Holiday review by Mrs. Patricia McKay
Name: Mrs. Patricia McKay
Date of trip: 17/06/2014
Number of people: 2
Sunrise in Selous The dawn creeps up upon you stealthily and almost imperceptibly at first. Around 5:30am there is a just perceivable lightening which enables you to make out the shapes of the trees around the camp. The hippos are grunting to each other, some from the lake in front of the tent and others from the land behind it. The more musical grunting calls of the Southern Ground Hornbills can also be heard. As the sky lightens other birds join in until there is a true dawn chorus of trills, twitters and cheeps, none of which I can identify. By 6 o\'clock it is light enough to see a bit, and from the comfort of my bed I can observe two small birds in silhouette as they sit together side by side on a nearby palm frond. A couple of Hornbills fly over, their shapes dark against the brightening sky. By 6:30am it is daylight, though the sun is not yet up. I can stand it no longer in bed, so I creep out and sit on our verandah. The first Openbill Stork of the day flies past, its perpetually open bill showing clearly against the sky. An African Fish Eagle flaps slowly past on its enormous dark wings, its dazzling white head and tail gleaming in the sun like beacons. In the sedges and rushes in front of the tent a cattle Egret stalks past, looking for frogs or insects, or some other such tasty bite. The Fish Eagle flaps back again, this time carrying a large branch, which it takes to its nest in a palm tree, closely followed by its mate, who bears a similar burden. Out in the lake the hippos are just visible with their pink ears and noses glowing in the first rays of the sun. Every so often a smooth dark back appears above the surface of the water for a moment, only to sink back underwater a few seconds later. The grunting continues together with the odd snort and splash. By now it is 7 o\'clock, and my personal alarm clock goes off in the shape of a Masai warrior wrapped in the traditional red chequered blanket, complete with a wooden staff in one hand and a cell phone in the other, who strolls down the path to our tent to deliver my requested morning wake-up call. "Hello, Jambo, Good Morning" he calls out until I answer back with a smile and "Hello, Good Morning, Assante!" "Karibou - you're welcom\" he responds, and strolls off, his job done. It is time for breakfast!
My first Giraffe We flew from Dar es Salaam to Ruaha on a small plane which only had seats for 12 passengers, however on this particular flight we were only 6 in total - 4 passengers, and 2 pilots, who welcomed us personally as we boarded. The flight was short and soon we were landing on a dirt runway. We met our guide Maulidi, and driver Godson, and were soon on our way for our first game drive as we travelled to our camp. We had not even got out of the airstrip parking area before we saw our first animals - wonderful close looks at golden Impala, gleaming in the sunshine. I had already told Maulidi that I was particularly interested in birds, and he immediately showed me some Fischer's Sparrow-Larks, and the spectacular Lilac-breasted Roller, both of which were life birds for me. For the next hour I was held spellbound, as we looked at more and more birds and animals, until we rounded a corner, and suddenly, there he was! My first ever wild Giraffe, placidly grazing on an Acacia tree. We looked at each other for a minute or two, and then, having decided that we were harmless, he casually strolled away to the next bush with the curious stately gait that all giraffes have. It was a truly magic moment....
It was a good experience, and we got to see some wonderful animals at very close quarters. It was hard not being able to walk anywhere by oneself - I like to go birding and to explore on foot - but I understand that this could be dangerous because of the the animals. The so-called fly camp was the biggest disappointment, as it in no way lived up to the advertisement, but compensation for this is already being dealt with by Tribes Travel, so thank you for the quick response to our concerns on this point.
The guides were excellent, and once they knew I was interested in the birds, they did their best to identify them for me even though they were not all bird specialists,and were probably more used to having guests who wanted to see lions and leopards rather than some obscure little brown sparrows.
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
We did not meet any local people apart from our guides and our drivers. The animals seemed well used to people on safari, and did not seem to be bothered by the jeeps coming really close at times. We were less than 20 feet from a couple of mating lions for example, and they seemed totally oblivious of our presence.
The places you stayed
Ruaha National Park
It was my favourite since the animals literally wandered around and through the camp. There were impalas, baboons and a \"naughty\" elephant who entertained us with his antics. It is also worth mentioning that this camp is at
1000 meters above sea level and thus can be cool in the AM or late in the PM. And the camp provides docking stations to charge electronics and camera batteries. ;-)
The \"banda\" was well appointed and the bathroom was the size of most people\'s bedroom! We did not have a chance to enjoy the pool but it did look inviting.
The flight to the Selous Conservation Region provided a wonderful bird\'s eye view of the terrain. At Lake Manze Camp we found a very enjoyable variety of safaris: foot, boat and jeep. Our tent had a view of Lake Manze where the hippos snoozed and occasionally raised their massive heads to look around. This conservation area has more open plains and sweeping vistas. We were treated to visiting Frederick C. Selous\' grave and then taking a dip in the \"hot spring\". Before descending from the jeep both the driver and the guide did an inspection of the area for our security. This camp also had docking stations for electronics and batteries.
Ruaha National Park
Excellent, well-run camp. The accomodation was comfortable and the food especially delicious.
The accomodation was excellent, and the food was good.
Another excellent well-run camp. The one criticism was that our solar heated water for the shower never really got warm. This did not matter too much most of the time as the weather was hot enough to make hot showers unwanted, but it would have been pleasant to have the shower water at least tepid. Once again the food was especially delicious.