Tanzania Trip Report: 5 Lions in a Tree

Jul 4th, 2007, 02:20 PM
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Tanzania Trip Report: 5 Lions in a Tree

I recently returned from a June trip to Tanzania and fell completely in love with the country. Our trip was comprised of Horseback Safari on the volcanic plateau between Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru, a four-day stay in Western Serengeti and then a final two days in the Ngorongoro Crater.

Game viewing in all three area was exceptional. My prior safari experiences were in South Africa and Botswana, so the abundant herds and easily spotted predators were remarkable to me. Probably the most unusual sighting was five lions in a tree! We spent quite a bit of time with this Western Serengeti pride.

For those of you considering Tanzania, I encourage you to go! A few of my impressions of the trip follow:

1. Africa Serendipity (Sandi, as travel agent) did a superb job with the itinerary and personalizing the trip to meet our wishes. Horses are rare in Tanzania, so we were thrilled to spend four days on horseback and even cantered along side a herd of giraffe.

2. Roy Safari supplied our vehicle and driver, Daniel. He was superb in every way! Sandi recommended the Toyota Land Cruiser over the Range Rover and we couldn't have been happier with the vehicle. I would recommend the "pop-up" top over the "pop-off" top. It was great to have the shade over our head.

3. I didn't think I'd enjoy a "closed" vehicle, as open vehicles are standard fare in RSA and Botswana. However, we really enjoyed the protection it provided from all the dust and certainly had great photo shoots from both window and roof line. Our favorite thing was to stand while the vehicle was racing down the dirt roads...wind in our faces, enjoying the 360 degree panoramic view.

4. Western Serengeti is stunning. We started off in Central Serengeti to see the migration, which was awe inspiring. However, there were just too many vehicles! At one point, there were eight or nine vehicles gathered to see...one small monkey!! The Kirawira area in Western Serengeti was much less traveled and we saw very few vehicles. The game viewing was spectacular...everything you would want to see. There were a few sublime moments: watching a large troop of baboons leisurely work their way through a vast field of morning glory flowers, popping off the flowers and tossing them in their mouths like popcorn; spending almost an hour with a group of 20 giraffe as they browsed on whistling thorn acacia in complete serenity; watching a female lion drag her wildebeast kill across the savannah, stopping every few yards to catch her breath; having six lion cubs walk single file by our vehicle on their way to the water hole, as their mother called out for them to "hurry back".

5. Go to the Crater! There are no words or photos that can adequately capture the stunning Ngorongoro Crater!! The views from the rim are breathtaking and the views from the floor of the crater are just as special. There is wildlife at every turn and we didn't find the other vehicles to be intrusive, because the area is so large. A typical scene in the crater: wildebeast and zebra moving to a water hole that already has eight hippo with babies. The entire scene is highlighted by brilliant pink flamingos and framed by the steep cliffs of the crater. I highly recommend a fabulous book, The Ngorongoro Story ($30 online...$120 at one of the lodges!).

Tanzania is one of Africa's great jewels. I hope we can return soon!
girlpolo33 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 05:37 PM
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Thanks for your report! Glad you enjoyed Tanzania. Who was the operator for your horseback safari? Was it private or did you join others? Was it a camping trip? Thanks.
Patty is online now  
Jul 4th, 2007, 05:43 PM
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Great report. I too would like to hear more about the riding--and of course would be happy to see photos if you have any you want to post. Did you stay at Kirawira in the western corridor?
Leely is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 06:57 PM
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I'm happy to write more about the horseback safari. We rode with Makoa Farm, which is run by two veterinarians from Germany. They have 27 horses that are pampered and in top condition. The first day's ride is on their 360 acre coffee farm, which allows you to find a horse that suits you. The farm is on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro and the view of Mt. Kili is spectacular. The next morning, they trailer the horses to a spot on the plateau between the two peaks and you ride for three days in that area. The camp is very comfortable, but there is a drop toilet and camping shower (with hot water, however!). On their website, www.makoa-farm.com , they offer several rides of different duration and in various areas. They take a maximum of six riders per ride, but we had just the two of us. We loved the experience, but nothing compares to riding in the Okavango Delta with African Horseback Safari. Cantering through the waters of the delta is exhilarating.

Leely, we stayed in the Kirawira area, but chose a mobile tented safari. Next time around I would chose Grumetti River Camp or Kirawira. As for pictures, I have mine on Shutterfly and would be happy to send them to you. You are welcome to e-mail me at [email protected] with your e-mail address.
girlpolo33 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 07:32 PM
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Thank you so much...we are going to go on a safari in June 2009 and loved reading your experiences!
jamikins is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 08:54 PM
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Hi girlpolo33
We saw 5 lions climb a tree in a tree at western serengeti on the 20/21st June we were also in a roy safari vehicle- same lions?
keah05 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 06:34 AM
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Thanks, I thought it might have been Makoa but there's another riding operator in the Mt Meru area so wasn't sure. We did a safari with them in 2005 and stayed on the farm and camped on Ndarakwai. Would love to see your pics and will email you.
Patty is online now  
Jul 5th, 2007, 09:43 AM
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Patti: I would be interested in the name of the other horseback safari operator in the Mt. Meru area. The only downside to that area is the ticks! The cattle in the area provide the ticks with a willing host...we seemed to, as well!!
Keah: Yes, I would imagine they were the same lions...mother and six cubs. We probably passed your vehicle!
jamikins: June seems a perfect time to visit...I can only imagine your excitment.
girlpolo33 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 10:26 AM
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Here's the website for the other riding operator based out of Uto farm, I think http://www.safaririding.com/index.php?id=9

I have no personal experience with this operator and only know of them through their website.

The ticks may be seasonal/rain dependent because we didn't see any on our trip. Had there been a lot of rain in the area prior to your arrival? I know when we were in Kenya/Tanzania last December (record rains) many places were warning about ticks if we choose to participate in walks.
Patty is online now  
Jul 5th, 2007, 11:19 AM
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Thank you girlpolo33, could you tell us where you stayed other than the mobile camps?
patiricia is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 11:29 AM
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Love your photos, especially hyena with carcass.

Which mobile did you use? We stayed at a semi-perm last year and enjoyed it. Were you just ready for a permanent camp by them, real bathrooms, etc., or...?
Leely is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 06:50 PM
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Patty, thank you for the other horseback safari information, as I had no idea there was another option. As for the ticks, we had no issue whatsoever in Western Serengeti. I think it may be due to the cattle, but that's just a guess.

Patiricia: We stayed at Sopa Lodge at the Crater, because Crater Lodge and Serena were booked. I wasn't a fan of the large dining room, buffet meals and lots of people. It was quite a shock after the serenity of a semi-permanent camp!

Leely, we stayed at Simiyu semi-permanent camp. The selling point is their ability to move with the migration. However, I think we would have prefered Grumetti River Camp or Kirawira, which were very close by. The service was fine, but electricity and water were inconsistent. That being said, we fell in love with that area of the Western Serengeti.
girlpolo33 is offline  
Jul 7th, 2007, 06:42 AM
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Sounds great We are planning a mid Sept
trip to Kenya, Tanzania and Samburu
Did Sandi Serendipity plan your whole
itinerary you also mentioned Roys Safari. please advise

Also I have been told not to go to Serengeti in mid Sept but to go Maasi

Any info would be helpful as it the first time to Africa
robar is offline  
Jul 7th, 2007, 05:15 PM
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Robar: Yes, Sandi and Africa Serendipity planned the entire trip (except the flight from JFK to Mt. Kilimanjaro). Sandi sets up the arrangements with Roy Safari, as well as books the various lodges, hotels, etc... As for which time of year is best for which area, there have been other postings regarding that question. Your travel agent should be a good reference, as well. I hope you make the trip, as East Africa is stunning.
girlpolo33 is offline  
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