East Africa - Five Minute trip report

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Dec 21st, 2005, 08:07 AM
  #1
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East Africa - Five Minute trip report

...or less.

Spent the month of October in Kenya/Tanzania/Rwanda. My pictures won't be up on the web till February probably.

Notes:
The roads are BEYOND AWFUL. Car broke down five times in the first 36 hours of the Rift Valley and Masai Mara.

Nairobi - not as bad as everyone says

Masai Mara - Great. Stayed in a tented lodge, an amazing experience. Saw lion pair mating. Saw hyena with bloody spine in its mouth. Two leopards. Cheetah jumped on jeep. nearly charged by an elephant. Giraffes everywhere. Wildebeest and zebra all over.

Lake Nakuru - Long harsh drive to get there. Glad I saw the flamingos and the rhino.
Treetops/Aberdares - Nice to say I stayed in Treetops, but dissapointing overall.

Lake Naivasha -Didn't get to see the lake. The lodge, the Naivash Sopa was great.

Amboseli - DUSTY, horribly barren. Great elephants. Saw a hippo come all the way out to the road. Saw a baby hyena dash back into its hole in the ground. Had a horrible vehicle breakdown. Lots of Ostriches.

Kenya/Tanzania border: Like the Wild West. Saw a pickpocket get the beating of his life here.

Arusha - Gateway city to Tanzania safari

Lake Manyara - beautiful hotel. Skipped game drive to get to Serengeti earlier

Serengeti - didn't realize I would have to drive through couple dozen kilometers of dusty barren land before getting to the plusher plains. Full day game drive in Serengeti was EVERYTHING I have dreamed off. Saw the most amazing, perfect male lion. Herd of HUNDREDS of buffalo. A leopard with an impala in a tree. Lots of elephants. Saw TONS more lions all over driving out of Serengeti.

Ngorongoro Crater - EARLY morning game drive saw lions try in vain to hunt buffalo. Buffalo sent the lions fleeing. *Greatest moment of whole trip* Cheetah. Hippo. Rhino. More lions. Loved the Crater.

Kigali, Rwanda - An absolutely beautiful city. Stayed at the Mille Collines. (the Hotel Rwanda)

Nyungwe Forest - Tracked chimpanzees. The hardest thing I have ever done physically. Had to completely break our own trail for hours. Struggled not to fall down ravines. Got a 30 second glimpse of chimps.

Murambi Genocide Center - Saw petrified skeletal remains of genocide victims. Horrifying beyond the imagination.

Volcanoes Forest - saw the legendary mountain gorillas. Simply one of the most awe inspiring, breathtaking moments of my life.

Rwanda country - the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen.

All in all East Africa was amazing.


Wayne Hazle
www.waynehazle.com
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Dec 21st, 2005, 08:47 AM
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Your 5 minute report packed a lot in it!Welcome back. Cheetah on the jeep is amazing. That happened to me once and it remains a highlight. It appears you did your own self-drive. A buffalo and lion encounter would indeed be on your greatest moments list.

Which group of gorillas did you see? Who was doing what? Eating, sleeping, etc.

Nyungwe Forest--Could you elaborate on your experience here? Where you drove from and length of drive, where you stayed. Was it only chimps you tracked there because I thought you could try to see Colobus monkeys too.

Sorry about the transportation glitches but it looks like you had a wonderful, memorable trip!
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Dec 21st, 2005, 09:03 AM
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WOW. What a trip. Sounds fantastic, and I'm especially envious of your Rwandan adventure.

Thanks so much for posting this. Could you remind this board when your photos are up?

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Dec 21st, 2005, 09:09 AM
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Wow, in a short report you've definitely given us a wonderful set of images of your wonderful long trip.

The game viewing sounds wonderful!

Would appreciate any more you can add later about operators, guides (or did you self-drive?), accommodation and of course, the many sights themselves.

Thanks for sharing!
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Dec 21st, 2005, 09:56 AM
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For anyone interested, Wayne has some pre-trip details on his website - http://www.waynehazle.com/eastafrica/index.html

Wayne,
Thanks for your quick report! I think you're the first poster on this board to have used Africa Point. How were they? Do they have their own ground operations in Kenya/Tanzania or do they use other ground operators? Were there others traveling with you and was it just you and your wife? Looking forward to your photos!
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Dec 21st, 2005, 09:58 AM
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I knew you all wouldn't let me get away with just a lazy quick version

I saw the Amaharo and Sabinyo groups.

The Amaharos, on Saturday, were clusted together in a thick area of growth at the top of a hill. The silverback, one of the oldest in all the families, was laying around doing virtually nothing. He was on his back with one eye open looking at us. It took about 1/2 hour to find them

The Sabinyos, saw them the next day, were much more active. They had two silverbacks. The top male was sat on top on a hill and made sure he could visually account for everyone in his family. He ate lots of bamboo and at one point ran around us and broke a bunch of bamboo trees. The guides said he did that to remind us he was in charge!
The Sabinyos actually came out of the forest and were right on the edge of the villagers farmland. The local children had the rare treat of being able to see them. it took about ten minutes to walk and spot them.

The problem with Nyungwe... well due to some tech difficulties we got to our hotel, the ORPTN Guest house late at night. The guest house was quite... "spare" shall we say. The original plan was to track for colobus on the first day and chimps on the second. I decided on the spot I didn't want to stay there two days at ORPTN and so decided to track for chimps the next morning and then head to Kibuye.

* We had drive from Kigali, stopped at King's House, Rwanda Museum and Murambi Genocide Center. By the time we started dirving into Nyungwe it was dark. We spent hours on winding, mist covered roads. It would have been gorgeous during the day. *

To track for chimps we got up at 4AM, went to a meeting point and picked up our guide. We then drove down a horrific bumpy road to the base of the forest. This took an hour. Then we walked through a village to the forest entrance. Perhaps another 1/2 hour. Then we entered the forest, which was lush and amazing. We followed trails for quite some time. Then they told us to find the chimps we needed to break own own trail. The growth was incredibly thick and moving was strenous. I thought my chest would explode several times.
At one point I heard the chimsp screaming and they pointed a few out in a tree.

While the gorillas sit there and let you watch them, the chimps are constantly on the go and of course we couldn't keep up.

More later...

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Dec 21st, 2005, 10:01 AM
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Great report. And only a 10-minute trek to see the gorillas. When I trekked in Rwanda, we had a 90 minute trek, including 30 minutes up the volcano.

I also agree on Kigali -- I really liked it and had fun wandering around. I was never hassled. Also stayed at Milles Collines.
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Dec 21st, 2005, 10:05 AM
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OK, another quick note for now:

didn't self drive. used AfricaPoint for Kenya/Tanzania
RNXplorer for Rwanda

Happy with both. Kenya/Tanzania has much better tourist infastruture, with some amazing lodges and incredible food.

Always have you food included in the price on trips. You can't exactly run to a market and buy food while on safari and I find it annoying to have to pay for more food as you go along.

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Dec 21st, 2005, 10:10 AM
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Wow, a half hour trek followed by a 10 minute trek the next day to get to the gorillas!
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Dec 22nd, 2005, 08:47 AM
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Thanks so much for the additional details. You deserved some quick walks to the gorillas after your chimp tracking ordeal. How nice the local children could share in your gorilla viewing.

You had a truly remarkable and all encompassing African journey.
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Dec 22nd, 2005, 10:07 AM
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We had considered Africa Point but couldn't find anyone who had used them. I emailed them for some references but didn't hear back. We ended up booking with Eastern and Southern. Glad to hear you had a good experience with them Wayne. Sounds like great trip.
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