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Serengeti strikes back (after Mara kicks sand in her face)


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To answer the question of what made me choose to visit the Barbaig and twaffle's version of it (which I think a lot of people would be asking).....


My wife and I like visiting the local people - a lot in fact. I guess a lot of the daunting cultural stuff is a bit easier to understand (or ignore) when you come from somewhere like Thailand where in remote and border areas, people until recently didn't live much differently and didn't have much more education or luxuries. There are also similar superstitions and stuff like multiple wives and some of the bad stuff. We aren't trying to understand them at any deep level - just to hang out and chat and share a few experiences. I think that's a good point about not walking in their shoes - it is ridiculous to think that you could, unless you wear those shoes and have no "out". I've always been like this (able to hang with anyone) and I guess my wife has too - although she can't do it for as long as me and it does get more difficult to be really open-minded as you get older. I also can't really see the attraction for most people, but obviously there is one.


We really have no problems with no facilities or sleeping on the floor - as long as it is just for one night or two. Fleas, mosquitos, dirt would all have been okay - well as long as they were dog fleas and didn't take up residence! The Barbaig were handily placed for Tarangire and we didn't know much about them - Maasai villages are more accessible but we've spent quite a lot of time with Maasai already... so it was really just something new and a chance to see some new countryside. It is very difficult to rely on reviews because we'd be doing something different and probably approaching the whole thing in a different way. We are quite irreverent, but in a nice way. We only want to see them with their fighting sticks if they really like their fighting sticks - the old man admitted the last time he'd used them was many years ago in a bar fight in town, so we'd have preferred to talk about his favorite bar ... although we didn't realise that they would be close enough to town that he would have a favorite bar! Really the sleeping arrangements and food and the people weren't a problem at all - we were fine with that and we all slept and ate well. True, Bibi wanted her morning coffee, but we would have taken a flask if we hadn't been promised it. True also that she wasn't as prepared as she could have been - I sent her the details months before but she hadn't read them because she imagined it would be rather like our night out with the San at Deception Valley Lodge in Botswana. I'd made it quite clear it wouldn't be some days before, but she still had that point of reference I guess. Why did we do it to Bibi? because she had the option to not do everything with us - I offered her an alternative itinerary that would put her at Sayari for a couple of nights and take her straight to Oliver's, but she inisted she would do it all with us this time. Even Hosea misunderstood that we were unhappy with the lack of comfort and that the dead dog was a big issue - but it wasn't that. Even the coffee and tea was just like the last straw for Mum - we could have handled it on its own.


It was annoying that what we were told wasn't true and that we were cold and Mum was really tired out (and so a bit shorter tempered) as a result, but what was really disappointing was that our guide didn't speak the language and the web site clearly says that your guide does. Since the people who were in the village when we were there didn't speak Swahili, it was really annoying that we couldn't interact, assure them that we were kind of fun We can do a lot with pictures - we had a book full of pictures of daily life in Bangkok, and pictures of family, pets and stuff on my wife's iPod, but you need someone to explain some bits or it gets a bit boring quickly. Also the kids and the younger wife were very nervous about us and I am sure we could probably have assured them we were actually okay and they could hang with us - if we'd known why they were nervous. Was it some offence they had given to a previous tourist, some offence committed by a previous visitor, a taboo or orders from the old man? Our guide didn't know, and by the time the old man came back it was dark - and it would have been rude to show more interest in his wives and kids than in him, when he was supposed to be the point of interest and the source of wisdom about his people's way of life.


Here's a link to the full tour - it sounds quite good and the walk is now 16km, so not where we went. http://www.kahembecu...p?page=thetours With a proper guide it will be much better I am sure. I wouldn't want to put people off that, and especially not off cultural tourism - it can really be good.

Edited by pault
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Thanks Paul for explaining so well, appreciate it indeed.

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I've read this twice now.

First time round I had decided that you are a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic (sorry!). ;)


On reading it a second time I have a bit more insight though I have to immediately admit I would never get away with this if it were my wife and Mum!

All credit to you for having the bold disposition (I was going to use another word beginning with "b") to organise this. You have clearly mastered the art of showing a girl a good time!


This twist to your excellent trip report left me incapacitated with mirth (though I am ashamed at myself for finding humour in a moribund Mutt story).

When it looked like the report could not be bettered you go and do this!


Oh exalted one, we are not worthy!

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The dog seemed to have passed peacefully in its sleep if it helps with the guilt, Rainbirder. I won't get away with something like this again though - it's thin ice from now on. But they have memories to last a lifetime. :P

Edited by pault
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All I did was laughed aloud reading this update...


Totally! Also, your mom is quite a trouper!

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To give you an idea of the walk, this is about a third of the way up from town, distance-wise, before the steep bit.




The sign at the local school greeting our return to town seemed to sum up things nicely.... I had indeed "strugled for exellence" and fallen a little bit short.




Hosea put his face in his hands and tried to remember his guide training about staying calm and looking for a solution (well that is what I imagine!). I urged Bibi and my wife to trust him -there must be diesel available for a price somewhere. We tried a couple more garages and eventually Hosea found someone who thought there was some diesel "down the road", "nearby". So we picked him up and headed off on a dirt track out of Babati, heading east. We drove for 40 minutes and Hosea told Bibi that "nearby" was rather relative and she should not be concerned yet. I think she rather hung on the "yet". We eventually came to a town, but there was no diesel there anymore. Arrgh! What could be worse than running out of diesel in Babti would surely be running out of diesel in ???? Not even Hosea knew the names of these towns, I think. Mr Bean's simple and clean guest house would certainly be an awe-inspiring luxury accommodation out here. We got another tip about diesel being sold in a nearby town, though - and this time "nearby" really was only 5 minutes drive.


And we eventually found a shipping container on a street corner, holding big blue drums of diesel and some guys siphoning it into containers! Hosea was so happy I do believe he nearly shed a tear. I congratulated him like an old friend man who had just won a Nobel prize. Bibi thanked God to whom she had been praying. My wife told me this was NOT the last I was going to hear about this.


See if you can guess which one is Hosea! Clue: He's the one who looks like he just received news of the birth of a healthy son.




Of course, the idea that we were many miles from "anywhere" from a tourist's perspective and buying black market diesel from a couple of fairly heavy looking blokes who were clearly a little suspicious of us appearing out of the dust didn't sink in until later. We were just so happy. It was 11 am and if we didn't stop Hosea thought we might just make it to Oliver's for lunch. We'd attracted a bit of attention as it was an Islamic holiday and this was a predominantly Muslim town, so there were a lot of people on the street, but as in Muslim areas in Thailand, people watched from a distance rather than crowding around.






Happily we drove an hour back to Babati and dropped off the guy who had helped us find the diesel with many sincere thanks and a few shillings for his trouble that he refused but Hosea insisted on. Then Hosea drove as fast as he could to Tarangire and we were at the entrance around 12.30 pm. I didn't even ask if we could stop for photos and since it was the middle of the day with no other vehicles out and no animals on the road, we made it to Oliver's by around 3 - surely they would have saved some lunch for us as we were booked for lunch.


We were greeted with a little surprise by Ken, the manager, who had been resting I think. And he told us in fact they had not received notice that we were arriving for lunch. For Bibi this was the last straw no.5 and I asked Ken if she could get a glass of wine and whether (regardless of whose fault the lunch booking confusion was) it would be possible to find anything - even just a simple sandwich, as my Mum had had rather a difficult past 24 hours and she really needed some good news. Of course he produced some leftover salad and bread that was delicious and the day was saved! Well done, Ken! And after the food, when Bibi saw her tent, the world had a smile on again. Running water? A door? (to keep the honey badgers out explained Ken, causing my wife to wonder out loud why anyone would want to do that). Bibi announced she was going nowhere for the rest of the day. In fact she wasn't sure if she ever wanted to leave that "tent" again. And Ken even listened to Bibi's story with appropriately dark looks at her reckless "son", although he must have thought her a little mad.


Nobody joined me on the drive with Hosea that evening, so we went to check out the Silale Swamp which appeared to be completely dry, and a python that Hosea had spotted on the way in. I was best out of there, as I was sure that a hot shower, a change of clothes, a couple of drinks and some captive ears to hear Bibi's story would have turned everything around by the evening. Sure enough, when I joined them around the campfire at 7, I was back in favour and Bibi was going out of her way to say it wasn't Paul's fault really - it was that guide! I wasn't going to disagree. My wife wanted to talk about the honey badgers and the ethics of accidentally leaving the door open and she couldn't wait to get out the next morning. We were refreshed and we were back! A beautiful camp like Oliver's has that effect on some people I think.


Meanwhile, back in the vehicle doing what we came for, It was really nice to be in a completely different environment. The bush is really quite thick around Oliver's but opens up around Silale Swamp and in fact opens up on to quite a spectacular scene. We didn't drive far that evening and we didn't see any predators (they would come soon enough though) but there were a lot of elephants, zebras, warthogs and hartebeest and lots of dik diks too... the latter being generally missing in the Serengeti. The concentrations of herbivores looked very promising, and there was the python in the tree to pass every day - hopefully it would move to a more viewable position before we left. No rain had yet fallen so it was very dry, but not quite as dusty as the Northern Serengeti had been, and it was of course very photogenic, if you don't mind a lot of reds and yellows in your pictures.





Approaching Silale Swamp








Lots of dust




Many more trees




Staying out until dark




Well, there is still the honey badger burglar mystery, the best place for seeing mongooses, an unusual hunt, and jackals behaving badly to come... but we are nearing the end. I feel a little bit sad.

Edited by pault
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Oops! I forgot to add the picture with the best overview of the "swamp".. too late for an edit now.



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And i though I had problems... <_<


The running out of diesel in the middle of nowhere with Bibii is certainly a story for more fire pits. She has way more fortitude than I ever would...as you very calmly capture in your on-going travels with Bibi. I'm sure she is proud of her son making her a star on Safari-talk.


Was there any sort of back up plan if diesel was NOT found?


The pics from Olivers are lovely. I was going there last year but changed my mind for Bots this year. Glad to see it. Thanks - waiting for more!

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What an amazing family you have Paul. If it was mine, I think I would be dead already, or at least banished to Siberia or something. :o:P

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On ‎12‎/‎30‎/‎2012 at 6:42 PM, graceland said:


Was there any sort of back up plan if diesel was NOT found?


The pics from Olivers are lovely. I was going there last year but changed my mind for Bots this year. Glad to see it. Thanks - waiting for more!


The back up plan was "find diesel"! I guess that worst-case would have been to get someone to come down from Arusha with some - if they could find it. It wasn't like we were going to be really stranded, but I think if forced to choose between being stranded in the bush without fuel and no being able to get to Oliver's Camp that day, I would have chosen the former. :P




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  • 2 weeks later...

So many outstanding and artistic shots. Beautiful sunset light on many shots, stunning B&Ws, a 3-lane highway across the Mara River, and that action shot of the Exercising Bibi! Really, you have a treasure trove. I'm up to the zebra-eating hippo, which documents a highly unusual behavior. Guess they can be omnivores.


I also was reminded of an important lesson you mentioned early on in your report: Always take your camera with you,even to the toilet.

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I’ve finally caught up with everything going on. I can laugh and did. It seems you too all reached the laughing stage at some point. What a tale!


Bibi has several new projects on the horizon—exercise video and slogan marketing. Olakira—good location where you don’t smell your own poo.


Egg and chips. That’s a new one for me.


Suddenly Bob Dylan joins the safari. Wasn’t expecting that. No more unusual than the dead dog.


“Eventually the old man of the village arrived back from his drinking (he’d been drinking in town) and we were urged to ask him questions before dinner…. if he wasn’t too drunk to answer. I asked a few and my wife asked where his wife had dumped the dead dog (“The dog died?” he asked). Things were going swimmingly.”


What a report! At your expense it is a refreshing deviation from lion and giraffe sightings.


The archery, the costumes, good thinking on holding off on the fighting sticks, such a comedy and the photos capture the mood perfectly.


I can just see Ken’s appropriately dark looks at the reckless "son"


This is a hoot!


I'm not sure if the dead dog and fighting sticks is Advantage Paul or Advantage ... in the ongoing War of the Safaris.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'll try to finish, but not sure if that is feasible. Maybe if I skip a few things - but then it would sound like Tarangire was a disappointment and it wasn't. Let's see if I can do its charms justice.

Oliver's location meant we generally took the same route out to near the swamp every day - from there you start to have a greater choice of routes, and surprisingly most people headed for the river. Personally, I am not sure what the point of staying at Oliver's is if you are going to drive to the river every day, but that is where the 'action' is at this time of year, especially during the day. We did go up there one day but the tsetses were out in force and my wife was still having a bad reaction to them. It didn't matter before but she had to be back at work in a few days and so the big swellings were less of a laughing matter than they had been; so we turned around and came back and didn't regret it even if we missed the elephants coming down to water and didn't get to look for the cheetah that had been spotted daily around the Little Serengeti area. We had a mongoose day instead, seeing two lots of dwarf mongooses close to the road and a really active group of banded mongooses who were totally uninterested in our presence - great action, especially for my wife, who rates mongooses second only to cheetahs, equal with honey badgers (although of course honey badgers are much more difficult to see) and even more highly than dik-diks. I think we probably spent 3 hours with mongooses, or staking out their termite mounds and waiting for them to surface from underground. We also saw a leopard, although it only had one eye and was spooked by another driver who didn't seem to understand that sometimes "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" does not apply when you are already in the bush. I think the idea was that we had "seen" the leopard at a reasonable range for my camera, and so he would now move forward to get into range of his clients' cameras. But if he'd just waited quietly the (rather shy) leopard would very probably have come much, much closer to us and then climbed a tree, where his clients could have shot to their hearts' content. Maybe they were just in a hurry and since he had spotted the leopard he felt entitled to play it as he saw fit. Oh well, happy to see a one-eyed leopard anyway - even in the worst of light. We didn't have that problem with the mongoose sightings.

The main attractions around the swamp were the large number of elephants that would come there to feed every day and the lion pride that rule the area between the swamp and Oliver's. They must have had a lot of cubs a couple of years ago because there were a lot of young lions, but that was good because they don't quite know how to behave yet and didn't do the lying in the shade all day thing. Active lions are always a blessing. There were also a lot of zebras, warthogs and hartebeest around the swamp, while on the way to the swamp we saw Gerneuk (in the whistling thorn quite close to Oliver's), Lesser Kudu (near the swamp), and the python. There was another leopard and attendant jackals, but I'll tell that story later. There were regular Steenboks, plenty of close encounters with elephants (one group near Oliver's very aggressive but mostly quite calm), the aforementioned dik-diks (all the way to the river, but best near Oliver's) and those mongooses, who were on the road between the swamp and the river that passes a picnic site - where there is a very habituated Buffalo Weaver among other birds. Do I need to mention Impala? Of course they were there, as were some Grant's Gazelles (or possibly a local variant - we didn't really see them except far out on the swamp so I didn't pay attention or ask). There were big herds of buffalo near the river too. The area was not great for birds at all - I guess the lack of water was the reason - with only the very usual suspects and a couple of nice Hoopoes. Birders stay north at this time of year would be my call (but birders here would know not to listen too closely to me) although it did seem that it was a particularly dry year.

No Fringe-eared Oryx and no Reedbuck.

Most of the time we had the area to ourselves - few seem to come further than the northern end of the swamp and the few guests from Oliver's seemed (as mentioned) to be heading for the river.The swamp is about as pretty as it gets, but you always feel you might see something unusual around the next corner, which more than makes up for that.

Here's some stuff from our second day in Tarangire. We took out breakfast and returned to camp for lunch, and then I went out again alone in the late afternoon.

Start the day with some lions who had killed a zebra during the night.



The zebras had decided keeping the lions in sight was the safest thing to do, and the younger lions found this a bit of a tease.

And out near the swamp we found more of the pride, resting under a tree, although shade wasn't really needed on a cloudy day.


Some of them were a bit restless, which was nice since it was around 9.30 already and we had expected them to stay rather still.


But we were quite surprised by what they did next. We went to have breakfast nearby, since they were the only show in town at that hour, and about 10 Hosea pointed out that they were moving. This wasn't really welcome news as they were heading out onto the swamp and there were no roads to follow them, but we started watching with binoculars/ camera anyway - just in case. They started jogging along, which is always a good sign, although they were a long way from any potential food and there was no cover for them except for the long grass. Some zebras watched them coming and then decided that they had better get out of there. We thought the lions would stop now and that it had been a really pathetic zebra hunt - they hadn't even tried to stalk!


But a couple of the lions carried on following the (I imagined confused) zebra at a brisk walking pace, while the other three had disappeared.


And then things got even more confusing (and therefore interesting) as the zebras, followed by the lions, arrived as far out as the elephants, who were more than a little disturbed by this.


It was all very difficult to follow as the lions were out of sight some of the time, and some of them had stopped, but I began to realise that the elephants were the targets in some way. I couldn't make sense out of the strategy though. These three were jogging alone beside the elephants without making any attempt to get closer. Perhaps they were just "passing through" and the other two were lazy?


But back where the elephant stampede had started, a few elephants, including a young calf, had got separated between the two groups of lions, and I realised how this might work. Possibly it was similar to what we had seen the hyenas do with the wildebeest in Ngorongoro Crater two weeks before - a probe to see if any of the calves were in a bad way and unable to keep up with the herd.


With the herd still running away, it might have worked too, with the other three lions coming back to drive the calf even further from the herd. But as you can see, the mother and two older calves stayed with the youngster and it was never really going to happen. The lions disappeared into the long grass and the elephants moved off towards the river at an again-dignified pace.

I still think perhaps the lions were just having a bit of fun on their way somewhere, but they weren't as young as the first group we had seen, and the lions do take down elephant calves here so we can just about say we saw lions hunting elephants, although I definitely wouldn't want to be too gung ho about it! Anyway, it was very interesting and if anyone can shed some light on it, please go ahead.

Of course, after that the swamp was pretty empty of everything - even the warthogs had disappeared, so after we'd packed up the breakfast things we had to move on.

Edited by pault
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One bad thing about having a lot of boisterous lions about seems to be that there is very little else wants to be about at the same time. And the long grass made it very difficult to see anything that wasn't quite big, or moving - a problem compounded by a strong wind that meant you couldn't look for movements of the grass as signs of life. I guess we'd had our share of excitement for the morning, but we did still get some nice sightings of hartebeest (they were generally skittish here) and spent some time close to some very calm elephants chilling in the shade (one was even flat out on the ground). Given their location, they may have been part of the marsh evacuation, but we didn't look like lions.










And on the way back to camp, we found the python had moved slightly. Not really enough for a good shot but this was as good as it was going to get before we left.




Lunch was very nice of course, and afterwards we spent some time in our beautiful tented bush palace. It was cool there with a nice view and just the sounds of the wind and the birds. My wife said she was going to wash here hair and get our money's worth out of the tent and Bibi was already committed to afternoons off, so I left on my own just after 4 pm.


Hosea spotted a couple of Gerenuks in thick bush about 50 meters off the road, and since I hadn't seen a Gerenuk since 2006 I was rather excited. Hosea was determined that I would get a good shot of them, but this was not easy to achieve as the bush was really quite dense, and the Gerenuks (especially the male) were quite shy and liked to keep some trees between us and them. Since we didn't want to spook them (counter-productive anyway) we played a very slow game of cat and mouse for the next hour. It was massively frustrating, but also quite fun. I'd get the perfect shot except for branches in front of the head. Then I'd get the perfect shot but the other Gerenuk would get into the picture, just enough in focus enough to ruin the shot. Of course most of the time I just messed things up by myself - Hosea got really frustrated when he manouvered into a perfect position for a hot of the male feeding and then turned around and realised I was shooting the female. By the time he got my attention, there were branches in the way again. :lol:


After an hour Hosea suddenly realised that he wasn't sure where we were - or rather he had lost track of his turns with all that manouvering, and turns seemed to be how he makes sure he never gets totally lost off road. We knew theoretically the road we had left ran more or less south to north and we were on the eastern side of it, but of course it wasn't a straight road at all, and we didn't have that long to sunset. Finally we agreed (well I didn't really get much of a say) that we would go west - the sun was low now so we had some idea where that was. And it wasn't much of a drama in the end as Hosea quickly found a bush he had memorised and we hit the road about two minutes later. I only mention it because it showed how obsessed Hosea had got with the Gerenuks (on my behalf - echoes of Deo there)!


One of the better shots when they stopped in a clearing, although I do have a nice one of the female feeding - without the thong though.




Before heading back we made a quick visit to see how the feeding lions were. They had just stirred from their rest and were beginning to feed on the little that was left of the zebra.



Still sleepy-headed...





While many folks nowadays can shoot at ISO 3200, I am pretty much restricted to 800, meaning I had wait for the lions to kind of stop mid-feed to get a non-blurry shot! Character building I guess. :P




There were still zebras around keeping an eyes on the lions from a ridge just above them. They even tried to walk past the lions at one point, but lost courage when one of the youngsters got really interested.




Maybe they were the same zebras as in the morning. I like to think so, and that this is a lament for a fallen comrade. ;)



Edited by pault
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content about a leopard sighting removed at ex-member's request



Thanks for the info, .... Was the leopard shy then when on the ground? Or you only saw him treed?

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content about a leopard sighting removed at ex-member's request


Yes, I will post a pic of the leopard, but it's a pretty poor one as it was early afternoon and he was quite a long way off. I think he looked in quite poor shape, but it was difficult to tell for sure because of the light and heat haze. Please do post a clear photo.

Edited by kittykat23uk
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I think the two elephant portraits are standouts, I would have loved to have taken them. All the photos are wonderful as expected.

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Love the elies' portraits, and seeing the grown elies protecting the younger as they flee from the lions;

I felt I was there....urging them to "run (Forest) run"... (as in Gump~the movie!)

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Beautifully written & illustrated too. Did that one ele have fungus on his forehead? I loved your lioness shot. She looks wistful.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"It wasn't Paul's fault, really. It was that guide!!!!" HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!! love this transformation!

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Hey PT - Fantastic report - some of your photos leave me speechless (almost!). The lioness portrait is stunning. We visited Tarangire in 2007 on our first safari (our first park in Africa) and I was overwhelmed by its sheer magnitude and beauty. Thanks for a funny and fantastic report!




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Thank you PT and Amy and everyone. Sorry for those whose kind comments I ignored - I thought this update post would be coming sooner.


On our final full day (waaaaah!) Bibi wanted to go for a walk with guide Alex from Zimbabwe. It was just the two of them and so Alex sensibly didn't stray too far from the camp - or perhaps he intended to go further but couldn't because Bibi held his arm like a limpet every time there was an unidentified noise - Alex is a big man and so the temptation just to hide yourself behind him in case of emergency must be hard to resist.

The two of us meanwhile left before 6 on our (later aborted) trip to the river. As I have mentioned previously it was a fruitful day, even if it didn't go at all as planned.

Not long out of camp in the morning we heard some jackals barking and Hosea suggested it might be the lions and their kill. But while his guess was sensible it was not correct as a leopard suddenly (everything like this is sudden in the thick bush here) appeared on our right. It was moving at a fair pace. A hunt? We stopped and it trotted across the road in front of us and then three jackals burst out of the bushes barking and it became clear the leopard was beating a relatively dignified retreat. Had there been four jackals before? Had it worried their pups? Had they driven it off a kill? Were they just behaving really badly? Whatever the reason, the jackals were running and barking and growling and doing that whole dog with cat thing, and the leopard was doing what any sensible cat does when faced with rude and noisy dogs - get out of there! It was still pretty dark and the whole procession passed us in no more than 30 seconds before the bush hid them, although we could continue to hear that the leopard hadn't gone quite far enough for the jackals' liking yet.


I couldn't get a photo of them all together - or rather by the time I got my head around how to do that at barely 6 in the morning it was too late.


Out of here!


Great way to start the day.


We then came across some elephants (again that "suddenly" thing as we didn't see them in the early light until we were almost next to them). The matriarch was really, really unhappy to see us and immediately got into the head shaking and foot moving and ear waving. She was really, really agitated and ready to run, one way or the other. Since they were only 3-4 meters from the side of the road I told Hosea no, I didn't want to take a picture - let's leave them in peace. Hosea said she wouldn't have charged; I said I didn't care. A situation where I am confident we were both correct. My wife asked if she could open her eyes yet., but it wasn't a very scary incident - just a loud wake up call - if the jackals and leopard hadn't already taken care of that.


Meanwhile unconcerned by all the noise..... not much browse left by late October.


We reached the swamp as the sun was struggling hard to break through the clouds (it would more or less succeed later and it would be a really hot day).



From then on it was mongoose day. First with the swamp still to our right and where we would later see the one-eyed leopard. Dwarf Mongooses, right next to the road fortunately, and still a bit sleepy.


What time is it?



Time to get up, dude!


Then on the way down to the river we saw another troop of Dwarf Mongooses emerging from their termite mound - late risers!

And finally, on the way back from the river, a big troop of Banded Mongooses digging for grubs on either side of the road under the trees.


Crunchy something....



Dry grass garnish....






The first and third sightings were remarkably close. We always look for mongooses but hadn't had any good sighting sso far on this trip. It was the same in Olare Orok the previous year - we saw none and then on one drive saw three different types. Maybe you need to get your eye in to spot them - or maybe they are like the proverbial London buses and come in threes after a very long wait.

In between mongooses we noted the difference in the wildebeest here from the mad river crossers and we had our best sighting of kudu - this single male. We saw two other males that day but the haze was so bad at that time that they look like oil-painted kudu in the photo.




Cooler, smarter and just all round better looking... yes we are!



Down at the river, before we abandoned the plan, we watched a big herd of buffalo coming down to drink and watched some birdies on an elephant carcass.



Fresh water!







And the one-eyed leopard - the light was dreadfully harsh out where he was, and for the reason mentioned before he never made it to shade of the trees.




We need a nice-looking photo after that!



We came back to Oliver's a little early to enjoy one sunset on the deck - it seemed like we had seen so much and we were having a party for Bibi that evening so I thought it'd be nice for here if I wasn't tired and arriving at the last moment for once. It was actually supposed to be my 50th birthday celebration (I know, I know... who would believe it?) a few days early, but Ken asked my wife and she said it was not my birthday so it must be Bibi's. Thanks, darling. Anyway, instead of going back to Ken to explain, I decided to make it "for all the birthdays I have missed over the years Mum". No doubt Ken thought I was trying to make up for the village visit and keep myself in Bibi's will.

I'll finish with the honey badger story tomorrow if I can, as well as "Bibi's little treat for Alex" - really just run out of time again (so little of it nowadays). In case I get delayed again, here are some camp pictures for Amy (sugarpond) as she will be there in a few days.


I've seen this one before!





The deck that wasn't used and the clouds that didn't rain




Waiting for the Honey Badger



Only the elephants (and Honey Badgers) see....



The whole thing....




The reading room



Edited by pault
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Those two elephants are works of art. You must have been nesting with the mongoose to get those shots. I am totally confused about the birthdays, but will wish you a belated Happy Birthday nonetheless. So Bibi got the party instead of you? That's really funny. All these great shots are your present, anyway.

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I would be confused about the birthdays too, Lyn. Yes, basically Bibi got my birthday party, complete with cake, sparkling wine and personal waiter service. All for the best, as I wouldn't have appreciated it as fully and she did.






..... I was going to post a picture but I can't (something changed on site or work security and so it seems I can't post pictures except from home now.

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Oh well just the one more glash... if you inshisht.




Oliver's Camp apparently has something of a problem with Honey Badgers and the doors are part of the effort to keep them out of the rooms. At least one other guest was disturbed by an attempted badger break-in while we were there. Guests are warned seriously not to keep food in their tents, even if in tupperware or still in the wrapping. In our tent we could see our tent badger had progressed a level from sneaking in through poorly closed zips, as there was a big patch on the mosquito screen next to the zip leading out to the deck. A wooden trunk had been moved in front of it either to hide the repairs or to discourage further excavation by the badger. We kept an eye open but we were sleeping so well that we only managed to keep it open for about 30 minutes after returning to the tent at night so we left without seeing any Honey Badgers - a bit of a shameful thing really considering how bold they were around camp.... if it had been our first stop I am sure we wouldn't have been so slack. Anyway, when we woke on teh final morning most of the patch had gone - just a big hole left. Had we had a nighttime visitor or had we disturbed the little thief before the hole was bitten big enough to get in? It was just big enough that a flexible little fellow that size might have just squeezed through, but I am not sure whether Honey Badgers can do that cat thing of squeezing through tiny spaces. I suspect they can, but since we didn't have any food in the tent we had no way of telling - there wasn't any scat and nothing had been chewed up. The worst thing was that I forgot to tell Ken about the hole when we were checking out, but I do have a reason for that.... the last Bibi story.


I had been doing any tipping so far as apparently (I think it's much fuss about nothing) my father always used to do the tipping and Bibi would leave too little or too much or tip the wrong person or just generally make a scene out of a simple act. It's not that she doesn't tip - it's just that she grew up in Yorkshire and so it doesn't come naturally to part with money (just joking, guys! :P) . Whatever, okay, okay Mum - I 'll do it.


Anyway, she's been admiring for years now how I can tip someone and she doesn't even notice - no magic there but she for some reason finds it fascinating and considers it a very classy skill. So I have been telling that it is easy for some time now - just put the money in your palm and when you shake it will disappear... or if you are worried you'll drop it and bang heads when you both bend down to pick up the fallen note (she was!) you can slip a note into a shirt pocket while shaking - it'll just look to the casual eye like you are picking a bit of lint off a friend's shirt.But when it came down to it, she'd give me the money and a pleading or stern look as she thought appropriate.


On the last morning, after breakfast, she decided that she ought to tip Alex,. who had taken really good care of her the previous morning, and since I was waiting for Ken to bring the bill and tell him about the hole I told her she should do it herself - just give him the note openly - it wouldn't matter. But she was feeling on top of the world after her private dinner and private walk the previous day and said no, she was going to do ti "properly, like the gentlemen did" ( I swear that is what she said). So she approached Alex and he is careful about his appearance - well pressed and clean like a soldier. That meant of course the buttons on both his shirt pockets were tightly closed. So faced with this problem and the risk of banging heads if she tried to palm it to him, she slid her hand into the pocket of his shorts. He turned slightly mauve (he did handle it very coolly - full marks to him for that) and my wife and I collapsed to the ground and completely forgot to tell Ken about the hole.


We didn't have much time to stop on the way out, but did stop for a couple of Baobabs and took a small detour to look (unsuccessfully) for the cheetah. We did a bit of souvenir shopping in Arusha and then dropped Bibi at the airport before checking into our day room.


The end. :)





Edited by pault
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