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Trip Report East Africa in February with Roy Safaris

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Mar 23rd, 2007, 12:06 PM
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Trip Report East Africa in February with Roy Safaris

We traveled with two other couples and had an outstanding safari. Here is our planned itinerary.

ITINERARY FOR 20 DAY SAFARI IN EAST AFRICA

Day 1—- Tuesday Feb. 13-Fly from Miami to London (overnight flight)-arrive in am on Day2.

Day 2---Wednesday, Feb. 14 Arrive London at 7:40 am -tour and shop in London-overnight in London

Day 3--Thursday, Feb 15-- Fly from London (in the morning) to Nairobi, Kenya Arriving 9:20 pm Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi

Day 4–-Friday, Feb. 16-Tour Nairobi-Intercontinental Hotel,Nairobi

Day5--Saturday, Feb. 17-Morning free-Afternoon Drive to Lake Nakuru-Sarova Lion Lodge

Day6--Sunday, Feb 18-Lake Nakuru-Sarova Lion Lodge

Day7--Monday, Feb. 19-Drive to Amboseli National Park-Ol Tukai Lodge

Day 8 -Tuesday, Feb. 20-Amboseli- Ol Tukai Lodge

Day 9 -Wednesday, Feb. 21-Drive from Amboseli to Namanga border, to Arusha for lunch arriving at Tarangire NP - -Swala Camp

Day 10--Thursday, Feb. 22-Tarangire National Park-Swala Camp

Day 11--Friday, Feb. 23-Drive to Lake Manyara National Park-Serena Lodge

Day 12--Saturday, Feb. 24-Drive to Ngorongoro Crater- afternoon crater drive –Sopa Lodge

Day 13--Sunday, Feb. 25-After a morning crater drive we will drive to Ndutu Lodge just south of the Serengeti

Day 14--Monday, Feb. 26-Ndutu Lodge

Day 15--Tuesday, Feb. 27-Drive to Serengeti- Kusini Camp

Day 16--Wednesday, Feb. 28-Serengeti-Kusini Camp

Day 17--Thursday, March 1-Morning drive at Kusini Camp then drive to Serona-o/n Serena Lodge

Day 18--Friday, March 2- Catch a plane to Arusha, Tanzania; Connect with plane to Nairobi; Take an evening flight to London at 11:20 pm

Day 19- - Saturday, March 3-arrive in London 5:05 am. Overnight in London

Day 20--Sunday, March 4-Fly to Miami 11:15 am. Arrive in Miami 4:00 pm.

Almost everything went as planned and we were very pleased with our safari in general. There were a few minor glitches and one major disappointment but in looking back, we all felt our safari turned out to be spectacular.
We booked with Roy Safaris of Tanzania. Because part of our safari was in Kenya, Roy Safari used WildTrek for the Kenya portion.
We had three of the most wonderful guides. We felt that it was because of them, that our safari was such a success. We would like to recommend them to anyone booking with either Roy or Wildtrek. OJ was our guide in Nairobi, Ben drove and guided us in Kenya and Salvatory was our driver and guide in Tanzania. Ben and Salvatory were just fabulous at spotting and full of information on culture and animal habits. They amazed us at their knowledge and they were so much fun to be with. They went to great lengths to please and tried their hardest to fulfill all our requests. Because of our excellent guides, I would also recommend Roy Safaris. However, planning and dealing with the office at Roy's did cause us a lot of stress and irritation. However, our safari was a success so that was the important thing.
Our difficulties with Roy started with the agent, Susan Wood. Her responses to my questions were wonderful before booking but after our down payment they became incomplete, and curt. Many times I did not get a answer to my e mails to her and so I had no idea if she got them or not. After I'd write again she'd tell me she didn't get my e-mail or that she had answered them. It was extremely frustrating. One time I asked a question and she told me she had sent me a rude e mail in capital letters saying she answered my question in the attachment. I found the e mail she had sent and there was no attachment included. Finally, my husband took over and made her agree to e mail a response after each of his e mails to her. She did respond better to him but all her responses were also incomplete and required a lot of follow-up. We would have changed companies except for Roy's reputation and the fact that they already had the down payments of ourselves and four other people.
Another problem we faced with Roy's was in their office in Arusha. After Salvatory met us at the boarder he took us to the Roy Safari's office. We were delayed there for three hours. They were very unorganized. We had a refund coming. We paid for a park fee increase that was later reduced. However they had no record of this fact even though Susan had said we would be paid when we arrived at the office. We waited all this time for them to get this straightend out and then they told us we would have to come back the next day to get our money! To top it all off they sent us to lunch at the Impala Hotel. It was dirty, run down and the food was the worst meal we ate on our safari. We began to fear what our safari in Tanzania would be like after this terrible beginning. Our itinerary called for a two day stay in Swala beginning this evening. However, due to flooding a bridge went out and Roys booked us at the Mountain Lodge near Arusha. This lodge turned out to be absolutely wonderful. However because of Roy's lack of forethought we still had to drive an hour back to the office to get our refund and to have them make copies of our passports and medical insurance, which sould have been taken care of on our first visit to the office. We spent another two hours at the office while Roy's took the men upstairs to give them the refund and make the copies, leaving the women downstairs wondering what was going on and what we were waiting for. A sot of safari time was needlessly wasted by Roy's.

Sorry to go on and on about it but it still makes me angry to think about it. But, as I said before, I only have positive things to say about our wonderful safari and guides so I promise the remainder of my report will be more pleasant. I'll write more as soon as I have more time.

Barbara
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Mar 23rd, 2007, 12:36 PM
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It sounds as though you had a rough start to your trip, Barbara. It must have been especially frustrating after having booked with such a reputable company. Our presafari planning with Roy was seamless, but the reality is that glitches can happen. Ultimately, your actual safari sounds like it'll be a joy to read about, and I'm looking forward to your trip report.
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Mar 23rd, 2007, 01:56 PM
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To top it all off they sent us to lunch at the Impala Hotel. It was dirty, run down and the food was the worst meal we ate on our safari.

Yeah, what is with that place?!? it appears that a few safari companies have offices (someone is paying a heck of a kickback) would it kill them to put a few buck into the place? and make better food?

Looking forward to the rest of your report.

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Mar 23rd, 2007, 02:02 PM
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Yikes! I'm doing a safari not very similar to yours but with Wildtrek and Roy's booked through Africa Serendipity. Very glad to hear everything else went well. As usual when it comes to trip reports I very much look forward to reading the rest of it as soon as you have it posted.

Juliet

p.s. Welcome back!
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Mar 23rd, 2007, 02:39 PM
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brbrt,

Your itinerary looks wonderful and glad the safari was too. Thank you for your candid and detailed remarks about what you had to go through to get the safari off the ground. Good guiding makes all the difference so that's good you enjoyed the guides so much. Too bad you could not have known how well everything would work out during the difficulties.

Looking forward to more details.
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Mar 24th, 2007, 10:35 AM
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Feb. 15
Flew into Nairobi on British Air. We arrived at 9:30pm. There were two very long visa lines. Both lines were for those getting visas and those who already had them. We were glad we didn't apply for our visas before we came because we would have had to wait in the same line. We walked to the luggage area and waited about a half hour for our bags. We looked over to a roped off area with many guides with signs. We were extremely happy to see OJ from Wild Trek with a sign with my name. Ben, our guide for our safari in Kenya was there also. He did the driving in Nairobi also. We were taken to the Intercontinental Hotel. OJ asked us for our room preferences and he made arrangements. We made it to bed at 11:30pm. We thought this hotel was excellent. While it was not an up-scale hotel, it was clean, had a beautiful lobby, good food, and served our purposes very well.
Feb. 16
Amazingly, none of us slept a wink last night. At 7:00am we tiredly made it down for a wonderful breakfast at the hotel. We met with OJ and he took us to a small platformed area of the hotel lobby to go over the entire safari. We were very pleased to see that our planned itinerary was going to be followed perfectly. OJ, with Ben as our driver, took us on a day tour of Nairobi. We saw the Giraffe Center and fed the giraffes. Some people held food in their mouthes and used that to "kiss" the giraffes. We took a walk in a near-by trail, hoping to see many birds but we only saw a few. Our second stop was the Sheldrik Ellee Orphanages for the 11:00 elephant mud baths. It was nice to see the baby elephants but the mud baths weren't much. The guides just let the elephants walk in the mud and feed on branches. I think we should have skipped this stop but maybe some people enjoyed it more. Our next stop was the Karen Blixen museum.We had an excellent guide take us through. It was a wonderful experience, especially if you have seen the movie, "Out of Africa".
We were getting hungry for lunch and OJ said there wasn't a picnic spot nearby so we ate in the van. The hotel had packed lunches for us and even though there was plenty of food, we couldn't eat the meat or mayo items because they were warm from sitting in the van. We decided then that we did not want to have any more packed picnic lunches. We drove on to the Utamaduni Craft Center. It was fairly large and we bought a few souvenoirs. We found out later that prices were very good on most items compared to lodges and other stores.
We then stopped at a supermarket for cases of water and then returned to the hotel.
We enjoyed a very nice Italian dinner at our hotel and slept well that night.

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Mar 24th, 2007, 06:03 PM
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brbrt,

I'm very curious to hear how you liked Amboseli and your thoughts on Ol Tukai?

Would you recommend it??
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Mar 27th, 2007, 07:47 AM
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Does anyone know what happened to brbrt?

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Mar 27th, 2007, 11:11 AM
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Feb 17
We were going to sleep late today and try to recover from jet lag but OJ suggested that we leave early for Lake Nakuru. We were anxious to get going so we agreed. We stopped to view the Great Rift. It was beautiful to see. We were bothered by the many people trying to sell things. No matter what we said, they would not leave us alone. Ben told us not to buy anything but some of us did anyway. When we were about 1/4 of the was from the lodge, we stopped for a potty break at a place that sold carvings of many types of wood and soap stone. The show room was enormous and the carvings were beautiful. Some of us bought giraffe statues and rino carvings and because they were so big, they had them shipped home. They got good prices by bargining with the sales people. We continued on our journey one of the most dusty, and bumpy roads of our safari. In some places we could hardly see anything. The roads had been good up to this point.
We arrived at Sarova Lion Lodge around 1:30pm and enjoyed lunch. Because we arrived before most others , we were given cottages located lowest on the hill. Each couple was given a cute, little stone cottage. The Lion Lodge is located in a beautiful area with a view of Lake Nakuru. Even though our cottage was small, it was nicely but basicly furnished, and clean with a nice porch with comfortable chairs. There were hundreds of birds and small white butterlies and some misquitoes. We had great food. Dinner was buffet style and included 3 selections cooked over an outdoor grill. The beef was tough but tasty but the vegetable and chicken were very good. There was plenty to eat and a lot of selection. I would say that quality of food over all was a 7 out of 10. The restaurant was open air and very pretty with cloth tableclothes.
At 4:00pm Ben took us on our first game drive. It was an outstanding beginning!
We saw many giraffe, a baboon family, black and white rino, impala, many types of birds, some very mean looking Cape buffalo and around a million and a half flamingoes feeding in the lake.
It was getting toward dusk and Ben recieved a call on his radio. He rushed to another part of the park and we saw a tree climbing lioness. We watched it climb high into the tree and it sat there a branch before climbing down and walkingin front of our van. What a thrill! Ben said that in the ten years he has worked as a guide, he has never seen a lioness that high in a tree.
We came back to the lodge for dinner and watched entertainment given by a traditional dance team. It couldn't have been a more perfect day. We were very glad we choose to go to Lake Naruku even though it was out of our way for our safari. We saw so many animals and flamingos that we did not see on the remainder of our safari.

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Mar 27th, 2007, 12:11 PM
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The highest lioness ever! A great Nakuru outing.
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Mar 27th, 2007, 04:28 PM
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brbrt,

I'm dying to hear your thoughts on Ol Tukai!! Please stop keeping me in suspense!!

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Mar 28th, 2007, 10:13 AM
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Feb 18
Ben took us out at 6:30 for another game drive. We saw more impala, lions, lots of Cape buffalo, baboons, and water bucks. We came back to rest and use the internet. After lunch we went for a swim in and icy pool. At 4:00 we went on another game drive. We searched and searched for a tree leopard but never found one. We did see giraffes and more Cape buffalo. We stopped at an overlook for a beautiful view of the lake and we could see the huge patch of flamingos.

Feb. 19
We took off at 6:30am for our journey to Amboseli. We needed to go back through Nairobi because the more direct roads were not in good condition. We had a marvelous lunch at the Serina Hotel in Nairobi. The hotel and restaurant were beautiful and it had us wishing we had stayed there while in Nairobi. After lunch, we stopped at a MegaMart to buy hair dryers. For some reason, the hair dryers we brought with us burned up even though we had them on the correct setting and used converters.

We traveled on some good and some very bumpy roads. After a couple of hours, Ben stopped for gas and a potty break. We women were horrified to find that they had a “pit” toilet which was a hole in the ground, with no toilet. We had heard of these conditions but hoped we would not actually have to use one. We were thankful that we had purchased a “Freshette” to make things easier.

As we drove on, we saw many Massi guarding cattle and sheep. We passed by a couple of villages with many Massi walking around. When we reached Amboseli Park, Ben went in the park building to register. While stopped, our vehicle was surrounded by Massi women selling jewelery. I bought a very pretty necklace with a small elephant pendant.

When Ben returned, we went on a game drive inside the park. We saw our first of many elephants. We also saw a pond with several hippos. As we drove we also saw many types of birds.

We arrived at Ol Takui Lodge and were taken to our cabins. It was late so we had dinner and went to bed.
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Mar 28th, 2007, 11:23 AM
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Feb 20
Amboseli Park
After a great breakfast we went on a game drive. We saw many, many elephants. We came back for lunch and we went for a swim an a beautiful but very cold pool. We had a terrific view from the pool of Mount Kilimanjaro and we could watch water buffalo and an elephant across the fenced in field.
We went out for another game drive before dinner. The park was flat and mostly dry with a lake which is spring fed and fed by Mt. Kilimanjaro. We had some great views of the mountain both in the morning and evening. It was so beautiful and we could see snow falling.
There’s at least one other lake which is spring fed and only fills if there’s been a recent rain. There were several ponds and wet puddles with birds and hippos.
We saw dik diks for the first time. Towards dusk someone spotted two cheetahs in the long grass. What a beautiful animal and what a thrill to see them. They were so much bigger than we expected.
We came back to another wonderful dinner and went to bed.

Ol Tukuai Lodge was beautiful! The huge lobby was decorated in African style and was very impressive. The restaurant was elegant and had beautiful African style chandeliers. The grounds were very lush opposed to Amboseli Park. The landscaping is very well kept and beautiful. We had to walk down a long, long path to reach our rooms. We didn’t mind because we needed the exercise after riding all day. We had a terrific view of Kilimanjaro from our porch. However some cabins were behind rows of others and the view was blocked ..We had two comfortable chairs on the porch so we enjoyed sitting there and enjoying the view. The rooms are spacious but the curtains are faded and slightly torn and need replacing. Be warned that the showers have opposite faucets for hot and cold water. We learned that the hard way by turning on only the hot and having to take slightly cold showers until we figured out what was going on.. The beds were rock hard. There were several windows but at night the lighting was very dim. But the view made up for any shortcomings of the room.
The food was much better than the Savora Lion Lodge. We rated it a 9 out of 10. Beef was also very flavorful but not tender but the desserts were wonderful.
We recommend Ol Tukui especially for the view.




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Mar 28th, 2007, 11:24 AM
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brbrt,

You're still keeping us in suspense!! How was Ol Tukai?! How did it compare with your other lodges? Would you recommend it?!!
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Mar 28th, 2007, 11:25 AM
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Great! Finally! I'm glad you liked it! 9 out of 10 is pretty good!
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Mar 28th, 2007, 12:08 PM
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Feb 21
We enjoyed a later breakfast this morning (8:00). Then Ben drove us to the Namango boarder between Kenya and Tanzania. The guys went inside each building for each country to show our passports and get our visas stamped ( no cost since we paid our $50.00 each in Nairobi, Kenya when we arrived). We exchanged vehicles and met Salvatory, our driver from Roy Safaris. We said good by to Ben and we all agreed that Ben was a terrific guide in so many ways.

Sal drove us to the office of Roy Safari and we learned that due to the rains in Tarangire Park, a bridge was out in route to Swala Camp. We were so disappointed because we thought that our two nights in Swala would be a highlight in our safari. ( For more on Roy Safari, see the first part of this report).

After a terrible lunch at the Impala Hotel, Sal drove us to the Mountain Lodge near Arusha. We drove a long distance and it was a long ways back on a dirt road. But we were very pleased with the accommodations. The rooms were very large with beautiful furnishings. We had a beautifully carved wooden king-sized beds. There was a huge walk in closet , large washroom with full sized vanity, and even a lobby area with desk and phone.
The grounds were absolutely fabulous. They were very lush and had a river for fishing, a long, long beautiful pool, surrounded with tropical plants and views of Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru from the long porch in the rear of the dining lodge. The dining room looked like a castle inside. We had a private dining room that had a huge dining table. The food was the best we had yet with steamed trout, greens, homemade bread garden fresh vegetables and crapes for dessert. A fire was lit in the fireplace in a large, separate room with benches with cushions.

The only negatives were no ceiling fans, no top sheet on the bed but a very heavy fur blanket. It was hot when we went to bed but we were cooled by very cool mountain air later in the night. It was still too warm for the fur blanket however.

We rated this place 9.5 out of 10.




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Mar 28th, 2007, 04:28 PM
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brbrt,

Ol Tukai was a hit, with elephants as you would hope. Nice to have some Kili views and to see some of those adorable little dik diks.

Your accommodations are getting high marks with 9s and 10s.

Yvonne & Wayne,
I was laughing out loud too by the time you were accosted at the airport. Your husband my have been on a diplomatic passport and immune from any charges, but how about you? You'd be back at the lodge pounding cornmeal into ugali to pay restitution and your husband would be continuing on safari without you, compliments of the passport.

The thought of Roy's tracking you down on a future safari is pretty funny to me too. Notice I wrote "the thought." I wouldn't actually wish that upon you.

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Mar 29th, 2007, 07:57 AM
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Feb 21
We enjoyed a later breakfast this morning (8:00). Then Ben drove us to the Namango boarder between Kenya and Tanzania. The guys went inside each building for each boarder crossing to show our passports and get our visas stamped ( no cost since we paid our $50.00 each in Nairobi, Kenya when we arrived). We exchanged vehicles and met Salvatory, our driver from Roy Safaris. We said good by to Ben and we all agreed that Ben was a terrific guide in so many ways.

Sal drove us to the office of Roy Safari and we learned that due to the rains in Tarangire Park, a bridge was out in route to Swala Camp. We were so disappointed because we thought that our two nights in Swala would be a highlight in our safari.

( For more on Roy Safari, see the first part of this report).

After a terrible lunch at the Impala Hotel, Sal drove us to the Mountain Lodge near Arusha. We drove a long distance out of town and it was a long distance down a dirt road to reach the lodge. But we were very pleased with the accommodations. The rooms were very large with beautiful furnishings. We had a beautifully carved wooden king-sized bed. There was a huge walk in closet , large washroom with full sized vanity, and even a lobby area with desk and phone. There was a concern about the water bottles that were supplied by the lodge. We noticed they were not sealed and that they did not have labels. We suspected that they had been refilled by the lodge. We questioned them and they brought new bottles which were exactly the same as the originals. Fortunately, we had some water left from the supply we bought in Nairobi.

The grounds were absolutely fabulous. They were very lush and had a river for fishing, a long, long beautiful pool, surrounded with tropical plants and views of Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru from the long porch in the rear of the dining lodge. The inside of the dining lodge looked like a small castle. We had a private dining room that had a huge dining table. The food was the best we had yet with steamed trout, greens, homemade bread garden fresh vegetables and crapes for dessert. A fire was lit in the fireplace in a large, separate room with benches with cushions.

The only negatives were no ceiling fans, no top sheet on the bed but a very heavy fur blanket. It was hot when we went to bed but we were cooled by very cool mountain air later in the night. It was still too warm for the fur blanket however.

We rated this place 9.5 out of 10.

Feb 22
After a wonderful breakfast we were forced to drive back to Roy Safari’s to waste another morning of our safari. That finished, we drove to Tarangire Park. This park is beautiful beyond words. We are so glad we decided to come. We saw Bobab and Arcadia and occasional palm trees. And the Tarangire River winds through the park. It was all very green with rolling hills, lakes and ponds.

We saw a great many birds and elephants, giraffes and dik diks. We also saw a leopard on one of the roads inside the park.

We stayed at the Sopa Lodge. It was a very good choice. The lobby was elegant and we had an excellent room with a ceiling fan. The rooms were in hut shaped buildings of upper and lower units of two. We had a lower level unit but had a great view of a wooded area. We could hear monkeys fighting in the distance.

The food was better than average. We rated the food a 6 and room a 9 out of 10.

Feb 23
After a 6:00 breakfast we went on a game drive on our way out of Tarangire Park. Sal planned many drives with the thought of giving us as much time in the parks as possible. We really appreciated his efforts to please us. We drove on to Manyara Park for our one night stay at the Serena Lodge. We arrived in time for lunch. The lodge was in a beautiful setting. There were a couple of trees near the entrance with hundreds of Weaver birds with nests with new chicks. They were making lots of noise while feeding the babies. It was amazing to see.
The rooms at the lodge were disappointing. We expected better at a Serena Lodge. The rooms were a little run down and not very pretty. But the infinity pool overlooking the Great Rift Valley and the local village was wonderful. We had a great swim and enjoyed the view so much. It also had a beautiful bar setting next to the pool but watch out for the drink prices. I paid $13.00 for a Serena Sunrise drink I ordered without realizing how much it would cost. Even though the room was slightly disappointing and the food not that great, we are actually glad we stayed there because of the great views we enjoyed while swimming in the pool. Rating: Rooms 8 and food 8 out of 10

February 24
Gibbs Farm for lunch and Drive to Ngorongoro Crater
Sopa Lodge

After breakfast at the Serena in Tarangire, we took another game drive in the park. We saw elephants drinking at pools, and walking down a shallow river.
We left Tarangire and drove to Gibbs Farm for a wonderful lunch. Everything was so good and made from farm fresh ingredients. We enjoyed drinks while waiting for our lunch. We had time to see the beautiful view of the valley from the hilltop of the farm restaurant. It was such a nice break and very relaxing.

After lunch we drove on to the Ngorongoro Crater. We took the rim road to the far end of the crater and descended into it. We saw so many herds of animals and some hippos in a pond. We were amazed at the number of animals we saw in this crater. We did have to deal with a lot of dust which came upon us in clouds. Sal said it hadn’t rained in two weeks and the crater dries out fast. He said it was very unusual for it to be that dusty in February. We came across a herd of zebra. One was on the ground and we soon realized she was in labor. Another zebra came by and seemed to be checking on her and put it’s face against her. We stayed as long as we could but had to leave before she gave birth. We were required to be out of the crater by 6:00pm.

Our rooms at the Sopa were on a par with a Motel 6. Our shower was in a patched bathroom that leaked all over the bathroom floor. The room was a pit. The food was cold and the dishes served were unappealing.
We choose this Sopa because we thought it would be an advantage to be near the road down to the creater but wished we had stayed elsewhere. We rated the room and the food a 2 out of 10.


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Mar 29th, 2007, 09:14 AM
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A zebra in labor, how very interesting!
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Mar 30th, 2007, 10:32 AM
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Feb 25
Morning crater drive and drive to Ndutu
Ndutu Safari Lodge

After an average breakfast we drove down into the crater. Again, we were amazed by the huge herds and variety of animals. We watched two cheetahs come down a hill and stop near a herd of wildebeests. They ran up to them and the wildebeests scattered. The cheetahs stopped and watched them for a while. Some male wildebeests came closer and stood near them but soon the cheetahs lost interest.
We drove on and came across a pride of 9 lions that were napping. They woke and stirred briefly and we were able to get a few good pictures and then they fall asleep again. We also saw several hyenas. We went to the most beautiful hippo pool. We saw several hippos in the water.

We came back to the Sopa for a surprisingly good lunch. Because it was Sunday, we were given a menu to order from. The food was wonderful.

After lunch, we drove to Ndutu Lodge. The road was terrible. We drove all afternoon, stopping on the way at a Massi Village. The Massi sang welcome songs and danced. Tom and Bob joined the men of the village in a jumping dance. The chief’s son took us around the village and into a “tourist model” home. While in the home the chief’s son explained about Massi life and customs.

Finally, we arrived at Ndutu Lodge. Just by luck, Tom and I were assigned the honeymoon cottage. It was bigger and it was set apart from all the others. We had to put up with a lot of joking from everyone else.

Dinner that night was exceptional. It was served family style and everything tasted so good. One of our group was ill that night and the chef came to our table to ask about a plate to be sent to her room. He was so gracious and made a beautiful fruit and cheese selection for her husband to take to her.


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