Posts Tagged ‘Malawi’

Hi All

Zimbabwe had a bad drought in 2016 with dams very low and the underground water table taking a beating.

Also there were no Blogs from me !!

In January the beautiful Jan and I celebrated our 40th Wedding Anniversary !!   Where oh where have all those wonderful years gone ?

I had a number of excellent trips with clients last year and Jan and I did two of own. Firstly we joined a whole bunch of mates at Rifa Education Camp on the Zambezi River near Chirundu – wonderful birding but distressingly little game around.

braai

There have to be worse places to have a Braai.

camp1

The Rifa Camp dining area

fig

There is a giant Fig tree in the camp which attracts thousands of birds.

The next trip was the BirdLife Zim AGM which this year was held at Lake Muturikwi outside Masvingo.  Great camp sites, Chalets and Lodges and a very good AGM with me not in the chair for a change.

Then I was off to Cape Town !!!

There is a little bird that breeds in southern Europe – the Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin – and then migrates to the Sahel zone to avoid the Eurasian winter.  Then a “lost” bird turned up in Cape Town to be discovered by Peter Steyn.  It was seen reliably for several weeks and I desperately wished to see it.  Eventually Jan said “Just go !”  So I did.

rtsr

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin (Erythropygia galactotes 

This photo is ©Tinus Lamprecht.    Well I was successful and also caught up with some old buddies I hadn’t seen for nearly ten years.

Then – big surprise – Jan was effectively summonsed to an Alzheimer’s conference in Nigeria.  Greatly excited to meet the King of Ibadan and of course to see a bit of another country.

Roll on to September and we were off again, this time to Malawi  with our dearest friend (who has featured many times in these Blogs) AJS. Whilst not specifically a birding trip something new was bound to crop up. We drove all the way via Lusaka in Zambia, through Chipata and on to Kasungu National Park where we stayed in Lifupa Lodge.

lifupasign

Kasungu Sign

It is a vast park and we saw some antelope species, heard Lion roaring very close to camp and saw loads of Elephants

kasunguview

Fantastic view of the park from Black Rock

kasunguele

Plenty of quite relaxed elephant about

From Kasungu we drove north to the Nyika Plateau, which I covered in a previous post “Above the Tree Line”, and stayed in the very impressive Chelinda Lodge.

chelinda2

Fantastic reception Room at Chelinda Lodge

chelinda1

Gorgeous chalets over looking the moorland

I had a couple of hours of forest birding and saw a raft of new, to me, species. Moustached Green Tinkerbird, Bar-tailed Trogon, Denham’s Bustard, Olive Woodpecker, Olive-breasted Mountain Greenbul, Red-rumped and Angola Swallows,Fulleborn’s Black Boubou and we heard a Mountain Nightjar.

Next stop was on the other side of this tiny country at Ngala Beach Lodge on the shores of Lake Malawi.

ngala2

Ngala Beach Lodge is delightful

lake1

The lake is gentle, tide free and very blue

ngala1

Very peaceful and relaxing surrounds 

After three nights of mega relaxing we were off again, southwards this time, to the bottom end of the lake with Nkopola Lodge as our destination.  Jan and I had last been to Nkoplola Lodge way back in 1975 !!  This was a great romantic reminder of simpler times.

nkopola1

Lovely gardens

The hotel has, naturally, changed over the decades and is now much larger and very much more commercial.  Not altogether a bad thing.  We did take an afternoon out to visit the very bohemian village of Cape McClear where AJS and Jan went snorkeling to see some of the colourful Cichlids for which the Lake is so famous.

capemc

Relaxing at Cape McClear

After a few days it was time to return home and, due to the problems in central Moçambique, we had to again go all the way across Malawi into Zambia and use the same route home. All in all a fantastic holiday.  Thank you AJS.

Cheers for now

Tony

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Hi all

I’m back for the final stretch …….

When we left off last time we had made it all the way back to Mt Rungwe just north of Tukuyu in south western Tanzania.

We made an early departure (another big thank you is due to the Clowes family) and headed for Malawi.

Songwe Bridge

Songwe Bridge

After crossing the Songwe River and doing all the normal customs and immigration stuff we were off southwards back down Lake Malawi, past Livingstonia and back up onto the escarpment.

Lake Malawi

Stunning views of Lake Malawi

Then onwards inland and south to a little town called Rumphi.  A critical stop to purchase beer and off westwards for several hours on crap dirt roads to Thazima Gate.

Thazima Gate

Thazima Gate

This is the entrance to the Nyika National Park.  Take very careful note of the stated altitude !!  1646 metres above sea level is already in the region of 5000 feet a.s.l.

We drove into the park and through some magnificent Miombo woodland.  Essentially Miombo is a Swahili word for broad-leafed woodland consisting mostly of  Brachystegia species.

Miombo Woodland

Miombo habitat in Nyika N.P.

It was here we found a new species for both of us !

Starling - White-winged

The White-winged Starling
Neocichla gutturalis

That was cool !   It has another name – White-winged Babbling Starling. But still a long way to go and ever and ever upwards.

We eventually arrived at the Park HQ but because it was quite late (read early evening) and decidedly chilly we opted for chalet accommodation.  A bit pricey ……  but …… cest la vie.

Nyika Nat. Park Chalet

Nyika Nat. Park Chalet

During the evening we could clearly hear the calls of several Montane Nightjars and it was really eerie as the call is so similar and yet so different from our well known Fiery-necked Nightjar.

The real revelation was the next morning ………………….

Nyika Plateau

Nyika Plateau

Wow !!   That is why this chapter in entitled Above the Tree Line !!  Pretty much the whole of this huge park covers the Nyika Plateau and is nearly all above 2800 m.a.s.l.  Thats way above 8000 feet !

Nyika Plateau

Central African Plateau Moorland

This Moorland is very extensive and has small relict patches of Montane Forest.  It is certainly *not* a sterile environment and has loads of interesting inhabitants.

Roan Antelope

Roan Antelope

And the birds ………………….

Blue Swallow

Blue Swallow

Stanley's Bustard

Denham’s Bustard

…. also Churring Cisticola and the very elusive Mountain Yellow Warbler.

What an incredibly fascinating place.

We left about 9’ish and drove interminably south, eventually through a very busy Lilongwe, through the Mocambique border, foolishly after dark, and slowly and carefully inched our way to the metropolis of Ulongue where we settled in to a B&B with loads of Manica Lager and a delicious Piri-piri Galinas !!

Piri-piri Chicken

Galinas Piri-piri

Those of you with southern African connections will know about the famous grilled spicy chickens they serve !

Early next day back on the road , across the Zambezi, through Nyamapanda border post and finally in Harare about lunch time.

It was a long long way but a more than fantastic experience.

Thanks Alex.

Thank you for listening.

Cheers

Tony

Hi all

When we were in Chizarira ANBM mooted the idea of us going to the 13th Pan-African Ornithological Congress. By road !

He kept up the pressure and suddenly we were definitely going. With a fully packed vehicle, passports, GPS and some maps we left Harare at 04h00 one morning and entered Mocambique at Nyamapanda and by 09h30 we were in Tete on the Zambezi river.

Zambezi bridge

The bridge over the mighty Zambezi

We had  crossed the border into Malawi at Dedza by about 14h30.  This little town is named after Dedza Mountain which rises out of the plains.

Dedza Mountain

Dedza Mountain and town

Now most people heading north in Malawi would proceed to the capital, Lilongwe. Us ?  No chance – east it was to be – to Lake Malawi ! It appears quite suddenly and is a delight to view its vastness.  We followed the lake shore via Salima, Nkhotakota and Dangwa by which time it was quite dark. Eighteen kilometres outside Dangwa was our destination – the delightful Ngala Beach Lodge.  We were welcomed by the owner, Chris Buckley, and proceeded to replenish all the fluids we had lost on our 1200 kilometre trek!   Now remember we have arrived in the dark !   Lot’s of beer and a fantastic dinner followed by extremely comfortable rooms and I awoke early to walk out my door and see ……….

Lake Malawi

Dawn over Lake Malawi

…. it was stunning !

The lodge itself is a fantastic retreat and certainly on the cards for a repeat visit.

Ngala Beach

My room at Ngala Beach Lodge

Ngala Beach

Ngala Beach Dining Area

After breakfast we made our farewells and hit the road. Northwards to Nkhata Bay then up the mountains to Mzuzu,  back down the mountains to the Lake, past Livingstonia and Karonga to the Songwe River Bridge and suddenly we were in Tanzania !! Four countries in two days !!  And only half way to our destination !!

We arrived at Mount Rungwe, after passing through Tukuyu where we were expected by the Clowes family who are ex-Zimbabweans farming avocados there.

Now it was time to start birding !  We set off early the next morning to climb into the foothills where we found Scaly-throated Honeyguides to be common as were Livingstone’s Turaco but best of all our first ‘lifer’ for the trip was Black-lored Cisticola.

Black-lored Cisticola

Black-lored Cisticola

(I guess I need to say here that most of the bird pictures posted have been gleaned from many sites on the internet and if I offend anyone and they want me to remove their picture just let me know and it will be done!)

After a quick-lunch it was back on the road and to Mbeya and on-wards towards Iringa stopping for the night at Kisalonza Farm House – a very nice campsite where we froze because we hadn’t realised we were sitting at about 1600 metres above sea level.  We broke camp early the next day and after a mug of coffee we were on our way.

Kisalonza

Making coffee at Kisalonza

That’s the last time you will see the gas bottle !  We did camp again but managed to get fed and watered by others.  Good planning.

This was another long haul !  Past Iringa, Morogoro (where we got some money from the ever present Barclay’s Bank), a left turn and to Korogwe where we booked into the Motel White Parrot.  About 950 kilometres that day !

Kilimanjaro

Thirsty Work

Kilimanjaro

Thirsty Work

The next day was a doddle !  Continuing ever north(ish) we soon past Moshi where Mount Kilimanjaro was totally hidden in cloud and to our intended destination Mount Meru Game Sanctuary.

Mt Meru lodge

Mount Meru Game Sanctuary

Mt Meru

Up market lodging

As lovely as this place was it really was too inconvenient for our conference (remember – we were going to the Pan-African Ornithological Congress) but we did find some interesting stuff before leaving.

Kirk's Dikdik

Kirk’s Dikdik

Black & White Colobus

Black & White Colobus in the garden !

The next day was the final 20 km into Arusha, find a hotel just a few minutes walk from the conference and we had arrived !

Pan African Ornithological Conference

Success !

Well dear readers I think that will be about enough for now.  We will continue again later.

Thanks for joining me.

Cheers

Tony

Hi all

I’m back !   It has been a long time but so much has happened !

My last blunt statement to you was that ANBM and I were going to drive from Harare to Arusha in far north Tanzania !

We did !

Because we could !

It was a fantastic trip and soon I will start posting about the whole adventure – very busy with some other pressing stuff at the moment so please be patient.

Lake Malawi view

Lake Malawi suddenly appears !

Mount Meru, Arusha, Tanzania

Mount Meru also suddenly appeared !!

There you are.  A simple taster of things to come…….

And there will be *lots* of birds I promise.

See you soon

Tony