Warning: long and possibly useless report
I suppose I should call this Revenge of the Tse Tse Fly, because OHMYGOD were they horrible in the western Serengeti. Why didn't anyone tell me? Sandi? Anyone?
Getting ahead of myself. Itinerary was:
June 15 SFO-AMS with a day-long layover in Amsterdam
June 17 arrive in Arusha for r-and-r at Moivaro
June 18 Canoing, hiking Arusha National Park with Green Footprint
June 19'and we're off! Tarangire, Mawe Ninga
June 20 Tarangire, Mawe Ninga
June 21 Crater, Wildlife Lodge
June 22 Olduvai
June 23 Serengeti, Ronjo Camp
June 24 Nomad Serengeti, Mbalageti Camp (campsite was Simiti)
June 25 Nomad Serengeti
June 26 Nomad Serengeti
June 27 Serengeti, fly to Arusha in the afternoon
June 28 Arusha, Moivaro. Visit Sekei Primary School with Wilbert from Kiliwarrior
Well, my first complaint about this trip: too short. I was kidding myself thinking it would be enough'no way. Next time I will schedule in some beach time, or lake time if I happen to be in Kenya, before flying home. I was considerably more exhausted upon returning this trip than the last, and I attribute that to no lazing about on Zanzibar. Although with my hideous tse tse bites everywhere, I can't see getting into a bathing suit.
We flew KLM on 3 of the four international flights. All three were delayed, the first by six hours, including sitting on the plane for three of those in SF. Oh well, guess I'm glad I didn't get those Rembrandt-Caravaggio tickets I was thisclose to purchasing. Kenya Air was, as usual, great. The flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi and then the short hop on to JRO were both easy and painless.
Boy did it feel good to be in Afreekah again. I'll confess to choking up a bit on the ride to Moivaro. Silly, I know, but it took me a long time to get back.
Moivaro was quite pretty. Lush gardens, very quiet, etc. However, I felt a little bit like I was in a compound. I wanted to be in or nearer to 'town,' even though Arusha is hardly a thrill a minute. My friend and her mother, my traveling companions for this trip, both appreciated its quiet, garden atmosphere, though. Pleasant bar. Nice staff. We had a triple and it was more than adequate for us. I'd stay here again. Later we ran into Fodor's poster chrisamg and his bride at Mawe Ninga; they had stayed at Moivaro too and had called a taxi to take them to dinner in town. Not a bad idea as the food's not great.
We hung out, cleaned up and hiked around the property that day. Petra from ATR came to brief us on the safari. I don't know what to say about that. I had made exactly two (TWO, 2) requests of ATR: that we have Edward for our MKSC guide and that we have a pop-top vehicle. Well, we got Edward. She touched briefly on this, and I smiled and nodded and felt a bit patronized. Probably that's enough said.
In any case, I was determined not to let these kind of things spoil the holiday I'd waited so long for. So I had a drink right after she left!
The next day we were scheduled to do the day trip to Arusha National Park. I had booked this myself with Green Footprint.
Mirjam with Green Footprint was a dream to deal with. I think the cost was 180 pp for a full-day's excursion. The night before we left I received a number of frantic calls from Magdalen, the new woman working in their office. When we finally spoke, she asked me if it would be okay for two ladies to join us, as they had been scheduled to do the same trip that day but due to car trouble couldn't make it. Momentarily ticked off, I said, yes, of course, no problem. I was so glad I did. The 'ladies' ended up being two really fun girls from Leeds on a spur-of-the-moment holiday. We had such a nice time with them; they were hilarious!
Our driver guide was a young, good looking fellow named Herman. He was enthusiastic and quite knowledgable. Herman is relatively new to the Northern Circuit, having worked for the previous two years at Mahale. I gather, from my conversation with him (I sat in front) and later with our Nomad guide who is the boyfriend of Mirjam, that it's a bit isolating working down there and kind of a chimps-only experience.
We spent a good time driving around the park, looking at the buffaloes, giraffes, monkeys, etc. We heard but did not see the colobus monkeys. It's a lush park with quite a few birds. After lunch we went canoeing. A great experience! I recommend it. Very relaxing. After canoeing we took a short hike as the day had gotten away from us to a waterfall. We had an armed ranger for this hike. We hadn't been walking more than 5 minutes before we came upon a large group of Cape buffaloes. The ranger and Herman said something along the lines of, 'Oh, today of all days they decide to come down to the path to the waterfall.' Our ranger was tiny and young, but he was the one with the gun, so I stuck to him like glue.
In the future, I would definitely try to include walking and canoeing or hiking or biking or anything to get out of the vehicle on my safaris. This was a great deal of fun, even though, as bat from this forum told me, 'It's going to feel a little tame if you do this after the Serengeti.'
And did I mention that our guide was good looking?
More later. I will try to shorten and include more facts, but I didn't write one thing in my journal this trip. Bad me. Photos also forthcoming.
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Warning: long and possibly useless report