Finding myself back in Arusha for a couple weeks between safaris, it wasn’t long before I was wishing I was back out in the bush. With guests going into Matembezi’s private camp in Tarangire, I was invited by the owner to head out and spend the weekend there before the guests arrived on the Monday. The fridge full of beer, binoculars on the dash, and a spare set of clothes and other essentials, we left the traffic jams and noise of Arusha on the familiar road to Tarangire.
Looking through my blog it hadn’t occurred to me how much time I’d spent this year in Tarangire and after this weekend, I have to admit scores very high on my favorite places list. I was excited to get out there with my brother, girlfriend and some other friends not working as the guide or teacher, but just for fun. I’d get to look at some of the little-brown-jobs (LBJ’s) as birders call them, or stop to try to identify a fairly non-descript plant.
Just the drive into camp was wonderful, the 500 elephants in the swamp beginning to head out into the woodlands, a leopard in a tree next to the road. A lion in a tree, 3 pythons in trees, and of course the tranquil vistas. Maybe its because this was the first park my parents brought me to as an infant, but it always has a calming effect on my soul.
We woke up early on Saturday morning and drove out towards the swamp onto a beautiful green lawn, the result of a grassfire followed by rain. Within 300 meters from camp we spotted two lionesses feeding on a hartebeest and then watched as a hyena approached, urging the lioness to drag the carcass into the bushes. Surrounding us was an aggregation of Bohor reedbuck, Impala, Grant’s gazelle, Hartebeest, Eland and even a rare Fringe-eared Oryx wandered past, as we sat on the roof sipping fresh coffee. We continued on our little game drive only to bump into a pride of 14 lions- 10 cubs and 4 lionesses, before returning to camp for breakfast.
The Sausage trees were flowering and attracted Scarlet-chested Sunbirds who flitted about chasing each other away from their flowers. But the real highlight was the number of antelope that the fallen flowers attracted. At any one time, we could see at least 7 different species and all in all we saw a total of 12 species within a couple kilometers from the camp. The burned ground had also attracted a species of bird that I’d never seen before called the Chestnut Sparrow-lark as well as beautiful Collared Pratincoles.
Sunday came, and we returned to Arusha, revived by a couple nights in the African bush.
Antelope species seen:
1. Eland Taurotragus oryx
2. Greater kudu Tragelaphus strepiceros
3. Lesser kudu Tragelaphus imberbis
4. Bushbuck Tragelaphus scriptus
5. Fringe-eared oryx Oryx beisa callotis
6. Common waterbuck Kobus ellipsiprymnus
7. Bohor reedbuck Redunca redunca
8. Coke’s hartebeest Alcelaphus buselaphus cokii
9. Grant gazelle Gazella granti
10. Impala Aepyceros melampus
11. Kirk’s dikdik Madoqua kirki
12. Steenbok Raphicerus campestris