Sunday, June 23, 2019
It never ceases to amaze me what art can be found on the ground
Animal patrol at the airport
Our flight was scheduled to leave at 7:00 a.m. but did not arrive until 8:00 a.m. That was ok as we all waiting on the land and watched zebras cross the runway way while we told stories and laughed a lot. When are plane buzzed the air strip it was time for Ernest to chase the zebra away.
Before we are going to take off we have to say goodbye and good luck to Butati as he is taking a later flight on a different airlines to join us at Ikuka.
The flight to our camp is scheduled to be 2 hours and 30 minutes but we have two business men on our plane who have to be dropped off at the Iringa Airport. Our pilot offers us the opportunity to use the restrooms in the airport which we all agree to do. After using the facilities we taken by a military official around to the actual departures gate where we had to remove our shoes, empty our pockets and walk through the metal detector.
After a 20 minute flight to the Suaha – Msembe airstrip in the Ruaha National Park, we landed and met our guide Festo. He walked our passports through entry while we waited outside. We were waiting for Botati’s flight from Sand River.
Sad remnant of the day there was a long line for the loo
Because the flight was going to take awhile, Festo took our group on a short ride around the airport area.
Here is what we saw:
In Ireland it is sheep--
in Tanzania, it is giraffe
We did not really see many elephants in the Selous, so it was a thrill to see elephant near the airport. Festo stopped the Land Rover and we watched them for awhile. Then, we had a magical moment.
The elephant decided we were OK and they could walk right past us. Yeah, that was a bit scary, thrilling and so cool all at the same time. Here are some of the photos from the sequence to give you an idea how it was.
Evidently elephants, if they decide to approach you, are calm and cool. Later on this trip we would find out what it means to be the approacher.
When we got back from the thrilling pack of elephants, we got to the airport just as Butati arrived on his flight. Our departure from the airport was delayed because the Internet went down in the airport office and they were unable to process anyone into the park. Eventually that was fixed as well and we took off for the Ikuka Safari Camp in Ruaha National Park.
Our lodging at Ikuka
Open air bathroom
Room with a view
After a light lunch, we went with Festo on our first official game drive.
Here is what we saw:
Then we came across this elephant who was a tad agitated by our approach. We did not get the "mock" charge but something was up.
OK, that explains it!
Then we saw the coolest thing ever. With her baby behind her, Mom kept her face to us which meant as she moved away she did the most amazing sideways dance I have ever seen. I hope these photos can give you some idea of what she did to protect her young from us.
I guess at this point we can safely say there are a lot of elephants in Ruaha. After touring for awhile Festo stopped and unpacked our evening snack with adult beverages. As we were standing around enjoying being in the bush, it came to his attention that some visitors had arrived at our camp site.
Video from Butati's cell phone
With gestures and a very soft voice, Festo suggested we get in the Land Rover ASAP. Of course, before I did, I had to snap one quick photo.
After the elephants decided they we were not really all that interesting, they wandered off. We were able to enjoy the sunset with only a few native visitors.
We were back to camp at 7:00 p.m. We were greeted with a warm towel and some Bailey’s by the always attentive staff.
After cleaning up, we headed to the lodge for a glorious dinner of apricot salad, green herb chicken and gin and tonic ice cream. Just like the last Nomad camp, the meals are amazing especially considering our location.
After dinner it is right to bed as we have a busy day ahead of us. Here at Ikuka we sleep in an enclosed tent in our cabin that is prepared by the staff.
As Denice and I crawled into our bed my feet touched something so I said, “There is something in the bed.” I have never seen Denice move so fast. No worries: it was the African Waterous Bottlous. The water bottles proved to be nice warmers for our feet as the night was cool and we are sleeping in a open air lodge.
Monday, June 24, 2019
Our group was eager and early risers so once again we are up at 4:45 a.m., drinking tea at 5:15 a.m. and at the jeep to greet Festo at 6:00 a.m. We have a mission today: a group discovered a spot in a river bed where a pride of lions had taken down a cape buffalo. We want to find that spot.
To everyone’s surprise (except maybe Festo) the air is very cool this morning and we are speeding along in an open air Land Rover. Despite being from Wisconsin, I froze and had to cover up with a blanket. The reason why we think Festo knew is that we were all given a hot water bottle before we left the lodge. I will not provide pictures of where I stuck it.
Here is what we saw:
Again, a reminder: the African bush is a killing field. or the circle of life.
Butati on the alert
For breakfast today, we stopped at the Mbuni Picnic site and had a splendid morning repast.
The is about how far a walk it was to the men's room
Butati, Festo, Becky, Denice, Marijeanne and Chris
Becky, Chris, Don, Marijeanne with Denice in the foreground
Where ever we go, we have observers
The Ruaha is the place to go to see elephants.
When these elephants moved on up the river bed, Festo took the time to remind us what a privilege it is to witness these animals in the wild. He is right.
A second herd of elephants.
We were back in camp by 12:00 p.m. and had time to freshen up before lunch.
After lunch the family sat at the lodge’s wading pool but no one ventured in. My reason would have been the rather large and loud bees partying on the far side away from where we were sitting.
We sojourned in our rooms for a bit and then at 4:00 p.m. we set out on a evening game drive with Festo. Tonight we headed across the bush and into the mountains.
Here is what we saw:
We came across a Toothbrush Tree (Salvadora persica) which interested Butati...
...and then he flossed.
I knew we were going to see animals on our safaris. I just never realized we would be able to see things like this.
So sweet...why not pet her?
A reminder that no matter how remote you are,
I like to do "out the window" shots on my excursions but in Tanzania, it means a whole different thing. Here are some baobab trees I caught by randomly sticking my camera outside the Land Rover and letting whatever happened happen.
We arrived back at 7:00 p.m. where we were greeted with a warm towel and some Bailey’s. After freshening up we went to the lodge for dinner at 8:00 p.m.
Tonight we sat and talked longer than normal with our fellow guests and staff. We heard some interesting stories from Tonya before heading to bed by 10:00 p.m.