Tourist First

Travel notes and advice from around the world. Above, the daily flight from Managua at the San Carlos, Nicaragua, airstrip.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Africa: Sabi Sand

Conveniently situated next to the famous Kruger National Park, the private game reserve Sabi Sand is almost as reknowned. It is fenced on the sides that don't border the park, making it seem a bit like a free-range zoo, and it is crowded with safari camps, but it delivers the goods if you want to see the Big Five (lions, leopards, rhinos, cape buffalo and elephants).  The guides (here they're called rangers) stay in radio contact with each other, so if one sees a lion, others will soon know and can bring their passengers.  A rule of no more than three vehicles at a sighting means that you can't sit forever watching a lion -- you get a nice look, but you have to let others have their turn.
    We stayed at Simbambili, a safari lodge with quite large and posh bungalows, complete with decks overlooking an area where the elephants and antelopes play, and plunge pools, which are great during the heat of the afteroon.  An outline of our six-week African trip (and links to every place we stayed) are in an earlier posting. Keep scrolling and hitting "older post" or click HERE

Our deck at Simbambili. We were told not to sleep overnight
on the bed at the other end, but it was good for resting between
game drives.

A hornbill. 

Three hippos share their waterhole with an elephant.

A female kudu.

A nyala, one of an almost countless variety
of African antelopes.

I took this photo from our bungalow deck.

This little elephant is probably only few weeks old.

Sabi Sand and Kruger National Park are known
for their leopard populations, and we certainly
saw a number of them.

A cape buffalo.

This spotted hyena has a nasty gash on its neck, but
otherwise it looks healthy.

A white rhino takes on a two-tone look after taking a dip.

This red-billed ox pecker  clings
to a rhino. These birds help control
insects for the big beasts, but they
also keep wounds from healing.

Not sure what this beautiful little bird is.

This is a blue gnu, not the white-bearded wildebeest that we saw in Tanzania.

We saw lilac-breasted rollers at every safari

Notice the tongue on this rock monitor lizard. It was running across the trail
and our vehicle would have run over it had our spotter not yelled for the driver to stop.
It quickly climbed into this tree and then remained almost motionless, 

The rock monitor was about a meter long.

A hyena cub steps out of its home, a
tunnel in an old termite mound,

The mother of the previous hyena cub rests with an even younger offspring.

A tree-hugging leopard.

The foreplay.

The act.

The reaction.

Another pair in the same pride. Our guide
said the two males must be brothers
from the same litter. 

African wild dogs at a waterhole. 

Did you ever see such healthy teeth? They'd help this dog take down a small antelope.

A male nyala. We saw these antelope only at Sabi Sand.

Africa: The Warm Waters of Zanzibar

After almost two weeks of daily and twice-daily game drives in different parts of northern Tanzania, Jane and I headed for Zanzibar and the amazingly warm waters of the Indian Ocean. We stayed one night in its ancient capital, Stone Town, at Mashiriki Palace, and four nights at Matemwe Lodge, an oceanfront resort on the island's northeast coast. Matemwe is operated by Asilia, the safari company that also operates Namiri Plains. Links to all the places we stayed are in an earlier posting.  (Keep scrolling down and hitting "older posts," or click HERE.) 
      Below are photos from Zanzibar.

Our room, No. 15, at Mashiriki Palace, a small hotel just a block or so
from the waterfront in Stone Town. 

You''re never far from the water in Stone Town, which
has a very active harbor.

Our room at Mashiriki Palace overlooked a courtyard
of a school. Zanzibar is 95 percent Muslim.

Another view from our hotel room in Stone Town.

The hull of an old wooden fishing boat is moved on the beach
at Stone Town.

Another old boat on its way to restoration. Boats are simply
dragged up the beach to be worked on.

Freddie Mercury was born and raised in
Zanzibar. One place where his family once
lived has become something of a shrine.

The wooden boat on the beach is a dhow, a traditional vessel used for fishing and
for transporting people and goods.

"Don't worry," as we all learned in Disney's
"The Lion King." It's Swahili, a language
widely spoken in Tanzania.

Boats moored along Stone Town's waterfront.

Many streets in Stone Town are too narrow for cars. To the extent there's a tourist district,
this is it, with handicraft and souvenir shops, bars, restaurants and hotels. It's also a
residential neighborhood -- most unmarked doors lead into someone's home.

The flags aren't meant to be festive -- they are left over from a recent election. 

From our bungalow at Matemwe we could watch
the local women out gathering mussels and
other treasures from the shallow waters
between the beach and a coral reef, which was
about 150 meters offshore. 

Looks inviting, doesn't it?  This was the covered terrace of our thatch-roofed bungalow at Matemwe.

Women wade barefoot as they collect
mussels and other seafood. The warm water
(I guessed it was around 100 degrees Fahrenheit)
is pleasant, but the many sea urchins on the
bottom are a constant nuisance.

The outrigger fishing boats rest on the beach at low tide at the end of the day.

Zanzibar is largely a coral island. This coral formation
is on the beach at Matemwe.

Dhows sail south along the coast toward the fishermen's homes in mid-afternoon. 

These creatures are known as bush babies. They visited
the open-air bar at Matemwe every evening during the
pre-dinner cocktail hour. 

An outrigger sailboat. 

A dive boat heads out to submerged reefs.

A fisherman works his net in the shallow waters
between the beach and an off-shore coral reef.