Today is our first full day at the Jongomero safari camp. We have preselected a 6:30 am wake-up call and our room steward brought hot tea and cookies to our room. It is light by breakfast time at 7 am so we are able to walk to breakfast ourselves. If the weather is clear like today, we are able to eat out under the trees. There is a serve-yourself cold table with water, juice, sliced fruit, cereal, sliced cheese and veggies, and fresh bakery items. Tableside, you are served made-to-order eggs and extras like the bacon and mushrooms I ordered.
Reed rotates among the jeeps so this morning Donna and I are with David and Ginger, a couple from the Woodlands, near Houston, Texas. We made Frank an honorary Texan so we could be an all “lone star” jeep. The mornings in Jongomero are cold, so much so that it was hard to get out of bed. I have a jacket on over my long-sleeved shirt. I didn’t take it off until about 11 am. Others were wearing fleece.
Our first sighting were baboons, much smaller than the ones I have seen in zoos at home. They stayed under the trees in the shade, so not the best subject for pictures. We next came across a herd of Cape Buffalo, much like the ones I had seen in South Africa. We noticed a lot of birds sitting on them. They even had scars from where larger birds’ talons had grabbed them. Cape Buffalo will just stop and stare at you, so everyone had an easy time with the photography.
Next we came to large group of giraffes, my favorite. The only thing that could tear me away from them was a lion sighting. So off we went to the spot where the dry Jongomero River bed meets the Ruaha River. There the lionesses were lounging in the grass next to the dry river bed. I am not sure how recent their last kill was, but their bellies were full and they showed no interest in us, only looking over occasionally. Frank pointed out that one was a young male about two years of age. Ginger asked how he knew it was a male and he answered factually: his balls. Ah, the facts of life.
Frank also pointed out that his mane was beginning to come in and with binoculars or a zoom lens you were able to see it. We were later able to move a little closer, about 20 feet away and you could really see the mane. The young male got some water from the Ruaha River, but other than that they just lounged around and moved up and down the river bed to find a more comfortable spot to doze. Of course at this point we were getting to the heat of the day.
One thing I was surprised by was that the lions had spots on their underside. I don’t think I had ever realized that or saw it before. We spent a long time watching them. One of the lionesses was sick and much thinner than the others; you could see her ribs clearly. I had never felt sorry for a lion before, well maybe when I saw it in a zoo in a cage. Not sure how I will react the next time I go to a zoo.
It was quite a treat to watch the lions from this close vantage point. In the Ruaha River to the side of us, hippos lounged in the water and would call out, but it was the lion pride that kept our attention. When we finally decided there was no new activity to see, we went to take our break next to the flowing Ruaha River and finally give the hippos some attention. I also spotted a kingfisher in the tree; not surprising to see them near the water as they eat fish. Frank picks the best spots for breaks.
Heading back for lunch and our midday break, we noted trees with lots of small nests in them. These are the weaver nests, always found on the west side of the tree. They have two openings, the regular entrance and the secondary escape one. The second one had thorns pointing out so a predator could not enter that way. If one attempts to get in, the bird can get out via the second opening. The weavers are very clever. They also leave lots of unused nests in the tree so the predator has to look in many places and often gets discouraged.
It was fitting that our last sighting was a baboon, as that is how we started the tour. What a morning! So much to visit about at lunch and then I was off to download my pictures to the computer. It was a little cool for the pool, so I got in a short nap on the sleeping porch as well. Donna has decided to take the afternoon off. After all, it is her vacation. I am off to take more picture of animals!