Arusha: We stayed three nights at the Ngare Sero Mountain lodge; our first day was set aside as a free day to recover from the long flight and allow for any missed connections. Luckily we arrived on time so we had a full day to relax before our safari began. Ngare Sero was the perfect place, with lush grounds and lots of birding opportunities; there is a river running through the property and an adjacent trout farm. In fact, we didn't really relax much because we were so busy with the birds! We were pleasantly surprised that Roy Safari had upgraded us to the Pineapple Cottage Suites, which were absurdly huge. We had great sightings there; our only Pygmy Kingfisher of the trip, and close-up views of the impressive Silvery-cheeked Hornbill. Lots of great frogs and insects too. Black and White Colobus monkeys and Blue (Sykes) monkeys exhibiting interesting behavior down by the river (pulling up aquatic plants...hanging from vines.) Heartily recommend this lodge, although the food was just adequate. Meals were family-style around communal tables (and we met some interesting people there--a paragliding group, for one!) But no trout!
Our first safari day was spent in Arusha National Park. Our drive began fortuitously with a flash of a Hartlaub's Turaco flying across the road. Frustratingly, we could not relocate it--but better looks would come later. We drove in via a short side road through the forested area which, while it didn't produce many birds, gave us our first dik-diks and millions of beautiful butterflies fluttering through the forest. We would have loved to get out and get a closer look, but alas of course that's not allowed. At the ranger station we met up with a park ranger for the usual walk "to the waterfall." Emmanuel let the ranger know we were interested in birds...we didn't expect much, but the walk was great! We walked close to buffalo, saw and photographed running giraffe, warthogs, and more. The ranger brought us close to a forested area and immediately he found us a cuckoo, which we identified as Levaillant's--our only one of the trip! As we walked towards the waterfall area, the ranger heard a call...it was Hartlaub's Turaco again. He led us off the trail and into the brush and we all got great views of it high in the tree (no photos, alas--too high.) This ranger earned a nice tip ;) Little Bee-eater and Speckled Mousebirds rounded it off. The waterfall was not really impressive but the spray was cooling and we were all happy.
After the walk, and our boxed lunch at a spot I can't remember, we headed towards the Momella lakes. We stopped several times along the way at small pools, racking up several shorebirds and other small birds (I won't bore you with all the species.) We could already see that Emmanuel would be an enthusiastic and excellent guide--and more importantly--compatible with our style of travel. Finally, at Momella lakes we saw our first flamingos--closer than we'd find them at Manyara or in the crater. More shorebirds. Spent some time getting flight shots of flamingos (not too successfully.) Saw our first of many Augur Buzzards. Then sadly, time to leave--I was disappointed we never made it to the other side (Ngurdoto Crater) but we'd seen a lot--and only on day 1!
Next up: Tarangire.
Please note, the full photo album from this trip will be posted on my website eventually but meantime, I am posting a couple a day on my facebook page www.facebook.com/Janet.Zinn.Photography