a quick migration update!

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Jul 8th, 2003, 09:33 AM
  #1
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a quick migration update!

Hello everyone!

I'm back from a great trip and a migration update from a friend in TZ which i thought i'd share with you:

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From Pete Dunning at Grumeti River Camp:

The wildebeest are now following the Grumeti River westwards towards us at some speed. There are herds also starting to come through the Simiti Hills to our south. The picture has changed so quickly over the last few days. Grumeti guides Didas Godfrey and Wilfred Lembris drove to find the advance party this morning and came back saying that they'll be here in a week. With four sets of honeymooners on board they parked on the road and turned their engines off before any wildebeest could be seen. Tim and Debra Walker from London said on their return to camp that it had been absolutely unforgettable; they heard the "great hum" of the herds first, and waited ten minutes before they swarmed into view and past the vehicles in a packed mass of thousands.


The game-drives this morning set off with packed breakfasts and have just returned for lunch full of excitement and awe. The whole of the Musabi Plain which bisects the main Grumeti / Seronera road about forty kilometers from Grumeti River Camp is full of wildebeest tucking into new fresh grass in their hundreds of thousands. Last year they had got as far as the plain by 15th June, so it appears that they are not as late as we had thought. There is some rain around camp and we need a couple of good thunderstorms to keep them coming west. As they progress, our drives to reach them become shorter and shorter until that magical moment when they are suddenly in and around the camp. Then the patience of the crocodiles in the Grumeti River is rewarded. Our resident lioness with her three two-month old cubs will also soon find that life feeding four mouths is about to become a little easier. - PJD

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Jul 8th, 2003, 11:17 AM
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Gosh how amazing - not only to see the migration but to see the frontmost herds actually arrive in an area. WOW!

Soniya do tell us more about your trip!
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Jul 8th, 2003, 11:40 AM
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Thanks for the wonderful information, Soniya. Oh, how I wish I was there to see it all. Alas, I must wait until next year. Kavey is right, please tell more of your trip. Thanks again.
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Jul 14th, 2003, 05:24 PM
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We are planning on being in Tanzania in Feb. of 2004. Can anyone please tell me what area and camps are the best to try and see The Migration? Thank you.

Sara

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Jul 15th, 2003, 05:20 AM
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LizFrazier
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Sara-
We picked Ndutu Safari Lodge for February 2004. You can check out their website and read the news reports for previous years. www.ndutu.com. Its the only lodge on the route of the migration. The calving starts around the 10th of February. Later on they move to the central area and Serengeti Sopa would be a good location for them. Good luck, maybe we'll see you around there. Liz
 
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Jul 15th, 2003, 04:22 PM
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Dear Liz,
Thank you for the info on Ndutu Lodge. It looks great. Our agent keeps pushing Kuisini Camp also saying that it is the only place to see the migration in Feb. The camp looks quite posh, maybe to much so. Where else are you going and who are you working with?
The agent here just wants to sell A&k package stuff - we have done that in Botswana and SA. This time we really want to do something different. Tanzania is the beginning of our holiday. From there we are going to Namibia and probably back to SA to relax before heading home. Any further ideas would be greatly appreciated.
Looking forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

Sara
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Jul 15th, 2003, 07:50 PM
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Sara-
Ndutu is the only camp we will visit. We are flying to Arusha and then on to Ndutu, where we will spend 7 nights. We have arranged a private car and driver through them and we will return home directly from there. Here is the reason for this. We are going to Kenya this September. I booked this trip too. At Governors Main Camp. We will spend a week there and have again arranged for a private car and driver for all but one day when we will take the hot air balloon ride. Both my husband and I have been to Kenya and Tanzania before. In fact this will be my fifth trip to East Africa. I only want to see the Wildebeest migration on the Mara where I hope to catch a river crossing, and in Tanzania for the calving season in February. Thats all I want to see now in East Africa. It will be our last trips to that area since I've fallen madly in love with Botswana and want to do that area much more in depth.
I was able to do the bookings myself with the camps where we chose to stay. Governors is much nicer than Ndutu, but that wasn't the determining factor. It was to pick the ideal location and spend the entire time there so as not to waste time traversing from camp to camp. It also cut down on expenses and allowed us to do the two trips rather close together. After these two trips we will return to Botswana and probably see Namibia on the next trip. Maybe a year later.
After seeing both Kenya and Tanzania in depth, it was actually on the Mara where my love affair with Africa began. When I first saw the Serengeti, I knew I wanted to spend more time there too. The rest of the country doesn't compare as far as I'm concerned.
When we go to Botswana/Namibia, I will probably do the planning myself again and use a local tour from Windhoek to see Sossusvlei and the Namib. Thats all I really want to see there, other than Windhoek. Oh yes, also we want to fly over part of the country and see it from the air. But Botswana has so much crammed into it that it will be a challenge. Since I like to stay at one camp most of the time, it will probably take 2 or 3 trips to do it as I want to.
Back to Ndutu. If you read the "What's happening" newsletters on their site, you probably could see why I selected that camp. I wanted to settle in and become part of the 'family' sort of. It is standard accommodations and not plush but it is the Wildebeests we are going for. We will probably spend most of the time out on the plains and very little time during the day at camp. But the evenings there I think will be quite delightful. I've emailed with Louise quite a bit and am looking forward to meeting her. I think another factor that helped me to select these two camps over others in the area, is that the BBC crew uses both of these camps when they are filming the Big Cat Diary in these locations each year. As do other filming crews. Anything more, just ask. Liz
 
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Jul 16th, 2003, 10:32 AM
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Dear Liz,

I certainly agree about choosing the best place to be to view the calving rather then another "stunning lodge," possibly in the wrong place. Ndutu Lodge is looking better. So, I assume you somehow found them on the internet?
Just so I understand - you will be flying into Arusha and then to Ndutu. And you will have a private guide and driver during your sojourn there. This sounds almost perfect for us as we really do not feel the desire to move around either since we will be seriously on the go with our holiday in Namiba. Also, it makes sense ( I think )
to work out of one spot to see the migration?
I am also pursuing an outfit called Wildlife Explorer run by Gary Strand who also has an excellent reputation. Am waiting to hear from them.
Lucky you being able to go to Kenya in Sept. for the migration there. I have been reading updates from The Grumeti River Camp website daily. Amazing!
I think I will email your Elaine to inquire further. May I use your name?

Namibia is going to be an exciting adventure for us - We will only have reservations arriving and leaving except for Skeleton Coast. The other places we plan on using also a local operator. Neither one of us can stand such organized living! Will be renting a car and flying to necessary destinations really off the beaten track. So, about three weeks there and then back to SA renting a house outside of Capetown. All for now - off to email Ndutu.
Looking forward to hearing from you!

Regards,

Sara
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Jul 16th, 2003, 11:36 AM
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Sara When are you going to be in CT? Just wondered as we'll be there next year end April early May time...
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Jul 16th, 2003, 12:38 PM
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LizFrazier
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Sara-
When you go to the Ndutu website, you can use the "contact us" to email them. Louise will surely remember us and yes you can use my name. She set aside the car and driver for us too. It goes by how many of their cars they have reserved. I think most people are on a country trip and have their own cars and drivers and are in groups. Ndutu is really off the beaten path. I found them on the internet after I had heard about them when I was over there. Very few U.S. tour operators book there and I don't know why. I think it is easier for them to use Sopa or Serena lodges or the CC Africa group of lodges, Grumeti, Maji Moto, etc.

I looked up Kusini Camp, and I don't think any camp with bucket showers and safari toilets are luxury in my book. I think they are for the adventurous. I want hot and cold water and a flush toilet and a bed. Then add good simple food, good company, a nice fire at night and we're all set. Let me know if you will be there when we are (early February). Louise sometimes takes a few days to answer, but she is the Manager and also arranged our air from Kilimanjaro, transfers, hotel at the airport, etc. We don't arrive at Kili until 9:30PM. KLM is the only international carrier to go there as I have been told.

Since we are staying a full week Louise didn't raise the price from last years quote to us. We've been hoping to do this for the last three years. It kept getting put off till now. We will not hot air balloon ride there since we are doing it at Governors Camp, and the closest balloon ride is in Seronera. Its quite a ways away and the Wildebeests won't be there in abundance until about June. If the rains prove to be good, the Wildebeest should start arriving around December at Ndutu. Of course there is always the possiblity if the rains don't come on schedule that they will go directly to Seronera. Louise thought there would still be plenty around there though. I'd rather take my chances there. Other than a campsite near Lake Ndutu, I don't think there are any other lodges nearby. If you read the most recent news on the Ndutu website, you saw that the migration stayed there this year and had the rut there too. How thrilling. That usually occurs up near Lake Victoria and you cannot go to that area during that time as it is quite muddy and rainy and isolated.

Grumeti is another good place to catch the Wildebeests as they traverse north to Kenya, I think they are there now, as you've been seeing.

Governors Camp told me the Zebra are already arriving on the Mara, so the Wildebeests aren't far behind. I'll post when I get back as I am confident they will go to the Mara this year. Enough rain has fallen and there is plenty of new grasses around.
Good luck Sara. Liz
 
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Jul 17th, 2003, 09:54 AM
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Dear Kavey,

I forgot to answer your question about Capetown. We will be there late Feb. - early March. Still looking for that cottage or house to rent.
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Jul 17th, 2003, 10:29 AM
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Dear Liz,

Again, many thanks for all your help. I emailed Louise late last night and have not yet heard back. Will keep you posted as to what her reply is. Until then,

Regards,

Sara
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Jul 17th, 2003, 11:43 AM
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Ah well, we'll miss you - we won't be arriving in CT till end April time...

Good luck in the house rental.

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Jul 17th, 2003, 02:05 PM
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LizFrazier
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Sara-
In re-reading the postings, I notice I overlooked something you said. While at Ndutu we will have a car and driver. Whether the driver is an official guide, by guide standards I don't know. We will not have a guide and a separate driver. Just someone to drive us in the car we rented from them. I imagine their drivers have been there for awhile and may also be guides. I didn't want to imply we would have an ornothologist or some specialty as a driver although I don't know that we won't. I just requested a private car and I'm sure they come with a driver, but not a separate guide. After a day or two, we will probably tell him what we want to see, etc. Some days we may start out later or stay out for a bush breakfast or bring our lunch with us. I'm not sure about all of those details.
Good thing you are starting now, because Louise said that they start filling up around July for the Wildebeest season. Liz
 
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Jul 18th, 2003, 05:41 PM
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Kavey, The way the planning of this holiday is going ( slow ) we may very well be in Capetown when you are there! Selwywn is being a jewel helping us locate a cottage or house. Will keep you posted. Regards, Sara

Liz,
Have not yet heard back from Louise yet! You mentioned that she was slow in replying so I am trying to be patient. Good old Africa time.
Regarding the driver thing - do you have to rent the car ( landrover ) from Ndutu? Or is it included in the price? I guess I am just confused!!
Also, I just found out that there is a Schedule flight which goes from Nairobi to Serengeti with a few stopovers on the way. This information is from Wildlife Explorer who is also doing a quote for us. I really like their set-up but am very eager to hear from Ndutu. Looking forward to hearing back from you.

Best,

Sara
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Jul 18th, 2003, 06:52 PM
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Hi Sara-
Ndutu has rooms at half board or full board. They provide game drives for guests at full board, or you can pay more and get a private car and driver. We decided we would like to have a private car rather than sharing and risking being unhappy with what others want to do. This has happened before and we don't want to go through that again. It can ruin your trip. Since we are staying a full week at the one camp and wanted a vehicle the entire time, we got a break in the price because at the time they had some cars they could reserve. They have to keep some for the guests game drives. I think that a lot of people arrange for their car and driver in Arusha.
Back to Louise. During the slower season for them, she does other things too. She was recently in the U.S. Also she took a trip to Nairobi shopping for a new property. They also do remodeling at Ndutu during the slower season.
Re: The flight situation. Yes there is a flight from Nairobi to Kilimanjaro. It arrives in time to connect with the Regional Air Services flight which goes to Arusha, Manyara, Seronera, Grumeti, and returns the same way to bring returning passengers back. Right now it operates once a day but they may add a second flight.
If you visit www.airkenya.com you can pull this info up. On Air Kenya's homepage in the lower left hand corner there is a symbol for Regional Air Services which takes you to their website and you can get those flights and costs. It may be Air Kenya who flies from Wilson to Kili, I don't remember. My files are each about two inches thick with email and copies of web pages. I spend a lot of time shuffling through them as the details are many and easily confused. My notes show the airfare starting in Nairobi and ending in Seronera to be $620.00 round trip. We are flying into Kili on KLM this trip as I've said, but in the future we may return flying a different airline, so I got that info while I was at it for future use. Just ask away, surely I've looked it up and copied the webpage to refer to.
It is far easier to use an agent. You pay for that service and I just like to be in control myself and get faster replies that I can rely on. So I go to the source. An agent has to do the same. I've found some agents will give you an 'I guess so' answer rather than getting the answer, and I cannot rely on that. If you use an agent, you can not go any further for an answer. It takes a while when you are working with Africa, either on your own or through an agent. But then it all comes together and it seemed it was easy. I know it wasn't. You will just be doing what a travel agent does and you can pay yourself or stay an extra day or two.
If you visit many places, I might use an agent to tie it all together. Thats why we're doing single camp trips right now. Its easier. It is fine if you are visiting just one area too, but then I've covered that before. Hope I answered all of your questions. Regards, Liz
 
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Jul 21st, 2003, 11:07 AM
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Liz, Thank you for the reply. Very useful information.
I finally heard back from Louise - she is gone from the 10th- through the 24th. so. I think I will just wait to contact her again rather then contacting the Arusha office email that she gave me.
I did receive a quote from Wildlife Explorer which is quite expensive. Apparently, they are more or less the same as Rekoro which I looked at until I saw that it the wrong time of the year ( Feb. ) for the migration. Would you mind giving me an idea what your stay at Ndutu is going to cost? Thanks again for your help.

Sara
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Jul 21st, 2003, 01:12 PM
  #18
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hi kavey / susan,
didn't mean to post and run - sorry about that! i have another trip planned and things have been a little hectic so couldn't post earlier. the trip was fantastic, i am hoping to get in a few lines on the trip in this board but if time doesn't allow i'll atleast try to upload some pics of the herds soon...

Liz, for grumeti river camp was this site you're talking of [http://wildwatch.com/sightings/migration.asp]?

incase anyone of you don't know of it it has some great day to day info.

take care!
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Jul 21st, 2003, 09:15 PM
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Soniya-
Thanks for the website, I think I saw it some time ago but lost track of it. Actually I was talking about your post that started this thread. That is if you are talking about my mentioning that the Wildebeests were at Grumeti. That came form your post. I'd forgotten about that other site. I've been looking for it too. thanks. Were you at Grumeti? I thought from your post in the beginning of this thread that you happened to come back from a trip and you got an email from someone over there. I really didn't know you were there.
Please tell us about your trip. Did you tell us you were going? Boy am I ever forgetful. Sorry but I'm drawing a complete blank. Liz
 
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Jul 21st, 2003, 09:24 PM
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Sara-
I'll post tomorrow but where did Rekoro come into this? I don't remember you mentioning it before.
If Louise gave you an email address, I'd go ahead and use it.
It's late here right now so tomorrow morning I'll get out my folder and give you some figures, but when I was looking at it today I noticed that Louise said they only have 2 cars. So you need to reserve them early. I can only give you our rate with a private car since that is how we booked it. They have many alternatives. It is quite lengthy to post all of the rates as it was a full attachment and I really don't want to try to type all of that here.
Somehow this thread got below some I had already read earlier today and I completely missed it when I was posting earlier. Liz
 
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