159 posts in this topic

The Road Not Taken



Two roads diverged in a yellow wood


And sorry I could not travel both


And be one traveler, long I stood


And looked down one as far as I could


To where it bent in the undergrowth;



Then took the other, as just as fair


And having perhaps the better claim,


Because it was grassy and wanted wear;


Though as for that, the passing there


Had worn them really about the same,



And both that morning equally lay


In leaves no step had trodden black.


Oh, I kept the first for another day!


Yet knowing how way leads on to way,


I doubted if I should ever come back.



I shall be telling this with a sigh


Somewhere ages and ages hence:


Two roads diverged in a wood and I—


I took the one less traveled by,


And that has made all the difference.



Robert Frost




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And so that is how it seems to me, as I think on how it has always been when we look at our options and opportunities and plan our safaris or indeed, our journey through life. Everyone has their own idea about the paths laid out in front of them, and the reason they take them. Many of us have the illusion that we are adventurers, living life on the edge of excitement and discovery and the way we write our journals can reflect this without fear nor favour as whom else but someone who journeys with us will ever know the truth.

 

The misinterpretation of this poem is manifest in a myriad of misquotes and half truths, however, the reality is that both roads were equally used, or unused, and the poet chose to believe that he took the one less traveled by and that decision defined his life. I think we all feel, at times, that we should try to become a leader down a less traveled path that all should follow and that becomes wearying. Perhaps by doing this we don't see the magic in the common place, by passing the extraordinary where we never thought we could see it again.

 

I can’t make any such claim for my trip to Tanzania. In fact, if truth be told, I felt many times that I had led our guide Squack down the path so often traveled and manifestly ordinary that he had periods of drifting off into another world completely. However, it was because of that slight ordinariness that we found our salvation, to my eye. It allowed an exploration of a different nature where small tracks and small creatures were able to shine; where the participants were able to relax somewhat and treasure whatever nature offered and where expectations and pace were slowed to another time and place.

 

“I am not interested in shooting new things – I am interested to see things new.”

Ernst Haas

 

Thus, for me as a photographer, I needed to try and see the environment around me, complete with the wildlife I’ve seen many times before, with new eyes and that was the challenge I set myself. Did it work? Not always, but I tried constantly without saying much and for every 100 failures I felt that I had 1 possible success. Time will tell.

 

The major advantage I had on this trip was having fellow photographer Squack Evans as guide and not having another photographer in the vehicle. I found it easy to bounce ideas off Squack and to share information and suggestions. I hope it worked both ways as he certainly has plenty of talent. Brainstorming is the best way to smarten up one’s technique and visual acuity. Before I get howled down, the only problem I’ve had travelling with another serious photographer (my husband included) is the agenda each person carries with them. It just adds another layer of challenge.

 

I made the decision before leaving home that this trip would not be journaled in my normal way and because of this I am unable to make a full trip report. Despite this going against my nature because I am, at heart, a storyteller, it provided me with some relief. Trip reports on this forum have become extraordinarily competitive and I think that is sad. I don’t want to be part of a culture where people feel bullied or where they feel that their words, experiences or photos don’t match up to the expected norm.

 

Your road, your safari, your experiences are as valid and as interesting as anyone else’s, just as my recent trip to the familiar trio of Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti was extraordinary in many ways.

 

 

I traveled with a friend of mine who had been keen to go on safari for many years. We had a great time with lots of laughter. In fact, I can safely say that I’ve never laughed so much on safari nor felt so care free and I think that the quality of photographs I brought home reflect that.

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Itinerary:

 

2 nights Machweo House, Arusha.

 

2 nights were required due to the vagaries of our incoming international flight into Kilimanjaro. Nice option with good, comfortable rooms and amazing food supplied by the Belgium chef. 5 or 6 courses with carefully selected accompanying wines. Fairly noisy at night with local dogs barking and many bells. I’d stay there again.

 

3 nights Wayo’s Green camp (mobile), Tarangire NP

 

Originally we had wanted to stay at Oliver’s Camp for the reputation it has and the location however it was full. In one of the wonderful vagaries of life, the alternative we ended up with turned out to be a true highlight. Despite wanting the camp to be situated more to the central areas near Silale Swamp, Wayo set it up on the dry Tarangire river near the North gate in a secluded area. What a wild and exciting location it was. A highlight.

 

2 nights Ang’ata Camp, Ngorongoro Crater

 

We had intended to stay at Lemala’s Tented camp because of its location inside the access gate but it was full. We stayed at An’gata camp which was in a similar location and also tented but considerably cheaper. A very good alternative with great access, good food and friendly staff. Downside was that the tents were close together and the towels never felt fully dry because of the cold and humidity.

 

5 nights Serian, North Serengeti (split on arrival between the main camp in Northern Serengeti for 3 nights with 2 nights spent at Alex Walker’s newly set up satellite camp on the Lamai Wedge)

 

Although I wanted to stay all 7 nights at Serian, only 5 were available when we booked. At that stage Alex didn’t have a satellite camp set up in the Northern area and I only heard about it shortly before leaving home on safari. When we arrived in camp on our first day in Serengeti, Alex was there and we were able to ask whether we could fit in a visit to his new Lamai camp. Lunch would be ok, but an overnight stay even better if possible. We could fit in for 2 nights so that’s what we did. Both camps were as brilliant as I expected and if flexibility is key to a good camp, Serian has it in spades. Highly recommended for excellent food, brilliant location, wonderful manager in the main camp Belinda Ambrose and of course Alex himself in the Lamai camp.

 

2 nights Nomad’s Lamai Lodge, Wogakuria Kopjes, Northern Serengeti

 

Squack was well aware that my main focus for the Serengeti part of the safari was to photograph lions on kopjes and so when Serian couldn’t accommodate us for the full 7 nights he recommended that we splash out and stay at the highly regarded, expensive Nomad’s Lamai Serengeti Lodge. Whilst I had some reservations in the initial planning stage, it was excellent and I think we had a lot of fun there. If we hadn’t been in this location we would have missed our leopard experience and for that reason alone it was worth it. Food was great, Squack knew everyone so we felt very special, views and room were lovely and location was just different enough from Serian’s to make it a great addition. Highly recommended if you want to have a little luxury without feeling overcrowded

 

Departure: Flew AirExcel from Kogatende to Arusha then transferred to Kilimanjaro where we had a short wait before connecting to Qatar Airways to Doha via Dar Es Salaam and then home.

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High point and low point awards:

 

Best bush camp atmosphere: Wayo – Tarangire. Three bell tents, one small mess tent and a small kitchen tent. The three of us had exclusive use which may have been lucky happenstance. Small number of staff making it feel very special. Leonard was our driver in a Wayo vehicle with Squack guiding. They made a good team and Leonard was both knowledgeable and funny; very, very funny. The food was of good quality and I especially enjoyed the breakfasts they supplied for us to have out in the Park. The location on the dry river bed was fantastic. No other camps to be seen, very little traffic near by apart from one or two vehicles coming down our track thinking it led to a game circuit. We had elephants in camp and in the river bed accessing water holes. We had a small lion pride around the place for the first couple of days and after lunch they moved down onto the river bed and lazed about. They also came to drink at one of the holes right in front of camp one morning but only the camp staff saw that as we were out game driving. We had a herd of buffaloes join us for dinner one night which was rather more exciting than the elephants and lions. The tents were large with everything you could need and the ensuite tent with bush shower and toilet worked fine.

 

 

Worst shower: Wayo – Tarangire. The water was hot and plentiful in the bush shower canvas bucket but the design meant that almost ¼ of the water stayed in the bucket which was annoying.

 

Best shower: Serian North Serengeti. Their dual shower head and ample bucket size meant that neither my friend nor I could use all the water in a normal bush shower time but had to stand under the water for some extra minutes enjoying the pleasure of hot water for the sake of it, rather than for hurried washing.

 

Most irritating creatures: The tsetse flies. Apart from Ngorongoro, they were everywhere and really annoying. I didn’t find the bites themselves particularly painful, some of our Australian flies do a much better job of hurting, but they were constant companions. The itchiness was intense and lasted long enough to be even more annoying.

 

Ice Award: Alex Walker’s Serian Lamai camp. What I suspect were spider bites from Tarangire blew up into a huge swollen itchy inflamed patch around 10 in long on my thigh. Anti histimines and anti itch creams did little to help. Taking all the left over ice from our pre dinner drinks and making a cold compress provided the relief I needed and after lots of jokes from Alex, and several efforts with the ice, all was resolved.

 

Best food: The two Serian camps edged in front of Nomad’s Lamai. But all food was really good.

 

Most beautiful camp: Alex Walker’s Serian Lamai. Sitting in a secluded grove of trees, a short distance from the River Mara and one of the major crossing points during our visit, it was both a combination of the secluded spot, the small number of tents and the old fashioned hospitality which made it shine in front of Nomad Lamai’s kopje magnificence. It felt like journeying back in time and Alex’s artistic flair manifested itself in all aspects of the tents and the mess tent.

 

Most rewarding wildlife viewing moment: No contest. Our 2 hours standing by our cameras in front of a sleeping leopard waiting for the moment she would burst into action, or move, was richly rewarded. Our vehicle was tucked behind a kopje by our Nomad driver Kakae and we had the clearest view. However, I dared not sit or move from my standing position by my camera which was balanced on a bean bag for fear that the minute I did, the leopard would do something interesting.

 

Funniest moments: What happens on safari stays on safari, you’d have to ask Squack. I think he provided most of them.

 

Guide getting really annoyed moment: Possibly would have to go to Air Excel at Arusha when Squack realised that he was travelling to Tarangire in a completely different plane to his guests. Despite our plane having spare seats, Air Excel resolutely kept him on the different flight.

 

Best successful hunt: A tie. 1. Watching a serval hunt and catch some sort of creature and then take it back to her waiting kitten. Too far for decent photos, but a wonderful moment into the lives of this hard to see cats. 2. Having a butcherbird swoop down in front of us at Ang’ata camp, catch a small side striped mouse, kill it and then take it off to spike somewhere.

 

Most frustrating moment: Possibly Tarangire NP where there is, of course, no off roading but the lack of roads in some areas made it very hard to get good views of some really interesting sightings.

 

Saddest moments: For me, undoubtedly it was the wildebeest crossings. To see the animals struggling with broken backs and legs wasn’t pleasant. Yes, as a dramatic, amazing visual and auditory experience it was something else, but on a human, emotional level it was pretty difficult to take in.

Second sad moment for me was seeing a large drag mark in the road, but not finding the carcass and then moments later coming across a small, abandoned impala lamb standing in a copse of trees looking wary and startled. A short distance away we found a young lioness and male lion with blood on their faces so we could only surmise that the doe had been killed and the lamb just had to await its fate. I know it’s nature, but the day I can’t feel some compassion for the tough lives wild animals live is the day some part of me dies.

 

Happy moment: There were many happy moments but this is one I remember well. A small wildebeest calf enjoying the early morning sun with a special leaping dance of its own.

 

Best view: Would have to go to Nomad’s Lamai where the view from our room was glorious.

 

The personal touch: Has to go to Alex Walker, who radioed our vehicle whilst we were out on a game drive on our last evening at Serian to find out where we were, and who waited on a cross track to personally say goodbye to us before heading back across the river into the Lamai Wedge. I have always maintained that making relationships with people in all parts of your life, both work and pleasure, reaps dividends that we cannot even begin to imagine at the time. Over and over again, I find that the richest experiences have more to do with who we share them with, rather than the experience itself.

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For the rest of this report I'll let the photographs do the talking. The first ones I'll post will take the journey up to Tarangire where the baobabs and elephants were the stars, but I haven't finished processing the photos so there will be more to come.

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I've just noticed a couple of spelling errors and typos in the captions but don't have time to fix them, sorry about that.

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Like you said, you are a storyteller at heart, and it really shows here. Your introductory words read like an essay, very poignant, and much food for thought. (Your points about the competetive nature of trip reports would certainly make for an interesting thread.)

 

And, of course, your pics are wonderful as always. Especially enjoyed the young crowned crane, never seen one before.

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@@twaffle

 

I can't help but smile myself when you talk about how much you laughed on safari. Isn't that what it's all about? Sometimes we get so serious with our sightings and photography, we tend to forget.

 

I think Squack himself is an outstanding photographer, and that helps a lot on safari.

 

Of course, your photos are as beautiful as ever.

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Another great TR by @@twaffle! Love your style of writing and your photos, especially the baobab trees at sunset and the various elephant images. Looking forward to seeing more...

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Twaffle, thanks for sharing your thoughts and words as lovely as you always have; with images that truly show what I had always wondered...what do these parks/places actually look like, rather than just the animals one comes across on a drive.. I love. love your landscapes.

 

The elephant images are just amazing. How can one not love to capture the joy and playfulness of these gentle giants. The Dust Bathing!!

 

Looking forward to more :)

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Posted (edited)

@@twaffle,

 

Absolutely stunning baobab pictures (as they all are, really); I can't wait for more. I very much enjoyed your poetic introduction and comments about noticing the "everyday" things on safari (as well as in life, I guess). This was quite a nice way to set the stage for the rest of report.

 

Also, re. your comments about some folks feeling that the TRs are becoming a bit competitive - I'm sorry to hear that some people may feel this way. I can honestly say that I've enjoyed and appreciated every TR that I've read on Safaritalk as the enthusiasm of the writer usually shines through. Also, I like the varied writing styles (prosaic, witty or matter-of-fact, etc.). It provides a nice variety that allows me to vicariously enjoy the writer's trip.

Edited by PT123
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Thanks everyone for the comments.

 

Safaridude, I learnt many surprising things on this trip and felt humbled by them. Laughter and the freedom to do things my own way and not feel guilty was like release from a burden I didn't know I'd carried.

 

PT123, sadly I've had messages from people not comfortable with posting trip reports because a ) they didn't feel that their writing would be interesting enough; b ) they didn't think their photos were special; c ) they felt that their chosen safari wasn't special enough. It makes me feel sad and I feel that I've unwittingly contributed to it because I always challenge myself to do a better job. There is no answer.

 

Laughter and not sweating the small stuff, it's so important! :)

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Love the elephant images @@twaffle, looking forward to more, and more.

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Beautiful, evocative photos and writing @@twaffle - I look forward to more!

 

I agree it's a shame that some feel intimidated to write TRs. Even in your introduction, you mention feeling the path you were going on was ordinary, at least to Squack. But it's certainly not to me, and we need to remember that most of the world, even most of the people we meet in our everyday lives (or at least me in mine) have never been to Africa at all. The fact that we have gotten to go even once, even to a destination that is more typical or 'ordinary' as far as safaris go is extremely lucky and special. The fact that you can appreciate the little things and the more 'common' safari destinations means you have not become jaded by your travels and your work, and that is a wonderful thing. I would hope that others who frequent this forum could also feel comfortable in sharing their experiences on safari even if their photographs are not award-winning professional ones (mine certainly aren't but I still enjoy the ones I take!) and even if their trip was to a more 'ordinary' safari destination. I agree that the enthusiasm of the report writer always shines through and I would love to see a variety of reports from people who have been on many safaris and those who've just gone on their first.

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As allways - your photos and lyric is in its own class.

 

I allways enjoy reading your tripreports as well as your comments on other topics ect.

I still have my first tripreport to come - after all those wonderful TR I have been reading the last years- i think I ow one.

 

But I come from Denmark and I use a lot of time to to find the right words in english.

Thats why I so far have hesitated to do a TR of one of my many Mobile camping Safaris.

 

But perhaps after I have been roughing it through Ruaha and Katavi in sep. I will struggle to write one :-)

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Hillary,

 

Yet another superlative start to a trip report to saveur. As always, you allow us through narration and image, to vicariously experience a "Twaffle safari ". Your ability to evoke heartfelt emotion of the sheer pleasure of being in the bush, at ease with nature, yet in style, amidst the magnificent creatures, sounds and scents of Africa, is unparalleled.

 

Thank you for the effort and time it clearly takes to share this with us.

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Thank you for your support, it means a lot to me. Africa lover, I think I can safely say that however, and in whatever form, any information on your safari will be gratefully received. The well of knowledge here is only deepened by all the different viewpoints and experiences. Even photos and captions can be enough so that writing can be reduced. That's what I'm doing.

 

Every time I return from East Africa, I prepare myself for a life without another safari, unthinkable as that may be. Re reading old TRs may be my salvation. :)

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As allways - your photos and lyric is in its own class.

I allways enjoy reading your tripreports as well as your comments on other topics ect.

I still have my first tripreport to come - after all those wonderful TR I have been reading the last years- i think I ow one.

But I come from Denmark and I use a lot of time to to find the right words in english.

Thats why I so far have hesitated to do a TR of one of my many Mobile camping Safaris.

But perhaps after I have been roughing it through Ruaha and Katavi in sep. I will struggle to write one :-)

Mobile Safari's! Well I for one would love to hear about those. Pen
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Itinerary:

 

2 nights Machweo House, Arusha.

 

2 nights were required due to the vagaries of our incoming international flight into Kilimanjaro. Nice option with good, comfortable rooms and amazing food supplied by the Belgium chef. 5 or 6 courses with carefully selected accompanying wines. Fairly noisy at night with local dogs barking and many bells. Id stay there again.[/

 

3 nights Wayos Green camp (mobile), Tarangire NP

 

Originally we had wanted to stay at Olivers Camp for the reputation it has and the location however it was full. In one of the wonderful vagaries of life, the alternative we ended up with turned out to be a true highlight. Despite wanting the camp to be situated more to the central areas near Silale Swamp, Wayo set it up on the dry Tarangire river near the North gate in a secluded area. What a wild and exciting location it was. A highlight.

 

2 nights Angata Camp, Ngorongoro Crater

 

We had intended to stay at Lemalas Tented camp because of its location inside the access gate but it was full. We stayed at Angata camp which was in a similar location and also tented but considerably cheaper. A very good alternative with great access, good food and friendly staff. Downside was that the tents were close together and the towels never felt fully dry because of the cold and humidity.

 

5 nights Serian, North Serengeti (split on arrival between the main camp in Northern Serengeti for 3 nights with 2 nights spent at Alex Walkers newly set up satellite camp on the Lamai Wedge)

 

Although I wanted to stay all 7 nights at Serian, only 5 were available when we booked. At that stage Alex didnt have a satellite camp set up in the Northern area and I only heard about it shortly before leaving home on safari. When we arrived in camp on our first day in Serengeti, Alex was there and we were able to ask whether we could fit in a visit to his new Lamai camp. Lunch would be ok, but an overnight stay even better if possible. We could fit in for 2 nights so thats what we did. Both camps were as brilliant as I expected and if flexibility is key to a good camp, Serian has it in spades. Highly recommended for excellent food, brilliant location, wonderful manager in the main camp Belinda Ambrose and of course Alex himself in the Lamai camp.

 

2 nights Nomads Lamai Lodge, Wogakuria Kopjes, Northern Serengeti

 

Squack was well aware that my main focus for the Serengeti part of the safari was to photograph lions on kopjes and so when Serian couldnt accommodate us for the full 7 nights he recommended that we splash out and stay at the highly regarded, expensive Nomads Lamai Serengeti Lodge. Whilst I had some reservations in the initial planning stage, it was excellent and I think we had a lot of fun there. If we hadnt been in this location we would have missed our leopard experience and for that reason alone it was worth it. Food was great, Squack knew everyone so we felt very special, views and room were lovely and location was just different enough from Serians to make it a great addition. Highly recommended if you want to have a little luxury without feeling overcrowded

 

Departure: Flew AirExcel from Kogatende to Arusha then transferred to Kilimanjaro where we had a short wait before connecting to Qatar Airways to Doha via Dar Es Salaam and then home.

Which company did you use to arrange this for you? Pen

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Penolva, the whole trip was arranged by Squack Evans and booked through the company Maps Edge, where he is a partner.

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Thank you Robert Frost and Twaffle for this beaut of a report. The high and low awards are a great idea. That serval encounter had to be wonderful. You located the most picturesque baobabs! Love the young Crowned Crane. That's a real ugly duckling situation that your next shot nicely illustrates.

 

Tarangire was a success. Wayo will be getting some business from your glowing remarks. Maybe they can re-engineer the shower buckets.

 

Anticipating the rest of another Twaffle report.

 

As for the competitive trip reports, a bird analogy comes to mind. I don't think I have the exact quote. If only the birds with the most beautiful voices were to sing, it would be a quiet jungle.

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