Safari in Selous – A Honeymoon Ending for Naturlists


Posted by admin | Posted in Africa, Birds, Mammals, Photography, Safari, Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania, Wildlife | Posted on 03-04-2011

Selous Game Reserve – on paper Africa’s largest protected wildlife reserve.  This is where we chose to polish off an unforgettable wedding/honeymoon trip.

Staying at Lake Manze camp we had just 3 nights to explore as much as possible.  Although Selous covers more than 5% of Tanzania’s total area, in reality the majority is a hunting reserve and just a relatively small area north of the Rufiji river is kept for ‘photography hunting’ or eco tourism.

From the small Coastal aeroplane I spotted my first giraffe and within the first 20 mins of the gradual drive from the airstrip toward camp my wildlife spotting senses were already in overload.  Plenty more Giraffes and Impala seemingly in a any view you chose from the jeep; and it was the view that struck me hard…

Usually our nature driven trips have been to tropical rainforests and we are well used to have no more than a couple of metres visibility both left and right with the only distant view being ahead down the path your are walking (and even that depends on how well and straight the paths have been cut).  So sitting in an open 4×4 Landrover and looking not just forward for a km or more but all around to both sides and seeing mammals off on the horizon – this was a whole new ball game in our mildly obsessive wildlife watching world.

What stood out to me as much as the game viewing was the birdlife, not just in quantity and variety but in beauty.  the Rollers and Bee-eaters have such striking colours but then also the 5 species of Kingfisher we saw, the number of raptors (from Osprey to Sea Eagle, falcons and so many vultures) and even the common passerines were interesting; perhaps not surprising being our first ever visit to Africa so all was pretty new and fresh.

One of the main reasons we chose Selous over, say, the Serengeti or Ngorongoro, was for the relative peace and quiet of the reserve.  During most drives we only saw up to 2 cars passing by and never another vehicle whilst watching an animal – the one big exception being on the final evening when we went out to observe a pride of lions with 2 males (brothers).  In that instance it probably resemebled the hoards that you hear about in Kenya or North Tanzania since we had 3 or 4 jeeps at one time in the same area.

The two the major attractions of Lake Manze camp were:

1) It is situated on the lake so you can mix up the activities by taking boat safaris.  This really gives you variety; the birding was superb and the viewpoint is always different from the water.

2) The camp is not fenced, you are staying in extravagant tents which means that wildlife can, and does, come right up to.

As well as having Impala and Monkeys within 10m we also had two special moments.  I never realised how silently a big elephant could sneak up on you!  One lunchtime we were relaxing on the tent porch when he appeared through a bush. As he came closer we went inside the tent and watched through the mesh window as he virtually brushed up against the canvas!  The Masai do look after you but hadn’t noticed this one so we just enjoyed the experience and let the elephant get on with his stroll.  In the bush everybody and everthing makes way for the elephants.

The other moment was during the night of a full moon; in the middle of the night a storm had passed over with a typically heavy tropical downpour.  Afterwards I had been awoken again but by a different sound, a sound of munching.  As it approached I could see moonshine but could not distinbuish its outline until my eyes adjusted to its great size and traced the outline of a large bull hippo under the moonlight!  He edged closer, regularly tearing huge amounts of grass and munching away.  Imagine the sound a cow makes when tearing up grass, now amplify that 50 times.  We watched this hippo as it stood as close and can be just a metre fromt he tent side.  Everytime we made a slight rustle it would stop, listen out and everntually carry on his midnight feast.  Everybody always says how dangerous they can be and having seen them running on dry land the previous 2 days I could well believe it.

Our first time in Africa, our first Safari and at the end of our honeymoon after a special 2 weeks that included a wedding in Zanzibar.  A great way to polish of a great trip for 2 newleywed nature lovers.

See all Safari photos here.

Photo Poem: “Sparse”


Posted by admin | Posted in Birds, Photo, Photo Poem, Poem, Poetry | Posted on 04-11-2010

Photo Poem: “Sparse”.

One of many new poems now up.


Number of Bird Species…


Posted by admin | Posted in Birds, Nature | Posted on 07-03-2007

No wonder I got into all the amazing variety of birds down there…

Number of Different Bird Species in the Continents:

3,200 South America
2,900 Asia
2,300 Africa
2,000 North America (from Panama north + Caribbean)
1,700 Australia + surrounding islands
1,000 Europe
65 Antarctica

Las Islas Galapagos – wow!


Posted by admin | Posted in Birds, Ecuador, Galapagos, Isla Isabella, South America, Travel, Wildlife | Posted on 30-12-2006

The time we spent in the Galapagos was just fantastic.

We did some big day trips on different types of boats, numerous day trips on land by walking or biking and saw such an amazing variation in countryside – for example wild cliffed islands, paradise style beaches, lava flow areas with cacti forests – constantly changing vegetation and of course the most awesome wildlife you could imagine.

The marine life was definitely a major highlight since we saw things I’d wanted to see all my life but some I never thought I would. Pods of dolphins diving in and out of the sea passing our boat, a group of killer whales also diving in and out later that day or the ocasional sea turtle – I even swam about with one – but more often seen when coming up for air. One night we were sat at the bay of the most populated town in the islands and I thought I saw something in the water with the streetlamp light; a few seconds later a turtle popped up right in front of us for a gulp of air and dived back under!

That’s the way it was pretty much. There’s life everywhere, of course far more in the less accesible parts but even right on the edges of populated places.

Without a doubt our favourite island was Isabela, the largest, even thought we only saw a relatively tiny fraction of it. From the port village walking along the beach we found the most idyllic individual beaches I’ve seen; and some less than an about 40mins walk. What adds superbly to these quality, secluded beaches is the life. You’re usually only sharing it with big marine iguanas, some sealions, bright crabs and, with luck, penguins or rays! On the main beach I watched a group of at least 20 penguins hunting in front of me whilst I was chest deep in the water. Until then we had never seen groups of more than 8 or so! Plus the birds and sealions would get in on the act and take easy pickings among the feast. It was natural events like that that made it such an awesome experience.
I think what surprised me most, and ended up being my favourite animals to see, were the rays. On the first boat trip we watched the ‘wings’ of huge Manta Rays flipping about on the sea surface, then soon after we watched them leaping well out of the water and belly flopping or sometimes flipping and back flopping on the surface. Then one passed right by the boat at the surface and i saw its shocking size and beauty as it drifted by. After that we saw rays loads in various situations – often the big mantas jumping and flipping whilst we chilled on the beach. Occasionally, however, we saw beautiful Spotted Eagle Rays swim close to shore and a few times we swam with them including a time when we were snorkelling with loads of Galapagos sharks and Reef Sharks on a day trip and a group of 5 Eagle Rays came along and drifted around proper peaceful. So cool to watch them ‘flying’ through the water. Then there were the smaller sting rays we’d see hiding in the sand in the shallows which were cool to snorkel with and once we saw a school of Golden Rays off a boat – a stunning sight.

Getting between the major islands we took what was probably the worst boat ride experience of my life – thank f*ck it was only 2 and a half hours – and after that dodgy journey we decided on a flight to skip 2 more similar boat trips. The plane was a cool 8 seater with 6 people. I jumped at the chance to ride up in the co-pilot seat like the little child that I am. It was coooool!

As you can probably tell, this was all ideal for me. An amazing trip and still sooooo much more I could say.

Oh well, hopefully the snapfish pics will say more than a thousand waffled words….