A Travellerspoint blog

Tanzania Day 10: From Bush to Beach

After breakfast at camp, we drove to the air strip for our 11a flight to Mafia Island. It wouldn't be a direct flight but rather five hours with multiple stops across Tanzania. We took our usual goodbye picture with our guides (Romano on the left and Kevin on the right).
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Then they helped to ready the plane.
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At one of our stops, we were able to de-plane and use the facilities.
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Our flight buddies, Charles and Katie, from England.
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Our pilot paying close attention to the flight plan. Ha ha.
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Leaving the bush behind.
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Arriving to the coastal islands.
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We finally arrived at Mafia Island, an island off the coast of Tanzania near Dar es Salaam. We had to wait a bit for our driver but he eventually arrived.
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We drove across the island and had to make a stop to pay our marine park fees in cash. He then drove us to the shore, unloaded our bags, and instructed us to get in a rickety boat. It was at this point I thought "Oh boy, what are we doing? A guy who speaks almost no English picked us up and has told us to get on a rickety boat with several guys who speak no English and we have no idea where we're going or how long it takes to get there." Luckily, it appeared from significant gesturing, that we were only going across the bay.
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A short time later, we could see our hotel from shore. It was located on Chole, a small island off the coast of Mafia Island.
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We were unprepared for the shore arrival which meant we had to wade thru the water. We took off our shoes and found our flip flops in our bag. Unfortunately, Brenda blew out her flip flop and the shore we arrived on was extremely rocky. One of the women who greeted us tried to give Brenda (a size 9 or so) her size really, really small shoes to wear. That didn't work and Brenda had to stumble across the rocks, barefoot, until she could find a place to put her other shoes back on.

The only thing on this island was our hotel and a small village. The hotel consisted of tree houses with no electricity, long drop toilets, and kerosene showers. There was electricity at the office where we could charge our cell phones and camera batteries during certain hours of the day.

Our treehouse bedroom on stilts. At least there was a fan.
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The pictures don't do justice to show how massive the tree was.
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The bathroom was down the stairs (remember our house was on stilts) and down the path. At least it was private.
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Our sink
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Our shower
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After the explanation of how to soak the rag in kerosene and light it in order to get hot water in the shower and the explanation that if we didn't want to walk downstairs and down the path in the dark to the bathroom we could use the bucket in our room, we both looked at each other and laughed in nervous fear. Why did I think this was a good idea?

So we went with it. With alcohol, of course.
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We later joined everyone else for dinner which was held by candlelight, outside, at a long table with the other guests and the owner of the property. The only other guests were a mother and daughter from England. It was dark upon returning to the treehouse after dinner and without electricity or any entertainment, we turned on the fan, climbed into bed, zipped up the mosquito net, and fell asleep listening to the fruit bats and the sounds of the tropics.

Posted by zihuatcat 02:05 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania mafia brenda Comments (0)

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)

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