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Report from trip to Tanzania and Kenya

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It is almost 3 weeks since we got home – and not a single day has past without us thinking, talking and dreaming of Africa!

Kenya:
We arrived in Nairobi, and a smiling gentleman from the company Pollman’s welcomed us. After a long flight from Norway it was good with a day rest before we headed for Sweetwater the next day.
And wow, what a place Sweetwater was! Beautiful surroundings, very warm and welcoming staff, excellent food and super nice tents. The waterhole outside the camp, which could easily be seen from many of the tents, was a great bonus, especially in the evening when large herds of buffalos, zebra, baboons, impala and elephants paid a visit. However, I loved the marabou stork that when ever there was a meal served also paid a visit outside the large glass windows looking at the food on our table…

The game drives were very good and we saw a lot of animals; giraffes, buffalos, rhinos, waterbucks, warthogs, elephants, impalas, Thompson gazelle, baboons and lions. But the highlight was the Ol Pejeta Conservancy - http://www.olpejetaconservancy.org/

Chimpanzee project started by Jane Goodall. This was our main reason to come here. It was marvellous to see the large area provided for the chimpanzees and hearing their stories were very moving. We could watch them in the trees through our binoculars and several of them came very close to the fence at the border of their large area.

Our guide Thomas from Pollmann was excellent and we think that starting with Sweetwater was a prefect way to start our trip. We had time to relax after working through a long winter in Norway and get in “vacation mood” and it was a nice introduction to the wildlife.

Tanzania:
After spending one more night in Nairobi we headed for Arusha by bus. Going by bus was ok and I would do it again rather than using airplane (trying to make up for our use of airplane all the way from Norway to Africa…thinking about the environment!)
We stayed at Impala hotel, which we enjoyed ( I have seen others complain about the food here, but we had some very good meals here) then Ranger safari and Justin took us to Lake Manyara.

Lake Manyara Serena lodge were fantastic – what a beautiful place and what a view! Seeing the sun go down from the lodge was magic. The national park was extremely green and very beautiful – and we saw a leopard! That was quite rare according to our guide and staff at the lodge and we really enjoyed the few minutes this amazing cat spent walking in front of our car. We saw a lot of other animals as well and another highlight was the fighting elephants rushing out 10 meters in front of our car… suddenly one of them saw us and I was really worried he would consider us another enemy but he then decided to go for his for legged challenger instead! In Lake Manyara we saw a lot of elephants up close and seeing these amazing animals so close always gives me a rush.

Serengeti was next stop – and the roads were quite bumpy but we had a really good driver (and of course guide) in Justin and it went ok. We saw a lot of animals on our way to Serengeti Serena Lodge, including my favourites; hyenas. Since they stole my food and peed on our tent in Moremi in Botswana I have always had a fascination for them. We also saw three lionesses, one of them with cubs, and a male and female mating. We also saw lots of wildebeest, zebras and giraffes.
Serengeti Serena lodge was just as great as the Serena lodge in Lake Manyara. The little huts were excellent and getting to sleep and listening to the oop…oop of hyenas was magical!

In Serengeti we also saw a lot of hippos and we were amazed about people going so close to the water to watch them and also being so loud when they were talking to each other. Our guide came to warn us and told us that tourists had been killed close to the water by crocodiles which were very difficult to see. Hm.

Another highlight was the thousands of thousands of wildebeest and zebras we saw. Our guide told us that this was a part of the migration and we could not see the end of the herds of animals even with our binoculars – a great experience!

We also saw more lions and a leopard in a tree and more hyenas!

Then, after two days, it was time to leave for the Ngorongoro Crater. Again lots of animals on our way and we had a nice stop in Oldevai Gorge. It was quite a shift in weather when we reach the crater rim – coming from 30 degrees in Serengeti to about 18 here! Have your jackets ready we were warned – and it has seldom been nice to put on our fleece jackets! The Serena lodge here had a spectacular view from the rooms, which was the best thing with the lodge. The food and service were, I have to say ok/good, when comparing to the other Serenas we have visited - which has been excellent.

But, the visit the next day to the crater was the absolutely highlight of our trip. Our very, very good guide Justin made sure to have us ready by 7 o’clock and I think we were the first ones down there. Our first meeting was with a morning tired cheetah on his way close by our car to greet his friend. Then there were hyenas, large herds of wildebeest, elephants, zebras and suddenly; a lioness in the road and 7 more close by in the grass! It felt unreal to be in the crater with so much animals all the time, we saw a rhino mum with her calf, two more rhinos, elephants, buffalos, crowned cranes, ostriches, Thompson gazelles, wildebeest with their calves and then we met up with the herd of lions again, this time with their kill; a buffalo. The lions were bloody and exhausted.

The Ngorongoro crater was an unforgettable place.

We drove back to Nairobi for a couple of days stay. And we really enjoyed staying here. We visited the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to meet the baby elephants. http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/index.asp

The strictly guarded project in a part of the Nairobi national park takes care of orphanage animals, especially elephants and rhinos. The elephants are moved in small groups to Tsavo National park when they get older. I was not sure what to expect but then three tiny elephants came out of the forest behind their two legged “mum”. We were told to stand quite behind a thin rope but this did not stop the small elephants – a school class of African children caught their eye and they went for them! Children and elephants in all directions! According to one of the elephant “mums” the baby elephants are especially fond of small children. After a while they quite down but were still curious and their small trunks investigated our hands and clothes. One of them, I think here name was Lesanju, put her trunk in my hand and I gentle scratched behind her large ear – then I was nearly pulled over in the mud by one of the other babies being jealous! Yet another magical moment I treasure in my heart.

We also visited the interesting giraffe centre and the beautiful Karen Blixen Farm. I also recommend stopping for a small shopping break at Kazuri close by the Blixen Farm. Here they make very beautiful ceramics and earrings, bracelets etc – beautiful things at a very good price.

We also walked around the main streets of Nairobi and at one market – and everything went fine. Never one time had we felt unsafe and of course we followed the instructions of a guide from Pollman’s that are born and raised in Nairobi and we did not walk out after dark about 7 o’clock.

I would like to go back to Nairobi – even only for a visit to the elephants at the Sheldrick Wildlife trust.

Conclusion: We had a great trip! And the tips and knowledge from this forum were very helpful – now reading about the trips that others are planning – we want to go again!

Linda

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