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Trip Report: Tanzania & Kenya June 2008

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Ground Operators: Kibo Guides – Tanzania, Nature Expeditions – Kenya
Guides: Abraham, Astarick & Athumani – Tanzania, James & Benson, driver – Kenya
Type: OAT group tour “Safari Serengeti” with the Masai Mara extension – First time on safari, but seasoned travelers
Itinerary:
Fri., June 6: USA to Arusha, Tz.
Sat., June 7: Arrive Arusha – Olasiti Lodge
Sun., June 8: Arusha - Olasiti Lodge - morning visit to Mama Anna’s & afternoon visit to a potter.
Mon., June 9: Arusha to Lake Manyara area – Maramboi Tented Camp - afternoon game drive in Tarangire Nat’l Park
Tues., June 10: Lake Manyara area – Maramboi Tented Camp - morning & afternoon game drive in Tarangire Nat’l Park
Wed., June 11: Lake Manyara to Ngorongoro Crater – Ngorongoro Farm House - morning visit Maasai village & afternoon tour of the farm grounds
Thurs., June 12: Ngorongoro Crater - Ngorongoro Farm House - all day crater game drive with picnic lunch at the hippo pool.
Fri., June 13: Ngorongoro Crater to Serengeti – mobile tent camp at Rongai Camp #1 - morning Bashay Karatu Primary School & game viewing on way to the Serengeti.
Sat., June 14: Serengeti - Rongai Camp #1 - morning & afternoon game drive.
Sun., June 15: Serengeti - Rongai Camp #1 - all day game drive with picnic lunch.
Mon., June 16: Serengeti - Rongai Camp #1 - all day game drive with picnic lunch.
Tues., June 17: Serengeti to Ngorongoro Crater - Ngorongoro Farm House - via Oldupai Gorge, afternoon Karatu village in search of banana beer.
Wed., June 18: Ngorongoro Farm House to Arusha – lunch at Olasiti Lodge then continue on to Nairobi. Overnight at the Stanley Hotel.
Thurs., June 19: Nairobi to Masai Mara – Nyumbu Tented Camp - morning flight to Masai Mara afternoon game drive.
Fri., June 20: Masai Mara - Nyumbu Tented Camp - morning & afternoon game drive.
Sat., June 21: Masai Mara - Nyumbu Tented Camp - all day game drive with picnic lunch.
Sun., June 22: Masai Mara - morning game drive with picnic breakfast, afternoon flight to Nairobi, return flight to the USA.
Mon., June 23: Arrive USA.

I would like to thank all of the people who were kind enough to answer all of my many questions.

Our tour was comprised of Peggy & Bill, our friends, DH & me along with 9 other people whose ages ranged from 12 to 74 in Tanzania. There were just the 4 of us on the Masai Mara extension in Kenya. We took turns riding with each guide and with each other. Two vehicles had 4 people plus the driver & the 3rd had 5 people plus the driver.

- I used “THE” packing list as a guide to make ours.
-We each took one OAT’s carry-on and one backpack.
-Had laundry done at the camp/lodge.
-The camera was a. Canon S5. The camera advice was invaluable. Practice, practice, practice and learn how to use your camera before you leave home.
-Made & took a “beanbag”, the size of a hardcover book, stuffed with buckwheat hulls which weighed in at 8 oz.
-Took soap from Herbaria, used for bathing, shampoo& shaving cream.
-Take more money than you think you will need.

There are quite a few pictures, which are divided into:
animals - http://tinyurl.com/4tov8y
people, place & misc. - http://tinyurl.com/4rzr8l
lodging - http://tinyurl.com/4uk45a


Highlights:
June 8 & 9: At the Olasiti Lodge our wake up call both mornings came at 4:30 am in the form of a rooster who obviously did not know the proper crowing etiquette, which is, you wait until the sky starts to show some color, then at about 5:30 am or so the local Mosque had their call to prayer. We really didn’t need to leave a wake-up call.

June 9:
1-On our way to Tarangire for our first game drive, we stopped to watch a beautiful Datoga girl, 15 y.o., (their pictures are in the people folder) and her younger sister & brother herding their goats. Athumani asked if we could take their pictures and while doing so the 12 y.o. and her 14 y.o. sister got out of their vehicle. It was interesting to watch the facial expressions on the Datoga girl’s face as she looked at the two American girls.

2-Maramboi Tented Camp, I was peacefully sleeping when at 3:00 am; DH very suddenly sat straight up in bed and turned on the flashlight. When I asked him what the problem was, he said, “I think someone is trying to get in the tent.” Of course with shining a flashlight through the mosquito netting you can’t see anything. We finally determined that no one was trying to break in; rather it was a large herd of zebra that were eating the grass around our tent. It was amazing the noise that they made, chomping, shorting, passing gas & knocking up against the tent pilings. We finally got back to sleep about 4:45 am.

June 14: Serengeti-On the way back to our tents after dinner we were delayed for a while by several elephants that just ambled through camp. They definitely have the right-of-way.

June 16: Serengeti -We came across a small herd of elephants and noticed that one of the babies had a deformed, very short trunk. Abraham told us that it would probably ultimately starve, because it would not be able to feed itself with the shortened trunk. I know that that is the way of life, but how sad.

June 17:
1-OlduvaiGorge was very interesting. Our lecturer was an archeologist and made the visit.
2-Trip to Karatu in search of banana beer. We had to go to 3 places before we found one that had any to purchase. It looked, smelled & actually tasted like a large cup of yeast.
Not my “cup of tea”.

Only real glitch was when we arrived at the Nairobi Intercontinental Hotel we found that we had no rooms. It seems that there was some international conference & the government had commandeered not only our rooms, but many other also. We were taken to the Stanley, which was very nice. We were given suites instead of just a room.

Lodging & meals: the Olasiti Lodge & Ngorongoro Farmhouse were lovely places, but we preferred the tented camps. The food at all of the lodgings was very good. It is amazing what the chef could do in the Serengeti mobile tented camp. Having fresh baked bread & wonderful soups every day was wonderful. The only meal that was not good was the lunch in Arusha at a “local” place.

Guides: Our guides were very personable, knowledgeable & took excellent care of us. Astarick, Athumani & James were wonderful at spotting animals.

Game drives: We saw so many animals and for the most part we were very close. I would not have wanted to get much closer to the cats that we saw, except for the two leopards. At times we were as close as 5 to 6 ft. from them the animals. I have always been enamored with elephants & giraffe & really enjoyed just watching them.

Vehicles: Our Kibo vehicles were clean, comfortable and in good repair. The Nature Expeditions vehicle was an older model and extremely dusty/dirty on the inside. Both had clam tops. The drives/roads were not as bad as I had anticipated.

Cultural visits:
1-Mama Anna’s was visit was very good. She started this coop with help from the Heifer Foundation. We were there on Sunday and when we asked where the singing was coming from we were invited to participate in the service at the Baptist Church just up the road. It was delightful.
2-The visit to the potters was very interesting.
3-The visit to the Cultural Center was very nice & if you are into souvenirs this is the place to buy them.
4-The Tarangire Maasai Village was fun & very interesting. The ladies were very warm & welcoming. They had most of the cow & goat patties removed. They were much more prosperous than the one at the Masai Mara.
5-The visit to the Bashay Karatu Primary School was a real highlight. They do so much with so little.

This trip report somehow became much longer than I had intended it to be. I hope that I correctly identified all of the animals. If not please let me know.

This trip was truly an unforgettable adventure. The scenery was spectacular, the people so very kind and the animals… It will be difficult to ever go to a zoo again.

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