Question of the week: Best Safari Experience


Feb 2nd, 2006, 04:35 AM
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Question of the week: Best Safari Experience

Hi there!
Today's question:
What was your best safari experience?
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 04:52 AM
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Oh man, that's impossible for me to answer, just too many great experiences, so many in fact that my once-in-a-liftime trip is being repeated in June!
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 05:51 AM
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Lets see...

Seeing 5 bull elephants on the top of Victoria falls. Then seeing them closer still on foot!

The serval that after a spot of hunting sat nicely on the main Serengeti Nabi gate road while we snapped away.

The wildebeest being eaten by crocodiles in the Grumeti western corridor & the white stork that beat the crocodile to a piece of liver

Drunk elephants Manyara

I could go on and on

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Feb 2nd, 2006, 06:26 AM
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Gosh!!! Almost every one of my 6 Africa's so hard to single out a moment.........but here are my top 5

1.) Bumping into the Savute bros (cheetah coalition of 3) while taking our sun downer break - outside Duma Tau

2.) Mara river crossing of the wildebeest and zebra in 2002

3.) Great lion photo opportunities- Kwara Dec 2005

4.) Cheetah mother and sub-adult cubs trying to find a meal.....after which we ran into a torrential thunderstorm during a 45 minute drive back to Lagoon camp - Dec 2005

5.) My first trip to Africa in 2001- i was overwhelmed the entire trip.....
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 07:55 AM
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My best experience was in the Sabi Sands.
Twilight... wonderful colours 7 lion cubs (hidden by the mothers while they were hunting)literally running out of there hideaway when they spotted the mother at 50 m distance and jumping on her. We ll had almost a lump in our throat...

Another amazing moment was a leopard that suddenly saw something in the distance and raised on het two legs and stayed perhaps a minute with her forelegs hanging down... I have a great photo of this but I must admit that I don't know how to enclose it....!
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 07:58 AM
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1. Wild dogs on the hunt for impala at Chitabe

2. An aardwolf at dawn at Savuti and a caracal at night on same day

3. Spending an hour or so with a black rhino during daylight at an Etosha waterhole

4. Lions feasting on wildebeast in the Masai Mara

5. Being on a boat and watching elephants swim from Chobe to Namibia
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 08:15 AM
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1. Lions trying to hunt buffalo in Ngorongoro

2. Silveback gorilla breaking bamboo branches around us to let us know he was in charge.

3. Cheetah jumping on jeep in Masai Mara

4. Mature male lion resting front of us in Serengeti

5. Waking up the first morning of our safari, peeking out my tent and seeing three giraffes walking by.
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 08:23 AM
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In no particular order.

7 Lions taking down a Buffalo at Mala Mala.

Wild Dogs interacting with Hyena at MM.

Wild dog pups at Kings Pool

Seeing the 4th generation of a Leopard family at MM
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 08:45 AM
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Some of my favourites:

- rescue mission of another vehicle getting stuck right under a tree with a leopard in it (Chief's camp - March 2003)
- seeing 5 different leopards on a single game drive (Moremi national park - August 2001)
- a male lion became very inquisivitive -he was actually stalking the car (Palmwag rhino camp - June 2005)
- elephants charging us while we were having a sundowner at Kaparota lagoon (Kaparota - June 2003)
- an angry hippo showing off less than 5 metres from our mokoro (near Seronga - November 2002 - camping trip)
- driving into a piece of wood near Duma Tau while following the dogs - I was very lucky not to be badly injured (Savuti camp - June 2004)
- seeing lions stalking buffalo and following them through deep water - finally they made a kill (Duba Plains - June 2005)

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Feb 2nd, 2006, 12:55 PM
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In no particular order:

Masai Mara in Kenya--A cheetah jumped onto the vehicle and brushed my cheek with a goodbye kiss on the last day of my first trip to Africa.

Masai Mara--Spending day with mother cheetah and two 2-month old cubs.

Masai Mara--Staying for a few days with a Masai family in a manyatta two years in a row.

Ngamba in Uganda--3 chimp walks with about a dozen baby chimps and volunteering at the sanctuary.

Queen Elizabeth in Uganda--Seeing a one hour old baby hippo and its mother on the Kazinga Channel.

Kibale in Uganda--Watching chimps make their nests for the night.

Bwindi in Uganda--Gorillas playing in a small stream.

Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda--Sitting with a mother gorilla and her two 7-week old twins with their protective 4-year old sister.

Lower Zambezi in Zambia--Canoeing the Chifungulu Channel.

Lower Zambezi--Walking with a pair of honey badgers.

Moremi in Botswana--Watching a hyena interact with 5 leopards (3 adults and 2 juveniles)

Moremi--Seeing 9-month old leopard cub dropped off by mother to spend time with his father.

Chitabe in Botswana--Watching eight 8-week old wild dog pups mature a bit over the course of 8 days on a trip with an Aug 8 departure.

Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana--Meerkat colony

Sorry for the length. It could easily be much longer.

Good for you Wjsonl doing another once in a lifetime! Where to the next time? June is not far away.

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Feb 2nd, 2006, 01:52 PM
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Oh God, so many over 10 years but there is one which I fondly remember.

Maasai Mara - September 2003 in the midst of the migration....

There were two male cheetahs stalking a small herd of topi. There were wildebeest scattered all around the surrounding plains. We followed them stalking as they locked on to their target - a baby topi. One cheetah distracted the mother while the other collected the prize. The mother topi put up a fight but eventually gave up and headed away once the cries from her baby became silent. One of the cheetahs was carring the baby topi in it's mouth, when all of a sudden, a herd of wildebeest started stampeding. The reason for the stampede was not evident until the dust settled.....a lone lioness was running towards the cheetahs to rob them of their prize.

The cheetahs dropped the baby topi and ran in opposite directions. Now the lioness started flicking her paws at the topi...who was still alive!!!!!. The baby topi got back to its feet and started crying for its mother.

Amazingly the mother heard these cries and started to charge the lioness. At this stage another adult topi also joined the "lets head-butt a lioness" club. The lioness soon lost her interest in the baby topi after receiving a few blows and the mother and baby ran off safely.

Just when we thought that the show was over, and the curtain was coming down.....a hyena came from nowhere and tried to ambush the baby topi but the mother stood her ground and eventually fought off the hyena.

In 10 years of safaris, I have never seen a luckier animal than that baby topi.

The amazing thing is, that I captured this whole episode on my camcorder but with shaking excited hands!!!!
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 06:28 PM
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my best safari experience would have to be the whole first trip. from landing in Johannisburg, knowing we were in Africa, flying to Lusaka then Mfuwe. Seeing baboons on the runways, elephants walking through the town, impala everywhere, the people, the smells, the skies, the landscape, the sounds of hippos, lions near the chalet at night, elephants looking over the bamboo fence, seeing zebra and giraffe, warthogs running with their tails in the air and some animals I had never even heard of. Everything impacted ALL the senses. After the first night, I knew I was hooked!
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 08:15 PM
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Wow...I feel humbled by some of these memories. In my meagre experience my favorite moment was a giant forest hog mother doing multiple charges at four striped hyenas which were trying to "scavenge" her babies at the waterhole at Mountain Lodge, Kenya, in the middle of the night. Ask me again in a few years and I'll tell you some stories
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 08:39 PM
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My favorite moments are all linked to memorable images I've taken over the years:

If I can count an Indian safari, looking into the face of a snarling Bengal Tiger from the back of an elephant would have to count as my most hair-raising safari moment. Bandavgarh National Park, India, 1990. See

Being introduced to seven cubs by a lioness in Amboseli National Park, Kenya, 1987, and then seeing one of them giving its stunned mother a piece of its mind. See:

And most recently, among the most memorable experiences of my visit to Zambia's South Luangwa National Park, was watching lions mate for the first time. We spent nearly an hour alone with one pair, and photographed three couplings. But my favorite image came during a rest interval. It was an image that sums up my memories of South Luangwa best as a "return to Eden". It's at:

(Oh, and one more safari memory --but not photographed due to extreme panic. I was hiking with a guide in Nepal's Chitiwan National Park in 1984 when an Indian Rhino suddenly appeared and charged us from behind. My guide threw his walking stick at the rhino and pushed me up into a tree. The rhino charged the stick, and vanished into the bush. My heart still accelerates when I think of it.

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Feb 3rd, 2006, 05:27 AM
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Like to add a couple more to my previous post...........

1.) Tiger and sub-adult cubs (Ranthambore park, Nov 2001)

2.) Lions mating (mala mala Nov, 2004)

3.) Serval in broad daylight and sitatunga on a mound within 10 mins of each other- Lebala Dec-2005

4.) Tigress - 45 minute sighting (Kabini national park, India)-May 2004. Although the tigress was inactive the entire time.....the guides spoke of the longest sighting of a tiger in the park, in his memory.....

5.)Lion walking through camp marking his territory and roaring right next to my tent ---happened twice (duba plains and Lebala)

I guess.....i can go on and on....but i'll stop now.......

But every game drive, gives you that feeling of fulfillment, even if you draw a blank on the big cats etc etc....every day in the bush is different from the next and the script is different (i guess, that's what the addiction is all about....)
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Feb 3rd, 2006, 06:06 AM
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If we're counting, non-Africa moments, I would add:

1. komodo dragons on Komodo Island, and approaching within a few feet of them

2. monarch butterfly migration in the mountain reserves around Morelia, Mexico

3. polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba

4. everything in the Galapagos

5. rhinos in Royal Chitwan National Park in Nepal
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Feb 3rd, 2006, 06:43 AM
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1. Watching a Tommy give birth on my birthday.

2. Seeing lionesses scare the heck out of some oblivious warthogs.

Only one safari under my belt so, like kimburu, ask me in a few years and I will have more (I hope!).

Thit_cho: You seem to travel to do all the types of trips I want to do (I asked you before about the polar bears). As DH and I are choosing between Mexico and Canada for our next trip , I would also love to hear about the monarch migration but can't find much info on this board or via Google. Would you mind emailing me about your experience? [email protected]
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Feb 3rd, 2006, 07:10 AM
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schlegal1, what would you like to know about visiting the monarch reserves? I visited in November 2004 and this was my basic trip. I did a little research, but there's not much out there, but I assumed I'd be able to figure everything out as I traveled.

Wednesday -- flew from New York to Morelia via Mexico City. Morelia is a UNESCO World Heritage city and well worth visiting. Overnight in Morelia.

Thursday -- I took the public bus from Morelia to Zitacuaro (maybe a three hour bus ride) and spent the night at Rancho San Cayetano

Friday -- hitched ride with hotel guests to El Rosario, the main butterfly reserve around an hour from Rancho San Cayetano. If guests hadn't offered ride, I would have taken taxi or hitchhiked. Its the most popular sight, with lots of visitors and paved pathways. Even though there were millions of butterflies, it was too built up for me, and I wanted to experience something more natural the following day.

Saturday -- took taxi from Rancho San Cayetano to a much less popular reserve. I was the first visitor that day, and I rented a horse and guide for the two-hour climb up the mountain. Its a steep climb, and would be very difficult without the horse. I arrived at the top and was literally the only visitor, and there were millions of butterflies resting in the trees. As the day warmed, they began to fly and covered the entire mountaintop. I stayed a few hours and didn't see another visitor until my descent. I had a lunch of local trout and amazing avocados at the bottom of the mountain -- not really a restaurant but a patio outside someone's house and they cooked in their kitchen. I took a taxi back to hotel, and then caught bus to Mexico City.

Sunday -- spent morning in Mexico City (I had been twice before so I didn't do much sightseeing) and caught late afternoon flight to New York.

Its a very easy trip, and there are tours, but I loathe tours and prefer to travel independently.

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Feb 3rd, 2006, 08:52 AM
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Thanks, thit cho--didn't mean to hijack the thread --I moved my question to the Mexico forum if you don't mind (that way it's there as a reference for others):

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Feb 3rd, 2006, 08:58 AM
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Wow, reading this post brings back so many memories - I'm ready to go back!

1. Watching a female leopard carry her half eaten kill back up into her tree to keep it away from the hyenas prowling around.

2. Finding her two 6 week old leopard cubs about 2 km away from her tree - one down in the brush and the other up in a tree. They still had blue eyes!

3. Having a hippo comes rushing out of the water not that far from out boat right after one of the mokoros had been attacked by a hippo - that certainly got the blood pounding!!

4. Lying in bed at night in the Okavanga Delta listening to the hippos, elephants, and even a lion.

5. Watching a lion cub harass it's mother to nurse - growling and snraling at her until she finally relented.

6. The people we met from all over the world and the wonderful folks in the various camps.

7. Having my pictures as a screen saver at work so I get to enjoy and relive them every day !

We had an absolutely wonderful trip arranged by Rikke Williams at and I would contatc her in a minute if we had the time (and funds!) to return. One of these days...
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