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Found 5 results

  1. It’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.
  2. So, we wake up to a cruel world following the incident in Paris. We humans have it in us to be kind -- but also brutally unkind. For those who have been fortunate enough to have been around wild chimpanzees, you know how they can be very cruel and even violent toward one another. We can actually see ourselves in them. The story in the link below is a reminder that chimps, like we, are capable also of being exceedingly kind. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/11/10/national/first-japanese-researchers-observe-chimp-mother-sister-caring-disabled-infant/#.VkogSN6-91H I was fortunate enough to have seen the baby chimp and mother referred to in the article -- in August 2012:
  3. Just returned from a ten day safari in Southern and Western Tanzania last week. Over the coming days I'll post a trip report. It was my third visit to Tanzania, but I had always stayed in the north: Lake Manyara, the Crater, the Serengeti, Zanzibar. I had made a short visit to Mahale in the west on the shores of Lake Tanganyika and longed to return. So with my sixteen year old niece in toe and my 81-year old father, we set out on a different path: Ruaha, Katavi and Mahale looking for the elusive feel of true wilderness. We had a fantastic time, had many wonderful sightings and the landscapes of each were in my eyes especially stunning. Some of the most beautiful in Africa. The less visited parks have shyer game and less tourist traffic. So there's the trade off---a more true wilderness feel...but it's all up to you and your guide to spot whatever it is you're looking for...the itinerary was booked through Nomad Tanzania and went as follows: 3 Nights at Ruaha Kigelia 4 Nights at Chada Katavi and 3 nights at Greystoke Mahale A few notes of interest perhaps: Ruaha is visually stunning with hills dotted with baobab---more than I'd ever seen elsewhere. Rocky hills and distant mountains. Also sand rivers crisscross the park as well as the Great Ruaha River which from what I was told always has water even in the driest months. Sausage trees, acacia, doum palms...it is a photographers paradise. We saw many lions here. Lions interacting with a huge 1000-head herd of buffalo. While watching the herd drink at the Ruaha, we noticed lions taking position evenly spaced on the back side of the herd. Then, two females took off down a gully and we lost sight of them. Later our guide speculated they may have taken a calf and one female emerged with a bloody nuzzle. As we were trying to figure out what exactly was happening, the buffs started to organize into a formidable united front...they began moving in the direction of the lions. There was some sort of face off and the buffs drove at least two lions from their position. After a short while they returned with a lot of roaring and bellowing between the two groups...exciting stuff and what gets us safari-types adrenaline pumping! We also watched as a couple of bull elephants came up the bank and scattered a pride of lions, and watched as one female stalked an impala (but missed). There was still a significant amount of water around even though I knew it to be the dry season I think it's more toward the beginning of it. The end of the dry season is a couple months down the road: October...we saw lesser kudu which was a new species for me. No leopard or cheetah or wild dogs. They are quite strict about going off road in Ruaha. Lion, elephant, giraffe, buffalo are numerous...hyena are shy here. Katavi was also incredibly beautiful. I could not get over the trees...sausage trees, acacia, (not baobab country as Ruaha) palms, and the terrain was more flat, but the landscape was still quite beautiful. The lion pride that you could always count on seeing in recent times on Chada Plain has been busted up by a coalition of four males and they remain a bit scattered at the moment. We did not see lions in our four days there although we had seen plenty in Ruaha. The lion heiarchy is in flux and will be sorted out--just not on our visit. What we did see were leopards. Four in fact including one on a limb, dangling tail with an elephant unawares feeding right below! We saw loads of crocs and hippos which Katavi is famous for--but it was a little early to see the annual 800-hippo mud pool and croc caves...there was too much water still around although there were about fifty or so hippos staking out their places early. We saw a couple dozen crocs laying in the sun and feeding on a dead hippo carcass. The abundance of food seemed to put the crocs into an amorous mood as we watched the mating behavior which I thought was fascinating! The blowing of bubbles, the dancing water off the scales of their back as they rumble and then the males chasing and mounting the females in the water...occasionally a loud slap on the water by the jaws of a croc...made me think of the documentary I saw about Great Whites and a dead whale carcass---the gorging of food seemed to bring on the mating behavior there as well...at any rate, interesting to see. The camp was old-school Africa and reminded me a bit of Jack's Camp in Botswana in décor. Bush toilets and bucket or bush showers (at both Kigelia and Chada). We saw a herd of more than 100 elephants here and 1000-2000 buffalo on the Chada Plain...we experienced the Fly Camping and did two night drives which I enjoyed a lot. We saw some interesting things at night at Katavi but I was bummed that another vehicle had spotted a serval cat---and while I do not go on safari to check off a list---the serval is one of the few cats I have yet to see in the wild! Oh well, I guess I have to keep going back! Mahale is every bit as stunning as I remember. It's remote and incredibly beautiful. The camp when I visited in 2000 was not permanent and was taken down each wet season. Now, there is more permanent bandas. The camp is part Swiss Family Robinson and part Robinson Crusoe. Its a perfect compliment to the other parks on our itinerary as its totally different. Chimps are the stars here but there are other wildlife---including Big Bird, an orphaned Great African Pelican---quite the charismatic fellow! We saw yellow baboons, chimps, red colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys. We also saw a pod of hippos, more crocs than I cared to see further down the lakeshore. Swimming is done off shore a bit and it doesn't take long to reach deep water (over 1000 feet! The lake is a mile deep in some places!) where crocs do not venture...but it's still fine to swim a bit in the shallows at the camp but it's done at your own risk. Hand line fishing resulted in sashimi for the boat and the sunsets are spectacular over the lake and neighboring Congo (DRC) thought this time of year in the haze, I could never tell if I was actually seeing the other side---it's 50k directly across the long and narrow lake...the last time I was here we saw a large group of the habituated chimps grooming, pant hooting, even scouring the trees for colobus...this time the group was much more scattered and we followed an alpha male hopeful Ceasar through the forest and a mother and her baby. We also saw from the boat three wild chimps feeding in a tree---a mother and a small baby and an adolescent. The chimp community ebbs and flows -- that's nature for you...In the night, a group of bush pigs decided to feed on palm nuts outside my banda so I got a good view with my flashlight. The stars were best here although its because we were contending with a full moon at Kigelia and Chada. I'm not a professional photographer by any stretch but I enjoy taking pictures...chimps are extremely difficult to photograph as their black shapes just meld into the surrounding forest and trees---my respect for folks that capture outstanding pics of them is immense! I used some filters on various pictures to try to better see the subjects...some folks/purists don't like it probably but I'm trying to see better what I captured via my camera. I'll attach some albums to the report as I go through my pictures but I hope this is a good start to the wonders of Western and Southern Tanzania!
  4. Hi everyone. I'm just trying to get a sense as to how severe the tse-tse flies, and sandflies, are in Mahale NP. After reading through several trip reports, the tse-tse found on the beach do not seem to be as bad as say, parts of Katavi. Plus there has been no reports of sleeping sickness contracted at Mahale, from what I can find out. Also, given that the accommodation at Mahale is on the beach, how distracting are the sandflies? My wife and I stayed on Mafia Island during our last trip, and the sandfly bites ruined the stay for my wife - she is allergic to anti-histamines, so she couldn't control the itchiness. She had an awful 3 days.
  5. We are planning our second trip to Tanzania for September 21, through October 10, 2015. How long in Katavi and Mahale are pretty much set. We can't imagine fewer than 7 in Katavi nor fewer than 4 in Mahale. Because of flights we expect to do Thursday through Thursday Katavi and Thursday through Monday Mahale. First set of questions focus on Katavi - More than likely we'll spend 4 nights at Chada and do game drives those days. We will have our own vehicle and guide. The other 3 nights are being negotiated. Seems there are limited resources for true, multiday fly camping or walking mobile camps. About all there seems to be through the various TOs we are talking to are the 'canned' 1 or 2 shared fly camp nights. We want to explore as much of Katavi as is practical. Any thoughts or suggestions on how to best use these 3 nights is greatly appreciated. Mahale seems pretty straight forward. We're planning to stay at Greystoke. If there is more to plan for besides chimp tracking, we're all ears. The grand question(s): We'll arrive at NBO late Sunday night. This gives us 3 nights/3days to work with prior to our AM flight to Katavi. Currently we are looking at staying at a Seasonal Camp in the Kogatende area. To make this feasible, we are planning to use the new Coastal flight from Nairobi to the Serengeti. Otherwise, we'll burn all of Monday flying to Dar or Arusha and connecting on to someplace else. Thoughts on the new Coastal flight and our use of these 3 days is appreciated. The Grander question(s): We'll fly out of Mahale on Monday. We don't need to be back to Nairobi until Saturday evening. This gives us 5 nights/ 4 1/2 days to work with. We are currently looking at 4 or 5 nights on a light walking safari in the northern most wilderness zone in the Serengeti. We might finagle a way to stay an extra day so we'd do 3 nights walking in Grumeti WZ area and 3 nights in the Kogatende WZ area. Both of these are very appealing to us but... What would you do with 5 nights originating in Mahale and ending in Nairobi? We considered Ruaha and/or Selous but flights don't seem to be conducive. Besides, they appear to warrant their own trip another time. We'd considered flying north for some Gorilla tracking but no TO has incorporated this as an option. We are looking at Serian or Wayo for the walking safari in the Serengeti. Has anyone any experience with these companies? Do you recommend someone else? Look forward to your thoughts and recommendations. Thanks, GBE

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