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Trip Report Tanzania & Kenya, January 2008 Trip Report

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Since I'm going back to Tanzania next month (yeah!), I figured I'd better get the trip report for last month's safari posted sooner rather than later.

I was on a package tour to Tanzania and Kenya in 2003. It was great, but I wanted a different experience this time. Because I am a dedicated amateur photographer, I wanted to be able to go on game drives near sunrise and sunset and to spend whatever time I wanted waiting for a photo opportunity.  I was willing to forego ticking off animals if it meant I could spend the time to get the kind of photo I wanted. Although it wasn’t planned this way, I had been on my own on my first trip, which was why I was able to wait two hours one afternoon for a wildebeest herd to cross the Mara River. A photo I got that day turned out to be one of the ones people liked best.

I wanted to go back to Tanzania and Kenya to some of the same parks, but visit a couple of new ones as well. My final itinerary was Arusha National Park/Lake Eyasi/Ndutu/Southern Serengeti/Lake Manyara/Amboseli/Tsavo West.

Arusha

Arrived at JRO evening of January 10. There was a long wait for visas and thanks to my TA, I was one of the few Americans who knew that the visa fee had increased to $100. After I purchased my visa, I waited in another long line to file a baggage claim, as my checked bag had gone missing. Finally, I was free to meet the driver who was picking up me and two other clients for the ride into Arusha and the Kibo Palace.

The next day, I met my guide Tesha, went to the Roy Safaris office for a briefing and then to Arusha National Park for the day. When we pulled into the parking lot near the gate, Mount Kilimanjaro was visible. This was rather exciting, as it had been hidden by clouds when I was there in 2003. Then it was off to the ranger station and a guided walk with a ranger named John.

I don’t know how to describe the walk other than to say it was like walking into a story. There was something very different about being at ground level and not in a vehicle. At one point, I was quite close to a male giraffe - other giraffes had moved away when they saw us coming, but this one stayed where he was. Maybe the tree he was eating from was too good to leave or the stream between us made him feel protected, but I was able to take lots of pictures. We also saw Cape buffalo and warthogs, including baby warthogs. This was proof that all baby animals are cute since they were adorable!

After lunch, we went to the lakes and drove up into the hills on a successful quest to see colobus monkeys, a new animal for me. It was also a good bird day. At home, I am not a birder, but I like watching and taking pictures of the birds in East Africa (what can I say - grey crowned crane vs pigeon). I saw a white-throated bee eater, a hamerkop (new bird), grey-crowned cranes (one of my favorites), a saddle-billed stork and a sacred ibis.

Then it was back to the Kibo Palace. Thankfully, my bag showed up on the evening flight from AMS and was delivered to the hotel in the early hours of the morning.

Next: Lake Eyasi.

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