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@@Anne_W Welcome to Safaritalk: sounds like you need to write a trip report about your experiences :) Also feel free to introduce yourself by starting a new topic here.

 

Matt

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Self-driving through Northern TZ parks Trip Report Of Mara crossings and lions in camp, Of camping trials and tribulations Hello all, I'm posting this report in the hopes that it may provide some as

Last Day at Mara River and back to Lobo  

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cheetah80

This is one interesting trip report!! What an adventure!! And quite a reality check for those thinking a self-drive there is a great first-time-in-Africa idea! ;-) I am sorry the RID did not work against the tsetses but I promise you it would have been even worse without it - I talk from experience ;-) it's quite interesting that some people have a reaction to tsetse bites and some don't.

 

Looking forward to reading and seeing more. Despite the hiccups you describe I am still not put off for doing this myself sometime in the future ... but only when there is a reasonably priced option which is well organised. Somehow I think this is never going to happen though, so I have to save to cough up the cash ;-)

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KaliCA

Wow this thread expanded quickly!

 

Having also recently gotten a yellow fever vaccine that proved to be entirely unnecessary as it was never checked, I feel your pain. ;) At least we'll have them for next time!

 

Re: the hyena calls lulling you to sleep in Tarangire - is there anything better than that? Such a fantastic sound. Well, now that I am onto post #39, I see you have lions and hyenas in the same night. I guess that might be better!

 

Excellent photos throughout. You've captured some incredible vistas (esp. on page 3) and of course wonderful wildlife. Love the classic baobab shot. The hyena in post #65 is perfectly lit, and the hyenas on the rocks in the water in post #67 make for a cool and unique sighting.

Thanks for reading along! The reason I'm posting stuff so fast is that tomorrow we will be going on another trip and I wanted all of it done, except, now I see that won't happen... So you will have to tune back in later...

My DH appreciates the compliments on the pics.

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KaliCA

KaliCA,

I am very much enjoying your lovely trip report and beautiful pictures. Hardly managed not to laugh out loud in the office while reading the part about the non-functional fridge (yuch and double yuck...).

Your experience with Serengeti Select Safari sure reminds me of our experience with them at the beginning of the year...

 

Looking very much forward for more.

With best regards,

Anne

Hi Anne, yes, I knew about your experience with this company and we still went!! Can't beat the price but it comes at a high cost. You know what I mean. In all fairness, a lot of problems would not have been there, had the original Defender not been in an accident. My German friend went twice without all the problems in that very same car that was in an accident.

Glad to have you along and reliving some of the memories.

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KaliCA

This is one interesting trip report!! What an adventure!! And quite a reality check for those thinking a self-drive there is a great first-time-in-Africa idea! ;-) I am sorry the RID did not work against the tsetses but I promise you it would have been even worse without it - I talk from experience ;-) it's quite interesting that some people have a reaction to tsetse bites and some don't.

 

Looking forward to reading and seeing more. Despite the hiccups you describe I am still not put off for doing this myself sometime in the future ... but only when there is a reasonably priced option which is well organised. Somehow I think this is never going to happen though, so I have to save to cough up the cash ;-)

Hi Cheetah80, glad to have coaxed you out of hiding. Wrote you a few pm's but I guess they did not make it up to the far north? Still wondering about your Mara experience. And also wanted to retread tpyour Matsubehube report as I'm thinking of driving that route out of KTP in September.

Like you said with SSS, you can have one but not both. cheap but not organized! Not going through a middle man may help as well as not having the promised car in accident.

Read on for a great lion in camp experience... So happy to have had one of those as I was so envious of the one you had at Mabuasehube.

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KaliCA

Oops... Re read your Mabuasehube TR.....

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KaliCA

Ok, so here is a little more before we are leaving ...on a jet plane...again.

 

August 13, Seronera area

 

No visitors that we could see. We have breakfast with a beautiful sunrise before breaking camp and heading towards Seronera.

Our first sighting is a hyena shuffling along the road. Then a lot of hyena around a carcass. It seems they killed a warthog, or did they steal it? There is no way to tell what the story is. We watch as only the Alpha Female is eating, while the seven underlings are waiting their turn, milling around. We have this sighting all to ourselves for quite some time until the first game drive vehicle arrives.

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KaliCA

We continue to Seronera and I'm surprised how the buildings do not form one village, as I had imagined, but there are many roads and side roads, each with different buildings for different functions. We find the fuel station and fill up. Nearby is the staff village store and there we buy some water, orange juice, bread, and chocolate. No fresh food available, but chocolate is a welcome treat. And the OJ will have to be our fresh fruit.

We go to the visitor center and after asking around, finally find a person who knows where Sero 4 is. He draws a quick map with directions. (Now you know why I advise entering all campsites as waypoints into your GPS).

We are not impressed with this visitor center. Poorly done. Good, newer bathrooms, a picnic area and a small snack bar. Souvenir shop will be closed for "about three days" What goes through my head is "This is the most famous park in the world and this is the best they can do?"

Anyway, we make our way to Sero 4 special campsite and we fall instantly in love with this place. It is on a gentle slope and there are two acacia trees apart from each other and a firepit. The terrain is gently rolling savannah that drops down to a green riverine area. There are many zebra going somewhere in parade -fashion, buffalo further away, and thommies all over. We even spot ellies further down by the river. Wow, so many animals all around us.

We decide to have lunch on "our"spot and also pre-cook our dinner now. So I make a wonderful spaghetti sauce among all the animal traffic. How serene is this? We leave a note for my sis by the fire pit, so they would know we are here.

After that we slowly game drive south of Seronera. It is pretty easy to spot game, eh....I mean Game Drive vehicles. Whenever two or more bunch up, it is a sign that there may be a good sighting. So, off we go to check it out.

First we spot two male lions lying in a green patch close to a acacia tree, that becomes a land mark in our Serengeti vocabulary. called the "lion tree" from now on. They look very much alike, although one of them has a wound by his eye, maybe they are brothers? My DH reminds me that I'm conjecturing... I do this all the time. One is looking at us nicely, but the other one is mostly snoozing.

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KaliCA

Sero 4 campsite

 

post-47216-0-68896900-1444179331_thumb.jpgpost-47216-0-21894800-1444179344_thumb.jpg

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KaliCA

So we are off and a few minutes later, there is another surprise. Three cheetah (I'm sure they are Cheetah BROTHERS) are walking in tall grass on a slope above us. A few hyena keep following them. The cheetah keep watching the thommies grazing above them. The cheetah walk, then sit and walk some more, one runs a little, but they seemed unsure how to get a hunting set-up going. We go around the corner to be closer and they come walking towards us before plopping down by a tree. Thank you, beautiful cheetah (brothers).

Along the Seronera River we have two lion sightings. There are two lionesses lying in the shade and then we find a pride of 7 resting under a lone acacia tree close to the road. It seems that spotting lions around Seronera is not too hard. At one of the sightings, a nice game driver lets us know where to find a leopard, so off we go.

Sure enough, there is a giant leopard jam happening. Well, this is just like Kruger, as most people will go a little crazy when spotting leopards, as it is always a momentous occasion. This one is quite young and also restless, which is good for photographers. He is resting head down in a fork of a tree, but keeps getting up and looking down as if he were waiting for someone. Then he decides to get off the tree, but he backs off twice as he is unsure about the path downward, so he climbs back up again. Finally, he musters courage and comes down the left side of the tree and jumps, landing in the very tall grass....and that was the end of an amazing sighting and our first leopard in TZ.

So far we have seen 25 lions, 5 cheetah and 1 leopard during our visit in the Serengeti.

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KaliCA

Seronera Public CS

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KaliCA

Before going to camp at Sero 4, we go to the public campsite to shower and to fill up water. Showers are in deplorable state, old and dirty, and I'm mad at not having warm water and having to be very uncomfortable. On the plus side, there are many animals wandering in and around camp. We see giraffe, buffalo, zebra, and hyrax all quite used to human activities, it seems.

We make an evening game drive to the Maasai Kopjes in hopes of lounging lions... but find precious little.

Just before turning off into Sero 4, we do spot something precious and little. It is our first ever Serval. It is dark brown with golden spots and looks somewhat like a small, cheetah, but lower in the legs. Very excited about this sighting.

We are expecting to meet my sister here, but only find her note by the fire pit. They found our note there and are happy to know we are ok, as they were worried. Turns out that they will not sleep in their roof tent any longer, because it's broken and too dangerous, but will sleep in lodges for the rest of the trip. Wow, quite a shock to us. We should meet tomorrow at 1pm at the visitor center, the note says. She warns about hyena visitors on Sero 4.

A little subdued about this sudden change of plans because of bad equipment, we start our evening chores and dinner is pasta with the pre-cooked meat sauce. I make the bad mistake of lifting the pasta pot with my bare hands, dropping it and burning my left hand pretty badly. Bummer, no ice available to cool the burn. My DH bandages my hand up and after that, I'm no good for anything anymore, as the pain is quite severe.

Well, at least most of the pasta is still in the pot so we can have dinner after all.

We shine our lights around and there are zebra and thommies everywhere and here come hyena as well. They seem to be circling around us and it's a little unsettling knowing they are so close. We also spot a civet cat scurrying around in the dark. My DH finishes all the chores by himself and up we go to bed, listening to hyena and zebra calls and later lion roar as well.

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KaliCA

Excuse the quality, just a proof shot

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KaliCA

This is the lions in camp section

 

August 14 Seronera area

 

I have a bad night and not just because my ribs and hand hurt. Outside the tent, there is a big commotion. Zebra are running around us and braying as if in panic. At about 4 am, I open up the front flap of the tent and shine my light around. Imagine my shock and delight as my light hits on two, then three and finally five male lions. They are walking toward our car, but decide to lie down about 25 meters away. We watch in awe and take a few pictures with the eyes of the lions glowing yellow. After a few minutes they get up and move away into the dark. Wow, what a show. We are thrilled and go back to sleep.

DH gets up at dawn and climbs down the ladder. Here is our conversation.

He: "Kali, the lions are coming back!"

Me, instantly wide awake: "OMG, OMG, Get my camera!"

Oh no, I had neglected to bring my camera up to the tent. Now picture this: five young male lions are walking towards our car and DH goes around the car, grabs my camera from the front seat, before clambering up the ladder at top speed! Meanwhile, I fold back the front flap so I can see out. Gosh, I had no idea he meant they are HERE, NOW, and soooo close, getting closer as I watch in awe.

It does not seem real, but I'm wearing my glasses and it is real. Five young golden males marching towards our tree and car as if looking for trouble. Never have we seen a pride of five males before. They are strong and muscular, their bellies seem very full and some have reddish manes. One of them comes to the tree and notices us, before he comes to the foot of the ladder and looks us in the eyes. A LION, at the foot of our LADDER!!! And 4 others, a few feet away. Holy cow! We barely dare breathing.

Wait, what's that noise? That would be the adrenaline rushing through our veins mixed with a tad of fear.

The lion by the ladder then decides that the camping chair under the roof tent is much more interesting than the people up high, so he grabs it and drags it off a few feet.

In my excitement, I forget to push the record button on my video setting and so miss the first few minutes. Dummy me.

The golden male then proceeds to play with the chair just as a cat would play with a toy. He grabs it with his teeth; it folds up (hey, and we were having so much trouble folding it!) He gets spooked and flings it a few feet. Two others join in and check out the chair, they paw it gently, try to bite its metal. The first lion then grabs the canvas part, runs with it and drops it again, shaking its head and looking at the chair as if it were alive.

Meanwhile another lion is resting and chasing flies. At least 5 hyena are present as well, but keep their distance. On top of the hill, a bunch of thommies are running around among the hyena,and there are zebra and wildebeest further back.

We have been mostly watching the lions playing with the chair, so we miss how one of the males all of a sudden is running uphill with a small thommy dangling from its mouth. This we only notice at home on the video clip.

Did we miss this kill or did the lion steal the prey from the hyena. We will never know.

In any case, the other lions then notice and one by one they slowly make their way away from us (no, please stay a little longer!) there is some sitting, walking, sniffing, standing, and in general, looking handsome going on. When they reach the top of the hill, we decide to pack up in a hurry and follow them.

DH picks up the chair and finds some teeth holes in the canvass. Our chair with lion teeth marks in it. Is this for real?

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KaliCA

Please excuse the bad quality of the pics. We were too distracted to check camera settings and it was just barely getting light.

Here is the sequence of events

 

post-47216-0-62592800-1444181404_thumb.jpgpost-47216-0-33831300-1444181427_thumb.jpgpost-47216-0-88502900-1444181466_thumb.jpg

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KaliCA

Please check back here the first week of November. Moru, Crater, Lake Manyara, and Tarangire second visit still to come, plus a lot more drama at the very end. Stay tuned!

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Canadian Robin

I will never forget my DH sitting at the Tarangire Gate with 30 or so guides, all awaiting their turn to complete the necessary paperwork. He looked so completely out of place, but the guides were most welcoming and helpful, intrigued by this rare sighting of a Canadian self-driver.

 

Were the fruit bats still in the big tree at Mbweha SC? When we camped there, the bats made the loveliest sound throughout the night – like bells ringing.

 

Interesting how some people are so badly affected by tsetse bites and others hardly at all. My DH and I were both bitten, and my DH suffered no ill effects. I, on the other hand, was nearly driven mad by the itchiness. I had to take an antihistamine before bed or the itchiness kept me awake. At one point, my DH was horrified to discover me scratching my bites with a sharp rock – such was my desperation. Like yours, my bites swelled, drained, itched and bled. I was miserable. Like you, on subsequent trips, I have travelled with a prescription anti-itching cream, which has made a world of difference. Wretched creatures!

 

Lovely lion sighting at the river. It was a rare day when we didn’t see lions below the picnic site. Your photo from the picnic site of the ellies in the river is such a classic Tarangire shot.

 

The children in northern Namibia have taken begging to a whole new level by running out in front of vehicles, forcing them to stop. Some people, who have refused to give anything to the children using this tactic, have had rocks thrown through the windows of their 4x4s.

 

Interesting that you were made to pay the municipality fees. We encountered these roadblocks several times in both Tanzania and Kenya but, on every occasion, the municipality reps dropped the ropes and let us through at no charge.

 

The Lobo public campsite was in appalling shape when we were there, with garbage strewn about and the ablutions filthy – but, I agree, you can’t beat the view from that campsite. Stunning!

 

Not a good place to suffer a nasty fall. How fortunate that you didn’t need medical attention - you were a long drive from assistance.

 

Our campsite at Lobo was near the Ngare Naironya Springs, and we spent a couple of nervous evenings with lions wandering around the perimeter of that campsite. We too found it to be a lovely, green area, even in the dry season.

 

Your photos of the Masai are lovely. The photo of the woman in front of the mud and stick hut is especially stunning, and I love the photo of the Masai men with the row of donkeys at the water. Some of your Lake Natron photos remind me of Southern Namibia. The photo of the four Masai men walking down the road away from you is another memorable shot.

 

I can’t believe you were allowed to camp at the Mara River. How lucky is that? We never even thought to ask. We drove back and forth between Lobo and the river – as you know, a very long drive!

 

Wonderful cheetah, baby hippo and wildebeest crossing photos…and the hyena in the Mara River photos - wow!

 

That Defender certainly presented you with a number of challenges! Now the fridge? What next? You two have far more patience than me.

 

I wasn’t aware that there was a staff village store at Seronera. We only found the poorly-stocked snack bar.

 

You certainly had very good sightings at Seronera. Pity the public campsites were as bad as ever.

 

Lions in camp – what a treat! I would have wanted to keep that lion-scarred chair.

Looking forward to more! Meanwhile, safe travels! CR

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