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Kenya & Tanzania Sept. 2010


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Selous Cont'd.


Lots of new birds here: Water Thick-knee (which looks like a plover with bulbous knees), Black-shouldered Kite, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Hooded Vulture, African Wattled Plover, Emerald-Spotted Wood Doves (which are very hard to photograph) gallery_6396_329_34528.jpg Crested Barbet, Green Wood Hoopoe, Red-capped Lark, Common Bulbul, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Golden Palm Weavers gallery_6396_329_32037.jpg Black-headed Weaver, White-browed Sparrow Weaver, Grey-capped Social Weaver, Greater Blue-eared Starling (probably the most gorgeous bird we’ve seen) gallery_6396_329_41699.jpg and some others that weren't in my book and the names of which I can't remember! Factoid of the day - Some of the small Hornbills nest in hollows in trees, and after the eggs are laid, the male walls in the opening of the hollow with mud, leaving only a small opening through which he feeds the female while she incubates the eggs. Now, that's both devotion and trust!


We really love the location of our tent in Impala Camp. During the noon break we watched a family of elephants come down to drink, with one little baby I was afraid would float away or get grabbed by a croc. gallery_6396_329_30354.jpggallery_6396_329_20352.jpg

The afternoon drive was very uneventful. A few new birds including our first Great White Pelican flying by, some nice elephant and giraffe sightings, a couple of sparring impalas, lots of zebras and some wildebeest. I finally got a picture of a Whistling Acacia Tree with some blooms (I know, big whoop…) gallery_6396_329_10119.jpg Dinner was great, as was lunch - meals here have been a real treat. Our server is Mohammed, a lovely man from Dar who is very interesting to talk to and has a fine sense of humor. gallery_6396_329_33583.jpg I've also discovered the way to survive that long walk to and from the tent - don't do it very often! While Dick heads back to the tent for a shower, I now spend that half hour or so between arriving back at camp and time for lunch or dinner sitting in the bar gallery_6396_329_25676.jpg having meaningful (or not) conversations with the barman while enjoying a local beer or a gin and tonic. Much better than taking a hike in the stifling heat, trust me! Another great thing about our tent location was seeing the sunset from the deck. The sunsets have gotten better and better as we came south. gallery_6396_329_15445.jpg

9/25 - We went out early today, with a box breakfast. We first came upon a carcass being demolished by 3 different types of vultures. There must have been about 50 on the ground, either fighting over the leavings or hanging around in the wings waiting their turn. Vultures definitely do not play well together. gallery_6396_329_65327.jpg Although there were only two of the Lappet-Faced Vultures, since they were so much larger than all the others, they tended to throw their weight around and chase the others away from the choicer goodies. I tried to video some of the birds as they made their running takeoffs, but I have no idea if I caught any! We drove quite a distance from the camp in search of the African Wild Dogs, of which there are 3 groups in the Selous. We didn't find them, or any recent sign of them. Apparently they haven't been seen in 3 or 4 days, and they have a really large range here. We did come upon one group of 15 giraffes, which was unusual since they mostly go in pairs or families of three or four. We finally saw a mature Bateleur eagle in flight, soaring overhead. They are really quite beautiful when seen from below. Also managed to capture a Fish Eagle in flight – another lovely bird both perched and in flight. [imghttp://safaritalk.net/uploads/1290198956/gallery_6396_329_20776.jpg[/img] [imghttp://safaritalk.net/uploads/1290198956/gallery_6396_329_17093.jpg[/img]

Factoid of the day - don't take a bathroom break on the road side of a tree, even if your vehicle is parked on the opposite side. I missed being caught literally with my pants down by about a minute when another truck came by our very isolated breakfast stop! gallery_6396_329_8839.jpg

After lunch, it rained a bit, which was really nice, except that it brought out the African Giant Millipedes in droves. These are huge (up to 28 cm)! Apparently harmless, but who cares? (photo is from internet, but this is exactly what they looked like!) gallery_6396_329_5026.jpg


This afternoon we went out fishing on the Rufiji river with Moshi the boatman, and Hussein and Aly came along to assist. Actually, I think they wanted the change of pace from game drives as much as we did! gallery_6396_329_14744.jpg We went upriver to where two channels of the river came together, and after getting the motor hung up in mud-bottomed shallows a few times on the way, we beached the boat on a nice sandy area and fished from shore. gallery_6396_329_48937.jpg The fishing tackle was awful - 15 ft. surf rods which weighed a ton, the tip section missing from one, and the other had a tiny little spinning reel on it that you would normally use for trout or small bass! Since the catfish and tigerfish here can get really big (I think the camp record is 47 kilos [103 lbs]), they put 30 or 40 lb. test line on these spinning reels, so of course, the drag doesn’t work. The weights were bolts, tied on to the line above a swivel with the hook tied on below and baited with part of the fish that jumped into our boat on the scenic boat ride our first afternoon. This was Huck Finn fishing on the Rufiji…We had a bet going with a couple from London who were also going out fishing this afternoon, as to who would catch the most or largest fish. I won with a 4 kilo (9 lb.) catfish (the only fish I caught), Dick took second with a small tigerfish, and Aly came in third with a smaller tigerfish. The other couple got skunked - lots of little nibbles but nothing hooked. Watching Hussein play with the fish was almost as much fun as the fishing. He was like a little kid - fascinated and repelled at the same time. gallery_6396_329_8812.jpg

While we were fishing, the sun started down, and it was a gorgeous sunset, reflecting on the river and the animals along the river. gallery_6396_329_37346.jpg Earlier I saw a hippo on land in the distance, with what appeared to be a small dog. When I looked through the binoculars, it turned out to be a newborn hippo baby - still all black and really tiny. (cont/d)

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Selous cont'd


9/26 - We decided to do another bush breakfast today, and it was a good thing. While I was videoing a nice group of elephants with 2 tiny babies, one of the other trucks from our camp found the Wild Dogs, and they were quite a ways away. We made a speed run about 30 km from camp to where the other truck waited for us, to make sure we found them. I have no idea how the other truck found these dogs, which were laid up in a sandy culvert completely out of sight and pretty much in the middle of nowhere, or how they managed to guide us to their location. There are no signposts, and nothing really obvious as landmarks, and we twisted and turned on little tracks through the bush for nearly an hour before reaching them! These guides are really something else when it comes to spotting game and knowing the area like the backs of their hands. What a treat on our last day on safari to see the Wild Dogs. This was a nice pack of 10 dogs, 4 adults and 6 one-year old juveniles. When we came upon them, they were resting in a dry wash, in the cool sand. gallery_6396_329_46300.jpg At one point their rest was interrupted when one of them jumped to its feet and began growling at something in the distance. Immediately, all of the dogs went on alert. gallery_6396_329_6344.jpg After about 3 or 4 minutes, they apparently decided there was nothing to be concerned about, and down went all 10 heads again. A few minutes later the alpha male got up, walked a few steps from where everyone was bedded down in the cool sand, and watered some tall grass. gallery_6396_329_25924.jpg He went back and laid down, and a few minutes later, the alpha female got up, wandered over and watered the same spot. Then the alpha male got up and re-watered that area, and everybody settled back down. These are such unusual-looking animals, and the first we’ve seen. gallery_6396_329_63077.jpggallery_6396_329_60217.jpg

We continued on after watching the dogs for a while, and had breakfast at a lovely spot next to one of the 5 lakes in the area. gallery_6396_329_42260.jpg Lots of shore birds, little Nile Crocodiles, and some dorky wildebeest and not dorky zebra in the distance. gallery_6396_329_83051.jpg After breakfast, we found a nice herd of Kudu down at the lake's edge for a drink. Another really nice male with very large horns was leading this group, and we got some good pictures of the group, including one of a young male dodging the dominant male. gallery_6396_329_58735.jpggallery_6396_329_26519.jpggallery_6396_329_43575.jpg We also spotted our first Savannah Monitor Lizard (or everyone else did - it disappeared into the bush before I got a good look at it).

During lunch I asked Mohammed what the small serving bowls used by the camp were made of. He said they were halves of baobab fruits. He offered to get me some, but I said he didn't need to bother. Then this afternoon on our drive, Aly pulled over suddenly and jumped out of the truck, returning with a large ripe baobab pod. I assumed that Mohammed had said something to him or to Hussein, but when we got back for dinner, Mohammed assured me he hadn't, so it was just a nice coincidence (along with Aly and Hussein knowing by this time that I like to see just about everything…). I didn't think U.S. Customs would let us bring a fruit (or nut) into the country, so Mohammed had it cut in half and cleaned out and gave the two pieces back to me the next morning. Best souvenir of all!

The afternoon drive was again relatively uneventful. We saw a huge termite mound using a tree for support, gallery_6396_329_98215.jpg and a very cooperative Lilac-breasted Roller that didn’t fly off right away. gallery_6396_329_98539.jpg Hussein tossed his hat toward the bird to get it to fly, to see if we could get a shot of its beautiful flight colors, but the bird was faster than we were; it was all just a blur... gallery_6396_329_14607.jpg


Then Hussein and Aly managed to find the African Skimmers I'd wanted to see. We found a whole flock of them resting on the beach of one of the lakes. After a while, one of them took off to test the waters I guess, and then 3 or 4 more took off and soon they were skimming back and forth along the shallows, lower mandible dragging in the water, leaving little wakes behind them. Very beautiful to watch. gallery_6396_329_24156.jpggallery_6396_329_4038.jpg

We also came across a small group of elephants ripping up short palms and eating them. Its just amazing how strong their trunks are to be able to wrap around a palm frond and yank it off the tree (sometimes with part of the tree still attached). Elephants will apparently eat just about anything that doesn't move. The highlight of this drive was stopping to watch some youngish baboons. One dashed over to a bush and then peeked out at us from behind it. Aly grabbed the overhead bar of the truck and slapped the door frame with his other hand, making a face at the baboon. The baboon began copying everything Aly did - if Aly reached up, the baboon reached up; if Aly jerked left, the baboon jerked left. This went on for several minutes and had Dick, Hussein and me in stiches! Really funny to watch! Factoid of the day - when a litter of warthogs is born, each one finds a teat to suckle, and thereafter, that teat is off-limits to any other warthog in the litter. Honestly, how do you suppose someone found out that particular tidbit?

This was our last night at Impala camp, and since it will be our 43rd anniversary in a few days, for dinner we were given the honeymooner’s table next to the pool, off by ourselves. Very romantic, until the Large-spotted Genet that hangs around the bar area at night decided to come visit us, along with a bushbaby in the tree overhead. I of course still had my binoculars, so we were able to really get a good look at the genet as it wandered around, in and out of the shadows. Never saw anything of the bushbaby but its eyes reflecting our flashlight, but at least it was fairly quiet! There was a special cake for us, along with singing of the Jambo song by Mohammed and some of the other staff, and it was all really nice. Great way to celebrate an anniversary!

Impala Camp, like Tarangire Safari Camp, is great for seeing wildlife in or from camp, without having to go on a drive. We saw Golden palm-weavers really close up and personal gallery_6396_329_39546.jpg squirrels gallery_6396_329_44149.jpg, a “resident” giraffe, the bar-loving genet, and elephants and hippos in or along the river, among others. A tiny frog visited us in the lounge one afternoon as well. gallery_6396_329_5405.jpg

We will be sorry to leave this camp, but we’re running out of battery life on our camera, and our battery charger was broken back at the crater, so it must be nearly time for us to go home.

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Wow Ellie what a trip. Your photos just get better and better. I imagine now you are home you must be feeling very "homesick" for Africa I know I am. Selous and the camp sound absolutely wonderful. Why do they make such good soup in Africa? The carrot and ginger brought back lots of memories. Regarding your "natural break" I wouldnt worry about being disturbed by a landrover its the four legged voyeurs you have to be scared of!

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I liked your excuse for hanging out in the bar. Great bee eater shots! You got the green shimmer on the wood dove's wings. The herd of drinking kudu is a wonderful and rare opportunity. Outstanding luck with the wild dog views and photos. The zebras in front of the leafless trees have beautiful light.


Baobab fruit pottery is interesting. Apparently baobab fruit pottery is not the designated gift for your # of anniversaries. Like silver for 25, etc. Happy Anniversary! What a way to spend it!

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We really had wonderful photo ops on this trip - we're not great photographers, but the circumstances allowed us to get some very nice shots.


Mags, you're probably right about the 2-legged inadvertent voyeurs - I guess being embarrassed (or bare assed as the case might be) would still be preferable to getting scared "witless" by a 4-legged marauder! :D


Lynn, those two baobab serving bowls are by far the best anniversary gifts we've ever received, and personally I think they should definitely replace one of the traditional ones - who needs diamonds when you can get baobab nuts/fruits/whatever!

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  • 5 months later...

What a marvellous safari Ellie, and your photos are wonderful...may I ask what camera you used? I noticed that you also went to Zanzibar, would it be possible for you to post some of the photos you took there too?

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