Safari Trip Report

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Dec 19th, 2005, 05:29 PM
  #1
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Safari Trip Report

I just got back from a fantastic trip! It's so easy to get home and fall into our routines, but I wanted to post a trip report and thank everyone here who helped me so much in the planning. We had a fantastic time!
-First, for those of you who helped me with selecting an operator, we ended up using Africa Dream Safaris. They gave me the most attention in planning and the least pressure to pay, plus were willing to hold my bookings the longest. I might do a separate post on my experience with a lot of different operators during the planning and reserving stage which might be of help to others planning.
-Day "-2 to 0" We had two days in Nairobi on the way. Did the tourist circuit there including the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, Giraffe, Utamuduni (sp?), city center, Karen Blixem, Carnivore, etc. Adopting some elephants at the orphanage was definitely a highlight!
-Days 1-2 After flying to JRO and going into Arusha, we spent the first two days in Tarangire. It was awesome. It felt like we had the whole park to ourselves, plus it was our first time to see all the wildlife! I think this is a great park. Our highlights were just seeing everything for the first time, watching elephants bathing, our first leopard sighting. We stayed at Swala Camp, which was great. Sitting on the veranda watching elephants in their watering hole is something I will remember forever!
Days 3-4 We drove to Lake Manyara. It was very interesting, with its different vegetative zones and bird life. I do understand, though, why several people advised me to leave it off the schedule. It's beautiful, but it's really just got that one main road in and out, and our lodge is at the far end on a terrible road, and when the lake is so dry you can't see much. But no regrets. Our highlights were seeing the hippos, some great birds, watching thousands of flamingos on the horizon flying and taking off, creating a glittering pink throughout the sky (Hollywood could never even come up with a scene like that!), and some very amusing baboons! We stayed at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, which was over the top luxury!
-Days 5-6 We went to the Crater. Seeing it from the rim while you're driving in is so breathtaking, like being on top of the world. There's not much to say about the crater that hasn't already been said. We saw just about everything, including spotted hyenas chasing away vultures at a kill lions had just finished with, a pride of lions taking shade at our vehicle (fat and bellies full after feeding, with blood still stained on their faces), rhino with baby, jackals. We even saw a cerval! One of the most exciting parts was watching a cheetah for about 2 hours strategizing and moving towards some gazelles. She started to run but a nearby wildebeest panicked and alerted the gazelles. They do need to do something about the vehicle congestion and unethical drives who interrupt the animals' activities. (I'm also thinking about starting another post on this, and some of the outrageous behavior I witnessed from drivers and some tourists). We stayed at the Crater Lodge. Again, over the top luxury and I had a brief crisis of conscience on how I could stay in such a place in AFrica, but decided just to enjoy the experience.
Days 7-8 Off to Serengeti. We stayed at a mobile camp in Seronera. We entered through the southern gate which was still so dry. The rains hadn't come yet. In Seronera we saw some amazing sites. We watched a lioness hunt twice and miss, then finally kill a young zebra which had become separated from its mother. We watched a leopard drop out of a tree to try a quick opportune kill of a warthog passing by, but there were several which fought back and the leopard went right back up the tree after the fuss.
From there, we were supposed to go back to Kusini (which didn't make much sense since we had already entered from the south gate at Naabi (sp?), this was the only part of the itinerary which was strange),but it was so dry and we heard there was nothing at Kusini yet, that ADS was very accommodating at changing our schedule.
-So, we then went on to Stonetown a little early, and had one night each at Zanzibar Serena and Emerson and Green. We liked the Serena more. Thought Emerson and Green was a sweatbox and overrated.
- Lastly, we went to Mnemba Island which was a little bit of heaven. Sacked out and did nothing for three glorious days.
Our guide during the safari was sensational. He's been at it for almost 20 years, full of experience and knowledge. There wasn't an animal or bird he didn't know about. He knew the best places and habitats to look. I can see how a guide makes all the difference.
We're already back in our routine, but changed forever. I get now the "magic of Africa" that people speak of. The skies, the people, the wildlife, the music, etc. Seeing the challenges the people and wildlife face leaves us wondering how we can do more.
I definitely learned a lot during the planning process and the trip and hopefully can now help future first-timers!
Anyway, thank you again for all of your help in the planning process and a great holiday to everyone!
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Dec 19th, 2005, 11:02 PM
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Congratulations on a great trip! It sounds really, really good. I can really relate to "being forever changed" after the trip. It is a magical place that you just canīt get enough of.

Hope to hear more about your thoughts on congestion and unethical behaviour. It is no doubt important that we discuss this. Perhaps a lot of it comes down to people not knowing better? And perhaps this forum can help ?
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Dec 19th, 2005, 11:10 PM
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"I might do a separate post on my experience with a lot of different operators during the planning and reserving stage which might be of help to others planning."

- Please do.

Welcome back! Sounds like you had a great trip! I'm working on my itinerary and considering adding Tarangire. Swala Camp is one I'm looking at... as well as the Serena in Zanzibar (instead of Emerson & Green) and the Crater Lodge. Any additional comments on those?
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Dec 20th, 2005, 02:05 AM
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Hi Marcus,

Enjoyed reading your report and remembering back to last June. About those "amusing" baboons, I think I know what you mean. You were lucky seeing the leopard. We spent two weeks in Kenya and Tanzania and didn't see a one (just another one of the many reasons my son and I are returning in June). And you're right about the flamingoes, fiction can't match reality. You just gotta be there! A "crisis of conscience." I imagine we all experience that, I know I did. It's hard to see the poverty, soccer balls made out of plastic bags, etc, and not feel some guilt. And staying at the Crater lodge? =O

Thanks for the great report, and please do add the info about tourist/driver behavior. It can only help. Jack
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Dec 20th, 2005, 03:41 AM
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Welcome back Mark-
Sounds like your itinerary worked out well. Glad you had a great time and have now become one of us "Africa lovers".
It truly does touch your soul.

Please do start seperate posts on what may help others in their travels.

And I know from my experiences, I have had some pretty obnoxious encounters too. But it's all part of the journey and unfortunately can happen wherever one may go.
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Dec 20th, 2005, 04:00 AM
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Marcus, what a great way for me to enjoy my morning coffee and chocolate chip cookies with your report. Thanks. And, yes, please continue on with comments as to other services.
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Dec 20th, 2005, 05:33 AM
  #7
sandi
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Welcome back and thanks for the report. Seems you've been bitten. Good, we got another one.

Yes, do report the supplemental findings about planning and observations while in Tanzania/Zanzibar.

Photos? We'd like to see when you get to these.
 
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Dec 20th, 2005, 05:42 AM
  #8
 
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Thanks for sharing your trip with us Marcus - it sounds wonderful, minus the bad encounters.
Please fill us in with your insights regarding those matters - it's all good education.
Also, please post photos if/when possible.
Sherry
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Dec 20th, 2005, 08:10 AM
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Welcome back and thanks so much for sharing your wonderful trip with us. I too would be interested in your additional posts on operators, bad behaviour and in any photos you can put online also.

Warm regards
Kavey
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Dec 20th, 2005, 09:23 AM
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I'm so glad you had a good time. Welcome back, and thanks for posting.

I too witnessed some bad behavior on the part of my fellow tourists. It's pretty disgusting; however, I must say I saw FAR more people behaving respectfully, even those who really seemed out of their element.

Any more info/details will be most welcome.

Thanks, Marcus!
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Dec 20th, 2005, 10:02 AM
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Thanks, it really sounds like an amazing trip. If that was your first trip, you are really high up the learning curve, and I'm sure you'll have lots of good advice for this forum.
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Dec 20th, 2005, 10:50 AM
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Marcus, karibu nyumbani and thanks for your report. It sounds like an amazing trip in spite of witnessing bad behaviour and - even worse - lack of rain. A post about operators, another about bad behaviour and then some photos is just what I would like to see as well. Are you planning your next safari?
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Dec 20th, 2005, 11:16 AM
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So glad to hear you had a fantastic trip! Very much looking forward to your additional comments.
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Dec 20th, 2005, 02:20 PM
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My wife and I booked Africadreamsafaris in May this year. The proved out to be everything they said they were. My wife and I have done a lot of world travel. But this trip ranked the absolute best. i would do it all over again. We spent 12 days in Tanzania from Serengeti to Norongoro and beyond. I highly recommnend them and the trip they plaaned for us. Kudos to Africa Dream Safaris!
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Dec 20th, 2005, 02:37 PM
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Welcome back. Thanks for this report and thanks in advance for a report on your experience with other agents.

You saw some wonderful sights. How nice you adopted an elephant. Your comments on accommodations will be helpful to those considering where to stay.

Sorry you also had to witness tourists behaving badly. Wish they could be disuaded.

The flexibility of Africa Dream changing your itinerary is a real plus for that company.
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Dec 23rd, 2005, 06:45 AM
  #16
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Safari 274: The lodgings you mentioned were fantastic. Swala still rates as one of my favorites. Comfortable and great food and very intimate, but not over-the-top. Crater Lodge is an experience in itself because of its location and service (butlers and all). And Serena Zanzibar is just a nice spot overlooking the water. I preferred it to Emerson and Green. They were all winners in my book. Have a great holiday everybody!
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Dec 23rd, 2005, 08:47 AM
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Welcome back, your trip sounds awesome. You saw lots of hunting, that was great.

I found Carnivore an interesting one time experience
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Dec 23rd, 2005, 09:18 AM
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Marcus thank you so much for the report! I am very excited to be leaving for Tanzania next week!
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Dec 26th, 2005, 09:05 AM
  #19
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Lily, have a great trip and tell us all about it. Wayne: I too found Carnivore an interesting one time experience. I knew it was the format of the Brazilian churrascarias so I was curious. The night we were there the meat was all dry. It's a bit of a factory. But worth the visit.
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Dec 26th, 2005, 07:06 PM
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Hi Marcus
We are going on a similar safari in June next year, hoping to put ourselves smack bang in the middle of the great migration. Do you have any advice about what to take with you - like in the way of clothes, accessories, etc?
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