06.26.2013 - 06.26.2013
Today we were leaving the Serengeti to fly south to finish our safari with four nights in the Selous Game Reserve. This part of our itinerary was different from most first time safarigoers and we had two main reasons for choosing this. First, we wanted the chance to see wild dogs and Selous is the best shot in Tanzania to do so. Second, in Selous, we would be able to take boat rides amongst the hippos and crocs which would add a different kind of activity and perspective to the safari. The plan was for Maningo to drop us at the Seronera airstrip in the Serengeti and we would fly to Selous where we would meet our next guide provided by our camp, Selous Impala. So while we were sad to leave the Serengeti and Maningo, we were definitely excited about what was to come.
After breakfast, we settled our bill (which was quite reasonable after all those bottles of wine), said our goodbyes to Claudio and the rest of the wonderful staff, and left camp one last time.
On the way, we had a short game drive. These cape buffalo were having some breakfast.
One was missing a tail.
A topi paused to look at us as well.
A few minutes later, we arrived at the "airport" for our 10:30a flight to Selous.
Maningo explained that the car on the side of the runway was the chase car, used to chase wild animals off the runway.
This S&M looking bird is a gray-backed fiscal shrike.
Finally, our plane arrived. It was a 12-passenger tin can.
We both boarded only to find that we were one seat short. My seat. As it turns out, another plane was to arrive shortly and both were flying to Arusha at the same time. A father member of a four person family that was already seated was supposed to be on that other plane. But this family was all freaked out about being split up so the pilot asked me if I would mind flying on the other plane. He said he'd wait for it to arrive to make sure there were no problems. I didn't mind so I got off and we waited some more. Now I've never flown on a plane that small and just boarding that thing had made me claustrophobic so I was a little nervous about getting back on another one. I decided to take a little something to calm my nerves. My plane arrived and I boarded with our favorite Irish family from camp so I was pretty happy about that. Brenda was stuck on the other plane with a bunch of kids. Ha ha.
There was a fairly large area in the back of the plane so I decided to sit in the last seat. I thought it would help with the claustrophobia. As it turns out, I was fine so long as I read my Kindle or looked out the window. I did get a little anxious if I focused too much inside the cabin. Brenda's plane took off first and flew straight to Arusha. Our plane headed down the runway and suddenly the pilot hit the brakes HARD! I looked up and saw a gazelle dart across the runway. We had narrowly missed it. I guess the chase car guy was on lunch break. So we had to turn around and try again. Second time was success. We had to make an extra landing at Lake Manyara to pick up a couple of passengers.
After I used what was one of the worst public restrooms ever at the domestic airport in Arusha, Brenda and I met up on her plane to continue on to Dar es Salaam. We said our final goodbye to the Irish family (they were on their way to Dubai) and I once again sat in the last seat. The camp had sent us on our way with lunch boxes which was nice so we ate those and then arrived in Dar a short time later. While getting off the plane, the pants on the large guy next to me were half falling down so that his butt crack was exposed. He bent over to climb out and stuck that right in my face. It was lovely! I thought Brenda was going to die laughing at my facial expression. So it was back off the plane in Dar and then a few minutes later back on again for the final leg to Selous. Brenda and I were the only passengers. After all the stops and disembarking, we were still on the original plane from the Serengeti. It was kind of like riding a Greyhound bus. A short 45 minutes or so later and the pilot banked the plane to the left. I looked out the window and saw a small runway amongst a bunch of trees. I thought, holy crap, we're going to land there. And we did. Safely. Finally, around 3p.
Our guide and driver (we had two this time) from Selous Impala Camp were waiting for us. They had some fresh cookies and cold pineapple juice for us. We went on a short game drive before arriving at camp.
The first animals we saw were warthogs.
I finally got a shot of one on its knees eating.
We then came across a tuskless elephant. She had a calf with her who stayed hidden in the thick bushes. Our guide said that tuskless elephants are common in Selous, possibly due to interbreeding.
There are lots and lots of bones in Selous. We didn't see bones anywhere else on our safari as something always eats them. But for some reason, they remain in Selous. Maybe there is a shortage of the animals that eat them in Selous (like hyena). Here is a full giraffe skull.
A palm nut vulture in a tree.
The baboons in Selous are yellow baboons. The ones we saw in the north were olive baboons. Yellow baboons are taller and thinner.
After the short game drive, we made our way to camp to check in, meet the managers, and get settled before dinner. While on the drive, it became pretty clear that this guide was not going to be a good fit for us. He was very encyclopedic. Whenever we asked a question, he didn't directly answer it. Instead, we would get what sounded like a memorized, rehearsed speech. He seemed new and not very dynamic. He didn't ask what we wanted to see nor what we had already seen. Although we wanted to see whatever the Selous had to offer, we were here to try and see dogs so we wanted the best chances to do so. When we got to camp and met with Andre the assistant manager, I voiced our concerns. Our conversation was overheard by the manager, Barbara, who listened and took our concerns seriously. She said she would see what she could do to assign another guide to us.
We received a tour of camp while our luggage was taken to our tent. This is the main camp building.
Metal guinea hens on the stairs up the main building. My mother collects metal animals. I wanted to steal one for her but couldn't figure out how to take it home in my duffle bag.
Sitting area located on the right side of the main building. This is where we would meet each afternoon at 4p for snacks and to begin either the afternoon game drive or boat ride.
Dining area located on the left side of the main building. This is where lunch is served each day at 1p.
Bar area and firepit. This is where everyone gathers in the evening before dinner for drinks and to let your guide know what you want to do the following day (game drive, boat ride, etc.).
View of the Rufiji River from our tent.
Inside our tent. The bathroom is located behind the beds.
This camp has 24-hour electricity, running water, and flush toilets. There are even fans in the tents which were lifesavers since it was very humid in Selous (much like Florida).
Before dinner, Brenda went down to the firepit area to have a drink while I stayed behind for a shower. Some of the resident bushbabies were running around there and I'm sorry I missed seeing that. While she was there, she met our new guide, Ezra. Barbara was true to her word about assigning another guide and Ezra seemed like he would be a great fit for us. He knew all of the dog packs in the area and seemed very knowledgeable and personable. We were very happy with the change.
Dinner at Selous Impala is served at individual tables by candlelight (very romantic if you're not with your best friend) and each is a four course affair. You are assigned a waiter for the duration of your stay. Ours was David, a nice guy who couldn't understand why we never ate much of our soup course. We didn't because neither one of us wants to eat soup when it's hot outside and because the soup here was pretty watery each night. We had just come from Serengeti Wilderness Camp where the soup was tasty and creamy. Dinner the first night was vegetable soup, aubergine (eggplant) tempura, choice of honey ginger prawns or grilled pork fillet in coconut sauce, couscous, salad, and coffee nut cream. David also had to grasp the concept that we didn't drink coffee or tea after dinner; we drank wine or rum (usually a double). Poor guy....we are just so difficult!