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Trip Report - Kenya & Tanzania - Jan 26 - Feb 14, 2006


Feb 21st, 2006, 12:35 PM
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What a great read. It's wonderful, that even with the drought, Africa never disappoint. Just when the bottom lip starts to pout, with a little patience one never knows what's around the next bend in the road.

Me, of the hairblower and curling iron - remember very clearly that Tortilis did have sufficient power to run these. Just needed the plug adapter. I can still picture the outlet on the right wall as entering the bathroom or was it between to two sinks? It's been a few years, so possibly things do change.

We too were in tent #8, which has a completely unobstructive view of Kili, if the skies are clear. We were never able to see the mountain due to cloud cover, but did catch a glance from the open plains.

Waiting on the next chapter.
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 12:39 PM
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Kimberly (and Sandi again), Thanks so much for the hairdryer info! I'm really looking forward to Tortilis. We're still
ironing out our itinerary. Problem is, the more we read (guides and this forum!) the more we want to see and do. Logistics and budget seem to be dictating a WAY too much! We may have to forego Patty's favorite, Finch Hatton's in Tsavo west, entirely as flight schedules dictate having to backtrack for another night in Nairobi before moving on to Tanzania. Thus, Tortilis. Which from what I hear on this forum won't make us regret Finch Hatton's too much!

We're anxiously awaiting details from our agent. But oh, how difficult it will be to live through 300 more "sleeps" before departure to Africa!!! How did you all cope whilst waiting???
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 02:49 PM
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Hi Sandi -
The wonderful thing about Africa is that it has it's own time schedule. Mother nature, the animals all make an appearance, or not. And sometime we are fortunate to witness some amazing things. That is why, I think we love it so.

And yes you have a great memory. In Tortillis, the outlet is at the right of the sink in the main change room by the pool. It was no problem to use the curling iron and blow dryer ( of which I used both But do remember to take an adapter which I forgot and had to walk back to the room to get....

Carolines; It is hard to wait but having this forum helps. Reading other people's trip reports and slowly getting organized. We started packing eight months before our trip! Time does pass.....I remember waiting nine months and now, it's over. But, the good news is that we have already starting planning the next trip.

I am hoping to have the next installment soon, but I am travelling for work so it might take a few days.

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Feb 23rd, 2006, 12:30 PM
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What great ostrich viewing, interaction, and photographs. I've never seen so many ostrich together. You have super lion shots too. Glad your good luck continued.
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Feb 23rd, 2006, 03:09 PM
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Thanks for the info on the animal orphanage - question - did you just do the orphanage at the gate, or did you also do a drive through the park? I read somewhere that you had to have a vehichle to get into the park, do this hold true for the orphanage as well, or can you just do that and not the drive through?
92 days now and counting....
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Feb 24th, 2006, 05:29 AM
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I love your photos. The lion and buffalo stand off is great and is that a giraffe with its tongue out? And... and .... and.... and how'd you get those colours?

And don't forget our questions about the animal orphange and whether the river was dry all along in Samburu.
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Feb 25th, 2006, 04:55 PM
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Regarding your questions about the Ewaso Nyiro River in Samburu, yes for the most part the River is completely dry. We did see a little sliver of water but that was it. I have downloaded a few pictures of the dry river bed here for you to take a look at:http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...i&x=0&y=p9udwu

I’m not sure how the animals were getting water, but a lot of animals had already moved on to other locations in search of water. Local people were digging holes in the river bed to make small pools of water for the animals and that was helping somewhat.

Regarding the animal orphanage; yes, it was very similar to a zoo, the animals are kept in large enclosures, but looked content and happy. Many were tame and could not be released into the wild. Many, many animals had been successfully released into the wild but for those not capable of surviving; the orphanage became their permanent home.

Thanks for the compliments on the pictures. The light in Africa is simply amazing. The colors come from the different times of day. A lot of the pictures of the lions were taken at sundown which gives everything a nice amber glow. While in Tarangire there was a sand storm and the light was a grey which really made the red earth stand out – those are some of my favorite pictures.

Atravelynn: We were fortunate to see the baby Ostrich – it was so cute to see all of them running in large circles and yet keeping their circle formation at all time, quite a sight.

LyndaS: We did not have time to drive through the park and only did the orphanage. I hear the park is quite nice and wish we had more time. While you do need a vehicle to get into the Park, you do not need a vehicle to get into the orphanage. The orphanage is located just before the entrance to the park - about a one minute or less walk. We walked in and the guided tour took about 1 hour.

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Mar 5th, 2006, 09:08 AM
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Hi Cocco,

Thanks for your wonderful trip report. And thanks for your incredible and varied photos. I loved the first ele close-up, the mongooses, the crater views, the lion-buffalo interaction, baby zebra, kori bustard, superb starling, the bat eared foxes, mama ele guiding baby with tusks, lion cubs, baby ostriches, and yawning cheetah close-up. Though the photos of the dried up Ewaso Nyiro were a bit disturbing.

Now I regret not having visited the Animal Orphanage. I’d read it was some kind of excuse for having a zoo. In 2004 when I went to the main gate of Nairobi NP, I visited the Safari Walk instead and that really was like a zoo, though you could see some wild buffaloes inside the park.

When will you finish the report?
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Apr 17th, 2006, 12:38 PM
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My apologies for the delay in completing the trip report - here is the final segment.

Feb 9, 10, 11
Days 14, 15, 16

We departed the Ndutu lodge at 7:30 am and traveled back to the Seronera area in the Serengeti (about one hour) to catch our 11:00 am flight to Dar es Salaam. In retrospect it would have been more convenient to transfer from the Ndutu Lodge to the Serengeti Serena the day before rather than travel all the way back to the Seronera from Ndutu.

We arrived in the Seronera area too early for our flight, Martin offered us one more ‘farewell’ game drive which we were very happy to accept. We quickly popped the roof, and took our positions. Looking over the Serengeti, our last look at this vast and beautiful land was very emotional for me. I knew right then, that this would not be our last visit but rather our first of many. It made saying good-bye a little easier.

But I digress…back to the game drive. On this day, the Wildebeest were in full formation, over night the numbers seemed to double and hundreds formed in long lines, moving slowly across the plains – we were not sure where they were headed but they looked determined none the less. We had been enjoying watching the hundreds of animals, zebra and wildebeest and just before we were about to depart for the airport, we saw two Cheetah slowly making their way towards a small gathering of wildebeest and zebra. They obviously had lunch on their minds, and we watched for as long as we could, until we had to depart for our flight. This was an excellent end to our adventure, as those Cheetahs continued their hunt; we look forward to catching up with them on our next trip to the Serengeti.

We arrived at the Seronera airport which is really nothing more than a gravel airstrip, and our flight with Excel Air was right on time. We bid goodbye to Martin, who we now considered to be a friend. We exchanged emails and promised to keep in touch. Not only was he a fantastic guide, he was also a wonderful companion and he played a large role in making our safari such a success*.

We flew from Seronera to Arusha which took about 35 minutes. The flight was fairly bumpy due to some very dark clouds and we could only hope that rain was on the way for the Ndutu and Serengeti area. Once we landed in Arusha we had a 45 minute wait. We were provided lunch boxes from Ndutu lodge and took this opportunity to have our lunch at a little outdoor restaurant at the airport. From Arusha we continued our flight, first to Zanzibar (about 1.5 hours) and then on to Dar es Salaam (about 20 minutes). When we arrived in Dar, the humidity hit us like a damp wet rag and we immediately began to sweat in this coastal climate. A vehicle and driver was arranged by TSA and we were met right at the arrivals door. Our luggage only took a few minutes and soon we were off to our next destination….Ras Kutani Beach Resort.

The resort is located about 80 kms, outside Dar es Salaam, and took about two hours with the majority of the time waiting to get on the ferry to get across the harbor. After the relative quiet and vast sparseness of the safari, the hustle and bustle of city was a bit of a shock to my system and I was happy to be on the road again and out of the city.

We did not realize it at the time we booked at the Ras Kutani, but there is a short flight from Dar to Ras Kutani by Coastal Air. This twelve minute flight is utilized by a majority of the guests and would have saved us a two hour trip each way. This is definitely something to consider in the future.

We drove on the highway for about 40 minutes and then turned down a narrow sandy road. After what seemed like a very long time, we finally arrived at the Resort, hot, sweaty and hungry. Our first impression of Ras Kutani was nothing short of WOW - a little piece of paradise. Think of a beautiful safari lodge but with lots of sand and the ocean. Other words that came to mind to describe the lodge were: secluded, rustic, charming with a dash of luxury. We were warmly greeted by the Manager, Anne, and after a quick check-in she escorted us to our lodge at the end of a sandy walk-way. Our lodge – number 10 was nestled in amongst the trees, our room was located beside a freshwater lake, and we had a great view of the ocean as well.

The accommodation was so charming that we immediately began to relax and we knew that we were going to love this place. The veranda included his and hers lounge chairs (made out of cement with lovely soft cushions) and his and her hammocks. The room itself had a large king-size bed with mosquito netting, and behind the bed was the storage area, double sinks, a large shower and separate toilet facilities. Hot water can be ordered but it was so warm, we never needed any ‘hot’ water and enjoyed the temperature of the water as is. Laundry was included and this was a nice surprise. The rooms are open at the roof and easily accessible to the monkeys and other small animals (birds, lizards etc). We did not encounter any problems, but we did chase a few monkeys out of our neighbor’s room when they entered to have a look one afternoon. A note about the monkeys, they are smart, curious and crafty but this only adds to their charm. They would actually wait for us to leave our rooms in the morning. Although, harmless, they are on the constant look out for food and I had visions of them going into our room and trying on my clothes!

To see a few pictures of Ras Kutani, click on the following link: http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...&x=0&y=-yarhlp

The meals at Ras Kutani were a pleasant surprise and offered some of the best food we had during our safari. We love seafood, and there was plenty of it. During our three days, we enjoyed seafood salad, lobster, and red snapper to name a few. Breakfast offered a selection of cereals, cheese, bread, and we could order a hot breakfast made to order
(eggs, omelet etc). Lunch was usually buffet style.

Evening dining was an ‘experience’ and began with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the lounge facing the ocean. The bar, is fully stocked and features a ‘cocktail of the day’, which is usually a refreshing rum based drink (ask them to go easy on the rum for those for you who like to taste a little juice with your cocktail ). They also made a great Pina Colada : - !. When dinner was ready the wait staff would quietly inform the guests that “dinner was served’. The atmosphere was beautiful with tables set under the stars light only by candlelight.

Our days were spent in a leisurely fashion, walking on the beach, swimming in the warm ocean, resting in our hammocks…well, you get the picture. It was a lovely experience and very, very relaxing. During the day, staff will put set-up lounge chairs on the beach and these are covered by a bamboo shade which is very much needed in the hot sun. Take lots of sunscreen because the sun is incredibly hot. The resort includes the use of equipment such as kayaks, body boards, and is available at no charge for guests to use. There is a horse ranch nearby for trail rides on the beach. They come right to the resort to pick you up with your horse. Ras Kutani is very very quiet with the only night life is the lounge and dinner, and the only entertainment, the moon and the stars, anything beyond that and this might not be the place for you. WE however, loved it and thought it a perfect place to end our wonderful safari.

• Note: Since our trip we have learned that our driver has since started his own safari company with his brother. The name of this new company is: Birds and Game Viewing Safari. They are based in Tanzania and their web site ( while under development) is: www.gameviewing.co.tz

Some of our final thoughts:
1. Chargers and adaptors: In almost every accommodation we had the ability to charge batteries, etc., either in the room or in a specific place within the lodge/camp. We also purchased a charger for the vehicle that worked by plugging it into the lighter. This turned out to be a good purchase since we spent so much time in the vehicle, it was quick and convenient. In the end, we left it with Martin our driver/guide for future use.

2. I was concerned about keeping the dust out of the camera but also having it on hand for those “kodak moments”. My solution was to take put the camera around my neck and enclose the cameral in a large zip lock bag. I’m sure I looked a little foolish with a large plastic bag hanging from my neck, but it really worked to keep the dust at bay, and when I needed the camera I just slipped off the bag.

3. Almost everyplace had shampoo and soap. The only exception was Ndutu lodge. We brought along a few cheap face cloths and were glad we did as many places did not provide face cloths. Once we finished with our facecloths we just left them behind.

4. While the American Express slogan indicates AMEX is accepted everywhere, we were only able to use our AMEX in Nairobi. Everywhere else, Visa was king.

5. If you take your credit card and expect to use it at an ATM (to access cash you’ve loaded on in advance), try to remember your PIN – we neglected this and had a difficult time trying to access our account by any other method.

6. We found using an ATM card was convenient in Tanzania, but it would have been more convenient had we increased the daily withdrawal limit before we left home.

7. Yes – we over packed. Believe me – less is more. Next time we will take: 3 pairs of pants ( two are zip offs), one pair of shorts. I took one pair of light black non-crease pants for dinner. Four t-shirts and two long sleeve shirts to wear as a ‘light’ cover. Four pairs of underwear because you can do laundry at every camp you don’t really need any more.

8. We took bug spray – but most places provided it. So I would take a small bottle only.

9. While we went on safari with no expectations other than ‘to see wildlife’ we came away with memories that will last a lifetime. The memories most precious are the friends we met along the way and our stories of animal encounters. It just shows you how unpredictable wildlife viewing can be, and it is always best to remember the following principles while on safari:
keep an open mind
expect nothing
enjoy everything
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Apr 17th, 2006, 12:48 PM
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"expect nothing
enjoy everything"

What a great motto! I'm off to view your Ras Kutani photos, and then I think I'll go back and re-read the rest of your report. Thanks for finishing, and I hope you are able to get back to East Africa soon.
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Apr 17th, 2006, 01:21 PM
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Thanks for finishing your report and sharing your pics of Ras Kutani.
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Apr 17th, 2006, 02:01 PM
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Thanks for finishing--it gave me a chance to read the earlier installments that I had missed because we were on our trip. The lion pride with the 8 cubs at Ndutu was a highlight for us as well.

Glad to see a report on Ras Kutani, I was wondering about it. How was the swimming--I heard somewhere that the beach has a bigger drop-off making swimming easier than on some of the beaches on Zanzibar? Also, could you swim in the freshwater lake?
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Apr 17th, 2006, 02:20 PM
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Thanks for finishing the report. And what great photos at Ras Kutani.

Re: using your Credit Card for cash. That's not a very good idea, as it's a cash advance and interest starts the moment you withdraw it. Regardless, if you pay it off as soon as the bill arrives.

Use your ATM card for cash/local currency. As to the daily limit - while your bank may increase the amount you can withdraw the local bank has it's own limit which may not be as high.
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Apr 18th, 2006, 08:55 AM
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Hi Bat:

The beach and swimming was great – I did not notice any significant drop off (could be the tide) and the water was very calm and warm. Also, there is a ship wreck within swimming distance for some great snorkeling.

We did not swim in the fresh water lake, but did see some local people swimming and bathing. I guess we preferred the ocean, since it was so close.

We did hear that Ras Kutani plans to install a swimming pool on the grounds which will be a great alternative to the swimming in the ocean.

Hi Sandi: Thankfully we did not have to resort to using our credit card for cash – it would have been a very expensive lesson for sure. As for the ATM - we were surprised at the low daily limit, I think it was 200,000 TZ dollars per day. I can easily spend that in one hour!
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Apr 18th, 2006, 12:23 PM
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Thanks for finishing Kimberly - it was great!
Question - did you prearrange the cheetah hug? Myself, as well as a few of the other posters on the board are trying to get in to do this, someone else mentioned that it wasn't everyone who could. Any light you can shed on this for us?
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Apr 18th, 2006, 12:47 PM
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Wonderful - what a trip!
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Apr 18th, 2006, 01:50 PM
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Thanks cocco
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Apr 18th, 2006, 07:39 PM
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We did not expect the 'extra' visit to the Cheetah cage so I do not know what we did to gain entry. We went in the morning, it was not very busy and after the tour, our guide just asked us if we wanted to pet the Cheetahs, I think it was just dumb luck.
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Apr 19th, 2006, 07:35 AM
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Hi there..

Months of July and August are the winter seasons in Tanzania / Kenya...however it is advisable to carry with you sweaters and warm clothing’s. At Zanzibar, the temperatures don’t get all that low compared to the northern parts of Tanzania. Generally, the cold isn't terribly bad as many people survive it. Additionally, it's the dry season and animals can easily be spotted without driving much distances in search for them so I suggest you go ahead with your plans. I did a safari with Time Warner Safaris (Tanzania) and they were amazing. Their services were all excellent including their very knowledgeable driver guide. I highly recommend them to organize everything for you. Get in touch with them on [email protected] and they will be of great help in arranging everything...

All the best.
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