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My wife and I want help planning a trip to Tanzania and possibly Uganda. We will be arriving late October after 5 days at Kruger Park. We know we want to visit Tarangire and Ngorongoro crater. We are undecided about including Serengeti, and we're interested in flying to Uganda to visit the chimps at Kibale Park and see a different ecosystem. We will have 8 or 9 nights after arriving in Kilimanjaro. Any advise about whether to go to the Serengeti, and/or visit Kibale (or Gombe?),this time of year would be most appreciated.

We want to have a variety of bush experiences, from mobile tent accomodations to some lodges. We are quite experienced with camping and backpacking and very much enjoy being "in touch" with the nature around us. Our primary interest is in seeing African wildlife and learning something about them and their environment, so experienced, knowledgeable and communicative guides are very important to us. We want to have the experience of really being IN nature, so we want to sleep out with the sounds of the bush around us, we want time during safari drives to sit, listen and absorb the experience, and we'd love to include a walking safari or hikes. We really want to see cats, elephant and giraffe.

We'd like any helpful advice about an operator and/or itinerary to match our interests.

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    We used Warrior Trials, last week for Tarangire, and we'd have no hesitation recommending Nicholas, he's been the only guide we've ever had that's actually taught us stuff!

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    October? After Kruger, why not go to Botswana and/or Zambia? As nice as Tanzania is, why not save a N Circuit Safari for another time? If you are going to Tanazania, the Serengeti is not to be missed. My next safari in Tanzania I would gladly drop one day to add two days for the Serengeti(even in October) btw- Tarangire Safari Lodge is a place I think you would like, and it fits the pocket book

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    Ulunick,
    My post should read 'I would gladly drop one day {IN THE CRATER} to add two days in the Serengeti.' The high cost of a Crater visit just to share a small area with numerous other safari vehicles just isnt as valuable to me as two days my beloved Serengeti where I can go wherever I want to avoid the crowds

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    If the 8-9/days upon arriving JRO includes Tarangire and Ngorongoro only and also Uganda... just too tight a schedule. It's easier to do 3/days Rwanda than 4/days for Uganda if gorillas* are a must.

    *best also to check if/when 'permits' are available as limited # issued daily, then plan around these. Current permit fees are $750/Rwanda and $500/Uganda.

    And if arriving at South Africa, from where do you depart for home? Have you even checked international air schedules/fares/hours of flight.

    Time is taken up by int'l airline schedules (some rather costly) between countries besides checkin/security time, Visas where applicable and Yellow Fever inoculations and proof of same for transit to/from/between countries.

    At first look, seems you're trying to fit 10/lbs of 'stuff' into a 5/lb bag, so you may have to forego something or extend your visit.

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    I would counter Frank's feeling on Ngorongoro with my own. Our day there was wonderful. It was the only place in our entire trip that we saw rhino, and four of them at that. I didn't feel the area was "small" at all (what, 8000+ sq
    km?) and the geography is incredible (on the crater floor you're in the volcano!). We had plenty of up close encounters with lions, hyena, wildebeest, zebra. While we were there in February so maybe it varies month to month, I never felt that there were tons of other vehicles. I think the most I saw at any one point was maybe 5 others at the rhino spot.

    I would caution adding day(s) to Serengeti if one means the National Park, as you're not allowed off-road there to get closer to the animals any more than you are in Ngorongoro. Now Ndutu is another matter...but I think probably best during migration season?

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    You guys are all SO generous with your feedback and advice - thank you all. We'll check out Warrior Trails. Any other tour operatot recommendations? At this point we're pursuing a private safari, so we'd appreciate hearing experiences with private versus group trips. Now we're considering flying into Entebbe for Kibale, then either flying to Kilimanjaro or driving on sfari across the Serengeti to Ngorongoro and Tarangire - does that seen feasible within our timeframe of 10 days?

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    I can highly recommend Good Earth Tours for a private safari with excellent guide. They are a Tanzanian operator with an office in the US. They allow deposits on Credit Cards and have prices that are competitive. Whenever I need quick service, I know I can call Narry or Baracka in their office here. Once I was in panic mode, and their answering service forwarded my call to Narry when he was out of the country
    http://www.goodearthtours.com/

    btw-There is an East African Safari trip report index here on Fodors, look through it. And in my earlier post, I didnt mean to give the impression amy took. I was trying to elevate the Serengeti, not discourage you from going to the crater. The crater is a 1st time MUST do

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    I must sound like a broken record by now, but we went with Access2Tanzania in February and I loved it all from start to finish. The planning stage was wonderful, with excellent communication with Karen, the US rep/owner here in the US. They have their own salaried guides (not subcontracted) and vehicles in Tanzania as well as staff on the ground there to do all the bookings. My trip report is here with more detail than you'll ever want, by clicking on my name. I wouldn't hesitate to work with them if I return to TZ.

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    Wow, you guys are GREAT! I haven't used a travel forum before, and I'm so impressed by your generosity of time and information. We've been talking to Access2Tanzania, and I'll be sure to check out Good Earth Tours. We're still up in the air about Kibale in Uganda, wondering whether we have time for it. I think it's one or the other, chimps or Serengeti. We're intent on Tarangire and Ngorongoro. Someone at Thomson Safaris suggested Mahale for chimps - any experience with them or with Mahale? BTW, Thomson is pretty expensive, but they do some wonderful community development and conservation programs.

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    You are welcome Ulunick,
    Mahale is quite a distance, which in my book looks to be an expensive add on in both time and money. Have you looked into Lake Manyara? It can easily be seen in just one day, offers a rainforest type safari, inexpensive, and is close to the Crater and Tarangire and it would allow you to see the Serengeti too. There is an EXCELLENT lodge there (Kirurumu) that will offer you a walking tour of a local landscape and village led by a Masai

    Our Lake Manyara highlight:
    We are eating our boxed lunch at one of the lookouts and our guide rushes us back into 4x4. We make an Indiana Jones escape through the dirt roads for about 15 minutes just to stop a look at monkeys and baboons?? huh(we can watch those anywhere here)? Our guide just tells us to wait. Then a few minutes later we feel the earthquaking, the primates vanish, then the high pitched sound of tree branches and trunks being torn as a herd of elephants breaks thru the forest and passing on both sides.

    Our guide saw the elephants breaking through the brush way in the distance and got us to a location in time to see them pass

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    Hi Ulunick.

    5 days Kruger, then 8-9 days and you are thinking about Tanzania plus Uganda.

    Given your background and goals... "We want to have the experience of really being IN nature, so we want to sleep out with the sounds of the bush around us, we want time during safari drives to sit, listen and absorb the experience, and we'd love to include a walking safari or hikes. We really want to see cats, elephant and giraffe..."

    I agree with FrankS about staying in Southern Africa and including perhaps Zambia.

    But if chimps are something you really want to see, then East Africa is what you want.

    If you have 8-9 days, I agree with Shaytay to do your chimp tracking in the premier chimp destination of Mahale in Tanz.

    I used Flycatchers for Mahale and for N. Serengeti in mid-Sept. Very expensive to do Mahale as a private trip or to do N. Serengeti in Oct. as a private trip. Other places/times of year in Tanz are much more economical as a private trip. For private Tanzania travel, I have used Eben Schoeman Signature Safaris. You might find him easier under Kiliwarriors.

    Good luck!

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    Good Earth quoted us $3,100 for the trip to Mahale, inclusive of airfare - does that seem reasonable? It's more than we want to spend, and the timing's difficult with flights only on Mondays and Thursdays. We'd appreciate feedback on whether to drop it from consideration. Base Camp proposed 2 nights at Ndutu - has anyone been there? It's not a place I've read about. As always, thanks for sharing with us.

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    The extension to Mahale will be expensive almost regardless which outfitter and even if using the lowest cost accommodations here.

    Regarding Ndutu, this is an area part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) and ideal to visit when the wildebeest herds arrive to 'calve' their young, which happens in February. So, best to visit the area anytime from late-Dec thru Mar when the herds start to arrive, calve and hang around before commencing trek north from sometime in April onward. As you are traveling in October/early Nov... I'd prefer to stay in the Central Serengeti which is north of the Ndutu area.

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    Check out The Wild Source in Colorado. They have their own outfitting company in Tanzania and are now setting up their own safari camps, too. They also have some of the best guides in Tanzania, as well. They have planned several safaris for me. Bill Given is the owner and a wildlife biologist, so he knows were the best wildlife viewing is at any time of the year.

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    All the tour operators seem to structure their itineraries heavily on the Serengeti. Is that just because that's what they're used to doing, or is the Serengeti that spectacular? In late October the herds will be in the north, right? Is the Seronera area good for wildlife that time of year? We'd like to avoid the long trip to the north, and the herds are not our priority. What do yo think?

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    The Serengeti is the size of Switzerland, where different times of the year in certain areas are better for game than others. That's not to say areas not best during a given period are void of game, but different.

    Example:
    Jan-Mar - good to be at the Ndutu area of the NCA for the calving
    Apr-May - the long rains
    June-July - Western Corridor, some also in Central
    Aug-Oct - Northern Serengeti
    Nov-Dec - herds moving south to Ndutu passing thru Central

    Central has year-round water, so there's always game. But if staying in Central during October and while you can arrange a daytrip to the North, it's a long haul of about 4/hrs each way. And remember when on the Equator there is only 12/hrs of daylight and vehicles have to be off park lands by dark.

    Though no one can guarantee exactly where game in volume will be found, many choose to split time between Central and North during Oct.

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    Would highly recommend Born Free Safaris. Just got back from 2 weeks in Tanzania, including Terengeire, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and the Serengeti. Camped 11 of the 14nights. Simply incredible experience. Guide was extremely knowlegeable, the animals were plentiful and incredible, and the whole camping experience "out there in the wild" was spectacular. We woke up one morning in the Serengeti and drove less than 1/2 mile to see a pride of 30 lions catching a morning cat nap after the hunt the night before. They avoid camps and tents, so we were never in any danger, just a fascinating way to realize we were truly "out there in the wild".

    Born Free is a great company to work with. Everything went off without a hitch.

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    We went to Tanzania and Uganda this April. In northern Tanzania we stayed in a remote tented camp, Alex Walker's Serian, and heard the lions at night. The tour operator, Tanzania Odyssey, was great. Here's our blog post about the safari, http://latitudeb.com/serengeti-safari/. In Uganda, we spent ten days exploring the southern part of the country. I volunteer with a tourism NGO there that arranges home stays with local families. We did some really cool things like learning how to make banana beer in the middle of a banana plantation. I also recommend Uganda Wildlife Education Centre right near the airport in Entebbe - you can book a private tour. Here's our Uganda post, http://latitudeb.com/uganda/.

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    Hello there,
    I am from African Adventure Advisors,based in Arusha Tanzania.This company organizes trips in East Africa mostly Tanzania.Please contact us so that we can arrange your holiday here.The company is registered and valid,its owned by the professional guides who knows where to sell the tour.Write on frank@africanadventureadvisors.com or visit www.africanadventureadvisors.com

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    Our plans have gone through a few changes, but we are settled now on working with Shidolya Tours and Safaris. We'll spend 12 nights altogether, starting in Tarangire, to Ngorongoro, then into the Serengeti, finishing with a flight to Mahale and back to Arusha for our departure. Lazarus at Shidolya has been wonderful in presenting options and responding to our ideas. We started with an itinerary that involved camping in dome tents at public campgrounds, and has evolved to primarily private tented camps, with a splurge on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater. We'll be 3 nights at Whistling Thorn Camp in Tarangire, 2 nights at Serena Ngorongoro, 3 nights at Mbuzi Mawe Tented camp in the Serengeti, and 4 nights at Kungwe Beach Lodge near Mahale Park on Lake Tanganyika. The scope and cost of our trip grew quite a bit, but we are so excited about it! Thanks to all you forum folk for your advice.

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    A whole lot of tour outfitters posting and touting their companies... shame on them.

    Ulrich - well, of course the budget increased if heading to Mahale. Remember though it's about a 4/hr flight from Arusha and not direct to the camp. Plane lands at Lake Tanganyika, where you board boat for about a 1/hr ride on open lake water to shore at Mahale. Consider packing a 'barf' bag (as the airlines proved)... who knows how your tummy will react... just a heads up :)

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    Sandi, it sounds like you've been to Mahale - how was it? We've got 3 full days for trekking to find the chimps, but wondering if we might take some of that time for other activities, like boating the lakeshore. Suggestions?

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    Ulunick - Sorry to advise I have NOT been to Mahale. It's not so much the flight time in a plane without a loo (I'm good for hours without one), but you won't get me on a boat on open water... why I'm not a cruise person... too much H2O for my comfort.

    The only boat ever was a Nile cruise as it's got a flat bottom and from where you can see both shores... the most cruising I'd ever do and that took a lot of convincing.

    Besides chimp tracking, consult the camp for other activities available.

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    I was at Kungwe in September 2009. It's a great camp with one of the best chimps guides around, Sixtus... don't know if he's still there. Within 30 minutes of our arrival, the chimps actually showed up in camp, feeding on fruit behind one of the tents. Guests from other camps were rushing to our camp to see them! That happened twice while we were there. There are other things that you can do there such as boat safaris along the lake shore or fishing for your supper. They also have kayaks that you can use. I went snorkeling in the lake right in front of the camp. The water is absolutely clear and pristine. You can also take shorter hikes to see some of the other wildlife like the other primates, birds, etc. It was never boring.

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    What an encouraging post, Shay Tay. I'm glad you had such close encounters with the chimps - hopefully, we'll have a good time with them, too. Are there hippos in the lake? Crocodiles? I've been leery about swimming there, but it sounds like the lake water is ok....

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    We didn't see hippos. There are crocs in certain areas, but not near the camp. Because there is little, if any, agriculture or manufacturing around the lake, the water quality is excellent.

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    We're back from our trip in October-November, and it was fantastic! Our tour operator in Tanzania was great - Shidolya Safari Tours totally saved our vacation time after we missed a flight (and therefore a day) from South Africa. The rearranged our itinerary and completely preserved our reservations at no extra cost, even though they were at a low price to start with. I'll post our travelogue below.

    We started off in South Africa at Ezulwini's private reserve contiguous to Kruger National Park. We were gifted with a 5 night stay at about 1/4 normal cost by a friend who won it in a charity auction; it turned out just about everyone we met there had also bought their Ezulwini's safaris through charity auctions - odd. We went on morning and evening game drives in open Land Cruisers with bench seats. It was the end of the dry season, and the scrub was pretty bleak, but the wildlife was plentiful and accessible. The lodges were very beautiful and the food much better than I expected, so we could bear the rigors of the game drives without too much strife. They have viewing decks built out from the main lodges, where we could see elephants and giraffes and baboons and crocodiles and birds and vervets. On the game drives we saw hippos and rhinos and lions and a leopard and elephants (including a charge!) and impala and Thompson's gazelles, waterbuck, diko diko, wildebeasts, zebras... most of the range of animals except Cape buffalow, black rhino and cheetahs. We were able to follow a lone leopard for about 10 minutes! What a treat to see the sensual way they move. Our host Lawrence Saad was welcoming and gracious and shared his unique dug-in wine cellar with us. There were generally only 6 or 7 of us in a jeep and never more than 2 or 3 at any one sighting, usually just us.

    After our flight snafu, we got to Kilimanjaro airport early, early AM. Priscus met us and brought us to a small lodge at the entrance to Arusha NP for a little sleep before heading to the Shidolya office, where we were so pleased to learn that Philo had done a workaround to preserve our itinerary. I'll say it again - Shidolya was fantastic!

    First stop: Tarangire NP for 2 nights at Kirurumu tented camp. We had hoped for Whistling Thorn, but I have no complaints about Kirurum; the accomodations and meals were excellent, and one night we had an elephant in camp. In some ways, Tarangire was our favorite park, probably because of the green around the river and bogs, while everything elsewhere was dry and grayish brown. We was huge numbers of elephants and game ungulates, as well as cheetahs, giraffes, and lions, including a mating pair. Again, we were lucky to see a leopard lazing in a tree.

    We toured Lake Manyara NP on our way to Ngorongoro Crater, staying 1 night in the Kirurumu Lake Manyara lodge, which is sculpted into a hillside overlooking Lake Manyara. Delightful. We liked Lake Manyara; part of the park is a lush forest with clear running streams due to the groundwater runoff from Ngorongoro. At this time of year it wasn't great for seeing flamingos, but we had a great visit with a large troop of baboons and some vervet monkeys.

    Our lodge for 2 nights at Ngorongoro Crater was the Serena rock-faced building, with incredible views into the cauldera. The crater floor was dry and tan, and the wildlife a little more scarce than we'd heard, but still it was a super experience. I can only imagine what it must be like when transformed to green! Not to be repetitive, but we saw most of the list of animals except for rhinos and cheetahs and leopards, I guess. We're not serious birders, but we really enjoyed learning about so many different birds; we must have seen 4 or 5 different sorts of eagles, bustards, hornbills, superb starlings, vultures, secretary birds, ostriches, Egyptian geese, helmeted guinea fowl, white headed buffalow weavers, etc. We felt so grateful for this experience, punctuated by streaming shafts of lights streaking down through the clouds to illuminate the cauldera floor.

    Next, Serengiti. We stayed 3 nights at the Serena Mbuzi Mawe tented camp, which is beautiful and serene and home to kilpspringers (seriously cute!) and hyrax. Two male lions had a fight at the edge of Camp one morning. As it turned out, we were kind of distant from the best game viewing areas (the Seronera area) for this time of year, but that was our fault; I pushed for the Mbuzi Mawe camp based on very positive reviews (that were justified). Still, we saw a lot going to and returning from Seronera, and the Serengeti is definately the most amazing animal environment we saw in Africa. We had thought about not going there, and we weren't really interested in seeing the migration, but boy, are we glad we did. We had an especially wonderful afternoon with a herd (?) of giraffes, where we felt like we merged with their community - so gentle and quiet! We saw a LOT of lions, including a pride of lionesses and their cubs eating a kill, another similar pride resting and scoping out game, a mating pair, and 3 old males finishing off a zebra meal. Two separate times we saw different pairs of leopards in trees, one time with a meal of gazelle. Of course we got to develop our love affair with elephants, glad to see how many babies there were and how careful and protective they are of their young. Speaking of yound, we also saw baby warthogs! A pair of jackels were lurking around, but mama warthog kept a close watch. For the first time we also saw hyena, coming too late to a lion's kill site. Our good fortune with finding such a vast variety of animals and birds was, of course, due to Priscus' great vision and knowledge. The list of sightings is just too long to itemize....

    Priscus took us to the Seronera airport, and we took our leave, flying to Mahale NP across the country at Lake Tanganyika. We had 4 nights at the Greystoke camp in an amazing thatched roof banda made out of salvaged wood from boats. Wow. Shidolya somehow booked us there instead of Kungwe (which was on our original invoice), maybe for scheduling reasons, but I think it was a significant upgrade at no extra cost to us. Greystoke is incredible, right on the beach. There was a resident juvenile pelican that had appeared after a storm a couple of weeks earlier, that the Camp manager was trying to teach to fly! I befriended the camp cook and learned a little about local spicing (Indian influenced).

    But Mahale is all about chimpanzees. We trekked out to see them 3 days, and on the last two days we found a small group after about an hour fairly strenuous hike. With surgical masks in place, we got 1 hour with the chimps each day. We couldn't approach closer than 15 meters, but if they moved towards us, that's ok. Several times, some chimps walked right by us, almost touching our pants. We saw lots of grooming activity, and very dear connections between mothers and kids. And lots of PLAY, too. It is disturbing, though, to read and hear about some horrible things high ranking chimps sometimes do to rivals, females and babies.... As human's closest evolutionary link, we had to wonder how the primates took such a turn toward savagery. Fortunately, we didn't see anything like that, so we just have some sweet memories.

    We hopped on a small plane to Kilimanjaro, caught Ethiopian Air, and via Addis Ababa ended up in Cairo. It was a rude awakening to be back in the urban world! We expecially felt like fresh meat for the touts as we floundered around the airport at 2 am. After missing our flight in South Africa, we had been in touch with Debbie (Miss Casual Cairo), and she was wonderful in helping us shift our hotel reservation in Cairo on arrival night. We were pretty incommunicado during safari time, but through text messages and some emails, she was able to shift our night for us. Since the Morsi trial was to begin the day we arrived, we left Cairo to fly to Luxor at noon that same day, and we arranged with Debbie for a guide our first day in Luxor. That was a good decision; we were able to relax in the slower pace and cleaner air of Luxor. Debbie had recommended a small, older, simple (and inexpensive) hotel that was just fine for our 4 night stay. We toured the Valley of the Kings, Hetsupshet's Temple, Medina Habu, and the workers village that first day. We never was more than a couple dozen other tourists (at the King's tombs), and we were alone at the other sights save for a handful of tourists at Hetsepshut's temple.

    Unfortunately, we didn't get along very well with our first guide, Mamdouh. We felt like he was lecturing us rather than engaging us, and he seemed distracted and almost disinterested. We switched to a different guide recommended in the forums, Hassany at Love Egypt Tours. Although it was a difficult decision to make after all the help Debbie had given us, Hassany's guide Abdul was enthusiastic and really brought the Luxor temples and tombs alive in a way that hadn't happened with Mamdouh. We saw the Luxor Museum (a little gem!), Karnak, and Luxor Temples. The following day we went to Dendera, a lovely and intact temple dedicated to Hathor, with much of the original color still apparent, and then some of the Nobles Tombs that are nearly pristine! amazing! In the evening I visited to meditate at the mosque of Yusuf Abu al-Hajjaj, a sufi saint from the 12th century built on the grounds of Luxor Temple.

    On to Aswan the following day, with stops at Edfu and Koum Omo (sp?). We stayed at the Anakata Nubian House in a Nubian village on the west bank at the north end of town, very quiet and beautiful.

    I've run out of time, so... to be continued.

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    We're back from our trip in October-November, and it was fantastic! Our tour operator in Tanzania was great - Shidolya Safari Tours totally saved our vacation time after we missed a flight (and therefore a day) from South Africa. The rearranged our itinerary and completely preserved our reservations at no extra cost, even though they were at a low price to start with. I'll post our travelogue below.

    We started off in South Africa at Ezulwini's private reserve contiguous to Kruger National Park. We were gifted with a 5 night stay at about 1/4 normal cost by a friend who won it in a charity auction; it turned out just about everyone we met there had also bought their Ezulwini's safaris through charity auctions - odd. We went on morning and evening game drives in open Land Cruisers with bench seats. It was the end of the dry season, and the scrub was pretty bleak, but the wildlife was plentiful and accessible. The lodges were very beautiful and the food much better than I expected, so we could bear the rigors of the game drives without too much strife. They have viewing decks built out from the main lodges, where we could see elephants and giraffes and baboons and crocodiles and birds and vervets. On the game drives we saw hippos and rhinos and lions and a leopard and elephants (including a charge!) and impala and Thompson's gazelles, waterbuck, diko diko, wildebeasts, zebras... most of the range of animals except Cape buffalow, black rhino and cheetahs. We were able to follow a lone leopard for about 10 minutes! What a treat to see the sensual way they move. Our host Lawrence Saad was welcoming and gracious and shared his unique dug-in wine cellar with us. There were generally only 6 or 7 of us in a jeep and never more than 2 or 3 at any one sighting, usually just us.

    After our flight snafu, we got to Kilimanjaro airport early, early AM. Priscus met us and brought us to a small lodge at the entrance to Arusha NP for a little sleep before heading to the Shidolya office, where we were so pleased to learn that Philo had done a workaround to preserve our itinerary. I'll say it again - Shidolya was fantastic!

    First stop: Tarangire NP for 2 nights at Kirurumu tented camp. We had hoped for Whistling Thorn, but I have no complaints about Kirurum; the accomodations and meals were excellent, and one night we had an elephant in camp. In some ways, Tarangire was our favorite park, probably because of the green around the river and bogs, while everything elsewhere was dry and grayish brown. We was huge numbers of elephants and game ungulates, as well as cheetahs, giraffes, and lions, including a mating pair. Again, we were lucky to see a leopard lazing in a tree.

    We toured Lake Manyara NP on our way to Ngorongoro Crater, staying 1 night in the Kirurumu Lake Manyara lodge, which is sculpted into a hillside overlooking Lake Manyara. Delightful. We liked Lake Manyara; part of the park is a lush forest with clear running streams due to the groundwater runoff from Ngorongoro. At this time of year it wasn't great for seeing flamingos, but we had a great visit with a large troop of baboons and some vervet monkeys.

    Our lodge for 2 nights at Ngorongoro Crater was the Serena rock-faced building, with incredible views into the cauldera. The crater floor was dry and tan, and the wildlife a little more scarce than we'd heard, but still it was a super experience. I can only imagine what it must be like when transformed to green! Not to be repetitive, but we saw most of the list of animals except for rhinos and cheetahs and leopards, I guess. We're not serious birders, but we really enjoyed learning about so many different birds; we must have seen 4 or 5 different sorts of eagles, bustards, hornbills, superb starlings, vultures, secretary birds, ostriches, Egyptian geese, helmeted guinea fowl, white headed buffalow weavers, etc. We felt so grateful for this experience, punctuated by streaming shafts of lights streaking down through the clouds to illuminate the cauldera floor.

    Next, Serengiti. We stayed 3 nights at the Serena Mbuzi Mawe tented camp, which is beautiful and serene and home to kilpspringers (seriously cute!) and hyrax. Two male lions had a fight at the edge of Camp one morning. As it turned out, we were kind of distant from the best game viewing areas (the Seronera area) for this time of year, but that was our fault; I pushed for the Mbuzi Mawe camp based on very positive reviews (that were justified). Still, we saw a lot going to and returning from Seronera, and the Serengeti is definately the most amazing animal environment we saw in Africa. We had thought about not going there, and we weren't really interested in seeing the migration, but boy, are we glad we did. We had an especially wonderful afternoon with a herd (?) of giraffes, where we felt like we merged with their community - so gentle and quiet! We saw a LOT of lions, including a pride of lionesses and their cubs eating a kill, another similar pride resting and scoping out game, a mating pair, and 3 old males finishing off a zebra meal. Two separate times we saw different pairs of leopards in trees, one time with a meal of gazelle. Of course we got to develop our love affair with elephants, glad to see how many babies there were and how careful and protective they are of their young. Speaking of yound, we also saw baby warthogs! A pair of jackels were lurking around, but mama warthog kept a close watch. For the first time we also saw hyena, coming too late to a lion's kill site. Our good fortune with finding such a vast variety of animals and birds was, of course, due to Priscus' great vision and knowledge. The list of sightings is just too long to itemize....

    Priscus took us to the Seronera airport, and we took our leave, flying to Mahale NP across the country at Lake Tanganyika. We had 4 nights at the Greystoke camp in an amazing thatched roof banda made out of salvaged wood from boats. Wow. Shidolya somehow booked us there instead of Kungwe (which was on our original invoice), maybe for scheduling reasons, but I think it was a significant upgrade at no extra cost to us. Greystoke is incredible, right on the beach. There was a resident juvenile pelican that had appeared after a storm a couple of weeks earlier, that the Camp manager was trying to teach to fly! I befriended the camp cook and learned a little about local spicing (Indian influenced).

    But Mahale is all about chimpanzees. We trekked out to see them 3 days, and on the last two days we found a small group after about an hour fairly strenuous hike. With surgical masks in place, we got 1 hour with the chimps each day. We couldn't approach closer than 15 meters, but if they moved towards us, that's ok. Several times, some chimps walked right by us, almost touching our pants. We saw lots of grooming activity, and very dear connections between mothers and kids. And lots of PLAY, too. It is disturbing, though, to read and hear about some horrible things high ranking chimps sometimes do to rivals, females and babies.... As human's closest evolutionary link, we had to wonder how the primates took such a turn toward savagery. Fortunately, we didn't see anything like that, so we just have some sweet memories.

    We hopped on a small plane to Kilimanjaro, caught Ethiopian Air, and via Addis Ababa ended up in Cairo. It was a rude awakening to be back in the urban world! We expecially felt like fresh meat for the touts as we floundered around the airport at 2 am. After missing our flight in South Africa, we had been in touch with Debbie (Miss Casual Cairo), and she was wonderful in helping us shift our hotel reservation in Cairo on arrival night. We were pretty incommunicado during safari time, but through text messages and some emails, she was able to shift our night for us. Since the Morsi trial was to begin the day we arrived, we left Cairo to fly to Luxor at noon that same day, and we arranged with Debbie for a guide our first day in Luxor. That was a good decision; we were able to relax in the slower pace and cleaner air of Luxor. Debbie had recommended a small, older, simple (and inexpensive) hotel that was just fine for our 4 night stay. We toured the Valley of the Kings, Hetsupshet's Temple, Medina Habu, and the workers village that first day. We never was more than a couple dozen other tourists (at the King's tombs), and we were alone at the other sights save for a handful of tourists at Hetsepshut's temple.

    Unfortunately, we didn't get along very well with our first guide, Mamdouh. We felt like he was lecturing us rather than engaging us, and he seemed distracted and almost disinterested. We switched to a different guide recommended in the forums, Hassany at Love Egypt Tours. Although it was a difficult decision to make after all the help Debbie had given us, Hassany's guide Abdul was enthusiastic and really brought the Luxor temples and tombs alive in a way that hadn't happened with Mamdouh. We saw the Luxor Museum (a little gem!), Karnak, and Luxor Temples. The following day we went to Dendera, a lovely and intact temple dedicated to Hathor, with much of the original color still apparent, and then some of the Nobles Tombs that are nearly pristine! amazing! In the evening I visited to meditate at the mosque of Yusuf Abu al-Hajjaj, a sufi saint from the 12th century built on the grounds of Luxor Temple.

    On to Aswan the following day, with stops at Edfu and Koum Omo (sp?). We stayed at the Anakata Nubian House in a Nubian village on the west bank at the north end of town, very quiet and beautiful.

    I've run out of time, so... to be continued.

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