Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Africa & the Middle East (
-   -   The Safari (Kenya) and Gorilla (Uganda) Trip Report from August 2021. (

surfmom Oct 1st, 2021 07:51 AM
this is hard work.
keep moving. nothing to see here.

surfmom Oct 1st, 2021 07:54 AM

TPAYT Oct 1st, 2021 07:55 AM

Enjoying every minute.
The lighting on the giraffe photo is outstanding.

surfmom Oct 1st, 2021 08:01 AM

TPAYT thanks! I was particularly happy with that. I find giraffes hard to photograph - their bottom half has the background of ground and the top half of sky, so not only is it difficult to meter, it is also incredibly distracting background!

here is another giraffe one I really liked -

Heimdall Oct 1st, 2021 11:32 PM

Another great instalment! Of the photos, I can’t decide which one I like best, but it’s between the lion and its kill with the jackal poised to sneak in; the lioness with her cub; and the last photo of the giraffe with its neck in the thorn tree. Anyone who has seen the long thorns on an acacia can admire the ability of a giraffe to get at the leaves.

TPAYT Oct 2nd, 2021 06:22 AM

I too have a hard time deciding which of your photos I like best, but I am drawn to the giraffes. Their facial expressions make them look happy and their high-in-sky environment is inviting.

it’s been such fun traveling along with you.

bon_voyage Oct 2nd, 2021 07:47 AM

Loving your trip report— just the right amount of detail—and photos. The heart stopping animal photos, lion w kill and jackal, mother lion and cub, giraffes, and then scenes of everyday life on safari really give a sense of what it’s like.

surfmom Oct 4th, 2021 10:49 AM

Heimdall TPAYT thanks for the kind words about photos... I enjoy taking them but really need to work on post processing!

bon_voyage Glad you are enjoying the scenes of everyday life. I really enjoyed seeing what camps looked like when I was planning!

surfmom Oct 4th, 2021 10:53 AM

Day 8: Saturday – Masai Mara (Mara Ngenche)

A few things to add from yesterday:

- the cheetah we saw is named Ki-Jana. Our driver, Peter, thought it was funny when we explained our connection to the name.

- we saw a monitor lizard. They are a very strange looking creature. If they bite, not quite poisonous, but extremely painful.

This camp has solar power, but it only lasts until midnight. They run a booster generator a few times during the day. When I woke up in the middle of the night, it was so dark, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. At 5am, the generator went back on. Our wake up call came at 5:45 with tea and coffee and cookies and we departed around 6:15 for a drive.

We passed the area where the cheetah had its kill and saw that he had eaten more, but the bones were not picked clean. Peter indicated that the cheetah had been feeding, but if the hyenas had found it, it would have been more picked apart. D2 was relieved because she was worried that Ki-Jana wouldn’t have a chance to eat.

We drove for awhile and saw lions - two walking and two resting in the grass. The two walking were young males and basically told to leave the territory of the other older, larger males we saw.

We stopped for a safari breakfast overlooking the Mara River. Breakfast was hard boiled eggs, toast, bacon/sausage, fruit, yogurt, mushrooms, and pancakes. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, juice to drink. We watched the hippos and big crocodiles during breakfast.

Our guide got a tip that topi were gathering at the edge of the river so we decided to go see if anything was going on. We watched them approach the river and discuss it, but moved further downstream. They thought about that a while, then moved again. They went as far as going down to the river edge, but turned around and jumped back up the bank and retreated. They went back into the grassy area, so no crossing now.

On our way back to camp, we saw a herd of elephants with a few babies about 1 1/2 years old. We bounced our way back to camp. With the rain, the roads are extremely muddy and holes are now puddles. There have been a few times we really had to gun it to get through the mud. We all had sore bottoms.

We had about an hour and a half to kill before lunch, so we did a combination of showers, naps, and hammocks. Lunch was outside again next to the river - the soup was celery and leek, and entrees were pasta arrabbiata and kingfish. Dessert was passion fruit mousse. After lunch, some went to the media center to charge devices and upload to wifi, some showered, some dealt with photos and backing them up. About 2:30, the thunder became ominous and it poured. About 3:30, we all made the decision to just put on rain gear, leave the curtains open, and be warriors. By 4pm, the rain was light, we met our driver, and headed out.

It never really rained again - but was cloudy. We saw a rainbow in the distance! We looked for more animals and stopped by the river near a hippo pool for snacks. Not a true sundowner because we didn’t watch the sunset, but we stayed for a long time and stretched legs. There were a few other trucks at the same location. We returned to camp about 7:30.

We quickly got ready for dinner and went to the lounge to play games. There was a large party in the main dining room, so our table was set in the bar - very cozy. Dinner was veggie pizza starter, butternut squash soup, with mains of sirloin with potatoes and veggie and stuffed turkey. Dessert was apple pie. The kids and Dad stayed in the media tent and I went back to the tent. For some reason, the generator went out at 9:45, and it was pitch black in the tent. Dad returned shortly and the generator went back on at 10:30. We think it stayed on for longer because an outside light was on until 3am.

tomorrow is moving to Uganda for gorilla trek.

surfmom Oct 4th, 2021 11:04 AM
patiently waiting my turn.

surfmom Oct 4th, 2021 11:05 AM

surfmom Oct 4th, 2021 11:07 AM
brings new meaning to 'going nose to nose'!

surfmom Oct 4th, 2021 11:10 AM

Heimdall Oct 4th, 2021 12:48 PM

Great shots of the leopard and cheetah! How did you get the three Topi to stand in formation, and what were they patiently waiting for? 😂

surfmom Oct 4th, 2021 01:47 PM

Heimdall The leopard was my favorite - he was posing for us. I have at least one more good one of the cheetah (not running). Isn't it crazy how the topi were standing like that? We got a kick out of it! I think there is a meme there. ◡̈

surfmom Oct 9th, 2021 09:15 AM

Day 9: Sunday – Masai Mara -> Bwindi (Trackers Safari Lodge)

We got to “sleep in” until 6:15 this am - packed and had breakfast at 6:45. We departed camp about 7:20 for the airstrip. We arrived at the airstrip about 8:05 for our 8:45 flight - we were the only ones there.

On the way to the airstrip, we saw the usual animals - elephants, water Buffalo, a lion, giraffes…

We are the only ones on this flight to Entebbe - it landed, loaded us, and departed. It is a 208B Caravan - that seats 11 people and has two pilots. Instead of flying straight to Entebbe, we stopped at Kisumu to clear Kenyan customs and then would continue on. We arrived at Kisumu at 9:30am.

Except there was a problem with the tire, so they are flying someone in from Nairobi with a tire so we can continue on to Uganda. We were worried about missing the flight to Kihihi, (after Entebbe to get to our lodge for gorilla tracking), but we have been assured that they will hold the flight for us.

Right now, we are sitting in the airport in Kisumu. We had to clear Kenyan exit customs - show a negative Covid test, and the passenger locator form from the Health Authorities. They looked at our visas and fingerprinted us. We were then led through security - which we had to go through twice. I don’t know why. We are now waiting in the departure lounge - it is 11:45am and we are hoping the tire from Nairobi is coming soon.


We have boarded at 12:30 - and it is a one hour flight to Entebbe. We landed in Entebbe at 1:30 and were met by an airline representative. First, we had negative Covid tests checked, then yellow fever vaccines, and finally, our passports and visas. We proceeded through the terminal and a man met us and handed us our gorilla tracking permits as we quickly walked by; we then went to the medical center outside for our Covid test to return to the US in a few days. The Covid tests were the most inefficient part of the transfer in Entebbe. We had to pay in US cash, and she rejected a few of the bills because they had a bent corner. Every bill was inspected to ensure it was crisp and of a newer Treasury year (anything after 2013 was ok). While getting Covid tests, Dad went and got Ugandan cash.

We then were led outside and up a hill to the departures area. We went through security twice - one cares about water bottles, one did not. We had to pull out laptops and take off shoes, but not liquids. At first, they wanted to check my camera equipment, but the airline rep talked to them and kept us going. We blew through a few different lines - security, passport, etc. I could get spoiled having someone lead me through the airport like this! (We felt many eyes upon us as we blew past the line of 50+ people).

We boarded the bus and then the plane. It is another Cessna Caravan. One prop, two pilots, 11 passengers. If you want water, you help yourself to the cooler or case in the back.

From landing at 1:30, 2 bus rides, Covid tests, 2 security checkpoints, verification of yellow fever certificate, negative Covid test, and East African tourist visa…. Took about an hour. We departed at 2:30. This flight is about an hour.


We landed in Kihihi about 3:30 and our driver was waiting for us. It was almost all dirt roads to Bwindi, so couldn’t go very fast and many bumps. We arrived at Trackers Safari Lodge a little before 5pm. They met us with hot towels (we didn’t realize how dirty we were until we saw the towels after wiping faces!) and a juice drink. After checking in, we went to our rooms.

We have two rooms next to each other - there are many steps between the lodge and rooms. It is built on the side of a hill, so everything is boardwalks and steps in-between. We got a snack after checking in and hung out on the deck. What a view! Dinner was at 7pm, and there was only one other table of people. We had bruschetta starter, pumpkin coriander soup, and stuffed chicken wrapped in bacon with potatoes and veggies. Dessert was pineapple crumbles. We headed back to our rooms and were all asleep by 10pm.

surfmom Oct 9th, 2021 09:22 AM

surfmom Oct 9th, 2021 09:24 AM
loved the river from above - this was departing Masai Mara.

surfmom Oct 9th, 2021 09:26 AM
Trackers Safari Lodge. many steps, but lovely in the clouds!

TPAYT Oct 9th, 2021 11:06 AM

This is like reading a really good book, maybe you should write one.
All the details put us on the ground with you.
I do have to wonder though, what would happen if one of you tested positive at one of these test sites?
That said, I still hope to go to Africa next April.

Carry on………

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:19 PM.