Birding again! And so much more

March 2007

March is a wonderful time to explore the areas that are deemed off season, particularly if you are a regular visitor and love birds!

I am always amazed at the beauty of Tanzania’s wild land after good rain fall and wanted to see the Mara River area in March.

We started at Sayari Camp and my guests (their 9th safari with me) flew to Kogatende and I drove out the day before. The 12 hour drive took me out of the Serengeti at Ikoma Gate via the bustling village of Mugumu and back in to the park at Tabora B rangers post. A few wet patches had to be negotiated carefully. The bridges north of Seronera and over the Grumeti River at Klein’s were down so this longer route was my only way up to Sayari Mara.

Our 4 nights there with the whole of the Northern Serengeti to ourselves were stunning, great birds, lots of wildlife, all in bountiful and lush country.

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We had to drive out that same way and after passing Seronera we drove directly West to Piaya via the beautiful and little used track to Sametu and Zebra Kopjes. Again no other cars were seen after Seronera and as we met the migration near Barafu we felt blessed and privileged indeed.

The migration was all over these northern plains as we drove in to the Loliondo area for our 4 nights at Suyan Camp. This was the first visit there for my guests and they were spell bound. The wild dogs were exciting and the birding was excellent but it was the landscapes that impressed decked out in wild flowers with zebra herds walking through a landscape covered in pink blooms. The acacia trees were in flower, the grass that green of greens and this camp has become my personal favorite- WOW, we kept saying. Is this a dream?

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We walked the Sanjan Gorge one morning, an area we knew from the other side of the Gol Mountains when Oliver’s Camp was based there a few years ago. We also walked in the gullies near camp recording 70+ bird species in a 3 hour stroll. Fossil finds in this area are increasing and I will be sending off photos of these large mammal bones for opinions. Reluctantly we departed for 5 nights at Olakira Camp at Ndutu. I say reluctantly because the Piaya Suyan area was so extraordinary. We had little idea of what awaited us at Ndutu and Lake Masek.

[2007/200703-1_wilebeest_crossing_lake_masek.jpg] It was drying out quickly and as we drove south we were surrounded by what seemed like a million animals all moving towards the south. When these herds move into the areas along Olduvai Gorge and Lakes Ndutu and Masek the sheer spectacle of wildlife is unlike any other African wildlife experience. There is nothing on this continent that can compare. The wildebeest decide that these lakes are rivers and try to cross them in their thousands. Many die, many calves get separated from their mothers. It all seems so wasteful and tragic. The lion, leopard and hyenas don’t harbor such sentiments! [2007/200703-1_shall_i_take_another_wilderbeest.jpg]

[2007/200703-1_caracal_at_ndutu.jpg] A wonderful Caracal sighting one afternoon was a highlight as these guests had never seen one before. We added 4 new bird species to the Ndutu Lodge list and as we were staying there for two additional nights to our stay at Olakira, we claimed our 4 free bottles of beer! My wife Tati flew out for this section of a truly exception safari.

March is totally underrated, it can be quite wet but hey what is a little mud when you have such landscapes almost to yourselves?

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