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Tulips last won the day on September 12

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  1. @serendipityntravel Yes, someone else mentioned that on another topic also. I always take reviews with a grain of salt as what one likes or dislikes is all relative to the reviewer. It's just that for this particular camp, they make some pretty specific statements: The main potential downsides are the relatively weak position outside the reserve, the very large size and relatively impersonal nature of the camp, that safari activities are shared with other guests, run to a relatively rigid timetable and that some of those activities are rather weak. Statements like "impersonal" "rigid timetable" "activities are rather weak" turn me off. But that's just me. @wilddog has good things to say about the property and that's what I like about this site. You can ask people to specify if things are unclear or to perhaps indicate whether they felt the same way as some of the reviews.
  2. I'm not familiar with Royal Mara, so can't comment on it. i was seriously considering Little Governors myself, until I realized it is in the reserve and not the conservancy. This means you can't off-road. Serien Nkorombo is also in the reserve, not the conservancy. The Africa Travel Resource review of Kichwa Tembo is rather off putting. http://www.africatravelresource.com/kichwa-tembo-camp/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIu9rhoNmu1wIVFbjACh0CyQBDEAAYASAAEgKE2vD_BwE
  3. Life got in the way a bit and I have slacked on completing this, but I will have something up on the weekend.
  4. Thanks @AandA. The area was fabulous, but it was expensive.
  5. I'm not sure I'd pay 4K more for a room for two nights. Although there were some service issues at the GMVL, If I had a choice between it or somewhere 4K more, I would pick the GMVL. Seeing that the permits for gorillas are now $1,500 US per person, I would save the money on the lodge. If the difference were only a couple hundred dollars, then I would pick elsewhere.
  6. @AmyT I've had similar problems. My agent sent out quote requests to 5 operators. One came back very quickly, but there were some changes to be made. The second operator came back with a quote that was way over budget and quickly rejected. I almost booked the third, but them discovered their Camps were in a reserve with no off roading. The 4th was very similar to the 1st in terms of price but involved more switching between camps. The 5th never responded at all. i wanted some more tweets to the first quote and my agent got upset about how much time she was spending. I felt a bit between a rock and a hard place as she is a friend also. But I just don't feel the quite is going to be right the first go round. Also the prices are in US dollars which don't go as far compared to the Canadian Dollar. The problem is I'm afraid of shared drives now that I've experienced solo drives and you have to pay for solo drives. My budget is significantly less than the last two trips. At at the moment I've thrown in the towel. It's too much pressure. I'm afraid of using a foreign operator without the Canadian agent for a significant dollar booking because I'm worried about not having protection if the operator goes bust. If I use a Canadian agent and he company goes bust, I get my money back as it is protected by government regulation. I also had one do a provisionsl booking which neither i nor I my agent asked for. Bottom line is if I'm spending lots of money, I want to get what I want or close to it and it may mean some back and forth. I know no one wants to spend a lot of time on something not to get a booking, but I think it is somewhat the nature of the business.
  7. You can't off-road at Ol Pejeta? I thought it was a conservancy?
  8. I was in Nairobi the day the election was overturned and did not once feel unsafe. The foreign media seems to take one thing and sensationalize it. Incidentally, I stayed at the Emakoko and that would be a lovely spot for honeymooners. The owners are fabulous and will take great care of you, but it is on the more expensive side.
  9. The weather Gods smiled upon us today and we had no rain. In fact, the cloud lifted enough that the volcanoes appeared. This morning was an early one. Up before 6am in order to have time for breakfast and then to get to the trekking headquarters. Breakfast was a large buffet and had a made to order omelet or egg station. I had quite a big breakfast. Larger than I would normally have, but I wanted to be fuelled. I didn't know how strenuous the hike would be and didn't want to be hungry at any point during the morning. We drove a little ways from the lodge to the headquarters. There was coffee available and loads of people. No music or dancers though. Today, we were doing the golden monkeys as a warm up for tomorrow's gorilla trek. The golden monkeys are endemic to the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda parks (Virunga, Volcanoes, Magahinga). They like bamboo, but also eat fruit and other plants. At the entrance We had to wait quite a while at the headquarters while they sorted out the various groups for gorillas. We waited in the area allocated to the golden monkeys. There were 24 people in the area and there are a maximum of 25 allowed on the money treks. We were then divided into two groups. There was our group of 6 and we were joined by a family of four including two teenagers who were staying at the new Bisate Lodge. So there were 10 in all in our group who would be trekking to one group of monkeys and the other 14 would go to another group. While we were waiting, there were people coming around renting gaitors for $5 US. They were the same price at the lodge also. I had brought mine from home and the family had obtained theirs at Bisate. The other members of my party rented some. The one issue with renting, is you don't necessarily get a pair that fit properly. This doesn't mean you should rush out and buy them if you wouldn't wear them normally. I use them at home in the winter for snowshoeing and hiking. Francis, who is the head guide, was leading our group. He talked to us for a bit about the monkeys and the hike and then we were off in the vehicle to drive back to an area near the lodge where we would begin the trek. We all hired porters for $10 US each. Well worth it. They carry your bags and water bottles and are very helpful with the trek in general. In fact, I had to tell my porter, Leonidas, that I was ok a couple of times as he wanted to help every time there was a step or a little hill. You hire the porters at the entrance point for your trek. Leonidas The trek was not all that difficult actually. We started by hiking through quite a bit of farmland and I was amazed at how rich and ferrite the land was. There were lots of children around who happily posed for photos. Once we arrived at the forest, there was one area that we had to go a down a steep rocky hill that was slippery and I was really happy to have Leonidas at that point as I don't think I would have got down on my own. I have a fear of falling and can be quite timid on steep rocks like this. Then we came to all of the bamboo. I'd never seen so much bamboo in my life. We hiked a bit further and Francis announced that we were near the monkeys and we would have to leave our bags and porters. I had my vest on and put my wide angle lens in one of my pockets and attached my big lens to the camera. At least it wasn't too far to the monkeys as it was difficult walking with the big lens out in the open. i didn't want it to get damaged. We finally came upon the monkeys and they weren't all that cooperative. They stayed quite high up in the trees and were often hidden by leaves and branches. They were very difficult to see and photograph and I was glad that we were only a group of ten as we were all jostling to see them. There wasn't a lot of room due to all the bushes and trees. I used my 300 prime lens the entire time. I didn't realize they had such long fingernails. Even saw a bird, although I don't know what it is. I think its some type of weaver. All too quickly, our hour with the monkeys was up. Its amazing how fast the time goes when you are enthralled with watching something. I loved the monkeys and found them so expressive. I just wished they would have come down a bit. Some did come a bit lower though. The trek back to our vehicle. A scarecrow along the way I had my tracking system on and in all our trek was 4.6 km long. We were only a little over 2 hours in total trekking.
  10. I was up at 4:00am to have time for a quick bite to eat and then head to JKIA for my 7:20am flight to Rwanda. I chose this flight as it was the only non-stop flight to Kigali on anything that wasn't Rwandair. You can read about my saga at JKIA here. Kenya Airways is an ok airline. i didn't have any problems with them and they actually served a meal. i had a poached egg and croissant. Not gourmet, but it was food. Not that I needed it. The flight left on time and because Rwanda is an hour behind Kenya, the flight arrived in Kigali at 7:50am. I had no issues at immigration and bags were at the carousel promptly. I found my transfer with no issues. He had two other people to pick up who were also on my flight and who were also part of the package I was doing. There would be 3 other people with the package that we would meet later in the evening. We arrived at the Mille des Collines after a 40 minute or so drive from the airport. We were supposed to be at the Lemigo, but there was a last minute switch. No complaints from me. The hotel has a security check to get in, but doesn't take very long. It's really just putting your bags through he x-ray and walking through a metal detector. We were all able to check in right away, which was wonderful considering it was so early in the morning. We also met one other person coming along for the journey at the check in. I went up to take a nap as I was completely exhausted. After about an hour or so, I went downstairs with the intention of going to the Inema Arts Centre. Th done thing with Kigali is that there aren't a ton of attractions and very little was within walking distance of the hotel. I didn't want to go to the Genocide Memorial today as I knew we were going tomorrow and I knew I would not want to go twice given the harrowing nature of the museum. I say I had the intention of going, but I didn't get far. I walked no more than a foot off the hotel grounds and I was accosted by people trying to sell maps, newpapers, magazines, all manner of souvenirs. The security guard saw this and asked me to come back and showed me to the staff door at the back. I was only a block out and again was accosted. Now to be fair, this happens in cities all over the road. I've had it happen in Paris, for example. I just was so tired and I just couldn't keep saying no all the time. So I ended up doing a loop around the block and went back to the hotel for the day. I think my body was telling me I needed a rest day after all the early mornings and full days out on bumpy roads in the fresh air. So, i spent the day at the pool and had a nice lunch with one of the ladies joining me for the journey at the restaurant. They had a lovely buffet with all sorts of choices. I later learned the other five also spent the day at the hotel. I did take a few photos though. The first one is a streetscape from the area around the hotel. Rwanda has quite the art scene and the hotel had numerous pieces on display that were for sale. I would have loved to buy a piece, but they were so big and I didn't really want to deal with shipping and customs at home. My favourite is the giraffes. it's made out of sand. In the early evening we met up with the guide, Paul, and met the other two people in our party of 6. We were advised to get some Rwandan Francs, which I had not yet obtained. I couldn't get any from home. There was an ATM at the hotel though and I just got the money from there. I got about $120 worth. I didn't want to have loads of money left at the end as we were only in Rwanda for 3 more days, but I wanted to have enough in case we were somewhere that didn't take US dollars and also I knew the francs were needed to tip the porters on the treks. We had dinner in the bar at the hotel and then it was off to bed. The next morning we had a lovely buffet breakfast at the hotel restaurant including made to order omelet and then we were off to the Genocide Memorial. Prior to entering the memorial, there was a good opportunity for a photo of Kigali. The memorial is a resting place for at least 250,000 people who lost their lives in the horrible atrocities of 1994. The museum is free to enter, but there is a $15 charge for an audio guide and $20 if you want to take photos inside the building. It is free to take photos outside and in the gardens. There is a short film at the entrance and at the end of the visit. I recommend seeing both as they provide a context from survivors and family who lost loved ones. This is such a sobering place to visit and I had a particularly hard time in the children's room. The room provides information on some of the children killed, such as their favourite things. The other exhibits are really well done and informative. The main museum One of the unmarked graves The garden showing a map of Rwanda and it's provinces This statue of an elephant with a cell phone is meant to symbolize never forgetting what happened and telling the outside world what happened. After gathering our thoughts, we headed to the Nyamirambo Township and the Women's Centre. This township is the largest in Rwanda and the Centre provides women and girls the opportunity to support each other through education and training programs. We took a guided tour of the township with local guide, Joseph. This tour gave us the chance to meet some of the people who have benefitted from the centre as well as see some of the local businesses and learn about their daily lives. Coming from a first world country, it really is eye opening to see how many of the modern conveniences we take for granted, simply don't exist here. A Nayamirambo streetscape. All of the streets in Rwanda are named by letters and numbers as represented in the signs below. To the left is the market and to the right is a man ironing with a coal iron. The iron does a good job. As part of the experience, we were invited to lunch at the home of one of the women. She spent four hours cooking the meal over coal stoves. She does not own a modern stove or fridge. We were invited to her home for the lunch. It was a lovely meal. it was a vegetarian meal and there were 8 dishes to choose from. There was lots of food leftover, for which I felt bad, but there was so much food, we just couldn't eat it all. Luckily, the food does not go to waste and is eaten by the family afterwards. No processed foods here. This is the lady who spent so much time cooking a meal for us. She kindly allowed a photograph. As it was getting later in the day, it was time to head off to Volcanoes National Park and our hotel. The drive took about 3 hours and the roads were quite good. Nothing like Kenya. The volcanoes were shrouded in fog and cloud, so we didn't get to see them. The next three nights would be spent at the Gorilla Mountain View Lodge. Several Safaritalkers have stayed at this lodge. The cottage was nice, but yes, the bathroom is a little weird. There is a large sitting area and also a bar and dining room in the main lodge, which are the only spots you can access wifi. There are no safe's in the room, so you must store valuables at the front desk. They put your items in an envelope and give you a receipt. I saw one lady put her camera and huge lens in one. I just kept my camera with me. I didn't want to chance it getting dropped. It was quite cool and pouring on arrival and compared to the heat of Kigali. I actually put on a sweater. Dinner was a large buffet including a made to order stir fry station. Over dinner, we asked about the weather for tomorrow and we were told it was iffy. I checked and I didn't think it looked bad, but I'm not familiar with which are the reliable weather websites in Rwanda, so for all I knew, it may not have been accurate at all. I had asked for a fire in my room before dinner so that it would be ready and the room warm when I returned afterwards. When I returned, there was no fire. Of course, my cottage was further away from the lodge, so I hoofed it back and asked how long the fire is supposed to last. I didn't want to get angry if the fire would have been lit and been out. I was told it should last all night, so I reminded him that I ordered the fire. He apologized and said someone would be there to light it soon. I waited another 20 minutes and hoofed it back to the lodge again. This time, I went with the staff member who was to light the fire to ensure it was done. It wasn't the most relaxing evening, but afterwards, it was nice to sit by the fire for a few minutes before bed.
  11. Prior to booking my Kenya adventure, I booked this Rwanda adventure combined with Uganda. I love gorillas and had always wanted to see them, but not in a cage. And so. a trip to see them was a must on my bucket list. Rwanda had been on my radar, not really as a place to visit, but because a Canadian had led the UN mission there at the time of the genocide. I'd read his book, which I highly recommend (Shake Hands With the Devil) and seen a documentary he had done as part of his therapy for PTSD and to bring awareness of the genocide in the a different way than Hollywood films. Of course, being that Rwanda is one of three countries where one can see the gorillas, and because my cousin had highly recommended it, I started planning. Together with my travel agent, we found something that was suitable for my budget and the trip was booked. Luckily, this was done prior to the increase in permit pricing. I spent four days in the country and my eyes were opened in more ways than one. I hope you will follow along.....
  12. Wow @Gilgamesh your safari was certainly very successful. Absolutely spectacular photos!
  13. Thanks @amybatt. You and @Tom Kellie and I think @SafariChick swayed me to stay at the Emakoko and it was totally worth it. There is indeed a lot of wildlife at Nairobi National Park. It's definitely worth a visit.
  14. On my last morning in Segera, I decided to do an early morning game drive as I wanted to squeeze every last minute out of my time there, so was up at 5:30 and game driving by 6:15am. There wasn't any particular plan for the morning, but I did want to see if I could see the leopard one last time. We set out in the area where we had previously seen the leopards and came upon an elephant family at sunrise. Also hanging around were a grevy's zebra and a cape buffalo. It was then that we came upon an interesting sight in an open field. We saw vulture and hyena and a tawny eagle. So we knew there had been a kill, which meant there would be a good chance of a cat sighting. We sat and watched the scrum for a little bit. There wasn't much left of whatever was killed. I won't post a photo as it was quite gruesome. Then we heard growling and Paul said it was a male lion and we immediately headed in the direction of the sound, although I couldn't believe how far Paul drove. i actually questioned this, but he was certain that the sound was coming from where we now sat. Since Paul is paid to find these things, I didn't question any further and it wasn't long before we saw a lioness. She had spotted the gravy's I shoed you earlier and we sat and wondered if she would hunt it. But she just wandered and then went into the bushes. We followed her a bit to see if she would do anything, but she wasn't interested. We again heard the male lion and started to drive further along. We drove for quite a while and then finally, they were spotted. What luck! There were two male lions and one had a bit of a mane, which i was longing to see. The bigger one with the mane had been in a fight. We stayed and watched them for quite a while and then made one last effort for the leopard, but no luck today. Shortly after 9am, Paul said we should start to head back to the lodge. I half heartedly suggested he might want to get us lost. I really didn't want to leave, but the plane was coming at 11am and I still had to have breakfast and finish up with the packing. This is Paul to the left and Peter (who helped serve all the meals to the right) and our vehicle. After breakfast, Charlotte, the manager came running after me to tell me there was an issue with the necklaces I had ordered the other day. Due to all the rain that fell, they couldn't get across the river to deliver them. They had tried. She advised that Paul was taking a run out to see if he could get them, but she wanted to know the rest of my hotels so she could make arrangements to get them to me if Paul couldn't get them. I gave her the list and she said if all else failed, she would send them to me at my home. No worries. I appreciated the effort they were going to to get them to me. Then, all too soon, the plane arrived and it was time to head back to Nairobi. Some of the staff came out to see me off including Paul, who didn't manage to get the necklaces due to the water levels, and Charlotte as well as the chef, Elizabeth. Believe me when I say tears were shed! The flight back was about 50 minutes or so and then the baggage person from the airline took my bag and we went out to find my transfer to take me to the Emakoko. We couldn't find him, but he was just parked in a different area and was soon found once a call was made. Unfortunately, the vehicle wouldn't start. This poor driver, Sammy, was desperately trying to get the car to start and other people came to help and it turned out a wire had come loose. In the interim, Sammy had phoned the owner, who promptly apologized for this and said a new vehicle would be coming in a few short minutes to take us on our way. He advised that it was full of the grocery shopping. As soon as the call ended, the new vehicle pulled up and we left those drivers to fix the broken vehicle and Sammy and I left for the Emakoko. On leaving the airport, there was a long line of traffic and cars were bursting with people and there was cheering and horn honking and I wondered what it was all about. Sammy said that the election had been overturned. Ah yes. I had forgotten that today was the day that decision was going to be made and had actually dreaded the fact that I was to return to Nairobi on the same day, but then had forgotten all about it while i was at Segera. Luckily, all I saw was cheering and honking and I'm not were of any violence that took place and at no time did I feel unsafe. We arrived at Nairobi National Park after driving on some absolutely atrocious pot hole filled roads. We began a little game drive and I promptly realized we could not off road, which I had been used to at Segera. At least the animals are fairly close to to road, so you can still get some good shots. The Emakoko, is in the park, so you can do a game drive on your way there. I believe this is an African Pied Wagtail Peek a boo! One thing Segera does not have is Rhino. So I was happy to see this White Rhino in the park. I had never seen Black Rhino before so I was thrilled with these two. As we were getting near two, I suggested we get to the Emakoko as I still had to have lunch and then I had to get to the Giraffe Centre and the 5pm appointment at Sheldrick's. At the lodge, i met Anton Childs, who owns he property along with his wife, Emma. He took a few minutes to explain the property and let me know that I should leave no later than 3pm to have time with the giraffes and then the Elephants. I was also advised that the lodge was frequented by hyrax, harmless creatures, who like to eat the roses. I was shown to my cottage and given a quick tour and then I went to lunch, which was a delicious fish meal. Sammy and I headed off again at 3pm and did a bit of a quickie game drive, but as time was short, we really didn't linger. Traffic was so bad, that I only had about 20 minutes at the Giraffe Centre. I got my kiss and a chance to feed the giraffe. I would have liked more time here, but they were also limiting how many times you could feed the animals. Then it was off to Sheldrick's for the 5pm foster visit. Traffic on the road to Sheldrick's is awful and in fact we sat for so long not going that 5pm came and I started to panic that they wouldn't let me in. But Sammy assured me that I would be let in and I was and I was not the only late person either. I got there just in time as the babies were just coming in. I fostered Kuishi and Joto. Kuishi was rather reluctant and really didn't want to be in photos. She just wanted to eat. The caretaker really tried to get her in a position where I could at least get one good photo. Kuishi This one was already asleep and they hadn't been in all that long. I find it interesting to watch them stand as they eat. This is Joto. This warthog was unusually warm to people. Usually they are very skittish and run away. This one just plopped right down on the ground in front of me. I spent quite a while at the Trust as there were many babies to see and a giraffe also. I can't even remember what time I left, but there was hardly anybody left when I left. On arrival back at the lodge, there was a whole crowd of people. I had earlier been told I was the only guest that night, so this surprised me. Emma and Anton advised that they did not want me to eat alone and so they invited their family and a genet to come along. Now, I have never ever had anyone be concerned that I was alone, to do such a nice thing. They are really caring people and really attests to the kind of stay one has at the Emakoko. Over dinner, we chatted about the election and the issues and I learned quite a lot, I have to say. I couldn't stay too late into the evening as I had to get up at 4:00am the next day for my flight to Rwanda. So I said my goodbyes and then, all of a sudden, a genet appears. Another first for me. Good thing I hadn't left any earlier. And so endeth my stay in Kenya and I have to say that I really want to go back. I really thought the sightings were so much better than South Africa. I totally get why some of you return to Kenya again and again. Thank you all for your comments and for following along and for putting up with all my birds.
  15. @Plambers I'm not sure I would change a lodge because one type of animal may or may not be there. There's still lots to see. I have a quote for Offbeat and am awaiting quotes from Governors Camps, Natural World Safaris and Gamewatchers to do Laikipia and the Mara next year.

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