Kenya and Tanzania Backwards Trip Report

Nov 2nd, 2008, 08:47 AM
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Kenya and Tanzania Backwards Trip Report

Apologies in advance if this is a bad idea. It will all work out all right in the end.

The title doesn't mean we traveled sitting the wrong way on an ass or anything interesting like that, I'm afraid. Just that I'm effectively going to start at the end of my trip, work back and then start and the beginning and go to the end again. Confused? DO NOT PANIC, it's all by park anyway so it's really not as bad as it sounds.

Itinerary was
4 nights Tsavo East]
3 nights Tsavo West
3 nights Tarangire
5 nights Ruaha
1 night Nairobi
6 nights Mara

I would explain further, but it would probably just be more confusing. Here are my photos and a partial trip report for the Mara

and for Ruaha

These "reports" are not intended specifically for Fodor's, so you may find the pace a little slow.... but if I wait until I finish everything for here... well, that might be a long time away. I'm thinking once I get started it'll all come together quickly...

My Fodor's trip report will hopefully start later this week with Tsavo East and Tsavo West ... IF I get the uploaded photos for those parks organised AND manage to check some names and spellings....

Anyway, basically you're welcome to look and read, but if you really prefer to do reading without looking (bandwidth, hate my photos, seen it all before ... whatever) wait a few days and you can start doing that - and beginning from the beginning too!

At least I got something up before Sandi... ;-)

Oh... and I'm Paul. I live in Thailand and have done so for eons, but I am not Thai. I travel with my wife who is Thai but spends a lot of her time outside Thailand. My wife gave up designer handbags to ensure we could travel to Africa every year. She has already forced me (practically at gunpoint) to book another trip for December 2009, which is the earliest I can think of affording it in terms of either money or time.
kimburu is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2008, 09:23 AM
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Paul I'm really looking forward to your report -from end to beginning! I just came back from Tarangire, which I absolutely loved and really want to do Selous and/or Ruaha some time in 2009 so am very interested in your thoughts on Ruaha.

I'm not into handbags so much but, umm, are you suggesting that I might have to stop adding to my shoe collection to have a chance to go back

Am off now to look at your pics!

whiskey is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2008, 10:34 AM
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I was so happy to find the start of your trip report, you are always a good read. Just finished looking at the Mara pictures and will go look at the Ruaha pictures later. You really have some wonderful shots of all those different cubs.
Looks like you too had another wonderful trip and how lucky you are already planning for 2009.
joeyi is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2008, 12:15 PM
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You've done well with your new equipment! Really enjoyed the narrative that went along with the photos too. Can't wait for more.

Where are you headed in Dec 2009?
Patty is online now  
Nov 2nd, 2008, 01:00 PM
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Got the hint, Paul

For sure, you covered some miles!

But, I'm so busy reading everyone else's reports, I haven't gotten more than 2/days of mine written. Whenever I think I have a window of time... business creeps!

Know though, "trip report" pops up on my calendar daily, so it'll get done eventually.

sandi is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2008, 02:11 PM
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I really love the format of words with the photos. It makes the whole experience very descriptive and easy to follow. I will try to remember that for my next trip. You have some great pictures and I like the aerials especially. Many times people don't appear to get any worthwhile photos from the balloons, not sure why. I appreciate your comments and understanding of the animals, especially not upsetting them. I didn't realize that the rangers in the Mara are pro active now in stopping the cars getting too close to the hunting cheetahs is that recent?
The cheetah cub stretching is just so appealing! But I just have to say that baboons aren't apes, they are primates. Apes include us, orang-utans, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and lesser apes include siamangs/gibbons. Sorry to be pedantic!
My husband is right into HDR so was interested to see your effort.
Loved the pangolin photo and Ruaha looks wonderfully isolated and wild so different to the Mara.
Can't wait to see what you got in Tsavo.
twaffle is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2008, 02:26 PM
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These pictures are wonderful - and I agree with twaffle that the detailed narrative (including your own musings) you have accompanying most of the photos is a great approach.

I saw Shakira and her cubs as well when i was in the Mara but didn't come away with such spectacular photos. The jackal pups are also really great, as is the serval shot. Loved the close up of the pangolin - it looks like an artichoke!

Ruaha looks wonderful - I'd really like to hear more about the bush walk as the walk was a highlight for me in Tarangire. Would be interested in your comparison of your experience in the two parks

Looking forward to your report and more pics

whiskey is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2008, 03:13 PM
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WONDERFUL photos, Paul - incredible! And once I get through the backlog of trip reports on my desk, I will enjoy reading the one you are writing!
LyndaS is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2008, 06:33 PM
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Have read and seen very little so far, but need to say, BRAVO, magnificent pangolin photos, especially the first.

Let's talk about tsetses in Ruaha at some point, kimburu. Good? Bad? Unbearable?
Leely2 is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2008, 03:09 AM
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twaffle you are not pedantic, I am careless and mix up words. Other oddities were the oribi (I identified it as a steenbok, which I know perfectly well it is not) and the Snake Eagle - I meant Steppe Eagle - I do have photos of a snake eagle but they look nothing like that.

I corrected them all today but it's kind of embarrassing - truth is my report is ready to post but I have to reread it twice to check I don;t claim to have seen an aardvark. ;-)

Ironically, my draft trip report for Fodor's includes a warning I am prone to this .I think it is just absent mindedness rather than anything clinical, but I do it occasionally but regularly, and am grateful for correction.

I will talk about tsetses in Ruaha Leely, and whatever else anyone would like.

Only trouble with the comments with photos is my photos are for 3-4 different "audiences"... hard to get a balance, but I think if I do it a couple of times I'll start to get it right.

We're headed right back to Kicheche Bush Camp, Patty. For eight nights. That's the whole trip! Can't believe I agreed.
kimburu is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2008, 04:34 AM
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Sorry, Leely. I should say WE will talk about.... I am not a specialist!
kimburu is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2008, 04:41 AM
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Your Ruaha pictures and narratives are great.
I appreciate that you injected a hint of your personality and humor into your good descriptions.
This fodor loves the story behind the picture.
Personally, if you want my 2 cents, I don't think you need to reformat your report for us. Your time will be better spent working extra for designer purse cash, LOL

Next stop for me is your Mara pics. Keep it coming.
cybor is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2008, 05:03 AM
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Wow! These are great pictures. I especially liked the 'fighting' hippos, the wrestling lion cubs, and the 'posing' lion. And I really enjoyed being able to read the extended captions with the photos.
ann_nyc is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2008, 05:22 AM
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Hi Kimburu,

Enjoyed all your pics!!! Thanks for sharing ........ lucky daytime pangolin!!!!

How did you like the guiding in Ruaha? The camp looks beautiful and just my type of place ..........

HariS is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2008, 04:32 PM
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Cybor and all... thanks for the feedback that this set up works. However, since I've already finished a huge chunk of my trip report, it'll be coming here.

Hari... At the end of the photos, under the one of us, I kind of address what I thought about the guiding. At first I wasn't impressed, but over the days I got to like this style. You will probably get "better" guides in the sense of spoor followers and the deeper stuff at Mwagusi and the "expensive place"... sorry, I can't remember it's name - just some letters, but I am not sure you would get the same effort and enthusiasm. Because you cannot drive off road and there is a lot of very long grass/bushes/trees, Ruaha is a park where a good spotter is essential. So our guide being an excellent spotter and a fair guide worked for us. However, the fact that he was a beautiful person was a factor in our expereince that I'm not sure others would necessarily rate highly. We always do find that important, especially like thsi when we were two days alone in the vehicle after Bill and his son had left.

That's a long-winded way of saying that it seemed to be "fair" to "good". All the camps seem to use a cooperative system of finding interesting sightings too, and efforts are made not to have too many vehicles around - not a park rule but self-regulation. Hunting by radio is common but if you say you'd rather not chase around too much they'll limit this. However, finding stuff without cooperation is very hit and miss in Ruaha and they would be making eyes if you asked them to turn off the radio completely. Note that the camp is very isolated, Hari. There are drives around the camp, but most days we'd end up doing a 40 minute drive down in the direction of the Mwagusi River because it is easier to spot game there and most of the (very few) vehicles are in that area, which increases the chance someone is going to find a treat like that pangolin or leopards. If you don't mind that drive and kind of missing the best light of the day for photography then if Mdonay looks like your kind of place, it is. I do not think it is that much different elsewhere anyway. All the camps generally leave on game drives late - I read 9 am at Mwagusi, somewhere, but imagine they are like Mdonya, flexible. Anyway, it's true the best sightings were late morning. They do not do this to be awkward or because Ruaha guides are not morning people. ;-)

Mdonya Old River should have its own walking area next year, which will be good.
kimburu is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2008, 04:42 PM
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Oh... and the area we drove to was not necessarily nearer to the Mwagusi camp than us - the Mwagusi River is long and of course the park is huge. When they said they usually go down to the Mwagusi River, I thought "Well, why didn't I just stay at Mwagusi?", but when you look at a map it is not quite as simple as that!

What did others think about it? I know there are at least three more people out there who have been to Ruaha recently.
kimburu is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2008, 05:04 PM
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I nearly forgot. Here's Tarangire.

Hopefully Tsavo East no later than tomorrow.
kimburu is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2008, 05:05 PM
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Your photos are very beautiful. I enjoyed viewing them tremendously. Also got a kick out of your wife eyeballing the fleece in the gift shop.
Leely2 is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2008, 05:17 PM
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Thanks a lot, for the feedback!!!
HariS is offline  
Nov 4th, 2008, 03:20 PM
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As long as I am not required to read it backwards, I won't panic.

Powerhouse itinerary!

I looked at the first album. You had some real finds like the baby cheetahs and all the lion pride poses.

"Fighting lions," "fighting jackals," fighting hippos, fighting impala! The zig zagging zorillas were tremendous. What did your guide say about the rarity of that sighting?

The animal friendly flash and spotlight was as impressive as the resulting leopard photos.
atravelynn is offline  

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