December 2017

Chasing Giraffes: A Tanzanian Adventure

Our big Tanzanian adventure began at a small airport in Zanzibar, where we discovered there is a direct flight to Selous Game Reserve, but it was too late for our luggage, it went to Selous through Dar-el-Salam on the coast. It did join us later that day though. So, we had a plane to ourselves – myself, my husband, the pilot and a camera. The pilot told us he would fly very low because of his cold and we were glad he did because the scenery was amazing.

Previously we had visited other parts of Africa and anticipated a dry yellow landscape, with little or no greenery and bleak surroundings for the duration of the flight. How wrong we were! Tanzania is green, with African plants and palm trees.

Selous is a quiet game reserve on the river. Quiet and peaceful in the middle of the day, but not at night, when the wild dogs are having an argument or in the early hours of the morning, when the hippos are coming back to the river. They then spend the rest of the day sitting in the water with only eyes and ears out and making growling noises.

Giraffes on the runway. Photos © Julia Hancock

Arrival at Selous Game Reserve.

Arriving at Selous was memorable. Giraffes on the runway. Plane spotting giraffes. Not scared of planes or vehicles. They stood on the runway and watched us flying around like lunatics for twenty minutes, hoping that the aircraft noise would scare them. Well, it didn’t. The pilot had to go for it, and only when the plane was on the ground, moving fast towards them, did they start moving too.

Baboons scattered from the runway but at that moment we could only concentrate on the giraffes. “Will we crash into them?”, we asked. Strangely enough, the baboons didn’t seem to provide any concern for the pilot either. “I have never been here in the morning”, he said, “and by the afternoon the safari vehicles usually chase giraffes away.” We were too scared to ask if he had ever flown an aircraft before in case of another unexpected answer.

We were greeted by a young man in a safari vehicle and taken to the camp. This was the poshest camp I’ve ever seen. Proper wooden houses, but with nets instead of doors and windows, with zips. Nine houses altogether which weren’t all occupied. We stayed for two nights and managed to squeeze in two safari drives, a boat safari and a walk. In the middle of the day, we had the pleasure to cool off in a small but very nicely done swimming pool surrounded by African style beds with comfy cushions.

One morning we went on a 6am safari on foot with two guides. It was a memorable morning. We suddenly saw an orange spot moving towards us and the guide told us there was a wild dog chase. We crawled quietly and saw a quick feast where the wild dogs ate an impala within ten minutes. A small and pretty hyena waited patiently for some leftovers but the dogs ate everything, even the bones.

After a while we stopped, noticing giraffes, they are just like sheep in England – everywhere. Elephants, zebras, buffalo, wild pigs, lions snoozing under the tree like kittens – all on your doorstep. It is an enormous privilege to be in their world and to observe. I wouldn’t exchange this experience for the world. You cannot compare seeing a wild animal in its habitat to the one created by people in wild parks and zoos. They are born to be wild and born to be free. Go and see them while you can.

Julia Hancock

February 5, 2010 by admin · 247 Comments 

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