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Galana goes west down memory lane in Southern Tanzania.


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The thinking behind this trip was partly a nostalgic return to some favourite places for three of us and to take a regular companion to show him part of Tanzania he had never seen. Plans had been on hold due to Covid but it was now time to go.  D, our youngest traveller whom we had treated to the descent of Van Zyl’s pass in Namibia for his 50th birthday, was not really a birder so we all agreed that whilst a few birds would be nice we would prioritise on seeing large mammals ‘just for him’. We are all Heart really.

Whilst I try and avoid ‘electro clutter’ my companions still feel it imperative to bring all sorts of Apps, Taps and Laps and good luck with that. I was still with my Minox binoculars and a Nikkon P1000 bridge camera whilst the lovely Lady G had space in her handbag for the small Netbook carried for backing up any photos I might get.

By coincidence one of our destinations was the very location that created the need for back up when a mislaid SD Card, of Wild dogs eating an Impala had me wandering the hotel grounds at midnight in search of it. 1-2010_0109TZ20696.JPG.e775840d6f010e8103f1e2ed4a7ce27d.JPG

I would not liked to have lost this.

I am too young to consider Wildlife photography as other than a hobby and I do drag along a Trail camera and a plethora of batteries to feed it as well as annoy Airport Security from time to time.   A torch, or as our American friends prefer to call it ‘a flashlite’ although I have never understood why it should ‘flash’! That’s it. I am packed and leave it to Lady G to deal with the non essentials such as a change of clothing, soap and shower gel etc.,


The ‘Plan’ was to fly from our home on the Isle of Man to Manchester and overnight there prior to boarding KLM to Amsterdam at silly o’clock next morning where we would board their flight to Dar es Salaam scheduled to arrive at 22.50 after a brief stop in Zanzibar. (Note this word “brief”) In DAR we will overnight in the nearby Jakicha Motel

I had planned to head to Ruaha for a stay at the lovely Tandala Tented Camp which I had enjoyed so much in 2017 and had noted that a nearby camp offered a six day package by road from Dar with a three night stay at Mikumu Safari Lodge. The package included a full day in Mikumi National Park, and a day trip to Udzungwa before another drive to Ruaha for two more nights at sister camp Ruaha Hilltop Lodge with a  day in Ruaha National Park. Just what we needed and the price was reasonable too. 

On arrival we would be well placed to transfer to Tandala Tented Camp just down the road and from there we had booked to enter Ruaha National for a four night stay at Old Mdonyo River Camp  where we had stayed previously. From Ruaha we would fly to Lake Manze Camp (site of the wild dog incident) in what was Selous Reserve but now renamed Nyerere National Park in honour of “Mwalimu” Julius Nyerere, Tanzania’s first and much respected President. At the end of a further four night stay there we would fly the short hop back to DAR to catch our return flights to Manchester and home to the IOM.

All was booked and ready to go.


Well there is the Plan and as the saying goes; those who fail to plan, plan to fail. So what could possibly go wrong ??  Stormin Norman said any plan only  lasts until the first shot is fired and I do wonder if he had Air travel in mind when he said that?

In planning any trip from my Island home there are various stages to pass before one can progress to the next. Some may be more stressful than others so it is good to pass each pinch point and make progress towards actually getting there as planned.

Such benchmarks as,

1, Will bad weather prevent us from getting off the island for our international flights?

2. Will the weather be OK in UK?

3. Will the flight be on time?

4. Will our next flight leave on time for our connection in Amsterdam?

5. Will we arrive at our destination on time.

6. Will our luggage make it too?

7. Will we get our Visas

8. Will we be met as promised?

9. Will our transport pick us up at our Hotel as agreed?

10. Will the vehicle be as roomy and comfortable as promised?


Our answers to the first four were ‘no’, ‘yes’, ‘yes’ & ‘yes’ which is 100% correct. I will leave you in suspense in KLMs 'capable' care.


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A brief Recap.

The plan as booked was for three from Isle of Man and one from Kent to meet up at Manchester Airport on 1st February to catch a KLM flight to Amsterdam where we would connect with their flight to Dar es Salaam. We would all return from DAR – MAN on 20th February to arrive home on 21st. As my old Aunt used to say “if you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans". So wise. So true!

First up two weeks before ETD  -  KLM scrapped the AMS-MAN rtn for 21st. The later flight was OK for the IOM3 but too late to get Kent 1 back home the same day. After a friendly exchange of pleasantries KLM agreed to switch K1 to AMS-LHR at no charge.

Not to be outdone a chap named Mick decided to join the fun. K1 was due to come up to Manchester by train so Mick called 1st February a ‘strike day’ to pay him back for switching to planes.

So more changes. K1 would now fly up from LHR-MAN on 1st with BA.

Back on plan we would still meet at Manchester on evening of 1st, dine and be ready to board the bonny blue bird early, very early, next morning.


January 31st came and we three had boarding cards for Loganair IOM-MAN and all four had “Confirmation slips” for MAN – AMS & AMS - DAR to facilitate our ‘Bag drop’ on February 2nd.

February 1st dawned bright and clear so tick the first two boxes. Our lift arrived on time to drive us 3 to IOM airport in good time for our flight. And we could tick Box 3.

Bags dropped and to Security. Two passed through OK but the third carryon bag triggered an ‘alert’ and was pulled for examination. Mine! OK it will maybe be my trail cam as it resembles a small IED being boxlike with 8AA batteries inside. No problem. Yes problem. Not the Trail Cam but traces of Drugs! Eh? You must be joking! I have never taken anything stronger than a Fisherman’s Friend and the occasional Lemsip! A thorough search and repeated wipes did not clear me but as nothing could be found I was obviously ‘clear’ and free to go. But not before having to sign an ‘incident’ report. Blimey. Am I a marked man now?

Boarded on time and landed in MAN where our bags awaited. Checked in at our Hotel but with no sign of K1 went to dine without him. Texts said BA were running late. No change there then. Eventually He arrived in time for Dessert after which we all retired to be fresh for the silly o’clock call to attend Bag drop at 04.00.

And so it was to be. Bags dropped and boarding cards for all four pax received without any comment from the friendly Agent. We boarded and left on time for AMS where we landed an hour or so later but two hours later on the clock as we were now in Europe. It was 8 o’clock local and our next flight (to Dar es Salaam) was to board at 09.34 for a 10.15 on time departure. Tick Box 4. It’s looking good.

But was it? Unknown to us we were just ‘Innocents abroad’ to KLM and they were not done with us  yet. In 30 years with them the worst they had tried was to have us arrive in Windhoek one bag short. This time they were going for Gold!   Stormin Norman Schwarzkopf was right!

This tale will continue an d we DO get to our Safari but I think this is long enough without pictures. To ease your wait while I venture to Scotland for two day I offer you this.


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I should not read such horror flight stories at this point … but yours are of such quality that I can simply not resist. Luckily the fact that you are posting them is the best spoiler alert; as complicated as the situation might be, it ended well!

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1 minute ago, xelas said:

as complicated as the situation might be,

You ain't seen nuthin yet. Don't fret. It took them 30 years to get this good/bad.

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So here we are ‘waiting’ at the gate with boarding cards in hand, with a big Blue bird almost ready for boarding for our flight to Dar es Salaam where our booked transport would be waiting to transfer us to Jakicha Motel for the night.

The PA then announced “That KL515 would be boarding shortly but ‘due to security issues’ would not be continuing to DAR after landing at ZNZ. Pax for DAR would be put up overnight in ZNZ and continue next day after a wait of 22 hours. Checked luggage would remain in the plane’s hold and access would NOT be possible.” The ‘desk’ was immediately inundated by angry passengers. When my turn came I asked if we could transfer to either the Nairobi or Kilimanjaro flights so we could make our own way to DAR. I was told I would have to ask the ‘transfer desk.’ Which I did and was given an appointment number and an estimated waiting time of 30 minutes.

No way, our flight was about to board, so back to the Gate desk. I politely stated that one way or the other our luggage would be offloaded in Zanzibar, either on arrival or next day when the Captain was asked to fly unaccompanied luggage as our party of four would be long gone on the first available flight after our arrival. We were NOT waiting 22 hours. A ‘shrug’ later and we boarded and took off for Tanzania where, on landing at ZNZ, we were told that our luggage would be off loaded for collection after all. Nothing further from a clearly harassed FA. After leaving the plane, our companion who had been sitting further forward told us there was a plane waiting and we must collect our luggage and find a waiting Station Manager who would direct us to our new flight. Immigration was cleared quickly and we found said Agent talking into six phones and several angry pax all at the same time.

Eventually he confirmed our names were on ‘the list’ and directed us to the Domestic terminal where we would check in at the Precision Airways desk. And there we got boarding cards for THREE of our party but not the 4th, the one who had been told of the plane. Nothing would shift Precision’s Check in Staff’s denial of the 4th member of our party to be on that plane. Eventually we decided to board the three of us and for number 4 to go back to KLM for a Hotel. We would make DAR and contact our booked transport and wait at DAR for #4 to arrive at the earliest opportunity. This we did.

We got to DAR at around midnight, scheduled for 22.50, to find our lift had long gone so took a Taxi to our Hotel for the evening. There we met our waiting driver for the next day’s drive to Mikumi and explained the delay.  Next morning we received a message to say that Pax 4 was due in DAR at 10.30 so having breakfasted and settled the Hotel account we all set off in our hired transport back to the Airport to pick up our missing pax and then proceed direct to Mikumi. That was the theory but again KLM were determined to wreck this. There was NO plane at 10.30, it was delayed two hours. Two hours came and went, now due at 13.25, and then ‘vanished’ from the screen altogether. Next time was 14.00, then 14.25 and it eventually arrived at 14.50. Our friend was welcomed and we got into our minibus for Mikumi just after 15.10 with a 300km drive ahead.  No way would we reach Mikumi in daylight.  

And of course it was Friday afternoon and roads were very busy just to make it even harder for us. I will spare you from suffering the drive in detail. Suffice to say we got to Mikumi ‘Village’ around 23.00 where we were transferred to a Land Cruiser for the short ride up a mountain as due to rain it was felt the minibus would not make it up the track to our Lodge at the top of a hill. Indeed the Land Cruiser did not make it either, but nothing ventured, we decided to walk the rest of the way, about 3 km, while efforts to get the Land Cruiser unstuck continued.


Our special version of an evening game drive.

And so, many hours later than planned we made our rooms at Mikumi Safari Lodge, tired but unbowed, ready for a real start next day.


The real trip report is now to commence. (About time too?)

No comments about KLM’s appalling failure at the moment other than to state that we now know that they knew of the problem at 21.15 on evening of 1st and seven hours before we even checked in at Manchester at 04.00 on 2nd so why the heck could they not get things organised by the time their plane landed in Zanzibar TWENTY FOUR hours later? I will be asking KLM this and many other questions very soon.

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Well done on all four of you for your perseverance, persistency and gung-ho approach! i hope i have the same stamina, patience as you guys if ever it happens to me (never I hope!). 


you got there all in one piece and with all your luggage. now you can focus on the safari. 


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Whilst it is - somewhat - heartening to read that I'm not the only one who's travel plans get trashed by the incompetence of organisations that should know what they are doing by now, my sympathy is with you and your party. What a dreadful start.

This is where I think I'm supposed to say " it can only get better from here on in " but perhaps I shouldn't.

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6 hours ago, Soukous said:

I think I'm supposed to say " it can only get better from here on in " but perhaps I shouldn't.

Go on. You know you want to. And you would be right. Well it would be bloody hard to get worse.

@KitsafariI believe that if we arrive where planned with all our luggage it cannot be all that bad. So I suppose KLM almost did it as ZNZ and DAR are only 73km apart. Sadly their views on service delivery were much further apart. 

The tale will progress tomorrow so Twende!

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Thanks to those still following this tale in part sympathy and part expectation of something of interest so here goes.

Remember these ten concerns?

1, Will bad weather prevent us from getting off the island for our international flights?   No.

2. Will the weather be OK in UK?   Yes!

3. Will the flight be on time?    Yes.

4. Will our next flight leave on time for our connection in Amsterdam?   Yes.

5. Will we arrive at our destination on time. Well we did get to the right country but not the right airport.

6. Will our luggage make it too?  Technically it did better than we did.

7. Will we get our Visas?  Yes and those with Manx Passports got them free. One point clawed back.

8. Will we be met as promised?  No our booked lift had left.

9. Will our transport pick us up at our Hotel as agreed? They were there ahead of us.

10. Will the vehicle be as roomy and comfortable as promised?  Yes!

Looking good and so it was not ALL bad  and next day we did get the group back together and having resorted to walking the last few Km, in the dark, see above, we were at our first Lodge where we will spend three nights although pedants may quibble about three as the first was almost over by the time we turned in.

So the ‘real’ Report is now in being. Twende.

The Lodge was fine. Nice rooms set in bungalow/cabin style in mixed woodlands with some bird life around. Whilst my Camera tap did not capture any images there was evidence around that mammals were also present.

Inside the cabins there were comfortable beds with nets and clean wash facilities etc.,


1-1-DSCN1383.JPG.7b39f210d5f4cd9ad1cef86002caefb6.JPGMeals were taken in the main building and were fine. There is a small bar too.


1-DSCN1106.JPG.e9dab9b7d66f678650e5bf2bc17ed649.JPG Beers were TZsh 5,000 and Gin TZSh 7,000. (£1.60 and £2.30 respectively.) Good enough I felt.

Next morning we set off for a day visit to Mikumi National Park, down the hill and about 6km on the tar. We were a little late in arriving but entry formalities were quick and easy. Day entry was US$30 pp.


I was ambivalent about going here as my last visit was over 20 years ago and my memory was of a dustbowl with a few rather unphotogenic mammals here and there but with a few birds. But what a difference I found. The place was very green and lush and this could not all be down to the season’s rain. The place showed every sign of being cared for, with a well planned amount of decent tracks. At 3.25 sq.km it is quite large.

Our drive started well with a nice encounter with a herd of elephant including a tiny new born of less than a few weeks working hard to keep up with mum.

1-DSCN1221.JPG.b0e3c6cd897bd698da25ddfb4c6855b3.JPGWe also enjoyed many encounters with giraffe in both large groups and smaller family units.

There are predators and we were treated to watch a female lion undertake a serious stalk on some Impala. She was frustrated by a startled Warthog and gave up but we did enjoy the sighting and her intense and studied approach.




Bird life was prolific with our checklist growing fast. Nothing of real note apart from large flocks of Common Pratincole at the Hippo Pond. 


We enjoyed our day and returned for dinner well pleased.

Next morning we set off for Udzungwa NP but my companions took one look at Sanje Waterfall and settled for something less energetic..  

I would have gone, Honest Injun! Instead we walked the Prince Bernhard trail and a smaller waterfall. Butterflies in plenty and a few birds in the forest.

1-DSCN1319.JPG.fefd3501dee7bea63622005ff26aecc2.JPG1-DSCN1325.JPG.de4da91ca72967e7e286f98dd3305d4c.JPGDusky Leopard. 

1-DSCN1336.JPG.3ffe828e93c55b8ea7c3484e22b5c7b8.JPGGolden-banded Forester.


Impatiens. (Busy Lizzy)


Buffalo Spider. So named for the long 'horns'.


The Highlight was a good encounter with the local monkeys. Recently split from the Iringa Red Colobus the newly named Udzungwa Red Colobus is quite striking in pelage and some are quite habituated to visitors. The group we found tolerated our proximity quite a while before moving off to feed elsewhere. It is to be hoped that the newly surfaced road through the area does not endanger them.

After a late picnic in the grounds of HondoHondo Camp, which I had ‘negotiated’ with manager Boniface for an acceptable rental of several Kilimanjaros we returned back to our lodge in Mikumi.

Tomorrow we leave for another 300km drive west to the ‘outskirts’ of Ruaha National Park where this tale will continue. 

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16 minutes ago, Galana said:

I was ambivalent about going here as my last visit was over 20 years ago and my memory was of a dustbowl with a few rather unphotogenic mammals here and there but with a few birds. But what a difference I found. The place was very green and lush and this could not all be down to the season’s rain. The place showed every sign of being cared for, with a well planned amount of decent tracks.


That is excellent news. My recollection of Mikumi is similar to yours, in fact a couple of local operators told me it was not worth visiting. That was back in 2013.  

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10 hours ago, Soukous said:

That is excellent news.

Pleased to have updated you. I would not make  special trip for the one park but as part of the 'group' I would now rate it unmissable. and so close to Udzungwas too. An hour.

Be aware that an outfit in ZNZ is now running day trips by Jetstream aircraft to both here and Nyerere which seems crazy to me. More on this in due time.

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So after breakfast we are packed and board the minibus for our transfer to our next Lodge. This drive was quite comfortable although the climb through the foothills of the Udzungwas following the gorge of the Great Ruaha river was hard work for our esteemed Driver Joseph with many hairpins and sheer drops to claim the unwary or unlucky.



Our timing was getting better as we actually arrived in daylight. We were booked in for two nights at Ruaha Hill Top Lodge which is near Ruaha and nearly on a Hilltop. It is owned by the same family as Mikumi Safari Lodge and the reception was fine. Small cottages in the grounds with a modest climb up paved paths. From the main Lapa there is a platform which looks out over the huge flat plain below right into the National Park some 10km distant.1-DSCN1722.JPG.ad3419d37b15bc8adf0f138542c181e3.JPG


Ruaha Hill Top Lodge to the right.



1-DSCN1392-001.JPG.cc5f567b3aebcf2a7dd2bcd160a2415e.JPGOur room with a view...

Meals were good and service friendly.


This is the view as we dined.



I don’t wish to bore folks with just a litany of what and when and propose to break the full trip into what I hope will be readable sections. As we are staying in three different Lodges I will divide the report into three parts. Our package with RHT includes one full day in the National Park so this would appear to be a logical place to finish this section.

Having had a good night’s sleep and an excellent breakfast we get in the open Land Cruiser that most lodges use in the south of Tanzania where little use is made of public roads unlike the northern parks. We should do well as our supporting crew has a  Biblical connection with Moses as guide and spotter and Joseph, who tells us he is the father of Jesus, and we look forward to a successful day with their help.



We arrive at the Gate and deal with the entry formalities quite quickly and start seeing wildlife almost immediately.


1-DSCN1432.JPG.5cf4a2d6a69de99fb651121b13c1ec7f.JPGGiraffe were very common and breeding well as were the Dik Diks. The vegetation is very green and the Ruaha river is flowing very strongly as we cross the bridge. The usual pod of hippo are struggling to hold their place in the strong current and the usually benign river looks anything but peaceful today.



Birders will know that Ruaha is home to an endemic species of Red-billed Hornbill called Tanzanian or Ruaha Red-billed hornbill.  Tockus ruahae.



This is recognised by a yellow, not dark, eye, and black flesh patch around the eye.

Those interested in more birds can find them on my Big Year 2023 pages.



I will caption the following few photographs as we go along rather than pre-list everything.


We took lunch at one of the many approved and very well kept picnic sites dotted around this large park with its special scenery of Doum Palms lining the banks of many ephemeral rivers much loved by elephant and other wildlife.


At the picnic site we were eagerly greeted by the resident squirrels.




With a new driver I am always interested in how they react to elephant. Will they be shy and avoid close encounters or will they be as relaxed as we are and sit and let the ellies do their thing at their pace whilst we enjoy the thrill of such huge, and possibly dangerous, beasts approaching us? Happily Joseph is one of the latter drivers and we enjoy the main encounter of the day as it unfolds. 



This old bull is no trouble of course and just watches us drive by without a fuss.


When we encounter a herd of females and calves we need to watch carefully. Don't take risks and note any signs of stress. Most are well behaved but if not they will at least give you ample signals that you need to move away. I am no expert on elephant behaviour but I am confident and comfortable in their presence as long as we 'play' by their rules and not ours. Do NOT do this if there is any signs of the animals being unhappy or stressed, noise and ear flapping are good warnings as is one of the "Guardian Aunties" coming at you with her head down.


Here we have a proud Mum with her last two calves the youngest is barely a year old.


She takes an interest in us but happily continues to feed towards us.



Now she is as close as she wishes to be and junior is tucked up behind her for protection. We sit quietly and let her make the decision.


Junior is now a bit less shy and fully aware of us and my lens is at wide angle.


She walks on by and junior scoots along in her shadow. Well behaved ellies and well behaved tourists too.

There is another illustration later on in this tale where the situation could have turned out very different as it involved another vehicle. Again, I repeat, do not make the moves, leave that to the animal and move off at the first sign of a possible problem.

Near the picnic site we are tempted to cross this interesting bridge 'to get to the other side'. Sadly no foaming torrent or yawning chasm to make it more interesting but we can live without too much excitement after a good lunch.


Our reward comes when I spot this lovely and patient European Hobby sitting in a nearby tree watching the fun.1-DSCN1470.JPG.c8052f1a479fb3691da62f5e8dc8613a.JPG



I am no Botanist but love this flower which I think is a species of Gladioli. Dame Edna would know.



Two more citizens of Ruaha National Park watch us go by as we leave the Park to return to our Lodge where we discover the staff have put on a special BBQ dinner out in the bush for us.

This is our last day with Ruaha Hilltop and it has been most enjoyable. Tomorrow by those strange coincidence that happen two other residents of the Isle of Man, living just 16 miles from me are booked in to this lodge so we have arranged to meet up with them in the Park.

Edited by Galana
corrected text
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Hurry up if you can - I'm rather looking forward to this.

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Od thi dog back mate.

Long time sin.

So as the song puts it "Wheear 'ast tha bin sin' ah saw thee?"


Family well?

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Aye, sound. Chuffed to si thees bin travellin' still.

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Next. Tandala.

After another peaceful night in Ruaha Hilltop Lodge we have arranged for Joseph to transfer us and luggage to our next lodge. This is only about 8 km away so we enjoy a mini game drive and Joseph’s company for sadly the last time until our arrival at Tandala Tented Camp half an hour later. Here we are warmly welcomed by Yannis, the owner and his staff. We have stayed here before and the lodge was one of the reasons for our return this trip. We have great memories of the place. Yanni, and wife Dionysia, Fliakos built and operate this Camp and named it after the many Kudu that frequent the area. It currently comprises about a dozen roomy tents on platforms with large verandas and set well apart for privacy. Electricity is 24 hour solar. Meals are taken in the roomy lapa/restaurant and there is a bar and small ‘swimming’ pool. There is a waterhole in front of the Bar/lapa and this is frequented by most of the mammals of the area. Elephant, Giraffe, Kudu and Impala. Even lion, leopard and wild dogs on occasion. Birds in the grounds are numerous and visible. My checklist grew ever larger each of the three days, four nights that we were here. Food is excellent and the hospitality beyond reproach. Whist Dionysia was away, Yanni was a great and helpful host.  On our arrival he noted a lack of nimbleness in our party climbing down from the Land Cruiser and immediately substituted a smaller similarly fitted Land Rover with easier access. We met our driver/guide and settled into our tents for a restful day. More details here. www.tandalacamp.com


Whilst the rains had made the grounds lush with tall vegetation so waterhole sightings were fewer than last time, this was not really why we were here. The Park Gates are only 5km distant and this is a game drive in its own right. We could sleep the night away to the sound of lion, hyena and elephant.



I am uncertain how to proceed with detailing our three days of Game drives as they were all different and very exciting. Short of ‘edited highlights’ I shall just relate how it happened and hope for the best.

Day one.  Our first drive set off next morning and checked in at the Gate. We get charged a daily fee for this and not the usual 24 hours.

We see birds immediately plus several giraffe etc. with a nice Fish Eagle posing.   1-DSCN1868.JPG.dc82949f40397d41347416900102ad26.JPGOur driver and guide are casting around some loops and obviously searching for something special. They were. By a sandy river we spot what look like two dead lions. Only close scrutiny reveals chest movement. I take a couple of shots and zoom in on a massive paw.1-DSCN1881.JPG.e71323772b2e6261a61df953c8ed7854.JPG1-DSCN1882.JPG.7a58fec9cb9557b93deb615ac00b3281.JPG

Moving off stimulates one to look up to give us a decent shot.1-DSCN1891.JPG.6e2b04dec9b854eec7d155d99a04ab2d.JPG

The day is mainly spent with close encounters with the many elephants so I won’t bore you with many of those apart from one incident mentioned yesterday. We met a family group crossing our track and stopped to watch them. Lots of young ones are closely shepherded by Guardian Aunties. Another truck, we rarely saw any, approaches from the opposite direction but does not position where they would leave an ‘escape’ path should some ellies react to either of us. Instead it swings off the track and stops with only a small gap between us and them where the ellies were obviously going to try and pass.1-DSCN1909.JPG.077172c3c876869f379ff7db11f3b6dd.JPG1-DSCN1910.JPG.f14edc0d3723e620cf44fea062caaa6a.JPG1-DSCN1915.JPG.3bc65692c5b9c0fa95b20efab6f49247.JPG

This meant ‘the guardian’ had to pass very close to us. Fortunately, she was very good natured and relaxed. She obviously ‘told’ her young charges to hang back whilst she checked us out before following her through the small gap between the two vehicles. She did, and after no doubt a sub sonic rumble the little ones followed. I never cease to be amazed and the behaviour of these magnificent creatures. I will run the sequence to illustrate the point.1-DSCN1922.JPG.c03889fc707fbaabc1db047a5a5fd41c.JPG1-DSCN1925.JPG.d09ab67467787dff67a113020cfdce93.JPG1-DSCN1926.JPG.b0a979554372ad4fb45aad43d811c566.JPG1-DSCN1929.JPG.e5840b604f0cd9b14f44e4c5d679e7cc.JPG1-DSCN1937.JPG.3c981385d97f9f0c2b6a2cdb8f7bfc50.JPG1-DSCN1938.JPG.46cf159461d053d0f462dd4c6d0a49a0.JPG1-DSCN1941.JPG.7ef2d1815b815cf83050182fc8a8e668.JPG1-DSCN1943.JPG.01feb4bc8a8ea314286f8ef8a8b0064b.JPG



My only comment was that the other vehicle placed us all in a ‘difficult’ position should the herd have reacted more nervously to their restriction on movement. As it turned out all went well although we did get a sound telling off from one of the sub adult bulls at the end.



Then it was lunch time and the squirrels were waiting. 1-DSCN1953.JPG.68825e13dcd353c1b2d75647e2bf6ac7.JPG1-DSCN1959.JPG.1470ba2c0acc51c3481b57baa245846e.JPG


During lunch we were ‘inspected’ by a curious bull who peered at us from a safe distance and exchanged news with Lady G.1-DSCN1961.JPG.de0a154d2e3dd5718d9234cab41a8f40.JPG1-DSCN1963.JPG.cd4260bc025a39051525540f3bb7afcc.JPG1-DSCN1968.JPG.95fa51cfc6a17cbfc93d1c4d26ce4a9a.JPG



After lunch were birding our way back to the Gate when I caused the car to stop to check out some BeeEaters when our driver spotted a leopard in the track ahead.


She crossed quickly and vanished into the undergrowth but gradually showed herself briefly as she commenced to stalk a small sounder of Warthogs. She failed when the piggies came to check us out and vanished all together. 1-DSCN2011.JPG.a10520241d65c2a1373421e8c5bdccc1.JPG

On the way home we saw a small party of Kudu grazing and that was our day.1-DSCN2025.JPG.6b0ffbcf09ff2be248ba654b79a7098c.JPG Home for a clean up and with ellies and a leopard to talk about over dinner.


To be  continued.

Edited by Galana
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Dave Williams

“All good things come to those who wait” but I don’t think it included airports when the original was stated. Good things have come so far and I hope they continued. Some excellent photos Fred . Catching up from my sunbed!!

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It's just a guess, but are you by any chance fond of elephants? :ph34r:

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7 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

Some excellent photos Fred .

Thanks. Many snaps for your Big Year from the sunbed?


22 minutes ago, Soukous said:

are you by any chance fond of elephants? 

Does it show? This to the older version of the boy who used to let Dixie play the mouth organ (Harmonica) at Whipsnade? Anyone else remember her?


Take and compare that first photo of the 'dead' lion and some (any) of the contact shots with ellies. No contest although as you will see later not all cats are grey.

Edited by Galana
added text.
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I think I will run days2 & 3 together as they do not vary much and I don’t wish to overdose on either ellies or birds which are both well catered for.



As we went to get into our truck on the 2nd morning we were greeted by our two fellow Manx countrymen who were now installed at Ruaha Hill Top and who had dropped by on their way to the NP and we arranged a meet up in the park for a lunch stop. What was it that Burns said about "the best plans o mice n men gannin aft aglae?' Did he ever visit Africa?   I swear I heard my God chuckling too."



Anyway we set off for the gate and after casting around we bumped into the two lions again but this time they at least were sitting up for the cameras. (We were not alone but only two other trucks and not a full blown “Lion Jam” that happens elsewhere.) So we took some photos that were a bit more ‘alive’ than the last lot.

1-DSCN2040.JPG.6850be15809be005a44fd1df08223aa7.JPG1-DSCN2042.JPG.5685fd4693d34280ef8f99c0d5b46f25.JPG1-DSCN2045.JPG.adf9acb084ea0f3e75f43ad285411446.JPG1-DSCN2049.JPG.d5136f61363ce0f261d60b19a5dd2adb.JPGOne of them had an eye defect so got named ‘Clarence’ in honour of the old TV programme ‘Daktari’.

After that it was just a matter of exploring the park along tracks that we may or may not have tried before. We did find a group of elephant in a river bed and watched two young bulls sparring up to each other. 1-DSCN2084.JPG.923a3c865dc9398773e08074004eb641.JPG1-DSCN2086.JPG.bdaba20f6fcba657690314a83cca4bdf.JPG1-DSCN2087.JPG.8625b460f9bd42ade86245b26e00ea6b.JPG1-DSCN2093.JPG.0592407f078047fa64f2d6c3d7c992ac.JPG

We also saw some new birds and I put a few up here that I quite like if only to show we were not restricting ourselves to elephant 100% of the time.


D'arnaud's Barbet.


White-bellied Bustard.


White-browed Coucal.

As lunch time approached so did a huge black cloud that promised to rain hard on us. And of course it did. Remember Rabbie Burns’s statement earlier? The plans got shredded. We could not get to the designated picnic site due to a flooded ‘dry river’. Our driver walked down to the edge and came back shaking his head. Time to turn back and seek another venue. My photos show no pictures were taken between 11.30 and 13.25 so it shows just how bad the rain was. We had rearranged a new venue for lunch, Hondo Hondo, and made our way there over muddy tracks. Our friends had not shown up so we ate alone. They arrived just as we were clearing the pots prior to leaving. It turned out they had arrived at that ‘dry river’ but the driver made the decision it was crossable. He was right but what he had not bargained for was the climb out on the other side was too steep and slippy for traction and they could not make progress. Or go back. Eventually they got a pull from another truck to save their blushes and drove to meet us. All was well and a group photo recorded the historic meeting.1-!cid_8E346DC7-0A00-4A22-A37E-B1A1F3A4BBB6.jpg.e9f3adf1e2eca4db1507f3e4e428ba57.jpgMakes a change from ellies. In the post lunch drive we noted a few more animals including a couple of Black-backed Jackals and Grant’s Gazelle before exiting the gate and returning to Tandala for another evening.1-DSCN2159.JPG.6ebca2700841f686db50e87f04ef1020.JPG1-DSCN2180.JPG.d068379a1429f5d90feb83158b134518.JPG1-DSCN2181.JPG.de5c873f6b7f7184d6832a12d6cfc7bb.JPG

Next morning it was more of the same with several impressive eagles and a massive Water monitor in a river bed and a lovely Yellow-collared Lovebird at our lunch stop. We did get news of a possible cheetah sighting but when we arrived they had obviously made themselves scarce.1-DSCN2201.JPG.0ade13c3898081a5b0c0b0e03b07acf4.JPG


Male Greater Kudu.


Woodland Kingfisher.



1-DSCN2215.JPG.fbe6670d810f8acdc83c9d07432f522d.JPGMartial Eagle.



Water Monitor.


Black-shouldered Kite.

1-DSCN2261.JPG.a4a78608b856dc8329b586518fa31450.JPGYellow-collared  Lovebird.


Where'd they go???

1-DSCN2324.JPG.5af39fa1ec506726d93b8bb0df5b57dd.JPG1-DSCN2331.JPG.4957fa72d52aab49d4c155cd00547554.JPG1-DSCN2336.JPG.190d50d0500c8fa7a9309e7183c029b1.JPGBottom's UP!

We have treated ourselves to a family of ellies taking a bath in a small permanent pool/swamp as well as meeting a rather anxious mum on our way back to the gate.1-DSCN2378.JPG.903c0af3db2f4dcdfb36b22084347b58.JPG1-DSCN2381.JPG.8849ff77a63eed1d6a378e89819bb444.JPG

Later we enjoyed our final G&T and meal with our host Yanni in the large Lapa bar building.1-DSCN2383.JPG.43058d37127db00e9292332fc5319676.JPG

Tomorrow we will be picked up by our next hosts for the drive over to Old Mdonyo River Camp. Our pick up is scheduled for noon in order to maximise our time in the park without running into another 24 hour period on our scheduled flight out in five days time.


Sightings have been acceptable. Lions twice, 1.5 leopards and a glimpse of two cheetah running away. and of course LOTS of Ellies so Ruaha is being kind to us. What will our new location bring?



Edited by Galana
Correction ; Yellow-collared Lovebird not Fischers. thanks StokeyG.
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Whoa! what's going on here? Pin sharp bird photos from @Galana? Did someone borrow your camera Fred?:P

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1 hour ago, Soukous said:

Pin sharp bird photos from @Galana?

Well with all those bloody buttons to choose from I am bound to get it wrong sometimes.:ph34r:


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13 hours ago, Galana said:

I don’t wish to overdose on either ellies



13 hours ago, Galana said:

Makes a change from ellies.


Why don't you like elephants?

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3 hours ago, Super LEEDS said:

Why don't you like elephants?

So from Leeds and not recognising a typical Yorkshire double negative when I lapse. You need more time at Elland Road.:P

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After a leisurely breakfast, packing up and bidding our farewell and thanks to Yanni and his very helpful and obliging staff our pick up took place on time at noon and as this is barely half a day including a transfer to another lodge one would imagine there will not be much to report.

But Africa and Tanzania don’t always work like that.

Entry formalities dealt with and we motored on over the Rufiji bridge where we took on final look around as this would be our last crossing and took the normal route to the central area instead of the expected drive west into currently unvisited territory.

Our driver and guide Godson seemed to know where he was heading and as we had a packed lunch aboard we sat back and studied the fauna as usual. Shortly after we were told that he had heard news about the two cheetah we had caught a brief glimpse of yesterday and they had been seen this morning. And so they had.

  We could see them lying on the wrong side of the very muddy pool, where we had watched the ellies bathing yesterday. It took some time to find a firm crossing point but having done so we were able to see the cats had risen and were moving slowly off. Fortunately they wanted a drink first so we could keep with them for a while. You can imagine the number of photos we took in the 20 minutes we were able to keep close in contact but there is no space for all of them here.


So a few will have to do. We were well pleased with this as Cheetah are not that easily seen in Ruaha and we had only been in the Park an hour.


Indeed it was almost 14.00 and time for lunch already.

Whilst lunching I managed to get clear pictures, I did not say ‘sharp’ but clear of a Beautiful Sunbird in a nearby bush. 1-DSCN2450.JPG.cce282f015acb22b52e4ee6e5d09eeb1.JPG1-DSCN2451.JPG.55eca75bc10b57f59a1abd353415ffde.JPG

 A beautiful bird so what else could it be called?

Lunch was soon over as we had around 40km or so to drive but this still was unhurried and I took a family portrait of some Zebra  as well as indulging in yet more encounters with friendly ellies.1-DSCN2456.JPG.a847985b054e991d5236179f270b5783.JPG1-DSCN2457.JPG.705768e78f919e18e652952b74194c0d.JPG1-DSCN2458.JPG.0b1d86741cf81a6c4ab04a9b28b590ba.JPG

Now hold that pose.

Grant's Zebra Equus burchelli bohmi/granti .

And now for some ellie moments!1-DSCN2489.JPG.207dfb753c84eb3010e67a3d5e14079f.JPG1-DSCN2494.JPG.bc2c3dd29d265ff057b8e5a9fa4c9b70.JPG1-DSCN2495.JPG.774e7eba252d8015bb15f1e61f3b4837.JPG1-DSCN2504.JPG.a8322d91ef4a9e3e1a6ba01cf03c5d4a.JPGLovely.


After a while our track more or less followed the dried bed of the Old River and we spotted four lion in the sand. Two adult females and two six or seven month old feisty and alert cubs. Well that was worth a stop.1-DSCN2515.JPG.fe91c635c77734c06f0d5ed802019785.JPG1-DSCN2519.JPG.7d7d0d0593e777f64b722685bcb12768.JPG


Soon after with the area looking more familiar we approached Mdonya Old River Camp the strange zig zag route through a small wooded area which I presume is to preserve the relative remoteness of the camp ‘frontage’ for viewing from the tented area.

We were made most welcome with the usual hot towels and cold drinks and checked in to our tents that were to be our homes for four nights. 1-DSCN2529.JPG.3ea5b382de9c23afa37dec682eda98f1.JPG

The tents were much as I remembered them being set well apart on concrete hard standing with a sitting out area overlooking a large grassy area where giraffe and impala could be seen grazing and many birds also evident. This will do for me.


Inside the tents was quite roomy with a large bed and plenty of space for clothes etc., and the usual offices out back through another set of zips.

I noted a large electric fan but no evidence of a light switch which seemed odd. If there was electric power why make us dress and undress by paraffin lamps or torch? If the Solar cells could run a hungry electric fan surely they could give some lights as well?


Meals at camp were taken communally in a large bug proof ‘marquee’ type structure with the usual camp fire for pre or post prandial beverages. There was also a large mess tent /lounge available.1-DSCN2527.JPG.083faa613f29d11b8f342b5dd033d2e6.JPG

Battery charging was available.

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