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Ash Clouds and Airline strikes be darn, we are going on safari!

Ash Clouds and Airline strikes be darn, we are going on safari!

Jun 11th, 2010, 07:48 AM
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Looking forward to reading more, Old dude!
Calo is offline  
Jun 11th, 2010, 09:45 AM
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Your posts are great--keep them coming!!! Sounds like you and your wife had a wonderful journey.

"The next culture shock, at the gate to Nakuru my wife decided that it was time to try the local facilities. The look on her face when she exited the long-drop facility was priceless!"--We went to China two years ago--they are not pleasant.

"We made the obligatory stop at the gate for an escort and the look on my wife’s’ face when two armed rangers climbed into our vehicle was again in the priceless category." This I am not familiar with--armed guards come in the vehicles???

My fiance' and I are going to Kenya and Tanzania in July, 2010.
Live2Travel1000 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2010, 11:28 AM
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Live2travel1000, The road from Tsavo West to Amboseli goes near the border where there was some problems with poachers in the past. It was explained to me that this is now Kenya government proceedure to escort all tourist vehicles along this road. We were the only vehicle going this way at this time, so the rangers rode with us. We past another vehicle about half way, going the other direction and they also had an armed escort.
I did not feel unsafe at all and applaud the goverments' proactive approach to safety.
Perhaps one of the african experts can shed more light on this proceedure.
Old_dude is offline  
Jun 11th, 2010, 12:20 PM
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This I am not familiar with--armed guards come in the vehicles???

This is only used between Tsavo West and Amboseli (and vice versa) if you take the route near the Tanzania border due to some incidents of banditry in the 1990's(?).

Enjoying your trip report, Old_dude!
Patty is offline  
Jun 11th, 2010, 01:41 PM
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Trip report continued
I will give Safarilink a “thumbs up” for the little bottles of water on the seatbacks in their planes. I give them a “thumbs down” for headroom for a large guy. I bumped my head getting in and out of the plane. But it was worth it! The Masai Mara awaited us and the greeting upon landing by the Bateleur staff was an impressive spread even at the airstrip. The drive from the airstrip to the camp included sightings of Elephant, Impalas, Baboons and Warthogs.
I think I would have to do a “coin-toss” to determine which was better, Bateleur or Finch Hatton, double WOW. The greeting committee was out with refreshing towels and fruit juice again. We had tent #19, which was the closest to the dining and vehicle pickup area, convenient but we could hear the kitchen staff before meal time. A late lunch, including a creamed soup, and relax until time for our afternoon game drive.
The &beyond game drive vehicles are impressive with a raised area with three rows of seats and a short ladder to climb aboard. These vehicles give you an excellent viewing platform and I found photographing from them easy. Game spotted on this evening included Giraffe, Impala, Warthogs, Lion, Hyena, Zebra, Thompsons Gazelle, Topi, Cape Buffalo, Hammerkop. The roads were again rough leading from the escarpment to the Mara and the roads in the Mara still had standing water in some spots, testing the skills of our driver.
Pre-dinner drinks by the fireplace and exchanging stories with the two other couples that were there preceded another belt-stretching dinner. The firepot of coals by your table is a nice touch to ward off the evening chill. Returning to our tent with the Askari escort we found the bed turned down and hot water bottles warming the bed for us.
An early wake-up with fresh coffee for me and tea for my wife with cookies (yeah, I had a few) was a nice start to the day. I started the morning with a sunrise picture along the escarpment road, and we were off into the Mara again. The animals sighted on this game drive included again; Giraffe, Impala, Warthogs, Lion, Hyena, Zebra, Thompsons Gazelle, Topi, Cape Buffalo, Hammerkop. And also: Eland, Lions trying a flanking maneuver on some Warthogs, Baboons, Hippo, Guineafowl, and Weaverbirds. A “honeymooning” Impala and his harem was a nice distraction for a while as we drove back to Bateleur for a late breakfast. I almost forgot a (I am told) rare sighting of a Spitting Cobra crossing the road near the escarpment.
I know, eating again, but it was so good! There was some kind of a cereal with honey and yogurt in a parfait cup that was served only here that started breakfast and only got better! After I waddled back to our tent we relaxed on the tent porch/deck that overlooked the Mara, what a view! The Afternoon game drive was a personal favorite of mine as we spotted a Black Rhino out in the open! This was repeated the next day and the last evening (day 9 May 26) we ended up on a long afternoon game drive that ended at a clearing beside the banks of the Mara river.
(For those of you that are going to stay at Bateleur and like surprises, do not read this next paragraph)
The skies were dark and we could just make out some light through the bushes as we rounded the opening in the clearing. What a magical sight! Lanterns were lit and hung to create a very romantic scene. A firepit was burning in the middle and chairs were placed around it in a semicircle, drinks were being served and we could see linen tablecloths on tables scattered around the area. The Chef from the camp was preparing the meal as we relaxed by the fire. Soon, out of the darkness you could hear a low chant, punctuated with an occasional yell as a group of Masai Warriors came dancing into the clearing. The magical chants and dancing of the warriors was a highlight of a perfect African bush evening. But wait it was not over yet, we had not yet eaten. I can only say that this was one of the best dinners yet, maybe the setting, under the open African skies, the company of my wife of almost 45 years, the hippos serenading us, whatever it was, it was GREAT.
The next morning we flew from the Mara to Nairobi and then on the Kilimanjaro airport to begin the Tanzania portion of our safari.
Old_dude is offline  
Jun 11th, 2010, 02:24 PM
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What a great trip report Old_dude! I feel like I was there. Keep it coming.
long2travel is offline  
Jun 12th, 2010, 09:10 AM
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The dinner sounds magical and very romantic!!!!

How closely did Safarilink monitor the weight of your luggage? We are in the process of "practice packing" right now and it is not very successful. LOL!!!!
Live2Travel1000 is offline  
Jun 12th, 2010, 12:15 PM
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Live2travel, I squeeked by at Wilson in Nairobi. They were weighed and checked at Kili on the way back to Nairobi, but not at the local airstips.I transfered as much of the heavy stuff as possible to my carry ons. I used a Lowepro bag for my cameras and lenses, a softsided "briefcase" for my personal item and my wife used a backpack. We also wore a jacket with the pockets stuffed with batteries and a couple of other heavies.
You really do not need as much stuff as you think. The lodges all had toiletries and we decanted some of the shampoos and conditioner my wife will not do without into smaller containers and pitched them as they emptied. We also put our clothing into 2 gal. ziplock bags, one per day. That helped us keep track of how many outfits we had.
We also packed a spare outfit for each into another 2 gal. ziplock that traveled with us on the way there (J.I.C)in my wifes backpack.
Travel safe
Old_dude is offline  
Jun 12th, 2010, 02:48 PM
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Thank you very much for your time!!
Live2Travel1000 is offline  
Jun 17th, 2010, 07:31 AM
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Old Dude,
I am so enjoying your report, we leave in 48 hours, albeit to Botswana and Zambia...our first trip, and we can hardly wait. Mostly your posts are confirming something for me. We are as many years "young" as you have been married and we are taking our teens with us. People have asked if we are crazy to go so far for such a short time (being working people with 2 weeks vacation!)but hearing you describe the trip, how much you enjoyed your trip of a lifetime, makes me happy I am doing this at this point in my lifetime, as one never knows what the future will bring!
Thanks for sharing your report and I am so happy you were able to have this travel experience!
Familygoboston is offline  
Jun 17th, 2010, 09:20 AM
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Old Dude,
Beautiful photos. We are going next year.
janeasteele is offline  
Jun 17th, 2010, 04:19 PM
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Trip report, Tanzania segment
May 27
We left Daniel Kekemu at Wilson after he confirmed our flight to Kilimanjaro airport and made a call to his counterpart in Tanzania. Kilimanjaro airport is a small and pretty airport that reminded me of an airport in Hawaii. After showing our Yellow health cards to a very disinterested individual at the health table we filled out the forms and paid for our visas. An enterprising young porter had already loaded our bags onto a dolly and we were out of the airport (after an appropriate tip). Clamian Kitesho and his Warrior Trails vehicle and his driver Jackson were waiting for us. The itinerary had changed due to some logistics and we were soon on our way to the Lake Manyara Serena Lodge. After Bateleur this was a bit more ordinary, but nice. The views of the park and lake were very good from our room and although cold, the pool was refreshing before dinner. While the rooms may be smaller and less opulent, the food at the Serena lodges was good and varied. Yes, I did have to slip the belt loose a little.
The next morning we enjoyed an early breakfast, checked out and headed for Lake Manyara park. We were greeted by a troop of Baboons and later by a herd of about 25-30 elephants. After seeing the eles from a short distance from the road our driver Jackson said he knew where the eles would cross the road and we left the sighting and stopped further down the road to wait. It was not long before the large Matriarch came from out of the trees and crossed within a few feet of our vehicle. What a thrill to watch the parade of mothers and babies cross leisurely in front and all around us. The park is a beautiful place and although we did not see and lions, we saw Monkeys, Impala, Safari Ants, Giraffe, Cape Buffalo, Warthogs, and several bird species that I am still trying to identify. After stopping for lunch, we drove to the Ngorongoro Serena to relax before tomorrow’s decent. The entertainment around the pool bar was very good and we admit to humming “Hakuna Matata” for days after. Another dinner and some outstanding desserts and we retired to our room to rest for tomorrow’s decent.
May 29
After a short stop to register and we were off down the incredible switchback road into the crater. Just before we reached the bottom and leveled out, we spotted a couple of Warthogs being flanked by a group of 4 Hyenas. The Hyena’s maneuvering failed as the Warthogs dashed off and then stopped as if to mock the Hyenas. The crater is an amazing place and we were astounded at the numbers of White-bearded Wildebeest and Zebras, it appeared as though a mini-migration was occurring before our eyes as we had to stop the vehicle and wait as the road was full of animals. Later we spotted a goup of vehicles crowded around a small pride of four lioness exhibiting “flat-cat behavior”. We joined the group for a short while as one of the lioness stretched and sauntered off between two of the vehicles and disappeared along the small lake shoreline. A short stop at the hippo pool for a rest break and stretching of sore leg muscles was a welcomed diversion. We continued our game drive in the crater spotting, Ostrich, Elephant with tusks that were almost down to the ground, more Hyena, Crowned Crane, Warthogs, Cape Buffalo, Kori Bustard, African Darter, Hippo, Egyptian Geese to name a few. Well all good things must come to a close is a quote that comes to mind as we ascend the crater to return to the Serena and a very late lunch.
Clamian’s uncle lives not far from the Serena Lodge in the Ngorongoro area and I was invited to visit his uncles Boma and see firsthand how the Masai live. We drove about an hour passing though an area with lush green grasses and many small herds of cattle and goats being attended in most cases by 8-10 year old boys. Clamian’s uncle is wealthy by Masai standards as he has three wives and about two hundred head of cattle. After introductions I was invited into one of the huts and invited to sit upon a stool about 10” tall (not an easy task for me, even before ten days of delicious foods). Clamian took the time to explain to me the structure of the hut and the way it was constructed of sticks, cow dung, ash, dirt and cow urine. It did not smell, as the only odor was that from the small fire pit used for cooking. The beds were cowhide and stretched over a wooden frame. As I exited (very carefully) I was immediately surrounded by several young boys that had never seen a white man before and they tried rubbing my finger as hard as they could to see if the white paint would come off. I took their pictures and they were giggling and laughing as I showed them their image on the screen of my camera. One of the wives even took one of the younger boys aside and changed his shirt so he could have his picture taken with the group. This is one of the highlight moments of the trip, seeing and interacting with these proud and self sufficient people living in harmony with nature as they have for decades. Sadly I had to leave as another dinner awaited me back at the lodge.
30 May
After another wonderful breakfast, we began our drive to the Serengeti, opting to pass on the Olduvai Gorge and on to another Serena lodge. The game drive into the Serengeti yielded our only sighting of a Leopard, Lions, Giraffe, Puff Adder, Impala, Weaver birds, Zebra, Wildebeest, Crowned Crane, and several small birds that I am still trying to identify. The Serena’s architecture with its two story rondavels is unique and blends well with the surrounding woodland. A spectacular view of the Serengeti was visible from the terrace of our room and afforded me a platform for some very interesting “sunset shots”. Another pants stretching dinner (I gave up on the belt!) and the entertainment was a group of very talented acrobatic dancers.
31 May
Well another breakfast, (what can I say?) and we were off into the Serengeti. Rounding a Kopje we spotted several lioness lying on top surveying the area for dinner. A slight movement at the base revealed the “lounge area” for the two males that shared this pride. Only one of them would keep his head up for his Photo op. Another Kopje further north with some shade on top revealed a mother and her cub, the cub was intently watching a small Red headed Agama on the rock below. We ventured North and West towards the Grumeti and found the tail end of the Migration. What a sight with the Zebra and Wildebeest herds intermingled going in every direction. The river crossing had not yet begun and the sounds of the bleeting Wildebeests was almost musical as the various males attempted to keep their respective harems together and fend off challenges. The Zebras standing with their heads over the back of their neighbor made for a sea of “dashed lines” going in every direction. Leaving the herds after a while we passed the Hippo pool and what a sight! I could not even begin to count the number of Hippo in that one pool, it appeared that you could walk from one side to the other on their backs and not get a foot wet (Not that anyone outside of a cartoon would!). Well there was only one animal on my list and I told Clamian and Jackson that I wanted to see a Cheetah today and after conferring with other drivers on the radio, we took off for the search. I had almost given up when Jackson pulled off and we were right next to a mother and her four cheetah cubs! What beautiful and majestic creatures they are, after a few moments the mother got up and walked off, stopping briefly in the tall grasses to let the cubs catch up. We lost sight after only a few yards until the cubs suddenly appeared one by one on a termite mound, watching intently as their mother disappeared again into the grasses. We quietly left them to hunt and moved on to finish the day with a final sighting of a very large male lion with a full mane and a battle scared nose lying by a small stream. He looked up at me and posed regally for his picture.
Our final dinner in the Serengeti and then we packed for tomorrows departure. Another breakfast and a short game drive to the airstrip we bid farewell to Clamian and Jackson and the Warrior Trails vehicle whose bruises I still have. A Regional Air flight from Serengeti to Arusha, a short layover and then off again to Kilimanjaro airport, cleared customs and immigration for Tanzania exit and a Safarilink hop to Wilson in Nairobi. We were met at Wilson by Daniel Kikemu, the DK Grand driver Ben and the intern Judy and escorted through the Nairobi traffic (June 1 is a holiday in Kenya) to the Panari Hotel for a much needed shower and our last dinner in Africa (this time). Having repacked our duffles we had almost nothing in our carry-on. Well it was time a short drive to the Nairobi airport, farewells and we were on our way home. A ton of pictures that will no doubt, trigger fond memories of our “trip of a lifetime” many years in the future. By the way I did manage to get some holes punched in my belt.
Ron and Lylas
Old_dude is offline  
Jun 18th, 2010, 07:33 AM
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Ron, this was a joy to read. I lived vicariously through your experiences which you wrote about so well...I enjoyed the sprinkling of humor, too! Thank you for sharing all of this with us. And now to go back and enjoy your pictures again.
Calo is offline  
Jun 18th, 2010, 01:34 PM
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I am new to this Forum and would like to know how to see the pictures from the safari. Thanks.
p_gill is offline  
Jun 18th, 2010, 03:30 PM
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p_gill, welcome to the forum!

If you scroll back up through this chain of posts to June 6, you'll come across a link to Old_dude's pictures.
Calo is offline  
Jun 20th, 2010, 11:25 PM
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Calo...Thanks for the info. Some great pictures. Went on a safari to Kenya and Tanzania too about 6 month ago...saw some amazing sights and the most gorgeous sunsets and starry skies at night. Would have shared my pics if I was more adept at computer use. I have them on my Mac and have made a lovely movie but no idea how to share it with folks except to burn a DVD.
p_gill is offline  

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