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Trip report Tanzania Feb

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First of I would like to state that I am not a good writer. But it is a good story.

In October 2006 My mother and I went on the Kuoni Ultimate Tanzania safari. The Ground operators were Ranger Safaris. The itinerary was
One night Nairobi.
One Night Novotel Arusha.
Morning Arusha National park
Lunch at Mountain Village, afternoon to Tarangire
Two nights Tarangire Sopa.
Two nights Nogorongoro Sopa
Full day game drive in the crater.
Two nights Seronera wildlife lodge
Two nights Speke bay lodge (lake Victoria)
Two nights Serengeti Sopa.
Two night Manyara Serena
Morning Game drive lake Manyara.
Then 5 nights Hemingways in Kenya.

The safari was great the organisation was superb.
In late December we decided to book the same itinerary for February and the migration. We left it to the last minute because my Mother had poor health over the winter. Unfortunately it was all booked up and Kuoni could not come up with an alternative. I tried ATR specifying the places above but adding Ndutu and leaving out Kenya with a few days of rest before and after at Arusha. They came back with a seven-day safari and seven days in Zanzibar stating that seven days was enough for a Safari! Not exactly what I asked for.

I then contacted rangers direct in Arusha via e-mail. I got a phone call the next day from African Safaris direct an English company that deal with rangers. I again asked for roughly the same itinerary and after various e-mails they came up with…
Private Safari
Two nights rest Moivaro Lodge
Afternoon game drive Arusha NP.
Two nights Kikoti Trangire NP I wanted a night game drive.
Two nights Ngorongoro farm house. We wanted a crater view.
One night Serengeti Sopa. We wanted two nights
Three nights Lobo with one day rest.
Two nights M’balageti.
Two nights Manyara.
Four nights Kigongani lodge. We wanted mountain village before and after but all booked up.

Now I am no Serengeti expert but I could see that it was not going to be ideal for the migration. It stretches Ebens triangle a bit! It was also going to cost quite a bit more than we wanted to spend. But my Mother said yes lets do it. After all the Serengeti is the Serengeti and we should see the migration somewhere on our travels. Our agent said we were going to get a nearly new landcruiser, an experienced guide and I also asked for twin rooms as it was my Mother. I was aware that a guide can make or break a safari and I voiced my concerns to the agent. He again said that we would get an excellent guide.

I must admit to scanning the atta wildebeest migration updates with some trepidation. No rains in November, December, draught I was beginning to suspect that this was not going to be a good safari.

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    Finally the Safari
    13/14 Feb
    We flew overnight on a Kenya airways 777. When I confirmed the tickets a few days before I reserved the back two seats on the plane, nice. It was a good smooth flight and I believe we arrived a bit before schedule in Nairobi. English readers (if there are any readers) of this tome may be interested to hear that it takes seven home office staff to deport three people. I believe one deportee was going onwards to Kinshasa with an escort of three.

    We waited for our precision air departure to Kilimanjaro. There was no boarding announcement I was sitting down having a smoke and my Mother was walking past one of the gates when she was asked if she was going to Kili, they were already boarding! You have to be on your toes in Nairobi because they don‘t always announce flights. A great forty minute flight to Kili, with a nice view of the mountain.
    Getting a visa on arrival was no problem, I think we waited ten minutes. We exited customs to find a load of Safari drivers with boards up. Unfortunately there was nobody waiting for us! After fifteen minutes of panic someone finally appeared in an old minibus.

    We arrived at Moivaro Lodge checked in and had to wait twenty minutes for the room to be prepared. We did not mind this as we were just looking forward to bed. The cottages are nicely laid out in beautiful gardens, very secluded and quiet. The room was a large size with two double beds walk in loo and shower. He had lunch spaghetti Bolognaise or Nile perch. Service was surly by some of the staff, like we were an inconvenience.

    That afternoon a rep for Rangers turned up to go through our itinerary. We were informed that out guide would be Y. He was the second driver/guide on our first safari. We were in the first vehicle and had our own guide so we did not have much contact with him. I thought that he was fairly new and was being shown the ropes by our guide with fifteen years service. I was wrong. The Dinner was fantastic except the service. They had three or four men doing the drinks and one young woman taking the food orders, serving and clearing away for around forty diners.

    15 Feb
    Arusha national park.
    Our guide Y arrived at eight to take us to Arusha NP. We wanted to go back as it was the only place that we saw Colobus and Blue Monkeys. Our nearly new vehicle turned out to be four years old, obviously worse for wear with discarded bottles still in the seat pockets. The rear windows wouldn’t open, but it was a seven-seater landcruiser for the two of us.

    It was a remarkably clear day with beautiful views of Mount Meru. I had forgotten how scenically beautiful the park is. We had difficulty finding any monkeys this time till I spotted some blue monkeys walking through the undergrowth. We saw some stationary safari vans and they were observing Black and White Colobus. Tearing along through the park I spotted about four bushbuck, our driver two. I spotted a blue monkey sitting on a fallen tree acting strangely. We then spotted another troop nearby, obviously a territorial dispute. There was not much going on at the lakes, a few wading buffalos. Last time there were thousands of Flamingos, this time a few hundred. Those were the highlights

    Before we left for the park our guide told me that the manager wanted to see me. The manager told me I had not settled the bill. I said we were leaving tomorrow. The manager said oh. Lunch was spaghetti Bolognaise or Nile Perch. Since neither of us ate fish our options were limited. No hot water that evening or the following morning. Dinner was good and the service slightly better.

    Next Tarangire

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    Yes, yes I'm reading; I'll bet others are as well. Keep it up, net warrior. This is an enjoyable, informative report.

    Lucky you to to return so soon after your last trip.

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    16 Feb
    Tarangire national park
    On our last visit to Tarangire, October 2004 we had entered the park early evening and saw masses of animals we just didn’t know were to look. Highlights then were…
    A pride of between thirty and thirty-five lions,
    A python climbing a tree.
    A herd of more than four hundred and fifty elephants.
    A two thousand strong herd of buffalos.
    So Tarangire had a lot to live up to, but back to this February.

    We settled our bill at Moivaro, the manager got his sums wrong in our favour, so we told him the correct amount. Nice drive and good road for most of the way to the park. On the final approach to the park take care. Children put leopard tortoises in the road to force drivers to stop and get money. The north of the park was bone dry and the river was totally dry in places. We drove through the park and exited to the east, as we did so the road deteriorated. It seems generally that the worst roads are the ones to the lodges.

    We arrived at Kikoti I said we wanted twins Mother and son etc. The manager came out and said we were down as a double but as they were not busy we could have a tent each. No individual tipping you tip at the end, nice touch. Great view, nice tents, good view, but back to the game. We went for a late afternoon game drive. It was brilliant. I spotted a steenbok (not seen first time round) it was just sitting down in the grass to hide. After a while it relaxed and we got good video of it feeding with a few furtive looks in our direction. I then spotted a serval cat stalking through the long grass. We then went back to the place we saw the climbing python. Sure enough our guide spotted a python loosely coiled in the tree nearby. I also spotted some slender mongoose by the time we reversed back they had all disappeared. We also saw two largish herds of buffalo, each about one fifty to two hundred strong. Maybe the superherd splits up in the wet season.

    That evening there was a night game drive in an open vehicle. Only us with three others spotting. We spotted klipspringer, common duicker both not seen first time round. Dik dik, steenbok, scrub hare and waterbuck.

    Dinner was very good there were only two others staying at the camp.

    17 Feb
    Tarangire NP

    After reading a few horror stories about the lack of game near Kikoti I decided on a picnic lunch and an all day game drive. The morning was a disappointment no cats but loads of dik diks and our first reedbuck. The afternoon made up for it, still no cats but lots of ellies. After a good picnic lunch at cliffs above the river we stopped at the gorge near the park entrance. There were elephants digging for water and it was nice just to sit and watch.

    Our guide was desperate to show us cats so we were tearing up and down the park. It’s difficult to spot animals at speed and our guide had difficulty spotting them at the best of time. He knew his stuff identification wise but I think being the second driver he drove and the car in front spotted. Unfortunately this time there was no car in front.

    Anyway we came across a small herd of elephants with one baby about six months, one about three months and one a few weeks. And they all crossed the road a few feet in front of us! The mums were totally unconcerned one even had a bum scratch on a tree. One juvenile crossing the road saw baby sprawled out on the floor and thought we had done something. Head was up ears out directed at us till baby got back up. We got great video of all of this with scratching noises! Priceless. Also saw a ground hornbill in a tree.

    We got back to Kikoti at about six o’clock. It was a long day. We requested hot water for a shower and had another excellent meal. I noticed my finger had started to swell from a bite and was starting to suppurate. I rubbed some tobacco on the wound and that seemed to do the trick.

    Next Ngorongoro farm house and crater

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    Hi net warrior,
    I'm enjoying your report and reliving my trip. We stayed at Kikoti Feb. 13-14 and enjoyed it. We had an amazing guide and managed to see just about everything minus the python and the serval (lucky sighting).
    Did you see the mini migration of wilderbeeste, zebra and buffalo - it was very impressive. Don't know if your into birds but we saw so many beauties. If inter. go to the E. Africa trip index for my report - thanks for sharing yours;

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    Hi Cybor

    Glad your enjoying. Oh yes I knew a few fodorites were preceeding me. I didn't see one wildebeest in Tarangire on this trip. Saw all the usual suspects except in much reduced numbers compared to October 04 and no lions. About 30 odd dik diks were spotted though.

    Main Birds seen, I'm not a twitcher.
    bataleur, red hornbill, ashy starling, pale chanting goshawk, Long crested eagle, spurfowl, montagus harrier, secretary bird, corie bustard and white bellied bustard. Loads of Lilac breasted rollers.

    So no migration, reduced and dispersed animals. But the park was still beautifull and lots of close up and I mean close, elephant behaviour.

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    18 Feb
    To Ngorongoro farm House
    I woke up at about three in the morning feeling very hot so I sat outside on the porch to cool down. The mosquitoes needed feeding. Everything was bathed in a spooky white glow from the moon. After my early morning coffee I walked over to Mum’s tent to see how she was doing. Turned out that she had been sick most of the night. Ah the African experience. Luckily today was only travelling although we left a bit late for obvious reasons.

    We said our goodbyes to Kikoti and armed with some toast for my Mother off we trundled. It was a good road all the way. We passed lake Manyara or what was left of it. The last bit of road to the farm house was a bit au natural. Checking in at Ngorongoro farm house the guide told reception of my Mothers condition and we were given a room very near to the dinning room. The rooms are great, nice size, well furnished, excellent beds and a great view. But not crater views.

    Mother did not join me for lunch but our guide did. After a little relaxation we went on a drive to the view of lake Eyasi. Unfortunately our guide did not realise that we had to leave the conservation area at six so it was a very rushed trip. Nice view of lake Eyasi though and saw some zebras and a couple of buffaloes.

    That evening I dined with my guide. The head waitress inquired about my Mother and suggested some soup and bread. So room service for Mother. Meanwhile our guide took every opportunity to tell me how little he was paid, how he had four daughters one of which wanted further education that he would have to pay for. The best one is that he was pulled of a six man group tour because we had requested him. He also mentioned malaria that he had recently had it, but had taken some medicine, no problem. These two sentences will rear their ugly heads later. At the time I was more worried about Mothers health since tomorrow was a long day in the crater.

    19 Feb
    Ngorongo Crater.
    After a very good breakfast on my own we all set of for the crater at seven. I must admit on the last safari Ngorongoro was a disappointment. Before I am lynched I mean animal wise not scenic wise. We saw the top of the mane of a Lion on a Kopje two hundred meters away. One rhino that you could just about make out what it was and another doing a good impersonation of a rock. The highlights that trip were warthogs wallowing and being up close and personal with the animals. So things could only get better?

    We drove round the crater rim enjoying the views it was very clear but cloudy. Last time we drove down the sopa road this time the main access road. Just at the crater gate we got a puncture, which took half an hour to fix. The crater was brilliant and not just the views. We saw Mother and baby Rhino not near but you could easily see they were rhinos. Came across a cheetah that crossed the road in front of us. Got up close and personal with wildebeests and calves. Yes we would see more in the Serengeti but not this close. Good video of an Eland flat out, ruminating. Then my highlight a lion at a buffalo kill with golden jackals lurking. On the last safari we had seen plenty of lions but none at a kill. After a few minutes the male lion walked off and the vultures moved in together with a couple of tawny eagles swooping down for a share.

    We then changed position and observed the largish pride settling or settled down for their lunch-time siesta. Now another blasphemy, but watching sleeping lions can be like watching paint dry. But then I saw rain clouds coming and crossed my fingers.

    Sure enough it started to drizzle and with it movement. From nothing we had cubs playing, sharpening claws, and climbing. The adults tried to find shelter by our vans. The oldest male teen came out for a nibble and started calling on his way back and a couple of sneezes for good measure.

    There was another pride of lions at a buffalo kill on the other side of a very shrunken Lake Magadi. The pride was about seven strong. The view was not that good, probably just as well because they were totally covered in blood. They don’t show that on nature documentaries. Throw in about ten bull elephants, some quite close.

    A perfect day and sixteen lions! On the way out we stopped at the picnic place and nearly suffered a robbery by two vervets! We left about four in the afternoon so we missed lunch.
    Other animals
    Kori Bustard
    Crowned Cranes
    Abdims and white storks
    Spur winged goose
    Black bellied bustard

    I gave the guide ten thousand to get me some cokes and himself something to eat. I felt guilty about him missing his lunch. That evening there was an outdoor barbecue at the farm. The funny thing is that the dinners were all outside and it rained before, after but not during. It was the best meat that I tasted on the trip. I also got another sob story from my guide. I was very impressed with the farmhouse. What they sometimes lacked in experience they more than made up with enthusiasm, highly recommended. Staying there may entail a bit of hiking. The last few nights we had seen lightning to the west. Had it been raining in the Serengeti?

    Next the endless migration

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    The Saga continues...

    20 Feb
    Ngorongoro to Serengeti Sopa via Ndutu.

    At seven we departed for the Serengeti. Crossing the crater highlands we had amazing views of the Serengeti and beyond it was exceptionally clear. The whole area was a lot greener than last time, there had obviously just been rain. There were quite a few zebras grazing together with a few tommies. We did a left towards Ndutu instead of heading for Nabi. The whole stretch to Ndutu was very green/flat with loads of dispersed tommies and a few zebras. Our guide spotted two golden jackals feasting on half a tommy each.

    The area around Ndutu was still dry although the forest was green there we spotted a large pride of lions, dispersed under various trees. I think the pride was about seventeen strong. We also spotted another steenbok and savannah hare. The one thing missing was wildebeest. Our guide had been told that the migrations were arriving. He also explained how inexperienced drivers get lost around here. He then got himself lost! We tried to find a cheetah that he had been told about but no luck. We then came across a mobile camp and after getting directions we were again on our way. Lunch was eaten at the Ndutu lodge car park.

    After lunch we headed to Nabi gate completing the triangle. On our last safari this section was a lot drier but we had spotted two servals, not this time. At Nabi gate there was an interesting map showing the Serengeti together with areas that off-road driving is allowed. A few miles north of Nabi, we spotted a couple of safari vehicles by a small hillock. Turning of we were rewarded with some very fat lions. One a teen male was trying to drink from a puddle while trying to support his vast bulk! Another young female was panting away and three more were trying to get some shut-eye.

    From then on we started seeing herds and herds of wildebeest all heading in a southwesterly direction. Our guide told us by the time we came back this way they would all be gone. So we drove between Simba and Goll kopjes through thousands of wildebeest and arrived at the top of a gently sloping hill to see a panoramic view of the mass herds. Some groups had calves others did not. I did not think there was enough standing water in Ndutu to support a million odd wildebeest. So I was sceptical about the guides interpretation, but hey I’m no zoologist call it a feeling.

    Next we followed this little river, unfortunately I don’t remember the name, packed with at least a hundred reedbuck. Last trip no reedbuck this trip a hundred. We followed the river, stunningly beautiful till we spotted three safari vans, more lions. This was another large fat pride with cubs playing and drinking.

    On the drive to Sopa I spotted bat eared foxes, yelled at the driver to stop. Four bat eared foxes, our first ever, skittishly observing us from the long grass. Those long ears are clearly visible on the video. Further along driver and I spot something crossing the road. In my mind I’m wondering what it was, the guide said something, he said it again, still doesn’t register. Then he says it again, honey badger! I can still see it now snuffling through the vegetation at quite a rate of knots.

    We arrived as darkness fell at Serengeti Sopa. At reception we requested for a room near the dinning hall, less far for my Mother to walk. Stretched out briefly in the spacious suite before dinner. Good food and an early night. What a great start in the Serengeti thirty-seven lions and a honey badger!
    Other animals
    Green headed agama
    Dik dik

    21 Feb
    Sopa via Moru, Seronera to Lobo

    We had an early breakfast and then checked out unfortunately we were only spending the night here. Last time we were on safari we skirted quite a few kopjes and didn’t see anything. So this time we tried again at Moru kopjes. We drove towards them and found to our surprise quite a lot of game in the area. No sight of any Rhino but as our guide was speeding along I shouted stop and then scanned a kopje… lions! Spotted at three hundred paces. I was getting good at this. Finally a classic Lion king view of five lions. There were four more young lions dispersed around the hillock. For all we knew there might be another twenty on the other side, but our guide said he couldn’t drive round the other side. We could drive off road but not round the kopje, strange.

    Unbeknown to us our driver had heard on the radio of a lion kill so we rushed our lion sighting and zoomed off to the kill. There were two lions feeding on a recently deceased buffalo carcass. This was another great scene, two male lions, and two black backed jackals hanging around waiting their chance. The best bit was that one of the male lions was mane less! One of the males sated walked to a nearby kopje were we noticed more lions posing. Including an even better lion king shot. Lion, on boulder, on kopje amazing.

    We saw a few hyenas lazing about including one that was cooling his belly off? Then we drove off towards Seronera. Nearing Seronera we noticed parked safari vans in the long grass then, three cheetahs, no four as one pops his head up. Looking at the cheetahs I asked our guide what was going on. Tearing himself away from his bookkeeping he proclaims that it is a family group. Now I know Daddy and Mummy Cheetah with two kids only exists in Disney! So try again, a bachelor group? My personal interpretation was two bachelors trying to have their evil way with a female and teen was keeping his head down. The only thing certain our guide was loosing it.

    Stopped of for lunch at the Seronera visitors centre and ate our warm chicken. The picnic sat on the front seat uncovered since breakfast. We then set of and did a half lap of the Seronera circuit. Stopping when we saw clusters of safari vans we spotted a few lions under a tree. A couple of cheetahs under a tree. Then a leopard up one tree and a young cub up the other. It wasn’t the best view of a leopard we have had but as it turned out the only one on this safari. The highlight was the leopard calling to the cub and then climbing down the tree before disappearing in a gulley, caught on video. The cub half fell down the tree but we were videoing in the wrong position. I must say I was disappointed in Seronera it was very dry and there was a lot of vehicular traffic. On the last safari it was very green in comparison to the rest of the Serengeti and we near enough had the place to ourselves.

    We were shown Mbuze Mawe on our way north but apart from another Steenbok did not see much game. At about thirty miles from Lobo we went off road trying to spot “cheetahs as big as lions” we did not spot anything, not even lions the size of cheetahs! Nearing Lobo we started to spot a mixture of game including wildebeest. On our previous safari in October 04 we drove from Seronera to Lobo in the hope of seeing the migration. This we achieved together with the sighting of a large mixed pride of lions and a leopard and cub on the ground very close up. So although we only spent a few hours there we had very fond memories. Going there in February never in my wildest dreams did I expect to see masses of wildebeest. About one hundred and fifty metres from the lodge we spotted two very habituated klipspringers.

    At Lobo we were shown our room very near reception. The staff apologised that my Mother would have to climb two flights of stairs. The room was small but clean with an amazing view. The service was excellent. I went straight up to the kopje bar to enjoy the view. On the green plains below me were wildebeest, giraffes, impala, zebra, buffaloes, tommies, eland and topis to name a few. It was magnificent. On the kopje itself and around the lodge were hyraxes, agama lizards, vervets and Baboons. At dinner we were seated at a table near to the buffet so my Mother would not have to walk far. The food could have done with more cooking but the deserts made up for it.

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    I'm enjoying your report too, net warrior. "recently deceased buffalo" - I love it! I'm sorry about your guide - that's such a shame when the trip is so important to you and just another day to them. I look forward to hearing more about your trip.

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    Hi schlegal1

    Thank you.

    The honey badger was in silhouette crossing the road, it was a slight hill.

    but got it on video moving off through the undergrowth. It was quick but you can just about make out the white stripe along it's flank.

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    22 Feb

    Today was going to be our day off to just chill out. But our guide suggested we have an early morning game drive, we didn’t argue. After a good breakfast we were on the road again! The surrounding area was teeming with game, herds of the usual suspects grazing on the lush green grass. We drove to a small river, which I believe is a tributary of the Grumeti. This seemed to be the favourite watering hole for the local animals, very picturesque. Here we got to video a young wildebeest suckling.

    We drove along the river a few miles, when I spotted something on the opposite bank. Two lions! A male and female looking for lurvvee. Well the female was, the male was too knackered. No amount of tail wagging in the males face could tempt him. Our guide wanted us to wait and witness this disgusting deed, but we were to far away for a good porn video. (Actually we observed and filmed lions mating in Tarangire on our previous safari.) A few hundred meters further on I spotted a male lion disappearing into some bushes. The main pride was located. This was another big pride of thirteen lions and they were quite active, it was an overcast day. The other highlight was a reedbuck next to a kopje. I asked the guide if it was a mountain reedbuck, he said it was a bohors but what was it doing far from water next to a kopje?

    After lunch I relaxed on the kopje enjoying the view while my Mother wrote postcards. Lobo was the most expensive lodge for soft drinks 1500 shillings for a coke and a whopping 3000 for diet coke. For some reason semi skimmed coke was double the price of full fat. I soon switched when I noticed the price difference. I also visited the shop and walked out chocking when they said they wanted thirty-nine dollars for a T-shirt. That afternoon we both had a siesta before going back up to the viewing deck. It was interesting to see a herd of wildebeest forming up into single file to do their migration to the nearby watering hole. Then come back a few hours later and disperse.

    That evening during another chewy dinner I observed a group of elderly Americans who all seemed to be conversational in Swahili chatting to the staff as they were served. The headwaiter was making plans for dinner tomorrow. Apparently one hundred and forty five people were booked for that evening, the lodge only had beds for one hundred and forty. Six tables were going to be eating in the bar upstairs.

    Coming up next Lobo the soap opera with animals!

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    I have to agree with the others: your report is hilarious. And I haven't been up to Lobo but have heard it's a beautiful area--sounds like that is true.

    Interesting about the price of Cokes vs. Diet Cokes. Oh well, one more reason to drink wine.

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    23 Feb

    First order of business on waking was seeing a doctor. During the safari various tsetse bites had turned septic. I had one on my finger and one on my leg. Both swellings had stabilised apart from oozing puss. Now over the last few days a bite or bites on my wrist had first blistered then started suppurating with massive swelling on my hand and arm. I had tried to rubbing salt in the wound, the scary thing is that it didn’t hurt and it didn’t do much good either. At this stage I could hardly close my hand and was worried about loss of circulation and problems this would cause.

    At six thirty I went to the reception and asked for a doctor. The receptionist I believe one of the managers said not now. I said I just wanted to book an appointment, when could I see him? He said seven in my room. We were going on safari at eight but I thought this would still give me plenty of time. On the way to my room I saw our guide and told him the situation.

    Seven thirty still no Doctor! I go back to reception and speak to the guy who checked us in. Ten minutes later the Doctor appears. I said give me a jab of penicillin and get this over with. He was a young chap that spoke bad English very softly, just to compound the problem. From what I could gather I had an infection, I would not need an injection he would give me heavy-duty (broad spectrum) antibiotics. I said I was taking doxyxycline an antibiotic as malaria medication. After some misunderstanding he told me that it was mainly for throat stomach and genitalia. If I’d had gonorrhoea I wouldn’t have had a problem. So he dishes out antibiotics, painkillers, and anti histamine. He then proceeds to get a needle out! The “doctor” says that he is going to inject me with something to help my immune system. I observe him very closely as he unwraps the needle and fills it with two pipettes of liquid. He then injects me, wraps the wound and tells me to eat more fruit. After relieving me of fifty dollars he says he will see me this evening to follow up and redress my wounds.

    I was not in the best of moods when on the way to breakfast I spoke to my guide. He asked how I was, he said he wasn’t feeling well either, were we ready to go, it was nine and by the way the engine can’t be switched off. Apparently the only way the engine would start was by pushing the car so we would just drive around with the motor running surely not a problem. I stormed off to breakfast and quietly simmered while I ate. After breakfast I informed the guide that we had spent a lot of money on this safari, we didn’t fancy videoing with the engine running and my Mother who has mobility problem wouldn’t fancy a walking safari if we got stranded. My rant galvanised him into action and he said he would find me when it was sorted. At about ten thirty I was told the problem was fixed and we could now go on a drive I said no lets go this afternoon, it was late and we had an unscheduled drive the day before. I am not totally unreasonable.

    After lunch I sat on the Kopje and asked other safari goers what animals they had seen this morning. Six lion cubs with two females and one male. On the Kopje next to the lodge a leopard. One cheetah about eleven kilometres from the Lobo. I saw a couple of birds of prey fly over and heard the hyrax alarm call go out, then lots of disappearing hyrax’s. Seen the documentary but nothing beats it live!

    Our afternoon drive started at three after I had informed my guide of what we had missed that morning. This spurred our driver to cover a vast distance at high speed of course. The plains and hills in the distance were covered with grazers and returning from the circuit we drove by the same hills for an up close view. Y was desperately trying to spot a leopard but he did spot a lion pride, the same pride the others had seen earlier. We had the pride to ourselves till a Batchelor herd of Buffalo took an unhealthy interest in the frolicking lion cubs. The male was asleep and the two females tried to look nonchalant. One cub was observing the buffalo while the five others were climbing a downed tree unawares and or unconcerned. What would happen? I know from nature programmes that buffalo given the chance will kill lion cubs. After a few minutes (it seemed like hours) the buffalo slowly moved off. Maybe our presence tipped the scales in favour of the lions. We were in the right position to video the lioness’s with the buffalos moving into shot.

    There was also numerous eland but they are rather skittish and getting a decent shot of them looking natural was difficult but possible. There was also a definite sighting of a mountain reedbuck. Two black backed jackals were spotted skirting a hill covered with wildebeest. Also drove very close to a lone wildebeest calf and I think our van became surrogate till I put my hand out of the window. The calf realised its mistake and bolted to a reunion with mum, the real one!

    We got back to Lobo and started packing for our departure tomorrow. There was a knock on the door, the doctor was back to change my dressing. He then gets out a syringe and says I also need another injection. So I showed him my arm, which was two thirds black from the previous injection. The docs face was a picture! I thought he was going to run screaming from the room. Instead he mumbled that maybe another injection was not a good idea. I didn’t complain since I’m sure he was going to charge me another wad of cash.

    On the way to dinner, passing reception, there was a guest complaining about the lack of electricity after eleven, stating for his medical condition he needed twenty-four hour power. I don’t know how it was resolved, but if I had a pre-existing medical condition that required constant electricity I would stay in a lodge that had twenty-four hour electrics and a couple of back-up generators.

    We were interested to see how dinner would turn out because they were running out of food. Apparently they only had ten kilos of meat for one hundred and forty five people. The chef was threatening to quit,
    “How can I work like this?”
    So food aid from Seronera lodge was expected at six thirty for dinner at eight. Unfortunately the delivery arrived at seven thirty. I must admit the chefs did an amazing job with the limited resources available to them and dinner was rather good without tough meat to chew through. The service was also very efficient considering the amount of people eating. On the way back to the room I settled up the bill anticipating an early departure tomorrow. All the staff were very professional the management less so.

    Next go west

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    I have enjoyed your report, but now I am getting worried about your blackened arm.

    You saw 100 reedbucks? That's quite a feat.

    I agree that the wildebeest in the crater provide such up close and personal interactions.

    You have had some good sightings so far. Let's see what the west brings!

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    The black, oozing arm: uh, that's the kind of thing that keeps me up at night. Sounds like you and your mother are both made of hardy stock. I would have been a basket case by this point.

    At the same time, I find myself reading your various misadventures and thinking, "God, I love Africa." ;)

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    One arm was oozing and one arm was black. He put the injection in the other arm!

    The 100 reedbucks is no exaggeration. The river was definitely between Nabi and Seronera. I think it was east of the main road. Could have been the beginning of the Seronera river?

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    Wow - quite a report. I'm sorry to read about the poor guiding and camp management but it is quite compelling and at least you are being picked up by lots of lions and other species.

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    My wrist was back to normal in a week.

    24 Feb
    Lobo to M’balageti via Seronera

    After breakfast I handed back the room key only to be told by the boss to,
    No excuse me, have you settled the bill but wait. I nearly told him to @££$-off when the normal receptionist who I had settled up with came rushing over and apologised. It left a bad taste to an otherwise excellent stay. To be fair I think he had to vacate his room to accommodate the overbooking but that’s no excuse.

    We left Lobo at eight, our driver was telling us that he had also seen the Doctor and been diagnosed as suffering from stress! A nice thing to tell clients, he had been given some pills and he was now feeling much better. Twenty minutes out he asked if he brought the lunch boxes. I said that if I knew we had to get them ourselves I would have. So back to Lobo, we really couldn’t bare to leave! Rushing up the stairs to the bar I felt something go in my back but shrugged it aside in my efforts to get the lunch box. Sure enough they had no record that we were to have a lunch box. Our guide should have written it in a book and no I couldn’t take a lunch box. I spoke to the helpful headwaiter and explained the situation. He spoke to the people involved and told me to help myself. Then our guide turns up and the blame game starts, basically he blames everyone else.

    We left Lobo for the final time and speeded to Seronera. Saw a couple of lions lazing under a tree then a male pops his head, up a trio! There was another couple of cheetahs but they were some distance away. Then some parked safari vans alerted us to a large pride. Unfortunately we were on the wrong road, the lions were nearer to the road running parallel to us and that’s where the vans were situated.

    This is where luck plays it’s part. We were sitting on this road alone and out of position. The others cars were much nearer and had a better view. Then the lead female with a radio collar starts heading out walking straight past us. The others follow one by one, some sitting in the road in front of us before continuing. I am not sure if they were trying to hunt the buffalo in front of them, or they were returning to an earlier kill located out of view in a hollow. It could have been a hunt that turned into a scavenge when the potential lunch appointment bolted.

    We had our hard won picnic boxes at Seronera in the rain. This time I made sure that they were covered and cool. Over lunch our guide informed us that his “stress” was Malaria. I said he should take some medicine, he said he didn’t have any medicine. My sympathy rapidly exhausting I asked why he did not carry anti-malarial drugs as a precaution. He said he did but he had given them to someone else!

    We left Seronera for the western corridor. On our safari 04 we had passed this way going to Speke bay on lake Victoria. On that journey to the lake we saw practically no wildlife. On the way back we saw more, including a herd of more than thirty giraffes. We did not see any wildebeest except the one being eaten by Crocs in the Grumeti, quite a sight. So it was with some trepidation that now, in Feb, we were staying two nights in this area. Fortunately for us nobody told the wildebeest and other animals that they were in the wrong place!

    We came upon a huge herd of wildebeest with calves so our guide goes off-road and starts chasing them. I don’t know if he had been watching to many cowboy films, was taking his frustration out on the animals or trying to impress us, we weren’t.
    At another herd of wildebeest while my Mother was videoing I decided to get out of the car. The idea was an epic one, me standing surveying this vast herd framed by the lush green African landscape. The result more pythonesque!

    Near the banks of the Grumeti our guide spotted a lone female lion. Her whole neck had been sliced open by a snare. Our guide skirted the area then drove back to the lioness forcing her to move. My Mother and I were not very impressed by this. We then drove to M’Balageti so our guide could report the lioness to the park rangers. So much for reports on this board that the poaching problem has been resolved!

    The plains surrounding M’balageti were filled with animals feeding on the newly sprouted grasses. It was absolutely beautiful. We arrived at the camp welcome centre and were greeted with a cold drink. I was expecting our room to be one of the cheap ones (standard rooms) at the back of the dinning area. So I was very pleasantly surprised when we were shown into one of the tented rooms. What can I say the rooms were stunning and great attention was paid to the interior décor. There was even a pair of binoculars hanging by the writing desk. The contents were so nice that they do an inventory before you leave just in case any have fallen into your luggage. After settling in I went to see the camp manager. I told him about our guide’s Malaria and lack of medicine. He said that they stock anti-malarial drugs and would give him some.

    A Masai escorted us to the dinner pointing out any rocks that my Mother could potentially trip over. We were offered a drink before dinner (drinks are included) so we had a couple fruit juices. Dinner was a lavish Thai affair. While eating dinner I overheard the manager talking about Lobo. I suggested that they send the leftovers to Lobo in a doggie bag! He said for fifty dollars more than Lobo you can stay in the cheaper rooms here. But you wouldn’t be in Lobo! I have great affection for Lobo and although these tented camps give an idealised version of the early great white hunters I think Lobo and shortages are more the reality. Having said that a little luxury never hurts.

    We were escorted back by another Masai and slept wonderfully in crisp Egyptian cotton.

    25 Feb
    After an excellent breakfast we met our guide who was looking decidedly rough. I asked him about the Malaria medicine. He said since he had taken some at Lobo three days ago he couldn’t take any now. Now I’m no Doctor so I don’t know whether this was true or not but I did know his story had changed.

    We started our game drive when near to the turn off to the main western corridor road we noticed the M’Balageti open safari vehicle with the occupants looking at something. None of us could see anything so I asked the two French ladies what they were observing. Two cheetahs at a kill! At this point I asked my guide if Malaria affected his eyesight. This was our first ever cheetahs at a kill, eating a young wildebeest and we would have missed it. O.K. it was some distance away, but still.

    We then drove to the Grumeti River the very place we had last time witnessed the crocs eating the wildebeest. The scene was a lot more tranquil this time with the crocs doing their log impersonations. Next stop was the Grumeti airfield and some very relaxed giraffes. One very tall giraffe, after having a little munch, proceeded to lay down about twenty feet from us! We came across a large herd of elephants about fifty strong drinking at the Grumeti. Sadly we could not get nearer at that point. The highlight was a young monitor lizard that my Mother spotted. We also saw a hammerkop false mating. Our driver was obviously suffering so we asked him to drive us back.

    When we arrived we told the guide to take the rest of the day off. The idea was that we would take the afternoon game drive with the open camp vehicle and guide. The manager told us that it was all booked up that afternoon, so we resigned ourselves to a leisurely afternoon with game watching from our porch.

    Lunch was very good with good service. We sat outside on the balcony overlooking the plains dotted with thousands of topis, waterbuck and wildebeest with young, fantastic. The whole place was so green like a golf course with termite mounds. That afternoon I stalked the resident baboons with my video camera, payback. At four in the afternoon I was thinking of having a shower when a member of staff knocked to tell us our guide was ready to take us on a game drive.

    That afternoon will remain in my memory forever. Our guide obviously did not want to rush, taking every opportunity to put his seat back and rest. This made a change to his usual impatience. We drove off road to the middle of a massive flat space bordered on one side by forest and on the other hills. He stopped the engine I got out hiding initially behind the vehicle. It was magnificent. Loads of wildebeest, waterbuck, zebras, buffaloes, impala, tommies and warthogs all milling around us skittishly, that’s why I was hiding. This was Africa, this was something primeval, this was eden, this is me running out of adjectives.

    After an hour we decide to leave but not before our guide drove right up to ten strong herd of male buffaloes, that promptly charged us. It gets the adrenalin going ten buffaloes running after you. After much horn blaring and weaving by our guide they broke off and then were charged back to regain dominance. You don’t mess with old bulls.

    We could see rain clouds gathering so we started to drive back to the lodge. There was a nice double rainbow developing behind us as we drove. Back at the tent we carried on videoing the rainbow and its steady approach. We could see and smell the rain advancing but then at about three hundred meters out it stopped. Tonight was going to be barbecue, this was going to get interesting.

    It did drizzle on and off while I sat on the porch watching my final Serengeti sunset. I should mention while the tents are situated to give a reasonable amount of privacy. From the porch you can see right into the frosted shower cubicle window of the tent to the left. Now the Frenchman in that tent was practicing his photographic technique on his wife who was having a shower. I think they were late for dinner.

    Dinner was a little late getting started because of the weather. We sat inside and asked for the flaps to be raised, so we could enjoy the light and sound show outside. Lightning and thunder all around as we ate our various meats fresh of the barbi. Next was a floorshow by the Masai. Just after they marched in and started jumping, our waiter leaned over and whispered,
    “Shall I send them back out?”
    I said yes, laughing, the waiter had climbed in my esteem. A Masai and a ranger armed with a rifle walked us back that evening.

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    So glad your arm healed. Your report had me laughing at loud several times. Sorry you experienced less than stellar guiding but it is nice you chose to make the best of each situation and appreciate the wonders of Africa.

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    The perfect traveler - you packed your sense of humor, even in some trying situations. Festering bites, lack of food, a guide with malaria. But you had some amazing animal encounters.

    And do tell, isn't the view from Mbalageti onto the Serengeti - amazing? Like you, when I saw those emboidered pillow shams knew that management would have to watch that these didn't depart with their guests. Did you have a chalet/tent on the sunrise or sunset side?

    Great report. Now, it's time for photos.

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    Thanks Sandi
    You should be so lucky I'm not finished yet.

    It'll be video and video stills no pics. Need to find some web space.... Just checked the video, tent was on the sunset side. It was a brilliant view but Lobo was slightly better.

    Thanks atravelynn
    We saw lots of animals in beautiful surroundings.
    The guiding got worse before it got better!

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    I look forward to the rest of the report - you certainly do have a great sense of humour! And, as Sandi said, you packed it along with you - kudos to you for that, I am a very calm person and I am not sure even I could have remained calm with your guide!
    Dying to read the rest so that I can get this report in the trip index before - ohmigosh! - we leave one week today!

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    26 Feb
    M’Balageti to Manyara

    In the morning there were waterbuck bedded down in front of our tent.
    While having breakfast we were informed that the river was impassable due to the swollen river and a fallen tree. Now let me explain, we were told on one of the game drives that sometimes the river rose and when this happened a walking swing bridge is used. The guests can cross the river the vehicles can’t. But what if this happens while the vehicles are at the lodge, nothing is the answer.

    We met our guide who was aware of the situation and also suffering very badly from Malaria. He wanted to get out of here and get to Manyara Serena for medical treatment, Rangers had been informed and a new guide would meet us at Manyara. In the meantime we would be driving a long and tricky stretch with a driver delirious with fever. Of course we didn’t want to be stuck so I asked the lodge manager for advice. He suggested that my Mother drive. Now my Mother is a very good driver, but she has never driven a landcruiser four-wheel drive in Africa.

    But at the moment we were stuck and the two French ladies had missed their flight from Grumeti airfield. One of the ladies was philosophically meditating at/to the view while she waited. There are definitely worse places to be stranded. After about an hour it says over the radio that someone has managed to cross the river. So off we all go.
    My main disappointment with M’Balageti was not the lodge itself, but that the Ndoha plains are to the south. According to the official guidebook there are Roan antelope there, but the area is fairly inaccessible. I asked on this notice board, I asked the guide a few times if it is possible to see Roan but I never got an answer.

    One safari van in front of us crossed the river and he made it, now it was our turn. We forded the river slowly but successfully. We were free. I decided to pop the roof in view of the driver’s condition and my back went. I was in agony. Every bump and jolt translated to agony in my back. We stopped briefly I took a couple of painkillers, propped a travel pillow into my back to isolate myself. Driving off again I joked that I would be all right as long as we didn’t hit any bumps on the way. Luckily my back calmed down after a mercifully short while, thank God. On the way we saw another large herd of elephants next to the road. After stopping a couple of minutes Y drove of saying the elephants were dangerous??

    At Seronera we had one last scout for a Leopard. Driving along the riverbank the guide suddenly stopped the car and got out. He drives off saying he thought he heard something wrong with the car. This happens twice more but Y can’t see anything wrong. Suddenly I feel a judder and say there is something wrong with the wheel. He gets out and looks at the wheel for the first time. It has practically sheared off! The wheel could have fallen off any second luckily we were on the flat. Y changed the tyre I cannot help (bad back) but I get out to enjoy the scenery. On foot in Seronera! There was an acacia bush in full bloom with loads of butterflies, great stuff. I kept my eyes peeled for any hidden leopards or lions but didn’t see any.

    Thankfully for our guide we had been pretty late entering Nabi so leaving was no problem. It just takes ages, time I used to video some of the field mice scampering about. South of Nabi there were still thousands of wildebeest heading southwest. So much for our guides prediction. We rushed all the way to Ngorongoro Serena arriving about two. The driver asked how long we needed for lunch, twenty minutes, half an hour? He was ill we were hungry and also needed to build up our courage for the next leg of the journey. After a nice lunch, a final look over the caldera. There were still showers within the crater. Next was a very scary journey round the crater rim. I think it is criminal for anyone in that state to be allowed to drive this section. It’s bad enough at the best of times. Finally thank god we exited the NCA and we were on the good road. I have never been so happy as when we arrived at Manyara Serena in one piece, well nearly in one piece!

    At reception we asked for a central room and after mentioning that we had stayed there previously they gave us the top floor room overlooking the escarpment and the swimming pool. Our guide said that he would wait for his replacement and then do a formal handover. After settling into our room I went back and gave the guide thirty dollars to be getting on with. We did not have enough dollars for the tip and we had not discussed how much he would get. Finally a tip amount was agreed, too be paid in euros, which had a very good rate at Serena. Interestingly at most of the lodges you would get a better exchange rate with sterling than the dollar equivalent. When I got to reception I asked about our guide and was told that he was in bed with a drip, malaria and tonsillitis. His tip would have to wait.

    We listened to the local church choir give a recital by the pool. African singing perched on the rift valley while sipping a drink on the balcony, bliss. Down below was a very shrunken lake. Then saw how a dust cloud started forming which grew till it finally obscured the lake and started to drift up the escarpment.

    At the buffet dinner we thought we recognised the headwaiter. I went up to him and asked if he had been working here two and a half years and before that was he at Mountain village. After he said yes I introduced him to my Mother. He was so pleased that we remembered him and I think he finally remembered us. Back at reception I met our new guide Agrippa.

    27 Feb

    On our last safari to Tanzania Manyara National Park had been a bit of a letdown. To be fair we entered the park quite late and left at lunchtime. We did see some fantastic elephants close up, some actually scraping passed the van. The hypo pool was also amazing, hundreds of hypos in and out of the water fighting and mating.

    So on this safari we had decided on two game-drives morning and afternoon. Our new guide informed us of starter problems so no switching off the engine, great.
    Y had not told Agrippa about the van problems, although I did notice the damaged strut of the pop roof had been patched up.

    What a difference a guide makes! Agrippa drove through the park slowly and smoothly spotting animals before I did (makes a change). He saw a bushbuck, some blue monkeys, baboons and waterbuck. There were many of elephants feeding close to the road. We saw a fish eagle perched nearby, but due to the van vibrating the video did not do it justice. My Mother started to get bitten on her feet she was wearing sandals. From her level of discomfort I can only surmise that she had been bitten by fire ants. We drove all the way to Maji Moto for the first time. Nearby we saw some klipspringers. I walked down to scald my fingers in the hot water observing the zebra, buffalo and giraffes on the plains.

    We drove much faster on the way out of the park. Interestingly all the elephants seemed to have disappeared. At Serena there was another good buffet lunch eaten at leisure while lake and bird watching. The lodge is a bird watchers paradise and unfortunately this time, I did not have the time to walk round the gardens. The old guide was waiting for us, so he got his tip and a good one considering. Y said he was much better and was now going home. He said that he would pop in to see us at Kigongoni. Yeah right!

    At three O’clock Agrippa and I went for another game drive. My Mother was still nursing her foot. Our guide told me that he had fixed the starter. And it worked till he switched off the engine! Luckily he was on a hill at the time. This time only one elephant, a bull chewing on a recently downed tree. We saw some more bushbuck, dik dik and warthogs. Yes you can see the whole park in half a day but not necessarily the animals within it.

    Our guide drove alongside a river, on the other side of the road were hundreds of metres of acacia bush, bundled like barbed wire. In this God forsaken place the engine stalled, we were stuck. But not for long, another van came along and bump started us. Between the river and marshes were four female lions in full view.

    The wind had been whipping up the dust again and I could now see a massive cloud obscuring the escarpment. It was nice to see this process from the bottom up. We then drove to the hypo place, I got out of the car and started looking for hypos, just a couple, saw buffalos wallowing in the swamps, some spoonbills and a goliath heron. I then turned round and realised I could see the four lions from here! Being on foot and looking at lions, cool. O.K. they were a hundred metres away. On the drive back we saw a silver cheeked hornbill and at the picnic spot near the main gate there was a troop of baboons sitting there like they were having a picnic.

    At dinner I stepped out for a nicotine fix. The drought at Manyara was breaking. One of the young staff was explaining rather graphically with obvious glee how when it rains ground floor rooms sometimes get visitors, scorpions, and very rarely snakes. I told him that in South Africa I had a scorpion crawling on my bed. With a chuckle I returned to dinner just in time to see the lights dimmed and a procession of the staff with a cake. It was obviously someone’s birthday and last time my Mother was on the receiving end. Whose birthday was it? They finally arrive… at our table? On the cake it says welcome back. All the dinning room staff at our table were singing away and all the other guests looking at us bemused. A very nice touch!

    Next Kigongoni R&R and final thoughts

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    28 Feb
    Manyara to Arusha Kigongoni

    That night it poured down and we awoke to see three lakes. Purchased a Serena t-shirt from the gift shop and left around eight. Just as the car descended the precipice a family of warthogs decided to leave the park by crossing the road. The traffic in the road made them pause for thought and they quickly returned from whence they came.

    We arrived an Arusha, it was very close and heavy with diesel fumes, yuck. Next there was a stop off at Rangers head office, while our guide confirmed our airport transfer. We sat in this van with the engine belching out diesel fumes. Remember the engine couldn’t be switched off. Tiredness, the heat, and the fumes combined to make us feel quite unwell. Then one of the managers enquired how we were. How did he think we felt sitting in a clapped out old van with an engine that could not be switched off. He beat a hasty retreat.

    Lunch was at the Arusha hotel. The hotel seemed very busy but efficient. It was nice to see the centre of Africa outside the hotel. But apart from that we were too ill and tired to make an informed impression of the hotel. In the gardens I nearly fell over a large bullfrog doing a rock impersonation. It started to rain just after lunch and this cleared the fumes a bit. We then drove to our final destination for the next four days Kigongoni Lodge.

    The lodge is situated on a hill with panoramic views of Mount Meru and very occasionally (once) Mount Kilimanjaro. Kigongoni means on a hill. It has eighteen huts dotted around in beautiful formal gardens. We had a hut that was just below the dinning, reception and bar area. The huts were very nice, large and clean. The bathroom had both a walk in shower and a bath. No spiders.

    There were lots of birds, squirrels and also some vervet monkeys. It was nice to spend time watching the monkeys as they bounded from tree to tree. Also had a close encounter when one stole my Mothers bananas from the dinning table. Watching birds is very relaxing trying to video them is very stressful1.

    The food was very good and plentiful. The only time standards dropped is when there was a buffet. Then the choice and quality declined in my opinion. You could always have their very good home grown coffee and this was free. It was a nice quiet place to recuperate from the rigours of the safari.

    On our final day I took an escorted walk with a guide. This was very good and I got to see Lake Duluti and Mountain Village. We walked through an avenue of jacaranda trees that in October/November must look absolutely stunning. It was a great walk with both rural and village scenery a nice ending to Tanzania. Highly recommended.

    The manager allowed us to keep our room till we left for the airport.
    We were driven to the airport in a brand new landcruiser!

    So how did this Safari compare to the last one?
    The northern circuit was much, much busier this time but being away from Seronera we had the place near enough to ourselves, with the exception of Ngorongoro.
    Due to the drought and the late rains game was abundant in areas that should have been empty. So we were very, very lucky.
    We saw heaps more animals this trip and I don’t just mean wildebeest. I mean grazers in general. It also meant that we did not have much of a rest between sightings.
    At least 117 different lions
    Leopards 2
    Cerval 1
    Cheetahs 14
    Klipspringers 10
    Steenbucks 7
    Reedbuck 100+
    Bat eared foxes 4
    Bushbuck 12
    Ratel 1
    Rhinos 2
    Mountain reedbuck 1 maybe 2
    Loads of elephants and bull elephants. Fantastic behaviour.

    There is something immensely satisfying in spotting your own game almost on a primeval, instinctual level. I was also fortunately, quite good at it. But that’s not the point.The only wildlife disappointment, leopards, we should have seen more. On the last safari we saw 5. But I am not a good enough spotter to check ground and trees at the same time.

    All the lodges were of a good standard and some exceptional. The only real disappointment in accommodation was Moivaro. I must also state that we got all the lodges that we were promised, no last minute surprises. Our guide was not very good. He couldn’t spot game. He lost interest very quickly. He drove far to fast. He was not exactly sympathetic to animals or us for that matter. He didn’t have any feeling for photography and would stop at the worst place. Then he got ill. Or was he sick to start with? On the plus side he did put the hours in and he knew the roads/track/animals.

    The landcruiser was a disgrace, old, constantly breaking down and badly maintained. Our guide rarely cleaned it out. Rangers is a big organisation, it should have some contingencies for things going wrong i.e. staff illness and breakdown. There is none. Or we did not see any evidence of any. The mark of a good company is not when things go right but when things go wrong and how they react. They didn’t.

    Complaints were made to both African Safaris Direct and Rangers. I did get a snivelling e-mail from African Safaris Direct saying don’t blame us. We paid them the money so yes they have a responsibility. Since then I have not received anything from Rangers or African Safaris Direct.

    Thanks for your patience. I will try to post some images/video.

    Any questions?

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    Net warrior your report was just brilliant I really felt I was re living your experiences with you. I'm glad you saw so much, and I must say your report really confirmed my suspicians that a guided vechile for a whole trip can be a poisoned chalice - if you don't get on it's like inviting a stranger to go on holiday with you. Thank you so much for the whole report I hope to repay you with similar after my Tanzania trip in August

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    Thank you net warrior. Very glad to read in your last bit that Kigongoni didn't have any spiders on your visit. Do remember there was a post about someone staying and having spiders in room when returned from meal.

    For Kigongoni what would you recommend doing for the morning and afternoon on our last day. We will stay the evening at the end of our trip, have the whole next day and then depart out 21:55 in evening from Kilimanjaro Airport. Thought about walking the grounds, relaxing, horseback riding - or a day trip to Arusha NP with hiking (little bit) on Mt Meru. Do hope we have a chance to see Mt. Kili. Any room recommendations for Kigongoni?


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    Hi Lovetodiscover
    I find safaris very tiring, more mentally than physically. Senses on overdrive eight to ten hours a day. The excitement/adrenalin keeps me going and when I hit Kigongoni that was it, rest time.

    So you may just want to sit by the pool enjoy the view and relive what you have just seen.

    But if you still have energy...
    The guided tour was very good.
    The guide is also the driver for the lodge.
    Which leads me to Arusha NP an overlooked gem.
    What I have heard about but not done is a 4 W drive up the side of Mount Meru, that would be cool.
    Horse riding pass...
    Room can't recommend any in particular. They will walk you to the room. Check out the room and the view from the patio Meru or Kili, also check for spiders (couldn't resist). If you don't like ask for another.

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    net warrior,
    Thanks for your trip report. I too felt like I was right there with you, blackened arm and all ;) Sorry to hear your disappointment with your guide and vehicle from Ranger.

    Your best chances of seeing Kili is in the early morning or early evening hours. During the day, it's usually obscured by cloud cover.

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