We specifically wanted to stay at this one camp in Ruaha because they specialized in walking safaris. We would leave each morning soon after sunrise, to take advantage of cooler temperatures. We initially learned a lot about tracks and poo. Hyenas have very strong stomach acid to break down bones, and their poo is very white due to all the calcium they ingest.
Our guide really got excited about poo (elephant on the right, and two others hidden in his left hand) -
This is how close we could get to some animals - yellow baboons, in this case.
Moli, our guide, would always walk in front with a rifle, followed by a park ranger with a rifle, and then Steve and I in single file behind them. On our first day, we came up on a small herd of elephants feeding in a clearing, and were able to get within about 50 feet of them. Moli said that we didn’t have to walk quietly, because the elephants would hear us and assume it was more of them. However, their sense of smell is very acute, and we would only be able to approach them if we were downwind of them. Also, their vision is directed downward, so they couldn’t see us unless they lifted their heads and looked in our direction.
It was freaky that they were oblivious to our presence. Moli also said that my shutter clicking wouldn’t frighten them, as they perceived it as “normal” surrounding noise, but our voices definitely would startle them, even if we whispered.
The next day, we found a larger herd on the other side of the river, relishing the cool running water. Again, if they’d smell us, they wouldn’t stay around.
This baby is showing how they let themselves down steep banks -
These elephants came back across the river to their herd mates. They had crossed just before we got there, and Moli surmised that they smelled us, so were warning the others that we were nearby.
Soon, we heard rumbling and a number of the elephants put their trunks up trying to smell the wind. Watch how they just melt away into the brush, and are nearly silent:
That night, I got a pretty good picture of the Southern Cross. It’s the kite shaped constellation, just to the left of middle:
Steve had carted around the tripod (“all over Africa”) for me, so I had fun trying to get the Milky Way, which was gorgeously on display every night.