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

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Mar 29th, 2006, 06:30 AM
  #141
 
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Dlo,
At last you got some rest on Zanzibar. I was developing blisters reading your report – not to mention how my hair felt.
Thanks for the crater highland pictures. The zebras look like they’re almost touching the sky, Empakai Crater looks incredible and it’s nice to see so many donkeys. The cows do look a bit skinny though.

Leely,




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Mar 29th, 2006, 02:13 PM
  #142
dlo
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Nyamera

I never realized the importance of a hairdryer untill i saw my wifes excitement at the Fairview in Nairobi.It probably didn't help when i commented that her hair was looking a little rough!
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Mar 29th, 2006, 03:38 PM
  #143
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From Pongwe we transferred to Shooting Star for 3 nights.Things got off to a rough start as our air conditioner had broke down so it was 3 more nights without,fortunatly the fans worked.The beach hear is not as nice but there are activities and other lodges as well as plenty of beach vendors as well.Its funny but i hate shopping but spent several hours with the vendors here and they were a lot more relaxed than those in Stonetown.Of course the downside here was that we were already overweight (for our flight!) and we now would not even be close to 15kg each.The good news is we never had our bags weighed so we never had to pay a cent.

I found the service excellent and the food good here but the lack of AC and for me the biggest problem,ants were a concern.On my last morning i must have had 30 bites from the ants as it was impossible to get them out of bed.Finally relaxed i was ready to go as i was actually getting a little bored so it was time to head back to Stonetown.
Gotta take the dogs for a run so i'll finish later.
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Mar 29th, 2006, 05:18 PM
  #144
dlo
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We spent our last 2 nights at Mbweni Ruins and this was my favorite stop in Zan.The air worked,the food was excellent the grounds and ruins were interesting and we had the company of a bushbaby during our dinners.Having decided that 2 tingatingas's were not enough we headed back to Stonetown for more shopping.Its amazing the difference a week makes as we were hounded very aggresively and when they got us cornered in a shop it was usually with 4 people in the shop with the door blocked.We couldn't get back to our hotel fast enough!

Our time in Zanzibar was enjoyable and it gave us a much needed rest but Zanzibar was tacked on as a money saver as it beat going home a week early.I would much rather be on safari or on a mountain and we had done enough beach in Kenya.Stonetown itself is very interesting but i have heard people say that Lamu is what Stonetown was before mass tourism.I really think that more people should go to Lamu as you can have a great taste of the Swahili Coast but it is probably the friendliest place i have ever been,and i'm sure Nyamera will vouch for that.My next trips will be to Namibia and Zambia but i will have only normal 2 or 3 week vacations and there will not be a beach in sight.Lamu though will be the 1 place that i would return to again and again.

Getting off my Lamu soapbox it is time to finally get to the last part of my trip.We would spend 3 nights in Mikumi and 4 at Foxes Highland Lodge.

More on that later.
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Mar 29th, 2006, 06:42 PM
  #145
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great as always.
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Mar 30th, 2006, 09:52 AM
  #146
 
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Yes, I vouch for that, and in Lamu there are no ants in bed – I only had a rat.
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Apr 1st, 2006, 02:25 PM
  #147
dlo
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I nearly "shat" myself with the bat in my room,i know i couldn't deal with a rat.
I'll finish this thing eventually!
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Apr 2nd, 2006, 08:46 AM
  #148
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We arrived in Dar after a short flight from Zanzibar and were met by Foxes and quickly whisked away for the 4 hour drive to Mikumi where we would stay at Foxes Safari Camp.This is more of a bush camp than Vuma Hills and it is a good distance from the main highway so at least you still feel you are in the wild.The highway though would play a key role in our time here but it is a very different experience to be doing a game drive on a major highway.

We arrived at camp at sunset and after settling in we went for dinner.There were only 2 other guests so we dined together.Another Dutch couple we had met many in Uganda and it seems to be that outside Africans Dutch people may be the nicest people in the world.We had a very good dinner and the food was excellent throughout our stay.We decided to do a full day game drive and asked Tim the camp manager what we might see.Having seen pretty much everything up to this point we decided that he should produce some Wild Dogs and we wouldn't mind seeing more Leopards! Wild Dogs make the occasional appearance in Mikumi but it is not very likely.In the 3 years that Tim has managed here he figures he's seen maybe 10 Leopard,so our work is cut out for us.

After breakfast we start our drive and we get some awesome open vehicles.I have only used these in Chobe before and i gotta say they are great.We also get the vehicle to ourselves which means we never had to share a vehicle on our whole trip! There has been some rain here and the contrast between the north is striking.This is the greenest i have seen it since Uganda and although i don't expect to see much we happily drive off just glad to be back on safari.

We see pleny of Elephant,Zebra,and Buffalo and spot a few Lions resting as uaual.Then as we are looking at something which i don't even remember Christine says i see a Leopard! The guide asks her where and she point at this tree and what do know there it is,her first spotting.We have this all to ourselves but after he checks us out for about 5 minutes he decides enough is enough and climbs down the tree and leaves.

We see a decent amount of game and after lunch we get radioed that there has been a kill right on the side of the highway! We drive over and this is quite the surreal experience.Doing a game drive on a highway with lots of trucks going by is not exactly a normal day.We get to the kill to find a Giraffe that has only had a small part of him eaten and a few lions that are lazing around.We wait around for a while but since the Lions are resting we leave and head back to camp.We have another great meal and plan our next day.We will be in a safari bus with 2 other people and will make a 2 hour drive to the Udzungwas.Hopefully we will see some monkeys and we will climb up to the the top of a waterfall. We have to pass the Lion kill again and it is quite the scene.I count about 15 or 16 lions and 1 of the guides figures 20.A female lion is lying right in the middle of the road stopping traffic! In the ditch right beside our bus are around 4 or 5 cubs who growl cutely for us.We get almost no pictures here as our cameras are put away but i dig out our video and get some great stuff.They are devouring this Giraffe rather quickly but we have to leave to pick up our other passengers so our time is too short.We stop again though a little further up as the Babboons are begging up a storm on the side of the road.This is a unfortunate scene as people throw their plastic water bottles out of the windows as well as food so the babboons here are getting almost as bad as those at Manyara.The litter is really out of hand here and i think they need to put a deposit on plastic like they do on glass as you never see glass laying around.

We get our guide and i can't believe i'm trekking again! It is soooo hot and we are all soaked with sweat within seconds.It is very beautiful though and the forest is still very intact bacause of local beliefs.We see maybe 2 monkeys the whole time and we are pretty spent by the time we get to the 3rd waterfall.Everyone goes for a swim while i chat with the guides.This has been 1 of the highlites of my trip as i have spent every possible moment getting to know the locals and having good conversations.I will always cherish Gorillas and Kili among other things but also the great people i met.(oh Yeah the wedding too).

Another good day done we drove back to camp and got ready for a short flight to our final destination.I am starting to get a little sad at this point.
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Apr 2nd, 2006, 10:27 AM
  #149
 
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Sad to hear about the litter. And that giraffe kill sounds pretty gruesome.

"It is very beautiful though and the forest is still very intact bacause of local beliefs." What are the local beliefs?
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Apr 2nd, 2006, 11:08 AM
  #150
dlo
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Leely

I heard a couple of different things.Some believe that the forest is inhabited by spirits of there ancestors.This and the fact that there are so many herbal uses of the forest by medicine men have kept it mostly intact.Also the forest is well known for endemics.They discovered a new species of Mangebey last year and at our first night in Mufindi we had dinner with some researchers who may have discovered a new species of Bushbaby.
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Apr 2nd, 2006, 12:01 PM
  #151
 
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dlo,
Thanks, that's very interesting, especially about the "new" bushbabies.
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Apr 2nd, 2006, 12:43 PM
  #152
 
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Dlo,
The rat wasn’t in the bed, it was just in the room, but I dreamt that 30 rats were entering the room through the window behind my head. Bathroom bats are a must if a camp wants stars in my rating system.

Trekking again! The Udzungwas sound really intriguing.
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Apr 2nd, 2006, 02:48 PM
  #153
 
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Given the proximity of the highway, would you return to Mikumi or recommend the park to others? Did it have a negative effect on your experience or just different?

I too was very proud of my spotting of our first elephant on our riding safari. It sounds silly to be proud of an elephant sighting, but they can actually hide pretty well. I noticed some ear movement behind a tree as we were riding by
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Apr 2nd, 2006, 02:51 PM
  #154
 
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One more question if you don't mind sharing, how much did the Foxes portion cost you?
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Apr 2nd, 2006, 05:38 PM
  #155
dlo
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Leely
It was a great experience having dinner with all those researchers.They have an amazing passion for what they do and can talk nonstop about it.One of the guys has been to both Gabon and South Luangwa which i am very interested in so i learned a lot from him.
Nyamera
You always manage to make me laugh.Using your rating system i stayed at a lot of 5 star properties!
Patty
You lose the wilderness experience with a highway running through it but i did enjoy it and i never had a bad experience.As long as i am in Africa i am where i want to be.We chose Mikumi because we wanted to go to the Udzungwas though, otherwise we would have went to Ruaha.We also looked at Sable Mountain Lodge in Selous.

Any time we would spot something it was exciting.I am proudest of how i calmly stated "there's a Lion eating" like this is a everyday event.

The cost for Foxes was $1725 for 3 nights Mikumi and 4 nights Highland Lodge.
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Apr 2nd, 2006, 06:34 PM
  #156
 
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Thanks for the Mikumi report. I've wanted more info on that location.
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Apr 4th, 2006, 04:00 PM
  #157
dlo
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After an early breakfast we are off to the airstrip for our short flight to Mufindi for a 4 night stay at Foxes Highland Lodge.Luckily we are the only passengers as we are way overweight but with 3 months of travelling it is impossible to carry less than we did.We are met at the airstrip by Vicki Fox who along with Geoff run the show here and do an amazing job.The lodge is located in a very beautiful area with forests,lakes,and rolling hills with a high elevation of around 7800 feet.There are tea plantations everywhere and it is also a working farm anf the food is incredible.I had probably lost 10 pounds before coming here but gained most of it back by the time i left.

We chose the lodge because we wanted to end our trip with an activity based location and we were never bored.It did rain a lot during our stay but it rarely prevented us from doing something.The higher elevation brought some much needed relief from the heat and the nights were down right chilly.

After settling in we went for a horseback ride which is definately not my specialty.I love horses but i am a nervous rider and they know it.It was a nice ride through the wet muddy forests but with the rain we headed back early and i made a very graceless dismount somehow managing to not fall on my a#$.Our first night here we were joined by 5 other people 4 of which were researchers and an american woman who had lived in Tanzania for years.It was a very interesting dinner listening to them discuss their fields of expertise and there thoughts on conservation.Of particular interest to me was Gabon.I love forests and have always wanted to go to the Congo so Gabon is really my best chance.Poaching is a big issue in many places in Africa and while i am well aware of the bushmeat crises in Central Africa listening to them talk about the devasation in the Congo was very disheartening The only way to save Gabon will be to continue the low volume tourism that currently occurs.They were saying that they have done studies that show if a road is built everything within 50 miles of it is killed.We also discussed South Luangwa and though Rocco already has me convinced to go there they further sold me on it.

The only bad part of my day was that Geoff was building a golf course on the property but did not have any left handed clubs for me to use so if anyone at Foxes is reading this,get on it! Everyone at the lodge was leaving the next morning and we would be joined by a couple from Swaziland who were working in Tanzania.

I will finish this later or tomorrow at the latest,i just got a call on a Maine Coon and i have to see it.
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Apr 5th, 2006, 05:08 AM
  #158
 
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Still enjoying your report. I'm taking a tea break with my warm coonboy Waldo curled up next to me purring away - such bliss. You think you can't love the new cats as much as your departed old friends but the bonding is fast and sweet.
Good luck!
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Apr 5th, 2006, 06:44 AM
  #159
 
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Dlo,
Good luck with the cat
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Apr 5th, 2006, 08:16 AM
  #160
bat
 
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Thanks dlo.
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