Tanzania Southern Circuit 3

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Apr 6th, 2004, 08:09 AM
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Tanzania Southern Circuit 3

Friday 4th July
We went for a morning game drive with Esau and our driver Abraham. Spotted mating lions (twice), a roan antelope (very elegant), along with several greater kudu. Our bird count is rising rapidly, since Esau is very knowledgeable and greatly enjoys the fact that twoof his "clients" are keen on bird watching. There was a major sighting about an hour before dusk - an adult female leopard in the bush. We followed her for about half an hour and at no time did she attempt to leave the area, which suggested to Esau that she had young cubs very close by. It is an amazing feeling simply to sit in a jeep and watch such an animal in its natural territory, knowing that this same animal could quite easily kill if we were to place it in a position where it felt threatened. We returned to camp early evening, had nice hot showers and G&T's in the bar then went to the dining banda.

Saturday 5th July
We left camp early for a full day game drive,
Highlights of the game drive:
Slender mongoose
Great owl
Mating fish eagles
Post-mating (allegedly) elephants
Courting hippos
Verroux's eagle high in nest
Saker falcon (very rare according to Esau)
Tawny eagle taking sand bath
Baby elephant and parents having mud bath
D'arnaut's barbet with nest on the ground
Bat eared fox (1 dead, 2 alive and running)
The scenery, wide-open spaces and the vastness of the sky - incomparable

We headed back to camp at late afternoon and had a cup of tea before returning to banda. At 6:00 pm we met Jennifer, who took us up to the bar at Camp 2, high up on the kopje. Jennifer told us that the chef's two-year-old son had just been badly bitten on the arm by a yellow baboon. There was no transport available for two or three hours, so the poor boy had to wait to be taken to hospital at Iringa, a couple of hours away. After drinks we returned to our usual dining banda, at which point Jennifer spotted a spitting baby python. She could not chase it away, so she promptly killed it by hitting it with a mallet. She then calmly picked it up and took it out to the campfire and burned it. She is a brave girl.

Sunday 6th July
.We left camp quite early and had a really enjoyable morning. The main highlights of the drive were:
? Roan antelope
? Little kudu drinking in Sand River
? Teaching Esau about "twitchers"
? Sand River scenery

Conversation with Esau is fascinating. When he talks about his land and the birds and animals he is clearly well read. However, his facial expression becomes childlike when we tell him about England and how welive. I will never forget his dumbfounded reaction when I described to him the passenger cabin of a jumbo jet. It was good to feel that he was possibly learning as much from us as we from him, even though he doesn?t believe he will ever set foot in an aeroplane.

Lunch was devoured back at camp, and then we had a relaxing afternoon before returning to the bar at Camp 2 for pre-dinner drinks. There we met the Mills family from Nottingham, Tony, Christina and their daughter Georgina. Tony explained that they had visited Tanzania several times before but that Ruaha was probably their favourite location of all. They were very animated when telling us all about their previous two nights, which they had spent fly camping with Peter Fox. I may well give some thought to doing some of this tent-based experience next time we come to Africa, it sounds quite exciting. Ten Americans have arrived today, so to avoid being swamped, we decided that the Brits (including Jenniferas an honorary) would dine together. It was a very successful arrangement and one we would follow for most of the remainder of the holiday.

Monday 7th July
Left camp at 6:00 am for a bird walk with Esau. It was very educational, for Esau knows a great deal about the birds and he enthusiastically explains their habits to novices such as us. My favourite twitches on this walk were:
? Pearl spotted owlet
? Arrow marked babbler
? Crowned hornbill
Breakfast was at 7:30 am and we ate heartily; fresh pineapple, Spanish omelette, toast and coffee, then we were off out again on a game drive, which proved to be our best so far. Amongst the many animals and birds that we saw were:
? Vultures fighting jackals over remains of an impala
? Family of elephants, with baby of the group playing in the mud
? Several roan antelopes roaming as a group
? Goliath heron
? Mating lions (again)

We enjoyed an excellent lunch back at camp, and then rested for a couple of hours before setting out on our last game drive of the trip. Although we had no new sightings, it was enough just to be out there in the bush. The scenery is breathtaking, very raw and wild, with little or no signs (yet) of man making his mark on the environment. As a final experience, we met up with Jennifer at a hippo pool three kilometers from camp and enjoyed three large sundowners whilst watching the hippos and talking to Jennifer about her future plans. This short time was perhaps the most memorable of the whole trip, since it encapsulated the essence of our time in Tanzania; the stunning countryside, the primeval nature of the wildlife and the genuine friendship we had struck with someone from a very different part of the world. The onset of darkness forced us back into the jeep and back to camp.

Tuesday 8th July
We were ready and packed by 7:30 am, had our last breakfast at Ruaha River Lodge and said fond farewells to Jennifer. We were taken a very circuitous route to the airstrip so that Esau could show us a beautiful lake filled with crocodiles and hippos. We stayed for about half an hour, taking photos and soaking up the atmosphere of the bush one last time. Our flight with Coastal Airways left early, so we had a twenty-minute stop at Jongomero to collect other passengers, before we continued on our way to Dar es Salaam. The flight took two hours and for the first and last legs was quite bumpy. We landed at Dar es Salaam where our driver was waiting for us. We were driven through the very unlovely outskirts of Dar, then on a fast road to Bagamayo, before finally making a twenty minute boat crossing to Lazy Lagoon, our home for the next three nights. Thee days of relaxation, reading, a few drinks and some pleasant company, allowing us to recharge our batteries for the journey back home to England.
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Apr 6th, 2004, 08:51 AM
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LizFrazier
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I moved this thread to the end of the first post RuthieC made for ease of finding together. Hope I haven't screwed it up.
 
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