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GBE posted a topic in TanzaniaIt’s been 115 days since departing TZ… Better late than never comes to mind as we go through our notes and begin our trip review. We’ll start with a thank you to ST for providing a great forum for learning about safari opportunities and to the great community here that provided advice whether directly or through your own reviews and topics. Time now to contribute back in what I hope provides some of the same enjoyment, inspiration, and experiences I’ve found in your reports. Getting there – Left home at 10pm, Tuesday September 15th for red eye flight - · Delta SEA to EWR with a 4 hour connection in MSP and 4 hour connection in EWR. · British Air EWR to NBO with a 4 hour connection in LHR. · EKA Hotel shuttle to the hotel (we’d spent the night at NBO on an earlier safari and decided against it this time). EKA is clean, modern, has a very helpful staff, and were prompt in both our pickup and drop off. We were only there for about 6 hours but worth it for the security of the room for resorting of gear, topping off batteries, taking a long steamy shower, etc. · Coastal Air from NBO to Kogatende via Musoma for immigration. Meeting the agent outside the pre security check was a little disconcerting but the agent did show up, handled our bags, and escorted us through security. Note: we had 7 bags to check as we outfitted our guide and his team for the first segment of our safari. There was some consternation checking bags through all of the above flights and then turning them over to the agent on the curb with no receipt… but everything made it. We were the only passengers on this flight so had to pay the inducement fare (3rd seat) and this covered the cost of all the bags, so a deal in our minds. Other than a mechanical issue that necessitated another plane pick us up in Musoma (30 minute delay) the process was simple and gave us an entire day in the Serengeti that would have otherwise been spent flying NBO to JRO, JRO back north… basically using up a day travelling. We strongly recommend you look into these NBO / Serengeti direct flights as an option. · Arrived Kogatende at around 10:30am, Friday 18th. Met by Jean DuPlessis, Sarah, and his extraordinary Wayo team… And as you read further along I believe you will come to understand and agree that my use of the term “extraordinary” may be inadequate. Over the 12+ months leading up to meeting Jean, we had communicated via email about the “possibilities.” One of those possibilities was to do what had not been done in the modern era: An expeditionary style safari. Here in the US we call this backpacking. Jean had secured the first ever permits for self-supported, self-contained, on foot, multi-day safari in the Serengeti National Park. There was one small hitch. The ranger assigned to this trek had been reassigned to Ruaha the previous day. Jean learned this at the airstrip, the rangers there didn’t know anything about the permit much less what he was talking about, i.e. You’re going to go walking through the bush for 4 days with all of your gear and food on your back? You’re Nuts! Once they understood or at least accepted what it was we were going to do, the decision on which ranger was going to escort us… and carry his own load, needed to be made. Hussein must have been the newest and youngest ranger as he got the assignment. Turned out great for us and for him as we think he enjoyed the safari as much as we did. All straightened away and we loaded into the trucks and headed for our launch point. We drove the Mara for a spell, enjoying our first glimpse of Zebra, Impala, Wildebeest, Crocs, and Vultures. Wildebeest carcasses that had been shore to shore for what may have been a couple hundred meters were starting to thin out, but the stench and vultures were impressive. We continued our game drive to the stone and concrete bridge that crossed the Bologonja River. There we stopped to scan the terrain from the Nyamalumbwa Hills back toward Kogatende. We discussed the original plan to walk all the way back… but looking at the distance and keeping in mind we weren’t certain of where water may or may not be, we decided to amend our route to hiking south along the west side of the Nyamalumbwa Hills to where they meet the Bologonja. From there we would follow the drainage back to the bridge where we would call for a pick up. With that settled we continued on, game driving along the Sand River, and then cutting off the track and along the base of the Hills to where the Wayo team had set up a lite mobile camp. We used the afternoon to get to know each other, sort and assign gear, teach the team how to use the gear (most had never carried backpacks, set up or slept in modern backpacking tents, etc.). We think there was still some disbelief on the part of some of the camp staff. Late afternoon we set out on a several hour walk exploring around the camp and getting a sense for how we all would travel together. Back to camp, dinner, and then off to bed… Having been on a safari previously we had the “if you need to leave your tent in the dark flash your torch and someone will come to escort you” rule. HA! As the tent we were using was a good 50m from the loo and a little farther still to the next tent I asked about the proper protocol… “Well, shine your light out of your tent. If there are two lights about waist high shining back at you don’t get out of your tent.” We’ve been asked many times if we were scared when walking or camping in the bush. The answer is an emphatic “not at all.” We’d equate it to hiking in Grizzly country: Be smart, use common sense, and trust you gut. For the most part the predators don’t want to be any closer to humans than humans to predators. More on this later. Saturday, 19th - What a glorious morning. There really is nothing like breakfast out in the open, in the bush. Loaded up we stand for a departing picture: Hussein, Cliff, ? (feel so bad his name escapes our memory and isn’t in our notes), Jean, Sarah, Terese, and me. Tomorrow we'll share our first couple of days on foot in the bush.
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