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  2. @Treepol I'm very glad you're enjoying it, there's plenty more to come! As I mentioned, I was surprised by the greenery in western Tanzania and, I think, getting a sense of the country was a huge benefit to overlanding rather than flying from Dar to the parks.
  3. Seems to be quite a few non bird interlopers in this thread 😊 Love your competitiveness all of you and what a great array of birds and it is only October!
  4. Thank goodness!! Thank you for the update @Lyss!
  5. @Galana here is the tawny unfortunately no shots of them both together....
  6. You made my day!!!! I can't stop smiling! Thanks a lot for the update.
  7. Today
  8. Update on the coalition of 5. All 5 have been seen live on safariLive just about 2 minutes ago. They are all slightly limping, but all are together again. Such happy news. Footage of the 5 Musketeers back together. This is of the live drive that is happening right now. Scott Dyson, the guide with the cheetah is in a spotty reception area, and so the sightings may be brief. Tristan Dicks, is in the Sabi Sands with a resident leopard named Hosana. In case you wondered.
  9. Friday 15th September We were picked up at 6.30am by the chap taking us down to the jetty which was only a 15 minute drive away. Our boat the 'Kivu King' He took our tickets into the office for us and made sure our bags were labelled up correctly and put onto the boat. The service that links Bukavu to Goma is called the Ihusi Express. It departs twice a day from Bukavu except Thursday and Saturday when there is just one crossing. It costs $50 one way and takes around 2.5 to 3 hours. The boat itself holds around 50 people inside with very comfy seats. There was a film showing on the big television at the end of the aisle and free water and a very tasty cheese and ham sandwich was offered at about halfway across. A few pictures showing the shoreline of Bukavu from the Lake. You can see how the city is built up into the hills. They are a bit gloomy as it had been drizzling with rain. We reached Goma at around 10.30am and as soon as we got off a very pleasant young chap came over. He greeted us using our names and introduced himself as Alex. Thinking we must have just got his name wrong as Martin had said he would be called Thierry, we thought no more of it and followed him to his vehicle. We were not quite sure what to expect next but Alex said he would take us on a city tour of Goma. Pulling into Goma Now Goma is not the prettiest of towns but that’s not surprising seeing as it has been in the firing line of two eruptions by the nearby active volcano Mt Nyiragongo, once in 1977 and then again in 2002. During the 2002 eruption the lava stream flowed through the main streets of Goma down to Lake Kivu, 30-40% of the city was destroyed. Goma is the capital city of North Kivu province and has also been at the centre of many conflicts since the 1994 Rwandan genocide including the First and Second Congo wars. This explains the many UN compounds and aid agencies that line the streets of the city. There are plenty of armed UN soldiers about and there were lots of the white UN trucks on the roads. Like in Bukavu the roads away from the main streets were in a bad state of disrepair, as we were about to find out. Driving down the street, two policemen waved us down on yet another ‘random’ check. This time the policeman talking to Alex through the window was very aggressive and loud, we guess because Alex was only quite young and maybe an easy target. Alex also had a big brown battered envelope containing the myriad of licences and permits that are required. However, unfortunately he was missing one, which was why the policeman was getting more and more angry. He got into the passenger side of the vehicle and carried on haranguing the poor lad. Alex turned to us a few times to apologise and explained there was nothing to worry about but he was missing the ‘new’ version of one of the licences and the policeman was wanting a bribe, however he didn’t have enough money on him. Between arguing with the policeman Alex made several phone calls. One was to his sister asking her to bring his missing licence. She turned up about 15 minutes later with the licence but this didn’t make any difference to the policeman who was getting angrier and angrier insisting on his bribe. (All of this was in French and Swahili but you got the gist). He then instructed Alex to start driving the car. At this point he had also wanted his colleagues to get in the back with us but Alex stood his ground and refused to let them. So we drove from the road and into the side streets, which is where we could see how much damage had been caused by the volcano eruption. You would never have believed it happened 15 years ago, it looked like it happened only very recently. Small houses and shelters had been built using the lava rock, many with only a piece of tin sheeting for a roof. We carried on driving around for a bit until we came into a big empty square. We stopped and Alex once again turned round to us and apologised for the inconvenience and not to worry. Then his sister walked up to the vehicle, unbeknown to us she had been following behind on a scooter taxi. The policeman took Alex from the vehicle. Another vehicle then pulled up, some more people got out and they all walked off with him. Maybe this would have been the time to start worrying but his sister jumped into the front seat to explain and stay with us. We were apparently in part of the local police compound and the other people who had turned up were her husband and his security detail. He is something fairly high up in the army and Alex had called him to help. So they were now all in the police station sorting out his fine, but at least it would be a proper fine and not a bribe. She was very nice and we spent the time chatting, she had really good English. Eventually Alex came walking round the corner and got back into the vehicle. Many apologies from him later and we were on our way. This had all taken about an hour and now it was time for lunch. His sister stayed with us for the drive and we were taken to the very pleasant Lac Kivu Lodge. Alex said Martin would be meeting us here after lunch. We sat down and while we were waiting for the drinks we mentioned to Alex that Martin had said to expect someone called Thierry. ‘Ahh’, he said, ‘that is me’. We obviously looked slightly confused so he explained that as some tourists found Thierry hard to pronounce he called himself Alex. So mystery solved and we told him that we had no problems calling him Thierry. He also let on that he was Martin’s son and he helps out with transfers for him on a regular basis!! So there you go, alls well that ends well! At that point Martin turned up and left us to finish our lunch while he and Thierry took our bags to his vehicle. Next up, the drive to Virunga National Park.
  10. That's wonderful. If this trip report can encourage just one person to visit KBNP it will make me very happy.
  11. What an enjoyable and informative trip report @Zim Girl! Thanks for taking the time to prepare it. When and if I make it to DRC I will definitely include Kahuzi-Biega NP in my itinerary.
  12. @douglaswise - I am not in a position to comment on the efficacy of their research to date. However, they do seem to have well-credentialed staff including some with PhD's. And the act of collecting and archiving scat alone can be immensely valuable and can lead to future analysis and insights that are not possible today. Analyzing scat can yield information regarding genetics, diet, health/diseases, and much more.
  13. Dreadful news @amybatt. I hope they can still hunt with all four limping...
  14. Really nice elephant photos @Geoff - especially in what must have been harsh light during early afternoon on a cloudless day.
  15. What do y'all think about this? Saruni Photo Camp with NG photographer Sergio Pitamitz. Saruni Samburu 3 ni Saruni Wild 2 night Saruni Mara 2 night http://www.sarunisamburu.com/kenya-photo-camp-1/kenya-photo-camp.htm
  16. Thursday 14th September So another 7am pick-up by Martin and we were off to KBNP for our second trek. On our way through town something happened that was to become quite a common occurrence. Martin was flagged down and asked to stop by the police. A female police officer came over to his window and asked for his documents. Martin pulled out a big dog-eared brown envelope and proceeded to pass her various permits and licences and photocopies and all the while they were having a long and fairly heated debate. This was all in a mixture of the local language and French so a bit tricky to follow. After about 15 mins and a lot of tutting and head shaking by the police officer, Martin was given back all his documents and allowed to go. Martin explained that he had been stopped because his vehicle has Rwandan registered plates but this was just an excuse because all they really want is a bribe and because he wasn’t prepared to pay one he had to go through the time wasting rigmarole of arguing it out and going through his docs. He said this kind of thing was becoming more frequent as the police are paid very badly and that’s when they are paid at all. “Life is hard in Congo”. Then just to reinforce this, when we came to the toll road barrier and Martin went into the hut to be passed through there appeared to be another debate going on. This took 20 minutes or so and then he finally came back to the vehicle. The barrier went up and we went through. We asked what had happened. Apparently when you buy the toll permit which is $2.50 each way it is supposed to be valid for 5 days, but even though he paid for it when we went through yesterday they wouldn't accept this and wanted him to pay again. He showed them the stamped permit but they tore it up in front of him and made him pay for a new one. "Life is hard in Congo". We reached KBNP without further issue and was again greeted like old friends by Juvenal. There were no other tourists today but there was a researcher from the UK studying Duikers, she was interested in the habitat in KBNP and had come along for a trek. Two vets from the Tchimpounga Primate Sanctuary in Pointe Noire, Congo Brazzaville and a worker from the Lwiro Primate Sanctuary in South Kivu. Lwiro can be visited easily from KBNP and Martin had actually arranged for us to go there yesterday but we ran out of time as the trek took so long. It does very good work mainly with chimpanzees but also other species of monkeys and apparently well worth a visit. Lambert came to tell us that the Chimanuka group had definitely been found, but a long way away, so we would visit them on our own while the 4 girls would go to see Bonane group as they were situated much closer. We all set off down the forest road and stopped at the same trailhead as yesterday. We all followed the initial trail then we left with guide Jacques to find Chimanuka and the others went with Lambert. Jacques had almost no English but Lambert had left him with strict instructions to get us to Chimanuka (possibly at all costs judging by some of the terrain we were to go over). So off we went through some very dense forest. We walked for nearly 2 hours when we came off the trail completely, we thought we must be close and on the final walk in but instead we think the group must have moved because we were now going down steep hills and crawling through almost impenetrable bamboo tunnels then up hills again. This went on for another hour and was probably the toughest gorilla trek we had ever done. Finally Jacques stopped and gave us masks to put on, we were close! We saw one female straight away who took a quick look at us but then ambled away. We couldn’t see any others, we looked at Jacques, he looked up at the trees and pointed. They were up there, including Chimanuka himself. We would have to wait. So we settled down to wait, pleased we had finally found them but desperately hoping they would come down. Watching and waiting. Finally after about 20 minutes there was movement. A female slithered her way down and sat at the bottom of the tree watching us. Then she walked past us and another came down, then a youngster and another. One by one they came down the same tree, sat for a few moments then walked by. Not all the group was there but the last to come down was Chimanuka. Quite amazing to see such a huge gorilla climb so easily. However once down he promptly found the nearest vegetation and nestled inside almost out of sight. Jacques and the rangers did their best to pull some of it away so we could see him which was great although photos were still difficult. Then eventually he wandered off and our time was up. Female at the bottom of the tree she had just climbed down. Youngster climbing down Sat with Mum Video showing some of the gorillas coming down the tree. And another. Chimanuka looking for somewhere to sit Found it. And off he goes. But that wasn’t to be the end of our gorilla viewing today. On the way back, (which thankfully wasn’t as strenuous as the walk in), we could see something was going on as the rangers were looking excited and signalling to each other, then Jacques told us to stop and wait. He whispered ‘Mpungwe group coming’. After a minute a female with a youngster on her back crossed the trail in front of us, then another female and youngster by her side. Then we saw Mpungwe, he was stood on all fours guarding the trail while his group crossed over. He then moved away and we could see a big blackbuck sat behind him. Mpungwe is the only group that has another adult male. He is called Tulia which means calm in Swahili. Female and youngster crossing With Mpungwe guarding the trail Blackback Tulia So how lucky was that! We managed to see all three habituated gorilla groups in two days. Group photo at the end of the trek. We got back to the HQ at around 3pm where Lambert was waiting to congratulate us on finding Chimanuka. He was very pleased we had made it to the group and confirmed that they had indeed started moving again after the trackers had originally found their trail in the morning. A word on tourist group size here at KBNP. Just like Rwanda and Uganda the maximum number of tourists that can visit any one gorilla group each day is eight. However, in practice you are unlikely to have that many at present. Tourist numbers are just not that high. The park recorded just over 1000 visits last year and many of them may be researchers and aid workers like today’s group as opposed to ‘ordinary’ tourists. The permit price of $400 is extremely good value especially when compared to the cost in Rwanda of $1500 and particularly when you consider we had one private viewing and only shared the other with two people. It makes a really big difference to the experience. We very much enjoyed the visits to Kahuzi-Biega and were quite sorry to leave for the last time. The people are wonderful and passionate and very friendly but the Park needs more visitors. For anyone thinking of going to DRC I would definitely recommend combining Kahuzi-Biega with Virunga. It doesn't take that much more effort and is a great way of seeing more of the Eastern region. Sadly it wasn't Martin's day today. Back into Bukavu town, and we were going round a roundabout when a police officer jumped out in front of him and made him stop. Well there was a lot of hands in the air and shouting 'quoi, quoi'? from Martin but undeterred the policeman came over, then out came the battered brown envelope, documents passed, and again a long and protracted argument entailed. We amused ourselves by watching the buildup of traffic all around us with horns blaring as we were still on the roundabout and holding everything up. Eventually we were let go, with poor old Martin shaking his head. "Life is hard in Congo". When he dropped us back at the Orchids we had a little discussion about how our transfer to Virunga was going to work tomorrow. To get the vehicle up to Goma, Martin was going to start the long drive now and into the night, back across the border and up the lake road on the Rwandan side. I think this takes around 6-7 hours. We were to be met at breakfast in the morning by someone to take us down to the jetty to catch the fast boat to Goma via Lake Kivu. Martin had arranged for this chap to meet us at the hotel now so we knew who would be collecting us in the morning, he also gave us the boat tickets. Then someone called Thierry would meet us off the boat at Goma where Martin would catch up with us again around lunchtime. All sorted! Just before sunset we left the hotel to walk up the road nearby to get a higher view of the other peninsulas jutting into the lake. At this time of year the air is still very dusty from dry season.
  17. @Chakra That was Lambert telling us to stop moving back. When Bonane got up he ushered us back a short way then told us to stop. So nothing was upsetting him just us giving him a bit of room in case he wanted to go past us.
  18. Thank you @wilddog, @pault, @COSMIC RHINO Wilddog... The doctor is not at all concerned about 24 hours of flight time, so I'd imagine an hour flight wouldn't be a problem (but I didn't ask that specific question.) He has severe arthritis in his big toe and all that entails with that; he's having the bone spurs removed and a plate put in. Pault... what would your recommendation be other than Namiri Plains? (We are leaning heavily towards Saruni and Kenya, though.)
  19. More like 50% different and the tawny was full sized. Unfortunately I don’t think I got a shot of both together, but i’ll check later. ID was by the guide, not me....
  20. That's because I was looking for one with two "t"s. But that's another story.
  21. Never known so many illusional people, myself excepted of course, pass comment on one thread before.
  22. As you wish but different sizes usually mean male and female (30% larger) or even youngster with parent.
  23. Yup but Hares can breed like Rabbits and don't hibernate like Tortoises . I do have to endorse the comments on the great spirit on this Topic.
  24. I can hardly wait because I'll be visiting Kafue next year. I'll be spending no less than 11 nights there.
  25. @Geoff Great report and stunning Photos. Please check the Oxpecker in post nr 1. I believe that you have mis indentified it. I believe that it is a Yellowbilled Oxpecker
  26. @Safarichick as I told @Sangeeta any travel ban on Chadian citizens to the United States will undoubtedly be full of loopholes. I spoke to @Sangeeta and she told me not to worry. I just bought my ticket to Nd'jemena from Nairobi and already sent a copy to Chloe Cottrel who works for Doug. I am excited about this trip as well as going to Ethiopia.
  27. Looking forward to reading more! Ten days at Tswalu is something I can only dream of! As for night photography, I find that I need to use a large external flash unit. I use the FL50R with my olympus gear and that works quite well. That said, you should be able to get some reasonable pics if the guides have a powerful spotlight and the animal is stationery and quite close! I still couldn't manage to get any decent shots of spring hares! They are too fast!
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