A Travellerspoint blog

Tanzania Day 9: It's the Final Cat-down!

Since it was our last full day on safari, we opted to revert back to our original schedule so we were on the vehicle at 6:30a. It was cold as usual.
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Flock of egrets
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Waterbuck
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Behind the waterbuck, our guides spotted roan antelope. These are pretty uncommon and this was a first sighting for me so very exciting.
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About ten minutes later, we finally saw a couple of lionesses walking in the tall grass off in the distance. These were the first and only lions we would see in Katavi, a park known for its large lion packs. You can barely see the top of her back in the tall grass.
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We stopped for breakfast and while eating our eggs, we found some eggs.
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Back on the road.
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We visited a new hippo pool. The male was standing guard over his hippo harem.
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Our guides got out of the vehicle to do something although I couldn't figure out what.
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Suddenly the head hippo had a challenger.
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We were parked only a few yards away and thought we were about to have front row seats for a heavyweight hippo fight.
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There was a lot of posturing but finally the errant hippo walked away.
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He went off by himself to pout. I felt kind of sorry for him being run out of the hippo pool.
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On our way out, we ran into some elephants crossing the road.
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We returned to camp for lunch and this time, caught our bushbuck's girlfriend. It seems she was shacking up under our banda with him.
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We had our lunch, with dessert, of course.
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After a couple hours of rest, we were back out for our final game drive of the trip. It was the usual suspects at first.
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And then we stumbled upon a leopard and his nap time. We were able to drive right up under the tree and he didn't care at all.
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Brenda really wanted to see a leopard on this trip so we found it just in time. We closed the evening out with more hippos.
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Kevin, our driver
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Brenda doing her own version of hippo.
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We returned to camp and our last dinner was similar to our first.
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We were off to bed to rest up for the next part of our African adventure.

Posted by zihuatcat 01:21 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania brenda katavi Comments (0)

Tanzania Day 8: Same Animals, Different Day

We were starting to get frustrated. We'd been at Katavi for a couple of days and only had two more days left on safari. We were grateful for the good sightings we had at Ruaha because we weren't getting much at Katavi. So we decided to change tactics. Rather than go out in the early morning and late afternoon, we decided to sleep in and go out later, staying out all day. Of course, sleeping in meant being ready at 7:30a instead of 6:30a.

We had breakfast in camp which consisted of cinnamon rolls, fruit, omelet, sausage, and tomatoes (an English twist).
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While we were eating, the server told us about the python that lives in the roof of the dining area. We'd been eating here for two days, oblivious to the python above.
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That definitely got me checking the roof of our banda when we got back to it!

We left out about 8:15a and started our drive by the river where the birds were out.

Yellow-billed stork
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Gray heron
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Goliath heron
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Martial eagle eating breakfast in a tree
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We saw Charles and Katie with their guide. We talked to them a bit and they weren't seeing much of anything either.
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Palm nut vulture
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Hammerkop
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Fish eagle
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Cape buffalo
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The antelope in the background are the elusive eland. I've only seen them a handful of times and never gotten a good picture. They are always running away.
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By now it was time for lunch so we stopped off to eat our box lunches of scotch egg, veggie sandwich, and fruit.
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We spent most of the afternoon with a herd of elephants. This group looked like four generations together at once.
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This one gave us a demonstration of how they knock berries and fruit off the trees.
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I was sitting in the back row, as usual, with my zebra hair fly swatter.
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We arrived back to camp around 5:30p.
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Our little male bushbuck that lived under our banda was out and about.
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We were no longer the only ones in camp. Some Canadians joined the camp tonight. They'd been driving around Tanzania for several weeks. At this camp, we still ate our dinner separately but did have drinks and popcorn with them around the campfire beforehand.

For dinner, we had veggie soup to start then beef and mushroom pie, fried eggplant, potatoes, and veggies.
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Dessert was an orange meringue pie. Our giggly Masaai guide walked us back to our banda and we were done for the night. Neither of us had the energy to face the scalding hot/freezing cold shower.

Posted by zihuatcat 01:46 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania brenda katavi Comments (0)

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)

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