Saturday, December 10, 2016

Saadani National Park

From Lushoto we drove to Sadaani National Park, a drive of around 7 hours.   We felt sorry for our driver, he had to go all the way back to Arusha once he'd dropped us off, with 2 days to get back and get himself sorted for his next guests.

The park had just had rain and, we found out as we drove in, all the roads are black cotton soil, which basically means they are only passable in a 4x4 when wet.   One lorry had got stuck and then another lorry tried overtaking it and got stuck too, so the road was pretty much blocked.  

At this point our driver revealed a side of himself we hadn't seen before, he got angry.   He drove the 4x4 like a 4x2 at pace, through a small gap by the side of the trucks to some encouragement and cheering from the people stuck behind them.

Once through that it was fairly straightforward to get to our lodge in the park.  We were staying at the Riverside lodge and it's an all-inclusive set-up with free beer, wine and some spirits and literally too much food.   One lunch we sent half the food back and asked to have it for dinner with some bread, which they did.   The next day though we got the same enormous amount of food again.  Hey ho.

The room was fantastic particularly the air-conditioning as the rains had started and it was very humid.  There were lots and lots of mosquitoes too and unfortunately we discovered my insect proof clothing had been washed a few too many times and was no longer offering any protection.   I hit 100 bites on the third day and the tsetse fly bites from Tarangire came up in response to the heat too, I was taking anti-itching tablets for fun as well as anti-malarials.

The first morning was a wash-out, the bird guide was as frustrated as we were but we took the opportunity to properly relax, drink the fantastic coffee and catch-up with the outside world while the downpour emptied itself out, with an enormous amount of rainfall in a short period of time.

We saw a lot of wildlife going to- and fro- between the main lodge and our cabin, including this snake, escaping the tidal flow on the ground below:


A Skink predating the insects which were rapidly becoming abundant:


When the tide receded red-armed crabs scuttled around, but only if they didn't hear or see you first:


By the afternoon the skies had cleared and we went out for a walk in the grounds, which was a treat, although surprisingly hot and muggy very soon after the rains has passed, which helped the butterflies we saw:



In the scrub alongside the raised wooden path we saw Eastern-bearded Bush-Robin:


Around the staff quarters we saw Wire-tailed Swallows settled between feeding flights:


And on the ground a millipede, their legs seem to flow as they move along:


A Collared Sunbird:


Black-headed Weavers were working on their nests:















As indeed were African Golden Weavers:


We even saw a Black-and-White Colobus Monkey close to the buildings:


In the late afternoon we went out on a boat trip down the river towards the ocean, we saw lots of interesting things including a Terek Sandpiper with Common Ringed-Plovers on the raised mud-banks:


Pied Kingfisher:


Mangrove Kingfisher:


Malachite Kingfisher:


Hippos feeding during the day, unusually:


A Long-tailed Cormorant:


As the evening sunset approach a huge amount of these Cormorants arrived from all directions to settle in a single roost tree:


Quite a sight!   We really enjoyed the boat trip, the cold beers and the waitng drinks and dinner.   They really do know how to look after their guests at Sadaani!

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