Trip Report Safari 2011 Tanzania
Lake Manyara, Ndutu, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater
This was my seventh safari, been going every year since 2005. Mostly to South Africa but also a few camps in Zambia, Kenya, and Botswana.
Here’s bottom line, if you like really short trip reports - This my first safari in Tanzania and very glad I went. I would go back to Ngorongoro Crater, but likely not to the other places.
My entry into Tanzania was Kilimanjaro (JRO), then straight to Arusha. From leaving home (California USA) to Arusha African Tulip hotel, took 32 hours. I flew on Delta and KLM, cost (LAX-JRO) was $1,800. Four members of our group from USA (Colorado) choose to break this up by staying overnight in Amsterdam then AMS to JRO flight next day.
My basic itinerary was –
Feb 14th Arrive JRO airport, over night Arusha, African Tulip hotel.
15th another night at African Tulip
16th Safari - Drive to Lake Manyara, Lake Manyara Serena Lodge
17th Lake Manyara Serena
18th To Ndutu Safari Lodge
19th Ndutu Safari Lodge
20th Ndutu Safari Lodge
21st Ndutu Safari Lodge
22nd Ndutu Safari Lodge
23rd To Serengeti, Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge
24th Serengeti Serena Lodge
25th To Ngorongoro Crater, Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
26th Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
27th One more early drive Ngorongoro
This ends the group safari, four persons return home. Another fellow and I stay 3 nights longer.
27th Yes, back to Ndutu, Ndutu Safari Lodge
28th Ndutu Lodge
Mar 1st To Manyara National Park, night at Lake Manyara Serena Lodge
Mar 2nd Morning game drive Manyara, lunch at Serena Lodge, drive back to Arusha, hotel African Tulip day room to clean-up, flight out later pm from JRO.
Yes, I arrived Arusha, African Tulip, a day early which is the way I like to start a safari after a very long tiring journey over, 32 hours door-to-door. The safari operator was Roy Safaris Arusha, cost of the basic safari, Feb15 through Feb 27, 12 days on safari, 13 nights, was $5,300 (including at the African Tulip at each end). My three night, four day, extension added another $1,000. This cost is no secret, is was published on a web site. Also, must say that this cost included three safari vehicles and three guides for the six of us. And all park fees, etc.
The safari was organized by Roger Clark. He has a wonderful web site with a wealth of photography knowledge and information you will find nowhere else. Also some mighty fine photos. http://www.clarkvision.com/ . Roger is a world renowned scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). A gentleman, scholar, and photographer you would be happy to know. Susan, his charming wife, was his vehicle and room companion. They had been on very similar safaris in 2007 and 2009. Also, from Colorado, were Kelly and Christoph. And from Sweden, a fine fellow, Per, who I shared a vehicle and room with. Per was with Roger and Susan on the 2009 safari. I had not before “shared” a safari with a stranger so was a little apprehensive. But Per and I got along very well, could not have been much better.
Yes, six of us in three vehicles. Only two photographers per vehicle. Most other photo safaris have three per vehicle. In addition, Roy Safaris has safari vehicles special made, stretched. They are based on a Toyota pickup truck bed that is lengthened by 3 feet then a cab/passenger section built. The top is open and can be the typical hard pop-top on four corner supports. Or, that top comes off and you have a totally open top that if needs covering has a roll back canvas. And this totally open top is the way we used it. This my first experience with open top, stand-up/sit-down vehicles. Every one of my other game drives (around 150) have been in the totally open Land Rover types so common in South Africa safari camps. Which type do I prefer? The Roy Safari type for all the driving (hours) we had to do between safari camps. And it worked ok for photography – for me. If you don’t have to drive hours on a dusty rough road, then I prefer the open Land Rover type because you feel more “out in the open”, more “vulnerable” when close to lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo. But the Land Rover presents other difficulties to photographers with big lenses that need support.
And talking about photography, one of my joys of safari is trying to get good photos. I used Nikon DSLRs with at 300mm lens being the longest. I also shot video using a Canon S5. Kelly also used Nikon. Cristoph shot HD video, Canon. Roger and Per used Canon DSLR with mostly 300mm or 500mm lens. Susan did not take photos. In Ngorongoro Crater a rain shower shut down my primary Nikon DSLR body so I was very glad I had another as back up. I have 43 shots up on my smugmug site. About half are “record” shots and I hope the others are simply good photos in themselves.
http://tomgraham.smugmug.com/SAFARI2011TANZANIA . Click on the thumbnail. (photos from previous safaris also on smugmug).
Lake Manyara National Park, Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge -
Our three vehicles left Arusha on the smooth wide asphalt road at 8:30am and we got to Lake Manyara National Park about 2 hours later. Checked in at the Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge, a nice comfortable room and a nice buffet lunch. At 3pm - our first this safari game drive!! We would have six more there, that is, morning and afternoon the next day and morning of the third day. And then our overnight stop there on the way back in to Arusha. Our morning game drives left early before the Lodge breakfast buffets so we took a box breakfast. Leaving early with a box breakfast was typical for the whole safari. The Big Five at Lake Manyara – saw elephants four times, no herds, just a couple together. Except for a few buffalo very far away, none of the other big 5, no cats. The closest we could get to Lake Manyara itself was probably 300 yards/meters. No vehicle off-roading, the Lake comes to you, you not to it. Off-road driving is not permitted in the Park so you see what comes to you near the road. What we saw the most of were baboons and vervet monkeys. I mean, seeing a troop of each every hour. I took many photos of the baboons and vervets but none I like. And birds, lots of birds. My favorite photos are of two Dik-diks very close to the road and very relaxed. And one of the “Little Five” a leopard tortoise.
Our guide said – “it is said that Lake Manyara is for beginners and birders”. And that’s the way I see Lake Manyara. An easy drive out of Arusha, an exciting game drive, if, if, it is your very first ever game drive ever. I would skip Lake Manyara next time and continue further west, i.e. Ngorongoro Crater, Ndutu, Serengeti, etc.
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Trip Report Safari 2011 Tanzania