or lunch from one of the 2 restaurants of the gorgeous Ruaha River Lodge. 2 restaurants! And the other one is perched like an eagle nest on a rocky hill! This one lies a few meters away from the Ruaha river.
I normally don’t like to be disturbed while eating. But there are circumstances that are worth to make an exception. My big lens is always ready in case…
There are many birds in the Ruaha Nat’l Park. Here are 2 Egyptian geese taking off towards a waterbuck (un cobe)
Another goose (oie égyptienne). Sometimes, but only sometimes, the translation makes sense and is quite direct.
2 waterbucks showing affection.
The mountain opposite our lodge.
A bit of zooming and here is an elephant. He and his pals will come in camp soon.
A hippo is rolling in the Ruaha river. Just a few meter away from me.
An intermediate egret on a perfect landing. Pilots will appreciate the disturbed feathers on the wings due to the high angle of attack. (un héron intermédiaire)
A grey heron (un héron cendré)
Even when the animals haven’t arrived, the scenery is stunning. I can’t wait to resume watercolors.
The posse is coming to camp, ready to create havoc sometimes when they’re hungry or thirsty.
So I left South Sudan about 2 months ago, for a better company, much better company, Safari Air Link, based in Dar es Salaam. On top of various aircraft, the company also operates a few camps and lodges in the country. One is based in the Ruaha nat’l park and a lovely house there will my main residence for a few months a year! The location is aptly named Ruaha River Lodge, for the river passing by.
The first day I arrived an elephant welcomed me by the restaurant! Back in my old element for sure.
What a view to have for lunch…
And on one game drive, we saw the following amongst many others:
A black-faced sandgrouse and one of her 3 chicks, yes the furry ball on her left. Good camouflage isn’t it?
It’s baobab country out there.
A leopard foot print. No luck in meeting the owner though.
A greater kudu, a lovely antelope that is common in Ruaha, not so in all the other parks I know. So I was thrilled.
A young bull, his horns are not twisted yet.
Darn, he didn’t get on his hind legs for foraging!
Flying Medical Service has definitely some of the best bush airstrips! Whether for the challenge or the sceneries. Here a flooded strip at Monik.
a volcano, Lengai and an active one that is.
a bit of low flying in Olduvai gorge.
downhill airstrip, one way in, one way out, no discussion. Wind is not a factor really.
our new recruit.
the advantage of this place is that the strip can be set anywhere, just throw a few rocks (which won’t stay white very long) et voilà.
I don’t fly this Herc’, though this is one of the very few big bush beasts I’d love to get a job onto, and watching a C 130 bush take off is always impressive.
Rift Valley, just a few small villages, a coupla airstrips down there…
time to kick some butts before I can take off from one of the Katavi park airstrips. Animals are common on strips of course, but such a variety, not so much. Zebras, Cape elands and waterbucks all together, what a treat. Even if it meant I had to run and yell like an idiot to chase them away. The other idiots were busy nose-picking somewhere. I won’t give names here but my fellow pilots know which green men I'm referring to.
all shot on B/W films, Mahale nat’l Park, western Tanzania. The only decent place to see them. Repeat after me. And I’m not on anybody’s payroll. Quite a few cliens had visited the other chimp’s sites and all agree that Mahale was the best location.
nothing sexual here, just plain grooming, an important social interaction.
Arusha… I just came back a few days ago. To celebrate that feat in style, a snake was busy eating a chameleon in a tree. Small snake, small chameleon but the show was impressive nevertheless.
Dinner took place in 2 steps: the snake must have been disturbed and had spat the chameleon pretty soon. The latter looked puzzled with a gash on the neck. The snake left but not the victim who stayed nearby. Wounded, confused or just too happy and dumb? The snake didn’t miss the chance and came back to finish him for good.
the chameleon was giving a good show of resistance, the “never give up hope'” stuff since the hind legs and the tail hung on twigs for a very long time. The body was swallowed past half way and the poor thing was still battling. How come he didn’t suffocate earlier? My pictures show more than 45 min of action….
Notice that the chameleon never turned green….what a legend or what?
a harmless Battersby's green snake by the way.
Notice how the snake normally green with a yellowish belly now shows some blue hue once its skin is stretched.
Amboseli is a lovely little park at the foot of Kilimanjaro (which is in Tanzania by the way, not in Kenya as claimed by some crooks). The wildlife out there is made of the usual suspects but on a good day the view of nearby Kili is breathtaking. These minibuses are numerous and some of these drivers are totally clueless: they leave the engine running while watching wildlife a few meters away!! You’d never see that in Tanzania.
6 am, time to leave camp and enjoy the early light in the mist.
That’s what I mean with a nearby Kilimanjaro. The atmospheric veil helped to catch the orange light on the peak and the clouds.
This is a close up view of the secondary peak
These guys, grey-headed kingfishers, were quite easy to spot and come close, like 5 meters away.
the area is made of swamps and it is quite easy to include animals in line with Kili. Providing the conditions are good of course.
Karine and I went for a few days in Nairobi and Amboseli National Park. A tiny park on the edge of Mt Kilimanjaro which allows a close view of the Tanzanian peak. Some Kenyans funnily claim the peak is in Kenya. Just grab a map and though the colonial Brits screwed up many borderlines when they carved up their colonies, the peak lies in Tanzania.
A tiny park, not the wildest of all parks, some bad guides/drivers but we enjoyed many wildlife actions on top of the landscapes. Kilimanjaro is a shy mountain but we managed some good sighting over the 3 days.
A sunrise, a spectacular viewing even with the slight atmospheric veil.
This is the secondary peak, sometimes showing snow after a storm, like the daily storms these days.
A bit later, the orange hue disappeared.
The park is quite flat, made of swamps mostly. So Karine and I were keen to include animals in that glorious landscape.
A superb last minute ray of light at sunset.
Another sunrise. One of those (many) days when I’m glad I have got that great Nikon lens, a super wide 12-24mm, here at 12mm.
that gray area is a lava flow from the major volcanic activity in 2007 and 2008. That truck is using the regular track near the culprit, Oldoinyo Lengai.
another truck, but this one has some problem to sort out. This a delta on the lake Natron northern shoreline
same truck. I wonder if the driver enjoyed the scenery while waiting for some help…
laundry day a bit further in the delta.
cows and goats…. to be seen everywhere in Tanzania and further. The country is vast and not barb-wired everywhere like in South Africa.
Masai farmers plowing the fields the old way, an ox or and a hoe.
Market day in Loliondo, a village north of Serengeti.
the person in the river is an adult, a masai man in his bright red clothes but he could have been a 5 year old child as well. Those kids don’t always go to school but they enjoy somehow a great outdoor life. Roaming the bush without a real schedule, meeting friends…
Mahale Nat’l Park, western Tanzania, probably the best place in the world to view the chimpanzees. It’s not only the quality of the sighting but the surroundings, that is mountains, lake and various activities.
So here are some old pictures shot over the many weeks I had spent over there, all on good old B/W films, even some Kodak Tmax 3200 like this one. For the youngsters, they can’t understand that prehistoric way to do pictures.
We were supposed to keep a minimum distance but the chimps didn’t know that so we got to be really close, where a 50 or 105 mm lens would be enough.
Mahale is a tropical forest, so once in a while the stars would stay in thick foliage but that shouldn’t deter anyone to keep on shooting.
Not having oral pleasure but tick removal session. Well I think…
These guys are artists at staying at ease on thin ropes.
goats or cows…boring isn’t it? Well a Masai herder would strongly disagree with me. Anyway seen from the air, those herds take another dimension and these people deserve some respect to lead and keep safe animals through the wild. I might even envy them sometimes. After all these are the original cowboys.
here is a collection of various aerial and wildlife pictures here and there in northern Tanzania. I’d like to remind the new visitors to my blog that I fly AND shoot myself, so please be kind to the flaws these shots might present. I can’t afford a private pilot with a helicopter…nor can’t I waste my boss’ money for my passion. I fly once over my subject and keep on. Many times I wish I could circle and circle again to improve some shots….
This herd of zebras roams not far from Arusha, quite a nice feeling to know about that feat…
The same, a bit cropped.
Somewhere in the Serengeti under low light. Not a great picture but I have got none other with a green background. Mental note…
Flamingoes on lake Natron. Notice the shadows and reflections.
Wild animals come and go along the year. Nowadays hundreds of zebras are hanging around Endulen in the Ngorongoro area, that includes the airstrip or the hospital where I get a room with a nice view. Anyway zebras are a hazard for any aircraft so when we come and land in the bush we always overfly the airstrip and chase whatever we can spot on it. It varies from snakes to elephants with anything in between.
Sometimes 3 or 4 low passes are required, not all the animals react the same way so one has to develop some skills, similar to the flying cowboys in Australia or western USA. That didn’t prevent me from hitting a gazelle and a wildebeest in the past, without damage to the aircraft it must be said. The same cannot be said for the poor gazelle. The wildebeest escaped!
This is Endulen airstrip… It’s obvious any obstacle on such a ‘large’ runway can’t be avoided by “driving” on the sides.
Here are a few zebras, part of a much larger herd scattered around. The best thing is to corral them, to circle around, not split them as they’ll get scared and gather again, most likely on the strip by Murphy’s Law.
It’s not meant to be but this is great fun, fly low, really low and fast.
Turning towards the airstrip… the white and blue thing on the left hand side of the picture is the nose of the aircraft.
Diving and flying across the strip…
Yesterday and the day before? 3 and 4 passes respectively. Some of the passengers don’t enjoy too much unfortunately.
the elephant died around lake Ndutu in Ngorongoro conservation area, Tanzania. The 2 lions were very protective of their meal which lasted for a few days, and still, wouldn’t share any of it. The various scavengers would have to wait for the last bits when the lions’ bellies were about to explode.
Katavi nat’l park, S.W. Tanzania. At some the camps have to closed down because the grass grows high, like 3 meter high. So animal viewing is seriously hampered, and dangerous. Once, though driving slowly across the bush, we nearly touched an elephant’s bum.
all shot on films and Nikon cameras, F3 or FM2 and usually a 300mm 4.5 AIS lens (yes old gear)