To answer Jan's question.......

Sep 15th, 2003, 05:24 AM
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To answer Jan's question.......

Jan-I needed to start a new thread to properly answer your question to me concerning Kenya vs. Botswana. I've given it a lot of thought and here is what I came up with:
Jan, I understand the ramifications of your question having been a single woman travelling to Africa before I met and married Max. The question goes very deep because of what Africa means to each of us. I will try to explain Botswana's attraction to me later. Your question can be answered without considering Botswana or anywhere else. We both know that you have the perfect setup in Kenya. You know the elephants there, much of it aided by Cynthia Moss' studies. But you know them. You have found two places where you belong in the country. You have developed family there and they love you. It is so rare to find that once, but twice is amazing. I have often compared this magic of Africa to falling in love. Well, why would you consider changing that without something outside of you causing that? You have a good "relationship" going and everyone is happy. You will not find that in Botswana. Oh sure, there are elephants. Lots of them in Chobe and Savuti. But they are strange elephants to you. You would have to find a spot first of all where you feel you belong, then you would have to take repeat trips, etc, etc. I think I can safely say that you will never have that anywhere else again in your lifetime as you do in Kenya. Most people don't have it even once. Stay in Kenya with your elephants. Don't even consider changing that. I have read enough of your reports to know that is where you belong.
Now, should you go other places? Spain, Morocco, Philadelphia, Botswana? That depends on if you can do it out of a different curiosity. Do you know of an interesting trip to any of those places that particularly intriques you? If so, go. But don't go with the thought that it may replace something in your life that is already very special to you.
Now on to my Botswana. I first went there in 1991 on an elephant study with Earthwatch. We worked for two weeks in areas of Botswana studying the impact of the elephant herds on the environment and whether the Botswana government should consider culling of the herds as Zimbabwe had done prior to that time. I went to about 4 different areas of the country during that study. I saw something that caught my attention that I wanted to share with Max. We first went to Kenya and Tanzania, then in 1999, we went to Botswana. We were both enchanted with the aura of Botswana. It wasn't anything that can be easily defined. It wasn't this camp, or that town, or a particular experience. We were captivated by "It". I suppose "It" includes the Delta, the tented camps, the flowers, birds, air, wind, sun and stars. It wasn't the animals. That experience opened the possibility that Kenya and I were changing. It wasn't anything I set out to do. It isn't something anyone would do deliberately. So that is where I am now, just letting my life play out as it is intended. We look forward to a trip to Botswana/Namibia in about 3 years. We will be 70 then. It will probably be our last such trip but I'm not going to even go into that now.
Since this can be our thread if you choose to have further discussion, we shouldn't be disrupting to anyone else. If others find this interesting to them and want to comment, please feel free to explore those feelings on how Africa affects you here. But this is really not wanting to "see the migration" type of thing. It is how Africa gets into your soul.
One thing in particular happened to me on this last trip that I would like to share with you. I think you will understand it. I am still trying to.
When we arrived in Kenya, we were sitting towards the back of the airplane and so we ended up about 200th in the Visa line at the airport. It seems everyone waited to get their passports stamped until they got there. The airline had handed out the forms onboard so people had the chance to have them all filled out. Drat, I had counted on us having the only filled in forms. So I figured, here goes 3 hours of waiting. So we were standing there among everyone else with our filled out forms, our passports, and two $50.00 bills in our hands when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to find a Kenyan woman in a flowered dress looking rather sternly at me. She said, "Are your forms filled out?" I showed her they were. She asked to see the money. I showed her two fifty dollar bills. She then grabbed my arm and said to follow her. We walked the full length of the line, passing all of the other passengers in the line. But instead of taking us to the visa window, she turned and marched us up to the Customs or Immigrations or whatever gate it is that you pass through. Another lady was there ahead of us. Our lady walked straight up to the cage with the official in it and started speaking to him in Swahili or whatever the language they use. It sounded like Swahili. She demanded that he look at our passports, etc. She had asked us to wait behind the lady already there. The man looked at her and she kept pointing to our forms and speaking rather sternly that he do this now. So he stamped our passports, took our forms and money and as she handed the passports back to me she said we could leave. We were the first to leave the airport from our plane. I tried to thank her, but she walked away. Max asked me later what had happened there. I tried to explain that it has always been like that with me in Kenya. The lady never was acting like she was doing us a favor. I had never seen her before. I thanked her as we brushed past her to leave and meet our driver, but I almost felt I knew her on some level. Why us? There were lots of people milling about there. I have never understood everything that happens to me in Kenya, but I felt it was always a mutual experience. That is just how it has always been. Liz
Sep 15th, 2003, 05:44 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Wow Liz:

You certainly have given me a lot to think about. Everyone in Kenya has always gone out of their way to treat me magnificently also, but I can't help but wonder if it is the same in other African countries.

I have read all the elephant books by the Jouberts, Owens, Douglas-Hamilton's, Moss, Poole, Payne and I'm sure there are probably other areas that I would enjoy also because I enjoyed reading the books about other countries. I recently saw a program about a gentleman who has trained African elephants to be ridden by the Wildlife Service to go after poachers. Iain Douglas-Hamilton's daghter Saba starred in it. I believe the gentleman who started this was originally from Zambia but when things got hot he and his elephants moved, ? to South Africa?

Perhaps next year I'll return to Kenya and then six months later try another country.

Absolutely loved your pictures. I can't believe you got them with a digital camera. Did you have a zoom lens or is it not possible with a digital?

Your experience at the visa booth was interesting. Guess I'd best be prepared for it next week. I have always been first or second in line and never had to wait, but this year may be different.

Hopefully we'll escape the brunt of Isabel so that my flight can leave on time. Southern Cross Safaris told me if I was a day or two late they would rearrange everything for me at that end, but I am hopeful it will not be necessary.

JanGoss is offline  
Sep 15th, 2003, 09:46 PM
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Liz, I had to reply to this thread as I was unable to add to your other thread now. Some very interesting thoughts in this one though. But what I wanted to ask - I went back to your album tonight to read Kavey's comments and could not see any comments at all, including my own. Is it that we need a new link for the most updated page?
Clematis is offline  
Sep 15th, 2003, 11:24 PM
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I just used the link in the other thread and went to the album and all comments were still there. Are you coming in from someone else's link or something? How come you can't post on the other thread? Strange. Sorry, is it something about your browser? I think you've had trouble here before, haven't you? SusanLynne said the first time she saw the pictures, my comments weren't there so maybe sometimes those things happen. But they were there just now for me using the link.
I didn't realize your name is Liz. I finally figured it out from your comments in the album. By the way I appreciate your comments. That really makes it special. I didn't think I'd care whether people commented or not, just that they enjoyed perusing the album. I found out that the comments mean a great deal to me. Your and Kavey's comments are very special to Max and to me.
I haven't sent for your email trip report yet because I'm still not together. I'm really interested in hearing about Chief's Camp vs. Mombo Camp. I just don't think I can absorb it yet. Here it is 12:30am, I went to bed at 6PM, got up at 8PM, and now I'm watching the late show wide awake. This jetlag gets worse every time. Aren't you up late? Liz
Sep 16th, 2003, 02:46 AM
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Liz, Clematis isn't another Liz - it's just that the link you gave us takes us in under your own account, so comments are added as if made by you.
I managed to sign in as myself to make my comments.

If you could go into the invite bit and send to my hotmail account address a direct invitation to see your album I can post a link that should allow people to log in as themselves and post comments from themselves.

PS I am intending to answer this thread too (though it's addressed to Jan) but need to think about it and articulate myself better.
Kavey is offline  
Sep 16th, 2003, 03:59 AM
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Done. I didn't want non-Fodorites to have to register, so I created this situation without knowing. Thanks.
Although the first message here was addressed to Jan, I explained that I just wanted to move such a discussion off the other thread. Please, anyone comment away. We've had other discussions on the uniqueness of Africa and they get mixed within other conversations. I had hoped you would jump in. You always have such insight into these things.
While I have your ear, thanks for the wonderful comments in our album. Max enjoyed them too. He also said that since you confused him as a guide, that from now on he wanted to be known as "Bwana". What a comic! Liz
Sep 16th, 2003, 05:24 AM
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Ha ha - he sounds like a hoot - if you guys get the chance on your next trip spend a night in London en route to Africa and we can meet for dinner!

Will post when I get home - I'm training today but on another coffee break.

Nice small class and friendly students which is always a pleasure.

I don't know if I have insight or just verbal diarrhoea!
Kavey is offline  
Sep 16th, 2003, 06:06 AM
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I was wondering about how to go about putting comments on Liz's album as well, so thanks for asking about Clematis! Just so you know, Liz, I had to "force" myself to look at your photos one more time!
SusanLynne is offline  
Sep 16th, 2003, 06:09 AM
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Jan- Re: Camera
I got a digital ultra zoom to avoid carrying extra lenses. I had a SLR with various lenses but it is so heavy and cumbersome, I wanted to switch to something light and easy. Dick Snyder had mentioned he got the Olympus 740UZ with 10X Optical zoom. I looked into it and saw they were coming out with the 750UZ and went for it. I don't really know the difference between the two, but I really liked it. Very small, largest optical zoom on a small camera, and although you can get an extender to add other lenses, I just didn't want to do that. Since we really like birds more and more, the smaller ones are a problem with this camera, but the larger ones are fine and animals are just fine for it. We turned off the digital zoom because the chat place at, Olympus board, the folks said they didn't use it at all. I turned it on once during the trip, but didn't see anything any better, so I turned it off. 10X was equivalent at least to 300mm if not more. It was nice not having to worry about airport X-rays and we certainly never ran out of film.
I didn't set the resolution very high because we don't do enlargements on our prints, and really won't even get prints. We have the album on the hard drive of our computer, plus the one at Pictures just stack up in cupboards, and this is so much nicer. I took two chips with 256MB capacity and we only used one. My LCD screen is 2.5" x 2.5", so I could delete pictures I knew were screwed up. Couldn't tell blur, but most was the animal turned or walked away from screen, so it was pretty easy to tell flubs. To not go through developing film, etc. was so great.
I probably went into much more detail than you needed, but maybe someone else will need the info.
Oh, by the way, where are you on the East Coast? I see Isabel is going to hit today and I don't know when to pray for you, based on where the storm is. Good luck. Liz
Sep 16th, 2003, 09:02 AM
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I have tested the link and posted it on your original Kenya thread, together with some additional comments.
Kavey is offline  
Sep 16th, 2003, 09:51 AM
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Liz, your post here really hits on why Africa appeals to us on a very deep level. It's hard to describe but you've done a wonderful job of it.

About your wonderful website - today I retried both your original link and Kavey's new link in the other thread and still I cannot see any comments. I logged on as you in the first case and as myself in the second. SusanLynne, just wondering if you are able to see comments when you go there? Liz, you are right that once or twice I have found I couldn't reply to a long thread and I still cannot on your original thread (so that's another reason I'm posting here).
Clematis is offline  
Sep 16th, 2003, 10:01 AM
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Clem did you click on the actual Slideshow link to view the pics or straight onto the first thumbnail?
Kavey is offline  
Sep 16th, 2003, 12:28 PM
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Thoughts on why Botswana (and Namibia) captured my heart so completely are so difficult to articulate. But I?ll try. This is going to be a kind of stream of consciousness thing, so feel free to skip it.

I'm a very very lucky girl - I was born to wonderful parents who a) love to see the world and b) were successful enough in their careers to allow us to afford to do so throughout my childhood.

I have childhood memories of touring many US states, of taking in India with all of my senses, of classy European cities full of art and culture and of my fascination with a number of South American destinations, from the floating villages of Lake Titicaca to the breathtaking Machu Picchu.

My first trip to Africa was a group tour, mainstream operator trip to Kenya and Tanzania. I don't recall the year but I was in my teens.

From the moment we landed in Kenya (and were submitted to the most direct racism I'd ever encountered) I was in conflict about how I felt about the country. I did love the incredible beauty of the landscape and I was captivated by the wild life and flora... and many of the people we met (such as our guide) were friendly and open. But the racism did have a profound impact and for many years I had no desire to return - my desire to witness the crossing was tempered by those less appealing memories.

The second half of the trip was in Tanzania and I don't recall experiencing any similar racism. In Tanzania I was ill. Ill enough that my parents (both doctors) were very close to having me airlifted out from whichever camp we were in on day x of the illness and to a hospital. Luckily I turned the corner just as they were deciding what to do and that wasn?t necessary. But I missed much of the Tanzanian part of the trip ? I was ill on the day the group went to Ngorongoro and I certainly missed much of the game viewing.

During the enjoyable parts of that trip I did have fun but even then I recall my feelings on coming across a group of animals in our pop-top minivan and a) having to scramble for a view without obstructing the others sharing the minivan and b) the dilution of excitement I felt on seeing a large number of other minivans appear within minutes ? sometimes there were more of us than there were of the animals!

I do recall a close encounter with a cheetah in a tree though ? the other minivan in our group got stuck in the mud directly below the tree and our driver bravely got out of our minivan to place a floormat beneath the other vehicle?s wheel in order to help that driver pull out of the mud. He was sweating with fear and so were we!

Some considerable years later (in 1999), once I was all grown up and married, my parents visited Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Given that they travel a lot... in the first tourist group to take an ice breaker to the North Pole, trips to see blue footed boobies, gorillas, orangutans, pandas... it was a surprise to me how much they raved about that trip. We had to go, they said.

Well... we wanted to - but the trip they were advising wasn't exactly inexpensive. You all know how much a top end trip can be... And then my dad made the offer. He wanted us to see what they had seen whilst it was still there to be seen. He offered to pay for the trip.

We planned and booked our trip in 1999 and decided to omit Zimbabwe.

In 2001 we went.

Some of you might have read the only bit of my journal I ever managed to complete ? my feelings on our arrival in Namibia and at Wolwedans itself. Magical. All I can say about it is that the magic invaded our hearts, minds and souls. Each moment we spent there just strengthened the bond. It?s Wolwedans where we will be renewing our wedding vows next year and now you know why.

From there we went on to Sossusvlei and Damaraland and were captivated by those experiences also. Seeing Africa in style afforded us a more intimate (and comfortable) experience. We really felt like we were entering the animals? domain without making a negative impact and this allowed us to feel positive about our game viewing and also to learn a great deal more about what we were seeing.

From Namibia we went to Botswana. We stayed in Little Mombo, Little Vumbura and Chitabe Trails. I?ve written previously on this board about my opinions on those. But in terms of why we were so delighted with this part of the trip let me focus on what we saw and how it was presented. It saddens me to read about the experiences of Mombo in recent months, not just by Clematis but by other posters on this board. We were lucky enough to have perhaps one of the best visits there one could possibly have. We spent hours and hours within feet of the rarer animals such as leopards, cheetah and wild dogs. We also had the most exciting of encounters with lions, elephants, zebra, giraffe, many different deer/ antelope and countless birds. And how about those birds? Neither of us were prepared for how much we found ourselves excited by the bird viewing. We aren?t bird viewers at home. From this wonderful 4 night stay we went on to a relaxing and peaceful stay at Vumbura where we were able to see the beauty of the Delta from a new perspective. In mekoros. Wow! At Chitabe we simply wound down and from there we relucantly came home.

So you can see how much we enjoyed the visit. We also were blessed to have fantastic guides who gave us a piece of themselves and really made our trip special. Infact most of the staff at most of the camps were superb. And the camps themselves were so wonderful. Remote and yet everything one could wish for.

So? now you know why we?re blowing our savings on a return trip next year. What about you?
Kavey is offline  
Sep 16th, 2003, 12:40 PM
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PS I do realise that I am comparing apples to oranges in terms of expecting the same level of experience from a more budget group trip and a luxury tailored trip... that is part of the reason why I have reevaluated and decided that I will try and return to East Africa in the future and do it differently second time around.
Kavey is offline  
Sep 16th, 2003, 01:51 PM
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Hello, I'm travelling to Kenya on 9/27. I've arranged to stay at the Samburu Intrepids Camp and the Siana Intrepids Camp. Does anyone have any info/thoughts concerning these camps, if so it would be greatly appreciated. I'm trevelling solo, any suggestions regarding safty would also be appreciated....
pdmargie is offline  
Sep 16th, 2003, 03:12 PM
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I just did a search using the Samuru Intrepids Camp and came up with 4 replies, one also included Siana Springs Intrepids. The search is at the top of the page. Put Kenya as the country. Hope you find it helpful. I've never stayed at either place nor heard too much mention of them. Liz
Sep 16th, 2003, 04:11 PM
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Kavey and Liz:

A big thank you for your thoughts regarding your southeran African trips. I certainly have a lot to think about.

And Liz: Thanks so much for the information regarding your digital camera. I am a true novice with cameras. My pictures and videos have turned out alright but I have "automatic" type cameras. It is good to know that your camera with the zoom was equivalent to 300 mm. lens. Does the digital picture look any better than a roll of film saved on a CD? Think I'll spring for saving to CD's for this trip and then I don't have to keep gazillions of pictures, and I think I could delete ones that aren't so hot from the CD. My husband is a little perturbed with me for not taking a tripod with me this time but at my age I don't want to lug around the added weight. Some of my videos were a little shaky in February while I tried brushing a fly off my arm while holding the camera, but with 6 video tapes I feel I have enough to use that is good. I'll start checking the Olympus out though. Thanks again.

Here in the Boston area we hope we can breathe a sigh of relief that we'll probably just be getting the tail end of Isabel with rain and moderate wind unless she changes course. Hopefully the flight will leave right on time!

By the was, the East African Standard tonight had several articles on your gnus.


JanGoss is offline  
Sep 16th, 2003, 11:25 PM
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Thanks, Kavey, now I see - you must click on slideshow to read the comments. Liz, I looked at your album again, the photos are so wonderful. Don't worry about when you get around to my report, you have plenty of time. I'm still surprised you managed to get that photo album up so quickly!
Clematis is offline  
Sep 17th, 2003, 03:39 AM
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Peter -

We stayed at Samburu Intrepids on our trip a few years back. A fairly large camp, but when we were there only 3-tents were occupied so it was intimate.

We became friendly with an English couple with whom we've struck up a friendship and travel to the UK and they to the States about every other year.

The tents are lovely - we had a four-poster mahogony bed, right smack in the middle of the tent. It was delightful. We found the staff and food to be excellent and a good wine selection. Our tent was abot 20' from the river front where the Ellees came to dring each night - quiet, we never heard them, but saw their giant footprints and droppings in the mornings. What I specifically remember about this camp is that the Vervet monkeys are very good at opening the zipper of your tent - funny experiences; so never leave any food inside. The Vervets provided lots of laughs - for me I had to eat my morning cookies before the Vervets hit the zipper, which I found one doing on a morning I had passed on the early game drive.

If you are traveling by land, it is a long trip, but the countryside and the children coming down to the road to greet you are a delight.

At the Mara, we didn't stay at Intrepids Siana Springs, so can't exactly comment, but the decor is similar to the camp up north.

Both would be good choices.
Sep 17th, 2003, 03:41 AM
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Kavey & Liz -

I went to the photo site immediately after you posted it and no problem reading the comments for each photo.

Got right into the site, selected the first thumbnail and went thru all photos. And found all was fine.

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