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sek07

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sek07 last won the day on January 31 2016

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About sek07

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    Tourist (first-time visitor)
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    Wildlife Photographer/Artist

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    USA
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    Game viewing, true cultural interaction and exchange, supporting school children, environmental preservation
  1. Rivertrees in Arusha is a lovely place which we unfortunately didn't get to enjoy for very long and hence no good pictures to post. we finally arrived after 4am, woke up, had breakfast and had to head to the airport. I would definitely recommend it as its one of the closest hotels to Kilimanjaro Airport (but not Arusha airport as its on the other side of town, with apparently a lot of traffic on most days). It has nice grounds, with monkeys in the trees above our room and some birdlife as there is a river that runs through the property as you might have guessed from the name. We did get to see Kiliminjaro for the first time as it was a clear morning on the drive to the airport. The pictures don't do it much justice as they were from an iPhone in a moving car. Needless to say we were excited to see it not covered by mountains. Next post I will finally get to the fun part, the pictures and the safari. Enough background already!
  2. So quickly why Alex Walker's Serian camps? On a previous trip (see trip report here http://safaritalk.net/topic/15748-september-2014-kenya-tanzania-safari-with-serian/)we had stayed at their Ngare Serian Camp (Mara North), Nkorombo Camp (Main Reserve Maasai Mara) and the Serian Serengeti North Mobile camp (Serengeti Lamai). It was a tremendous trip clearly and we were anxious to see what else he had to offer: every tent gets their own vehicle; its one of the few owner operated camps; a well earned reputation for great guiding; great food but with fresh/healthy options; Alex is a nice guy, and we'd get to have our guide Masha from the Tanzanian portion of the trip again. Alex chooses locations in prime areas, but away from the crowds. His was one of the first camps in the mara north, and one of the first camps in Serengeti Lamai, one of the few camps in Kusini, and one of the only camps in Kakessio. And several of the camps allow our favorite activities including some walking, night drives, and some off road driving allowed. We had an opening in the early part of the year and given that is prime migration/birthing season in the southern part of the Serengeti we decided to go for it.
  3. We had booked with Serian directly, so I sent an email to Billy at Serian (who was long asleep in London) saying i would hopefully give her an update on arrival in Istanbul. I then fired off one more to Rivertrees to give them an updated pickup time from the airport. And off we went to JFK. An hour later we arrived with nearly 0 traffic, pretty much an impossibility in new york on a friday night. The plane took off slightly late but we had a 3 hr layover in Istanbul. We wouldn't know how much of a $ hit we would take until returning but we were just thrilled to be en route. We arrived with plenty of time to spare. The Istanbul airport is incredibly modern, so we had a ridiculously over priced italian meal, were able to send some emails updating people that we should in fact arrive and boarded the plane and were off to Kili. Crisis averted.
  4. The itinerary for the trip was as follows: Depart Friday February 10th from Newark to Kilimanjaro (via Amsterdam) on Delta/KLM Arrive Saturday February 11th early evening and be picked up for transport to Rivertrees Arusha Depart Sunday February 12th from Kilimanjaro 10:30am to arrive early afternoon at Serengeti South 3 nights Serian Kusini Camp Road Transfter to Serian Kakessio for 4 nights (also called Serian Serengeti South) Depart Sunday February 19th From Ndutu to Kilimanjaro. Several hour layover then Depart Kili to Dar to Amsterdam to Newark on KLM/Delta We arrived at Newark Airport at 4pm for our ~7pm flight on that Friday. At about 6:30pm the announcer came on to say there was a mechanical problem with our flight and that it was going to be a minimum of 3-4 hours before another plane could get there to take us. We would clearly miss our connection with no flights out of amsterdam for 24 hours so we would miss a full day of our 8 day safari, and have to try to make countless adjustments to our small planes, hotel in Arusha etc.. I also for the first time ever didn't buy trip insurance for some reason (murphy's rules). After a minor freakout, we took a deep breath and started to formulate a plan. I scoured Kayak and found a flight at 11pm from JFK traveling on Turkish Air that would connect via Istanbul and get to kilimanjaro at about 3AM. not ideal, but a possibility. After waiting for 30 mins on hold with Delta (the line was 100 people deep at the counter) i finally got someone who told me that Delta would only book me on a 'partner' airline and all of those options wouldn't get us to Kili without losing a day of safari. They refused to book me on Turkish despite it being a viable option. Typically if you don't get on your outgoing flight it automatically cancels your return. I was able to get the delta person to cancel our outbound but keep our return flight. He said we would get a refund for the outbound portion but would have to negotiate that when we got back. We closed our eyes and booked the Turkish flight one way which was shockingly reasonable given the flight was in 4 hrs. We raced to find a cab and make the ridiculous trip from Newark to JFK and pray we made it there and get through security in time. LESSON- ALWAYS BUY TRIP INSURANCE
  5. We recently returned from a 9 day/8 night trip to Tanzania in February 2017. We have had the pleasure and good fortune for this to be our 8th trip to the continent, starting with our honeymoon years ago. Our honeymoon was both a blessing and a curse. A curse in the sense that once we visited we found out we are like the many people who talked about how it gets into your blood, and how no trip will ever compare. When planning every subsequent vacation, we ask ourselves, will this live up to Africa?? In most cases we believe the answer is no, and we find ourselves facing the large expense to return. I can say, however, that we have never returned and thought that it wasn't worth every penny. Retirement is going to have to wait!! As many of you also know, the blessing of visiting Africa takes many forms. Starting with the obvious, the beautiful landscapes, the amazing wildlife that never fails to amazing and bewilder, exposure to new and wonderful foods. The understanding of new cultures, viewpoints, ways of life. Making new friends, experiencing the mishaps that inevitably occur and somehow surviving without your "stuff" for a few days. Learning to appreciate how lucky you are to have the things you have and how random life is that you were born where you were. Noticing the subtle and larger changes you make to your life after returning- maybe wasting less, helping more, just appreciating the natural world. But always returning home wondering how, when, and where we'll be able to get back!
  6. @@SeanCharles We went to Mnemba for our honeymoon and its exceptional I would say Ol Donyo lodge in Amboseli as it's a sister camp to Mara Plains and supposed to be great. Singita Mara river has the potential to be great in August for river crossings given its position in the north of the Serengeti. Given Singita's level of opulence seems to fit your requirement Ngorogoro Crater Lodge also would fit the bill but the experience in the crater is oft debated on this site. In Ruaha the new Ikuka Safari Camp looks pretty luxurious but I haven't been personally If you need to spend nights in Nairobi we really enjoyed Giraffe Manor and found it worth the expense for a night for us personally (my wife was in heaven meeting Helen the giraffe at our window at 7am).
  7. @Atravelynn and @imonmm thank you so much for your responses. I think after contemplating the time/distances involved and then getting on a 20+ hour multiple flight trip home it just doesn't make sense. I will come back someday and include it in an itinerary where we can stay at a 'touristy lodge' and relax and watch the sunrise/sunset. thanks again.
  8. We have the following itinerary for this coming February 2017 Arrive Kiliminjaro Airport 8:30pm 1 night at Treetops Lodge in Arusha 3 nights Serian Kusini 4 nights Serian Kassekio (Serengeti South) Fly out 9:45pm from Kilimanjaro on the final day we have been presented with the option of driving from the southern serengeti to the Ngorogoro crater as a day trip. Has anyone done this and then continued on to Arusha? It certainly would make for a really long day given that we would fly out late that night. How long is the ride to and from the crater? One thought is we could get a day room in Arusha to shower and have dinner on the tail end of the trip before heading to the airport for our late flight. this will be our 3rd trip to east africa but we have never made it to the crater. We are very aware of the negative aspects of it (the crowds etc..) but we do have some desire to witness one of the natural wonders of the world. We very much appreciate opinions and any data on distances/times. thanks
  9. @@ExtraordinaryAlex I had also thought about this and reading a bit more about ruaha it does seem like a place the first time to do during peak season. its just been on the bucket list for a while (with greystoke #1 on that list) that it seemed like a pretty neat possibility to combine. We could definitely combine greystoke with one of the serian camps but I was really looking forward to checking out both of the Serian camps as they are pretty different experiences I believe. Kusini more likely to be right in the middle of the migration but with only day drives being available and staying on the road as its in the park vs Kakessio where you can get out on foot, at night and even fly camp. Tough decision!
  10. We currently have a 7 night safari on hold in the southern serengeti for this coming February: itinerary is 3 nights at Serian Kusini and 4 nights at Serian Kakessio We have previously done a trip at Ngare Serian, Serian Nkorombo and Serian Serengeti North which was first rate guiding, food and lodging with the private vehicle being included being a huge plus. We have not been to this area of Tanzania yet and this should be prime migration and calving season in these locations. The other two itineraries we are considering are 4 nights Nomad's Greystoke Mahale/3 or 4 nights Ruaha (probably Nomad Kigelia camp to get any deals they might offer for longer stays) but kichaka is on my list as well 4 nights Greystoke/3 nights Chada Katavi (chada closes in November so strike this!) I think we clearly can't go wrong here but i was wondering if the super helpful crowd has any strong feelings on FEBRUARY at Greystoke, Ruaha or Chada Katavi. We will probably encounter some rain in serengeti south but that is why the migration will be there. I'm just not sure how the game viewing will be in the other locations I always appreciate the generosity of everyone on this site so thank you in advance for any thoughts
  11. Really enjoying your trip report @@mapumbo. we have been thru nairobi twice and never had the time to take drives through nairobi national park and had no idea how wonderful the game is. I guess we just assumed that since it was so close to the city that the game wouldn't be that great. Also Meru is added to the list, the last i had read it had been badly poached out years ago but it looks like it has rebounded nicely
  12. @@PT123 i went back and looked at my notes. we flew from the mara to a border town i can't remember right now (very short flight) and they had someone there to pick us and a few other people up and walk us through the border crossing. he didn't speak great english but was good enough to get the job done. it was fairly hectic little town and the crossing was a little stressful but not terrible. it took about an hour all in i believe and then they drove us to a grass airport on the other side where we flew to the lamai airstrip. if you are staying at any of the camps to the south of the rivrer (serial serengeti main camp or the bulk of the others in the area) then you can fly to kogatende airstrip. since we were in the satellite camp to the north we had to fly to lamai and drive an hour but it was mostly a game drive because of the possibility the bridge wouldn't be open. this drive is, however, where we saw the pregnant cheetah on our way to the airstrip. -­‐ 9km from Kogatende Airstrip (20-­‐30 min drive) - can't land here though as possibility you may not be able to cross river -­‐ 21km from Lamai Airstrip (60 min drive) i found this picture they sent me on an email to give an idea
  13. What a trip, A+ camps in A+ locations with terrific guiding, food, and people. After the crossing we stopped to pick up our bags and take the 45 min or so drive to the airport. we were sad to go, but excited for Rwanda and a bucket list adventure! a few last pics from the trip to the airport. The cheetah below was a pregnant mother who was hunting but we didn't have time to watch and see if she was successful. I hope you enjoyed, thanks for the kind words. separate trip report in the rwanda section to come
  14. We have been extremely lucky to have seen a few crossings, first on our honeymoon and several on this trip. but what was to come next topped them all. We ended up waiting about an hour with numerous vehicles from all of the camps positioned high on the hill ready to race down once they went (this seems to be the protocol). There were numerous false starts but once they went it lasted almost an hour. what a spectacle
  15. For our final drive in the Serengeti we decided to cross back over to the south side and look for lions and leopard at "lion rock" where the lions are often found in the AM, warming up for the day. We were successful in finding them there. Our best klipspringer sighting on the way, amazing their agility on the rocks Lion rock Can you see what they are looking at? A beautiful owl i believe martial eagle in the treetops sleeping just around the bend on the same set of rocks was this leopard. neither of them knew the other was there while watching the leopard my wife spotted this elephant shrew (one of the little 5) We left the lions as we heard the wildebeests were massing on the other side of the river. on the way to the crossing point

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