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Blog

Another magical experience at Mahale and Katavi

Date

07 Nov

Posted By

Alex Edwards
1/1 Sunset Katavi National Park
© Alyn Humphreys Sunset Katavi National Park

Tanzania Safari - Alyn and Ruth Humphreys, Oct 2011

Difficult to know where to begin but certainly another magical experience! All 3 camps were superb and to end up at Greystoke was as good as any beach holiday with the added bonus of 3 magical days with the chimps.

I think the highlight was the chimpanzees, made all the better for having to make an effort to get to see them. ( Makes it more rewarding) . We were amazed at their size and the human traits they exhibited even at one point having a mother bring her baby towards us to clearly show her off! Swimming in Lake Tanganyika was an added bonus with some decent snorkelling in front of camp.

Other highlights:

A great fight and stand off between hungry lions and a herd of buffalo in Ruaha (Mwagusi) The buffalo won!

A vicious fight between 3 baboons (although no-one hurt) in front of our banda after lunch in Mwagusi (didn't realise how vicious it was until we looked at the photos on our return.

A mass of wonderful bird life (we are becoming twitchers with all these visits!)

Hundreds of Hippos and crocs trying to compete for water in Katavi

Great food in all camps

Great staff / knowledgeable guides / excellent accomodation.

All in all another great safari leaving us wanting more and just as keen to return as soon as we can!

  

Up Close and Personal in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools

Date

07 Nov

Posted By

Caroline
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Mana Pools, Zimbabwe Safari, Richard and Georgie Hill, USA - Oct 2011

Wow! Best way of describing our trip to Mana. We can now see why everyone in the business rates it so highly. What a beautiful place and what a good decision it was to spend 5 nights at Goliath. Quite simply one of the best, if not the best, safari experiences we have ever had. Absolutely loved it. The other guests there were several times repeat visitors... Stretch is hilarious and a wonderful host. We had a hoot and it felt like staying in someone’s home.  The game experiences were something else, and seeing a pack of 30 dogs on the hunt was something of a safari epiphany for me. Georgie managed to land a 40lb vundu whilst fishing.

Otherwise, the walking was great. It’s rare to be able to just generally walk amongst game like that without it crashing off into the undergrowth and we had some fabulous sightings as well as the ”up close and personal” experiences with elephants, lion and dogs. Even night time was full of entertainment with so much game in and around the camp every night. I also hadn’t realised the short time that the carmine bee-eaters are there so to see them in abundance was very lucky too.

Ruckomechi was lovely. They have done a very good job with the camp in a beautiful location. We had a very relaxing time there. The game was great, with good lion and dog sightings and also good night drive sightings, and the birds were excellent too. We really enjoyed our time there.

Although it’s difficult to go back to places given there are so many choices, I’m sure we will go back to Goliath again, perhaps earlier in the season (May- June time) for a different experience. We knew it was going to be hot, but it was pretty ballistic with the mercury hitting 45 degrees most days, which also gets our good friends the tsetse flies all excited. Just made us appreciate  the outside shower and the ice in our drinks when we got back to camp all the more.

 

  

Hippo tries to save wildebeest from croc on the Mara River

Date

07 Nov

Posted By

Caroline
1/5 Getting ready to take the plunge
© Susan Story Getting ready to take the plunge
2/5 Wildebeest river crossing, northern Tanzania
© Susan Story Wildebeest river crossing, northern Tanzania
3/5 Wildebeest river crossing, northern Tanzania
© Susan Story Wildebeest river crossing, northern Tanzania
4/5 Getting ready to take the plunge
© Susan Story Getting ready to take the plunge
5/5 Race to get across
© Susan Story Race to get across

Serengeti, Tanzania Safari, Susan Story, USA - Oct 2011

Having driven through the Serengeti the day before, we saw massive herds of wildebeest – the lucky ones, I called them. Our guide thought that the chances of seeing a crossing would probably be minimal since the crossings had begun in August and it was now the end of October.

However, after shortly arriving at the Mara River, we saw a family of elephants and a few wildebeest on the opposite side of the river. A couple of wildebeest were standing on the edge of a steep cliff that we considered too dangerous. Apparently,  they did too. The wildebeest turned and headed the opposite way along the river cliffs. Emmanuel headed the same direction but drove a distance ahead of the herd. From this different perspective, we saw that there were thousands upon thousands of them. Emmanuel told us that they were showing an urgency to cross that led him to believe a crossing was imminent.

We settled into a spot and watched hundreds approach the bank in front of us. It seemed like a good, gentle slope – a fine place to cross. A few wildebeest went down to examine the area more carefully and then tens more. Then all of a sudden, everyone who had descended the bank turned around and ran back up the bank as fast as they could – hoofs flying, dust swirling. A lioness was standing on the opposite bank!  For a few minutes the thousands of wildebeest were looking across the river at the lioness. We sat awhile looking at the disappointed lioness and the wildebeest looking back at her. Then the wildebeest turned away threading back through the hills and the trees and soon disappearing from our view. On the radio, Emmanuel heard that a likely spot had been chosen, and we raced to the new spot. The crossing began!

Seeing pictures of this phenomenon does not come close to seeing it in real life. The first in the water with fear on their faces…arriving at the opposite shore… thundering hoofs running up the bank to safety… the snorting communication… the clouds of dust… Some stopped running and went back to the water to see how their loved ones were faring. It is an amazing, exhilarating spectacle of nature.  Then we saw confusion in the water. A head not moving forward….a serrated tail. It appeared that a crocodile had interrupted a wildebeest. The croc had latched on to her rear left leg. As soon as it was clear to the wildebeest that one of their own had been caught, the rest backed away from the shore and turned around to cross elsewhere. The ones who had already crossed had disappeared into the foliage. This female was now left alone to escape or die.

She managed to regain her footing and stood in a shallow area of the river. Occasionally she would pull herself but was unable to get her leg free. She’d look back to see what was it was that was holding on to her. To our delight, a hippo began to swim over to her. We thought that if he could distract the croc, maybe the croc would open his mouth for a second, and she could free herself. He bit the croc’s tail at one point causing the croc to thrash about, but the croc never opened its mouth. The hippo also tried a direct approach, but that didn’t work either. In our naivete, we wanted the hippo to be our hero, but more than likely he was defending his territory. The poor wildebeest either lost her footing or became exhausted. The croc soon afterwards dragged her underwater. Everyone still watching was silent and solemn.Twenty minutes later he surfaced with his prize.

After spending so much time that afternoon with nobody’s favorite animal, I have a new found respect, admiration, and affection for these animals who endure so much for survival.

  

Inhambane street life, Mozambique Oct 2011

Date

03 Nov
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A gentle Sunday afternoon spent wondering the streets of Inhambane, the sleepy little Mozambican coastal town.

  

The Castle, Vumba Mountains, Zimbabwe Oct 2011

Date

03 Nov
1/5 The Castle
The Castle
2/5 The Castle
The Castle
3/5 The Castle
The Castle
4/5 The Castle
The Castle
5/5 The Castle terraced gardens
The Castle terraced gardens

The Castle was built during the 2nd World War by Italian prisoners of war.  In the 1980s a new section was added by present owner, Alex Nunes.  Occupying an austere location overlooking the Burma Valley in Zim's Eastern Highlands, The Castle is a small owner-run hotel.  It is pretty quirky: heaps of antiquey bits, and some novel design features, including a toilet built into great boulders (allegedly "the throne" used by the Queen Mum on her visit to the area) and a dumb waiter which yields delicious meals from what appears to be a large dresser in the corner of the dining room.  Many other high-profile bods, from politicians to movie-folk, have enjoyed g&ts on the battlements overlooking expansive views of forests and mountains.

During a three night stay at The Castle we enjoyed some lovely walks, runs and bike rides.  The area is great for birds and there is a Botanical Garden which is a little past it’s prime but still pretty.  There was one or two mandatory visits to the famous Tony's Coffee Shop for cake (it's not just cake...that doesn't do it justice at all...it is a culinary work of art, the memory of which lingers longer than the extra 3inches it will add to your waistline).

  

All those wonderful moments from early morning porridge bubbling on the fire to animal sightings

Date

02 Nov

Posted By

Caroline

Zambia Safari - Jenny Leeder & Roland Hill, Oct 2011

The holiday we had was amazing. Superbly organised....we expect nothing less from you!!  The mix of camps was excellent however I have to say that Old Mondero for me was the ultimate....just as I like things. Excellent camp managers, superb situation for the accommodation, food spot on, the chance to walk, ride or on the river, fish, canoe and all small parties or just Roland and me. Just how Africa should be. Informative guides, brilliant attitude of all staff and oh my goodness how I would love to go back there. This adoration of Old Mondero does not mean that we did not think the rest was excellent, it was. Situations just perfect, courteous and knowledgeable staff, accomodation and food brilliant etc etc.

Thank you,  thank you... best holiday I have ever had, ticked all my boxes and I feel so lucky that I was able to be that person and experience all those wonderful moments: from the early morning porridge bubbling on the fire, the animal sightings to mention some, from Wart Hogs to Civets, PuKus to  Elans, Lions, Leopards  Giraffes, Elephants Zebras, mongoose, jackals, the Pell Owl, those many many beautiful birds, the call of the Fish Eagle the croaking frogs, the cheeping crickets, the honking hippos and the night calls of the lion and the hyeana. That wonderful night sky and the noise of the night, yet strangely it was not until I got home that I realised. just how noisy the bush is!! Those moments of relaxation each afternoon when you can write your journal, have a siesta, recap the thrills of the last 24 hours. Listening to the events of the day over the evening meal, that afternoon tea which is truly a meal too many, yet no one declines to try that home made cake! The Sundowners and sharing unique moments with strangers and yet... it all seems so right.