Lemurs

Looking like a giant panda, Indri Indri means “there it is’ in Malagasy. The largest of the lemurs, they can jump 10 metres between branches. They are also critically endangered, and have not successfully been kept in captivity.
This family of about 8 black fronted brown lemur crossed the river at Andisibe right above us. See the baby holding tight!
Indri have a 5 month gestation and only reproduce every 2-3 years. The babies will stay with the mother for about 2 years
The song of the Indri. This one telling the others this is my territory, where is my family? Loud and distinctive, it can be heard up to 4km away.
The Diademed Sifaka was really hard to capture in Mantadia as they were continually on the move. Also critically endangered due to deforestation.
Bamboo lemur checking me out! Not sure why
Small and gentle, they grey/ lesser/ bamboo lemur is very cute and in this pic, actually eating bamboo!
Collared Lemur with the rare variety Steven
Steven got the dancing lemur, Sifaka, and the Red ruffed lemur on Lemur Island at Vakona Forest Lodge. The guide had thrown banana on the ground which got them very excited.

Ring Tail Lemurs on the Island at Vakona forest Lodge.

After a 2 hour boat ride on the Pangalanes Channel we arrived at the Palmarium. There are 7 species of lemur on Akanin’ny Nofy at the Palmarium Reserve. 2 of them have cross bred to create a new lemur. these ones were very happy the guide had bananas.
Bananas for all, including babies
The hard to find and difficult to photograph Aye Aye Lemur eating a coconut at night left out by the guides to entice them.
The demon nocturnal primate with a very long finger to help get larvae from plants, and in this case, eat coconuts. Reminds us of mowgai from Gremlins.
White fronted brown lemur on Mangebe Island. Manga meaning very beautiful, be meaning Island.

Chameleons in Madagascar

For those of you who love chameleons, like me, these are all the ones we encountered, along with some other reptiles. This is a Parsons chameleon, named after a British doctor.
The Parsons in the Andisibe area where this lady was, . The eggs stay in the ground for around 18 months before hatching, and they will grow up to 70cm in length.
My night photography is limited, but this tiny big nosed chameleon was a real find. It would not even have been a finger joint in length. Little is known about these fellas.
Brown chameleon..maybe female Oustalets? 
Its all about the eyes for me. They operate independently unless aiming at prey, in which case they focus forward in stereo.
Perinet or side striped chameleon like areas close to rivers or water. This one was at Toamasina.
Panther chameleons are zygodactylous: on each foot , the five toes are fused into a group of two and a group of three, giving the foot a tongs-like appearance. These specialized feet allow them a tight grip on narrow branches.
How lucky to get this. check out the tight grip!
Yep..got the grasshopper.
Look Mum! I can stand! Oustalets chameleon.
Mora mora…slowly slowly
You can see how tiny these Brookesia or leaf chameleons are on my hand on the island of Nose Mangebe..
Brookesia are usually found in the leaf litter but you have to have good eyes to find them! Can you see it?
More bad night photography on Mangebe island
Another panther chameleon. This one smaller, about 12cm long.
A leaf tailed gecko on Nose Mangebe. He had just migrated from a darker tree onto the lighter tree making it much easier to see.
They always lie on the tree upside down so the rain does not get in their nose…
This one is the mossy leaf tailed gecko at Toamasina. Can you see it? So well disguised during the day with the lichen look on their skin , they are easier to find at night when they are active.
The green backed mantella frog. Small in size (just over 20mm) but big in voice. They are a climbing frog and lay their eggs individually under leaves so when the tadpole hatches it drops directly into the water.

Chobe River – Ichinga

Waiting outside customs on Impalila Island in Namibia for our visa, after arriving by boat.. Left Zambia, went into Botswana briefly, stood on Zimbawe soil, crossed the Zambezi, just to get to Ichinga.
The Chobe river as we exit the resort on the banks. It was fast flowing, quite shallow and rocky. The boat drivers did a great job taking us in and out.
The Chobe river and wetlands
Waiting for our boat to Botswana customs. The barges and ferries have doubled their prices because the bridge will take their business very soon.
Guinea fowl made us laugh. In the evening they streamed out of the bush land to the water, continually running and moving. Great to see them in their natural environment.
Drinking kudu. See the red billed oxpecker?
These buffaloes are massive, and the gangs are huge
Catching a lift..From here, we go our own way. Steve and I to Madagascar, Jan and Clancy to Namibia, Sal and Rob to South Africa, Trish and Wayne back to work.

A Bit from Steve

Obviously, all the great photos and descriptions in blog have been Gail’s hard work but I thought I would throw in a few of my favourite “stills” from my Go Pro. I still have hours of time-lapse movies to process but that is a job for when we are back in Perth.

Gail’s Days For Girls presentation in Nairobi
Gail and Clancy’s duet at the hotel at Zanzibar. Believe it or not, they were quite good.
Always happy to be talking farming – Rob, Gail and Clancy getting a farm tour from the farm’s vet in Tanzania
Can you spot the snake ? This highly venomous green mamba accosted me on the path through the hotel at Livingstone before going to hang out in this tree. Great camouflage !
Gail loves chameleons – Madagascar is the place to find them
From large to these tiny chameleons in Gail’s hands. They hang out as a couple – how romantic.
I can’t remember how the conversation went but the lemur looks a bit insulted
The roads in Madagascar are pretty basic. Besides the roads in the capital and the road from the capital to the main port (sealed but full of deep potholes), they were like this.
Gail always drags me though a few markets on every trip so she can find new and exotic ingredients. The fish section (definitely can not be called fresh fish) is always a bit on the nose, as is the amount of flies on the fish and meat.
Rain forest hike, with our guide Emil, on Mangabe Be Island
This guy leapt on to our canoe when we were going around Lemur Island
Obligatory selfie ………..

Dash to Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya)

Toilet stop waiting for the others to come through the Nkotakhota Wildlife reserve where Clancy encountered the non lethal tsetse fly. We were not allowed to stop in the reserve as previously a motorbike tourist did not make it. The lions were well fed that day!
Here’s looking at you
Mud houses over a wooden frame and thatched roof. Note the round bamboo storage silo for the maize
Houses just after the Luangwa river crossing. No photos allowed of the bridge. Note the 3 different housing types.
Mosi-oa-Tunya “smoke that thunders”. Not at full flow now, but between 10 million and 500 million litres of water per minute flow from the Zambezi, depending on the time of the year.
Morning safari is very cold for some
Lioness on the road. She is non male compliant so left the pride
The 6 year old male
African hooded vulture under attack
Lilac breasted roller
One of the many Zazu (red beaked horn-bill) we saw
These rhino’s were fighting over the grass
This baby was not worried at all about the grass
We needed guarding from the rhino’s
This warthog was looking decidedly ill, not sure if he was kicked or was just dying when all of a sudden he leapt into the air and then fell back to the ground again.
If the warthog was kicked, it would probably have been one of these guys protecting the baby. they were extremely interested in the hogs well being and watched it intensely.

South Luangwa, Croc Valley camp

We went to a community art initiative called Tribal Textiles. this was on their workshop wall. Definitely worth remembering.
They created beautiful fabrics and designs using the batik method, but instead of wax used flour and water.
Stunning weaving of all sorts and sizes of containers for all sorts of uses.
Our first open vehicle and our first night safari at this camp. We were right on the river and could hear the hippos in the night and the elephants walking through the camp. Had to beware before getting into the pool to make sure the crocodiles had not taken up residence. If anything was left open the monkeys would take it.
Elephants crossing the river in the evening back to the park after creating havoc in the local villages
We watched this leopard climb up to this spot right next to a Kuku pathway. It leapt down to try and get one, but it was too fast. This was taken as it was getting ready to run. After, she went back to her tree, ever alert, ignoring the larger males antelope with horns.
Night safari pride of lions. This one having a stretch after her 22 hour nap.
A rusty spotted genet on the prowl for smaller mammals, birds or whatever it can find.
Hippos come out of the water at night to forage and eat the sausages from the sausage tree.
Giraffe having a drink. Its a tricky manoeuvre as has to get down on his knees, and watch out for predators

Malawi

Lake Malawi with the hills in the background and the boats that are still used every day as the fishermen go out in the night/early morning and come back. They often have one boat on the other at right angles coming in. The one on top has the net and is used to tow the nets out from the other boat.
In the early morning you could hear the fishermen on the water singing and it was answered by the people on the beach waiting for the men to come back. Maybe they were saying they had finished and were on their way back.
Coming in with the catch
The catch of small fish which were often deep fried right on the beach to keep them for transport to markets. Otherwise they were put onto drying racks and stored for meals.
The women heading to the boats to collect the catch
A tortuous journey with many chicanes up to
Livingstonia from Kande Beach camp at Chintheche on Lake Malawi on a mostly one way, unpaved road, so when a truck came up the other way we nearly wet ourselves as someone had to reverse! Even going around the chicanes required some skill to do it in one go! Looking over the drop off from the landrover window, you could only see straight down.
Traditional food including Nsima( maize meal), ugali, rice, Peanut greens, bean and tomato stew. Delicious and so filling. The Nsima is like glue.
Sunrises were spectacular over the water. Mozambique on the other side of the lake. We stayed another day in order to leave on Friday, due to protests planned for Thursday.
Various aid programs have done a fabulous job providing manual water pumps on bores. These were spaced consistently along the roads we travelled and were well used. As you can see in this one, the wash troughs are there also. The water run off was often channelled into a vegetable growing area.
Beautiful Grace at the Kande Beach campsite. Her husband and children lived hours away in another town while she was working at the campsite, so she adopted us.
From the beach we went on to Mchinji where there was “gatherings” on Tuesdays and Thursdays. these gatherings were protesting about the recent elections and the ruling party. We were leaders driving to the Malawi border and did not get stuck in the huge crowd as 4 of the other vehicles did. They managed to get through safely, because it was Friday, but another couple we met were not so lucky. They had 4000 euro damage done to their vehicle and had to go back through the border to Zambia to get repairs done.

Life on the African Road

Thiemo would choose a service station and we all queue up behind him and diesel up on the same tab. Often there were toilets there, sometimes we used them, sometimes we didn’t. Got used to the squat toilets and the bucket of water flush.
Trusty Thiemo has a supply of spares spread out in the back of the vehicles, this one was a steering box seal on the left but he only had a seal for the right so some modification was necessary. These mechanics were lucky as they had lawn to work on. It meant we got to spend another night in a hotel..we were not disappointed to have a real bed and ensuite for another night.
We all bought buckets with sealed lids for washing in. fill the bucket in the morning with washing and detergent, by the time we got to where we were going it was washed and we just had to rinse and dry!
Boabab trees all over the country were huge. One spot was called boabab valley, and just about every tree in it was a boab.
Another border crossing. This one the Kenya Tanzania border was at the right time for lunch. Luckily we bought it with us so we had a picnic in between countries.
Amazing what you see carried on the back of motorbikes and bicycles. in Malawi it was nearly all bicycles and walking, In Kenya and Tanzania a mix of both. Chickens, pigs, goats, people, bags of charcoal, straw or rocks, branches, big 15 litre water containers, fuel…you name it, it was carried.
Probably one third of the driving was on roads like this, dusty and rough. Even the tar was at times more dangerous with potholes and edges about 20cm deep, speed bumps like small hills and usually single lane but traffic going both ways.
Selling roasted corn on the roadside, usually when the vehicles had to slow for a hill, corner or road block.
Herders using the road as an animal causeway is very popular. Kenya, Tanzania and a little bit in Malawi and Zambia had the herders with the animals. Generally, the further east, the younger the herders. In this case a masai man, very wealthy as he has a lot of cows. We had lots of goats, which must be bit harder to control just cutting across in front of us making us brake hard.
Motorbikes on motorbikes, bicycles on bicycles
In Malawi and Zambia coal is sold on the road sides. Often the coal is the result of burning in national parks by the local villagers. It is not allowed, but is happening and a huge contributor to forest loss and the continual smoke haze.
Stopping to boil the kettle..best stopping place ever with our own little hut to sit in.
Road workers on a new section of tar. They dump bags of cement on the road after they have levelled it and then open it with a shovel and spread the cement dust and water it in. This is followed by tar. If they need blue metal, we saw women on the sides of the road breaking rocks and leaving dumps in various sizes ready for bagging.
What happens if another car comes? We reverse down the hill until we find a wider spot. If you looked over the edge you could see the track we had just come up on and the road just zigzagged up the hill. People walked faster on the steeper tracks
Gorgeous freshly grown and very cheap produce. In the rural areas they forgot we were tourists and would give us local prices. If you stopped anywhere people would just appear out of the bush, and if you wanted anything, they would find someone who had it.
Overtaking chaos. Dust, potholes, trucks, taxis, animals, people..Keep your eyes peeled.

Bagamoyo and Zanzibar

On the beach at Bagamoyo, the capital of German east Africa, which used to be the major trading port on the east african coast before Dar es Salaam. The water is shallow and heavy boats cant get in, so they dumped all this fuel in the yellow containers overboard in the deeper water and then gathered it onto the shore. It was then carted to a waiting truck and the boat could moor in the shallower water.
Lots of old crumbling buildings in Bagamoyo. The doors and windows and frames are not allowed out of Tanzania as they want to maintain the heritage, but no body is maintaining them.
Early morning at the sea training institute beach for the 3 hour boat ride over to Zanzibar. NO, not this boat, but an old navy boat decommissioned and bought by a local mzunga, Jo, ( and owner of the Firefly campsite) for the crossing. Most boats and planes leave from Dar es Salaam.
Thiemo our guide, mechanic, organiser and Jo the owner of the boat, making sure we get going!
Zanzibar is a UNESCO World Heritage site with over 1000 stone coral buildings and 200 carved wooden doors. After the revolution in 1963, Tanganyika, Zanzibar and Azania (a greek word for the African coast) were joined to form Tanzania the country. The castle above was built by trading Arabs in 1698 when they seized the island from the Portuguese.
A sample of the wall construction of the fort. Stone town is the old area of Zanzibar, with winding narrow streets, mosques, churches and temples all within walking distance of each other.
An example of one of the old carved doors. Note the metal points on the doors used to deter elephants from crashing the doors in, the padlock at the bottom and the intricate carving on the frame.
Beautiful lamps and timber work abound in the streets of Stone town.
Glorious colours of the ocean remind me of Ningaloo and buildings perched right on the edge of the walls.
Zanzibar was a major slave trading centre for the Indian Ocean slave trade with as many as 50 000 slaves passing through every year in the 19th Century and it was the last legally operating market, closing in 1873 under pressure from Livingstone and the British.
One of two remaining slave chambers (out of the original 15). They put 75 women and children in this space, and 50 men in the other chamber. the centre channels was for the excrement and high tide would clear most of it away.
Sunset on the beach
Annatto, or lipstick tree fruit contains seeds and a paste (bixin) which is used as dye for the hair, body and lips. It works, but looks heaps better on the darker skin! It is also used to colour foods (butter, cheese) and is used in central american cooking.
He has the annatto on his lips and head. They called me the Spice girl as every time he went to show us another spice he would ask what it was, and most of the time I could answer correctly. He still would not pay me for the tour though!
Mace is the red covering (arel) of the Nutmeg seed.
One of the many species of Cinnamomum cassia tree used to make cinnamon. You can see where the bark has been stripped off the tree. to make it commercially, the tree is cut down when green and the outer bark is scraped off and the stem pulverised so the inner bark can be peeled.
Clove flower buds
Cardomom, the worlds third most expensive spice
Apparently this is iodine plant and the sap as seen on the knife is used to prevent infection of wounds
The community spice farm made girls hats, bracelets, and rings from grass and the boys ties and gave us coconuts fresh from the tree to drink.
Followed by a home made meal of biryani, samosa, greens, beef curry and paratha on the floor of a house in the community.

Amboseli National Park – Birds

One of the many reasons we were keen on travel to Africa was to see these beautiful birds. What a fabulous experience to be so close to these beautiful flamingo. They were not scared but just continued puddling around whle we watched.

We watched them for ages. They put their beaks/heads in the water and then move around in circles puddling the water to stir up the mud. It looked like a dance, and they were all doing the same thing! Maybe it could be a new dance craze?

This is only a small area of the lake where the flamingo were. As you can see by the horizon line, they just went on and on. We were lucky to see them there as apparently when they have had enough, they just take off. We rushed out again the following morning, so pleased they were still there.

These are the funniest looking birds. They stand over a metre tall and are very elegant, walking as tho they are on a mission to get the photocopying done, with their flash hairstyles, pants and coat. It is a bird of prey and eats snakes by stomping on them and then throwing them in the air before pecking it to death.

One of these guys has had a run in with something. Note the big hole in his throat pouch..

This was taken from the top of the look out and was a distant photo. Not sure if the damaged pelican was in this mob. They travel in a v to reduce drag for the group. They are monogamous but like to be in flocks for safety.

Grey crowned crane is Uganda’s national bird. Some tribal groups used the crowns for their own headdress for ceremonies. Unfortunately the species is declining.

Grey heron is about a metre tall but very light. (about 2kg) and breed in Africa but can migrate as far as Japan.

We parked the landrover and shut it down to watch the wildlife and these plovers started about 200metres away and just got closer and closer, bobbing up and down through the grass, checking us out until they were right next to us. The crowned lapwing on the right .

These long legged white egrets are the same ones often seen on the backs or hanging around with the elephants. I guess it saves them digging too deep if the elephants stir up the mud for them.

Running away from us, this group are juveniles and probably females. The males are usually alone, have really red legs and are much bigger. See below pic. They are really fast and can cover up to 5m in a step. They only have 2 toes.

Looking out over the savannah from the highest point.