Saturday, 7 December 2013

Mikumi NP - A long weekend away

Elephants walking in single file
We don't like to waste a long weekend staying in Dar, so even though it was only a couple of weeks before our Serengeti trip, we packed the car and headed out to Mikumi national park, even though Dru had been sick the few days before.  We left a bit later than normal, but luckily the traffic wasn't too bad and we arrived there just at lunch time.
Bushbuck just after drinking
Because Dru was still recovering, we were in 2 minds whether to camp or stay in one of the bandas.  Even though we were geared to camp, the thought of having makeshift showers if there was no water at the campsite and the constant threat of rain, finally persuaded us to opt for the resthouse instead of camping.  It was just as well - about 40 people rocked up at the campsite and stayed there the whole weekend, not our idea of peaceful weekend camping!

Hadada Ibis looks up after feeding
The weekend was good, although we didn't have the lion luck that we'd become used to at Mikumi.  And that's not because we didn't see lions... We've just become spoilt with the type of lion sightings we've had.  Having said that we saw 3 sightings of 6 lions altogether, including one of the lionesses hunting a warthog - it was just a bit too far away to photograph - told you we were spoilt ;)
Buffalo family portrait
Otherwise, one of the highlights for us was the hippos this time round.  There's a small (appropriately named) Hippo Pool that is very popular with everyone because it's one of the areas that you can stop and stretch your legs.  While we stop there every now and then, there are normally plenty of tourists around standing around and talking while watching the hippos, we tend to avoid it.  

Egyptian goose teaches goslings to swim
But after a frustrating day of chasing lions (and hearing that others had seen lions while we hadn't - the most annoying thing!) we stopped at Hippo Pools during the late afternoon, something we hardly ever do.  But sometimes it's worth it - the hippos were just waking up from sleeping in the pool and starting to get active, which meant that they started yawning.  

Yawning hippo - always on a photographer's wishlist
Now I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the biggest fan of hippos, so we've never really spent a lot of time with them.  So it's quite unusual for us to stop and photograph hippos.  But a yawning hippo has been high on the list to photograph (as I'm sure on any wildlife photographers') so we were quite happy when they started yawning.  

Plenty of white storks around this time of year
Mikumi was suprisingly dry considering the short rains had started, but the more we drove the more evidence of water we saw in rain puddles.  But the actual dams dotted around the park were dry, except for Hippo pools, which had the least amount of water we'd ever seen in it.  Still, it seemed like the animals had scattered to whereever the rain was, because it was probably the quietest in terms of animals we'd seen.  

Young giraffe looks on
And surprisingly quiet on the human front as well.  Besides the big group camping who hardly left their campsite the whole weekend, there were very few cars around considering it was a long weekend. Unfortunately, some of the cars that we did see were seeing more lions than us :(  

Northern wheatear poses

One group told us that the couple of females we'd been watching in the morning had come to drink at the waterhole, just after we had left (spew!) and that they'd seen a female lioness walking down the road with her cubs near one of the dry dams... what?! Needless to say, we spent the rest of the weekend going from one waterhole to the other trying to find them ;)  But this time it was not to be... 

Buffalo - the bouncers of the bush ;)
But as always, despite the poor opportunities to photograph good lions, the weekend was a success, and it's always nice to get away and enjoy the bush.  And of course we'll be back, but first we have a trip to the Serengeti to plan for ;)

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