Patty & Mark's Kenya Tanzania Trip

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Dec 14th, 2005, 05:04 PM
  #61
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Here's the final Tanzania installment. I'll upload the rest of the photos tomorrow.

Day 16 – This morning we’re sad to be leaving Kenya but also looking forward to our time in Tanzania. I’m feeling much, much better. We left the Hilton at 7:30am for the half hour drive to NBO for our scheduled 10:00am Precision Air flight to Tanzania. Security, check-in, immigration went very quickly, and we probably could’ve left a little later but weren’t sure what traffic conditions would be like in the morning. We wandered through the few souvenir shops, had a cup of coffee at Java House, and I was in the middle of checking my email when at 9:30am an announcement was made for us to proceed immediately to the boarding gate (not a general announcement for this flight but specifically for the two of us). Turns out there are only 5 passengers on this flight and they wanted to leave early! As soon as we board our ATR 42, they shut the door and prepare for take off.

On our 45 minute flight, we’re treated to views of Mt Meru and the peak of Kilimanjaro. At JRO we purchased our visas, grabbed our luggage, and Laszlo arrives shortly to take us on a half hour drive to Makoa Farm. Laszlo and his wife Elisabeth own and operate this working coffee farm located at the southern foot of Mt Kilimanjaro. They’re both veterinarians, originally from Germany, and moved to Tanzania 10 years ago. They’ve been at this current location for 6 years and have quite a menagerie of farm animals, some which they intended to own, some that are patients, and others they somehow just acquired along the way. They have 25 horses which are used for the riding safaris (though they normally take no more than 6 guests at a time).
The horseback safaris are their primary business and either Elisabeth or Laszlo or both accompany each safari. Private safaris can be organized for a minimum of 2 riders and itineraries can be customized. Riders can stay at the farm, at a base camp, move from camp to camp, or a combination of locations. For next year, they’ve also added some scheduled set departures to better accommodate single riders or anyone who wants to join others. Game viewing rides are conducted on Ndarakwai or other neighboring ranches. Ndarakwai is essentially a 10,000 acre private game reserve in West Kilimanjaro, though technically it cannot be called such, so in order to maintain their ‘ranch’ status, 15 head of cattle are located here with some 30+ rangers guarding the cattle Riders can opt for fly camping or stay at the tented camp on the ranch (see Eben’s West Kili page at go-safari.com for pics of the tented camp).

Accommodations on Makoa Farm consist of two guest cottages with stunning views of Kilimanjaro, a room in the farmhouse, and a separate guesthouse. Elisabeth and Laszlo are gracious hosts and the farm fresh food is delicious. Their cook, Miriam, bakes the best bread in East Africa! This afternoon after getting settled in, we went on a short ride through the coffee fields to get acquainted with our horses and tack (good thing as I couldn’t get comfortable on the Australian stock saddle I tried and had to switch to an English one). I’m on Marvin and Mark is riding Chinrose. On the farm ride, we saw guinea fowl, francolins, go away birds, silvery cheeked hornbill, baboons, sykes and vervet monkeys. Tomorrow we move to Ndarakwai for the start of our safari rides.
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Dec 14th, 2005, 05:05 PM
  #62
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Day 17 – We awake this morning to a glorious view of Kili. As we have our morning coffee and tea on our verandah, we’re joined by Josie and Sukari, two of the farm cats, who’ve come for their morning milk (ask for a cat bowl). Our horses and gear are being loaded and transported this morning and after breakfast, we drive part way where we meet the horses and ride the remainder of the way to our fly camp arriving in time for lunch. As there had been some recent rain here, the landscape is very green.

The camp setup is similar to what we experienced at Kicheche, only here we have slightly larger tents with mattresses on the floor rather than on cots. There are shower and toilet tents and a tented dining area. At an elevation of only approx. 3000 feet, temperatures are surprisingly comfortable during the day and not as hot as we expected.

In the late afternoon, we start another ride from camp. We saw banded mongoose, impala, eland, Burchell’s zebra, Masai giraffe, common waterbuck, vervet monkeys, and baboons. We found that taking photos of wildlife can be tricky while on horseback, and trying to take photos of wildlife with your riding companion in the foreground while on horseback is especially tricky! Like walking, riding provides a very different perspective from which to view game. As we’re heading back to camp, I spotted our first elephant on the ranch. I could just see some ears flapping in the trees but as we rode a little nearer, but not too close, to the thicket of trees, we got a better view. The landscape is beautiful with the surrounding hills and the sun setting behind Mt Meru.

This evening after dinner, Laszlo takes us on a drive for our first look at spring hares. They’re adorable, like mini kangaroos, but dart around much too quick to photograph.
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Dec 14th, 2005, 05:06 PM
  #63
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Day 18 – We were up early after a very restful night’s sleep. I slept better camping on this trip than I did anywhere else. When asked if we heard the elephants near camp during the evening, we had to respond “Didn’t hear anything!” After a light breakfast, we head out on a morning ride. Generally what we did was go out on a longer morning ride, have lunch at the camp, followed by a shorter afternoon ride but on a private safari such as ours the length of the rides can be tailored to guests’ interests. At night and in between rides, the horses stay at a paddock nearby. During the rides, we would occasionally find a place to dismount in order to rest, have some water and snacks, and enjoy the views. Their horses are very well trained and responsive. A gentle squeeze is all that’s needed to put them into a trot. We were told never to kick as they’ve taught their horses that kicking means “an elephant is charging, run!” Aside from the previous day’s animals, this morning we saw spotted hyaena, warthogs, Von der Decken’s hornbill, lilac breasted roller, white headed and red billed buffalo weavers. We also came across a herd of skittish elephant.

A strong windstorm and some rain kicked up in the afternoon which made our second ride of the day look not so promising, but it eventually passes and we were able to head out around 4:30pm. The afternoon turns out to be beautiful and at the end of our ride, Elisabeth and Laszlo surprised us by bringing us to the waterhole viewing platform where they left us to have our own private sundowner before returning by car to camp.

This evening after dinner, we visited some friends of Elisabeth and Laszlo who live nearby. News that Mark plays guitar had traveled, and we spent the evening on their rooftop under the stars, listening to guitar music, while bush babies were screeching and fruit bats were flying overhead. It was a surreal and memorable experience that I’ll never forget!
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Dec 14th, 2005, 05:07 PM
  #64
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Day 19 – This morning we rode to the other side of the hills where the landscape is very different with open plains, not as much vegetation, and much drier. We saw the wild eland that decided to join the cattle herd years ago. Her offspring have all joined eland herds, but she apparently likes to stay with the cattle. We saw wildebeest herds crossing the plains and today I’m finally successful in my attempts to get photo of wildlife and rider together. It’s sprinkling for much of the ride which feels great. During the ride, Elisabeth spots some wild mushrooms that have sprouted on the side of a termite mound and we stop to harvest them. These will be lunch tomorrow. We drop the horses off at the paddock instead of riding back to camp, and there we got a chance to meet Nkarsis the 6 year old orphan elephant that was raised on the ranch. We greet her by blowing into her trunk to which she responds by blowing hot elephant breath back at us

We took a short walk back to camp for lunch before packing up and heading back to the farm where the first thing I do is have a long hot shower! For dinner this evening, we’re treated to a delightful concoction called ‘Makoa curry’. It starts with a base of rice and chicken or vegetable curry to which you can add a selection of a dozen little side dishes of chopped nuts, eggs, cheese, veggies, and fruits to mix in to your liking. On the walk back to our cottage, I got my first bite from a safari ant. Boy do they hurt!
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Dec 14th, 2005, 05:09 PM
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Day 20 – This morning we were asked how active we wanted our last day in Tanzania to be to which we replied “not very” and that we were quite happy to just relax around the farm before our evening flight home. Laszlo gave us a tour of their veterinary clinic on site as well as most of the animals on the farm. Among their patients were rabbits, dogs, cats, a pair of Verreaux’s eagle owls, and 2 bush pigs. Other animals living on the farm aside from the horses include a few cows, pigs, Frisky the baby donkey who likes to chase the dogs around and nip me in the back of the knees to get me to play, 2 peacocks, ducks, geese, 7 dogs, many cats, rabbits, and countless guinea pigs. All are friendly except for one vicious goose

We took a short guided walk from the farm to a waterfall cave to see the fruit bats and look for monitor lizards. No lizards today, but we did see lots of bats. The mushrooms we harvested yesterday were chopped and sautéed with garlic and served with a vegetable quiche for lunch. This afternoon there’s a strong downpour lasting a few hours, the most rain we’ve experienced in a single day all trip. After an early dinner, we sit around and chat some more with Elisabeth and Laszlo. I look at my watch to see that it’s already 7:30pm (our flight is at 9:45pm) though no one else seems to be the least bit concerned. Another 15 minutes later, it’s suggested that we should head to the airport and we say our goodbyes to our hosts, take one last pic, and are off on the half hour drive to JRO.

We arrive at the airport and go through security, pay our $8 fee, check-in, go through secondary security all in a matter of minutes. JRO is a tiny airport and now we realize why our hosts weren’t the least bit concerned. There wasn’t even anyone manning the immigration desk to take our departure cards (don’t bother filling one out unless you see someone at the booth). There’s a single departure area with a few gift shops downstairs and upstairs is the Tanzanite lounge which is a good size (bigger than the Simba lounge at NBO that gets more traffic) with lots of sofas, a TV, no internet but a pool table of all things! There’s not much to eat here, and anyone with an evening departure should plan on having dinner elsewhere.

A few minutes later, an announcement is made that our aircraft is stopping in DAR first this evening delaying our departure until 1:00am, no further explanation given. Later on board, we’re told that they had to change the routing because of runway construction and weight restrictions at DAR. There aren’t many passengers in the lounge, and those sofas are coming in handy for a nap. At 1:15am our flight departs and as we flew directly to AMS, our arrival was only delayed by 15 minutes or so from the original schedule. From AMS we caught a short flight to CDG before returning home to LAX, arriving 26 hours after we left Tanzania. What an incredible 3 week journey we had!
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Dec 14th, 2005, 07:29 PM
  #66
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Incredible indeed! Thanks for sharing.
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Dec 14th, 2005, 08:20 PM
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AHHH, just what I needed, a good Africa fix. Armchair no doubt but quite staisfying none the less.
Outstanding trip, what a great mix of wildlife viewing and wonderful cultural experiences.
Patty, is there any thing you would do differently?
Thanks again for sharing your amazing time in Africa...Brenda
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Dec 15th, 2005, 08:16 AM
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Patty, this is *almost* as good as being there. Thanks so much for taking the time to write this report.

And I'm looking forward to the rest of the photos.
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Dec 15th, 2005, 09:43 AM
  #69
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Pics from Makoa and Ndarakwai -

http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...&x=0&y=-dle0fg

Brenda,
There's not much I would've done differently. If we had more days available, I'd stay another night at El Karama and Samatian and maybe spend 1 night inside Aberdare NP.
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Dec 15th, 2005, 09:52 AM
  #70
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Oh and I would NOT bring the hair dryer!
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Dec 15th, 2005, 10:48 AM
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I'm not gonna take mine.
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Dec 15th, 2005, 10:56 AM
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I think you two did a great job getting photos while on horseback. Frankly, I was expecting much worse.

Makoa Farm and Ndarakwai (sp?) Ranch both look very alluring.

Nice chaps!
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Dec 15th, 2005, 11:02 AM
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Patty, there you go again: gold on Kili, zebras on horseback, please, people, whatever you can give, so I can get back before June!
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Dec 15th, 2005, 11:15 AM
  #74
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Thanks, Leely. The chaps worked out well as it wasn't too hot there though I think jeans alone would've been OK too. Mark brought nylon chaps and wore those the first 2 days but just wore jeans the last. Anything lighter than jeans might have been problematic. There wasn't as much thorn as I'd anticipated. I had envisioned getting stuck in an acacia bush while my horse kept going without me
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Dec 15th, 2005, 12:54 PM
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Patty,
I’ve been humming the theme to Out of Africa since I saw the Kenya pictures and I continue humming after seeing the Tanzania pictures. It’s always interesting to see a place like Makoa where you can touch the animals as well. Nice to see the chaps in action. And those termite mushrooms look really tasty. The bat cave and Kilimanjaro look quite mysterious. Thanks.


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Dec 15th, 2005, 01:51 PM
  #76
 
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Thanks Patty for taking the time so soon after re entry to share your wonderful adventure and to show your pics. All well done.

May have to convince DH to do the horse safari next time - to be up that close looks amazing - quite awesome.

BTW, those mushrooms look to be from another planet - how tasty were they?

Most Appreciative;
Sherry
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Dec 15th, 2005, 02:58 PM
  #77
 
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On to Tanzania-beautiful mountain shots. How nice to mix in some farm animals with thev wild ones. What a lovely grand finale to your safari.
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Dec 15th, 2005, 04:08 PM
  #78
 
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Great pictures Patty! You definitely will be in charge of locations to stay on the Uganda 07 Fodorite's Trip! Did you ever have to "kick" the horse because of charging elephants? What an exciting way to safari-on horseback! Thanks Again,
Dennis
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Dec 15th, 2005, 05:17 PM
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Wonderful. I'm not sure I'll ever get there in real life so thanks for the virtual trip.
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Dec 16th, 2005, 09:31 AM
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Patty,

Welcome back and thanks - I've loved reading your trip report! Your trip sounded extremely rustic, and brings back memories of our very rustic stay in Tanzania...

I truly loved the remoteness of our itinerary and I can tell that you did too!

Thanks for sharing...

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