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A Long, Long Overdue Trip Report - East Africa - August and September 2008

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Sep 27th, 2009, 08:57 AM
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A Long, Long Overdue Trip Report - East Africa - August and September 2008

I’ve finally gotten around to writing this long overdue trip report of my trip to Kenya and Tanzania in August/September 2008. I’ve no excuse other than I had to get my excitement, emotions and amazement under control, otherwise I’m afraid this trip report would be in the running for the longest post in Fodor’s history. I think that this trip report will accurately reflect my experience as I’ve told the stories of my adventure over and over again (my family is sick of hearing about it), and I kept a pretty detailed journal of everything I saw and did, and of course, looking at the 3000+ pictures that I took over the 3 weeks I was in Africa brings it all back as if it was yesterday.. At the time that I planned and booked this trip, I believed it was going to be “A Trip of a Lifetime”, a one time experience that I would add to my life’s story. As many posters have mentioned, once you get bitten by the Africa bug, it’s not something that goes away with time. I’m now starting to plan my next adventure for next year. As such, I have changed my username from Tripofalifetime to Safariwannabe, and will post under the new name from here on out. As I’ve started to ask questions and advice on Southern Africa, I felt that I owed the board this trip report, as the trip reports I’ve read and enjoyed helped me tremendously in planning my first trip. I hope this is helpful for future travelers, or that those that have experienced this can relive some of their adventures through this report. I’m going to write the report in segments – writing the whole thing in one sitting seems overwhelming. I’m going to break it down into the flight over, then a section for each park visited. I’m trying to work on my pictures as I’m writing this, so I’ll post links to those with each section.

A little bit of info on me to temper this report. At the time of the trip, I was a 49 year old single man, living in Florida. I have a desk job, 9-5 and relatively inactive lifestyle. I thought that I had some travel experience behind me and thus would be a seasoned traveler – however I found that my journeys in Europe and my business trips to India, along with extensive travel in the US was not really preparation for this trip. Especially as I was traveling solo. I’ve never thought of myself as an outdoorsy kind of guy – much more likely to be found at the theater or inside a museum. My friends thought I was crazy for taking this type of trip, but it was something that I felt I wanted to do. So prepared with months of research and a new Canon 40D camera (my first DSLR camera), a several lense (100mm-400mm, 17mm-85mm) off to East Africa I go.

Planning
I started doing research on East Africa about 6 months before contacting any travel agents, outfitters, or safari experts. I used several books, web searches, travel brochures and trip reports posted on this site. I had identified the parks and camps that I thought would be best for me and submitted proposed itineraries for pricing. I came across a frequent poster to this board and was impressed with his knowledge and the sharing of that knowledge with other folks planning trips to this area. While I’ve not seen any marketing of his company on this board, I decided to contact him as well to see what he could put together for me. After reviewing my “wish list” he came back with some recommendations and some advice on some of the locations I had chosen. He was the first (and only) TA to offer suggestions and advice on what I had proposed, including pointing out that one of the camps I had chosen would be relatively sparse in wildlife as the migration would primarily be in Kenya at the time of my trip. No one else had offered any such advice, only sure we can book you there and here are the costs. Based on this and his proposal being in line with others I received, I decided to book my trip with Kiliwarriors.

Packing
Scared by the weight limit on many of the internal flights, I started practice packing about 1 and ½ weeks before my trip. I had everything laid out in my guest bedroom – and would pack, take the bag to the bathroom scales, and repeat. I finally got it down to the weight limits required (33 pounds). Thanks to LyndaS for her comprehensive packing list – it helped a lot. Even with that, I took way more than I needed, not understanding the miracle of Africa – put dirty close in basket in the morning and the mysteriously appear clean and folded at the end of the day. Having a phobia about clean underwear (never know when you’ll be in an accident) I guess taking 10 pair was overkill.

Final Itinerary
Nairobi – Panari Hotel – 2 nights
Masa Mara – Serian Camp – 4 nights
Masa Mara – Rekero – 3 nights
Tarangire – Oliver’s Camp – 3 nights
Ngorongoro – Sopa Lodge – 2 nights
Lake Manyara – Kirurumu Camp – 1 night
Ruaha – Mwagusi Lodge – 3 nights
Selous – Sand Rivers – 3 nights
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Sep 27th, 2009, 08:59 AM
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Part 1 - And We're Off

The day for my trip finally arrived and I was prepared (so I thought). I’ve always been one of those people that have to get to the airport way ahead of their departure time. I marvel at those that can handle leaving for the airport, gas up and return a rental car, stand in line at security and arrive at the gate minutes before their flight. That would make me crazy. I think partly due to this and then partly due to the excitement of starting this journey, I had planned to arrive very early. The shuttle driver was 15 minutes late getting to my house (still relatively calm at this point), but I still had plenty of time. About 10 minutes into the drive to the airport, I realized that I had forgotten my safari jacket (can’t go on a trip to Africa without one…) and we had to go back to the house to pick it up. As we left my subdivision, we got pulled over by the police, (one of my neighbors that I didn’t know) who was suspicious as he had seen the shuttle driver driving around the neighborhood (took him several attempts to find my house), and then saw us leave and return and leave again. After more explaining, and studying my driver’s license for my address, after a stern lecture on the dark tent on the shuttle’s windows, we’re off again. Now, I’m starting to get nervous as my airport arrival timetable is about 40 minutes behind schedule. I was flying Jetblue from Orlando to JFK, and then transferring to British Airways (JFK to London, London to Nariobi). We arrive at the airport and I get in line to check in at Jetblue (huge line). My nerves are starting to fray a bit, only to find out that the flight is delayed (unknown how long) as they have Tornado warnings in Manhattan – whoever heard of Tornado warnings in Manhattan – it certainly wasn’t something I had taken into consideration. We ended up being delayed by about 2 hours – starting to panic as I only had about 2 hours between flights at JFK. Get to JFK, and head down to baggage claim to pick up my luggage and then to figure out what terminal BA is in. While waiting for the luggage, they announce that due to a lightning storm, they aren’t unloading our luggage until it passes. The luggage finally arrives, and I make a dash to find BA – 30 minutes after my flight was scheduled to leave. I get to BA check-in – the line is huge, but luckily due to the weather in NY, all of the flights are running very late. I had decided to splurge and fly business class, so I was able to go directly to a desk where someone could help me – (avoiding the huge line that had formed at BA’s coach checking), and the representative told me that if we hurry and check my baggage at the gate, I can possibly make my flight. Of course, having planned for checked baggage, I had opted not to fool with the 3 ounce size of anything, and as we had to go through security, all of my toiletries, insect repellent, etc were taken away. We get to the gate and they managed to get me on the plane – oh that noise behind me was them closing the cabin door. At this point I’m in serious need of valium and alcohol (another reason to be thankful for flying Business Class), but I’m on the plane.

The plane makes up some time and we arrive in London about an hour before the scheduled departure of my London to Nairobi leg. Much to my surprise, I have to change terminals, and then run what seemed a 100 gates to get to my next flight. Now as I mentioned before, I’m pretty much a couch potato at home, but had started walking every day to prepare for the trip. I was up to about 3 miles everyday, however walking on the sidewalks around my neighborhood had nothing in common with sprinting through the airport, with a carry-on bag and a backpack full of camera equipment. Needless to say I was sweating like a pig, so out of breath I couldn’t talk, and again got to hear that sound of the cabin door closing, almost hitting me in my dragging butt, but I’m on the plane – no worries. Another few screwdrivers later (amazing how good those taste at 8:00 AM), I caught my breath and settle back down for the flight. We arrive in Nairobi – and I breath a big sigh of relief – I’ve made it – I’m in Africa. As I approach the baggage claim area, I hear someone calling my name. How nice – someone is here to meet me – much to my dismay, it was the baggage agent letting me know that while I did the 100 yard dash through the airport, the baggage handlers did not and my luggage had not made the flight. After the assured me that it would be on the flight the following evening, I found my hotel shuttle and headed off to the hotel. After spending so much time on the plane, qualifying for Olympic gold in the long sprint, and having had many alcoholic drinks after arriving at the hotel my first thought was of brushing my teeth. Ooops, that was in the stuff that got confiscated in New York. Oh well, tomorrow is another day, I’m in Africa, maybe they have stores here where I can replace the toiletries (I wasn’t sure – this was Africa), so off to bed I go.

Lessons Learned for Future Planning
When booking your flight, don’t worry about the $50 you can save by using different carriers – book the whole trip on one (if possible). At least with this it puts the responsibility of the luggage with them and not you. When packing, you will need much less than you think that you do – taking hiking boots, walking sandals and tennis shoes isn’t required. However much time you have allowed yourself between flights – it’s not enough.
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Sep 27th, 2009, 09:06 AM
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I'd like somebody to take that "longest running" award or demerit or whatever you want to call it away from me. So easy on the editing and post away!

What an amazing start! Who knew the endurance from your 3 mile walks would be needed in the airports?

I hope you have continued your walking regimen for the next trip in Zim/Zam, etc.
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Sep 27th, 2009, 09:21 AM
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I love the name change!
Don't worry about the length of your post - you'll have to work awfully hard to make it longer than my Kenya/Tanzania report!
I too keep a very extensive journal, which I guard with my life until my report is complete.
I look forward to reading each of your segments - seems we visited many of the same places. I can relive the whole experience through your eyes.
I have never dealt with them, but my impression from this forum has always been that you can't go wrong with Kiliwarriors!
What a (humourous - at least for your readers!) start to your trip - like you, I like to be early. I would have been fretting about the delay in getting out of my own neighbourhood. Business class does have its advanatges! We always overnight in London - it has always seemed like a bit of a waste of time, but perhaps not. Looking forward to more! Robin
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Sep 27th, 2009, 10:01 AM
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Part 2 - Nairobi – KWS, Giraffe Center, Utamaduni Craft Center and Sheldrick Orphanage

In Nairobi, I stayed at the Panari Hotel. This was a pretty modern hotel, with rooms and baths much like you’d find anywhere. The accommodations were nice and clean, but the best thing about it was the location – it was about midway between Jomo Kenyatta International and Wilson Airport. I arrived at the hotel – no unpacking to do (no luggage), so I recharged my camera batteries and went to bed. I was in Africa and I didn’t have to get on a plane the next day.

When I originally planned my trip, I had initially planned on an overnight in Nairobi and a morning flight to the Maasai Mara. After reading several postings on things to do in Nairobi, I decided to stay an extra day to do some sightseeing and to get over my jetlag. With the issue with the luggage, I’m very glad I made that decision – otherwise, I doubt my close would ever catch up with me.

I booked a day’s activities with Kennedy from Waymark Safari. I had read many complimentary things about Kennedy on this site and opted to visit the Kenya Wildlife Service, The Giraffe Center, Utamaduni Craft Center, and the SheldrickElephant Orphanage. I had previously adopted 2 baby elephants, so was entitled to do the special visit with them.

Kennedy picked me up right on schedule and we talked about my planned activities and other options. I explained that I needed to find a grocery store or somewhere I could stock up on my toiletries (no deodorant, no toothpaste for 3 days – I was feeling pretty nasty) and he assured me we could find one.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS)
Kennedy had arranged for a private guide Julius to show me around KWS and for me to experience the cheetah hug. KWS is like a really nice zoo, with the animals in more of their natural habitat (as much as they can be in captivity). I had not visited a zoo in over 30 years and the only experience I had previously was with the animals in cages. I was very impressed with the efforts to make the animals as comfortable as possible. I did not realize that I would get a special tour and be able to see areas that weren’t really open to the public – this put me up close, with the best view of the animals. Things I enjoyed the most – an Albino Zebra, Black and White Colobus monkeys, a Oryx that had lost a horn, a leopard high up in a tree, a fairly close view of a lion (well at the time I thought it was a close view – hadn’t experienced the Mara yet) and the beauty of Eland, Bongo, Antelope and Impala. The biggest highlight here was the Cheetah Hug. Petting and posing with a full grown cheetah in your arms, words cannot describe. I couldn’t help but think – this beautiful creature could tear my throat out at any moment, and the low purr (after I realized this wasn’t a growl) was wonderful to hear. While some have asked, why you would go to a zoo when you were going to experience the animals in nature, I’m glad that I did as it helped to increase my excitement level and anticipation of what was to come. Also was able to see some animals that I wouldn’t experience outside of this facility.

Giraffe Center
The next stop on the tour was the Giraffe Feeding Center. This was a wonderful way to get up close and personal with giraffe. The center has a raised platform/feeding area which puts you at eye level with the giraffes. Pellets are provided for feeding them and they are very tame and friendly when you’re offering food (somewhat pushy when you’re not). At the suggestion of one of the attendants working there, I put a pellet between my lips which earned me a nice kiss from one of them (gosh, I didn’t even have to pay for dinner). I really enjoyed the interaction with the giraffe, and also saw a warthog up close – not as cute as in The Lion King.

Utamaduni Craft Center
Okay – I have to admit that when we started out for this, I thought it would be like visiting Pier 1 or World Market. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. This was a wonderful market with incredible carvings, fabrics, authentic clothing, blankets, and paintings. I saw so many things that I wanted to buy – unfortunately, I was at my luggage weight limit, so didn’t have many options. I did end up buying some carvings and some hand painted pottery and had to ship it back (shipping was almost as much as my purchases). Sales people were helpful in answering questions, but I never felt pressured to buy anything (much more relaxed than my last trip to the Mall). I had lunch here, out in the open under a tree where I saw the most beautiful yellow bird. I’ve included a photo with my pictures – can anyone tell me what kind of bird that was – I’m thinking it was some type of starling, but I may be mistaken.

After lunch, we were off again. It was still too early for my 5:00 visit at the Elephant Orphanage, so Kennedy offered suggestions of other things I could do. None of them sounded appealing – crocodile farm (I’m from Florida – alligator farms are a dime a dozen), etc. We opted to visit the grocery store – (amazingly just like my local grocery store with some different items) and I replaced my lost toiletries and bug repellent. It was amazing to me to see brands that I thought no longer were made – who know you could buy Prell Shampoo in Africa. So restocked and looking forward to a good tooth brushing and shampoo, we headed off. We ended up stopping at a convenience type store with a coffee shop and sat, talked and had coffee. I have to say, after spending a very short period of time with Kennedy, it had started to feel like I was spending time with an old friend. It was so relaxing and enjoyable to just sit and talk – he told me of his children, their plans and aspirations, life in Kenya, and asked questions about my life. I found this time to be as enjoyable as the rest of the day combined. I highly recommend Kennedy if you’re going to spend time in Nairobi. After this we stopped at a roadside craft shop and I bought a few more little carvings.

Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage
We arrived at Sheldrick right on time and I was able to see them brining the baby elephants in for the night. I quickly identified the two young ones I had adopted (Kimana and Dida) by the names posted on their stalls. There were quite a few others visiting during this time, so we were only able to stand outside the stalls to view them. I was talking to one of the attendants and when he found out that I had adopted 2 elles, he told me to stay around after everyone started to leave. After most of the others had left, he let me go into the stall with Dida and Shimba, which was a great experience. Shimba became my best friend when I offered her some leaves and kept putting my hand in her mouth with her trunk. I couldn’t believe how gentle and sweet these babies were. I really enjoyed this experience – so much that I stepped in a pile of elephant dung and was covered up to my ankle and never realized it until I tried to get back in Kennedy’s vehicle. He quickly stopped me and one of the attendants took me to a water pump where I could “clean-up”. Actually, the attendant cleaned my sandals, allowing me to concentrate on my toes, foot and ankle.

After an exciting day, Kennedy took me back to the Panari, where I spent some quality time with my toiletries and washed off the dust and dirt of the day. I then went to the Restaurant for dinner, called the airline to check on my luggage, and tried to relax. Unfortunately, I couldn’t relax until my luggage arrived (I was leaving for the Mara early the next morning), but it finally got there about 1:30 AM. All is good and I’m ready for my next adventure.
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Sep 27th, 2009, 10:10 AM
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Here's a link to my Nairobi pictures

http://eastafricaaugustandseptember2...tterfly.com/28
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Sep 27th, 2009, 10:38 AM
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Great report and am looking forward to your further adventures. What a start to the trip, however and it sounds like you handled the stress quite well!
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Sep 27th, 2009, 10:44 AM
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A wonderful start to what I am sure is an amazing trip. I cannot wait for the rest! Love the pics of you and your adopted Ellies......so cute and a great way to begin
your trip!

FlowerP
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Sep 27th, 2009, 12:56 PM
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Drat! Now I really wish we had spent an extra night in Nairobi!
Great pictures - you looked very relaxed for someone who sprinted through airports, endured long flights and lost his luggage! Robin
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Sep 27th, 2009, 02:58 PM
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This is a great start, thanks! I believe your pretty bird is a Reichenow's weaver. Can't wait for more!
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Sep 27th, 2009, 03:11 PM
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Better late than never. Looks like it was a good day in Nairobi even without luggage. Dida and Kimana are adorable and that's a great giraffe kiss photo. Thanks for posting--I can't wait to read more.
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Sep 27th, 2009, 03:55 PM
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A day in Nairobi can be a savior for lost luggage. Shopping at a grocery store is not usually one of the activities written up for Nairobi, but I understand why you went. Yet another thumbs up for Kennedy. Nice to know you had a good experience with Kiliwarriors. Your Mara itinerary is exceptional.
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Sep 27th, 2009, 04:57 PM
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Enjoying the start to your trip much more than you probably did. Quite a stressful beginning.
Love your itinerary and looking forward to the photos which I have opened but not viewed yet.
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Sep 27th, 2009, 05:35 PM
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Part 3 - Maasai Mara Conservancy – Serian Camp
8/17/08
Up early the next morning for my Air Kenya flight from Wilson to Musiara in the Mara. I had never flown on this small a plane, nor landed on a short dirt runway, so that was pretty exciting for me. Musiara was the 2nd or 3rd stop on this flight, so by the time we got to my landing strip I was an old pro (yeah right). I was amazed at the close proximity to the animals – by the time we landed I had seen elephant, giraffe, and as we came into land for my stop, I spotted what I thought was a lion. This got my heart pumping and my excitement level high – I knew I would be close to the game, but the reality of just how close set in. After getting over the initial panic of “what if no one is here to meet me”, I gather my belongings and got off the plane. I was quickly greeted by my guide, Francis and driver, Kemanzi. Francis asked if I’d like to see lion, to which I responded yes. We loaded into the Land Rover and in less than 5 minutes were parked and observing a pride of lions (the lion I had seen from the plan) – 4 lioness, 8 cubs of various ages, and 2 hippos in a pool below where they were resting. After watching the lions, we started off to camp, while some might think this is just transportation, it was a game drive all by itself. By the time we arrived at camp, I had already seen elephants with 2 babies, zebra, wildebeest, Thompson’s gazelle, and giraffe. I certainly hadn’t expected this.

Serian Camp
My first camp was Serian Camp in the Mara Conservancy. This was a nice camp. Tents were large and comfortable; bathroom was separate from Main Tent with hot water heated by fire and a shower with a view. My favorite part about this camp was the deck in front of the tent. I had a nice view of the river from my deck, although I did not see any animals there during my stay. There were hippo upstream just a bit, and I could hear them, but not see them. Lunch was nice, taken in an open area. Several mongooses (mongeese?) came out of hiding during lunch time begging for handouts. Each guest had a private car, driver and guide so the daily routine was very flexible
Around 4:00 we left on my first “real” game drive. Saw what would become the usual suspects – Grant’s and Thompson’s Gazelle, Giraffe, and Wildebeest. Then we started to see elephant and more elephant and more elephant. We ended up in the middle of a herd of elephant (we estimates 50+), parked and just sat. In time, the elephants had surrounded us – it was amazing. There were elephant of all sizes and ages. Babies from about 1-2 months old to old bulls. I can’t describe the feeling I had sitting in the midst of all of that. It was incredible. I think we stayed there for about an hour. Continuing our drive, we found a large pride of lions. Francis indicated that this was the Gorge pride – 3 Lionesses and 7 cubs – 4 about 1 month old, 3 about 4 months old. Again we sat for a long time, deciding to have our sundowners while watching this pride. The cubs were playful while the mothers slept. This was the Africa I had come to see.

Dinner was an occasion with everyone gathering in the dining room around a fire in the fireplace for drinks before dinner while we caught up on what everyone did and what they had seen that day. An after dinner drink and then back to my tent to bed. I sat out on the deck for a little while trying to convince myself that it was real – I was in Africa.


8/19/09
I was so excited about the coming day that I didn’t get much sleep that night – before I knew it I heard “Good Morning – I’ve brought your coffee” from the front of my tent. I got up, staggered out on the deck and sure enough – there was hot coffee and cookies – what a way to wake up. Good Kenyan coffee, a cigarette and watching the sun begin to rise. We started out early to the usual suspects – gazelle, giraffe and then the radio went off. The driver asked if I’d like to see leopard. Leopard – well….Sure, I guess if there are no wildebeest to see. We sped off in search of leopard. We found a leopard mom and then found her 2 cubs. Of course, after the radio alert, quite a few others were looking as well, but we found her. That afternoon was probably one of the most eventful game drives. We found a pride of lions – 1 male, 3 females. We sat and watched them sleep for a while, but then when they woke up it was obvious that they were going on a hunt. There was a line of wildebeest a great distance away and they started heading off in that direction. Once again, the radio went off and then off we were for leopard again. This time we came across a leopard that had just killed a baby antelope. While we watched, it picked the kill up and took it up a tree. Once in the tree, the antelope fell out of the tree and the leopard had to retrieve it again. While understanding the circle of life – it was somewhat sad. A lone female antelope which we assumed to be the mother, stayed nearby watching the events unfold. The guide thought that this leopard was named Sowetie and had been featured on Big Cat Diaries.

Everyone else was very envious of my day at dinner that night. I of course couldn’t stop talking (nothing new once you get to know me). One of the other guests was very upset at having missed what might have been Sowetie. She was an avid fan of Big Cat Diaries and made plans to return to the area the next day to try to find the leopard. She had spent 4 days at one of the crossing sites hoping for a crossing and really hadn’t seen anything else.

8/20/09
Well, after reliving my day for several hours sitting on the deck of my tent, I finally went to bed and slept rather well. That was a good thing as my wake up visit would be very early this morning as I was going to Little Governor’s Camp for a balloon adventure. All too early, I heard the Good Morning; I’ve brought your coffee and staggered out to the deck to try to wake up. We made the long drive to Little Governor’s, too early to see much – too bumpy to sleep. We arrived, took the boat across the little river and arrived at the launch site. The balloon ride was exciting – I had never been in a hot air balloon so this was a first for me. The game viewing was okay – we say giraffe, buffalo, antelope, gazelle from a different perspective, but I prefer to view it from the ground. I glad that I did it once, but I doubt that I would ever be tempted to do it again. After the champagne breakfast, I was taken back to the camp where my guide and driver were waiting. We decided that since we were already in the park proper (all previous game viewing had been in the conservancy), we’d spend the day there. This was an amazing day – herds of wildebeest and zebra everywhere – all marching in the same direction. I had read a lot about the migration – but was not prepared for the sheer numbers. Everywhere you looked were lines of wildebeest and zebras walking in the same direction. In the midst of all this, we happened upon 3 cheetah brothers, longing on a termite mound. These were the first cheetah I had seen since my cheetah hug and I think that if I had to pick one favorite animal, this would be it. We also came across 3 lionesses guarding a buffalo kill.
Then headed down to one of the crossing areas to see what was happening. When I first starting planning my trip, I had told my TA that I wanted to see a crossing. He was very direct in letting me know that there were no guarantees. He said he put me at the right place at the right time, but it was a crap shoot. The woman at camp had spent 4 entire days at the crossing site, hoping with no results, so I wasn’t very optimistic. The river was beautiful, with a pod of hippos in the middle. A couple of the hippos decided to get out of the water and I was able to get some great pictures of that. We saw 3 crocodile with a baby wildebeest kill, so I figured that we’d missed it. We decided to eat lunch and while we did, the wildebeest and zebra kept coming and coming and massing at the water’s edge. Finally, a few wildebeest wandered down to the water’s edge and wandered about. One of them decided to take the plunge, but the other’s chickened out. The guide said that the pod of hippos just downstream had probably spooked them, but the one that went made it safely across. Another 30 minutes of milling around and finally several zebra made their way to the front of the line and they jumped in – this prompted the rest of them to follow. Saw a croc take a zebra midway across the river. In all we estimated that between 500 and 700 went across. I have to say this was the most amazing thing I had ever seen and had I left Africa right then, I’d have been complete.

At dinner that night, I felt so bad. The woman who’d been looking for a crossing had gone in search of the leopard I’d seen the previous day and didn’t find it. When she heard about the crossing, she was not a happy camper.

All in all, I had a wonderful time at Serian. The camp was beautiful, the food was excellent, the guiding was good (even though they seemed to use the radio and cell phones more than anywhere else I would stay). Tomorrow, on to the next camp – Rekero.

I added the pictures taken at Serian to my shutterfly site. The link above will take you to the Nairobi pictures, but this link will take you to all my albums.

http://eastafricaaugustandseptember2...utterfly.com/#
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Sep 27th, 2009, 05:58 PM
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All those weavers look alike for your pretty bird. Nice bongo!
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Sep 27th, 2009, 07:20 PM
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I get excited every time I read a trip report. Thank you for this one! I don't think I have ever seen so many giraffes lying (laying??) down! Nice kiss photo. We did that as well, stayed at Giraffe Manor which is next door to the Giraffe Center. The kisses smelled of alfalfa (perhaps from all the pellets I gave them).
Anixously awaiting the next segment.
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Sep 27th, 2009, 07:21 PM
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I also had to laugh about your "early to the airport" habits! I am exactly the same way and it drives some of my travel companions crazy!!
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Sep 28th, 2009, 07:21 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 168
If you have some time in between your writing, could you go into a bit of detail on Serian camp as I am thinking of staying there 5 nights Sept. 2010...how were the guides, trucks, tents (do you have chairs/sofas as pictured on website on the decks?)..would you stay there the entire 5 nights or did you like changing to another area?
Is there a particular number tent that would be better than others in your opinion?
Anything you might remember as significant to the experience at Serian would be appreciated.

Thanks - great reporting!

FP
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Sep 28th, 2009, 08:09 AM
  #19
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,085
You were lucky - we stayed at Serian and our flight to Musiara was cancelled because we were the only passengers going to that airstrip - we had to take two connecting flights instead. That feeling of "what if no one is there to meet me?" came true in our case thanks to the last minute change to our flights.

Kimanzi is still at Serian - we had him this past August and he was a great driver.

Don't you love that morning coffee routine at Serian - such a wonderful way to start the day! They even run the hot water for you!

Wow! You had great sightings while at Serian - I have always wanted to watch a leopard drag its kill up into a tree. The experience of the (unfortunate) woman who was at Serian at the same time demonstrates just how much timing and luck (and a good guide) influences what you see.

What a difference a year makes! Your crossing, with the animals swimming across the Mara River, looks so different from ours this year when they walked across. I can see how the crocs would up the excitement level considerably.

I love the giraffe pair (sitting) and the three cheetahs - great shots. Thanks for sharing! Robin
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Sep 28th, 2009, 08:35 AM
  #20
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,085
Flowerpower
We were at Ngare Serian in August and loved it. Ngare is the smaller camp (4 tents) across the river from Serian Main Camp. If you can afford Ngare, go for it. The tents were gorgeous and the food excellent. Our guide was Jonathon and our driver was Kimanzi - both excellent. The sofas are there and I can vouch for them being very comfy! Each tent has their own guide and driver - no shared vehicles. They are the traditional open-sided safari vehicles with a canvas roof that can be folded back.

In terms of actual tents - at Ngare, ask for tent 4 - furthest from the common area and next to the hippos.

At the main camp (haven't stayed there but walked through it two or three times), can't give you specifics, but at one end of the string of tents is the common area and at the other is the area where everyone (from both camps) gets into their vehicles in the norning - so I would be inclined to ask for one in the middle. If there are tents beyond the dining area/gift shop (which I wouldn't have seen), then that would be the best spot.

If I were going for 5 nights, I might be inclined to spend a couple at Rekero - there is a lot of driving involved in getting to the reserve from Serian - although, as Safariwannabe discovered, there is lots to see in the conservancy.

My photos (tents, vehicles, dining room, staff) of Serian begin middle of page 7. There are lots of comments regarding the camp - food, staff etc - all positive!

http://bert-and-bin.smugmug.com/Trav...38901400_BHybf
Robin
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