EAST AFRICA - SOUTHERN TANZANIA to ZANZIBAR
For those of you who know me and even for those that don't you maybe interested to learn that it was my interest in wildlife that kicked off my interest in photography, so when the chance arose to book an African Safari with my partner Rachel I was in my element. Initially the idea began after we received a holiday brochure from a travel agent specialising in VERY high end wildlife speciality holidays. After reading the brochure and choosing our favorite one I decided that I could probably work it out & book it myself and that of course was what I did, saving £3000 in the process! Yes you read that right £3000!! It involved a great deal of work in the planning and a few anxious times getting everything to fit together and even the odd panic of a flight reschedule which I sorted, which is of course just one of the reasons why most people use a Travel Agent. If you cannot cope with this worry and time spent planning than a Travel Agent is still the best option but I would certainly book my own trip again.
So the trip began by flying to Dar Es Salaam (Commercial Capital of Tanzania) with Qatar Airways (awesome) via way of Manchester to Doha (Qatar) this involved two 6.5 hour flights. We left Manchester 20.50 Hrs on a Monday finally arriving Dar Es Salaam the day after at 14.10. We then overnighted before going back to the airport the following morning for our 8.30am Coastal Aviation flight to Selous Game Reserve.
Coastal Aviation fly 16 seater Cessna's (including use of the co-pilots seat for passengers!) landing you on sandy runway strips in the bush, right on the edge of Selous Game Reserve. The experience and views from the plane were amazing, though you must remember this is now Africa and things can run very "pole' pole'" (slowly in Swahili) so when a plane is scheduled to leave at 8.30am it does not always mean it will be 8.30am that day but may even be the next day! Fortunetly for us we found Coastal to be very efficient; indeed being almost always very close to the scheduled time of arrival/departure. (Would avoid FastJet by all all accounts not very fast at all).
On arrival at the terminal hut (literally) with Fire Engine standing by (yea right!) we were met by our guide & driver from Selous River Camp who introduced himself as POKO. I choose Selous River Camp for a number of reasons: Close to Game Reserve entrance whilst not actually being inside (saved money on park fees which can mount up), entrance was literally 5 mins away from camp: SRC offered Game Drives, Walking and Boat Safari's (not offered in the North of Tanzania ie Serengeti) all which we were eager to try. The camp also had lots of great reviews on tripadvisor & facebook and was more competitively priced than other camps. SRC offer both Tented and Mudhut accommodation. Being the start of the short rain season we opted for the mudhut to ensure extra shelter but also the Mudhuts had views of the great Rifiji River below, complete with bathing Hippos! All of which were very vocal and added to the great bush living experience. Selous River Camp really looked after us with a very friendly helpful team with a relaxed style and I couldn't recommend them enough!
The Selous Game Reserve is a scenic wilderness covering over 50,000 Sq KM making it one of the largest protected areas in Southern Africa. The Great Rifiji River runs through the Reserve forming channels and ox-bow lakes as it goes. These give way to riverine forests and swamps, woodlands, open grasslands and acacia clad hills, making it home to large populations of Game. This is one of the few places in East Africa where you can experience not just game drives but also boat and walking safari's.
A Selection of "IN" Camp Visitors:
ON SAFARI FULL DAY GAME DRIVE INCLUDING PICNIC LUNCH IN THE BUSH
The following day we set off with guide & landcruiser into Selous Game Reserve on our first full day Game Drive. POKO our guide/driver had both amazing driving skills and knowledge of both the local area and its wildlife. My god there was nowhere this man would'nt take his landcruiser in order to get us the best possible views of wildlife. Some people may find this a little challenging as you are jolted around both on unmade roads and off road in some occasions as sharp Acacia trees pushed themselves through the open sides of the jeep but we found it all part of the excitement and loved it!
Of course the spectacle and closeness of the wildlife is simply amazing and I would urge anyone with or even without an interest in wildlife to try the experience.
A spot of Yoga in the morning for the pretender to the king of the jungle!
A young Marshall Eagle with his freshly killed baby Impala, soon attracted the attention of many Vultures!
Who would mess with this guy???? Well no one unless you are another hungry vulture that is!
Not all plain sailing on the roads of the Selous after a downpour!
Bath Time for Baboons Classic Acacia tree scenery, caused by Giraffes eating the lower branches
In the Selous it helps to use two heads always better than one
Look like rains a coming
What a better way to get around than to use the Hippo water taxi!
EARLY MORNING WALKING SAFARI (2Hrs) PLUS FULL DAY BOAT SAFARI ON THE GREAT RIFIJI RIVER
Walking safaris are a fantastic way to get close to nature and you learn more about the smaller species and the bush itself. It's an unforgettable experience to walk within such a vast and untamed area of natural reserve(with Park Ranger & GUN). Although we spotted some Giraffes, Impala and Warthogs on the walk and also walked in the footsteps of elephants, the walking safari gave us the opportunity to learn about the things you miss from a vehicle or boat & the ecosystem that the animals live in. We Learned to identify animal tracks, Sh*t and signs and hear fascinating information about the insects, trees and colourful birdlife.
Giant Termite Mound
The Selous is one of the very few game reserves in Africa where you can view game from the water, and after the dust and bumpy roads of a game drive, there's nothing more relaxing that drifting along the river watching the wildlife.
The Boat safari was an ideal way of enjoying the stunning scenery of the Rufiji River with its many hippos, crocodiles and beautiful birdlife. Definitely not to be missed was the sunset from the boat - there is nothing quite like the peacefulness of the river, hippos honking all around you while the sun dips below the horizon. Oh and the unbelievable closeness that you can get to open mouthed 2M long Crocodiles!!! We certainly felt that now;...... we were in Africa!
Living Life on the edge with this Yellowbilled Stork, note the shape in the bottom right corner
African Fish Eagle battles with Falcon in mid air!
That just about completed our boat safari but there are many more pictures to see if you wish by going to the full gallery at the base of this Blog.
The following day and our last day in Selous we enjoyed another full day game drive. here are a few highlights which included getting stuck in the mud and having to be towed out whilst searching for Lions!!!
Marshall Eagle, check out its catch under its foot!!
After four fantastic days spent at Selous it was time (sadly) to bid farewell to Poko our guide to move on; but wait we were not going home but taking another internal flight further into the interior of Tanzania to explore the great Ruaha National Park.
Read all about our adventures in Ruaha in the next installment of this Blog.....coming soon!!!
To see all the 700+ images that I shot in Selous Game Reserve feel free to visit the full gallery at: http://www.markflynnphotography.com/selous