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Eyasi and Mwiba


TZBirder
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I'm just back from a week away, the primary aim being to get to Mwiba Ranch for some planning as part of a large burning experiment I'm putting together around the Serengeti ecosystems (if you're into the science, here's my burning report!). It was a work trip and I live out here, so this report will be lacking most of the information tourists are going to want, but as Mwiba is very new and most don't know about what's there some of the notes and a few (small, as my internet connection is Tanzanian!) photo might be useful. It being school holidays, I took my family and we made a bit of a trip of it, stopping with friends at Eyasi for a couple of nights. Our friends run Kisima Ngeda tented camp on the shore of Eyasi. We've camped here several times as a family, and this time were staying in their guest house, but we've never stayed in the lodge. It's a beautiful location though, and I'm sure the camp is up to scratch! There's not much game in the area, but it is the focus of most visits to the Hadzabe community and Chris has some of the best links with this more accessible population if you want to make a visit. It's also a great place for birds (highlight for me being a pair of white-backed ducks on the lodge pond) and just relaxing from the fast pace most tourists seem to keep up - there's a Striped Hyena den just beside camp and it's quite easy to make their aquaintance during a vist (cub around 7 months old at the moment).

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Anyway, after a couple of nights there we carried on up the escarpment road into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This road goes straight up from Eyasi to the village of Endulen and is very, very steep - you're driving up scree for some of the first section. Great views, but I wouldn't recommend it in a car much heavier than my landrover with family and stuff... post-14465-0-50724900-1313512939_thumb.jpgIf you do self driving for the challenge of road conditions, this is a good one and I'd be amazed if you meet another car (had to wake the guys at the gate, no other driver had signed the book for 2 days...). From Endulen Mwiba is only a couple of hours south through some of the drier and dustier parts of NCA and out of the gate at Kakessio. Mwiba is immediately sandwiched between NCA and Maswa GR and the boundary from NCA (with many cattle) to Mwiba (with none) is obvious! It's the dry part of Serengeti though - rainfall c.400mm - mostly Acacia/Commiphora woodland with some more open areas. The big draw are the springs - some 30 perrenial springs all over the property. We spent four nights on the ranch and as there were no tourists around we stayed in the very, very comfortable Mwiba Tented Camp. It's put here by Ker and Downey safaris (I believe), so it's probably them you'd want to contact to stay here, though I'm sure some of the private guides can make arrangements too.

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Driving around looking at fire breaks natural and man-made we came across a fair bit of wildlife without trying. I've been in the wet season when the wildebeest were around, but this was my first dry season visit and I was impressed and surprised by how much was down there. In some parts of the ranch the buffalo impacts look like vilage cattle impacts, they're so numerous - we saw a couple of herds of over 200 and plenty of big bulls too (one to watch when walking!).

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Eles came into the spring below camp one lunchtime, and we had a couple of views of a nice young lion (one at night and a prolonged look during the day) who killed a buffalo behind the camp one night.

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It's also the only area of the Serengeti ecosystem where Greater Kudu are easy to see, and Roan too - again, two roan sightings on our driving around!

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As light entertainment for the family we enjoyed some of the fun things to do on the ranch too - there's a lovely tree platform above a spring in one area - great for buffalo and eles - whilst my 3-year-old enjoyed most the challenge of climbing a tree to a little tree stand on a differet spring! There's also a rock hide elsewhere, and more fun to be had climbing the kopjies and exploring the river. The kids (and us, to be fair!) enjoyed a swim in an 8m deep pothole in one of the rivers, which was pretty impressive.

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Anyway, it's a beautiful area with plenty of game and very few visitors - they've had three tours in so far. If you like the freedom of walking, night drives and the rest, it's definitely worth looking into (though I suspect it's not a cheap option).

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Thanks for the information on an area rarely visited. As .... says, very interesting. I'll be staying Alex's camp for 7 nights, so all these reports are keenly read as there isn't a lot about the general area outside Serengeti NP in the southern region,

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Las season Alex's camp was very close indeed - I expect he'll be in the same area this season too. I've not been there, but was told it was about 30mins game drive inside NCA and approximately the same latitude as Mwiba. I expect the game will be very similar to Mwiba (highlights from my wet season visit are here), though there'll be a lot of cattle around in NCA and this is an area the Maasai try (not exactly successfully!) to keep the wildebeest away from during calving time due to the disease risk - I've seen 100s of morani lined up across the plains trying to herd 1000s of pregnant wildebeest back towards Kusini and Ndutu in Jan - very entertaining! So I suspect the disturbance on Mwiba is rather lower, though in the thicker bush this won't be an issue. There's certainly some beautiful walking in the neighbouring bits of NCA though - Dorobo are operating down there and the walks along the escarpment over Eyasi are stunning. You'll likely have the area to yourselves from the tourist point of view though and are sure to have a great time!

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Thanks TZ, it will be an experience.

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Just had a look at your blog, looks like a beautiful area. I'm looking forward to getting some incredible landscapes, although we will spend some time up at Ndutu as well, just in case the Maasai succeed in fending off the wildebeest! :rolleyes:

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