Sunday, August 12, 2012

It's Sunday,  and we will start with saying that getting access to the internet to post blogs is not as easy as we had hoped.  We are today back in Morogoro after spending a wonderful day at Ruaha National Park on our first all day game drive.... and yes we saw lions and many animals.  It was amazing!!
Let's back up a bit...  We left off when we arrived in Morogoro,  the least touristed town we will visit.
We spent a day with Raychel going to her place of work,  a nursing school of all things.  We met the principal who told us about their programs.   The 2 year program is for public health and the nurses go to the villages to provide health care in clinics. Part of Raychels job is developing a fund raising program to buy books for the nursing school.  They have very few and they are quite out of date.  We also met the school director, her boss, Dr Mwampambe.
Debbie, Raychel, Dr Mwampambe and Gordon
The Nursing School
Raychel wanted us to cook a traditional meal at her home so off to the market we went.  A large tented areas with many stands and all kinds of fruits, grains, beans, and spices and some rust colored rolls that looked like cinnamon, more about these later. The sounds, smells and colors assault the senses... so much to take in.   Raychel did her negotiating in Swahili for coconuts and vegetables including an umbizi,  a little folding stool with a steel blade on an appendage designed to scrape the meat from the coconut.
Dinner was coconut rice and the coconut milk was made from scratch after Debbie learned how to use the umbizi.  Vegetables over the rice and a good meal it was.

    Wed morning the 8th was Nane Nane day,  the national holiday for farmers and we chose that day to take the bus to Iringa. We definitely stand out as mzingu ( foreigners) which can be an advantage when you are at the bus stand, trying to get on the right bus.  They knew  where we were going and found us to tell us which bus to get on.
The bus ride was 5 hours long and was a wild ride through the mountains.   The majority of the vehicles on this 2 lane highway were buses and petrol trucks with buses passing the trucks at every opportunity.  The smell of hot brakes and tire rubber was evident in the cabin of the bus,  and the police checked at one point to make sure we had seat belts on..not that they would have done much good.  Hot, and dusty with one stop along the way at a roadside village for food and the choo (toilet).
This is NOT a bus, it is a Formula 1 race car.... 
   We arrived in Iringa and were whisked off by Alex,  a driver meeting us for a 2 hour drive to Ruaha Hilltop Lodge on dirt roads.   It was a relief to get there and it was lovely to be greeted with scented wet towels to wipe the dust and grime off.  Cottages perched on a hillside with a deck and a breeze.   We had happy hour on the porch overlooking the beautiful countryside.   Pretty rustic with electricity only between 7 and 10 pm and cool water in the shower but we slept well. 
Happy hour on our deck overlooking Ruaha National Park

....Happy hour until the sun set....

Now to the game drive-  Alex was our guide for the day in a highly modified land cruiser that started only by compression.  We got pretty excited at our first 'game' which was guinea fowl and by the end of the day we were saying  -  oh it's just another impala.

National Park Entrance
 The Ruaha river runs through the park and since it's dry season it was low and there were many areas that were dry.  Standing on a bridge we watched hippos staying cool and crocodiles laying in wait for something to come their way.

The animals were either  grazing or standing in the shade.  Elephants huddled together and right next to them giraffes eating the pretty little toothbrush flower.  Zebra were everywhere, no two alike like fingerprints Alex informed us. 

Some of the trees had many round nests making them look like they were decorated for Christmas.  These were social weaver nests with 2 openings,  an entrance and an emergency exit. 
Social Weavers

Buffalo Weavers
We didn't see any other vehicles until we found the lions resting in the shade of a couple of bushes.  2 big males shared on spot and a female with 3 cubs shared another.  It was mid day and they were laying low, although they were watching us.
Three kittens and a mom...
One of the highlights was when Bob spotted something in a field and it was 2 female lions out on the hunt.

Many pictures were taken by all except  Kris who enjoyed not having a camera.  She had a pair of binoculars and put them to good use.
One of eleventy million Impalas...

Bird Life is ASTOUNDING...

Giraffes are Alex's favorite

Proof of lunch amongst the wildlife

Greater Kudzu...has nine (count em) stripes
At the end of the day we were dusty, tired and extremely happy with all we had seen. 
Early morning journal entries from the deck....
Next....Iringa and the Neema Crfts experience....

1 comment:

RickG said...

Great pictures! Looks like your having the adventure of a lifetime.
Enjoy and stay safe!