- Feb-March 2010

by Flo Montgomery

Travel Advice

Arrival in Dar es Salaam  and  Day 1 at Selous Impala Camp

Day 2 at Selous Impala Camp

Day 3 at Selous Impala Camp

Day 4 at Lake Manze Camp, Selous

Day 5 at Lake Manze Camp, Selous

Day 6 at Lake Manze Camp, Selous

Day 7 at Mdonya Old River camp, Ruaha

Day 8 at Mdonya Old River camp, Ruaha

Day 9 at Mdonya Old River camp, Ruaha

Day 10 at Mbweni Ruins Hotel, Zanzibar

Day 11 at Mbweni Ruins Hotel, Zanzibar

Day 12 at Mbweni Ruins Hotel, Zanzibar

Day 13 at Mbweni Ruins Hotel, Zanzibar

Day 14 at Mbweni Ruins Hotel, Zanzibar

Selous leopard cubs Oct 2009

photos of the two leopard cubs taken in October, before their mother died;

Nzelekela lion cubs 1.1.2010

the two new lion cubs on 1st January 2010

I am lucky enough to be designing websites and brochures for Adventure Camps of Tanzania; this means that every year I visit the three camps (two in Selous, one in Ruaha) and the hotel in Zanzibar, to take new pictures, gather updated information and so forth.

This year I was particularly eager to see if I could find the lion cubs born around Christmas which have been seen from Impala camp, and also to find out if its true that one of the guides at Lake Manze camp has seen the two little leopard cubs which were orphaned in November, alive and well.

I left UK on a BA flight from London on 15th February and arrived in Tanzania at 6.15 am the next morning.
After getting my visa quickly and easily – a 10 minute wait after filling out a form given to us on the plane, and paying USD 50 (this is the price for UK residents) I collected my luggage and came out to the concourse of Dar es Salaam International Airport terminal 2, where my son David was waiting for me. He lives and works in Dar.

He showed me where I could change money to Tanzanian Shillings at a little bureau de change in the shopping area right in the arrivals area. He also advised me to get a Tanzanian phone chip (it cost about 2000 TSH, or less than a pound). I bought a Zain (Celtel) chip, as its good coverage in most parts of Tanzania, even at Lake Manze camp in Selous! I also got some phone time scratch cards for 10,000 TSH each, and I was glad of these later when I was able to call home to UK from the camp and talk for about 10 minutes using one of these cards.

David drove me over to terminal 1 (domestic) – a 5 minute drive – where I saw other fellow passengers from London being transferred on a Coastal bus, as they were also flying on to domestic destinations like Zanzibar, Selous, Ruaha and Arusha.

After checking in I had a coffee at the excellent Out of Africa café there – my choice was a frappe, since I had just arrived from -3 deg C in UK, to the early morning 28 degrees of coastal Tanzania.-

There was a lot of activity in the airport, but what seemed like total chaos was apparently normal for the early morning as the Coastal Aviation staff directed passengers in their different directions. We walked out to our plane, a twin engine Cessna 13 seater Grand Caravan. After a 45 minute flight over fluffy clouds, we descended over green treetops and landed spectacularly, banking down over the enormous Rufiji River to come to rest at Mtemere airstrip in the Selous Game Reserve.

Rufiji boat trip  Hassan Matola
Hassan picked me up at the Mtemere Airstrip and took me by boat on the Rufiji River, to Selous Impala camp

Cars from Selous Impala camp were waiting for us – two couples had arrived with me, and each was greeted by a driver and guide team, who then took them off on a game trip on the way to the camp. I was met by Hassan Matola, who took me down to the river at the end of the airstrip, where a boat was waiting for us. It was very pleasant to chug along the Rufiji against the current, in the cool morning air.

Selous Impala camp

It took us about 40 minutes to reach Selous Impala Camp, sitting atop the north river bank in a grove of shady trees.

Tent 6
Tent 6 on the banks of the Rufiji, in the shade of a Fever tree

I was happy to clamber up the path from the boat landing area below the camp. A Masaai askari came forward and led me to the office area where I was greeted warmly by the Managers, Matteo and Barbara. They are both Italian, and speak good English of course. Barbara led me to my tent (Number 6) perched on the river bank above the Rufiji. A hippo basked in the water below, honking and snorting.

Main tent area Selous Impala  Safari writing desk

The tent was very comfortable, with a large double bed on beautiful hardwood floors, scattered with kilim rugs. There was a safari writing desk and chair in one corner, and a floor fan. I also observed a power point, for charging camera batteries, a small lockup safe and a flask of filtered drinking water.

Behind the main bedroom area, was a dressing room with twin basins and mirrors and a canvas wardrobe with shelves and hangers. On the other side was a woven laundry basket and a rack for my cases. Behind this room was a WC cubicle on one side, and on the other side, a power shower with hot and cold water and rather nice toiletries. It felt a little like a good hotel, but safari style!

Lodge sitting area  Breakfast on the lodge veranda

After I had settled in I wandered up to the Lodge area, where there is shady sitting area, a swimming pool, a bar and a restaurant area with shade for daytime and without on a large veranda, for evening dining under the stars.

Barbara in the pool  Barbara and the resident hippo

Barbara and Matteo joined me for lunch and afterwards I went for a swim to cool off after the journey. The pictures above were given to me by Barbara - Matteo took them of her with some of the many frequent visitors to the camp.

Sunset from the lodge  Sundowner area

That evening all the guests joined up for sundowners round a campfire, exchanging stories of the day, followed by dinner on the terrace. The tables are laid up separately, but people can eat together if they want to. I went to bed early, pretty tired from the long journey to reach this bush paradise. The sounds of the river and honking hippos lulled me to sleep.

Forward to Day 2

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