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Friday, October 23, 2009

Male Lion resting - Maasai Mara, Kenya

4 September 2009 Just a nice shot of a male lion resting in the late afternoon sun of the savannah plains of the Maasai Mara in Kenya.

Wildlife from the Balloon Safari - Maasai Mara, Kenya

Some wildlife photos taken 5 September 2009 during the early morning Balloon Safari over Maasai Mara in Kenya.

Herd of Elands - Selous GR, Tanzania

Elands - see one of the posts before I left for the Moose confusion - are the largest Antelopes. They can weigh about the same as a Buffalo. And they are huge.
Quite funny that they are very skittish as well. What's there to fear? Anyways, they always run off when they hear a vehicle or spot humans. I did not see them but in the far distance like in Masai Mara. Now we were a bit more lucky. Perhaps at 50-70m. Can't guess distances.
For those who like to do maths:
Photo taken with Canon EOS 350D (lookup the resolution and specifics), with 200mm maximum zoom (use the conversion to correct for this non-full frame body) and from the books or Wikipedia you can find the size of the Elands. Take the portion of the image of the Eland and you should be able to calculate the distance the photo is taken...
Please comment the answer!

Giraffe in the dry bush - Selous GR, Tanzania

Nice contrast. Dark blue rain clouds. White, very dry and thick bush. Red leaves and grasses on the ground. And a Giraffe - a Masai x Reticulated Giraffe hybrid - walking in its graceful slow pace through the thickets.

Leopard sneaking around - Selous GR

21 October 2009 - Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

Selous is not crowded. During a day you may encounter all - like - 8 4x4's a few times. You have your space. It's very bushy, much more forest and half forested areas than Serengeti. A leopard is a very rare sighting. Our guide - Tende of Afriroots, a true bushman - has only encountered leopards on 5 occasions in the last 7 years. And then mostly just hidden up in a tree.

We were driving around for a while. Started our game drive early, at 6:50. Around 9 there was word from 1 of the vehicles that there was a leopard walking around. With cub! So each vehicle encountered was informed. In Selous you can drive off road, unlike the parks in the north. Without going off road, it's impossible to track down leopards. The bush is very thick. You really have to follow tracks and understand behaviour of animals to be able to find them. All cars drove across the bush, trying to find a trace. From 2 angles another 4x4 and we ran into the leopard! It was walking around, the cub on some distance running around. Brilliant!

So far I had only seen leopards up in trees. Mostly hidden, dark. Only once a great moment in Serengeti where it descended from a tree. But it was already close to sunset then.

We followed the leopard. Which is not that easy. You have to drive around bushes, around trees that have been torn down by elephants. And still follow the leopard. It moved up into a tree for a while. Then it moved slowly towards the lake. From the dry bush, to the more lush - but still dry - grounds with palms around the lake. On the move for food! A herd of impala's was at the lake shore. By now more vehicles were joining us - and giving everybody space, this is not Serengeti.

A sighting of a leopard - even one in a tree - is even that rare, that everybody driving around the park will be informed. Also all lodges and camp sites in and around Selous are informed. Guests that are not on safari, but in the camp, are driven to the leopard. Courtesy service. For free. Just to give some context to the sighting...

The leopard was then moving out of the bush, along some palm trees. The cub had hidden somewhere in thick undergrowth. The leopard walked a bit. Layed down. Took cover behind an old log, looking at the impala's. Going slowly into stalking mode, close to the ground. By now some impala's have spotted the leopard and ran off. More impala's ran off, making alarm calls.

Quite a brilliant day, I must say. My best leopard photos ever! Just posted some photos that contributed to the story. Have many more.

Elephants with few days old baby - Mikumi NP, Tanzania

16 October 2009, Mikumi National Park

This was fun. Just at 20m, 2 female Elephants with a baby Elephant walking around. It was just a few days old!

Day 53: African Flu?

After Mikumi I made a comment about sneezing. It was no allergy. Probably caught a cold from the lovely Tanzanian girl that sat next to me in the bus towards Mikumi. She was blowing her nose and stuff. Lack of sleep and perhaps fruit (VitC) did the rest. Made sure I had some reasonable sleep (at least 6 hours..), lots of fruit juice. And lots of fruit in Selous. So it was cured quickly. Luckily enough.

Day 53: Photos!

Next to the photo series of the Martial Eagle, I've also uploaded some more photos.
- Butterfly - Kibale Forest National Park, Uganda
- Cheetah (2 photos) - Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. The same Cheetah of the Bohor Reedbuck kill. You can see some blood around its mouth.

Day 53: Patience

If Ma is also a bit patient; I'm now posting a complete photo story on the Martial Eagle attack. So you don't have to go to Flickr straight away :P

Martial Eagle attack - Photo series

23 October 2009 - Mikumi National Park, Tanzania
Now the photo story of the Martial Eagle doing a failed attack on the young Impala. Click on a photo for a larger version.

Flying in.

Ready to get the Impala. The Impala seems to be unaware of what is coming, but jumps away with a squeek when the Eagle is coming close.

The Eagle just misses the Impala, who runs off in the dry grass. The Eagle lands while the young Impala ran out of sight.

The Eagle just looks around and thinks (add your own anthropomorphic thoughts here, since I have no clue what's going on in or with the Eagle).

The Martial Eagle takes off.

The Eagle finds a tree as a look out and resting point for a future attempt.

Martial Eagle attacking young Impala - Mikumi NP, Tanzania

23 October 2009 - Mikumi National Park, Tanzania
This is one of those rare moments.
A lot of times you see a raptor flying over. You try to make a photo. It usually fails. The vehicle you are in is driving, you move your camera, the raptor is moving, you can't get it right in the frame, it's not focused, it's too far away. This time we stopped for a group of lions under a tree. I saw a raptor coming towards us. I started to shoot photos. Trying to focus while moving the camera. The raptor, a Martial Eagle, was coming down. Saw it land on the dry grass. Only then I saw the young impala fleeing after a short squeek. Turns out I have several pictures of the attack. This is the only one in the series that's reasonably sharp, not so much moved and well focused.
The Eagle just missed the young Impala. In the series of photos - I'll try to blog them later, already uploaded smaller versions of the photos - you can see the Impala dive away.
This is to me a fairly unique shot. The Eagle just fully visible from the right angle. Claws stretched out, Impale diving away.
I cropped this photo so the scene is well visible.
Ah, the moments :-) Every safari has its moments and this is certainly one that made my Mikumi NP safari!

Day 53: Blogger errors?

Hmm. Can't seem to go to my blog; gives errors. Can't log in to Blogger as well. Hope this won't take long... And all my posts (like this) still end up there. Long live using other technology (my own) for posting to Blogger!

Day 53: Internet

So, I'm in an internet cafe again. Let's see what I can do. Uploading photos perhaps?

Day 52: YMCA

21:00 At YMCA nice chats with German girls, Dutch long time traveller and Dar's only female taxi driver. Now bed.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 52: To Dar

12:21 Half way back to Dar. #Tanzanian SIM has network again, you can SMS me there. Let's try YMCA for space.

Day 51: Bushbaby

18:53 Just saw 'my' Bushbaby! A glimpse in my light, jumping from tree to tree and some squeeks. Cool Prosmians.

Day 51: Frisbee

18:33 Played frisbee and had Rufiji Spritzers on a sandbank in Rufiji river with hippo's and sunset in the back.

Day 52: Kitchen Havock

2:13 Big bull elephant cracking wood, breaking plates in the kitchen hut 25m from my tent. Selous is wild...

Day 52: Walking Safari

6:42 Last Selous adventure: 2h walking safari. Cloudy and rainy. With armed ranger. Will be cool.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day 51: Leopard

10:18 #Leopard with cub walking out in the open. Mom stalking Impalas at the lake. Off the road is brilliant!

Day 51: Selous c'est ou?

6:18 Selous: Game Reserve in south west Tanzania. Bigger than Switserland. Few tourists. Game drive time!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day 50: Wild Dogs

18:34 Great day at Selous. Mainly woodlands. Lions with Zebra kill up close. 2 packs of Wild Dogs, hurray!

Day 50: Selous Game Reserve

9:08 Now entering #Selous via Mtemere Gate. Hot already. Hoping for Wild Dogs.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Day 49: River

20:53 Boat safari on Rufiji river. Crocs, hippos, lots of birds. Finally saw a Giant #Kingfisher. Great dinner.

Day 49: Selous

14:35 Now in Selous River Camp. Tanzanian SIM has no network, so send SMS to my Dutch number, maybe you are lucky.

Day 49: To Selous

8:12 Now in the Landcruiser on my way to #Selous. The party of 3 I join are 3 British guys of around 29, 30.

Day 49: Contrast

9:37 Nice: the 3 stayed in Kilimanjaro #Kempinsky (most lux. 5* hotel), me the only white in budget hotel.

Day 49: Bad Network

10:03 The mobile network seems to be pretty bad. So if all remains silent, it's because I can't blog via sms.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Blog comments

By the way, blog comments are more than welcome!
You can - but don't have to - be logged in to Google or Blogger to leave a comment. But you can also do it anonymously.
I like to hear your thoughts or responses on my stories :-) Bit of feedback from abroad.


Aan veel dingen hier raak je gewend. Je ziet ze niet meer. En - zeker als je niet buiten Westerse landen gereisd hebt - kunnen een cultuur shock of ongemak veroorzaken.

Ok. Waar raak je gewend aan (incomplete lijst):
- Douchen met koud water (heel soms geen water)
- Toilet doorspoelen met een emmer. Gebeurt soms.
- Stroomuitval. Soms heb je geen ventilator en dat zuigt. Of kun je je telefoon niet opladen. Met safari's is het allemaal *net* goed gegaan met batterijen en image tank opladen.
- De geur van Tanzanianen. Italianen, Chinezen, Turken, Nederlanders, Tanzanianen, Egyptenaren. Iedereen ruikt anders. Tanzanianen ook. Je raakt ook gewend aan hun zweetgeur (deo?).
- Stof
- Locals die klagen over de hitte - niet ik.
- Swahili om je heen horen.
- Vereenvoudigd Engels gebruiken als automatisme. Niet "I'd like to make an inquiry of the actual location of a bus station in the vicinity of the ferry harbour", maar "Where is the bus station?"
- Niet snacken. Weinig althans. Geen zakken chips of chocorozijnen.
- Veel rijst eten.
- Kip, vis en run waar je naar eetbare stukken moet zoeken. Kippenhuid, geitendarm, pezen, botsplinters. Het zit er allemaal in.
- Locals die proberen Mzungu prijzen te rekenen. Gewoon koppig volhouden als je weet wat b.v. de echte taxi prijzen zijn.
- Daklozen op de straat van Dar es Salaam. Gewoon midden op straat slapen en je was doen. Bedelende vrouwen negeren.
- Elke Tanzaniaan die mijn Sony-Ericsson Xperia telefoon ziet is zeer nieuwsgierig, wil weten hoe duur hij is en wil hem kopen.
- Wisselende stiptheid. Tanzanianen die zaken willen doen, zijn meest zeer stipt. De taxi staat er niet om 5:30, zoals besteld, maar om 5:00. Afspraken met tour companies: ze bellen me als ik 2 minuten te laat ben. Dat zijn degenen die goede zaken doen. Anderen niet. Die zijn wat later. Komen ergens op dagen. Zij worden niet de succesvolle zakenlui.
- Uitgebreid groeten. Een hele cyclus van (willekeurige woorden) mambo vipi poa habari za leo nzuri safi sana sawa fresh. En met (nog) vreemden lang handenschudden. Oudere man in supermarkt hield b.v. 3 minuten lang mijn hand vast terwijl hij met me sprak.
- Zoete Fanta. Hij is erg zoet en erg oranje.
- Rondzeulen met mij day-pack. Afhankelijk van de boeken die ik meeneem praten we over continu 8 tot 10 kg. Merk het niet meer.
- Rugzak indelen en spullen eruit gebruiken. Je wordt handig.
- Rondlopen. Ik loop liever dan voor elk wissewasje een taxi pakken. Het is maar 20 minuten of een half uur lopen. Ik loop zo'n 1 a 2 uur per dag denk ik.
- Slaap missen. Soms is het te heet. Soms te lawaaiig. Soms misschien de malariapillen. Heb al vele nachten van nog geen 3 uur slaap gehad. Je overleeft het. Soms 's middags een uurtje meepakken.
- Niet Nederlands praten. Soms kom je Nederlanders tegen. Grootste deel Engels. Was ik al gewend voor m'n werk. Soms ook Duits of Frans. Of paar woorden Swahili.
- Dagelijks een paar keer bloggen.
- Droog suf witbrood met Blue Band (overal Blue Band.. Goede marketing) en te weinig jam. Overal bij het ontbijt. Vaak ook nog gebakken (eigenlijk gefrituurd...) ei. Met geluk nog fruit en/of vruchtensap.
- Vroeg opstaan. Als ik de wekker laat zet, is het 8:15. Daarna ben je toch wakker. Of anders ben je niet op tijd voor het ontbijt. Of moet je al op pad zijn. De Zwitsers klaagden dat de Landrover om 6:30 kwam voorrijden in Mikumi. Ik vond het een billijke tijd.
- Moslims, Indiers, moderne vrouwen, vrouwen in wikkelrok, big mama's, tengere meiden, opgepompte beachboys, arbeiders met vieze kapotte kleren, Masai. Je hebt het allemaal.
- Verkeer dat links rijdt. Nog steeds niet helemaal gewend aan rechts-links kijken ipv. links-rechts kijken.
- Palmbomen, baobabs, acacia's. Mooie grote bomen hier :-)
- Georganiseerd zijn. Complete financien worden opgeschreven, uitgewisselde adressen genoteerd. Leve mijn 'schrijfboek'. Andere reizigers hebben geen of geen recente Lonely Planet. Weten niet hoe een ambassade of consulaat te bereiken. Worden bestolen. Een goede voorbereiding... Is ook voor het eerst voor mij. Werkt wel ;-) Heb overigens al teveel geld uitgegeven. Och ja...

Selous River Camp

Tomorrow I'm off with Afriroots ( ) to Selous Game Reserve. Paid this morning. All ok :-)
With 3 other travellers I know nothing about (not even country, age or sex; ah the old AOL / mIRC days with ASL checks..).
We will be staying in Selous River Camp, outside the park. We will take the park entry near Mloka.
We will sleep in tents.
- drive at 7:00 from Dar to Selous
- late afternoon boat safari on the Rufiji river

- full day game driving

- full day game driving

- 2h walking safari in the morning
- driving back to Dar

Dalla dalla en HIV

Kun je HIV krijgen van reizen in dalla dalla's?
Dalla dalla's zijn soort minibusjes waarin veel, heel veel mensen passen. Voor lokaal vervoer. Je hebt er geen personal space. Hell, zelfs personal belongings is twijfelachtig. Je kunt zomaar zonder je portemonnee weer buiten staan. Met grote daypack rugzak is het ook niet praktisch.
Zat volledig klem in de dalla dalla een paar dagen geleden in Dar. Volledig rechtop staan kan niet, ben te lang of het dak is te laag.
Vanwaar die HIV associatie? Welnu. Ik zat zowaar op de achterbank van de dalla dalla - een rit van 45 minuten. En toen moesten we er snel uit. Dus langs, door en over iedereen. En mensen stonden klem tegen de bankjes. Kon er niet echt door. Als we allemaal naakt waren geweest in de dalla dalla, dan had ik te gelijkertijd zowel de vrouw links - waar ik buikwaarts langsging - als de vrouw rechts zwanger gemaakt. Bij een succesvolle bevruchting hoef je minder dicht tegen elkaar aan te staan en door te duwen en beuken. Dames klagen en piepen, maar ja. Je moet erdoor...
Gelukkig had ik mijn kleren aan. Geen HIV, niemand zwanger voor zover ik weet, niets gestolen. Ervaring rijker.

Japanese Tourists stuck in Moshi

*Newsflash* Japanese tourists unwillingly gathered in Moshi

Recent reports show that most Japanese tourists in East Africa end up unwillingly in the Kilimanjaro region.

Each time a Japanese tourists boards a bus or taxi, they have the tendency to greet the driver in Japanese. After hearing the Japanese 'Moshi moshi!' all drivers take the unfortunate travellers streight away to the town of Moshi in the Kilimanjaro region. So far the majority of Japanese tourists have not managed to leave Moshi or after an attempt just end up in Moshi again.
The Japanese consulate in Dar es Salaam is working on a solution.

How to get a bus

In Mikumi - half way Dar es Salaam and Iringa or even further Mbeya - there is no office for the buses. The plan was to buy a return ticket from Mikumi to Dar before I left. Scandinavian Express won't just stop in Mikumi. And if it does, it for sure does not have a seat available. All seats must be reserved.
So, how to get a bus.
It starts with having faith.
You go on the bus from Dar to Mikumi on Wednesday. For that bus you have a ticket. Well actually you have a ticket to Iringa or Mbeya, just get out earlier. In Morogoro - at two thirds of the way to Mikumi - there is a Scandinavian bus stop with office. You get out. Talk to an older guy. Write down his phone number. You tell him that you want to return on Saturday. No, Saturday. You repeat Saturday about 10 times until he does not say Thursday or Sunday anymore. You are supposed to call him Friday morning. You get off in a hush hush way in Mikumi. All fine.
Friday morning you are in a Landrover crossing Mikumi National Park. You call the guy - have no name - and the line is really bad. You explain him that you want to go back from Mikumi to Dar on Saturday. No, Saturday. Repeat Saturday a few times. He tells you he has to check with people in Iringa. Ask for some confirmation. Bus leaves at 'white bridge' in Mikumi. Can't pick me up anywhere else. No idea where that bridge is. He hangs up. In Tanzania people don't confirm the end of a conversation. No 'ok' or 'bye'. Just hang up. Leaving me a bit puzzeled.
In the afternoon you just call the guy again. He actually confirms that I can go with the bus. Hurray.
Saturday morning you try to find the 'white bridge' - don't leave it to the last minute. There is none in Mikumi. There are no bridges here. However, there is a 'weigh bridge'. All the passing trucks and buses must be weighed. So that's where I'll have to be.
You make sure you are at least 20 minutes early at the weigh bridge. With all your luggage (or, as they spell it here sometimes: lukage).
Then you wait. At 13:00 there is of course no bus.
Finally at 14:25 there is a bus. You run along with the bus - it's not waiting, just getting weighed and move on - and a guy running with your heavy backpack trying to open a compartment in the meantime. You don't hop onto the bus until you are sure your backpack is stowed away and the compartment closed. You jump into the bus. The guy there escorts you right away to chair 44. He knew I was coming. The local girl that was sitting there is chased away (I reserved the chair for the complete ride: Iringa to Dar, so Iringa to Mikumi she was just lucky).
About 2 hours later you get off in Morogoro. So far I did not pay a shilling. The older man right away comes up to me.
You go into the office. The man knows you have seat 44. You pay for your ticket - full rate Iringa to Dar (well, that's 18000 shilling, as opposed to 15000 shilling). They swap around some carbon copies and you are off.
Apparently the whole chain works. Just requires some faith and trust that all will work out. In the end I was at 20:00 at the Scandinavian office in Dar. Not really a 4 hour ride, but hey, you are there. Only drove for 2 hours in the dark - something you'd want to avoid.

Day 48: Pop Inn Hotel

11:38 So, checked out with YMCA, moved to Pop Inn Hotel near Lindi street, opposite of Mirage Hotel.

Day 48: Wake Up

8:05 Nice to be woken up by #church organ and singing next door. But why does 1st service start already at 7?