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Trip Report: Rwanda,Uganda,Kenya,Tanzania,Dec 05-Mar 06

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Mar 9th, 2006, 05:34 PM
  #61
 
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By the way, you are not being COMPARED to Rocco; you are being CONTRASTED.

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Mar 9th, 2006, 07:11 PM
  #62
dlo
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We got an early start the next day and hoorah! my first Cheetah.He was on the prowl but the noisy Jackals were def notifying everyone in the neighborhood of the Cheetahs presence.We moved on to see more lions feeding on wildebeest as well as alot more ele's and a newborn Thompson's Gazelle.

After our evening meal had to be moved indoors due to a huge thunderstorm(hopefully settling down the dust a bit) we were escorted back to our tent.This is a really good thing but the only thing our guards carry are flashlights! I counted 6 hippos within a couple hundred feet and all our guard does is stamp his feet.I have canoed within 10 feet of them but i'm still thinking this is crazy,i'm becoming quite the chicken in my old age! Fortunetly these are hungry hippos and they couldn't care less about us.

The next morning we do one last game drive and we see more Cheetah.We then drive upon a large pride of lion,guess what,feeding again.Its funny but we always seem to arrive just a little late and this would continue into Tanzania.The only hunt we have that was successful was a fish eagle in Queen Elizabeth which caught a fish.

Our last drive here was very good though as we pretty much saw everything.Even though January is not the best time in the Mara the game viewing was excellent throughout and Governors was excellent.The food was very good and our driver was an excellent spotter.It was also a huge bonus that we had our own vehicle for the entire time we were there.We would fly back to Nairobi where we would have more adventures with KWT and then 1 of my favorite safari experiences in Tsavo.

More on that next
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Mar 9th, 2006, 07:14 PM
  #63
 
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Handcuffs? Really? Then that is a faux pas!
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Mar 10th, 2006, 08:18 AM
  #64
bat
 
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dlo:
I finally had a chance to read all of your report without interruption and view your pictures.

What a wonderful trip-imaginative, adventurous, varied on so many different levels (terrain, animals, people, activities, accommodations)--a real inspiration.

I also enjoyed your pictures and as others have said, they really make me want to see the gorillas.

Looking forward to the next segment (and congrats on the wedding--quite clever to work in pre and post wedding trips).

lynn: faux pas or freudian
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Mar 10th, 2006, 09:55 AM
  #65
 
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dlo,

Glad you saw your cheetahs! Anticipating Tsavo.
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Mar 11th, 2006, 09:21 AM
  #66
dlo
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We landed at Wilson and of course no one was there to pick us up.After some phone calls it turns out our driver was at the wrong terminal.Our driver would turn out to be a super nice guy though and the only good part of KWT.So we are taken to Carnivore for lunch of which i had no idea.Why do people want to eat the animals they see on safari? We had to wait 2 hours for our driver to return with a van as he had picked us up in a car and we needed a proper vehicle for Tsavo.It turns out he had just found out that he would be our guide for the next few days! When we asked him about the changes in our trip he also knew nothing and we were thinking our agent at home was badly confused.

We then still had to get our entry permits as this was not even done.Then we were on the road to Tsavo.We arrived mere minutes before they closed the gates and we got to the Serena in total darkness.

I loved the Kilaguni.I do not require luxury and you will not get it here.The rooms though small are decent but the important part was the balcony overlooking the waterhole.With the severe drought here there was constant action as over dinner our first night a huge herd of Ele's descended upon the waterhole.You would think with 2 big pools there would be enough for everyone but they insisted on clearing out all zebras before they could begin drinking.The Zebras finally got their turn and were followed by lots of Impala and then a huge herd of Buffalo.Also 1 Marabou stork decided that he was not heading off with his mates for the night and he was in the same spot in the morning.

After some more time watching the waterhole we went on our morning game drive.We really did not see much but we headed to Mzima Springs which was interesting.Lots of Hippos and Monkeys and the underwater viewing chamber is pretty cool.We went back and had an excellent breakfast and lunch,the food was a huge highlite at the Serena.

Our afternoon game drive had us going to the Rhino Sanctuary.After Hippos Rhinos are one of my favorites going back to some time we spent with with some orphans in Zimbabwe,i even named one of my dogs after them.

We drove upon a couple of vehicles watching some Ele's in the distance when we saw a Rhino approaching them.There were around 10 Ele's by the time the Rhino got to where they were.They were crowded around a waterhole and were not going to give up their space any time soon! The Rhino moved in but was chased away but surprisingly did not give much ground.He tried again but was quickly rebuffed and stood back for a few minutes.At this point there are probably 10 cars watching the drama but since you can't offroad it was not a bad scene.While we were a bit far away it was not to bad and our video turned out quite good.

Back to the action.At this point a Jackal decided that he too was thirsty and headed in for a drink.After weaving his way through all the legs the Ele that chased away the Rhino decided that the Jackal was also unacceptable.He quickly chased it away and got back to the task at hand.Finally the Rhino had enough and forced his way in.He got quite aggresive and aftera few minutes he was finally enjoying a hard earned drink.This momentous event set off a loud cheer from all the assembled tourists,a sight i have never seen on safari before.The Jackal continually tried to get in as well but the Ele was having none of it.At one point we thought it got trampled but then it rose again a few minutes later.While all this was going down the skinniest Buffalo i have ever seen trudged across the plain for a drink.He only had to wait a few minutes before being let in but after about 5 minutes was sent packing but the very thirst Ele's.The Jackal eventually got his water and the Rhino had a long drink but he too got moved out.It was interesting that the Ele's were most aggresive towards the Jackal.Would it be because it is a carnivore?

We drove on and saw another Rhino and then we headed back to the lodge.Our lone Marabou Stork was still there and still chased away any Zebra dumb enough to mess with him! We had another great meal,watched the waterhole and would leave the next morning for Watamu.
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Mar 11th, 2006, 09:46 AM
  #67
 
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How lucky you were to see the rhino and elephant drama at the waterhole! We didn't see any rhino when we visited the sanctuary, but we were only able to stay for an hour since we had a long drive back to our camp. We did see our first kudu there and lots of eles.

Sorry to hear your Kenya operator was so disorganized.

I feel the same way about the Carnivore.

Can't wait to read more!
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Mar 11th, 2006, 11:43 AM
  #68
bat
 
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ditto on the ele-rhino showdown--sounds great as does the Serena waterhole watching.
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Mar 11th, 2006, 11:55 AM
  #69
 
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I've never seen a cheer erupt from wildlife watchers either. Must have been quite the show at the waterhole.

Once again I'm reminded of how I take my unlimited supply of tap water (filtered with a Brita) for granted.
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Mar 12th, 2006, 05:55 AM
  #70
 
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Dlo,
To hang around waterholes in Tsavo West sounds like a good idea.

You have some beautiful pictures from the Mara. I particularly like the topi, the hyenas, the warthog, the swimming croc, all the sleeping lions – and the ones that are awake, the cheetah behind the tree, baby eles, baby baboons and baby zebras, the cheetah looking at wildebeests, the baby giraffe looking like a toy giraffe and others. The donkey trek landscape is so beautiful, but it looks like there could have been too much uphill trekking for an unfit person…
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Mar 12th, 2006, 07:53 AM
  #71
dlo
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We probably watched the Rhino drama for a full hour.Its nice that we have done enough safaris that we can now concentrate on seeing different things and we don't have to race from one sighting to the next.It is also a huge advantage to go on private safaris.We are probably worse than birders for wanting to sit at something that we enjoy seeing,so we would bore most people to tears.Our next trip will be Namibia and we are going to Etosha strictly for the waterholes.

Nyamera

The donkey trek only had 1 hard day but we were told stories of people who had a horrific time because they were out of shape.We are by no means in great shape though but the trek was enjoyable because of the great people we met.There are some very scenic spots but the drought was having a huge effect.We got an email yesterday and they told us the rains have arrived and the donkeys have gotten fat,so this is good news.
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Mar 12th, 2006, 03:27 PM
  #72
dlo
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Ok i got the Tsavo pictures up and some from the coast as well.

We made the long drive to Watamu and arrived at midday.Of course KWT had no vouchers and they did not even have our flight tickets to Lamu.We were assured though that we would have them the following day.

We stayed at Turtle Bay beach club.This was the first time we stayed at an all-inclusive and it will be the last.Let me say that the place was fine but we are not the type who enjoy these types of places.The beach is very beautiful and the resort is nice,but the food was very poor and the rooms were very average.

We spent 5 days here and knowing what i know now i would have spent more time in Lamu.We had a good time though and met a few really nice people.My own personal highlite was watching my wife take her first windsurfing lesson while i chatted to some local kids on the beach.What started as me and 1 other guy turned into a large group discussion on everything you could imagine.We also went to the Gede Ruins and a butterfly farm,which was also interesting.

So back to KWT,we finally have our problem figured out.They call us to tell us there is a change in our itinerary! There is no flight from Malindi to Lamu so we have to drive to Mombasa,fly to Nairobi,and then fly to Lamu.For all this we also have to pay them $125 each.I don't think so!

We waste half a day with these idiots as we refuse and tell them to just send us back to Nairobi and we will skip Lamu.They have to check with there accounts dept first to see if they have paid for our Lamu part.They have not paid anyone yet so why would they start now.They call us back and say we can go back to Nairobi at no extra cost.

That evening we get a message that we are booked on a flight to Lamu from Malindi.Unbelievable! Of course they bungle the transfer to the airport as well but i'm sick of talking about them.

Off to Lamu.
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Mar 12th, 2006, 07:50 PM
  #73
dlo
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After a short flight we caught a boat to the main island and were taken to the Lamu Palace Hotel.The hotel had a new manager who had arrived only a week earlier but i think will make some very nice changes to the hotel.The food was outstanding and we loved being right on the pier.

Some prefer Manda or Shela and while we checked it out Lmau's charm is its people and for this you need to be on the main island.Lamu is like stepping back in time with its rich history,donkeys as the mode of transport and only 3 vehicles on the whole island.It is also the only place where you can walk the streets at any time and still feel safe.

You are warmly welcomed as soon as you set foot on the island and while some will try to sell you things you are never hassled.While i like Stonetown it is nothing like Lamu.We spent 3 nights here and we never even set foot on the beach.We hung out and played bao with 1 shopkeeper each afternoon and generally did as little as possible.Lamu lulls you into this type of lifestyle and while it is not for everyone we loved it.I would also recommend the shakes at Bush Gardens,and the museum was excellent.

We did head over to Peponi's to see what the big deal was.It is a nice place but you feel closed off from the island and it is more like being in a cocoon.

After our 3 days here we said our goodbyes and would fly back to Nairobi for another night at the Boulevard and then off to Tanzania.
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Mar 13th, 2006, 07:20 AM
  #74
bat
 
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Ok, so Lamu goes on the list.
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Mar 13th, 2006, 04:13 PM
  #75
dlo
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We left Nairobi early on the Impala Shuttle bus to Arusha.The next 3 weeks were very gruelling as i don't think i slept past 6 more than once.It was also very nice to have a tour company that got things right.There was not one misstep along the way and i have nothing but praise for Tropical Trails.

I had mentioned our wedding to Mercy in an email and we were met with roses and champagne but our driver.We had a briefing on Kili and were then taken to Karama Lodge for 1 night before heading to Kili.

The lodge is rustic to say the least but it is pretty cool and the staff were very friendly.The only real downside is location.You will hear barking dogs all night and i could only sleep with earplugs.

We drove to Marangu where we registered and then took a very bumpy drive to Rongai where we would begin our 6 day climb.Our guide Victor has summited over 100 times and was simply brilliant.After a long discussion he felt that we should go very "pole pole" as we were concerned that we had not done much high altitude.Our assistant guide Yusto was also great as he was a former rescue guide and probably one of my favorite guides i have ever had.Our personalities meshed very well and we probably talked about everything you possibly could over the next 6 days.

More to come
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Mar 13th, 2006, 06:41 PM
  #76
dlo
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With our altitude concerns we opted for 6 days instead of 5 and we took Diamox as well.We also went very slowly and all this added up to excellent acclimitization.Neither one of us got sick and i suffered only minor headaches.We averaged 4 litres of water a day and we always had loads of food. I am still amazed that at our second to last camp at 14400Ft i was able to listen to my ipod and was feeling as good as i did.

To summarize the climb on the first day we did not arrive into camp until late because of the long drive.It is a pretty area as you go through forest and we saw colobus monkeys as well.

The second day is my hardest as we terk for about 7 hours.It is rough rocky terrain and the weather starts to get a little colder.As soon as we finish dinner it starts to rain and a little sleet falls as well.We are asleep by 8.

The next day we only go around 3 hours and we are up to 14400Ft.The weather changes very quickly depending on whether the sun is out or not.When it is'nt foggy we have a great view of Mawenzi tarn as well.Kili is much more scenic than some people give it credit for.There is a lot of variety depending on the route you choose and it is far from a boring mountain.

The next day was also around 3 or 4 hours as we went to Kibo Hut on the Marangu route.Thank god we had tents as i can not imagine having to use the huts.The long drops are even worse than you can imagine and combine all this and its no wonder people were getting sick all around us.It was an easy walk today but i am starting to suffer some headaches.

Summit night starts at 11 with some food and you leave at midnight.Sleep does not happen and it will be a long night.The cold though has no effect on us and i am finally grateful for the cold Canadian weather.The skies are clear and the wind is light so we have a perfect night.We make it up the first couple of hours and get to the slippery criss crossing scree we have heard so much about.It is a long 3 hours to Gillmans point from here but the joyful shouts from someone just in front of us tell us we are there,18500Ft.I get a huge rush of adrenaline here as my tiredness ebbs away.We continue on and the close proximity of the glaciers provides more adrenaline.I have to stop shortly before the top to take more tylenol as my head is pounding but we quickly continue on and we finally arrive at 6:30 in time for an amazing sunrise.

There are only 5 climbers ahead of us so we get to pose with the sign and shoot some embarrasing video at the top.We only stay at the top for 10 minutes before heading down.I am back at Kibo at 9 and the descent has brutalized my body.After having lunch we have to continue down even more and we arrive at Horombo at around 3.It was an incredibly long day but 1 of the highlites of my life.

To those that think it is easy think again! I saw a lot of people suffering and we talked to a lot of people and from there groups maybe 30 or 40% actually got to the top.It is also unfortunate that some people will do anything to get to the top and they do not have a guide who will force them down.We saw a strecher going up on our descent and found out that someone had died on the mountain.Our guides are responsible for getting us to the top and i would only consider going with them again if i'm crazy enough to do it again.

The final descent was brutal as we were very sore and tired.We got to the bottom,bought the prerequisate souvenir t-shirt and got our certificates.It was such an amazing time and even though my wife was not thrilled with the idea of climbing Kili she did it beacause it was a lifelong dream for me.She is now as happy as i am that she climbed it though i doubt she would consider it again!

Next up a long and amazing safari.
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Mar 13th, 2006, 07:00 PM
  #77
 
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Congrats on the ascent! That is an accomplishment. Now back to more safari.
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Mar 13th, 2006, 11:23 PM
  #78
 
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What an amazing tripreport! Can't wait to get to Lamu myself, at the Palace.
Looking forward to more safari, keep it coming.

Siro
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Mar 14th, 2006, 07:58 AM
  #79
 
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Dlo,
Climbing Kili sounds like something that would be wonderful to have done.
I enjoyed seeing pictures of the Tsavo West waterhole drama and the dik dik pair and drinking baboons were just perfect. Is that Bush Gardens in the Lamu pictures?
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Mar 14th, 2006, 08:13 AM
  #80
 
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The Kili climb sounds so amazing. Some friends of mine just caem back three weeks ago. There seemed to be very few people around for their climb. They did see a woman turn back day two.

How sad that someone was so stubborn that they pushed themelves too much and they died.
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