Trip Report Tanzania June/july 07

Jul 21st, 2007, 06:47 AM
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Trip Report Tanzania June/july 07

Returned last sunday from our safari in Northern Tanzania, with a few days in Zanzibat at the end.

The safari was booked before we found this forum. We booked through ATR, with whom we had previously booked a safari to Southern Tanzania in February 2007. Unfortunatley we had to cancel our safari three days before we were due to fly out due to injuries sustained in a hit and run car accident. After a number of weeks we received payment from our insurance company for the cost of the flights and safari, and as we had recovered enough form our injuries to rebook our safari, i contacted ATR to arrange a new safari. We were advised that late June / early July would not be the best time for a safari in southern Tanazania, and recommended northern Tanzania.
Having been to the Entabeni private reserve in South Africa and two camps in the Okavango delta last year , we knew we wanted to stay in small tented camps rather than large lodges and advised them of this. They sent three itineries, at varying costs. A lot of information was given about each camp and surrounding area, so we could make an informed decision. We settled for what, having found this forum,appears to be a variation of their standard safari itinerary.

Arusha : Moivaro Lodge
Tarangire : Mawe Ninga Camp
Tarangire : Mawe Ninga Camp
Southcentral Serengeti : Olduvai Tented Camp
Southcentral Serengeti : Olduvai Tented Camp
Central Serengeti : Ronjo Camp
Central Serengeti : Ronjo Camp
Central Serengeti : Ronjo Camp
Karatu : Ngorongoro Farmhouse
Karatu : Ngorongoro Farmhouse
Zanzibar Island : Pongwe Beach
Zanzibar Island : Pongwe Beach
Zanzibar Island : Pongwe Beach
Zanzibar Stonetown : Dhow Palace
Zanzibar Stonetown : Dhow Palace

After booking the safari, we found this forum. Having read some negative reviews about ATR and the camps I was a bit concerned about the location of our chosen camps. I raised these with ATR, who replied to them promptly and put our minds at rest. I can't fault the information we were given by ATR, and found it be very accurate.

Anyway, now for the trip reportbr />
Our driver was Peter, who was an excellent driver and guide. More about him later.

We left the coffee lodge at about 9am, with our picnic box, the first of many, and headed off to Tarangire. The first animals to be spotted were Dik Diks. Other animals spotted on our first day were elephants, giraffe,zebra,baboons,cliff springers,ostrich,vultures and mongoose. We also saw numerous birds, the names of which escape me. I think we only saw other vehicles on our way to and from the picnic area.

We arrived at Mawe Ninga Camp at about 5pm and were advised we were the only guests that night. It was nice to have our own private camp! We had the honeymoon tent as well. After freshening up we enjoyed watching the sunset with a nice gin and tonic. The evening meal was very good.
Next morning, we left at about 8am with our picnic box, for a full day of game viewing. our first photo opportunity was of a couple of lions, obviously on their honey moon. After checking us out for about five minutes, they decided they wanted some privacy and disappered of into the long grass and bushes. A bit later we watched a black backed jackal approach a water hole and take a nice long drink and a loan buffalo approach the water hole, but get spooked before reaching the water. Having watched for about 15 minutes we moved off. Our next sighting was of a couple of lions near the swamp, and the a large herd of elephants , witha number of them crossing the road in front and behind us. One young male was happily playing in the water. whilst driving around after lunch we heard lots of baboons barking. We slowed down and were rewarded with a good sighing of a lioness. It is amazing how short an opportunity you have to see some of the animals before they disappear into the long grass. The zebras were the other sighting of the day. Our second night at camp was shared with other guests. We checked out at 8am the next morning, with another game drive in the park. THere were plenty of zebra, elephants and giraffe to be seen. We left Tarangire about 11am and headed off to the Ngorongoro and the Serengeti.

Hopefully i haven't bored anyone so far, and will post more later, including photos.
hamishbear is offline  
Jul 21st, 2007, 07:04 AM
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Sounds good so far, although I can't yet really tell just how well you liked the whole experience. I'm looking forward to hearing about the rest of it.
hguy47 is offline  
Jul 21st, 2007, 09:02 AM
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Our vehicle was a land cruiser with a pvc roll back roof which provided excellent viewing. It was great being driven through the parks standing up in the vehicle. Being on the shorter side I tended to stand on the seat. It wasn't too hot and there was a lovely breeze.

We really enjoyed our stay Tarangire and saw a lot more animals than we expected, but the best game viewing came later.

On our original itinerary we were down to do the Crater on our way to Olduvai. Peter however felt that this would be too much of a rush and we would be better doing it the following day from Olduvai as there was not much to see around olduvai at this time of year. We therefore took our time leaving Tarangire and heading on to Olduvai. We stopped at the Crater rim viewing point on the way and got to Olduvai about 5pm.

.
hamishbear is offline  
Jul 21st, 2007, 09:19 AM
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What I forgot to say was that Peter preferred to conduct his safaris with his radio off and keep away from the crowds. As a result we arrived at the picnic areas when they were quiet, and saw very few vehicles. For the majority of our time in Tarangire we felt like we had the park to ourselves. When we passed other vehicles, he would ask if they had had an interesting sighting and share the sightings we had had.
It was really nice to find your own lions etc and enjoy them by ourselves.

By the third day, we knew what to expect in our lunch boxes - a piece of the cake we had had for desert the previous night, a hard boiled egg, a packet of biscuits, and some not very nice Kenyan Cadbury Dairy Milk! Could anyone really eat a hardboiled egg , a piece of cake , a packet of biscuits and a bar of dairy milk every lunchtime as well as the sandwich?
hamishbear is offline  
Jul 21st, 2007, 06:18 PM
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Sorry about your difficult start to the safari. How terrible.

Peter is a gem. So your first animal is a dik dik. How nice to have a camp to yourselves.

Good start and looking forward to photos.
atravelynn is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2007, 11:08 AM
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Hi Hamishbear,

I'm really enjoying your report. We did a similar itinerary with ATR in June of last year, so it's nice to read this--takes me back! We liked Mawe Ninga as well, rustic and laid-back with incredible views and a very kind staff.

Can't wait to read more.
Leely is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2007, 03:00 PM
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Hi again

I have uploaded soem photos for the first part of our trip. They can be viewed at http://www.photobox.co.uk/album/6108148

I am sure many people will have similar photos, but I never get tired of looking at safari pictures! Hopefully these will bring back memories for a lot of people.
hamishbear is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2007, 04:53 PM
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Not bored! I never tire of safari photos either. Tarangire is so wonderful for elephants and giraffes, but how nice to get lions too. Sunset at Mawe Ninga--terrific.
Leely is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2007, 05:06 PM
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The similarities bring back memories and the new ones give ideas. A drinking jackal! (That sounds like an insult.) The superb starlings all over were interesting. Your ostrich shot has elephant in the background. They're everywhere. The elephant in the dark red soil are especially striking.
atravelynn is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 08:18 AM
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I think we saw the same honeymooning lions in Tarangire! One of our guides had their "schedule" down to the minute (every 15 minutes, as it happened.)

I'm looking forward to the rest of your trip. What were your dates? We probably crossed paths, perhaps at the Farmhouse (a group of 10 women in 2 Land Cruisers.)
ShayTay is offline  
Jul 24th, 2007, 12:12 AM
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I'm enjoying reading this as we are considering doing something similar next year. So it's good to hear what you have to say, especially about Mawa Ninga. We have stayed at Olduvai and Ronjo before. Looking forward to the next installment.
hetismij is offline  
Jul 24th, 2007, 03:13 PM
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Welcome to the next instalment!
So we arrived at Olduvai at about 5.00pm, after a very bumpy journey from the crater area. I am sure many of those reading this will have travelled this bumpy road. Due to our itinerary, we would be doing the journey three more times!

I like the way Olduvai is set up, with the tents laid out around the rock. It is very well hidden and you don't know it is there until you are almost at the tents. The view from the tent was over the vast dry plain. It must be an incredible view after the rains.

After "checking in" to tent one and being given some info about the camp, we set off with our Masai guide Sunny to watch the sunset from a nearby rocky outcrop. We were advised it was a walk, but there was a little bit of scrambling up and down the rock. Sunny didn't have a problem, but I think he may have done it before. Whilst perched on top of the rock we watched the Masai children bringing in their goats and cattle as well as watching the sunset. It was pretty windy and vvery dry and dusty. Not a place I would want to set up a nomad Masai village in the summer as it is a very harsh environment.

As with Mawe Ninga, we decided it would be rude not to have a can or two of the local beer, so visited the bar before dinner. One thing that was different at Olduvai was that they wanted people to sit on their own table, rather than join other guests on theirs. Maybe this made it easier for them. On our second night at Mawe Ninga we were asked if we wanted to sit with a family we had started talking to before dinner.

Dinner was again three courses and very good. Obviously the local genet liked the smell of the food and made a couple of appearances at dinner. He visited the bar later that night as well, so maybe he need a beer to wash the food down! Unfortunately we didn't have the camera with us, but thought we would be able to get some photos the next night. The genet had different ideas and hardly showed himself the next night, so no photos.

We set off for the Crater from Olduvai about 8am the next morning. It had been quite a peaceful night although there was some animal action during the night. I can't say what it was as I didn't get up to investigate!

When we arrived at the payment booth for the crater decent, it was really really cold. We were immediately approached by numerous Masai offering various necklaces, bracelets and spears. They must get so cold standing up there all day.

We didn't really know what to expect with the crater, but it is an amazing place, with such diversity of scenery.

The crater was teaming with zebra and wildebeasts, hundreds of which were making a mini migration to one of the large lakes. A couple of lions were spotted in the long grass carefully watching a few of the zebra. Others however had other things on their minds and had found themselves a nice spot for a little bit of loving! They obliged us with a quick bit of "jiggy jiggy". I think however they knew just how much zoom people would have on their cameras and decided to perform just outside of range!

One thing we noticed in the crater was the dust from other vehicles. Peter did his best to find roads with no traffic and keep away from the dust from other vehicles. When we did pass other jeeps, Peter would always ask if there had been any rhino sightings as he wanted to find at least one for us. Unfortunately there were no sightings the day we were in the crater. I think they were all hiding in the forest. Never the less there were plenty of other animals to see, including a lion with a very recent warthog kill. I think she must have killed it becasue she could rather than for food as she wasn't really interested in eating. A cheetah was also spotted, but it was a pretty well hidden in the long grass. It is amazing what the guides can see in all that long grass!

Due to Peters desire to keep out of the traffic, we didn't realise just how many vehicles were in the crater until we arrived at one of the picnic spots. For Peter this was another opportunity to find out if any of the rhinos had been sighted.
Another discovery in the crater were the Tanzanian crisps as this was their first, but unfortunately not their last appearance in the lunch box! After lunch came more sightings of hyena, flamingo, jackal, zebra, hippo and wildebeasts. A visit to the forest provided an elephant sighting and some baboons.

Too soon it was time to leave and head back on the bumpy road to Olduvai.

As we had been advised by ATR., there was very little wild life anywhere near the camp. We only saw a couple of giraffe. I imagine it is very different in the green season. If we had been to the crater on the way to Olduvai, one night would have been sufficient for us.

That evening we went up to the observation post in the centre of the camp and realised that from there you could see straight into the shower of tent one! From there we watched two camp employees fill the shower bags for each tent . It was then time for a nice warm shower to remove the dust from the day!

We did visit shifting sands and Olduvai Gorge, but on our way back from our stay in the Serengeti.

So far our safari was everything we wanted and more.

Photos can be viewed at http://www.photobox.co.uk/album/6125292


Still to come, tales of a leopard in a tree having his supper, a stork catching and eating a mouse, a Caracal catching and trying to kill a hyrax and a cheetah with five cubs!











hamishbear is offline  
Jul 24th, 2007, 04:05 PM
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Lion lovemaking and Tent #1--my friends had that one. This safari is progressing nicely.

I wonder if your Sunny was our Sanai (at least that's how I spelled it in my mind) for the walk at Olduvai? I couldn't quite tell from your photo.

Looking forward to more.
Leely is offline  
Jul 25th, 2007, 01:05 AM
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Haha! We noticed that about tent one too - we had the tent up in the kopje which was delightful! Lots of hyraxes racing round in the night though.
I never managed a photo of the genet either. We did see a cheetah on the way back from shifting sands, just a short way from the camp on the other side of the kopje which was wonderful and very unexpected.
Looking forward to episode three!
hetismij is offline  
Jul 25th, 2007, 02:00 PM
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Trip report on Serengeti to follow shortly. Photos can be viewed at

http://www.photobox.co.uk/album/6131481

hamishbear is offline  
Jul 25th, 2007, 05:26 PM
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Wow a cheetah with 5 cubs. Will you be able to zoom in on some of these photos? A good assortment and nice photos of the birds.

Looks like you had a nice safari afterall.

-Granny Joan
GrannyJoan is offline  
Jul 26th, 2007, 12:09 AM
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Love the cheetah and the leopard photos! Looks like you had a really great safari!
hetismij is offline  
Jul 26th, 2007, 08:23 AM
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Great photos of the cheetah and cubs. Love the ones with them all sitting in a group. I can just hear the cubs saying, "Mom, what are we supposed to be looking for again?" and/or various other child-like quips.
going_2_africa is offline  
Jul 26th, 2007, 08:27 AM
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Caracal!!! Wow!

Love the cheetah with her cubs. No shortage of lions on this trip, either, I see. Nice to see a leopard walking around for a change. What was the Serengeti traffic jam about? The leopard?

Looking forward to reading about this part of the trip.
Leely is offline  
Jul 28th, 2007, 02:46 PM
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Serengeti part of Safari.

We were really looking forward to this part of the safari as we knew it would give us the best chance of seeing leopard and cheetah. We did see a leopard when we were in Entebeni in SA, but only from a distance, and the one we saw in Botswana, lying in the tree we passed underneath ran off as soon as we stopped without allowing any photo opportunities.

Before entering the Serengeti, Peter showed us where we would be staying and where we would probably be driving around. It was then onto the registration office. Whilst Peter was booking in, we went up to the observation post to take a few pictures. The plains just stretch for miles, with a solitary straight road passing through.

Shortly after we had entered the park, we saw our first Serengeti lions. A male and female were walking through the grass at the side of the road, and then decided to walk along the road. They completely ignored the vehicles and carried on on their way.

We then headed of to one of the hippo pools. On the way we passed a few lion couples sleeping in the long grass. There was another vehicle on this road, another MKSC vehicle with people whom we had met at Olduvai.

Whilst watching the hippos we were lucky enough to see one of them open his mouth for a big yawn, as usually they do nothing. Their activity, or lack of it was watched from the rocks at the edge of the pool by a gazelle.

Just after we had finished watching the hippos, on the way back to the road, Peter pointed out a hunt on our left hand side. There was a heron with a mouse type creature in its beak, which it promptly swallowed whole. We got a couple of before and after photos, and on the after photo you can clearly see the lump in the herons throat! One gulp and it was gone.

Just down the road, we spotted a couple of hippos out for a stroll and another couple of lions.

On our first day in the Serengeti we had our lunch in the shade by a large kopje, completely away from everyone and everything. At times it felt like we had the Serengeti to ourselves.

The afternoon brought a sighting of a lovely lioness resting on the top of a kopje. She looked so cute and we had this sighting to ourselves. After some giraffe sightings, came another lioness on another kopje. She was snoozing when we arrived, but she did wake up, check out the tourists and then settle back down again. She was sharing this kopje with another lioness, who was a bit more awake, and showed us her lovely sharp teeth. There were a number of vehicles at this sighting, probably five, the most we had encountered so far.




A bit later, we came across a number of stationary vehicles. Nearby were a large number of zebra, part of the migrating herds. A lion had been spotted following these. Unfortunately it had disappeared into the long grass and wasn’t prepared to show itself.

The afternoon brought a wonderful and rare sighting outside the seronera wildlife lodge. We had wanted to do a balloon safari, but at the time of booking our safari , there were no spaces and we were placed on the reserve list. As we hadn’t received notification that a space would be available , and as we had booked a safari to Kenya in October during which we could do a balloon flight over the Masai Mara, we advised ATR that we wouldn’t be doing the flight. Peter still however had our balloon flight on his paperwork, so thought it best to check if we were booked in for a flight.

Whilst waiting for Peter we watched the hyraxes playing around on the lawn and driveway. When Peter returned to the vehicle and was about to drive off he noticed the hunt which had just begun on the lawn. We heard lots of squeaking. A caracal had caught one of the hyraxes. It was lying on the lawn with its jaws around the neck of an upside down hyrax. The caracal started to drag the hyrax along, away from us. There was a lot of squeaking from other hyraxes who could only watch from a safe distance. Some of the staff from the lodge had come out to watch as well. The hyrax was obviously putting up a bit of fight. Peter told us they had very sharp teeth and very pretty hard to kill. Whilst this was going another vehicle arrived at the lodge and started watching the hunt. The struggle had been going on for five minutes. Due to the light conditions, when one of the guests in this vehicle took a picture their flash went off. This unfortunately distracted the caracal and it dropped the hyrax. The caracal and hyrax then stood looking at one another, both tired. The hyrax then retreated, backwards, towards the rocks. It never once took its eyes of the caracal. The caracal just stood and watched at this hyrax backed away from it. As soon as it reached the rocks, it disappeared pretty quickly inside them! The caracal could only go up to the rocks and look into the gap into which the hyrax had disappeared. Needless to say there weren’t any other hyrax hanging around at this point! The caracal then disappeared off. Peter was very pleased with this sighting as he had only seen the caracal once before in five years and that was at night.

It was now time to head off to our new tented camp, Ronjo. On the road to the camp we passed a hyena den. There were about five adult hyena and one young hyena. Further on we came across hundreds and hundreds of zebra and wildebeests, making lots of noise. Shortly after passing these we arrived at Ronjo where we would be spending three nights.

We were in tent four on the right hand side of the camp. There are six tents on each side of the dining tent, and each side is numbered one to six. This caused a bit of confusion on the bar bills! Not sure why they don’t number them one to twelve.

The tents were the smallest so far, but adequate. Like those at Olduvai the toilet and shower were outside, at the rear of the tent, with straw walls on two sides. Unlike Olduvai there was no door into the bathroom area from the side of the tent, so any animals could walk into that bathroom area. A number of the occupants of the other tents weren’t too keen on this and placed their wash table and bowl between the side of the tent and the straw wall! I just decided that I wouldn’t be getting up in the night to go to the loo!

After a much need shower to remove the dust of the day, everyone gathered around the fire. This was the most social of the three camps due to the size and layout of the dining tent. There were only four tables in the dining tent, with six people seated at each table. This gave people a really good opportunity to find out a bit about each other and share animal sightings. We really enjoyed our evenings here and had some really good laughs.
More later.
hamishbear is offline  

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