Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Long weekend

So Kitty's half-term break occurred and we all had lots of fun - felt like more than just a couple of days too, which is always good. We had a slightly delayed start on Saturday morning, when I remembered I'd not managed to get my flat tyre repaired and during which time Kitty managed to lose her second tooth:

But once that was done we picked up on other (A, who I used to work with in Aberdeen and who has accompanied us on a couple of other trips), then met the other family just coming for the day en route. For anyone else wanting to find their way to Maji Moto (hot water), it's easy enough for the first bit - drive to Boma Ng'ombe, 10 mins East of the international airport and head south on a track just a few m east of the road to Sanya Juu. There's only one track that really leaves the town in that direction, so if you get a km or two you're probably on the right road! Once you hit the railway after about 11km pick up someone who'll give you directions for the last 5kms. And Maji Moto is certainly worth visiting - seems like some enchanted glade, with the fig trees and palm trees shouding the crystal clear spring water - you'd never know the dry bush all around was an environmental disaster zone!
Mama demonstrates fearless monkey antics and makes impressive splashes...

When we got there a group of Austrian tourists were already in place, but we still got a nice spot and enjoyed a peaceful swim before a group of familiar faces from Arusha turned up with 15 children in tow! The rest of the day was quite noisy, with lots of very happy children (and adults) enjoying picnics, swiming, climbing and swinging - much fun had by all.
Daddy takes the plunge...

Eventually though the day trippers left and we put our tent up with just the four of us. Marshmallows (or Marsh-Melons if you ask the Mancub) were toasted, children put to bed and the fireflies came out, a genet ran along the branch in front of us, and a greater galago (bush baby) put in an appearance behind. All very nice. We even experimented with the extra slow shutterspeeds avaialble on the new camera...
Mama encounters stange animal and carrot at 15secs...
Fireflies make stange trails too

Sunday morning was beautifully peaceful with lots more swimming, a little exploring for the Mancub and I (with one or two nice birds to report - Pygmy kingfishers were fun around the tent, the dry bush had Rufous Chatterer and a very obliging Slender-tailed Nightjar,
Pygmy Kingfisher
Brown-breasted Barbet in nest
Slender-tailed nightjar are hard to spot suring the day!

whilst all the northern migrants were on their way (swallows and sand martins gathering on the only power line for miles around!) and African silverbill was always nice to see - widespread but often rather scarce.

We struck camp, had lunch and one last swim before heading off on the next stage of the adventure, meeting other friends at Simba Farm, a working farm of about 3500acres on the western slopes of Kili where we'd booked into the guesthouse for a night. The guesthouse is actually the original farmhouse, built in 1924 - rather more rustic than a lot of accommodation in Tanzania, but the beds were big (huge!) and comfortable, and it was a novelty to be cold in the evening again!

After exploring the garden for a bit, the rain up on the mountain managed to hold off long enough for us to head out for sundowners in the open vehicle they have at the farm, where three girls had a fun time on the back seat and we enjoyed spectacular views of the rain on the plains below as the sun set.

Kids fed and in bed, we enjoyed a lovely meal of farm produce before hitting the sack. And Monday we had a lovely walk to the river in the forest just behind the farmhouse - more Colobus were waiting for us, whilst Mountain and Cabanis's Greenbul offered more subtle highlights.

Coming back to the farm via the market garden where the crop pests soon found the most yummy strawberries,
a quick jump on a tractor for one happy boy,
and lots of animals to play with too.
All good fun. And then time to enjoy the gardens and toys before a late lunch and eventually time to go home.
Butterfly sp. Trust me, I'm an ornithologist...
Check the ponsettia too!

Just like Portugal, but you can count them!
Only somewhat spoiled by Mama being violently ill most of the way home and heading straight to bed on arrival, and myself only just managing to keep going until about 1min after getting kids to bed before I too succombed! Happily it seemed a rather short-lived thing, just leaving us both a bit shaky today.

As a final note, today I spent the morning hunting for internet access, then being summoned to the lawyers to be given THE LETTER! There was indeed a letter, but not saying exactly what I'd thought it would say - guaranteeing only our safe departure from Tanzania, and not (specifically) our return. The lawyers are confident, however, that that won't be necessary and we'll just be able to come in on Tourist visas when we turn up again, no problem. I'm still not 100% convinced (just as an aside, to any of our more recent visitors, were there computerised records made of your arrival and departure at KIA?), but think we might just have to take it on faith...

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