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To Speke about Lake Victoria and the Nile. Feb-March 2024.


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3 hours ago, BRACQUENE said:

I counted already 18 birds from the start

I believe you. No doubt there may be more to come as we turn from our furthest east and head back towards Rwanda's Akagera NP from :owhere there seems to be a shortage of reports.

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Posted (edited)

What is there to do in Ikoma?




Good question as this is my third visit here. All three visits I have stayed at Moivaro properties. First at the Robanda Tented Lodge which I liked a lot despite the recent, at that time, fire that destroyed the restaurant leaving us to all cram into a small marquee tent. But the area was good and Roger, my guide at the time, drove me around the area that held lots of wildlife. So I planned a return last year only to learn that the Lodge was closed for refurbishment so we used Ikoma Tented Lodge instead. Only on arrival did we discover “driving around” was frowned upon and we needed the services of the Wildlife Management Ranger who we named ‘Sleepy’ as his snores from the back of the Land Cruiser would put a Leopard to shame. We also got stung for an US$18 pppn ‘Concession Fee’ just to access the Camp.

So this time we planned to make them earn their fee. It was certainly cheaper than the $80 demanded over the ‘fence’ in Serengeti proper but do the animals know that? This area is right on the migration path and holds lots of wildlife and well worth a visit birders can find plenty to keep themselves occupied too. We nailed Karamoja Apalis last year and the Lodge grounds are unfenced so mammals wander through day and night, mostly night, when a torch is needed in case of buffalo and one needs an escort from dinner although we doubted the utility of a small bow and arrow he carried. I suppose the idea was that our escort would annoy the fearsome, and now irate beast, whilst we climbed a handy Acacia. A variation on Spanish bull Fights with our diminutive Bowman cast as Toreador and us as stand in banderilleros.



The walk to the Restaurant in daylight is fine.


After an excellent breakfast we thought to go adventuring and as there was no sign of Sleepy we set off along the many tracks visible with the idea to visit the other tented lodge and check progress with its refurbishment. Even if my memory let me down as to the new tracks through the grasslands I still had the location on ‘Gladys’ so away we went.


On the way we found a chameleon taking his time to cross the road so helped him along to safety. Then we picked our way through the growing ‘village’ of Robando, gosh it has grown, and directed by Gladys set off through the bush on tracks that headed in the general direction of where the camp should be. Eventually the renovated viewing tower came into sight and we parked up and introduced ourselves to the “lady in charge” Isabel. We were shown around and allowed up the tower which is quite impressive and will be an asset when the camp opens. When that will be is anybody’s guess and I doubt the target date of July is remotely possible from what I saw.


From the Tower we could see Zebra and antelope so after thanking Isabel for her tour we got back in the Cruiser and set off to look for the Zebra etc., we had spotted. Not as easy as it seemed but we took back bearings on the Tower and corrected our course a bit and there they were all the time. A nice mix of Zebra, Topi and Kongoni (Coke’s Hartebeeste). Not particularly skittish so we got reasonable views.



Then retracing our tracks we headed back ‘home’ with a couple of birds as highlights.



The fast moving Double-banded courser and the not so fast but quite flighty Northern Wheatear. Which had at first fooled us into calling “Isabelline”.


Waiting around camp during the heat of the day I amused myself with watching the Mice play while the cat was away.




A few birds also obliged me.


A Chinspot Batis showing her Chin spot. Names can be so simple.


1-DSCN3756.JPG.42aa09bcb2b8090e261325782142c7ea.JPGA Bird in Africa with a Grey head and Silver bill? Go on take a guess.

As it cooled down in the afternoon we decided to go off on another drive this time to the west but we had not gone very far before we had to pull off to allow a small saloon coming the other way to pass by. Except it stopped and words were exchanged with Emmy the gist of which was that we must return to the Camp to pay the WMA fee. So we turned and went back. On arrival we recognised ‘Sleepy’ but he refused to remember us and when we disputed this he pretended to be his twin brother. Right.so that’s how he wants to play it does he?

 First, You cannot go on Game drives.          “Why not? We have paid the bloomin Fee?”

 That’s just for sleeping.    “We thought that was your job?” Score one for me! 

No you have to pay extra for filming and cameras!!   “You know what you can do mate!” 

You have cameras! “Yes and everybody carries mobile phones! Do you charge for them too?”



He then produced two copy accounts for some Spanish visitors as evidence he was right. So we will pay, which was never in dispute!  “BUT we want a receipt.”  

The office is closed it is Saturday. “Then we will pay on Monday when it is open.” 

 No! You must pay now.

OK we will pay now BUT we want to go on a game drive so go and get your coat and gun and get in the car!”

To be fair he calmed down (even though he was hoping to watch Football on TV with his mates) and did as we asked and we had a nice drive and found some ellies and giraffe as well as birds.


Indeed he even stayed awake this time especially when Emmy declined to drive on some very dodgy wet ground and we had to divert off track.


Here is our track (to the other camp at the top and with sleepy at the bottom.) Ikoma Camp is just where grey and green meet marked 'private access road' and I have left in the scale for comparison.  We ended the day with some nice sunset shots of White Storks at roost as we headed back in for dinner.



What else is there to do at Ikoma? First we need dinner and a rest. Too much excitement for one day. Part 2 will follow shortly.

Edited by Galana
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What else is there to do around Ikoma?


Well we are very close to Serengeti so why not splurge on a ‘day trip’ down to Seronera and see if we can find a Cat! Not that lion ever have a high priority with me but my companions like the idea and we all would love a cat with spots on. So off to Ikoma gate we go with our flexible friend in hand for the fees.

We intended not to look at things which may upset Sleepy and the local giraffe promise not to tell tall tails as they posed for a nice frieze along the skyline against the rising sun..


1-DSCN3853.JPG.4ec63f4b7ed61ed961a777b92a78f6ed.JPG We also stop to photo the roosting White Storks still enjoying a lie in on the sunny Sunday morning. Obviously no babies due today.

Entrance to the National Park is easy. Just ask for a day ticket, give car and driver details, swipe my Credit Card, hold breath whilst my Bank back home wonders what I am up to this early on a Sunday morning and print off the receipt. US$264.32.   Kerching! So simple.



So we drive more or less the reverse of our departure track of two days earlier. We see elephant in the distance and lots of antelope but nowhere the amount that will be arriving in a couple of months. All in all quiet morning. After trawling along several of the well known tracks around the Seronera river area and taking a portrait of Fischer’s Lovebird

1-DSCN3909.JPG.3f3fc828fbd8f399d5f00821f598927b.JPG1-DSCN3925.JPG.b654aa84706e3e719da542573bfa4a59.JPGand a strange pairing of Impala Ram and Banded Mongoose steadfastly ignoring each other we end up at the busy picnic site and decide to wait out the midday heat by having lunch during which there are birds (and people) to watch as well as a friendly family of Dwarf Mongoose checking us out.



About 15.00 it is cooling down so we set off back out to the south and there must be something out there to justify the expense and effort. See our multitude of routes on this Archive of the day.



And eventually we find a couple of cars stopped ahead of us and see some lion lounging around in the road. They are quite relaxed with us and one female checks us out as Emmy gets a good view through our open window. Eventually they decide to move further from the track for some peace and take up position on a small Termite mound.


1-DSCN3956.JPG.32fb4d90b1a9869cfc5db6b1df1f3a8b.JPG1-DSCN3963.JPG.b11a189fd3dc2f0e7eb975e4787e478c.JPG1-DSCN3964.JPG.7dae43889fae37a25fdd1d01776a54fc.JPG1-DSCN3970.JPG.02036b087ae590d292e6f8915f8ae0a6.JPG1-DSCN3976.JPG.4af7dbe87654a823281a581b645d6cfc.JPGWe leave them to it.


Then we find another lady casually draped up a tree and take few pictures. She is not for moving and it is hard to get a clear view so this will have to do.


It is almost time to head back to the gate so we move north and are soon enjoying more peaceful scenery. We come upon a family of giraffe, maybe the same ones we saw this morning? They are trying to cross the road so we pull in and watch.

1-DSCN3996.JPG.69b29794123bee2592b605084d27aa22.JPG1-DSCN4019.JPG.265485a7356e28007d7f6441b3f19700.JPGThere is also a lone Bull elephant chewing the acacias but he is not that bothered by our presence it seems.



We note with displeasure the cavalier attitude of some commercial vehicles to the giraffe’s continued attempts to cross the track which is simply unacceptable.



1-DSCN4032.JPG.e94b9923d51fb04b0f03e0835c7b8455.JPGIs this what the future will bring when that trans Serengeti highway gets completed? Do the Tanzanian Highways people really expect 40 km of gravel will slow vehicles down and avoid accidents? Sadly if will become another Roadkill centre such as that created through Mikumi some years ago. Road bumps just don’t achieve anything in the mindset of a long distance driver.


After most of the giraffe have manage to dodge the vehicles and cross to safety the lone elephant then decides to exert his authority and show his displeasure at this bad behaviour. Good for him.1-DSCN4042.JPG.c0e14a3fe2134f5feaf8d3472e131322.JPG



We exit the Gate and bid Serengeti good bye for this year. Not a bad day and it will end on a high as we turn up the short access road to our Camp to find another ellie and a giraffe close by and no Sleepy to bother us or them.



And that’s what there is to do around Ikoma.  It only cost us US132 each to do it.



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It had to happen, but "it" was not a huge disaster of inconvenience for you fortunately.  Nice recovery and hope the insurance makes it even nicer.  Good thing you arrived in time to become part of the fish anti-poaching squad, with a few spoils for your efforts. The bush pigs should place Rubondo on the must-visit list for many!  Such a unique and fascinating itinerary you devised.  I am up to the proxy relationship with the bed linens, also unique and fascinating.  Looking forward to that.

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Posted (edited)

Onwards to our ultimate destination. The bridge over the River Mara.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hj4MucUzyVM Anyone who does not know this tune should be ashamed of themselves and those who know the actual words should be even MORE ashamed of themselves.  Only kidding! Stirring stuff against which our small excursion pales to nothing.



Our time in Ikoma is over and we take our leave of the lovely Jessica who looked after us so well during both our stays. Her expression is not quite that of Helen of Troy but it got us packed and ready to leave.

  1-DSCN4062.JPG.75d186b7159567dcaa8f46c111b0ad69.JPGIt is time to move on north west to take a look at the interesting bridge that acted as the catalyst for this trip. Would we get there and what would we find when we did?

Our destination tonight is Mwitongo Lodge in the small town of Butiamo which I have been told can arrange a boat for us on the Mara river. Not much to report on the drive other than the car missed a beat or two but was soon fixed when we traced air in the fuel pipe.


The drive was mainly alongside the Grumeti Wildlife Reserve but unlike last time we saw few animals to stop and admire so our progress was quite good despite running into some further road works which the local traffic were keen to use despite them not being finished. The route was quite scenic as it wound through wooded valleys and over hills. I had got Gladys working well and regret not pausing for some photographs.

We had allowed about six hours for this drive and as we proceeded west we sensed rather than saw Lake Victoria looming away on the horizon as the road swung north at Kizu to meet the main T4 coming up from Mwanza.

We found our lodge easily in a very quiet area of this bustling town and were made very welcome by Johan and his team.

1-DSCN4068.JPG.26eefe3344e180e92be30a3b967a6716.JPG1-DSCN4069.JPG.cbcd6ea49340ce395263e9eea41a4870.JPG1-DSCN4070.JPG.613f1df5de30f205340869246ffde588.JPG1-DSCN4071.JPG.3d368a74f899e9e82d1ce697001fef10.JPG1-DSCN4072.JPG.2e8c3b8503d8b69f3d2c1f895043d07d.JPG1-DSCN4074.JPG.57826da2ead44f40e926e2fb2131425e.JPG1-DSCN4075.JPG.2f587048b30bea992811f5ae6d6637d1.JPG1-DSCN4076.JPG.2779b5d20175e3448aaa325cde726213.JPG1-DSCN4077.JPG.34329d3adf0f62daaa0cc467e51896b6.JPGOur rooms were lovely and the whole lodge well laid out. There was even a large pool for those who indulged in such things. Meals were in a lovely dining room with alternate dishes to choose from. Beer was excellent value. We settled into our snug cottages and slept well. Tomorrow we would find the river.


This involved a longer drive than envisaged as the boat was in the distant town of Musoma which in itself was some kilometres along the lake from where the Mara entered. Follow our course with the blue flags.

Nevertheless we made good time to Musoma and our rendezvous with the boat despite incurring the wrath of the Prime Ministers police escort when we failed to pull over and park whilst the VIPs whisked by with Blues and Twos going.     Well! How much road does he really need?

We found the boat easily enough. To say it was ancient would be an understatement and the Gopher wood was in desperate need of some Deck Oil to freshen it up. I think it might have been the caged Ravens and Doves that really gave its age away.

1-DSCN4096.JPG.334275d456eda0d85f0ef500bc34f4ff.JPGAll aboard.

It may have lacked a few mod cons but the ancient engine fired up and we were away. I think downwind we managed about 4 knots flat out and there was no wind. Yet!

1-DSCN4098.JPG.a1d55f888cd5c60d5295f8755284801a.JPG1-DSCN4099.JPG.c15d0e0cb9daab337fa2ab8b453018d8.JPG1-DSCN4103.JPG.fcbc55b743b784256eba8f516b61bcbd.JPG1-DSCN4100.JPG.5d850d592e4fd7f381246385eae38834.JPGOur course seemed in the right direction but as we progressed I began to doubt that our boatmen actually knew where they were going and this doubt increased when with the papyrus beds that surrounded the river mouth in sight they stopped to ask another fishing boat directions. But we got there in the end and proceeded up river against the current but in relatively sheltered waters.



We started to see birds such as Blue-cheeked Bee~Eaters and Reed Warblers but despite us calling the hoped for Papyrus Gonaleks failed to come out.



Eventually we reach the magnificent new bridge that carries the T4 north on its way to the Kenyan border and were impressed by it. It was also very low with little headroom (or air draft as us sailors would call it) but our worthy pilot barely throttled down although the engine noise may have decreased a decibel or two and we shot under the bridge with about two inches clearance at most.

1-DSCN4110.JPG.df1f37644547083d95aab48aa688307d.JPG1-DSCN4129.JPG.67606c4628dec38263815eae9ddf411f.JPG1-DSCN4130.JPG.e44b826dc7154232d759156c76aab606.JPGEven the pilot ducked. Is now the time to mention that the boat roof was fabricated from corrugated iron sheeting (beat that Noah!) and I can only imagine the carnage that would have ensued had we not cleared the concrete overcast.



We proceeded further upstream before anchoring (well throwing out a large block of iron with a rope fastened on it) for our packed lunch. The Mara river is well known to lots of tourists to Kenya but I bet there are few waZungu who have anchored and picnicked on it.



And so it was time to turn around and head back to Musoma especially as the wind had freshened up and there were dark clouds coming our way. The ride back was choppy but that old engine did not miss a beat (and my sensitive ears heard every tappet closing) and our course did appear a bit straighter than our outbound one but there again we could see Musoma in the far distance to aim for.


All in all a great day out and one we shall remember for a long time. Especially the good ship Venus that was under sail making good headway whilst the dogs kept lookout!





I will leave the story here and not spoil tomorrow.


Edited by Galana
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That sounds like a great boat trip, and you survived!

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What an odd exchange with the "twin.  The good ship Venus came through for a picnic to remember!

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Butiama and some Culture for a change.


Today was a spare day built in to the itinerary in case of problems in arranging the Boat trip. It was not needed so as this area was new to us we all opted for a walk in the forest. The whole town is very ‘green’ in layout but even here certain areas are kept as open space and forests. The walk was fun but one could literally no see the wood for the trees so photography was limited.


We did see the only Red-winged Starlings of the trip so excuse the relapse to birds which was not the intention.



In the Forest there was a small clearing in which some sort of monument had been placed. As I ‘know a bit about planes’ I was curious as to the model displayed on it.. Others familiar with warbirds will recognise the simple austere lines of a Russian built MIG 21 as did I.

What on earth is that doing here? I could not read the inscription but recognised the military titles and the date 1978. I made enquiries and was told that during the Tanzanian-Ugandan war that overthrew Idi Amin both sides operated Mig 21s and one Tanzanian Air Force Mig had radio problems and got lost returning from a raid into Uganda. Sadly he strayed over Butiama which was very well guarded, for reasons that will become clear below, and got shot down by his own side. An early example of ‘Friendly fire’ or ‘Blue on blue’ as it is called. Certainly understandable when both sides operated the same type of plane and the defenders have only seconds to identify whether the incoming fast jet is “friend or foe”.   The crew did not survive and this is their Monument.


This sad tale leads me on to our other excursion which is strangely linked and is the reason why Butiama was so well guarded despite being in a fairly remote and rural part of Tanzania. It was the birthplace and home to the local chief of the Zanaki Tribe whose wife produced a son on 13th April 1922 who went on to become one of the most respected African Politicians of the last Century if not ever. The local chief had the nickname ‘Caterpillar’ which in Zanaki is ‘Nyerere’ and the boy was Kambarage Nyerere.

Following his baptism in 1942 he took his saint’s name ‘Julius’ and it is by that name he became well known. He went on to become the country’s first Chief Minister in 1961 as the move to the Nation’s full Independence progressed. He became President a year after Independence when Tanganyika became a Republic. He was much loved by his people and respected throughout the world despite some of his policies that resulted in wrecking the country’s economic progress. He earned the soubriquet ‘Mwalimu’ (Teacher) for his leadership.

Unlike many other newly independent nations, Tanganyika, later Tanzania, never fell victim to tribalism and this is often attributed to his pronouncement that his people were Tanzanians first after which tribal loyalties came second and village politics third.

It is also worth noting that he is one of the few of the new breed of Presidents to step down when ready voluntarily and with honour in 1985. He gradually withdrew from mainstream politics and returned the family home in Butiama where work was progressing on a new modern house. He died in England on 14th October1999 after an illness and his body returned to Tanzania and eventually buried at the family home in Butiama.


The family ‘compound’ and grounds are open to the public and we paid a visit in the afternoon.

I don’t normally ‘do’ famous homes but was happy to make an exception out of my love for Tanzania and her people. Here are a few photographs which I hope you will enjoy as much as I did taking them.


 Respectfully greeted.


The old chief's palace where Kambarage saw the light of day still stands.


Whilst he deplored monuments many of course exist.



The location where the flame of liberty still burns (although it was currently on loan in Dodoma at the time of our visit.)



Emmy poses by the Flame.


1-DSCN4170.JPG.3009f443164f8cef0d8976226882450f.JPGIts a great view from there over the rural countryside.


Rocks mean Rock Hyrax.



We paid a brief visit into the new house that was finished in 1999 just weeks before Mwalimu's death.


His tomb is carefully and beautifully maintained. He converted to Catholicism in 1942 following the death of his Father.

This all too short History and culture report is now over and normal service and reporting will continue tomorrow when we commence our long drive back to Kigali.

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A bit of culture made a nice break but now back to some wildlife.


We have reached the Apogee of our journey, geographically at least, and made our objective of Kisumu Bridge by river so it is now time to start the return trip but there is plenty of life in the old dogs yet so stick with us a while longer. This post will provide at least five mammals, many birds and even a living Dinosaur.

We leave Mwitongo Lodge and the lovely staff with regret and head off on nice tar roads to the main coast road T4 for Mwanza. But we are not going all the way there just yet. We have some nights booked at a lodge that repaid a visit last August with lots of new birds and even if we don’t get as lucky this time it’s a lovely friendly place just to relax and enjoy some good food.

Silly me! Delete ‘Relax’ as I forgot, Emmy does not know that word in either English or Kinyarwandan.

Our drive goes quite well and soon we are passed the crazy rocky  outcrops of Bunda where there is said to be  a nice lodge perched right up top where Eagles dare but we don’t. Now with Lake Victoria to our right, west, and Serengeti to our left we soon see some wildlife.

1-DSCN4191.JPG.00ae528867aac016e968dc3a3077e872.JPG1-DSCN4191-001.JPG.69e1e0891c82ab3437fe885e7f2af8d0.JPG1-DSCN4195.JPG.ffa02470d829fcd14012a35145513a15.JPGOstriches, lots of them against a stormy background looking quite dramatic. The Masika are coming to grow the grass and the wildebeeste will be following soon. Indeed there are quite a few around already.

We pass the Ndabaka Gate and so complete the loop started just over a week ago and regain our old outbound track which we will follow more or less all the way back to our plane at Kigali in 12 days time.

But first we have things to do and we turn in to the long approach drive to Speke Bay Lodge and our new home for three nights. We have made good time and are early for check in but that does not faze the hard working management or staff at all. We settle in with a welcome cold drink until allocated our rooms or more correctly our three Banda/Rondavels. I described these last trip so won’t repeat too much. Lovely rooms with large bed or beds, desk and all mod cons. Quite one of the nicest bathrooms I have found in Africa.

1-DSCN4448.JPG.7b17648840f29c65f73dd8057bbe2236.JPG1-DSCN4449.JPG.357666d318de9089768ffe6235492728.JPGA cupboard with keypad lock and even stairs to a mezzanine floor where there is another netted bed.

An outside sitting area overlooking the lake and carefully tended gardens complete the picture.


Lots to do just sitting and watching the birds and Mongoose family going about their business. It would be a very unfeeling person who could sit and read much of a book here.


Highlights for me were, as before, the family of Dwarf Mongoose that kept cropping up everywhere it seemed. Even as one sat outside the Banda ‘reading’ you would hear a squeak and on looking up see a pair of bright boot button eyes watching what you were up to.


This little chap obviously has seen Millais' famous painting of "The Boyhood of Raleigh" and fancies a life at sea.


But he needs to watch out.. Dinosaurs are about.


Meals are served either by the lake or inside if inclement at night. There are a good choice of dishes and breakfasts served fresh to order each day with a small buffet for the staples.


And, as expected it is not long before Emmy is calling for us to accompany him on a walk in the large grounds.1-DSCN4321.JPG.d8a8cea4c5c864ddf2609ea02bcc11e6.JPG

I will spare you the blow by blow reports other than comment on various photographs.


This LBJ had me puzzled for a long while until the penny dropped.  Out of area and out of usual habitat.



Our native swallows were also keen to be heading home after nesting on my Banda.


Early morning walks, Emmy drives us hard, involved seeking out roosting Nightjars in the thorn bushes but they were quite shy and our first sightings were often as they rose from the ground and flew off.  One morning I got lucky and called Emmy over to check out the rounded hump on a branch that at first I thought was an owlet.

1-DSCN4496.JPG.6b1b58fdc2665e92b5af94eb4ad14d77.JPG 1-DSCN4505.JPG.f03ed162bb952522d3d5ead4bdff2f96.JPGA lovely European Nightjar just sat dreaming in full view for change.


The grounds were dotted with small copses of Acacia bushes and whilst searching inside for Nightjar and other birds we would find roosting Yellow-winged Bats with their big ears which was a good find..

1-DSCN4291.JPG.674bb073c3ac23076352e938d43cdcd3.JPG 1-DSCN4295.JPG.bb09f8eccac1800ea5ccbcb55bde1b1c.JPG

Emmy reported he had seen another species but our thorough search failed to re-locate it in higher trees. Then next day we got lucky and found what he had seen.

1-DSCN4547.JPG.a88a69197139bb32d1342b8a2867a4f1.JPG1-DSCN4560.JPG.ecf0b35f2167c99667217133a71fbfce.JPG1-DSCN4562.JPG.633eccff1757e6fbe1397bfd49f5e54b.JPGPeter’s Dwarf Epauletted Fruit Bats.

Sorry if Bats are not your thing but they are cute little creatures.

Other regulars included the resident Verreaux’s Eagle Owls who had raised their chick since our visit in August and it was now quite hard to distinguish from its parents..


Other regular birds were:-


Usumbiro Barbets.

and 1-DSCN4454.JPG.b45742875368448219530ae929171791.JPGRed-chested Sunbirds.


And a personal highlight was the Semi-collared Flycatcher that we have reported to the African Bird Club as it is quite unusual in this area.


1-DSCN4565.JPG.8b6449c3f3c73b2816872d3392eb7092.JPGA lovely sunset appeared as we sat down for dinner and brings us to the end of this post.



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Your photos are rekindling an acute sense of me missing the birds and mammals of Africa in me. Time for me to go again, soon, I hope.....

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Is nobody going to try for the LBJ?

Next part delayed for 24 hours as I am awaiting a link..

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10 hours ago, Galana said:

Is nobody going to try for the LBJ?


Well I had a scratch around and I haven't a clue what this bird is. Looks juvenile but could be anything!!

Come on @Galana  do spill...........

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, AndrewB said:

Looks juvenile but could be anything!!

Nope. It's an adult and has flown in from Europe. Does that help?


I am sure @michael-ibkand others @Soukoussee it regularly.

Edited by Galana
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7 hours ago, Galana said:

Nope. It's an adult and has flown in from Europe. Does that help?



Nothing to show the size, white above eye - could it be a Tawny Pipit @Galana  ??

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Sedge Warbler?

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5 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

Sedge Warbler?

That (after much head scratching) is what I decided to go for. I don't recall ever seeing one foraging on the ground before. Always perched on bush, fence or 'Sedge'.

Well done.

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Posted (edited)

An overdue brief report on our next drive.


Sadly we had to leave the lovely Speke Bay and head around the south of the Lake to our final night in Tanzania where once again we were to rest our heads in Chato Beach Resort . This time there was a difference in that we had arranged to meet two friends and fellow Trip Advisor Forumites for dinner.


The trip itself was just a repeat of the long boring ride of some 300km on decent tar punctuated by another Ferry ride which had the virtue of a decent bar where we would have lunch.



We made good time despite a delay at the Ferry which was much busier than when we used it last time but, knowing the ropes, we could cut out some palaver and get aboard ahead of the crowds.


The sun was out on arrival at our Resort and we booked in promptly. In the shuffle I blagged a better room on the top floor with a better view.


The Net over the bed was an improvement as it worked much like posh curtains on a runner that used something like  across between blinds, to go up and down, and curtains that drew the edges together. Of course there was the usual few bits of damaged net but the Mossies played fair and did not gain access to me that way. (They had been fed earlier in the evening anyway.) Our guests , Hilary and Pete, had already checked in and were found in the outside bar.

They support and are a driving Force behind a Charity called "Affordable Computers and Technology for Tanzania" (ACTT). This obtains and distributes Computer Hardware and peripherals to Tanzanian Schools and by coincidence their trip interlocked with my own at Chato so we took the opportunity to meet them for dinner along with their Tanzanian facilitator Robert. Might as well give them a plug here https://www.actt.co.tz/about.html


We adjourned to the roof top of our building and the hard working staff were kept busy on the wobbly spiral staircase supplying our liquid needs and removing the empty bottles. It was good to hear of the continued success of the project first hand and the meeting and whole evening was a great success.Rooftop.JPG.8aebb493767195b4934f1a01cacc8147.JPGstairs.JPG.5dfbde5c889d3a294648e169f6f57458.JPG

Photos lifted from Hilary's blog.


"Dawn came up like Thunder with Rangoon Rubondo across the Bay" and my head singing from the same sheet too.

Breakfast and farewells were good but sad and after snapping the resident Bishop and a friendly Canary

1-DSCN4580.JPG.af76aa8d0b2feba8613763b68fc96fc6.JPG 1-DSCN4579.JPG.c4291c7b2e96d5ae3bf0faecfdbd3641.JPGit was time to set off for the Tanzanian border post  at Rusomo Falls where the friendly officers saw us through with new Rwandan Visas and a smile.


We are heading for five nights in Akagera National Park to discover if it has improved since my last visit in 2010. It has but that part will come later.





Edited by Galana
photo alignment.
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Posted (edited)

Whilst preparing more of my trip report may I ask for everyone's indulgence by publishing this link?



As a proud Adoptive GrandDad already it still does not diminish the pleasure one gets every time another one arrives.


Now to that report.

Edited by Galana
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Posted (edited)

For Editorial reasons I propose to deal with the next part of our trip in sections as I feel certain events may take up too much attention on their own account.

So here we go leaving Chato for the final time but with a vow to return and cover the bits we had to miss due to our late arrival. I know that Emmy is keen to see more of these new Parks and I am always up for a challenge so why not? After all it was our brief sight of the Mara River last August that  sparked the wish to see more and we are very pleased we came. This whole area is worthy of further exploration. This is near where not so many years ago Emmy and I got arrested 'for looking at things without a permit' so the opportunities are endless.


Our route back to Rwanda was the same as that we used to arrive but as we needed to exit Tanzania, legally, and gain entry to Akagera National Park before the place locked the gates at 18.00 we did not loiter.

Here is our route to our new home 'Mantis Akagera Game Lodge.'


Day15ChatotoMantis.JPG.c307dc07f430bc897b02f08fe3e9375e.JPG We had the usual warm welcome at Rusomo Falls 'one stop' Border Post and whilst we seemed to have more scrutiny of luggage we exited Tanzania and entered Rwanda without too much fuss overall. Then after remembering to switch the side of the road on which to drive (they had a very innovative way of achieving this right on the border). Sort of a level crossing like  railways but both tracks being for road vehicles. The large Goods lorries added their own flavour to the process by constantly stopping with their trailers blocking the crossing point.

Anyway, 'Welcome back to Rwanda", not my favourite country by any means but enjoyable nevertheless. We made the main gate by about 16.00 and got ourselves admitted without fuss. The Rwandan Parks have a very enlightened Fee system  that other nations would do well to copy. OK so it is still Per person per day BUT after the first day/night at $100 two days/nights cost $150 and three days/nights are $200 But the big saving is that this $200 then covers you for the next week up to seven 7 days. How enlightened is that? $200 for seven day/nights.

There is a catch. Note well the day/nights. IF you leave the NP for one night, the count starts again. So it pays to sleep within the park and not some cheap place outside.

So the three of us foreigners gained access for our 5 FIVE nights for $600 total (plus a small fee for our East African Car and driver.) Permit in hand we then made our way to our Lodge. Known as Akagera Game Lodge. it is run by 'African Parks' who also manage the Park itself on behalf of the Rwandan Government. We are here for three nights of the five and as I had stayed here several years ago I was keen to see if the new management had improved things from what they were (which was not good).

We had reserved rooms on the first floor, in US Speak that reads '2nd' , so we had balconies with a view.

The rooms were well presented, clean and spacious and with views of the distant lake and the surrounding area.

Here is mine.





with a view.



Dinner was excellent so things have improved and the staff seemed to know what they were doing which was a quantum leap forward to the last time when the Dining staff seemed to operate like the old Soviet stores (anybody remember 'GUM' in Moscow??) where you saw what you wanted, went to a desk to pay for it and the the sales person ordered it and, eventually, it was brought to you.  Now we were shown to our table, presented with menus whilst drinks were ordered, and the food was a Buffet service. It worked even though some of our fellow guest could have learned some table manners and lowered the decibel levels of their voices.

But enough of that. We slept well, had breakfast and were driven by Emmy to find wildlife. Sadly our first drive was very quiet and wet and relatively unproductive. We had planned a round trip and this was  our route..



Highlight was a Rufous-bellied Heron, a Pearl -spotted Owlet is Emmy's speciality, and he never fails to call one in,  a sleepy Nightjar and a very wet Crested Barbet.





I will leave it here for now as the afternoon drive was in better weather .

Edited by Galana
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On 4/1/2024 at 9:48 AM, Galana said:

We are heading for five nights in Akagera National Park to discover if it has improved since my last visit in 2010. It has but that part will come later.

Good to hear. Heading there in 5 weeks so looking forward to this part of your trip report

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Congrats adoptive Granddad!  Baby Gala has arrived.


I'm sure your trip report is the first to reference "The Boyhood of Raleigh."  That was a striking pose for the dwarf mongoose.  How fortunate you were with the bats!


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Yay for Gala! Good to see you made it to Akagera. I really loved that park, so curious to see how you fared there after that slightly underwhelming first drive.

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On 3/18/2024 at 12:19 AM, Galana said:

Got arrested but that is a tale for another day!!


I hope we'll get to hear the tale before too long!

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1 hour ago, JimS said:


I hope we'll get to hear the tale before too long!

The arrest was in the past, right?  It did not upset this trip.  The arrest tale would be the perfect epilogue.

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4 hours ago, kilopascal said:

so looking forward to this part of your trip report

Well of there is or should be a report on Akagera already by Safari Talks own "Hercules Poirot" but it seems to have got lot as he has been home in Brussells for some weeks now.

Thanks Lynn. I was really taken by that little chap (or chappess) 

@michael-ibkNo promises but I always say when things are down there is only one way they can go.


@JimS& @AtravelynnYes our arrest was some years back in Minziro forest. The tale does exist on the web. Epilogue is OK. Epitaph no thanks!


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