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Found 13 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. Great Plains Conservation launches the new Selinda Adventure Trail with 'heli-walking' and/or 'heli-canoeing'. Adventure is defined by a certain amount of unpredictability and unknown. It should also enhance senses and stimulate adrenaline. The new 5 days/4 nights Selinda Adventure Trail embodies this definition entirely: The itinerary primarily dictated by water levels in the Selinda Spillway, a seasonally flooded channel that connects the Okavango River to the west and the Linyanti Swamps to the east. When the Spillway has low water, or dry, we will operate a professionally guided walking safari; and when there is enough water we will offer a combination walking and canoeing expedition (formerly the Selinda Canoe Trail). Secondary effects to the itinerary route often depends on wildlife movements. The adventure for both experiences start with a thrilling 20 minute helicopter journey to the remote starting points in the vast 320,000 acre Selinda Reserve, giving an aerial perspective of the Selinda Spillway and the myriad of channels and lagoons that branch off it creating clearings in the pristine woodland. Call it ‘heli-walking’, ‘heli-stalking’ or ‘heli-canoeing’ if you like. The unpredictable nature of the floods means that your guests won’t know before they board the helicopter from the Selinda Reserve airstrip whether they will be doing the pure-walking safari or the combination walking and canoeing expedition. Be prepared to walk, regardless of whether the Spillway is dry or in flood. The 2016 season will operate 20 May to 11 October and in 2017 season from 02 April to 23 September. Download 2016 rates and departure dates here. 2017 rates, with Selinda Adventure Trail dates, will be sent shortly. Download full itineraries and factsheet here.
  3. 1) Name of property and country: Erongo Wilderness Camp, Damaraland, Namibia 2) Website address if known: http://www.erongowilderness-namibia.com 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). Green season, March, 2015 4) Length of stay: 2 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? I read fantastic reports on TA about this property, their amazing views and their great walks. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? I did the initial research and then contacted Discover Namibia who arranged everything. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 4 times 8) To which countries? South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Namibia. 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? A wilderness/nature version of Mowani 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No, but there wasn’t too much around to be worried about 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? I think about 10 rooms 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? We had views from one of the room’s balcony and the communal area had a breathtaking view over a small valley. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? The rooms were large, comfortable, well furnished and clean. We enjoyed our time mainly at the communal area and the outside viewing area enjoying the views, drinks and snacks. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. The food was fantastic. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Yes there were different things on offer. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Single tables, no hosting. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Did not take advantage 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Open 4WD but we didn’t use it. 19) How many guests per row? Up to 3 in each row but normally 2. 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Guided walks were offered free of charge and lasted between 2-4 hours. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? Walks were determined by weather and which track we would take. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? Private and no other guests around. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? 24) Are you able to off-road? yes 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. N/A 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings. Very good birding, no large mammal sightings, the area was chosen for its stunning nature and walks. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Brilliant. 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? N/A 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: Friendly, helpful, informative, happy and fun. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? The staff were extremely helpful and happy during our stay. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Not sure. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: Just what we needed after being on the road for 3 weeks. The Erongo Wilderness Lodge is an oasis that provides beautiful large tented accommodation with fantastic bathrooms and huge decks overlooking the surrounding landscape dotted with massive boulders and wildlife. The staff are extra special and always on hand to provide you with whatever you need including yummy meals and refreshing drinks. The guided walks are fantastic and definitely worth waking up early for because the breakfast you get when back in camp is one of the best in Namibia. We were lucky to experience wonderful, refreshing rains during the evening/night which made the sleeping temperatures lovely and allowed us to rejuvenate. Wifi and a lovely pool was an added bonus. We also visited the San Living Museum which was up the road and it was absolutely brilliant! Would definitely recommend.
  4. Hi everyone I'm one of the authors of the various Lonely Planet guides to Kenya, Tanzania, East Africa, Ethiopia and other areas (new, and expanded editions of all the East Africa books out this week).However, that's not what this post is about. Instead, I wanted to tell you all a little bit about a major project I'm currently engaged in and that might be of interest to users of these forums. Over the course of May-June 2015 (so yeah I am already a short way into it) I will walk, with a Maasai companion, across part of the Maasai lands of Kenya. The walk started from the eastern edge of Kenya’s remote Loita Hills and is running to the western edge of the Mara North conservancy, part of the greater Masai Mara ecosystem. Along the way I am staying in, and visiting, as many Maasai villages as possible as well as meeting and talking to a whole host of people involved in conservation and tourism in that area. The result of the walk will be a book about about the walk, contemporary Maasai life and wildlife conservation in East Africa today. A second book will be a coffee table photo book filled with portraits and reportage photos from the walk and my other East African trips. There will also be a range of magazine features and a large online and social media presence. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I, and I hope my Maasai companion, will be doing a speaking tour through the UK, France and Kenya talking in schools and public venues about East African conservation. I am providing very frequent blog updates on the dedicated project website - www.walkingwiththemaasai.com and there's a dedicated Facebook page which some of you might be interested in following: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Walking-with-the-Maasai/421479961339808?ref=hl I hope a few of you find it interesting and enjoyable enough to want to follow the project. Thank you Stuart Butler
  5. 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
  6. Its all about the wind.... That is how i always start my safety talk when we are about to do an approach on Elephant bulls. It’s all about the wind; Elephants have an incredible sense of smell. Their eye sight is poor and what they pick up is movement more than anything, quick movement at that. Their hearing is also good but is almost selective hearing in a way. You can get right up to an Elephant bull and talk in a low whisper and most of the time they will not even notice. Snap a stick or stand on some dry leaves and crunch them and he will stop what he is doing immediately, lift his head and perk up his ears. So if you get down wind, move in very slowly using whatever cover you have between you and don’t step on too many sticks and dry leaves, you can get up very close to and Elephant bull and he will have no idea that you are even there. Approaching Elephant bulls is something i love to do and something that i do with just about every guest that i guide if they are up for it. Some are not so keen to walk but i will always do my best to convince them to at least do an approach with me if they don’t want to do a longer walk as the experience is unforgettable. A couple days ago my guests and I did a walk behind Masuma dam; it is one of my favourite places to walk as once you get through the scrub Mopane you get into beautiful Granite rock outcrops that stick up all over the area. My plan for this day was to walk into this rocky area and climb some of the bigger outcrops and use the height to glass for bulls. When had gone about three kilometres into the rocks when we came to a huge outcrop. Up we went and the view from up on these outcrops is spectacular. We sat for about ten minutes glassing when I picked up a group of three bulls feeding about a kilometre away. I pointed them out to everyone and told them we were going for them. The wind was perfect blowing straight from them to us. These animals can smell you coming from hundreds of meters away. We crossed the ground quickly and saw them up ahead. As we were getting to within a hundred meters or so I saw that there was more than three. I counted five as we go closer, feeding lazily in the mopane. The wind was still perfect so chose the bull on the edge of the group and started to move in. It is the dry season and most of the grass underfoot is very dry so walking in quietly is tough, however the wind was blowing steadily into our faces so was helping to mask the sound. Also when approaching a group of bulls I find that they react less to sound as I guess they think any sound they hear is just one of their mates nearby. We had a little cluster of rocks between us and the bull we were moving in on, so my plan was to get to those. This we did with relative ease despite some crunching of grass and leaves. We sat at about fifteen meters from the bull in silence and watched him feed. We could see the other four. One on his left and three on his right, three of the bulls were big fellas and two were young bulls not long out of the herd they were born into. Young bulls will leave the herd they are born into roughly in their middle teen years and will start to follow big mature bull around and learn from them what being a bull elephant is all about. Females will stay with the herd they are born into generally for life. Bulls become more loners or hang out in small groups such as this one. I keep reiterating BULLS and those are the only Elephants i do approaches on. By my own choice i never approach elephant cows and calves as they are a very different animal. Whereas an elephant bull is generally very predictable, cows are not. Elephant bulls though they hang out together they generally don’t look out for each other when trouble is near, trouble in the form of humans that is in this case. Generally they will run away at the first confirmation that humans are near and it’s kind of every bull for himself. Cows on the other hand back each other up. If one cow is in trouble, the rest of the girls will come to her aid. So you can have a wall of grey made up of many elephant cows advancing on you. An awe inspiring sight but not so nice on foot. You may have noticed that i keep saying the word generally. This is because at the end of the day they are WILD animals and they have not read the rule book. Always be prepared for the unexpected in the bush. I stopped saying the word never a long time ago when it comes to guiding and animals as when you say never you can be sure you will go round a corner and very thing that you have just said NEVER happens will be happening. We had been sat for a while when into view walked the sixth bull, he was a monster. Bigger than the three big boys we had already seen and beautiful big tusks, even on both sides. As soon as I saw him I signalled to my guests and we pulled back as I wanted to have a closer look at him. We moved back slowly and quietly and went in an arc towards him. He was feeding right next to another little outcrop of rocks that were actually a little lower than the ground he was on. I knew we were going up to the rocks and we would have them as cover and if he decided he was going to come to us he would have to go round the rocks. I motioned to my guests to get down low and we crept in very slowly making sure not to step any dry leave or grass. We got up to the rocks and crouched down. We were about eight meters from the bull and now that were close, he was even bigger. Hwange elephants are recognised as some of the biggest bodied elephants in Africa. There are areas where they have bigger ivory generally but body wise when you find a truly big Elephant bull in Hwange you know you are standing with one of the biggest land animals on the planet. We were now crouched down eight meters away from one on foot. We had been there for a couple of minutes when one of my guests shifted to get a better view and the bull picked up the movement. He had been standing broadside; he spun to face us head on and lifted his head. Now a Hwange bull is a massive thing In any sense,but when he turns to face you and lifts his head and spreads his ears we are talking another level on size. He stands looking at us, I whisper to my guest “don’t move” The bull takes two steps forward and as I said he was on slightly higher ground so in now towering above us at about six meters away. He stares at us and we stare back, he shakes his head and dust flies up making him look even more imposing. Again I whisper “don’t move” . I can hear heavy breathing behind me. I have a grin from ear to ear. All our hearts are pounding but you feel alive. I always tell my guests after these experiences that the beauty of walking and in this case approaching Elephant bull is that you could a multi millionaire or a penniless bum. The Elephant bull in front of you does not care and whatever you are in your world does not matter out here. The bull stands like this for about a minute then takes another step forward, he is now on the other side of the little outcrop and about five meters away from us. Again I whisper “don’t move”. He continues to stare for another minute then gradually I see his head lowering and his ears start to move rhythmically back and forth. He is calming down and had decided that there no danger here. Slowly he moves backward and starts to feed again. I turn slowly and look at my guest with a huge smile on my face. I wish I had a camera then as there was quite a mix if faces behind me. Slowly we pull back and the group of bulls continue to feed and are none the wiser. I can see the direction the bulls are feeding in so tell my guests that we will set ourselves up in a place I have spotted and let them feed towards us. We manoeuvre round and sit amongst another little outcrop and slowly the bulls feed towards us. Gradually they get closer until we are sitting with all six of them within fifteen meters of us, the wind is still perfect and they have no idea we are there. Then one of the bigger ones starts to walk towards us. I have positioned myself so that I am at the front of the group, slowly I stand up and tap my ring on my rifle barrel to make a clicking sound. The bull stops and looks up and sees me. No aggression at all, he just stands and looks at me. He is about eleven meters away, he steps forward and I take a small step towards him and he stops and just looks at me. Then one of the most amazing things I have been privileged to experience as a Zimbabwean Professional guide happens to me and my guests. Slowly all six of the bulls come forward and form a semi-circle in front of us and just stand and look at us. No aggression at all, they just stand. Then one of them rumbles and some of them respond. To be on foot and this close to six Elephant bulls and hear them rumble is an almost spiritual feeling that I will never forget. I know that my guests are in amongst the rocks behind me and can easily disappear amongst the rocks if need be but if don’t feel the need to even think about that as they are all relaxed and just standing peacefully looking at us. They stand like this for about five minutes and we just stare back at them in awe and slowly lead by the massive bull they turn and wander past to our left. After they have moved off I turn and tell my guests that they have just had an experience that they and I will never ever forget. Those bulls have just allowed us to be a part of their group for a magical few minutes. This is what walking safari in Zimbabwe is all about... T.I.A
  7. Just returned from the breathtaking beauty of Zimbabwe. Many folks we met were happily surprised to see Americans in their paradise as it appears our countrymen do not visit; perhaps Hwange as a stop after Vic Falls, but not many venture further into the park and I was given the job to please spread the word...I keep my word and will return as well! Jud and I were so thrilled every day. How did we not plan this earlier! The amount of wildlife, the ability to walk and get so close and spend hours observing the behavior of lions and ellies was for us the treat of a lifetime. Elephants greeted us as we drove into our first camp, Trichillia which we found to be absolutely lovely and the ellies lived with us for three nights. Boswell, Curly, Big Vic waiting on the road for us...Did Craig call ahead and plan this greeting? A drive to the next camp was a treat... and the camp itself felt so wild and gave us many opportunities for walking, canoeing and fishing! Ellies and Kudo hung out in camp, as well as baboons. I've never seen so many baboons as in Mana, and hippos as well! Don't get me started on the lions we hung with. Flying between camps was perfect; gave us aerial views of where we had been and where we were going. What a way to travel. Matsuadona and Rhino Camp were amazing. Stories to come. Hwange and Somalisa Acacia were a pleasant surprise; we were having such great sightings there I did not want to leave. However, Camp Hwange was blockbuster chock full of large herds of buffalo, lions, roan (16 at once), so many elephants I lost count; and a sable greeting us on the drive in - which was a bit longer than I perceived, but all bumps and bruises forgotten once we arrived. Who has a gorgeous sable greeting them into camp? I have bruises on my knees from all the crawling on the ground to get as close as we can to the wildlife. Best souvenir to bring home! Since we are moving tomorrow, I just wanted to get something down to thank everyone on Safaritalk who had posted scores of exciting trip reports on Zim; and those in particular who gave me much needed advice. Youall know who you are and I thank you sincerely. @ZimGirl; @@Paolo, @@Anita, @@Sangeeta, @@Whyone?, @@wilddog, @@Pennyanne, @@Maki...oh I know there are more..... A special delight on our first night was when Craig produced a bottle of wine left behind for us from Paolo and his family. We toasted them, and gossiped (not really) about ST. Craig is the BEST guide we've ever had the pleasure to travel with. His knowledge. tracking abilities; and what I called, his mental telepathy; his love of the bush were so evident throughout. Craig is definitely happiest when seeing and living amongst his beloved wildlife. He told us we were "lucky" with our sightings; I say we were "lucky" to have booked with him. Because of the move, I do not have a proper trip report ready, nor pictures....However Craig made a short vid showing a few highlights and some opportunities we stumbled upon that I did not capture on flim, but he did. A little tease for a big experience. Zimbabwe has now replaced all others as my most favorite destination. The beauty, the wildlife, the people...how can one not love it all. Oh dear....as usual a problem. I get a notice that the Craig's film is too large... Anyway around that? I have no control over cutting it as it was produced by Craig. Will try to get my self together after the move and get my own pics and raves together. I want to go back tomorrow and start over again. That was my daily "mantra" to Craig. I'm sure HE was ready for US to go on home UNBELIEVABLE -Zimbabwe. Won my heart for sure.
  8. 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.
  9. Hoping for some help from all of you who know more than I do about these types of experiences... We have recently received several inquiries from people who are specifically interested in petting cheetah, walking with lions, interacting with eles and all those types of wildlife encounters. Thanks to this forum, I am aware of the 'breeding animals for petting and then selling them on to the canned hunting industry' business model of several of these operations. Could we use this thread to separate the wheat from the chaff? If any of you personally knows that Place X runs an ethical operation, could we list the names here? My idea with this thread is not necessarily to name the bad guys, but to actually support the good guys who are helping with conservation efforts on the ground, such as Imire in Zim etc. I had 'petted' cheetah when I was in Namibia (early safari days) and though these types of encounters no longer hold that same attraction for me, I have to confess that feeling the rumbling purr of the cheetah under my palms was a very exciting thing to do at the time and I can see how people are attracted to these types of activities. But at the same time, I have no wish to support any organization that is simply making money off the back of these animals - first as petting objects and then as hunting targets. Websites are often very murky about these issues and I would much rather get an opinion/recommendation from a SafariTalker please. Many thanks! Sangeeta
  10. We just thought we’d like to share with you our experiences with Kichaka expeditions in Ruaha national park Tanzania. From the moment of arrival we could tell the signs were good for this trip. On the approach into the Msembe airstrip we were greeted with the view of at least four different groups of elephant. Advice to anyone making the trip: Keep camera handy at all times, even on flight into Ruaha. As we taxied down the airstrip we could see the Kichaka game viewing vehicle with an enthusiastically waving Noelle and already felt welcome. We were greeted like old friends by Noelle and Mollie the owner/operators of Kichaka expeditions, and after loading up and being handed a cold drink were on our way to their camp. The camp is a good 4 hours drive, with a stop for picnic lunch, through Ruaha national park which is treated like your first game drive and introduction to Ruaha. From the moment Mollie started to talk we could tell that this was no “tired old guide” just going through the motions. Straight away Mollie’s obvious love of the bush and wildlife became evident to us in the way he talked us through the various animal sightings on the drive, but not just the animals also the trees and landscape were talked through and explained with an enthusiasm that had us both grinning from ear to ear. With my wife Nicola being a vegetarian, the first meal on vacations is always approached with a certain amount of apprehension; however there was absolutely no cause for us to be concerned as the first picnic lunch was excellent. No “fake meat” here, just very good well prepared fresh vegetables and salads. And this was the case for the remainder of our stay. Noelle works wonders in the bush kitchen and every meal was planned, cooked and presented with care and attention to detail which made us feel very special indeed. On arrival at the camp we were greeted by the staff lined up with smiling faces, refreshing wet towels and homemade iced tea. The camp is stunning, situated above the river bed, three double safari tents with private showers/toilets for a maximum of six guests. All very new, bright and airy. No tired old zippers or dark dingy tents here. Bush showers filled on request with your choice of hot, cold or “vuguvugu” (lukewarm) water. Everything you would expect from a top class establishment including laundry which was very handy as we’d been hiking in mountains prior to arrival. We did two full days of guided walking with Mollie, which involved morning and afternoon walks with return to the camp for lunch in between. Walking out for five hours in the morning and being met by the vehicle for transfer back to camp for a shower, lunch and rest. Then out again around four in the afternoon to the spot we’d finished the morning walk to continue on for another three hours walk. The guided walks were fantastic! Again Mollies enthusiasm for his subject is infectious, whether talking about elephants or termites he manages to keep you engaged and filled with a sense of wonder at the workings of Mother Nature. We have been living in Africa for six years now and have been on many guided safaris and game drives so thought we pretty much knew it all, but almost every time Mollie stopped to talk on a subject we seemed to learn something new. What also impressed was his ability to reference current scientific studies and statistics when talking through the various subjects of flora and fauna. It was so refreshing to be guided by someone who didn’t just roll out the same old facts and figures that unfortunately we hear way too often repeated as if by rote by some nature guides/rangers. We had told Noelle and Mollie that, whilst not being serious birders, we were interested in birds and loved to try to spot as many species as possible. After which no bird was ignored, and nothing was deemed too small, common or uninteresting to stop for and take note of. Our final morning consisted of a leisurely breakfast and drive back to the airstrip. Again, this could have been treated as a straight drive and drop off, but not by Noelle and Mollie! The drive back was an excellent game drive with detours from the main route to various water holes and pans during which we had some of our best bird sightings yet. Our plane was waiting for us at the airstrip when we arrived and unfortunately it was time to leave Noelle and Mollie, we felt like we were saying goodbye to old friends. One final surprise of a lovely packed lunch from Noelle and we were on our way. The term “best holiday ever” has been issuing forth from our lips ever since. We would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending Kichaka expeditions to anyone who has a love of nature and walking safaris. We will certainly visit again!
  11. What is the safety briefing before setting out each day? What are you told to do, and not to do? What is the guide's behaviour when in proximity to the elephants, both towards them and yourself? What other advice have you got for walking safaris in which elephants might be approached?
  12. Hi All, There are many experienced & down right "Serious Walking Safari" St'rs here. We (GL and myself) are about to go on our first SERIOUS & WALKING INTENSE experience in Ruaha Tz in September. On my three previous safaris the most I've walked is from North Camp to South Camp at Vumbura Plains! And it was long....and once in the dark. We have been on a day walk while at Serian - it was more just an excuse to get some exercise, chat with the Massai, and shoot some arrows. Another 2 hr walk one day in Sabi after a long brunch in the bush and we overate. So our experience walking in Africa is to the dining room. Instead of bugging those others I know who have booked this same walk....give or take a few days - I'd love to get the in's and outs from those of you who INSPIRED me to actually book a true walking safari. With a guide..privately.....just us; the guide, a ranger - and ahead of us the camp staff moving the camp whereever said guide decides. In tents, not even ensuite loos-- what have I done???? I've read many trip reports and have enjoyed many pics and stoires. GL wanted an adventure and one popped up last minute (as some of you know, we book maybe 2 months ahead.)...so SLNP and Mana obviously were booked....and Ruaha has a Walking Safari just established, called KICHAKA Expeditions led by Andrew "Moli" Molinaro. Brand new, starts August. So-- what am I looking for since I imagine no one been has been out walking 7 nights on this terrain walking before?. It's new and different and I imagine there are CERTAIN tips one can give me - if nothing else to make me feel more confident when facing the unknown. Somewhat like the new safari goer I was years ago. And can now tell anyone what, when, how and who to expect IN A VEHICLE on safari. What I'd like are suggestions, recommendations, TIPS for a successful walking safari for one who likes a bit of knowledge before hand, and feels like the new kid in class....a bit scared, apprehensive, excited...but maybe wants to run home!! I don't even know what to ask.....GL and I do travel light - one duffle each; carry-on and two or three cameras....nothing fancy. We are all about the experience and if we miss a shot we don't really care. The memory stays. SO we have good walking boots for one; been advised on what colors, etc. to bring (so we are doing all beige and green...keep it simple) - have tons of sunscreen, hats, not sure how to get bug repellent in carryon....we always got some from the camps.. Just fire away. What you wish you had known before your first - and now your 10-20th private, walking safari. There willl be a vehicle along that we may take in afternoons etc. but each day starts out walking .....through Ruaha. However, as Moli said, it is just a call away if needed. Thank youall so much! We are very excited and would really love to have some of your "knowledge and tips" -- just to calm the anxiety and make me look a bit more "polished' than I am. Never happen but I can pretend! Tx again....
  13. Tarangire Safari Lodge now offers Bush Walks, Night Drives and Bush Drives! Coming soon...Massage Tarangire Safari Lodge - Activities.pdf

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