Our four camps in Selous and Ruaha will be closing for the rainy season around 24th March – Kwihala camp closes a little earlier, on 1st March. They will all re-open on 1st June, and Mbweni Ruins Hotel is open all year round – no closure.
Here is a little news on our properties:
Selous Impala Lodge, overlooking the Rufiji sunset
Selous Impala Camp – Jan 2012
The camp continues to thrive, situated as it is on the Rufiji in the ever popular Selous Game Reserve, only an hour’s flight from Dar es Salaam. The camp is pretty full in February and March this year, partly because of the fantastic 4 for 3 low season offer we have in place.
Selous Wild Dogs – photo by Dominic Oldridge
Wild dogs have again been seen in the Selous this season.
Lake Manze Tented Camp – January 2012 Newsletter
|Lake Manze in Jan 2012 – full to the brim
The rains have almost finished here in Selous, in the whole month of January we only recorded 16mm, but there has been so much consistent rain up in Ruaha, that our lakes here are huge and they completely flooded the shore around, that is usually dry.
Some roads have disappeared now under water; water is so close to the camp that we can now see some of the animals that usually prefer to stay close to it: like for example the big water monitor lizard I found yesterday on the veranda of tent no. 12, basking in the sun looking at the landscape that the lake offers now.
The water also opened up the way to the airstrip. Sometimes the guests are collected by boat as the channel to the Rufiji is open, with the water being so high. Straight away they can experience an adventurous boat safari for a couple of hours on the way to the camp.
A mum lioness this month has been the star of the game drives. She and her two cubs showed up almost every day with long sessions of playing and stalking little lizards and squirrels. We see them growing up and this is great.
Doing the same are the pack of 18 wild dogs we found around Beho Beho area. It seems to contain lots of half grown puppies who are now learning how to hunt, looking at the efficient strategy their parents use.
Together with the big animals’ sightings we can also mention the tiny and inoffensive bark snake we found in camp a few days ago. It is a Hemirhagerrhis nototaenia, very agile climber on quite vertical and difficult tree trunks.
Our Wild Firends – Genets
Its 2:00 p.m., the sun is high in the sky, silence around, everybody is having a little nap before the afternoon activity, waiting for the sun to go down a little bit. Phil and I are sitting in the office, doing our daily duties, when we hear a strange crying sound just a few feet away. It’s a few weeks that we haven’t seen “our” genet.
It seemed to have disappeared, and we have been quite concerned for her, so we both run to the entrance in order to look outside hoping to see her. We hear it again, we look, we search but nothing! Once again, and again, and finally it’s there! No! It’s not her, it’s her kitten. Not one but two of them. She’s had kittens.
This is great news, she had disappeared to give birth to two fantastic tiny sweet kittens! One is right in front of our eyes, near enough to touch it if we wanted, but he was so quiet that we almost couldn’t spot him. The one making the noise is now probably experiencing his first outing from the nesting place. He’s literally running away from the mum, down the Doum palm here beside us. Mrs genet is running around trying her best to catch at least one of the kittens wandering around. When one is caught by mum’s mouth, by magic the other one leaves his games and follows the mother diligently, back to the nest.
Sarah and Phil, lake Manze Camp Selous
January 2012 Newsletter: Kwihala, Ruaha NP
young Bat-eared Foxes, Ruaha
A drop of rain falling onto the dry ground is like cold water being poured into a glass destined for your lips: it provides sustenance and renews life, it cools and it cleans; its vital, critical. We sometimes take that for granted, especially since many human lives are so viscerally separated from the real and tactile significance of it… yet it is by a very great measure, probably the most single important resource human beings have for their survival. Indeed, for the survival, growth and reproduction of almost every other living creature on planet earth. And so, Ruaha is wet and lush and verdant now and a renewal of life – with a little death thrown in for good measure – is taking place at a breathtaking pace.
We are daily witnessing butterflies & bees and all manner of nature’s inordinate fondness for ‘small life forms’ busy about their daily activities and replicating their kind in almost every corner of the landscape – what an incredible eruption of colour and movement! Witnessing the tail-end migration of Common & Brown-veined White butterflies drifting across the woodlands reminds one of snowfall almost they are so numerous! Perching on every object from their specific host plants to lion scat provides for interest and entertainment and wonderful photo-opportunities. The grass has become a verdant ocean drifting and swaying in the afternoon breeze, whilst Kudu and Giraffe even partake in ingesting some of its sustaining goodness, a broad departure from their otherwise obligatory diet of bushes and trees.
Watching lions hunting Lesser Kudu, Impala and Giraffe here over the last month has provided us with dropped-jaw excitement at times, and they have in so doing not failed to enthrall and draw the gaze of our guests who have the good fortune to come and stay for a while with us. January has seen a drop in leopard sightings but we have had 3 memorable experiences with these “Princes of Darkness”, once a leopardess deciding she ‘liked’ the vehicle and stayed walking around investigating the environment for some time, rolling on the ground, stalking prey, staring at the tyres (fascinating for leopards you know!) and then sauntering off into the savanna. A few steps and all that is seen is the white tip on her active “tell-tail” drifting effortlessly… silently… throught the long grass. “Death in the Long Grass” to borrow a phrase from another writer.
Elephants have been numerous and beautiful to spend time with in this stunning landscape of running rivers, mud and soft rain. We got a little wet… so what? So did the elephants! So many antelope and other larger game species, elephants certainly not excluded, are so enjoying the absolute abundance of food that surrounds them that they are engaged in social activity for much of the time. Watching baby elephant go to sleep at the feet of their mothers; and at other times having the “free time” to push and thump each other around, play in the water and mud and soft cool sand, allows one to really take a look through the proverbial ‘keyhole’ into their lives! Spending time with these animals, great and small, is what turns an ordinary ‘game drive’ into something more, an experience with nature, a chance to spend some ‘oblivious time’ in the “now” where you forget everything else and witness a spectacle which brings a smile to your face but pushes that smile deeper down. Elephant have the capacity, through our knowledge of their exceptional intelligence and their obvious gargantuan proportions, to really slow us down and make us start taking notice of beauty just for the sake of it, silence for the calmness of it, sound for the feeling of it and awe that something could be so big and yet so gentle. Delicate almost. The 28th of January was exceptional… over 25 different herds of elephant in one morning!!! The day before in the same area… one solitary, lonely bull!
|Ruaha Wild dogs, January 2012
We had I think 5 or 6 Wild Dogs sightings in January – it’s not Selous, but it’s Wild Dogs! The pic here was from a sighting I enjoyed by myself for about 2 hours, following a pack of 29 dogs. Eventually we left them as some of the guests needed to ‘mark territory’. The dogs followed us (unbeknown to us of course) and pitched up with all of us standing around the car enjoying a drink and discussing them! A few minutes later we watched them kill a baby warthog not 20m from the vehicle, all of us standing around still with glasses in hand!!
We’re having fun out here! All the best and hope to see you soon.
presently in Ruaha N.P. Tanzania
www.clearlyafrica.com (the manager guides at Kwihala are supplied by Clearly Africa, and spend approx 3 months each in the Ruaha)
RSA +27 83 564 3041 TZ +255 76 385 7736
Mdonya Old River Camp – January Newsletter
Mdonya and the surrounding Park has changed overnight with the much anticipated rains, from a dry and harsh environment into a lush and green Garden of Eden. Bone dry riverbeds have turned into flowing rivers, hippos that huddle anxiously in tiny caked puddles of water are now wallowing in deep pools and the elephants are out in great numbers, covered in mud, spraying great streams of water over their backs. The impala’s coats are glossy with health and the zebra fat with feasting. At camp our little office has all but disappeared into the overhanging foliage. It is a wondrous sight: the Great Ruaha’s waters glinting in the sun as you fly in to land at Msembe. An amazing transformation. What an incredible start to the new year of 2012!
It is said that the top 3 rarest creatures to be seen in Africa are the aardvark, the pangolin and the caracal, in no particular order. Guests at Mdonya had the most unbelievable luck recently to find the elusive pangolin, a nocturnal, incredibly shy and rather odd looking creature. This wonderful specimen, large for its species, was spotted trotting along happily close to one of our roads near to the camp. With all the excitement and noise, this fellow, not being a fast mover at the best of times, dug in and stayed put, as pangolins are wont to do in defensive mode: the best option once spotted. He thereby gave all our guests the very rare opportunity to really get a close-up look at one. Chances are that none of us will ever see one again. The clever creature waited until all of us had visited, and as we drove away, we saw him uncurl and walk off, which we would have paid large sums to get a picture of, but none did, and the mysterious pangolin got the last laugh.
Our Wild Friends – Chameleon
There have been so many through the start of this year in and around camp. Herds of zebra – who we don’t see here at all in the dry – have decided to make Mdonya camp their grazing grounds for a while and their many hooves can be heard thundering around in the evenings. Two lions graced us with a stealthy walk-past the dinner table as we had just settled into our starters at dinner – the starters went cold of course… the big cats always steal the news in the dry season.
In the wet we think it right that the smaller creatures get their just coverage. Enter the chameleon, which we don’t see here outside the rainy season: a most marvellous creature that appeared near the office, all flashing green and yellow, and a lot of black, a reaction to all the attention it wasn’t too pleased about. It’s amazing 360 degree rotating eyes watching our every move, its legs jerkily moving forward in very measured and slow turns, swaying gently backwards and forwards, as a means of camouflage, mimicking the movement of leaves and branches. Once safely back in the foliage, it turned a beautiful luminous green.
Mbweni Ruins Hotel in Zanzibar
The Mbweni Ruins – the old arab house
We have been repairing the historic ruins – 6 lovely rooms are being built into the “Industrial Wing” overlooking the palm gardens.
A “Wellness centre” including a spa aromatherapy centre has been installed in a wing of the old Arab house, the oldest part of the Mbweni Ruins.~
The current rooms have been refurbished and in some cases enlarged.
Mbweni is a lovely place to relax after safari – and our new Arusha-Ruaha-Selous-Zanzibar packages are making this easier than ever for the cost-conscious clients.
Take a look on our website in the Specials section :
please ask me for Agents’ nett rates for these packages.
- you can book a 6 to 9 night safari from Mbweni Ruins Hotel in Zanzibar, to Ruaha and Selous, beginning or ending in Arusha – for an unbeatable rate.
Valid (using high and low season rates) till 20th December 2012:
Agents’ Rates: Mbweni-Selous-Ruaha-Arusha Packages
Please don’t hesitate to ask me if I can help with rates or info any time.
The House of Spices in Zanzibar
|The House of Spices, Zanzibar