The BA flight touched down on time in Dar Es Salam at
about 7am after an uneventful overnight flight from
Heathrow, on leaving the aircraft walking down the steps
the first thing to hit us was the temperature. It could
not of been more different to the sub zero experience of
the transit bus departing from terminal 5 out to flight
BA0047 sitting somewhere on the vast tarmac at London
Heathrow. The heat and humidity of the costal part of
Tanzania was startling, the clothes we were wearing and
coats we were carrying were totally out of place. It
always amazes me how different climates and seasons
could be at either end of a long haul flight.
It was a short process through immigration, which did
not take too long after we realised we were in the wrong
queue, we didn’t need to line up for entry visas, as
ours were acquired in the UK, it always pays to do this
if you can, irrespective of the country you visit. The
queue must have been over 150 strong and moving at a
snails pace. When outside the terminal building it was
just a short ride to the domestic terminal to board the
waiting plane to Selous and beyond.
The skies were full of clouds and the humidity high, the
wet season had started early this year and I heard a
number of references to a mini El Nino, it was certainly
different this time. With the exception of my very first
time to Africa I had always visited in the dry season
when the grass was like straw, few leaves on the trees
and waterholes were mostly dry. As we transversed the
skies and flew further inland the desert scape of
previous trips was now a land of plenty, vivid green all
over and water abundant.
Selous - Lake Manze Safari Camp
flight to Selous Safari Camp airstrip in the Selous Game
Reserve was about 45minutes. We were welcomed
enthusiastically by our driver and guide, as it turned
out we were the only guests to be travelling to
Lake Manze Safari Camp which was our destination for
the next three nights. The journey was to take about an
hour but with a few stops on the way for game viewing it
took a bit longer.
It was quite apparent there had been a considerable
amount of rain over the few weeks before our trip
and I was informed there had been times when travel
by road was impossible because of flooding.
Fortunately for us we had arrived in a spell of dry
weather and the roads were mainly accessible and
passable. The grass was lush and the trees were in
full leaf and vibrant green, the vista was stunning.
I always carry my camera kit as hand luggage and
as soon as the vehicle took to the tacks a few
practice shots were the order of the day and
both cameras were ready for me to use from the
off. One thing I have learnt with photographic
safaris, your camera should be ready to shoot at
all times, you should be always geared up from
the off and put nothing away until you depart
from the vehicle at the end of your journey. You
never know what is around the next bend.
We arrived at the camp in time to unpack a
little and then be escorted to lunch by our
Masai guard, it was so hot sticky and humid,
this, together with the lack of sleep from the
overnight flight made a post lunch snooze
unstoppable, the tiredness was taking over. By
late afternoon the call of the wild started the
adrenalin bubbling once more and by 4 o’clock we
were boarding the safari vehicle for our
The big game was not overly abundant and we soon
discovered the wet season had a number of safari
draw backs, the game now had a larger choice of
places to eat and drink and also the foliage was
a good place to disappear into.
But to compensate for the lack of game the
scenery was to admire and if you were a bird
lover then the bird life was a twitchers
paradise. Me, I was after some good photos so I
was happy to move from four legs to wings, an
added bonus as it was the Africa I had not seen
for many years.
The camp itself was sited on the banks of Lake
Manze and consisted of a dozen Meru Style tents
on hard standings with toilet facilities
ensuite, the style was aimed at being close to
nature and very relaxed, not luxurious but
suitably adequate for the needs of this trip.
The evening meals were outside under the stars
and sometimes we were accompanied by unexpected
visitors. There was a Gennet cat who hunted not
far from the dining table and a Scoops Owl who
watched over us eating from the branches above.
Not to mention the Hippos close by in the Lake
and the elephant who was a regular visitor.
The thing I remember most at Lake Manze Camp was
the noise of the African night it lasted all
through to dawn with Hippo noises abound, even
lions and hyenas in the distance and many other
loud calls unrecognisable but close by. It was
the loudness of the dawn chorus that I still
remember which started well before first light
with a maze of bird calls from all directions,
some sounded so close you’d think they were
perched on the tent.