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Hello From Mbuze Mawe, Serengeti (introductory trip report from Rocco)

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Mar 8th, 2006, 03:32 AM
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Hello From Mbuze Mawe, Serengeti (introductory trip report from Rocco)

A tremendous safari is drawing to a close. The gameviewing in the Ndutu area was tremendous...so much so that I ended up extending my time with Nomad in their Ndutu camps (they have two camps in the Ndutu area currently) and cancelling my visit to their Loliondo area camp.

Two gameviewing highlights especially standout:

1. A huge male lion (fully maned) climbing at least 10 meters up a tree. He literally pulled himself up the vertical trunk about 10 feet before getting on a thick branch and climbing further and further up. He nearly fell twice on his way down, after spending about 10 minutes up in the tree, but he was able to get down safely, ultimately. I believe he did it because he was so bothered by the flies. My heart really goes out to these lions because more often than not they are covered by hundreds of flies, sometimes that many alone just on their faces. I have some amazing photographs of the entire event and even my Nomad guide went crazy with excitement and did not hesitate to grab my spare camera to start snapping away at the lion.

2. A different huge male lion killing a young wildebeest as we watched from a close distance. This wildebeest had escaped from another huge male lion that was part of this pride of EIGHTEEN lions (a killing machine) but then in an effort to find its herd, the wildebeest soon came back to meet its demise. This pride was fantastic with 10 adults and sub-adults, including three mature, fully maned, male lions, and 8 cubs.

Other gameviewing highlights included:

Black rhinos (from a distance, but thankfully I did have my 80-400mm Sigma lens and 1.4x teleconvertor)

Male Cheetah Pair (not the best hunters and really quite annoying as they seemed to miss a couple golden opportunities...one morning we spent three hours with them with no results)

At least 8 different lion prides, the majority of them in the Serengeti/NCA area, mostly in the Ndutu area

Hyenas on a fresh wildebeest kill in the Crater. It was fascinating to watch the dominant female hyena control access to the kill, only allowing her cubs to feed while she chased all other hyenas away. In Hyena society, it is the female who is dominant over the male.

The CCAfrica camps were AMAZING. Alexsandra and I really loved both places (Crater Lodge and Lake Manyara Tree Lodge).

While the CCA camps featured mostly fellow Americans, the Nomad camps featured mostly Brits, but I do hope to have a hand in changing that, as Americans are really missing out. Of course Nomad is all about the game experience and it is a more basic tented camping experience, but service, food and accomodations are all top notch considering that they are in the middle of the bush with no permanent facilities.

I will talk more on the vehicles and guiding later.

That will do it for now. I probably will just stuff in one more game drive, but I am getting a little burned out now and I am looking forward to Zanzibar and the two nights both in Amsterdam and Paris. Tomorrow morning is the hot air ballooning and then the day after tomorrow it is off to Zanzibar.

Alexsandra is now an expert at Swahili and is desperately trying to find a tutor from the University of Dar Es Salaam at Stone Town to give her intensive lessons during our five nights in Zanzibar.

Yes, we did encounter the migration and it is magnificent. However, I did favor the game drives AWAY from the migration to focus on the cats...even found a magnificent leopard in a tree.

Cheers for now.
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Mar 8th, 2006, 03:57 AM
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Good to hear from you! Enjoy the rest of your trip!
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Mar 8th, 2006, 04:42 AM
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Looking forward to more. Who was your Nomad guide?
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Mar 8th, 2006, 04:52 AM
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Rocco:
It is somewhat curious that we were both able to switch nights from Loliondo to Nudtu--means the Nomad camps were not full--which they were quite full last April/May. I wonder if they had cancellations because of the rain situation. If so, both you and agree that people made a mistake.
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Mar 8th, 2006, 05:08 AM
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bat,

Nomad runs two separate camps in Ndutu, one is their "Bravo" camp, and the other is their "Delta" camp.

In the Loliondo area currently are Nomad's "Alpha" and "Charlie" camps.

They do have a fifth camp that roves different areas.

For the first three nights I stayed at the "Delta" camp, and there were two other couples there (3 out of 4 tents filled and that equals 75% capacity). For my final night, because they were taking down the "Delta" camp to move to a new Ndutu site, I was moved to the "Bravo" camp, that with Alexsandra and I was 100% full.

Nomad will not rotate clients between camps in the same area under normal circumstances. It was only due to my unforeseen extension that I was rotated.

My guide from Nomad is Chedial (sp.?) and he is excellent. Beanbags in the vehicle, fully stocked cooler, cookies/crackers, blankets, vehicle is cleaned twice per day, etc.

Finally, to clarify on my original post, each of the lion highlights were in the Ndutu area, each not more than 15 minutes away from the campsite. We heard the lions roaring each night from camp. Had I not extended my time in Ndutu, I would have missed out on the tree climbing lion.

Also, offroading is permitted in the Ndutu area, unlike in the majority of the Serengeti, and this made for a wonderful safari that reminded me much of the Sabi Sand except with tens of thousands of wildebeest, zebras, gazelles, eland, hartebeest and others around, as well as the magnificent open plains for which the Serengeti is known.

I did not really miss the open vehicles while in the Serengeti or in the Crater (just too many predators to get completely comfortable in an open vehicle) but I did elect to use the open vehicle of the Tarangire Tree Tops lodge at a cost of $30 per person per drive (very reasonable, I must say, especially since it was only Alexsandra and I on one drive and I was solo on the night drive).

Also, I did use the CCA open vehicle in Lake Manyara but I am not sure how much this cost as it was comped to me as an agent. It did make for a very nice drive as it would not have been as enjoyable in a closed vehicle since much of the drive takes place right up against the wall of the Great Rift Valley so having an open vehicle was crucial to seeing klipspringers and other wildlife.

That is all for now...I will need to start workingon a trip report and don't want to repeat myself too much.

Cheers from the Mbuze Mawe lobby.
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Mar 8th, 2006, 05:19 AM
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Ok. I'll wait, albeit impatiently--when you read my report you will find that even though it seems that the migration was massed for you, and it was not for us, we share similar opinions about the Ndutu experience.
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Mar 8th, 2006, 05:26 AM
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Wow, Roccco!
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Mar 8th, 2006, 05:50 AM
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Nice to hear from you, Rocco and glad you've had such an amazing safari experience... looking forward to reading the full detailed report when you get back!
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Mar 8th, 2006, 05:56 AM
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Roccco,

Huge male lion in a tree! I too am looking forward to the full report.

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Mar 8th, 2006, 06:00 AM
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Rocco,

Awesome!!! wow!!! will await ur full trip report

Have a gr8 rest of the trip

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Mar 8th, 2006, 06:19 AM
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Color me jealous.

Very happy you two are having such a good time. I do hope Alexsandra finds someone to tutor her in Swahili; I agree that it's a fascinating language (really difficult, though, or so I think).

Enjoy the rest of your holiday. I cannot wait for the full report.

And, what, no balloon update???
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Mar 8th, 2006, 06:30 AM
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It really does sound wonderful. Glad you are having good experiences in East Africa. I'll have questions later... And thanks for the mini trip report before you even return. Be safe and behave!

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Mar 8th, 2006, 07:43 AM
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Just a little more drama...just as we are sitting here preparing for dinner at Mbuze Mawe, a male lion is roaring for the rest of his pride and the lion has been placed between tents #5 and #6...we are in Tent #5.

I have seen quite a bit of carnage over the last few days so this is a bit disconcerting...I am rooting that they will go for the French woman in Tent #6 who is not at all concerned by the lion and says that she has been around lions before.

The national park ranger has now arrived and is addressing the issue but for now there are quite a few American senior citizens (OAT) stirring about here but none of them are as concerned as I, probably because they have booked all the wrong camps and have not seen what these lions are capable of doing.
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Mar 8th, 2006, 07:51 AM
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Rocco - I'm sure it goes without saying but be sure to get photos of these camps!! Thanks...
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Mar 8th, 2006, 07:53 AM
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Oh, and try not get eaten...
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Mar 8th, 2006, 07:55 AM
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Love hearing about all the excitement. You'll have to post back to assure us you weren't mauled!
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Mar 8th, 2006, 08:05 AM
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Swahili; I'm certainly finding it hard. I've been trying to learn for a while. Now have CDs, Books and posters. Also post-it notes with words and phrases. It's gradually opening up to me as a language... and able to communicate more. Certainly helps on the beaches when you tell the beach boys "Thank you, but there's no business today... maybe later... maybe tomorrow..." in swahilli. Their faces light up if you use a bit of sheng.

"Mambo poa! Uko freshi lakini?"

Don't expect would work in Tanzania.. they speak very correct Swahili there I've been told.
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Mar 8th, 2006, 08:44 AM
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How I would like to be there! amp;
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Mar 8th, 2006, 08:48 AM
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Don't worry, Rocco. Even lions prefer French to American food.
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Mar 8th, 2006, 08:54 AM
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I think the lion would come out the worse for wear if he had the audacity to attack Rocco. And "annoying cheetahs"?
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