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Found 31 results

  1. Hi there everyone! Having returned to the UK yesterday from Tanzania, I've decided to stop lurking and undertake my first SafariTalk trip report. I have upcoming trips in the next six months to Benin (Pendjari), Chad (Zakouma) and Senegal (Niokolo-Koba) so I'm hopeful this will be the first of many! A bit about me: I'm a 22 year-old with a long-held passion for wildlife, with this trip around the Southern Circuit my 15th safari (which rather pales in comparison to many of you!). My big passion has been African Wild Dogs for as long as I can remember, but I'm fascinated by anything with fur/feathers/scales! A bit about the trip: I travelled with my childhood best friend, Jack, who had previously ventured only to Tsavo East nine years ago. We travelled overland (two guys in their early 20s don't have a particularly malleable budget!) spending four days in Selous before spending a day travelling to Ruaha, where we spent three days. A further two days would be in Mikumi before the reluctant journey home. We used a Tanzanian safari company for the trip who guided, drove and fed and watered us brilliantly. Now, why the thread title? Well, we would be trying to achieve the impossible in two ways. Firstly, we needed to strike a balance between a beginner's safari for Jack, and what we ironically termed a 'connoisseur's safari' for me. This was a big worry for me in organising the trip - would we be able to find enough game to give Jack a wildlife experience not dissimilar to those offered by the game-rich plains to the North? And would I be able to keep Jack enthused by the time I'd taken my thousandth photo of a White-Browed Coucal? In addition, Jack has long wanted to see wild cheetah, so this was a key goal for us. We chose Selous and Ruaha in no small part because they offered the chance to see dogs and cheetah on the same safari, to keep us both happy! Secondly, I've set myself a rather ambitious target of seeking out dogs, cheetah and lion (perhaps even leopard, who knows) in as many of their range states as possible. Before this trip, I had seen dogs in Kenya and South Africa, with an agonising near miss in Botswana. I had encountered Cheetah in Botswana, SA and Kenya, and lions in Botswana, SA, Kenya and Swaziland. Tanzania offered a chance to build on all of these lists, and also perhaps the opportunity to see some wildlife I had never before encountered - a particular bug bear has been my long-standing inability to see wild serval or caracal, so these were also key targets. You can imagine the look on our guide Mansoor's face when we reeled off all of these demands! I should point out that, despite the above, I would have been content just to be back in the bush after a 14-month absence - anything else would be a wonderful bonus. I'm hoping to crack on with this TR in earnest tomorrow and I hope to have as many SafariTalkers on board as possible to relive what was a wonderful adventure! Tom
  2. Hello Everyone! This is my first post in preparation for my first safari. I have done quite extensive research with the help of this forum and other websites and have narrowed my camp choice down to two, both in Ruaha. Although I was leaning towards the Mara/Serengeti originally, I ultimately decided on Ruaha based on the incredible reviews, low vehicle traffic, and animals. All that said, I have narrowed my decision down to either Ikuka Safari Camp or Mwagus camp. This will be for a total of 5 nights in early November. I am torn between the two so was hoping for some advice/suggestions as far as animals go. I know that Ikuka is more upscale and that does not necessarily matter to me, nor is it influencing my decision. Being my first safari, number one on my list is the amount and types of animals I will see. From everything I have read, both camps have great guiding and are in prime locations in the Ruaha. However, It is my understanding that Mwagusi is next to the Mwagusi river which tends to draw a significant number of animals in the dry season. Should this be a big deciding factor as to which camp to go to? The fact that more animals will be close by, that they may walk right through my camp, or be able to view them from my tent? I know that Ikuka has incredible views and that game drives for both camps are in the same general area, but I'm slightly concerned that I may not see the same abundance of game. is this an accurate assumption? any advice would be greatly appreciated!
  3. We are trying to decide on itinerary and tour operator and would welcome any advice and suggestions from more experienced safari travelers. About us: We are three generations travelling together, 8 people, ages 11-68. All 6 adults have been on safari in Kruger and Chobe a few years back. We had some fantastic experiences, especially in Kruger. This time we are considering a new area. We have seen the big five in Kruger, and we have seen large herds in Chobe. We want to get close to the animals. We hope to see a variety of animals, there is no particular animal we feel we need to search for, though it would be great to see wild dogs and cheetah. We are worried that the safari experience could be diminished by lots of vehicles in the same area. And we would prefer to stay in tented camps or lodges that are not too large, and that are situated inside the parks. We don't need luxury, but do appriciate comfort and good food. All of us are used to driving long distances, and have no problems with all day road trips. Our budget for the trip, for the whole group is about $ 30 000, including some days at the beach, excluding international flights. We can travel for 15-21 days, in the period 16th June - 15th August 2018. So.. we have been in contact with a couple of tour operators with offices in Tanzania. One tour operator suggested that the parks in southern Tanzania would suit us well. We have received an itinerary that we find very interesting. But other tour operators seem to feel that this itinerary is not to be recommended, or needs 1-2 days extra. Itinerary (with two 4x4 and drivers/guides for the entire safari part of the trip) Day 1 Arrive and stay in Dar es Salaam Day 2 Drive from Dar to Selous, boat safari in the afternoon Day 3 Game drive in Selous Day 4 Game drive to the North in Selous, then over the Uluguru Mountains to Mikumi, perhaps time for game drive before dinner Day 5 Drive to Udzungwa, walking safari/Sanje Falls Day 6 Drive to Ruaha, pit stop in Iringa Day 7 Game drive Ruaha Day 8 Game drive Ruaha Day 9 Drive to airstrip, walking safari, flight to Zanzibar Day 10-13 Zanzibar east coast Day 13-15 Stone town Day 15 Ferry to Dar, and fly home So, what do you think about the itinerary? Is it doable? Should we change something? The tour operator suggested we leave in June to get a better rate at the camps. Is late June a good time to visit this area? We will be travelling and doing the game drives in the same vehicles. The cars have pop up roofs. In our previous game drives we have had open safari vehicles, and I am a bit worried that this effects the experience. Camps/lodges: Rufiji river camp, Vuma Hills, Hondo Hondo, Ruaha river lodge, anyone who knows these camps? To reduce costs we could choose camps outside of the park borders, but we like that animals also can be seen in and around the camp. About the tour operator, he doesn't always answer when he says he will. I know we have plenty of time to plan our trip, but I find it hard to trust people who don't follow through. A lot of questions and concerns, I hope you can help me.
  4. Before we went away on our trip we thoroughly enjoyed reading the various trip reports on Safaritalk, so I made a promise to myself that when we got back from our trip I would “return the favour” and write (or at least try and write) a trip report. So having persuaded J into providing technical support, loading the various photographs etc., here is our first attempt at a trip report. Trip to Selous and Ruaha - November 2015 The itinerary, arranged by Matt at Imagine Africa worked beautifully. 8 days in the Selous (4 days at Lake Manze Camp and 4 days at Selous Impala Camp) 7 days in Ruaha (4 days at Mdonya Camp and 3 days at Kwihala Camp) November is supposed to be the rainy season; however the rains were running a bit late and although we occasionally got rained on, most of the time was clear blue sky and very very hot – particularly over mid-day, but this is Africa and it is meant to be hot, and after the first couple of days we really did not notice. Saturday 7th November So today we head off to Tanzania, at long last. It has been months in the planning and waiting to get going. Mind you it has also given time for us to figure out how to get our luggage down to the weight limit of 15kg per person. Considering that the photographic gear and binoculars come close to 15kg on their own, this took some careful thought and planning, but in the end we ended up just over 16kg each (one lot of hand luggage each and one soft sided bag carrying all of our clothing, toiletries etc.). Considering we needed to get round the M25, not the most reliable road in the world, we headed off early to Heathrow. Once we were near to the airport we went off to find a nice meal and relax for a bit, before going to the airport just in time to check in. We had booked a lounge at Heathrow, so we headed straight there and sat in comfortable seats, drinking tea and coffee and nibbling a few snacks (this lounge even offered free 10 minute spa treatments – which I took advantage of whilst waiting, a nice way to relax before getting on the flight). Having eaten before we got on the flight we basically tried to sleep the flight to Nairobi away, and managed to get a least a bit of sleep before arriving. Sunday 8th November After a fairly long trip from London to Nairobi, we were a bit concerned as by the time we got off the plane as we were at least half an hour late arriving, and our transit time was a little tight. Despite being in transit you have to clear through various processes and we ended up rushing through the airport, and straight onto the plane to Dar Es Salaam. Looking out of the window of the plane, we could see the plane we had got off sitting next to us on the tarmac, although we had trotted round half the airport. We were at least comforted to see our hold luggage being loaded into our plane (at least it had made it this far with us). The flight from Nairobi flew over Kilimanjaro, and J had checked carefully to ensure that we were sitting on the right hand side of the plane, which gave some truly spectacular views of one of Africa’s iconic spots. At Dar Es Salaam an agent from Coastal was waiting as we exited the airport. We were swiftly transferred to the waiting room for Coastal. We could not see any place to get refreshments here, but at least we had one of the bottles of water that we had brought over from the flight to Dar Es Salaam. Coastal weighed our hold luggage and tagged it for where it was going, but never weighed the hand luggage. After a short wait we followed our luggage out onto the tarmac and climbed into the small plane that would take us out to Selous. Looking out the windows we watched as the airport disappeared, and we flew over the roof tops of Dar Es Salaam (I wonder why so many of their roofs are painted such a bright blue) before heading out over the bush and on towards the Selous ( Siwandu Airstrip). Having landed safely, our transport was waiting and our luggage was swiftly loaded onto the vehicle and off we went. It was a fairly quick journey to Lake Manze Camp to get checked in and to arrive for lunch. Lake Manze Camp is a small tented camp set along the side of Lake Manze and all of the tents face the lake. It has twelve tents which are set out in a long line on either side of the reception / bar/ restaurant area. There is no power in any of the tents, but there is a charging station at the bar, which has plenty of plugs for anything you need to charge. We ended up being quite organised, taking chargers out on game drives so we could get the batteries charging as soon as we returned to the camp, rather than having to walk to and from our tents. The whole camp is an absolute haven for wildlife and there was always something around during the time we were here. Shaun and Milli greeted us and explained the routine / safety information and then we were shown to our home for the next four nights. After lunch we sat on the “veranda” of our tent, listening to Africa, and watching as elephants crashed through the vegetation feeding as they went and impalas crept silently past heading down to the remnants of water that used to be Lake Manze and which at the time was a large dried out plain, with some lethal mud, and a little, very little bit of water. Having rested and organised ourselves, at 4.00pm we headed to the lounge and we went for a boat trip. Because of the lack of water in Lake Manze the boats had been moved to the nearby Lake Nzerakera which still had plenty of water. The weather was beautiful when we set out, but virtually as soon as we were out in the middle of the lake it started to rain, and then it started to rain more, and then it started to pour. On a boat there is nowhere to go to get out of the rain. So we just crouched over the cameras trying to ensure that they did not get too damp. The animals did not seem to mind – particularly the hippo’s and the crocodiles (not really that surprising I suppose) but some of the baboons looked a bit depressed in the rain. Anyway, after about half an hour the rain moved away leaving some wonderful light and particularly a lovely rainbow over the lake. The nice light meant we got some good shots of hippo, a small herd of buffalo, crocodiles and a small variety of birds. There were some lovely scenic shots of the sun going down, as we returned back to the shore, a little soggy but still happy. It was a lovely relaxing way to start our trip. Tonight we slept like logs – catching up on the missed sleep, but even so we were aware of the whoop, whoop of the hyenas which were clearly travelling through the camp. As first light began to come up, we woke to the noise of the bush, and to the vervet monkeys leaping onto the tent roof and seemingly sliding down it before leaping to the ground to start their morning excursions.
  5. My wife and I (in our 60's) are planning our third trip to Africa for September 2017. This will be our second trip to Tanzania having done the northern circuit in February 2016. We are using Access 2 Tanzania as our trip planner and were very pleased with them on our last trip. Our itinerary looks like this: Fly Arusha to Seronera and spend three nights at Namiri Plains. Then fly to Kogatende and meet our guide Willy from Access (fantastic guide who was with us on our last trip) (Namiri requires you to use their guides) and we will stay three nights at Lemala Mara to few the migration and Mara area. Then we will fly to Ruaha for 4 nights private at Kichaka and then fly to Dar for the end of trip. We have a couple of questions. Our main question For those who have been to Namiri would you recommend spending the extra money for a private driver/guide or is shared vehicle ok? Any other thoughts on Namiri? Any other thoughts about our itinerary? Would of liked to stay longer at Kichaka but are sandwiched between two bookings. Would you spend some more days in Ruaha? If so Kwihala or their future camp Jabali which should be ready next summer) or the new camp Ikuka or any other suggestions. We are pretty much set but always welcome suggestions. We really like the information on this site. Thanks
  6. 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
  7. Sorry for this repost. I put the original under the wrong post listing. My wife and I (in our 60's) are planning our third trip to Africa for September 2017. This will be our second trip to Tanzania having done the northern circuit in February 2016. We are using Access 2 Tanzania as our trip planner and were very pleased with them on our last trip. Our itinerary looks like this: Fly Arusha to Seronera and spend three nights at Namiri Plains. (Namiri requires use of their guides) Then fly to Kogatende and meet our guide Willy from Access (fantastic guide who was with us on our last trip) and we will stay three nights at Lemala Mara to view the migration and Mara area. Then we will fly to Ruaha for 4 nights private at Kichaka and then fly to Dar for the end of trip. We have a couple of questions: For those who have been to Namiri would you recommend spending the extra money for a private driver/guide or is shared vehicle ok? Any other thoughts on Namiri? In Ruaha we would of liked to stay longer at Kichaka but we are sandwiched between two bookings and there were only 4 nights available for when we could go. Would you spend some more days in Ruaha? If so Asilia Kwihala or their future camp Jabali (which should be ready next September) or the new camp Ikuka or any other camp suggestions? Any other thoughts about our itinerary? We are pretty much set but always welcome suggestions. We really like the information on this site. Thanks
  8. This is the second part to my trip report from November/December, 2015. This was a last minute visit to East Africa which included two new places for me which were Ruaha and Zanzibar. I would have to say a big thank you to everyone who wrote about Ruaha because these trip reports on SafariTalk were the stimulus for my visit. After visiting Asilia's Naboisho Camp in the Naboisho Conservancy for 9 nights (trip report on the Kenya thread coming soon), I decided at the very last minute to tack on a visit to Ruaha and Zanzibar. The ever patient Troy from True Africa was brilliant in organising these add ons and to get me out to Kwihala for 6 nights with 6 nights at Matemwe, Zanzibar. I was able to take advantage of the shoulder/green season rates and their special stay 3 pay for 2. I stayed at the Transit Airport Motel, Dar es Salaam before my flight out to Ruaha and used free transfers/local taxis to cut down costs as much as possible. I thought I was organised but unfortunately I forgot my additional memory cards so I ended up concentrating more on photography and less with my videoing to not use as much memory. I also spent plenty of time just waiting and watching because I really wanted to observe animal behaviour and to enjoy the scenery that I knew Ruaha was famous for. I arrived in Ruaha on the 23 November with only 3 other guests in camp. I think I waved hello to @@Jaycees2012 when they were heading back to the airport and I too had the Umbele Tent during my stay as well as having Alex as my guide. It was a pleasure to be welcomed by Tam and her excellent team at Kwihala. I was hoping to meet the Italian head guide Pietro because I was interested in having a foreign guide who had come to love Africa and the bush so much that they stayed. I really thought that they must be extremely passionate and dedicated to do something like that. The tent was very large with an attached bathroom, which had a flushing toilet, running water, a bucket shower and toiletries. Water for the showers were provided after lunch and evening. Due to the hot weather I chose to have showers with no hot water added. The bed was extremely comfortable, additional seating was provided, a desk and chair for catching up with trip reports and an undercover patio with seating and a birdbath outside to attract visitors. The tent was hot during the day so I spent most of my downtime up in the communal areas where a breeze would pass by and I had access to cold drinks and ice. I was fortunate to have to only share a car for the 1.5 days during my stay and was alone in camp for 2 days as well. My guide for the first 4 days was Alex who is a very experienced Asilia floating guide who moves around the different properties to where he is needed. He knew all of my previous Asilia guides in Tanzania so we were able to share lots of great stories. He was accompanied by a trainee guide during my time who was a lovely young man who was a little quiet but came out of his shell during my stay. Alex also accompanied myself and two other guests on a walking safari during my stay which was lead by Hamza. Hamza also guided me on my last 1.5 days when Alex left for his break. Hamza was permanently based in Kwihala and was able to share some wonderful stories about some of the famous leopards in the park. He was a real character and a brilliant mimic of animal sounds which were very entertaining throughout the evenings. The weather was extremely hot during the day, with storms circling the park but not necessarily bringing rain to the Kwihala Camp. The park looked a patchwork of brown and green from above as well as from the ground as we drove around really highlighting where rain had recently fallen. During my stay we had two drives affected by heavy rains, strong winds, lighting and thunder. This only lasted a maximum of 2 hours and brought a lovely fresh feel to the camp. The rain assisted in providing new smaller sightings for myself including emperor scorpions, a smaller clear/white scorpion (I can’t remember the name), red baboon spiders, many different types of flying insects which flooded the sky around the lights in camp and of course frogs. With everything in abundance it meant that the birds and lizards were having a field day with so much food around. Due to the rains we didn’t have daily lion sightings because I was told they normally head to the higher areas to stay dry. I did manage to see lions on 3 out of the 6 days but they were very inactive due to the heat. I had 3 spectacular leopard sightings and then an additional 3 from afar. I spent a day tracking wild dogs after the rains (when the lions headed to higher grounds) without any luck (we found spoor and scat) but then we found the dogs the next morning and spent the morning and afternoon drives with them with some brilliant photo opportunities for everyone including the Ruaha Wild Dogs Conservation researcher. The elephants congregated along the dried rivers digging holes to find water because there was not enough rain to even produce a trickle in the dry riverbeds. Giraffes were present but skittish and had what I remember as fungal infections around their knees which resulted in them having large hard inflammations which were supposedly contagious. Researchers and vets were trying to understand this disease and how to treat it. I was able to enjoy a wonderful walking safari and saw elephants, giraffes, kudu, impala and learnt about different flora in the area. I loved my time at Ruaha and was very impressed with the fantastic management, staff, lovely tents, communal area, my favorite the bush tv as well as the wonderful park and its animals. I loved the authentic bush feel, the landscapes were amazing and the sightings were wonderful. It is a park that requires great guides to track spoor and to find animals in the bush and it is extremely rewarding when everyone in the car is trying to help out. There are pockets of tsetse flies but we generally chose not to drive in these areas unless there was a great sighting. It certainly didn’t detract me from my time at Ruaha. I will definitely revisit this camp because I found it to be the type of camp and park that offers a true safari experience.
  9. First of all I'd like to thank all the Safaritalkers for sharing their experience and expertise on destinations around the world. It's now my turn to add to the resource, even if it's only a minimal addition. I've been on a few safaris, and my target season has always been the dry or winter season as I had thought that was the 'best' time to go. My last safari was in Ruaha in October 2014, the height of the dry season. My guide at the time strongly recommended a return visit in the green season, particularly because I am interested in birds. I did some research on what to expect prior to booking my first green season safari, but I had a hard time finding as much information as I wanted as the vast majority of postings described the dry season. Having just returned, I would rate my visit to Ruaha in February was a resounding success. I prefer the lush views, the moisture in the air, cooler temperatures, fewer tsetse bites, and watching the herbivores revel in the time of plenty. There were butterflies galore and a myriad other little creatures (like chameleons, frogs and crabs) that immeasureably increased my enjoyment of the trip. I have to admit that I do not have a strong interest in predators or big cats for which the guides recommend a dry season visit. Also the rainfall during my visit was well above that expected, and resulted in the flooding of a few camps and difficulties traversing the terrain. I stayed at Kwihala for 10 days and loved every minute. I'll let my pictures do the talking. Please feel free to ask questions and I'll try to answer them to the best of my ability. I'll start with just a few photos to see how things look... Flap Necked Chameleon Kirk's Dik Dik The guides admit that Ruaha lions don't have poster boy good looks, but their battle scars are evidence of their preference for hunting big game.
  10. I and my wife came back from a trip to Tanzania three days ago and I am rushing to get started with the trip report. Most of the photos are not edited yet, so there will be a new installment whenever I am ready with the photos and I have free time to write. This was our third safari trip to Africa after Kenya in 2013 (Lake Nakuru, Lake Bogoria, Lake Naivasha, Selenkay Conservancy, Amboseli NP, Ol Kinyei and Naibosho conservancies and Masai Mara NR), South Africa (Cape Peninsula, TImbavati and Sabi Sand) and Botswana (Chobe NP, Jao and Khwai concessions, Moremi GR) in May / June 2014. Where does Ruaha NP stand compared to the parks and reserves mentioned above in my personal opinion? The previous two trips involved multiple parks / reserves / concessions, but if I had to choose only one place to visit in Africa, that would be Ruaha National Park. True wilderness (based on my safari experience so far), absolutely stunning and varied scenery, relatively few visitors, lots of wildlife. My obsession with Ruaha started from this forum when I read the report of @ about his first trip to Ruaha during the green season. Then I read the report of @stockeygirl and her posts and statements that Ruaha is her close second favorite park after SLNP and when the report of Paco (@africawild) with his excellent photographs came out, I already had Ruaha on my list. Since there are quite a few places on this list, the priority was the main issue. After having certain parts of Eastern and Southern Africa covered I thought that it would be nice to see the area where these to regions are overlapping which is exactly Ruaha NP. There was a very serious hesitation between Ruaha and South Luangwa NP, at certain point I was thinking to do both parks on the same trip using the new low cost airline FastJet, which offers budget friendly flights between Dar es Salaam and Lusaka. Then it turned out that my wife has only 12 days off work left for this year and she really wanted to see Zanzibar, so we had to do either SLNP + Zanzibar or Ruaha and possibly Selous + Zanzibar. The question about the budget of the trip was also very important. Airfare to Dar es Salaam was slightly cheaper than to Lusaka, but not to the extend to make this factor a decision maker. Both Ruaha and SLNP required domestic flights respectively from Lusaka and Dar, which were similarly priced, so the decision maker in terms of budget had to be to cost of the safari itself and we all know that this always represents the bulk of the budget. We always take safari trips on the budget side, but this time I had to be even more careful after the South Africa / Zambia / Botswana trip just four months ago. If we had chosen SLNP it had to be either Marula Lodge or Croc Valley Lodge, located just outside the gate and we had to share vehicle with other guests. For Ruaha there was an interesting budget option on the table. After reading a lot about the park and possible budget accommodation, I stumbled upon an article about the TANAPA government owned bandas, located in Msembe area, not far from the park HQ. They would cost only 60 dollars per night for two of us, but the problem was that they didn't have en-suite toilet and we (especially my wife) would feel uncomfortable using the ablution block in the middle of the night, should that becomes necessary. Then I discovered that TANAPA have also en-suite cottages up the hill, about one and a half kilometers from the bandas. Would having a toilet inside be an important issue? When we arrived in Ruaha it turned out that it would, not that we ever used the toilet at night, but our guide told us that just two weeks ago there has been a fatal lion attack on one of the Mwagusi Camp guides, the second within a month's time, the first one being on a road maintenance machine operator. Both attacks occurred during the early morning hours - the guide has been checking around camp before the guests wake up and the other guy left his tent to check his machinery. They say that it has been a single sick lion that could not hunt anything else. The lion has been found and shot by the rangers, but our guide and some others thought that different lions have been involved in the incidents. After hearing about this it was a great comfort to know that we had an en-suite toilet. I will show detailed photos about the cottages later on during the report. On the very last game drive, we went to see also the bandas and I took some photos there, as well. After finding the accommodation the next step was to find a vehicle and a guide. I had written to Warthog Adventures in Iringa last year and they gave me very good prices, but we decided to do S. Africa and Botswana instead of Ruaha. Now I wrote them again and they confirmed the prices + they reserved the TANAPA cottage for us. I asked about duration of game drives and unlimited mileage and the guy replied that this is to be negotiated with the driver, which didn't feel quite reassuring. They didn't require any deposit either, so all we had before we left was just an email from a guy in Iringa stating the price and the dates for the safari. I found very few websites on the Internet where the company was mentioned plus one album on flickr.com with photos of their vehicle, but they were good. I had talked to @@PauloT from the forum who is a guide based in Iringa and took his phone number, in case something goes wrong with Warthog Adventures. My biggest concern was the quality of the guide and the condition of the vehicle. Both turned out to be excellent, our guide Alphonce was one of the best we ever had, for six days he actually tracked leopard twice for us, the second time all Kwihala vehicles (including Lorenzo Rossi) plus Mwagusi, Old Mdonya camps and Ruaha River Lodge vehicles gathered the leopard, which Alphonce tracked (we stayed at the side alone for at least half an hour before the other vehicles started arriving). To make the long story short - an excellent safari for me (I would not think that it will fit the discerning safarista's taste, though): 1. No thrills accommodation without the adventurous feeling of a safari camp or the luxury of a lodge, but with all comforts that we needed - a bedroom and a seating room with panoramic windows, large comfortable bed with mosquito net, en-suite toilet and shower, solar electrical system, good enough for recharging multiple camera batteries, a few hours of generator power, good enough to recharge the laptop and a million dollar view from the top of the hill towards the Great Ruaha River, the plains with the acacia trees and the mountains beyond. 2. No stops for coffee, tea, sundowners and other activities of this kind which in my humble opinion just take time from game viewing. The vehicle had a fridge and we were able to bring drinks and snacks with us, which we would consume while driving. Drinks were strictly water only, so we will be always fresh for the early morning game drives. We arranged with Alphonce to leave at 06:30 in the morning, skipping breakfast every day, coming back for lunch about 13:30-14:00. Leaving again for the afternoon drive at 16:00 h and coming back just before dark about 18:30-19:00. 3. Private vehicle, a pop-up roof Land Rover in great technical condition - we had all the comforts we needed for undisturbed 360 degrees viewing and more than enough space for equipment. I made the back seat my office, shoes off, so we can step on the seats at any time. Ability to stop for every single little thing of interest and stay at each sighting for as long as we wished. 4. For food we had a choice of 3-4 dishes (beef with rice, chicken with rice, beef with ugali, beef with spaghetti, chicken with spaghetti and combination of those). Nothing fancy, but good enough for us and for the cost of 7,000 shillings (about 5 dollras) per meal. We ate at a dining hall with the same amazing view located just about 40 meters from our cottage. For lunch the cook would call the guide while we are on a game drive to ask what we would like to have, for dinner, we would tell the cook about our choice during lunch. They also sell water, beer, other drinks and some souvenirs. After dinner we were accompanied to the cottage by a ranger armed with AK-47 (not sure if this is a good weapon against lions, but it will help with automatic bursts and still better than nothing). All these for about 200 dollars per person per night total, including park fees (excluding tips), oh boy, this was heaven on earth. Would do it again withing the snap of a finger! And last, but not least, I would like to thank @@PauloT and @@pault for their replies regarding my questions about the park, as well as to thank @russel, @@madaboutcheetah, @@xelas and especially @@Peter Connan for their input regarding continuous auto focus settings of my camera. The input helped very much, I stayed on tracking AF constantly, just tapping the back button for single AF mode and I hope that I got decent results (you will be the one to judge the photos). Ruaha sunrise with a giraffe, as seen from our cottage: Sunset with a baobab tree: Just couldn't resist posting two teasers. :)
  11. The northern safari circuit in Tanzania is soooo yesterday… (Well, in fact, it was February for me. Ha!) The hot, tsetse-ridden southern interior is where it’s happenin’. Only glimpsed on a previous “drive-by”, the vast area to me still represents mystery and possibilities. Craig Doria is not soooo yesterday. This is my sixth safari with Craig, and despite his greying beard, he never gets old. Even for those who, like Craig, specialize in safaris in Tanzania, the southern circuit is seldom visited, and it constitutes a refreshing change of pace. A sense of adventure is palpable as we review our itinerary in the sultry night air of Dar. It reads… 3 nights Selous Impala Camp, 4 nights Kwihala Camp (Ruaha), 3 nights Katavi Wildlife Camp, 5 nights Lukwati Game Reserve. Selous Game Reserve No, it’s not like the ’90s female tennis player Monica. It’s more like the answer (in non-plural form) to the question – what does a peddler of toilets do for a living? Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way… It’s a strange thing that a protected area be named after a professional hunter, and a stranger thing that it was once a battleground between the Brits and the Germans during World War I. (“A strange place to fight a war”, quips Rolf Baldus in Wild Heart of Africa, a recent, comprehensive book about the Selous Game Reserve.) And what other major park or reserve in Africa has designated areas for both trophy hunting (allowed south of the Rufiji River) and photographic safaris (north of the Rufiji) under the same protected area name? In fact, strange – and wonderful – would become the recurring theme of my first foray into the Selous. Or as Craig would put it, everything is a bit different here – and awesome. “Low-lying”. “Hot”. “Humid”. These bandied-about descriptions of the Selous conjure up green floodplains and palm trees. So, it is to my surprise that the drive from the Mtemere airstrip to Selous Impala Camp first skirts drab, bone-dry scrubland. Until we near one of the oxbow lakes formed by the Rufiji River or the River itself, we shall remain in the bone-dry, though the two characteristic trees of this part of the Selous, Terminalia spinosa and Acacia zanzibarica, quell the drab half way into the drive. The former, with its stiff, layered branches and brilliant green leaves, is reminiscent of a Christmas tree. The latter, with light branches blanketed in long, white thorns, evoke a White Christmas. “No place I know in Africa looks like this,” to Craig declare I. Zebras amidst T. spinosa and A. zanzibarica T. spinosa Greater kudu bull and young Impala Camp is set overlooking a lovely stretch of the Rufiji River. A sprawling mess structure and a separate bar both afford one the opportunity to view hippos and crocs. All the basic bush comforts and luxuries are provided – no less and no more (well, there is at the bar the badass Italian coffee machine brought in by Fausto, the camp manager). Dennis, a 12-year veteran of the Selous, is our excellent local guide with a baritone voice that leaves no doubt as to who is in charge. A dry season safari in the Selous basically consists of game drives around the oxbow lakes of the Rufiji and powerboat rides on them. From Mtemere going roughly northwest, the lakes go, in order… Mzizima, Siwandu, Nzerakera and Manze, with Tagalala some distance west of this cluster. Impala Camp lies between Mzizima and Siwandu, just where T. spinosa and A. zanzibarica begin to add liveliness to the landscape, and it has easy access to Lake Siwandu by boat. Dennis (foreground) Breakfast on the Rufiji So compelling is the boat ride from Impala Camp, I, ordinarily not much of a boat-safari dude, would end up enjoying it twice. The boat station is on the Rufiji proper and is steps away from the bar. The Rufiji, freely flowing and teeming with fish, fish-eating birds, hippos and crocodiles, is possibly the healthiest looking river I have seen in Africa. The number of crocodiles is truly astounding, triggering the sophomoric question of how much money would have to be dangled to entice one to swim across the approximately 75-meter-wide river. Craig: “it would probably be okay crossing just one time, don’t you think?” I negotiate Craig down to an embarrassingly low amount (don’t worry, you Doria children – it’s just hypothetical) until – tick-tock, tick-tock – a monster reptile with chilling green eyes swims by us. After a few minutes on the Rufiji, a slight right turn of the boat gets you onto the tranquil waters of Lake Siwandu. Hippo pods seem more numerous here. Waterbucks and buffalos graze out on the small peninsulas full of sunning crocodiles. A group of zebras emerges from the thickets to water. White-fronted bee-eaters, in smaller numbers than the carmine bee-eaters of the Luangwa Valley but no less brilliant and showy, have formed a nesting colony on the riverbank and do their industrious bee-eater thing. The sun sets behind a seemingly manicured row of borassus palms. Yes, it’s all a cliché, and it’s real. Lake Siwandu Buffalo from the boat Hello Fresh blood stains Tick-tock, tick-tock White-fronted bee-eater A drowned leadwood A row of borassus On terra firma, we scour the fringes of Siwandu, Nzerakera and Manze and the dry plains (now looking a bit like Tarangire, by the way) just north of those lakes for predator activity early morning, and then watch the magical “nine o’ clock magnet” phenomenon while enjoying a picnic breakfast. It is as if someone flips the switch on at nine, and the lakes hypnotize the animals and tow them in. One can, over a cup of coffee from a good vantage point, watch pretty much all the plains game species pass by on their way for a drink. The Selous offers up all the familiar plains game, but each species is a bit different (strange?) from the norm. Impalas here, though classified as East African impala, are small and dull-colored and more similar to the Southern impala. The zebras betray narrow stripes, suggesting they bleed into the Crawshay’s category. The giraffes are categorized as Maasai but with less pronounced blotchy patterns typical of the type. (By the way, the giraffe purportedly does not occur south of the Rufiji in the Selous.) The hartebeests are of the Lichtenstein’s variety, slightly out of their elements in this dry, non-miombo part of the Selous. The greater kudus look the same here as anywhere else in Tanzania but appear to be on a different calendar. Most everywhere in Africa where they are found, including other parts of Tanzania, greater kudu bulls mix and mate with females at the end of the rains in May/June and then occur almost exclusively in bachelor groups later in the year. Every magnificent kudu bull encountered here would still be seen with his girlfriends. A typical late morning scene Lichtenstein's hartebeest Greater kudu bull
  12. Hi Safaritalkers Inspired by @Flytravelers epic trip report http://safaritalk.net/topic/13309-ruaha-and-zanzibar-september-october-2014/, I decided to copy his trip. I contacted Warthog Adventures and booked a private car, a guide and they booked a Tanapa cottage in Ruaha for me and my friend Lars. Contrary to Flytravelers trip we went during the wet season. Dry season and wet season, this is a topic I have read about, and I decided It was time for me to go during wet season to experience the difference. After a long flight Stockholm - Dar es Salaam, we took the morning flight to Iringa with Auric Air. At the airport we were collected by our guide Habib. Lars on the runway, taking a picture of the airplane. After a short stop att Warthog Adventures office and a chat with their manager Geoffrey, we drove in to Iringa and shopped 48 bottles of 1/2 l water and 12 coca-cola. It was not to be enough. The drive to Ruaha was about 2 1/2 hour. A nice drive through the green lush and beautiful countryside. Finally at Ruaha to be continued...
  13. Back from a great safari... I encountered more lions on this one than any other safari in my life. Ruaha, in particular, was crawling with them. Elephants have, understandably, become skittish and nocturnal at Selous, but Ruaha and Katavi had good numbers of them. This was my first time to Selous, and it was a pleasant surprise. The birdlife on the Rufiji and the lakes is incredible. Tree-climbing lions, tame leopards and roan at Katavi. And I was privileged to have visited a newly-gazetted Lukwati Game Reserve, a huge, pristine miombo woodland.
  14. Hi together We are planing a trip to southern Tanzania next July/August. We would like to stay 9 nights in Ruaha. We are traveling with our own guide/driver and our own car. But is it worth to do the lodge activities for 3 days, then we are willing to park the car. More would be to expensive, I think. 3 nights should be at Tandala Tented Camp. It is not so expensive and I get a lot of recommondations. For the other 6 nights, we are looking for 2 other lodges and it's difficult to decide. Of course, the lodges shouldn't be all in the same area of the park. We have to choose out of the following camps. Others are to expensive. Kwihala Camp Mwagusi Camp Flycatcher Camp, Old Mdonya River Camp Ruaha River Lodge We get some recommondation to not go to Old Mdonya River Camp cause there are lots of Tsetse flys and it is not a good game drive area. But it is not so expensive (in comparision with Kwihala and Mwagusi) and there should be lot of animals going through the camp. Ruaha River Lodge is relativly huge and not that far away from Tandala. At least, they share the same game view area along the river. Flycatcher is at the other side of the Ruaha River and I have no idea, how the game is there. And I don't know where to cross the river. And there aren't lot of reviews of the camp. Mwagusi and Kwihala: I think we are going with one of them. But which one? Both are to expensive and they are in the same area. I really appreciate you help. Regards Stefan
  15. I've been to Africa multiple times, mainly to South Africa/Botswana, with a standard northern circuit trip to Tanzania in 2010. The main impetus for this trip was to visit Ruaha, Tanzania's largest national park. In researching accommodations I found Authentic Tanzania's private tented camp near Kimilamatonge Hill, and we booked that for a full week. The rest of the trip filled out like this: -July 3 depart Los Angeles -July 4 arrive Dar es Salaam via Amsterdam -July 5 drive to Mikumi National Park -July 6 walking safari and drives in Mikumi -July 7 drive to Ruaha -July 8-13 full days in Ruaha -July 14 fly to Northern Serengeti, Lemala Kuria Hills lodge -July 15 Northern Serengeti, Lemala Kuria Hills lodge -July 16 drive to Central Serengeti via Lobo, Serengeti Sopa lodge -July 17 Central Serengeti and drive to Ngorongoro, Ngorongoro Sopa lodge -July 18 Ngorongoro Crater and then drive to Kilimanjaro Airport for evening flight home It was an ambitious itinerary, with little downtime, although the drive from Mikumi to Ruaha was much longer than I expected. The flights were made more bearable by paying for seats with extra legroom. We were first to the visa counter, which was a slow process. Mubu from Authentic Tanzania met us and drove us to the Alexander Hotel. I wouldn't want to try driving around Dar myself, there are no street signs! In the morning J4 (Jumanne, which is "Tuesday" in Swahili), our guide for the next 9 days, picked us up in a standard 5 seat pop-top land cruiser. Even being a Sunday morning the streets were crowded with buses, tatas, and trucks. We saw lots of markets, and farming as we left town. We arrived at Mikumi National Park at 2:30 pm, with a quick walk through the sad dusty museum. Only the north side of the park gets visited, as tsetse flies are bad south of the road. The main road crosses the park, it's VERY busy and noisy. Signs warn of fines for hitting animals ($3500 US for lion, $15,000 for giraffe or elephant). Weird to see elephants and giraffes next to a busy freeway! Another sign says that no free wildlife viewing or photos is allowed form the highway, you have to pay the park fees. The country plans to reroute the road but that could be years away. On entering we see impala, wildebeest, eland, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, reedbuck, warthog, black backed jackal, and lots of birds. There are lions, but they eluded everyone. Viewing is done in the north side of the park, too many tsetse flies in the south
  16. Here is a nice interview of Amy Dickman from the Ruaha Carnivore Project on Mongabay: http://news.mongabay.com/2013/09/protecting-predators-in-the-wildest-landscape-youve-never-heard-of/
  17. 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!
  18. In a few days, I am off to Tanzania, guided by Craig Doria again, to sample all the different tsetse fly bites the various parks and reserves have to offer (Selous (Selous Impala Camp), Ruaha (Kwihala Camp), Katavi (Katavi Wildlife Camp) and an off-the-beaten path place near Lake Rukwa). Indeed, I will be swatting away at those little buggers, but there will be plenty of other things to look at, I am sure. Will report back.
  19. This is the title of an article of Nat Geo of the interview with Minister Nyalandu. I will quote large parts of the interview, which is available on the link below: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/07/150713-elephants-poaching-ivory-tanzania-africa-world/
  20. Udzungwa National Park & Ruaha National Park 10-15th March 2014 Setting out early from Iringa and enjoying views into the Udzungwa mountains for much of the journey we arrived at Hondo Hondo lodge in time for lunch. We were greeted by four primate species (baboons, udzungwa red colobus, black & white colobus and sykes monkey) in the trees around the restaurant. Keen to explore the forest we soon headed to the park gate and our first trail up into the mountains. The humidity and steepness of the trail made the afternoon more taxing than expected, not to mention the illusive elephants having trashed parts of the trail the night before. However frequent monkey sightings and the excitement of being in such a different and unique habitat put our tired legs to the back of our minds. The next day after what surely must be one of the finest cooked breakfasts in all of Tanzania, we headed out to walk the Sanje Falls trail. During the rainy season the falls are impressive to say the least and the view from the top is nothing short of spectacular. Our efforts were rewarded with a breathtaking swim at the foot of the falls and Lucy's famous cinnamon buns on return to the lodge. The second half of the trip began with the awesome view from Hilltop lodge followed by a walk into the last village along the road into Ruaha, Tungamalenga. The bush is lush and green at the moment with wildflowers and butterflies everywhere. The guys then got to visit the Wildlife Connection library and learn about how beehive fences can help local farmers with an additional livelihood and protect their crops from elephants. We were joined on the walk back by two trainee guides from the locally run guide school who impressed us with their knowledge of local birds and tree species. After lunch it was time to head to the park, personally I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the river and how green the park was, having seen it dry for so long. Despite the rain we managed to find two male lions and enjoyed their company right next to the car before the light began to fail. Over the following days we relaxed by the river, ate our fill of chapatis and got very lucky with our sightings which included cheetah on consecutive days, plenty of elephants, bat eared fox and pushing 100 birds species without really trying. But for me the highlights were an early morning bush walk along the Great Ruaha River which was really living up to its name and a wonderful encounter with a heard of elephants late on the last evening, feeding and socialising around us as the sun went down - magic! Big thank you to Mark, Martyn & Becky (not forgetting Habibu) for making it such a great safari. You can find photos from the trip above. What they said: "Thank you for a great week, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience & will remember it for a long time! Having you along with your extensive knowledge of the animals, ecosystems and local social/political influences definitely enhanced the experience (without it becoming a dull educational field trip!). I was pleasantly surprised to find the walk outside of the national park & into the local village just as enjoyable and interesting as being in the park - it's a great unique experience that we wouldn't have received with many other tour operators." Martyn Rosser. "Thanks again for a wonderful trip: very well organised and good choice of vehicle and safe driver Habibe. Paul's passion for the wildlife of Africa provides both added interest and enjoyment to the trip. I would say the end of the rainy season is a time to go as the country and game are at their prime. " Mark Westwood. If you are interested in a safari, you can contact us here: http://www.paultickner.com/contact
  21. I came through Doha, one month ago, with Qatar Airways. The service on board is excellent as it is in the airport of Doha. I choosed Qatar Airways to avoid the night in Dar. The transit time in Doha was less than 2 hours. The flight normally arrives in Dar at 7.25. In fact, it arrived 35 minutes in advance, which was nice, because the Coastal flight was leaving at 8.30. I had also taken the visa in advance. The first camp was Mwagusi Safari Camp, where I stayed 7 nights, owned by Chris Fox, a pioneer in the tourism industry in the Ruaha. It was a comeback after 17 years. I had been there two times in 1997, when his camp was, beside the Ruaha River Lodge, the first one in the park. The camp is located in the area where the concentration of game is the highest one. Ruaha is one of the most beautiful park in Africa, and a great place to go, but at that time, it was greater. Going off road was tolerated, when necessary, and just a couple of cars on a sighting, it was still a real wilderness. It was not easy to see a leopard and one had just the time to glimpse the lesser kudu. Now, from what I’ve seen and heard (more camps to come), I am afraid that, in the next 10 years, it will become, like the parks of the north and Kenya, a very crowded place in high season ? I found some pictures, slides that I scanned, of a sighting of 1997, the kill of a buffalo by lions. It took them 4 hours to kill it. We did not stay continuously during the whole progress, but came back twice, and each time, we were the only car !!! The buffalo was still alive, when the cub, totally oblivious of the potential danger, was chewing its internal organs. Chris Fox was there but he left after 3 days to Mufindi. He is actually very busy trying to save, in fact what is still possible to save, the Mufindi forest (south of the Uduzungwa mountains) from continuous deforestation and heavy poaching. The level of guiding at Mwagusi is very good. Simon, the manager, is training the guides. During the game drives, the guide is helped by his driver. The bandas are very comfortable, without excessive luxury. Elephants, giraffes, warthogs, vervet monkeys and baboons were seen on every game drives, and in great number, as well as, what a surprise, impalas. Lions and greater kudus were seen on almost every game drives. I saw less zebras and buffaloes than expected.
  22. Hi everyone. I have a tough choice here, for our next safari in 2015... If you hade to choose between these two parks, which would you prefer? I know that there are a lot of variables that come into play... For example, we will be travelling in either Aug or Sep; probably staying at Katavi Wildlife Camp if Katavi, Mwagusi or Kwihala if Ruaha; we are more interested in game drives than walking; flying in, not driving. There is obviously a difference in cost in getting to the different parks, but, ignoring that for a moment... I get the impression from the trip reports that the game is a little more skittish in Ruaha - would that be a fair comment? Both parks have a terrific, "wild" feel to them, and the camps have a good reputation for guiding. So... hoping for some advice from you wonderful ST folk!!
  23. Itinerary Ruaha- Kwihala Camp 7 nights Selous- Selous Impala Camp 4 nights Zanzibar- Unguja Lodge 3 nights, Dhow Palace 1 night This was my third visit each to Selous and Ruaha. So far Ruaha has been my favourite, as I’ve felt Ruaha has better and more diverse game viewing and some stunning scenery, plus very pleasantly low vehicle numbers. I visited Kwihala last year in June for 8 nights and loved it- as far as I’m concerned they’re doing everything right- focussing on the safari and the guiding but with a comfortable but not over the top luxurious camp which is small (6 tents) and has a great atmosphere, all at quite a reasonable price. I’ve struggled to find a camp I really like in Selous so this time decided to try Selous Impala which I’d heard good things about but have been put off before by their private dining policy. However, on this trip I was travelling with 2 friends so I thought this would be less of an issue. Although I haven’t felt Selous overall has as good game viewing as Ruaha, it does offer a contrasting environment, the chance to do river activities (especially good for birding)and some animals you can’t see in Ruaha or have a better chance of seeing in Selous (particularly wild dogs). So these were all the reasons for the 7-4 split in favour of Ruaha. Warning- this trip report contains Fatuous Naming of Big Cats from the outset.........
  24. Trip Reports from Ruaha are like buses – you wait for ages then loads turn up at once. Many thanks to @@Zim Girl, @@Africalover & @FlyTraveler for great accounts of their very different trips. After last years trip to Madagascar we were looking for something that would get us out of a vehicle so had been toying with the idea of a “walking safari”, probably in Zambia. When we heard about Kichaka and having “experienced Moli” in a previous trip it was clear that this would be an ideal way to dip our toes as regards to proper bush walking as opposed to “bumbles around camp”. After an overnight at the Southern Sun in Dar (absolutely fine & an excellent breakfast) and chance to get a good night’s sleep after our Emirates flights, we pitched up at Costal Aviation at the appointed hour to check-in for the flight out to Ruaha. We were allocated seats on the "Private Jet" (as Coastal described it to me) from Dar to Ruaha - it’s their Pilatus-PC12 & therefore not a jet + we had to share with 5 others so not private either but it did whisk us direct from Dar to Msembe in a very smooth, comfortable & quick 1.5 hrs which meant we arrived at a pretty much deserted airstrip! It wasn’t long before the vehicles from the nearer camps started arriving but Moli wasn’t far behind, giving us time to crack open a couple of Stoney Tangawizi’s and have a nice long chat with Kichaka’s outgoing guests before the "snail plane" arrived via the Selous. Once the Selous plane had left our first visit was to the park headquarters bottle store – Moli having surreptitiously already phoned Noelle to check they’d got plenty of Stoney’s back at camp, turns out they were running a bit low so Moli bought the bottle store’s whole stock & we were on our way. Kichaka’s “basecamp” is currently sited well to the east of the other Ruaha camps so we settled in for a long drive but it didn’t take too long before Moli spotted a few birds in the distance then got very excited as the numbers grew – it was the annual arrival of the Pelicans to gorge themselves on all the stranded fish in the rapidly shrinking Great Ruaha River. There seemed to be elephants everywhere we looked as we continued heading out into the much less frequented part of the park before parking up so Moli could rustle up a wonderful bush lunch on his portable griddle – no dried up sandwiches here! This lunch set the tone for all the meals during our stay & appetites sated we continued on our way, arriving to an enthusiastic welcome by Noelle & the rest of the Kichaka team at “basecamp”. After a nice “vuguvugu” shower, it was time for pre-dinner drinks around the “bush-TV” and the first of all the superb meals that Noelle conjured up for us during our stay. It had been 7 years since we were at Jongomero (and Noelle had only just started there) but when I asked Moli if he had succeeded in “tubing” the Jongomero River, they both remembered the time well and it felt like only yesterday.
  25. This trip came about because we were looking for a walking based safari similar to the ones we have become used to in Mana Pools the last few years. During all of our safaris over the last 10 years we have always tried to include walking to some extent or other, but after our first visit to Mana in 2011 we were totally blown away by how close wildlife encounters could be on foot. So in June 2013 we booked 12 nights with Kichaka Expeditions in Ruaha National Park. We wanted to have something in place for 2014 before we went to Mana in the September because we knew if we didn’t, we would come back from there and rebook straight away for the next year as has been the case for the previous two years. Kichaka appeared to offer exactly what we wanted, a mobile walking safari in private camps with a private guide. We used Expert Africa to arrange the trip as usual. We flew Emirates on 6th September from Manchester to Dar es Salaam via Dubai arriving at Dar in the afternoon. We stayed overnight at the Dar Serena hotel and then flew on the early Coastal Aviation flight to Ruaha the next morning. The flight only took 1 hour and 15 minutes as we were on the quicker Pilatus plane and didn’t make any stops on the way in. Welcoming committee Moli and Noelle met us at the airstrip and right away we knew we were going to have a great time. You will be hard pushed to meet two more enthusiastic people anywhere! This is a broad summary of how we spent our time. The point of the holiday for us was to be on foot as much as possible. This pleased Moli immensely and so we planned to spend the first few days walking our way over to the Eastern Boundary of the Park roughly following the Ruaha riverfront and using the fly camp and sleep-out tents (pics later). During this time, Moli and Noelle discussed with us the idea of packing up a small fly camp and doing a 3 night mini-expedition up to the Mpululu area over the escarpment in the north of the Park. Moli had never had the chance to explore the area properly and apparently no other tourists had ever camped overnight there, so we would be the first. Well, we jumped at the chance! After the time in Mpululu we came back to the Main Camp for a couple of nights and explored the riverfront going west from Lunda towards the Little Serengeti area. Then, for the last day we crossed the bridge over the Ruaha near the main gate and walked the other side of the river for around 15kms. This was another area that Moli had never walked before. By the time we finished we had covered around 75kms of Ruaha riverfront. Another first! In total we walked approx 130kms during the holiday and had witnessed some of the most wonderful areas of unspoilt Africa we had ever seen.

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