Stefania’s Southern Tanzania Fam trip Day 2 to 4 – Beho Beho – Selous Game Reserve

It seems impossible but 3 days are almost gone already … today at lunch we were chatting about it. When you actually stay at the camp it is more evident why at Beho Beho there is a minimum stay of 3 nights and the actual average is 4.5 nights stay per person. Impossible to really appreciate the many activities and the atmosphere of the lodge with less days!

I do not really know where to start so I start from the group. We have mixed very nicely and laughter accompanies every safari and every meal! We also very naturally mixed with the four British guests staying at the lodge, it was very natural to just start chatting and exchanging impressions about travels done and safaris. Beho Beho is a camp that reminds one of “British Africa” but indeed it is very international too and even if one is not 100% fluent in English certainly he/she can enjoy the atmosphere of the camp. A minimal knowledge of English is however recommended to fully appreciate the high level of guiding and the explanations given by the rangers. In general the guests coming are also not on their first experience with Africa but are well travelled and usually “connoisseurs”.

The rains seem to have arrived a bit earlier this year and the day before we arrived they had the first downpour bringing with it incredible colours, abundance of small “life” and a much more relaxed attitude in the wildlife who can now also start dispersing. The beautiful panoramas of this part of the reserve – the north – become even more stunning. Very often while on safari we felt the need to express great appreciation for the beauty and variety of landscapes. The whole scene – landscape + wildlife –  captures more than the detail or the animals in itself.

The arrival of rains has forced us to change the programme that normally is scheduled for a 3 night stay … and in Africa we all know that there are always one or more backup plans and they are all great! Normally we would have had 2-3 walking safaris, 2-3 game drives and 1 full long morning at Lake Tagalala (game drive + a boat safari to admire crocs and hippos and birdlife + a swim at the hot springs). However since it rained both nights, tracks have become quite muddy – and difficult in the few areas with cotton soil-, and the crossing of the river has become impossible. So we mostly did game drives in reachable areas, cancelled the full day at the lake and reduced the number of walks. This morning we did a fantastic and adventurous game drive across “rivers” and “lakes” and experienced the more adventurous bush safari … and one agent finally could experience her first African mud blessing!

Abundant the birdlife (many species of herons, bee-eaters, eagles, hawks, cranes, egrettes, weavers etc) and wildlife. In general during the photo-safaris we have always encountered buffaloes, zebras, giraffes, impalas and gnus with many youngsters, elephants, warthogs, lots of hyenas, hippos and baboons, and even a great herd of elands! Unfortunately none of the big cats – but we saw very clear fresh tracks of a big male lion! – or of the magnificent wilddogs – 2 days before we arrived they saw them at the airstrip!! – or of the rare rhinos who also are in this amazing nature reserve … Not bad for 2 days of safaris in the quiet season and certainly all is compensated by the unique beauty of landscapes in this period of the year.

Beho Beho stands for breeze, in fact a nice gentle breeze is always here even in the hottest days. Temperatures and humidity are a bit higher than in Dar so siestas are always very welcomed: some of us work at the open “office” near the bar – quite a change of view compared to the office we are used to at home! -, some have a swim at the pool and try to spot any visitor on the plain in front, others go for the more classic siesta :-0 And in this period of the year siestas are a bit longer than in the cooler season.

Beho Beho was the first camp to be opened in the Selous and it was the personal retreat of Christopher Bailey,  Charlie’s father now the owner of the camp and also of The Oyster Bay. When this part of the reserve was closed to hunting safaris, the Baileys kept it as a private retreat where to recharge batteries and enjoy nature and wildlife at its best. At the death of Christopher the family decided to build a camp for real nature lovers, for people able to understand and appreciate the beauty of Africa at a “good” pace. Beho Beho just like The Oyster Bay is not to be perceived as a hotel/lodge but rather as a private home, hence there is no shop, all drinks are included, life rotates around the desires of the guests. Meals are an experience in themselves – there is a Food & Beverage Manager for a lodge of only 8 “bandas” (open suites)! – and cuisine is an important player in the success of the stay, just like the high standard of service and guiding.

Every banda is very spacious and includes a king-size double bed and a queen-size divan which can be used as bed in case of twins or triples, a desk, arm-chairs and a sofa on the viewing deck, a monocular, a safe, a hairdrier, fans, a dressing room complete with bathrobes, a semi-open bathroom with double sinks and a large open shower. One side of the banda is open and verandah-like but in case of rain or if guests like can be closed with a curtain. Soon the free wi-fi connection will be moved from the office in the main area to the individual bandas for maximum privacy and no disturbance to the other guests. Water is heated on solar power and silent generators supply electricity 24 hours a day.

The camp in its present form was opened in 2004 and over the last months has just undergone a refurbishment (you can see the details in previous blogs) to offer a fresher look. Part of the new plans include the opening of ‘Baileys Banda’, a private house made up of 2 en-suite bedrooms, a very spacious living area and private pool. It is separate from the camp and here guests can enjoy more privacy since they will have a private vehicle for game activities and a private cook. The view from the house is stunning. It is the perfect choice for families or for a group of friends who prefer not to mingle with the social life of the main camp. Important to point out that the camp is open only to adults and teen-agers (minimum is 12 years).

At present there are 3 flights per day connecting Beho Beho to Dar – morning, early afternoon and late afternoon – and also to Ruaha. “Beho Beho international airport” is just 5 minutes from the lodge offering easy transfers and no waste of time at the airstrip.

I better mention that we are among the last guests of the camp, in fact we close from mid March until 1st June.

We are off now on a walking safari to the location of the “Bush Camp” and tomorrow morning off to the beautiful island of Zanzibar … so more on these over the next days.

Stefania

 

 

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