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Tanzania

Tanzania Day 7: Elephant Dung a Day Keeps the Flies Away

Our first full day at Katavi started with a 6:30a game drive. The savannah just outside of camp was teeming with the usual suspects.
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We stopped off at the hippo pool but it was pretty quiet around there.
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There were some public bathrooms next to the hippo pool and on our way out, we paid a visit. Safari bathrooms are always a crapshoot. At least this one had a real toilet instead of a hole in the ground.
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Just across from the bathrooms was a tree full of cell phones. Apparently, the workers in the facility next door kept their cell phones in these buckets for safety reasons while they were at work. I didn't really understand that but whatever. This guy appeared to be checking his messages on a break.
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We stopped at a place along the riverfront and the guys set up breakfast for us. There was a monitor lizard sunning along the shore.
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He was camera shy and disappeared into the water.
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We watched him swimming up against the concrete banks for a while. There were crocs sunning themselves, too.
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As we left the river after breakfast, a couple of old cape buffalo were resting.
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A giraffe with his cheeks full of food.
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We camp upon a tree full of monitor lizards but the pictures didn't come out. I was able to capture one swimming in the water.
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And a waterbuck watching all that was going on.
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We passed by a picnic area and stopped to see the bats hanging out underneath the roof covers.
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Some kind of scary looking fruit.
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By now it was nearing lunch time so we went back to camp to eat and rest. Then it was back out on the vehicle around 4p.

Aside from large hippo herds and lion prides, Katavi is also known for its tsetse flies. Now I didn't pay this much attention when I was doing my trip research but I will never ignore it again. They are miserable. They are huge, black, biting flies. They bite thru clothes and shoes. They were normally found when we would drive thru a bushy area. If we stayed out in the open, they weren't around. I don't know how the animals and the guides stand it on a daily basis. They are not phased by insect repellent, even if it contained DEET. The only thing that seemed to keep them somewhat at bay was burning elephant dung. That's right. Our guides collected dried up elephant poop, set it on fire, and placed it in a can behind our vehicle.
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That was all nice and well but our guides didn't pro-actively look for the dung. Instead, they would wait until we were overrun with tsetse flies then start looking for elephant poop of the right consistency. After this happened a couple of times, I made a big deal about it and told them they needed to keep a stockpile. I'm not sure they were too happy with that but I didn't care.

The afternoon was even slower than the morning and we didn't see much out and about, although I do love me some giraffe.

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Back at camp for the evening, we enjoyed a fish dinner with rice and veggies then braved the temperamental shower before bed.
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Posted by zihuatcat 01:47 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania brenda katavi Comments (2)

Tanzania Day 6: Hippo Fights and Hippo Sights

We were up at 4a for our drive to the airstrip. The camp started a campfire for us to keep warm while we waited to leave. We could hear, but not see, hyena right outside the perimeter. We knew it would be cold so we stole the blankets off the beds to use as wraps. We asked Jimmy to bring them back to camp for us after dropping us off. Nothing could prepare us for the brutal cold of that drive in the pitch black dark at full speed in an open air vehicle for 1.5 hours. Mostly we just closed our eyes and tried to get through it. I'm not sure I've ever been so grateful to arrive somewhere in my life as I was to arrive at that airstrip. Guess who else was there? Charles and Katie from England! They were going to Katavi as well but staying in a separate camp from us.

We had a two hour direct flight to Katavi and I'm pretty sure I passed out as soon as we were on board. Charles, sitting behind me, had the same idea.
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We arrived in Katavi and were greeted by our guide, Romano, our driver, Kevin, and a local bull elephant.
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On the way to camp, we stopped off down at the river to stretch our legs and see the crocs and hippos.
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This brave yellow-billed stork kept fishing all around this croc and hippo.
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Then these two were on the other side and couldn't keep from mouthing each other.
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As we left the river, we saw a cute little warthog family that went tails up when they saw us.
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We arrived at Katavi Wildlife Camp around 1p and since we were the only guests in camp for a few days, they upgraded us to the family banda with a private pool.
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After dropping off our bags, we walked to the dining area for lunch of sliders, potato salad, salad, and apple slaw with dessert of chocolate mousse.

Around 4p, we headed out for our late afternoon game drive. There were a few different animals hanging out in the savannah area outside of camp.

Waterbuck
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Reedbuck
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Tessebe
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Zebra
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Snake in a tree
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We arrived at the hippo pool and were able to get out and walk around a bit. The stench was indescribable.
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The mud and poop all looked the same.
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I spent a long time poised with my finger on the shutter just trying to get the perfect open mouth pic.
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The guides had some fun with a hippo skulll.
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Back in the vehicle, we were able to catch the sunset on the way back to camp.
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We met the camp manager around the campfire for a pre-dinner drink then were seated in the dining area for dinner.
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Dinner was a starter of pumpkin soup (they are really big on soup starters in Tanzania). Then peri peri chicken, rice, potatoes, and veggies.
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Here a Maasai warrior with a spear walks you to your tent each night after dark. These guys usually speak very little English but are hilarious in their own right. After getting back to the banda, we tried out the shower which appeared to have two temps only - scalding hot and freezing cold. We kept having to turn it on and off to get thru it. After that experience, we were ready for bed.

Posted by zihuatcat 02:50 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania brenda katavi Comments (0)

Tanzania Day 5: Giraffe Kills (Still) and Giraffe Thrills

It was our last full day at Ruaha and we were hoping to see some different animals. Ruaha is known for its large elephant herds as well as having the second largest population of lions in Africa and those were our main reasons for coming there. I was itching for a little variety and we would get that today.

We were up and out at 630a (again) with Hennessy joining us (again) and we started out at the giraffe carcass (again). It was cold (again) so we were all wrapped up in our blankets.
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One of the male lions was having some 3-day old giraffe for breakfast.
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He had his fill and sauntered off for a rest somewhere.
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A jackal was waiting in the wings to get in on that breakfast.
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The baboons were having theirs as well, relatively calmly for baboons.
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Harrier Hawk on the lookout (our guide's favorite bird)
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When it was getting close to time to eat, we stopped off at a picnic site by the river.
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Our first crocs of the trip.
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We hung out at the picnic tables for a while talking to our guides. Jimmy told us that when he goes home on leave, he has to take a bus and that it takes him several days. They have mandatory time off and then they come back for weeks at a time. His dream was to buy his own safari vehicle and be his own boss. He was young and playful, definitely giving off the vibes that he wasn't too interested in going the marriage/kids route any time soon. But for someone so young (early 20s), he was highly educated in the ways of a safari guide. We jokingly called him the Professor because he was a great teacher of information.

Before leaving the picnic site, we asked another guide to take a pic of all of us.
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We continued driving by the river and Jimmy found another place where it was safe for us to get out and explore a little.
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The hippos looked like big, lumpy rocks in the river.
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Fleeing female kudu
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A tree that looked like something with large teeth had eaten around the sides. I believe Jimmy said this was the damage that elephants do to the landscape.
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Lilac-breasted roller
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Some female lions were relaxing by the river.
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We came upon a group of what we first thought were some innocent-looking giraffe.
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It soon became obvious that things were not so innocent. The male very obviously was trying to mate with one of the females.
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HIs first attempt failed. I guess she needed more courting.
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So he kept trying to woo her.
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And trying.
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We were all waiting for what seemed like forever.
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Me with my finger poised on the shutter ready for action.
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The male was obviously ready.
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Finally...success!
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Twenty seconds later we're all like...that was it?
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Even the warthog was unimpressed.
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Just down the road, our eagle eye guide spotted a serval cat hunting in the tall grass. It's pretty rare to see that during the daytime so we were pretty excited.
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Unfortunately, Hennessy encouraged our driver to go off road a bit and get too close which, in our opinion, interrupted the serval's hunting. This greatly upset us (especially Brenda) and we were both quiet the rest of the way back to camp.

This adorable baby zebra helped though.
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Back at camp in time for showers and dinner, I confirmed with the office our leave time for our 7a flight the next morning. They had us incorrectly listed as booked on the noon flight so it took some effort to get that straightened out. We had our last dinner here which included a pesto linguine starter, beef with tomato sauce, green beans, potatoes, and spongecake. As usual, none of it was very good but it got the job done. We spent the rest of the evening packing and getting ready for our early morning departure. Brenda made cards by flashlight to give to our guides with their tips.
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Just as she finished, the light went out.

Posted by zihuatcat 22:04 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania brenda ruaha Comments (0)

Tanzania Day 4: Elephant Overload

I was feeling much better the next morning so we were loaded up and out at 630a. We were joined by Hennessy from Germany since the vehicle he was in had broken down. Of course, we stopped off at the giraffe carcass first. There were two male lions watching over things.

Brenda taking pics of me taking pics of lions
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Lion #1 hiding in the bushes
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He decided to venture out
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Lion #2 looking pretty fat and full
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The vervet monkeys were having breakfast in the nearby trees.
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Next up was an elephant family with some adorable little ones.
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They looked like they were trying to figure out how their trunks work.
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We made our usual pit stop for food.
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And a bathroom break.
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Go away bird
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Giraffe
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Another elephant herd
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Baby zebra catching up to his mom
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Kudu pair
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Baobab tree
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Elephants digging down below the surface for water in the river bottom
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The baby was a little tired.
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Mongoose family
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Agama lizard
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Dik dik
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Giraffe
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The aptly named candelabra tree
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Warthogs doing what they do...running with their tails up
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We came upon a river with actual water in it and followed it for a while
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Cape buffalo
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There was a group of self-drivers down by the river repeatedly getting in and out of the car.
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Apparently they didn't see the four lions watching and stalking them but we did.
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Rock hyrax
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Impala with yellow-billed hornbill
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Kudu crossing
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We were able to catch some of the sunset before getting back to camp late around 630p.
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I felt up to dinner but I wished I hadn't after eating it. The celery soup, lasagne, and pie left a lot to be desired but then again, we weren't here for the food. It was light's out after dinner and showers.

Posted by zihuatcat 04:38 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania brenda ruaha Comments (0)

Tanzania Day 3: Animal Assortment

I woke up feeling like a sinus infection was coming on so I took what I thought was a Claritin and a Mucinex in hopes of staving it off. But because we didn't have any electricity and I was taking pills by flashlight, I ended up taking a Claritin and an Imodium (which wouldn't turn out to be all that helpful). We were in the vehicle and on our way by 630a. It was very cold so Jimmy brought blankets for us to use to wrap our legs and feet. Before getting underway, we stopped off at the giraffe carcass but there was nothing much going on there this morning. A way down the road, we came across two female lions lounging around.
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You can see how close the vehicle gets to the animals, which are basically ignoring our existence.
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They were kind of, sort of watching this giraffe but they weren't interested enough to do much about it.
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We were starting to get hungry so Sudi found a quiet place for us to have breakfast. We stopped and the guys got everything set up for us.
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Brenda and I explored the hollow tree while they did so.
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The rest of the day was spent encountering an assortment of animals.

Impala
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Giraffe
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Lilac-breasted roller
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More giraffe
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Male lion hiding in the bushes
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Elephant
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Male kudu with his female harem
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Fish eagle
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Owl
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Yet another giraffe
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Mom and baby
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Saddle-billed stork
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Male ostrich
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More elephant
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Kudu and giraffe
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Zebra
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Even more elephant
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Baboon
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By the time we arrived back at camp, I was feeling significantly worse. All I wanted to do was rest. They brought me some juice and I was convinced to gargle salt water (which never works). Brenda went on to dinner by herself and I fell asleep very early to the sounds of the lions roaring around the giraffe carcass.

Posted by zihuatcat 04:38 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania brenda ruaha Comments (0)

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