Northern Tanzania Photos

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Oct 28th, 2004, 12:26 AM
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Northern Tanzania Photos

Well, we're back and recovered from all the travelling. We had a wonderful time and fell in love with Tanzania all over again.

This is just a quick summary of the highlights (no lowlights at all!).

We started at Kikoti in Tarangire park for 2 nights. We can highly recommend Kikoti Tented Lodge. The tents are very spacious with everything you could need. One of the drawbacks mentioned before we went was that it was a long drive to the park entrance. This situation seems to have changed as we were able to use the Rangers Post entrance the other side of the park. This meant that we only had about a 15 minute drive from the park gate to the camp and often saw game on that section. It's definitely worth staying outside the park because of the opportunity for night drives. We had one of our most thrilling experiences when we came across a young giraffe carcass being eaten by 4 Hyaenas. The driver approached to 20 metres, turned off all the lghts and engine and all we could hear was the crunching of bones and tearing of flesh! On that note the food at Kikoti was fine - not overly memorable but certainly as good as many other places we've visited. Overall, Tarangire is a lovely park with wonderful scenery, many baobabs and vast numbers of elephants - we probably saw more here than anywhere else we have been.

On to Ngorongoro and the Serena. The drive up was hair-raising as there had been heavy rainfall and so the road was incredibly slippery. Made it up there finally after a white-knuckle drive. Views from the lodge are stunning - I recommend that anyone going asks for an upper room - better views and no sounds of people walking around above your head. Saw everything in the crater we had hoped, including 3 rhino - 1 up close and 2 at a distance just after mating. We're really glad we listened to our guide and got up very early - we were second into the crater and virtually had it to ourselves for about 2-3 hours (we were in by 6.30am). We probably had the best lion viewing here of the whole trip - 2 very large males walking across the plain to their pride, we were directly between them and their group of females!

Then on to Serengeti via Olduvai Gorge and the Shifting Sands. A great diversion which only takes up about 3 hours. I still can't get my mind around seeing hominid footprints that are 3 million years old!!! Also the Shifting Sands phenomemon is very interesting - read up about it before you go.

We stayed in the Serengeti for four nights, all at the Serena. The accomodation there is fine - again I think it is best to have an upper room (the rondovels have 2 downstairs and one upstairs room).

There were many more animals than we expected in the Seronera area - it seems that there had been some early rains which brought some of the animals south much earlier than expected. So, thousands of Zebra and Wildebeest were already in the Seronera area. Initially I wondered if we had made a mistake in staying here for 4 nights rather than spending some time in the north. However we drove North on one day, through the Lobo area and right up to the border gate at Bologonja. There were very few of the migratory animals in this area and we saw very little all day; our guide said that about 60% of the migration was in the woodlands south of Lobo or already in the Seronera area and the other 40% had stayed put in the Mara. However the scenery in this area was stunning, we saw many birds and the whole area had many fewer cars than in the Seronera area so it was definitely worth the trip.

Fabulous sightings all over the Seronera area - 8 different cheetahs including 2 cubs, countless lions (with and without kills) and, finally, 2 leopards on 2 different days. Incredibly, the second was as we were en route to the airstrip on our very last day!

The Serena is a really nice lodge - great facilities, very charming staff and good food. However the comments elsewhere about the location are true. You have to drive for at least 45 minutes through woodland before you get to the open plains and animals and the tse-tse fly in the woodlands is troublesome. So it's a really difficult decision between the standard of accomodation in a not so good area (Serena) or the lower-standard Wildlife Lodge in an area much closer to the action.

On our last night at Serena we were treated to a wonderful surprise. All the kitchen and dining-room staff came out and sang to us and presented us with a farewell cake - evidently it's very unusual for guests to stay 4 nights; we felt very honoured and a little embarassed!

When we returned to Arusha we had a long wait (8 hours) before needing to get to Kilimanjaro airport. Roy Safaris took us to the Impala hotel for a meal and we were able to sit by the pool afterwards and just enjoy relaxing in the sun for a few hours before being taken shopping to an excellent culture and heritage centre where we spent far too much money!

A few words about Roy Safaris. They lived up to all the expectations created on this board. The organisation was faultless, our guide was a lovely Masai called Clamian whose knowledge and enthusiasm were a joy for us. Also the vehicle we had was a bit special. Roys now adapt their landcruisers to create more standing space between the rows of seats. Being only two of us, we could walk around the vehicle quite easily and so get the best possible viewing from any angle. Also the roof of the vehicle pushes up to a canopy rather than a flip-top roof. This is essential to provide shade from the sun during the day (or indeed the rain that we had a couple of times).

Hope this is of use and am happy to answer any questions. I also thought a few of you may be interested in seeing some of our photos so I've posted a link below.

http://www.ofoto.com/I.jsp?c=jrsfo4y...q&x=0&y=1ku7g2


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Oct 28th, 2004, 04:00 AM
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Oh Ruthie-----
Thank you so much for the trip report. I've only read it once but I will read it many times today. I'm printing if off for Max too. Lots of questions. You flew into JRO I assume? There they picked you up? You flew to Tarangire? How much was driving and how much flying. One guide throughout, right? Did you visit the Seronera Wildlife Lodge? I stayed there in December l989. It was tired then, but I just loved it. The migration was close by and it still brings back wonderful memories. Amazing that I don't remember the run down part or even the food, just the amazing number of animals. That is the best I ever had it, Wildebeest-wise. I'm just wondering if the lodge is even up to acceptable standards now. Surely it must be.
Your photos are just stunning. That opener is a knock-out. The Crater floor from the top is a wonder isn't it! I've been to Olduvai a few times but I don't recall the shifting sands.
You really saw it ALL. All animals present and accounted for. Thank you for letting me tag along, at least in my heart.
You had about 8 days there? Did you see where Kusini Camp is in the Serengeti? I understand its not too far from the Serena and those.
Did you hear whether part of the migration stays in the Central area when they are in the South during the calving season? Thats how it was when I was there in 1989. Welcome back. Great trip. Love the photos. Liz
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Oct 28th, 2004, 04:16 AM
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Awesome photos! Thanks so much for sharing.
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Oct 28th, 2004, 04:29 AM
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Liz,

I love your enthusiams! Answers as best as i can below:

We flew overnight London to Nairobi with Kenya Airways on a very restricted ticket (saving money so that we could afford this second trip)- perfectly adequate although the food wasn't great! Then Precision Air to Kilimanjaro where we were met by our Guide, driven via the Roy Safaris Office in Arusha to get our briefing & pay the 70% we still owed. Then onto Tarangire with a picnic lunch in the park. So we were driving from our pick-up at 9.00am until we got to Kikoti at approx 6pm. But there was so much to see that it really didn't seem a long day. I can't remember how long it took to get tfrom Arusha to Tarangire - probably about 2 hours. Then we were with the same Guide for the next 8 days and drove everywhere until he dropped us off at the Seronera Airstrip for the flight to Arusha. He drove back from Serengeti to Arusha (7 hours he said)while we were met off the plane by another driver from Roy Safaris who took as shopping and then drove us to Kilimanjaro for our return flights.

I really hope I haven't misled people on the Wildlife Lodge in Serengeti. We didn't stay there, it's just that what I've picked up on this board and from what our guide said, there seems to be a gap between the standard of the Wildlife Lodge and the Serena - but I can't comment on this from any personal experience.
Sorry, didn't see Kusini so i can't comment on that and I have no idea what animals are where in the calving season.Thanks for your kind words,
Ruth
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Oct 28th, 2004, 04:33 AM
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Incredible pictures RuthieC. May I ask what type of camera equipment you used?

Thanks
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Oct 28th, 2004, 04:35 AM
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Liz -

Re the Seronera Serengeti - this lodge was taken a bit worn and was taken over earlier in '04 by Three Cities Group out of SA and was to have been totally refurbished. I'd hope that this work is completed by now.
 
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Oct 28th, 2004, 04:53 AM
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RuthieC - Thanks for the report. Interesting that as soon as the rains start falling, the animals start moving, even if they did return to Mara for a short time.

The photos were great - loved that lion climbing down the tree. All I could picture was how a little child would do this - backwards, of course. Also lots of Cheetah and that 'lil baby Ellee.

As I hear you tell it and seeing the photos you had a great time - and to think, this was your second trip to Africa is one year - or within 6-months. Good for you two!

Now, where to next! Welcome home!
 
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Oct 28th, 2004, 06:29 AM
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First of all on the photos - many of you already know that it's my better half who must take the credit here, I only ever use the Binocs (well, except for grabbing the camera to photo the lion cubs - I couldn't resist!).

The camera is a digital SLR - Canon EOS 300D and the main lense is a Canon EF-75-300mm f4-5.6is lens with image stabiliser. Scenery shots are taken with a Canon EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.

(and I only know this 'cos I copied it from where he posted it last time! I know nothing about cameras)
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Oct 28th, 2004, 07:28 AM
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RuthieC,

Really enjoyed your report and the photos. Please pass comments on to your husband. Difficult to pick out one favorite but the smiling lion and the agama next to the umbrella really caught my eye.

Dick
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Oct 28th, 2004, 01:35 PM
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WOW Ruthie!
I love Love LOVE seeing everyone's photos when they get back but I can honestly say yours is the best album I think has ever been shared here. It's amazing!
I love the way you show the environment and show the animal behaviour but still get up close and personal so we can see detail. Your landscape shots are inspiring and I was also blown away by all the excellent bird shots!
Absolutely brilliant! You really made my day - especially as I had to have an emergency root canal today after tripping and falling on the pavement (sidewalk) yesterday, breaking a tooth, splitting my lip (needed stitches) and bruising and grazing lots of myself. Sigh!
Just fantastic!
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Oct 29th, 2004, 12:21 AM
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Kavey,

Thanks very much, hubby is very flattered. By the way, did you see the one with the Hippo swimming on his back (Roll over Beethoven)!! Especially for you.
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Oct 29th, 2004, 03:23 AM
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Kavey-
Sorry about your accident, but Ouch!!! I can't imagine anything worse than stitches in ones lip. Wishing you as pain free a healing process as possible. Liz
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Oct 29th, 2004, 03:46 AM
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Terrific photos.
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Oct 29th, 2004, 06:26 AM
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RuthieC-
Welcome home.
Those are some extraordinary photos your husband shot. Well done! And I love the pic of the hippo on his back. That's a once in a lifetime shot.
And your landscapes are beautiful.
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Oct 29th, 2004, 06:28 AM
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Ruthie, I did see it and it's a great photo. May I ask what length of zoom he was using?

Liz, yeah it's not the most pleasant thing but the swelling is going down and the tooth pain has gone completely since the root canal yesterday. I'm just bummed as I never had a filling till now let alone a false tooth (tooth to be crowned next week). Thanks for the well wishes...
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Oct 29th, 2004, 06:40 AM
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Ruthie/Phil-
The first time I saw the 'mystery' bird, I thought Shrike. I still think that. I could just hear my guide saying "That is a Shrike". Which one isn't as easy. How about a long tailed Shrike? Anyone?
I could just go on and on about those photos. I have comments for each one, but alas, it would get tiring for everyone, so that little Dik-Dik and those two perfectly posed male lions in the Crater will just live in my heart. Liz
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Oct 29th, 2004, 06:44 AM
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Sandi- It sounded good, but I contacted Roy Safaris by email and they said that unfortunately Three Cities haven't done any refurbishing to the Seronera Wildlife Lodge. I guess it is what it is and it is in the most perfect location of any lodge in the Central Serengeti. (I added that last part.) I'll bet they could get huge rates if they fixed it up at all. Oh well. I would be mighty tempted to stay there anyway, we'll see. Liz
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Oct 29th, 2004, 09:18 AM
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RuthieC,

You take beautiful photos! What a wonderful time you had--thank you for sharing.

A note about the Wildlife Lodge: we (a friend and I) stayed there in July. It isn't great, and I'm not picky about those things either. My friend likened it to staying in a Ramada. But we've never stayed in a Ramada so who knows.

The location, however, is excellent and we found the food adequate--sometimes better than that. When we arrived they weren't at capacity, and our guide requested that they give us a specific room that he thought we would like. The view was amazing.

I'm not sure about the management; they seemed a little severe with the staff on a couple of occasions, but maybe that was just my imagination. I'd stay there again for the location alone and see how things have changed.

Welcome back!
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Oct 29th, 2004, 10:03 AM
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Liz -
Thanks for the heads-up on the Seronera Wildlife Lodge. I had gotten an email regarding the take-over by Three Cities with emphasis being placed on the coming renovations and refurbishing and never pursued it further. Maybe they changed their minds, or their cash flow just isn't....
 
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Oct 29th, 2004, 10:04 AM
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Leely-
Hey, thanks for the info. I remember someone was going to stay there and then I never heard back. Appreciate your comments. The point I was making earlier is that 15 years ago I stayed there and all that comfort stuff left my mind, what remains is the Serengeti being black with Wildebeests everywhere you looked. The hyenas around whooping and how excited I was to be a part of it if only for the 2 days I was there. The room, food and staff filters out and all the animals stay forever in one's mind. Liz
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