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Gorillas (Rwanda), The Serengeti, The Crater & Ruaha!

Guest kuduuu

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Guest kuduuu

18 glorious days in Africa! This was a game changer for me and you all will hear the amazing news very soon!


Ive had trips organized by a whole lot of tours like Natural Habitats and &Beyond just to name a few, but this one trip in particular was organized by Africa Travel Resource and it was by far the best, I will for sure travel with them again. First up, stayed at the Gorilla Mountain Lodge in Rwanda for two days to see the magical Gorillas. The lodge had a gorgeous view of the Volcano and was super humble and comfortable. Compared to the pricing and distance of the other lodges, in my opinion, this was the best. The others were too far or too expensive. You are already paying about $700 just to see the Gorillas, we just needed a comfy place to eat and sleep.








On our first hike we won the lotto and got to see the Susa group. For those of you who don't know, the Susa group was the original group that Dian Fossey herself studied. It had a total of 38 members and 3 whopping Silver backs! It was a four hike up with an hour with the gorillas and then a four hour hike down, 100% worth it but so glad I did this in the younger part of my life. A few members were straggling behind and were having a really hard time catching up with me and the guide. I didn't get any good shots of the Silverbacks because they had their backs to us the entire time but I got some gorgeous shots of silverbacks during our 2nd hike as you'll see later on in the post.





Just look how close you get to the Gorillas!



It really was Gorillas in the Mist!




























On the next day we had asked to do a much shorter hike, so we had gotten the Kwitonda group. Not as large as the Susa group but still pretty big, this had a total of 26 Gorillas with tons of little mischievous babies!



Look at the size of this earthworm!

















Look how peaceful he seems.








So after our Gorilla adventure we flew to the Mara section of the Serengeti to stay at the famous Alex Walker Serian. Wow! He really lives up to his name. Alex Walker is THE Walt Disney or Steve Jobs when it comes to Safaris. His knowledge and passion for animals and hospitality just pours out of him when he speaks. I have never seen so many animals in my life, and i have been on lots of safaris folks. His guides are the best and so personable. I was comfortable and snuggly at night, i was full of the tastiest food, his managers (Robyn and Tanya) are so sweet and doting. I tell you, if you are going on a safari, stay at Alex Walkers Serian, its by far the best safari experience I have EVER had!



Alex Walkers Serian glorious, safe and comfortable tents.





The Lounge.


So we spent a total of 4 nights with Alex Walker and saw so many things. Our focus was to see the migration crossing the mara river and we were lucky enough to see three of them! I only really got good photos of one which is what you will see below but it really wasn't the highlight of staying in the north. For me it was just being around so many fucking animals, and sorry about the language, but there is no way to describe it. We were lucky enough to see not one, not two, but three rhinos, and one of them was a calf! We experienced a kill which I couldn't photograph cause it was far but through the binoculars it was mind blowing. It was a baboon snatching a baby Thomson Gazelle and eating it! Just witnessing elephants commanding a river and forcing hippos to get out of the way for me was more exciting than finding lions. The point is that just one thing just kept happening after the other and we relatively had all these moments to our selves unlike the central Serengeti. Go to the north people, its where its at. And stay at Alex Walkers Serian.









































The flies can be just a wee bit annoying.









Ox peckers doing their job.





Amazing lunch thanks to Alex Walkers kick-ass chefs!




































After our amazing time with Alex Walker we headed town to the crowded central Serengeti where we stayed at Ronjo Camp. Ugh, I hated Ronjo. Our guide was great but the camp experience was so shitty compared to our experience with Alex Walker. The food was meh, the tents had no attention to detail and majority of the guests were french and went out of their way to segregate themselves and not communicate with anyone who didn't speak their language. Ronjos tents also face the fire which allows everyone to see in the tents which was a bit creepy at times. The lighting in the tents is also absolutely horrible which mad it difficult to get clean and see properly when getting ready. So I'll never stay their again. I have no pics of the tents or space, I hated it that much. But I did see lots and lost and lots of animals. I was lucky to see wild dog, 4 leopards, tree climbing lions and everything else in-between. Did I mention we did the hot air balloon?














































Superb Starling.







Bat-Eared Fox.


As we passed through Ndutu we stopped at Olduvai Tented Camp for one night before our full day at the Crater. OMG, Olduvai Tented Camp is gorgeous, really its is. We were surprised to find out that the same owners of Ronjo own this facility because sits a stark difference in terms of amenities, management, food, everything. The space is just so unique and special, really, I suggest everyone go out and take a peek if you can, especially in Feb. I am sure this place is teaming with animals during peak season.












We woke up at the crack of dawn to make it to the Crater and Ill tell you what, this was the last time I will ever visit the crater again. I think its gotten to the point that the Crater is a place to just say that you have visited, I just don't see what is the pull to go anymore. I didn't see much and the amount of tourism was stupid. We stayed at a lovely place that afternoon though, Gibbs Farm which is now owned by Rick Thomson from Thomson Safari. Interesting purchase on his part, gorgeous grounds, great food.















The grounds at Gibbs Farm are stunning!



On one day we even got to milk a cow.







Future bacon!





This was a private dinner they had set up just for us!



This was our very own private home for the night, it was lovely!


So We woke up super early once again to drive to Arusha to then fly to Ruaha. The flight was about two hours and seemed to be over at a blink of an eye. This was my 2nd time in Ruaha only this time to experience this park during the dry season rathe than the wet season. It was just as magical if not more. We saw three Leopards, 8 Roan Antelope, tons of Greater and Lesser Kudu, a super pride of 26 Lions, we had a mock charge with an elephant and all sorts of lovely things that happened in between. We stayed at Mwagusi Camp and this was such a great way to end our adventure. Chris Foxs team really knows how to show you a good time. The food was wonderful and I have to say, the bands are some of the most romantic and thoughtful lodges I have ever seen layer out. Really, a truly magnificent place.



















The Baobab trees are monsters here!





My favorite out of all the antelopes, the Greater Kudu!





















We had a visitor one night. Anyone know who he is?



Its just stupid how gorgeous it is out there.




So I am not as an eloquent writer as some of you are, but this is my trip report. Skip the Crater and Ronjo. Visit Alex Walker if you can. Dear god go to Ruaha. Keep your eyes peeled for some big news on my end! Talk soon everyone!

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Thanks for taking us on the trip with you ..... Excellent report and images.


You saw the dogs in the Serengeti - wow

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Wow, sounds like a fantastic trip overall. Love the photos, you saw so much! Thanks for the tips on your impressions on various places to stay or skip too. The gorillas are amazing - can't wait to see them myself.

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Thank you for a really enjoyable report.

You saw so much and so many good photos.

It is always great to see the gorilas, then I love the shot which shows the serengeti covered in wilderbeeste, the serval!, the group of elephants tightly pressed together under a tree, the bat eare fox, and lots of useful information about the camps.

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Serval and wild dog - pretty lucky, even if some of the camps were not to your taste. It is interesting that you were happy with your TA, despite this......

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This is such a great post...I love your enthusiasm. Like @@TonyQ, I really like the elephants clustered under the tree.

Just curiously, where were those ostrich eggs from?

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@ - can you please tell me more of the Olduvai tented camp, please? Not really heard of it ....... If it's in Ndutu - then it looks like a permanent camp from your pics? something new, perhaps ....... What did the resident game look like in the area, outside of the migration season?



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You must have travelled to Serian just after I was there because Squack and I fixed my photo which was hanging on the wall the wrong way around. We turned it to vertical again. Glad you had a great time, Alex runs a great series of camps. You had some wonderful viewings and I really loved the photos.


Can't wait to hear your news.

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Great trip report and photos @! How would you compare you previous Ruaha experience (green season) to this one in terms of wildlife sightings? I remember that on the previous report you wrote that it seemed to you that the concentration of wildlife in Ruaha was greater than in Serengeti. How would you compare the area around Mwagusi Camp to the one around Ruaha River Lodge?

Thanks for sharing this trip with us! Your previous TR made me start thinking about Ruaha (going there in about a month).

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You have yourself an all encompassing travelogue here.


"Look how peaceful he seems" photo caption refers which one?


I did not see any ostrich egg cuisine by the "kick-ass" chef. Just as well.


There is currently a thread going on spider tales. It appears you have one or can at least add a photo.


Your photos are a good indication of why this would be the best trip yet!


Why do I think I have an inkling about your big news? Perhaps it also contributes to the best trip title.


"Dear god go to Ruaha." Both eloquent and and emphatic!

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Guest kuduuu

@@madaboutcheetah - I really feel like the luckiest guy around, I can't believe I saw some of the things that I saw this trip. I am STILL floating. Its so hard to concentrate and get back into the groove of thing with work and such, I just wanna be out THERE. About Olduvai Tented Camp, you're 100% correct, it is a permanent camp right smack dab in the middle of Ndutu basically. Not much wildlife going on in that area during this time of year, but they did have an amazing walk around sunset:




@@SafariChick - Make it a point to see the gorillas. It was such magic. I even got punched by a adolescent one, I have the video to prove it and Ill be posting it very soon!


@@TonyQ - Your complement is so nice, thank you. It was hard to choose which photos to upload here, I took 8000!


@@Tdgraves - Yes, at times I thought I could have chosen better places (just one really), but all of the wildlife spectacle that was happening around me just drowned out the negativity, I was in heaven.


@@Marks - The Ostrich egg was near our lunch site, our guide had told us that he had seen that egg before and that it was laid there as a decoy by the mother. He explained that Ostriches do this so that the predators somehow stay away from their nest. He picked it up and let us hold it, it was like a bowling ball, so heavy! And it felt like it was basically unbreakable!


@@twaffle - You are right twaddle, I was there right after you, I read your trip advisor post ;)


@@FlyTraveler - Listen, most people rather go to Ruaha during the dry season, but the wet is sooooooo pretty. I saw tons of animals except for Cheetah really. Its just so nice to see the Baobabs in full bloom, know what I mean? They feel extra epic and biblical. And about the concentration of animals, maybe I'm just a lucky guy, I don't know, but my first trip to Ruaha was bonkers. I couldn't stop seeing animals even if I wanted to, I had no lulls. YOU ARE GOING TO FALL IN LOVE WITH RUAHA. Its where I want my ashes scattered one day.


Atravelynn - You're right, who is the one more at peace?! Not sure, but just look at that silverbacks face, its as if he found the most perfect piece of vegetation in the world. Thank you so much for all of your compliments, all I did though was just press the shutter, the pretty things were only happening in front of me.






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@ oh I absolutely will go see the gorillas, no doubt about that! You got punched by one? ha ha, I can't wait to see that video!

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Oh WOW - Ruaha is already on my list - but, the more I read about it and the more I hear from all you guys .......... the more I need to get there ASAP

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Oh WOW - Ruaha is already on my list - but, the more I read about it and the more I hear from all you guys .......... the more I need to get there ASAP


Argh - me too!

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This has to be one of the most enthusiastic TRs we have on here :D You saw an incredible amount of wildlife so the enthusiasm is well justified. Good for you and looking forward to the gorilla punching vid and the big news!

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It was hard to choose which photos to upload here, I took 8000!


@@FlyTraveler - Listen, most people rather go to Ruaha during the dry season, but the wet is sooooooo pretty. I saw tons of animals except for Cheetah really. Its just so nice to see the Baobabs in full bloom, know what I mean? They feel extra epic and biblical. And about the concentration of animals, maybe I'm just a lucky guy, I don't know, but my first trip to Ruaha was bonkers. I couldn't stop seeing animals even if I wanted to, I had no lulls. YOU ARE GOING TO FALL IN LOVE WITH RUAHA. Its where I want my ashes scattered one day.






Thanks for your reply @. Since you have taken so many photos, would it be possible to post some more Ruaha images here?

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@ Great report & super photos.


I can only echo your thoughts on Ruaha, we thought it was a wonderful place when we visited in 2009 even though we didn't see the range of wildlife you did - it's taken 5 years too long to get back (only 31 days to go!!). We were there in mid-November just as the first rains hit & it was magical to see everything greening up before our eyes.


A very interesting slant on the Ngorongoro. As you say, it is one of the places to have on your bucket list so we've been trying to work a trip including the crater for many years but whenever we say "without the crowds" it becomes much more problematic and we've failed dismally. We've come to the conclusion there are better places to visit (eg Ruaha!!)


By the way, we used ATR for our Botswana trip in 2007 & were very happy with them. This years Ruaha trip is also through them.

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Guest kuduuu

Alright everyone, here are some more Ruaha pics, enjoy!





The trucks at Mwagusi are so comfy.



The breakfasts were good, but they were the same everyday, an oversight in my book.





Its Zazu!





Do you see her?







The Great Ruaha River!



This Fisher Eagle was awfully annoyed at a Heron.



Then, BAM! Duncked him!



As you can see, the Heron was not happy at all!



This Buffalo calf was just laying around with no predator sin sight. We had no idea why no one was guarding it or eating, not even a vulture was around, it was super strange.





One of the best things about Magwusi was their dinners. It was always somewhere different and always felt so romantic.


Keep your eyes peeled for more photos and some videos!




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Thanks for the extra photos @! Looking forward to more :)

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your enthusiasm is so infusive! it's great stuff, thanks for sharing. the pictures of the gorillas were amazing

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Wow! The eagle/heron interaction is really something!

And you just have to love that forest of baobabs...really enjoying these extra pictures.

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That is so interesting @ - what a story you have! I can really hear the impact, but couldn't see what part of your body did he (he?) punch? You certainly took it in stride!

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You recovered very well! Glad you were not hurt. Very close encounter.

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Great stuff. You had an amazing trip. Thanks for the superb report. Really enjoyed it.

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