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Trip Report Trip Report for Kenya / Tanzania / Zanzibar - Sept. 4-25, 2008

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Trip Report for Kenya / Tanzania / Zanzibar - Sept. 4-25, 2008

This is my attempt of a Trip Report, outlining some thoughts/highlights of our Sept. trip.

Tour Operator: African Horizons (booked through Trek Escapes in Canada).

Itinerary:
Sept 5-6 Arrival in Nairobi from Canada. Jacarenda Hotel.
Sept 7. Serena Mountain Lodge
Sept. 8-9 Samburu Serena Lodge
Sept. 10 - Lake Nakaru Lodge
Sept. 11-12 Serena Mara Lodge
Sept. 13 - Speke Bay
Sept. 14-15 Serena Serengeti Lodge
Sept. 16 Serena Ngorongoro Lodge
Sept. 17 - Serena Lake Manyara Lodge
Sept. 18 - Ol' Tukai Lodge (Amboseli)
Sept. 19-22 Zanzibar - Ocean Paradise Beach Resort
Sept. 23 - Stonetown Serena
Sept. 24-25 Back home to Canada.

Pictures can be located at:
http://community.webshots.com/user/Jo_Witham

4 of us travelling, all first time visitors on safari.

Sept. 4-5 Flight from Edmonton to Nairobi (NWA / KLM via Minneapolis/Amsterdam). Long flight but the anticipation of the upcoming trip kept the flight bearable. Good inflight movies, meals weren't too bad. Arrived in Nairobi approx. 8:30pm and were met by our tour operator and taken to the Jacarenda Hotel. Hard mattresses and Disco music from across the street made for an interesting night of sleeping. Service and restaurants were wonderful.

Sept. 7 - Met by our Tour Rep (Patrick #1) and our Tour Guide/Driver (Patrick #2). We were anticipating meeting 2 other people that were going to be travelling along the same tour as us but we found out at this time that they had rebooked onto another tour and that it was just going to be the 4 of us. Woo-hoo....private tour!!!! The 2 Patricks then outlined the upcoming trip and then we were off. Patrick (#2) made us feel at ease very quickly. He quickly dubbed us the Royalty tour since we had my mom, Elizabeth (who he called Queen Elizabeth) and family friend Diana (Princess Diana) in the vehicle. We headed to the Serena Mountain Lodge. Very comfortable setting. Really enjoyed the balconies overlooking the watering hole. No problems with monkeys visiting the balconies at all. We had a pleasant surprise, returning for bed after supper, finding hot-water bottles in the beds under the sheets. Very nice touch. Watching the water hole gave us a small sampling of what to come... Elephants, Defassa Waterbuck, Cape Buffaloe, Egyptian Geese, and a Warthog. During the evening, at the feeding station, we saw a spotted Gennet.

Sept. 8/9 - Up at 6:30am, to watch the beautiful sunrise over Mt. Kenya. Then on the roads. On the drive down from the lodge, came across Sykes Monkies, Burchell's Zebras, Thomsons Gazelles, and yellow billed Storks. We did make a short stop along way, at the Equator, and did view the 'Water goes one way...Water goes another way' demonstration. We were then off to Samburu National Park. This was our official introduction to the ROADS and dust! A definite JAMBO!!!! It was during this drive to the Serena Lodge that we got our first taste of WOW... we are really on Safari. Look... there's giraffes to the left... Look... zebras!!!! Oh MY!!! Look... more elephants!!! Yes... I think the proper description of us at this point, is "Hooked... line and sinker"!!!! We've caught the Safari bug! (Glad we didn't have a shot/prescription for it!). Once we entered the Samburu game reserve, we came across Reticulated giraffes, Somali Ostrich, Gerenuks, Oryx, Gazelles, Impalas, Dik-diks, Herons, and Bateleur Eagle. We arrived at the Samuburu Serena Lodge for lunch. We really enjoyed the Samburu Serena Lodge. Very comfortable, friendly and good service, excellent meals. We enjoyed watching a young Masai warrior named Tisa, keeping a vigilent watch out for naughty baboons and monkeys, having his sling-shot at the ready. The afternoon game-drive highlights included: watching a young giraffe run across the road in front of us, kicking out at the vehicle, even though we were a good 40-50 feet away, (naughty) baboons, more elephants, giraffes, and Cory Buzzards. It was during this afternoon game drive that I had one of my 'Moments' which will stay with me. We were sitting with the vehicle off and Patrick softly talking to us as a small herd of elephants came out of some bush, walking past us, on both sides of the vehicle, and slowly enter some other bush. I think it was then I was telling myself...WOW.. I'm really here.. It's not a dream. The following morning game drive provided lots more excitement: watching a cheetah cross a stream.... not liking her feet getting wet... . flattening her ears, sensing something else further down the river. After we watched her for a while, we went to see what she smelled and found our first lions, resting in the bush; Lots of Dik-dik's, which I wanted to take home, but alas, the wife advised me that if she couldn't take the cheetah or any lion cubs home, I'm out of luck with the dik-diks. We saw another warthog (Pumba), which I quickly developed a kinship with. Patrick told us that they nickname the Warthogs 'Pumbas' due to their short attention span. It seems that they tend to 'Forget' why they may be running away from something and after a short time, they just stop and start grazing. I said, 'Welcome to my world!!!! I typically walk from one room to another, intent on doing something...but... forgetting what I was going there for... now...what was I typing???? Yes... Pumba's are close to my heart. Other sightings included Ostrich, Buffaloe, Topi, giraffes, elephants,

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    Sept 10 - Drive to Lake Nakuru - Back onto the wonderful roads! =) We asked Patrick for an opportunity to stop at a school that he felt would appreciate us dropping of a package of school supplies, children books, pens/pencils, calculator, etc. He had us stop at a Christian school that was primarily for children of Single mothers in Nanyuki. We arrived while the classrooms were occupied with ages 3-6 year old children and they were thrilled with our arrival. I'm not sure if it was due to us interrupting their studies, or not, but...that's fine. =) They were very eager to show us their notebooks, holding up their lessons of the day for us to see. Their faces just beamed with pride. They sang a song for us, and then it was time for us to continue on. One highlight was watching my wife get mobbed by 10 of the kids, all eager to give hugs. If was quite something to watch. As we continued on towards Lake Nakuru, we came across some of the more interesting road conditions. We passed an area where big, and I mean BIG vehicles had slipped off the road, and were in the process of being pulled out. Luckily, our capable driver, Patrick, was able to navigate around these obstacles with no incidents. It was funny, when Patrick would say, 'Don't worry Princess Diana!.. I will tell you when to worry!!!'. En-route to Nakuru, we stopped at Thompson Falls for our Box lunches, and through a town Nyandaru. This town had a snowfall about 2 weeks prior to our arrival, which was very unusal. Lots of mud all around, when we drove through. Upon arrival of Lake Nakuru park, we did a game drive, prior to heading to the lodge. The highlights here were seeing all of the Flamingos, storks, and Pelicans along the water edges. Seeing a number of them swoop down and up from the water was quite impressive. One sad moment but still memorable, was driving past a Zebra mare guarding her still-born foal. I'm sure you all know how skittish Zebras are when vehicles come near. This poor mother was standing her ground, protecting her young one, even with us 15 feet away. We passed on our condolences to her and moved on. It was here in this park we also found the White Rhino and had our Leopard sighting. The leopard was quite a distance, and I still don't know how Patrick found it, but there he was...resting in a tree. More baboons (Naughty baboons), dik-diks (even some trios of Tom/Dik/and Harry's), elephants, giraffes, etc. The lodge was average. We found lighting in the dining room to be on the sparse side and it was very hard to see what was being offered.

    Sept. 11. - Drive onto the Masa Mara - The roads remained... 'Interesting'... Mom embarassed me by asking the other ladies if they had their Sport bras on. Patrick laughed, when I said...'Oh MOM!!!!!' Once we entered the park, Patrick looked for his private Umbrella Acacia tree, so we could have our picnic lunch. He warned us that occassionally it might be occupied by the locals (human and lion). We found it available, and had a wonderfullunch, high up on a hill, overlooking the vast Masa Mara. Wildebeasts and Zebras dotting the landscape everywhere. Yes, the Migration was still all around and it was spectacular to see. We included an afternoon game drive along the way to the Serena Lodge. It was during this drive we came across 2 lioness's with their 4 cubs. They were walking down a small hill, from where we were parked. The mothers decided to lay down about 40 feet away, and one of the cubs decided to investigate us out. He came right up to the bumper of the vehicle, sniffed, looked up at me in the passenger seat, and thought, 'Meh... canned food'... and headed off to mom. The cubs promptly starting playing. It Was very entertaining.
    After a while, we continued on our way, and saw many more lions. We counted 20 different lions in total that day alone. Along the way, we had to cross the Mara river. This was quite a sight. There were a couple dead Wildabeast floating down. Hippos, crocodiles, storks, all near as well. Very impressive. We continued onto the Mara Serena lodge. We had a very enjoyable stay. Comfortable rooms, good service and very good food. I loved the soups, at pretty well all of the lodges. The Mara Serena Lodge is an interpretation of a traditional Maasai Manyatta village of domed huts.

    Sept. 12. - Up bright and early... well, maybe just early...for our Morning Balloon safari. We were met at the lodge at 5:45AM, by the company running the Balloon Safari and taken down to the launch site. Excitement grew, as they started filling the balloon. They allowed Mom to climb into the basket, while it was on its side, since it was easier to get in. I asked, due to my size, eyesight not being the greatest in darkness, and overall Clumbsiness, that I get in early too, and the pilot said go for it! Shortly after that, we were up, up, and away. It was an exhilerating feeling. The weather conditions were definitely in our favor that morning. Light winds took us towards the river and allowed us to follow the river. We saw lots of different gazelles, zebras, hippos, crocodiles, and topis, two of which were fighting. My first reaction was, boy, that would be good footage for a Headache remedy commercial. Also, no cat sightings, while on the actual flight.
    Now, I was a little worried about the landings, after reading about other similiar balloon flights where the baskets tip over, and get dragged for several yards. But we had a near picture perfect landing today, due to the light wind conditions. Our pilot, JP, had no issues what-so-ever and found a safe spot, close to the pick-up vehicles. Out we climbed, and then watched JP lift the balloon up one more time, to allow the workers to easily move the basket onto the trailer. Then, into the vehicles, to be taken to our breakfast site for champagne/OJ, omellettes, fruit, pasteries, etc. JP toasted the group, for a successful flight. We then had an optional morning game drive with their guide. It was during this drive we came across a recent lion kill. Lioness's were feeding on a wildebeest, with vultures in the background. We came across our first spotted hyena. Our driver then headed up towards some hills, and we found a group of Male lions, one with a black mane. The lion with the black mane, was already lying in the shade of a tree, and the others were approaching him, rubbing foreheads in greeting. It was interesting watching a couple of the younger males ignore him, and just 'Mark the area' and then lay down. I thought...hmmm... you better watch it, or you're going to get your ears boxed soon. Then it was back to the lodge, where we met up with Patrick. He had us out in the vehicle right away and back to the river, to view more Hippos and crocs, and hopefully watch some zebras and wildebeest cross the river. There were quite a few of 'Ohhhh... I think they're going to do it!!!!', but nope...they would always turn back. Patrick would say, it only takes one of them to take a chance and then they all go. Ah well.... this gives us reason to come back... as if we need a reason. =) Back to the lodge for a rest, and then afternoon game drive. Lots more lions, wonderful scenery. Patrick kept looking at the skies. The next day we were to head to the border, to start our Tanzania portion of the trip. He wanted to take the 'short-cut' route to the border, but if it rained, the roads would be very slippery and chances of getting stuck would be high. The longer route, on better roads, would add 5-6 hours to the days trip. He then said as we headed back to the lodge that he'd decide in the morning.

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    Sept. 13. Off to Tanzania. Patrick decided we would try the shortcut, since 2 other groups were going to attempt the roads as well. So, we started off at 7:30am. There was lots of fish-tailing involved, but Patrick seemed in control. We were following another mini-van that did get stuck on one area of the roads. Patrick got his rubber boots on, grabbed his tow cable and went to help get them out. Once they were out, Patrick drove us through the same area easily. We then departed the Masa Mara park and were following the roads through the hills, towards the border when we came across the same Van, hung up on a burm on the side of the road. He was REALLY stuck this time. Patrick tried hooking up a cable between our vehicles, but alas for the other driver, no luck. Patrick then came back to our vehicle and asked us if we'd mind offering the other tourists a lift to the border, and we said 'Of course not!'. But, when Patrick went to discuss that with the other guide/tourists, they decided to stay with their driver/ vehicle. So, we continued on...white knuckled, since the roads were still wet and slippery. At one point, we were travelling through a town and I was noticing the tough time people had trudging through the muck while they were bringing their goods into market. An hour later, we were pulling into the border. First the 'Departing Kenya' paperwork, then we met our new driver, 'Ally', and then the 'Entering Tanazania' paperwork. Goodbyes to Patrick, and into the green Landrover. 'Ally' was quiet at first, but very likeable. I found it very enjoyable, making him laugh. Ally had a laugh that shook his whole body. He laughed from the heart, and stomach, which I do as well. =) Anyways, it wasn't too long of a drive, to Speke Bay, which was our stop for the day. We were still in time for lunch. Then an afternoon of relaxing. The lodgings here were quite nice. Very roomy cabins, right alongside Lake Victoria. Lots of birds, nice long beach, friendly staff. We even came across a blue bumblebee. Very interesting to see. We had a nice supper, and then off to bed, where we soundly slept, after the stressful drive earlier.

    Sept. 14-15 - Ally said, sleep in!!! No driving until 9:00AM. Well, the birds had us up shortly after 6:00. No complaints though, since we it was so peaceful and enjoyable next to the lake. Breakfast, and then in the vehicle at 9:00 and off to the Serengeti. One of the first things I noticed were the Black and Purple flags in the trees. Ally advised us that they were Tse-tse fly traps. Supposedly, the usually get replaced every 3-4 months. We did experience a few bites but they weren't too terribly bad. On our way to the Serengeti Serena, we saw Impalas, Pumbas, Maasi Giraffes, spotted Hyenas, Secretary birds, a Monitor lizard, and lots of crocodiles. Arrival at the lodge, was in time for lunch. The rooms were very comfortable. The afternoon game drive was fun, due to us having a close up opportunity of 2 male cheetahs perched on a termite mound. Other sightings included some Green Love Birds, Bee-eaters, hippos, Waterbucks, and hyenas. The following morning game drive, we took out a breakfast box and ate at the Interpretive center. Here we saw many tree Hyrax. Afterwards, we saw many more lions, Kori Bustards, Hartebeasts, and elephants. Ally searched for another leopard, in the higher hills, but to no avail. Back to the lodge for lunch and rest, then an afternoon game drive that allowed a visit to a hugh hippo pool. Back to the lodge for an evening drink, supper, and early to bed.

    Sept. 16 - Morning game drive on our way out of the Serengeti. Boy, that park is huge!!! As we were heading out of the park, on our way to Ngorongoro, we came across another 2 cheetah brothers, perched on a termite mound. These two were very...VERY slim. It looked like they hadn't eaten for weeks. While we were watching them, they were constantly scanning the plains. I wanted to tell them...head further north!!!! I believe it was during this trek along the roads, we saw some of the worst road conditions on the whole trip. But, I kept saying to the group, it's all part of the adventure!!! On our way to the Ngorongoro crater, we visited the Olduvai Gorge. The small museum there was interesting and the talk giving by one of the rangers was very interesting. We then made it to the Ngorongoro crater. As Ally was slowly taking us down the decent road, he was giggling at Diana's little 'EEPS!!!!' from the seat behind us. I can hear Patrick's voice in my head saying..'Don't Worry Princess Diana... I will tell you when to worry!!!'. It was interesting seeing the Masai bringing their cattle up out of the Crater. I guess they're allowed to bring the cattle down to water them in the mornings, but have to be out by early afternoon. We had our boxed lunches down in the crater and then did a game drive around. Lots of zebra, gnu's, all kinds of different gazells, lions, elephants, and lots and lots of DUST. We headed up out of the crater and to the Ngorongoro Serena lodge in the late afternoon, in time for a shower, and watched a beautiful sunset. Dinner and off to bed. The rooms, once again, were very nice, beautifully decorated, and comfortable. Meals, very enjoyable.

    Sept. 17 - We're now off to Lake Manyara. Most of the journey was on paved roads. YAY! It was interesting driving down a hilly road, with quite a number of turns, and I noticed branches of trees placed in the middle of the road, every 10 feet. As Ally was slowing down, I asked him, what's up with the branches along the way. He said, it indicates that a vehicle has broken down somewhere along the stretch of road. A minute later, around a curve, there was the dead vehicle, on the side. We had also asked Ally, that while we were in Tanzania, we'd like an opportunity to stop at a school, to drop off some more supplies. He said we would have had a chance back in Speke Bay to stop at a school, but it was a Sunday, and none would've been open. He then asked if we'd like to donate our supplies to an orphanage in Lake Manyara. We said, 'Of Course!!!'. So, before we headed off into the Game Park, we stopped at Mtomwo Orphanage, which takes in Orphans from now deceased parents with HIV/AIDS. It was a heart wrenching experience, but we were happy being able to bring some smiles to their faces. One young boy was very proud to have blown up a balloon globe of the world, after seeing me struggle with it for a few minutes. His grin was ear-to-ear after showing me that he had done it. After a quick tour of their area and a song of Jambo Bwana, we said our good byes. We then entered the Lake Manyara park. We came across many elephants, baboons, Impalas, Greater Flamingos, Vervet Monkies, Hippos, and my buddies, Warthogs. We made it to the Lake Manyara Serena lodge in time for lunch. We had a walk and sat by the pool, enjoying the colorful birdlife. A local dance troupe did a small show and danced for us, prior to supper, which was nice. Supper and off to bed. Boy, we sound like we are old folks but these roads and fresh air really wore us out.

    Sept. 18 - Today we were off to the Namnga border, for our entry back into Kenya. Again, through the paperwork jungle, our goodbyes to Ally, and hello to Peter. Shortly after meeting Peter, we stopped for our boxed lunches and a visit of a curio shop. After the rest, we were back to some Rough 'n ready roads and dust, to Amboseli Game Park. In Peter's words, time for the free Massage because the washboard was horrendous. Once we arrived at the Game Park, we thought wow.. almost like a desert. It was very dry, desolate, windy and had numerous whirlwinds (mini-tornadoes). We did see numerous Zebras, Gerenuks, Impalas, Grant's Gazelles, Warthogs, Ostriches. Towards the center of the reserve, we got into slightly swampy areas, with more foliage. The birdlife was very extensive here, with blackmouth Plover, Sacred Ibis, Great and Cattle Egrets, Herons, and Egyptian Geese. Elephants and Hippos were a plenty in this area as well. I felt sorry for Peter, as I knew we were starting to get tired from all the travelling and asked if we could possibly start heading towards the lodge. He wanted to show us more, but understood that we had been on the road for almost 2 weeks now. Along the way towards the Ol' Tukai Lodge, we came across what I called a true definition of a toll-bridge. As we were driving up to a bridge, we saw a young Male lion lying there, head resting on the side cement railing. Peter said, well, we can't disturb him (animals have the right of way, everywhere in the parks), so we had to go down into the ditch to get around. The lion was kind enough to lift his head, when, after stopping to admire him, we started up the vehicle again. We arrived at the lodge and were quite pleased at the view of all the animals near our rooms. Washed up, and then off for drinks, and supper, and then off to bed.

    Sept. 19 - Up early at sunrise, to see if we could get an early glimpse of Mt. Kilimanjaro and we weren't disappointed. She shined her fast-shrinking glacier at us before disappearing behind the ever-present clouds. Breakfast, and then into the vehicle for our few hour drive to Nairobi. Lovely countryside and it was nice driving through the city, in daylight. Off to the Carnivore restaurant for lunch. I quite enjoyed the experience. You definitely don't want to be a vegetarian here. We did order a house specialty drink, called 'Dawa'. 2 oz. of vodka, in a short glass, with Lime wedges, ice, bit of honey, and a bamboo stick. You're to crush the limes, and mix it up with the stick. We were then served a soup, and then came the skewers of different meats. Beef, chicken, pork, all sliced onto your plates. They also offered crocodile meat, and ostrich meat-balls. Trying the different meats, with different sauces they had, was quite enjoyable. After a while, we payed off the bar bill and headed out to look for Peter. About 15 minutes later, he showed up, surprised we were out already. He said he's had some clients stay in there for another couple hours, eating as much as they could. We just laughed and said, we've been eating high off the hog for two weeks now. We had plenty. So, off to the airport we went, with plenty of time to catch our early evening flight to Zanzibar. Good bye Peter. Hello Zanzibar. We were met at the airport by the tour group rep and transfered out to Ocean Paradise Beach resort, on the North East coast of the island. Upon arrival and checkin, it was after 10:00pm. The manager of the restaurant advised us that we were still able to grab some supper, if we wanted, but we were just too tired and head off to our rooms. The rooms were HUGE! Very comfortable, and nicely decorated.

    Sept. 20-22 Three full days on the beach resort. We had paid for half-board tariffs there, and so Breakfast and Supper were included. Breakfast was very nice. Lots of different pasteries, breads, fruit, hot items, and omelette/waffle bar. The suppers were buffet styles too, with different theme evenings. During the day, we would walk the beach along the Indian Ocean, read in lounge chairs, wade in the beautiful pool, and just plain relax. It was quite enjoyable. My wife found a hammock on the last day there and had a lovely snooze in it.

    Sept. 23 - Off to Stonetown. We were picked up by the rep again, for our transfer to Stonetown. We did make arrangements to do a Spice tour along the way. We stopped at a Government-run Spice farm and was given a tour. We were able to see Tumeric, Cinnamon trees, ginger, pepper, and lemon-grass. We then had an opportunity to buy some spices and then we continued onto the Stonetown Serena Hotel. It was quite Hot and Humid, so we stuck around the hotel for the most part. Dusk brought on an invasion of moths. We were told that it was unusual for that high numbers of the pesky insects. Off to our room for room service in air-conditioned, moth-free conditions and then again, the lights went out for an early night.

    Sept. 24 - Breakfast and checked out. We sat by the pool reading until our transfer to the airport in the early afternoon. Check in took a fair bit of time but we were finally able to ensure our luggage was checked through to Canada. We paid our extra $30.00 US departure fee and then got to the security checkpoint. We were surprised at the boldness of the female security person, asking for money as our bags were searched. I told her, 'Sorry... but the departure tax was the last of the $$$'. She smiled, shrugged and waved us through. Got into Nairobi about 6:30pm, expecting our connecting flight to be leaving for Amsterdam at about 8:45pm. Well, sitting in a HOT waiting room, watching some people pass out, we were finally on our way at 11:00pm. Layover in Amsterdam for a few hours, and then off to Minniapolis. Mom was picked randomly for a luggage search there and had no problems, except for a long wait in a line-up. We had about an 8 hour layover in Minneapolis and so got a day-room at a nearby hotel where we could grab a shower and put our feet up. I still think that was a good investment. Back to the airport to catch a 9:00pm flight to Edmonton. Finally got home at about 1:30AM, on my birthday. Couldn't ask for a better B-day gift, MY BED!!!!

    All in all, this was an incredible trip. Yes...we will back one day.

    Thank you for allowing us to share this incredible experience. =)

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    Thanks for the descriptive report and photos. Sounds like you had a great time but maybe next time you should stay in once place for a little longer!!! Cut out some of the driving as it seemed rather arduous. You were lucky to get such a clear view of Mt Kenya from the Mountain Lodge and Mt Kilimanjaro.

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    How lucky to get a private safari after all. Sounds like a fun trip--and, most importantly, you appreciated all that you saw! Some of your comments remind me exactly of the wonder I felt on my first (and subsequent) trip. Your "moments" will indeed stay with you for years, if not forever.

    Thank, traveling greg, for this report. Now I am off to view your photos.

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    Hi there all. Thank you for the comments. =)

    twaffle - I agree, there was tons of travelling along the roads, and we did have times were we thought that an extra night or two would've been nice, but for myself, I'm still glad we had the opportunity of seeing Kenya and Tanzania this way first. Yes, absolutely, future trips will be as you suggest. But, to drive through the Rift Valley, or through, much of the countryside as we did, we definitely saw things we wouldn't see else where, and it did add to the trip as a whole. I do appreciate your comments though.

    Leely2 - Agreed...very lucky, on having it be just the 4 of us. And yes... those moments will reamin a long time. Thank you for the b-day wishes as well. =)

    Greg

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    Travelling_greg;

    I have a few questions.

    1. Was doing Kenya and Tanzania too much driving?

    2. Is there a name to the tour you too with Trek Escape Holidays?

    3. Did you get to see Karen Blixzen's place in Kenya or does this require coming into Kenya a day earlier.?

    4. When did you plan( months in advance) and finally book your trip with Trek Escape.?

    5. Were the roads that bad because of some rainfall ..or are they just dusty and rough.?

    6. Is going to Zanzibar better at the beginning or end of the Safari.?

    Thank you for a great report.

    Percy

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    Hi Percy

    I'll try and answer the best I can.

    1) I will admit that yes, there were a lot of miles/kilos put on, with all of the travelling. A couple of days, we were on the roads 6 hours or so, which included stops for box lunches, and bathroom/curio shop breaks. I think there were 2 or 3 days which involved drives of this length. Am I glad we did travel throughout the two countries this way? Yes, as I feel we saw quite a bit of these countries, that you wouldn't flying from park to park. IMO, for us as first time visitors, us seeing Kenya / Tanzania this method of travelling, was fine.

    2) The tour we booked for ourselves was called the Kiboko Lodge Tour.

    3) We flew into Nairobi a day earlier, prior to the Safari starting. We're very glad we did this, as it did help get over some of the Jet lag. No, we didn't get to Karen Blixzen's, unfortunately. The day which we had extra in Nairobi was strictly, relaxing, wandered around a shopping complex across the street from the Hotel, and sat by the pool.

    4) We started looking at brochures about a year prior to the actual trip. I was very slow off the mark, on finding this wonderful web-site, with knowledgeable people to ask questions, until after we booked our tour. =) Sounds like you're a step ahead of us, by finding this site first.

    5) The roads were mostly bad due to the rough (washboard / potholes), and dust. The only rain issues to speak of were in the Masa Mara, and the day we drove to Lake Nakuru, for a short period of time. Not due to the actual rain, but due to the roads being slick and muddy.

    6) I would highly suggest that you book Zanzibar or maybe even Mombasa at the end of your Safari. It really is a wonderful way of catching a persons breath, and relaxing. The beaches on Zanzibar are wonderful, the weather is warm (though a bit humid), and the resorts are pleasant.

    Hope this helps, Percy.

    Greg

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    Enjoyed your report!

    Just got back and that Zanzibar luggage security thing seems to be standard procedure. You are basically alone their with the scanning person and he accuses you of having seashells in your bag and says Tip.
    About half of us paid up.

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    Thank You very much Travelling_greg your information was very helpful.

    Did you have any trouble in Zanzibar with luggage!!?? as irecommend has just mentioned !?

    Sounds like a very long flight from Edmonton to Minneapolis to Amsterdam and then alllll the way to Kenya..but you made it and back!!

    Congratulations and once again Thank You very much

    Percy

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    Phew! Just reading that wore me out. I doubt anyone really thought you sounded "old" when you went to bed early!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences and welcome to the addiction. This is the methadone clinic.

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    Percy
    Travellin_greg says
    We were surprised at the boldness of the female security person, asking for money as our bags were searched. I told her, 'Sorry... but the departure tax was the last of the $$$'. She smiled, shrugged and waved us through.

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    Travelling Greg

    "He wanted to take the 'short-cut' route to the border, but if it rained, the roads would be very slippery and chances of getting stuck would be high. The longer route, on better roads, would add 5-6 hours to the days trip. He then said as we headed back to the lodge that he'd decide in the morning."

    I am hoping that you can give me more detail about the short cut. My husband I will be making the same drive (on a self-drive basis, with no guide) between Maasai Mara and Speke Bay in July and I wasn't aware that there was a short cut. Are you able to give me more details (highway #'s, which towns you passed through, where you crossed the border) about the route you followed (the short cut) and which you avoided (the longer one)? Thanks! Robin

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    Hi Percy. Yes, as irecommend stated, we did have to go through the 'Wringer' of sorts, and there was an attempt by the security people at the Zanzibar airport, for 'Tips' while they were searching our carry on. As for the camera, most of the photo's seen on Webshots were taken by my wife. She uses a Canon Rebel XTi. The lens was a Sigma 18-200 mm. Myself, I was using an Olympus Accura (35mm - with film). As for the 'Point and shoot' I enjoy it. I'm one that emjoys the spur of the moment photos... i.e. like the ones at the school that we visited.

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    Thanks again Greg.
    I was going to do the same tour that you did earlier this year.....but you know what happened.!!

    Riots ,fires , killings, Kenya was in turmoil..so I spent the summer touring Europe instead.

    Planning to go in 2009

    Percy

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    Hi Robin. I'll try and answer as best as I can. By the way, my wife says you're far braver than we are. =)

    We were staying at the Serena Mara Lodge, which is #6, on this map: http://www.shoortravel.com/masaimaramap.html
    We headed North to Oloolola Gate. Then if you go to this map: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/kenya/masai-mara-national-reserve/
    ...we think we went onto the road marked as C13, which took us to A1, which is the main road down to the border, and the town of Isibania.
    Please remember, we were not really paying attention much to road signs, or names of towns during the drive. The roads were quite slick/muddy, and I was just watching the immediate front, white-knuckled... and let our guide/driver Patrick do his thing. I do remember as we passed through a larger town.. (and I'm only assuming it was Lolgorien, which is on the 2nd map), and watching all the people walking into town with their wares for the Saturday Market. These people were covered head to toe in mud.

    Just a comment about the border town Isabania. When our guide drove up to one of the gates, that took us into the Kenyian side of Immigration, he was apprached by... I'll say, Municipality Representatives. They were collecting a tariff of $150 Kenyan Shillings, to enter this immirgration area. Patrick tried arguing saying he was told that 'Tour Vans' were supposed to be exempt..etc, but they wouldn't hear any of it. So he just paid. It wasn't much, but still something you may want to be aware of.

    Sorry, for not being more precise, but do hope this is a bit helpful.

    Greg

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    Thanks Greg! That is most helpful! The route that you followed is the one (I think) that we will be taking - the C13 through Lolgorieo to Suna on the A1 and then south - but I thought that was the main route, not a shortcut. Sounds like the road(s) was rather appalling. I hadn't anticipated such muddy conditions - I was expecting dust! Was the A1 at least tar? This could be one of the more challenging legs of our journey. I think your wife is being a tad too kind - crazier rather than braver might be a better description! :-) Robin

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    Hi Robin. Well, I was just going by the way our guide 'Patrick' described it. The route out of the Mara park took us fairly high up into the hills. This was all dirt roads. C31, or whatever that particular road is, was mostly dirt (...or rather MUD in our case that day...) the whole way to A1. Once we reached 'A1', it was pavement...with the occassional pot-hole, of course. =)

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    Hi again.

    We stayed at the Mara Serena for 2 nights. During that time, we did see a couple showers, during the afternoon game drives. One evening, it did rain about 3 hours, fairly steadily.. or atleast that we were told by some of the staff...as we slept through it. =) Just enough to keep some areas of the roads..well... fairly slick, and muddy, and difficult to get through. Patrick was worried about one area along the route out of the park...he said that it usually is fairly bad, when it rains. Another area he voiced concern about was along C13, after you leave the gates, but before you get to that first major town. So, Robin... all I can suggest, is hope for no, or little rain, during your stay? =)

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    I noticed the wet conditions as well. Seems like there was lots of water for the time of year you were there. You even got to play tow truck a few times.

    Your over and back itinerary is clever.

    A stream crossing cheetah is very exciting, plus all the other cheetah action!

    Your balloon trip is one of the most wildlife filled I've seen described.

    Thanks for an enthusiastic, well written report.

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