Monday 13 November 2006
We had a nice lie-in this morning but were awake for the sunrise and then it was really too bright to sleep. We finished packing and then at 08.00 headed over to the dining banda for a hot breakfast and Heiko had the cinnamon pancake.
We saw quite a lot of squirrels this morning; two ran in front of me on the path and then were running up and down a ladder. We also saw (and smelt!) fresh elephant dung next to our tent. Heiko thought he saw cat spoor – perhaps hyena?!
Another couple that were just finishing breakfast as we arrived were greeted by elephant at 07.00 this morning and at that time were expecting the tea and coffee wake up call. All they could see were the legs of the elephant – they showed us the photos.
At 8.30 we said our goodbyes to the staff and headed off for the airstrip with a game drive en route. We saw so many red-billed hornbills together in quite a large group and in the distance saw a large family of elephants. One elephant was close to the road and our driver stopped (as we requested) but right alongside it, a bit too close really and the elephant was facing us just 1.5 metres away. He gave a little trumpet. We were too close for photos but also you felt best not to make any big movements (like picking up the camera and changing for a smaller lens) in case the elephant came for an even closer inspection or got annoyed with our closeness.
We moved on and saw a bunch of giraffe eating together, some zebra and we saw a breeding herd of impala and tried to take photos of them; we had no luck following them and eventually stopped to take photos whilst anticipating where they would walk.
We saw a lone warthog trotting into the sandbed and a bachelor herd of impala grazing underneath the palm trees. The air was very still, not even a faint rustle of the palm leaves. We crossed the Mwagusi River to see patches of green grass and small pools of water. With zebra and impala dotted around us as we crossed to the other side.
There was a welcome breeze as we drove downhill passing through the tall bush, we watched a bachelor herd of impala cross the road ahead of us and they lingered by the side as we passed them. Now and then we saw dwarf mongoose run along the ground.
Climbing higher the views were fantastic and there was lots of bright green foliage amongst the rocky hills. In the thick bush we saw five female kudus and a dik dik (there must have been another one nearby too but the bush was so dense we couldn’t see one). A group of kudu were later spotted sleeping in the shade of a larger boulder.
We passed some really stunning landscape with zebra, giraffe and impala dotted about, mostly the area was dry with only a hint of green but amongst the dryness were some trees with very bright, almost luminous greens in their leaves. We watched a large group of banded mongoose rush over a rock and soon we arrived at the airstrip where there were small groups of zebra not far away.
IMG: Natalie taking photographs of Ruaha’s landscape
We got talking to some others, a guy from Preston (a town not far from Bolton, UK) who was visiting Dar es Salaam for work and adding on a few days safari to the trip, and Heidi a German lady who has visited Sylt many times!
Our little 12-seater plane arrived at 11.45 and was almost full. We first made a stop at Jongomero airstrip (still in Ruaha) and then made two stops in the Selous before arriving in Dar at about 15.00. We were then taken to the Slipway where we had a day room at the Souk.
IMG: Dar es Salaam from the air
There are a number of small curio shops at the Slipway and we browsed for a short time. There was a really nice bookshop and then we headed to Fairy Delights to get some ice creams. It was so nice to have something cold finally! We went back to the room to shower and change then had another ice cream before we left for the international airport.
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Check-in was fairly simple but the heat in the airport was almost unbearable. We eventually managed to find a spot close to a fan and then our flight was called. We didn’t go straight away because we were happy near the fan but after passing through the final security check we found there was air conditioning, and there were some seats available near one of the air-co machines! We would have moved sooner had we known!
It wasn’t long till we were on the plane and very much looking forward to going home. The flight was 9 hours and we tried to sleep for most of it though we couldn’t get comfortable in the seats. Not only that but there were some very loud and irritating snorers sat just behind us – I tried to drown them out with my music!!
When we stepped off the plane the sun was just coming up and I was so happy I couldn’t help smiling. We were so close to being back home with Eddy and Freddy (our cats)!! We have really missed them!
The train journey was short and we took a taxi from the station to home. Both the boys came to greet us as we opened the door and we scooped them up in our arms. I’m sure they are glad that we’re back; we played with them for a while and then unpacked. I had a shower and stayed there for almost an hour relishing the fact that the water was hot and that it wouldn’t run out any moment (we had been limited to a 20 litre bucket each in most of the camps) and the water was clean and fresh instead of oily and smelling of the campfire. And I finally had conditioner again (I had ran out the day of our trip and never had chance to buy any).
We headed off into town to do some quick shopping but soon tiredness was creeping in and when it was only 14.00 it actually felt like 18.00 and by the time it was 20.00 we had to give in to sleep and went to bed. Tomorrow we review our photos …or at least make a start!