Two Mzungus back from incredible Tanzania and Rwanda

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Mar 12th, 2009, 07:26 AM
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Two Mzungus back from incredible Tanzania and Rwanda

We’re a couple from NYC that got back from an incredible 2 week trip to Tanzania and Rwanda a little over a month ago. The title of the thread refers to Mzungus because that is what we were called in Rwanda especially in the Lake Kivu area. We were surprised at the reference because neither of us is “white” by any stretch of the imagination, but we found that the term loosely defined also means “tourists”.

Anyway, back to our story. We traveled from 17 January to 1 February. This was our itinerary.

18 Jan: KIA Lodge o/n
19 Jan: Flight to Kigali, o/n at Paradis Malahide in Lake Kivu
20 Jan: Lake Kivu, o/n at Kinigi Guest House
21 Jan: 1st gorilla trek, o/n at Kinigi Guest House
22 Jan: 2nd gorilla trek, o/n at Chez Lando in Kigali
23 Jan: Flight to JRO, Game drive in Arusha NP, Canoeing in Small Momella Lake, o/n at Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge
24 Jan: Morning in Arusha, Afternoon game drive in Tarangire, o/n at Tarangire River Camp
25 Jan: Maasai village visit, Afternoon/Night game drive in Lake Manyara, o/n at Manyara Serena Lodge
26 Jan: Morning in Karatu, Afternoon game drive in Ngorongoro Crater, o/n at Sopa Lodge
27 Jan: Morning game drive in Ngorongoro Crater, Afternoon game drive en route to Ndutu Lodge with o/n
28 Jan: Morning/Afternoon game drives in Ndutu, o/n at Ndutu Lodge
29 Jan: Morning/Afternoon game drives in Ndutu, o/n at Ndutu Lodge
30 Jan: Full day game drive in Southern and Central Serengeti, o/n at Ndutu Lodge
31 Jan: Full day game drive in Southern and Central Serengeti, o/n at Mbuzi Mawe Camp
1 Feb: Game drive en route to the Seronera airport, flight to Arusha, Day room at KIA Lodge, Flight back to NYC

The thread for the Rwanda segment of our trip can be found at http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...rn-xplorer.cfm

Our extensive photo report for Tanzania can be found at http://www.culturesconnected.smugmug.com/Travel/719191

There are 9 galleries broken down by areas visited. We apologize in advance for the number of pictures, but we ended up taking pictures totaling 60GB, so editing those down to less than 500 pictures was a challenging exercise. We hope you enjoy!

For those of you not interested in the trip report, but only in the pictures, we have created a Best of Tanzania gallery at http://www.culturesconnected.smugmug...89062515_aNSjx

We used Good Earth for the Tanzania portion of the trip. They were very easy to work with, especially Narry in Florida and Ndashy in Arusha. We always got prompt responses to emails and their quote was competitive. Our guide Salim was excellent. We had requested Abdi Saidi or Moses or Raphael based on reviews we had read here, and were initially skeptical when we found out that Salim was to be our guide, but he put us at ease right away. He is fairly new to the Good Earth team which is probably why he isn’t mentioned much on these forums. Salim had an easy going and affable personality, was an excellent spotter and provided us with a wealth of information on animals, plants, the culture, life in Tanzania and so on. He made sure we had good camera angles for our shots, but at the same time, kept a reasonable distance from the animals. He is an accomplished guide with several years of experience, but still maintains an energy and enthusiasm to show travelers the best that Tanzania has to offer. We would recommend him without hesitation.

Most things in Tanzania went off without a hitch. The only issue we had was when we found that we had been booked at Ndutu Lodge for 4 nights, instead of 3 nights there with one night at the Serengeti Savannah camp as we had originally requested. Narry had confirmed our lodge/camp bookings a few months prior to the trip, so this was surprising. While we would have loved an extra camp night, staying at the Ndutu Lodge was not a problem really, so we didn’t complain to the Arusha office at the time. After we got back, I wrote an email to Narry about my concerns and received a reimbursement check in the mail very promptly. I have to commend them for taking action so swiftly and would definitely recommend them to others.

Our trip was amazing, it was exciting and adventurous, we never knew what to expect at the next turn and therefore never a dull moment. We came back with memories that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives!

Even though we were lurkers on the forum for the past year, we want to thank everyone for the wealth of information provided that helped us plan our trip. We hope our trip report can do the same for others.
seemaskt is online now  
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Mar 12th, 2009, 03:04 PM
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Have started to read your trip report on Smugbug looks like you had a great time, good that you got to see a not so touristy Maasai Boma. Will be back to read more - thanks for posting
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Mar 12th, 2009, 03:26 PM
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Hi Seema,

Thanks for posting the Tanzania part of your trip! We went to Tanzania in 2007 with Green Footprint, so it was especially fun to read about your canoeing and night game drive. Lovely pictures, and I like the format of your trip report. You did a LOT in 2 weeks!! And it looks like you guys had a lot of fun together, too. I can see how Tanzania and Rwanda would be a great combination. Any plans to go back to Africa someday?
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Mar 12th, 2009, 04:03 PM
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what a wonderful way to celebrate your milestone - congratulations!

anita
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Mar 12th, 2009, 06:11 PM
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Happy Anniversary. You picked a great way to celebrate. The muzungu thing is really quite funny but not as funny as Miss Seema (Mama Thomas) and her fellow. Being so excited about your first animals that you can barely eat your box lunch is a good sign you’ll have a nice trip, even if it got off to a rocky start thanks Rwanda Air and Tanzania’ s military . Nice spot on the tree snake and the lovely colobus monkeys that live in Arusha National Park.

Cute lion cubs at Tarangire. You have a knack for various blue birds.

The ele closeup is the same picture that everybody seems to get in Manyara. Yours is sharper than mine as I was a bit startled when I took mine. You got a ground hornbill. Adorable blue monkeys! Great job on the porcupine! The hippos before the storm are an ominous sight.

Nice cheetah spot for Ajit. The cubs and jackals stalking the baby wildes is an interesting phenomenon.

More cheetah in Ndutu. Glad to see the vehicles were a respectable distance. Some good shots of lions on the kopjes.
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Mar 13th, 2009, 07:10 AM
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Thanks Anita and Lynn for the wishes! We are so glad we went to Africa for our 10th anniversary. Some people questioned our choice of destination for such an occasion, but to us, it made perfect sense.

Thanks MDK! Glad you liked the pictures. Seems like we had a few similarities in our trips! Yes, we did cover a lot of ground in 2 weeks, but it never felt rushed, except of course the night game drive. We are used to being up and about on our trips. I see that you are off to South Africa this summer for another volunteer project. Sounds like it will be a wonderful experience! Enjoy! We hope to definitely return to Africa a few times, but not in the near future. Our next trip will probably be Cambodia. But, I’m helping my parents (who live in India) plan a trip to Kenya this summer. I’m excited for them!

Thanks Lynn! We were both very happy with the variety of shots that we were able to get on this trip.

The vehicles were mostly at a respectable distance except for a few incidents. The first was when a few guys on a self drive in Ndutu got very close to the lions and as they were leaving and within 50 feet of the lions, one of the guys got out of the vehicle and grabbed a leopard tortoise shell lying on the ground. Salim had another jeep ahead stop them and gave these guys a lecture about park rules/safety. The second was a jeep that drove up very fast towards a cheetah and her four cubs crossing the road in the Serengeti. One cub had not crossed over yet and was too stunned for a minute to go across. Luckily though, he did manage to see the rest of his family and join them. And lastly, there were 4 instances of people talking very loudly across jeeps at sightings and in some cases “talking to” the animals in the hope that they would turn towards the camera for a good shot. That was what bothered us the most. I was so tempted on a few occasions to say something to these people, but then I’d be guilty of talking across jeeps as well, so I had to be satisfied with just glaring at them. We had a discussion with Salim about how guides should be responsible (to a certain extent) for the behavior of their clients on safari. But Salim didn’t think that guides could actually do much given the possibility of negative reviews from the clients/impact to their work. I have to say though that in 10 days of safari, these incidents were still few and far between, and no where close to what happened in 2003 or last year in Ndutu with the cheetahs.

Have a great weekend everyone!
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Mar 13th, 2009, 03:51 PM
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That leopard tortoise shell might be the last souvenir those idiots ever picked up. I don't think you can take it home anyway.

The poor cheetah cub! I accidentally did something similar to one of my own kittens with the vacuum cleaner. I didn't know it was still in the room and not with mom and the other kittens when I vacuumed. It was paralyzed with fear. (The mother cat came to me pregnant. I did not allow a cat pregnancy.)

Glad to see that overall there was good safari etiquette being practiced.
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Mar 14th, 2009, 08:36 AM
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You guys really had an incredible number of interesting and varied sightings in Tanzania, and recorded it well with your photos. Salim sounds like a wonderful guide, just right for your first safari. I'm sure you appreciate how lucky you were for seemingly everything to work out so well. Thanks for sharing the report and the pictures.
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Mar 16th, 2009, 09:30 AM
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Lynn - Your story about kittens and the vaccum cleaner was really funny! Not so funny for the kittens obviously, but I can imagine this being not so uncommon in households with pups/kittens and other small pets.

Hguy - Thank you! Glad you enjoyed the report and photos. Some of our friends who are not into travel as much, gave up on the report after the first gallery!
And yes, we do appreciate how lucky we were with the trip, guide and sightings! I was especially nervous since we usually plan all our trips independently, but we were very fortunate indeed!
seemaskt is online now  
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Mar 16th, 2009, 04:13 PM
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Did you think you'll return to Africa?
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Mar 16th, 2009, 05:19 PM
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The term doesn't reply so much to being a tourist as to being "rich."
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Mar 17th, 2009, 05:33 AM
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Lynn - Yes, we sure hope to. In the near future, we would like to travel to Morocco, but a few years down the road, we hope to visit Southern Africa as well. There are just too many wonderful countries to visit all over the world and too little time

Cjstobbs - Yes, you are correct. We did make a reference to this in our photo report on Smugmug, but I missed it when writing up my post here.
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Mar 17th, 2009, 03:27 PM
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Thanks for posting your report and your wonderful photos. I am not through all of them yet, but I am enjoying them, and this is really just to bookmark the links for me in case this thread goes onto the "view more activity" page.

amy
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Mar 18th, 2009, 05:06 PM
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I know. Too many places. No fair!
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Mar 20th, 2009, 06:16 AM
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Thanks Amy! Looks like you just have a couple more months to go before your first safari. Lucky you. Have a wonderful and memorable trip!
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