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Returned from Tanzania and Kenya--2Afrika's Grand Combo Safari

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Aug 9th, 2005, 06:11 AM
  #21
 
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Barbara- blown away by your photos and really enjoy reading your trip report. I didn't see where you mentioned what type of camera you used and how much the Grand Combo Safari cost. How many days total in Africa? I hope my first trip will be half and wonderful as yours seemed to be.
Kamolly
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Aug 9th, 2005, 05:14 PM
  #22
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Hi, Kamolly--
You can access the 2afrika website at 2afrika.com. That's afrika with a "k" not a "c". Click on East Africa safaris under either Kenya or Tanzania. The Grand Combo Safari will be listed under either. Prices will also be listed, and they vary a little by the season.
As for my camera, I was using a relatively inexpensive point and shoot digital, an Olympus C-770 There are manual capabilities, but I'm hopeless in that department, so I kept it on the automatic settings. The camera has very good reviews for its class on photography websites, but I really didn't care for it. First of all, there was a focus problem right out of the box. My husband was hospitalized just as the camera was delivered (I bought it online), and I didn't have the inclination or the energy to work with it until after the 10 day return window had expired. So, I had to depend on the warranty. Olympus did fix it, but I'm always wary of things which don't work from the get go, and I'm not really sure that the focus problem has been totally addressed. Photos don't seem quite crisp. I had been using a Sony digital with 6X zoom, and replaced it with this one which has a 10X zoom because I wanted to get close-ups of animals. I'm not sure that I bettered myself much. Were I to do it over again, I would probably go for a longer zoom, one of the 12X point and shoot digitals which are out there and also something with an anti-shake device so as not to have to worry about motion blur. Probably the Panasonic Lumix. Bottom line, I'm not crazy about this new Olympus. As I've said, the photos don't seem especially crisp, and I have a hard time adjusting the flash. When I don't need the zoom, I'll probably continue using my Sony.
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Aug 10th, 2005, 05:56 AM
  #23
 
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Barbara, thanks for the info. I'm looking to upgrade my camera for a 12x zoom or go all the way like my boyfriend and go digital SLR, but don't like the idea of the bulk and extra lenses etc. Look fwd to hearing more of your trip and I hope your husband has recovered. Thanks, Kamolly
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Aug 10th, 2005, 12:40 PM
  #24
 
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Wonderful! Can't wait to read more...
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Aug 10th, 2005, 03:25 PM
  #25
 
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Thanks for re report and photos, my husband and I went to Kenya with 2Afrika in 2002 and your trip is brining back amazing memories~~~
Thanks!
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Aug 10th, 2005, 06:51 PM
  #26
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TRIP REPORT/PART 6 Since I didn't have any negative feedback on sharing Part 5 of my journal with you, and some have asked for more, I'm going to take a chance with Part 6 for those who would care to read it. I didn't edit this segment for posting as I did with Part 5. Just know that I realize that many of my feelings about my experiences are specific to me. Others finding themselves in similar circumstances might see things in a different light.

Part 6–Tanzania and Kenya

July 2–Serengeti, Olduvai Gorge, Ngorongoro Crater

Some housekeeping before continuing:

• I’m using “I” many times instead of “we” as I recount feelings and experiences. This by no means reflects insensitivity to the fact that Jeri was an equal travel partner. She and I discovered a long time ago that even though we “share” the same trip, we don’t always “have” the same trip. This journal, recounts “my” trip as I remember it. Jeri’s journal, should she write one, will probably be quite different.

• I had been over my bug since arriving at the Serengeti Sopa and my appetite had returned with a vengeance. Fortunately Jeri never did come down with anything.

• We often found ourselves short of breath because of the altitudes. The problem was mild, manifesting itself mainly when we were walking or climbing steps at the lodges, but it was there nonetheless.

• It wasn’t nearly as cold at night as we had feared it was going to be. No need for the fleece vest at any time during the whole trip. During the colder mornings and evenings I just put on a sweatshirt or the light jacket I had brought which was made out of sweatshirt material.. These provided all the warmth I needed.

• Since we were out of the vehicle on only the rarest of occasions, there was no need for the heavy-soled walking shoes I had brought. I did just fine with my trusty old Keds. I used my walking shoes only once when we had a walking safari at the Serena Mountain Lodge in Kenya, and even then the Keds would have been fine.

• Full laundry service was available at reasonable prices at all lodges we stayed at. By full service, I mean that they even did underwear. Somehow or other, we had been led to believe that they would not....but, happily, they did. This meant that even though we packed pretty lightly, we could even have gone lighter.

• The need for true safari type clothing just wasn’t there. The people we saw in other vehicles and at the lodges were pretty much wearing whatever they wanted though the majority did stick with neutrals....with the exception of Mathias. My photos remind me that one day he had on a bright blue shirt and on another, a bold wide-striped red and gray one. It had been suggested on the message boards that one stay away from black and navy because those colors attract flies. There may be something to that. My point, though, is that is isn’t necessary to spend an arm and a leg on new clothing for a trip such as ours.

• It finally dawned on us that Mathias had to be spending nights somewhere while we were snug in our lodge rooms, so we asked him what the arrangements were. He said that the lodges provide for the drivers. Sometimes it’s a space to put up a tent; other times it’s in the dorm where the workers stay. In any case, there seems to be a lot of camaraderie among the guides, and after a long day at the wheel, they can look forward to getting together with their friends.


July 2–Having opted for the early morning game drive, Jeri and I were up by about 5:15 so we could meet Mathias by 6:00. We had packed the night before, so all we would have to do upon returning to the lodge after the drive would be to have breakfast, signal the porters to come for the bags, and check out.
How glad we were that we had made the choice to begin our last day in the Serengeti watching the sunrise. As we drove down the track leading from the lodge to the plains, our disappointment at not having had a good sunset the night before was made up for by a brilliant yellow ball of a sun and the accompanying rosy glow backlighting the branches of the acacia trees. A memorable sunrise; all was well with the world.
On this morning it was elephants which presented themselves in great numbers, large herds of them, and for as long as we were content to watch them, Mathias just left the vehicle parked. He never, ever hurried us. That was one of the things about having a private safari. We could observe to our hearts’ content. About this time there was a slight change in the way we were approaching our game drives. We had passed through the first frenzied excitement at seeing wild animals at close range and needing to capture everything about the sightings with our cameras. By this time, there was more to it than getting the photo. There was also the joy of just watching magnificent animal life. Not that we didn’t take pictures. It was just not with the same urgency as before. For the elephants that morning, for example, we spent a long time watching them as they mowed and munched their way through a grouping of small trees and bushes–very destructive, Mathias said–but I didn’t feel the need to get all that with the camera. What drew me most were the mamas with babies, so that’s what I focused on, and I went away from that half hour of observation with maybe 10 photos instead of the 50 I might have taken earlier in the trip.
Right after viewing the elephants, we drove for a mile or so, and at a secondary track which crossed the main one on which we were traveling, we met up with a vehicle, and the driver and Mathias had an animated conversation. The two men seemed to know each other. Actually, Mathias seemed to know everybody on the game drive circuit. There were smiles and gesturing, and the other driver kept pulling at his chin. Then Mathias turned onto that track and before we knew it we were in front of a rock formation on which rested a magnificent male lion and two females from his pride. We were very, very close to them, but they paid us no mind. Just kept sunning themselves. And once again, we watched for a long, long time. That was one or our most memorable viewing experiences. (An aside: from the exchange between Mathias and the other driver, we also learned some sign language that morning: the sign for lion is pulling at one’s chin, as in pulling at one’s beard).
By 9:30 we said goodbye to the Serengeti and were on our way to the Ngorongoro Crater. This was via the Olduvai Gorge where in 1979 Mary Leakey, a British paleoanthropologist, found a skull which was thought to have been 1,750,000 years old, and as we drew close to that area the landscape turned from the yellowing, short grassy plains terrain to one of sparse vegetation, and the colors were no longer gold and green but gray. The trees and brush were dry to the extent that they looked as if they had gone through a fire. Very close to the rest area at the Gorge, we saw occasional Masai. What dismal living conditions. Shocking for me was to see right there in the dust and close to the road, a Masai in bright red and blue robes, lying down, his back to us, fast asleep. All around him were dust and the dry, gray bush. Even his shelter, which was close to him, was of gray brush. That struck a chord with me: Henri Rousseau’s painting of the Sleeping Gypsy where a lone man is lying down under the moon in a desert, a stringed instrument beside him, and a lion looking on. Of course, our Masai wasn’t a gypsy, there was sun instead of moon, there was no lion (but there could have been), and there was no stringed instrument. Yet the isolation that the painting depicts was what I think was there for the Masai. (OR was it “peace and tranquility” instead of “isolation”that was there for the gypsy and for the Masai?) Whatever it was, I was amazed and startled that someone could just lie down in the dust and go to sleep, and my hand went instinctively to my camera, but Mathias said no....







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Aug 12th, 2005, 02:01 PM
  #27
 
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Well you can't stop there - we want it all, every last detail. So please keep posting.
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Aug 12th, 2005, 03:13 PM
  #28
 
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Dear Bo2642 Finally got a good look at those photo! Amazing, am positively GREEN with envy that you got to see a serval cat.. lucky you!!!
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