Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Impala Camp Day 1

Where to begin? Each day was so chocked full of activity we barely made it through to bedtime. Some of us even begged to go to bed before dessert- I'm looking at you Gemma!
Our "wake-up" call consisted of a delivery of coffee and ginger biscuits at 5:30 am to our tents. Now as someone who gets up ridiculously early for work, I could get used to a wake up call like that!!
Despite the early hour we were so eager to get going and see some animals. We were surprised to see everything intact considering the noise the animals make in the night. By first sun up you would never know they had been there. When everyone was up and had their binoculars and cameras ready we gave a little shout to our Masai warrior and he came down the path to escort us to the main lodge. You cannot walk anywhere throughout the camp with the escort of a Masai. They will guide you and make sure there aren't any animals lurking about.
Our Masai was the kindest friendliest young man and always showed such interest in the girls and what they had seen and had to say. I think he found them as intriguing and they found him. His english was not very good but we managed to piece together and do a bit of charades to communicate.
We all met up at in front of the lodge and shared a good laugh at how very "safari" we all looked. The girls LOVED dressing up like real safari explorers. I found it torturous but alas, when in Tanzania.....
Loaded up in our vehicle with Ezra our guide. He was our number one driver, escort, safety expert, and animal tracker. He knew everything about every animal. Beyond just the basic things like what they eat or habitat but also the body type, bone structure, poop shape, you name it!! Time to see some animals....Wagons Roll!!! As Granny says!
Leaving camp, we're on our way. Just as the sun is starting to light up the sky.
First things first we see a pumbaa! Like in Lion king. The wart hog. 
They are such ugly creatures but also so cute! They bend down on their knees in the front to eat the grasses.
Ezra said that usually this field would be filled with giraffe but because the Lions had been nearby in the night - remember I heard them roaring- the animals had cleared out of the area and would just start to be returning.
Have no fear though, just around the bend we spotted our beloved giraffe. I could watch these guys all day long. 

This particular herd had a very little baby. Ezra asked us to guess how old it was so we said maybe 6 months based on the size compared to the mother. He said it was less than a week old because it still had the umbilical cord attached which falls off in 1 week. The giraffe next to him was not the mother but probably a sibling based on size comparison. 

We saw so many giraffe and when you see one or two you know there are about ten more around the corner. 
When we left camp the first morning Ezra asked the girls what they wanted to see. Lily said the big cats of course and Gemma said a baby giraffe. So she got her wish straight away.

We stopped every five minutes to look and take photos and listen to Ezra tell us facts about the animals. 
The camp we stayed at was named impala. After these guys. They were very plentiful around the game reserve but very skittish. It seemed every time we pulled up to take a closer look or aim our lens they turned their backside to us and zoomed away. The males have the horns and females do not. You can tell their age by the size of the horns. This was a "bachelor group" because the males go off to establish dominance. 

As we would drive along we would ask questions and Ezra would tell us all about the plants and trees and which animals eat what and why. It truly was living in a interactive national geographic episode. 
We spotted this baboon high up in a tree top. He was the look out for his troop. He would make a huge amount of noise if he saw a predator. Apparently we were not a concern because as we sat and watched him he sat and watched us. I had to edit out his inappropriate display of his privates. I only got 25 pictures and every one is not suitable for printing if you know what I mean. 
So far we are pretty satisfied safari crew. Still in search of the big game though. Lily is on the hunt for her Lions, Cheetahs, and Leopards.
We headed to an area near the river bed where the hippos come out to sunbathe. It was super muddy and you wouldn't want to try to get too close to these giant guys. 
There were all different animals roaming in the same area near the water. This is the only hyena spotting we had all trip. Apparently they are nocturnal and so we were lucky to spot this one.
In the nearby tree was a big troop of baboons. They were so entertaining. This sleepy guy didn't mind us at all.
The tiny baby stole our hearts.

The giant African Buffalo was in a hurry, wonder what he is running from?
We got word that perhaps some lions were hiding out around this giant pit of hippos. 

Well well look what we found. Well, several other vehicles had already spotted the lions before we did.
There were 2 female lioness chilling out in the shade. Ezra said they hadn't eaten in a few days based on the size of their belly's so they were hungry and needing to hunt. 
After a bit of a cuddle they managed to get up and walk away to find a new secret place to try and hunt. 

They didn't seem to mind us too much but also seemed like we were cramping their hunting game.  We could see all kinds of scars on their face and bodies. Ezra said when they make a kill they often fight over the food amongst themselves and scratch each other! Yikes!
You can see here how close the lions were to the vehicles and didn't even bother with us. They must be quite used to it.

After the lions moved into a heavy brush filled area we all circled around to another side to see if they would come out and attempt to hunt. We were all on the look out!
There were at least 4 vehicles all waiting to see what the lions would do.  Apparently the answer is hide out.  Time to move on and have some breakfast! Our coffee and ginger biscuits had long worn off. It had been hours and we needed to refuel. 
Ezra found us a safe spot under the shade of a tree on the plain and we were able to get out to stretch our legs, "mark our territory", and have some breakfast. We hadn't eaten in HOURS by the size of our bellies.
I know, the luxury of this. Table set up and chairs, table cloth, full warm breakfast. Bring on the coffee!
Gemma was a fan of the bacon. We all were fans of the home made granola. The camps were so great about working with Gemma's nut allergy. You would think it was not a big deal because who is eating cashews in Africa? Well, turns out cashew is one of Tanzania's top export and is a huge supplier worldwide! What? We came prepared and were very careful.
This one is going to be a top contender for the old Christmas card don't you think?
Every day we tried to learn a little more Swahili. Ezra and the whole camp staff was very helpful in using Swahili phrases to teach us. We would say Asante Sana for thank you very much, and karibu for you're welcome. 
Nothing like some old animal bones near breakfast.
Maybe the girls will ride on the front of the vehicle for this next portion of the day.

This is the wildebeest. We saw many of these guys throughout our drives though never in large groups. These are famous for their migration up in the Serengeti.
After breakfast we decided to take a different path back to camp and see if we could spot some elephants. Ezra knows where all the animals hang out.
He found us a small herd of elephants under the shade of the palms. You can really see the secretions from the temporal gland on this elephant. It is believed to be used in communicating or identifying different elephants.

We were all pretty pleased with how our first day went.
It was nearly noon by now so time to head get back for lunch.
We saw several herd of zebra always with their backs turned to us running away.
Back at the lodge we relaxed in the shade with a cool breeze overlooking the river.
Lunch was an amazing selection of salads and kuku kabobs. Well....I don't think it was kudu, probably just plain old beef.
Dessert at the end of lunch was creme caramel. Gemma's first time! She better enjoy having dessert after lunch because by dinner time she is going to be too tired to eat it.
After lunch and a trip back to the tent the girls took Grampy alligator for a swim in the pool.
On the way back to change after the swim the girls and our Masai look through the book of African animals.
After a quick change we're off to the afternoon activity, a boat ride on the river.
On our path in camp was this beautiful tree. Also likely home to many of the noisy monkeys that wreak havoc all night long in camp.
The camp sits right on the banks of the Rufiji river so this is the view from the main lodge. As we would see on our boat trip it is filled with hippos and alligators. Why are we sleeping right next to this river?!

All loaded up in our boat and ready to head out. We left camp at about 4pm and it was quite hot in the sun. The breeze on the boat helped some.
Lily was enthralled in her wildlife of east Africa book noting all the animals we had seen that day.
The shores are teaming with Alligators sunning themselves to warm up their body temperature.
The waters are filled with hippo awaiting their chance at dark to come ashore and eat vegetation. As soon as  the boat would draw near to the hippo they would pop underwater and then later resurface to keep an eye on us.

These creatures are both so intimidating. I cannot imagine some animal coming to drink at the waters edge and having one of these creatures surprise them.
The alligators all sun with their mouth open to get the warmth of the sun.

We stopped at the shores edge to have a look at some lovely birds that burrow in the side of the sloping hill. 
More importantly it was happy hour time. Grampy was the first Davis explorer to brave the local brew called Kilamnjaro. He gave it two thumbs up.
The Davis girls had an orange Fanta to share. Let me tell you that was the first ever and best tasting Fanta of their lives.

Back to nature. 

There were so many birds on the shore of the river living in the holes they burrow into the slope of the hillside. 

We watched the sun setting on the boat and it started to cool. What a lovely end to the day.

We returned to camp and it was nearly time for dinner. Most guests have dinner at the lodge at 8pm but we knew our group was not going to make it that late so we requested a 7pm dinner each evening. We went from our boat trip to the bar at the lodge for a beverage and pre-dinner nibble. At the bar we saw a little bush baby.  They are nocturnal so we would see him every night for dinner. He was very bold and very persistent in sharing our meal.
Dinner by candle light on the river. Gemma made it through the main course and then was DONE. It was bed time. We called our Masai to take us to the tent while the rest of the group had dessert.
On the walk back to the tent with Alex and Lily our Masai found a centipede and proceeded to let it crawl on him to show it to us.

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