Trip Report - South Africa and Kenya August 2009

Nov 8th, 2009, 10:57 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 13,447
I agree with twaggle........ I also would have been more than ticked off to leave the Mara River to go and have lunch!

I was there about the same time as you were .

I was very very lucky because on my last day at the Masai Mara
Serena Lodge , we drove over to a spot on the Mara River, after doing a game drive for several hours and within 5 minutes ............Yes !!! 5 minutes, the Wilderbeest started to cross, there were about 15 other vehicles there as we drove up.

What a sight this was.!!!

I looked at my wrist watch and it was exactly 12 NOON!!!.. to heck with food, our guide did not even mention going back to eat.!

( Why did I look at my watch...because I was so excited I wanted to tell my friend back home that while they were sleeping at 3 AM...I was watching the 7th Wonder of the World !!)

I filmed a bit with my Digital (PHD) camera and my friend Randy was filming on his Camcorder.

After about 3-4 minutes, our guide took the Camcorder from Randy and said

"You guys just watch , I will film , you guys might never see this again "...

So while our guide was filming, Randy and I just stood and watched in awe!!!

I consider myself very lucky , because we were leaving the next morning (for the Seregeti).

When we got back to the Serena Lodge ,we were too excited to eat and kept looking at our film !!

Yep, mopsy , I do not blame you for being angry .

I cannot believe your guide would drive you away for food !!
Percy is online now  
Nov 8th, 2009, 01:33 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Don't want to dwell on the one negative event in the middle of all your wonderful sightings of so many animals, plus the fortunate escorted walk, but leaving the river for lunch is not good.

It appears this was a Serena-based driver, was it? I have the same question as Twaffle, what were the others in the vehicle saying?

Just wondering how to avoid a future situation like that, short of hiring a private vehicle and making your intentions clear at the outset. Maybe just making your intentions clear at the outset of a group game drive? Maybe bring granola or energy bars for the guide just in case?

I hope the driver's tip reflected your disappointment.

Your decision to forget about it is admirable and probably contributed to the enjoyment of the rest of the trip. Thanks for reporting the good and the bad.

Your choice of accommodations mean you may have saved enough to return again. This was a great itinerary for maximizing predator sightings, not expenses. When you get your photos under control, we'd love to see some of those predator sightings.
atravelynn is offline  
Nov 8th, 2009, 06:37 PM
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Posts: 37
Hi everybody,

I will try to answer all of the questions raised, and also give my impression in more detail of what transpired.

First of all the Kenyan portion of our trip was a private safari, my wife and I were the only 2 in the vehicle, so there was no other peoples wants and needs to be taken into consideration.

We booked the Kenyan part with Eastern and Southern, mainly because of the good reviews they got on this site, but also because any questions raised or changes to the itinery were dealt with promptly, politely and with a minimum of fuss. We really couldnt fault them in the planning side of things.

I didnt mention it at all in my report but we did have several concerns with our guide. For example, on more than one occasion when we were at a major sighting (cats) the driver would start the vehicle and drive off without a word to us, and would proceed to drive to some bushes so he could go to the toilet. Now I know that nature can call at some inconvenient times, but we thought that surely he could hold on a bit longer or at least ask us if it was alright if we left. At another sighting we were both taking photos of hyenas and without a word he took off at great speed, as it turned out to take us to some flat cats, but in the process of driving off he drove straight at the hyenas, sending them running for safety, and continued to chase one of them for about 50 metres. My wife and I were horrified, but he seemed to get some sort of joy out of it all. The other thing that was of slight concern was the radio in the vehicle didnt work, which he knew before we left Nairobi, and did nothing about. Who knows what the plan was if we needed to radio for help or something similar.

I should also mention that we werent the only ones to leave the crossing site for lunch. There was a group of 3 girls with a private driver also staying at Serena whos guide gave the same excuse as ours for leaving, which they were all pretty mad about as well.

I guess in summarising our Mara experience I would say we had a terrific time, saw lots of good things but could have seen more. The other thing I would say is sometimes it felt like it was our drivers safari, not ours, and we were just along for the ride. But as I said earlier we had saved for too long and spent too much time waiting for this trip to let anything really bother us for too long. Some would say we should have been more demanding, But I guarantee you we let our wants and needs be known.

Lynn to answer a question of yours from about a week ago we found there to be slightly less traffic while at Serena compared to Keekorok. But really there wasnt much difference between the 2 locations.

Percy I'm glad you got to see the crossing. We spoke to others who were staying at Serena who got to see it and they all said the same thing - unbelievable! We were very disappointed to have missed out but were happy for others to have witnessed the event. We will just have to go back and try our luck again!

Oh, and I havent forgotten about the Sitatunga, will look that up tonight when I get home from work. I will also post a link to some of our photos for those that are interested.
mopsy is offline  
Nov 8th, 2009, 07:11 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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That is not good at all but thanks for sharing the info.

I'd like to know your driver's name, whether here or privately. You can email me at atravelynn at hotmail dot com.
atravelynn is offline  
Nov 8th, 2009, 07:14 PM
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"We will just have to go back and try our luck again!"

How nice you can consider another trip.
atravelynn is offline  
Nov 8th, 2009, 07:25 PM
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mopsy , you are so very gracious in your disappointment.

I guess it must just have been the guide.

We also had a Private Safari Tour for 15 days and our guide never just pulled away, in fact , several times we had to say

"It's okay, you can go now, we have taken all the pictures we want here."

You have the right attitude.... another trip to Kenya !

Thank you very much for sharing your adventure.
Percy is online now  
Nov 9th, 2009, 12:23 AM
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 624
Mopsy, I hope you contact E&S and let them know of your experience so that someone else doesn't have to go through the same thing. If you were on a private safari I can see no excuse whatsoever for not staying past lunch if needs be, to see something so elusive as a river crossing.

You are very gracious, though. May you see many long and glorious river crossings on your next safari!
twaffle is offline  
Nov 9th, 2009, 02:22 PM
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...and may those river crossing be filled with lots of water as the Grumeti River was virtually bone dry ( almost )

Hi twaffle.
Percy is online now  
Nov 9th, 2009, 08:01 PM
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 624
Hi Percy
twaffle is offline  
Nov 10th, 2009, 03:07 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Here is a link to some of our photos as promised. I'm not much of a photographer as you can see, plenty of room for improvement, but they still bring back great memories.
mopsy is offline  
Nov 10th, 2009, 08:35 AM
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Thank you mopsy , you took terrific pictures.

I liked them all and what a good picture of the Leopard drinking at the water hole.
Percy is online now  
Nov 10th, 2009, 08:52 AM
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 8,661
Mopsy, wonderful pictures! Cheetah yawning is my favorite although that beautiful serval pic is impressive. And you caught a leopard yawning too.

Like twaffle, I would hope you share your experience with your guide to E&S. This is the first time I've read of an experience like yours with their company and I am sure they would want to look into the matter.

Great report!
Leely2 is offline  
Nov 10th, 2009, 01:51 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Nice variety and you really outdid yourself with leopards. The young one was very cute. I liked the lion and the wilde herds. Makes you wonder what's next. The serval looked slightly injured, but cats are very tough.

These photos emphasize the quality of your itinerary if someone wants to hit some of the wildlife highlights of Africa.
atravelynn is offline  
Nov 10th, 2009, 03:22 PM
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 624
I agree that you have a lovely selection of photos to keep your memories alive. The drinking leopard is a standout but I also liked the photos of the hippos out of water and the elephants with the rainbow. Thanks for sharing them with us.
twaffle is offline  
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