Udzungwa National Park & Ruaha National Park 10-15th March 2014
Setting out early from Iringa and enjoying views into the Udzungwa mountains for much of the journey we arrived at Hondo Hondo lodge in time for lunch. We were greeted by four primate species (baboons, udzungwa red colobus, black & white colobus and sykes monkey) in the trees around the restaurant. Keen to explore the forest we soon headed to the park gate and our first trail up into the mountains. The humidity and steepness of the trail made the afternoon more taxing than expected, not to mention the illusive elephants having trashed parts of the trail the night before. However frequent monkey sightings and the excitement of being in such a different and unique habitat put our tired legs to the back of our minds. The next day after what surely must be one of the finest cooked breakfasts in all of Tanzania, we headed out to walk the Sanje Falls trail. During the rainy season the falls are impressive to say the least and the view from the top is nothing short of spectacular. Our efforts were rewarded with a breathtaking swim at the foot of the falls and Lucy's famous cinnamon buns on return to the lodge.
The second half of the trip began with the awesome view from Hilltop lodge followed by a walk into the last village along the road into Ruaha, Tungamalenga. The bush is lush and green at the moment with wildflowers and butterflies everywhere. The guys then got to visit the Wildlife Connection library and learn about how beehive fences can help local farmers with an additional livelihood and protect their crops from elephants. We were joined on the walk back by two trainee guides from the locally run guide school who impressed us with their knowledge of local birds and tree species. After lunch it was time to head to the park, personally I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the river and how green the park was, having seen it dry for so long. Despite the rain we managed to find two male lions and enjoyed their company right next to the car before the light began to fail. Over the following days we relaxed by the river, ate our fill of chapatis and got very lucky with our sightings which included cheetah on consecutive days, plenty of elephants, bat eared fox and pushing 100 birds species without really trying. But for me the highlights were an early morning bush walk along the Great Ruaha River which was really living up to its name and a wonderful encounter with a heard of elephants late on the last evening, feeding and socialising around us as the sun went down - magic! Big thank you to Mark, Martyn & Becky (not forgetting Habibu) for making it such a great safari.
What they said:
"Thank you for a great week, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience & will remember it for a long time! Having you along with your extensive knowledge of the animals, ecosystems and local social/political influences definitely enhanced the experience (without it becoming a dull educational field trip!). I was pleasantly surprised to find the walk outside of the national park & into the local village just as enjoyable and interesting as being in the park - it's a great unique experience that we wouldn't have received with many other tour operators." Martyn Rosser.
"Thanks again for a wonderful trip: very well organised and good choice of vehicle and safe driver Habibe. Paul's passion for the wildlife of Africa provides both added interest and enjoyment to the trip. I would say the end of the rainy season is a time to go as the country and game are at their prime. " Mark Westwood.
You can see some pictures from the trip below.
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