Thursday, December 26, 2013

Selous - Day 1

I'm taking advantage of fast internet speeds to upload the rest of the photos from my Selous safari.

We woke up early on Thanksgiving, had a very quick breakfast, and then met our driver for the ride to the airport.  We arrived much earlier than anticipated and had to wait a while to check in.  We amused ourselves by watching several families of tiny birds as they nested in the ductwork of the airport.  There was lots of feeding of baby birds and a few territorial fights.  Fascinating stuff.

Our plane was a thirteen seat Cessna, and the fifteen minute flight to Dar was blissfully uneventful.  We deplaned there so they could refuel and met up with our friend T who was going to Selous with us.  Finally we reboarded the same plane for the 45 minute flight to Selous.  There was a tiny rainstorm that we passed through, but the plane did great (or, rather, the pilot did).  As we descended into Selous we saw pods of hippos lazing in the waters of the Rufiji River - so cool!

We were met at the airstrip by a contingent from our lodge - Mivumo River Lodge, a Serena property.  This was the start of four days of ensuring our every whim was catered to.  We loaded into a beautiful open safari vehicle - with only four seats! - and started off for the lodge, about 30 minutes away.  We didn't see a lot of game on the drive, just a few elephants from a distance and a mongoose or two.  The terrain was hilly and densely forested, thanks to the arrival of the short rains just a few weeks before.

Arriving at Mivumo was lovely - they had a staircase to help us down from the vehicle - something I've never seen in all my years of safari but oh so practical!  We had cool towels and fresh orange juice before being escorted to our cabins.  The arrival area at the lodge is about 70 wooden platforms up from the level of the dining room and cabins.  Access to all the buildings was along this lovely boardwalk - up and down and up and down and up and down.  It made for great exercise just walking to and from meals and the vehicles! 

Each cabin is extremely spacious with a comfy king bed, a lounge area with a comfy chair and chaise longue, a writing area, several wardrobes, and a large bathroom.  The bathroom has a toilet, claw foot tub, and double sink.  The private terrace outside was home to a plunge pool, an outdoor shower, and a table and chairs.  Not only did the rooms have A/C and a fan, but there was a fridge with all drinks included.  Such a luxury!

After a little while to settle in we headed up to lunch, which was typical Serena three+ course excellency.  The dining tables overlooked hippo pools, and we spotted (and heard) several pods.

After lunch we walked down to the living room area and relaxed in comfy couches while watching the river.  We spotted a lump on the beach and, with the help of binoculars confirmed it was a crocodile.  As we watched we started noticing more and more lumps.  Before long we realized there were upwards of a dozen visible crocs on that one stretch of beach.  Crikey!

At four pm we headed down to said beach to board our boat for an afternoon river safari.  We saw tons (literally - they were huge!) of crocs and hippos, a fair amount of birds, and quite a few dassies (rock hyrax) along the banks.  The crocs were pretty skittish - as soon as we would get close they'd slide down the banks of sand or clamber down rocks back into the water.  Quite a sight to see these giant reptiles running from a tiny boat. 

The weather was perfect, the boat was a great design for this purpose, and we had a lovely time on the river.  We wound through Stiegler's Gorge and encountered a few very tiny rapids before turning around.  Some of the crocs that had fled from us as we came through the first time had returned to their perches, only to flee again when we went by a second time.  Seeing a giant crocodile slide down a sand bank is truly a phenomenal sight.  We couldn't stop laughing!

We did go past our cabins from the river side and realized that the afternoon boat ride time is not an ideal time to take an outdoor shower.  Noted. 

We returned to the lodge about 6:30 pm and hung out on the couches until dinnertime, sated by unending supplies of drinks, warm cashews, and samosas.  Dinner was lovely, and we were exhausted by the time it was over.  

I took a blissful outdoor shower before bed, accompanied by the grunts of hippos and the shrieks of the dassies.  The bed was comfortable, the A/C divine.  My only complaint was the lack of mosquito netting, which meant more than a few beetles and flies divebombed me as I tried to read.  As soon as the light went out they were gone, though, and I slept wonderfully.

Leaving Zanzibar

Such gorgeous water! And so much seaweed!  It's an industry on the island...

Our trusty plane

First croc sightings - there are four in this photo

The dining area, lounge, pool, and patio.

Count the (more than 12) crocs!


So many hippos!

Gorgeous scenery, and we never saw another boat or vehicle.

This sandbank was home to a number of particularly large crocs, with hippos in the background.


The lodge's main building, from the water.

Our cabins; mine is on the right.

The cabins were very spread out - lots of privacy.

Baobabs! I was in heaven.

Stiegler's Gorge

I loved the yellow mouths

Must flee

African fish eagles

Mama croc protecting her egg

Dassies!  They were always busy and in motion so difficult to photograph.


Nomads By Nature said...

What an amazing trip with loads of crocodiles. I miss Africa's wildlife and views. You had me laughing about the outdoor shower visiting hours. My daughter learned that a night shower outdoors is best done in the dark under the stars - for the same reasons as your night time reading.

Sadie said...

I love being back in Africa! I had a lizard visit me in the shower on the second night - we scared each other as our eyes met!