.

 

lion's paw pod

 

Leaving Arusha we were fascinated by some of the plants and plantations; coffee plantations, banana trees, flame flower trees, peanut butter flower bushes (apparently they smell like peanut butter!), lion's paw pods, and all the people and vehicles and life going on around us.  

 

 

 

 

As we drove towards Tarangire, gradually the land became drier and drier; with more and more Maasai along the way.  Plus cattle, goats and working donkeys.  

 

cows on the road to Tarangire

 

We saw a number of groups of teenage boys (George says about 11-17) who had recently done a circumcision ritual and were standing by the side of the road with their faces painted in black and white designs.  Apparently you can stop and take their picture in exchange for money, although I'm not sure that's the only reason they are gathering along the road.  We started a hunt for ginger ale as my travelling companion doesn't drink alcohol but does love ginger ale.  It seemed like each little place George stopped, there was one can or bottle available, so he slowly stocked up and we saw lots of little huts selling soft drinks. 

 

We happily greeted birds we recognized from our previous trip as well as a few newcomers:  grey herons, a black headed heron landing, white storks, ground hornbills (with their extremely long eye lashes). a fan tailed widow bird, a Fisher's sparrow hawk, vultures, and more.  This was all before we even got to Tarangire!  When we arrived we still had most of the day to explore and were mostly so excited to be back.

Here is a (very partial) bird collection: a white crowned shrike, a crested crane, helmeted guinea fowl, a lovebird landing, Southern ground hornbill, an Egyptian Goose, and a Red-billed hornbill..  

 

birds in Tarangire

 

The theme for the day seemed to be 'it would have been enough if...' and then more glories to see.  There were birds of all sorts, banded mongoose in a pile on the rocks, a cornucopia of horned animals (waterbuck, impala - of course!, eland, wildebeest - even an albino waterbuck, although my photo isn't great so I didn't show it). zebras, monkeys and baboons, lots of ellies (my personal favorite), giraffes play fighting, the perennial LBRs everywhere, and even a vulture in a baobab tree. 

 

banded mongooses in a pile

banded mongooses (sidenote:  or mongeese?  apparently both are acceptable...)

 

and lovely horned animals:  waterbuck, eland, the always beautiful if plentiful impala, and Eastern wildebeest locking horns

waterbuck, eland, impala and wildebeest

 

wildebeest with oxpicker

 

Zebras (one baby), a baby baboon contemplating, and a plethora of Elephants (probably why Tarangire is one of my all time favourite parks!)

Zebra and baby

 

contemplative baboon baby

 

elephants and water and more elephants

 

Giraffes playing / practicing

giraffes play fighting

 

the perennial Lilac breasted rollers - but so beautiful I just can't resist them!

lilac breasted rollers galore

 

and because we're (now) just past Christmas:  the vulture in a baobab tree; the baobab says Tarangire and the vulture is standing in for a partridge...

a vulture in a baobab tree

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Caracal

Well @katonI reckon you'll get good mileage recounting that jet lag/ time confusion story around many a safari camp fire in the future!

I can tell I'm going to enjoy following your TR.

Great start to the actual safari after your arrival in Arusha and I like the way your grouping some of your excellent photos.

Link to post
Share on other sites
katon

Haha - @caracal, you're right about a story to tell around the camp fire - I hadn't even thought of that.  Thanks for the encouragement :)

 

On to day 2 - still enjoying Tarangire...  We stayed at Lake Burunge (one of the TWC camps), which is called a tented camp but in a cabin, rather than a tent.  It's just outside the park, which isn't always idea but the scenary between the two was interesting and we saw dikdiks in both the morning and evening on our way to and from the camp..  The staff were absolutely lovely, and nice views over the lake from the main dining/hangout area.  To be honest we didn't see much of it as we were out around 6 am (naturally!), but I really enjoyed the singing and celebrations in the evenings.  The staff seemed to find some guest(s) or occasion to celebrate each night we were there - I think this may be a feature of the TWC camps in general as we saw it at another TWC camp we stayed at later...  Either way, highly enjoyable.

 

But on to the important thing - moar Tarangire and elephants.  Here are a few views of the park itself:

Tarangire vistas

 

The day seemed to be endless in the best possible way; we drove around the North for a good part of the morning, and then headed down towards the Silale swamp.  The road to the swamp was absolutely terrible but the end result was definitely worth it...

 

In the Northern area we saw our first lioness of this trip

Lion

 

and giraffes happily eating until they saw a lioness coming towards them and took off with their long loping stride.  I always enjoy watching them move, and turned on video to try to capture some of the excitement.  After a while the lioness gave up, and the giraffes settled down again, but the little one kept looking around for a long time!

baby giraffe

 

There was a baboon up in a tree all by himself,  apparently calling for his lost friends. When no one replied after a long while, he climbed down and started working away at a sausage tree fruit lying on the ground (food being presumably at least a semi acceptable substitute for companionship!).  The fruit was almost half the size he was but he turned it over and over, biting into the end and trying to pull it apart.  Slow going for sure but he kept at it until we headed off. 

 

Eating is serious business in Tarangire!  No matter how big or small you may be.

a collection of animals eating

 

Next up were ostriches flirting - quite a sight and we sat for a long time watching them, and slowly following them while they remained near paths we could take.  At first the male pretended to ignore the female, who did her darndest to get him interested.  At one point he got into it, but eventually lost interest again - and then another female crossed his path and he headed off after her while the original one puffed up and danced some more to try and bring him back but originally gave up and wandered off in a dejected fashion.

ostriches flirting

 

We saw elephants and moar elephants during the day (such bliss!)...

elephants galore

 

And birds and more birds - I have a three page list of all the birds we saw.  Here are a few:  a Little Bee-eater, a Secretary bird (who was hunting for plover nests in the grass and kept getting dive bombed from above), a Francolin chick, a Saddle-billed stork with chick in the nest, a pouting Red-and-yellow Barbet, a pale Black-crowned Night Heron, a White-browed Coucal and a Verreaux's Eagle-Owl glaring down at us.

birds galore

 

Still driving around in the Northern part of the park, we stopped to admire the trail of a puff adder snake in the dirt, and watched little elephants playing in the sand of the riverbed; up and down and around, falling all over each other and generally having a blast!  Some were digging into the sand, and apparently they go down until they find water, which they then drink. 

 

We drank up the visual spectacle.

baby elephant

 

elephants playing by riverbank

 

baby elephant playing in the sand

 

later on a little guy all by himself looking terribly lonely...

little monkey looking lonely

 

We saw Zebras whispering secrets to each other...

zebras whispering secrets to each other

 

zebras

 

In the afternoon we hung around the swamp, listening to the loud sounds of hippos crunching away at the grasses, watching elephants swing swamp grass around over their heads, and admiring the many, many species of birds enjoying the water, including a tree full of Hadada Ibis.

more birds

 

I also learned that Baobab fruit tastes like lemons! A very important thing to know...

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
katon

Day 3 was still in Tarangire; filled with sounds of Africa.  During the early morning (late night) we heard jackals yipping in the dark.  Then as nightjar singing as we gathered lunch boxes in the day.  And animals chewing (Hippos chew the loudest, then Zebras; giraffes chew very quietly, I discovered).  And the staff at the lodge singing in the evening - so deep and rich.  When I look back through my pictures, the vast majority of them seem to be babies of different sorts; a baby elephant playing in the sand; toppling over and (I swear!) giggling to himself as he falls,

 

baby elephant playing in the sand

 

a little giraffe with a bad hair day (is it hair when it's on the horns?),

baby giraffe with bad hair day

 

a curious baby baboon exploring his world,

baboon exploring

 

baby baboon

 

and a little monkey holding on to a tree for dear life.

monkey clinging sideways on tree

 

It's fun going back through pictures and trip notes after so long.  Taking forgotten memories out of the box and turning them around and enjoying them as if they were brand new.  On this day, some of my favorites memories are a stop at the watering hole where we got to watch a giraffe drinking (very carefully!) - I didn't realize they could look awkward or embarrassed, but this one sure did -, 

giraffe drinking

 

a stint watching baboons and impalas on a plain.  There was a tree in the middle and the baboons were shaking the tree (gathering fruit) while the impalas stood beneath and ate up the fruit that dropped.  The ultimate symbiotic relationship!  Meanwhile, in between feedings, various impalas locked horns and everyone seemed to be just enjoying the day.  It was hot and we sat watching and chatting a little, and I snapped pictures and there were some tsetse flies but not many and the air was heavy but pleasant and it would have been a lovely place to nap.  But so much more to see and do, still.  The day isn't over until night falls, and sometimes not even then.

baboon eating

 

impalas locking horns

 

After a happy interlude with the impalas and baboons, we eventually moved on and continued exploring the park, moving down towards the river.

scenes from Tarangire

 

and surprisingly, we found more elephants!  Sorry, but they are so cute that I absolutely can't resist...

elephants

 

and a few more giraffes; this one was listening to secrets...

giraffe listening to a red-billed oxpecker

 

giraffe's eye

 

and scattered throughout the day, more birds.  Here are a Brown-hooded Kingfisher, a Hamerkop, a Von der Decken's Hornbill, a Martial Eagle, a Superb Starling, a Yellow-necked Spurfowl, and a mysterious flying bird that I noted down as a vulture, but I don't think it is, on looking again.  If anyone knows who this is, I would love to know!

birds of Tanzania

 

This was our last day in Tarangire, and as rich as each of the other days here.

Link to post
Share on other sites
AfricIan

I'd go for a Bateleur Eagle for your mysterious flyer @katon - unless those far more accomplished than me have other ideas!

 

Thoroughly enjoying the trip down memory lane with you

Link to post
Share on other sites
katon
1 hour ago, AfricIan said:

I'd go for a Bateleur Eagle for your mysterious flyer @katon - unless those far more accomplished than me have other ideas!

 

Thoroughly enjoying the trip down memory lane with you

That does indeed look correct; thanks so much B).  I'm glad to have company down memory lane - it's much more fun travelling with others.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Biko
3 hours ago, katon said:

It's fun going back through pictures and trip notes after so long

@katonindeed, and fun for your readers too.

Link to post
Share on other sites
katon

Day 4; through Lake Manyara Park

 

The theme for today was magic tracks as we saw the landscape change driving from Burunge through Manyara and (eventually in the evening) up into the Karatu area.  We drove past kopjes, through rivers filled with water and sand rivers (each exciting in their own way); visited with a lion and his kill, watched a Southern Ground Hornbill teach Junior how to eat meat (with the aforementioned lion's kill!); were charmed by the black heron dance as they fished in the hippo pools, admired a malachite kingfisher showing off; wandered at the Matimoto boardwalk (nice to get out of the car), and saw all sorts of fascinating plants and trees, including Papyrus (first time ever), intricate fig tree trunks, tamarind tree bark (beautiful!), mango trees, lily pad flowers, purple bougainvillea, wild palms and doom palms (seriously - what a name - apparently their fruit tastes like gingerbread, although we didn't get to try that out).  We also heard George using his 'teacher voice' when some little kids made rude gestures, and we saw lots of elephant dung but not a single elephant all day!  So for anyone getting tired of elephant pics, this day will be a relief.  Also enjoyed a Baboon troop, warthogs and hearing the lovely song of a Southern black Flycatcher...  It's always hard to believe how much happens in a single day, so thank goodness for pictures and little scratches in a notebook written while driving and hard to decipher - but bringing back so many memories!

 

The landscape changes were impressive as we drove...

Scenic byways Lake Manyara

 

Lily pads and papyrus and Bee-eaters surrounded by flies...

Aug6-BeeEatersAndLilies.jpg.288edb525636b2f12bea0caf9534ffac.jpg

 

Note that this little guy was not one of the ones making rude gestures and inspiring George's 'teacher voice' :)  He was hanging out beside the sand river we drove through and was fascinated by the bottle of water, passed out the window by George.

boy with bottle of water in the sand

 

The Southern Ground Hornbill teaching Junior to eat meat (from the lion's kill, with the lion sitting nearby watching but, I think, too full to move any closer).  It was quite a process as first the parent was eating, then Junior came over to see, and then was fed a little piece by the parent, and eventually started happily tearing away himself.  Probably about 45 minutes from start to finish.

Southern ground Hornbill teaching Junior to eat meat

 

And the black heron dance - I've never seen anything like it.  Because it was on the hippo pool circuit, we couldn't sit there forever (other cars wanted to make the rounds), but I could have sat and watched these guys forever as they ducked and bobbed and fanned their wings out like some kind of strange monster.  I wasn't a Sesame street fan as a kid, but they somehow reminded me of the Count as they furled and unfurled their wings.  I got a bit of video which is sadly jerky, but it still today makes me happy to sit and watch them coming around and up and down and then advancing and retreating as they stalk fish under the water.  Total delight.

black heron dance

 

A few of the many animals we saw during the day.  The wildebeest here are a completely different colour (brown rather than grey).  A hyrex hiding in the rocks, and a Dikdik not hiding at all.  A baboon mother cradling her baby, and a water buffalo calf being inquisitive.

Lion, baboons, Dikdik, hyrax, water buffalo and wildebeest

 

No elephants at all today but still lots of birds (and far more than we captured pictures of!). 

Here are:  a Squacco heron, an Egret, a Malachite Kingfisher, another mystery bird (a goshawk, maybe?), a Jacana stepping, a Pied kingfisher, more Little Bee-eaters (I try not to repeat birds, but like the LBRs, the little bee-eaters are just so beautiful I can't always resist!, and a Yellow-fronted Canary.

birds around Lake Manyara

Link to post
Share on other sites
katon
37 minutes ago, Biko said:

@katonindeed, and fun for your readers too.

Oh good!  I've gotten so much enjoyment from other people's trip reports that I'm glad if I can now provide some fun in return :)  Thanks!

Link to post
Share on other sites
katon

Day 5; Ngorongoro Conservation Area and into the Serengeti

 

Theme for the day: 

All creatures great and small - and a leopard!  While I enjoyed watching the leopard (a lot!) I have been amazed since at how many people have said to me that the Leopard is one animal they never saw and still want to.  Which I hadn't realized; having been blessed with leopard sightings in a number of places - but I do now value them all the more.

 

The day began with a little entertainment as we met up with a water truck on the road and bought cases of water from them - rather than going to their store, we simply arranged to meet them as we travelled towards Ngorongoro and they were heading out on deliveries, so we met up en route.  Very cool.  Then where we had stopped, we saw this sign that I am still trying to get my head around:

parking sign for blind people

I have to say that Tanzania is great for their signage for people with physical disabilities (at least in some places), but this one definitely got me wondering what blind people are doing trying to park in the first place...

 

We had been in the Ngorongoro Crater on our last trip, so this time we simply drove around the rim, admiring the view down, and then proceeded on though the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.  It's amazing how dry that area is, and how apparently empty and yet - there are people walking through it absolutely everywhere!  No truly empty spaces here.  

Ngorongoro Conservation area views

 

We enjoyed goats, donkeys and then got into the giraffe areas where they were standing sentry in the still extremely dry landscape.  We admired dust trails that showed any approaching vehicle far, far off, and even saw road works.  Apparently in progress, although I wouldn't have known that from what we saw through the dust.

dusty roadworks

 

We stopped for lunch at the Naabi Hill Gate and visited with the lizards and birds to be found there.  The Wattled starling was particularly odd looking with knobs all over his head - apparently related to him being ready to mate.  And we admired the Rufous-tailed Weavers who were working away busily.

 

As we drove towards the central area and the Kati Kati Tented Camp where we would spend the night, we seemed to see all types of creatures great and small.  Mostly they were gracious and happy to come out and be admired, but there were a few who hid as we went by.  We were very happy to see elephants again after a day of deprivation (:o), although the birds weren't nearly as colourful or plentiful here as they had been in Tarangire and Lake Manyara.

lots of different creatures as we drove

 

White-Bellied bustards in the grass - all we saw at first were the eyes.

white bellied bustards

 

And birds...  A quizzical looking Black-shouldered Kite, Marabou Storks in a tree (such ugly birds - I don't think I ever got a picture of them where they looked handsome, but this tree full of them was interesting), the aforementioned Wattled Starling, a Rufous-tailed Weaver and a Black-winged Stilt.

Birds

 

And the leopard, who had clearly been working far too hard today, and could only yawn at all the fuss.  He was definitely beautiful

leopard yawning

 

And of course, the light!  One of the huge draws of the Serengeti for me.  This first day wasn't the most exciting in terms of light, but there was a nice welcome back feeling as the sun started to sink and the light pooled and shone and highlit what we were seeing.

Light in the Serengeti

Link to post
Share on other sites
ambrose
On 1/9/2021 at 1:48 AM, katon said:

Day 3 was still in Tarangire; filled with sounds of Africa.  During the early morning (late night) we heard jackals yipping in the dark.  Then as nightjar singing as we gathered lunch boxes in the day.  And animals chewing (Hippos chew the loudest, then Zebras; giraffes chew very quietly, I discovered).  And the staff at the lodge singing in the evening - so deep and rich.  When I look back through my pictures, the vast majority of them seem to be babies of different sorts; a baby elephant playing in the sand; toppling over and (I swear!) giggling to himself as he falls,

 

baby elephant playing in the sand

 

a little giraffe with a bad hair day (is it hair when it's on the horns?),

baby giraffe with bad hair day

 

a curious baby baboon exploring his world,

baboon exploring

 

baby baboon

 

and a little monkey holding on to a tree for dear life.

monkey clinging sideways on tree

 

It's fun going back through pictures and trip notes after so long.  Taking forgotten memories out of the box and turning them around and enjoying them as if they were brand new.  On this day, some of my favorites memories are a stop at the watering hole where we got to watch a giraffe drinking (very carefully!) - I didn't realize they could look awkward or embarrassed, but this one sure did -, 

giraffe drinking

 

a stint watching baboons and impalas on a plain.  There was a tree in the middle and the baboons were shaking the tree (gathering fruit) while the impalas stood beneath and ate up the fruit that dropped.  The ultimate symbiotic relationship!  Meanwhile, in between feedings, various impalas locked horns and everyone seemed to be just enjoying the day.  It was hot and we sat watching and chatting a little, and I snapped pictures and there were some tsetse flies but not many and the air was heavy but pleasant and it would have been a lovely place to nap.  But so much more to see and do, still.  The day isn't over until night falls, and sometimes not even then.

baboon eating

 

impalas locking horns

 

After a happy interlude with the impalas and baboons, we eventually moved on and continued exploring the park, moving down towards the river.

scenes from Tarangire

 

and surprisingly, we found more elephants!  Sorry, but they are so cute that I absolutely can't resist...

elephants

 

and a few more giraffes; this one was listening to secrets...

giraffe listening to a red-billed oxpecker

 

giraffe's eye

 

and scattered throughout the day, more birds.  Here are a Brown-hooded Kingfisher, a Hamerkop, a Von der Decken's Hornbill, a Martial Eagle, a Superb Starling, a Yellow-necked Spurfowl, and a mysterious flying bird that I noted down as a vulture, but I don't think it is, on looking again.  If anyone knows who this is, I would love to know!

birds of Tanzania

 

This was our last day in Tarangire, and as rich as each of the other days here.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
ambrose
1 minute ago, ambrose said:

 

I enjoyed this very much,have been on eight safaris in four countries but would have liked to have been on this one with you it would have been interesting

Link to post
Share on other sites
katon
10 hours ago, ambrose said:

I enjoyed this very much,have been on eight safaris in four countries but would have liked to have been on this one with you it would have been interesting

Thanks @ambrose!  We were very fortunate indeed; with our great guide, the amazing wildlife, and the stunning views!  This trip was two and a half weeks, so lots more to come - including time in the North with wildebeest crossings - and lots of cats.  It's slow going back through it, but great memories - especially as I'm now planning our next trip for Feb/March 2022.  What was your favorite safari to date of the ones you've done?  Is there a trip report about it?

Link to post
Share on other sites
katon

Day 6; Seronera to Mara

 

Theme for the day:  Bounced and jostled - but cheetahs!  And Mara!  And more!

 

Another super exciting day (it's always hard to believe how much happened in one day).  We left the Kati Kati Tented camp as the sun was just starting to come up and enjoyed the sunrise and seeing the balloons floating over the Serengeti in the half light.  I made this picture a lot smaller to upload, so it really doesn't do the view justice, but just looking at it reminds me of the eerie mystical half light, and how the plains and trees and balloons (far right away from the sunrise) gradually took on definition and distance and became real as we drove away from camp.  Hopefully it brings back good memories for others too...

Serengeti sunrise

 

By 8 am, we'd already had our first (of this trip) amazing Cheetah encounter.  I can never get over how visually beautiful Cheetahs are, and can look at them - or even pictures of them - (especially in the golden Serengeti light) for hours.  So I have had to work very hard to restrain my Cheetah in gold pictures - and even then my success was limited...

Cheetah

 

more Cheetahs

 

Cheetah

 

After the cheetah were the first lionesses of the morning, in the same gorgeous light. 

early morning lion

 

We stopped at the Serengeti Visitor's Centre and enjoyed the gentle walk around, and the informative signs, and met some interesting geckos and a few more hyrax. 

 

As we drove towards the Visitor's Centre, we saw more elephants.  Because - elephants! We really enjoyed the three who stopped to tussle and faced off with one another, and then basically shook hands and moved on towards the watering hole as the best of buddies.

Elephants - because elephants!

 

And a few Topi - such odd looking beasts.  But strangely interesting.

Topi

 

For our next exciting interlude we sat and watched a pack of lions hunting gazelles.  They didn't actually catch any while we were there, but it was fascinating watching them prepare and then move in from various directions in the grass.  In the bottom two pictures you can see how very close the little ears get to the gazelles, who didn't yet appear to notice anything.  We had a long way to drive, though, as we were headed up to the Mara area, so eventually we wished the lions luck and moved on without seeing the final outcome.  Feast or famine; we'll never know.

lion pride hunting

 

Now we really needed to keep going, as it felt like long drive still to go, but that's always a challenge in the Serengeti as happy distractions abound. We got to the Ikoma Gate about 11:30, with a few very brief bird encounters here and there along the way.  Some of the birds we saw today were real characters, so here's my 'birds with personality' collection.  To be fair, I'm sure most birds have personality, but some show it far more than others.  This collection includes a Red-Necked Spurfowl preening and then looking indignant that we were watching, a couple of Buffalo Weavers who were definitely cuddling with each other, Egyptian Geese who also looked kind of cozy together on their tree branch, An African Grey Hornbill contorting himself to get a good look at us, and a beautiful Lapwing Plover strutting his stuff.

Birds with Personality

 

We left the Serengeti through the Ikoma Gate and headed up towards Mugumu on a very bumpy road.  We saw more than a few broken down vehicles along the way, including one safari vehicle, with lots of helpers gathered around it, trying to assist.  George mentioned that in order to have a safari operator permit, one must have two vehicles so that if one breaks down, the other is available to assist.  Which speaks more to the condition of the roads, I think, than any maintenance or lack thereof. Apparently each truck need a complete mechanical overhaul after each safari. 

Not far after the broken down safari vehicle, we passed a motorcycle heading back towards it, and George said they were carrying a spanner needed for repairs from Mugumo to the vehicle.  We stopped for gas in Mugumo and admired the industry of a man who was filling pop bottles with gasoline and then loading them on his bike carrier to resell in small villages where there is no gas available.  I must admit I wondered if the gas wouldn't eat through the plastic, but apparently not!

 

We were happy to re-enter the Serengeti park at the Tabora B gate and headed gradually for our camp, enjoying the different colours in this part of the park, sights of the river and the wildebeest looking like ants on the plain from a hillside.  We saw one crowd running from a lion who sat happily watching (I think he was too full to be interested in much exertion), but the dust they kicked up was impressive.  A mix overall of very vivid colours and very faded/muted ones.

Mara animals and landscapes (lizard, croc, hippo, wildebeest)

 

Happily today we had more plentiful and interesting birds again.  Here are a Lovebird (brilliant in the sun!), a Black-spotted Thick-knee, a Grey-backed Shrike in the early morning light, a Pygmy Falcon, a Lappet-faced Vulture, a couple of Yellow-throated Sand Grouse, a Chanting Goshawk, and a Striped Kingfisher.

Aug8-Birds.jpg.18feaf1214166aeaa3aedfe11b9ae0c0.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

@katon No need to restrict yourself when it comes to pictures of cheetah.

Is the Kati Kati camp a place you would recommend?

Link to post
Share on other sites
katon
2 hours ago, Biko said:

@katon No need to restrict yourself when it comes to pictures of cheetah.

Is the Kati Kati camp a place you would recommend?

haha - you may regret saying that :)

We very much enjoyed the Kati Kati camp(s).  I've stayed a couple of times at the Kati Kati Tented camps, on two different trips in the Seronera area, and this time in Mara as well.  They are very comfortable but not super luxurious (but being there is luxury on its own, I think!), and the staff have always been amazing; very friendly and happy to visit with guests and we met many who had a great sense of humour, which makes staying there fun.  Plus each time we've stayed there was some neat animal experience; the first time in Seronera, a giraffe wandered over to say hi one morning; in the Mara I was woken up one night by the sound of wildebeest chewing all around the tent, right close by.  So I would happily go back to them anytime. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
katon

Day 7; Mara 

 

Theme for the day:  Crossings and Lions

Seeing the Mara river crossings was a dream of my Dad's, so I took lots of videos and pictures to show him.  I found it a bit of an odd experience; not having realized that the wildebeest go back and forth.  Seeing them wait and dither and eventually decide it was safe to cross, and then all the effort expended to get down the bank, cross the river and then get up the other bank - and then they would turn around and do it again in the other direction!  Not even days later but sometimes the very same day...  Or the times they would dither and then not cross at all.  And all the trucks driving up and down the river watching for plumes of dust indicating that a crossing might be happening at a different point - and then competing to rush and jostle for the best view *at* that numbered crossing.  And watching great big safari vehicles trying to hide behind spindly little trees from the wildebeest!  Not that I realized all this on the first day in the Mara, but over the next couple of days as we watched crossing, I did find it definitely odd.  Obviously a huge treat to be there and to have seen a spectacle that so many people never get to see or dream of - and the volume of wildebeest and apparently endless numbers of them streaming towards and across the river is awe inspiring - but how in the world did Nature ever come up with this idea?!?

 

The day didn't start with crossings; it started with us leaving our camp before the sun was up, and heading slowly towards the river (not far from us, but there were interesting routes to follow on our way there).  We stopped to watch a lion as the light gradually spread across the hills and illuminated him as he began his day.  I loved the inquisitive look at the end as he headed off for the day!

lion as the light comes up

 

He almost seemed to be asking a question of the day as it started!  But of course the river was the main focus for the day, so we headed that way, watching for crossings and other interesting sights.  And came across another lion.  or the same one, possibly, just in another spot - he looks pretty similar to me.

lion

 

and watched a beautiful martial eagle fly in and land on a bush.

martial eagle landing

 

We admired the herds and endless herds of wildebeest circling on the plains.  And watched a few go down to the water, test the air, think hard, and then eventually turn around and head back away from the water, as a long chain followed them away.  Then we saw a minor crossing (heading away from us) that appeared to get right in the way of a Hippo!  Contrary to all reports of Hippos being very temperamental, this one didn't seem too bothered, and waited for the small crossing to finish before continuing on his way.

Hippo watching wildebeest begin crossing

 

while the wildebeest who had finished crossing ran up the other bank and off into the plains; dripping as they went

little wet wildebeest

but drying quickly in the warm sun.

 

We seemed to be on the wrong side of the river for the moment, so went across the bridge

river crossing via a narrow stone bridge

 

and spent some time driving up and down the other side.  Eventually our patience was rewarded and we saw two more crossing; both more substantial than the first little one.  One was particularly impressive as the bank the wildebeest were flying down was sandy and kicked up an impressive storm of dust as they flew down - quite a visual contrast with the liquid into which they were rushing!

wildebeest crossing the Mara river

 

 

Because we weren't far from our camp, we headed back for lunch, and while we ate, I admired the corner of the tent and the fact that the camp is clearly prepared for any eventually from flood to fire - although I did wonder how much good a fire extinguisher would do with the dry plains all around us!  And I'm guessing the umbrellas were feeling a little under appreciated given that it was mid August and the height of the dry season.

tent corner with umbrellas and a fire extinguisher

 

We spent a good part of the day hanging around the river either waiting for activity or watching wildebeest going across, and then headed into the plains a little on the North side of the river, where we got to admire elephants

elephants

 

and then in the later afternoon watched a lion drag his supper around.  It was gruesome in some ways, but quite the sight!  He dropped it almost in front of us, shook it around a bit and ate some, and then picked it up again and dragged it off into the bushes.

lion with head of dead wildebeest

Edited by katon
had this as day 9 when it was day 7! corrected :)
Link to post
Share on other sites

@katon This was a very productive day, you have captured the crossing very well, I hope your father was pleased with it. One wonders why the wildebeest would not cross using the bridge. Beautiful pictures of the lion and his meal.

Link to post
Share on other sites
katon
On 1/14/2021 at 12:32 AM, Biko said:

@katon This was a very productive day, you have captured the crossing very well, I hope your father was pleased with it. One wonders why the wildebeest would not cross using the bridge. Beautiful pictures of the lion and his meal.

My dad did enjoy the pictures and videos, thanks @Biko!  I agree with your wondering - I too wondered why they don't use the bridge - maybe too much vehicle traffic?  That lion was something.

Link to post
Share on other sites
katon

Day 8: still Mara (note that my last post said day 9 but that was me being confused about counting!  It was actually day 7 of the trip that was our first full day in the Mara area - I think I've now corrected it...)

 

Theme for the day:  to the border, and the Power of the Wildebeest

 

Compared to the days before and after with exciting crossings, day 8 was quite, relatively speaking.  We had a beautiful sunrise and sunset, interesting birds and we drove right to the Kenya / Tanzania border marker, out in a very isolated section of the park north of the Mara (is that the area called the Lamai Triangle?  Or is that the bigger area we were in this whole time in the North?  I'm not sure..).  Once we left the area we were staying and headed North of the Mara, I don't remember seeing another vehicle until we came back to the river.  It was peaceful and beautiful and felt very, very wild. 

 

We also spent a lot of time waiting for crossings, but there wasn't a one (maybe because we saw three the day before and the universe was trying to establish a sense of balance?).

 

Sunrise

Mara Sunrises

 

 

and a couple of early morning lions.  They took turns sitting up and watching, but then it all got to be too much and both had a nap.  One was a much more reddish colour than the other..

two lion brothers

 

The views were different today as there were clouds (!!), which led to some interesting (and at times dramatic) effects:

sun streaming through clouds

 

Mara views - with clouds

 

The birds were interesting; some new ones today.  Here are some of the ones we saw who were wiling to pose:  a Woolly-necked Stork scratching an itch, a Long-crested Eagle, a Longclaw (there were a lot of them but they move very fast and were extremely hard to catch with the camera), a Northern Anteater Chat, a White-backed Vulture, a couple of Bateleur Eagles, a lovely little Grey Kestral, and a Fork-tailed Drongo who was very happy to pose.

a collection of birds

 

and one bird the we saw who was moving just as I took the picture - this was a Kittlitz's plover (you'd never know it from the photo).  While the photo doesn't work at all for capturing the bird, I quite enjoy the feeling of abstract movement it created:

bird in flight

 

Throughout the day various animals came to say hi or cast a wary eye our way:

animals

 

and this elephant was enthusiastically eating, round about lunchtime.  One can sure see how destructive they can be, and why the farmers may not appreciate them!

elephant tearing up tree

 

and the stars of the day, who firmly asserted their power and chose not to cross - not once ...

wildebeest not crossing the river

which inspired this silly little free verse in my journal from the day:

 

The Power of the Wildebeest

 

They make us wait

trucks 'hiding' behind bushes

all lined up, glinting in the sun while

wily wildebeest run - hopes rising -

then turn and circle left to right

and back again.

A step towards the river - we all stand like puppets -

and the puppet masters laugh -

then milling and grunting and they all

turn away and browse again.

Crocodiles wait, vultures wait, lions wait

And we humans, even more foolish

for no meal awaits us

but an adrenaline rush

over all too soon

wildebeest hold the power here.

 

I actually think they are particularly ugly beasts, which makes all the focus on whether they will cross even odder.  But we had a number of happy waits during the day, with other birds and animals taking up the slack.  And the clouds, and the light!

 

Here was our final sunset as we headed happily back to camp.

Mara sunsets

Aug10-Border.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
Caracal

Hey @katonI'm throwing out a challenge here! How about doing your next TR with your free verse throughout?

In the meantime I'm much enjoying this report with its great variety photos and narrative.

Link to post
Share on other sites
katon
56 minutes ago, Caracal said:

Hey @katonI'm throwing out a challenge here! How about doing your next TR with your free verse throughout?

In the meantime I'm much enjoying this report with its great variety photos and narrative.

That is a challenge indeed!  Great idea for my next trip; thank you B)

And thanks for following along - I'm glad you're enjoying it.  The only problem is going through all this sure makes me wish I could be there now!  I'm sure I'm not the only one feeling that way.  Le sigh.

Link to post
Share on other sites
katon

Day 9: Mara

 

Theme for the day:  Crossing back and forth

Maybe to make up for a dearth of crossings the day before, on this day, they just kept coming.  Three large crossings (the last one with much drama) and a number of smaller groups.  As I said earlier, the funny thing was that they weren't all going one way; some went one way; some went the other, and some went first one way and then *back* to where they had started from.  We even had a crossing with a number of Zebras accompanying the wildebeest, for a bit of variety.  We enjoyed a morning drive up to the kopjes and hills, where we saw a klipspringer, and wildebeest spread out on the hills like ants.

wildebeest like ants on the hillside

 

We saw a few lovely flocks of vultures in the early morning.  Vultures should have some great collective noun (like a parliament of owls or a murder of crows or a tower of giraffes or a crash of rhinos), but when I look it up, apparently they are a 'kettle' if they are circling overhead, but a 'committee' or 'venue' or 'volt' when perched in a tree, and a 'wake' if they're feeding on a carcass.  Somehow the last one seems appropriate (a wake of vultures) but the others don't quite resonate for me.  But that lack of a good collective noun for vultures was definitely made up for by finding the collective noun for wildebeest, apparently they are an 'improbability' of wildebeest, which is seems most apropos.  All that being said, here are vultures looking very vulturesque; in trees, and pairs and singly.

vultures in trees and pairs and singly

 

and a couple of early morning birds in flight as the sun was rising:

birds in flight

 

The first crossing of the day; from the Northern side of the Mara over to the South:

crossing the Mara

 

And the second one, where we got to see all the elements; the herd 'leader' checking it all out, and eventually deciding it was safe to start off; then the flood following him into the water; a few gymnastically inclined wildebeest leaping, wildebeest scrambling up the other bank, and then spreading out on the hillside as they dried off and ate (in some cases, before coming back and doing it all again!).

wildebeest crossing

 

In the afternoon, we drove up the river a bit and saw hippos, both in and out of the water, and a little baby:

hippos

 

and a beautiful Goliath heron:

Goliath heron

 

and more than one croc happily soaking up the sun:

croc

 

We saw some other animals, enjoying watching a giraffe run, and a baby zebra just taking his first steps, and some elephant bones in the grass.

animals in Mara

 

And then we make our way back towards the crossing for the final (dramatic) episode of the day.  This was a large group crossing and then having to heave their way up a steep bank on the far side.  One little guy got all the way across the river, and tried and tried to make it up the bank on the far side, but kept sliding back into the water.  Eventually he seemed to give up, and turned and started swimming back the way he had come, through the tail end of the improbability passing him by, until he was all on his own swimming back across the Mara.  Unbeknownst to him (but not to the many spectators), there was a croc lying right in the middle of the crossing area, by a big stone in the middle of the river.  As we all held our breath, the little wildebeest got by the croc, and stepped onto the stone for a breather.  People were yelling out to him to keep moving.  He eventually kept going back towards his staring point as the current carried him downriver.  When he got out, he stood there, chest heaving.  Again, we could all see a croc cruising in to take a look as the little guy stopped and was catching his breath and trying to decide if he could move any further.  Again people were calling out to him to keep going, that he had almost made it.  Eventually he did step back onto the grass on that side, and there was a collective cheer from the many watching safari vehicles.  He headed off away from the riverbank and up into the grass.  We did wonder what would happen to him, as presumably his mama was on the other side, having crossed successfully, but we were told they would probably manage to reunite later on...

little wildebeest and crocs

 

And so the day ended on a happy note, although it could easily have gone the other way, and little Mr. Wildebeest survived his great adventure!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Caracal

@katonI keep going back to that photo of the flying/leaping wildebeest and am pleased the youngster made it.

  Excellent klipspringer sighting - only recall seeing two over the years - both quite a distance away.

Link to post
Share on other sites
katon
22 hours ago, Caracal said:

@katonI keep going back to that photo of the flying/leaping wildebeest and am pleased the youngster made it.

  Excellent klipspringer sighting - only recall seeing two over the years - both quite a distance away.

thanks @caracal

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy