A safari to the Southern Highlands - late February and March 2011 Part 2: Mufindi, the Udzungwa National Park and the Kilombero valley
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Departing the Kitulo Plateau the back route via Makete, Kipengere and Njombi to Makambako, we picked up some wonderful new bird species. Our destination that day was the Mufindi Highlands to stay in a guest house. Many moons ago I was the best man at the wedding of friends in Arusha and these friends are now based in the Mufindi area. What a wonderful home and guest house they have created. It was a joy to be so warmly welcomed there. The gardens teemed with wonderful birds and we had the good fortune to meet up with some of the ‘locals’. These ex-pats have lived and worked in this area for 30-45 years and were a font of knowledge. Exploring forest tracks, chain saw cutting away fallen trees, we bush-bashed to an escarpment view over the impressive Kilombero Valley.
“My god, I haven’t seen that butterfly for 25 years!” Shouted the ‘local’. “ Paul that’s fantastic, the last time was in Uganda”. He screamed with enthusaism. Knowledge of this kind is rare these days. Our stay in this delightful guest house flew past. Roaring fires, good cheer and insightful natural history discussions all in colonial settings.
We departed and drove over the Iringa Highlands to desend into a much hotter place, all the way following the Ruaha River as it tumbles down hill sides and ravines. Turning South at the village of Mikumi we drove on to where our camp had relocated close to the main entrance of Udzungwa National Park. This fairly long drive was spectaular. Once settled in at camp, surrounded by forest and mountain scenery we walked the local foot paths in search of birds.
Our hikes up to waterfalls within the Park were extra special. What a diverse four days we enjoyed here with African Violets at grand waterfalls, glimses of endangered primates http://www.primate-sg.org/sanjei.htm (only discovered in 1989) and forest birds that defy identification, all very special indeed. The views and forest trails are a delight. I will explore here more in the future.
On a day trip down to the Kilombero Swamp we had our first sightings of birds that were recently new to science. Above are, left a white Tailed cisticola, and right a Kilombero Weaver.
Happy days- and now for Mikumi and the coast – Part 3
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