My East Africa, Madagascar & other wildlife photos

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day 61: Lushoto

19:38 3h to get at Tumaini in Lushoto. 1.5h waiting for dalla dalla car to leave Bumbuli. Real dalla dalla in Soni.

Day 61: Empty

16:52 Empty, satisfied. 6h of forest hills. Black-and-white Colobus monkey, Chameleon attacked by ants, big insects.

Day 61: Cardio

10:37 Steep, slippery rainforest hike. Hardly used trail to Mazumbai Forest Peak. Severe cardio fitness! Nice view.

Day 61: Peak

8:28 This morning a hike to a peak in Mazumbai Forest. Lovely sunny weather again, three days in a row.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Day 60: Swiss

18:29 Staying at a colonial Swiss house. German books from 1930s to '70s. Like Sound of Music with rainforest.

Day 60: Hike

16:34 Hiking secondary forest only. Tree ferns, 2 chameleons, huge logs on the trail, nice bugs, flowers, creeks.

Day 60: Stubborn

10:50 Started in Bumbuli. Not Soni. Stubborn enough to have a 10kg day pack. Cameras, water, wild life books..

Day 60: Mazumbai Forest

9:08 Stacked in a car to Soni. 2 days of Mazumbai Forest. Bring in the endemic birds, lizards and plants!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ginger Nut biscuits

Gisterochtend op het busstation een pak biscuitjes (kaakjes voor sommigen ;-)) gekocht. Veel te duur. Want dure biscuitjes en import. Nevermind.
De biscuitjes zijn van Bakers uit Zuid-Afrika. Ze heten Ginger Nut biscuits. Zijn hard en crunchy met een lichtplakkende beet maar toch droog genoeg om niet aan je tanden te plakken. De bijtsensatie lijkt op het bijten in een Duitse Pfeffernuss (pepernoot), voor wie ze wel kent. De smaak? Een combinatie van gemberkoekjes, bitterkoekjes en eerder genoemde Duitse Pepernoten. Zeker smakelijk.

Day 59: No Hotmail

For those who mailed me: it's impossible to access Hotmail somehow. Login page is stuck. So, next time I'll read it.

Tomorrow: Mazumbai Forest Reserve

Wednesday 29 October.
Thursday and Friday I'll go on a 2 day hike through Mazumbai Forest Reserve.
This forest lies in the north eastern part of the Usambara Mountains (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usambara_Mountains). Unlike other forests in the Usambara Mountains it is totally untouched by man. No deforestation, no pollution. Half of it is used for research by an agricultural university. The other half is open for tourism. And that's not mass tourism. I expect to encounter no other tourists on our hike. The forest reserve is sometimes compared with the Galapagos. It contains a lot of endemic species, especially of plants and trees, but also some birds and frogs. A lot of them are not even described scientifically. There's also the Black-and-white Colobus, to appeal to my taste for monkeys - which is in turn another taste for monkeys (especially Black-and-white Colobus) that chimpanzees have. The Mazumbai forest is a montane tropical rainforest. It's dense, with a lot of big trees. Hopefully brilliant :-)

I'll go with Friends of Usambara again. We go with a German couple and the earlier mentioned Spanish guy. We will take private transport to Soni (east of Lushoto), from there walk through the farmlands to the forest for about an hour. Then hike for 3 or 4 hours through the forest. Have lunch in the forest. Walk some more in the forest and spend the night in a guesthouse in the forest. Think it's some old Swiss mission. The next day the Germans leave to Soni to catch the bus to Tanga. Their leaving includes an hours walk through the forest and a walk along the villages and tea plantations on the eastern side - the edge of the eastern and western Usambara - of the forest to Bumbuli. There a car takes them to Soni.
We'll go with another guide for about 4 hours of forest dwelling. Then have lunch and follow the same route as the Germans to Bumbuli. From there the public bus back to Lushoto.

Talking about less traveled roads: this is one. I think it's a yet undiscovered gem. Let's see. Can't do much wrong with tropical rainforests. Love it!

Day 59: Mazumbai Forest coming up

Thursday and Friday I'll hike in Mazumbai Forest. Likely bad phone reception, so no blog and Twitter.

Friends of Usambara

I booked my hike of today and those of the upcoming days through Friends of Usambara. See http://www.eco-ventures.org/fou .
This organisation supports the local community and local development projects. All guides and staff are from Lushoto. It's setup together with the Dutch development organisation SNV (http://www.snvworld.org/en/Pages/default.aspx ). Another German organisation is helping as well. So hiking here supports the local community. Schools, disabled people, improving agricultural yields, sustainability, avoiding erosion. All good stuff.
More fun: the last 2 weeks half the people in the Friends of Usambara guestbook - on different dates - came from Utrecht in The Netherlands, where I live.

Day 59: Irente Viewpoint

16:02, 29 October.
Today I did a nice walk to Irente viewpoint together with a Spanish guy and our guide.
A nice walk around the villages in the western Usambara Mountains. See the banana trees, fields with cabbages, pieces of forests, rocks, people from all the villages walking to Lushoto for the big Market Day.
You also see the results of local development projects, aided by German organisation and the Dutch SNV. Like schools for blind and autistic people (there was an albino kid walking around the blind school; good place to live in peace without people judging you by your albinoness). Projects to retain soil on farm hills (by planting a certain type of trees between the crops). Good stuff! And my hike was a contribution as well.
Relaxing walk to the Irente Viewpoint. Which is really great. You are at a high viewpoint at the edge of the mountains. You can overlook the flat Masai steppes. Vast plains with just an occasional mountain. You see all the villages and the Dar es Salaam to Arusha highway. Sisal plantations next to the main road. Great to sit there for a while at the rocky peak and drink a Stoney Tangawizi you bought earlier. Borrowed the wide angle lens of the Spanish guy. If you want to have a moment to use a fisheye lens, this was the right moment. And luckily he had a fisheye lens and a Canon camera :-)
On the way back we stopped at Irente farm for lunch. This farm run by a South African - Swedish couple also supports local projects. And they make great goat cheese, quark with herbs, rye bread and more. Tasty lunch!
Afterwards an easy descending walk back to town. Made a detour through the big market. Fun and colourful. Local produce, second hand clothes, meters of soap, dried fish. It's all there.
And now just a few minutes of internet. Pole pole. Slow internet.

Day 59: Irente

12:40 At Irente viewpoint. Overlooking the flat Masai steppes and towns there. Usambara Mountains meet the plains.

Day 59: Photos

8:18 In the Flickr photostream on my blog are more photos than those blogged about. Like a shitting Fish Eagle.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day 58: Hike plan

18:14 Tomorrow 5h #hike to #Irente viewpoint. Hike with Friends of Usambara Society, setup with Dutch #SNV.

Day 58: Lushoto

13:24 Checked in to Tumaini Hostel in #Lushoto. 1200m, Usambara Mountains, not 35 degrees anymore, no palm trees.

Day 58: To Lushoto

6:48 Take the 7:00 Saibaba Express bus to #Lushoto. Hiking the #Usambara #Mountains between Dar and Arusha.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 57: Shopping

18:54 Went to Msasani Slipway on the peninsula. Bought some non-standard original postcards. Who will get them?

Lion Schedule

Africa's largest cat activity schedule for today: Just lion around.

Day 57: SMSable

8:52 For those who missed it: yes, I'm textable again! Preferably on my Tanzanian number.

Day 57: Leaving Dar

8:41 Tomorrow I leave Dar for sure. And why is The Phantom of the Opera theme playing in my head?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 56: Phone Works

19:03 Phone works again! Repair guy checked. Needed short power boost to wake up dead battery. Sms me :-)

Lilac Breasted Roller - Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania


Giraffes in the woodlands - Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

20 October 2009.
With this picture you get the scenery of Selous a bit. Woodlands, some lakes. Giraffes and zebras running. Sweet!

Lioness resting after a kill - Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

20 October 2009.
A pack of one male and 2 female lions resting under a tree. Next to them is a freshly killed young zebra.
Just a close-up of the lioness.

Yellow Baboon drinking from the lake - Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

20 October 2009.
Just a scenic picture.

Video: Olive Baboons making havock of a tent

6 October 2009 - Lake Nakuru, Kenya.
When you camp at the central park gate at Lake Nakuru in Kenya, make sure you do it properly. So no cheap and unstable dome tent. These Olive Baboons had some fun. Running around between the outer tent and the inner tent. When we arrived, the tent was in pristine condition. When we left not so... One baboon started to jump on the tent. More came and the havock began. We observed it with laughter and great amusement. We did not have our tents there. And if we had, we would have secured them a bit more properly.
This 55 sec. movie does not show the complete story. It went on for many minutes...

Day 56: Route Planning

Monday 25 October. Route Planning. Almost seems like work. But not anymore... (for the insiders: ;-) )
My plan was to be a bit adventurous and go to the west and experience some great landscapes and unique ways of traveling. But the time schedule will be a bit too tight. And some things too uncertain to make it happen. I'll share my plans anyways.

The plan:
- Dar -> Mbeya: Take the Scandinavian Express bus from Dar to Mbeya. That's in the south and a jumping point to Malawi. 12 hour bus ride.
- Mbeya -> Sumbawanga: Take the Sumry bus to Sumbawanga. That's 7 hours and closer to Lake Tanganyika.
- Sumbawanga -> Kasanga: Take a bus. Apparently it goes several times a week. So very tricky. Can take up to 6 hours. Kasanga is the southern most city in Tanzania along the Lake Tanganyika coast.
- Kasanga -> Kigoma: Take the MV Liemba. This boat is the attraction, across complete Lake Tanganyika, which forms the western border of Tanzania. Takes from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. Ferry goes only once a week and you should have gotten your ticket way (many days) in advance, so there's another tricky part. Can I get a ticket from Dar? And will I make it on time?
- Spend a day in Kigoma. No plans of going to the nearby Gombe Stream National Park. Seen chimps already.
- Kigoma -> Dodoma: Take the train from Kigoma to Dodoma via Tabora. Train is dodgy. Should take 24 hours, but can easily become 40. Train goes 4 evenings a week. Don't know yet which nights. And tickets should be reserved well in advance. Time wise interesting part. And good place to keep a very close look at your belongings.
- Dodoma: Spend a day there, plan it as a backup for delays. Dodoma is the capital and very central in the country.
- Dodoma -> Kondoa: Bus north to Kondoa (route Dodoma -> Arusha). Should take about 4 hours.
- Kondoa-Kolo Rock Art: Ancient rock art sites, worth a visit. Age between 200 and few 1000 years old. Have to organize local transport.
- Kondoa -> Babati: Bus should take half a day. Just an overnight stop, since the bus to Arusha would take too long and you don't want to arrive around midnight in Arusha.
- Babati -> Arusha: Bus should take half a day or so. From Arusha I will fly back to The Netherlands.

If you count the days, there should be some margin. However things were too uncertain, tight and could not get proper info in the weekend. Besides that, you would be traveling most of the time. Without much rest. Almost 3000 km trip round Tanzania is too much. But fun to explore ;-)

Day 56: Internet

Let's do some internetting while I wait for somebody who can show me a phone repair guy.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Day 54: Dancing

Saturday 24 October.
Time for some dancing. Did not do any proper dancing since I was in Africa. Yesterday a bit.
The good places are on Dar's northern peninsula. So that was where I was heading.
First went to Q-Bar. Typical place. Men hanging around, watching sports on the numerous screens. Women - well, women in business - walking to the bathroom (ah, just call it toilets) and back, pretending to have a goal but the money of one of those Wazungu. By now I see a pattern: where there are a lot of people with money - that is more than the average Tanzanian makes - there are girls walking around. Was a bit boring in Q-Bar, so moved on.
I ended up a bit early in Garden Bistro. Nice place. Sports on the big screen. Not so nice. Well, gave me something to do. The music would not start until 23:00 and crowded only way after midnight.
Nice mix of people there. You had some groups of expats. Some Asians. Quite some Indians - who love to dance actually. Some locals. The occasional tourist. And nonetheless a bunch of prostitutes. Where prostitute is a grey area. A lot of girls have too tight, slutty or reveiling clothes for normal Dar standards. But just some of them are actively approaching men. Dancing, shaking their ass, making conversation, flirting, rubbing asses against men. Most girls are just dancing with friends / colleagues. Seems to me for them it's just business on the side. Not their everyday job.
The music was varied as well. Some reggaeton, some Tanzanian hiphop. Some western hiphop, recent and older dance and house classics. Indian dance house (not really Bhangra). Some techno.
Talked with some local people, met one Dutch guy from yesterday's expat rooftop party as well.
I did a lot of dancing. Fun! Long time ago I did that. Danced with some Indian guys who had their moves. Well, some did. Fun nevertheless. Explained a stubbern but pretty prostitute that I'm not into that stuff at all. And she played innocent, just wanted to offer me a drink. Yup. And expect me to pay for horizontal services later. Not in my lifetime.
As the evening progressed, the number of drunk hookers was getting higher. Well, they are also just girls in their early 20s having a night out. And if somebody wants to dance with me, better move along with me. If you are a drunken skinny girl in business, it's not charming if you can't really dance. Hell, she could not move streight and was almost falling over.
Then there is this older Indian guy with moustache that grabs every young girl he can find. A bit too much all over them. They tolerate up to a certain degree, since it may be business... Fun to observe all behaviour. At the end of the evening, most girls seemed to have no business yet. Or they had returned from sneaking out? Don't know.
Loved the dancing, danced for hours. Ended the evening sober (between 9 and 5 I had only 4 beers). Had fun, was quite late. Back at the hostel at 5:00. This time I managed to wake up the security guard who let me in. Sweet. Tipped him a bit. Had some sleep.

Day 15: Young Chimpanzee climbing up a tree - Kibale Forest NationalPark, Uganda

15 September 2009.
Chimp Trekking. Fun :-) And this young Chimpanzee was climbing up the tree. Cute critter.

Day 11: Young male Mountain Gorilla Video

11 September 2009.
The young male Gorilla I've blogged about before. This photo was already published, but now I also uploaded a short video of the Gorilla.
Hope you like it!

Dag 53: Party avond

Vrijdag 23 oktober. Interessante en originele avond.
Op stap met lokale vriendin, Dars enige vrouwelijke taxichauffeur / student aan Dar es Salaams universiteit. Naar een lokale barbecue tuin waar voornamelijk locals zitten. Goede mishkaki (rundspiezen) van de barbecue! Er was ook nog entertainment. Dans, acrobatiek, jongleren. Soort van circus optreden. Best leuk om te zien. En paar erg lenige slangenmannen...
Daarna voor het contrast een biertje gaan drinken in Kilimanjaro Kempinski Hotel. Het meest luxueuze 5 sterren hotel van Dar es Salaam. In Level 8, de bar op de bovenste verdieping. Live band die lekkere jazz / funk muziek speelde. Airconditioning. Biertjes voor 5000 (Mzungu plekken: 2500-3000, local places: 1300-1500). Wat dure zakenlui. En prostituees. Nog nergens in Tanzania zoveel prostituees bij elkaar gezien. Hopen een rijke zakenman wat geld af te troggelen. En iedereen die daar zit is rijk genoeg :P Not my style. Brengt voor mij meteen het chique en nette imago van zo'n hotel omlaag. Mag allemaal netjes verzorgd zijn, het blijft een platte boel. En moeder de vrouw thuis weet van niets.
Daarna door naar een party van expats op een dakterras in een andere wijk. Weer via een Duitse expat die weer een vriendin van die taxichauffeuse is - en die ik inmiddels ook ken - terecht gekomen. Zij kende de persoon voor wie het feest was ook niet. Dus vriend van een vriend. Neem je vrienden mee :-) Het 30-jarige feestvarken was overigens zelf afwezig op het feestje.
Leuk uitzicht. Publiek comibinatie van veel Amerikaanse expats, wat Europese expats, wat locals die met de expats werken en een verdwaalde toerist (moi). Heb me wel vermaakt. Nog met een paar Nederlanders gesproken. En een Amerikaanse die in Mozambique gewoond heeft en ook capoeira doet.
En er waren ook nog een paar Koreanen. Werken als verpleegkundigen. Drie - waarvan een in buitengemeen kennelijke staat - wilden met mij op de foto. Polaroid-achtige camera. Heb ook nog een afdrukje gekregen. Waarom? "Because you are handsome." Het zal de alcohol of de krullen (hebben ze daar niet) zijn geweest...
Lag bijna op de grond van het lachen toen de meest beschonken Koreaanse met haar hoofd recht tegen een boksbal - voetbal grootte met zand gevuld - die daar hing aanliep en bijna neer ging. Te komisch. En ja, je had erbij moeten zijn. Ik was erbij. Dus lachen. Overigens ook nog lekker gedanst.
Daarna met de taxi terug naar YMCA. De receptie sluit om 23:00. Was er eerder om 23:15 een keer. Je kunt dan gewoon door het voetgangerspoortje van de ijzeren gate het terrein op en nog steeds door het hek het hosteldeel met de kamers in.
Nu was de gate helemaal dicht. Zag de bewaker zo gauw niet. Lag vast ergens buiten zicht te slapen.
Gelukkig is naast de gate een muur van zo'n 2,25m hoog. En handig ter decoratie heeft die muur vierkante gaten. Stenenuitsparingen. Handige trap, dus je bent in nog geen 10 seconden over de muur heen. Even door het gebouw lopen. Het hek naar de trappen van het hostel erg op slot. Geen nood, de stenen trap loopt aan de buitenzijde. Naast de trap is een traliewerk. Met drie horizontale balken voor versteviging. Ik noem dat trap. Dus het klimmen naar de eerste verdieping kostte nog geen 15 seconden. En geen kracht. Lukt zelfs met slappe armpjes ;-) Trap verder op en lekker slapen tegen een uur of half drie.
Leuke combi dus. Lokaal met entertainment, upclass met hoeren en expat party op een dakterras en wat klimmen. Heb me vermaakt.

Day 55: Phone Broken

Yesterday my phone fell on the ground. Now it's not working anymore. No SMS (blog). Tomorrow repair or buy new phone.

Day 54: Rain

10:09 Heavy rain shower for almost an hour now. Planning my route; have some new ideas. Maybe go to Lake Tanganyika?

Day 53: Climbing

2:06 Reception closes at 23h. Gate closed, climbed wall. Hostel door closed, climbed to 1st floor. All too easy.

Day 53: Party

0:56 Local BBQ place with live dance+music, Kempinsky 5* hotel for drink, now expat rooftop party. With local friend.