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Lake Eyasi - Arusha

Our last journey with Malisa


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The marauding monkeys made for a very disturbed night: as they jumped from tree to tree, the leaves made a sound like the rustling of a plastic bag, with the occasional abrupt noise sounding like a gun shot; not to mention the racket when they ran across our roof! Thankfully we have a late start this morning – the first one since we arrived in Tanzania (we're not leaving until 9am) – and we spend it exploring the grounds of Kisima Ngeda Lodge.

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The camp fire and bar beyond

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The observation tower

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View from the tower with Lake Eyasi in the background

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The wooden boardwalk leading down to a small bird pond - currently out of use as it is under renovation due to being overgrown and unsafe

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The secluded swimming pool

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Fishermen on Lake Eyasi

The 3½ hour drive to Arusha is uneventful, we just make three stops along the way: to photograph an immature Steppe Eagle; to use the surprisingly clean, modern, spacious and fully stocked / working toilets at a police check point; and for cattle crossing.

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Wide load!

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And another one!

At Sable Square Shopping Village we meet up with Tillya and Halima (the owners of Calabash Adventures) for lunch.

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My highlight, however, is finally seeing the rather rare Shoebill which Tillya has promised me on every single trip so far! Yay! What a wonderful eleventh-hour bonus!

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Kia Lodge

From here it's another hour-and-a-half drive to Kia Lodge, the Kilimanjaro Airport Hotel. We have stayed here a couple of time before, and it works so well as it is within the airport grounds and offers free transfers. As always it is sad to say goodbye to Malisa, so we keep it short and sweet. We will be keeping in touch via WhatsApp and Facebook though, which sweetens the parting somewhat.

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This is the busiest we've seen Kia Lodge, however, and when we arrive there are people coming, going and milling around. In the confusion the receptionist gives me the passports of a French couple checking in at the same time. Oops! Fortunately I discover it immediately - I dread to think what would happen if I'd just absentmindedly put them all in my bag and not got them out until the airport.

Our room is the furthest away from reception, which is nice, as, unlike the guests who are going off on a safari, we are not leaving until later tomorrow and can have a bit of a lie-in without being disturbed by other guests. We agree a price with the receptionist for keeping the room until lunchtime tomorrow. Despite my hard negotiations and a very decent discount, it is still a hefty $100. Worth it though to be able to have a shower and change before we leave for the long journey home.

Dinner

We are very pleasantly surprised that dinner is in fact included in our stay, which somehow takes the sting off the rather steep rate for a day-room.

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Starter: Vegetable Bruschetta on toast with mango salsa

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I have what the menu described as: 'Green Dall and Red Dall cooked in Indian served with Turmeric Rice and Tortillas Cup'.

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David chooses Beef Tenderloin with a rich sauce

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The chocolate cake with vanilla sauce is a bit of a disappointment in that it is very dry and served with what I would describe as jam.

We retire to the room to finish off the Duty Free that has travelled around with us for the last seventeen days. It is such a delight to have power 24/7 and wifi in the room.

Another fantastic holiday arranged by Calabash Adventures has come to and end. Until next time. Cheers!

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Posted by Grete Howard 14:36 Archived in Tanzania Tagged africa dinner tanzania eagle arusha calabash_adventures steppe_eagle lake_eyasi tillya halima kisima_ngeda sable_square_shopping_village showbill kia_lodge Comments (2)

Visiting the Datoga Tribe

A fascinating afternoon


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Datoga Tribe

Known as the Mang'ati in Swahili, the pastoral Datoga people consider themselves the oldest tribe in Tanzania.

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We are invited into one of their huts, to see how the women grind corn. We saw mounds of discarded corn husks as we arrived.

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The work is all done by hand and is very labour intensive – not to mention back breaking, as I find out when I try.

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Kneeling is not an option for me after several knee injuries over the years.

The Datoga are traditionally patrilineal and polygynous, and today we see mainly women and children in this settlement.

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Scarification in a circular pattern around the eyes is a popular of creating facial beautification, and you can recognise a married woman from the tassels she wears over her skirt.

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I hope David is not getting any ideas about polygamy!

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Tikiri, a poplar strategy game that we have seen numerous variations of throughout Africa.

These pastoralists are also skilled silversmiths, and as well as jewellery, they supply the Hadzabe with iron arrow tips, knives and spears in exchange for honey and fruits, and we continue on to their outdoor workshop.

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David has a go at bellowing to try and get the fire going, but doesn't have much success.


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One of their men shows him how it's done.


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We are shown how the blacksmith will take a thick nail from his pile of scrap metal and turn it into an intricate arrow tip.

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I love the way he is holding onto it with his feet!

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The finish product

The Datoga are known for onion farming, and we stop at a plantation on our way back to the lodge.

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The onion crop is rotated every three months with corn.

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The produce is taken to the market, or exported to Kenya and Europe.

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Back at the lodge, we spend the rest of the afternoon watching the antics of the Black faced Vervet Monkeys in the grounds.

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I have a weird fascination with their blue balls.

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Dinner

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Lovely napkin art

Starter of pea soup (not photographed)

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Chicken with Madeira sauce

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Chocolate Mousse

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Love the play on words!

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Looks like I may have caught the sun today

And so it is time for bed at the end of another fascinating day in Tanzania, beautifully arranged – as always – by Calabash Adventures.

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Posted by Grete Howard 14:11 Archived in Tanzania Tagged monkeys market africa dinner tanzania onions workshop blacksmith farming ironwork jewellery sunburn metalwork export suntan rusty_nail billowing arrows calabash_adventures vervet_monkeys black_faced_vervet_monkeys blue_balls lake_eyasi kisima_ngeda kisima_ngeda_lodge ethnic_tribe datoga datoga_tribe pastoral_tribe grinding_corn patrilineal polygamy scarification married_women tikiri silversmith scrap_metal hunting_arrows onion_farming onion_plantation goat_do_roam red_wine blue_testicles tan_lines Comments (5)

Lake Eyasi: Hadzabe settlement

The last full-time hunter-gatherers in Africa


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Hadzabe

Alex picks us up early this morning, just after breakfast, for our visit to the Hadzabe Tribe. The access toad to their camp is rudimentary to say the least.

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The Hadza number just under 1,000 and is the smallest tribe in Tanzania. Some 300–400 Hadza still live as hunter-gatherers, much as their ancestors have for thousands or even tens of thousands of years; they are the last full-time hunter-gatherers in Africa.

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The Hadza are organized into bands, called 'camps', of typically 20–30 people, and the camp we are visiting this morning lies in the shade of a rocky overhang, where a number of men are gathered.

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Women are chatting merrily under a tree, and a few children are running around. There is a relaxed atmosphere here and we feel very welcome.

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On the flat ground at the base of the rocks, a couple of straw huts provide shelter on dry nights, whereas the caves are used when it rains.

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The interior does not exactly provide a great deal of comfort. The Hadzabe people are nomads, and they don't really believe in material possessions - they own very little beyond their clothes, cooking equipment and hunting implements.

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We are assigned a young man called Hant'anee as our guide, and he explains their hunting methods to us in the local language, translated by Alex. While traditionally classified with the Khoisan languages, primarily because it has clicks, the Hadza language appears to be an isolate, unrelated to any other. The Hadza lad is a real showman, and I am sure he deliberately uses as many words with the clicking sound as possible, for effect. And very effective it is too!


Understanding the language is not a prerequisite to being able to follow what he is explaining though, as Hant'anee is so animated in his description of how and what they hunt, making the noises and movements of birds and monkeys as well as the men's actions.

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He explains the different types of arrows and which animals they are used for. The Hadzabe mainly kill birds and smaller mammals, such as hares and monkeys, although sometimes they will bag an antelope too.

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Evidence of previous kills.

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Many of the men are sitting around smoking and our guide explains how they make fire in the traditional way.

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A clay pipe is filled with 'tobacco' and passed around.


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The 'tobacco' leaves

Hant'anee demonstrates how they inhale the smoke, then cough violently to ensure the effect reaches the brain.

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I try the pipe (minus the coughing), while David is not so keen.

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Having learned all about their hunting skills using a bow and arrow earlier, now is the time to put it all into action.

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Alex goes first

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I fare dismally

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David does very much better

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He's hit the target!

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Pleased much?

Before we leave, they put on a song and dance for us.


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And the obligatory group photo, of course.

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It's time for us to make our way back to the lodge for breakfast, and everyone comes over to shake our hands. While the settlement is obviously used to accepting tourists, I still feel it is very much more genuine than the Maasai villages we have visited in the past, with no obligation to tip and no heavy sales pressure. In fact, I don't even see any items for sale. The Hadzabe are mostly self sufficient, and money does not hold the same value for them for that reason.

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We reach the lodge in time for breakfast, after which we change into swimming costumes and have a play around in the pool – which we have completely to ourselves.

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The small sunbathing area by the pool

Afterwards we have a wander along the meandering paths in the lodge grounds, followed by a snooze. Today is the first day of relaxation in the two weeks we have been in Tanzania. Having been up at 05:50 every single morning on this trip, out all day game viewing, and back just in time for dinner and bed, all this free time feels rather odd.

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Smith's Bush Squirrel - a new species for us

At lunch we are no longer alone – the Americans are back. We hear via the grapevine that this is their first adventure trip, they are ardent cruisers and apparently high maintenance, with the attitude: “we've paid this much to be here, we want it now!” How not to endear yourself to the staff and locals.

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The restaurant at Kisima Ngeda Lodge

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The bar

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The lounge

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The veranda overlooking the grounds and the lake beyond

As always we are extremely grateful to Tillya and Halima of Calabash Adventures; as well as their trusted driver and our very good friend, Malisa, for arranging another amazing experience. You guys are the best!

Thanks must also go to Alex Puwale for arranging this cultural visit.

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Posted by Grete Howard 05:30 Archived in Tanzania Tagged africa tanzania dancing squirrel swimming_pool ethnic smoking hunting cannabis cultural_exchange calabash_adventures lake_eyasi hadzabe alex_puwale kisima_ngeda hadze eyasi village_visit bow_and_arrow hunter-gatherers clay_pipe kisima_ngeda_lodge african_tribes ethnic_tribe smith's_bush_squirrel bush_squirrel africa_bush_squirrel Comments (2)

Ndutu: lion in a tree - Lake Eyasi

Goodbye Ndutu, hello Lake Eyasi


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Having enjoyed our picnic breakfast, we set off again for more game viewing.

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Dik Dik

We are heading back to Ndutu Lodge to use the facilities before we leave the area, but the route Malisa wants to take is impassable. “There used to be a road here” he explains.

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A Greater Spotted Thick Knee doing her best to hide from us

Malisa drops us off at the lodge while he goes off to get fuel for the car.

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Meanwhile, we spend our time walking around the grounds, looking for birds and taking it all in for the last time.

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Northern Grey Headed Sparrow

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Great White Pelicans flying in formation

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I can't believe how overgrown the gardens are at Ndutu Lodge, after all the recent rains.

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Hildebrand Starling

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I am really impressed with the individual terry towels in the 'public' toilets at Ndutu!

Malisa returns and we make our way towards the gate that takes us out of Ngorongoro Conservation Area, of which Ndutu is a small part.

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Black Faced Sandgrouse

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Lesser Flamingo

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Southern Red Bishop

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Lesser Masked Weaver

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They weave the most exquisite nests!

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Strange horizontal rainbow

Lions

Malisa hears on the radio that a lioness has been spotted in a tree near the lake – it sounds like our lady from earlier this morning. We go to check it out.

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The lioness looks most uncomfortable and keeps shifting her position.

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Under the tree is a male lion, who is periodically sniffing the air, hoping for his mate to come back down.

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Meanwhile tourists are busy taking selfies with the lions – I wonder if you can actually see the big cat in that photo, or just the outline of a tree?

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Much as we'd love to stay and see what happens with our two kitties, we have to leave in order to get to the gate. Permits are strictly timed and any overstay faces a heavy fine.

There is still quite a lot of flooding in Ndutu.

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Zebra

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Just less than an hour ago we travelled through heavy flooding, now the roads are annoyingly dusty!

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The dust covers everything in a thin layer of dirt – look at the state of my camera!

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The dirt being thrown up by passing vehicles also plays havoc with the windscreen of our Landcruiser. A crack developed earlier on the trip, and now, every time we meet a car travelling at speed, Malisa has to hold on to the glass in fear that it would shatter if a stone was to hit it.

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We join up with the main road through Serengeti, where a new gate post has been erected since we first started coming here, with tourists lining up to have their photos taken, and vendors hoping to sell them some souvenirs.

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The original gate

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The new sign

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Ndutu Lodge also has a new sign, with the new brand created since the lodge changed ownership.

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Sculpture advertising the Museum of Mankind at Oldupai - also new

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A would-be vendor heading for the tourists

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Lots of giraffes - we count twenty of them!

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We stop at Seneto Descent Road (the entrance to Ngorongoro Crater) for a picnic lunch, as are several other people. This is the most crowded I have ever seen this spot. It seems it is not just the camera that is covered in dust – my face was pretty dirty too!

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The cloth after wiping my face

Baboons

We see a small baby playing, but as soon as we stop, the parents gather him up and leave.

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There are more baboons at Lodoare Gate (the exit from Ngorongoro Conservation Area), including one that jumps on the bonnet of the car while I am in the loo. David tries to quickly grab a shot with my camera.

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Once we're through the gate, we hit the sealed road – the first time for eleven days! Not for long though, a mere five kilometres down the road, we turn off right, onto another fairly rough dirt track. This is all new and unexplored territory for us now.

We later turn off the dirt track to an even smaller and narrower lane, winding its way through small hamlets and into the wilderness. This is real off-the-beaten-path stuff, and a completely different type of vegetation – thick and verdant, more jungle-like - to anything we've seen in Tanzania before.

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Kisima Ngeda Lodge

As we pull up in the lodge car park, an army of helpers appear out of nowhere. Unless we really want to, there is no need to carry any of our own luggage. After a welcome drink while signing in at the reception, we are shown to our room.

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Our room is, in fact, a large tent on a wooden base with a thatched roof. The room is well furnished and there is an en suite western style toilet and shower at the rear of the tent.

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The local guide, who will be with us tomorrow for our excursions, arrives to give us a briefing. As he walks up onto our balcony, I get an instant feeling of recognition. He looks familiar. As he introduces himself as Alex, my mind starts ticking. I am not even sure what I am trying to think of, but suddenly it hits me. “Alex” I ask, “what is your surname?” As soon as he replies “Puwale”, I smile – we are already friends on Facebook! What a small, small world!

Alex's Facebook page

After a quick shower and change, we pop down to the bar for a drink, delighted that we can walk about freely without having to call an askari (a Maasai security guard armed with a spear) to protect us from any potential wild animals. It's the first time on this trip that we've had some time to spare before dinner, and Malisa soon joins us.

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There is one other group of tourists staying tonight, six people from from the US. I am horrified when I overhear them asking their guide if hunting is allowed, as they'd really like to be able to kill something. Malisa's face is a picture, and I really feel for their guide having to explain to such misinformed and misguided visitors. They are also querying the availability of public conveniences during their trip to see a hunter-gatherer tribe tomorrow. What do they think this is? Disneyland?

As they start to discuss US politics (they are all ardent Trump supporters – there's a surprise!), we try our best to ignore their conversation, which proves rather difficult due to the volume at which they speak. We have a good laugh with Malisa, however, joking about the overheard comments by Whatsapping each other across the table. Little things for little minds.

Dinner

Tomato soup for starters, followed by pork medallions with creamed potato and vegetables, and finished off with a passion fruit mousse.

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As always, I am impressed with the arrangements Calabash Adventures have made for us – they really are the best in their field.

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Posted by Grete Howard 15:59 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds pelicans wildlife africa safari rainbow tanzania zebra birding lions baboons flooding sparrow flamingo giraffes trump ngorongoro dust starling weaver diesel bird_watching ndutu calabash calabash_adventures seneto seneto_descent_road ngorongoro_conservation_area oldupai thick_knee lions_in_a_tree sandgrouse wildlife_photography windscreen lake_eyasi red_bishop american_tourists ndutu_lodge african_animals african_birds alex_puwale animals_of_africa birds_of_africa cracked_windscreen serengeti_gate lodoare lodoare_gare museum_of_mankind kisima_ngeda trump_supporters Comments (2)

Ndutu (cheetah) - Ngorongo picnic - Arusha Part 2

Malisa finally finds us a cheetah


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

Hyena

Sporting an old wound on his hind quarters, probably as a result of a slap from a lion while trying to steal food, this guy looks rather sorry for himself.

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A few more adults and sub-adults are scattered around in the long, dry grass.

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Not far away we come across their den in an old disused aardvark hole.

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This family cackle (collective noun for a group of hyenas) consists of at least two different litters of pups, six weeks and four weeks old respectively.

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Hyena pups are born black and start to grow their spots at around two weeks old.

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Elephants

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Common Flat Lizards

We spot these little reptiles from a great distance because of their bright, almost luminous, colours. They are a new species to us, causing some excitement, at least for me. I am bemused by their name though - surely there is nothing 'common' about these flamboyant lizards?

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Dik Dik

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Little Bee Eater

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Steenboks

It is easy to tell the genders of steenboks apart, as only the males have horns.

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Giraffe

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Love the photobomb!

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Elephants

Down on the Big Marsh

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Cheetah

Since we left the lodge this morning, Malisa has been driving around from bush to tree, mound to rock, all across the plains, checking out all the usual places cheetah are known to hang out. Here in Ndutu, cheetah are usually quite easy to spot and Malisa is determined not to leave here until we've seen one. Finally we find not one, but two: a mother and her one-year old cub.

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Every time we think we have a great view for photographs, the cats turn their heads and/or bodies the opposite direction, so we end up driving round and round the tree several times to try and get a decent picture.

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As we have a long way to go to get back to Arusha today, we reluctantly leave the cheetah behind. Only for the cats to move to a different position as soon as the car starts up. So we stay for a little while longer.

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But we really have to go. But then the cub gets up. Just a little bit longer.

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Now we truly must make a move. But then mum gets up. Just a few more photographs.

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Then they sit down again.

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Look at those claws!

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It is absolutely necessary for us to get on our way now. Then they start licking. We can't go quite yet.

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There comes a time when we cannot put off our departure any longer, and we all agree that this is a very special 'leaving present'. What a way to go out on a high.

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We start to make our way back to Arusha, but we have a considerable distance to cover yet (another seven hours driving at least).

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Goat Herds

One of the main differences between National Parks and Conservation Areas in Tanzania (we are currently in the latter) is that wildlife share the Conservation Areas with the local people and their livestock, who are banned from National Parks.

We see a couple of young kids with erm... young kids (ie. baby goats). One of the children is leading a new born goat, so new he is still very wobbly (the goat, not the child). Lyn and I get totally carried away snapping pictures of this cute little one, until the infuriated adult herder comes over to shout angrily at Malisa. “He is unhappy the you will sell the photo and get lots of money while he gets nothing”. Malisa assures him that no-one is intending to make a profit from selling the pictures of his baby goat, but we slip him some money anyway.

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Endulen

Apparently devoid of all vegetation, our surroundings still appear to support a vast number of giraffes. What on earth do they find to feed on?

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Leaving the sanctity of the vehicle to 'answer the call of nature' in this barren, desolate and forbidding area, we find ourselves roasting in the formidable heat and sandblasted by the violent gusts carrying clouds of dust. With no vegetation or human habitation as far as the eye can see, you would not survive long on foot in this furnace-like terrain.

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Lake Eyasi

The temperatures drop noticeably as we climb to higher altitudes. We will be reaching the same altitude as the highest mountain in Norway at some stage on our way to Arusha today – that rather puts it into perspective.

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Maasai Country

Vegetation has begun to appear, both wild and cultivated, as has a few Maasai settlements including a school and even a small hospital. The Maasai people have a reputation as fierce warriors, and are not always terribly hospitable to outside visitors. The children, however, break into a sprint as they see our car approaching, hoping we will stop and maybe bestow them with a gift in the form of a pen, sweets or money.

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This is not the place to make a 'call of nature', but both Lyn and I are desperate. After what seems like an eternity, but in reality is only about an hour, Malisa finally finds a suitable spot with no kids or houses within sight. Phew. A communal "ahhhhhh" can be heard from all sides of the vehicle.

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Augur Buzzard

This magnificent birds is sitting close to the road, but doesn't automatically fly off as soon as we pull up in the car, as they usually do. When he starts to look around, we stay for a while, hoping he might fly off.

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And he does, skimming the ground at low level, presumably looking for mice or other small rodents.

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Accident

Oops. It looks like the left front wheel of this vehicle has sheered off.

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Nyati Transit Picnic Site

Positioned near the Ang'Ata Camp we stayed at the first night out in the bush, this picnic area has stunning views out over the Ngorongoro Crater.

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We are joined for lunch by a number of Black Kites who soar overhead, ready to swoop on any unattended food. The seagulls of Ngorongoro.

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While I am busy photographing the flying birds, I hear some distant music. Coming from my trouser pocket. Having spent the last six days with no mobile signal, it takes me a while to register that the noise is my phone ringing. Panicking that there is a problem with my dad, I am relieved when it is only a confirmation of an appointment the day after we get back.

Dirt

I notice that my face and neck is covered in dust from the dirt tracks in the park today. As always, I am looking forward top getting in the shower tonight.

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On our way again

Once we reach Lodoare Gate and exit the Conservation Area, the road is sealed and very smooth, sending me into a nice, comfortable slumber. It is also very steep and winding, and we see a number of accidents along the way, far more than we have ever seen in the past.

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Mount Meru

Just outside Arusha, we meet up with Tillya at a modern shopping mall, where the clean, modern toilets are very welcome. A quest to spot a Shoebill rumoured to be hanging around the local fields is fruitless, however.

From here we hit the urban jungle with traffic jams, road works and pedestrians milling round. By the time we reach Kia Lodge near the airport, it is dark and quite late. We have to say goodbye to Malisa here, as he will be going home to his family tonight, so the lodge will arrange our airport transfer tomorrow morning. Parting is always such sweet sorrow, but David and I have already decided that we will be back in 15 months' time.

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Every time we leave Tanzania after a safari, we wonder how any subsequent trip could possibly live up to the one we have just had. This time is no exception – it seems like each time we come, the safari experience gets better than the next.

Having travelled a great deal, using a vast number of operators, including a dozen or so different safari outfitters, I can categorically confirm that Calabash Adventures tops them all. Malisa, who has been our driver-guide for the last three safaris, and Dickson, who took us for the previous three, both have exceptional knowledge in all areas pertaining to the natural world, charming personalities, delightful sense of humour, and graceful compassion towards both man and beast.

Tillya, the owner of Calabash Adventures, is devoted to ensuring each and every client gets the most out of their time in the bush and has the best time ever.

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Posted by Grete Howard 14:19 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds elephants kite africa safari tanzania lizard birding cheetah picnic accident den maasai giraffe ngorongoro hyena goats bird_watching buzzard game_drive ndutu calabash_adventures ngorongoro_conservation_area dik_dik bee_eater augur_buzzard mount_meru nyati steenbok hyena_den hyena_pups cackle common_flat_lizard little_bee_eater big_marsh goat_herds baby_goats endulen lake_eyasi nyati_transit_picnic_site picnic_site black_kite Comments (1)

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