A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about avocet

Ndtutu XIII - drowned wildebeest, jackals, lions

What a stench!


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Today we are leaving Ndutu and heading to pastures new. A pretty sunrise sees us on our way.

large_8664aa30-c150-11ea-b9f3-576ee05d431c.jpg

large_92818e50-c150-11ea-b9f3-576ee05d431c.jpg

large_a0574600-c150-11ea-b9f3-576ee05d431c.jpg

Vultures at Lake Masek

Initially we cannot fathom out why so many vultures are descending on the shores of the lake.

large_32fc2520-c44e-11ea-97db-61e9ae2cd7fb.jpg

large_3c5ca860-c44e-11ea-97db-61e9ae2cd7fb.jpg

large_46510730-c44e-11ea-97db-61e9ae2cd7fb.jpg

There are vultures (and Marabou Stork) everywhere: on the ground, in the trees, flying in! I think all Ndutu's vultures are here in this spot!

large_51635920-c44e-11ea-97db-61e9ae2cd7fb.jpg

large_92be7530-c44e-11ea-97db-61e9ae2cd7fb.jpg

large_9eca9070-c44e-11ea-97db-61e9ae2cd7fb.jpg

The sound of their huge wings flapping as the come in to land is really quite something to hear.

large_c55078e0-c44e-11ea-97db-61e9ae2cd7fb.jpg

Then we see it: Floating wildebeest carcasses – animals who drowned trying to cross the river.

large_d823f5f0-c44e-11ea-97db-61e9ae2cd7fb.jpg

large_38677200-c451-11ea-97db-61e9ae2cd7fb.jpg

Not just one, but dozens of bloated, putrid decomposing bodies. The stench of the rotting flesh is heinous.

large_62c3efd0-c44f-11ea-97db-61e9ae2cd7fb.jpg

large_8066e970-c44f-11ea-97db-61e9ae2cd7fb.jpg

large_90353cd0-c44f-11ea-97db-61e9ae2cd7fb.jpg

For some light relief I turn my head towards the heavens, where the dark sky has now opened up a small window to let the sunrise through.

large_c3c6d630-c44f-11ea-97db-61e9ae2cd7fb.jpg

I spend some time watching the large flocks of egrets making their way across other parts of the sky while I wait patiently for a bird or two to fly past the sunrise window.

large_1480e200-c450-11ea-97db-61e9ae2cd7fb.jpg

large_2d1e2700-c450-11ea-97db-61e9ae2cd7fb.jpg

large_67780c90-c450-11ea-97db-61e9ae2cd7fb.jpg

Meanwhile, the hole in the cloud is rapidly changing shape, and finally I get lucky!

large_72d28b10-c450-11ea-97db-61e9ae2cd7fb.jpg

large_982daf20-c450-11ea-97db-61e9ae2cd7fb.jpg

Not being able to stand the atrocious stink any longer, we move on to see what else nature has to offer us today.

large_6857ac40-c452-11ea-97db-61e9ae2cd7fb.jpg
Grey Capped Social Weaver

large_78818d20-c452-11ea-97db-61e9ae2cd7fb.jpg
Vitelline Masked Weaver

Black Backed Jackals

large_ecb04cf0-c456-11ea-bf63-f91bcde4b6d8.jpg

large_f5a76000-c456-11ea-bf63-f91bcde4b6d8.jpg

large_fff7e890-c456-11ea-bf63-f91bcde4b6d8.jpg

large_ed54d610-c471-11ea-ad59-13e6db04cded.jpg
Temmincks Stint

Avocets

large_06a1e310-c472-11ea-ad59-13e6db04cded.jpg

large_1c035e00-c472-11ea-ad59-13e6db04cded.jpg

large_2e39d7c0-c472-11ea-ad59-13e6db04cded.jpg
Gull Billed Tern

large_ec3c1b10-d04e-11ea-a2c2-9ffb384ef3c0.jpg
Giraffe

Lion

As we are following the contour of the lake, Malisa is busy looking around as always. I feel sure, however, that he has seen the lion whose paw is across the track we are driving on. He makes no attempt at slowing down, so I start to alert him to the big cat, without wanting to shout and scare the lion away. My warning comes out a little meek and feeble: “erm..... stop...?” Of course, for the rest of the trip, the boys tease me mercilessly about it.

large_2cef7580-d03b-11ea-86e3-47c8cc928e3a.jpg

By the time Malisa swerves out of the way onto the grass alongside the track and stops, the lion is most certainly not happy.

large_55abed00-d03b-11ea-86e3-47c8cc928e3a.jpg

We move a little further away for our safety and the lions comfort. He obviously realises that lying in the road is not a good ideas, and gets up, sniffs the air and marks his territory before moving off.

large_785f2290-d03b-11ea-86e3-47c8cc928e3a.jpg

large_afe5eaf0-d03b-11ea-86e3-47c8cc928e3a.jpg

We follow him down to the lakeside, where he sees one of the many dead wildebeest floating in the lake. You can tell that he so wants it, but it is just that too far away for him too reach.

large_82582530-d04f-11ea-9b7a-ed18610915d2.jpg

large_bcd30040-d04f-11ea-9b7a-ed18610915d2.jpg

We hang around, hoping he is going to go for a swim, but he obviously doesn't want to get his hair wet, and makes a rapid beeline for the thicket further inland instead, walking with a definite purpose.

large_f87e9320-d04f-11ea-9b7a-ed18610915d2.jpg

large_fd37a900-d03c-11ea-86e3-47c8cc928e3a.jpg

large_26dcd2d0-d03d-11ea-86e3-47c8cc928e3a.jpg

He wanders into the bush. We follow. There is a delicious smell of mint wafting across the savannah as we bulldoze our way through the undergrowth to follow the lion – such a pleasant change after the grim odour from the wildebeest carcasses earlier.

large_19317af0-d047-11ea-a2c2-9ffb384ef3c0.jpg

large_4590a590-d050-11ea-9b7a-ed18610915d2.jpg

So that's what he is heading for!

large_bb3532f0-d048-11ea-a2c2-9ffb384ef3c0.jpg

large_e0879280-d04a-11ea-a2c2-9ffb384ef3c0.jpg

She's coming down!

large_58688c40-d04c-11ea-a2c2-9ffb384ef3c0.jpg

She most likely sought refuge in the tree as a respite from her mate's sexual advances, and now she's ready for some more action.

large_51542670-d04d-11ea-a2c2-9ffb384ef3c0.jpg

We watch as she disappears into the ever-thickening shrubs. The terrain where she is going is too dense for us to follow, we are already in a place outside our normal comfort zone.

large_bf024e40-d04d-11ea-a2c2-9ffb384ef3c0.jpg

“How do we get out of here?” I ask Malisa. “I have no idea” he replies as he creates a new 'track' through the bush.

large_0ab6ec30-d051-11ea-9b7a-ed18610915d2.jpg


We return to the area where the lion was watching the wildebeest carcass for our breakfast in the car (too dangerous to get out with the predators around), hoping he'll come back.


large_87ee2760-d059-11ea-8e10-117197f8b284.jpg

He doesn't, so we continue on our way to see what else nature has to offer us.

Thank you to Calabash Adventures for this amazing safari.

large_51aed420-d04e-11ea-a2c2-9ffb384ef3c0.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 03:51 Archived in Tanzania Tagged birds sunrise africa safari tanzania birding lion vultures avocet weaver bird_watching ndutu calabash_adventures lake_masek marabou_stork jackals african_animals wildebeest_carcasses social_weaver masked_weaver black_backed_jackals lion_in_a-tree erm_stop Comments (2)

Ndutu XII - David unwell, pond life, lion, cheetah

Just me and Malisa against the world. Well, not quite the world, but at least the wildlife of Ndutu.


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

We have our picnic breakfast in the car on the plains, completely surrounded by the enormous herd of wildebeest.

large_987e7fb0-ae82-11ea-bb0e-7da06017db83.jpg

large_a12f3af0-ae82-11ea-bb0e-7da06017db83.jpg

large_aa2367d0-ae82-11ea-bb0e-7da06017db83.jpg

large_b2cea4d0-ae82-11ea-bb0e-7da06017db83.jpg

large_de31ff90-abf4-11ea-abfa-ddde82665a11.jpg

We are thrilled when we spot 'our' baby in amongst the crowd – his mum is instantly recognisable by the manner in which her afterbirth is hanging. It's a relief to know that our grandchild survived the first critically vulnerable period of his life.

large_e2b60ba0-abf5-11ea-abfa-ddde82665a11.jpg

Zebra

large_5b9b9990-abf6-11ea-abfa-ddde82665a11.jpg

This guys is missing his tail – probably a close brush with a lion or hyena!

large_64707ea0-abf6-11ea-abfa-ddde82665a11.jpg

large_aacd30a0-abf6-11ea-abfa-ddde82665a11.jpg
Tawny Eagle

Marabou Stork

He's on the lookout for wildebeest placentas for lunch!

large_c3baee80-ac15-11ea-9b47-4fd92ceb3a14.jpg

large_57b4dbf0-ac16-11ea-9b47-4fd92ceb3a14.jpg
Pregnant Hyena

David is not feeling at all well, and asks Malisa to take him back to the lodge. He must be poorly, that's the first time I have heard him ask that in our seven safaris here. Hopefully it is nothing serious.

Once David is safely delivered at the lodge, where we take the opportunity to use the facilities, Malisa and I continue our safari “to see what nature has to offer us” as he always says.

White Backed Vulture

I'm intrigued as to how the vulture became so wet. It seems to me that he might have had an involuntary dip in the lake. He is looking quite bedraggled!

large_6338ad00-ac19-11ea-a34c-05f37c0766d9.jpg

He is certainly busy trying to dry off, waving his huge wings around in the hot, still air.

large_7308d520-ac19-11ea-a34c-05f37c0766d9.jpg

large_7b8bc9a0-ac19-11ea-a34c-05f37c0766d9.jpg

large_e726f570-c09d-11ea-896b-372e8db9ec24.jpg
Giraffe skeleton

Wildebeest crossing Lake Ndutu

With all the recent rains and subsequent flooding, Lake Ndutu has extended its shores considerably across the flat landscape, with shallow pools being creating where the usual path of the wildebeest was.

I think this much deeper section has taken the small group – or confusion, the collective noun of wildebeest – by surprise.

large_ada460e0-acc4-11ea-815a-21e8f44f4968.jpg

Oh my! There is a tiny baby in the group!

large_ef595cc0-acc4-11ea-815a-21e8f44f4968.jpg

There seems to be some consternation, with the adults agitated and the baby nowhere to be seen. I hold my breath as I am terrified he may have drowned.

large_66261570-acc8-11ea-ab8c-1f78ba088752.jpg

He is only tiny, likely to have been born earlier this morning. After a few tense seconds, he re-appears and all is well.

large_af66d490-acc8-11ea-8ebc-1b713252c451.jpg

Thankfully, they soon reach shallower waters.

large_bbf43520-acc5-11ea-815a-21e8f44f4968.jpg

We can all breathe again now.

large_114e2780-acc9-11ea-8ebc-1b713252c451.jpg
Speckled Weaver

large_1dc27a70-acc9-11ea-8ebc-1b713252c451.jpg
Red Bishop

Pond Life

Lots of birds – and a few animals – gather down at the lake shore.

large_fb940550-ae75-11ea-8995-252fad14df5d.jpg
Greater and Lesser Flamingo

large_1249ecb0-ae76-11ea-8995-252fad14df5d.jpg
The lesser flamingo is the more colourful of the two species

large_2cd768f0-ae76-11ea-8995-252fad14df5d.jpg
Avocet

large_3cd6de70-ae76-11ea-8995-252fad14df5d.jpg

I had no idea that Avocet use the same principle for fishing as spoonbills – sweeping the bottom of the shallow water from side to side to disturb any living organisms that they can then scoop up and eat.

large_7464abb0-ae76-11ea-8995-252fad14df5d.jpg

large_84518390-ae76-11ea-8995-252fad14df5d.jpg
Greenshank

large_be12f9b0-ae76-11ea-8995-252fad14df5d.jpg
Kittlitz Plover

large_dc0cecf0-ae76-11ea-8995-252fad14df5d.jpg
Marabou Stork

large_f5704110-ae76-11ea-8995-252fad14df5d.jpg
Common Sandpiper

large_252c4160-ae77-11ea-8995-252fad14df5d.jpg
Giraffe

large_337135a0-ae77-11ea-8995-252fad14df5d.jpg
Giraffe and Wildebeest

In places the earth appears to be dried out, with huge cracks. It is very deceptive, however, as the ground underneath is still very soggy, and as soon as you drive out onto it, the car sinks deep into the mud.

large_ed5950a0-ae7d-11ea-b8c8-dd27ff9831b5.jpg

Ndutu Lodge have issued stark warnings to all its drivers and visitors, and will charge 300,000 Tanzanian Shillings to rescue you (ca £100 / US$130).

Oxpeckers

Feasting on a dazzle of zebras (the collective noun for a group of zebras)

large_85c983f0-ae7e-11ea-b8c8-dd27ff9831b5.jpg

large_93f1c870-ae7e-11ea-b8c8-dd27ff9831b5.jpg

large_9da96c60-ae7e-11ea-b8c8-dd27ff9831b5.jpg

large_ba0c6bf0-ae7e-11ea-b8c8-dd27ff9831b5.jpg

large_c822fd30-ae7e-11ea-b8c8-dd27ff9831b5.jpg

large_dba3d140-ae7e-11ea-b8c8-dd27ff9831b5.jpg

large_e95eadf0-ae7e-11ea-b8c8-dd27ff9831b5.jpg

Long Crested Eagle

She off hunting for lunch.

large_251f7680-ae7f-11ea-b8c8-dd27ff9831b5.jpg

large_32578ea0-ae7f-11ea-b8c8-dd27ff9831b5.jpg

large_3b0a93d0-ae7f-11ea-b8c8-dd27ff9831b5.jpg

Lion

A lazy male lion relaxes in the shade. It's amazing how we've predominantly seen male lions on this trip, no large prides with females and cubs as we have on previous visits.

large_ca6e3040-ae7f-11ea-b8c8-dd27ff9831b5.jpg

We let sleeping lions be, and go off to see what else nature has to offer us today.

large_a5bd6080-ae80-11ea-b8c8-dd27ff9831b5.jpg

large_46793260-ae86-11ea-b0f1-c1a726e1072c.jpg
Tawny Eagle. "You looking at me?"

Wattled Starling

large_cd902fc0-ae8a-11ea-aa82-6185e4ed2400.jpg

large_d9ca11c0-ae8a-11ea-aa82-6185e4ed2400.jpg

large_e91c0930-ae8a-11ea-aa82-6185e4ed2400.jpg

Cheetah

Malisa thinks we should return to see what the cheetah cubs are doing. We find them not far from where they were yesterday, and today they are mostly sleeping in the shade, occasionally turning over.

large_12df5bc0-c086-11ea-8ada-9fbb66428710.jpg

large_3197bd00-c086-11ea-8ada-9fbb66428710.jpg

large_47bb9d90-c086-11ea-8ada-9fbb66428710.jpg

After a while the other clients get bored, and one by one the cars leave until eventually it is only us and a car with two serious German photographers left. Our patience pays off when the cheetahs get up from their slumber and start to play!

large_a77254e0-c086-11ea-8ada-9fbb66428710.jpg

large_cfdcdbd0-c086-11ea-8ada-9fbb66428710.jpg

large_df56f4b0-c086-11ea-8ada-9fbb66428710.jpg

A few more cars arrive in time to see the cubs trying to climb a tree stub, somewhat precariously!

large_24ed9790-c087-11ea-8ada-9fbb66428710.jpg

large_2f69eb10-c087-11ea-8ada-9fbb66428710.jpg

large_387dade0-c087-11ea-8ada-9fbb66428710.jpg

large_42204330-c087-11ea-8ada-9fbb66428710.jpg

large_4b4c7000-c087-11ea-8ada-9fbb66428710.jpg

At one stage one of the cubs walks straight towards our car, and I am sure (hoping) she is going to jump on the bonnet of the Landcruiser!

large_ab55db30-c087-11ea-8ada-9fbb66428710.jpg

She veers off last minutes and heads for another car, but doesn't climb on board that one either.

large_b8223930-c087-11ea-8ada-9fbb66428710.jpg

After nearly three hours (and 2,500 photos) of watching this gorgeous family, we have to reluctantly leave and make our way back to the lodge in order to get there before dark.

large_211745c0-c088-11ea-8ada-9fbb66428710.jpg

large_2a69bf40-c088-11ea-8ada-9fbb66428710.jpg

Also watching the cheetahs playing is a Northern Double Collared Sunbird - another lifer!

large_3e427750-c088-11ea-8ada-9fbb66428710.jpg

Storks

Down by Lake Ndutu, Abdim and Marabou Storks are gathering for the night.

large_73af3850-c093-11ea-a65d-6f2f28ffac31.jpg

large_8a15c730-c093-11ea-a65d-6f2f28ffac31.jpg

large_e246d5c0-c093-11ea-a65d-6f2f28ffac31.jpg

large_ea466970-c093-11ea-a65d-6f2f28ffac31.jpg

Baby Wildebeest

This young guy is wandering all alone, and Malisa surmises that his mama has been killed. He won't last long on his own, unfortunately.

large_c08780a0-c094-11ea-a65d-6f2f28ffac31.jpg

White Bellied Bustard

large_e57d99f0-c097-11ea-95d5-9922eac9a14c.jpg

large_eed54390-c097-11ea-95d5-9922eac9a14c.jpg

By the time we get back to Ndutu Lodge, David is up and about, feeling very much better after a long sleep, plenty of water and a shower.

large_b3df67f0-c09e-11ea-896b-372e8db9ec24.jpg

Dinner

Tonight's gastronomic offerings consists of

Chef's Salad

large_5798bf30-c0a0-11ea-b158-a14258070e1a.jpg

Fennel Soup (which we decline)

Beef Lasagne

large_6819c0c0-c0a0-11ea-b158-a14258070e1a.jpg

Chocolate Brownie with home made Toffee Swirl Brownie Ice Cream

large_7100f550-c0a0-11ea-b158-a14258070e1a.jpg

While we are eating, there is a terrific electric storm going on in the distance. I try to capture it on my phone, but it really isn't very successful. By the time we have finished dinner, the storm has passed.


And so we go to bed on the last evening here in Ndutu. As always, our thanks go to Calabash Adventures for such terrific arrangements.

large_e3ad57b0-c0a0-11ea-b158-a14258070e1a.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 16:22 Archived in Tanzania Tagged wildlife africa safari tanzania zebra eagle cheetah lion giraffe flamingo stork vulture avocet birdwatching starling weaver wildebeest ndutu calabash calabash_adventures marabou_stork wildebeest_migration tawny_eagle best_safari_operator plover wattled_starling sandpiper pond_life great_migration wildlife_photography greenshank red_bishop oxpeckers ndutu_lodge african_animals david_unwell giraffe_skeleton Comments (2)

Ndutu X - lion, 1000 wildebeest, dung beetles, cheetah cubs

A perfect end to a perfect day


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

We set off after lunch to see what nature has to offer us here in Ndutu, and hopefully find a wildebeest herd where we can witness a birth.

large_96532910-9b9b-11ea-943f-77d21314db03.jpg
African Hoopoe

large_a2aaf350-9b9b-11ea-943f-77d21314db03.jpg
Juvenile Red Billed Buffalo Weaver

Lion

Under a tree we see a magnificent male lion. Initially just resting, he soon sits up surveying the tourists arriving.

large_f1797b70-9b9e-11ea-bfa8-89313557af81.jpg

Big yawn. And other funny facial expressions.

large_d6932210-9ba4-11ea-8ef8-d3e1ff5a467f.jpg

large_e02ed990-9ba4-11ea-8ef8-d3e1ff5a467f.jpg

large_f62d30c0-9ba4-11ea-8ef8-d3e1ff5a467f.jpg

He licks his chops and walks straight towards us.

large_07f5cd80-9ba5-11ea-8ef8-d3e1ff5a467f.jpg

large_17326830-9ba5-11ea-8ef8-d3e1ff5a467f.jpg

Too close for comfort, or at least for photography!

large_22c42350-9ba5-11ea-8ef8-d3e1ff5a467f.jpg

It's only when we drive away that we realise that Dickson (our driver during our first three safaris in Tanzania) and his clients are right behind us.

large_0397d520-9ba6-11ea-946b-3f97a3285a09.jpg
Two Banded Courser

Eurasian Avocet

large_4d743800-9ba6-11ea-946b-3f97a3285a09.jpg
"What are you looking at?"

large_a98bf6a0-9ba6-11ea-946b-3f97a3285a09.jpg

large_99eef700-9ba7-11ea-8fba-5b7b608b37a9.jpg

large_4b499a60-9ba7-11ea-8fba-5b7b608b37a9.jpg
Blacksmith Plover

Wildebeest Migration

Continuing on our way, we drive alongside thousands of wildebeest, running in an (almost) single file.

large_3a8a6ce0-a011-11ea-9792-bb4039411f15.jpg

The line seems to go on forever, then group into a HUGE herd, surrounding us on every side, and they just keep on coming.

large_443f60e0-9f91-11ea-a763-e984488c22f2.jpg

large_77771a70-9f91-11ea-a763-e984488c22f2.jpg

More and more and more arrive, a never ending stream of wildebeest join the mêlée, until there is just a sea of horns.

large_aa909da0-9f91-11ea-a763-e984488c22f2.jpg

We see very few babies in amongst this crowd though. A few of the females look like they are ready – they are fat, their nipples have developed and they are struggling to walk – but none are just about to drop. Oh well, we'll keep searching.

Zebra

A few zebras have joined the wildebeest, and we see a few babies too. Our hearts stop as we spot what appears to be a dead baby zebra in the grass.

large_8295a750-a013-11ea-884c-bb1a03622dcd.jpg

We hold our breath when the mother appears and starts nudging her little foal. Is he alive?

large_f08f7390-a012-11ea-884c-bb1a03622dcd.jpg

Yes, he is, and he soon runs off with his mother. Phew.

large_fb6f1cc0-a012-11ea-884c-bb1a03622dcd.jpg

Dung Beetles

So many wildebeest in one place means two things: 1. we are eaten alive by pesky flies, and 2. it is a dung beetle's paradise.

large_9a2b1de0-9f92-11ea-a763-e984488c22f2.jpg

Within a few minutes, large piles of dung are turned into neat little balls and rolled away.

large_b399bca0-9f92-11ea-a763-e984488c22f2.jpg

large_c5274c30-9f92-11ea-a763-e984488c22f2.jpg

large_ec72ce90-9f92-11ea-a763-e984488c22f2.jpg

With my love of dung beetles, I am totally in my element here, and before I know it I have taken over a thousand photos of... basically a pile of shit - plus these fascinating insects, of course.

large_13e4ebc0-9f93-11ea-a763-e984488c22f2.jpg

large_1e31f1e0-9f93-11ea-a763-e984488c22f2.jpg

large_275ebaf0-9f93-11ea-a763-e984488c22f2.jpg

It is now several hours since we last saw any other cars or human activity. This may be the height of the season in Ndutu, but it is still possible to have large areas all to yourself. Most people go back to the lodge for lunch, preferring to stay out of the sun in the midday heat. I can see why, as we are being cooked to perfection even in the shade of the car. I wouldn't want to miss an animal experience though!

large_c8e93200-9f99-11ea-8957-b3119c48c4ed.jpg
Greater Spotted Thick Knee

large_3d3c4a10-9f9b-11ea-8957-b3119c48c4ed.jpg
Light Tawny Eagle

European White Stork

A number of storks return to roost for the night, gliding effortlessly across the savannah.

large_0821bbc0-a014-11ea-884c-bb1a03622dcd.jpg

Not dozens, not hundreds, but thousands! They just keep on coming.

large_144e5750-a014-11ea-884c-bb1a03622dcd.jpg

And I just keep on photographing them.

large_2f5fa990-a014-11ea-884c-bb1a03622dcd.jpg

large_4369aad0-a014-11ea-884c-bb1a03622dcd.jpg

large_4d1eddc0-a014-11ea-884c-bb1a03622dcd.jpg

And the wildebeest just keep on walking.

large_3b8c0190-a015-11ea-884c-bb1a03622dcd.jpg

large_d94e0db0-a015-11ea-884c-bb1a03622dcd.jpg

The storks are followed by a large flock of Cattle Egrets.

large_4baa1ed0-a066-11ea-b7cd-1b5361a9f643.jpg

large_55625f00-a066-11ea-b7cd-1b5361a9f643.jpg

large_7be53a30-a066-11ea-b7cd-1b5361a9f643.jpg

Even a small chattering of Wattled Starlings join in. (chattering is the collective noun for starlings)

large_6839aca0-a066-11ea-b7cd-1b5361a9f643.jpg

Cheetah

A mum and her two cubs are very active in the late afternoon sun, running around and playing and for the next 30 minutes or so we delight in their antics. The dozen or so photos you will see here, are whittled down from a massive 1200 images – that amounts to around one picture a second!

large_7e4deed0-a371-11ea-b21c-4557f4d3726b.jpg

large_8a3459a0-a371-11ea-b21c-4557f4d3726b.jpg

large_9d549720-a371-11ea-b21c-4557f4d3726b.jpg

large_a84927e0-a371-11ea-b21c-4557f4d3726b.jpg

large_b4a7f700-a371-11ea-b21c-4557f4d3726b.jpg

large_c11b86a0-a371-11ea-b21c-4557f4d3726b.jpg

large_cce96060-a371-11ea-b21c-4557f4d3726b.jpg

large_d7f6a940-a371-11ea-b21c-4557f4d3726b.jpg

large_e50e8f30-a371-11ea-b21c-4557f4d3726b.jpg

large_f052c690-a371-11ea-b21c-4557f4d3726b.jpg

large_fa9aeab0-a371-11ea-b21c-4557f4d3726b.jpg

I have nothing more to say about this encounter, I think the note I made in my journal at the time sums it up!

large_3325f1c0-a374-11ea-9a6a-65c04bbeb1c7.jpg

Much as we'd love to stay and watch these adorable little animals for longer, we really have to go. We are still quite some distance away from the lodge, and have to be back by 19:00.

Sunset

As we approach Lake Ndutu, I gasp. I don't think I have ever seen such a spectacular sunset here in Tanzania before.

large_dfb9a3b0-a422-11ea-83df-a7ea8de339a4.jpg

I make poor Malisa stop time after time as a new vista comes into view.

large_ea519580-a422-11ea-83df-a7ea8de339a4.jpg

large_f5728d70-a422-11ea-83df-a7ea8de339a4.jpg

large_01175b60-a423-11ea-83df-a7ea8de339a4.jpg

Thankfully sunsets are over rather rapidly this close to the Equator, and we can continue on our way back to the lodge as originally planned.

Until we get to the Marsh.

large_4427fa30-a424-11ea-83df-a7ea8de339a4.jpg

The light is really poor now, too dark for photography, so I don't feel bad that we don't stop long.

We do, however, stop to help out this vehicle which is well and truly bogged down.

large_8318a5f0-a424-11ea-83df-a7ea8de339a4.jpg

Not sure I'd like to be out of the vehicle this close to two lions.

large_8e49ca80-a424-11ea-83df-a7ea8de339a4.jpg

And they're out!

large_a49186c0-a424-11ea-83df-a7ea8de339a4.jpg

Having to rush along the basic tracks that make up Ndutu's 'road system', we dislodge an enormous amount of dust. It seems almost incongruous that a few days ago there was heavy rain and every track was a mud bath.

Ndutu Lodge

We finally make it back to the lodge by 19:30, and after a quick shower and change we are the last to dinner. Again.

large_cd8e1480-a424-11ea-83df-a7ea8de339a4.jpg
Apple, feta and walnut stack with home made dressing

Somehow I forget to take a photo of the main course, which was lamb tagine with couscous, green beans and courgettes. I do, however, snap a picture of a large moth enjoying what's left on David's plate.

large_1e8eed50-a425-11ea-83df-a7ea8de339a4.jpg

large_28a41a90-a425-11ea-83df-a7ea8de339a4.jpg
A very tasty Malva Pudding for dessert

The excellent arrangements for this safari was made by Calabash Adventures, the best safari company by far.

large_b40568a0-a425-11ea-83df-a7ea8de339a4.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 15:59 Archived in Tanzania Tagged birds sunset wildlife africa safari tanzania zebra eagle birding cheetah lion stork egrets avocet starlings migration wildebeest courser bird_watching hoopoe wild_animals dung_beetles ndutu calabash_adventures lake_ndutu thick_knee wildebeest_migration tawny_eagle plover lapwing game_viewing blacksmith_plover annual_migration wildlife_photography big_marsh wild_birds cheetah_cubs ndutu_lodge the_great_migration african_birds cattle_egrets africa_safari aniams african-animals thickknee Comments (2)

Ndutu VII - bat eared foxes, cheetah with cubs, mating lions

Some unusual sightings this afternoon


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

After our picnic lunch overlooking the marsh, we continue our drive to see what nature has to offer us.

Pratincole

Not a bird we've seen a lot on our safaris, so I am therefore really surprised to find a pond absolutely full of them! They are, of course, a northern migrant, so the time of year will have an influence.

large_b2c17ed0-8327-11ea-b559-4f84619ae137.jpg

large_bd195a60-8327-11ea-b559-4f84619ae137.jpg

large_d3805e70-8327-11ea-b559-4f84619ae137.jpg

large_ddc24100-8327-11ea-b559-4f84619ae137.jpg

large_eb916900-8327-11ea-b559-4f84619ae137.jpg

Eurasian Avocet

large_a74842d0-8329-11ea-9ecf-5f18d47595e1.jpg

large_b5f56ec0-8329-11ea-9ecf-5f18d47595e1.jpg

African Cuckoo

large_ccf67e00-832b-11ea-b14c-4f5a62f310eb.jpg

large_d7df27e0-832b-11ea-b14c-4f5a62f310eb.jpg

large_e117d7d0-832b-11ea-b14c-4f5a62f310eb.jpg

Dickson

Near the marsh we bump into Dickson, our guide from our safaris in Tanzania in 2007, 2011, and 2014, who now has his own safari company and was out with clients. It is great to see him again, and we chat for ages with him, as well as his passengers, before moving on.

Zebra

large_e539dad0-8339-11ea-85e6-bbd3a5a1aa96.jpg

large_f0379350-8339-11ea-85e6-bbd3a5a1aa96.jpg

large_0cddb660-833a-11ea-85e6-bbd3a5a1aa96.jpg

We follow the zebra and wildebeest into the forest, but soon come out of there, as the flies are just too bothersome!

large_3e42abc0-833a-11ea-85e6-bbd3a5a1aa96.jpg

large_b4a42a10-833e-11ea-b9b5-554722c00faa.jpg

large_c03dad60-833e-11ea-b9b5-554722c00faa.jpg

Tortoise

It isn't often we see a tortoise in Tanzania, and even less often we see one run! In fact he was so quick he managed to get into the bushes before I had a chance to photograph him.

large_3f29be20-833f-11ea-b9b5-554722c00faa.jpg

Bat Eared Fox

It is rare to see a fox so near, they are usually really skittish.

large_88ade550-85a4-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

There appears to be at least six of them!

large_fb8cf070-85a4-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

large_05e9ae00-85a5-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

The are obviously chasing something, and suddenly Malisa spots what it is: a black mamba! Wow! David and I just get a brief glimpse of it as it slithers into the bushes, and I am way too slow to get a photo.

One brave little soldier decides to go after it!

large_8614ce70-85a5-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

Some of the others follow at a safe distance.

large_b58cc0e0-85a5-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

Suddenly the snake raises his head as if to attack, and they all scamper. Not such brave little soldiers now.

They all gather on a sandy patch to chill out.

large_5b4d9d60-85a6-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

large_6af555f0-85a6-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

large_75033030-85a6-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

large_82d1bbf0-85a6-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

Crested Lark

large_bd04dfa0-85a6-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

large_c5c5c780-85a6-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

large_cfada330-85a6-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

Black Shouldered Kite

large_04eaa2a0-85a7-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

large_0f6c4d50-85a7-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

Secretary Bird

She is probably looking for that Black Mamba!

large_4b703960-85a7-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

large_58a0b060-85a7-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

Cheetah

We see a cheetah in the bushes, and it looks like she has a cub.

large_fd75c3b0-865f-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

No, there are two cubs!

large_16899840-8660-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

large_21639c20-8660-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

Mum wanders off to find another place to rest.

large_44fa7af0-8660-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

large_8790fd30-8660-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

The cubs follow.

large_5fd3cd40-8660-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

large_76b6df20-8660-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

large_b6be7920-8660-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

large_d74754a0-8660-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

I fire off shot after shot using the high speed continuous function on the Canon 1DXII, which can shoot at up to 16 frames per second. The shutter is also quite loud, and for a while my camera is getting more attention from people in the other cars than the cheetah!

large_2ed93d00-8661-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

The cubs are seriously cute, and we would love to stay and watch their antics, but if we are to be back at the lodge before dark (as is a requirement in the parks), we need to get going.

Cattle Egrets

The egrets are heading home too.

large_920b1150-8661-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

large_9b1ed420-8661-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

large_b78f6840-8661-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

Impala

Down at the marsh, three impala are crossing the water, keeping a watchful eye on a hyena in the distance.

large_f873a6a0-8661-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

large_01e42f70-8662-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

large_0cb2e8b0-8662-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

The zebra take the more aggressive approach, and chase away the unwanted predator.

large_372acbd0-8662-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg
The impala are much more relaxed now

Giraffe

large_c7da7e00-8667-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_1061cda0-8667-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_1cae2630-8667-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

Seeing a giraffe drink from a puddle on the ground is always a treat. Mostly they get their moisture from the leaves they eat, as drinking like this is uncomfortable and risky business. They have been known to fall and break their bones, and with their heads down and their legs splayed like that, they are much more vulnerable to predators.

large_31c7c2b0-8667-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_3af2de10-8667-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_d22d5080-8667-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

Stuck - again

As we make our way down towards Lake Ndutu, we get stuck in a deep hole in the road. Thankfully, this time there are three of Malisa's friends nearby, who help to push us out, using their powerful vehicles to nudge us along.

large_96831d30-8667-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_a7ce73a0-8667-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_b28b0470-8667-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

Wildebeest

As we wait for Malisa and his friends to catch up on news and gossip, I entertain myself with taking photos of backlit wildebeest.

large_5c46dc50-8668-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_668340a0-8668-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_719d81d0-8668-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

Lions
Just the other side of the lake, we see a couple of lions. It looks like our male from earlier blog entries has finally found his long lost love!

large_91f9cf10-8668-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

And love seems to be on their mind tonight.

large_b32bbbd0-8668-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_bd1e6cf0-8668-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_c6674980-8668-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

Until she growls at him.

large_fa3835d0-8668-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_0bedbfc0-8669-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_1b538d50-8669-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

It's a strange light tonight, with the clouds appearing like crepuscular rays.

large_42f6f3b0-8669-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

Ndutu Lodge

We make it back to the lodge just as it is getting dark, with enough time for a quick shower and change before dinner.

large_83c18f90-8669-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg
Butternut squash tart

large_921b6b60-8669-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg
Chicken pasta

large_a1fe5830-8669-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg
Ginger, walnut and toffee tart

Stars

The African sky seems to be bigger than anywhere else we've been, mainly down to the lack of light pollution here in the bush. I try my hand at some photos this evening; as I cannot wander away from the lodge because of wild animals, I decide to include the camp fire in my photo. Today's lesson (which I did know from previous experience): do not try your hand at astrophotography after a few drinks.

large_3fc85390-866a-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

I soon realise my mistake and opt to go to bed instead. Thank you Calabash Adventures for all the arrangements.

large_606be300-866a-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 15:35 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals wildlife kite africa dinner safari tanzania zebra snake birding cheetah fox lions giraffe stars egrets avocet tortoise impala stuck wildebeest astro cuckoo game_drives ndutu lark calabash_adventures bat_eared_fox dickson secretary_bird pratincole astrophotography wildlife_photography black_shouldered_kite ndutu_lodge african_animals bird_wacthing black_mamba crested_lark lions_mating Comments (2)

Ndutu VI - vultures, hartebeest, elephants, jackals, lions

A lovely morning on the savannah


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Zebra

Looks like we have us some zebra love here.

large_00ce6f70-801c-11ea-97c3-8f813a50bdcd.jpg

large_90e0c270-801c-11ea-9bba-bf6c356f4457.jpg

It's pretty obvious that this liaison isn't going to result in any zebra babies!

large_bd67af70-801c-11ea-9bba-bf6c356f4457.jpg

It looks like a kinky threesome to me.

large_0d35fbb0-801d-11ea-9bba-bf6c356f4457.jpg

large_cdd34250-801e-11ea-9bba-bf6c356f4457.jpg
Cattle Egret

Wildebeest Buffet

Marabou Stork and a variety of Vultures feast on a wildebeest carcass left behind by a much larger predator. These scavenging raptors are the hyenas of the skies, playing a vital ecological clean-up role by disposing of decomposing carcasses.

large_e9674c10-8171-11ea-8fb6-f99ebde399ec.jpg

There is always a strict pecking order at such buffets, with the Lapped Faced Vulture being the first, as with their powerful hooked beaks they are the only raptor able to open up the carcass to allow other, smaller vultures to access the innards.

large_2fda1e20-8172-11ea-8fb6-f99ebde399ec.jpg

These huge and aggressive birds stand more than a metre tall with wingspans of around three metres. They are also, however, known for being particularly affectionate and mate for life, which in the wild can be up to thirty years.

large_6dc2a8b0-8172-11ea-8fb6-f99ebde399ec.jpg
I have to say that he doesn't look very 'affectionate'.

large_92d55210-8172-11ea-8fb6-f99ebde399ec.jpg

Their heads are free of feathers to avoid blood clinging to it as they bury themselves deep into the carcass to get at the sinew, their preferred food. Potent stomach acids help them deal with the most putrid carcass.

large_b5d6f5c0-8172-11ea-8fb6-f99ebde399ec.jpg

Vultures can store up to one kilo of consumed flesh in the distensible section of their oesophagus, called a crop. They have been known to eat so much that they become too heavy to physically take off; although should they sense danger, they are able to empty the crop for a quick get-away.

large_f2841a20-8172-11ea-8fb6-f99ebde399ec.jpg

large_fdc2fa50-8172-11ea-8fb6-f99ebde399ec.jpg

Different species of vultures have different shaped beaks, which means they eat different parts of a carcass, hence they should - theoretically - all be able to eat peacefully at the 'dinner table'.

large_4ca0f320-8173-11ea-8fb6-f99ebde399ec.jpg

Hartebeest

A large antelope, standing at around 1 metre at the shoulders (3 feet), hartebeest are gregarious animals that are usually found in herds, such as here.

large_335e29e0-8174-11ea-a636-214cb5ae88e5.jpg

large_3dd79730-8174-11ea-a636-214cb5ae88e5.jpg

large_47f772d0-8174-11ea-a636-214cb5ae88e5.jpg

Now let's go back to what I said about the size of the Lapped Faced Vulture: should the bird be standing next to the Hartebeest, this is what it would look like.

large_8c95f480-9c17-11ea-ae5d-c340613716a3.jpg

Giraffe

A lonesome giraffe eats his way across the savannah.

large_7c7abf30-8174-11ea-a636-214cb5ae88e5.jpg

large_862f55e0-8174-11ea-a636-214cb5ae88e5.jpg

Golden Jackal

She is sniffing around, looking for something, maybe food or a scent.

large_89ea9910-8188-11ea-b156-cd1fcb4efcd8.jpg

large_94736fb0-8188-11ea-b156-cd1fcb4efcd8.jpg

She finds a hole and disappears into it.

large_9d9674c0-8188-11ea-b156-cd1fcb4efcd8.jpg

Elephants

large_a4720560-8189-11ea-b156-cd1fcb4efcd8.jpg

large_ae16e4a0-8189-11ea-b156-cd1fcb4efcd8.jpg

It's interesting to see the different lengths and angles of the tusks of these two elephants.

large_b82c38f0-8189-11ea-b156-cd1fcb4efcd8.jpg

large_0fc2a570-819b-11ea-a0fc-a72bce846f5d.jpg
Kori Bustard

large_e85234b0-8244-11ea-ac91-c76f44b16d88.jpg
Eurasian Avocet

large_1a56ddc0-824b-11ea-a801-a948f259bc59.jpg
Common Pratincole

Lions

At first the only evidence of the lions sleeping under this tree, is a paw sticking up.

large_9e53e660-824e-11ea-b792-91ccc74b5f9e.jpg

Later we a head appears, then drops down again.

large_aa24cd60-824e-11ea-b792-91ccc74b5f9e.jpg

We let sleeping lions be, and carry on exploring.

Another Lion

A young male lion is surveying the landscape from a hillock overlooking Big Marsh.

large_6f678360-8254-11ea-b373-2545d0170f9e.jpg

We can tell he is young – less than seven years old – from the fact that his nose is still pink. As they get older, their nose becomes black all over.

large_7b63e730-8254-11ea-b373-2545d0170f9e.jpg

He gets up and walks down onto the flat area.

large_86c2d280-8254-11ea-b373-2545d0170f9e.jpg

large_b3ddded0-8278-11ea-882f-1752620101bf.jpg

large_bf5a6440-8278-11ea-882f-1752620101bf.jpg

We move down to the flats too, and at one stage he comes up and lies under our car for the shade!

large_f1248410-8278-11ea-882f-1752620101bf.jpg

large_01dd3770-8279-11ea-882f-1752620101bf.jpg

large_0bfec0c0-8279-11ea-882f-1752620101bf.jpg

Eventually he seems to settle down and go to sleep – in the middle of the sun – so we drive off to find somewhere to have our lunch.

large_2f896a90-8279-11ea-882f-1752620101bf.jpg

Picnic at Big Marsh

Malisa finds a great lunch spot overlooking a sea of wildebeest on Big Marsh.

large_0f5d44e0-8304-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg

There is something really special about getting the picnic chairs out, in the company of wild animals.

large_7a9bcc40-8304-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg

large_d80b0920-8347-11ea-916c-23b90f866ab7.jpg

There are literally thousands of wildebeest down on the marsh.

large_c3254950-8304-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg

large_d2511b20-8304-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg

large_dc2ebda0-8304-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg

Judging by the number of Superb Starlings who join us, I would guess this is a popular picnic spot.

large_0b518b30-8305-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg

large_1c77a660-8305-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg

large_2673f470-8305-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg
"Got any food for me?"

I might just accidentally drop a piece of cake on the ground while I was eating; it is so easily done.

large_dd8b7200-8305-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg

large_e6ae9e20-8305-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg

Just as we are packing up, we hear a commotion down on the marsh, with thousands of hooves beating the ground as the whole herd – or confusion as a group of wildebeest are known as – make a run for it. Soon there are none.

large_3579c050-8308-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg
Just a couple of minutes ago, this was heaving with animals

I have no idea what spooked them, so we pop down to find out.

This safari was arranged by Calabash Adventures, the best safari operators by far.

large_df4b4310-8308-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 07:10 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals wildlife elephants bird africa safari tanzania zebra birding african picnic start lions giraffe egret vultures avocet starlings wildebeest jackal kori_bustard bustard ndutu calabash_adventures hartebeest marabou_stork pratincole golden_jackal picnic_lunch picnic_box wildlife_photography big_marsh wildebeest_carcass feeding_the_birds superb-starling Comments (2)

Lake Natron

Fish pedicure and hominid footprints


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Lake Natron Camp

We can see the camp from a distance, initially looking little more than dark pointy hillocks or large boulders on the landscape.

large_da5a4540-5892-11ea-80f6-39feccb4d104.jpg

large_ca2d6550-581d-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

The 'boulders' are in fact large camouflage Bedu style net covers, hiding the accommodation. Like everywhere else we have been so far, a whole army of helpers arrive to help carry our stuff as soon as we pull up in the car, and we are ushered into the open mess tent which doubles as a reception.

large_a00fcfd0-5820-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

large_372a8ca0-581e-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

large_428be8f0-581e-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

After the usual formalities, we are shown to our tent. They are well spread out, making them very private. The whole tent, as I said, is under a huge fly sheet, offering shade from hot sun.

large_967d5200-581e-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

The accommodation is relatively spacious and offers three parts – first the screened veranda , with a couple of chairs and a table. The staff leave our lunch boxes here, which we brought with us from Kilimamoja this morning.

large_c6c601f0-581e-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

The main part has a large double bed, a writing desk and a day bed which in our case doubles as a luggage rack.

large_e84a0650-581e-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

large_f414f9e0-581e-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

A partial wall separates the bedroom from the bathroom, where there is a wash basin, compostable eco-toilet and bucket shower.

large_1b9c25b0-581f-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

We dump our stuff, change into swimwear and head down to the 'spa area'.

large_36b678a0-581f-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

This is another area shaded by a large fly sheet, offering chairs, day beds and a couple of hammocks alongside a natural spring which feeds the main lake.

large_a6116610-581f-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

large_b42ed520-581f-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

We take our picnic boxes with us and enjoy our lunch overlooking the spring and the marshland.

large_c189de90-581f-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

The main attractions here, however, as far as I am concerned, is the little freshwater spring. As soon as we step into the cool water, the endemic cichlids start to nibble at our feet.

large_f97953d0-581f-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

For a number of years I have wanted to have a fish pedicure, but I have always been concerned about the hygiene in the tanks in British salons (they have since been banned in the UK for that very reason). Here, however, I have no such concern, and am loving every minute of it!

large_037e0650-5820-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

David, on the other hand, is way too ticklish to get pleasure from it, and merely dips his feet in briefly.

large_c4c52a40-5d3f-11ea-9f4e-011d518ca828.jpg

I could spend hours here, but the sun is very strong and I worry about my photo-sensitive dermatitis on my shins; so we reluctantly go back to the tent.

This area is affectionately known as 'Zanzibar' to the locals, as it is very much hotter than Arusha and the northern safari circuit. We try to have a little siesta, but it is really rather too hot to get any decent sleep.

The not-so-distant thunder than rumbles on and on and on doesn't exactly help. We prepare ourselves for a deluge, but it appears the storm travels all around us, and by the time we are ready for an afternoon excursion, it is thankfully still dry.

large_b8e62490-5880-11ea-82ca-d7772f633e44.jpg
Malisa, ready to see what nature has to offer us this afternoon

Homenid Footprints

Malisa is taking us, along with a local Maasai guide arranged by the camp, to see some old footprints left on the mud flats. When we spoke with Malisa about it yesterday, he had some concern about whether we would be able to reach the site because of all the flooding, and indeed we do get a little lost this afternoon as the road has washed away.

large_2d5608e0-5881-11ea-82ca-d7772f633e44.jpg

The floods and subsequent receding water have left some strange formations in the mud.

large_7655fc30-5886-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_82d301b0-5886-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

When I say “some old footprints”, I am grossly understating, of course, these impressions captured for eternity are seriously cool.

large_d8e78b20-5881-11ea-82ca-d7772f633e44.jpg

Some 19,000 years ago, the nearby Ol Doinyo Lengai Volcano erupted, spewing out its innards down to the shores of the lake. Unable to outrun the fast flowing lava, the local people left their footprints in the hot magma as they made their desperate escape attempts.

large_ef9ada70-5881-11ea-82ca-d7772f633e44.jpg

Judging by the way the footprints are facing in different directions, it is assumed that the family (there are different sized prints too) were overcome with panic, unsure of which way to run.

large_3cb2e050-5882-11ea-82ca-d7772f633e44.jpg

While these imprints are seriously cool to see, I can only begin to imagine the anguish the people felt at the time, stepping on the ground which measured at 600 °C.

large_589bcde0-5882-11ea-82ca-d7772f633e44.jpg

The Ol Doinyo Lengai is unique in that it is the only active volcano known to erupt carbonatite lava. What that meant for these people, is that the thin silvery lava flowed faster than they could run, so there was no escape.

large_efb71f90-5882-11ea-82ca-d7772f633e44.jpg

Today the volcano looks peaceful.

large_0c41cb60-5883-11ea-82ca-d7772f633e44.jpg

From here we continue on foot down to the lake edge for bird watching.

large_47d8d9f0-5885-11ea-ad3b-d5731046b236.jpg
Great White Pelican, Lesser Flamingo, Great Cormorant, Long Tailed Cormorant, Slender Bill Gull

large_54dac6e0-5885-11ea-ad3b-d5731046b236.jpg
Blacksmith Plover

large_65f1c6e0-5885-11ea-ad3b-d5731046b236.jpg
Chestnut Banded Plover, our second lifer on this trip.

large_8077c910-5885-11ea-ad3b-d5731046b236.jpg
Eurasian Avocet - I love the way they move their head from side to side to stir up the bottom, just like a spoonbill.

large_c247c700-5885-11ea-ad3b-d5731046b236.jpg
Thomson's Gazelle

large_3c206780-5886-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg
The Gang

Flamingos

As I said in my previous blog entry, this time of year normally sees thousands of flamingos descend on the lake to breed. Here the water evaporates leaving behind very high concentrations of soda. Algae and zooplankton thrive in this water, which in turn supports great numbers of flamingos. The combination of remoteness and the hostility of the soda mud-flats provides the flamingos with a relatively safe area to breed and rear chicks. This year, however, as a result of the heavy rains, the vast majority of them have remained at Big Momella Lake in Arusha National Park. We still see a few here though.

large_a62de8f0-5886-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_9613b4f0-5885-11ea-ad3b-d5731046b236.jpg
Greater Flamingo

large_a2c7a8f0-5885-11ea-ad3b-d5731046b236.jpg
Lesser Flamingo

large_09ff2700-5886-11ea-ad3b-d5731046b236.jpg

large_2040c8c0-5886-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_2d579d40-5886-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_c0092c30-5886-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_dfb75f20-5886-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_f2895590-5886-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

There is a group of four South Africans staying at the camp tonight too, and we see them walking with their guide much nearer the lake edge.

large_74ca36a0-5887-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

They look rather unsteady as they cross a small stream, and I keep my camera handy should one of them take a tumble. I am all heart!

large_7fffef10-5887-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg
No-one fell!

large_8a1d0b90-5887-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

We return to the camp via the spa area, where Malisa also finds the fish pedicure too ticklish!

large_2c01dbd0-5887-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_26629130-5885-11ea-ad3b-d5731046b236.jpg
Little Egret

large_32a4feb0-5885-11ea-ad3b-d5731046b236.jpg
White Throated Bee Eater

Sundowners

It is time to sit and watch the sunset with a drink or two.

large_cc626090-5887-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_d6542750-5887-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_e1787aa0-5887-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

The camp fire is lit, but the sunset is rather unimpressive.

large_1d85dc90-5888-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_29f2b570-5888-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

It turns out we've all been facing the wrong direction, the clouds away from the sunset are colouring up beautifully!

large_68eb0250-5888-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_74dc69a0-5888-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_7f8153c0-5888-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_893c7a20-5888-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

Sustainable Tourism

Lake Natron Camp prides itself on being eco-friendly, with $15 per guest per night going to the local village (as well as an annual fee for rental of the land). It has been agreed that this money be used primarily for secondary education. They are also involved in community projects that have been requested by the villagers themselves such as building new classrooms at the school, teaching the local community about permaculture, making keyhole gardens in the local bomas and creating a vegetable patch by the school.

The camp employs local staff, with 19 Maasai woman working on a 6-week rotation to give an opportunity to other Maasai ladies who may wish to have a job here.

The structures are 100% removable, the toilets compostable with all human waste taken off the site. All kitchen waste is taken off site with all non-biodegradable waste removed to Arusha for disposal, while paper waste is incinerated. Limited charcoal for cooking comes from eco-friendly brickettes – made from recycled wood or coconut husk sources. The decking and furniture in the mess area and pool area, is made out of recycled plastic by a local company from discarded items collected from Arusha.

The glassware they use is from Shanga Shaanga. Over the years Shanga has grown to employ more than 60 people with a range of disabilities to make creative products including weaving, glass blowing, beading, paper making and metal work, using recycled materials wherever possible. We were lucky enough to visit this enterprise in 2011 and 2016.

large_699c17f0-588a-11ea-8418-7fd0bc22ef5b.jpg

Dinner

Once the colourful clouds have disappeared, we move on to the mess tent for dinner.

large_a1887ff0-588a-11ea-8418-7fd0bc22ef5b.jpg
Tilapia fish from Lake Victoria - fish and chips Tanzania style

large_c1706080-588a-11ea-8418-7fd0bc22ef5b.jpg
Ginger pudding with custard

By the time we have finished eating, the camp fire has gone out. So much for toasting marshmallows!

large_7616b700-588b-11ea-8418-7fd0bc22ef5b.jpg

I set my camera up on a tripod with a wide angle lens to try and capture some of the amazing stars; but the bright moon and bottle of wine (as well as a couple of rum and cokes) that I have consumed this evening, renders it a complete failure.

large_80656ad0-588b-11ea-8418-7fd0bc22ef5b.jpg

Instead we watch parts of Malisa's wedding video on his laptop before retiring to our tent for the night.

Thank you Calabash Adventures for arranging this trip for us.

large_8c543a10-588b-11ea-8418-7fd0bc22ef5b.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 15:53 Archived in Tanzania Tagged birds sunset volcano tent safari tanzania camping wine moon birding spa hot lava seagull maasai flamingo thunder eco egret pelican avocet community_projects glamping magma cormorant sustainable gull bird_watching sundowners camp_fire calabash_adventures shanga plover bee_eater lake_natron ol_doynio_lengai volcanic_eruption lake_natron_camp compostable_toilet fish_pedicure freshwater_spring homenid_footprints footprints_in_lava carbonatite_lava shanga_shaanga Comments (1)

Ngorongoro Crater Day 1 Part 2 - lion cubs and more

An afternoon in the caldera


View Tanzania for Lyn and Chris' 40th Anniversary 2018 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Ngoitoktok Springs

Probably the most popular picnic area within the Ngorongororo Crater, there are always a lot of people here, but it is a large enough area to find a spot to get away from the crowds.

large_56b0e710-f8a0-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Here you can see the crowds

large_64703090-f8a0-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
And here we are away from them all

large_7887ed70-f8a0-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg

Not only is this place popular with humans, but we also share our breakfast with a number of different birds, who come for the rich pickings where guests drop food on the ground. They have become quite tame and will perch on your car, or sit on the ground below your chair, looking up with pleading eyes.

large_cfcd3c70-f8a0-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Helmeted Guineafowl

large_e12c6900-f8a0-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Little Egret

large_f68a8890-f8a0-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Black Kite

large_0a2ffba0-f8a1-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Great White Pelicans

large_233e51f0-f8a1-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Rufous Tailed Weaver

large_39a296e0-f8a1-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Egyptian Geese

large_51da3c40-f8a1-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Village Weaver

large_607343f0-f8a1-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Blacksmith Plover

large_894c6b30-f8a1-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Superb Starling

large_9b05ecc0-f8a1-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Southern Masked Weaver

large_cebe6f10-f8a1-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Little Egrets

large_ec4b6fb0-f8a1-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Southern Masked Weaver

large_a6908680-f8a2-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Black Kite

large_0eacbf40-f8a3-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Litle Bee Eaters

I could stay here for ages, just watching life unfold around me – there is always something going on. We see zebra, elephants and wildebeest wandering through the outskirts of the site, and hippo frolic in the small lake, as well as numerous bird species as these pictures, all taken during our lunch stop, show.

large_10232810-f8a2-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
An elephant saunters by

large_31357ee0-f8a2-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Wildebeest and Zebra

large_4a350820-f8a2-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Hippo in the lake

large_5be42970-f8a2-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg

large_67159c20-f8a2-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Hippo poo floats to the surface of the water

I love seeing pelicans flying

large_8636d150-f8a2-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg

large_9441c9d0-f8a2-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg

Eventually we have to tear ourselves away from this beautiful place to explore some other parts of the crater.

large_14ad08d0-f959-11e8-9d8f-ff51c14d4bd6.jpg
A lone wildebeest

Grey Crowned Cranes

large_5113e240-fa52-11e8-bfc8-290038ec6846.jpg

large_29fdd250-fa53-11e8-bfc8-290038ec6846.jpg

large_3dd6d880-fa53-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

large_fac0d5a0-f958-11e8-9d8f-ff51c14d4bd6.jpg

large_08bd0110-f959-11e8-9d8f-ff51c14d4bd6.jpg
Kori Bustard

large_9126fb90-f96e-11e8-962d-6b09cce23906.jpg
Common Fiscal Shrike

large_f6578e60-fa24-11e8-98f2-838e51f4de9c.jpg
Zebra

Secretary Bird

Malisa spots a few feathers sticking up from between the thorns on the top of the acacia tree and stops the car.

large_02ca0f90-fc75-11e8-b191-f3c80407b8dd.jpg
She looks like she has stuck her talons in an electric socket ~ or maybe she is just shocked to see us.

Initially there is not much to see, but we hang around just in case she decides she is going to fly away, or at least maybe stand up.

large_4657c010-fa25-11e8-98f2-838e51f4de9c.jpg

Our patience is rewarded as after a while she decides to rearrange her nest a little.

large_745e3640-fa27-11e8-98f2-838e51f4de9c.jpg

Hippos

large_c4657360-fa54-11e8-bfc8-290038ec6846.jpg

large_2e864700-fa5b-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

As well as the ones we see in the water, there are a few hippos out on land too.

large_23fef700-fa5b-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

Eurasian Avocet

I have never before noticed avocets eating the same way as spoonbills – pushing their long beak from side to side in the water.

.

Lions

We come across a small dinner party, with two females and four cubs feasting on the carcass of a young zebra.

large_9ff26460-fa5f-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

We stay for a while (although not as invited guests, more like gatecrashers), watching their eating habits and interactions.

large_b2dc2890-fa5f-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

large_13b78cf0-fa64-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

This little lad may have bitten more than he can chew.

large_4ad87220-fa65-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

He's not really getting anywhere with the zebra's head.

large_5bd9f8e0-fa66-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

He tries a different tactic.

large_ac89f290-fa66-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

But eventually he gives up.

large_5d33d4d0-fa6c-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

Gradually, one by one, they've had their fill of fresh meat and wander off for a siesta.

large_6ad10670-fa63-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

large_bc4bee10-fa5f-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

large_13006760-fa63-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

Or maybe just a poo.

large_cedd8350-fa63-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

Children are such messy eaters.

large_0c4c5af0-fa6d-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

Mum needs cleaning too.

large_d04d17e0-fa6e-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

“Play with me mum!”

large_efa8be00-fa6e-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

Time for us to move on and “see what else nature has to offer” (Malisa's favourite saying).

large_76d8bc40-fa60-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg
Blacksmith Lapwing

large_335b3ff0-fa61-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg
Hadada Ibis

large_beef0fb0-fa61-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg
Superb Starling

large_60b961d0-fa5b-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg
Tree Pipit

large_f3002990-fa72-11e8-b129-5b6d388d2ab2.jpg
Marabou Stork

large_ffe39200-fa72-11e8-b129-5b6d388d2ab2.jpg
Hildebrand Starling, often confused with the Superb Starling. The difference is that the Superb has a white line between the blue and the orange areas on the chest and a yellow eye against the Hildebrand's red.

large_f29c9050-fa73-11e8-b129-5b6d388d2ab2.jpg
Yellow Billed Stork

When we leave the crater by the usual Lerai Ascent Road, but at the top turn left down a private road rather than right towards the hotel on our planned itinerary, we realise that this is another one of Tillya's surprises. Tillya, the owner of Calabash Adventures, is constantly trying to exceed his customers' expectations and we often find ourselves upgraded to a different lodge than the one we thought we were staying in. Today is obviously going to be one of those occasions.

large_7b4f1210-fa74-11e8-b129-5b6d388d2ab2.jpg
View of the crater from near the top of the Lerai Ascent Road

Ang'Ata Nyati Camp

The whole team of staff appear to have come out to greet us as we arrive at a small clearing. One by one they introduce themselves by name, handing us a very welcome wet flannel and a soft drink. The complexities and rules of the camp are explained to us and we are shown to the tents. The camp is very similar to mobile camps we have stayed in previously, but I am told that this is a permanent tented camp (rather than a 'mobile' camp that moves every few months, following the annual migration of animals), having recently relocated to the Nyati Special Camp Site from the other side of the crater. A small and intimate affair, the camp has a mere eight tents and tonight we have the 'palace' to ourselves as we are the only guests staying.

large_b74d0410-fb0b-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

large_c3e3fa30-fb0b-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

large_cf0feea0-fb0b-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

A local 'askari' (security guard/escort) takes us to our 'room', a basic tent with a wooden floor, large double bed, hanging space and a rudimentary en suite bathroom. Hot water is brought to the shower by request, in a bucket. I understand from their website that you are given 25 litres of hot water plus the same amount of cold. Mixing the two, the water temperature is just right, and if used sparingly, ample for two people to shower. As always in an area where water is a scarce commodity, I wet my body, then turn off the water while I wash and apply shampoo. Water back on again, rinse and repeat with conditioner.

large_ee613480-fb0b-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

large_f9494220-fb0b-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

large_03849500-fb0c-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

We meet up with Malisa in the cosy and comfortable lounge/dining room for dinner. The food is superb and the staff is wonderful.

large_1ee9fab0-fb0c-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

40th wedding anniversary celebrations

There was no doubt in Lyn and Chris' mind where they wanted to celebrate their special milestone, and I feel very honoured that they asked us to share this celebration with them.

large_5cc7afd0-fb0c-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

When David's phone rings in the middle of dinner, he is surprised that he has a signal and worried that it may be bad news from home. The concern soon turns to indignation when he realises it is just an advert!

large_2852bb50-fb0c-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

The camp staff make such a fuss of us, and after dinner the whole crew come out, bringing a cake and a complimentary bottle of wine, while walking around the table singing and dancing. We don't have the heart to tell them that the anniversary is not for another couple of days.

large_ea579db0-fb0c-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

.

.

.

Originally released as a record back in 1982 by a Kenyan band called Them Mushrooms, the Jambo Bwana song is now adopted all over East Africa and sung to tourists at every celebration. Each lodge have their own version incorporating local details (such as the name of the camp) and I am sure they make up some of it as they go along, especially as I distinctly hear Malisa's name being mentioned in the words. These are the lyrics ~ and translation ~ to the main part of the song.

Jambo, jambo bwana (Hello, hello boss)
Habari gani (How are you)
Nzuri Sana (Very good)
Wageni, wakaribishwa (Welcome visitors)
Ang'Ata Nyeti (Ang'Ata Nyeti ~ name of camp)
Hakuna Matata (No worries)
Okenda Serengeti (Going to Serengeti)
Hakuna matata (No worries)
Okenda Ngorongoro (Going to Ngorongoro)
Hakuna matata (No worries)
Okenda Tarangire (Going to Tarangire)
Hakuna matata (No worries)
]Jambo, jambo bwana (Hello, hello boss)
Habari gani (How are you)
Nzuri Sana (Very good)
Wageni, wakaribishwa (Welcome visitors)
Ang'Ata Nyeti (Ang'Ata Nyeti ~ name of camp)
Hakuna Matata (No worries)

After dinner we gather around the 'Bush TV' (the local expression for a camp fire), where we have a sing song, introduce the locals to the joys of toasting marshmallows, and attempt (very unsuccessfully – I blame the Duty Free rum and four bottles of wine) to photograph the awesome night sky. After a fabulous day in the crater, we have a phenomenal evening in an extraordinary setting.

large_a9a32c70-fb0d-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

large_d1acceb0-fb0d-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

When we get back to our tent we find the staff have been in for 'turn-back service' and there are a couple of much appreciated hot water bottles in our bed. At an altitude of 2310 metres, this area can get bitterly cold overnight. Still on a high from the earlier revelry (not to mention the copious amount of alcohol), I slip into a deep sleep, oblivious to the cold and any noises from the surrounding jungle.

large_1ad1c870-fb0e-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

Yet another marvellous day organised by Calabash Adventures, the best safari company by far!

large_53a7a610-fb0e-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 09:47 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds travel elephant adventure kite tent camp africa safari tanzania camping zebra wine lions hippo drunk lion_cubs stars cranes egret stork ibis pelican avocet geese celebration glamping starling weaver wildebeest shrike astro east_africa ngorongoro_crater bird_watching bustard game_drive camp_fire plover secretary_bird lapwing guineafowl pipit ngrongoro ngoitoktok birdning bee_eaters game_viewing lions_eating ang@ata_nyati_camp mobile_tented_camp nyati jambo_bwana song_and_dance toasting_marshmallows bush_tv 40th_anniversary hot_water_bottle Comments (5)

(Entries 1 - 7 of 7) Page [1]