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November 2011

Selous Impala Camp

Posts Tagged ‘ Selous Impala Camp

B and T Rhyason

Edward,

We really wanted to thank you for your excellent knowledge and help in planning our trip. We were talking to a few different travel companies initially and you were definitely the most up front and informative person we dealt with. You responded very quickly and we definitely chose your company specifically because of how helpful you were. We wanted to recognize you for the great job.

Our first camp was Selous Safari Camp. We felt like royalty there. They looked after us very well and were very helpful and knowledgable. They sounded genuinely excited when you were going out on safari or just coming back with all your stories from the day. Our highlight at this camp was the boat tours which included a fishing excursion. It involved us catching 4 catfish while watching 26 giraffes lining up to cross a little creek, not to mention tons of hippos and crocodiles all during an amazing sunset. I think this may have been the highlight of our safari.

Also the walking safari was amazing in Selous. We really got to connect with nature and the walk ended at our fly camp. Fly camping was enjoyable, the accommodations were better than expected and it definitely wouldn’t be considered roughing it. We had a toilette and a shower inside our tent. The game viewing was exceptional at Selous and the only things we didn’t see where leopards and hyena. Jenny and Emiel were amazing hosts and had so many of their own stories to share. We would highly recommend this camp.

Our next stop was at Jongomero. The camp was beautiful and it was really neat watching the elephants and baboon cross the dry riverbed right in front of us while we were eating meals. Not to mention the few herds of elephants we could watch from our tent. A really neat experience there was getting to have dinner on the dry river bed under the stars at night. Our highlight at this camp was the walking tour with Molly. His knowledge of not only the wildlife but also the local politics as wells as the history of the game reserves and national parks was tremendous and made our stay very enjoyable. Molly and Noel always joined us for lunch everyday and made us feel really at home.

There was a definite difference in game viewing here. It was far more remote and you rarely saw another vehicle but with the bushy landscape it was harder to find game. There were a lot of elephants in this park so we got to have a few intimate experiences with them. If you do see wildlife in this park, you can stay and watch them for as long as you want because chances are nobody else will come along to join you. After talking to others that stayed in the same park but at the other end where there were multiple camps, our individual jeep viewing experience seemed really unique compared to their own experience.

The only recommendation we have is that if you had the chance to do both parks we would do Jongomero first as the game viewing is more sparse but intimate while Selous definitely seemed to be more exciting and varied with the combination of walking, driving and boat safaris.

Anybody who has an interest in crocodiles should definitely go to Selous and do the boat safari because the shear number of them was astounding and you could get up close enough to pretty much pet them, not that you would want to 🙂

Zanzibar was very beautiful. Ras Nungwi was really nice. While it was beautiful and we enjoyed it, it was similar to our vacation spots in the Caribbean and we were shocked by cost of things associated with the hotel. It was comparable to prices we were paying in Europe or North America. We really enjoyed our stay and didn’t miss out on anything due to price, we were just not expecting it.

Thanks again for arranging such an amazing adventure!

B and T Rhyason, Canada, 2011

J Johnston

TANZANIA – September 2011

Going on safari has been a dream of mine for some time, and it was with great excitement that my friend Laura and I set off for Tanzania in September 2011 for a safari trip, with three days on the romantic-sounding island of Zanzibar afterwards to recover.

We had chosen two adventure camps, both in the south of Tanzania, and the first was at Lake Manze in the Selous area. We got there in a small aeroplane from Dar-es-Salaam and it was exciting to look at the countryside from the air, knowing that we would be enjoying being in the bush very shortly.

We arrived at 9.30 am and set out straight away on a game drive on our way to the camp. We immediately saw impala, giraffe and elephants. We marvelled at the many birds and animals which seemed so plentiful. The beautiful spinosa terminalia trees decorated the bush with bright green foliage spreading out in a flattish form like so many umbrellas.

Arriving at the camp we were greeted by Sally and the other staff, and taken to our tent, which although basic and without electricity, had the luxury of a flush toilet and shower (with water heated by solar power) in open air underneath the sky – wonderful!

Lake Manze camp is near Lake Zerrakerra, so we saw a lot of hippos on our boat trips on the lake and nearby channel. At night they came out of the water and we could hear them chomping away on the grass very close to our tent, which was very exciting.

Having breakfast the next morning in the open sided covered area, we were thrilled to see an elephant amble by just a few yards away. There were no fences round the camp and when we walked between our tent and the main covered area we were always escorted by a Maasai guard, who made sure we came to no harm, especially when it was dark – lots of animals about!

We saw so many animals and birds that I have made a list of these at the end of this little account.

One morning early in our visit we went on a nature walk. This was really interesting – we learnt a lot about animal tracks, and especially the dung that was lying about, which could tell the experienced guides what had been about, and how long ago. Various trees were pointed out to us for example the ‘toothbrush tree’ which had flowers which looked just like red toothbrushes, and apparently the fresh light branches could be chewed to use as a toothbrush. The fruit of a desert date tree (an acacia) could be used to cure intestinal worms. The long pod cassia trees had beautiful yellow blossoms, and pods that were about 20 cm long. The greater kudu eat the leaves and flowers, and the roots and bark were boiled and used to cure malaria. Weaver bird nests abounded – built on the downwind side for shelter; different weaver birds using different kinds of architecture, so again the experienced guides could say which variety was nesting in which tree.

We learnt that the ‘big five’ of game animals have their counterpart in the ’small five’: elephant shrew, lion ant, leopard tortoise, red billed buffalo weaver and rhino beetle.

Our trips on the water were very special – we saw so many crocodiles and hippo that it was tempting to become blase, but it was wonderful to see all the animals in their natural habitat, just going about their ordinary business.

On our first trip on the lake we quickly saw a malachite kingfisher, a beautiful bird with bright blue plumage and a red beak. Soon afterwards we were joined by three pied kingfishers which followed our boat for several minutes. As a brilliant finish, we also saw a giant kingfisher sitting on a branch in a tree with a monitor lizard close by.

Another day we were driving past a large baobab tree with a hole in the trunk – the guide excitedly pointed out a porcupine in the hole. Laura and I looked and looked but could see nothing. In the end we got out of the truck and approached to just a few feet away, and in the end conceded that we could see a few white stripes moving in the darkness of the hole. To say we saw a porcupine is perhaps stretching the facts a bit!

One of the highlights of the trip for me was when we were parked up near the lake for one of our ‘bush breakfasts’ when two hippos were squaring up for a fight. Their massive jaws were wide open and they were each trying to overcome the other. We were too far away to take a photo on our somewhat limited equipment, but it was super just to watch through the binoculars. It went on for some 20 minutes, which our guide assured us meant a serious fight.

We wanted to make the most of our trip, so we were up every morning before 6 am – in the dark – and usually went out for a long morning drive, and then an afternoon drive, but the best days were when we went for a full day, involving bush breakfasts, and bush lunches, when wonderful hot food was produced like magic by our guide and driver. The ability to drive far away from anywhere, and just soak up the isolation, the heat, and the silence, especially in the heat of the day, was thrilling.

After four nights at Lake Manze, we took the short flight to Mdonya Camp in the Ruaha area. A similar camp, but perhaps even more basic as even the main areas for eating were just tented canopies. Each night we would all sit round a big camp fire, enjoying our drinks and swapping stories of the day with the other guests before gathering round a big table underneath the stars, to eat the delicious food that was provided.

There had hardly been any mosquitos or flies at Lake Manze, although there were tiny little midges which had a vicious bite, to which Laura can attest. Although there were no mosquitos at Mdonya either, there were many flies, including the notorious tse-tse fly. All these flies could bite. To try and keep them away from the truck when we were out in the bush, the guides had an old tin can on the back of the truck, in which they burnt elephant dung. I have to say it was a most aromatic smell, which the guides said was because the elephant eat acacia trees and other trees used for medicinal purposes by the Africans, and as the elephants only digest 44% of the food they eat, the end result was far more pleasant than we would have imagined.

The Ruaha region was much more arid than the Selous, but that meant that all the game collected round the waterholes. We were able each evening, at sunset, to watch baboons, impala and elephants enjoying themselves in the water, except for the one night when three thirsty lionesses gathered to drink, and all the other animals were extremely wary. Sitting there with our ‘sundowner’ drinks, and nibbling at the popcorn which appeared as if by magic, somebody remarked that it was just like being at the movies!!

We had the excitement of being shown a python which had swallowed an impala three months ago, and had been sleeping up a tree ever since to digest the enormous meal.

We saw many lion, mostly asleep under the trees in the middle of the day, but on one occasion when the evening was approaching, there were four lionesses prowling about, with a prey obviously in mind, but after spending a little while somewhat desultorily wandering around, they gave it up and turned in the opposite direction.

Among the many giraffe we saw, once there was a mother giraffe suckling a very young foal, and also a zebra which was really close to giving birth – we stayed a while but nothing happened.

One day just as the light was getting stronger, we saw five
carmine bee-eaters sitting on a branch, taking turns to fly off to catch insects. The low sunlight caught the reddish-bronze of their plumage. The guide said it was unusual to see these birds in the dry season.

There were so many birds we saw, some exceptionally beautiful. My own favourite was the lilac crested roller, which when flying was a flash of bright turquoise. We saw it fairly often but not so much that it ever failed to be an excitement. I also liked the starlings, so much more attractive than the British variety. These were also bright blue and were especially attractive in flight.

On one of our long days out we had just seen a pride of lion asleep, and then another single lion watching the world from a rock, when our truck developed a puncture, which was slightly alarming. Our driver limped down the road until we were out of sight, and we three in the back of the truck had to get out while they jacked the truck up. Fortunately there was another truck from our camp fairly near, and they came to help and we watched from the safety of the other truck while the wheel was changed in double quick time, and we were off again.

Naturally we were particularly keen to see leopard and cheetah, which are much more difficult to find, but we were lucky enough to see both: a leopard sleeping up a tree, and another one just disappearing into the bush, and the cheetah we came across was walking across a clearing and we got a very good and close view of that.

When our magical time came to an end we flew off to Zanzibar, where we stayed in a comfortable but laid-back hotel right on the beach. The safari viewing is exciting, and we made the very most of our time, but we were tired after seven very full days, and were glad to relax on the beach before the long flight home.

Ed and the team at Tanzanian Odyssey created a wonderful trip for us that lived up to all the expectations, and we can’t thank them enough for their attention to detail and for their friendly and knowledgeable help which was so invaluable at the planning stage.

Animals we saw:

Baboons
Blue wildebeest
Bush buck
Cape buffalo
Cheetah
Crocodiles
Duiker
Dykdyk
Elephants
Eland
Giraffe
Grant’s gazelle
Greater kudu
Ground squirrel
Hartebeest
Hippo
Hyena
Impala
Jackal
Leopard
Lions
Mongeese
Monitor lizard
Python
Rock hyrax
Slender mongoose
Velvet monkeys
Warthogs
Waterbuck
Water buffalo
Wild dogs
Wildebeest (common, and blue (the ‘gnu’)
Zebra

A selection of Birds we saw (so many, and some which were indistinguishable or unidentifiable. We were told by birding visitors to the camp that they had seen over 60 different birds, including four they had never spotted before – great excitement!)

African harrier hawk
African sea eagle (fish eagle)
African spoonbill
American black crake
Eagle (Bateleur, Brown snake)
Bee-eater (carmine)
Blacksmith lapwing
Black winged stilt
Brown necked parrot
Bustard
Egret (Great white)
Egyptian geese
Heron (grey, and goliath)
Hoopoe
Hornbills
Ibis (Haddad)
Jacana (often known as Jesus birds, as they appear to walk on water!)
Kingfishers (Malachite, Pied and Giant)
Lapwing (spur winged)
Mariqua sunbirds
Marsh sandpipers
Namaqua Dove
Owls (eagle) (Verreaux)
Oxpeckers (who take the fleas off the buffalo)
Pelicans
Pied kingfisher
Starling (Greater blue-eared)
Swallows
Weaver birds, (white, sparrow, red billed buffalo,Africa golden)
Woodpeckers, cardinal
Vultures (White backed, palm nut, hooded
Stork (Yellow billed, open-billed, maribou)

And to finish the lists, the Trees:

Acacia (including desert date tree, whistling white, and many others)
Balanite tree
Baobabs
Cassia, long pod
Crocodile tree
Ebony
Euphorbia (candlelabrum)
Fig
Ladywood tree
Mangrove
Milk berry tree
Tamarind
Terminalia spinosa

and many others

J Johnston 2011

C Mckechnie

When I came to see you in the snow in January, I asked you to come up with a plan to suit 2 adults and 3 teenagers. I told you I wanted lots of wildlife, lots of fun, excellent guides and to see the real Africa. We did not want large impersonal hotels, coach parties, fois gras, fat americans, to be surrounded by honeymoon couples (for their sakes not ours) and to be bankrupted. However, we do like our food and dont like slumming it. You came up with Kwihala, Impala, Ras Nungwi and Zanzibar Serena for the last night.

Kwihala: The camp is very comfortable with large tents well spread out in the bush. It really is in the middle of no where. Although there are no luxuries, it is very comfortable and clean and we all felt totally safe and happy in our tents at night. They produce a three course lunch and dinner from God knows where. The food is not 5 star restaurant standard, but good hearty fare which we had no trouble downing. Breakfast is a joy taken from the bonnet of the landrover during the morning drive. Why is Kwihala so special? The wildlife and the guides.

The wildlife we saw was extraordinary. We saw 4 leopards, a cheetah, too many elephants, lions and girafes and birds etc to count. We saw a leopard dragging a baboon up a tree to eat it whilst hissing at another leopard in the same tree to keep away. We saw a pride of lions dripping in blood trying to pull a giraffe into the shade which had got lodged between two trees. We saw a lion stalking and chasing a zebra. We followed it and whilst doing so hit a ditch which 4 lions jumped out of right infront of our noses! We were watching some impala a couple of feet away from us when suddenly a leopard jumped on the back of one (even our guides had never seen that). We saw side striped jackals (guides hadn’t seen those for 5 years). A black mamba passed us twice on the road in front of us.

We slowly followed a cheetah for ages while all the monkeys and birds around gave alarm cries. We sat for ages watching a herd of elephants taking water in the river and then baboons playing. (I know that doesn’t sound very unusual, but it was massively entertaining.) We had elephants walking through our camp at night and during dinner (Pietro managed to get them to move on by speaking to them gently in Swahili). We could hear the lions roaring in the distance while we tried to sleep at night.  The animals are much less timid in Ruaha than in Selous. You get much closer and there are more of them. It was magical.

The guides at Kwihala are fantastic. Pietro, our first guide, was extraordinarily knowledgable and very entertaining. He had us in fits of laughter. He had our eyes popping and our jaws on the ground and he had us all mesmerised. He drives like an Italian (which is half the fun) from one side of the park to another to find something special. We then had a new guide called Mika who is fresh out of the course they all go on in South Africa but Tanzanian born and raised as his parents run a camp in Arusha. He was very charming and (as far as my children were concerned) the coolest man in Tanzania with his long blond dredlocks. We had a great time with both of them and felt sad to leave.

Impala: was all rather sedate compared with Kwihala. It is beautiful and very different and it took us a bit to come down from the high of Ruaha. The camp is lovely. Very pretty tents on raised wooden platforms. Beautifully done. Very elegant. You have to get a Masaai to take you to and from your tent at night (how cool is that!?).The food is better than at Ruaha but it is a much bigger set up and less remote.The people who run it are charming and couldn’t be nicer but there are less animals and the animals seem to be more timid. The highlight was going fishing which was the greatest fun. We saw African dogs which were amazing too.

Ras Nungwi: in Zanzibar was really nice. We had lovely huts overlooking the sea. The food is really good. It is big compared to the camps but not an enormous impersonal hotel. The watersport place is brilliant but expensive. We went diving which was fantastic but we decided to skip the dhow sunset cruise as it was going to cost so much for 5 of us. The swimming in the sea is lovely: beautiful turquoise milky warm water. It was bliss! They have a nice pool too and a spa but the nicest thing is to lie in a hammock under a palm tree and watch the dhows go by.

Zanzibar Serena: was a very elegant hotel in Stone Town. It is a beautiful building with a lovely pool. The food was not as good as at Ras Nungwi. We liked Stone Town and had fun walking around and doing some shopping. Sadly no Tanzanite was bought for me.

All in all, the most memorable, fabulous holiday. It will be impossible to top. Thank you Ed.

Any complaints? Yes. British Airways’s lunch on c. 10 hour flight was a miserable cheese sandwich!

C Mckechnie 2011

T Monroe

Lion kill at 4 in the morning 300 meters from our tent in the Ruahawalking safari in the Selous Safari Camp and trying to remain quiet while a herd of elephants passed by 30 meters away.  Both camps were extremely hospitable and we enjoyed the mix.  Selous Safari Camp was truly luxurious for a bush camp and made us feel like royals as we lived amongst the animals.

Also, echo beach and stonetown were a great way to end the trip.  The food at echo was excellent and we were able to join in a wedding celebration during our stay.

We made some excellent friends…3 other couples on their honeymoons…at Selous and we were all staying at Echo and the resort next door, so we were able to get together each night.

Last, being in stonetown during the end of Ramadan Celebrations was a fantastic cultural experience.  We ventured out each night to observe the celebrations and dine at fabulous local restaurants.

We cannot say enough good things about our total experience and we have many pictures to help us reflect on the trip.

Thanks again.

Best,

T Monroe 2011

A Holmes

We got back on Sunday and I wanted to write and say what an amazing time we had. You did so well in choosing what was right for us! Manze was the perfect introduction to Tanzania, and then to ‘upgrade’ (i.e. it had electricity!) to Impala worked perfectly. Both Richard at Manze & Barbara at Impala spoke very highly of you and the team.
We saw every animal the Selous had to offer, and we were particularly lucky to see leopards & a pack of wild dogs. We watched a herd of elephants march past our tent at 6am at Impala from our bed one morning, all very surreal! We also did a few boat trips and some fishing at Impala, & Simon caught a 6kg catfish (first time fishing for him!) which they cooked up for dinner. I only managed to catch a squeaker which ended up as bait L The staff at both lodges were all so great and a lot of our holiday funds went on tips alone, and rightly so.

Mchanga was also wonderful; Gloria & Thomas (and Jackmary the dog) were great hosts, who also sent their regards to you. I understand you stayed there not long ago too! The food there was excellent. Although we probably should have gone full board as there is literally nowhere else to go for lunch or dinner, & even the snorkeling & spice tours were only half a day. I do miss their fresh fruit juices desperately!

We managed to meet some very cool couples, many of whom had got married on the same day so there was lots of note swapping (at least between the girls) and there will be much picture swapping on facebook of who got the best shot of the zebra/giraffe/impala/croc etc!

StoneTownwas fascinating, and the guide who took us round was excellent. In fact, every transfer or contact arranged by you was flawless. You have great people working for/with you.

A wonderful two weeks, many, many thanks Ed. We shall be recommending Tanzania Odyssey highly to anyone who’ll listen (or sit through our several hundred photos).

Best wishes from me & Simon,

A Holmes 2010

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