The biggest issue with a driving tour of the southern parks is that you have to drive ALL THE MILES in order to go from park to park. We spent the next two days driving to get to Ruaha. Flying would have been much faster, of course. And all of the parks have numerous landing strips within their confines for the likes of people who can afford to fly in. Alas, that was not us. Add flying to the mix and the already pricey safari moves out of our budget.
This hot mess was my cup a joe for the week: drop in a spoonful of Africafe pure coffee, a spoonful of cocoa, a double spoonful of powdered milk, add boiling water, enjoy!
The route we took was a bit round-about in that we drove through Selous, and then onward on dirt roads to Morogoro. From Morogoro we drove on macadam to the Mikumi National Park where we spent the night. The next day, we drove from Mikumi to Ruaha National Park. We spent two nights at Ruaha, one day doing a game drive in Ruaha, and then a day driving back to Mikumi. We then did a half day game drive in Mikumi, and took the macadam roads back to Dar es Salaam. No, there won't be a test, but the net was two and a half days of formal "game driving" and a heck of a lot of other days just driving.
Mango, it's what's for breakfast.
Although, to be clear, the driving was fascinating. We drove through towns, villages, areas of incredible natural beauty. And while the roads were sometimes rough and sometimes smooth macadam, the weather was grand and there was plenty of room in the Land Cruiser.
There were some niggling issues. Rajab wasn't the happiest of campers post-Selous. He told us (and maybe we believe him?) that he had never, in all his years of doing safaris, never left Selous without seeing a lion. As we had no expectations of seeing a lion, it wasn't a big deal for us. But for him, it was. Plus, there were the issues with the car. Rajab, while a nice guy, and seemingly pretty good at spotting animals, was clearly not all that mechanically minded. Not the best feeling when you are spending days and days and days in a car in the middles of nowheresville.
Example? The starter on the Land Cruiser wasn't working properly, so we would stop the car to watch animals for a bit, Rajab would turn the key and nothing would happen. The Land Cruiser was manual transmission, so not the end of the world if the starter goes, so long as you park on a hill with the nose of the vehicle pointing down.
Because, of course, as all you horse people know, you can easily pop start a manual transmission by putting the car in first gear, putting your foot all the way down on the clutch, getting someone to push the car down the hill, once it gets rolling, you release the clutch and the engine roars to life. Right, you knew that? Certainly Jeff and I were familiar with how to go about doing this.
And Rajab did know how to pop start the car. Jeff and I had to push it once on day one to get it started. But dude couldn't seem to grasp the hill part! He kept parking it in places that there was no way we were going to be able to push it if he couldn't get it started. Oi!
But, what can you do? We headed off in the morning, driving almost 200 kilometers through Selous to get to our eventual destination. The difference between "driving" and "game driving" when you are driving through the Game Reserve to get to your destination is the roof of the Land Cruiser. On game drive days, the roof was up and we could stand. On driving days, it was down.
Rajab kept his eyes peeled for the elusive lion. Alas, the lion did not show. But, a hyena did.
Elephants and our favorite giraffes were everywhere.
And then, a leopard! Leopards generally rest during the day, so it's quite unusual to see one sauntering about. This one crossed the road right in front of us. Quite an amazing sight to see.
Warthogs are generally quite shy, and of the dozen or so we saw over the course of our trip, this was the only one we saw upclose, and who did not immediately dash away when he realized we were watching.
And this was a Vervet monkey, hiding in the branches. A troop of them were in the road in front of us, but this photo is my favorite.
So, that was our non game drive drive through Selous. Rajab was pretty happy about the leopard, although still frustrated that lions hadn't made an appearance.
Next: And Then This Happened