Monthly Archives: December 2015

Unreasonable Burden

We see a lot of overladen vehicles here but this one probably ‘takes the biscuit’.

On a narrow rutted track two Pikpikis between them transporting a heavy piece of iron work strapped at each end to their vehicles, very heavy, very wide, very slow.  

Not the easiest thing to get around!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Now (at the beach)

A submission to this week’s photo challenge: Now

So here we on 28th December at almost 6pm -sitting on the beach by Lake Victoria in the warm breeze, under blue skies watching the waves crash into silver sands. It’s lovely here at St Dominic’s Annex Beach near Igombe, Tanzania



Weekly Photo Challenge: Now (at the beach)

A submission to this week’s photo challenge: Now

So here we on 28th December at almost 6pm -sitting on the beach by Lake Victoria in the warm breeze, under blue skies watching the waves crash into silver sands. It’s lovely here at St Dominic’s Annex Beach near Igombe, Tanzania



The Boy by the Lights

I sat there at the traffic lights waiting for red to become green.

All of a sudden he appeared by my car cloth in hand, two cups.

I started to say no thank you in Kiswahili but stopped. The boy pulled out the cloth and proceeded to wipe the window and the bonnet, patiently raising the wipers and dislodge the trapped twigs from the grating beneath. 

I was first in the queue as the lights remained red, he obviously knew the timing well as he patiently worked his way across to the passenger side with a few seconds to spare. I gave him some coins. Not much by my standards but a token of appreciation. 

I did not ask for my windows to be wiped, but this disheveled boy was doing something to earn something.

There are many street children in Mwanza. Most beg. “Give Me My Money”, grates on the ears far too often. I don’t give to these beggars, the local charities urge us not to as it discourages them to find real help and often monies given are stolen by older boys. 

At least this boy was doing something, not just relying on handouts, from Mzungu.


They are probably the ugliest birds in Africa – if not the world. Marabou Storks.

They are common in Mwanza -digging through the rubbish tips. They also hang around Bismarck Rocks, sitting in the trees. 



We saw them too in their more natural habitat, in the Serengeti.   

Generally here by waterholes or gathering in trees near to a kill, waiting their turn. 

As ugly as they are on the ground they are graceful in the air, whirling and soaring in the thermals in the clear blue skies.     

Serengeti Review: Birds of Prey

We returned last weekend from a fabulous three days in the Serengeti, including a great balloon trip.

This is the second of a series of posts outlining the creatures we encountered – this time birds of prey


Last occasion we saw no vultures – so it was a real treat to see two species this time

Lappet-faced Vulture   

Rüppell’s Griffon Vulture  


We saw these birds in the Ngorogoro and Serengeti 

Eastern Chanting Goshawk  

Dark Chanting Goshawk


A Greater Kestrel at the entrance to the Serengeti  


This Steppe Buzzard aka Common Buzzard  


 African Fish Eagle

We caught this bird drying it’s wings in the sun.

Martial Eagle 

Flying high in the sky above the rim of the Ngorogoro crater

  Tawny Eagle  



Black shouldered kites were common throughout the Seronera and this juvenile was seen in a tree 


Serengeti Revisited: Big Cats

We returned last weekend from a fabulous three days in the Serengeti, including a great balloon trip.

This is the first of a series of posts outlining the creatures we encountered staring with Big Cats


Having missed out on a cheetah last time we were able to see one early on this time.


Ever present top predators we encountered several prides and single lions.



We came across leopards on three occasions, the first was the most memorable as the hidden beast rushed out vehicles, the other two were little more relaxed.  


Other mammalian predators were scarcer and our views of Hyena and Javkels were restricted to views high up from balloon or brief glimpses as we drove along the road. 

This safari however, was dominated by the three big cats which more than made up for the lack of other carnivores.

Up Up and Away

For many years this has been my desire.

A balloon flight, over the Serengeti!

On Saturday I realised my desires, in celebration of my upcoming 50th birthday.

We were already in the Serengeti for a safari with our visiting mums. Staying on a campsite in the middle of the Serenera. 

 We were up early before dawn, for the drive from our campsite to the balloon launch site. As we travelled we were able to witness life in the dark of the Serengeti. 

  A white mongoose  A pride of lions.

We arrived just before sunrise. 

 Our balloon was still to be inflated as we received our briefing. 

 We clambered onboard and hooked up while the basket lay horizontally, then as the balloon filled it suddenly righted.
The hats were a vital part of the kit to prevent hair being singed. 

Then suddenly we were rising up into the dawn skies. 

 Sadly the effects of El Niño have meant that the teeming herds of Zebra and Wildebeest had already moved south, and so were not where they were supposed to be, but you can’t have wild animals on cue. 

From above the plains of the Serengeti were different, revealing the tracks of beasts which had wandered through. 

Below we found scattered herds of topi and hartebeest, elephants and impala; hyena, jackets, even a pride of lions. 




All too soon we were back on the ground and off on a mini-safari to see a cheetah we had viewed from above.

The cheetah turned out to be a leopard and what an encounter we had.    


The leopard suddenly sprung from its hiding place and rushed our vehicles …..



…. before turning and running away


We left the great beast alone and returned for a Champagne toast – a long way from the leopard.  

Then a cooked breakfast under the open skies of the Serengeti.    

All in all a fabulous start to the day.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Serengeti Gatherings

A second reponse to this weeks WPC :Gathering

We have just returned from the Serengeti from safari. There are many gatherings of animals there for different reasons.   Baboons gather on a branch.    A mixed gathering of Zebra and Impala on the plains.  Vultures gathering for the kill.  Elephants gathering at the water hole.  Oxpeckers gather on the backs of giraffe.   Masked weavers gather in certain trees to nest.    Wildebeest gathering on the plains for their annual migration.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Gathering

For the first offering In the weekly photo challenge: Gathering I am going for the obvious. 

The arrival of our mother’s for Christmas has brought us a gathering for the first time since 2013.  

Though other members of the family remain at home it’s good to gather for Christmas. 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Oops! (Where’s Kilimanjaro?)

I really have struggled with this weeks photo challenge. It’s not that I don’t take bad pictures or that something doesn’t ruin an otherwise good photo. It’s just that I delete them immediately or edit them appropriately.

Finally today I got the chance – I was taking a picture of Mount Kilimanjaro here in Moshi, Tanzania where we are on holiday. It was our last morning here and on our travels we got an amazing cloud free view of the peak so I got the camera out for a picture.

Here it is…..  

 Photo-bombed by a bus – the mountain is there behind – honest!  Cropped and straightened… 



Moshi Mums

We’ve been in Tanzania, just under 16 months, and the today is the day when we receive family into our new home for the first time. 

We have travelled from Mwanza to Moshi on the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, and here we have met up with both mine and Anita’s Mums, traveling out from the UK. 
We will stay here for a few days and then head out on Safari before returning home together for Christmas in Mwanza.  

We are staying at Tembo Tamu, an excellent B&B which offers so much more, including organizing our Safari. 



Kilimanjaro Revealed

We waited all afternoon, but finally the elusive mountain revealed itself at about 6pm.    



The Elusive Mountain

Today we have flown to Moshi in Northern Tanzania. We’ve been here before as part of our trip from Lake Victoria to Victoria Falls and back again last summer. On that occasion our three days in Moshi were set between two  12+ hour bus trips, this time it has been an hour flight from Mwanza.

We’re here at the start of our safari through the Serengeti and also to meet our visitors from the UK, returning with them to Mwanza for Christmas.

A bonus would be a sight of Kilimanjaro – the elusive mountain. Last summer we saw nothing of Kilimanjaro in our three days here. Although we had hoped for a view of the mountain from the air cloud cover made this impossible even at height. 

Moshi is the Kiswahili word for smoke and the town is aptly named as it’s clouds shroud the town. El Niño hasn’t helped with a more intense rainy season is n 2015.

A colleague visited Moshi on this very day last year and saw this ….

 Our view today is this ….

We are here for a couple of days so we hope that at some point the elusive mount will reveal itself.

Jetting Off!

Mwanza has changed in the last few days. The Christmas Holidays are upon us and with international schools having broken up last week the ex-pat exodus has begun.

Not all ‘Wazungu’ have gone of course, but many have jetted off to their homelands or else to explore foreign parts within and beyond Tanzania’s borders. Some local Tanzanians will travel too in the coming days as they visit family across Tanzania. 

A few like us are staying put and like us are having visitors to stay. Soon we will welcome family to our Tanzanian home, two Mums Jetting Off from their homes to foreign parts (Mwanza). We’e looking forward to receiving our first house guests, though in actual fact we have secured accommodation in a vacant house next door. 

Before they arrive here in Mwanza they will meet us in Moshi – we’re holding out for a view of Kilimanjaro- though this may be a vain hope beyond a glimpse from the aircraft flying in. So we too will be jetting off from a wet and rainy Mwanza, in hope of a dryer Moshi and a more leisurely return through the Serengeti in the days ahead. We are looking forward to visiting the animal park again and introducing it to our visitors, as we will Mwanza. Mostly we’re looking forward to the relaxing time and conversations you just don’t get with Skype.

Washing in the Rainy Season!

Our house looks like the proverbial Chinese Laundry. Clothes hang from impromptu places in various stages of drying. 

 It’s rainy season and at some point each day we are going to get a thunderstorm or maybe two.  When it’s dry it’s hot but there’s no guarantee how long it will last – it’s certainly not breezy here so the clothes rarely have a chance to reach their full desiccation before a downpour.

So it is we have to risk the out door lines hoping to reduce the number of damp items on each pass whilst an ever increasing backlog of clothes follow on behind.  

 We have taken to putting up a line under the roof of the verandah but this spoils the view and they drip onto the table. 


No launderettes here in town to reduce the backlog no washer dryer (in fact no washer) in the house.  

One good thing is that the rain, most days can be short-lived and soon returns to hot and humid (if not dry!).

 The rainy season this year seems longer and wetter than 2014 – it should be on it’s way by Christmas unless El Ninyo is planning to mix things up a bit.

Roll on the dry season!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Eye Spy (A Snail’s Eye)

For the first submission to this week’s photo challenge:Eye Spy.

After the rains the snails are out – these African Land Snails are enormous. 


Christmas Decs in a Hot Dec

It somehow doesn’t seem quite right putting up decorations in T-Shirt and Shorts; drinking mulled wine on the verandah whilst carols play in the background; but it’s good to keep up the tradition. 

Advent is here and Christmas is coming, whether my Northern Hemisphere brain is able to cope with the dichotomy or not! 

       Our Christmas Palm  Outside     More traditional inside            


 Mulled wine to finish

Up Hill

We live at the bottom of a hill here in Mwanza, a city of many hills. 

The road to our compound from the main road is floodworn and rutted, but the road goes on and up beyond our residence. In the 15 months we have lived here we have only been up the hill twice and one of those times we travelled only a 100m or so. It’s over a year since we explored the upper  reaches of Mwanza and this in the early days of our time here and on an organised walk with colleagues.

So last weekend we decided to climb the hill.  



The road climbs and winds through the dukas (shops) and scattered ramshackle housing built among the rocks. Eventually ending up at the top of the hill, to give views over Mwanza. Then a short walk leads to a hilltop settlement, more dukas and small houses separated by narrow alleys and a descent back to the road

As it was difficult to get pictures this time (a camera is a valuable thing to get out when there are just the two of you),  I have included here are some pictures taken a year or so ago when, as part of a much larger group of Mzungu,it was a lot easier.