Flew BA, London to Dar, and connected to Coastal flight to Selous (about 40 minutes). Uneventful flight and formalities: had already arranged YF jabs and visa in London.
Stayed 2 nights at Lake Manze Camp and 2 nights in Selous Impala.
Both very comfortable, with efficient, friendly staff. Manzeprobaly had the edge for game and scenery, but the guiding at Impala probably more experienced and knowledgable. Impala also has electricity and a pool - useful for the steamy days.
Manze had a variety of animals just walking through the camp - over first breakfast we saw Eles, followed by buffalo, impala, and baboons. Eles were not the 'resident' couple, but still were almost close enough to look in the eye. At night, we were entertained by bushbabies and genet.
Further afield, the game was fairly sparse - due, I understand, to rains in the north attracting most of the herbivores, and some poaching.
Saw 2 prides of lions, and pack of wild dogs, plus plenty of giraffe, hippo and crocs, and loads of amazing birds on the rivers and lakes.
Took a couple of walks, and encountered lion, eles, warthog,waterbuck, plus a couple of carcasses with attendant vultures. Heard, but didn't see, hyena. Plus all the usual dung, spoor and symbiosis between trees and ants, etc, that you never see from a vehicle.
Despite the odd shower, and green look to the savannah, the hippos seemed very hungry, often out foraging throughout the day. We saw 2 on their backs in the shallow lakes.
As a change from spotting game, we had a great trip to hot springs and a lovely swim there. On the way back, we stopped to see the grave of the famous Frederick Courtney Selous - killed in action, fighting German troops in this remote corner of Africa.
Left Impala by interesting boat trip down Rufiji river. Spot blue monkeys as well as Fish Eagles by the dozen. As ever, Coastal Aviation operated a punctual and slick service. No boarding passes, tickets or delays. On arrival at Dar, the luggage is put on the apron. Pax identify their bags, which are then carried to the appropriate plane for the next leg. I think we were on the ground for 5 minutes before taking off for Zanzibar...
Arrived as huge black cloud was about to dump on the runway. Pilot got down in record time, then shouted at ground crew to get everyone off now and get all the waiting passengers on as he was getting out of there before the storm arrived. He took off in about 3 minutes just as the heavens erupted.
Didn't actually see any formalities at the airport. Walked the bags the 20 yards to the outside, and immediately noticed the wonderful new roof that covers the road. Beyond it,the roads were flooded to about 30cms.
However, an hour later at the south end of the island (Unguja Lodge), there was only sunshine and no rain had been seen there for months.
A few days then followed of spotting dolphins, elephant shrews (now have seen the Little 5!!!), red colobus monkeys, and village tours, as well as studying Jupiter and Venus in the clear skies.
Last night in Stonetown coincided with Eid al Hajj celebrations in Fordhani Gardens. Looked like fun,and the gardens are an attractive spot.
All too soon, the amplified 4am call to prayers outside our window awoke us in time for the 6.45 flight. Again, Coastal are punctual and drop us at the international terminal rather than the domestic.
Their attempts at saving time and stress were thwarted by the main chekin systems being down and a slow progress was made to the departure lounge, where we took off about 45 minutes late.
Some people catching connecting flights at Heathrow (not from Terminal 5) were already stressing about getting across Heathrow in time. Its probably worth staying the night in London - too many things can go wrong. We landed about 20 minutes late, but still had to wait 15 minutes for a free stand!
Bags were delivered about 2 minutes after we got to Reclaim (well done!) and then we were out in the dreich November night, with a stroppy cab driver who did not appreciate the short trip we asked for.....
Now back in freezing UK. Sorting through endless photos of bare branches where huge numbers of bee-eaters had been sitting just prior to pressing the button....
Oh,and we distributed about 5 footballs, which seemed to go down well with the recipients. Happy memories that will last.