Slow Beginning

Slow Beginning

After spending a day in Dar es Salaam, waiting for our luggage to arrive, we hopped on our private charter (private because we were the only passengers) and headed southwest to Nyerere National Park.

Aerial view of Dar es Salaam

Before Nyerere National Park became a national park in 2019, it was known as Selous Game Reserve, a hunting ground. As a result, there are few predators, as they have either been killed or have left the area. Most animals that are left at the park are relatively gun shy, no pun intended. Unlike the animals in the Serengeti that are accustomed to vehicles, the animals in Nyerere are still wary, and will scatter if jeeps get too close. Because of this, our experience at Nyerere was vastly different than our past safaris.

Baraka, our guide for the duration of our stay in Selous, met us at the Mtereme airstrip for our hour-long drive to the camp. Along the way, we saw some animals, but less than what I had anticipated. Instead of herds of animals, the ones we saw were scattered about.

A yellow baboon crossing the road ahead of us. Yellow baboons are the smaller cousins of the olive baboons found up north.
What distinguishes a plain zebra from other zebras are the stripes extending all the way to midline. Grey zebras’ stripes don’t meet at the belly giving them a white belly appearance.
All ears
Unlike our very first safari in Botswana, where we barely saw any lions, we managed to see a few big cats this time on our first day.
The lions’ manes are less full than the ones seen in the Serengeti. One explanation is that hunters preferred lions with full manes, and as a result genes for “less desirable” manes were allowed to propagate. This is the same situation with the general elephant population. Rarely do you ever see elephants with stately tusks these days, as those have unfortunately been hunted to extinction.
Along with zebras, giraffes are Angela’s favorite animals. We hadn’t even made it to the camp and she’s already 2 of 2.
Shortly after, I got to see mine – warthogs. Joe would ultimately have to wait until the end of the trip to see his cheetahs.

After an hour of bumpy ride, we made it to the Asilia Selous camp.

The tent is bigger than some NYC apartments
Bathroom
Lounge area
Dining area

Within the park flows the Rufiji River that forms several lakes, including Lake Nzerakera where our camp is situated. All that water hosts the main stars in the park – hippos and crocs.

Despite being herbivores, hippos are the leading cause of human-wildlife encounter related deaths in Africa
Nile crocs will open their jaws toward the sun to warm up.

Owing to the dense vegetation, we soon realized that animals in the area were much harder to spot.

Dune palms are everywhere, and their fruits are one of the elephants’ favorite.
Beautiful unscented yellow flowers of the long-tail cassia
Baobab fruits are more sour, but elephants eat them as well

Perhaps the largest groups of animals we saw belong to the baboons, thanks to poor family planning.

The painful hemorrhoid looking swelling is actually a sign that the female is in estrous. And we saw numerous of them sporting this look.
A warthog enjoying a spa moment. Oxpeckers pick off ticks and parasites, and you’ll often see them on giraffes, buffalos, and antelopes just to name a few.
Kudus – one of the largest antelopes after Elands

We spent most of our second day looking for elephants, and we were not disappointed. Again, we didn’t see herds of them, but they were around, camouflaged amongst dune palms.

Mom and baby
The omnipresent impala. And for that, some have coined the term JABI – Just Another Bloody Impala.
It’s always nice catching an elephant and a giraffe in the same frame. This perspective makes the giant elephant look like a toy.
A family of four

The highlight of our trip to Nyerere was tracking a hyena.

Baraka spotted a lone hyena in a ditch, and watched it stick its nose in the air and abruptly take off in the opposite direction.
It had picked up the scent of an eland carcass.
Vultures and Maribou storks waiting in the wings, pun intended.

With 2 nights scheduled for this particular camp, we really only had one full day to explore. This park was a good introduction for the first timers, as the rest of the trip proved to be much more exciting.

A common waterbuck, the cousin of the Defassa waterbuck found up north. Waterbucks are always seen next to water because they are water dependent. The way to distinguish a common waterbuck from a Defassa waterbuck is by looking at its rump. The common waterbuck has a white ring on its rump that looks like an imprint of a toilet seat.

4 thoughts on “Slow Beginning

    1. You’re right. It’s not bad for just 2 days. It was just very different than what I had imagined based on prior experiences. Nature is unpredictable that way. It’s not like going to the zoo for sure. We really didn’t get to explore Dar es Salaam that much. With mother-in-law in tow logistics get a little tricky. I’d love to hear of your experience.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That trip was before we started our blog site, but there are some stories about it on there – under “Travel Stories”. Headed “Bush Routes”, “Hamadi”, “Nungwi Sunset” “Into The Unknown” and in particular “Welcome To Dar”. They will probably all ring true with you given that you are amongst it right now!

        Liked by 1 person

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