Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Battle in the Rufiji

This is how they found the Impala and Crocodile

The Impala was unable to free itself.

The second crocodile arriving on the scene behind the Impala

Delivering a decisive blow.

These dramatic pictures were taken by Thierry Thomann, one of our guests here at Sand Rivers. On a game drive close to the lodge, Hamza our guide stopped the car on the banks of the Rufiji river and heard some splashes from further up river, they rushed over to find a male Impala locked in a life and death struggle with a crocodile, the Impala was unable to free itself from the Crocodiles clutches, soon after, another crocodile appeared on the scene grabbing the Impala from the neck and finishing the kill.

Thank you very much Thierry Thomann for letting us share these amazing pictures.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Blending in

Guests at Sand Rivers often comment on how the lodge blends in with the surroundings, this became all the more apparent yesterday when a herd of Elephants was passing though the camp. At first we spotted them to the right along the bank from the lodge, as the breeding herd came closer one of the elephants approached what we call the bush baby deck, oblivious to our presence just a few feet above her she proceeded to feed. After a while she moved up and stepped over the wall to our front garden, had a drink from our little pool with fish in it, walked past our shop through the archway to our pool along the edge of that and down the steps to where our boats leave from! After we picked our jaws off the ground in amazement, we went to finish our lunch.
Standing in our garden.

Having a drink from the little pool with fish in it.

In between the main area and the shop.

Walking along the edge of the pool, after passing through the archway.

Quick snack.

Then off down the steps to the boats!
It was almost as if the camp was not there.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hippo Jokes

Beautiful poetry, words and even jokes are written in our guest book daily in Sand Rivers, so good that they need to be shared...

"We liked the way the Hippos always laughed at our jokes, though they were a bit slow on the uptake!
1. What do you call a long haired hippo? - A hippy
2. What's a hippos favourite type of music? - Hip-hop
3. And what does he listen to it on? - His Hi-Pod
4. How do you give a hippo an injection? - With a hippodermic needle
5. What does an old hippo need? - A hippoperation
6. How does a hippo say hello? - Hi-po!
7. What is a hippos favourite dance? - The hippo hippo shake
8. What do you call a one legged hippo? - A hoppo
9. What do you call a hippo with wings? - Hippothetical
10. What do you call a lying hippo? - A hippocrite
11. What do you call a hippo who thinks he is ill? - A hippochndriac
12. What is a hippos favourite dessert? - Hippo - pot - o'mousse
13. What does Dr Hippo take? - The hippocratic oath
14. What do you call a jolly hippo? - Happo!
15. What's a Hippopotamus's favourite word? - HIPPOPOTAMUS!"

With thanks to The Good Family

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Carrot Baklava

This is our take on the traditional Turkish sweet pastry. Every Sunday lunch our chefs produce this tasty and unique dish called carrot, almond and dill baklava. The naturally sweet carrots, crunchy almonds and refreshing dill topped with a crispy filo pastry are a delicious combination and perfectly light for the hot Selous afternoons! No wonder we give out the recipe every week to our guests!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


This beautiful Leopard is a regular sighting for Sand Rivers camp, he prefers to spend his days perched in this enormous Baobab tree on the edge of Lake Tagalala, from this tree he has a very good view of a couple of the lakes bays, where he can watch unsuspecting animals coming down for a drink.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Painted Dogs

This month we have been blessed with some excellent sighting of Africa's second rarest large carnivore the Wild dogs, the first being the Ethiopian Wolf.

The pack of ten, made up of six adult and four pups, spent the morning lounging around with full bellies. In the Selous Game Reserve they specialize in killing Impalas, this time of year here in the Selous is a time of plenty for the dogs, as this is calving season for the Impalas.

With a kill rate of 80% or more, their pray stand little chance.

The Selous is one of the best places to see these magnificent creatures.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Crocodile Courtship....

Just before afternoon tea yesterday I spotted Emmanuel, one of our guides, observing something in the river, I asked him what he has seen and he pointed out these two crocodiles, who were in the middle of a courtship display. The female (the much smaller one) had her head and neck pointing out of the water for about 15 minutes before the male moved around in front of her. He then arched his tail upwards and his head and neck expanded and raised out of the water, then ripples and bubbles of water appeared from both sides of the males body! It was really interesting to watch.

Crocodiles are the closet living relatives of the long gone dinosaurs and the Nile crocodiles can grow up to 6 meters and live for over 100 year.

Mother crocodiles also use vibrations to create ripples and bubbles in the water as a communication signal to young crocodiles that danger is approaching, her offspring feel the tremors created by the mothers vibrations in the water which make the young dive to safety.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Camp Visitors

Yesterday morning after breakfast one of our waiters looked up in the makuti thatching of our mess and spotted this well camouflaged young python. The beautiful snake was well intertwined on the wooden poles of the roof. We thought rather than leaving the snake and maybe it accidentaly falling on someone's lunch we should remove him. Our step ladder was not tall enough to reach him so we called our camp roof climber Shabani Simba to get him down, he got him down while Thom our Kiba point manager was there to catch him and release him off into the wilds once again. We were privileged to have such a close up view of a truly stunning snake.

Later in the day we heard a quiet crash on to the dry leaves outside the office, we went to investigate and found this gecko having a bad day with this stripe bellied sand snake.

The animals just can't stay away from our camp as this morning a Pygmy Kingfisher flew into our office, we waited a while for him to find his own way out, he couldn't so we released him and he flew to the nearest perch and then watched us for few minutes bobbing his head up and down before flying off.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Skimming on the Rufiji River

From the deck of Sand Rivers Selous, watching the African Skimmers fishing is superb entertainment. 
Using their amazing elongated lower mandible, they hunt by feel alone, and can hunt late into the night while their competitors... this Malachite Kingfisher...
...and this African Fish Eagle hunt by day.
It's obvious that skimmers are related to Terns, but they have taken the term adaptation to a whole new level with their crazy bills.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Twigas...Supermodels of the bush

If you want to see Giraffe (or Twiga in Swahili) then Selous is the place for you, we often refer to Selous as "Giraffic Park" because we see so many of them, interestingly the population of giraffe in Selous only occurs north of the Rufiji river where we are in just 10% of the reserve, south of the river, in the remaining 90% of the reserve, there are none. No one can really explain why the giraffe do not occur south of the river, it does not seem to be an issue of habitat as the habitat is similar just to the south of the river and along the western side of the Selous, it seems to be the impassable river that prevents their occurrence in the south, but even the river is not a real explanation as there are plenty of dry season shallow areas or sand bars along the river where the giraffes could pass if they wanted to. The large giraffe population has grown from the few individuals that in was in the early 1960's to thousands nowadays, because they are well protected in the reserve which has ensured steady population growth and of course they are Tanzania's national animal!

Herds or journeys of giraffe as we call them are fascinating to observe in the wild, when they run they do so in a graceful 'slow-motion' like gallop, when they drink they splay their legs so that their long neck can reach the water, when they fight the sound of their necks clashing is incredible and the force even more so, one giraffe was once spotted bolting an eland 20 meters into the distance!

We are lucky to be with a great population of such beautiful and elegant animals.

Monday, June 25, 2012

June's little gems

Below is a photo of a red bellied coast squirrel snapped on the rocks during one of our signature boat trips to Stiegler’s gorge, his rich auburn colour stood out beautifully in the surroundings of the large boulder like rocks which are characteristic of the gorge.

 Fresh starts and the new season have brought us plenty of newborn sightings, 2 particular new born species demonstrating to us their genius camouflage to help see them through their first vulnerable days in the wild world. The first is this immature Kitlitz’s plover, as you can see he blends in perfectly with the speckled sand which surrounds him, he is not alone though, he also has protective parents around him all the time, just the other day we saw them mobbing 2 saddle billed storks getting a bit too close but even under these watchful eyes anything can happen in nature, they may be off hunting looking away for a minute so this camouflage gives the chicks extra protection. They are precocial chicks having to learn quickly to be mobile on their feet, as they don’t grow up in the safety of a nest like many other bird species, again the camouflage helping to secure their survival.
  The second is this young crocodile spotted on a shady spot along the river, blending brilliantly in with all the colours that surround him, these little snappers can fall prey to amongst other predators the powerful fish eagle, which is ever present along the shores of the rufiji, even one of its very own species, adult crocs may try to eat the little ones, this young crocodile remained motionless and statue like as our boat approached and left, he did not flinch.
Our resident hippo pods have been entertaining us daily, we also have plenty of new hippo tots dotted up and down the river and lakes, always under the extremely watchful eye of mother, one particular mother and calf spend most of these cool June mornings napping away on the newly exposed sand bank in front of the mess, we often see them coming back from a hard nights feed early in the morning and collapsing into their soft sandy beds for the morning, that’s the life!...

Friday, June 1, 2012

One of the last great wildernesses

Boating on the mighty Rufiji River
Pel's Fishing owl
Male Leopard resting in a small leafed Teminalia
Back lit jets of mist from the Hippos exhaling.

The large Nimbus clouds have faded, all the dust settled after the long rains, there is a freshness about Selous, the dry season is closing in fast, still time though for the animals to stock up on the nutritious flora that is scattered all over the rugged terrain.The view from the lodge this year is different, all the vegetation the river that dumped the previous year on the sandbanks has now been all washed away, some of them huge trees which the Rufiji claims every year.

On a trip up to Stieglers gorge, we managed to spot the elusive Pel's Fishing Owl pictured above, it is considered a mega tick amongst birders and took me 8 years in Selous to see it.

We had a wonderful sighting of a male and a female leopard with an Impala kill in a tree, the female was less relaxed than the male, which is unusual for Selous.

We look forward to seeing you here in the Selous, one of the last great wildernesses.

The Selous Team.