Sand Rivers Selous

Life in the Selous Game Reserve

Hi. We live and work in the Selous Game Reserve, overlooking a wide bend in the Rufiji River. People from all over the world visit us, and tell us how lucky we are to live here. We're inclined to believe them.

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Sat, Feb 18, 2017

Just Lion around!

The Selous has greened up over the past few weeks and there is life all around. We have clients on the river and others on a game drive around the lakes, so this is the perfect time for us to do a cheeky game drive. We head into the Miombo woodland and it doesn't take long for us to spot these Lions. We park the car and make a coffee and spend the next few hours photographing them. The perfect start to the day.

(Due to the heat in the Selous, males dont grow large manes. Infact, some dont grow any at all).

(Mum hanging out with one of her cubs)

(as a mother of two, you have to get some shut eye any chance you get)

(They were comfortable with me getting out and photographing them from under the car).

Cant wait to see these littel ones again soon!

Thu, Feb 2, 2017

Maisha the Hippo

About four days ago, we had one of the biggest thunderstorms of the season. Due to an extremely short "short rains" in November and December, the land was dry and the animals were struggling. There was no grass left and many animals were forced to eat plants they otherwise would not. This rain was a huge blessing for us all, and a long time coming. Rain barreled above us for over 4 hours, soaking the dry earth and allowing the ground to take a deep breath. As the rain eased up in the evening, we noticed the river rising. The rocks in front of the lodge were soon covered up, and sand banks opposite us were slowly disappearing. We knew this had been quite a wide spread storm.

As clients slowly came down to dinner, we got word from one of our waiters that there was a baby Hippo in the swimming pool. Almost in disbelief, we followed him to the pool, and sure enough, swimming in the shallow end was a baby Hippo. It was a very emotional moment for us to see that this baby had been separated from his mother - most likely due to the river flowing faster than normal. The baby didn't look injured in any way and wasn't skinny either, making us feel a little better about the situation. We knew that taking this baby out of the pool and returning it to the water that night would be a death sentence, as the adults were already on land and the chances of it reconnecting with its mother were almost zero. We decided to let the baby be and hoped that the mother would pass through the pool area at night and be reunited with the little one. 

(We found the pool empty the following morning, and the night camera we had placed there the night before, showed the baby leaving.)

(The baby hadn't gone far though, and we found it sleeping near our offices that morning. We know that Hippo come to graze on our lawn near the pool at night, and were saddened to see that it hadn't been reunited throughout the night. This was a big blow to us. Seeing something so young being separated from its mother was heartbreaking.)

We quickly started observing the 3 pods of Hippo that live close to the lodge and we asked our guides if they had remembered if any of the Hippo had such a young baby. Due to a number of factors, including the common paths Hippo take and feeding grounds within camp, we concluded it might have come from the pod opposite the lodge. The decision was made to relocate this young one to the sand bank next to the pod, and to see if it would be accepted back. 

Once off the boat, we carried the baby to the edge of the sand bank, so we were close enough to the pod for them to see us. The baby took a few wobbly steps forward and let out a cry. One of the adults from the pod communicated back and the baby ran forward a few more meters and paused. A few adults from the pod called out again and the baby kept moving forward towards the noise. The baby went into the water and slowly swam towards the pod. All of our planning had led to this moment. The baby came close to a young male on the outside of the pod, and swam past without incident, a moment of relief for us all. The young one kept moving forward, nearing the center of the pod then ducked underwater.

Over the next few hours we kept watching the pod from the lodge, trying to find the baby. Every few minutes, a tiny head would pop out of the water for a breath and then duck back down. We noticed that that baby was spending more time with one adult and was staying very close at all times. Our minds started racing and we were so happy of the thought it had actually been re connected to its mother. 

The following day, we raced down to the rivers edge to see if we could find the baby. The pod was in the exact same place it was the night before, and just to the side, we saw the baby with an adult. We were so relieved that it was alive and well.

The view we have of the pod from the terrace at the lodge, a great spot to keep a watchful eye.

We have named the baby Maisha, meaning "life" in Swahili as it overcame enormous odds to survive. We will keep you updated on this story over the weeks ahead.

Sat, Dec 31, 2016

Happy New Year

What a year it has been here at Sand Rivers.

We have had tremendous rains that almost washed the lodge away, a tough dry season that left many hungry and the most beautiful days where everything was exactly the way it should be.

Our Wildlife sightings have been exciting and raw. We have seen life being created and life being taken away. The circle of life unfolded itself right here in our camp and on our doorstep.

We have been blessed with incredible, interesting and fun guests. We have seen friendships form here, that continued long after the holiday was over. Honeymooners came to share their love with us, children explored with us and we learnt so much from so many well traveled and experienced guests. We want to thank everyone for staying here and becoming part of our life. 
The Sand Rivers family says goodbye to 2016.  It has been a great year for us, a year in which we discovered the Selous, our new home. We welcome 2017 and are excited for what nature will teach us in the months ahead. We are looking forward to meeting new guests and continue conversations with all guests who are returning .

From all of us here and Sand Rivers, wishing you a brilliant 2017. We leave you with some of the highlites of 2016.

Mon, Dec 26, 2016

Christmas Pride

It has been a spectacular Christmas in the bush at Sand Rivers this year. Clients have been seeing plenty every day, but the Lions have certainly stolen the show. One of the prides, consisting of four females, have just birthed 9 cubs, and they are all doing very well. They were spotted a week ago after they had taken down a young Giraffe near Lake Segese. Clients were lucky enough to see them feeding for 2 days.

At this stage there were 2 females and 6 cubs. Once they finished off their christmas feast, they moved towards Lake Makubi, where they met up with another Lioness who had 3 very young cubs. The young cubs are no more than 2 - 3 weeks old. I have yet to see these 3 young cubs but hopefully I will soon. For now, here are some images of the 6 cubs with mama and baba. 

Sun, Nov 6, 2016

A photograph everywhere you look

When Richard Bonham stopped doing walking safaris in the 90's and decided to build a lodge instead, he really did have his choice of the best locations - and boy did he pick it. Sitting along the banks of the Rufiji River, at one of its widest points, the location has so much to offer. The sun setting in front of you, Hippo snorting in the river and all sorts of wildlife, big and small, living within the camp. This is a photographers dream!

For many, coming on safari is a once in a lifetime trip, so why not take advantage of it? Both Natasha and I have a strong background in photography, and for us, it is a way to connect with and learn about nature. It brings us even closer to a world we are already close to. We don't get out into the bush as much as we would like, but there are plenty of things happening in camp - if you look hard enough and have an interest of all things wild. 

The following images were all taken around the dining area at the lodge. You don't always have to go out into the bush to see wildlife, why not just sit by the river and wait for them to come to you?

(A small grasshopper on the seed pod of a Dessert Rose (or Impala Lilly as it is also known).

(One of the Genet Cats that frequent the lodge at night)

(A Striped Skink poses on a rock near the car park. These Skinks are great for practicing your macro shots and always allow you to get quite close).

(You will often hear the cry of the Bush Baby at night and the evening is a perfect time to track them down and photograph them. They move from branch to brach looking for food so you have to have some patience).

(It has been a pleasure to watch this Sun bird go back and forth over the past few weeks, hopefully we will see the chicks soon. The nest is right in front of the dining area).

(A Southern Cordon Bleu feeding in the lawn outside our office).

(I spent about 15 minutes with this little guy and needless to say he was not camera shy!)

(We have a number of Water Monitor Lizards that live around camp and I enjoy photographing them as I can often take images at eye level).


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