Monday, June 9, 2014

Serengeti~Mahale May-June 2014 Days 15-17 June 9-11, 2014

Serengeti~Mahale May-June 2014  Days 15-17 June 9-11, 2014

Back to Reality ~ Not Quite Yet ~ Arusha

One more morning look across the lake to the Democratic Republic of Congo. It appears so peaceful and quiet, masking its serious humanitarian, wildlife and conservation issues.

Big Bird, ever so helpful, tries to unzip bags.

We spend two weeks chasing moths and butterflies, and then this one stows away, and takes the flight back to Tabora with us.

Our small plane lands at Arusha Airport, 

leaving a 5 minute drive to the Arusha Coffee Lodge.

We all think we are ready for a traditional, long, hot, steamy shower, but are disappointed. 
Bush showers are way better.

Shopping is always fun, with places like Shanga,

and Cultural Heritage,

and the Maasai Market

"Jambo, over here, look, look!"

The Blue Heron is our traditional lunch spot on the last day - a place to meet and greet locals.

On the plane about 9PM, overnight to Amsterdam, 
and a look at the caged animals in their zoo.

We start putting our "back-to-reality" faces on.

Thank you, once again, KLM. You continue to outperform Delta by miles.

Thanks, Paul, Jo and Jombi
Tim and Maureen ~ Ben and Holly
Dan and Betsy ~ Mike and Bev

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Serengeti~Mahale May-June 2014 Days 11-14 June 5-8, 2014

Serengeti~Mahale May-June 2014  
Days 11-14 June 5-8, 2014

Mahale Mountains National Park

It was raining on our last morning at the Moru Kopkes. After a slippery, sliding drive to Seronera, we were up and away into the blue Tanzanian skies toward Mahale. 

After a quick stop in Tabora for fuel, we could soon see the dirt runway leading to Eden.

Okay, so what if the first place we check out at a new camp is the bar.

To our surprise and amazement,  and soon, amusement, Greystoke Mahale has a mascot 
~ a Great White Pelican, washed in with a storm.

With a personality that won't quit, and a preference for boys, "Big Bird" did warm up to Holly.

©Paul Oliver

He's not allowed on the wood, and he knows it.

 But we were there for the mountains and the forest...

...and the chimpanzees.

While I was experiencing one of the toughest days of my life, climbing up and down and sideways for 4 hours, all the while muttering "Are you kidding me?", and dreading the 2 hour hike back down (the chimps were well worth the effort, and the view was great, by the way)...

...Paul, Bev, Tim and Ben were spending some leisurely time down by the lake with this young mother and her newborn.

©Paul Oliver

 But there's more to Mahale than chimps... vervets

 ...and the resident warthogs

...and another bar

 ...and as in all our camps, fresh fruits and vegetables and meats,
plus, "special orders don't upset them"...

One last sunset cruise...

...with Philbert

...a few Madagascar Bee-eaters

...a few hippos

...and one last sunset.

 Tomorrow we go shopping!
One more night ~ at the Arusha Coffee Lodge ~ a time to reflect leisurely, over the last two weeks' adventures.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Serengeti~Mahale May-June 2014 Days 7-10 June 1-4, 2014

Serengeti~Mahale May-June 2014  
Days 7-10 June 1-4, 2014

4 nights in a private tented camp, Moru Kopjes, 
set up by Colin and Laura of Ndutu Safari Lodge fame.

Of the two ways to get from the Crater to the Central Serengeti, we always choose, weather permitting, the road through Endulen; rolling hills and valleys of Maasai villages.

Jo arranged the great honor of stopping at the boma of Jo's good friends, Sangoyan Ole Dorup and his son Soningo Ole Sangoyan, of the village of Misigyo, region of Endulen, who first guided Jo on walking safaris in this region. Imagine our surprise when Soningo announced that he was attending college in New Jersey. 

We always make time to stop for trees & flowers...

... and babies.

Up and out of Endulen, the road takes us through Ndutu and Kusini, with a quick stop at Ndutu Safari Lodge for refreshments. 
Jo's meetings are always well attended, but apparently no one pays attention.

A Bat-eared Fox watches us drive by...

...while an Eland is mobbed - something you don't see every day!

Just north of Kusini. 
Bev had been wishing so much for a Caracal she finally spotted one...NOT!
It was a Serval Cat...

...for Betsy

We watched this lion ~ elephant standoff for hours.

Colin and Laura's camp was great!

Fires burn during the dry season, sometimes by nature, sometimes by local Maasai or park rangers.

"Oh boy, avocados again!"

"Wait, no, I think it's a tree." ~ "Maybe I should get a photo." 
"What do you think Jo?" ~ "I'm not sure...copy Paul?"

Where's Waldo?, I mean Paul.

These elephants were way up on top of a Kopje.

There's always time for picnic breakfast...

...and more lions.

A Long-crested Eagle

A word about the weather. We plan our trips according to predicted weather patterns. It's supposed to rain through April, making May lush and green in Moru. This year it was dry, and we missed the Wildebeest Migration by about two weeks. Then, by the time we headed off to Mahale, the rains started again, and there was talk of the herds returning. Go figure.

Both trips this year were the "Year of Lions in Trees"
It's usually females ~ males are too big & heavy ~ except this one.

I've never been happy with my Lilac-breasted roller shots. 
This comes close, but still fuzzy.

A male Impala and his harem hung out near camp.

Jombi did a great job, coming in at the last minute to drive for Jo, who fell off his tricycle two days before the trip, broke two toes and dislocated five. Probably didn't even hurt!
When Jambi's not guiding for us, he guides for National Geographic Safaris.

Hey, a kill is a kill, even if it's a Dwarf Mongoose and a Dormouse.

Just when you wonder what you'll see next...

Tomorrow, we look forward to a sloppy (meaning "exciting adventure") drive up to the airport in Seronera for our flight to Mahale Mountains National Park.