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Tanzania Trip Report - Mikumi, Ruaha, Katavi & Mahale


rickmck
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This itinerary included the big parks in southern & western Tanzania: Mikumi, Ruaha, Katavi, and Mahale. Accommodation & ground arrangements were put together by Authentic Tanzania. Dates for this itinerary were 9 Sep to 26 Sep 2009.

 

This report is in two parts: Part 1, Mikumi & Ruaha; and Part 2, Katavi & Mahale (will be posted separately).

 

Part 1, Mikumi & Ruaha

 

Photo Link: here.

 

The flight to DAR was on Emirates. I hadn’t flown with them before, but they really did a nice job even in economy. Very attentive and pleasant flight attendants and I enjoyed the meals (I had requested a fruit platter on each of the 4 legs offering meal service). Pre-flight announcements included a recitation of the various languages spoken by the flight attendants – easily 8 or 10 on each leg. I’d definitely fly them again. One of the little touches was a universe of pin-prick light-hole “stars” across the ceilings above the aisles when the lights went out.

 

Arriving at DAR in the late afternoon, overnight accommodation had been booked at the Mediterraneo hotel. 45-minutes from the airport by taxi through the congestion of the city, it offered a clean, comfortable room for a modest price (I think it was ~$80). The hotel also has an outdoor bar, full-service restaurant, and pool, all overlooking a narrow beach and the Indian Ocean.

 

The rest of the travelling party arrived late that night or early the following morning. We all met up in the restaurant for breakfast and a briefing from the owner of Authentic Tanzania, then it was off on the road for the drive to Mikumi.

 

I should say that my pocket notebook was pretty much destroyed by rain on a chimp trek at the end of our trip – turned into page after page of Rorschak inkblots... Consequently, many of the finer details – such as the drive & flight times between camps, the names of some of the guides and camp staff, which eagle is which, and which of the chimps is Pim and which is Primus (or Christmas, or any of the others), are lost to me.

 

Mikumi National Park

 

The drive from Dar to Mikumi was several hours along a generally very good road (the Tanzania-Zambia Highway), and offered a window into local life outside of Dar, with busy villages along the way with lots of streetlife and roadside stands selling everything from produce to charcoal, to basketry, and just about everything else.

 

At Mikumi, we were supposed to be two nights in tents at an isolated private campsite in the park, but had been told earlier that some kind of foul-up (or bribed official, perhaps) had given the site to another safari operator for the season. As a result, we stayed at the Vuma Hill Lodge (VHL) instead. VHL has about 16 tents on platforms with wood verandas, all set onto the steep slope of a hill. Nice enough, and decent food, but it had a sort of commercial (due to its size) and not-quite-in-the-wild feel to it. Mikumi itself felt a bit like that. After all, it’s got a main highway (the TanZam) that runs right through the middle of it and is the route for entry to the park. Indeed, as sound travels so well at night, it was possible to hear the occasional heavy truck passing far off in the distance. Road kill is a problem and is dealt with using speed bumps and a lowered speed limit on the highway, but the little “museum” at the entrance gate displays a number of dreadful pictures of roadkill animals (particularly the nocturnal predators, lion and leopard). Heavy fines for collisions are advertised on highway signs.

 

Mikumi seemed to have lots of giraffe. These are Southern Masai giraffe; they’re smaller and darker in color than the giraffe I’ve seen in southern Africa. They’ve also got a very different-looking type of “spots.” Zebra and elephant were also plentiful and we had good viewing of these, including many families with young. There was plenty of other general game as well. Wildebeest running around and pronking are always fun to watch. In the two days we were at Mikumi, the only cat we saw was just a single lioness, resting in tall grass. She looked either well fed or, perhaps, pregnant.

 

We spent the better part of an afternoon at a great little waterhole that saw a constant stream of animal visitors, along with the resident crocs and hippos. Here, several elephant families came and went, while a pair of male impala sparred back and forth.

 

We got pretty good views of secretary birds a couple of times, though they always seem to be walking away from you. On the path to the dining area one night, I had a pearl-spotted owl fly across in front of me and alight on a low branch; I had a nice long look at him in the beam of my flashlight.

 

Ruaha National Park

 

From Mikumi, it was back onto the TanZam for the drive to Iringa (about 4.5 hrs) where we stopped for lunch. Once again, the drive offered a view of daily life as we passed through the towns along the way. Iringa is a good-size city and here I was able to get a pocket full of shillings from a bank ATM. We also visited a local crafts market, where I spent most of those shillings... Ruaha was a further 2 hours on a secondary road through a largely unsettled area. Along the way, I began to notice baobab trees in numbers. In southern Africa, the only baobabs I have seen were solitary and isolated individuals. Here, however, they were occurring in numbers. Ruaha itself seemed to have, if not forests, then groves of baobabs with many individuals. These were pretty cool and otherworldly looking.

 

The camp was located on the banks of a dry river with the very steep slope of a large hill opposite. This was a very secluded “public” campsite that had been secured by the operator for the season, and it was a really lovely spot. The dining area was set up beneath an enormous baobab. The five large tents seemed virtually brand new and each had an attached loo with chemical toilet and bucket shower. Water for washing and cooking was drawn from a hole dug in the riverbed, groundwater being just two or three feet below the surface. The call and response of lions were heard in the late night most every night here, and on two occasions I heard leopard coughing in the pre-dawn. Despite this, we never did see leopard, neither at Ruaha nor elsewhere on this trip.

 

Dumbfoundingly, there was no beer, wine, gin, or tonic in camp! As W.C. Fields once said, “we had to survive on just food and water.” To rectify this sad situation, camp staff had to be sent to the camp store at the park HQ the following day to procure the essentials at very high prices... In general, camp operations were a bit unorganized, evening showers were always late, and we concluded that there was simply no one “in charge” of seeing things done. Food was simple, as to be expected, but tasty and plentiful.

 

Once again, lots of the southern Masai giraffe and zebra. Somehow, giraffe always seemed to be the first animal encountered on any given day. We parked ourselves in a shady grove alongside the Ruaha River and watched fairly steady traffic by giraffe and zebra coming to drink and/or to cross the water. Early one morning, we were entertained by baboons, banded mongoose, and rock hyrax in beautiful light. A new antelope species for me was the tiny dik dik. We saw a single female in dense roadside brush one afternoon. Passing the same spot the following day, we spotted four of the animals. Two other dik dik were also seen at one other location during our stay. Kudu also always seemed to be obscured in thick brush, though we did get at least one occasion of kudu with a clear view.

 

Lions had been reported in the area of a bridge over the Ruaha River but, when we arrived, they were nowhere to be seen. We briefly (if illegally) went off-road along the river to look for them and soon found a lioness with six cubs – once again, obscured by thick brush. Not staying with them long, we returned to the bridge and soon saw the adult crossing the river, followed in turn by the cubs by ones and twos. Also from the bridge we were looking down – an interesting perspective -- on a giraffe preparing to drink from the river.

 

We crossed the bridge and followed the riverside road to a point where we judged the lioness and cubs might have emerged. Sure enough, there were five of the cubs laying about in the shade; the sixth cub and lioness were well hidden in an adjacent thicket. These guys were fun to watch even though, as lions are prone to do, they were mostly just lazing about.

 

Spotting a large group of elephant drinking water from a pool, we stopped to watch, and they were cooperative enough to approach us quite closely as they moved from the water and grazed their way up to the road. We also saw a colony of dwarf mongoose (or slender? I can’t recall...) occupying an old termite mound. Watching them was like watching whack-a-mole, as they popped up from their many holes and then disappeared again. Something a bit unusual, I thought, and also a first for me was a large and very active bee hive hanging from a branch alongside the road. Brrr....

 

A highlight: duma! Resting in the shade of a bush after taking down an impala on a very flat, grassy plain called Little Serengeti. We must have just missed the chase and the take-down, as he was breathing hard and rested for quite a while before getting up and dragging the impala back to the shade of the bush. He wasn’t much ready to eat, apparently, as he took just a few bites of the hindquarters and went back to resting. There’s a short video

 

We drove off and found simba in the shade right next to the road. Across the road were the remains of a days-old giraffe carcass. A bit further away, in the shade of a bush, was a second lion, a female (can you find it in the photo that shows the two vehicles?). The heat was hot and the lion by the road was panting heavily, but he didn’t get too disturbed when we slowly drove past him, practically within reach-out-and-touch distance. We returned to the cheetah. Curiously, he had not eaten any more of the impala, even though at least an hour had passed.

 

One evening, as we were sitting around the fire in the dark, having a drink and awaiting dinner, something moving very fast suddenly came up from the dry river bed, crashing through the bush, and ran right through the campfire area, practically causing everyone to fall out of their seats! It was a jackal, offering us a little pre-dinner entertainment, and certainly waking everybody up...

 

There’s a large compound near the Ruaha airstrip that houses the Ranger Station, housing for the Rangers and their families, a school for their children, and a medical clinic. A nice example of tourist income from park and bed fees providing direct benefits to local people. Here we arranged for and picked up Edwin – a Ranger to guide a morning walk along the Ruaha River. Edwin had worked at Ruaha for 12 years (if I remember right) and was an excellent guide and naturalist. Evidently, it is normal for a Ranger to spend his career at a single posting rather than rotating around to new posts every few years. The walk along the river was well done and very enjoyable. Lots of animal and bird life, with crocs and hippos being featured.

 

Part 2, Katavi & Mahale, coming soon...

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Thank you for the first installment of the Mormon nightmare safari.

 

Compelling opening shot with some more lovely sunrises/sets dispersed throughout. Great ele action at the water. You were very close to some of those giraffes for the face shots. Love the pair of giraffes and I noted the one drinking that you viewed from the bridge. Nice shot of the dik dik. Interesting rock formations near the crocs and hippos. The photo of you looks like you belong.

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Rick, I have been waiting keenly for this trip report as I was hoping to go on this safari as well. It wasn't to be, but the trip report is second prize. Hopefully I'll get to these areas in the not too distant future.

 

The Meditteraneo looks like a typical coastal building and rather nice. I like the photo of the bus with the orange sellers.

 

The onion sellers, fantastic display. Who would be bothered to make such neat pyramids. I do like the inclusion of 'out of park' day to day scenes.

 

I can't finish looking at the photos now, so will have to continue later.

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Sniktawk, I don't think that you'll have any issues next year. We just had that "perfect storm" of issues that hit us. Sven's father had just died in Europe and had to leave. That necessitated some last-minute shifting of guides and camp personnel. August should be a great time to go. I was pleasantly surprised by the numbers of game in Mikumi. I especially enjoyed the waterhole experience that Rick described.

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a good read with a cuppa tea. I'll have a look at the pics now.

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especially as we had an Australian travel companion.

 

 

That made me smile. We Australians do need special consideration and I'm glad that at last the safari industry is acknowledging this! :)

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It would have been fun to have had you along with us, Twaffle!

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Part1, Mikumi & Ruaha was posted previously. This is Part 2.

 

Pictures link: here.

 

Katavi National Park

 

The flight from Ruaha to Katavi was about 1:45hrs. Katuma Bush Lodge is situated on the edge of the Katasunga Plain and consists of about a half dozen chalets that are tents set up on a stilted platform and with a corrugated roof overhead. The main lounge/bar/dining area is an attractive space under thatch with a view out over the plains.

 

Highlights of the first drive on the afternoon of arrival were a number of large crocs and a large hippo wallow. There must have been a couple hundred hippos, a very powerful odor, and occasional commotion as one animal disturbed or challenged another. Didn’t look very appealing to me, but the hippos seemed to be enjoying it.

 

I heard leopard coughing in the predawn and, as we hadn’t seen one yet, we went looking in an area where one is often seen. Our guide West was a wonderful guy, very accommodating, a Zimbabwean. We had no luck with leopard but did see lots of the usual suspects (including topi!), some really large crocs, and what I think was a brown snake eagle. Late in the afternoon, we stopped by a palm bush that was just loaded with very young and baby vervet monkeys. They were a riot! We also met up with a small herd of elephants returning from a drink and a mud bath at a stream, and approaching to cross the road. We stopped to give them clearance and to watch them pass. One feisty guy didn’t care for our presence and put on a tough-guy show of ear-flappin’, foot-stompin’ mock charges and trumpet blasts. Some in our party got this on video and I hope they might post it. This elephant had a curious round hole in his left ear, which is clearly visible in a posted picture.

 

The following morning, we were off for an all-day drive and a destination called “Paradise,” where animal concentrations were said to always be good. Our first sighting of the day was a couple of side-striped jackal. One of a pair of sighted warthogs sported a HUGELY disproportionate right tusk. We also found four lion cubs, which West identified as members of the Chada pride. These were four of a total of six. The two adult males and four lionesses of this pride were not seen on this occasion (we did eventually see the lionesses and just one of the adult males).

 

Continuing on and following the road skirting the Chada Plain, a thick solid line of black could be seen far out on the plain. Though driving off road is not strictly within the rules, our guide bent them a bit and drove about a mile out onto the plain to face a huge herd of hundreds of buffalo. There’s a short video:

 

Returning across the plain to the road, we encountered a hippo with an erupted tusk and some recent battle damage (open wounds) that were being picked at by some ox peckers. Also a small bachelor herd of topi. “Paradise” was an attractive floodplain bordered by palms, but a bit disappointing as the expected concentrations of animals simply weren’t there. West actually apologized, saying he had not seen it so quiet before. Nonetheless, there were a number of hippos, a variety of bird life, and a smattering of general game. Tse tse flies had been bothersome on some segments of the drive to Paradise, but were not a problem here.

 

Retracing our steps back towards camp, we eventually again ran into the four young lions seen earlier, this time along with two adult females. Also a handsome waterbuck, who was being driven to distraction by an ox pecker that was evidently irritating a wound or sensitive spot far back above the rump. The poor waterbuck would try to shake that damn bird off, run in circles, etc., but the bird just jumped off and landed again and again... He was always just out of reach. There’s a short video:

 

To return to Katuma, you pass by both Fox’s Camp and Flycatcher’s Camp, which basically face one another across a small stream and floodplain (Katuma is then maybe ¾ or 1 mile further on). Beyond Flycatcher’s we could see a large number of large birds (vultures) in an isolated tree, so we drove to investigate. Here we found the six cubs and two of the lionesses of the local Katuma Pride. The cubs represent two each from three litters at roughly three, six, and nine months of age. They were huddled in the shade, and one very cute tiny cub was playing “inside” the several stems of the tree they were all under. Nearby were the vultures and the remains of a buffalo carcass. The late afternoon light was good, so we stayed here a while to observe and take photos.

 

Just as we were sitting down to begin dinner, one of the staff came into the dining area to say there was a python out behind the kitchen. This naturally emptied the dining areas as everyone, guests, hosts, and staff alike, headed out back to see. The snake was moving from one tree to another, across the ground, and then up and disappearing into the branches above.

 

The following morning saw a light rain, the first of the season, between 4am and 7am, after which we were out again in the fruitless hope of finding a leopard. Eventually, however, we again encountered members of the Chada Pride. First, three youngsters who had been left with a buffalo kill to eat and keep an eye on while mom and dad were off doing something else. Then the adults, who were engaged in mating, were found. A subadult male was exhibiting considerable curiosity in this activity but was roundly chased off each time he approached to investigate more closely. Meanwhile, a journey of giraffe kept a discreet distance but kept their gaze steadily on the lions to make sure they didn’t suddenly lose interest in their activity and turn their attentions to the giraffe themselves. There’s a short video with the male acting either reluctant or confused (he did do better on other attempts):

 

After lunch, we went out and revisited both the Katuma Pride cubs & females (seen the previous day under the tree with the buffalo kill), and the Chada Pride cubs and mating pair.

 

Our final morning at Katavi saw an elephant visiting the back-camp (evidently a frequent visitor), and a final visit with the Katuma Pride females who were camped right out in front of camp... Then, off by light aircraft to Mahale.

 

Mahale Mountains National Park

 

The flight to Mahale was brief, perhaps 45 minutes, and the landing approach quite steep. Overrunning the airstrip here would put you into Lake Tanganyika. Here we had a brief wait for the camp manager and his boatman to arrive in their motor dhow for the 1.5-hour boat ride to Kungwe Camp. Several women came by, having collected water from the lake at the foot of the airstrip and carrying 5-gallon buckets on their heads. How do these women do that? Five gallons of water weighs about 40 pounds!

 

Once aboard the dhow, we had some difficulty getting underway, as the anchor had evidently gotten hung up in the rocky bottom. After several attempts to dislodge it from above, the boatman peeled off his shirt to dive in. I thought the ladies on board would swoon at the sight – he looked like the cover hero on a romance novel! I was very happy that I didn’t have to take MY shirt off... Anyway, a few dives to the bottom and he had us free to depart.

 

Motoring down the shore of Lake Tanganyika was quite scenic. At first, we passed by a couple of villages with quantities of fish laid out drying on the beach, and then passed into the park. The mountains rise steeply from the lake, and you could discern the park boundary ascending the slope by a noticeable change in color – harvesting trees and removing wood (for firewood) occurs right up to the border, but is not permitted in the park itself.

 

As seen from the lake, Kungwe Camp is a vision. A beautiful thatched dining and lounge building, along with thatch-roofed chalets (tents set up on stilts on raised wooden platforms) situated on a lovely beach, with the “jungle” and steeply-rising Nkungwe Mountain rising immediately behind. What a setting. After the usual greetings and briefing from the managers and staff, we were off to our chalets to unpack. Within minutes, however, the manager was back to each chalet saying we should assemble in the lounge area as a group of chimps had just entered camp. Fabulous! Not even unpacked yet, and there are chimps in camp!

 

The senior guide here is Sixtus and, from all accounts, he is highly respected by the local rangers and even the guides from competing camps. He gave us the run-down on the rules. You must wear a surgical mask whenever you are within 50 meters of the chimps (evidently, a few chimps in past years had died of what appeared to be influenza, so the masks are a precaution against transmitting disease to them), and you may not approach closer than 10 meters (although it was not uncommon to have chimps approach much closer, usually in the act of walking past you from point A to point B ). We donned our masks and he led us to the chimps. There were about 10 chimps in this group, including the alpha male, Pim. These chimps are part of M Group, which I believe is the only group habituated to humans that tourists can see. They’ve been studied constantly by a group of Japanese researchers for 40 or more years. Whenever we encountered chimps over the next few days, there was always either a Japanese researcher or a local technician present, observing and making field notes.

 

We spent about an hour with these chimps in camp, and then returned to the dining area for a late lunch, after which we immediately left on a forest walk. We soon met up with a Ranger on the path, and he led us to the chimps that had previously been in camp. We followed and watched them for an hour before returning to camp.

 

In addition to Kungwe Camp, there are two others situated on the shore of Lake Tanganyika, with Flycatcher’s located to the north of Kungwe and Greystoke located to the south. A TANAPA Ranger is required to be with guests when viewing chimps (though not when the chimps have wandered into camp!), group size is limited (8 or 10 people, max, I believe), and time is limited to one hour per session. Kungwe sends their own tracker out very early in the mornings to find where the chimps are and report back to camp via radio. Generally, they seem to employ a strategy of hanging back in camp and allowing guests from the other camps to “go first.” The idea is that, if there is no one waiting behind you, the Ranger may be a bit flexible on the one hour time limit. Also, the chimps are said to be more active later in the morning rather than first thing in the morning.

 

On the morning of our first full day, we set out on a walk around 9:15, and encountered 6 or 7 chimps about an hour later. We stayed with them for 45 minutes, then set out to find a larger group that Kungwe’s scout had reported as being in the next valley. This is where the walk turned into a trek... It started to rain as we climbed steeply upward and then down the other side, crossed streams and slippery rocks... We met up with a Ranger who was headed the other way with a group of German tourists and their guide. We hijacked him to turn around and accompany us to the chimps. It took some doing, but the chimps were found around 12:00. They were somewhat on-the-move, stop for a while, then go, and we kept with them for well over an hour before heading back.

 

That afternoon, we went for a scenic boat trip down the coast, past Greystoke. Lake Tanganyika is the world’s second or third largest fresh water lake (by volume) and is second only to Lake Baikal for depth. The steep mountain slopes bordering the lake continue their steep decline beneath the water’s surface and, drifting just 50 meters or so off shore, we were in 120 meters of water. Several folks tried their luck fishing with hand lines, with Sixtus having the best results. Among other things, he caught a little sardine, left it on the hook, and soon brought up a nice looking yellow belly. Being on the lake, and with a difficult supply chain for fresh meat, fish caught by the staff was a feature of most evening meals at Kungwe. There were many palm nut vultures seen along the lakeshore. These have got to be the most attractive looking vultures anywhere. We enjoyed sundowners on the lake, watching the sun set over the Congo...

 

The following morning, a 2-hour hike was required to locate the chimps. They were quite active and moving through the forest in the trees and on the ground, stopping periodically and, at one point, joined by a second group of chimps. We spent nearly 2 hours with these chimps and observed lots of interaction, particularly grooming themselves and one another. Pim, the alpha, gave close grooming attention to a subordinate chimp. Evidently, he maintains his position not only by intimidation but also by granting favors to subordinates. When it was time to return to camp, we had to pass two chimps who had parked themselves in the middle of the foot path, walking by them within touching distance and making eye contact...

 

After lunch, the chimps were again in camp, sparing us the need to go hiking to find them. Pim was again among the group and, at some point, something set him off, as he charged another chimp, screaming and with teeth bared. This set off quite a ruckus, with all the chimps screaming and moving about. It was actually a bit frightening and made me think of the opening sequence of “2001, A Space Odyssey,” where one group of chimps chases another group away from the waterhole... Once things calmed down, Pim strode passed one of the women of our group and gave her a deliberate shove as he passed. He was letting her know who’s boss, I guess, and she said that the shove was powerful enough to get the message across without pushing her over. Yikes!

 

We left Kungwe the following day, flying from Mahale to Katavi to Ruaha to Dar. Here we parted ways, with two of the group continuing on to the Mara and the rest of us heading home.

 

I really enjoyed the chimp experience and now want even more to see the gorillas before it’s too late...

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...., is there road access to these areas you mention? One of the issues we had was that we could see huge herds out on the plains, but couldn't get to them because there are no roads and they aren't allowed to drive off-road.

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Not quite true. When I stayed with Flycatcher during their first season (2001) they had to go off-road - simply because not enough tracks existed during that time. "We're making our own tracks" was the general comment. I can't remember if we had a TANAPA ranger with us on each drive, I only remember having them in camp and keeping an eye on us when we walked to our tents at night.

Edited by Tdgraves
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The camp managers at Katuma said that they had tried to get the TANAPA rangers to let them go offroad, but were forbidden to do so. There may have been some "greasing of palms" have gone offroad, given that TANAPA usually doesn't allow it in their national parks.

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Thanks for the trip report rickmck. A good read and some nice photos/videos too.

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Hi Rick,

 

Ditto to the other comments - a lovely report, indeed!!! Hope to get to some of these parks one day.

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Guest sniktawk

Seems that you went to the same camps as us, it is nice to see so many people not utilising Chada /Greystoke, and saving themselves lots of money.

Both areas seem to have been more productive for you than us, our Chimp excursions were a lot less productive.

 

Nice photos in particular the Elephant with flapping ears, you also seem to have had some light on the Chimps or were you using a high ISO?

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Nice trip-report!

If anyone of you see a girl named Leigh walking with the baboons in Mikumi say 'hi' from me!

And if any of meet a guy named Jaap in Ruaha say 'hi' from me too!!!

 

PS: The pictures of a white-backed vulture is a Lappet faced vulture and the Egyptian ducks are White-faced whistling ducks.

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Thanks for the kind words. Happy to know that people found it interesting.

 

...., I wish I had had the details of your Katavi knowledge before going! Next time, I will...

 

Sniktawk, I only have a Canon S3 P&S, so if it was set to a high ISO, I wasn't aware of it (it has happened before that I have toggled a button inadvertantly). Maybe the camera was adjusting for dimmer light under the heavy forest canopy?

 

Egilio, thanks for the corrections of the vulture & ducks.

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Egilo, I've noted your duck comment also and have enhanced my water fowl knowledge as a result.

 

RickMck,

The giraffe close-ups continue! The vervets in that beautiful setting of palm(like) leaves make great shots. I was hoping there’d be some documentation of the absurdly long warthog tusk which looks like those people who try to get into the world record books with their long fingernails. Nice job on the hippo running out of water. You even got the oxpeckers on his bloody wound! It’s nice to see the photos of what you described , such as the lion cub hiding in the branches and the vulture tree.

 

For the chimps... Wow, you were close as evidenced by the shot with people. You have to be thrilled with those photos. No evidence of the rain that destroyed your notes in the photos. Love the baby on the back. Mahale is The Place for excellent chimp interactions. In many hours of tracking 3 chimp groups on my last trip in Uganda and Rwanda, I never had as intimate viewings as you did.

 

I’m a sucker for those melancholy boats/beach/ocean shots. Nice captures there!

 

So who all went? You, ShayTay, Sundowner, anybody else we know? You may have stated the cast of characters, but I missed it.

 

At this point in the trip, I assume you were no longer hindered by the Mormon nightmare? No offense to Mormons. My cousin is Mormon. If a camp ran out of booze, I might not even notice.

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Lynn,

You've got the cast of characters right, plus we were joined by two of ShayTay's friends from California (very enthusiastic safari virgins who, I suspect, will be back again...). At Ruaha, we were joined for one night only by another couple. At Katavi & Mahale, we had the camps to ourselves...

We were without beer, wine, and gin for one night only in Ruaha. Much to Sundowner's disappointment, we were without tonic for two nights. Gin & Sprite, evidently, just doesn't cut it... As for me, I favor Wild Turkey (an American bourbon) and, having learned from past experience that you cannot count on this being available in camp, I had bought a liter at duty free. So I was OK... :o

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