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Just returned from Kenya/Tanzania...exhausted but working on report

Just returned from Kenya/Tanzania...exhausted but working on report

Jul 5th, 2005, 08:18 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 226
Just returned from Kenya/Tanzania...exhausted but working on report

Just returned from our first safari to Kenya and Tanzania. What an incredible experience!!

Had high expectations and everything went better than anticipated! Exhausted now but will begin work on trip report as promised tomorrow. Same for over 1,200 pictures.

Thanks to EVERYONE on this board for their help in planning our holiday!

Higlights include 15+ foot python, the Migration and a successful lion hunt in the Serengeti

Off to bed now with dreams of Africa....


JazzDrew is offline  
Jul 5th, 2005, 09:27 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 48
Welcome back! I'm sure everyone is looking forward the trip report and photos. Can't wait!
safari274 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 05:26 AM
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Welcome back!!!
Kavey is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 05:42 AM
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Welcome back and glad it was a great, if not, better then expected.

Guess, I'd better get my photos done... don't want you to put me to shame.

Will be looking forward to seeing yours.
Jul 6th, 2005, 07:45 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,306
This tease is just cruel! We await details please!!
lisa is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 09:37 AM
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I've been anxiously awaiting your return! I will be checking the board regularly in anticipation of your report.
CarrieS is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 09:39 AM
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Yay!!! I'm looking forward to your report.

Welcome home.
Leely is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 10:05 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Welcome home! Glad to hear your first safari experience was even better than expected. Looking forward to your trip report, JazzDrew and yours too, sandi. Between the two of you, cookndoc, and rsnyder, we should have lots of East Africa trip reports soon.
Patty is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 11:38 AM
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WELCOME HOME!!! I am so excited for you - can't wait to hear all about it!
csuss is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 03:55 PM
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Sounds great. I am planning for 2006. What company did you use?
jenymemo is offline  
Jul 13th, 2005, 07:29 PM
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Sorry this has taken so very long... I am so frustrated with all the technology I have been using. I have spent hours and hours editing digital photos and digital video. It was all ready then CRASH...

At any rate I THINK have a few photos uploaded to OPHOTO. They are all out of order and I've lost all the comments. I HOPE this works..


I wish I could share the dvd's that I have made...I am so happy I took both the camera and camcorder!

I'll try to re-construct my notes for the report. SO FRUSTRATING when I loose work.... My video editing has crashed my computer but I'll start again.

A few off the cuff thoughts about our safari that ended last week:

1. Roy Safaris was fantastic! Sanjay (president) and Salvatory (guide) were incredible! I had high expectations and pondered every worse case senerio and Roy's was beyond expectations. Salvatory was tremendous. So professional and incredible service. WOW.

2. Wildtrek (Kenya) was good as well.

3. I now feel silly for worrying about things as much as I did. Before we went Africa seemed so exotic. We had zero issues. Would do it again in a heartbeat.

4. Favorites: Lake Manyara Tree Lodge - service was incredible. Kirawira during the migration was great. Saw 5 lion hunts (Amboseli,2 in Ngorongoro, 2 in Serengeti) - last one was the best and was successful! Was surprised how close we were to the animals and how they ignored us (except elephants in Lake Manyara). Giraffe Manor was well worth the money. Great people, accomidations and those giraffes! Felt very special to be there...had 1/2 the manor to ourselves. We were scheduled to spend spend one night at Serengeti Serena between Ngorongoro and Kirawira, but the Serena was oversold, so we were able to add a 4th night at Kirawira. This was great. Gets old moving every 2 days. It was nice to be at Kirawira for 4 nights in a row. Seeing a 15+ foot pyton was a treat as well. I enjoyed Tortilis in Amboseli alot, but this was my wife's least favorite. It was the most "camp like" in terms of tents. Had a little issue with sugar ants in the bath, but the staff sprayed and cleared them up. The people were incredible!!

Least favorite: Not much. We have NO desire to return to Nairobi. The drive from the airport to Giraffe Manor at 8AM was depressing. I am sure that jet lag was in full effect, but the roads, people everywhere walking, terrible driving, armed guards in the streets, etc was not the most comforting introduction to Africa. We were very glad to get to Giraffe Manor and felt completely at home and safe there. Our only moments of concern.

More later....promise.

JazzDrew is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 06:18 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Wonderful pictures! Keep the report coming! Are you from Iowa? I'm next door in NE!
cooncat is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 06:56 AM
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Just finished looking thru your photos. They're great. I'm glad I got mine posted a few days before you did... otherwise I would have been completely shamed. They're down the threads somewhere... take a peak when you have time.

You all seem to be enjoying so much - Africa is a perfect trip for families.

Looking forward to more of your report. I'm still working on mine and posting as I get each day finished... pole pole!

Welcome home!
Jul 14th, 2005, 08:14 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,306
I LOVE your photos. You all look so happy in them! What kind of camera did you use? How was your stay at Ngorongoro Serena? We are staying there in early December. Any tips on particular rooms to request or anything like that? Looks like you had fantastic game viewing.

The pics from Giraffe Manor are almost surreal.

I love the rainbow-colored lizard.
lisa is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 06:19 PM
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How can I wait until next June after seeing these pictures??

Your boy looks so happy. Remember we will be traveling with a thirteen-year-old, so any advice / suggestions would be appreciated. Did I see three twin beds in your room at Kirawira?

CarrieS is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 09:56 PM
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A couple more thoughts for first timers concerning our safari as I write the report again:

We sent off for the Kenya visa before we left. Very glad we did this and would suggest that future travlers consider this as well. We Fed Ex-ed our passports with the $50 fee and a return pre-paid self addressed fed ex envelope to the Kenyan embassy about 6 weeks before we left. We certainly could have taken care of this as we arrived, but it was GREAT to pass by the long long line at the airport!

I would also strongly suggest breaking up the frlights from US to Africa by staying overnighting in Europe. I can't imagine back to back flights!!

While we took a combination of US dollars, Erros and Kenyan Shillings (could not get Tanzanian money here)I would suggest not worrying about anything but US dollars. We could cash travlers checks at every lodge/camp, although sometimes only $100 a day. Everywhere we went we cold use UD dollars or local currency. We used VISA at all of the lodges for gift shop purchases and bar tab.

We used the ATM at the Barclay's bank in Arusha. Very easy to use and recieved good exchange rates.

Take lots of wet wipes for cleaning up while on game drives. Also kleenex for women's toilet stops.

Food was very good - I am a picky eater and enjoyed the food. Always lots of choices. Very "normal" US/European choices. The Serena food was not in the same league as Giraffe Manor, Tortilis, Lake Manyara Tree Lodge or Kirawira (but the cost is much less).

Lisa - I have lots more pictures, but will have to add back the others (with titles and in order) after I get the computer back in shape.

I bought my first digital camera a couple months before the safari and am very happy with how things turned out. I am NOT a photographer! But I wanted quality and simplicity. I bought the Panasonic FZ 15. It is 4 mega pixel but has a great 12x zoom that gets good reviews. I got it online for only $400! I bought 2 gb of memory cards and used about 1 3/4 of the space. Worked out great. Also took our digital camcorder and filled 6 tapes. So happy that I did this. I got a video editing program called Pinnacle Studio 9 and have been having fun editing video, music, photos, graphics, etc... I actually think my friends won't tire of watching the "home movies"!

While the Ngorongoro Serena was very clean and nice, we certainly found it to be a step or two below our other lodges/camps. It was so large - so many people. Service was not very good (again compared to the others). It is a mass market place and about 1/3 the cost of the other places so I am sure that we would have been happy if we had not been spoiled by the others. Our first night we had a bad experience with dinner - at 7:15 there was to be a group of maasai dancers and singers before dinner at 7:30. The crowds were large. After the show was over EVERYONE ran for the dining hall. We waited in line for a long time, then the 3 of us were seated at a table intended for 2 (because it was so crowded). We placed our order about 1/2 hour later...waited another 1 hour and still had not recieved our food. We cancelled our order and just ate from the salad buffet. The next night was much better, but the Serena was just a place for us to stay. Hope this doesn't sound bad...everything else was just soo GOOD! We have taken many upscale cruises and stayed at some nice places before and everywhere but the Serena the service and facitlties lodges/camps exceeded our past expereinces. And they should at the price paid!! We were in room 56 which was a "permanant" triple. The view was great - but I think they all are!

Another splurge that my wife and son would suggest is a massage at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge. Only $60 for an hour. They come to your cabin and it is amazing (I am told).

Carrie - Your 13 year old will LOVE it. Every place we stayed except Giraffe Manor had a twin bed that was waiting in our room for us. Worked out great - plenty of room. Giraffe Manor was even better....we had half the entire manor to ourselves! We had a large room (with fireplace) connected to our son's full sized room with a bath connecting the two rooms. I believe that there are not many triples so I would suggest booking as early as possible to be sure to get them.

OUr 11 year old spent almost 3 weeks without TV or Gameboy! It was great!!

Make sure to take binoculars for everyone. Also consider his own camera. The guides.staff were incredible with kids. I was surprised how many kids we saw. They all seemd to be having a great time. Some of the drives can be a bit long. We are so happy that we had a private vehicle. Our son could stretch across the back row of the Land Cruiser when the going was long.

Other thoughts:

There was always fresh bottled water waiting fopr us in the vehicles and in the rooms. We did not drink the water except from bottles. We used the bottled water to brush our teeth as well, except at Tortilis in Amboseli. We were told that the water at Tortilis is very fresh because it comes directly from the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro and that we could drink the tap water. We did not drink the water but did use it to brush with with no problems.

There was Coke Light everywhere. We were happy about that. My favorite beer was Safari beer in Tanzania, although I also enjoyed Tisker, Kilimanjaro and Pilsner Ice. All drinks were included at Giraffe Manor and Lake Manyara Tree Lodge. Soda cost about $2-3 and beer was $3 -4.

Still working on the rest and will report soon!

JazzDrew is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 10:15 PM
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Other thoughts....

No problem charging camera/camcorder batteries. I took a complete set from Magellans.com but only needed the adapter, not the converter. Was able to charge in all the rooms except Tortilis where everyone leaves their chargers at the bar. No problem with this either.

We had power 24 hours except at Lake Manyara - the generator was off from midnight to 5 am.

Watched the IMAX Serengeti DVD on our big screen tonight and was amazed how our safari was just like the film Awesome!!

We went to the massai village at Amboseli which was good, except for the uncomfortable market at the end...We don't do the "we'll talk price later" comfortably.

JazzDrew is offline  
Jul 15th, 2005, 06:43 AM
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Haven't had a chance to see the pictures yet but great trip report! I'm glad your trip went so well and 5 lion hunts - wow!
sundowner is offline  
Jul 21st, 2005, 03:06 PM
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Finally got a chance to see all your photos. You aren't from Iowa by chance, are you???

Your son, especially, looks like he is blissing out. Thank you for sharing these happy, incredible pics.
Leely is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2005, 11:01 AM
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I have another 600 pictures that I have not been able to load but am still working on them.

Yes, we are from Iowa....GO HAWKS!

I wish I could share the videos that I have been editing.

Does anyome know how to post video on the internet? How much does something like that cost? I have about 6 hours of video.
JazzDrew is offline  

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