Sunrise in Jacana
We ate breakfast and drank our coffee with new morning views today. The Malagarasi River was quiet, peaceful and reflective. The Safari teams, off on different journeys, mixed it up a bit on this later than normal morning hour. Monty & Donnie heading out with Nigel to continue the search for a Warthog Donnie could call his own; while Rachel, Jim, Amy and I were in for a fishing adventure with Johnny (or perhaps Johnny was in for the adventure.) We were pretty excited to see what these Tiger Fish were all about. So, as the good hunters/fishermen we were, we grabbed the Champagne and headed out!
Morning on the Malagarasi
And our first new animal sighting – Hippos! Right there in the river with us. They must have been pretty deep; you could only see their heads coming up for air every now and then. They would break the surface here and there and didn’t stay up long, no telling how many of them there were. We motored right on past them in search of the perfect fishing spot.
We continued to see amazing and different birds than before, like the King Fisher – Rachel took this great picture.
Malachite King Fisher
And of course the assorted Reed Buck and Water Buck were all along the shores.
When we did find our spot, Johnny let us pick our bait – I picked the shiny one with fringe but even more comical was the number of people casting while drinking. I could be wrong, but I think Jim and Johnny never really concentrated on fishing, but more on whether Rachel, Amy or I would be the first to hook one of them in the eye. It really wasn’t a question of “if”, just more of who would be first and how serious would the injury be.
Proper fishing preparation
Needless to say, there were no UDIs (unidentified drinking injuries), although in our excitement, we did catch a few tree limbs. We like to believe it just makes for better entertainment and surprises. Meanwhile, as we were messing around with champagne, trees and bait that sparkled, Jimbo caught a Tiger Fish!
Check out those teeth!!
Jim showin’ us how it’s done
We all had such a good time, relaxing with the fish with huge teeth. I decided if every morning began like this, it would indeed be a good way to start the day.
Learning from the master…
As it got later in the morning, we had to close this chapter in our journals and head back to camp to catch up with the Draegers, Monty and Donnie; Johnny reminded us that this was just a temporary stop over on our way to our final destination. I think I grumbled a little in my own mind as I still wanted to catch my own Tiger Fish, but eager for our next adventure, we turned the boat around and headed toward camp.
Camp in sight
The fishing crew
Not long after we got back, the rest of the gang motored up too. I think we all liked this camp and were sad that we only had half a day or so here. It was completely different than Fish Eagle and really quiet. Maybe I was just in a peaceful sort of mood, but it was really quite serene.
By lunch time we were on our plane, eating a snack (you didn’t think Johnny would miss a meal now did you?)
James liked his vantage point
James always set up front. As a former pilot, he liked to see all the controls and talk to the pilots. Donnie, Rachel and I had other concerns, we just wanted to be clear of Monty or Amy if they got sick. Jim really didn’t have any options, as a newlywed, he HAD to sit close to Amy. Monty had “issues” on our first flight, and, being the good friends we are, we all just tried to ignore by closing our ears or not looking at him. (If a bear throws up in the woods, and no one SEES him do it…) And just in case you were wondering, there is an international hand signal for “She’s going to get sick”, most people know what it is, Jim didn’t, but he does now….
Part of the frequent flier team
Except for Donnie, the rest of us really had no idea where we were headed. And by no idea, I mean directionally, but also expectationally. Wow – if we had only known….
After a brief fuel stop at our favorite Tabora Airport, it’s no Buccee’s, we landed at our destination, M’Bono Camp in Maswa Game Reserve, just west of the Serengeti National Park.
We were excited as we had seen Giraffe and Elephant herds from the plane just before landing. So we loaded into our Land Cruisers for the short ride over to our new camp, one that we would gladly call home for the next five days. And within minutes, probably less than two, there they were, right off the trail.
Our welcome committee
Amy and I were practically jumping out of our seats every 30 seconds, there was wildlife EVERYWHERE! Giraffe, Impala, Thompson’s Gazelle, Zebra, Love Birds, Baboons, Superb Starling. And then, we almost fell out of our truck with Oooohs and Ahhhs as we turned the corner to see the M’Bono camp – situated directly over a watering hole. You’ll see the advantages of this later…
Watering hole in front of M’Bono Camp
Campfire overlooking the watering hole
And, as we still had daylight, the boys were hollering “Load Up!”, so we dropped our bags, grabbed our “Salad” and indeed loaded up to see what we could find. The views were stunning. We had seen such beauty at the other two camps, but this was completely different. The terrain, the trees, the wildlife. It was really something to behold and savor and try earnestly to capture on film. The land was covered in outcrops of rocks, sort of like “Pride Rock” that you saw in The Lion King. I expected to see Rafiki any minute. This place was called Sundowner Rock and little did we know we’d be having drinks up there later.
The Acacia trees were unreal, but the special Yellow Fever Acacia was mesmerizing.
Yellow Fever Acacia
We hadn’t been out long when Johnny asked if we were in the mood for Guinea Fowl. Now that’s really a rhetorical question isn’t it? Of course we were! I decided rifle scopes take some getting used to, but with some practice, I did alright.
I’m not Quick Draw McGraw
But I got my Guinea Fowl!
Maybe when I grow up, I can be good like Jim
Jimbo vs the Guinea Fowl
According to the time stamp on my camera, less than ten minutes later, we were taking pictures with Monty’s monster Impala. As I recall, it went something like this…. We had moved on from our shooting gallery of Guinea Fowl when Monty spots what appeared to be a decent Impala not too terribly far off. Johnny says, Yea, he looks pretty good, you want him? Again, rhetorical. Monty hops out, had maybe been on the ground 60 seconds and the next thing we knew, Monty had his enormous trophy Impala. It all happened so fast, but that’s Monty’s style now isn’t it – no fuss, no muss, just get ‘er done.
And with that, it was time for sunset cocktails with a view. Johnny NASCAR knew just where and drove like he was qualifying for the Sprint Cup Chase to get us there in time. We climbed up Sundowner Rock to behold yet another amazing sunset. Seriously, there must be another word other than “amazing”, but nothing ever seems as descriptive. While I was learning Swahili for everything, my English had dropped to two words: Wow and Amazing. The only thing I was left with was inflection – Ahmazing, aMAZing, Wwwwoooowwww, WOW!
Sunset from Sundowner Rock
One of the spectacular views
We enjoyed our brief sunset and breathtaking views and then loaded up for camp to see what the afternoon adventures had brought the Draeger safari. It had indeed been a good afternoon as James brought back a Thompson’s Gazelle – possibly the one close to camp Jim had briefly considered until Amy named him Gary. There was a brief discussion that if an animal received a name, it wouldn’t be part of the hunted. Considering we were talking about Jim, we all knew that this ploy would not save an animal’s life, but, it did seem to make Amy happy.
That night, after the campfire, as we were all drifting off to sleep, the sounds of Africa came alive again. We heard some screaming (I really don’t have a better word to describe that particular sound) and over breakfast the next morning Nigel told us it was likely Hyena’s taking a Cape Buffalo. The night sounds in Africa remind you how the laws of nature work in the absence of man and urbanization. There is a natural order to things out there and it all works in balance. And, as anyone who knows how I sleep can verify, I drifted off without trouble and continued some of the best nights sleep I’ve ever had.
Wow – what a day!