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Where is Matiti now? A trip to Tanzania


Wild Dogger

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Wild Dogger

There´ve been several trip reports of almost the same trip as we´ve made this January/February with similar sightings, but nonetheless, I will add another one.

 

Schedule:

23.01.2013 KLM flight Cologne-Amsterdam-Arusha, overnight KIA Lodge at Arusha airport

24.01.2013 - 25.01.2013 Ngorongoro Crater, one night at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge

25.01.2013 - 31.01.2013 Ndutu, 6 nights Ndutu Safari Lodge

31.01.2013 – 04.02.2013 Serengeti Seronera, 4 nights Kati Kati mobile camp

then 6 nights Zanzibar

 

We´ve booked this trip with 4x4 adventures, the tanzanian sister company of an Austrian/Kenyan safari company.

Normally it´s only the two of us, my wife and me, on a trip, this time my brother with his girlfriend is joining us. They´ve already been to Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater before, but that was on a camping trip in one of these Overland Safari trucks, I like to call Safari jails.

Might be fun, travelling with them.

 

23.01.2013

We are welcomed by Saimon, our driver/guide for the 11 day safari trip, who quickly took us to the KIA Lodge just 2 minutes away from the airport, which was fine as our flight arrived on schedule 8.50pm and we were tired.

The best you can say about the lodge is, that it is so close to the airport, the outside bar is nice and the Kili view might be spectacular, if there are no clouds.

 

24.01.2013

Saimon picks us up early and we do some shopping (beers and wine;) ).

We hit the road to get the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge in time for our afternoon game drive.

We will have two game drives, one in the afternoon and the other one the next morning.

After lunch at the Lodge we drive into the Crater.

My expectations are, that there will be huge numbers of vehicle surrounging the sightings, but I am positively surprised: the huge numbers only appear, when there´s a cat sighting. All other sightings you share, if at all, only with a few cars.

On approaching the crater bottom, I realize, that Saimon is not stopping at all, unless there´s a cat or you tell him.

Okay, no problem, I know the word: „Stop“.

There are some lions far in the distance on the slopes, as well as Elephants and Zebras.

In the open we see a sleeping Black Rhino, which should appear to be our only sighting of that species on the whole trip.

I must admit, that I did not think, that I´d like the crater that much. The slopes of the crater make a beautiful background for photographs.

 

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We see good numbers of Buffalos, Zebras, Elephants, Warthogs, Wildebeests, Crowned Cranes, a Kori Bustard and a nice Hyena family.

 

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At last we visit a hippo pool with lots of hippos inside.

 

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My brother says, that hippos used to be his favorite animal, but after seeing what they are pooing in their water, he´s rethinking his choice.

You have to be out of the crater by 6 pm, which means a short afternoon game drive, as you also have to go up the slopes to the gate.

So, if you only have one drive, I think it´s better to go in the morning, you might have more time.

We enjoy the last lights in the Sopa Lodge. We will leave tomorrow early and have already to carry our stuff with us.

 

25.01.2013

We leave by 6.30, taking our breakfast with us.

We are one of the first cars in the crater, so we have the sighting of a small pride of lions just on us, before the sleep-out tourists arrive.

 

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As we prcede I stop Saimon for some Buffalos, who make for nice photographs.

 

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Later we see a beautiful, relaxed Martial Eagle.

 

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Although I miss the exclusivity of a Botswanan Safari, I must admit, that the animals here are much more used to cars and so more relaxed, which makes for good photo opps.

We drive all around Lake Magadi with all its Flamingos.

This place is paradise! There are so many animals around, lovely!

After our breakfast stop we again drive around Lake Magadi slowly back to the gate.

 

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But there´s one more stop. More than 20 cars can not be wrong.
A pride of lions is relaxing in the sun, but a herd of Buffalo is not happy withthem being around. They chase the big cats. The lions, most of them still youngsters, run away from them, but they don´t look really scared. It appears more like a game for them. Unfortunately the sun is already very high, so the pics are not good.

 

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They seek shadow and hide using the numerous cars.

While watching them, getting watched (one lady in another car called it a „Russian Stand-off“, which caused big laughs), flocks of Crowned Cranes fly over the crater.

 

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After a while we leave. First we have to go down to the main gate, then we go up again to the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge, where we have lunch.

After lunch we procede to Ndutu.

Saimon shows us a hill called Matiti, which looks like big boobs. This seems to be the mountain, they use as an orientation. It comes to a kind of running gag, when Saimon frequently asks: „Where is Matiti now?“.

We arrive at the Ndutu Safari Lodge in the afternoon. As we have 6 days here, we decide to call it a day.

The huts are nice, it´s a good place, just like it should be.

At night we were always joined by up to 5 genets for dinner, they are not shy, but as they are still wild animals, they don´t like to get touched (I didn´t, I swear!).

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There´ve been several trip reports of almost the same trip as we´ve made this January/February with similar sightings, but nonetheless, I will add another one.   Schedule: 23.01.2013 KLM flight Col

26.01.2013 We leave by 6.30, carrying our breakfast. It is still dark. We drive direction Lake Ndutu and immediately find a small family of Bat-eared Foxes. In Botswana they would have turned the t

My brother´s girlfriend is not really happy with the scene. She always asks: „Is it dead? Is it dead?“ But she´s doing well and stands it. She had turned around as the lion took the cow down.   The

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Wild Dogger

26.01.2013

We leave by 6.30, carrying our breakfast. It is still dark.

We drive direction Lake Ndutu and immediately find a small family of Bat-eared Foxes.

In Botswana they would have turned the tail within a few seconds, but here you can take your time to get good shots.

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I had to use ISO8000 on that first shot and ISO 6400 on the second. I like the 5dMKIII, although I struggle a bit with the whitebalance.

We procede to see, what there is to see. Some Giraffes pass our way and at least we find a pride of lions scattered on one of the marshes. Some lionesses are lying on the slopes of small mound.

Zebras pass by in a secure distance busy watched by the lions.

 

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They look full, but ….

As I am watching one lioness watching Zebras, my wife call from behind: „She´s taking down a wildebeest (Okay she actually yells: Der Löwe hat ein Gnu)“. I am surprised and quickly turn around and just see how the lioness is throwing the wildebeest to the ground. Here´s the sequence:

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Nobody realized, where this wildebeest came from. She must have stepped into the lioness by misfortune and the predator took the advantage, just like a lady with a mastercard, who passes by a shoe store. She had to shop!

We found out, that the wildebeest was pregnant. Strange, how the lioness seemed to suck on the tits of the cow.

 

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As the lions opened the carcass and the calves legs looked out, my brother created one of his sarcastic comments: „The calving of the wildebeests, that´s not how I expected it to be.“

Well, this was my first lion kill ever, and it ended as fast as it started.

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Wow! That's quite a sighting. Excellent photography to be able to wheel around and instantly fire off a number of shots. I like the high ISO pictures of the bat eared foxes as well. I was using the 6D with a 70-200 2.8II during our Mara safari a few weeks ago and was amazed by how good the images were at ISO 6400.

Really enjoying your report.

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Game Warden

What a start to a game drive. Great shot of the Martial eagle...

 

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twaffle

Never can have too many TRs from the Serengeti/Mara eco-systems. Some great action already although I always feel kind of sad for the pregnant prey species when they get killed, must be the mother in me.

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Sangeeta

You're on a roll, Thomas. We still haven't stopped feeling jealous of the aardvark and pangolin pics (at least I haven't!) and there you go again :D

 

Great start & looking forward to more.

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Pennyanne

Great report and photos especially the eagle. Wow I would not want that face with those eyes looking at me if I was a small animal! Nightmares!

Looking forward to the next installment.

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SafariChick

Fantastic photos!

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Great. Twin hills or Matiti special for nomadic lions.It is a Maasai grazing area. Please post more Ndutu lions.Can already identify young lioness. More please.

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Wild Dogger

My brother´s girlfriend is not really happy with the scene. She always asks: „Is it dead? Is it dead?“ But she´s doing well and stands it. She had turned around as the lion took the cow down.

 

The trees around the kill are now filled with vultures.

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All lions seem to be fed, only this youngster is busy feeding on the carcass.

 

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After we had enough blood, we depart to see what else we can find. Saimon is busy on the radio. There seems to be one car, who is lost. The driver does not know his way, neither the way back to his camp.

I don´t know, how these companys can send a driver who does absolutely not know the area alone on safari with clients. IMHO they should at least give him a knowledge driver on the side, so that he can learn.

So what, we adopt this car and he follows us.

 

First we drive along the plains looking out for Cheetah, but can´t find any.

We see Thompson´s, Grant´s and Secretary Birds.

 

As offroading is allowed at Ndutu, we decide to try our luck in the bushes, always followed by our fellow shadow and having Matiti in mind and sight.

 

So we find a flock of Vulture feeding on a Zebra carcass.

 

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Back in the Marshes we see the first vanguards of the migration.

Although the migration is still north in the Serengeti, there are already good numbers of Wildebeests and Zebras in Ndutu.

 

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We also see a very dark giraffe.

 

We slowly head back to the lodge, but before we circle Lake Masek and show our friend the way back to his camp.

 

In the lodge we have a well deserved nap before we have a nice and sumptuous lunch.

There´s a artficial, small waterhole outside the dining room, which is frequented by Fischer´s Lovebirds, Doves and Starlings.

 

In the afternoon our target is to find Cheetahs, so we head out on the plains and are successful:

2 huge Cheetah brothers are resting in the shadow. They are well fed. Hence: no action.

 

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There´s nothing much more this afternoon, but what aday with that kill!

 

In the last light we see a Kongoni.

 

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That was the first day in Ndutu.

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Day 1. Ndutu No.1. Jackman, Attenborough, Newman and Great photographer Hugo Lawick rate Ndutu no.1. Waiting for next post. If you have profiles of lionesses that would be great. More please. More.

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Wild Dogger

27.01.2013

 

We depart again at 6.30, carrying our breakfast boxes.

We always return for lunch to the lodge, I don´t like to stay out all day.

During the heat of the day the animals mostly hide in the shadow and that´s what I also like to do.

 

Just outside the lodge, we have a beautiful sinrise with the Ngorongoro far in the background.

 

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As we´ve almost seen everything within these few days, there´s one thing missing:

a leopard! That´s the plan: find a leopard.

 

At first we have to be satisfied with 2 bat-eared foxes for the start.

 

On the plains we follow a jackal.

 

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From the plains we make our way to the marshes.

A dazzle of Zebra is frequenting a waterhole.

 

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There´s just one Wildbeest.

 

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No sir, I have bad migrane!

 

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Lions are lying on the edge of the still dry river course.

No signs of Leopards.

 

We procede again to the plains, where we find the 2 Cheetah brothers again.

 

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I miss the diversity of game, I am used to in Botswana. The number of animals (zebras and wildebeests mainly) may be similar or even bigger here, but the diversity seems to be less (but I might be wrong).

I miss Kudus, Waterbucks and we still haven´t seen any Impala (which should change at one point). No elephants at Ndutu yet.

 

It´s getting hot, so it´s time to get back to the lodge.

 

I visit the small „waterhole“ in front of the dining room and take some shots of the lovebirds.

 

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After lunch we are still on the Leopard mission.

Saimon shows us a mobile tented camp of his friend. There we hear, that a big male leopard is sometimes seen in the vicinity of the camp.

We check the area, but can´t find him.

 

We end up on the plains, finding a cheetah and 3 cubs feeding on a Grant´s Gazelle.

I´ve never on Safari seen so many cat on kills, like on this trip.

 

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That was it for the day.

I am pretty happy with the trip so far.

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Game Warden

Cheetahs on a kill like this makes up for no leopards a little bit...

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Wild Dogger

28.01.2013

 

The rain´s coming.

 

We hear some lions roaring not far from the lodge and quickly go there.

The pride has taken down a Buffalo at night and is busy feeding.

I direct Saimon to the big male as the carcass lies in high grass.

 

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A double rainbow´s covering the place.

 

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As the male begins to move, I once again direct Saimon to get a shot of the lion walking under the rainbow. It works!

 

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After the breakfast break

 

gallery_5715_811_177084.jpgwe plan to go to Matiti.

 

we plan to go to Matiti.

 

On our way there we meet our first elephant at Ndutu

.

A beautiful Bachelor eagle is sitting on top of a tree. I direct Saimon in the right position and he is amazed as he is able to get his first good shot of this bird.

 

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Along the road we see our next kill: a Lilac-breasted roller is eating an insect.

 

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There are some Eland running away from us.

The trip to Matiti is a good one, we see lots of plains game, nothing spectacular but nice.

We drive up to the mountain and enjoy the view.

No signs of rain anymore, by the way.

Saimon is one kind of a crazy guy. He´s posing in front of Matiti showing his titis.

 

On the afternoon drive we once again go to the lions. There´s one lion up on a tree.

 

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From there we take a long ride on the plains to meet up with a cheetah and cubs.

 

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Secretary birds are also frequently seen.

The clouds are building up again as we head back to the lodge.

 

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Our hut:

 

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View from our hut:

 

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Magnifantiti. Big male lion under rainbow is Mr. C. (scar on nose) . More lions please.

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twaffle

@@Wild Dogger I too felt the absence of variety in Ndutu and Southern Serengeti. Loads of predators, loads of wildebeest, zebras and gazelle and plenty of giraffe but it was like an understory of animals was missing or invisible and I put it down to the absence of water in parts of the area for most of the year. Well worth visiting and the predator action was amazing …

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twaffle

Well, I was there for 7 nights so the same as this latest trip to the Mara in terms of time.

Always changing but over 7 days you should get a fair idea of a place

So Serengeti/Ndutu v Mara:

Lions - much the same

cheetahs - many more in the Serengeti

leopards - won't count those, always tricky

elephants - 1 in Serengeti: several different breeding herds, a few bulls in the Mara

wildebeest - migration in Serengeti so no contest but some small herds in the MNC

zebra - ditto but MNC had some good herds

gazelle - ditto re migration: saw reasonable numbers in MNC

Impala - a couple of very small, tiny herds near the Lake Eyasi escarpment only: plenty in the Mara

waterbucks - nil in Serengeti: plenty in Mara

Reedbucks - nil: a few

dikdiks - can't remember seeing any: quite a few

mongoose - white tail at night in Serengeti, one banded troop: quite a few banded at different times plus dwarf around camp

bat eared foxes - nil: one sighting in the Mara but grass was long

giraffe - Many in both

jackals - a couple of shy golden in Serengeti: plenty in Mara

hyaenas - a few in Serengeti: masses in Mara

ostriches - much the same in both

honey badger - distant sighting in Serengeti: none in Mara

eland - good herd in far south: plenty in Mara

topi - nil: plenty

hippo - nil: plenty

crocodile - nil: plenty

buffalo - nil: plenty

Not a complete list as I'd need to check my notes and photos.

 

I wasn't disappointed by the numbers of animals in Ndutu/South Serengeti, however, if you looked across the plains in the MNC there would be all sorts of different animals grazing together but I never saw that sort of variety in the south. Does it matter? Not really, you just wake up and find you miss something.

 

Don't get the same variety in plenty of places that I love visiting either so just an observation, not a criticism. :)

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twaffle

Yes, different years and always different experiences. Nevertheless, I did enjoy it, I enjoyed the wildness and isolation very much. Overwhelmed by wildebeests and would have been happy with fewer of them and more of something else … elephants would have done! I guess that's why safaris are great, trip reports are great, but "buyer beware" if you choose a safari based on one or two reports. :)

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westaussie

Great photos Thomas. What lens/lenses did you use with the Mark III?

Steve

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twaffle

 

Yes, different years and always different experiences. Nevertheless, I did enjoy it, I enjoyed the wildness and isolation very much. Overwhelmed by wildebeests and would have been happy with fewer of them and more of something else … elephants would have done! I guess that's why safaris are great, trip reports are great, but "buyer beware" if you choose a safari based on one or two reports. :)

In truth, I did not expect to see any elephant in the southern Serengeti, so I was surprised by the (relative) abundance of sightings (we often had some elephants in camp too).

 

It seems curious to go to see the Migration in the short grass plains, and then longing for fewer wildebeests.... Gigantic herds and cats, that is what southern Serengeti during calving season is all about. What were your expectations prior to the trip?

My expectations were for lots of wildebeests, of course. I was just surprised at how I felt when I looked on a vast plain of what could almost be termed a mono-culture. That's reality versus your mind's imagining.

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Wild Dogger

Great photos Thomas. What lens/lenses did you use with the Mark III?

Steve

Thanks Steve,

the majority of the pictures where taken with 300mm LIS 2.8 USM with a 2.0 TC III converter attached. I do also like the results with the TC. Only downside with that was, that the auto focussing was a bit slow, but was still practible. A 500mm would have been nicer, but unfortunately I don´t have a cash cow <_< , so I can only afford one of these lenses.

Landscape pictures were taken either with 70-200 LIS 2.8 or a Walimex 14mm fish-eye.

Thomas

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madaboutcheetah

Lovely images, Thomas ......

 

Quick update on the two brother cheetah coalition - Thomas has images of them in page 1 ........ I had a chat with the Cheetah Conservation Project ........ The coffee Boys are still all 3 (incorrect report that one died) ..... They have been displaced of their Ndutu territory by these two younger males - big Boys!!! Apparently, the Coffee Boys have been displaced around December and these are the 2 that they are now seeing.

 

Much further South is another coalition of 3 ...... Maybe they see them regularly at Alex's camp???

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Game Warden

@@madaboutcheetah MAC, updating from the field, or are you back? If the latter, start on your trip report already... ;)

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madaboutcheetah

I'm home .... Have to catch up with the joys of work ..... Will do

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