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Hello From Mbuze Mawe, Serengeti (introductory trip report from Rocco)

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A tremendous safari is drawing to a close. The gameviewing in the Ndutu area was tremendous...so much so that I ended up extending my time with Nomad in their Ndutu camps (they have two camps in the Ndutu area currently) and cancelling my visit to their Loliondo area camp.

Two gameviewing highlights especially standout:

1. A huge male lion (fully maned) climbing at least 10 meters up a tree. He literally pulled himself up the vertical trunk about 10 feet before getting on a thick branch and climbing further and further up. He nearly fell twice on his way down, after spending about 10 minutes up in the tree, but he was able to get down safely, ultimately. I believe he did it because he was so bothered by the flies. My heart really goes out to these lions because more often than not they are covered by hundreds of flies, sometimes that many alone just on their faces. I have some amazing photographs of the entire event and even my Nomad guide went crazy with excitement and did not hesitate to grab my spare camera to start snapping away at the lion.

2. A different huge male lion killing a young wildebeest as we watched from a close distance. This wildebeest had escaped from another huge male lion that was part of this pride of EIGHTEEN lions (a killing machine) but then in an effort to find its herd, the wildebeest soon came back to meet its demise. This pride was fantastic with 10 adults and sub-adults, including three mature, fully maned, male lions, and 8 cubs.

Other gameviewing highlights included:

Black rhinos (from a distance, but thankfully I did have my 80-400mm Sigma lens and 1.4x teleconvertor)

Male Cheetah Pair (not the best hunters and really quite annoying as they seemed to miss a couple golden opportunities...one morning we spent three hours with them with no results)

At least 8 different lion prides, the majority of them in the Serengeti/NCA area, mostly in the Ndutu area

Hyenas on a fresh wildebeest kill in the Crater. It was fascinating to watch the dominant female hyena control access to the kill, only allowing her cubs to feed while she chased all other hyenas away. In Hyena society, it is the female who is dominant over the male.

The CCAfrica camps were AMAZING. Alexsandra and I really loved both places (Crater Lodge and Lake Manyara Tree Lodge).

While the CCA camps featured mostly fellow Americans, the Nomad camps featured mostly Brits, but I do hope to have a hand in changing that, as Americans are really missing out. Of course Nomad is all about the game experience and it is a more basic tented camping experience, but service, food and accomodations are all top notch considering that they are in the middle of the bush with no permanent facilities.

I will talk more on the vehicles and guiding later.

That will do it for now. I probably will just stuff in one more game drive, but I am getting a little burned out now and I am looking forward to Zanzibar and the two nights both in Amsterdam and Paris. Tomorrow morning is the hot air ballooning and then the day after tomorrow it is off to Zanzibar.

Alexsandra is now an expert at Swahili and is desperately trying to find a tutor from the University of Dar Es Salaam at Stone Town to give her intensive lessons during our five nights in Zanzibar.

Yes, we did encounter the migration and it is magnificent. However, I did favor the game drives AWAY from the migration to focus on the cats...even found a magnificent leopard in a tree.

Cheers for now.

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