Back From Our Third Tanzanian Safari - July 2011

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Aug 10th, 2011, 11:44 PM
  #21
 
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Eagerly awaiting your Kati Kati post as we'll be there in a week and a half (flying out in 4 days)! Not much has been written about it so I'm quite curious; it's probably the most downscale of the locations we're staying in so we're a little concerned.
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Aug 11th, 2011, 07:05 AM
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Hi Lynda! I did have luck with your "urgent" issue, but in a much different way than we thought I'll email you later today.

OrangePekoe, my next post will go up later today so that you can read about our Kati Kati experience before your departure. Stay tuned.
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Aug 11th, 2011, 04:41 PM
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We drove southwest from the Northern Serengeti exiting the park at the Tabora B Rangers post and continued our drive through the Ikorongo Game Controlled Area. We drove back into the park at the Ikoma Gate Rangers post. Our time outside the park was really enjoyable, with lots of picturesque farmland and quaint villages to be seen along the way. There was also a surprising amount of wildlife including many, many migrating animals making their way up north.

Our next 2 days were spent exploring the vast Serengeti. The weather was clear, sunny and dry with daytime temperatures hovering in the low 70’s F. The game drives were very rewarding, with sightings that included:

• a pride of 13 lions hunting
• many smaller lion prides hunting
• several lion prides with cubs
• several lion prides on recent kills
• a tree climbing lion
• 4 leopards including a cub
• 4 cheetahs hunting
• 2 cheetahs on a recent kill
• many herds of elephants with babies
• abundant resident ungulates
• a zebra killed by crocodile at watering hole!

Kati Kati camp is a seasonal, mobile camp owned by Tanganyika Wilderness Camps. Of the 4 TWC properties we stayed at on this trip, Kati Kati was the only disappointment. We arrived at the Makoma 1 campsite (away from the core busy area of the Seronera) where Kati Kati is located, only to be told the camp was full! What? Nicholas produced our confirmed booking sheet, but there was nothing to be done but be waved off to Makoma 2 campsite, about an hour’s drive away from the main camp. This in itself was frustrating, but we were met with further disappointments at Makoma 2….

Tent #4 was very basic. It had 2 beds, a “flush” toilet and a bucket shower, but no wash basin inside the tent. Washing up was done outside the front of the tent in 2 canvas buckets on tripods. No problem – we can deal with very basic. The toilet had no water in it – something that was remedied when I reported the situation, however I ended up hooking up the toilet myself. Our bucket showers were okay, but we could have done without the somewhat noisy staff meeting area behind our tent.

I am a vegetarian, but that message obviously did not reach the kitchen, and in the end I was served everything on offer except the meat course – in other words, no efforts made for special dietary requirements. The main course was served item by item at a snails pace, and by the time everything was finally on my plate it was all cold. There were fairly obvious issues in the kitchen that did not allow the meal to be ready all at once, and we did not particularly care for the meal plans. Breakfast was a self serve arrangement that included an omelette bar which was acceptable, but the vegetarian lunch boxes which Nicholas had to fight tooth and nail for were not good. The 2 canvas water buckets at the front of our tent were not emptied the first night, and we had lions drinking from them in the middle of the night, only about 10 feet from our beds. Hmmm…

We consider ourselves quite flexible on safari, but we would like to have had our original booking for Makoma 1 honoured. As things ended up, we feel that the Makoma 2 site was kind of thrown together as an overflow site (along with Makoma 3 which we did not see), and as such, the quality of our experience diminished from what we feel it would have been at the original Makoma 1 camp.

Up next: West Kili
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Aug 11th, 2011, 04:47 PM
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AGH! I'd love there to be an edit button!

Up next: The Crater
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Aug 11th, 2011, 07:53 PM
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Really enjoying this Calo! Can we look forward to some photos??
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Aug 12th, 2011, 06:11 PM
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Thank you, KathBC. I'll have to work on the photos - I worry that my poor old computer will croak if I upload them all, but I expect to be the proud owner of a new laptop next month so maybe by the time I get this flipping report done I'll be able to work on the pictures!
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Aug 12th, 2011, 06:20 PM
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Following breakfast we took a leisurely game drive south toward Naabi Hill and I couldn’t help but wonder if this would be my last trip to this incredibly wonderous part of the world; fantastic in its natural beauty and unequalled for its scientific value, experiencing the Serengeti leaves me speechless.

Although fewer in number than in the Northern and Central Serengeti, we continued to see lions, elephants, giraffes and various species of antelope into the short grass plains. Eventually passing through the Malanja Depression towards Africa’s Eden – the unique Ngorongoro Crater – we drove through a sandy brown landscape punctuated by hits of red worn by the Maasai custodians of this beautiful region.

Our destination for the night was Lemala Ngorongoro Camp. Set in an ancient acacia forest on the rim of the crater, we were assigned to tent #9 in this pristine forest environment. Fitted with huge beds, wooden flooring with rugs, 24-hour solar lighting, flush toilets and huge bucket showers, our tent was on par with our Lemala Mara experience. One added (and much appreciated) feature in our tent was a gas heater! As with the Mara camp, laundry and beverages were included. The mess tent was beautifully decorated and very comfortable, meals were lovely and the staff was delightful. An added bonus was the impromtu singing and dancing put on by the camp staff following dinner. What a joyful experience it was! We went to bed to the sounds of forest wildlife and birds and woke up to the sound of Maasai cow bells.

After a very comfortable sleep, a quick breakfast, a look at the breathtaking views from the crater wall, and only 15 minutes in the vehicle, we were on the crater floor! I highly recommend Lemala Ngorongoro for its charm, luxury and prime location on the crater rim allowing quick and easy access to one of the wonders of the natural world.

Our vehicle had barely become horizontal again after the steep descent into the crater when we spotted our first lions. Two huge black-maned males were lazing around in the early morning sunlight. The large grazing animals including wildebeest, zebra, gazelles and buffalo were everywhere in the open grasslands and near the swamps seeking water. In turn, these attracted the lions, hyenas and cheetah. The Lerai Forest was dotted with huge elephants, black rhino, monkeys and waterbuck. We saw it all! The crowds that are reportedly in the crater at times did not seem to be where we were, or maybe Nicholas knew where to take us in order to avoid the crowds. At any rate, the crater is a wildly beautiful place and it is not surprising that it has been called the Garden of Eden.

We left the crater with some sadness, but enjoyed the gorgeous views of the highlands and Lake Manyara on our way to Karatu for our overnight at the Ngorongoro Farmhouse.

We had stayed at the Farmhouse on a previous trip to Tanzania, and looked forward to another comfortable stay and great meals. We had a bit of time to put our feet up and enjoy the lovely views over the 750 acres of local farmland. Built in the style of an old colonial farm, our spacious room was in a semi-detached cottage with stone fireplace, lounge, writing area, large ensuite bathroom, and veranda with extensive views over the farm. We enjoyed dinner made from farm-grown produce and had a very restful night.

Having experienced the wonders of Tanzania west of Arusha, we were now preparing for some of those east of Arusha. We had been to West Kilimanjaro on our previous trip and looked forward to being in this rugged, dusty, uncrowded region again. Beyond that were the much anticipated visits to Mkomazi National Park and Pangani on the Indian Ocean.

Up next: West Kili
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Dec 13th, 2011, 06:21 AM
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Well, after a short absence from the forum, I’m back to finish my trip report. I guess being under the radar for a few months isn’t as bad as those of you (who shall remain nameless, ahem) who owe reports from 2010

Correction from the end of the previous posting: we didn’t head to West Kili after the Crater - we headed to Tarangire!

It was odd when we first entered the park…we drove for what seemed like ages – probably more like ½ hour - before we saw any animals other than the dreaded tse tse flies (are they animals?), but it didn’t really matter because I am in love with this park for it’s scenery alone, and I was quite happy to drive around for a bit, enjoying the diverse landscapes. In the end, we saw an amazing array of animals in Tarangire, probably more than we'd seen in our two previous trips, including lions and leopards who were taking advantage of the migrating herds of zebra and wildebeest that had made their way into the park. Tarangire is the park where I found a passion for bird watching. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed spotting many different species and varieties of birds throughout this trip, and I would encourage those of you who haven’t really considered Tanzania’s amazing array of 1100 bird species, to include at least some birdwatching in your plans.

As an African elephant naturalist, I find Tarangire a great park for observing and photographing individual and group elephant behaviour. However, the elephants of Tarangire are becoming quite a problem. With 1 elephant for every 2 square km of parkland, the elephant population in the park is at a historic high and during the dry season (when we were there) the park is home to over 2,500 individuals. The bark of the baobab trees is consumed by elephants as a good supply of food and water during the dry season, and with decades of intense utilization by elephants, the trees are experiencing tremendous damage. Needless to say, baobab trees are very important to the Tarangire ecosystem. As with all precious ecosystems throughout Tanzania, and indeed the world, it is important to examine what effects the increasing elephant population may be having on the ecological community in Tarangire!

The Tarangire River flows northwards through the park before discharging into Lake Burungi, which lies adjacent to the northwest park boundary. From the park gate, it is a 45 minute drive through the Maasai Steppe to Lake Burungi Tented Camp which is where we stayed for 2 nights. Lake Burungi Camp is situated in a sandy woodland grove on the shore of Lake Burungi, with very pretty views over the lake. The food was excellent, and the staff was attentive and friendly. Although some might argue that the camp is situated a bit far from the park, I think it is a great alternative for those with tighter budgets. Bonus: the drive takes you through some fascinating countryside and little villages with opportunity for roadside shopping.

After 2 days in the park, and 2 nights at Lake Burungi Tented Camp, it was off to Arusha for a pizza at Pepi's and to change guides before heading to West Kili, Mkomazi and finally, the Tanzanian coast. Stay tuned.
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Dec 13th, 2011, 08:42 AM
  #29
 
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A Garden of Eden without traffic is great luck in the crater.

Great account and stats on Tarangire, including your comment, "I am in love with this park for it’s scenery alone."
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Dec 13th, 2011, 12:19 PM
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"A Garden of Eden without traffic is great luck in the crater."

It was nice to get into Crater when the gate opened, 6am I think, using Sopa road. Our guide said during most of the day there are around 200 vehicles in Crater. Here is snap in mid afternoon of over 11 vehicles lined up waiting/hoping for a black rhino to cross road. It did, but we did join this que.
http://tinyurl.com/7vjhkc6

regards - tom
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Dec 13th, 2011, 06:31 PM
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Great report! I am really enjoying it and looking forward to the rest. I am just starting to plan my first safari and was thinking of enquiring with Warrior Trails. It sounds like you had a great experience. I wasn't sure if the village visit would be too touristy (I would love to visit one but don't want it to be one of those phony "let's dress up for the tourists" experiences.)

It sounds like this is your third trip with Warrior Trails which is a high recommendation for them. If you have any other comments about this agency, I would be grateful for your advice. Thanks!
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Dec 14th, 2011, 05:27 PM
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Thanks as always for your nice comments, lynn. Although I can't pick a favourite spot to visit in Northern Tz, Tarangire holds a special place in my heart.

Tom, we managed to be the only vehicle around as a black rhino crossed the road behind our vehicle. I'm with you - I'd never join a queue such as the one in your picture. We tend to move off to look for something else and return to the busy site when the others have moved off. For example, there was a cheetah in the crater that had attracted a huge number of vehicles, but we went off in the direction of a herd of buffalo and watched them for a while. Upon returning to where the cheetah had been (and where there were now no vehicles), the cat was lying down right on the side of the road!

Hodma, planning a safari is very exciting! I don't know whether you've investigated Warrior Trails yet, but the owner/operator (Clamian) is Maasai. As such, he has close ties with several Maasai communities and has set up visits/overnights to bomas that are truly authentic. So, this is definitely not a "let's dress up for the tourists" experience. It is an opportunity to learn about a different culture by taking part in their daily activities. I highly recommend you consider including a night in the boma if you can.
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Dec 14th, 2011, 05:52 PM
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I completely missed this wonderful report the first time around, so I'm glad it's been topped.

The boma experience sounds fascinating.
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Dec 16th, 2011, 01:57 PM
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Thanks for reading, Femi. I hope to post the next installment tomorrow. Although I struggle to write what I think might be of interest to readers, it is fun to recall our wonderful experiences.
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Dec 18th, 2011, 07:11 AM
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We left Lake Burungi Tented Camp after a delicious, generous and varied buffet breakfast. Why is it that food always tastes better in Africa? Maybe it’s because someone else is making it for me

Heading for Arusha, we drove through the very pretty, but painfully dry, Maasai Steppe. The Great North Road has been newly paved and is in excellent condition. Although this enhances transportation to and from villages in the region, it bisects the Tarangire/Manyara wildlife corridor. This, along with growth in settlements and agriculture means that animal movements are being threatened and blocked. I read that the corridor was once vital to 25 large mammal species, some of which (including elephant) move between Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Parks via the Lake Burungi area. It is known that eight large mammal species – eland, hartebeest, buffalo, oryx, lesser kudu, cheetah, leopard and lion - are locally extinct, and as of 1998, only 3 of the 5 historical migratory routes in the corridor existed. Disturbing and saddening, but not surprising.

Back in Arusha, we had the chance to see Clamian’s (owner of Warrior Trails) brand new baby! This was added excitement to our trip, as Clamian had been our guide twice previously, and would be again on the last leg of the trip to Mkomazi and Pangani. Our pizza lunch at Pepe’s turned into quite a celebratory meal. Sidebar: Pepe’s has a reputation as the best pizza joint in Arusha. I haven’t eaten pizza anywhere in East Africa other than at Pepe’s, but it was excellent pizza, cooked in an outdoor stone oven. The restaurant is located on a lovely, treed street in a quiet neighbourhood. Dining is outdoors in a very pleasant, treed environment. I recommend it for anyone looking for a meal in Arusha.

Off to the Warrior Trails office where we debriefed with our beloved guide Nicholas and said our farewells to him before meeting Jackson, our guide for the next portion of our trip. Jackson has an online reputation for being another great Warrior Trails guide, so I was thrilled to meet him. He is a gentle soul with a great sense of humour and yes, he turned out to be an awesome guide. We loaded into another beautiful Warrior Trails vehicle, this one with a bank of outlets for charging our batteries enroute. Although it had never been a problem to charge our batteries at any lodge or tented camp we’d stayed at, it was really nice to be able to do so while in transit in our safari vehicle.

We were headed to West Kili – a favourite region of ours from our previous safari. The drive to West Kili is a delight. Little farms and communities along the way provide lots of scenic things to look at if you can tear your eyes away from Mt Kilimanjaro as you drive through it’s very scenic foothills. Leaving the “main” road we headed toward Kambi ya Tembo on a track that, at times, engulfed us in dust. Ah, the dust of Tanzania in the dry season! We were very warmly greeted at Kambi ya Tembo, and as two of only four guests at the camp for 2 nights, we were treated like royalty.

Kambi ya Tembo is located in a region called Sinya, a private concession of 75,000 acres bordering Kenya at Amboseli National Park. This “off the beaten path” camp offers very special landscapes, decent game viewing and close interaction with the local Maasai. These Maasai, like those at the boma we had stayed at previously, are very friendly and unexposed to the commercial relationship with tourists that some have in the more visited tourist areas. The land on which Kambi ya Tembo operates is leased from several local tribes which helps preserve the land for wildlife while generating funds for local schools and a clinic.

Our tent at Kambi ya Tembo faced the snow-capped peak of Kilimanjaro, although other than our drives to/from Sinya, the mountain was clouded over and you wouldn’t even have known it was there! We did have lovely views of the foothills from the tent veranda. The camp consists of 20 tents which are simply kitted, but kept in good shape. The mess/lounge building is very pretty in design, with soaring rafters, and gorgeous views overlooking the Amboseli plains. The sunsets were spectacular! Meals were good and very generous in portions. I think the cook was exuberant about working hard for his 4 clients, and he certainly didn’t disappoint.

We visit this area of northern Tz in the dry season in the hopes of seeing the big bull elephants that migrate into the region from Amboseli. Many of these animals are upwards of 60 years old, and have huge tusks. Luckily for us, as with on our last trip, we saw them. Images of these elephants on TV don’t give you a true sense of how huge they really are. With a shoulder height of 12-13 feet, the bulls are truly magnificant. Other wildlife in the area is shy and not particularly abundant at this time of year, but we did see zebra, a few varieties of antelope, giraffe (including brand new babies) and some hyena. The largest troops of baboons we saw on this trip were actually in West Kili which surprised me a bit.

For those of you who want something a bit different on your next dry season trip to Northern Tanzania, you might want to think about including a few nights in West Kili. Although not a region known for it’s dense animal populations, it isn’t as “touristy” either; go for the Amboseli elephants!

Up next, we had the entire Mkomazi National Park to ourselves for 2 days!
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Dec 18th, 2011, 11:57 AM
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I'm really enjoying your trip report. Good to know that Warrior Trails comes through for you once again.
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Dec 18th, 2011, 12:49 PM
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Another great installment Calo.

Makes me 'homesick' for the Arusha area and camaraderie of Clamian and Jackson. :'(
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Dec 23rd, 2011, 06:15 AM
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Thanks for reading, Raelond. yes, Warrior Trails came through again!

KathBC, 'homesick' is a good word for the way many of us feel when dreaming of our time in Africa. Having such happy memories of the people adds to that feeling!
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Dec 23rd, 2011, 06:36 AM
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The staff at Kambi ya Tembo came out in full force to send us off; lots of singing, dancing and hugging which is fairly typical of greetings and farewells at many places in Tanzania, it seems. Once again, we were on the dusty road through the camp concession and back to the paved road. The journey through the foothills on Kilimanjaro kept us enthralled with rolling hills dotted with busy (at a snail’s pace) little villages and small productive farms. And then, of course, there are the vistas of Kili – words fail me!

We headed back to Arusha to pick up Clamian who joined us for the last few days of our trip. It can be said that Dreezy and I love to laugh (as those who attend the Canadian West Coast GTG every year can attest), and we had really great, memorable times with both Nicholas and Jackson, but adding Clamian into the mix meant that there was even more spontaneous laughter, singing, joking and storytelling…such fun!

I’ll go into some detail about our next destination - Mkomazi - because it is a stunningly beautiful place with very few visitors, and I think it is on the brink of breaking out of it’s shell to become a very important tourist destination in the northern circuit.

History: Although Mkomazi was established in 1959 as a reserve, it didn’t get the financing as did the better known wildlife destinations including the crater and the Serengeti, and subsequently went into steep decline. Heavy poaching had wiped out it’s herds of elephant and rhino, and overgrazing by livestock and illegal burning for cultivation made the reserve a degraded wasteland. However, in 1989 the government re-examined the reserve’s status and designated it as a National Priority Project with a vision to rehabilitate the land and reintroduce lost animal species. The George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trusts have been the Tanzanian Government's main partner in this unique and important endeavour, and today, “The result has been one of spectacular success. One of the most fragile, threatened and beautiful parts of Africa has been reborn.”

Location: Mkomazi is located 200km east of Arusha - about 2.5 hours - along one of Tanzania’s busiest highways which connects Arusha and Dar. It is a contiguous ecosystem shared with Tsavo immediately across the border in Kenya. To the south lie the Pare and Usambara Mountains.

The road to Mkomazi passes through Moshi and Same. Although it is one of the busiest in Tanzania, we lucked out and really had a fabulous drive, with heavy traffic never an issue…although the dala dala’s and privately owned buses that were racing to Dar had me white-knuckling it a few times. This is an incredibly scenic drive, with the browns and greys of the dryer regions to the west being replaced by fresh green valleys and intermittently terraced and forested mountains, little ramshackle villages and productive red-soiled farms. Locals who were not attending the colourful roadside markets were on their way somewhere else, always pole pole. All of this make for an eventful, never-a-dull-moment drive with something fascinating and memorable to see at all times.

The park: Sometimes referred to as Tanzania’s last frontier, Mkomazi is the country’s newest park. In 2007, the government of Tanzania ratified the upgrading of Mkomazi Game Reserve to National Park status. The park covers a vast 3,245 sq km. To give you some idea of it’s size, Tarangire covers 2850 sq km. Mkomazi is a unique hilly, semi-arid savannah habitat for over 75 species of mammals. It supports several dry-country species that are rare elsewhere in Tanzania including the fringe-eared Oryx, lesser kudu and gerenuk. The park boasts over 450 species of birds. Black rhino/wild dog breeding projects that exist within Mkomazi are run by an independent, not-for-profit that allows visitors at times – this opportunity was not available to us on the days we were in the park.

Because this park is so newly rehabilitated, the animals are shy and not habituated to vehicles. We struggled to find the species we had hoped to see but in the end, we did get glimpses (and pictures) of lesser kudu, gerenuk and oryx. Clamian and Jackson absolutely shone for their game spotting talents – these animals were hard to find!! There were the “usual” giraffe and zebra, but these were also very shy, and we were never able to approach these animals from anything but a distance. We didn’t see any predators at all, but saw footprints of lions and hyena. One of the highlights of this park has to be the birding – such an array of birds that didn’t seem to mind our vehicle as much as the elusive mammals, and our game drives included lots of time spent birdwatching. The best bird shots of our entire trip are from Mkomazi.

Accommodation: Babu’s Camp is the only accommodation within the Mkomazi park boundary. Set on a pretty hill studded with baobab and acacias (and sunsets to die for), we were the only visitors to the camp for 2 nights. In fact, we had the entire Mkomazi National Park to ourselves for our entire visit! The park is a gem worth visiting just for that reason alone….there was no other vehicle traffic, and there were no other visitors – we couldn’t believe it!

Because we were the only guests at Babu’s, we were given the royal treatment. The camp staff was friendly and made quite a fuss over us, and the food was very good. This was our first experience with an outdoor bucket shower and flush toilet, and was fun until the requisite trip to the loo in the middle of the night - the frog in the toilet just about sent me into the middle of next week…I can only imagine that the frog wasn’t too pleased either.

Babu’s has aging tents that need some attention, although the overall ambience is quite nice. It is probably the most run down of any camp we’ve stayed at, and I feel that their “luxury” tented camp fees are too high for what we got. By far our worst experience at the camp were the geckos that completely overran the tent at night. They came out by the dozens and had no qualms about running over everything – including us – all night long. Bleh! I used to like geckos.

Our overall experience at Mkomazi was great, and we’re really pleased with our decision to include this little-known/visited park. Although not a park for high volume sightings, it does offer the chance to see some rarely seen species. It has a delightful remote feeling, diverse habitats and great birdwatching.
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 01:49 PM
  #40
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On Tanzania’s northern mainland coast is a 300km swath of virtually undeveloped white sand beach. One of the most beautiful, coconut palm-fringed stretches of tourquois water in this diverse region is Ushongo Bay – a beach holiday destination for visitors who want to truly relax. There are no nightclubs, no beach boys, no traffic noises, no souvenier shops, no hawkers…this was our next destination.

Our 436km drive from Arusha to the Tanzania coast continued from Mkomazi. Banana and coffee plantations gradually gave way to sisal farms and coconut palms. Everything was green and lush. There were street markets and social gatherings at every turn in the road, miniature mosques began to pop up everywhere, and of course we had to avoid the usual potholes, pedestrians, bicyles, wheelbarrows, dala dalas, motorbikes, goats, cattle, dogs, chickens and hoardes of watoto. The turnoff at Segera (I think?) meant dirt roads for 40+ km. Now things got really interesting! Add to the above: undulating roads, red dust, dilapidated wattle and daub, inquisitive stares, piles of maize. Then, finally we arrived at Pangani.

A small town on the northern mainland coast of Tanzania, Pangani is situated where the broad, silty Pangani River flows into the Indian Ocean, about 170km south of Mombasa (Kenya), 180 km north of Dar. Once one of the Swahili coast’s main trading ports dealing mainly with ivory and slaves, the town of Pangani seems to be well past its prime, with crumbling houses that don't appear to have been maintained since the time of the German rule in the early 1900's. And then there is the ferry…

Pangani town straddles the Pangani River, with the old buildings and the present-day market on the north shore, and the farms and small houses on the south side. Emayani Beach Lodge – our home for the next few days – is located 16km south of Pangani town, which meant boarding the quaint(?) passenger and vehicle ferry for the 5 minute river crossing. Poor Jackson and Clamian…they had never been in or on water in their lives, and they were a little panic-sticken at the sight of the Pangani ferry. This loud, open-air boat left either side of the river only when the ferry “master” deemed the boat full enough to warrant a crossing. We watched it depart from the south shore at an awkward, being-carried-away-by-the-current angle before scraping onto the concrete dock in front of us. Then, having paid our 2 cents each to board, Jackson drove onto the ferry while the rest of us walked on as foot passengers. The fun we had with each other on the ferry seemed to be frowned upon by some of the locals, but we didn’t let that stop us from laughing and enjoying ourselves.

Upon disembarking from the ferry, we continued down the bumpy dirt track through lovely, extensive fields of sisal interspersed with gorgeous tropical forests and grasses in search of Emayani Beach Lodge. Tucked away in a lush coconut grove, on a pristine white beach, Emayani is made up of 12 huge bungalows facing the Indian Ocean. We had the entire place to ourselves for the 2 nights we were there!
On the outside, our Emayani bungalow looked rough because it was built of natural wood, thatch and rope. There were no windows in the room, just huge openings with rolled up woven blinds to bring down in the evening. The bungalows have large verandahs with comfy chairs and day beds. The beds inside were completely protected by very well fitting nets – a true necessity here because of the mozzies that come out in the evening and find their way into the bungalows through the windowless window openings. Fans were a welcome item at night, keeping the heat and mozzies at bay. The food at Emayani was very good, with lots of fresh fish and local vegetables and fruit. Breakfasts were really generous, with a ton of choices. The lodge manager had an arrogant air with Jackson and Clamian, and seemed to like to talk about himself, but otherwise the staff was very friendly and efficient.

Although we chose not to do any diving or boating, we enjoyed a few dips in the Indian Ocean, and relaxed on the beach which we had entirely to ourselves with the exception of a couple of local fishermen who spent an entire day up to their waists in the water catching fresh seafood to take to the market - such a huge effort for so few fish!

We did a historical walking tour of Pangani town with “Hot Hot”, or little local walking guide. The town is steeped in history, with perhaps the most fascinating buildings being the old slave trade edifaces that are now crumbling into heaps of stone and being smothered by vegetation. It’s sad that the town is unable or not willing to spend the money to preserve these important historical relics – they really are a national treasure. The day of our town tour was the hottest day of our entire safari. Between the two of us, Dreezy and I probably dripped several gallons of perspiration onto the cobbled streets. “Hot Hot” is apparently known by every person in town, and hence was a little distracted from his task at hand, but it was a fascinating walk through the streets of this ancient place with it's beautiful but sadly neglected architecture. We had to be sensitive with our picture taking, so as not to offend the locals. This was more apparent on the Swahili coast than elsewhere in Tanzania.

Overall, the Swahili coast provided us with a relaxing beach experience at the end of our fabulous safari. We thoroughly enjoyed the serene, secluded location of Emayani and the opportunity to become immersed in this historically significant region. The sisal farms, coconut palms and rice fields all added to the feeling that the traditional safari experience was far behind us.

Up next: Our return trip to Arusha via Tanga
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