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Everything posted by Atravelynn

  1. Don't they say bad things happen in 3's? That means you're done with the bad and ready for good stuff only. Lake Manyara was a success and really looked like a lake. Birdlife flourishing.
  2. Do the eles congregate more at the river or the swamp in March? Is 9:30 - 10:00 am still a good time to find eles coming to the Tarangire River, or further south, heading into the swamp? Or is there no pattern to the eles' movements during the green season with more abundant water all over? Do you know if the animal panorama on view from the Tarangire Safari Lodge is present midday in March, as it is in the dry season? I have some friends considering Tarangire in March and I wanted to advise them, but I've never been at that time. Thanks!
  3. "we are looking to do a self drive" Having visited both Namibia and Botswana several times but never self driving, I'd say Namibia for self drive and budget. "best wildlife," The waterholes of Nambia attract huge numbers. The variety may be slightly higher in Namibia, for example you can see both Hartman's Mountain Zebra in Nambiai's Western Ethosha and Damaraland and Burchell's Zebra all over Ethosha. You can see black and white rhino in Etosha and Damaraland (and track them in Damaraland) while there are small isolated population rhino populations in Botswana. Namibia has the only feral horses in Africa, in Aus. The quality of wildlife sightings was a bit higher in Botswana, and I saw more cats in Botswana, but those sightings were staying in areas that were quite a bit more expensive than where I stayed in Namibia. "scenery" The red sand and dunes of Namibia are world renowned and found only in Namibia. Damaraland has its own unique red rock vistas. But then the Botswana's Okavango Delta is also unique in the world. The desert pans in Botswana also have a stark beauty. "and roads to drive on" Namibia's roads are excellent and well marked. In the parks they were excellent to good. In Botswana, when I was driven between destinations, we got mired in sand a couple of times. The roads were more often paths in Botswana than in Namibia. Botswana offers a more remote and secluded feeling than Namibia, but that is based on camps that I flew to, not drove to. Seclusion comes with a cost. Either Namibia or Botswana is a fabulous wildlife destination. But when I see self-drive and budget as goals, it is Namibia that first comes to mind. Please return with more specifics as your trip planning progresses.
  4. Hope things pick up for Marrick. For anybody that travels as much as you do, it's almost a given that a bad experience with company and guide is out there somewhere. The goal is to not let it ruin your trip. I think you have succeeded so far. And you are alerting the rest of us. Thanks!
  5. Wow, what a first entry. So sorry about your Granddad. On your safari, what a stressful situation. Looking forward to those blue cranes. I found them and they are rather surreal looking. Your whole trip was a bit surreal. The photos don't reveal the troubles you had.
  6. What dates? Mana Pools in B &W, very artistic! Love the hippos outside the tent. Great question: Who is tracking who? You chose well in company and location!
  7. "The chimps stayed way up in the trees and often covered their faces or were partially hidden by branches." I think that is typical for many chimp trekking experiences, especially in newly habituated troops. But you got some great shots of the chimps. I think I saw a cat in the Euphorbia.
  8. Those lion cubs make the delay and the relocation all worth. They were waiting for you to arrive on your altered itinerary. That must have been disrupting to be delayed a day by rain and then change your camp location. But credit to Doug for making a smooth revision. On safari, 99% of the time it always works out well. Looks like it did for you. Such brilliant green after the rain. That's a nasty gash on the face of the lioness. But they are tough creatures!
  9. 9 years it has been? Does not seem that long ago that you were recounting your African tales. Laughed at the Black Friday sale. I feel like I saw those same hyenas at the same waterhole as your photos show. From the top of the vehicle to the lawn chairs to sitting in the grass, you experienced such a special place from all levels. Gorgeous herd of sable too!
  10. The rainbow does not mean that the wait for rain was over, wishes fulfilled. Distant showers bathed the crater, not Ndutu. I was told that when you see a rainbow on the horizon you won’t get rain anytime soon where you stand. Those words proved accurate. Itinerary – February 2017 7 total nights Ndutu (Njozi Camp), split in the middle by 3 nights Kusini (Kimondo Camp) 6 Depart Chicago on KLM 7 Arrive JRO, o/nt Tulip 8, 9, 10 Ndutu at Njozi Camp. 7-ish hour drive from Arusha. Njozi indoor dining area, as lovely as the outdoor area 11, 12, 13 Kusini at Kimondo Camp. 1.5 hour drive from Njozi Camp View from Kusini, Ngorongoro Mountains in background 14, 15, 16, 17 (back to) Ndutu at Njozi Camp 1.5 hour drive from Kimondo Camp Njozi tent. Njozi means dream and it was very comfortable for sweet dreams. 18 Ndutu to JRO, depart on KLM. 7.75-ish hour drive from Njozi Camp 19 Arrive Chicago, KLM This itinerary split a week in Ndutu into two stays, with a 3-day gap between. I was trying to be in Ndutu close to the start of the rains and then return for what is traditionally peak birthing time in mid-February. Kusini, also excellently located for green season travel, divided the two Ndutu segments. We were out each day about 12 hours with packed breakfast and lunch, as has always been the approach with The Wild Source in Feb and March in Ndutu/Serengeti. We usually ate lunch outside of the vehicle and stretched our legs. There were even lawn chairs to sit on. (Of course, you don’t have to be out 12 hours/day; it’s just a nice option.) George was the guide from the 8th to the 14th. Deo was the guide from the 15th to the 18th. Both were marvelous throughout. Great guides and great guys! This split-Ndutu approach was also used by @FlyTraveler this past Feb. We tried to meet in Ndutu but did not manage it. As you can see by the map, Kusini is in Southern Serengeti, and it even means “south” in Swahili. It was a good itinerary, even if the rains did not cooperate. In Nov-Dec, rain was sparse. Then after what seemed a promising start in late Jan-early Feb, the spigot was shut off. Instead of lush, green habitat, we had dry, often dust-blown conditions. This is Lake Ndutu, its entire perimeter captured in this NON-panoramic shot. Very little water. “The sky is practicing cloudy,” is The Quote of the Trip, and was originally provided by a Botswana guide back in August 2005. Most every afternoon was cloudy practice overhead, but the clouds always dissipated by nightfall and no rain. Evidence of “the sky is practicing cloudy.” Unfortunately, no rain followed. Ndutu. Despite these arid conditions, within 45 minutes of entering Ndutu, we saw 10!! cheetah!! Two families of a mother and 4 cubs boost duma totals quickly. Those 10 represented about a third of our total cheetah sightings this trip (some were the same cats seen more than once). Mother and 4 nearly adult cubs, Ndutu Pile ‘o sleeping cheetah, Ndutu The second cheetah family of four had younger cubs. Mother and 4 approx 4-month old cubs, Ndutu One of the approx. 4-month old cubs, Ndutu We encountered the mother with four near adult cubs again in a situation that was both record setting and appalling. The record setting occurred when 2 males appeared, paying close attention to the family. There could soon be several females of interest for the males between the maturing female cubs and the mother, who would be receptive again when her cubs left. The result was 7 cheetah in one view. A coalition, plus! 7 cheetah can be counted – a mother & 4 near-adult cubs plus two males. Seen on the plain halfway between big marsh and small marsh Mother cheetah checking out the intruding males 3 of 4 near adult cubs and Mom The appalling part was that a hot air balloon landed illegally right where these 7 cheetah were milling about, and then the crew proceeded to set up the breakfast table. George pointed out they were not allowed to do that. “The wind pushed us,” was their excuse. Yeah, right. Mother Cheetah had enough to worry about with the gentlemen callers and did not need a balloon safari to contend with. Fortunately, all the cheetah seemed to ignore the entire balloon affair and distanced themselves with an air of disdain. Note the family is more interested in the male cheetahs (out of the frame) than the balloon behind them. to be continued
  11. I ran into several first time visitors to Asilia's Kimdondo. I would recommend it if: - it fits easliy into their budget. - especially if they are a group of 6 who would likely have their own vehicle, also likely to have own vehicle with 4. Even with 2 sharing, would still recommend. - if they also have time in Ndutu because Kimondo (located in Kusini) can be more hit and miss with migration (and it was a miss when I was there but still great stuff) than Ndutu. I would not let Kimondo substitute for Ndutu, unless there are quite a few nights in Kimondo to allow arrangements/permits to be secured in advance to travel to Ndutu, right next door, maybe just 30 minutes away to the border of it. - if they either allow enough time at Kimondo to go to Central Serengeti, which is a very full daylong trip or if they also have 2+ nights in Central Serengeti or at least closer to Central like maybe Asilia's Dunia, But it does not have to be an Asilia camp, there are many camps further north, nearer to Central. For a first time visitor, the Seronera River area is good to see unless they are adamant about avoiding crowds at all costs. One other thing I really like is about 45 minutes game drive north from the Central Serengeti--the Retina Hippo Pool. Lots of hippos and lots of smell. But worth it for 30 minutes to many hours, depending on your interest and olfactory lobes. Kimondo Camp itself and its picturesque location--with the potential to be spectacular if the wildes are around--means there is nothing not to love about Kimondo!
  12. If time and money permit, yes I would always do it. As @mapumbo mentions, flying in winter is one more reason for an extra day. When time and money don't permit an extra day, sometimes I try to structure things so that missing Day #1 of activities or travel is not a disaster. Hold onto that cap, CR!
  13. Exactly!
  14. I'll check out your sites and sightings in the meantime.
  15. I'll be very interested in Umani Springs and Ithumba! "No problems whatsoever" is what we all want!
  16. I assume you want it to read Mana Pools and not Mana Spool. Right? We are all impressed with the cheetah walk!
  17. The lioness gave up her dinner so you could get some magnificent stampeding shots! Remind me, did you contact Gamewatchers directly for your Mara trips? Was 8 days to take advantage of their special? Thanks!
  18. You can certainly post the itineraries you have been given here, with or without costs or names fo the operators, for more comments/advice. There are a lot of options but that just means many possibilities and also more reasons to return. It's not like there is one perfect itinerary and you have to sift through to find it. There are many great itineraries, all with tradeoffs.
  19. I am sorry for the loss of your father-in-law. You are better at spotting those first cheetahs than I was. Maybe I should start all of my client-agent interactions with; "I don't think that we can afford this, but give it a go and we'll see what we can do" Sept can mean fire and haze and your aerial photo proves it. Even without the lions that Mango and White Chocolate Cannelloni would make the whole trip worthwhile.
  20. If you are concerned about being stranded, @Dawnvip ask your agent directly. Also you could post the agent here and others could comment on whether they've done border crossings with them. Skipping Amboseli may be a good idea but if you really want to try for photos of Kili, then skipping could be a disappointment. If you skipped Amboseli, then I'd go to Zanzibar not Mombassa. If you stayed only in Kenya, I'd try do do the Mara later in the trip rather than earlier in the trip. You may also wish to talk with 2 or 3 TO's as each have their pet properties with deals and different approaches. Plus perhaps different pricing. Whatever you decide, you'll have 3 weeks in East Africa in June, so you'll have a great trip.
  21. @Amylovescritters I will be most interested in your report on April weather in those locations. That time of year intrigues me due to fewer people, dramatic weather, and discounts!
  22. Where the cheetah cubs romp is a take-off on the Namiri Plains slogan, “Where the Big Cats Roam.” Romping in Makao Plains, Ndutu. Mother and a pair of 3-ish month old cubs. Romping in Namiri Plains. Three cubs about 8 weeks old. But the Namiri romps were often viewed at a great distance because off-roading has been suspended in the Namiri Plains area and only one road through the middle of the area can be used. My visit was March 1-4, 2016. Sometimes they romped in trees. Ndutu. Sometimes the romped with Mom. Ndutu. Sometimes their romps included not only with, but on their food. Ndutu. After romping, the focus was on nyama nourishment. Ndutu. Then some nursing. Ndutu. And finally nap time. Ndutu.

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