A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about road trip

Achiltibuie, Coigach and Stoer Peninsulas

Mist and rain


View In search of the Hairy Coo - Scottish Highlands 2018 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Judging by the car this morning, it must have rained in the night.

large_dc0ff9a0-94eb-11e8-9a88-2f69c09f1651.jpg

In fact it is still raining.

large_e3ff1290-94eb-11e8-9a88-2f69c09f1651.jpg

It is also misty. Very misty. We can barely see land the opposite side of the loch. It may reduce visibility, but I do find mist very atmospheric.

large_33cfcfd0-94ec-11e8-9a88-2f69c09f1651.jpg

large_573da2d0-94ec-11e8-9a88-2f69c09f1651.jpg

large_90372830-9664-11e8-93c0-276ff62fb6ff.jpg

Today we are heading north, following the coast road as much as we cab.

large_90038db0-9667-11e8-93c0-276ff62fb6ff.jpg

Dundonnell River

First stop today is to try and photograph the waterfall without getting wet. While I don't have a problem with being out taking pictures in the rain, I do just sneak a couple of shots from the car this morning.

large_ad060190-9667-11e8-93c0-276ff62fb6ff.jpg

large_36372930-9668-11e8-93c0-276ff62fb6ff.jpg

large_0bc7aa80-9668-11e8-93c0-276ff62fb6ff.jpg

large_44355070-9668-11e8-93c0-276ff62fb6ff.jpg

large_523832a0-9668-11e8-93c0-276ff62fb6ff.jpg

Ullapool

We make a point of stopping in Ullapool to do some grocery shopping and are quite surprised to find that the usual Sunday trading laws that we are used to from home do not apply here in Scotland. The Tesco is very much smaller than our local store, but then, despite being much more well-known than our home town, Ullapool only boasts around 1500 inhabitants.

large_39b03300-9e6e-11e8-a478-5df1cb2579ab.jpg
Some people are pretty desperate for a coffee.

Below are some images of the scenery and stormy clouds as we make our way north along the coast.

large_f99c6e90-9e6e-11e8-a478-5df1cb2579ab.jpg

large_e3e5d950-9e6f-11e8-a478-5df1cb2579ab.jpg

large_f6a40430-9e70-11e8-a478-5df1cb2579ab.jpg

large_58d19270-9e72-11e8-a478-5df1cb2579ab.jpg

large_3d1dc930-9e73-11e8-a478-5df1cb2579ab.jpg

large_eeee2f40-9e66-11e8-8cb4-1f4855996a43.jpg

large_fd4dfe80-9e66-11e8-8cb4-1f4855996a43.jpg

large_0aed63f0-9e67-11e8-8cb4-1f4855996a43.jpg

The Brochs of Coigach

This eco-friendly luxury accommodation is inspired by iron-age roundhouses, known as 'brochs' in these parts. It sure looks a fabulous place to stay, blending as it does with nature.

large_ac8016c0-ab02-11e8-af5e-0939b49d0765.jpg

The traffic is thankfully not heavy around here, despite this being the height of the summer holiday. We share the road with sheep, geese and deer as we continue to explore the Coigach Peninsula.

large_36908560-ab04-11e8-b853-7f23287792f3.jpg

large_4a9cdb20-ab05-11e8-9560-d106aa1102e4.jpg

large_ca4202b0-ab05-11e8-9560-d106aa1102e4.jpg

large_6a8143d0-ab06-11e8-9997-df9e74420bcc.jpg

I am happy to see that the deer are traffic savvy and only cross at dedicated 'Passing Places'.

large_1839ee70-9e67-11e8-8cb4-1f4855996a43.jpg
Achahaird Beach

large_2518ea10-9e67-11e8-8cb4-1f4855996a43.jpg

large_2e24bda0-9e67-11e8-8cb4-1f4855996a43.jpg

large_e71e5420-ab09-11e8-90bc-811c9e40bdd9.jpg
Summer Isles

large_fb38f730-ab09-11e8-90bc-811c9e40bdd9.jpg
Summer Isles

We leave the Coigach Peninsula behind and continue north, initially passing a number of small boggy ponds, then later joining a magnificent scenic road snaking its way across the hills and valleys.

large_bd6f7710-ad5e-11e8-93de-a104216dc89e.jpg

large_cc752340-ad5e-11e8-93de-a104216dc89e.jpg

large_db2f4780-ad5e-11e8-93de-a104216dc89e.jpg

It's nice to see the Scots are such polite drivers. The sign is obviously aimed at people like us, who like to drive slowly, and will make lots of stops to photograph the scenery.

large_8e24b9b0-ad5f-11e8-93de-a104216dc89e.jpg

large_193fe5b0-ae1e-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_2d210230-ae1e-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_403d4810-ae1e-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

We stop for a break by a small pond and I go for a short walk to take some photographs.

large_db809890-ae1e-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_500c85d0-ae1e-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_62d26e50-ae1e-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_98314da0-ae1e-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_acefd1d0-ae1e-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_bface0b0-ae1e-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg
Common Spotted Orchid - a fairly rare sighting

large_e77ed120-ae1e-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg
A sign telling us to be aware of frogs crossing - another fairly rare sight. We don't see any.

large_11977d40-ae1f-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_2923c770-ae1f-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_40436d20-ae1f-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_5567b800-ae1f-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg
Stoer Lighthouse

Tall Cottongrass

Found all over this area, the tall cottongrass fascinates me, the way is blows in the wind and glows in the low sun when backlit.

large_66555e10-ae1f-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_fd43ac50-ae1f-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

Pied Crow

We see a large bird circling above and get very excited, but it turns out just to be a Pied Crow.

large_da57da90-ae1f-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_e7394730-ae1f-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_f207d960-ae1f-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

Spotted Flycatcher

A little bit further along, however, we spot a small bird that I initially think is a sparrow, but is in actual fact a Spotted Flycatcher. I guess this makes up for the crow.

large_3f5212d0-ae20-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_5e34df70-ae20-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_6c6e6200-ae20-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg
Clashnessie

large_814cf150-ae20-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg
Another traffic jam

large_9481c840-ae20-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

The Summer Islands

large_cedb5fb0-ae20-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_09991490-ab0a-11e8-90bc-811c9e40bdd9.jpg
Drumbeg Viewpoint

large_e4acda80-ae20-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_f3b25fa0-ae20-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_096d4530-ae21-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_17a34550-ae21-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_290de390-ae21-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg
Atlantic Salmon Fish Farm

large_3cb77550-ae21-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg

large_49c06720-ae21-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg
Ardvreck Castle

large_58ab5f60-ae21-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg
Ardmair Point

large_68549e90-ae21-11e8-9d69-ef779cdb9ec4.jpg
Ullapool - almost home

We return to the cabin after a lovely day out despite the dull and grey weather. The scenery is constantly stunning though.

Posted by Grete Howard 07:51 Archived in Scotland Tagged landscapes rain scotland road_trip scenery mist grocery_shopping stormy_clouds ullapool the_wee_barn inclement_weather Comments (1)

Evening Roadtrip

Around the coast


View In search of the Hairy Coo - Scottish Highlands 2018 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Evening road trip

As it is still early (and light out), we decide to go for a wee drive this evening (see how I am getting into the local lingo already?)

Before going anywhere, we check out what is at the bottom of the lane leading downhill from the cabin.

large_61c6b5a0-927d-11e8-88ad-6986f9091436.jpg
Little Lock Broom

Before we even reach the end of the lane, we spot something moving in the long grass in the field next to the road.

large_71580000-927d-11e8-88ad-6986f9091436.jpg
Red Deer

Then we spot another – can you see it?

large_7c567bd0-927d-11e8-88ad-6986f9091436.jpg

Further down in the field is yet another one, this time a sika deer – the first time we have seen one in the wild.

large_8950eeb0-927d-11e8-88ad-6986f9091436.jpg

There are further red deer in the far field, separated from the others by a couple of stone walls and wire fences.

large_934b4b80-927e-11e8-9c89-233daebbbea6.jpg

large_f21c84d0-927e-11e8-9c89-233daebbbea6.jpg

Is she going to try and jump?

large_90bbd190-927f-11e8-860a-bde044ad57ec.jpg

I get very excited at the prospect and am poised ready with my camera, but all this deer wants is to fill her belly.

large_d8f29ac0-927f-11e8-860a-bde044ad57ec.jpg

Maybe...?

large_70653430-9280-11e8-860a-bde044ad57ec.jpg

Yes!

large_d66ff210-9280-11e8-88ad-6986f9091436.jpg

She leaps effortlessly and gracefully to the next field.

large_38a0d120-9281-11e8-88ad-6986f9091436.jpg

She is now one step nearer her two mates.

large_7cb39320-9281-11e8-88ad-6986f9091436.jpg

As she contemplates the next fence, I make sure my camera is ready to catch the action again. I won't get a second attempt at this.

large_13225120-9282-11e8-88ad-6986f9091436.jpg

large_9fa032c0-9282-11e8-88ad-6986f9091436.jpg

large_e4dd9210-9282-11e8-88ad-6986f9091436.jpg

Reunited at last.

large_211425e0-928e-11e8-95cf-59db8f5e8997.jpg

We leave the deer to do their own thing and continue to the water's edge, where we see a couple of Harbour Seals basking on the rocks. Another first for us.

large_81763860-928e-11e8-aa88-576d35818d21.jpg

large_89fcd660-928e-11e8-aa88-576d35818d21.jpg

On our way back up the lane we see a barn swallow on the line, preening himself.

large_29a0c1e0-928f-11e8-9b56-dbbf82b89369.jpg

large_ad3404d0-9295-11e8-bd34-59a00c861b5a.jpg

From here we head out to the main road to make a small circuit around the coast.

large_7527a6d0-9297-11e8-bd34-59a00c861b5a.jpg

One of the things about the cabin is that there is no mobile signal. Wanting to phone my dad, we stop in a lay-by where our lane meets the main road to make the call once we get a connection. It's not a bad view from here over Little Loch Broom.

large_a53e2330-9297-11e8-bd34-59a00c861b5a.jpg

Being on a mission to find a 'hairy coo' (long haired highland cattle), I am disappointed to see that the cattle in the field here are not what I am after. They are quite cute though.

large_e16c7aa0-9297-11e8-bd34-59a00c861b5a.jpg

The scenery along the way is nothing short of stunning, with new, exciting vistas around every bend.

large_7edeeab0-9299-11e8-bd34-59a00c861b5a.jpg
Fish farms on Little Loch Broom

“The light is amazing!” soon becomes my mantra this evening (and for the rest of the trip) as the low sun lights up the already beautiful scenery.

large_b25e1810-929a-11e8-bd34-59a00c861b5a.jpg

large_fe6c0b80-929b-11e8-ad6e-d58a78d6481f.jpg

large_ee99f220-929c-11e8-bad6-9d24bf85763c.jpg

large_f8dd0d30-929c-11e8-bad6-9d24bf85763c.jpg

large_02778c30-929d-11e8-bad6-9d24bf85763c.jpg

Horses

We stop for me to photograph a couple of black horses in a bright yellow field.

large_d7959fd0-92a0-11e8-bad6-9d24bf85763c.jpg

large_e1310930-92a0-11e8-bad6-9d24bf85763c.jpg

One of them is obviously convinced that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.

large_ee9428f0-92a0-11e8-bad6-9d24bf85763c.jpg

Little Gruinard Beach

Scotland has some beautiful beaches, and this one looks very inviting, especially from a photographer's point of view, with its water-filled ridges reflecting the fading light. Did I mention the light is wonderful here in Scotland?

large_d109b440-94ac-11e8-a7bf-db4fed34b32a.jpg

large_db9215b0-94ac-11e8-a7bf-db4fed34b32a.jpg

large_ed7195d0-94ac-11e8-a7bf-db4fed34b32a.jpg

large_f97d62f0-94ac-11e8-a7bf-db4fed34b32a.jpg

large_08c3e8b0-94ad-11e8-a7bf-db4fed34b32a.jpg

large_16150710-94ad-11e8-a7bf-db4fed34b32a.jpg

large_2ad5d530-94ad-11e8-a7bf-db4fed34b32a.jpg

large_3768aca0-94ad-11e8-a7bf-db4fed34b32a.jpg
Little Ringed Plover

large_477f0580-94ad-11e8-a7bf-db4fed34b32a.jpg

large_57af00e0-94ad-11e8-a7bf-db4fed34b32a.jpg

large_7a2331a0-94ad-11e8-a7bf-db4fed34b32a.jpg

We continue on our planned circular trip, although after a while we realise that it is not going to be just a 'quick drive after dinner' as planned, the route is very much further than we realise.

large_21f5a480-94b8-11e8-95c1-cb2adf7418c0.jpg

large_306c3010-94b8-11e8-95c1-cb2adf7418c0.jpg
Traffic jam, Scottish style

large_41929960-94b8-11e8-95c1-cb2adf7418c0.jpg

large_4a7009f0-94b8-11e8-95c1-cb2adf7418c0.jpg

We see very few other cars, and are a little taken back when we spot these temporary traffic lights. They seem so out of place with the rest of the route.

large_723a5940-94b8-11e8-95c1-cb2adf7418c0.jpg

Despite spending the first 15 years of my life in Norway, which is at an even higher latitude, I am rather surprised to find how light it still is at 22:30 at night.

large_e26233a0-94b8-11e8-95c1-cb2adf7418c0.jpg

Although there may still be a reasonable amount of light, there is not enough to get a decent photo of the deer alongside the narrow lane as we make our way back.

large_49e560b0-94b9-11e8-95c1-cb2adf7418c0.jpg

We reach the cabin over three hours after we left for a 'quick evening drive'. We go to bed tired but very content.

Posted by Grete Howard 08:07 Archived in Scotland Tagged road_trip horses scenery deer seals plover badluarach red_derr harbour_seals little_loch_broom little_gruinard_beah little_ringed_plover Comments (1)

Carlisle - Badluarach

We've finally arrived at The Wee Barn


View In search of the Hairy Coo - Scottish Highlands 2018 on Grete Howard's travel map.

We decide to forego the full English breakfast at the Premier Inn this morning, and just make do with some fresh fruit from Tesco. Cheaper and better for the diet.

After yesterday's traffic jam, we have some very pleasurable motoring today, and we soon find ourselves entering Scotland. Damn, I forgot my passport!

large_90289130-90dd-11e8-a2bf-d703fd2fb1c3.jpg

large_98a989e0-90dd-11e8-a2bf-d703fd2fb1c3.jpg

Look at these empty roads! What a change from yesterday!

large_b82c8e20-90dd-11e8-a2bf-d703fd2fb1c3.jpg

large_c2fb4760-90dd-11e8-a2bf-d703fd2fb1c3.jpg

On the way I spot a couple of amusing road signs.

large_dcf75910-90dd-11e8-a2bf-d703fd2fb1c3.jpg

large_e5dd7c30-90dd-11e8-a2bf-d703fd2fb1c3.jpg

Arria

The 10 metre high sculpture, nicknamed "Angel of the Nauld", overlooks the M80 just north of Auchenkilns. The female sculpture's large swooping arcs from her hands to her dress are based on the Gaelic name for Cumbernauld, “comar nan allt”, which translates as “the meeting of the waters”. Not quite sure how that follows, but so the story goes. The sculpture, created by Andy Scott of Kelpies fame, is part of the Cumbernauld Positive Image Project's aim “to create a distinctive image of Cumbernauld; increase residents’ pride in their town; raise awareness across Scotland of Cumbernauld’s attractiveness as a destination to live, work and play; create a sense of place and provide a positive statement about the town. Again I am not sure how this sculpture plays a role here, but she is pleasant enough to look at as we glide past on our way further north.

large_Sculpture.jpg

Pitlochry Dam and Fish Ladder

We park in the centre of Pitlochry town and follow the signs to the dam and visitors centre on foot. The road leads through the town, down a hill, under a bridge, along a narrow lane, up another hill and down a slope before it gets to a dedicated car park for the visitors centre. Doh. At least we get a little bit of exercise rather than driving to the nearest car park. We have spent enough time in the car the last couple of days.

I am officially intrigued by the Fish Ladder, as although I do understand that it facilitates salmon to travel upstream during breeding season, I have never actually seen one.

large_ca048570-90e3-11e8-a2bf-d703fd2fb1c3.jpg

But first we stop for coffee and cake in the modern visitors centre overlooking the hydroelectric plant.

large_e23b1960-90e3-11e8-a2bf-d703fd2fb1c3.jpg

large_eea3d390-90e3-11e8-a2bf-d703fd2fb1c3.jpg

We walk across specially constructed walkways from one bank of the river to the other (not the one shown in the photo below), and although the power plant is certainly impressive, it's the reflections in the loch that first and foremost grab my attention.

large_3bed8f70-90f2-11e8-8688-4d223678df04.jpg

large_483b95b0-90f2-11e8-8688-4d223678df04.jpg

large_62dc24c0-90f2-11e8-8688-4d223678df04.jpg

Hydro-electricity is produced using the power of running water to turn the turbines in the power station.

large_02fabe80-90f3-11e8-8688-4d223678df04.jpg

large_216db250-90f3-11e8-8688-4d223678df04.jpg

Once we reach the fish ladder on the opposite bank, I have a feeling we have seen something similar before, possibly in Madeira in 2003. Either way, it is a pretty cool idea.

large_64d1bdc0-90f3-11e8-8688-4d223678df04.jpg

This is how it works: each of the 34 tiered pools has an opening below water level to allow fish to swim through to the next level. The ladder is even equipped with a fish counter (the sort that counts each fish, not sells fillets) so they can monitor the success of the ladder. Some 250,000 salmon have climbed those stairs since the ladder was first opened in 1952. That is very impressive.

large_eea566f0-90f3-11e8-8688-4d223678df04.jpg

I continue taking photos of the dam and surroundings while David goes back into town to collect the car. He's a good man.

large_726b1340-90f4-11e8-8688-4d223678df04.jpg

large_7daefc80-90f4-11e8-8688-4d223678df04.jpg

large_8b0a7b20-90f4-11e8-8688-4d223678df04.jpg

large_a590a460-90f4-11e8-8688-4d223678df04.jpg

Cairngorms

We head for the hills of the Cairngorms (a mountain range and national park in Scotland) to find somewhere to have our picnic.

large_3b4d0380-910f-11e8-aea6-3f94b2c6eff2.jpg

large_32c18380-910f-11e8-aea6-3f94b2c6eff2.jpg

large_4cb1d560-910f-11e8-aea6-3f94b2c6eff2.jpg

large_5f2c8410-910f-11e8-aea6-3f94b2c6eff2.jpg

large_74466eb0-910f-11e8-aea6-3f94b2c6eff2.jpg

large_83525c70-910f-11e8-aea6-3f94b2c6eff2.jpg

large_8fb411c0-910f-11e8-aea6-3f94b2c6eff2.jpg

large_9d515450-910f-11e8-aea6-3f94b2c6eff2.jpg

This will do for a picnic

large_ae36bd00-910f-11e8-aea6-3f94b2c6eff2.jpg

Not a bad view

large_c4866880-910f-11e8-aea6-3f94b2c6eff2.jpg

large_da661420-910f-11e8-aea6-3f94b2c6eff2.jpg
Cowboy Caviar (mixed bean salad) with chicken and Southwest Sauce

large_f1c078e0-910f-11e8-aea6-3f94b2c6eff2.jpg

We are fascinated to find, as we make our way even further north on smaller roads, that each layby is identified by a number. I have not seen that anywhere else. There are plenty of them too, something that we come to appreciate a lot as the week goes on.

large_ffecb500-910f-11e8-aea6-3f94b2c6eff2.jpg

large_0cec09e0-9110-11e8-aea6-3f94b2c6eff2.jpg
Hmm, but not today...

Highland cattle

As you may have noticed, I have called this blog “In search of the Hairy Coo”. 'Hairy coo' is of course the local slang for the adorable long-haired Highland Cattle. There are two reasons for this – I was tasked with getting some photos of me petting a highland cow by my friend Kay; and also because it reminds me very much of my first visit to Scotland in 1974 with my parents. My mum adored these cute bovine animals and used to call them 'hippy cows'.

large_e3aa38f0-9113-11e8-aea6-3f94b2c6eff2.jpg
'Pretend' Hairy Coo at the Ralia Highland Gateway Centre where we stop for a pee break.

large_17b3c170-9114-11e8-aea6-3f94b2c6eff2.jpg
Apparently, cuddling a metal coo doesn't count.

Sat Nav

Mid afternoon the Sat Nav dies, meaning we have to revert to the old fashioned way of finding our way using a map. Those of you who know me well, will realise that it is not a good idea to leave me to do the navigating while map reading. Not only do I get my lefts and rights mixed up, my sense of direction is so poor that I can get lost in my own back garden.

Let's hope we make it to the cabin this evening without too many detours and without having a major falling-out.

large_fdafd530-918f-11e8-b07b-ab02e4c908ed.jpg

Love the roads and the scenery!

large_1a60a6a0-9190-11e8-b07b-ab02e4c908ed.jpg

large_27ccee20-9190-11e8-b07b-ab02e4c908ed.jpg

large_31721b80-9190-11e8-b07b-ab02e4c908ed.jpg

large_3e3fd910-9190-11e8-b07b-ab02e4c908ed.jpg
Loch Droma

large_4992b670-9190-11e8-ace2-098191884081.jpg

The further north we get (and nearer our cabin), the narrower the road gets.

large_8c945690-9190-11e8-ace2-098191884081.jpg

We find the turning off the main road without any major drama, despite me map reading, although I fear the credit has to go to David, who has a photographic memory when it comes to maps: once he has seen the route on a map, he can drive there.

large_fe9abf80-9191-11e8-b07b-ab02e4c908ed.jpg

The Wee Barn

I booked this holiday on a whim a few weeks ago. We have been talking about visiting Scotland for a while now, but no actual plans, and certainly not this year. I thought I would just do an internet search to give me some idea of costs, and then I saw The Wee Barn and fell in love. Ten minutes later I had booked it.

large_3d6942a0-91a5-11e8-9cec-4b641b7aceb1.jpg

The Wee Barn is in what you could safely call a remote location. Some two miles down a single track road with a handful of other houses, a post box and telephone kiosk, It is situated down the lane leading to the landing where ferries take passengers across Little Loch Broom to the smattering of houses the other side. Surrounded by countryside on three side and water on the fourth, the setting is idyllic.

large_4bef5e90-91a5-11e8-9cec-4b641b7aceb1.jpg

large_9e892610-91d5-11e8-8872-27ea9b15637c.jpg

The cabin itself is small, of course (there is a huge hint in the name), but more than adequate for us, with a living room / dining room and a very well equipped kitchen.

large_5bca5c20-91a5-11e8-9cec-4b641b7aceb1.jpg

large_65637b90-91a5-11e8-9cec-4b641b7aceb1.jpg

large_6f1c7f10-91a5-11e8-9cec-4b641b7aceb1.jpg

As well as a bedroom and bathroom, the entrance hall has a comfy chair and a well stocked bookcase.

large_7a3d4ff0-91a5-11e8-9cec-4b641b7aceb1.jpg

Once we have unpacked, I whip up a quick dinner of cold Black Forest ham, scrambled eggs and roasted tomatoes.

large_b30dd660-91a5-11e8-9cec-4b641b7aceb1.jpg

After dinner a settle down to relax, but David has other ideas, and suggests going out for a short drive. I shall make that the subject of the next blog entry however.

Posted by Grete Howard 04:16 Archived in Scotland Tagged scotland salmon road_trip sculpture seal deer motorway highland_cow pitlochry cairngorms road_signs premier_inn arria angel_of_the_nauld auchenkilns cumbernauld andy_scott power_station hydro_electric fish_ladder hary_coo sika_deer red_deer harbour_seal Comments (3)

Jebel Shams - Misfah - Al Hamra - Wadi Bani Awf - Muscat

From 3000m to sea level, we travel full circle back to where we started


View Oh! Man! Oman. 2018 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Despite last night's shenanigans, I slept surprisingly well. I do feel like a wrung-out dish cloth this morning though, and therefore decide to miss breakfast. Said is very concerned when he hears I was sick last night; he says I should have woken him so he could have taken me to hospital. Really? Like they are going to want to know about a little vomiting.

We had been warned before we left home that the night time temperatures here in Jebel Shams can drop drastically and looking at the weather on-line a couple of weeks ago we saw that it had fallen below zero. We left our thermometer outside last night and when checking it this morning it said Minimum 5 °C. Quite cool, but not freezing.

large_Weather_Jebel_Shams.jpg
Weather forecast for Jebel Shams prior to leaving the UK

We take a different route down from Jebel Shams today, and the journey is, if at all possible, even more spectacular than driving up yesterday. I hang out of the window holding on to my camera for dear life, trying to get a decent shot. My success rate is very hit and miss.

large_The_Journe..bel_Shams_3.jpg

large_The_Journe..bel_Shams_6.jpg

large_The_Journe..bel_Shams_7.jpg

large_The_Journe..bel_Shams_9.jpg

Look at this hairpin bend!

large_The_Journe..el_Shams_10.jpg

Followed immediately by another.

large_The_Journe..el_Shams_11.jpg

The impressive turns continue all the way down.

large_The_Journe..el_Shams_13.jpg

Craggy peaks line the horizon.

large_The_Journe..el_Shams_14.jpg

large_The_Journe..el_Shams_15.jpg

Goats seem to thrive in this hostile environment.

large_The_Journe..ms_-_Goat_1.jpg

large_The_Journe..el_Shams_17.jpg

Misfat Al A'briyeen

This 400 year old village is considered the most beautiful in Oman.

large_Misfat_Al_..n_Village_1.jpg

Some of the houses are still occupied, mostly by farmers who grow dates, mango and papaya on the slopes below the village.

large_Misfat_Al_..n_Village_2.jpg

Many of the older generation are reluctant to move from their family home, although some of them only use their houses in the village as a weekend retreat/holiday home, escaping the heat of Muscat in the summer months.

large_Misfat_Al_..n_Village_3.jpg

A sign at the entrance to this village, a popular stop on the tourist route, asks visitors to show respect by covering their arms and legs before entering and always asking before taking pictures of people. I have deliberately learnt that one phrase in Arabic: “Mumkin sura, minfadlik” (May I take your photo please), and have not been refused yet, as people are usually so taken aback that I have spoken to them in their own language.

large_Misfat_Al_..n_Village_4.jpg

The donkey doesn't seem to object to having his photo taken, although I have to admit I didn't ask. All transport within the village is by donkey or hand carts.

large_Misfat_Al_..n_Village_6.jpg

It's a fascinating place, with narrow alleyways and steep, uneven stone steps. There is a lot of renovation work going on though, making it very difficult to take decent pictures.

large_Misfat_Al_..n_Village_5.jpg

large_Misfat_Al_.._Village_13.jpg

The village rises around 1000 meters above sea level and is named after the original inhabitants, the Al Abri family.

large_Misfat_Al_..n_Village_7.jpg

large_Misfat_Al_..n_Village_9.jpg

large_Misfat_Al_.._Village_10.jpg

large_Misfat_Al_.._Village_11.jpg

There are no wells in the village, the only fresh water available is from a spring higher up in the 'Grand Canyon'.

large_Misfat_Al_.._Village_14.jpg

large_Misfat_Al_.._Village_15.jpg

large_Misfat_Al_.._Village_12.jpg

Al Hamra Village

This traditional village with its mud brick houses dating back some 200-400 years, is very reminiscent of many such places we saw in Yemen back in 2007.

large_Al_Hamra_Village_3.jpg

large_Al_Hamra_Village_4.jpg

large_Al_Hamra_Village_5.jpg

We wander along narrow passageways, with towering walls either side, trying to imagine what this place would have looked like when it was bustling with women in dark abayas, men in their flowing white dishdash kaftans, donkeys braying and goats roaming free.

large_Al_Hamra_Village_7.jpg

Today, the only people we see are construction workers.

large_Al_Hamra_Village_14.jpg

large_Al_Hamra_Village_21.jpg

The village is otherwise hauntingly empty, with just the remnant echoes of bygone days and happier times.

large_Al_Hamra_Village_11.jpg

large_Al_Hamra_Village_16.jpg

large_Al_Hamra_Village_31.jpg

I am fascinated by the many ornate doors, some in better repair than others. “Who passed over these thresholds?” “What secrets lay behind them?” I mentally transport myself back 400 years and try to imagine the families who lived here.

large_Al_Hamra_Village_8.jpg

large_Al_Hamra_Village_17.jpg

large_Al_Hamra_Village_23.jpg

large_Al_Hamra_Village_25.jpg

large_Al_Hamra_Village_35.jpg

Wadi Bani Awf

From Al Hamra we continue downwards, through Wadi Bani Awf, the magnificent 'Snake Canyon', one of the most spectacular road trips we have ever taken. Not for the faint-hearted or those suffering from vertigo, the sheer escarpment of the Western Hajjar Mountains provides a breathtaking vista around every nerve-wracking hairpin bend.

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_1.jpg

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_2.jpg

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_3.jpg

The drive is nerve-janglingly dramatic, with stupendous scenery and a rough, vertiginous track which challenges the skills of even experienced off-road drivers, and a 4WD is a must. Not to be attempted lightly, this journey is positively lethal during or after rain.

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_7.jpg

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_Panorama_1.jpg

As we swing around each and every bend, I try to get some photographs by either hanging out of the window or holding my arm up through the open window and over the roof of the car, neither of which are terribly successful (or safe).

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_5.jpg

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_8.jpg

Very occasionally we see another car, but mostly we have the track to ourselves.

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_9.jpg

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_11.jpg
Our road on the left, the village of Haat on the right, at the bottom of this canyon.

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_12.jpg

Look at how this track snakes its way down the canyon - hence the name "Snake Canyon".

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_14.jpg

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_19.jpg

This terrain is definitely best suited to goats.

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_-_Goat_1.jpg

We see the occasional isolated village (this one is Haat again), but mostly it is just stark mountain after mountain as far as the eye can see. It is an austere but beautiful vista, although living here must be harsh.

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_25.jpg

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_26.jpg

Around villages we find plantations, and even a beautiful oases in a narrow gorge cut into the mountain.

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_28.jpg

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_31.jpg

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_30.jpg

The most incongruous sight of them all, however, is this football pitch; miles from any obvious human habitation and on the only flat ground around. A abrupt piece of civilisation in an otherwise forbidding and almost monochrome environment.

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_36.jpg
What? No floodlights?

We travel ever downwards, past fascinating rock formations on tracks that at times throw up a lot of dust, making us shut the windows to keep it out of the car and our lungs.

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_32.jpg

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_33.jpg

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_34.jpg

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_35.jpg

We come across a convoy of vehicles filled with tourists travelling the opposite direction. I am so glad we are going downhill as I am sure the view is better this way.

large_Wadi_Bani_..affic_Jam_1.jpg

I am overawed by the technical engineering logistic and sheer amount of work it must have taken to create this road in such a perilous location. How did they get machinery up here to cut into the declivitous rock face and construct a road in such an improbable place?

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_43.jpg

It makes me feel somewhat (but not a lot) safer to know we are in a 4WD vehicle, and Said is an excellent, and very experienced, driver. Just look at that drop along the side of the road... “gulp”.

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_44.jpg

Bait Bimah

At a flat area in the bottom of one of the gorges we stop in the shade of a tree. Intriguingly, there is a gate next to the tree. What on earth would you want a gate for in this remote and wild area? And what is behind the gate?

large_Bait_Bimah_11.jpg

We go through and find a gravel path leading past a building made from rocks. I look around as various parts of the surroundings come into view and I cannot believe my eyes: there is a veritable oases, with colourful bougainvillea adorning the perimeter fence, a restaurant, clean toilets, children's playground, sunbeds and outdoor seating areas. Unbelievable!

large_Bait_Bimah_1.jpg

large_Bait_Bimah_5.jpg

large_Bait_Bimah_6.jpg

large_Bait_Bimah_7.jpg

large_Bait_Bimah_8.jpg

large_Bait_Bimah_3.jpg

To one side of the covered seating area a buffet is laid out with delicious looking curries and rice. After last night's vomiting my stomach is still very fragile so I daren't eat anything. There are no public toilets along this road, and with a steep mountain one side and a sheer drop the other, 'going behind a bush' isn't an option either.

large_Bait_Bimah_4.jpg

large_Bait_Bimah..fet_Lunch_2.jpg

large_Bait_Bimah..fet_Lunch_1.jpg

After lunch, we continue on our journey ever downwards, and the scenery doesn't exactly get any worse.

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_47.jpg

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_48.jpg

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_49.jpg

A large group of German tourists are blocking the road as they have got out of their cars to take pictures of the view. Again I feel grateful for travelling on a private tour for just the two of us.

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_50.jpg

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_51.jpg

We drive precariously near the crumbling edge to get past them.

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_52.jpg

As the dirt track meanders in a zigzag fashion further down the valley, we see more goats and a traditional felaj (irrigation channel) running alongside the road.

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_53.jpg

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_54_-_Goats.jpg

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_55_Felaj.jpg
Irrigation channels a couple of metres up the rock face.

The felaj brings water to the plantations that start to appear.

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_56.jpg

We both wish we had a geologist with us to explain the various types of rocks, and how the fascinating and varied strata are formed.

large_Wadi_Bani_Awf_57.jpg

Eventually the mountain track joins a main road and we are out of the canyon.

Nakhl Fort

At the imposing Nakhl Fort, built in the 16th century to protect Muscat from invading marauders coming across the mountains, we make a brief photo stop.

large_Nakhl_Fort_1.jpg

large_Nakhl_Fort_2.jpg

From here, the 120 kilometres or so to Muscat is along a smooth, asphalt road, and I doze in the car all the way.

Al Falaj Hotel

We have now made a full circle and are back where we started. This time, we have been upgraded to a corner suite, with a dining table for four and a lovely seating area with a cosy sofa and armchairs.

large_Al_Falaj_Hotel_Suite_4.jpg

large_Al_Falaj_Hotel_Suite_5.jpg

The bedroom itself is no bigger than a standard hotel room, but the living room is enormous!

large_Al_Falaj_Hotel_Suite_3.jpg

large_Al_Falaj_Hotel_Suite_2.jpg

Muscat by Night

Said, being the kind gentleman he is, has agreed to take us down to Muttrah Corniche tonight, just as the lights are fading, so that I can photograph the city after dark.

large_Muscat_by_Night_1.jpg

He goes off to the mosque to pray while I set up a tripod and admire the bright lights reflected in the harbour.

large_Muscat_by_Night_2.jpg

large_Muscat_by_Night_5.jpg

large_Muscat_by_Night_3.jpg

large_Muscat_by_Night_6.jpg

Room Service

Once we return to the hotel, we consider what we are going to do about food this evening. Despite having dinner included tonight (buffet) we decide to treat ourselves and order room service instead. It seems a sin not to make the most of the facilities we have here in this suite, and as most of you know by now, we are not at all keen on buffets. I eat half a burger and three chips, which is the first thing I have eaten all day after my vomiting last night.

large_Al_Falaj_H..oom_Service.jpg

And thus ends another fascinating day here in Oman, all thanks to Undiscovered Destinations.

large_F1A81902F3C310460A150C628EE5268D.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 04:35 Archived in Oman Tagged road_trip view ruins panorama lunch deserted journey buffet vista muscat 4wd steep vertigo suite goats ruined corniche haat spectacular jebel_shams hairpin_bends al_falaj_hotel lunch_buffet muttrah hajjar_mountains al_hamra falaj precipitous specticular declivitous craggy_peaks misfat_al_a'briyeen narrow_alleyways deserted_village wadi_bano_awf snake_canyon nerve_jangling football_pitch bait_bimah muttrah_corniche muscat_by_night room_servce upgraded felaj irrigation_channels nakhl_fort wadi_bani_awf Comments (5)

Pench - Tadoba

A lovely surprise awaits us in Tadoba


View Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright - India 2017 on Grete Howard's travel map.

This morning we are treated to a breakfast fit for a king, with cereal, fruit, watermelon juice; followed by egg, vegetable sausage, tomatoes. Then they bring out the kedgeree. I walk away from there absolutely stuffed.

Sorry, no photos.

Pench - Tadoba

We are having an easy day today, just driving between Pench National park and our next – and final – tiger reserve: Tadoba National Park.

There is not much to say about the first part of the journey, until we start seeing signs for Tadoba, so I will just leave you with a few photos from the road trip.

large_BFFE50ACB74151B8021161A5797ADF4D.jpg
Yet another bullock cart photo

large_C00029AEBF47B7DB158A6ACAC465413B.jpg
Village life

large_BFFEE9C0A904877483B380328E22E91B.jpg

Rakesh stops the car for us to get out and take some pictures as well as a stretch of legs.

large_Our_car_an.._the_driver.jpg

large_BFFFA339FF610DA212ED63E4EE93EB5D.jpg

After quite a few miles of rural lanes, we venture on to the highway of sorts. It's a little disconcerting when you are faced with a long line of trucks coming towards you, on both sides of the road with no obvious space for it to pull in.

large_Trucks_1.jpg

The same goes for those trucks driving the same direction as us – this one only narrowly misses the red car coming the other way.

large_C03017DAE0D174AF20A45042D804E509.jpg

Border crossing

For the last six days we have been in the state of Madhya Pradesh, and today we are crossing over the border to Maharashtra State.

large_Madhya_Par..ra_Border_1.jpg

It doesn't affect us in any way, but trucks have to have a special licence for each of the states and are required to pass through border control.

large_Madhya_Par..a_Border_2A.jpg

I love the beautifully decorated trucks that you find in India. You can see on this one that he has a sign saying: “All India permit”, meaning he is allowed to travel to other states too.

large_Trucks_3.jpg

They do like to overfill their trucks here though.

large_Trucks_4A.jpg

The large, overfilled trucks play havoc with the road surface, leaving huge potholes and slowing down our journey considerably.

large_C154E55FAE80276BAD8DAEEEB7830C0F.jpg

large_C1558230A955D5A119EC15D9C6771532.jpg

large_C155FF050776D0D0AB7FE5281DBD9F43.jpg

large_C17C56D4900A440D50A58FF98B6681A8.jpg

Although the fact that we are slowing right down, means I have more of a chance to photograph the street scenes, such as these two men sitting at the road-side.

large_C1BA90C0EDCCA329F364EC6F1C3A4C9D.jpg

Tadoba

We see signs for Tadoba, and turn off the main road. I have the name of the village where the lodge is located and the closest gate. The road scenes are getting much more rural again now.

large_C3F4A928D03A6C693BDD9880B8AC5013.jpg

We see signs for the gate, and soon afterwards stop and ask the way to the hotel.

large_Bullock_Cart_76.jpg

We ask again.

large_Bycycle_1.jpg

We know we are getting close to a park when we see this sign.

large_Dribe_slow..fe_crossing.jpg

The fourth time Rakesh stops to ask for directions, we are sent in the opposite direction. Groan. Here we go again.

It seems the whole village of Bhamdeli (where the lodge is located) is gated, as we have to wake up the guard to let us through. Rakesh shows him the piece of paper with the lodge name and address, and he points in the general direction we are heading.

After passing a few cotton fields, we find ourselves driving through this linear village, lined with hotels, lodges and camps either side. This is obviously where the bulk of the accommodation for the park is found.

large_C3FCD45F941DABE47DAE741C51BB1E52.jpg
Cotton

Suddenly we see a unassuming looking sign at the side of the road, and turn into a side track. The first impression from the sign is a little worrying, this is the only hotel on this trip I didn't choose (I left it to our tour operator), and I don't know what to expect.

large_Irai_Safari_Retrest_sign.jpg

My expectations rise considerably when I see the entrance gate to the lodge, however.

large_C42FA911F0807BDBE5361F84DA782AD4.jpg

Irai Safari Retreat

We get a warm welcome at the reception from the very friendly manager who not only has a great sense of humour, but also speaks excellent English. He scans our passports – or rather, tries, to, as a power cut interrupts the action. Fear not, his mobile phone does the job just as well.

large_Irai_Safari_Retreat_22A.jpg
The bar and reception area

large_Irai_Safari_Retreat_23A.jpg
The comfortable lounge

After a briefing about the hotel and its facilities, we are shown to our rooms. From the website I wasn't sure what to expect, but I am very pleasantly surprised.

large_Irai_Safari_Retreat_16A.jpg
Paved paths lead to the accommodation

Rooms are located in cottages spread around the well kept gardens, and each cottage houses two rooms. Other than our immediate neighbours who are in a room within the same building (in this case it is our friends Lyn and Chris, of course), we are far enough away from the other cottages for it to feel very private and exclusive.

large_Irai_Safari_Retreat_17A.jpg

large_Irai_Safari_Retreat_18A.jpg

large_Irai_Safari_Retreat_20A.jpg

large_Irai_Safari_Retreat_19A.jpg
Our side of the cottage - steps on the left of the photo lead to the roof terrace - more about that later

Each of the rooms has a covered seating area outside the front door, making for quite a romantic little niche.

large_Irai_Safari_Retreat_3A.jpg

There is also a sunny balcony with a hammock for a relaxing afternoon siesta. There's even a BBQ in the corner – not that I am thinking of doing any cooking while I am here!

large_Irai_Safari_Retreat_4A.jpg

The bedroom is spacious, with a separate cosy seating area.

large_Irai_Safari_Retreat_6A.jpg

large_Irai_Safari_Retreat_7A.jpg

The bathroom features double basins and a proper bath tub. Personally I prefer a walk-in shower, but I know Lyn likes to have a bath.

large_Irai_Safari_Retreat_5A.jpg

The lodge is owned by a member of the local royal family, and most of the furniture and ornaments are from his personal collection. I particularly like these horse-shaped door handles on the wardrobe.

large_Irai_Safari_Retreat_8A.jpg

Swimming Pool

The lodge also has a very inviting-looking pool, so we get changed and head over there while it is still sunny.

large_Irai_Safari_Retreat_9A.jpg

large_Irai_Safari_Retreat_10A.jpg

large_Irai_Safari_Retreat_11A.jpg

large_Irai_Safari_Retreat_12A.jpg

large_Irai_Safari_Retreat_13A.jpg

large_Irai_Safari_Retreat_14A.jpg

large_Irai_Safari_Retreat_15A.jpg

Just as I am about to get undressed, I discover a series of tiny little blisters on my shin, plus one that is quite large. They cover an area about the size of a mobile phone, in the exact spot that I had cellulitis earlier in the year. If this is a sunburn, it is rather worrying, as I have only been outside in the sun for around 15 minutes, and a large proportion of that was walking in the shade. After much deliberation I decide it is probably best not to go in the pool after all.

large_Blisters_1A.jpg

large_Blisters_2A.jpg

Sunset

Instead I climb to the roof terrace with my camera equipment and wait for the sunset.

large_Sunset_fro.._terrace_1A.jpg

The sky is a dreamy pink, later to turn a glowing orange; and I can see the lake from which the lodge takes its name from up here.

large_Sunset_fro.._terrace_5A.jpg

large_Sunset_fro.._terrace_9A.jpg

large_Sunset_fro..terrace_10A.jpg

large_Sunset_fro..terrace_24A.jpg

Being situated in the buffer zone of the national park, there are naturally a number of birds in the vicinity, many of which are coming back to roost for the night. They fly around a bit before descending into the surrounding trees, rustling the leaves as they land, making quite a noise.

large_Sunset_fro..terrace_26A.jpg

large_Sunset_fro..terrace_40A.jpg

On closer inspection, most of the birds are cormorants.

large_23BADBB9CE4E97E86704153CABBDE352.jpg

large_Cormorants_2.jpg

With a few storks.

large_Storks_1A.jpg

And a Red Vented Bulbul thrown in for good measure.

large_Red_Vented_Bulbul_32A.jpg

Plus a Rufous Treepie.

large_Rufous_Trepie_31.jpg

Although the evening started off with a beautiful pink sky; as the sun gets lower, the mist wins the battle and colours the sky a dirty brown. The sun holds its own for a while as a golden globe sinking slowly to earth.

large_Sunset_fro..terrace_44A.jpg

large_Sunset_fro..terrace_45A.jpg

large_Sunset_fro..terrace_46A.jpg

Once the sun has gone down, I go in and have a shower (without getting my poorly leg wet – quite a feat and requiring me to be a bit of a contortionist) before dinner.

Dinner

Dinner tonight is buffet and very good it is too. We have dhal fry (a nice spicy lentil dish), vegetable keema (minced vegetable curry), jeera rice (rice with cumin seeds), methi mattar makhani (a buttery curry with fenugreek and peas).

large_Dinner_-_d..r_machani_A.jpg

It is all very tasty and I go to bed a happy bunny, ready for another day in another safari park tomorrow.

large_5B4A97D608027FB412D631C3CC53F0B3.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 12:12 Archived in India Tagged birds sunset road_trip india hammock dinner safari border bbq lost swimming_pool maharashtra trucks sunburn royal_family tadoba blisters pench bullock_cart irai_safari_retreat madya_pradesh cotton_plantation all_india_permit ask_directions buffer_zone Comments (4)

Kanha - Pench

It's got to be around here somewhere, surely?


View Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright - India 2017 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Today we move on to our next tiger park in search of new safari pastures. The good thing about that, is that we don't have to be up at the crack of dawn to get to the park gates for 05:30 this morning. We can actually have a lie-in, and are woken at 7am by the barashinga deer shouting out a warning call to the other animals of an impending danger.

After breakfast it is time to say goodbye to Kipling Camp and the delightfully warm crew we have come to love. It is all very sad, but new adventures await us in Pench National park.

But first, the journey there. A road trip in India, especially in rural areas, is always an adventure in itself. I love photographing street scenes, and today's reoccurring theme is bullocks.

large_Bullock_Cart_1.jpg

large_Carrying_Hay_23.jpg

large_Carrying_Water_21.jpg

large_Rural_Street_Scenes_22.jpg

large_Rural_Street_Scenes_21.jpg

large_Carrying_Hay_24.jpg

large_Bullock_Cart_2.jpg

large_Rural_Street_Scenes_25.jpg

large_Bullock_Cart_3.jpg

Pench 55 kms. We're on the map! Today is a five hour journey from Kanha to Pench, on mostly good roads with little traffic.

large_Pench_55.jpg

As we get nearer Pench, we turn off the main road onto country lanes through much more rural countryside.

large_Bullock_Cart_8.jpg
Gotta love those telegraph poles.

It soon becomes blatantly obvious that Rakesh has no idea where he is going. It is also evident that the people he asks for directions also have no idea where he is going.

large_Bullock_Cart_10.jpg

After stopping twice more to ask directions, we come across the entrance gate to the park. Although I cannot hear, nor understand, what they are saying, it looks to me something like “It's just over there, turn right then a few bends and then turn left. Seems simple to me.

The map below, which I photographed later on the wall in the lodge, shows how simple it really is. Or rather could have been.

large_Map_to_Pench_Tree_House_2.jpg

We drive down through villages and the road does not seem that obvious. We stop again, and Rakesh asks an old man, who then comes up to the car and demands payment for – what turns out to be – giving us wrong directions.

large_Getting_lo..ree_House_1.jpg

We stop a couple of more times to ask different people, even flagging down a passing motorcyclist. We can see the type of person Rakesh chooses for his questions: well dressed, with an air about them that says the person has maybe been to school. Thankfully I printed out a list of all the hotel name and addresses before I left home, which was just as well, as Rakesh had not even been told where we were staying, let alone been given an address or directions; and out here in the sticks there is no mobile signal to phone the lodge even.

Each time we stop, we are sent in a different direction. We drive through some villages several times – I am sure we must have driven down every single road in this area by now. Twice, at least. Eventually we come across someone who reads the piece of paper with a look of recognition on their face. He sends us down a narrow country track, and we feel quite confident that this is the correct road, finally.

large_Getting_lo..ree_House_2.jpg

But no. It leads to a lodge, yes, but sadly not the one we are staying at. (It would probably have been a good move to pop in there and ask, but we didn't think about that at the time)

large_Getting_lo..ree_House_3.jpg

We drive around a few more country lanes, most of which we have already driven down at least once before.

large_Ploughing_21.jpg

The villages are getting to be rather familiar now, and I am sure I can see people laughing at us.

large_Getting_lo..ree_House_4.jpg

large_Getting_lo..ree_House_5.jpg

We reach another entrance gate to the tiger park, where three officials scratch their heads for a while, then write something in Sanskrit on my paper. Directions in Hindi, hopefully.

large_Getting_lo..ree_House_6.jpg

As you can see from the map, it really is a very easy journey from here. Of course, we don't have the map, and hindsight is a wonderful thing.

large_Map_to_Pench_Tree_House_3.jpg

We cross the river for the fourth time. Or is it fifth? I feel intimately connected to each and every boulder by now.

large_Getting_lo..ree_House_7.jpg

large_Getting_lo..ree_House_8.jpg

This village looks awfully familiar. I begin to recognise individual people.

large_Getting_lo..ree_House_9.jpg

large_Getting_lo..ee_House_10.jpg

Rakesh shows the paper with the Hindu directions on it to a family who are just about to get on their motorbike. They nod and immediately start pointing. This is promising. I think the woman eventually says: “Follow us”, as that is exactly what we do.

large_Getting_lo..ee_House_11.jpg

We go through the same villages yet again.

large_Getting_lo..ee_House_12.jpg

large_Getting_lo..ee_House_13.jpg

Even the birds are looking bemused. I swear I can hear him tweet: “I am sure I have already seen that car at least five times this afternoon...”

large_Indian_Roller_111.jpg

We get stuck in a bit of a traffic jam (consisting of just us) at a construction site. The workers are not keen to move their vehicle for us to pass – they are busy unloading bricks, manually one by one it seems.

large_Getting_lo..ee_House_14.jpg

At an intersection the family we have been following dismount their bike and the austere and officious-sounding matriarch tells us to head off the road onto a very bumpy, not-really-suitable-for-this-sort-of-vehicle track. This is new territory to us this afternoon. How exciting!

large_Getting_lo..ee_House_15.jpg

After what seems like an eternity of pot-holed sandy track (also known as the 'Indian massage'), and a couple of little villages, we spot a very welcome sign. A big cheer goes up in the car.

large_Pench_Tree_House_Sign_1.jpg

Pench Tree Lodge

We are greeted at the reception with some refreshing wet towels with a difference: these are dehydrated into little 'tablets'; but with water sprayed on them, they come back to life! I have never seen this done before and I love it!

large_Pench_Tree..me_Towels_1.jpg

.

Another member of staff turns up with a tray full of powder for the traditional Indian blessing of bindi – a small red dot on the forehead.

large_Receiving_..Tree_Lodge1.jpg

The Reception
The reception is a free-standing open area with some seating, maps on the wall, toilets and the office.

large_Pench_Tree..Reception_2.jpg

large_Pench_Tree..Reception_3.jpg

large_Pench_Tree..Reception_4.jpg

On arrival we are each given a rather splendid aluminium water-bottle (to keep, not just for the duration of our stay), and I am impressed by the bottle-filling station at the reception, using filtered water.

large_Filtered_W..t_Reception.jpg

Lunch
As it is already getting on into the afternoon, we go straight to lunch. A winding path leads from the reception to the restaurant, and although not far as such, it is considerably further than is normal for a lodge. You can barely see the restaurant from the reception area.

large_Pench_Tree..eception_1A.jpg

The path is pretty though, with some colourful grasses, a couple of small bridges and a pond.

large_Red_Grasses_1.jpg

large_The_path_t..ree_Lodge_1.jpg

large_Pench_Tree..estaurant_5.jpg
Finally we can see the restaurant.

The restaurant is in another free-standing building on a raised platform, with two floors and an observation tower.

large_Pench_Tree..estaurant_4.jpg

large_Pench_Tree..estaurant_6.jpg

There is an outside covered terrace, and next to the main building is an inviting-looking infinity pool and changing room.

large_Pench_Tree..staurant_12.jpg

large_Pench_Tree..-_the_Bar_1.jpg

large_Pench_Tree..the_Pool_11.jpg

large_Pench_Tree..staurant_11.jpg

large_Pench_Tree..the_Pool_12.jpg

There are in fact two dining rooms, one either side of the kitchen.

large_Pench_Tree..staurant_13.jpg

large_29733895B995E4B305184364B92D2C97.jpg

large_296E47ADA8FE2FEE480920C660ED528B.jpg

The food is as classy as the rest of the establishment and beautifully presented.

large_Beetroot_Salad.jpg
Beetroot Salad

large_Cauliflower_Cream.jpg
Cauliflower Cream

large_Chicken_Ravioli_1.jpg
Chicken raviloli

large_Chocolate_Mousee.jpg
Chocolate mousse

Our Room
After lunch, we are taken to our rooms, along another long and winding jungle path.

large_2A1E2F48B64F021694143551303E06A3.jpg

When I say rooms, these are in fact tree houses, some 18ft above the ground!

large_Pench_Tree..ris__Room_1.jpg

large_Pench_Tree..ris__Room_2.jpg

large_Pench_Tree.._Our_Room_8.jpg

After climbing the stairs we are greeted with a small entrance hall, leading to another hallway connecting the bedroom, dressing room and bathroom.

large_Pench_Tree.._Our_Room_1.jpg

large_Pench_Tree.._Our_Room_2.jpg

large_Pench_Tree.._Our_Room_3.jpg

large_Pench_Tree.._Our_Room_4.jpg

large_Pench_Tree.._Our_Room_5.jpg

Accessed through French windows from the bedroom is a large balcony overlooking the river – although the surroundings are fairly overgrown so you cannot see much. Lyn and Chris can see even less from their balcony.

large_Pench_Tree.._Our_Room_6.jpg

large_Pench_Tree..e_Balcony_1.jpg

large_View_from_the_Balcony_1.jpg
Distant view from the balcony, through a very long zoom lens.

We sit outside for a while, looking out for birds (not many) and waiting for the sunset.

large_Pench_Tree..e_Balcony_2.jpg

large_2ABBB827D8A4112273BCAAC1B32047FD.jpg
Black Drongo

large_Plum_Heade..__female__2.jpg
Female Plum Headed Parakeet

large_Red_Vented_Bulbul_1.jpg
Red Vented Bulbul

The sunset is very much a non-event, as the sun turns into a red globe, then later simply dissolves into the mist.

large_Sunset_fro..ree_House_1.jpg

large_Sunset_fro..ree_House_3.jpg

Dinner
I am woken up from a nice little snooze by a telephone call from reception: “We have dinner arrangements for you tonight, what time would you like to come?”

In order to get to our 'dinner arrangements', we have to walk past the restaurant to “meet in the welcome area”. From there we continue to the lodge's own Organic Farm, where a BBQ area has been set up. The path is very uneven, with gnarled roots and small trees in the way, and lit only by occasional lanterns and our torches.

large_Organic_Farm_Dinner_4.jpg

The place is already full, and we are put on a table in the far corner. I had no idea there were so many people staying tonight, I haven't seen any other guests until now. The manager tells us they are all one group, from various countries, who have been on a cycling trip through the park.

large_Organic_Farm_Dinner_3.jpg

We are all a little confused by what is happening, but the food just keeps arriving: salads, soup, small portions of grilled meat...

large_Organic_Farm_Dinner_1.jpg

Again there is very little light, so it is quite hard to see what we are eating, and I am still rather full from our very late lunch.

large_Organic_Farm_Dinner_2.jpg

The arrangements are all very well done, but have an atmosphere of being somewhat too formal for my liking, a complete opposite to our last three nights in Kipling Camp where we ate with the staff. We were also spoilt there, of course, by there being only two other guests, making it really personal and informal. I find this a little too impersonal and touristy. I have to confess that I find the whole eveing a complete waste of time and effort.

large_Organic_Farm_Dinner_5.jpg
The mobile bar in an old hay cart

Despite the firepit near our table, we are all feeling a little chilly as the evening goes on. With no toilets down at the farm, we have to go back to the welcome area to use the facilities there, and we retire to the room for an early night as we have an even-earlier-than-normal start tomorrow.

large_4E31024FA22F94B1E3BAAD3B158CEDF4.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 03:50 Archived in India Tagged road_trip dinner lunch getting bbq lost kanha organic_farm tree_house pench posh kipling_camp pench_tree_lodge rural_street_scenes bullock_cart luxury_accommodation Comments (4)

Mbuzi Mawe - Seronera Part II

Rain doesn't stop play, it creates photo opportunities


View The Gowler African Adventure - Kenya & Tanzania 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

large_Game_Drive_5.jpg

Lake Magadi

After leaving the ‘Lion Tree’, we try to find somewhere to stop for our picnic lunch. Malisa’s initial plan is to park down by Lake Magadi, but there is no shade whatsoever and the sun is relentless.

large_Lake_Magadi_11-2.jpg

large_Lake_Magadi_11-1.jpg

large_Lake_Magadi_11-4.jpg

Terns

On the shores of the lake, a number of terns are congregating: Whiskered, White Winged Black and Black.
As we get closer, they all take off en masse.

large_Terns__Whiskered_11-1.jpg

large_Terns__Whi.._Black_11-1.jpg

large_Terns__Whi.._Black_11-2.jpg

large_92293589E279EAF774E0BB8D5DE58DA1.jpg

large_922BB5F0A4BAA11F98DFF7462EC3233A.jpg

large_Terns__Whi.._Black_11-3.jpg

large_Terns__Whi.._Black_11-4.jpg

large_Terns__Whi.._Black_11-5.jpg

Rueppell's Long Tailed Starling

large_Staling__R..Tailed_11-1.jpg

Grey Backed Shrike

large_Shrike__Grey_Backed_11-1.jpg

large_Picnic_8A.jpg

We finally find a tree to take our picnic under, listening to the grunting of hippo as we eat. When Lyn comments to Malisa that the sounds appear awfully near, his reply doesn’t exactly re-assure her: “This is leopard country…” Seeing the paw prints in the sand, Lyn makes a hasty retreat to the car.

Banded Mongoose

This is an enormous family!

large_31845AAB0B69C485DEA4B3439F971CF2.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_11-12.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_11-13.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_11-14.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_11-15.jpg

Cape Buffalo

A buffalo tries – unsuccessfully – to hide in the long grass.

large_Buffalo__Cape_11-11.jpg

Ostrich

A male ostrich shows off his typical breeding plumage: bright pink legs and neck.

large_Ostrich_11-21.jpg

large_Ostrich_11-22.jpg

Moru Kopjes

large_Moru_Kopjes_11-1.jpg

large_Moru_Kopjes_11-2.jpg

large_Musical_Notes.jpg

Gong Rock

On top of one of the kopjes is a strategically placed, strange-shaped rock. This large rock with holes emits quite a gong when hit with a stone. In the old days – before the Maasai were relocated to make this an animal-only national park - it was used as a form of communication, to call together clan members to meetings. These days I guess they use mobile phones.

large_Gong_Rock_11-0.jpg

large_Gong_Rock_11-1.jpg

large_Gong_Rock_11-3.jpg

large_Gong_Rock_11-21.jpg

large_Gong_Rock_11-22.jpg

large_Gong_Rock_11-23.jpg

.

large_Gong_Rock_11-6.jpg

Maasai paintings

The kopjes here at Moru also hide a number of rock paintings believed to be several hundred years old. The colours used are similar to those on the Maasai shields, so it is thought that they were painted by a band of young Maasai warriors who wandered this area for several years before settling down to their pastoral life.

large_Maasai_Paintings_11-31.jpg

large_Maasai_Paintings_11-6.jpg

large_Maasai_Paintings_11-7.jpg

The colours used were created from plant matter: the black from volcanic ash, the white and yellow from different clay, and the red from the juice of the wild nightshade.

large_Maasai_Paintings_11-1.jpg

large_Maasai_Paintings_11-2.jpg

I am intrigued by the bicycle.

large_Maasai_Paintings_11-3.jpg

large_Maasai_Paintings_11-4.jpg

Rock Hyrax

The area around the kopjes is supposed to be home to Serengeti’s last remaining black rhino and is a favourite hangout of leopards apparently. But all we see are a few rock hyraxes.

large_Rock_Hyrax_11-101.jpg

large_Rock_Hyrax_11-103.jpglarge_Desperation_2.jpg

My tummy really is in a bad way now, causing me quite some concern; and I beg Malisa to find me a proper toilet. “We are very near” he tells me.

Dark Chanting Goshawk

large_Goshawk__D..nting_11-11.jpg

large_Goshawk__D..nting_11-12.jpg

Serengeti Rhino Project Visitors Centre

large_Walking_Rhions.jpg

Half an hour later, we reach the Rhino Information Centre, where the toilets are indeed very good.

large_F97E3C20BA1C45B593AEAA91F2945623.jpg

Phew!

Mostly as a result of poaching, the black rhino population has declined to a critically endangered point, with an all time low of 2,300 individuals in the wild. Fewer than 700 eastern black rhinos survive in the wild, with Serengeti being home to around 30 of them.

large_Rhino_Info..Centre_11-2.jpg

large_Rhino_Info..Centre_11-5.jpg

Named after the German conservationist Michael Grzimek who devoted his life to the Serengeti, the Visitors Centre has displays about the rhino and how the conservation strategies are being employed to ensure the continued survival of the rhino.

large_Rhino_Info..Centre_11-1.jpg

large_Rhino_Info..Centre_11-6.jpg

large_Rhino_Info..Centre_11-4.jpg

The exact location of the park’s rhino population is a well kept secret, with a small army of rangers and wardens looking after the animals 24/7.

large_Rhino_Info..Centre_11-7.jpg

large_Rhino_Info..Centre_11-3.jpg

large_EF6CCC68A0C7FA755079B1A3FA4E1B58.jpg

One of the reasons the crocodile is often found with his mouth wide open, is to attract insects, who are drawn to bits of meat left in the croc’s teeth. The insects again attract birds, and as soon as an unsuspecting bird enters the mouth – slam! The bird is no more.

large_Crocodile_11-11.jpg

large_Crocodile_11-12.jpg

For some reason that reminds me of this Youtube clip.

.

Squacco Herons

large_Herons__Squacco_11-1.jpg

large_Hamerkop_Nest_1.jpg

These enormous nests take the birds up to three months to build, and are the height of sophistication, with three rooms inside. The nests can weigh up to 90kg, measure 1.5 metres across, and are strong enough to support the weight of a man! These birds are compulsive nest builders, constructing three to five nests per year whether they are breeding or not. When the hamerkop abandons a nest, Egyptian Geese move in.

large_Hammerkop_Nest_11-1.jpg

large_Hammerkop_Nest_11-2.jpg

Many local people believe the hamerkop to be a ‘witch bird’ because they collect all sorts of stuff for their nest building, including human hair!

More Ostriches

large_Ostrich_11-71.jpg

Giraffe

large_Giraffe_11-81.jpg

Rain

large_Rain_10.jpg

In Africa, rain is a blessing, for humans, animals and the environment.

♪♫♪ I bless the rains down in Africa… ♪♫♪

"Africa" by Toto

I hear the drums echoing tonight
But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation
She's coming in twelve-thirty flight
Her moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation
I stopped an old man along the way
Hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient melodies
He turned to me as if to say: "Hurry boy, it's waiting there for you"

It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had

The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless longing for some solitary company
I know that I must do what's right
Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become

It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had

.

Rain can also be a blessing for photographers, creating some lovely moody shots.

large_Rain_and_Mist_11-6.jpg

Lions

Seeing a herd of Lancruisers in the distance, and knowing that they always hunt in packs, we surmise there must be a suitable prey around.

large_Landcruise.._Packs_11-1.jpg

We are not disappointed. Wet and bedraggled, there is a pride (or sawt) of lions in the long grass, with what’s left of a dead wildebeest.

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-5.jpg

Two mums and three cubs (around 1½ - 2 months old) gather around the carcass.

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-6.jpg

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-7.jpg

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-9.jpg

The rain is persistent now; so we put the roof down to stop everything in the car getting wet. Although, looking to the west, it does seem that it might clear up soon.

large_Weather_Clearing_Up_11-1.jpg

Actually, almost as soon as we put the roof down, the rain eases off. Typical. We leave it down for a while to see what happens, but as the rain seems to hold off, we raise it again to allow for more movement and ease of photography.

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-12.jpg

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-13.jpg

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-15.jpg

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-18.jpg

One of the mums has had enough, and goes off, growling.

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-20.jpg

She then lies down in the short grass to tidy herself up from the eating and the rain.

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-26.jpg

Followed by a quick roll on the ground.

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-27.jpg

Before continuing her stroll.

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-28.jpg

The other mum watches her girlfriend with interest.

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-30.jpg

And decides that she too would like a roll in the long grass. Copy cat!

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-31.jpg

Obviously her tummy is not quite full yet: she goes back to the wildebeest for another bite or two.

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-33.jpg

The cubs try to emulate mum, tugging at their dinner.

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-36.jpg

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-37.jpg

I have to say that the normal cuteness associated with lion cubs is not very evident in the wet!

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-45.jpg

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-50.jpg

Eating is boring when you’re a young lion cub, playing with mum is much more fun!

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-57.jpg

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-58.jpg

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-65.jpg

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-59.jpg

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-60.jpg

Mum, on the other hand, is not impressed. “Will you stop that for goodness sake, I am trying to eat!”

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-61.jpg

"But muuuuum..."

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-63.jpg

Sunshine

Meanwhile, the sun is trying to come out.

large_The_Sun_is..me_Out_11-1.jpg

large_The_Sun_is..me_Out_11-2.jpg

It seems mum number two has also had her fill for the day, leaving the kill behind; licking her chops as she wanders off through the long grass.

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-68.jpg

She stops to sniff the air; her face still bloody from dinner.

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-72.jpg

Aha! So, that is what she could smell!

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-75.jpg

Dad settles down for a rest – or at least that’s what he thinks. The cubs have other ideas.

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-76.jpg

Just like mum, dad is not amused either and growls at the playing cubs, who have been jumping up and down on his back and rolling around all over him.

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-77.jpg

The playful kitties go back to annoying mum for a while.

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-87.jpg

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-78.jpg

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-95.jpg

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-96.jpg

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-97.jpg

She is still having none of it.

large_4FB6CFB89AA4C0B42D238E095A0813BC.jpg

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-89.jpg

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-86.jpg

I am sure this is an expression mothers throughout the world can relate to: the sheer frustration of pleading young eyes.

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-90.jpg

Eventually they realise it is less hassle to just play amongst themselves.

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-81.jpg

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-79.jpg

large_Lions_in_the_Rain_11-83.jpg

Time to get a move-on

We reluctantly leave the playing kitties to head for camp. It is already 18:15 and we have another 45 minutes drive from here. "Depending on what we see on the way", as Malisa always says when we ask him how long it will take to get somewhere.

The roads are wet and slippery and in his rush to get to camp before we get into trouble, Malisa starts to skid on the muddy track, then over-compensates. For a brief moment we are hurtling sideways at some speed before he manages to skilfully correct the car. Well done that man! Although I found the ‘Serengeti Drift’ quite exhilarating!

Hyenas

This weather seems to have really brought out the hyenas, as we see a dozen or more during one particular stretch of road. Or perhaps they just like this specific area.

large_Hyena_11-31.jpg

Shooting straight into the setting sun makes for some spectacular backlit images.

large_Hyena_11-33.jpg

large_Hyena_11-35.jpg

Rainbow

large_Stormy_Clo..unset_11-30.jpg

Seeing the rainbow, I ask Malisa to find me a giraffe for the foreground. Not too demanding then!

The nearest I get is an elephant and a tree. Beggars can’t be choosers, I guess.

large_Elephant_and_Rainbow_11-1.jpg

Sunset

This evening’s stormy clouds have created one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen in Africa, with moody, threatening clouds and ever-changing colours.

I hang out of the window with my camera all the way to the lodge; constantly changing the settings (mainly exposure and white balance) to try and achieve different effects. You can see some of the end results below.

large_Stormy_Clo..Sunset_11-7.jpg

large_Stormy_Clo..Sunset_11-8.jpg

large_Stormy_Clo..unset_11-12.jpg

large_Stormy_Clo..unset_11-13.jpg

large_Stormy_Clo..unset_11-14.jpg

large_Stormy_Clo..unset_11-15.jpg

large_Stormy_Clo..unset_11-18.jpg

large_Stormy_Clo..unset_11-23.jpg

large_Stormy_Clo..unset_11-27.jpg

large_Stormy_Clo..unset_11-28.jpg

large_Stormy_Clo..unset_11-41.jpg

large_Stormy_Clo..unset_11-43.jpg

Serengeti Serena Lodge

Just as we arrive at the lodge – in the dark – a long tailed mongoose crosses the road. A very rare animal to spot, it is a first for us. Even Malisa is exciting about it!

large_Serengeti_Serena_Hotel.jpg

The car park is full and very dark; and we have to negotiate lots of obstacles to get to reception. They are busy and check-in is the slowest we have experienced so far. Eventually we are taken to our rooms – it is a great shame that we cannot see them, as they look very unusual and rather fancy from the post card!

large_Serengeti_..afari_Lodge.jpg

The design of this hotel is based on traditional Maasai dwellings, with a number of thatched-roofed rondavels dotted around the ground. We give it the nickname of the ‘Nipple Hotel’ due to…. well, I am sure you can figure that out yourself.

large_Serengeti_.._Lodge_12-1.jpg

large_Serengeti_..ari_Lodge_2.jpg

The restaurant is disappointing, with no available tables when we arrive, and most of the buffet food is finished. I am feeling quite weary this evening, and I can’t even finish my one bottle of beer. I must be tired!

As he walks us back to the room, the escort points out a bush baby in the trees.

large_Bush_Baby_11-1.jpg

Lyn and Chris' room.

large_Lyn_and_Chris__Room_11-1.jpg

The room is much too hot despite a fan, and I cannot bear to be surrounded by the mosquito net, so I remove it. I am covered in bites anyway, and they itch like mad in the heat this evening so I struggle to sleep.

Despite an unsatisfactory evening and night, we had an otherwise excellent day on safari. Again. Thank you Calabash Adventures and guide Malisa.

large_61A8088894DB3FC19F810A5F31C5C4B1.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 13:15 Archived in Tanzania Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises trees birds sky rain beer sunset road_trip restaurant travel vacation hotel roads museum cute holiday fun africa safari rainbow tanzania crocodile mist moon unesco birding tourists picnic wet photography buffalo lions giraffe hippo roadtrip lion_cubs ostrich conservation serengeti hyena heron terns starling misty mongoose hyrax jackal skidding rock_art stunning bird_watching hippopotamus game_drive backlit road-trip adorable safari_vehicle canon_eos_5d_iii calabash calabash_adventures the_best_safari_operators which_safari_company best_safari_company hammerkop lion_kill serena_hotels long_grass_plains central_serengeti kopje stormy_clouds rock_hyrax banded_mongoose moru bedraggled black_backed_jackal nile_crocodile squacco_heron lions_in_the_rain serena_serengeti seronera rhino_project muddy_roads mud_on_road controlled_skid lake_magadi hamerkop hamerkop_nest rhino_conservation cape_buffalo moru_kopjes gong_rock maasai_paintings mosquito_bites rim_lighting Comments (0)

Mbuzi Mawe - Seronera Part I

Zany zebras, baby baboons, eccentric elephants and lounging lions


View The Gowler African Adventure - Kenya & Tanzania 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

large_Day_11_of_..Adventure_3.jpg

large_AF2EFA62F25B0195EE356C0E5BD757A1.jpg

Another early start in the dark today, complete with luggage as we are moving on to pastures new. Leaving Mbuzi Mawe this morning, we are all feeling the cold.

large_Chris_feel..e_cold_11-1.jpg

large_David_feel..e_cold_11-2.jpg

Lilac Breasted Roller

Much as I really enjoy leaving at the crack of dawn to make the most of the day on the savannah, this first hour or so is not conducive to photography. Darkness = high ISO = grainy and dull images.

large_Roller__Li..easted_11-1.jpg

Wildebeest

large_Annual_Migration.jpg

This morning we appear to be in the heart of the migration, with wildebeest all around us. Unfortunately, with the animals come the tse tse flies. Nasty little buggers and they are particularly numerous and bothersome where there are trees, such as here.

large_Wildebeest_11-2.jpg

large_Wildebeest_11-4.jpg

large_Wildebeest_11-21.jpg

Hot Air Balloon

A hot air balloon glides gracefully over the savannah as we make our way through the park.

large_Balloons_o..engeti_11-2.jpg

Grey Headed Kingfisher

large_Kingfisher..Headed_11-1.jpg

Flooded River

I think it must have rained heavily during the night, as the river is flowing over the causeway this morning.

large_Flooded_River_11-1.jpg

large_Flooded_Ri..eafowl_11-1.jpg

large_Flooded_River_11-3.jpg

large_Flooded_River_11-4.jpg

Lappet Faced Vulture

large_Vulture__L.._Faced_11-2.jpg

Zebras

Everywhere we look there are zebras. A huge herd – or dazzle – of zebras. Long lines of zebras. Adult zebras. Baby zebras. Lactating zebras. Mating zebras. Eating zebras. Zebra crossings. And more zebras. And then some.

large_Zebra_11-3.jpg

large_Zebra_11-4.jpg

large_Zebra_11-6.jpg

large_Zebra_11-8.jpg

large_Zebra_11-9.jpg

large_Zebra_11-11.jpg

large_Zebra_11-12.jpg

large_Zebra_11-14.jpg

large_Zebra_11-17.jpg

large_Zebra_11-20.jpg

Cheetah

Two young brothers can barely be seen above the long grass. Having just eaten (we missed it), they saunter off into the distance.

large_Cheetah_11-1.jpg

large_Cheetah_11-4.jpg

large_Cheetah_11-6.jpg

Olive Baboons

We follow a troop of baboons along the road for a while.

large_Baboon__Olive_11-1.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_11-6.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_11-7.jpg

The baby is very young - no more than two or three days old at the most.

large_Baboon__Olive_11-9.jpg

But I still think he looks like an old man.

large_Baboon__Olive_11-13.jpg

Such a tender family moment!

large_Baboon__Olive_11-14.jpg

That moment when your dad has got you by the scruff of the neck but mum is looking out for you.

large_Just_Don_t.._again_son_.jpg

Giraffe

large_Giraffe_11-11.jpg

large_Giraffe_11-13.jpg

large_Serengeti_..Centre_11-2.jpg

Located in Seronera in Central Serengeti, the visitors centre is a good place to stop for several reasons:
1. they have new and very clean / modern toilets (I have a problem again today)
2. there is a nice picnic area with lots of semi-tame birds, hyraxes and mongooses
3. an intersting exhibition displays information about Serengeti in general and the wildebeest migration in particular
4. there is also a nice little nature walk on elevated wooden walkways.

Banded Mongoose

large_Mongoose__Banded_11-3.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_11-2.jpg

Sadly the boardwalk is closed for crucial repairs today, but we are given a guided tour of the information centre.

large_Serengeti_..entre_11-21.jpg

Hippo Jaw

large_Serengeti_..po_Jaw_11-1.jpg

Buffalo Skulls

large_Serengeti_..Skulls_11-1.jpg

Those of you who have been following this blog from the beginning, will know that I have a wish list, and that aardvark is on that list (and has been for the last four safaris here in Tanzania - it became a running joke with our previous driver Dickson). I still haven’t seen one, so I have to make do with a mural on the wall.

large_Serengeti_..Centre_11-5.jpg

Rock and Tree Hyrax

It is very hard to tell the difference between these two different animals – the tree hyrax has a lighter stripe down the back, but it is not always obvious.

large_Hyrax__Rock_11-31.jpg

And I guess the Tree Hyrax is more often found in …. yes, you guessed it … trees.

large_Hyrax__Tree_11-1.jpg

large_Hyrax__Tree_11-2.jpg

But not always.

large_Hyrax__Tree_11-3.jpg

large_Hyrax__Tree_11-4.jpg

large_Hyrax__Tree_11-5.jpg

Although the hyrax, also called rock rabbit or dassie, are similar to the guinea pig in looks, its closest living relative is the elephant! They are present throughout most of Sub-Saharan Africa, and in some places they can become quite unafraid of humans and are considered a pest!

large_Hyrax__Rock_11-2.jpg

large_Hyrax__Rock_11-3.jpg

large_Hyrax__Tree_11-7.jpg

A hyrax with ambition: pretending to be a wildebeest.

large_Hyrax__Rock_11-5.jpg

large_Hyrax__Tree_11-8.jpg

Grey Capped Social Weaver

large_Weaver__Gr..Social_11-2.jpg

large_Weaver__Gr..Social_11-1.jpg

The Gowler African Adventure

On previous holidays with Lyn and Chris (canal barge cruising) we have always had a themed day where we all dress up for a bit of fun, so this time I made these T-shirts for us all to wear, with the ‘team logo’. This safari has been in the planning stages for well over a year, and along the way we have had a lot of fun.

large_The_Gang_11-1.jpg

After our usual packed breakfast at the picnic site here in the Visitors Centre, we continue our game drive, exploring more of the Serengeti.

Black Faced Vervet Monkey

large_Black_Face..Monkey_11-1.jpg

large_Black_Face..Monkey_11-2.jpg

large_Black_Face..Monkey_11-3.jpg

Hippo

large_Hippo_11-21.jpg

Although we can only just see the tops of their backs, we can certainly smell them!

large_Moving_Quickly_On.jpg

Black Headed Heron

large_Heron__Black_Headed_11-1.jpg

large_Heron__Black_Headed_11-2.jpg

Spotted Flycatcher

large_Flycatcher__Spotted_11-1.jpg

large_Flycatcher__Spotted_11-3.jpg

Wire Tailed Swallow

large_Swallow__Wire_Tailed_11-1.jpg

Giraffes

Q: What do you call a group of giraffes?
A: A tower, journey, corps or herd.

There’s a bit of trivia for your next pub quiz.

large_Giraffes_11-31.jpg

Suddenly they all turn to face the same direction and continue staring that way for quite some time. I wonder what they have spotted?

large_Giraffes_11-32.jpg

We'll never know.

Olive Baboons

large_Baboons__Olive_11-51.jpg

large_Baboons__Olive_11-52.jpg

Elephants

large_Elephants_11-1.jpg

large_Elephants_11-505.jpg

They’re everywhere. So many of them – we count 31!

large_Elephants_11-3.jpg

large_Elephants_11-22.jpg

One of the older ladies appear a little ‘eccentric’, carrying grass on the top of her back.

large_Elephants_11-31.jpg

Having a good scratch.

large_Elephants_11-32.jpg

You know the grass is long when you can lose a couple of baby elephants in it.

large_Elephants_11-45.jpg

For the next half an hour, the herd of elephants (also known as a memory or parade) slowly meander all around us – sometimes very close - as they munch their way across the savannah.

large_Elephants_11-501.jpg

large_Elephants_11-30.jpg

large_Elephants_11-42.jpg

large_Elephants_11-43.jpg

large_Elephants_11-47.jpg

large_Elephants_11-49.jpg

large_Elephants_11-51.jpg

large_Elephants_11-56.jpg

large_Elephants_11-64.jpg

large_Elephants_11-503.jpg

large_Elephants_11-70.jpg

large_Elephants_11-59.jpg

large_Elephants_11-72.jpg

large_Elephants_11-69.jpg

large_Elephants_11-67.jpg

Lion

A lone male lion tries to hide in a prickly bush.

large_Lion_11-201.jpg

Giraffe

Earlier we saw an almost white giraffe, whereas this one is very dark. I had no idea giraffes vary so much in their colouration!

large_Giraffe_11-310.jpg

White Browed Coucal

large_Coucal__White_Browed_11-1.jpg

Impala

large_Impala_11-2.jpg

large_Impala_11-1.jpg

Tse Tse Flies

This area seems to be teeming with these pesky little flies, and I get bitten around fifteen times in as many minutes. They hurt when they bite you and itch like **** afterwards.

large_Go_Away.jpg

Lions in a tree

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-101.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-102.jpg

Just like I was complaining about the tse tse flies a few minutes ago, lions sometimes climb onto tree branches to get away from them, but as you can see from the photo below, it doesn’t seem to make any difference.

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-2.jpg

On the other side is another lion in another tree.

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-4.jpg

After a while, another car pulls up. As usual, we can hear the Americans before we see them. They take a few shots with their mobile phones and numerous more selfies before they move on again. They are not even here for three minutes.

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-103.jpg

large_Photograph.._Lions_11-1.jpg

large_Lion_Selfies_4.jpg

We, on the other hand, stick around to see what the lionesses might do, and are rewarded with a bit of action. If you can call it that – at least it is some movement rather than just photographing sleeping lions. Or photographing ourselves with sleeping lions in the background.

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-6.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-11.jpg

The lone lioness from the other tree decides to join her mates.

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-8.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-5.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-13.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-14.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-16.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-17.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-19.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-21.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-22.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-23.jpg

There is a lot of shuffling going on, they never seem to find a particularly comfortable position. I can see why you'll never see a male lion in a tree!

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-26.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-29.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-107.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-39.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-33.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-32.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-36.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-41.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-42.jpg

Look at the number of flies on this poor girl's face! It's no wonder she is not comfortable.

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-44.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-46.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-48.jpg

Well, that was certainly worth enduring the tse tse flies for!

large_ADC09FF8DC74B54B9D7E8300CE12D840.jpg

Time to stop for lunch, and a convenient time to break this blog entry. This afternoon’s game drive will feature in a new entry

Thank you so much to our guide Malisa and Calabash Adventures - the best safari company by a long shot.

large_F752D402D2F7E6CC0EDD50393B8DD826.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 02:35 Archived in Tanzania Tagged landscapes trees animals birds monkeys road_trip travel elephants roads scenery cute holiday africa safari tanzania unesco birding cheetah photography lions giraffe hippo baboons roadtrip ballooning serengeti vulture memory flycatcher impala kingfisher mongoose wildebeest shrike hot_air_balloon hyrax bird_watching hippopotamus game_drive tented_camp lilac_breasted_roller road-trip adorable safari_vehicle calabash calabash_adventures the_best_safari_operators which_safari_company best_safari_company vervet_monkeys black_faced_vervet_monkeys tower_of_giraffe serena_hotels central_serengeti tse_tse_flies lions_in_a_tree mbuzi mawe grey_headed_kingfisher lappet_faced_vulture serengeti_visitors_centre wildebeest_migration rock_hyrax tree_hyrax banded_mongoose swallow barn_swallow coucal grey_backed_shrike moru Comments (0)

Serengeti Part I

The lions of Togoro Plains and much more


View The Gowler African Adventure - Kenya & Tanzania 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

large_Day_Tenof_.._With_Photo.jpg

large_Early_Morning_Start_4.jpg

As we wait for Malisa to come and collect us for today’s safari, Chris catches up on some sleep.

large_Chris_feeling_tired.jpg

The sun has not yet made an appearance and darkness hangs over the camp when we leave, so I still have no idea what this place looks like: the layout, or the surroundings. Usually I do a lot of research of each accommodation before we leave home, but this lodge is a complete surprise for everyone - an alien concept to me.

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_10-11.jpg

It's quite exciting really, like a mystery tour!

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_10-12.jpg

Sunrises (and sunsets) are pretty speedy affairs this close to the equator, so we haven’t travelled far before we can start making out the outlines of the kopjes around the camp.

large_Kopje_arou..unrise_10-2.jpg

Initially just as a silhouette, but within a few minutes we can distinguish some features on the landscape.

large_Kopje_arou..unrise_10-3.jpg

Cape Buffalo

So these are the guys we heard chomping last night, right outside our tent, and whose eyes the escort shone the torch into while (over) dramatically telling us how dangerous they are?

large_Buffalo_10-1.jpg

large_Buffalo_10-2.jpg

The temperature this morning is a little on the cool side.

large_David_feeling_cold_10-1.jpg

It will soon warm up when the sun comes out.

large_Sunrise_ov..engeti_10-1.jpg

large_Sunrise_ov..engeti_10-2.jpg

Lions

Chris isn’t the only one who is feeling tired this morning it seems.

large_Lions_10-2.jpg

On a meadow of fluffy grasses, a lion pride made up of nine members, gathers around a kill. A wildebeest. Or rather an ex-wildebeest. It could even be the mother of the orphaned calf we saw yesterday.

large_Lions_10-39.jpg

large_Lions_10-4.jpg

large_Lions_10-5.jpg

large_Lions_10-9.jpg

large_Lions_10-12.jpg

large_Lions_10-13.jpg

large_Lions_10-14.jpg

The pecking order is very evident here as a couple of the youngsters try to join dad for breakfast. He tells them what he thinks of that in no uncertain terms, while mum looks on with resignation: “They’ll learn”.

large_Lions_10-15.jpg

large_Lions_10-16.jpg

large_Lions_10-17.jpg

large_Lions_10-18.jpg

The cubs are soon distracted. “We’ll have a play instead”

large_Lions_10-19.jpg

large_Lions_10-21.jpg

large_Lions_10-22.jpg

large_Lions_10-24.jpg

Wildebeest

All around us, literally hundreds of thousands of wildebeest greet the rising sun. Individually their grunt sounds a little like a human groan, but in these numbers the noise they make becomes a hum, like an enormous swarm of bees!

large_Wildebeest_10-11.jpg

large_Wildebeest_10-12.jpg

large_Wildebeest_10-13.jpg

Speaking of sounds – we can clearly hear the lion crunching the bones as he devours his prey.

large_Lions_10-32.jpg

large_Lions_10-51.jpg

Dad licks his plate, then moves his breakfast a few feet along the open plains. Erm… why?

large_Lions_10-34.jpg

large_Lions_10-35.jpg

large_Lions_10-36.jpg

In the crater we had a Rasta Lion and at Ndutu there was a Punk Lion. Here we have a Hippy Lion – just look at that hair… I mean mane. It is like a 70s rock star!

large_Lions_10-40.jpg

Well, kiss my ass!

large_Lions_10-44.jpg

“Do you think a fringe suits me? I’ve heard it is all the rage this year.”

large_Lions_10-49.jpg

The youngsters wait in the wings for dad to finish his meal.

large_Lions_10-59.jpg

On every bush and in every tree is a vulture hanging around until it is their turn too.

large_Vulture__Hooded_10-2.jpg

large_Vulture__Hooded_10-3.jpg

Wildebeest

A long line of wildebeest is heading straight for the lions. Their poor eyesight is leading them into trouble again.

large_Wildebeest_10-15.jpg

The young lionesses realise that there is a potentially earlier - maybe even easier - breakfast than having to wait for dad to finish eating.

large_Lions_10-61.jpg

large_Lions_and_Wildebeest_10-1.jpg

The wildebeest have also spotted the lions and are running for their lives. Literally.

large_Lions_and_Wildebeest_10-2.jpg

large_Lions_and_Wildebeest_10-3.jpg

She’s closing in, aiming for that baby at the back. An easy prey…

large_Lions_and_Wildebeest_10-5.jpg

She has to be quicker than that, it’s no good just sitting there looking at them; they’re not going to come to you.

large_Lions_and_Wildebeest_10-6.jpg

The last of the wildebeest makes it alive past the lions. Phew! I can breathe again now.

Meanwhile dad continues to eat his breakfast.

large_Lions_10-81.jpg

While the rest of the family lie around licking their chops impatiently for when they will be allowed to have some.

large_Lions_10-88.jpg

“Let’s go and harass dad”

large_Lions_10-89.jpg

Dad, however, is totally unperturbed by the whole thing.

large_Lions_10-90.jpg

large_Lions_10-91.jpg

large_Lions_10-92.jpg

Has he finished?

large_Lions_10-100.jpg

Nah.

large_Lions_10-99.jpg

large_Lions_10-101.jpg

Finally?

large_Lions_10-103.jpg

It certainly looks that way, as with a full tummy he wanders off to find water.

large_Lions_10-104.jpg

Typical male: once he’s had his meal he goes off to the pub for a drink, leaving his wife to do the clearing up!

large_Lions_10-111.jpg

The rest of the family descend on the dining table like hungry… well, lions.

large_Lions_10-105.jpg

large_Lions_10-106.jpg

I notice dad hasn’t left much to be divided between the remaining eight. You could say he's had the lion's share. I can certainly see where that expression comes from.

large_Lions_10-107.jpg

large_Lions_10-109.jpg

large_Lions_10-110.jpg

This guy has managed to secure himself a tasty little morsel, however.

large_Lions_10-108.jpg

The vultures move in a little closer, and noisy plovers circle above screeching out distressed warning signals. “Yes, we know there are lions. Thanks anyway guys".

large_Vulture__A..Backed_10-1.jpg

As we wonder how many lions you can fit around a scrawny wildebeest carcass, we leave them – and the constant wildebeest hum - to it and move on to our next wilderness experience.

large_Lions_10-114.jpg

Jackal versus Vultures

We come across another kill where the predators have moved on, leaving what little is left in the hands of the scavengers, in this case some White Backed Vultures and a couple of Marabou Storks.

large_Vultures__..Backed_10-3.jpg

large_Vultures__..Backed_10-2.jpg

large_Stork__Marabou_10-1.jpg

large_Vultures__..Backed_10-4.jpg

large_Vultures__..Backed_10-5.jpg

All is reasonably calm until a couple of Black Backed Jackals arrive.

large_Jackal__Black_Backed_10-5.jpg

large_Jackal__Black_Backed_10-1.jpg

large_Jackal__Black_Backed_10-3.jpg

large_Jackal__Black_Backed_10-4.jpg

large_Vultures__..Jackal_10-1.jpg

End of Round One: Vultures 1 Jackals 0

large_Vultures__..Jackal_10-2.jpg

large_Vultures__..Jackal_10-3.jpg

Round Two: the jackal seems to have managed to somehow get hold of a slither of meat, and the vultures go all out for the tackle. The ensuing squabble is reminiscent of the scenes I once witnessed in Tesco when the reduced items came out on a Saturday afternoon.

large_Vultures__..Jackal_10-5.jpg

The vultures bring in the reserves.

large_Vultures__..Jackal_10-7.jpg

large_Vultures__..Backed_10-9.jpg

large_Stork__Marabou_10-3.jpg

large_Vultures__..acked_10-10.jpg

Despite this somewhat unfair advantage, the score at the end of Round Two is Vultures 1 Jackals 1

large_Vultures__..Jackal_10-9.jpg

large_Vultures__..ackal_10-10.jpg

large_Vultures__..ackal_10-11.jpg

The opposition team regroup to work out their next move.

large_Vultures__.._Stork_10-1.jpg

It seems they don’t quite agree on tactics.

large_Vultures__.._Stork_10-2.jpg

large_AE123110CFF3C25B5BD1CF6BFB4D21FD.jpg

With all the internal politics, and no real action, the audience looks bored.

large_Vultures__Hooded_10-5.jpg

While not exactly bored, we leave the jackals and vultures to fight it out between them and drive a little further north.

Lion and Jackal Prints

large_Lion_and_J..prints_10-1.jpg

More Lions + Another Kill = More Vultures

Further along we see seven lions on a kill (that’s the fourth kill we’ve seen this morning, and it's only 08:15) and another ‘Vulture Tree’ full of birds waiting to swoop on the carcass.

large_Lions_10-151.jpg

large_Lions_10-154.jpg

large_Vulture_Tree_10-1.jpg

large_Vultures__..acked_10-12.jpg

large_Vultures__..acked_10-11.jpg

As soon as the lions move off, the vultures descend en masse.

large_Lions_and_..res__10-154.jpg

large_Lions_10-153.jpg

large_Vultures_Swooping_10-1.jpg

large_Vultures_Swooping_10-3.jpg

The lions and a jackal look on with bemusement.

large_Lion_and_Jackal_10-1.jpg

Topi

Does my bum look big in this?

large_Topi_10-101.jpg

Wildebeest Rutting Season

This time of the year is when the males compete for the attention of the females – they have been known to fight until death!

large_Wildebeest_10-203.jpg

large_Wildebeest_10-205.jpg

large_Wildebeest_10-204.jpg

This morning, however, hunger wins and they go back to grazing. So do we.

Picnic Breakfast

large_Picnic_9.jpg

When we made our choices last night for the breakfast box, Chris crossed everything out on the menu except the muffin. That was all he wanted for breakfast – a muffin. Fair enough. Imagine his disappointment when he opens his box this morning, and finds everything in there, EXCEPT the muffin!

large_Picnic_Breakfast_10-1.jpg

large_Picnic_Breakfast_10-3.jpg

All around us is the hum of the wildebeest.

large_Picnic_Breakfast_10-5.jpg

It is very much cooler this morning than any previous days.

large_Picnic_Breakfast_10-7.jpg

Although Malisa doesn’t seem to feel it as he wears his Rasta Lion T shirt and motorcycle-tyre sandals.

large_Picnic_Breakfast_10-8.jpg

Grey Crowned Cranes

large_Crane__Grey_Crowned_10-1.jpg

Lions Re-Visited

We go back to see our lions, who have their eye on another wildebeest.

large_Lions_10-155.jpg

They do some more half-hearted stalking, but they are obviously not that hungry.

large_Lions_10-156.jpg

large_Lions_10-157.jpg

The vultures hover expectantly above, but this time they are out of luck.

large_Vulture__L..Faced_10-51.jpg

large_Vulture__L..Faced_10-53.jpg

large_Vulture__A..acked_10-51.jpg

As we're driving along, David shouts out "Oh, look: wildebeest". We all fall for it, sitting bolt upright and looking for... wildebeest? Even Malisa stops. Doh... for the last hour or so, we have been surrounded by several thousand wildebeest - they are not exactly a novelty!

large_Wildebeest_10-202.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_Title.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_10-51.jpg

My tummy is not at all happy today, and when I let Malisa know, he suggests going back to the camp to use their facilities, as we are very near anyway. That sounds good to me – not just because there is a proper toilet, but it will also be nice to see the camp in daylight.

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_10-54.jpg

Today we can see just how close to our room the buffalo do graze. Gulp.

large_19999CF4F38B53DE1203C13BD230C9F1.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe..uffalo10-54.jpg

The camp is totally devoid of human life, but we do see a few four legged critters.

large_Lizard__Fl.._Agama_10-4.jpg

large_Hyrax__Rock_10-1.jpg

large_Lizard_10-1.jpg

large_Lizard__Fl.._Agama_10-2.jpg

large_Hyrax__Rock_10-2.jpg

large_Lizard_10-2.jpg

large_Lizard__Fl.._Agama_10-3.jpg

Emergency over, we continue our game drive, this time we head south.

Klipspringer

large_Klipspringer_10-1.jpg

Red Duiker

large_Duiker__Red_10-1.jpg

Cape Buffalo

large_Buffalo__Cape_10-51.jpg

large_Buffalo__Cape_10-52.jpg

Impala

One male can have a harem of up to 60 females.

large_Impala_10-1.jpg

large_Impala_10-2.jpg

Black Faced Vervet Monkeys

large_Black_Face..onkey_10-52.jpg

large_Black_Face..onkey_10-51.jpg

Giraffe

large_Giraffe_10-202.jpg

large_Giraffe_10-201.jpg

Hippos

A couple of hippos wallow in the shallow Orangi River.

large_Hippos_in_.._River_10-1.jpg

large_Hippos_in_.._River_10-2.jpg

Olive Baboons

large_Baboon__Olive_10-1.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_10-2.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_10-4.jpg

Dust

We hit the main road through Serengeti; and while there is not much traffic compared with the main dry season, the huge trucks still throw up masses of dust!

large_Dust_10-1.jpg

Warthogs

You can only just see the top of their backs in the long grass; which is exactly why they run with their tails straight up - so that their youngsters can see them!

large_Warthogs_10-201.jpg

large_Warthogs_10-202.jpg

large_Warthogs_10-203.jpg

large_Warthogs_10-204.jpg

large_Warthogs_10-207.jpg

large_Warthogs_10-208.jpg

African Fish Eagle

large_Eagle__African_Fish_10-1.jpg

Bare Faced Go Away Bird

These noise birds get their name from the sound they make when disturbed: “kweh” “kweh”, which does sound a bit like “go way”.

large_Go_Away_Bi.._Faced_10-1.jpg

large_Go_Away_Bi.._Faced_10-3.jpg

Magpie Shrike

large_Shrike__Magpie_10-1.jpg

Tree Python

Until this trip, we had never seen a snake in Tanzania, and it is one of the items on my wish list. Not only did we see a cobra in Tarangire, and a grass snake crossing the road earlier this morning; a couple of cars stopped with people staring at a tree alerts us to an enormous python.

large_Python__Tree_10-2.jpg

At around two metres in length, this brute can swallow an antelope!

large_Python__Tree_10-1.jpg

Black Chested Snake Eagle

large_Eagle__Bla.._Snake_10-2.jpg

Little Bee Eater

large_Bee_Eater__Little_10-1.jpg

Black Headed Heron

large_Heron__Black_Headed_10-1.jpg

Serval

This wild African cat is about half way in size between a domestic cat and a cheetah and it’s a fairly rare sighting. Lyn and Chris have been so incredibly lucky with their animal spotting on this safari, although we still haven’t seen a leopard to complete the BIG FIVE.

large_Serval_10-1.jpg

large_Serval_10-2.jpg

large_Serval_10-3.jpg

large_Serval_10-4.jpg

End of Part I

As today features quite a few more sightings, I have decided to publish it in two parts; so all that remains now is to say thank you to Calabash Adventures and Malisa for an exciting morning’s game drive.

large_47869D41B9B7B95046C5F7DA66B0A840.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 03:42 Archived in Tanzania Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises birds road_trip view travel vacation views hotel adventure scenery sunrise cute holiday fun africa safari tanzania lodge lizard birding picnic photography lions giraffe hippo babies roadtrip eagles serengeti dust kill heron vultures python glamping impala topi wildebeest warthogs jackal stunning stalking bird_watching game_drive tented_camp road-trip serval safari_vehicle canon_eos_5d_iii calabash calabash_adventures the_best_safari_operators which_safari_company best_safari_company olive_baboons vervet_monkeys black_faced_vervet_monkeys lion_kill mbuzi_mawe long_grass_plains short_grass_plains central_serengeti kopje marabou_stork red_duiker klipspringer black_headed_heron african_fish_eagle tree_python jackals Comments (0)

Ndutu - Mbuzi Mawe

The Legendary Serengeti


View The Gowler African Adventure - Kenya & Tanzania 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

large_Day_9_of_t..Adventure_2.jpg

large_24624F4A9BB2921EFF59F07A38680D0E.jpg

I start the day with a spot of bird watching as the sun comes up.

White Rumped Helmetshrike

Dung beetle for breakfast anyone?

large_Helmetshri.._Rumped_9-3.jpg

Superb Starling

large_Starling__Superb_9-1.jpg

Beautiful Sunbird

large_Sunbird__Beautiful_9-3.jpg

large_Backlit_Grasses_9-2.jpg

large_Sunrise_over_Ndutu_9-3.jpg

large_Breakfast_8.jpg

Unusually, we take breakfast in the lodge this morning, before setting off for another day of game viewing.

When asked if he would like egg and bacon, David jokingly says – in a lowered voice as the waiter walks away – “mushrooms, baked beans…” Of course, that is exactly what he gets!

large_Breakfast_at_Ndutu_Lodge.jpg

Aardvark

On our last couple of safaris with Calabash, I bantered with our guide Dickson about wanting to see an aardvark, and that I will keep coming to Tanzania on safari until I do.

Today I finally get to see my aardvark, in the grounds of Ndutu Lodge. Shame it is made from metal – I guess I can’t quite tick it off my wish list yet.

large_Ndutu_Safari_Lodge_9-8.jpg

Oxpeckers

These birds have a symbiotic relationship with the giraffes. The giraffe provides a happy home for ticks, which the oxpeckers eat, relieving the giraffe of the annoyance the insects can cause.

large_Oxpeckers_.._Billed_9-3.jpg

large_Oxpeckers_.._Billed_9-1.jpg

large_Oxpeckers_.._Billed_9-2.jpg

large_Oxpeckers_.._Billed_9-5.jpg

large_Oxpeckers_.._Billed_9-7.jpg

Giraffe

Today's host is an old male giraffe.

large_Giraffe_9-1.jpg

Black Faced Vervet Monkeys

As the leopard’s favourite food, the vervets go to great lengths to hide their whereabouts from their nocturnal predator, including smearing their poop on the branches at night, rather than letting it drop to the ground so that the leopard cannot easily detect where they are sleeping.

large_Black_Face..Monkeys_9-2.jpg

large_Black_Face..Monkeys_9-4.jpg

He is showing off his bright blue testicles again.

large_Black_Face..Monkeys_9-6.jpg

Dik Dik

large_Dik_Dik_9-1.jpg

Secretary Bird

On the prowl across the grasslands, looking for snakes.

large_Secretary_Bird_9-1.jpg

Spotted Hyena

large_Hyena__Spotted_9-2.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_9-4.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_9-6.jpg

large_Lyn_with_her_lens_9-1.jpg

Lions

These guys have not moved from the spot where we left them resting last night, although the missing ninth lion has rejoined them.

large_Lions_9-2.jpg

large_Lions_9-7.jpg

large_Lyn_with_her_lens_9-2.jpg

A couple of them head our way, coming right up to the car, sniffing the tyres and eventually settling down in the shade of the vehicle. That’s pretty close!

large_Lions_9-10.jpg

large_Lions_9-11.jpg

large_Lion_Check..the_Car_9-1.jpg

large_Chris_with_the_Lions_1.jpg

large_Chris_with_the_Lions_2.jpg

large_Lions_9-15.jpg

large_Lions_9-16.jpg

large_Lion_Check..the_Car_9-2.jpg

I think that means we have a symbiotic relationship with the lions – we provide them with shade, they give us some great photo opportunities.

This guy does not look too sure about Chris. It makes me wonder how high they can jump.

large_Lions_and_Chris__3_.jpg

Woolly Necked Vultures

large_Vultures__.._Necked_9-1.jpg

Engine Failure

Ten minutes after leaving the lions, the engine coughs, splutters and then dies. After a few tries, Malisa gets it going again, but not for long. We joke that he’s filled it with ‘jumpy diesel’, but eventually he cannot get it going again just by turning the key, and has to get out and under. Oh dear.

large_Engine_Repair_9-1.jpg

An area filled with lions, cheetah, leopards and hyena is not the best place to lie down on the ground under a car, so I am relieved when Malisa gets the car going again reasonably quickly – a wire had broken from all the off-roading.

large_Engine_Repair_9-2.jpg

Having a trained car mechanic as a driver-guide certainly has its advantages. Well done that man! I am surprised that breakdowns don't happen more often - this is the first one we've encountered in the four safaris we've had with Calabash.

Short Grass Plains

Heading for the entrance gate to Serengeti, the track runs across what is known as the Short Grass Plains, for obvious reasons. One of the great things about a safari on the Northern Circuit in Tanzania is that even as you drive from one place to another, there is always an opportunity to do some game viewing, and this morning we see a few animals along the way.

large_Short_Gras..kground_9-1.jpg

Here we can see Naabi Hill in the distance, which is what we are aiming for - the official entrance to the Serengeti National Park.

large_Short_Gras..kground_9-3.jpg

Grant's Gazelle

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_9-1.jpg

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_9-2.jpg

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_9-3.jpg

Zebra

large_Zebra_9-1.jpg

large_Zebra_9-3.jpg

large_Zebra_9-4.jpg

large_Zebra_9-5.jpg

Ostriches

As we approach, panic mode sets in and these enormous flightless birds start running around like headless chickens. “Don’t panic, don’t panic!”

large_Ostriches_9-1.jpg

large_Ostriches_9-2.jpg

We leave the Ndutu area behind a join the main ‘road’ to the gate.

large_Ndutu_Safa..ge_Sign_9-1.jpg

Lions

Just before the entrance, we spot a lioness with two cubs resting in the shade of a kopje.

large_Lions_9-51.jpg

Giraffe Drinking

It is fairly unusual to see a giraffe drinking from the ground like this, as being in that position makes him very vulnerable to predators.

large_Giraffe_9-51.jpg

large_Giraffe_9-56.jpg

It is even more unusual to see a three-necked giraffe!

large_Giraffe_9-53.jpg

large_Naabi_Hill.jpg

Naabi Hill

Towering above the grassy plains of the Serengeti, Naabi Hill is the location of the main entrance gate to the park, and offers amazing views over the Endless Plains below.

large_Naabi_Hill_9-1.jpg

While Malisa goes off to get our tickets and sort out the registration, we take a short walk on the Kopje Trail that leads up the scenic observation point on top of the rocky outcrop behind the information centre.

large_Malisa_get..bi_Hill_9-1.jpg

large_Naabi_Hill_9-2.jpg

The kopje appears to ‘float in the sea of grass’ that is the Serengeti Plains.

large_Naabi_Hill_9-4.jpg

From the summit we can easily understand why the Maasai named this place Serengeti – 'a vast land that runs forever, where endless plains meet the sky' in the local language.

large_Naabi_Hill_9-6.jpg

It is said that the only way you will get a better view of Serengeti, is from a hot air balloon, and that is definitely not on the agenda for this trip, not at $539 per person!

large_Naabi_Hill_9-21.jpg

large_2C1A05C10D17ADA1909ABCCC08731D0E.jpg

Naabi Hill is a haven for lizards, who lounge on the sun-baked rocks along the path, totally unperturbed by passing tourists.

large_Agama__Fla..ed_Rock_9-1.jpg

large_Lizard_at_Naabi_Hill_9-2.jpg

large_Agama__Fla..ed_Rock_9-2.jpg

large_Lizard_at_Naabi_Hill_9-3.jpg

large_Agama__Fla..ed_Rock_9-4.jpg

large_Lizard_at_Naabi_Hill_9-1.jpg

large_Agama__Fla..ed_Rock_9-5.jpg

Exit is through the shop, as usual.

large_Naabi_Hill_9-8.jpg

While we wait for Malisa to finish up the paper work, we do a spot of bird watching.

large_Martin__Rock_9-1.jpg
Rock Martin

large_Starling__..venile__9-2.jpg
Juvenile Ashy Starling (I think)

large_866593D5CC8415F77A0ADBDE8077C890.jpg
Juvenile Hildebrand Starling

large_Starling__Hildebrand_9-1.jpg
Hildebrand Starling

large_Vulture__lappet_Faced_9-2.jpg
Lappet Faced Vulture

After a while I comment that the entrance formalities seem to be taking a particularly long time today, which considering how quiet it is, I find a bit strange. It turns out that while we have been waiting for Malisa outside the information centre, he has been at the car, wondering where we are. Doh!

large_86CF2FD5F3B9A1D312521A9CD079FF8B.jpg

large_Serengeti_..l_Park_Logo.jpg

Serengeti National park

This has to be the most renowned wildlife park in the entire world, and for good reason; with over 10,000 square miles of pristine wilderness, it’s like stepping in to a wildlife documentary. The variety and abundance of wildlife here is unmatched anywhere else in Africa. Serengeti is unparalleled in so many ways – not only does it have the world's largest herd of migrating ungulates, but also the largest concentration of predators in the world.

large_Serengeti_..al_Park_9-1.jpg

large_Gol_Kopjes_9-6.jpg

Most people think of the Serengeti as being a vast endless grassy plain, as well as totally underestimating its size. In reality the park is comprised of a wide range of ecosystems, with some parts featuring areas of acacia forest, others granite mountains and soda lakes, each with its own different character and range of wildlife.

large_Gol_Kopjes_9-4.jpg

large_Gol_Kopjes_9-51.jpg

Rather than taking the main road this morning, we head east towards Gol Kopjes, an area where we need a special permit to visit.

large_Gol_Kopjes_9-1.jpg

Giraffe

large_Giraffe_9-101.jpg

large_Giraffe_9-102.jpg

large_Giraffe_9-104.jpg

Warthogs

large_Warthogs_9-1.jpg

large_Warthogs_9-3.jpg

large_Warthogs_9-7.jpg

Aren’t they just the cutest when they run with their tails straight up? They do that so that the babies can see their mums in the long grass.

large_Warthogs_9-8.jpg

Mirage

A naturally occurring optical illusion, a mirage is caused by light bending rays, giving the impression of an oasis in the distance.

large_Mirage_9-1.jpg

Steppe Eagle

For one spine-tingling moment we believe he has picked up a snake; until we realise he is merely nest building.

large_Eagle__Steppe_9-1.jpg

It is still pretty cool to see him carry it away in his beak though.

large_Eagle__Steppe_9-2.jpg

large_Eagle__Steppe_9-3.jpg

Marabou Stork

This has to be one of the ugliest birds in existence, surely?

large_Stork__Marabou_9-2.jpg

large_2B57F051CD2FD7BE486FC4F2167623F6.jpg

Lions

In the distance we spot a couple of lions. We are becoming almost blasé to them now – there is not much point in hanging around when they are so far away. We have seen them nearer and better before…

large_Lions_9-150.jpg

Gol Kopjes

Kopje_Definition_1.jpg

Nicknamed the ‘world’s largest Japanese rock garden’, this is a picturesque area, with a series of granite outcrops (kopjes) dotted on the otherwise flat short grass plains.

large_Gol_Kopjes_9-2.jpg

large_Gol_Kopjes_9-3.jpg

large_Gol_Kopjes_9-5.jpg

large_Gol_Kopjes_9-8.jpg

This area is said to have the highest concentration of cheetah in Africa, but it is not a cheetah we spot sleeping on the rocks, but a lion.

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-1A.jpg

When we go closer, we see it is in fact a collared lioness. The head of the pride, she is an exceptional hunter, which is why the authorities want to monitor her.

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-2.jpg

As this girl is a well-known matriarch, it’s a pretty good bet that there are more lions in the near vicinity; and we don’t have long to wait before another lioness appears on the top of the rock behind.

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-3.jpg

With a full belly she walks slowly and lazily, settling down in the shade of a tree.

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-4.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-5.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-6.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-9.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-13.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-14.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-15.jpg

A heaving brown lump in the long grass indicates a male lion panting heavily. The lions have obviously recently eaten and are all full to bursting.

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-16.jpg

This one seems to have the right idea.

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-17.jpg

Golden Jackal

large_Jackal__Golden_9-1.jpg

large_Jackal__Golden_9-2.jpg

Committee Meeting

The collective noun for vultures is committee, and here we have Rueppell’s Griffon, Woolly Necked and White Backed Vultures, as well as a couple of Marabou Storks.

large_Vultures_9-1.jpg

Thomson’s Gazelle

It’s that time of year – two Tommy males spar for the attention of a female.

large_Gazelle__Thomson_s_9-1.jpg

large_Gazelle__Thomson_s_9-2.jpg

Topi

large_Topi_9-2.jpg

large_Topi_9-3.jpg

Tawny eagle

large_Eagle__Tawny_9-14.jpg

large_Eagle__Tawny_9-12.jpg

Coke's Hartebeest

large_Hartebeest__Coke_s_9-1.jpg

large_Hartebeest__Coke_s_9-2.jpg

Dung Beetle

This poor little beetle is trying to roll his ball of dung into a hole in the ground, but is finding the earth too hard. He eventually just rolls it into the grass cover.

large_Beetle__Dung_9-1.jpg

.

More Lions

Another kopje, another lion pride. Such is life in the Serengeti.

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-18.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-19.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-20.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-21.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-22.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-23.jpg

The one ‘security guard’ left out on the sunny savannah looking after the remains of dinner (probably a baby wildebeest) gazes longingly at the other pride members resting in the shade.

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-27.jpg

Tortoise

One of the animals on my wish list this year is a tortoise, and this morning one strolls right by as we are watching the lions.

large_Tortoise_9-1.jpg

Steppe Eagle

large_Eagle__Steppe_9-4.jpg

large_Eagle__Steppe_9-5.jpg

large_Eagle__Steppe_9-6.jpg

large_Eagle__Steppe_9-8.jpg

large_Eagle__Steppe_9-9.jpg

Judging by the droppings, I'd say this is a favourite perch of his.

large_Eagle__Steppe_9-11.jpg

large_Picnic_4.jpg

After finding a large pride of lions at each of the last three kopjes, Lyn is not at all happy about getting out of the car when we stop at another rocky outcrop for our picnic lunch. “Is it safe” she asks Malisa, but eventually - after plenty of reassurance - she reluctantly alights the vehicle.

large_Picnic_Lun..Kopjes_9-1A.jpg

Malisa teases her about it, and even takes a photo of her still in the van to send to Tillya.

large_Picnic_Lun..Kopjes_9-2A.jpg

As we drive away from the picnic site, Lyn jokingly shouts out “Oh, look: simba!” pointing to a non-existent lion near the kopje we had just been sitting next to. Much to our amusement, Chris falls for it!

Grant’s Gazelle

A bachelor herd full of young wannabes.

large_Gazelle__G..or_Club_9-1.jpg

large_Gazelle__G..or_Club_9-2.jpg

Topi

large_Topi_9-1.jpg

After one quick look at us, he takes off. Literally.

large_DF9783D7E7A964413C9EF1EB1D9DFB7B.jpg

large_Topi_9-5.jpg

White Stork

Non-resident, they are European migrants – just like us then.

large_Stork__White_9-1.jpg

Wildebeest

We come across a small herd of migrating wildebeest.

large_Wildebeest_9-1.jpg

large_Wildebeest_9-2.jpg

large_Wildebeest_9-11.jpg

A few minutes later we see this lone youngster, probably left behind when the herd moved on. He seems to be rather dazed – no wonder they call a group of wildebeest a confusion.

large_Wildebeest_Baby_9-2.jpg

He looks suspiciously towards us, then misled by his very poor eyesight, runs off in the opposite direct to the group we saw earlier.

large_Wildebeest_Baby_9-5.jpg

Having eaten too much for lunch, I feel like the lazy lions we encountered this morning and all I want to do is go to sleep in the shade to digest the food. I have a little nap in the car and wake up when we stop.

Dead Wildebeest

Malisa surmises that this wildebeest mother fell during a stampede and got trampled on, and has now become food for the vultures and Marabou Stork. Each of the different vultures have beaks that are designed for different actions, so as not to cause competition at a kill. The only one who can open a carcass is the Woolly Neck; so that's who they are all waiting for.

large_Stork_and_..on_Kill_9-1.jpg

The saddest thing about this scene is the baby wildebeest just standing there, watching the scavengers eating her mum. That really breaks my heart.

large_Wildebeest_Baby_9-6.jpg

In the middle of the road there is another, much younger baby wildebeest. We are guessing that his mother has probably been taken by a predator; this guy is so weak he can hardly walk and way too young to make it on his own - he is literally just waiting to be someone’s dinner.

That’s the stark and sometimes cruel reality of the wilderness.

large_Wildebeest_Baby_9-7.jpg

Long Grass Plains

As we drive further into the Serengeti, we notice that the plains change from the short grass that is typical around Ndutu, through medium grass plains around Naabi Hill to the longer grasses in this area. The plains are framed by rocky hills and river courses, swelled by the recent rains.

So why is the length of the grass worthy of a mention?

It is not so much the grass – although length does matter dontcha know – it’s the fact that the change of grassland also brings a change in the balance of the species – for instance, we see many more hartebeest and topi here than anywhere else on this trip.

Another point - sometimes we can only just see the tops of the animals, one of the disadvantages of travelling in the Green Season.

large_Wildebeest_9-12.jpg

large_Muddy_Roads.jpg

Muddy Tracks

One of the other downsides to coming here at this time of year is that often the tracks become just pure mud after a heavy rainfall.

large_Muddy_Track_9-1.jpg

Some even turn into impromptu streams and become totally impassable.

large_Muddy_Track_9-2.jpg

Malisa engages the 4WD to make sure we can get through OK – we don’t really want to have to get out and push unless absolutely necessary.

large_Engaging_4..ddy_track_1.jpg

It’s easy peasy when you have the right tool for the job.

.

Cape Buffalo

A breeding herd – or obstinacy – of buffalo.

large_Buffalo__Cape_9-1.jpg

Bateleur Eagle

large_E590D0EBE1E2239E41D6F83BA405A249.jpg

White Bellied Bustard

large_Bustard__W..Bellied_9-1.jpg

Warthog

large_Warthog_9-11.jpg

Maasai Kopjes

Kopjes – an Afrikaans term referring to isolated rock hills that rise abruptly from the surrounding flat savannah – are remarkable in that they have their own little ecosystems with a range of vegetation and wildlife.

large_Maasai_Kopjes_9___1_.jpg

large_Maasai_Kopjes_9___2_.jpg

large_Maasai_Kopjes_9.jpg

Lions

Maasai Kopjes are home to a large pride of lions, who are the subject of numerous studies by the Serengeti Lion Project. We study them sleeping for a while this afternoon.

large_Lions_at_M.._Kopjes_9-1.jpg

Dik Dik

large_ED569FCAAC855A85B85A2EBB8741002D.jpg

White Headed Vulture

Malisa excitedly informs us this is a very rare sighting – it is certainly a new bird to us.

large_Eagle__White_Headed_9-1.jpg

large_Eagle__White_Headed_9-4.jpg

Hippo

One lump or two?

large_Hippo_9-1.jpg

large_Hippo_9-2.jpg

Greater Blue Eared Starling

large_Starling__..e_Eared_9-3.jpg

Pin Tailed Swallow

large_Swallow__Pin_Tailed_9-1.jpg

Defassa Waterbuck

large_Waterbuck__Defassa_9-1.jpg

large_Waterbuck__Defassa_9-2.jpg

large_Waterbuck__Defassa_9-3.jpg

large_Waterbuck__Defassa_9-8.jpg

Zebra

large_Zebra_9-21.jpg

large_Zebra_9-31.jpg

large_Zebra_9-32.jpg

large_Zebra_9-33.jpg

large_Zebra_9-36.jpg

large_Zebra_9-41.jpg

large_Zebra_9-44.jpg

It seems that stripes are in this year.

large_Zebra_9-45.jpg

large_Zebra_9-47.jpg

Wildebeest Migration

The rains being a month late arriving this year has confused the wildebeest, and instead of being up in the Western Corridor now, they are found in great numbers here in Central Serengeti.

large_Wildebeest_9-302.jpg

large_Wildebeest_9-305.jpg

large_Wildebeest_9-308.jpg

large_Wildebeest_9-311.jpg

large_Wildebeest_9-312.jpg

large_Wildebeest_9-314.jpg

large_Wildebeest_9-316.jpg

Lappet Faced Vulture

large_Vulture__l.._Faced_9-61.jpg

Coqui Francolin

large_Francolin__Coqui_9-21.jpg

He makes the most peculiar sound – as if he is laughing.

large_Francolin__Coqui_9-22.jpg

White Rumped Helmetshrike

large_Helmetshri..Rumped_9-31.jpg

Stormy Clouds

Some formidable dark clouds are building up and the light is extraordinarily intense with the low evening sun creating remarkably saturated colours! I think we might be in for some rain before long…

large_Zebra_and_..beest_9-101.jpg

large_Wildebeest_9-101.jpg

large_Zebra_and_..beest_9-102.jpg

large_148FDD7BE3EFE5F69412AF591183E54B.jpg

large_Giraffe_9-76.jpg

large_Giraffe_9-78.jpg

large_Giraffe_9-81.jpg

Klipspringer

large_Klipspringer_9-1.jpg

large_Rain_12.jpg

And here comes the rain – bringing with it some even more bizzare conditions: the sunset reflecting in the water drops with a rainbow behind.

large_Rainbow_3.jpg

We move on a bit further and are able to see the whole rainbow, with the dramatic light constantly changing.

large_F7FD67C7E64E1690F839F35CB93F2F4D.jpg

Mbuzi Mawe

By the time we reach our camp, it is dark and the rain has really set in – what was a gently drizzle, is now a heavy downpour. It’s the first ‘proper’ rain we’ve had on this trip, so we shouldn’t complain.

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_10-6.jpg

large_Porters_6.jpg

A small army of porters with umbrellas meet us in the car park and take us to the reception. It seems a long walk.

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_10-5.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_9-5.jpg

large_Checking_in_1.jpg

After the usual formalities, we are shown to our tent – which ironically is half way down to the car park again. Apologies for rubbish photos taken hand held in almost pitch black.

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_10-2.jpg

The tents are very spacious, with two huge four-poster beds, a seating area and a writing desk. Attached to the back is a modern bathroom with double basins, shower, toilet and changing area. This is my sort of camping.

large_2C1F71ED01AEB9815BC6510D79B500E7.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_9-3.jpg

This place is as much of a surprise to me as it is to Lyn and Chris. When he knew the wildebeest migration was changing route, Tillya changed our accommodation to a more convenient position – that is one of the numerous reasons we keep coming back to using Calabash Adventures – their customer care!

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_9-2.jpg

I love it!

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_9-1.jpg

Just after we get to the room, housekeeping arrives to carry out the ‘turn-back service’. A young girl is being trained and they seem to take forever - I know they prefer to come and do it while we are in the room so that we’ll tip them; but its a bit of an inconvenience as we have just a short time between arriving back from safari and going for dinner.

large_Pre-Dinner_Drinks_10.jpg

So we have a drink instead of a shower. Shucks. Life is hard.

large_Night_Shots_4.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_10-1.jpg

The tents are all facing outwards on the edge of the camp, overlooking the kopje (or you would be looking at it if it wasn’t pitch black). Buffalo graze in the long grass the other side of the path.

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_10-3.jpg

A gentle man with a big spear, little English and a contagious laugh escorts us from the tent to the restaurant.

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_10-4.jpg

Rock Hyrax

On the way he shines his torch at the rocky outcrops, illuminating a huddle of rock hyrax.

large_Rock_Hyrax..zi_Mawe_9-1.jpg

large_Rock_Hyrax..zi_Mawe_9-2.jpg

large_Dinner_10.jpg

The dinner is impressive, arriving served under large silver domes, all four of which are removed at exactly the same time to reveal the piping hot food underneath.

large_Dinner_at_Mbuzi_Mawe_9-1.jpg

large_Dinner_Dome_9-1.jpg

Both David and I have Kuku Wa Kupaka – a local dish of chicken cooked in a coconut cream with ‘coastal spices’.

large_Kuku_Wa_Ku..ocont_cream.jpg

Lyn and I share a bottle of white wine, David and Chris have red.

large_Footprint_Chardonnay.jpg

The dessert gateau is a disappointment apparently, as is my self-serve cheese and biscuits: there is next to nothing left.

large_Paty_Time.jpg

The servers and kitchen staff serenade an Australian couple celebrating their silver wedding anniversary, just as the staff did for us in Maramboi.

.

We retire to our rooms after another spectacular day on safari with Calabash Adventures. Thanks again guys!

large_2311A068E1FBC175BFD0469AF7F04935.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 03:51 Archived in Tanzania Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises animals birds sky night monkeys rain hills sunset road_trip restaurant travel vacation hotel adventure roads scenery sunrise clouds holiday fun party africa mud safari rainbow tanzania lodge zebra eagle wine beetle lizard birding chicken tourists picnic photography alcohol lions giraffe hippo roadtrip serengeti hyena vulture night_time glamping waterbuck starling wildebeest stunning bird_watching game_drive tented_camp road-trip ndutu african_food dung_beetle safari_vehicle night_photography canon_eos_5d_iii testicles calabash calabash_adventures the_best_safari_operators which_safari_company best_safari_company vervet_monkeys black_faced_vervet_monkeys blue_balls ngorongoro_conservation_area tower_of_giraffe hartebeest nadutu_safari_lodge gol_kopjes maasai_kopjes mbuzi_mawe serena_hotels long_grass_plains short_grass_plains naabi_hill central_serengeti mussy_tracks kopje stormy_clouds Comments (0)

Ndutu Part II

A very rare sighting indeed!


View The Gowler African Adventure - Kenya & Tanzania 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

large_The_Adventure_Continues_2.jpg

large_Day_8_of_t..ture_Part_2.jpg

Ndutu Lodge

Food at Ndutu is always a pleasure and today’s lunch is no different. After a starter of soup and bread, we are served a ham salad, the taste of which is nothing short of exquisite!

large_Ham_Salad_8-1.jpg

I am feeling grateful for a relatively small portion at midday, until the accompaniments arrive: potato salad, capsicum salad, and coleslaw.

large_Lunch_at_Ndutu_8-1.jpg

large_8CB1585AED36FE3837A619EB254CB08A.jpg

Ndutu Lodge is one of the few remaining truly independent safari lodges in Tanzania, and also one of the oldest camps around, dating back to the 1960s when it was the domain of the flamboyant and eccentric professional hunter George Dove.

large_Ndutu_Safari_Lodge_9-2.jpg

large_Ndutu_Safari_Lodge_9-7.jpg

When he abandoned hunting in 1967, he made a tented camp here at Ndutu. The lodge was taken over and refurbished in 1985, with stone cottages replacing the original tents. The lodge remains an extremely popular place to stay, and rightly so.

large_Ndutu_Lodge_8-11.jpg

large_Ndutu_Safari_Lodge_9-3.jpg

Renowned wildlife researchers Jane Goodall and Hugo van Lawick used Ndutu as a base for much of their research about wild dogs and the lodge is popular with a lot of well-known wildlife photographers such as Nick Garbutt, Stu Porter and Steve Bloom. And not to forget Grete Howard and Lyn Gowler!

large_Ndutu_Safari_Lodge_9-4.jpg

large_Ndutu_Safari_Lodge_9-6.jpg

I love the lodge's motto:
“Don't expect five stars; from our campfire you will see millions.”

large_Our_Room_4.jpg

large_Ndutu_Lodge_8-13.jpg

large_Ndutu_Safari_Lodge_9-5.jpg

The lodge is also a cracking place for bird watching, with over 400 species recorded in the vicinity; so after lunch Lyn and I head out with our long lenses to see what we can shoot.

large_Ndutu_Safari_Lodge_9-1.jpg

Slate Coloured Boubou

large_Boubou__Sl..oloured_8-1.jpg

Blue Capped Cordon Bleu

large_Cordon_Ble.._Capped_8-5.jpg

Fischer's Lovebirds

large_Lovebirds__Fischer_s_8-23.jpg

Swahili Sparrow

large_Sparrow__Swahili_8-3.jpg

Speckled Mousebird

large_Mousebird__Speckled_8-5.jpg

Laughing Dove

large_Dove__Laughing_8-1.jpg

White Rumped Helmetshrike

large_Helmetshri.._Rumped_8-4.jpg

Common Drongo

large_Drongo__Common_8-1.jpg

Pool Party!

large_Canary__Wh..ax_Bill_8-1.jpg

Variable Sunbird

large_Sunbird__Variable_8-8.jpg

large_Sunbird__Variable_8-1.jpg

White Bellied Canary

large_Canary__White_Bellied_8-6.jpg

Grey Backed Camaroptera

large_Camaropter.._Backed_8-1.jpg

Scarlet Breasted Sunbird

large_Sunbird__S..hested_8-23.jpg

large_Sunbird__S..emale__8-11.jpg

large_Sunbird__S..reasted_8-2.jpg

Lesser Masked Weaver

large_Weaver__Lesser_Masked_8-2.jpg

Speckled Fronted Weaver

large_Weaver__Sp..Fronted_8-1.jpg

Steel Blue Whydah

large_Whydah__Steel_Blue_8-3.jpg

Ndutu Safari Lodge is located in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, just outside the border with the Serengeti National Park. Of course, there are no physical barriers separating the two reserves, and the migrating animals aren’t too good at reading maps, so they wander in and out of the parks at will.

Dik Dik

We see these dik diks in the lodge grounds as we leave for this afternoon's game drive.

large_Dik_Dik_8-1.jpg

large_Dik_Dik_8-2.jpg

Lake Ndutu

We head for the lake again this afternoon. Lake Ndutu used to belong to Ngorongoro Conservation Area, but the authorities decided to move the border so that the lake is now inside Serengeti National Park. The reason for doing this is to do with to off-road driving, which is not permitted in the Serengeti but can - and does – take place in the conservation area. The number of cars driving too close to the lakeshore caused erosion damage and was a threat to the environment and the wildlife.

The white post marks the border, and Malisa is very careful to stick to the designated tracks here.

large_Border_bet..al_park_8-1.jpg

Lesser Flamingo

On the lakeshore we find a few Lesser Flamingo – the ones that are darker with more pink colouring, are the younger birds; they get paler as they grow older.

large_Flamingo__..e_Ndutu_8-7.jpg

large_Flamingo__..e_Ndutu_8-8.jpg

large_Flamingo__.._Ndutu_8-10.jpg

large_Flamingo__.._Ndutu_8-11.jpg

Spotted Thick Knee

We also spot a Spotted Thick Knee in the grass.

large_Thick_Knee__Spotted_8-2.jpg

A mini tornado

large_Mini_Tornado_8-1.jpg

And a couple of wildebeest carcasses

large_Wildebeest_Carcass_8-1.jpg

large_Wildebeest_Carcass_8-2.jpg

Lions

Heading towards Lake Masek, we come across the lions we saw last night feeding on the zebra carcass. Today there are only eight, not nine, so one must have gone walkabout.

large_Lion_8-102.jpg

We can still see the dried blood on this guy's face from yesterday's feast!

large_Lion_8-103.jpg

large_Lion_8-120.jpg

Because they ate yesterday, there is no need for them to kill again for another three days.

large_Lion_8-106.jpg

large_Lion_8-107.jpg

Now they are just lazing around, digesting the food.

large_Lion_8-124.jpg

large_Lion_8-117.jpg

large_Lion_8-118.jpg

large_Lion_8-119.jpg

After eating, lions do not produce any solid waste for days: they poop blood!

large_Lion_8-109.jpg

It's always such a relief to be able to 'pass through' a big meal I find.

large_Lion_8-111.jpg

large_Lion_8-113.jpg

A family of Helmeted Guineafowl stroll by. As they do.

large_Guineafowl..hicks__8-11.jpg

There is not much left of yesterday’s zebra today, and the stench is nauseating.

large_Look_Away_..e_Squeamish.jpg

large_Zebra_Carcass_8-6.jpg

The lions have had their fill.

large_Zebra_Carcass_8-1.jpg

The vultures have finished it off, and now all that is left is for the bluebottles to clean it.

large_Zebra_Carcass_8-2.jpg

large_Zebra_Carcass_8-3.jpg

We let sleeping lions be, and move on.

large_Lion_8-125.jpg

large_Lion_8-126.jpg

large_Lion_8-127.jpg

large_Lion_8-128.jpg

Caracal

We’re busy looking up into a tree at a hiding hoopoe, when Malisa gets word on the radio about a caracal being spotted down on the flats between the two lakes. Seeing this elusive cat is very rare, so it is an adrenalin-filled vehicle that rushes off in the direction of the sighting.

We can’t believe our luck when he comes rushing out of the bushes, right next to our car. He certainly isn’t hanging around, and I only manage to get a quick bum-shot as he dashes for cover!

large_Caracal_8-1.jpg

Anticipating that he may – or may not – emerge the other side; we drive around the thicket, occasionally catching a very brief glimpse of his backside as he creeps deeper into the shrubbery.

This is where having a quality guide pays off – Malisa moves with some considerable haste towards a very small clearing, urging us to get our cameras poised, ready for action so that we can shoot on the move if he emerges.

And he does. And we do.

large_Caracal_8-3.jpg

What a wondrous sighting! Knowing that this is only the third time Malisa has ever seen a caracal – it is that rare – we feel extremely honoured to have managed to catch a brief three-second glimpse of one today.

Giraffe

large_Giraffe_8-11.jpg

African Hoopoe

We finally get a picture of the hoopoe that was so rudely interrupted by a caracal earlier.

large_Hoopoe__African_8-2.jpg

Speckled Mousebird

large_Mousebird__Speckled_8-12.jpg

Lake Masek

I don’t know what it is about trees on this trip – in Tarangire I remembered the tree I photographed two years ago, and today I recognised a tree under which we had a picnic in 2011. I really do need to get out more…

large_Lake_Masek_8-1.jpg
Lake Masek 2016

large_Picnic_at_Lake_Masek_2011.jpg
Picnic at Lake Masek 2011

Cape Teal

large_Teal__Cape_8-1.jpg

Common Stilt

large_Stilt__Common_8-2.jpg

Lesser Flamingo

large_Flamingo__..e_Masek_8-2.jpg

large_Flamingo__..e_Masek_8-9.jpg

large_Flamingo__..e_Masek_8-3.jpg

large_Flamingo__..e_Masek_8-5.jpg

Hippo

The hippo only stay down this end of the lake as fresh water from the stream that runs into the lake at this point means the water is not as brackish here.

large_Hippo_8-1.jpg

large_Hippo_8-2.jpg

Augur Buzzard

large_Buzzard__Augur_8-1.jpg

The Golden Hour

large_The_Golden_Hour_8-1.jpg

large_The_Golden_Hour_8-2.jpg

As the sun dips low on the horizon, painting everything in its path a rich golden orange, we encounter an elephant with her young baby – some 1½ years old.

large_Elephants_8-2.jpg

large_Elephants_8-4.jpg

large_Elephants_8-6.jpg

large_Elephants_8-7.jpg

large_Elephants_8-16.jpg

After a while the elephants wander in to the sunset, and so do we, heading for camp.

large_Elephants_8-22.jpg

large_Sunset_in_Ndutu_8-14.jpg

large_Eagle__Cre..t_Ndutu_8-3.jpg

large_Sunset_in_Ndutu_8-16.jpg

large_Eagle__Cre..t_Ndutu_8-2.jpg
Crested Eagle

large_1CA46F45C66589E380ECF4FC57F3E6AD.jpg

After another great dinner at Ndutu Safari Lodge, we join the genets for a quick drink in the bar, marking the end of yet another glorious day in the African Bush.

large_Dinner_Ndutu_Safari_Lodge.jpg

large_Genet__Lesser_Spotted_8-2.jpg

large_Ndutu_Safa..dge_Bar_8-1.jpg

As usual, I would like to thank Calabash Adventures and our ever-wonderful guide Malisa for allowing us to experience all this.

large_1C841B19FADA498CC41E721435400DDF.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 16:23 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds sunset road_trip travel elephants adventure roads cute holiday fun africa safari tanzania lunch birding photography lions giraffe hippo flamingo roadtrip ngorongoro stilts kill good_food bird_watching hoopoe game_drive road-trip ndutu teal safari_vehicle canon_eos_5d_iii calabash calabash_adventures which_safari_company best_safari_company ngorongoro_conservation_area lion_kill thick_knee cape_teal lake_masek caracal ndutu_safari_lodge Comments (0)

Ndutu - Part I

More cuteness overload


View The Gowler African Adventure - Kenya & Tanzania 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

large_Day_8_of_t..ture_Part_1.jpg

large_Early_Morning_Start_8.jpg

Bat Eared Fox

We leave the lodge while it is still dark this morning, and as dawn breaks we spot a couple of Bat Eared Foxes.

large_Fox__Bat_Eared_8-28.jpg

Having previously only seen the top of their ears in the distance, I get very excited at this sighting.

large_Fox__Bat_Eared_8-23.jpg

They in turn get excited at the sight of a White Bellied Bustard with a couple of chicks.

large_Bustard__W..Bellied_8-2.jpg

large_Fox__Bat_Eared_8-25.jpg

large_Fox__Bat_Eared_8-26.jpg

This is a chase they have little chance of winning, but they have a go at it anyway.

large_Fox__Bat_Eared_8-16.jpg

large_Fox__Bat_Eared_8-19.jpg

Still hungry and with the bustards half way across the savannah by now, the fox is left sniffing the air.

large_B7C454E89DA008624D96054BCD0EB550.jpg

Lake Ndutu Sunrise

We turn our attention to the lake, where a dazzling sunrise marks the beginning of another day filled with thrilling wilderness experiences.

large_Sunrise_ov..e_Ndutu_8-1.jpg

large_Sunrise_ov..e_Ndutu_8-4.jpg

large_Sunrise_ov..e_Ndutu_8-6.jpg

large_Sunrise_ov..e_Ndutu_8-7.jpg

large_Sunrise_ov..e_Ndutu_8-8.jpg

large_Sunrise_ov.._Ndutu_8-11.jpg

large_Sunrise_ov.._Ndutu_8-12.jpg

large_Sunrise_ov.._Ndutu_8-14.jpg

Verreaux's Eagle Owl

large_Owl__Verreaux_s_Eagle_8-1.jpg

Black Backed Jackal

large_Jackal__Black_Backed_8-10.jpg

Having stalked a guinea fowl which then flies up into a tree, the jackal spends ages just staring at it while it makes loud warning calls to its mates.

large_Jackal__Black_Backed_8-2.jpg

Eventually the jackal comes to accept that neither tree climbing nor flying are part of his repertoire; and he wanders into the sunrise, posing for some great rim-lit shots.

large_Jackal__Black_Backed_8-12.jpg

large_Jackal__Black_Backed_8-14.jpg

large_Jackal__Black_Backed_8-15.jpg

large_Jackal__Black_Backed_8-21.jpg

Broken Down Vehicle

In the distance we see a car with its bonnet open, so Malisa goes over to check if they need any help. Between the three of them they manage to get the Jeep going, albeit coughing and spluttering in a plume of smoke.

large_Broken_Down_Vehicle_8-1.jpg

This is not really the place to break down – roadside recovery service is somewhat limited and cheetahs are plentiful.

large_Broken_Down_Vehicle_8-2.jpg

Pale Tawny Eagle

large_Eagle__Pale_Tawny_8-2.jpg

large_C02BB8B206C8294A73AC52D49612CFD4.jpg

large_Eagle__Pale_Tawny_8-3.jpg

large_Eagle__Pale_Tawny_8-4.jpg

Coqui Francolin

large_Francolin_Coqui_8-2.jpg

Grey Breasted Francolin

large_Spurfowl__..reasted_8-1.jpg

Cheetah

large_853BF599F0DADEF0AAE2E89D91DB8E68.jpg

“What’s that?” With his binoculars glued to his eyes, Chris spots something in the long grass and exclaims excitedly: “it’s a cheetah!”

large_Cheetah_8-2.jpg

Bringing the car to a halt, Malisa takes a look: “There’s two… no, it’s a female with cubs!” There are four of them, about two months old.

large_Cheetah_8-1.jpg

Desperate for some breakfast, mum is constantly on the move, and wherever she goes, the cubs follow.

large_Cheetah_8-13.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-4.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-49.jpg

As is the unwritten rule, once we have had the kitties to ourselves for a while, Malisa radios the other couple of cars in the area to let them know about the sighting.

large_Cheetah_8-32.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-57.jpg

Painfully thin, mum really needs to eat soon, as her suckling babies have taken all her energy.

large_Cheetah_8-75.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-11.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-43.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-62.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-64.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-71.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-76.jpg

We spend the next hour or so following this family as they move across the plains, always on the look-out, always on the prowl.

large_Cheetah_8-79.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-80.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-81.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-85.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-88.jpg

Not a true cat in that it does not have retractable claws like those in the panthera genus (lions, leopards, jaguars and tigers); the cheetah belongs to the genus acinonyx, as it cannot roar.

large_Cheetah_8-90.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-91.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-94_Nik.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-95.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-98.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-99.jpg

Who knew that baby cheetah chirp like a bird?

.

large_Cheetah_8-104.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-101_Cropped.jpg

As the cheetah make their way towards the woodland, we reluctantly move on to see what else the Ndutu area has to offer today.

large_Cheetah_8-107.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-108.jpg

Black Shouldered Kite

large_133DA52D022C6A802EABFE9DFF595720.jpg

large_Kite__Blac..uldered_8-3.jpg

large_Kite__Blac..uldered_8-4.jpg

Lappet Faced Vulture

large_Vulture__Lappet_Faced_8-1.jpg

Yellow Throated Sandgrouse

large_Sandgrouse..hroated_8-1.jpg

large_Sandgrouse..hroated_8-3.jpg

Bat Eared Fox

After the excitement of seeing a Bat Eared Fox up close early this morning, I am doubly surprised to see another one!

large_Foz__Bat_Eared_8-51.jpg

large_Foz__Bat_Eared_8-52.jpg

Helmeted Guineafowl

large_Guineafowl__Helmeted_8-1.jpg

Lions

Down at The Big Marsh, two brothers – around seven years old - are trying to sleep off last night’s big meal.

large_Lion_8-1.jpg

large_Lion_8-3.jpg

large_Lion_8-6.jpg

large_Lion_8-9.jpg

large_Lion_8-15.jpg

large_Lion_8-17.jpg

large_Lion_8-18.jpg

large_Lion_8-20.jpg

Two Banded Plover

large_Plover__Two_Banded_8-1.jpg

Coke's Hartebeest

large_Hartebeest__Coke_s_8-8.jpg

large_Hartebeest__Coke_s_8-7.jpg

large_Hartebeest__Coke_s_8-6.jpg

This is what happens when you fight - you lose a horn! Let that be a lesson!

large_Hartebeest..e_s_8-3__1_.jpg

Dark Chanting Goshawk

large_Goshawk__D..hanting_8-3.jpg

Fischer's Lovebirds

large_Lovebirds__Fischer_s_8-1.jpg

Grey Headed Kingfisher

large_Kingfisher.._Headed_8-1.jpg

Breakfast

large_Picnic_2.jpg

We set up a picnic on the plains in the shade of a tree.

large_Breakfast_..__Ndutu_8-2.jpg

Ndutu Lodge has done us proud with their picnic box – there is egg, bacon, pancake, fruit, yogurt, cake, banana and juice.

large_Breakfast_..__Ndutu_8-1.jpg

Caterpillar

large_Caterpillar_8-2.jpg

A large, hairy caterpillar is attracted to our picnic basket, and David is attracted to its fluffiness.

large_Caterpillar_8-11.jpg

large_Caterpillar_8-6.jpg

large_Caterpillar_8-13.jpg

Only after David lets it crawl all over his hands for quite some time, does Malisa warn: “You’ll get a rash”.

large_Caterpillar_8-14.jpg

More Lions

large_Lions_8-21.jpg

While the large male lion in Ngorongoro Crater was a real Rasta Lion, these ‘teenage boys’ (around 1½-2 years old) have more of a punk style.

large_Lions_8-22.jpg

large_Lions_8-23.jpg

large_Lions_8-27.jpg

It’s a hard life being a teenager.

large_Lions_8-25.jpg

large_Lions_8-31.jpg

Hooded Vulture

large_Vulture__Hooded_8-1.jpg

If the vulture is hanging around hoping the lions will provide him with breakfast in the shape of a kill, I think he might have a long wait – these boys do not look like they are going anywhere soon.

large_Vulture__Hooded_8-3.jpg

large_Lions_8-32.jpg

He might as well make himself comfortable…

large_Vulture__Hooded_8-4.jpg

Oh, wait… there might be some action here…?

large_Lions_8-33.jpg

large_Lions_8-36.jpg

Or maybe not.

large_Lions_8-40.jpg

large_Lions_8-41.jpg

large_Lions_8-42.jpg

large_Lions_8-43.jpg

Spotted Hyena

large_Hyena__Spotted_8-1.jpg

They like lying down in the mud to cool off, which is why you so often see hyenas with dirty bottoms.

large_Hyena__Spotted_8-2.jpg

Empty Plains

For a while we drive across never ending plains, seemingly devoid of any wildlife.

large_Driving_Ac..avannah_8-2.jpg

Malisa spots leopard footprints in the sand and later rescues a dung beetle who has fallen upside down and cannot get back up. Our handsome guide is all heart, for sure – not just a good driver / guide but caring too!

large_Dickson_sp..tprints_8-1.jpg

.

Hidden valley

A shallow depression in the endless landscape unseen from the distance – hence its name – hides several small waterholes and an overwhelming number of animals.

large_Zebra_and_..Valley_8-18.jpg

large_Wildebeest.._Valley_8-3.jpg

What can I say? Apart from another “wow”, it is hard to find words to describe the spectacle of 200,000 or so zebra (plus around another 100,000 wildebeest) drinking, cavorting, taking a cooling dip, running, play fighting, and whatever else these ungulates do.

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-37.jpg

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-30.jpg

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-43.jpg

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-16.jpg

large_Zebras_1.jpg

Never before have I seen so many zebra in one place, the area around the waterhole is a veritable sea of stripes.

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-39.jpg

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-56.jpg

Lots of very young babies, some just a few days old.

large_Zebra_at_H.._Valley_8-4.jpg

large_Zebra_at_H.._Valley_8-6.jpg

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-61.jpg

With a thunder of hooves and a cloud of dust, a few more thousand wildebeest arrive.

large_Wildebeest.._Valley_8-2.jpg

large_Wildebeest.._Valley_8-6.jpg

large_Wildebeest..Valley_8-11.jpg

They just keep on coming...

large_Zebra_and_.._Valley_8-3.jpg

.

Imagine the dust and the noise when a stampede ensues – what an extraordinary location and unforgettable experience this is!

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-51.jpg

large_Zebra_and_..Valley_8-31.jpg

large_Zebra_and_..Valley_8-29.jpg

large_Running_Zebras.jpg

.

A small limping wildebeest baby causes us great concern – he is unlikely to last long if f he can’t keep up with the herd and his vulnerability will make him an easy target for predators.

large_Wildebeest.._Valley_8-9.jpg

.

All around us, in every direction, whichever way you look, as far as the eye can see, there are zebra and wildebeest. No other animals. The spectacle is surreal and immense.

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-11.jpg

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-17.jpg

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-27.jpg

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-63.jpg

large_Zebra_at_H.._Valley_8-9.jpg

large_Zebra_and_..Valley_8-25.jpg

large_Zebra_and_..Valley_8-24.jpg

large_Zebra_and_..Valley_8-14.jpg

large_Zebra_and_..Valley_8-10.jpg

large_Zebra_and_.._Valley_8-7.jpg

.

large_51192C47DFD5D7D2E70F428442C10B89.jpg

Time to move on.

With smooth ‘roads’, no animals in sight and a hot day, both David and I find ourselves nodding off.

large_Driving_Ac..avannah_8-3.jpg

large_Snoozette_8-1.jpg

Lesser Masked Weaver Birds

After a short ‘snoozette’, I wake when we stop for a tree full of weaver bird nests – all created on the western (leeward) side of the tree at the end of the branches to protect the eggs from their main predators: snakes.

large_Weaver__Le..n_west_side.jpg

And here is the architect herself.

large_Weaver__Le..Female__8-1.jpg

Lilac Breasted Roller

large_Roller__Li..reasted_8-2.jpg

A chirpy little D'Arnaud's Barbet

large_Barbet__D_Arnaud_s_8-5.jpg

large_Barbet__D_Arnaud_s_8-7.jpg

And his mate

large_Barbet__D_Arnaud_s_8-10.jpg

Lions

This is the pride belonging to the two daddies we saw earlier on this morning – three females with six cubs between them.

large_Lions_8-45.jpg

large_Lions_8-46.jpg

There is not much activity going on in the midday heat – they occasionally lift their heads, look at us as if you say “why are you sitting there staring at us instead of taking a nap in the shade” and go back to sleep.

large_Lions_8-44.jpg

large_Lions_8-47.jpg

large_Lions_8-48.jpg

large_Lions_8-52.jpg

large_Lions_8-54.jpg

Malisa explains that he first saw the growth on the side of this young male back in January, and that it doesn’t seem to bother the animal at all. It still doesn’t make comfortable viewing though.

large_Lions_8-51.jpg

The daddies are still resting under the trees on the other side of the marsh, their whole bodies swaying when they pant. It makes me think of a salsa dancer.

.

large_Lions_8-57.jpg

large_Lions_8-66.jpg

large_Lions_8-59.jpg

large_Lions_8-62.jpg

One of the females gets up and starts to walk across to where we – and her partner – are. Perhaps she is jealous? She spends a long time just staring at us before giving up and lying down.

large_Lions_8-70.jpg

large_Have_you_e..an_savannah.jpg

And how! A giraffe was the first large animal I saw on my very first African safari back in 1986 and I was mesmerised. I still feel that same way now, 30 years, eleven safaris, twenty-five game parks and countless giraffes later.

With thanks to Ndutu Safari Lodge for hose words.

Giraffe

large_Giraffes_8-2.jpg

Did you know that each time a giraffe lifts up its neck, it lifts more than 550 pounds?

Tawny Eagle

large_Eagle__Tawny_8-11.jpg

large_Commercial_Break.jpg

We return to the lodge for lunch, a siesta or some bird watching before resuming today’s game drive. For fear of overload, I shall leave you here and create a new blog entry for this afternoon’s excursion.

As always, thanks to Calabash Adventures and their expert guide Malisa.

large_85731954920D7E5CD2EB63891E37170E.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 05:03 Archived in Tanzania Tagged birds road_trip travel adventure sunrise cute holiday africa safari tanzania zebra birding cheetah picnic lions giraffe roadtrip ngorongoro hyena wildebeest jackal bird_watching game_drive road-trip adorable dung_beetle safari_vehicle canon_eos_5d_iii calabash calabash_adventures which_safari_company best_safari_company cuteness_overload ngorongoro_conservation_area hartebeest hidden_valley lake_ndutu bat_eared_fox Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 12 of 17) Page [1] 2 » Next