Notices

Our Tanzanian Journey part 1

Reply

Sep 7th, 2006, 12:49 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 157
Our Tanzanian Journey part 1

Well thank you everyone for your help in organising my unexpected African holiday this summer. After our Christmas jaunt to Zambia, SA and Mozambique I thought I might just contemplate a short African summer holiday. Things escalated and next thing I knew I was planning an African activity holiday rather outside my comfort zone with riding with game, camping and finally diving in Zanzibar. Just to give some perspective I have never ever camped and rather like my luxuries so this was brave stuff indeed.

Well we travelled coach class London to Nairobi – the flight was empty in the aftermath of the London terrorist scare and we were able to lie down and snooze the night away. Arriving in Nairobi things were less serene, transit was a bit of a nightmare, only an insistence on the ground staff retrieving our luggage and returning it to us prevented the fate of other travellers we met - who had lost their luggage through the system, to have it returned days later at a liquor store.

We finally arrived at Arusha airport, which is sweet and dinky – soo much nicer than arriving at Nairobi. We sped through it and were efficiently picked up to be transported to Mt Meru Game Lodge to overnight. I thought we would be tired and need some recovery time but actually we felt quite rested and so went for a guided walk of a local village – not the kind that is arranged for tourist viewing but a genuine messy, poor but fascinating assortment of half built mud huts, chickens and dirt. At one stage we heard the kids reciting the days of the week in English, which Carmen happily joined in to help.

MT Meru Game Lodge itself was sweet and nice for just a night. It has an enclosed area where “orphaned” animals are kept – just some Zebra, ostriches and lots of birds that choose to drop in. Much to our amusement the ostriches decided to get amorous – we have a hilarious video of them mating, their necks swinging wildly from side to side. I ‘ll see if I can work out a way to post it. The room itself was modest but nice and the place seemed strangely quiet . I should say they also have some cadged porcupines and a rather lonely looking monkey – less nice but legacies on when they had a collection of all sorts of animals.

Next day we were ready to leave and promptly picked up for transfers to Makoa farm. Predictably the driver got lost, it’s quite out of the way. We arrived before lunch – and unloaded ourselves into the front garden to be met by 2 rather angry Maribou Stock chicks – who flapped around but seemed unable to walk far. In fact the animals seemed to be our reception committee ; and I liked it already. Elizabeth quickly turned up and introduced us to our future travelling companion Anna, a delightful Swedish diplomat, and then to our room. I think I had some idea of tents and roughing it so I wasn’t really prepared for the beauty of our accommodation – it’s truly spectacular, a kind of cross between a cabana and a tent with a billowing tented ceiling and a view of Kili that is absolutely perfect. Stunningly framed by the lush jungle setting - quite priceless. I honestly think it’s more beautiful than the poshest and most expensive camp you could stay in. I think the farm is animal heaven and a must for anyone with children. Its just full of animals of all sorts from donkeys to geese, mongooses, guinea pigs, owls, herons, ---just everything. Oh and have I mentioned the cats, coffee is delivered in the morning to your room along with an extra bowl to feed the cats your left over warm milk. We loved it. The horses are definitely on paradise, they live as a herd and can range across many pastures coming into a central shed to eat when they want. Oh and there was the tiniest piglet Elizabeth was nursing in the house along with the dogs … quite put me off bacon for breakfast.

So we settled in and that afternoon went to catch up with our mounts. A little swapping around was required before we all were comfortable so I definitely recommend riders set aside time for this in their schedule.

Over the next few days we were to become close friends with Anna, she was a marvellous travelling companion and really made the trip. The next morning Lazlo gave us a briefing on how to ride with game. We soon began to understand his dry humour, for example, his advice, should you be so foolish as to fall from your mount when an ellie charges, was to grab hold of the tusks with both hands and wrap your legs around his head so he can’t gore you to death…hmmm I think about that one.

The horses were trailered half way to Ndarakwai in West Kili and we rode the rest. Again I loved the camp, its permanent tents, but really comfortable, no electricity but all the more romantic for it. The staff were lovely, especially the eponymous Happy, but some advice, make sure in advance they have your favourite alcoholic tipple, they have limited stocks. So the next day we rode into the bush for our encounters with game, I must say I think its spoilt us a little for normal safari’s –it’s just magical to see game on horseback. We got really close to the giraffes, less so to the ellies probably cause I was a little nervous with Lazlo’s advice ringing in my ears. And we saw no one … no vehicles at all. If you don’t ride West Kili may be too out of the way to visit as there are no lions around and no real sightings of Leopard .; But it is a wilderness area with solitude and huge landscapes and loads of the usual prey game.

In summary it was just brilliant, Lazlo in particular was a very funny man, ask him about his incident treating a field mouse if you ever make it there, we laughed and laughed.
YvonneM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 7th, 2006, 01:08 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,700
Thanks for your first installment! I'm glad you enjoyed Makoa and found the accomodations better than expected. We received the same elle advice from Laszlo

Did you stay at the permanent camp on Ndarakwai the whole time or did you spend some nights at a fly camp?
Patty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 7th, 2006, 01:30 PM
  #3
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 157
Hi Patty we stayed at Ndarakwai, I chickened out of the fly camp experience. Now having been at the mobile camp in the Serengeti I think I could hack it, but I was just a little wary of sleeping well on little more than a piece of foam. Next time maybe. I have some nice pics of the horses etc, its late here in the UK but I'm trying to work out how to load them onto Kodak Easyshare.
YvonneM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 7th, 2006, 01:43 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,418
Sounds like you had a lovely trip so far, Yvonne. Look forward to hearing more about it.

Cindy
sundowner is online now  
Reply With Quote
Sep 7th, 2006, 01:55 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 5,771
Wow, This sounds like an unusual trip--all the riding makes for a different experience, I guess. Can't wait for more (hope you'll post it here on this same thread since it will be easier to read all on one thread than in parts--I say this since you have titled this "part 1")
schlegal1 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 7th, 2006, 02:06 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,700
I probably would've chickened out too if I'd never been camping before. Looking forward to your pics!
Patty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 7th, 2006, 03:08 PM
  #7
bat
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,790
What a great start--Makoa sounds lovely.
bat is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 7th, 2006, 04:20 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 4,222
You sure make a case for Makoa Farm. Maybe I'll have to start riding again.

Looking forward to your next installment.
Leely is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 7th, 2006, 06:52 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 177
Welcome back! It sounds like you had a fantastic trip.

I grew up riding and your trip report is making me want to take it back up


Jenn
jenn24 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 8th, 2006, 10:08 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 1
YvonneM,

Since two of us senior citizens plan to go to Tanzania via Nairobi in November, we are very interested in hearing more about the problems you encountered at the Nairobi airport. Were you with a group? Were you met by an "outfitter's" rep? How did you retrieve your luggage? How did fellow travelers learn that their luggage could be found at a liquor store? We'll be traveling alone, although an "agent" from the hotel should meet us at the airport. The Nairobi airport has been our major concern since we began this trip plan. Thanks for any advice you or others can offer.
chickasaw is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 8th, 2006, 10:39 AM
  #11
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 157
Hi Chickasaw, when you alight at Nairobi you are inside a transit zone and don't go through passport control to collect your luggage. Instead you go to a transit desk, which is a mad free for all of people not well schooled in the British art of queuing. Here we had to show our faxed photo copy of our Precision air flight coupon to get our boarding card to Arusha. On giving us the boarding card the staff claimed our bags were now labelled to go through to Arusha, but we have had bad experiences of this sort of thing going wrong before. We asked one of the Airport staff to go across to baggage claim ( which is on the other side of passport control , so you can't go there) and collect our bags and bring them across to us to check in personally. We are really pleased we did this as we met 2 Americans who lost there baggage here and had to wait a couple of days for it to turn up. Maybe I'm paranoid, but safari without luggage is no fun!
YvonneM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 8th, 2006, 10:45 AM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 157
A quick question about posting pictures. At huge lenght last night I loaded just a few pics to Kodak Easyshare. It took so long because they were uncompressed 8MB files each. From now on I will compress the pics - but will it be OK to leave the ones I have uploaded there? Will it men it will take ages for people to look at them?
YvonneM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 8th, 2006, 11:01 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,700
Yvonne,
When you checked in at LHR, did you have the counter agent tag your bags to JRO? Do you know if the 2 Americans had their bags tagged to JRO from wherever they originated? I'm curious because as long as the bags were originally tagged to JRO, technically they should be transferred. Otherwise, it would be a nightmare if everyone transitting between international flights at NBO had to do what you did.
Patty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 8th, 2006, 02:20 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
What a delightful start to your trip. Makoa seems like a magical setting.
atravelynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 9th, 2006, 12:24 PM
  #15
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 2,309
Yvonne, I’ve wanted to take up riding again since I stopped doing it, but your report makes it more urgent. Looking forward to the next instalment.
Nyamera is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 14th, 2006, 08:20 AM
  #16
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 157
Sorry it’s taken so long to get to the next instalment, work seems to have piled up while I was away. I’ve also spend quite a lot of time struggling with my pictures and Kodak easyshare. I have posted some up but have no real idea of how to share them with you. I tried e mailing them to myself to get a link address, but all I have is the generic Kodak address….help!

Anyway, back to our journey. We over nighted at Arusha Coffee Lodge before our flight to Kleins Camp. It’s quite pretty, nice big rooms and a pool - but that seemed to have seen most use from the resident mosquitoes. Ah the mosquitoes…. My nemesis. Hubby found about 24 inside the bathroom, 12 and counting inside the mosquito net and God knows how many in the room. We went on a mosquito carnage rampage. At least an hour of dedicated swatting – I doused myself in chemicals but am still sporting the scars today. It was a bad mossy moment – be warned!

Our flight was scenic for me, nauseous for Carmen. We arrived at the airstrip at Midday to be met by the Nomad representative, Felix, our driver for the next 4 days. A leisurely but uneventful drive introduced me to the Tse tse flies. They were everywhere but what can I say, I’m delighted, at last a biting insect that doesn’t want to devour me. Felix, Robert, Carmen they loved - but my white flesh was obviously to pasty for them. Sheer joy. So to our tents, remember my closest encounter with canvas to date had been in the form of a quirky handbag. The Tents looked … well …small. With 3 beds inside it was only just bigger than the sleeping area. The seating was well, 2 hard chairs. The loo… a hole in the ground. Robert’s only comment was “hey let’s hang by the pool” I did the only thing I could and immediately fell asleep. Those beds are more comfy than they look.
I awoke to an early evening drive that revealed the extent of the wilderness that is the Northern Serengeti. It really is an endless plain, no other vehicles on sight, no babble of other vehicles on the radio, no one to help find sightings, no one, just us. The plus side, a truly spectacular setting unspoilt by others, the negative, it is harder to find predators, especially when you add in the fact you’re not allowed off road. There were quite a few times when we knew there was a kill just a few 100m from the road but simply could not go there.

The evening introduced us to our travelling companions - and they really helped make whole experience special – 2 lovely Americans, absolutely entranced by their first African experience and 2 impossibly posh but equally delightful Brits. The American’s had an amazing video from South Luangwa of a lion kill, the lioness fighting with an huge male and then the fearless cubs muscling in the act – we felt quite jealous.

Dinner was fabulous, in the middle of absolutely no where we dined like Kings with silver service and the very best company – it was all rather surreal.

In the night I slept like a baby, waking only when hubby lent over to whisper, “Do you hear the lions?” I did but in my dreamy state I thought they were just singing me to sleep. Next morning Robert revealed he had been convinced thy had surrounded our tent and was working out how to bravely defend his family. The guides said their roars travel but Robert is still unconvinced.

The next day Felix decided we would have a picnic lunch and spend our whole day in search of predators. Five minutes from the camp he screeched to a halt and hopped out of the Land rover. In front of us was a black Cobra poking around in a hole, then another emerged and we were treated to a Black Cobra fight, heads up and hissing, right in front of our eyes, what a start to the day.
We were in cheetah country and I especially wanted to see some of these beautiful animals. The grass was short and the plains open so we expected to see one pop up any minute. Needless to say we drove for hours without a sighting. Eventually we paused near Lobo Hills and then, to my amazement I looked out through my prescription sunglasses and saw something, way way in the distance, yes a cheetah and I spotted it!
Felix couldn’t believe it! We followed as best we could from the road as our cat relaxed under some bushes. It wasn’t so great a view but it was my cheetah and I felt especially proud.

Later we did have some help from the other Nomad vehicle to find some lionesses with a kill. The other car had long gone and as always it was just us with our sighting and the huge wilderness. In the heat of the day dust devils would quickly whirl up out of no where completing the beauty of the landscape. We had a delicious but hot lunch under a tree watching some timid Zebra getting up the nerve to drink from a small stream, the ellies had no such problem and sauntered in without a care. After lunch more driving. It seemed impossible we alone could find anything in such enormous spaces. But again, out of the blue, Felix pulled up the vehicle hard. He was breathless with excitement and pointed to some rocks and bushes that seemed deserted. “In there don’t you see”, we looked and looked until our eyes were popping and eventually made out a small but beautiful leopard cub lying right in amongst the tangled branches - very young and very very cute. Just then another tiny cub popped his head up from behind a termite mound – what a sight. Now I know you safari veterans have seen oodles of leopards at very close quarters – but this seemed incredibly special to us. The cubs were so small and the vast plains so empty – it seemed against all odds we would find such young and beautiful creatures tucked away in such a secret place. Finally I asked Felix how on earth he had managed to spot them from the car, with a twinkle in his eye he pointed to the dirt road, there were tyre tracks where a previous car had stopped, a trick of the trade so to speak.

The day ended with a final treat, some lions had made a kill right behind the camp and we were whisked out for a final view of them settling down to diner in the dusk. And so did we, another enchanting evening with our new friends and travellers tales around the campfire.

The next day we headed out for the Mara river. One disappointment with Nomad is that we had expected the camp to be nearer to the river, they do have camps set up there but we had been assigned one 2 hours drive from the action and that made for a very long day. We were in search of a Wildebeest crossing and we soon came across the herds, fairly large and confused, wandering up and down the river’s edge, baying and snorting, considering their options. It was a magnificent sight and we spent an hour or 2 following them before we decided to have lunch. While we ate Felix scanned the horizon and for once momentarily failed us, he saw the “smoke” of dust rise at the rivers edge but wasn’t quite sure if that was from a crossing or not. Later we learned this was the sign that they had gone over… by the time we got there we were too late!

Well I can’t really complain because partly we were delayed by some lions Felix found resting hidden in the bushes, obviously just waiting to take advantage of an easy lunch. It was a mother and 2 teenage cubs. We returned to where they were and spent some time watching the Wildebeest drift closer and closer to their hiding place. But the young ones were obviously inexperienced and just at the last moment the Wildebeest caught wind of them and galloped off in a plumb of dust.

That evening we enjoyed a rather late dinner and retired to our tent just as the rain started -or rather the massive thunder storm. We danced like children with glee at the excitement of it – lightening lit up the whole sky, a strong wind blew up and rocked the tent from side to side, but we felt snug and dry. My delight ebbed as I began to wonder if the whole thing would just blown down. Robert laughed, but the next day one of the guides said they have had a whole campsite flooded and the tents down before, so it wasn’t such a wild fear after all.

The next day we had a very early and rather sleepy but beautiful breakfast of delicious toasted sandwiches in the bush ( the food really was amazing at Nomad considering where we were ). The day however was something of a washout, with the rain continuing intermittently. The evening was as precious as ever and we were so sad to leave the next day. I think we all learned something from our experience. I can say I’ve conquered canvas ( although it really was a bit of a cheat it was all so comfortable). Robert loved the solitude and Carmen proved an 11 year old really can hold her own conversationally with a table full of strangers – I was proud of her.

So tune in for the next episode when we tackle diving in Zanzibar. Remember Carmen’s last diving moment had been really quite scary in Mozambique at Christmas. At Nomad she assured everyone she had a phobia of the open sea and didn’t even want to swim in it…. What will happen? You’ll soon find out.

Oh and PS help with the pictures … where am I going wrong and how do you post a link to Kodak?

YvonneM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 14th, 2006, 08:37 AM
  #17
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 5,771
Thanks for the new installment, Yvonne! The cobras sound so exciting--that's a really neat experience to see them fight. Did you see how it ended?

The leopard cubs also sounds like a really special sighting--did Felix say how old he thought they were?

As for Kodak--so you choose to email it to yourself as if you were "inviting" someone to share your photos. OPen the email. Click the link in the email and it should take you to your album (or the sign-in to see it). Then copy and paste THAT URL into a post (or better yet, take it to tinyurl.com and make it a manageable size before posting it) Good Luck. I am really looking forward to the photos!
schlegal1 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 14th, 2006, 09:17 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,422
I'm enjoying your report. Plus it's nice to know someone besides me has trouble posting their pictures!

Lily
Lillipets is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 14th, 2006, 12:55 PM
  #19
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 157
One of the cobras chased off the other one, Felix was rather confusing on the age of the cubs, have a look on the photo and tell me what you think. Here's my link to my photos - we are just snap takers so don't expect anything too special
http://tinyurl.com/kat75
YvonneM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 14th, 2006, 01:17 PM
  #20
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Hi Yvonne -

Loving your reports.

Re the Kodak site. When you email the album to yourself and then open it, there is a "click here" button that takes you to the album where you can copy the URL as explained above.

However, if you scroll to the bottom of this email, you will find the URL that you can copy and paste here on Fodor's or another email to yourself, so you have the URL on file.

Waiting on the next installment.
 
Reply With Quote
 


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:04 PM.