Day 9 - Mdonya Old River camp, Ruaha National Park
After a breakfast of fresh mango juice, fruits (pineapple, watermelon and papaya) eggs and coffee, I headed for the shady office to collect email (each camp has a satllite link internet in the office, powered from invertors) and to work on my diary.
Ruaha Paradise - Feb 2010
Micol persuaded me to join Didi and Isabelle, two delightful English ladies who had arrived the night before, on an all-day game drive. (I was not hard to convince!) So the Mdonya part of the diary was put on the back burner as we headed out with driver Naiti and guide Zacchariah. We drove through a paradise landscape of green grass and flowers.
Didi and Isabelle spotting an African Fish Eagle
Didi was a keen birder and both Naiti and Zaccariah were amazing spotters, so bird books were consulted many times. We saw quite a few Eagles: a Wahlberg Eagle, Brown Snake Eagles, Bateleurs and, near the river, the beautiful Fish Eagle with its white head and yellow beak. The haunting cries of this bird seem to remind us all of Africa.
Picnic under a Baobab overlooking the river
We reached the Great Ruaha River in time to have a picnic under a shady baobab overlooking a wide stretch of green-fringed river. We saw hippos and crocodiles – not as many as might be visible in the dry season.
Birds were plentiful, including weavers nesting on bushes growing out over the water, and bee-eaters flying in and out of holes in the river bank where there young ones were waiting. On the far banks was a forest of flat-topped Acacias with blue hills in the distance.
Zacchariah and Naiti set out chairs and laid lunch on a table, more salads in great variety, with meat balls, bread and fruit. Coffee was brought after this and we lingered in the shade enjoying the view.
We packed up and headed eastwards along the Great Ruaha. There was plenty of game grazing everywhere and we saw a troop (or is it a tower?) of mongoose scooting across the road with their stripy tails waving busily. In pools by the road we saw Monitor lizards and terrapins. We observed a wounded zebra, holding his badly mauled leg gingerly off the ground.
A little further on we found the possible culprits – a small pride of four lions, one male and three females, resting under Acacia trees panting in the afternoon heat.
Lion with banded foot
A little further away was a male lion - his foot was bound by a yellow band. We have yet to discover why this may be.
Hyphaene petersiana line the banks of the Mwagusi sand river
We now headed northwards across a savannah like hillside, climbing a little towards distant kopjes (rocky hills) and then wound downwards towards the Mwagusi sand river. Of course this was no longer a sand river, filled with a steady flow of brown water. Tall Hyphenae petersiana palms with their large brown fruits (beloved of elephants) lined the river which we followed westwards towards the Mdonya River and home.
Back in camp I enjoyed my last dinner in the bush, set out under the stars. Rita and Anthony had flown in from Lake Manze and joined us. I was very relieved to hear from them that they had seen the “missing” lion cubs at Nzelekela that day and all were alive and well.
I had no trouble dropping off to sleep that night, in spite of the troupe of hyenas passing through whooping loudly.
.....forward to Day 10