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Found 13 results

  1. The Great Migration is starting to trickle into the Mara from what our live guide from safariLive told us on the sunrise. Recently I was reading a bit about the migration and I came across the Lolita Migration which also occurs within the Mara, but is not as big as the Great. I haven't heard about the Lolita migration before this year and I was wondering if maybe there were some in here that can explain what the difference between the two are? Obviously I know the Great comes from the Serengeti, but what is the Lolita about? Are they different populations of wildebeest or something like that? Thank you for any information.
  2. Before I get to the photo editing over the weekend and later ..... many many Thanks to Sangeeta, Smita and the Chalo Africa team for putting together a trip for us chasing the migration up north in Kogatende. Not only did they ensure we had a smooth trip, but, also ensured that Coastal got us checked in for our international flights on time by using their fast track service in DAR. Must say very impressed by the crew at the camps at both Asilia and Sanctuary lodges ......... Simply brilliant!!!! Thanks to our guides; Ellisante and Kivoyo from Asilia and Emmanuel from Kusini Lodge (he knows the Kusini area at the back of his fingertips - amazing!!!) Camp Management was brilliant too - Thanks to Michael and Abu at Olakira; Julie at Sayari Camp and Van / Es at Kusini camp. Top notch service and warm Tanzanian hospitality at it's best!!! Here's the first batch of photos....
  3. Well, it’s taken me longer to get this started than expected! Let’s just say that life has gotten in the way and really slowed me down, I only finished processing my photos a couple of weeks ago (4 months after returning, ugh). I obviously had expected to get to this quicker, based on my previous post a couple of days after getting back (http://safaritalk.net/topic/15876-just-back/)! Thankfully, @@Atravelynn and @@africawild presented their awesome trip reports from visits they made around the same time; in fact, maybe it’s good to be delayed, given how great their reports were. For anyone who hangs around the Tanzania/Rwanda TripAdvisor forums (hi there @amybatt), I posted a lightly edited version of my travel journal on there already, mostly to give people contemplating their first safari an idea of what it’s like. This report will be for more advanced travelers. I expect it will be heavily photo focused, although my last (Australia) trip report completely morphed from what I had planned to what I actually did, so we’ll see. In any case, I know myself well enough that once I get this started I will get through it, so let’s begin. Tarangire Sunrise
  4. The scene of thousands of wildebeest crossing the Mara river is literally quite breathtaking, but. It is not always a beautiful sight. The first time we witnessed this wildlife spectacle, it was exciting, but tinged with sadness in every aspect, and one we would never forget. The crossing point was about one mile from Mara Serena lodge where we were staying and a regular crossing point for the wildebeest, though we do not know why as you will find out later. The build up of wildebeest all along the Mara river was increasing daily and on this particular morning we found an extremely large gathering, about 5,000 wildebeest, spread out over about a quarter of a mile section across the river from us, and with many down on a flat sand bank area by the river itself. We decided to wait and see if a crossing was going to happen as the herd seemed to be pressing towards this one area of open sand bank. As the numbers grew the wildebeest on the bank above were being forced down towards the river, which made the wildebeest already there very nervous. Those at the front who after they had drank tried to move back, but could only do so when other wildebeest pushed through to drink themselves. Occasionally something would spook them and en-mass they would turn in unison and storm back up the embankment. Within ten minutes or so they would settle and that force of nature that lies deep within them would draw them back to the river. We had been here now for around two hours and had to make a decision on whether to stay and forgo breakfast or go back and have a quick breakfast and come straight back? We decided on the later as the lodge was not too far away. We were back at the river by ten O-clock, and were so pleased to see they had not started crossing, though there were definitely more wildebeest than when we left. Another hour went by, and apart from a few false starts and an increase in Vulture activity we realised it was going to be a long morning, but one we were enjoying to the full. Another hour passed and the word was out about a huge crossing that might take place as we were now joined by about ten other vehicles. By this time we had been waiting four hours and I could not help thinking, if they cross now all these other people will have waited only a very short time, and it seemed unfair, but that is safari. There was now some noticeable activity at the front of the herd which we reckon was now numbering about 7,000. The Zebra were always braver than the wildebeest and had pushed their way to the front and were standing several meters into the river. This seemed to galvanise the wildebeest into action as a section to the right suddenly surged forward and pushed on out into the river. Within seconds the whole mass moved as one and the crossing was began in earnest. It always strikes me as strange that no matter how wide the gathered herd maybe, they still only cross from the point where the first wildebeest entered the river. So with thousands of wildebeest funnelling down from the bank throwing up vast clouds of dust the whole scene became surreal. The crossing was in full flow but there was a problem, a big problem, there was No easy exit. From our view point we could see it would be tricky as there were masses of large rocks between the river and the only two exit points we could see. The wildebeest were now starting to back up as the lead animals fought frantically to find an easy path through the rocks towards the two openings we could see. With the Wildebeest being held up some of them were now swiming down stream to try and find another way out. Some of the wildebeest had now found the exits and the others followed. The Wildebeest who were caught up in the throng which had built up behind those who were caught on the rocks, were now literally treading water which was tiring them, and several had succumbed and drowned. There was no let up as the wildebeest kept coming causing many to turn back in panic not being able to exit the river easily. The situation now was, we had two flows of wildebeest moving in both directions and there was a steady flow of corpse starting to drift down stream. The body count was building steadily and now the wildebeest had to contend not only the rocks, but with the bodies of those who had gone before, before they could find their way out of this nightmare. They treated both the same, climbing over the bodies onto the rocks then finding a way through exhausted onto the plains of the Mara triangle.Some of the dead bodies were turning white as their skin was being shredded by the sharp edges of the hooves of the clambering wildebeest, disclosing the white flesh below. An hour had passed and our first crossing was slowly turning from excitement and expectation into a state of despair and distress. The scene before us now was not the beautiful image of nature at it's best, but one of carnage and mayhem. The body count was going up and the flow of bodies floating down stream was making life easy for the crocodiles down river. Over the next hour thousands more wildebeest made it onto the plains of the Mara triangle, sadly many with broken limbs, and many being orphaned calves. It was a sad sight as the calves instinctively gathered together in a form of a crèche, their mournful bleats resounding in the still morning air that we feared would alert the predators waiting for the wildebeest's arrival. The Vultures had already started feeding on the eyes of the dead wildebeest, they would have to wait for a larger raptor to open the carcasses properly. The wildebeest kept coming and we estimated there must have been about 5,000 who had crossed safely with probably about 2-3,000 more to come. A rough estimate of those who drowned was about 500, and one of the saddest sights was of wildebeest who were still alive but trapped within the mass of dead bodies, with just their heads showing, weakly trying to free themselves. Half way through I had stopped filming & taking photos, there really did not seem to be any point. We were exhausted after three hours of what we had hoped to be the spectacular event we had looked forward to for so many years, and it was, but for all the wrong reason's. As we mad our way back to the lodge the vast herds of wildebeest were moving towards the Tanzanian border, and their monotone grunting had a more mournful tone to it now. There were no Lions in the direct vicinity, but they would not be far away, and the wildebeest in their injured & exhausted state would be an easy meal. We checked the crossing site later in the afternoon, it was all quite, apart from the sound of squabbling Vultures, and a pair of Tawney eagles who were trying to open up one of the bodies. The scene before us was an extremely sad one and a heavy smell of death lay in the air as the bodies started to decay in the intense heat of the sun. We have seen many crossings since this one, and thankfully none of them like this one. No, they were all spectacular and the only casualties were au-natural by crocodiles.
  5. I am fortunate enough to have seen all six different wildebeests in the wild (black wildebeest and five subspecies of common wildebeest). Here they are: Black wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou), Ezemvelo Nature Reserve, South Africa Blue wildebeest (or brindled gnu) (C. taurinus taurinus), Kruger National Park, South Africa Western white-bearded wildebeest (C. t. mearnsi), Serengeti National Park, Tanzania Eastern white-bearded wildebeest (C. t. albojubatus), Amboseli National Park, Kenya Cookson's wildebeest (C. t. cooksoni), South Luangwa National Park, Zambia Nyassa (or Johnston's) wildebeest (C. t. johnstoni), Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania
  6. Keep abreast of news from the greater Mara ecosystem here: https://www.flipsnack.com/flip-preview/ftji6phhw/
  7. Hello We are back from a super trip in Kenya visiting Samburu and the Masai Mara. My partner took this video on our very last night at Porini Lion Camp in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy. After a narrow escape from the claws of a lioness a wildebeest collapses a couple of hundred metres away in front of another hungry lioness - the rest of the story is pretty much self-explanatory in the video. Watch till the end if you want to see the heavens open into a rainstorm - lots of wet and soggy cats
  8. We are planning our third safari to Africa, and I am loving the trip reports on ST - twaffle's stellar report on the Serian camps in North Serengeti and the Wedge sold me on this area! We are thinking about incorporating it into our next trip, probably for July or August. For our last safari we stayed in Kenya's Mara Triangle during August, and while it was productive, watching a wildebeest crossing was too ugly for words - it really was 160 cars to a viewing, like what another ST post said. So we avoided those crossings like the plague… I'm wondering if the situation is any better for viewing crossings in the Serengeti Mara, or when on the other side of the Kogatende bridge, in the Lamai Wedge? After reading several posts, I get the impression that there are less cars at a crossing in those areas, but, the area is getting developed fast and becoming busier and busier... Even outside of the migration months, those areas do sound pretty special.. Christopher
  9. My addiction to Tanzania has now become severe enough that the thought of not going at least once a year is no longer an option. So, I had a short period of time available in September and used it to go to the Mara region of the Serengeti. Five days in the Mara. Then an overnight in Karatu and back home. For many people probably not worth the cost of the flights, but as I said, this is an addiction and we all know how those can take control. It is just me this time as my significant other is off in Canada with “the boys” doing manly stuff… fishing, or canoeing, or drinking and doing nothing. Who knows. Our addictions are a bit different. I did the usual, air miles flight on American from my Midwest town to Chicago. $5. There are two flights, one early morning and one about noon. I always take the early one because you never know when one of these commuter flights gets cancelled. Then, because the ticket is completely separate from the KLM ticket, you are really hosed. So I had a lot of time in Chicago and there was a well spent $30 for a day pass to the Delta lounge (awesome place) to await my KLM flight. In our 5 previous trips to Tanzania this has always gone off without a hitch. So I guess I was about due. It starts with a text that states the 4 pm flight to Amsterdam is now scheduled to leave at 6:15 pm. Hmh. Will it really leave then? So I inquire about getting on a flight to Minneapolis and then onward. I am told no, you will still have 90 minutes in Amsterdam so no problem. Do they really believe these things they tell you? They add that if I miss it, then they will get me on another flight even if it is a different airlines. Uhhh, clearly they don’t know how flights to Kilimanjaro go. Oh well. Nothing to do but wait in this awesome lounge. Eat more stuff even though I can’t possibly be hungry. Drink more wine. It’s 5 pm somewhere. Well, at about 3 pm I wander over to the international terminal. Here’s where I make a critical mistake. I have everything packed in carry on. I have already checked in on line but haven’t printed the boarding passes. When I go to print them I get directed to the desk. (Never good). They print them no problem then ask how many bags to check. I say none. I have a day pack and a roller bag that fits in the overhead. They say no problem but we want to weigh them. Uh oh. 4 kgs too much. Drats!!! So I check the one without all the camera stuff and the I-pad without giving much thought to what I would wear if it doesn’t show up. This occurs to me after my bag has disappeared. Oh well. It will be fine. Right? So I wait. And wait. And wait. It’s about 5 pm. Plane is at the gate. Then it’s 6 pm. Still waiting. 6:15 we start to board. We land in Amsterdam and I have 40 minutes. I go directly to the gate and through all the gate security and I’m among the last 3 people to board. Plane is completely full. Arrive in Kili, fill out a form that asks me if I have been sick and I hand this to a person who just puts it in a pile. Visa line, then out to luggage. No luggage. So off I go to the luggage guy who is very pleasant and pulls up a form with my name already on it and says your luggage is in Amsterdam. No surprise here. “Where are you going?” I tell him we are driving the next day to the northern Serengeti. He says my luggage will be in tomorrow night, then the next morning they will fly it to Kogatende. Okay. I have extra underwear in the backpack and a pair of pants. The longish skirt that I always wear to fly because it is so comfortable seems a little unsuitable for safari. The flip flops I am wearing will have to do. I am met by George Mbwambo, the same freelance guide we always use. He asks where my suitcase is? I give him the short version and the number he is supposed to call tomorrow night to check if it arrived. Off we go to the Outpost Lodge. Before George leaves I ask him if he can bring an extra fleece tomorrow and some deodorant. (Good job this is not my first trip with George.) I get the standard George response of “no problem”. The Outpost Lodge is economical and perfectly suitable for one night of sleep with one exception…..the 2 am arrivals from Turkish airlines flights arriving next door with roller bags going thump, thump, thump. We leave at 6 am the next morning. George arrives, hands me a travel mug of coffee just as I like it and off we go for the long drive to the Mara region. We have traveled with George so much now that it’s very comfortable and I don’t feel odd being the solo traveler. We catch up on his family and mine, world politics (not really) and just listen to music and enjoy the ride. He has my standard favorite travel food – dates and cashews. I contribute Jolly Ranchers and the beef jerky he has requested. It was an unremarkable trip. No traffic/police stops. The usual sights on the way to the Serengeti that we have seen so often now but I still enjoy them. A bit of a struggle at the Serengeti gate with the card George is using but a couple of calls to various banks and it gets settled. I think George might have had a mild bit of panic setting in but everything was taken care of, as always. We drive across the central Serengeti, then exit at the Ikoma gate and drive north through several small villages and then enter back into the park in the northwest. Shortly after we enter there is this lovely siting of elephants and just a bit further the suggestion of the rain that is to come. George thinks we need to speed it up a bit, as there is a low crossing on our way to the camp that can flood and be impossible to cross. As we continue it starts to pour with rain and there is standing water everywhere. I have never been this wet in the Serengeti, even when we’ve been here in April and May. George had just returned from the Mara region and said it rained many of the days the past week. It keeps pouring and as we drive past the Kogatende airstrip we notice it is COMPLETELY submerged. Uh oh. We make it across the area George was concerned about and to Wild Frontier’s Serengeti Wilderness North camp. A sign of things to come I get the usual camp welcome and orientation and then head for the tent, slogging through a couple of inches of water and slipping a bit in the mud. The tent is basic but very clean and the shower bag is quickly filled with very hot water. So I shower, then head down for some wine in the lounge tent and chat with George a bit before dinner. The rain has slowed to almost nothing now. The guides eat with their clients here and it is a pleasant evening, although my flip flops and feet are still a big soggy. George makes a call to the airport and they say my luggage is there and they will send it out the following morning. Excellent! The Mara River is very close to the camp and wildebeest are happily munching outside of my tent through part of the night. The bed is very comfy and it is cold enough I need the thick blanket so it makes for a very nice sleep. George and I meet up at 6 the next morning. I have some coffee and George picks up the breakfast and lunch boxes for the day. It is just turning light, and we have barely driven out of camp and George stops the car, saying he thinks he saw something move amongst several large boulders. We stare at it a while and then George says there is a leopard. And after several minutes I finally see it as well. It is a ways away (photo taken at the limit of the 200- 600 mm lens). We watch for a while and eventually another couple of cars stop and ask what we see. One has 3 boisterous women, one of whom exclaims praise god and George laughs. Their guide gives George a look of relief, as they are leaving this morning and had yet to see a leopard. We stay and watch the leopard, along with some spur fowl scratching in the mud alongside the car, until the leopard disappears between the rocks. This turns out to be a particularly good morning, as not more than 15 minutes later we happen upon a newly born impala right by the road, that is attempting to stand. Before we drive on, George makes a call about my luggage then hangs up and says “bad news”. The Kogatende air strip is closed. I said, “well, good job you brought me that deodorant then, isn’t it”. And we’re off……. George wants to know if we need to hang out by the river and hope for a wildebeest crossing or venture out elsewhere. I’ve seen crossings at the Mara before, although from the Kenya side, so it’s not the priority for me. If we see one, great, if not that’s okay. Since we don’t have to be back to the airstrip, we decide to drive some distance away from the river. As we drive back at the end of the first day we notice that there is some major earth moving going on at the airstrip. They are apparently trying to regrade it so it doesn’t always flood. Good plan because it continues to bust out with rain every evening for the next 4 nights. I was a little concerned that I would never see some clean clothes but the airstrip was back open the next day and we picked up my luggage that morning. Kogatende air strip after grading Guides waiting for clients and George waiting for my luggage Well, I am going to post this, and finish up later before I lose the whole thing for the 3rd time today!!
  10. Good Morning Safari-Talkers! We haven't been very good about posting news and updates on Mara Naboisho Conservancy here on SafarTalk. We did, however, want to give you a quick update about the Loita Migration. There are at least 70,000 Loita wildebeest Loitering (couldn't help that one) in Naboisho at the moment. About a 2 weeks ago, they were just entering the very Northern end of the conservancy from Ol Kinyei and Maji Moto areas. They are now slowly moving further South and West, filling the high plains in front of Encounter Mara. Yesterday evening we witnessed a double line of wildebeest on the move at least 2km long! We've just reopened the camp after having been closed throughout April. Most of the other camps in the conservancy are still closed, so we've got the wildlife to ourselves! We're already having great sightings, with plenty of elephants and lions around, the usual high numbers of giraffe, and Striped Hyena tracks right through the middle of camp!! May and June are FANTASTIC times to be in the Mara. Wildlife numbers are high, but tourist numbers and rates are low. Come pay us a visit before the end of June to catch some of our special offers. Email us on info@encountermara.com to find out more! Kind regards, The Encounter Mara Team PS: A parting shot from 2 evenings ago - A very playful cub from the Core Pride along the Enoolera stream. She settled down just long enough for us to snap the photo after her brother jumped off the tree stump.
  11. Earlier this year I was fortunate to accompany a group of Aussies to Tanzania to witness the migration. Serengeti Safari - Central Serengeti and Ndutu at Migration time (this link has now been fixed) It was a super safari and we saw some wonderful wildlife Serengati Safari - Central Serengeti and Ndutu at Migration time
  12. Despite the hordes of vehicles adding to the already confused behavior of the wildebeest and zebra... witnessing the Great Migration up close is an experience that ranks higher than anything else I've seen in Africa! Words can't express the the magnitude of the spectacle, so I'll kick off this brief trip report with a selection of video highlights that document the four separate crossings of the Mara river that we experienced during our stay at Rekero Camp, in the Masai Mara National Reserve. The convenience and quality of Rekero Camp was truly outstanding, and the indoor plumbing we're used to back home can't really compete with the efficiency and enjoyment provided by the bucket showers there! A few afternoon rain showers kept things nice an cool during our visit, and also seemed to spur the constant (and unpredictable) movement of the wildebeest through the area. The crocs were already stuffed from the multiple feedings they've had this year, so it was mostly smooth sailing for the herds to cross the river. The unregulated and chaotic movements of the wildebeest were eclipsed only by the unregulated and chaotic movements of the humans scrambling to get as close as possible to the crossing points. It was quite a photographic challenge to keep them out of my shots! The manager at Rekero told us the all-time record is 124 vehicles crammed around a single sighting! Never once did we see any evidence of a park ranger or other wildlife authority to rein in the unruly humans. The predators were even more beset upon by the crush of vehicles in the reserve. We saw several beautiful cheetahs hunting, keeping our distance, to let the drama unfold without interference. But trucks and vans packed with noisy customers could not resist encroaching, driving wildly off road, startling the prey, and making the hunts far more difficult for the already challenged cats. Our next stop was Mara Plains Camp... in the Olare Orok Concervancy... where the cats had a bit more freedom to stalk their prey. This newly rebuilt camp is beyond belief -- tucked artfully into a lush grove of trees next to a small riverbed, you'd hardly know it was there from the outside. Like Rekero, the standards of guiding and camp management at Mara Plains are extremely high. A unique benefit offered by the camp is a complete photo/binocular kit provided for each tent. The Canon 7D camera with 100-400 lens was a joy to use! I will post a few photos later.
  13. Those of you who remember my Green Season On The Mara TR (http://safaritalk.net/topic/9071-green-season-on-the-masai-mara-may-2012/) from last year might remember that my preference for photo safaris in East Africa is during the Green Season--from better lighting and backgrounds to fewer safari vehicles. Not to mention cost. In late March/early April of this year I enjoyed another such experience, but this time on the Serengeti, which only served to reinforce my preference. And it helps when you share your experience with a few hundred thousand furry friends (wildebeest, not tourists!). Here's the link: http://martinwgrosnick.com/Tanzania13TR.html Feel free to ask questions! Martin

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