Tuesday, 21 December 2010

More weekend adventures

Kitty finished school on Friday, with Grandfather having only a few days left in Tanzania. So we picked her up, and after a nice lunch and swim near the school headed out into the heat - definitely the hottest day for some time. Arriving at Manyara Ranch the Mancub was somewhat distressed to learn that the open game viewer was out of action - shock horror. So the first highlight of our safari - an evening drive to the green side of the ranch (amazing how local the rainfall has been so far) for sundowners - was completed in my landrover.

The only place to view the sunset over Lake Manyara was, of course, the top of the car.
The next morning we took a drive around the ranch - highlight for the Mancub was, as ever, splashing through the river. This time there was even a trickle of water to throw stones in!
Then after lunch it was on to Tarangire where the zebra and wildebeest had just about gone - lots on the Ranch though, so we saw them there. Unusually our first evening drive was rather lacking in memorable highlights, though the waterbuck were very close

and a rainstorm provided some impressive rainbows to set off the fantastic Tarangire landscape. And after all that we enjoyed the best Pina Coladas we've yet found in Tanzania with the stunning view from the lodge again. Yumm!

Game was relatively scarce on our morning drive too - though the birds were good as ever, with well over 100 species reached before lunch including a nice black stork over the river. The tsetses were a bit of a pain though. And I managed to take a much longer route back to the lodge than I had intended... But we had lunch and the little ones enjoyed their usual highlight of a swim in the pool

before we headed out for a short drive in the evening, and managed to catch up with some sleeping lions without too much difficulty. The best game drive of the weekend was saved for yesterday morning though, when Mrs B decided that we should, afterall, take Grandfather to see Silale swamp. A trip I've previously done only on full days, with a packed lunch - it's a good 40-50kms drive, on dirt roads of varying quality. So we decided to only stop for particularly spectacular sightings on the way there and back. And so began our high-speed game viewing... First stop, a nice male lion on a ridge above us (the last of a group of six we were told), though he soon headed over the hill. Then some close buffalo

before the quintessential Tarangire mammal took over: hundreds and hundreds of elephant in an area of brilliant green grass and Terminalia woodland (I've just counted over 50 in this picture alone, but at the time I think I could see around 150). That slowed us down somewhat, as I tend to give elephants right of way when they want to cross the road. It's great being surrounded by them though, and none were particularly bothered by us, despite children being somewhat less quiet than ideal at times!
We reached the swamp, saw some birds, flowers
and termite mounts, turned around and wizzed back on the other side of the rver this time, which enabled Mama, in a fit of high-quality high-speed spotting, to locate three very large male lions sitting under a tree down by the river. Very impressive beasts they were too. But all too soon it was back to the lodge for a quick swim and eat, then the hot drive home, a quick shower and off to the airport to send Grandfather on his way. Hope he got back safely with all the snow up there... Now we're visitor free until the New Year and getting stuck into various pre-Christmas excitements: Mama B is currently singing Carols by candlelight, and Kitty (I hope) is enjoying that!

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