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Found 9 results

  1. A: Me, now. I'm not as clever with my words as @michael-ibkand @pault, but I have some surprises up my sleeve for my trip report. Most days held new treats; some of which I'm still trying to track down the answers. A little background information for new readers: I agonized for months about my first trip to Africa until finally surrendering to the fact that I would have to leave hubby Harry home in June 2017. A colleague and I, along with our teenage daughters, went to Kenya for two weeks. When I had to cancel my second, previously arranged safari to Zimbabwe scheduled for early November due to Harry's unforeseen foot surgery in late October, I hoped that we might get to travel to Africa while his foot healed before returning to work. All of the stars aligned, and we knocked out a trip in less than a week, and took off three or four weeks later. So... Will I finally see the migration after missing it in the Maasai Mara by two days? Any new species on the list? Which cats played a prominent role? Have I improved my photography skills? Any new friends made? My first question of this post: How old is the cub below and where is mama? Did she end up as a meal? Still no answers. Tarangire National Park. (Lion was tenderly grooming the cub; looked like he was tasting her.)
  2. Hi all As some of you on here know, my wife and I were planning a trip to Zambia for July this year (previous post in this section) , but we had to back out of it following the follow-up scan Rachel ( my wife) had, which required further chemo treatment and follow-up surgery. It turns out the chemo worked so well that no surgery is required, and currently no further treatment, although another scan in three months time could change that. This has left us with the opportunity to have a much needed holiday in this period and so we plan to go to Northern Tanzania in October, which means we have very little time to sort everything out. We've excluded the Zambia option because we wanted to go there when it was greener, and not so hot, and so we have settled on Northern Tanzania because we researched it a lot a couple of years ago (prior to chosing south and west Tanzania back then), and went on safari to Northern Tanzania back in January 2001, meaning we know enough already to decide where want to stay, etc. Therefore we have already decided precisely what we want to do and intend to get that booked with ATR this coming week. I'll post details of our intinery in a couple of days time when its sorted (we intend to stay in Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro and Serengeti), but we do have a few questions that we really would like answers to quickly, so your advice would be very much appreciated. Flights Plastic bags in Kenya - Flying from the UK it seems most flights transit through Nairobi ( at least on the return flight even if not on the outward). Does the Kenya plastic bags ban affect people in transit through Kenya ( ie plastic bags in your luggage) ? We could use BA flights which go out via Qatar but they still go back via Nairobi. Which flights/routes would any of you recommend going from the UK? Electronics on Planes Are there any restrictions on flights from UK to Tanzania regarding travelling with cameras, etc on the plane? Any recent new restrictions? Luggage restrictions on light aircraft We will be having a few air transfers - Is restriction still 15Kg total per person, and do they weigh it in Kilimanjaro/Arusha ( wherever first departure point is)? Yellow Fever Although only transiting through Kenya, is this likely to be checked? ( it wasnt when we traveled two years ago. We have certs but it was done in 2006 and cert states valid for 10 years , even though we have been assured we do not require another vaccination as ours was the same as vac currently used, and is now valid for life) Also is the Cholera outbreak in Kenya of any significance if transiting through? VISAS Any issues experienced with obtaining a Tanzanian visa by post (ie delays)? Weather Conditions We will be there second half of October - are we actually likely to experience much rainfall? What has the Northern Tanzania weather been like this year ( ie typical or rather unusual)? Tsetse Flies Are they likely to be a problem in October? What anti-histamine would be helpful ( Rachel got quite a bad reaction to these bites on our last safari)? Currency/Tipping We took US $ ( all bills later than 2006) for all cash purchases and tipping two years ago . Is this still OK? First day- overnight Arusha We intend to spend our first night in lodge/hotel in Arusha to catch up on sleep as flight highly likely to be overnight flight. Any recommendations? Also our first air transfer will need to be to to Lake Manyara airstrip - Do these transfers go from Arusha or Kilimanjaro or both? Locations Anything specific/unusual/ problems/etc happening recently that we should be aware of in Manyara/Ngorongoro /Serengeti?
  3. 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.
  4. 1) Name of property and country: Asilia Africa, Namiri Plains, Serengeti, Tanzania 2) Website address if known: www.asiliaafrica.com 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). Low/Green season, March, 2015 4) Length of stay: 2 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? I read about this property on TA and saw it had a meerkat family (which was not around when we were there). There are two pet meerkats that are the property of the owner. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? I did the initial research and then contacted Troy at True Africa who arranged everything. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 4 visits 8) To which countries? South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Namibia. 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? A small tented camp similar to Dunia Camp. 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No, security was required for all night movement outside of the tent. 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 9 tented rooms 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? We had views over the waterhole. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? The rooms were large, comfortable, well furnished and clean. Excellent bathrooms with flushing toilet and bucket showers. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. The food was excellent. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Yes there were different things on offer. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Yes, hosted dinners each night. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Fantastic. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Open vehicles and also one enclosed vehicle with a pop top that needs to be booked in advance if required. Ideal for during the wet season. 19) How many guests per row? 2 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? As long as you wanted. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? Yes, completely up to the clients. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? Very little cars, quiet and remote. 24) Are you able to off-road? No 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. N/A during our stay 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings. Big cat country, great migration and plains game. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Fantastic 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? N/A 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: friendly, informative, happy, proactive and helpful 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? The service was good (little slack) but guiding, location and sightings were unbelievable. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Yes, Asilia has many conservation iniatives. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: Namiri Plains is a new property opened by Asilia approximately 90 minutes from the Seronera Airstrip in the Serengeti. The property is a tented camp offering guests the opportunity of some of the best game viewing in Tanzania without the crowds. I visited Namiri with my parents who were first time safari travellers in April this year and was blessed with fantastic sightings, an unexpected arrival of the great migration (due to unseasonal weather), a wonderful room/view and lovely staff. Due to heavy rains in the Seronera area we extended our stay for an additional two nights which allowed us to enjoy our time even more. The area is renowned for their big cats especially the lions and cheetahs. We did manage to get an exceptional sighting of a large male leopard who crossed our path as well. We all loved our time at Namiri and even with the wet weather I have no hesitation in coming back next year for another 8 nights. Yes there are some problems with the service but I was there for the animals and our guide was fantastic. Lots of stories and photos from a brilliant time. Our trip was made stress free by using Troy from True Africa who arranged everything for us and provided my parents with the trip of a lifetime. I have already used him again for my next trip in November. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings.
  5. Part 2 of 3- Rwanda and Tanzania, 2015/2016 Trip Report (Part 1 contains the DRC Trip report which was posted separately.) Travel Dates: Dec 30, 2015 through Jan 9th) Tanzania Booking Agent: Planet Africa Camps: Kimondo Mobile Camp, Namiri Plains and Sayari *** Please note that this report covers our time in Rwanda and at Asilia’s Kimondo and Namiri Camps. I will post the report on Sayari separately. ***Tips and Observations are at the bottom of the page. (con't from the DRC Report, posted separately) At the border we meet up again with Kevin, our driver from Inspired and head to the Lake Kivu Serena Hotel a short 10 minute drive away where Kevin has arranged for us to have lunch. The transition from the Congo to Rwanda was nothing short of an exercise in surrealism creating within minutes having us commuted from what can be only described as chaos and desperation to a state of calmness and tranquility. As we make our way upstairs we are met by the maître d who seats us at a table overlooking the pool and Lake Kivu. The hotel is full of families celebrating the New Year. Sitting all around us are beautiful women who are exquisitely dressed with not a hair out of place. The men are causally dressed with perfectly starched cotton button downs. Children play and splash in the pool below us without a care in the world while their beautiful parents lounge nearby. On the beach a DJ calls the kids to game of relay and I hear sounds of raucous laughter. In the distance we can see the DRC. Our waiter stops by and asks in perfect English if we would to order drinks. As I write this report, I can’t help but quote Nikolai Gogol “Perfect nonsense goes on in the world. Sometimes there is no plausibility at all” His simple words perfectly describe the reality of the moment. After lunch we head back to Kilgali on whats known as “East Africa’s best roads.” Along the way we play a game of “I SPY - Litter.” You see, no one litters, no one smokes in public, no one seems to break the speed limit or any other laws for that matter, in Rwanda. After an hour or so of a scoreless game I up the ante and add “potholes” to the mix. There were no winners that day in the I SPY game. After about 3 hours we reach our hotel in Kigali, the Hôtel des Milles Collines (aka Hotel Rwanda) and say our goodbyes to Kevin. The hotel lobby is full of travelers and looks a bit like Union Station at rush hour. I make my way to front desk where I’m directed to a nearby table to wait and am offered a drink. Just as I start bracing myself for a very long wait I’m met by Vincent who quickly checks us in and whisks us up to our room overlooking the pool area. We vaguely get our belongings organized and then head out to make the most of the limited time we have in the city. I attempt to reconcile the horrors of 20 years ago with the country and its people today. I soon realize there’s no logic that will ever explain the events of past or the present. Rwanda is an amazing country and an intriguing study in human nature. As I walk back to the hotel enveloped in what seems like serenity I understand why this country is referred to as the “Little Switzerland of East Africa.” The next morning we’re up at 4:00 am to catch our 6:00 Coastal flight to Tanzania where the next 12 days will be spent in Southern, Central and Northern Serengeti. Our first stop is the Southern Serengeti where we will spend 2 nights at Asilia’s Kimondo Camp. Our guide, Godsand knows the area well and has been with Asilia for 6 years. The camp is a bit quirky, but in a fun way. The staff is fun, warm and kind. The food was excellent and the tents are very comfortable and nicely appointed with flushing toilets and hot water bucket showers. Dining is communal and served at table overlooking a grassy plain where herds of wildebeest and zebra also feast. Later that day we head out for our afternoon drive. In the weeks leading up our visit the area experienced torrential downpours of rain resulting in massive herds of wildebeest and emerald green plains stretching as far as the eye can see. We stop and take a moment to draw in the vibrant colors and the massive herds before our eyes. We watch the wildebeest snort, run, kick and challenge one another. It’s quite a sight. After a while we head toward an outcrop of granite kopjes where Godsand explains a “super pride” of 23 lions call home. As we drive up we spot 2 young lions lounging atop one of the kopjes with about 4-6 cubs nearby. We circle the kopjes to find another 5 lions, including the head female snoozing. She wakes up long enough to scan the horizon and acknowledge our presence and then goes back to her nap. The young male lions in this area are more aggressive and intimidating than other lions that I’ve observed. Godsend tells us they us they have no fear of vehicles and will often chase and bite the tires. With that in mind we keep a respectful distance and back away as the two young males come down from the rocks. Over the next 2 days we start our morning drives at 6:00 am and come back to camp around 1:00, before heading out again around 4:00 in the afternoon. We watch one failed attempt at a kill by a single lioness and come across several kills after the fact where we watch the families gorge themselves on wildebeest before the hyena, vulture, and foxes move in for their share. The afternoons are spent watching the wildebeest and zebra that stroll past our tent or herds grazing on the plain that our camp overlooks. On Day 3, we depart Kimondo Camp at 6:00 am to make our way to Dunia Camp where we will meet up with our guide from Asilia’s Namiri Plains Camp who will drive us the rest of the way to Namiri. As we leave the lush greenery of the South we enter a landscape that is sparse, dusty and seemingly devoid of wildlife, and exit to the woodlands where we spot more lions, hundreds of birds and tons of tetsy flies. 3 hours into our journey, the landscape opens up to reveal the vast golden tall grass plains where herds of elephants graze against a background of massive kopjes that date back billions of years. It’s a stunning site to see. We arrive at Dunia and are greeted by the warm smiles of the camp staff and our new guide, Patena. We’re told that if we drive straight through we can reach Namiri in about 3.5 hours. Off we go with the intent to only stop for “extraordinary” sights. Within 30 minutes we’re sitting on the side of the road watching a baboon troop play in the river. We agree once again to stay focused and only stop for “extraordinary” sights. 15 minutes later we’re once again sitting by the site roads to watch some hippos in a small pool. Ok - this time we’re really going to focused I say to Patena. A few minutes later we spot a serval cat and we all laugh and agree that everything in this part of the Serengeti is at some level extraordinary. Namiri is located about 1.5 hours from the busy central Serengeti on a part of the Eastern Serengeti that is known for it’s big cat population. Prior to late 2014, the area was closed off from the public for 20 years and deemed an important habit for cheetah. Namiri is the only camp within a 70km radius. Because of its remote location few others venture into the area. You can drive for hours and not see another vehicle. As we turned off the main road and started inching closer to the camp, I knew I had selected a special location but I had no inkling of just how special this place would prove to be. The camp is comprised of 6 tents and overlook a marshy area that is often frequented by elephants, topi, gazelle, and of course cats. During our briefing we’re told the camp is often visited at night by a band of 5 male lions the staff have nicknamed the “5 Brothers” and that they had just visited a few days ago and caused some commotion. I only half believed the story but selfishly hoped for a visit during my stay. I’ve always wanted to hear the roar of lion but would be perfectly happy if I just got to hear a call or two. Later that afternoon we go out on our first drive and within 20 minutes we spot the 5 Brothers who had gorged themselves on zebra earlier that day. We sit watching and laughing as one by one they attempt to reposition their bloated bodies only to give up and literally throw themselves on the ground in pure exhaustion. After watching this hilarious scene for a bit we head toward the nearby woodlands stopping along the way to watch a family of Bat-eared Foxes, and observe several different bird species, before returning to camp. Back at camp we have drinks and appetizers around the fire pit with the other guests and reminisce about the day's events. That night there are 5 other guests and each is absolutely delightful. The following morning we awake to the cheerful sound of the staff who delivers coffee and cookies to our tent, thereafter we’re off on our first morning game drive. Not far from the camp we spot two male lions that Patena refers to as the “trouble makers.” He explains the lions have arrived on the scene about a month or so ago and have been mating with the lionesses from another pride, and the guides believe that a coup dé·tat is imminent. As we start to head east across the vast short grass plains we spot a female cheetah. We stop to observe but she’s a bit skittish so we sit quietly and watch from a distance until she calms. We slowly approach but are very careful not to frighten her or overstay our welcome. I manage to take a few photographs but the lighting is not right so for a change I just sit and enjoy the moment. As we continue east we come upon some large kopjes where Patena spots a flicker of movement. As we get closer we see a female lioness who has separated from the pride. She climbs down the kopje and comes closer stopping less than 2 ft from the jeep. She lingers for a moment and then as she starts walking away she begins to sniff the ground and makes a low rumble of a call for her mates. Nearby, there’s a herd of Gazelle in her path but they seem to understand that she poses no danger. She moves in closer (about 50 feet maybe) and takes a seat. One by one the Gazelle cross directly in front of her. Pausing briefly to acknowledge her before they calmly move on. On our 2nd night, as we drift off to sleep we hear the distant call of lions. A few hours later my mom wakes me “Shannon, Shannon - I think there are lions near the tent.” Just as I start to tell her it’s ok I hear the grunts and they do sound quite close but I tell her not to worry and enjoy the experience. After about 45 minutes or so the grunts start to get louder and louder until they are no longer grunts but full blown roars. Now, I’m convinced the lions are not just nearby but right outside our tent. I can’t believe I’m hearing the roar of a lion - not a call but a ROAR! Within minutes the excitement turns to concern as I realize we have all the blinds up in the tent and, with each movement I send a large and erratic shadow across the tent. Random thoughts start to fill my head. I think of a house cat sitting at the window and swatting at a bug. I wonder if I move is this lion going to think I’m a bug? Do lions eat bugs? Has anyone ever been pulled from their tent by lion? Of course not, I tell myself. Then, I realize that I have to go to bathroom. We wait a bit longer realizing that we haven’t seen the flashlights of the guards; which is strange b/c they are always out securing the area. Over time it becomes clear that the lion or lions are not leaving and the guards are not coming. I grab the radio and call for help. Sa’id picks up and I say “Sa’id, there are lions outside of tent - do you know that?” He replies in a very calm voice that he’s aware and tells me not to worry. I reluctantly agree and disconnect. The lion calls go on but now it seems we have a chorus of lions joining in. Some sound “nearby” and others sound very, very close - like right outside our tent. Still, there is no sign of the guards. As I lay deathly still, barely breathing, for what seems like hours, I wonder if the guards are lost or maybe they’ve been eaten. Who knows but one thing I know is that I have to pee. So, I grab the radio and call Sa’id again “Sa’id, I think the guards are at the wrong tent. I don’t see them anywhere and the lion is still here BUT NOW I CAN SEE HIM - He is right outside my tent and I’m scared! Also, I have to go to the bathroom. Do you think its ok if I move since the blinds are up?” The next thing I hear is a roar BUT not from the lions. Instead it’s Said who through his laughter says “yes, Ms. Shannon I think it’s safe for you to go to the bathroom. I promise the guards are nearby and you have nothing to worry about.” I disconnect and fly across the tent barely touching the floor until I reach the bathroom. I fly back to bed and look to see if the lion is still visible. He’s gone and soon thereafter the calls and roars die down I fall back asleep. The next morning we all share a good laugh over the night’s events and learn a bit more about what transpired. I’m told that initially it was 2 of the 5 brothers who visited the camp. The other 3 brothers joined later. The reason that we didn’t see flashlights is because sometimes they can call attention or create danger for the guards. I’m not sure that I understand that part but all is well that ends well. We spent 7 amazing days at Namiri and observed some incredible animal behavior - thanks to our guide, Patena. We developed a genuine affection and respect for him. Each day we would head out at 6:00 and some days stay out all day. Our days were filled with adventure, laughter and magical experiences. We spent hours upon hours immersed in the “bush experience” where we learned not only about the large mammals but the entire ecosystem. We also spent a considerable amount of time talking about our different cultures - his Massai, politics, education and just about everything else. The quality of guiding and the depth of knowledge that Patena exhibited is unique and in my opinion, rare and a privilege to share. We chose Namiri b/c of it’s remote and scenic location and resident game population, and we were not disappointed. One afternoon as we’re driving out of camp we stopped to watch a Topi being chased by a Eland. Nearby there was a herd of Elephants. As we watched this strange scene between the Topi and Eland play out in front us, Patena noticed the matriarch of the herd was in some discomfort. She began to stretch her hind legs and then she would attempt to sit, only to quickly stand up. You could see movement in her stomach. She then played down only to stand up again. The motions were those of an elephant giving birth but it was clear that she was not pregnant. As her discomfort continued the rest of the herd came to her aid and surrounded her. She then called out in a low but strong rumble. The rest of the herd continued at her side with some of the younger ones calling out and flaying about. Clearly she was in distress. After a few minutes the top of ridge behind began to fill with Elephants from nearby herd coming to her aid. It was one of the most amazing and touching sights I’ve ever seen. The herd continued to surround and comfort her, while others kept coming over the ridge. This scene went on for about an hour or so and as quickly as it began, it stopped. She came out from the middle of the herd with the older elephants lined up at her side. They continued marching in step across the marsh toward us. Once they passed us the herd loosened up and they continued on their way across the plain. During our time at Namiri we observed 6 cheetahs and considering the entire population is estimated to be 330 we felt very charmed. We watched herds of elephants with their babies including the one I describe above. We also spotted a wild cat, several families of Bat-eared Foxes, hyenas, waterbuck, topi, Eland and countless species of birds. In the afternoons we would watch the Elephants stroll by the camp and one afternoon we had cheetah visit. I’m not sure if I’m just charmed or if what I describe in this report are every day events. Asilia exceeded my expectations in every single possible way - the camps the staff, the guides, the accommodations, the food, and most importantly the work they do in the communities they reside in. I seriously can’t imagine staying with another company after this trip. Some Tips and Observations: At the time of this writing Coastal Airlines is the only operator flying from Kigali to the Serengeti and they only have 1 flight per day that leaves at 6:00 AM. Book early as it fills up quickly. The flight stops in Mwanza where you go through immigration. The process is simple and the day we were there it took about 30 minutes. The agents will ask you for a yellow fever card so make sure you have it available. The Hôtel des Milles Collines was excellent - great service and good food all at very reasonable prices. The rooms are small but nicely appointed. Kimondo Camp when in the South is located near a hunting reserve and because of this there are no Elephants anywhere near the camp. We booked Kimondo as filler camp as Namiri had no availability as such we therefore it was just fine for the 2 nights that we stayed. Namiri - The winds can be very strong so bring warm clothing for the morning drives and lots of lotion and chap stick to stave off the effects of wind burn. The quality of wildlife viewing and guiding at Namiri was SUPERB but some may have been disappointed by the number of sightings. We prefer quality over number so it wasn’t a problem for us. The tents are spacious and well appointed with indoor and outdoor showers and hot water 24/7. We opted for a private open air jeep and guide during our entire stay and looking back I think it was money well spent. If you’re staying at all Asilia camps and opt for the private guide Asilia will arrange for the guide to travel between the camps with you. I was not aware of this option when I booked but when I go back I will take advantage of the offer. Mary at Planet Africa was my agent and she did a spectacular job with this trip.
  6. A couple of months ago we decided somewhat spur of the moment to travel to Africa. Contrary to many of the members of this forum, it wasn't a long-planned bucket list trip, but an opportunistic chance at adventure that we seized. My husband loves photography, and particularly wildlife and birds. We traveled to the Pantanal in November 2013 and had a wonderful time and that made me think an African safari might also be a wonderful experience. I connected (after a not so great connection with a local Africa travel specialist) with Mary at Planet Africa Safari's in Cape Town. I was completely happy with her listening, suggestions and don't think I would have changed a think about where we went if I had it to do all over again (except maybe skip the Crater... but we'll get there). While most of the still photos are my husbands, and I will leave him to join in with posting some of them (or allow me to do so), I very much appreciate the help SafariTalk provided and I was inspired bySaminKaz to actually make videos each day. I will start of the trip with the first day's video (my apologies for the lack of a Steadi-Cam but it was a learning process...) Our trip was as follows: March 22, 2015 - Overnight at Onsea House Arusha March 23-26, 2015 - Namiri Plains Camp with Erasto (guide) and Shinoi (Spotter) March 27-30, 2016 - Sayari Camp with Calson (guide) March 30-31, 2015 - Ngorongoro Crater Lodge with Jackson (Planet Africa/Asilia Guide) Bear with me and here is the first video. More report to follow!
  7. Based on some amazing airfare deals ($1,000USD) SEA-JRO round trip, we have just purchased tickets and are trying to put together and finalize our first ever trip to Africa on short notice. We are working with Planet Africa where Mary has been very responsive and willing to work with our budget goal of $5,000USD per person. We are coming it a bit over that but for what we are getting we are willing to spend the airfare savings on safari. While I understand that it is time for the Wildebeest migration, that is not our goal. We are interested in seeing a variety of animals and birds and landscapes. My husband is a photographer and hopes to get some great shots of big cats, elephants, rhinos, birds or whatever comes our way. We went to the Pantanal in November 2013, which is when I first stumbled onto ST, and where I actually learned of the existence of that region. We arrive March 22 and fly out March 30. Here is the proposed plan (we need to finalize in the next couple of days). We have some flexibility, but I think we are able to save with some of the Asilia 3rd night free promotions, and we like flying between destinations where possible. Mar 22 Overnight at Onsea House Mar 23 Regional Air to Seronerra then 3 nights Namiri Plains Mar 26 Regional Air to Kogetende then 3 nights Sayari Camp Mar 29 Regional Air to Mayara then 1 night Ngorongoro Crater Lodge - afternoon at lodge Mar 30 - Early morning game drive into crater, then to Kia Lodge (Dayroom) until 20:50 departure We are more interested in small or less crowded areas than super-plush, but that said we wanted to stay on the crater and are splurging for the Crater Lodge the last night. To me the places are all interesting and spectacular, but would like to hear from you experts. Also if you have particular advise or suggestions about these areas I would like to know your thoughts. Many of you have been of great help already, just from prior postings so my heartfelt thanks to you for helping me plan this last-minute trip that we are both very excited about. Stephanie
  8. Hi All, This is the first of 2 photo safaris we've put together this year with two of India's best known wildlife photographers. This one is being led by Kalyan Varma, a young photographer who works regularly for BBC, Nat Geo etc. http://www.kalyanvarma.net/ Kalyan has a special love for Indian forests, frogs and insects and all things unknown; he loves to explore off-beat destinations but is excited about leading this teaching tour in the Serengeti in the off-season with few people & many animals for company. More about the safari here : http://www.chaloafrica.com/photography-safari/workshop-tanzania-with-kalyan-varma/ Great price of $3450 on this rather long 10 day/9 night trip, but we were able to snag a good deal at Namiri Plains Feel free to PM me or contact me directly via our website if any questions. Kalyan is quite open to non-photographers also joining the group - so if you are a group of 6, you can avoid the photogs and their long lenses entirely, haha. But you will still enjoy his talks and tips in the evening. Thank you - Sangeeta
  9. To mark their 10th birthday, Asilia Africa will open their new Serengeti Camp, Namiri Plains, on the 1st July. Namiri means ''big cat'' in Swahili and the name could not be more apt for this beautiful region of the Serengeti. Closed to the world for over 20 years to create a safe haven for cheetah breeding and research, today the area has an exceptional population of big cats as one of East Africa's best cheetah areas. Namiri Plains is set in a small fever tree forest with uninterrupted views of the sweeping plains ahead. These plains are home to the Great Migration from November to June as millions of wildebeest continue their endless journey for food and water. The 6 traditional safari tents have all the creature comforts you need; crisp linen, spacious verandas and home cooked food enjoyed under the African stars but leave only the lightest footprint on the environment. Over dinner learn more about the academic research happening in this region from the resident cheetah researcher and the various conservation projects Asilia Africa supports throughout the region. Guests will explore the area on daily game drives; enjoy sunrise breakfast picnics on top of Soit le Motonyi rock or sundowners atop a kopje. Whilst exploring, guests will feel like they have the Serengeti to themselves, which they do, in fact Namiri Plains' closest neighbour is over 45 minutes away making other vehicles an unusual sighting. Asilia Africa is honoured to have been invited to open the first camp in such an ecologically significant part of the Serengeti. Asilia was chosen largely due to their successes in establishing tourism in pioneering areas such as the Northern Serengeti in 2005 and Rubondo Island in Lake Victoria in 2012. Asilia's mission is to create lasting conservation based economies and to preserve these wilderness areas for generations to come. Namiri Plains starts at US$ 660 per person per night including all meals, drinks and activities but excluding park fees. Find out more at the Namiri Plains website >`

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