A Travellerspoint blog

February 2014

Tanzania Day 9: The Safari Goes South

Today we were leaving the Serengeti to fly south to finish our safari with four nights in the Selous Game Reserve. This part of our itinerary was different from most first time safarigoers and we had two main reasons for choosing this. First, we wanted the chance to see wild dogs and Selous is the best shot in Tanzania to do so. Second, in Selous, we would be able to take boat rides amongst the hippos and crocs which would add a different kind of activity and perspective to the safari. The plan was for Maningo to drop us at the Seronera airstrip in the Serengeti and we would fly to Selous where we would meet our next guide provided by our camp, Selous Impala. So while we were sad to leave the Serengeti and Maningo, we were definitely excited about what was to come.

After breakfast, we settled our bill (which was quite reasonable after all those bottles of wine), said our goodbyes to Claudio and the rest of the wonderful staff, and left camp one last time.

On the way, we had a short game drive. These cape buffalo were having some breakfast.

One was missing a tail.

A topi paused to look at us as well.

A few minutes later, we arrived at the "airport" for our 10:30a flight to Selous.

Maningo explained that the car on the side of the runway was the chase car, used to chase wild animals off the runway.

This S&M looking bird is a gray-backed fiscal shrike.

Finally, our plane arrived. It was a 12-passenger tin can.

We both boarded only to find that we were one seat short. My seat. As it turns out, another plane was to arrive shortly and both were flying to Arusha at the same time. A father member of a four person family that was already seated was supposed to be on that other plane. But this family was all freaked out about being split up so the pilot asked me if I would mind flying on the other plane. He said he'd wait for it to arrive to make sure there were no problems. I didn't mind so I got off and we waited some more. Now I've never flown on a plane that small and just boarding that thing had made me claustrophobic so I was a little nervous about getting back on another one. I decided to take a little something to calm my nerves. My plane arrived and I boarded with our favorite Irish family from camp so I was pretty happy about that. Brenda was stuck on the other plane with a bunch of kids. Ha ha.


There was a fairly large area in the back of the plane so I decided to sit in the last seat. I thought it would help with the claustrophobia. As it turns out, I was fine so long as I read my Kindle or looked out the window. I did get a little anxious if I focused too much inside the cabin. Brenda's plane took off first and flew straight to Arusha. Our plane headed down the runway and suddenly the pilot hit the brakes HARD! I looked up and saw a gazelle dart across the runway. We had narrowly missed it. I guess the chase car guy was on lunch break. So we had to turn around and try again. Second time was success. We had to make an extra landing at Lake Manyara to pick up a couple of passengers.

After I used what was one of the worst public restrooms ever at the domestic airport in Arusha, Brenda and I met up on her plane to continue on to Dar es Salaam. We said our final goodbye to the Irish family (they were on their way to Dubai) and I once again sat in the last seat. The camp had sent us on our way with lunch boxes which was nice so we ate those and then arrived in Dar a short time later. While getting off the plane, the pants on the large guy next to me were half falling down so that his butt crack was exposed. He bent over to climb out and stuck that right in my face. It was lovely! I thought Brenda was going to die laughing at my facial expression. So it was back off the plane in Dar and then a few minutes later back on again for the final leg to Selous. Brenda and I were the only passengers. After all the stops and disembarking, we were still on the original plane from the Serengeti. It was kind of like riding a Greyhound bus. A short 45 minutes or so later and the pilot banked the plane to the left. I looked out the window and saw a small runway amongst a bunch of trees. I thought, holy crap, we're going to land there. And we did. Safely. Finally, around 3p.

Our guide and driver (we had two this time) from Selous Impala Camp were waiting for us. They had some fresh cookies and cold pineapple juice for us. We went on a short game drive before arriving at camp.

The first animals we saw were warthogs.

I finally got a shot of one on its knees eating.

We then came across a tuskless elephant. She had a calf with her who stayed hidden in the thick bushes. Our guide said that tuskless elephants are common in Selous, possibly due to interbreeding.



There are lots and lots of bones in Selous. We didn't see bones anywhere else on our safari as something always eats them. But for some reason, they remain in Selous. Maybe there is a shortage of the animals that eat them in Selous (like hyena). Here is a full giraffe skull.

A palm nut vulture in a tree.

The baboons in Selous are yellow baboons. The ones we saw in the north were olive baboons. Yellow baboons are taller and thinner.

After the short game drive, we made our way to camp to check in, meet the managers, and get settled before dinner. While on the drive, it became pretty clear that this guide was not going to be a good fit for us. He was very encyclopedic. Whenever we asked a question, he didn't directly answer it. Instead, we would get what sounded like a memorized, rehearsed speech. He seemed new and not very dynamic. He didn't ask what we wanted to see nor what we had already seen. Although we wanted to see whatever the Selous had to offer, we were here to try and see dogs so we wanted the best chances to do so. When we got to camp and met with Andre the assistant manager, I voiced our concerns. Our conversation was overheard by the manager, Barbara, who listened and took our concerns seriously. She said she would see what she could do to assign another guide to us.

We received a tour of camp while our luggage was taken to our tent. This is the main camp building.

Metal guinea hens on the stairs up the main building. My mother collects metal animals. I wanted to steal one for her but couldn't figure out how to take it home in my duffle bag.

Sitting area located on the right side of the main building. This is where we would meet each afternoon at 4p for snacks and to begin either the afternoon game drive or boat ride.

Dining area located on the left side of the main building. This is where lunch is served each day at 1p.

Bar area and firepit. This is where everyone gathers in the evening before dinner for drinks and to let your guide know what you want to do the following day (game drive, boat ride, etc.).

Our tent.

View of the Rufiji River from our tent.

Inside our tent. The bathroom is located behind the beds.


This camp has 24-hour electricity, running water, and flush toilets. There are even fans in the tents which were lifesavers since it was very humid in Selous (much like Florida).


Before dinner, Brenda went down to the firepit area to have a drink while I stayed behind for a shower. Some of the resident bushbabies were running around there and I'm sorry I missed seeing that. While she was there, she met our new guide, Ezra. Barbara was true to her word about assigning another guide and Ezra seemed like he would be a great fit for us. He knew all of the dog packs in the area and seemed very knowledgeable and personable. We were very happy with the change.

Dinner at Selous Impala is served at individual tables by candlelight (very romantic if you're not with your best friend) and each is a four course affair. You are assigned a waiter for the duration of your stay. Ours was David, a nice guy who couldn't understand why we never ate much of our soup course. We didn't because neither one of us wants to eat soup when it's hot outside and because the soup here was pretty watery each night. We had just come from Serengeti Wilderness Camp where the soup was tasty and creamy. Dinner the first night was vegetable soup, aubergine (eggplant) tempura, choice of honey ginger prawns or grilled pork fillet in coconut sauce, couscous, salad, and coffee nut cream. David also had to grasp the concept that we didn't drink coffee or tea after dinner; we drank wine or rum (usually a double). Poor guy....we are just so difficult!

Posted by zihuatcat 12:21 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania serengeti selous brenda Comments (0)

Tanzania Day 8: Here Kitty Kitty Kitty

Today we met Maningo for breakfast around 7:30a in the dining tent for our last full day in the Serengeti. The previous day, Brenda gave him a cheetah postcard to put under his pillow and Maningo woke up this morning with a plan to find cheetah. I guess it worked. We were going to head east to an area known as Barafu Kopjes.

Right outside of camp we came across some giraffe


and some Fischer's lovebirds. I love these colorful birds.

The drive out to the eastern Serengeti was beautiful. The land was flat, dotted with the occasional trees and groups of rocks (kopjes). We were looking for cheetah all along the rocks.


Suddenly, off to the right, we saw a black and gold tail and I think we all simultaneously yelled, "Cheetah!". There he was. Standing on top of a rock in all of his glory, surveying the land around him.

Maningo stopped the vehicle and we all just stared. I told him NOT to call anyone on the radio! This was our sighting.


After a few minutes, the cheetah climbed down off the rock and started walking towards us.





He walked right in front of us.

Then he continued down the hill and off into the distance until he disappeared on the horizon.


Those few minutes that we spent alone with that cheetah were some of the best minutes of the entire safari. He was so majestic standing on that rock and at that moment, he was all ours to see. It was incredible!

A little while later, we saw a secretary bird sitting in the top of a tree.

This little black-backed jackal was hiding in the tall grass by the side of the road. He was so cute, you just wanted to reach out and snatch him up.


An agama lizard was sunning on a rock.

Some Thomson's gazelles (or cheetah snacks as we nicknamed them) watched us drive by.

In this area of the Serengeti, the land was completely flat with no trees, for as far as the eye could see.


Sadly, we then came upon a dead lion cub lying out in the open. Maningo thought it had probably been killed by a predator like hyena.

Just down the road, a pride was settled underneath a tree overlooking the river. We thought this might have been the dead cub's pride but of course we didn't know for sure.




There was an older cub in this pride.

At their perch just above the river, they were watching for other animals coming down to drink. One lioness spotted a warthog on the other side. We couldn't see the warthog except through binoculars, but she could see him.

She headed off in the direction of the river. The warthog spooked and she followed him. The rest of the pride stayed behind and watched.

We decided to stay for a while and eat our box lunch with the lions. Today we had a pork chop, fried veggie pattie, and a tangerine. It was very good but the lions definitely made it the best lunch of the trip!

The cub was getting restless.



During the time we were there, several opportunities for lunch walked right by the lions but they didn't budge. A couple of warthogs circled around and came down to drink at the river. A lone gazelle was wandering around down by the river. And at one point, a couple of jackals trotted by as well. A couple of the younger lions popped their heads up and looked at lunch walking by but nothing happened. I guess these lions weren't that hungry. The hunting lioness never returned. After a couple of hours with these guys, we went on our way.

There had only been four or five vehicles total at this sighting at any given time. This was a huge improvement over the large numbers of vehicles at cat sightings in the Central Serengeti. Because of that and the beautiful scenery in this area, this day so far was my favorite time in the Serengeti. I would love to return and spend more time exploring areas like this, even if it meant having fewer numbers of sightings.

This lappet-faced vulture was drying his wings on the road.

My usual position in the vehicle.

On the way back to the Central Serengeti, we ran into a herd of elephants.





A black-headed heron was standing by the road.

We came upon a huge traffic jam which only meant one thing - a big cat sighting. We saw the lioness on one side of the road.

And her two cubs on the other side of the road. We told Maningo not to stay here as we didn't feel comfortable with the situation. We felt the numerous vehicles were crowding the lioness. It was too chaotic after where we had just been.

You can barely see the second cub behind this one.


On down the road, a leopard cub was lounging in a tree.

Mom was there, too.


And so was dinner.

The day ended with more elephants.

This "teenager" was very annoyed with the birds making a ruckus in the grass. She kept charging them and flushing them out. It was hilarious.

On the way back to camp that evening, we had a flat tire. We almost made it through the entire safari without one. Luckily, there were no lions or hyenas or other predators around. Poor tired Maningo changed that tire faster than anyone I've ever seen and we were back on our way in just a few minutes. Brenda and I didn't even have to get out of the vehicle.

We made it back to camp to our nightly ritual of a bucket shower before dinner which was cream of butternut soup, fish fingers, potatoes, cabbage, and cashew nut cake. It was our last night with Maningo and we wanted to give him something special with his tip. Brenda came up with the Let's Rock and Roll idea. Since he always said that each morning before we left out, she found a rock from the campgrounds and a roll from dinner and put them both in a giant Ziploc. We gave that to him with his tip along with a bottle of wine. I don't think his grin could have gotten any bigger!

After dinner, we sat around the campfire with our favorite guests, an Irish family consisting of a father, mother, young tween daughter, and grandma BB. The Irish family was great fun, very outgoing and willing to laugh at themselves. The father was made to sleep in the same tent as grandma because he snored so loud. Grandma BB apparently didn't know she was coming on safari or else she wouldn't have come. So she was there each night in her little dresses with her wine and cigarette. She didn't say much but every once in a while she'd pull out a one liner. Also there was a young, Dutch guy and some of the guides and camp staff. We went through a couple of bottles of wine that night since it was our last night in the Serengeti and no one wanted to leave the next day.

Posted by zihuatcat 22:24 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania serengeti brenda Comments (0)

Tanzania Day 7 Part 2: Lion Lifestyles

After meeting Maningo at the Serengeti Welcome Center, we set off on a game drive in the Seronera or Central region of the Serengeti. We were returning to camp for lunch so we wanted to remain in the same vicinity.

We passed an Egyptian goose.

And a warthog finally posed nicely for me.

We came upon a pride of lions that had some interesting family dynamics going on. This lioness was lying peacefully under a tree with what was left of a gazelle kill.

This young male was interested in getting a part of her kill but she was definitely not interested in sharing. He sauntered over to see if he could make any headway.

But lost his nerve and turned around.

He went back to get reinforcements.



Which still did not work. The lioness wasn't sharing.

One of the lionesses, who happened to be collared, walked across the road in front of us and walked towards the river. She seemed to have a purpose.


The others watched from across the grass.

She came back from the river with a couple of cubs in tow.



Everyone converged on the lioness with her kill at once. She got up and moved it.

They all followed.


Then suddenly, amidst a lot of snarling, the young male jumped on the lioness. We didn't think he got any of the kill but later when I reviewed the pictures, I saw that he did indeed get a piece of the kill.

As always occurred with any big cat sighting in the Serengeti, the guides radioed each other which led to huge amounts of vehicles showing up at the sighting. Brenda and I both found this very disturbing for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it seemed to distress the wildlife. Some vehicles got too close to the wildlife or blocked their passage. And secondarily, it certainly takes the feeling of being in the wild away when you have to listen to the constant starting and stopping of vehicles and this is what you see.

While all of this was going on with the lions, just across the road a small group of elephants were getting a drink of water.



Once the kill had been split up, the lions settled down so we started back to camp for lunch. On the way, we found a hippo grazing by the side of the road. This seemed odd to me as I thought they mostly grazed at night.

The other hippos were hanging out in the water.

And another pride of lions were keeping watch over them on shore.

We arrived back at camp around 1:30p for lunch. We were the only ones in camp for lunch on this day. We were served gazpacho to start which was cool and refreshing. The main course was spaghetti with a creamy chicken sauce and pasta salad with olives and vegetables. After lunch, I called Mike and we spent some time catching up while Brenda rested in the tent.

Around 4p, we went back out for an afternoon game drive.

We passed a lone cape buffalo


and an impala family.



Some Egyptian geese were hanging out with a Blacksmith Lapwing.

Then we came upon another pride of lions.

Some were gathered under a tree, others were lying around in the surrounding tall grass.

As usual, there were a ton of vehicles there.

Suddenly, the lead lioness got up and walked across the road.

The others rose, watching her carefully to see where she went and what she was doing.


One by one, they began to follow her across the road.


When each one reached the other side, there was a bit of a greeting ceremony.

There was only one lion remaining on the other side of the road. Brenda and I were worried about her because it seemed like she was boxed in by all the vehicles and unable to cross. It was very disturbing, as the vehicles kept jockeying for position and coming and going. Maningo stayed at a respectful distance with the vehicle off. Finally, she was able to find a spot to cross the road and join the pride.

Once all together, it was obvious there was a plan already in the works. The females started walking out in a line towards some zebras in the far distance.

The younger lions stayed back and watched.

The three females separated and fanned out in three different directions.

By now, most of the other vehicles had left. We were glad because we didn't want anything to disturb the hunt. Maningo set us up in as good a position as possible so we could watch without spooking the zebras or the lions.

It was amazing to watch them stalk and carry out their plan with no real means of communication. Unfortunately, something did spook the zebras, they ran off, and the hunt was not a success for the lions. We left them in peace to try again later and headed back to camp.

We stopped for a couple of sunset pics on the way back.


We arrived at camp around 6p and took our extremely warm bucket showers. Dinner tonight was some tasty pumpkin soup, beef stew with rice, green beans, and cream caramel for dessert. After dinner, we sat around the campfire with some of the guides and staff finishing our wine.

Posted by zihuatcat 13:01 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania serengeti brenda Comments (0)

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