Again we were the only ones on the Cessna, and my youngest took the opportunity to sit by the pilot to ask aviation questions (he wants to be a commercial pilot)
Selous is Africa’s largest game reserve which is protected by UNESCO. The majority of the area, south of the Rufiji River is set aside for hunting and only 8% in the north is dedicated to photographic tourism.
At Selous we were met by our guide Hamadi. The landscape here again is very different. Lots of trees, woodland and rocky outcrops giving way to wide grassy valleys
Sand Rivers is a relaxed camp which overlooks the river. Similar to Mwagusi Camp, the rooms are spacious with en-suite bathrooms. Our ‘room’ overlooked the river where the hippos are very vocal – day and night!. They reminded me of Santas’ and their guttural ‘ho ho ho’ sounds!
The following morning we opted for a trip on the river. Along with the masses of hippos in the river, birdlife is abundant. We were rewarded by being able to observe both bird and animal life. Monitor lizards, blue monkeys, hydrax and the striking black and white colobus monkey with its long beautiful fur.
There were several Goliath herons and we stopped to watch one as it caught a fish, then went on to ‘rinse’ it in the water only for a fish eagle to swoop down and steal it!
There were lots of giant kingfishers with their large crests and spotted white on black upper parts.
Inside the overhang of a rock, Hamadi spotted a leopard. Even with binoculars I could only just make it out! We stopped to admire it and after some time it left the overhang and went into the bushes. Before it disappeared it turned around. A vision etched in my memory.
The leopard was within the hunting reserve and therefore most likely to hunted and shot. A sombre and most unwelcome thought.
Finding a sandy area we stopped for breakfast and tried to do some fishing. Mr. W caught a tiger fish and I caught a rock!
Later that evening we managed to watch a family of lions cubs playing a raised wooden platform set amongst some bushes. Two of the cubs jumped off into the undergrowth with the third not feeling so brave. He came down the steps. Priceless!
The early morning walk was educational and most enjoyable, learning about the different plants, trees, what they were used for, symbiotic relationships between plants and insects, between animals, exploring the skeletons of elephants that were scattered amongst the landscape…
As with all our guides, we were impressed with their animal and flora knowledge and expertise
On our last day we headed to the hot springs. The springs were natural and untouched. There were 3 of them, the first at the top, being the hottest and the one at the bottom was like having a bath!
On route, Hamadi said there was a surprise ahead. A pair of lions were asleep next to the road.
Around the corner was a lioness whose eyes seem rather soulful.
On our last evening we went by the river for our final sundowner. Sundowners are a common feature to end the day. As well as the drinks we were able to taste a number of different local snacks – smoked coconut shards, cashew nuts…
The sunsets were stunning. Add a gin and tonic and its unforgettable.
Our time in East Africa was truly fantastic. We felt very fortunate, blessed, privileged…to have the opportunity to spend some time in this wilderness and to learn about the animals who live here.
In all we took over a 1000 pictures and then went on to purchase a better camera in Dubai, on route home.
Here are a small sample of some of the other wildlife seen
A huge thank you to our guides Geofrey at Mwagusi Camp, Ruaha, Mollet at Nomad Chada Katavi and Hamadi at Sand River, Selous for sharing their wisdom and to Milly at Nomad Tanzania for a most unforgettable experience.