SafariChick

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Everything posted by SafariChick

  1. @AKR1 Yes, I was glad to see Trump's tweet (didn't think I'd ever say I was glad to see any of his tweets, actually) saying: Hopefully he does not decide to go back on this again!
  2. I think it would be great if we had some kind of calendar that would show which of us is traveling where and when as it is so hard to keep track of from the threads. But of course this is tragic whether or not we "know" the people involved. I found an article with a little more information at least on nationalities: Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5093567/Eleven-dead-including-Americans-Tanzania-plane-crash.html#ixzz4yjO1HvmM
  3. Oh no. Seems we rarely hear of this kind of thing happening in Africa, considering we know how many of these small planes are flying around all the safari countries every day. But how terribly tragic.
  4. @jeremie I understand. Just know you have an audience here who'd love to see them if you are able to do it!
  5. Just got a chance to read this report @jeremie and really enjoyed it. Stunning photos!! So sorry about Karina's eye - I wear contacts and do always wear them on safari because I hate wearing glasses, especially in heat and sun. I bring wetting drops everywhere as my eyes do get dry but never thought of it leading to an infection - I'm so glad she didn't lose the eye but very upsetting experience, it sounds like. Did you ever get to process the baby otter photos you mentioned?
  6. Love the wet elephants, @madaboutcheetah - especially that first close-up shot of the one with foliage on its tusk! Nothing like eles in water! And the leopard cub is just beautiful! Also, cool shots of the lions hunting warthog.
  7. Wonderful photos @BonitaApplebum - takes me back to my wonderful stay in Mana Pools. So glad you got to see the legendary Boswell and great to hear he is well and still doing his thing.
  8. Loved this report @gatoratlarge - such good sightings and as you said such a variety of wildlife you saw! So jealous of the pangolin and aardvark! Thanks for sharing all this!
  9. @Botswanadreams I am enjoying this report very much and also just looked at part 1 of the German version (translated as I do not speak much German!) I am curious about the Alledeghi Game Reserve part of your trip: how much time did you spend there? It is a shame you could not find the wild ass but I am sure they are hard to find under the circumstances.
  10. I highly recommend you consider staying at http://www.fivevolcanoesrwanda.com/ - we stayed there in February and it was great but reasonable. Maybe more than Mountain Gorilla View but way less than Sabyinyo or Virunga. Very good food, rooms modern and beautiful, great service. You can read about it in my report in post 9 and see a few photos:
  11. Lovely leopard @madaboutcheetah and great to see the cubs from last year. The male lions certainly has a glorious mane and you got some super shots of it! Sweet bonding photos of the lionesses as well.
  12. @madaboutcheetah these photos are all terrific, as usual, but I especially love that first and last shot of the cheetahs in post # 15 - I love the way the cheetah on the viewer's right is looking so intently at his brother. They seem very intimate and I feel like these photos really show the closeness of their relationship.
  13. Yup. Totally, @lmonmm And you may have heard that after Chad was put on the travel ban list, they pulled their troops out of Niger, where they'd been fighting Boko Haram. Rachel Maddow is making a connection to the four U.S. soldiers killed in Niger just days after Chad pulled out and all that having something to do with why Trump has been so reluctant to talk about those men losing their lives. Wow. What a mess he created. Short video clip below:
  14. Hmm - this is interesting as to one of the reasons Chad got ON the travel ban in the first place: they ran out of passport paper? https://www.cbsnews.com/news/chad-donald-trump-travel-ban-partly-due-to-passport-paper-shortage/?ftag=CNM-00-10aac3a
  15. Thanks @gatoratlarge it is fun for me every time I look at these photos and remember how great these encounters were. I already want to go back - with the new price point it will be more challenging but I hope to go back some day.
  16. Ok, that title is misleading - I will admit up front that there were not really any tears, though there were some aches, pains and stinging nettle encounters! But all well worth it!! However, I am getting ahead of myself. By the way, this is part II of the recent trip taken by me and Mr. Safarichick to celebrate our 20th anniversary. The trip took place in February 2017 and part I can be found here: http://safaritalk.net/topic/17178-into-thin-air/ We arrived in Rwanda quite late, around 12:20 a.m., having taken a 10:45 p.m. flight from Addis Ababa. The flight, on Ethiopian Air, was remarkable in that we had our tickets and seat assignments for many months in advance but, when we boarded, a woman with a baby was in one of our seats. When we pointed this out to the flight attendant, she said “oh, yes, but she has a baby. You can sit somewhere else”!! Somewhere else meant back of the plane – our seats had been the front row! She said “the plane is not full so it doesn’t matter.” Very interesting way of viewing things! But it was a short flight, so not a big deal. @@amybatt and I went back and forth a lot before our respective trips as to whether it was necessary or helpful to get a visa for Rwanda in advance. I became convinced that it was a good idea to try because arriving after midnight it would make life easier to have one less thing to worry about once we arrived. Actually getting the visas online was quite a chore, requiring multiple attempts when the credit card wouldn’t go through but finally it did work. When we got to Rwanda, though, the line for visa holders was longer than the one for those trying to get visas and it ended up seeming like it would have been much easier to get them on arrival. That’s what I would recommend for anyone else going to Rwanda. We used Umubano Tours (also used by @@michael-ibk but who we first heard of from the report of @BonitaApplebum). We were met outside by a cheerful energetic fellow whose name now escapes me. He was only assigned to take us to our hotel – our real driver/guide would be Bosco. We requested Bosco because BonitaApplebum had spoken so highly of him. Our driver that night took us to the Manor Hotel and made sure we got checked in ok. As we drove through the streets of Rwanda at night I was impressed with how clean and quiet and safe it appeared. I was also impressed with the traffic lights that did countdowns to show you how much longer they would be red or green. Why can’t we have that in the U.S.? The Manor hotel was fine – we were only there for about 8 hours as we were being picked up at 9 a.m. In the morning, there was breakfast included which was a buffet. Mr. S. wanted some butter to put on his pancakes but we could not find any. We tried asking the staff but they could not understand what “butter” was. We kept saying “for the pancakes.” (They also did not seem to have any syrup despite the sign in the room advertising breakfast options in the room included pancakes with “Marple Syrup” which is apparently an item found in a traditional European breakfast ): Finally, I suggested Mr. S. look up the word for butter in Kinyarwanda, the language of Rwanda, which he did – and he then tried to say the word, and also showed the staff a photo of butter. That apparently did the trick, and they led him to some little packets we had seen earlier which were simply labeled “Roquefort.” The only Roquefort we know is a type of cheese. We did sort of wonder why there were these miscellaneous packets of cheese there but for some reason that is what they call butter! We never did get any Marple Syrup though. View from the hotel: Our guide, Bosco, met us at 9 a.m. sharp and he was delightful. He knew so much about Rwanda and its history, and was very nice. He told us the plan was to take us on a city tour and to see the Genocide Memorial Museum. Mr. S. and I had gone back and forth about the museum. We knew it was an important thing, but we also felt it would be sad and depressing to spend our limited vacation time on, and we thought we knew about the genocide, having seen Hotel Rwanda. In the end, after Bosco described the plans he had for us, we felt it would have been almost rude and disrespectful not to go. The Rwandan people really take pride in how far they have come since that time, and rightly so, and in retrospect I am glad we went. Seen on the way to the museum: Regarding that last photo, Bosco told us something we’d heard before our trip also, that Rwandan citizens are encouraged (required? Not sure) to spend the last Saturday of the month doing clean up of their neighborhoods, which must be one reason the country is so clean. They also have banned plastic bags entirely from the country. (To answer a FAQ, they don’t mind if tourists bring them for personal use while in Rwanda, they just ask that you take them away with you when you leave). I won’t go into detail about the museum, as you may have read @@amybatt’s recent report where she did, but it was an informative and moving experience. We did learn some things we didn’t know about the genocide. Actually one fact about the genocide we learned after leaving the museum almost by accident had to do with dogs. It was pretty awful, so sensitive readers might prefer not to read the rest of this paragraph. I noticed that unlike in other African countries, and really many third world countries, I didn’t see dogs running around stray in Rwanda. I asked Bosco did many Rwandans have dogs as pets. He said no – not any more. He said before the genocide, they did, but the perpetrators of the genocide trained many dogs to hunt people, attack and kill them, and actually eat them. After the genocide ended, people were traumatized and the dogs that were left were feral and vicious. People were still being attacked by these stray dogs so the government eventually had to kill them. After all this, understandably, the people had very bad memories and associations with dogs, so most people no longer have dogs as pets. But he said they do have cats as pets. Ok on to happier parts of our trip. Bosco drove us around showing us the city, and the buildings were quite impressive. I was still concerned about the fact that I had no brush. It had now been a few days and my hair was starting to get tangled. I asked Bosco if he thought there was somewhere to find a hairbrush near where we were going for lunch. He did think that this mall nearby would be a good possibility so in we went. We went into a large store that seemed to have just about everything but the hairbrush selection was not good for my hair. We looked into a variety of little shops – nothing. Finally, we see a kiosk in the middle of the mall that seemed to sell hairpieces, and the hairpieces had hair kind of like mine. Bosco went to talk to the woman and she pulled out a hairbrush that was not exactly what I wanted but closer than anything we’d seen so far. Only problem was, it had some hairs in it and was all beaten up – clearly not new! I asked if she had a new version but this was the only one. But she assured me it wasn’t “used” because she had only used it to brush the hairpieces! To me that is used, but anyway we negotiated a price and she cleaned it as best she could and voila, I had a brush! We had a very good lunch at Chez Robert, a restaurant across the street from the Hotel des Milles Collines (the hotel made famous during the genocide). Chez Robert had a buffet with many options for me as a vegetarian and Mr. S, the omnivore, enjoyed it also. And then, we were on our way to Musanze, the town closest to Volcanoes National Park. Some photos from along the way: Mr. S. and I were impressed by the many "bicycle taxis" in Rwanda - there is a seat behind the driver, a bit lower down, padded, for the passenger. It's especially impressive with the many hills in Rwanda. Bosco said sometimes nice passengers will hop off when there is a hill and run up it while the cyclist bikes up and then get back on at the top! Of course, some cyclists without passengers choose to get some help up the hill themselves Some views along the way: When we stopped to admire the view about halfway through, there were some really cute kids hanging out and they didn't mind if I took their photos. They loved seeing them on the camera screen. It only took about 2 and a half or 2 and three quarters hours to get to Musanze, MUCH better than the drive to Bale Mountain Lodge! Coming up, our great hotel and ... Gorillas!!!
  17. @gatoratlarge hmm - I did do a separate one for each country and posted them in that country's forum but I don't remember if I did tags - I forget about tags. I will post links here: Rwanda: and Kenya: Still keep meaning to add on to the Kenya one our last day in Nairobi at Sheldrick but haven't managed to get around to it!
  18. Mr. SafariChick and I have been back about a week from the three-country 20th anniversary trip that we'd been planning for over a year. Still not entirely caught up on sleep and haven't been through all the photos yet, but thought I'd best get started on a report before too much time passes. I have decided to write the report in three separate parts, since each part of the trip took place in a different country. (And also because this allows me to use different fun trip report titles. This title was provided by Mr. SafariChick). Here is our oldest daughter hugging me farewell after she drove us to the airport to drop us off (a first for this almost-18-year-old) This trip was an ambitious undertaking, visiting three countries in 12 days - and with each country, our destination for wildlife viewing required a drive of some significance to reach from the airport in which we landed.Nowhere was this more true than our first stop, Ethiopia. After a flight from SFO to Heathrow, a 6-hour layover (at least spent in a very comfortable United lounge with some decent food and beverages), and another flight from Heathrow to Addis, which were about 24 hours total of travel, we arrived at Addis at 6:30 a.m. local time. We obtained our visas without much trouble, changed some money, picked up our bags, and went outside to find our driver, Demiss. Demiss was waiting for us and had us packed up into the car quickly. He was a very nice fellow, with good English and great knowledge of Ethiopia and its history, geography as well as it’s endemic animals. We knew we were to be assigned a guide employed by Bale Mountain Lodge once we arrived there, but having Demiss along was almost like having a second guide, which was great. We asked if there was somewhere to grab a quick bite to eat, not a sit-down place but just something to serve as breakfast. Demiss was a bit unsure what we might want and we tried stopping at a Supermarket called Safeway which amused us since we have a chain of supermarkets in the U.S. called Safeway. We ended up getting a piece of banana bread to share and getting on the road. The drive to Bale Mountain Lodge had been described to me as everything from 6 hours to 7-8 hours to an “all day trip” so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Even though the road was paved most of the way, the trip actually took us closer to about ten hours including about an hour lunch stop and a couple of short bathroom stops. It was pretty brutal after the air travel we had done, I have to say. In retrospect, it really would have been better to break it up with an overnight half way or at least have had an overnight in Addis first. But we were concerned about not being away from home too long, both because we were leaving our teen girls for the first time for more than two days (with their former babysitter staying at the house) and being away 15 days was about as long as Mr. Safarichick felt comfortable being gone from work. We stopped for a sort of brunch late morning at a restaurant that was quite good. (I am trying to find out the name from Demiss and will post it when I do). I had scrambled eggs and toast, and I don’t recall what everyone else had except that Demiss ordered a macchiato. I was surprised this was something they made in Ethiopia as I think of it as Italian (and co-opted by Starbucks and the like). But the coffee in Ethiopia was delicious and nice and strong and Demiss told us about the history of Italians having attempted to colonize Ethiopia – twice. He and our guide Biruk and some of the park staff would say “Ciao Ciao” to each other to say “goodbye” and he said that came from the Italians who lived in Ethiopia. The drive was made longer and more difficult by the many villages we had to pass through, each of which was populated it seemed by large numbers of humans and their cattle, sheep and goats, as well as cart horses pulling little buggies with people in them. We had to slow to go around all these obstacles and I became somewhat queasy from this and probably from my all around fatigue. In addition to the animals being moved along by people, there were many animals just hanging around at the sides of the road on their own, usually trying to eat something it found on the ground like this goat eating some orange peels. We passed through the park headquarters at Dinsho I think at around 3:00 pm and purchased our park tickets for the next four days, and I was surprised when Demiss told me we still had about two and a half hours to go to get to the lodge! And we actually still had to go through some populated areas even though we had entered the park. There are villages and people living around the park so you will be in what seems total wilderness but then come to a village before getting back to wilderness. The first wildlife we saw was some aggressive baboons that came right up to the cars, seeking a snack, and some warthogs and Mountain Nyala. I didn’t get great photos but here are a few: You have to drive up to and over the Sanetti Plateau, which would be our viewing grounds for the wolves, in order to get to Bale Mountain Lodge. We were hopeful that we might possibly get a glimpse of wolves on this first trip across the plateau but were dismayed to find it started raining and then hailing as we drove through the plateau! This was unexpected as it was not even the rainy season and we hoped it would not continue during the rest of our stay. (Luckily it did not!) The plateau is quite other-worldly looking in any kind of weather, but the hail really made us feel we did not know where we were. We were very glad to finally arrive at Bale Mountain Lodge 10 hours after we left Addis! We were given a room called a Tree House that was a free-standing little house up a half-flight of stairs about a five-minute walk from the main lodge where meals were served. It was r private and in the trees, but there were a few problems with it that would cause us to move to another room halfway through our stay, but more about that later.
  19. Thanks @gatoratlarge - maybe you were on safari when I posted it! Did you see the other TRs from the same trip, one on Rwanda and one on Laikipia in Kenya?
  20. Happy Diwali @madaboutcheetah - looking forward to another great Kwando report from you!
  21. Good news! A Hawaii federal court has just blocked major portions of the new travel ban before it was to go into force tomorrow! http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-travel-ban-hawaii-20171017-story.html So for now, Chad is no longer affected by the ban - it will not be in effect as to Chad. Hopefully our persistent president won't attempt to renew any travel ban against Chad. Sigh.
  22. same as Amy said - this would be very cool but I am not qualified.
  23. Don't panic, Americans! I mailed in my application for a visa to visit Chad in March 2018 a week ago, on September 29, to the embassy in Washington, D.C. Today I received back my passport with the visa in it - so I'm going to Zakouma for real now! I hope that Chad will realize the value of tourists coming to see their beautiful wildlife and not reciprocate against this move by the U.S. (I also hope the U.S. will revoke the ban on Chad).
  24. Great sightings, photos and video - so jealous of aardwolf and aardvark!! But really glad you and H got to go
  25. Ugh this is so frustrating. I'm selfishly glad for myself that I went when I did in February, but feel so sad for the wildlife in Laikipia, not just the dogs as the article makes clear. I hope they will be able to rebound again as apparently they have done in the past.

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