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Galana goes west down memory lane in Southern Tanzania.


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Never tire of eles. especially when there;s a family that eats its way to your vehicle and their calmness just pervades the atmosphere and seeps through your very soul. 

but cheetah and lions will do nicely too! those two male lions lwith those scars look like warriors having survived some mighty challenges!

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So here we are at Mdonya Old River Camp for four nights with three days of Game drives in an area somewhat further west than central. There are plenty of birds in the camp grounds too and mammals can be seen from the tent too.

So we set off after an early and pleasant breakfast with high hopes.



Our departure is noted by two Black-backed Jackals.


And shortly thereafter we are accosted by a bull elephant demanding that we spend time with him.



We are not sure if he wants to chat or just show us what a good chap he really is.


He proceeds to curl his trunk around a substantial branch but makes no attempt to break it or even browse from it.


We can clearly see that he is watching us watching him. We should never anthropomorphise but it does look like he is just showing off.



He checks that we have duly noted his performance and seems quite happy.


As we proceed we almost literally bump into a family of Dwarf Mongoose. One of my favourites. A top 'cuteness' factor, and if I could, one of the creatures I would love to make friends with. Indulge me please.1-DSCN2567.JPG.3a6ff1260e0b911b96342451eeea3731.JPG1-DSCN2581.JPG.43db12fb017a59bab21b6886e730d409.JPG1-DSCN2609.JPG.f16b1245026de59f5537b02853d3c5df.JPG1-DSCN2611.JPG.c483cc86dfbb6391bf4fcb7f9652a5df.JPG



They have a home in a nearby Termite mound and retire there to let us drive by.


Quite made my morning.

Further on a Dik Dik chose to check us out too.



So do the local squirrels at our lunch stop..1-DSCN2721.JPG.10504d7d2a340f5365324da0e15a99ce.JPG



Not to be outdone, this fine Impala ram strikes  a pose.


A few birds to round off the day.


White crested Helmet-shrike.  poliocephalus



Namaqua Dove. (male)


and finally just by my tent back in camps this Heuglin's Robin or White-browed Robin Chat keeps us entertained.1-DSCN2767.JPG.b19c51b01e85a358f839f33528fa3e57.JPG

A short but eventful day.

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It is good to see the animals with such a green background 

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"Today" is/was St.Valentiine's Day so the idea was to rise early and have our breakfast in the bush. Who said the Age of Romance was dead?



Dawn breaks. 06.27. Oh well.


Good to see the birds have got in the mood..


Hildebrandt's Francolin nicely paired up.



While this pair of Blue-naped Mousebirds are definitely in the mood.


So it came as no surprise to see this ellie dashing over to greet us.1-DSCN2840.JPG.84a56af48ca2a9494d8eaf4cefbf1e6e.JPG1-DSCN2845.JPG.53d22fa97ca73243b5590f72c55c0827.JPG1-DSCN2847.JPG.9ef5428562b079d5c805d36bff653fd8.JPG

Hey Missus. Did you get my Valentine Card?



Of course but Lord G sent me 12 red roses.



Good to know. Please move along.



Somebody else out and about.

A Common (Grimm's) Duiker. Posing quite nicely for a change.



Breakfast is served somewhere quiet.



Or so we thought but the lady attracts ellies wherever she goes.



Might as well record the event. There was about a dozen in the group and were coming to drink at a small lagoon nearby so we packed up and left them to it.(once we had finished eating)



Little BeeEater.


Then as we parked up on a river bank yet more ellies arrived to say hello, or to pinch the shady tree under which we sat. Forgive the sequence but note the mud on one of the females.


She definitely wants our spot.


Reinforcements arrive.


At they pass right by us.1-DSCN2915.JPG.076a713cfef4fa5847f99c9f711c5e05.JPG1-DSCN2917.JPG.eb6078e668c041e4d6bb529616129027.JPGI spent some time videoing this standoff and will post a link later.



The grass was quite lush so we left them to it.


Later we got one of the best views of a lovely Purple-crested Turaco which normally delights in hiding behind foliage when not scampering about high in a tree.1-DSCN2929.JPG.4c07cd8ee8005c22fb9ad6d25454c5ce.JPG1-DSCN2938.JPG.1453d77a19cd948a69a87b97ab0898a2.JPG



A decent sighting of the beautiful Lesser Kudus of Ruaha NP. Much heavier and bolder stripes than its bigger cousin.


Lady G gets another greeting from a persistent admirer.


He throws a little strop for her.




Back at my Tent I get to watch some birds for a change.



Southern Black Flycatcher.



Yellow-bellied Greenbul.



African (Blue-billed) Firefinch at my drinking bowl.



Shortly joined (evicted) by a Melba Finch and Holub's Golden Weaver.



Watched by the much more secretive Slate-coloured Boubou.

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What a horrific start and huge let-down by our national airline! Fortunately the rest of your tale is much more positive and a joy to read. With superb photos of elephants, cheeta’s, lions and many birds. 

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8 hours ago, PeterHG said:

and huge let-down by our national airline!

Indeed. Boy they have not often let me down but when they did.....

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Another busy day in the bush.


Up early to the churring call of the resident Boubou.


Breakfasted on our way to see what we, and our hard working guides can find for us today.


We see very few ellies on our drive which takes down the valley of the old river with its sandy bed and lovely Palm and Leadwood trees.

The driver seems to know where he is going and pretty soon we do too. Lions in the river bed. NUT this is a lion jam as about six or seven cars are jostling to get the "best" view of a cat about 300 metres away 'over there, under that log!'  We see a sandy brown lump in a sandy brown river bed. The term "Best view" is very subjective here even if we could get in position.

Godson turns to us and says he has heard that there is a leopard sighting about 35 minutes away and asks if we want to persist with these lions, (rumours there are TWO) or should we pull out and go and try for the leopard. Guess what we replied!!

So we had a brisk drive for about 30 minutes before turning off the track towards a car under a tree.

Has it gone? Can you see it? And as we get closer there he is.

Lounging along a branch with his til hanging down in a classic pose.


Tail hanging down.

A bit obscured by leaves but worth a try.


Then he changes position and we get some lovely portraits.


He seems to be studying something in the distance. Possibly another car coming.


Anyway he sits up and takes notice. which of course provides more opportunities for photography of this lovely beast.1-DSCN3053.JPG.d36c1310ff200c76f70a7616ec96195f.JPG1-DSCN3054.JPG.17418edffd8ede460da30e8ab86aeb36.JPG1-DSCN3056.JPG.1907dfac1865f8186c063cc03e71f6d0.JPG1-DSCN3061.JPG.447e16efbb1720bf1fa4989c7dbd22a8.JPG1-DSCN3066.JPG.2fd19f542d73cf5155b7298d92f58ed3.JPG

What is he looking at?


The he decides to move down and in doing so provides us with the best views ever.


Every bit as good as the one e saw on Christmas morning 2019 in South Luangwa,Zambia which forms the basis of my 'self portrait' on the left.


Then he drops out of the tree and wanders off with us positioning to get ahead for more photos.


Something is definitely getting his attention.



What a treat this is.


By now there are a couple of other cars following but he pays them little regard and just keeps going.



Even walks right in front of our vehicle and totally ignores us.



Even our guide 'Mousebird' gets to capture the occasion.


Eventually the cat gets ahead and goes under a dense bush ahead and is lost to view.

We just have memories of a beautiful animal to take away with us.


Other mammals seen this morning were...


Banded Mongoose



Tree Hyrax.1-DSCN3236.JPG.e24832dde68f7c40ab18c3a1e3ec883d.JPG

And lots of ellies!



That is our picnic site over the river behind the main group.



Black-winged Red Bishop.



White-winged Widowbird.



Common Waterbuck.



Cape Buffalo.


Not much overall can compete with that leopard. Or can it get better still?

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Wonderful leopard sighting @Galana, Ruaha really delivers. I'm enjoying following your report and pleased to hear that the folks at Tandala survived the Covid safari drought.


Can it really get better, this is edge of the seat stuff!

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9 hours ago, Treepol said:

Can it really get better, this is edge of the seat stuff!

Hard to say. Tomorrow we fly to Nyerere but not before we get arrested by TANAPA Boss.


Thanks to all that are following this. Only four more days to go.;)

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58 minutes ago, Galana said:

Hard to say. Tomorrow we fly to Nyerere but not before we get arrested by TANAPA Boss.



Now that sounds like a real adventure, can't wait to read all about it! Did you pay extra for this????

58 minutes ago, Galana said:




Edited by Treepol
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An incredible leopard sighting and photos to match!

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What a glorious leopard sighting!

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Well done with Chui!

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Today is our final day in Ruaha and nobody will be surprised to learn that we feel we have done rather well in this lovely Park.

Our plane is not until 13.00 so there is time for more to come.

Having settled up our bar bill etc., we take our leave of Mdonya Old River Camp with mixed feelings. A great place to stay but I wish there had been lights in the tents. Sometimes folks try too hard to recreate the old ambience of romance and miss the point that some modern inventions can improve life without spoiling the overall effect. After all, everywhere now seems plugged in to the mobile phones and Interweb thingy so why do we still have to dress and undress in the bloody dark?


We mentioned this to the send off committee but they made no response.


We made reasonable progress with more goodbyes to the local residents that we met on the way to the airstrip and they seemed sad to see us leave.



Whilst watching a pair of black eagles on  a large rocky cliff I noticed a smaller but no less attractive bird watching us.



Shikra. Or to give it its full name Little-banded Goshawk. Whatever name you want it is one of my favourite Raptors and we were all pleased to see it.


On arrival at the airstrip early and as we were still inside the 24 hour rule to depart the Park no later than our time of entry four days ago or pay another full day's Park Fee our driver obtained permission t slightly over stay by an hour or so from the Park Warden at the airstrip. We were also permitted to leave the airstrip to take a picnic at the nearby site about 2km away by the river as long as we kept to the authorised direct route..

So off we went down to the river under the watchful eye of a Hippo.



The Picnic site was scenic and better than just sitting at the airstrip.

You can catch a glimpse of it from these shots of a flypast of four Egytian Geese.



And of course there were other birds to see whilst we ate our lovely prepared lunch.



A Cardinal Quelea was foraging for nest material whilst the local Weavers were building nearby.



This is the lovely Yellow-backed Weaver (Jackson's).


As the time for our plane approached we set off to return to the airstrip but not by the same route but through the small village that houses the Park Staff.

Oh dear. We were promptly intercepted by a Park vehicle and our driver got a good telling off. The Warden was red-faced with annoyance and our driver showed the  colour with his blushes.

We were NOT allowed to be here and had abused the goodwill of being allowed to slightly overstay our time. All ended with profuse apologies and we were escorted back to the 'Terminal Hut' for our plane.

All ran to time and we boarded the 12 seat Caravan of Safari Link to transport us to our next destination of Metemere just outside Nyerere National Park recently upgraded from Selous Game Reserve.


We ran to time but were somewhat shocked to see the airstrip quite full of planes. Evidently a small concern was running day trip Safaris from Zanzibar complete with a game drive vehicle into the Park.


We  were met by our new driver and guides, Abu and Zak, from Lake Manze Camp, loaded up and set off on what I remembered as a rough game track of about 50km.

That was surprise number two. There is a new dam under construction and this project demands infrastructure and my memory of the road received as rude awakening. We had a double lane 'smooth' marram track.

The term smooth was somewhat overstated as we all know what heavy trucks will do a a wet gravel surface. Add to that the seemingly never ending procession of full to capacity Safari vehicle's returning from game drives and that drive was not very enjoyable. No chance to stop to enjoy any sightings through the dust.  We made reasonable if uncomfortable at times progress west until after an hour or so we reached our turn off. Due to recent rain and hot sun this track was much harder on progress, and our vertebrae  but at least we had the track to ourselves.

Our drive diverted for an obligatory lion sighting....


and we also added a few birds to our expanding collection.



Black-bellied Bustard.



and Zanzibari Red Bishop.

We alter could see Lake Manze ahead of us and secreted amongst the Doum Palms was Lake Manze Camp where we would stay for our last four nights on our trip.

Again I had stayed here previously when owned by Adventure Camps and had many fond memories of the place. Particularly the enthusiastic then manager Richard.

What would we find this time?

Well the large Lapa was just the same as I remember as are the tents on their permanent bases where I had good memories of being in close contact with friendly ellies going to and from the Lake via their shortcut passed my tent.



The inside was more or less as previously and exactly as we had enjoyed at Mdonya Old River but minus the noisy electric fan and, sadly, no electric lights. Just candles and Paraffin lamps lit at sunset.



The view from our tent complete with Paraffin lamp.


Welcome to Lake Manze.





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Lovely report! I am probably in a minority, but I love the paraffin lanterns. Suspect there won't be many camps left using them in a few years, but the smell is so evocative.

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51 minutes ago, ExtraordinaryAlex said:

but the smell is so evocative.

Yeah well, you can always use an aerosol Alex.;) Wait a few more years and see if you still agree when your ability to balance on one leg in the dark has diminished in an inverse ratio to the complexity of your underwear.:o

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I have very fond memories of Lake Manze in September 2019. Luckily I had brought my headlamp. 

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@Galanalaughed into my G&T reading that!


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The tale continues as we awake fresh from our dreams and take breakfast prior to setting off on our first Game Drive around Lake Manze. Today's programme is for a morning drive and to return for lunch and some rest time before going on a short cruise on the navigable loops of the mighty Rufiji river which includes the lagoon known as Lake Manze.


A short historical note: The Rufiji estuary to our east is a site with historic and literary links.

During the 1914/18 war this area was of course German East Africa and German seapower posed a threat to neighbouring Kenya and Mozambique.

The presence of a Light Cruiser, "Konigsburg", in the Indian Ocean, could not be tolerated and after a series of battles with the Royal Navy, Konigsburg was damaged and blockaded into the waters of the Rufiji where she survived several attempts to sink her. (which did eventually happen on 11th July 1915.)

This struggle was the substance of Wilbur Smith';s novel "Shout at the Devil" which was later made into a Film of the same name starring Roger Moore and Lee Marvin with the Cruiser being named 'Blucher'.

There is also a passing resemblance to the final scenes of the epic film "African Queen" (Bogart and Hepburn) with the sinking of the German gun boat "Louisa". All in all an interesting place.


On with our drive..

We met lots of antelope and birds including these..


White-throated BeeEater.


Grey-headed Kingfisher


as well as a family pack of Banded Mongoose.



which strangely stayed around long enough to allow some Photographs.



Blue-cheeked BeeEater.


Lots of giraffe.....



and yet more birds...


Dickenson Kestrel with prey.


Around the lake we saw many waterbirds...


White-faced Whistling Duck and


African Spoonbill.


But the true stars of the Avian world were undoubtedly the Carmine BeeEaters that patrolled the savannah in search of insects and were particularly adept at keeping pace with our truck and picking off the many insects disturbed by our wheels.


They do this around animals too but have no fear of vehicles as a source of prey.


My personal delight was when after years of just getting glimpses of various small quail diving for cover in the long grass one actually landed where I could see it and finally record the small bird in detail.




Harlequin Quail.


Made my morning and I quite forgot about elephants briefly......


Although that omission was corrected when they came to remind me of their continual presence.




Sitting outside my tent I took these photos of a female passing close to our friend's tent and giving him some enviable close ups.


After our rest we took a short drive to the boat dock where our launch was moored and on the way managed to add a few more birds.



Black-shouldered Kite.



Brown-hooded Kingfisher.. I think adult on the right and junior on the left.


The cruise was fairly uneventful and most interesting when the engine failed to re-start as we passed by a pod of unhappy hippo.



A bit lively when four Buffalo decided to dash over to a small island with Red-billed Oxpeckers keeping their feet and feathers dry on his back.


There were also some large Crocodiles basking on the shore.



I had taken my camera to dinner tonight as the open air dining attracted some local wildlife that I had failed to capture the previous evening. I don't mind not being able to see what is on my plate at dinner as long as the floor show is up to standard.


The Greater Galagos (Bushbabies) came to check our glasses in the bar.....1-DSCN3628.JPG.495614a4f29c72dfc1258104066f8d0a.JPG


after which Jenny and her family turned up at the table for handouts.



Common Genet.


Dinner was OK too.




Edited by Galana
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An exquisite White-throated Bee-eater Sir and your Brown-hooded Kingfishers ain't bad either.

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Wonderful sighting of the leopard at Ruaha, lots of beautiful elephants and a great start at your new camp.

Many beautiful bird photos as well. Interesting to see the Carmines taking advantage of your vehicle 

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Just catching up after my return from India. Lovely leopard sighting and so many nice birds! I seem to remember some ancient report of yours from (then) Selous which inspired me back on TripAdvisor days. I even corresponded with Flo at Adventure Camps. We almost went but then didn't. At some point we must do these southern parks!

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3 hours ago, janzin said:

At some point we must do these southern parks!

Indeed you should. They are so different from the well trodden Northern Parks. Not that they do not play a major part in Tanzania.


4 hours ago, TonyQ said:

Interesting to see the Carmines taking advantage of your vehicle 

Indeed. This was a behaviour I had not witnessed before. OK Egrets do much the same around large mammals but these beautiful birds really had the edge. More to come.

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As my BY is now on pause as I need more photos I can move more swiftly with this report.

We are nearly done with two days to go so will it rise like an Orchestral piece to a crashing crescendo or will it just fall to earth like a spent firework and fizzle out?


Our second full day went like this......

We set off to try and get through a particularly boggy area that could lead us to some cats according to Guide Zak.

As we headed over the savannah we saw movement in the grass and pausing to check it out we were delighted to see this large Monitor emerge and make its way towards us.


Not seen as often as its slightly larger 'cousin' the Nile Monitor this is a Rock Monitor Varanus albigularis  and quite a spectacular specimen too.



Like all Lizards they hunt by using their sensitive tongue to 'smell/taste' the air and can be readily identified by the duller colours and a blunter head. This one may have lost its tail at one time and grown a smaller replacement.

The tail is used in defence from predators and opponents and can inflict severe injury as it lashes back and forth. The claws, fore and aft, are extremely sharp and can also do severe damage as well as being used for digging out nests of crocodile or birds.


As we approached the wetter area we disturbed two Spotted Hyena, probably mother with grown cub, that had been bathing in a pool. Our first real sighting of this much maligned beast.


This last was smaller and cleaner and believed to be the cub.


They trotted off towards some Wildebeest grazing near by.1-DSCN3703.JPG.519142d4ad7b77139733a6b6ccf45279.JPG

Wildebeeste, (said to be the result of being designed by a committee due to it appearing to be composite of several other african mammals)

In Southern Tanzania they are known as Brindled Gnu wit a black beard whereas in northern TZ they have a 'dirty' white beard hence its other name White-bearded Gnu.


We had to turn back after several attempts to break through the wetlands and this met with the approval of the flocks of Carmine Bee-Eaters.

A few of the many photographs we took of these beautiful birds and their feeding habits.1-DSCN3770.JPG.6d2766f3692bfa76a62ecb7621d0abf4.JPG

On the lookout posts.



Hawking for insects disturbed by our wheels.



Line astern or


Head on passing. They could perform most of well known manoeuvres of skilled Aerobatic teams.



Victory Vee.



Just beautiful and fun to try and capture in action.




1-DSCN3733.JPG.a944ebae1d2fd2a5817d7aac7c37e1b4.JPGFor something more sedate we can watch this Palmnut Vulture.


Our next mammal was new to the trip. The much less seen Side-striped Jackal.


The shorter snout gives it a much more 'wolf like' appearance as does the bushy tail.


As we headed back to camp for lunch we enjoyed sightings of several of the more large mammals of the Savannah.


Cape Buffalo.






And a local Derby between Giraffe and Zebra.



A pair of Woolly-necked Storks and Great Egret.


Not a bad morning.


After lunch and a siesta to avoid the heat of the mid day (my excuse) we set out once more but it to be mainly birds so if these do not interest you my apologies.



Village Indigo Bird.



Grey headed Kingfisher.



A lone Spotted Hyena gives us a baleful stare after we had disturbed its slumber.I make no attempt to be gender specific with this species.



White-fronted BeeEater.



Goliath Heron and Yellow-billed Stork. Not in the best of lights.



More Brindled Wildebeeste with family.


And as the Sun goes lower we find


A fine Miss Piggy complete with red hair.



And a very chewed up Spotted Hyena.



Lake Manze sunset ends our day.


Dinner by starlight and bed by Oil and candle light.






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Really enjoying this - we loved the Southern Circuit when we went early in 2020 (yes, before...). We shared some camps, Mdonya Old River and Lake Manze. Did like both although I did feel the location of Mdoyna is just a bit too far from the main action. Not an issue for you since you used a a different camp as well. We only got a glimpse of Mikumi but spent more time in the Udzungwas. You did very well with your Cats, we did not see Cheetah back then.

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