We have experienced a prolonged dry season since September, with sporadic rains mimicking the start of the short rains, but evaporating quickly. Although it was challenging for many of the animals, particularly hippos, as they struggled to find food, it resulted in large buffalo herds continuing to cross the plains to the Msine in front of camp well into November. We watched the impalas lambing from the end of September all the way to early November. The lack of rain has not appeared too detrimental on their development, as the mothers find grass after rains, but return to browsing other trees and bushes when the new grass growth becomes exhausted.
To the delight of our guests – and ourselves – the extended dry season also made the waterhole in front of the lounge a marvel for elephant sightings. We have had a number of bull elephants around camp, with Titan seeming to dominate a few younger males who are still learning a bit of bush etiquette. On several occasions we watched 3 of the younger bulls in their sprint to the water hole. The first occurrence was particulalry entertaining; the youngest bull is probably still a young teenager and has yet to become as leggy as the others. As the tallest male lumbered, and the middle one ambled at a normal gait, the youngest ran in a full bolt to the waterhole. I couldn’t help but hear ‘Chariots of Fire’ playing in my head as this comical scene unfolded.
These months also brought the breeding herds through camp. Although they often stayed just tucked behind the the first metre of the treeline, we could still “Ooh” and ‘Aah’ at the baby amongst them. And several of our guests staying from bandas 6-10 were able to enjoy their siesta time watching the herd browse in the tree line in front of their rooms. On occasion we also found them more in the open closer to the airstrip.
Halloween in Selous was spook-tacular as only it can be at Beho Beho! There’s something incredibly sweet about being wished a Happy Ghost’s Day and trying to explain why we celebrate ghosts, witches and vampires back at home to our Tanzanian family. We sampled pumpkin spice macarons at tea time, with bone meringues and lunch, and chili bite bats as sundowner snacks. Our lounge transformed into a spooky forest and Jack Skellington was on hand to greet our guests for an apertif before dinner.
November brought more unique sightings. The wild dogs returned and a suni in the Beho Beho forest stopped long enough on the road for a picture as you’ve surely seen in Phil’s blog. We had some longer sightings with Tanzania Sykes and Colobus monkeys, and on a few occasions we watched lions stalking plains game from in front of camp.
A pride of lions put on quite a show on a particular day. From an unsuccessful morning hunt of zebra and wildebeest, followed by an afternoon impala snack, we later watched another attempted hunt as a young female stalked a lone wildebeest bull. At first it looked as though the stealthy lions might find themselves with another meal, but after a game of cat and mouse (or cat and beast??), the wildebeest finally bucked away to a safe distance. It was only when we visited them at Christopher’s baobab that we noticed it was a pride unknown to us, but quite distinguishable as one lionness has a very large eye.
The 15th of December brought floods that we could have built an ark for! With rains starting at 3am, and an impressive electric storm around 7am, the clouds only began to clear mid-morning. From camp we had a spectacular view of the formidable Msine River which broke its banks washing away the front wall of the hippo banda to give you some perspective, and from Bailey’s Banda we could see how the river got it’s name – Msine meaning ‘meandering’ – as the river snaked through the valley below.
That evening reminded us of the strength and comraderie in the Beho Beho family as we battled to free another camp’s truck from the soft sands and mudslips at the Msine Crossing. In the fading light, we dug and pushed until cheers erupted and the vehicle broke free. The advantage of having special permission to assist the truck in the twilight was a beauitful, albeit fleeting, glance of a porcupine as it rushed towards the cover of a low palm bush. A brilliant reward at the end of a trying day.
Christmas 2015 was a wonderful festive occasion. We were joined by two families spanning 3 generations who truly embodied the magic of Beho Beho. Christmas night was filled with great food and company, with dismal cracker jokes, offset by fantastic charades including an outstanding performance of the Jungle Book, and ending with Great Britain and Holland both fighting for the Snooker World Champion title.
2015 ended well with auspicious sightings of wild dogs on two consecutive days, and three sightings of a leopard on an afternoon drive-walk combo near Christopher’s baobab on New Year’s Eve. We rang in the New Year to traditional and modern Auld Lang Syne, bubbles and sparklers and our infamous funny hats and crowns.
2016 has already started on a high note listening to lions roaring near camp in the evenings and mornings, enjoying cooling rains overnight, and sharing breakfast with a beautiful bull elephant.
We hope that you had an incredible festive season and wish you all the best for a healthy and joyous 2016 filled with new adventures and gratitude!
From our family to yours, Happy 2016!