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Zubbie15
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We just got back on Wednesday from 12 nights in Tanzania (it was supposed to be 13, but we missed our connection in Amsterdam due to snow delays) followed by 4 nights in Rwanda. I think we had a very successful trip, despite some tough game viewing where the grass was long. There were cats everywhere in Ndutu, our final trip totals were ~80-90 lions, 22 cheetahs, 5 leopards and 1 (distant) Serval. A couple of quick thoughts for now:



I was impressed at how well, in general, the guides acted in Ndutu, with no major crowding of the animals and sticking to a semi-circle to give them room to move. We did have a couple instances of stupid guide behavior though. The first was at a lion sighting, where 4 vehicles were waiting with a group of 5 lions, hoping they'd decide to hunt some wildebeest that were about 75 meters away from them. We had all been with them about 75 minutes, and they were just starting to show signs of life, when a new car arrived, and parked immediately between the lions and the wildebeest. It completely stopped any movement by the lions. Secondly, again 4 or 5 vehicles were waiting with a mother cheetah and three relatively large cubs, all of whom were eyeing some antelopes not too far away. One car got tired of waiting, and decided to leave by driving right through the herd, scattering them and ruining any chance of a hunt. There was so much prey around I doubted either incident greatly affected the animals, but neither was very considerate of the fellow safari travelers.



Conversely, guides were really bending/breaking the rules in the Serengeti. Off-roading like crazy in the Gol Kopjes area (although our guide told us it was normal behavior, and in fact a vehicle with some researchers arrived at one point and suggested it was ok if there was no harassment of the cheetahs); a vehicle from a company that's well-known on this site driving up a rock face of a Kopje to get a close look at a cheetah (to be fair, once they did that we followed...); and some serious off-roading in the Seronera area to get to a leopard located in a tree 50-75 meters from the road. This was definitely a change from when we were there 2.5 years ago, and if the rangers start cracking down, a lot of guides are going to be in trouble.



The grasses were high in Tarangire and around Seronera, making game viewing very difficult. In Tarangire we essentially turned into birdwatchers, the mammals were so rare. We traveled out to the Namiri Plains area while in Seronera, and saw almost nothing. Very different from other reports recently on here!



Anyway, that's all for now, I'll start a real trip report once I get through all the pics. I'll just start with a couple of straight out of the camera JPEGs, of a couple of characters that will play major roles once I get going.




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Welcome back, and looking forward to the full report. :)

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What a massive male leopard1 Looking forward to hearing more about your trip. Interesting about the rule breaking...............

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Thanks @@michael-ibk, @@wilddog and @@Treepol. Interestingly about the rule breaking, the one place that was really cracking the whip was the NCA, where you had to be back in camp by 6PM (despite sunset being at 7PM). It was a little frustrating to have to be heading back just as the light was getting good, and the lions getting active! More in my TR...

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@Zubbie15

 

Glad to hear that you had such a successful trip - 80+ lions and 20+ cheetahs - holy cats! I look forward to hearing more. Sorry that you missed a day due to snow. That almost happened to us in January when our plane was delayed four hours and we were literally the last persons to board our connecting flight to Nairobi.

 

If you're in the naming and shaming mood you can always post pictures here...

 

https://www.facebook.com/SafariGuidesBehavingBadly/

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Thanks @@michael-ibk, @@wilddog and @@Treepol. Interestingly about the rule breaking, the one place that was really cracking the whip was the NCA, where you had to be back in camp by 6PM (despite sunset being at 7PM). It was a little frustrating to have to be heading back just as the light was getting good, and the lions getting active! More in my TR...

 

I am not sure which company you were travelling with but during my recent stay in the NCA (Feb. 15th - Feb 26th) I was never back in camp before 7 pm and neither were most of the other drivers who were also staying at Ndutu Lodge.

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Thanks @@michael-ibk, @@wilddog and @@Treepol. Interestingly about the rule breaking, the one place that was really cracking the whip was the NCA, where you had to be back in camp by 6PM (despite sunset being at 7PM). It was a little frustrating to have to be heading back just as the light was getting good, and the lions getting active! More in my TR...

 

I am not sure which company you were travelling with but during my recent stay in the NCA (Feb. 15th - Feb 26th) I was never back in camp before 7 pm and neither were most of the other drivers who were also staying at Ndutu Lodge.

 

 

Interesting @@ice - perhaps it's because we were staying on the Serengeti side (which is a whole other story - not what I had requested from our TO, and )? I know one day our guide forgot to pay the NCA fees, and had to go to the ranger post that evening to settle things, and he said the ranger had confiscated 5 or 6 permits from people who were out later than 6. We'd usually leave the NCA around 5:50, getting back to camp at 6:20 or later, and would always be the last ones back where we were.

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I don't know, I stayed in the NCA and all I can say is that literally no car was back in camp before 7 pm

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@@Zubbie15 - it all depends on which part of the Namiri area you went to - also depends on how well your guide knows the area and if you gave the area enough time ............ I can't imagine Barafu etc etc., being void of game viewing. Infact, do subscribe to Namiri's updates if you are on social media.............. To be honest, we found 5 nights too few! The area around Namiri is so vast and we kept away from Seronera as we wanted to avoid the crowds!

Edited by madaboutcheetah
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@Zubbie15

 

Can't wait to hear about the rest of the trip and see more pictures. Great luck with all of the cats. We will be in some of the same areas in May/June. That leopard is one big boy!

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Sounds fantastic. Shame about the couple of incidents with other cars, but that is a pretty impressive cat count. Really looking forward to seeing more.

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Thanks @@anthracosaur and @@xelas, it's going to take a while to get through the photos so bear with me.

 

@@madaboutcheetah, I guess I was too brief in my post. We definitely didn't give Namiri the time it deserves - we originally included 2 nights in Seronera in case the migration was "off-schedule" and in that area, and also as a likely area to see leopard. Well, the migration was far south (I don't recall seeing any wildebeest at all around Seronera), and the leopard from my first post was also in the Ndutu area. So we decided with our guide, based in large part on reports I'd read here, to do a "day trip" out to Namiri, more to scout it out for a possible future trip. So my comment was only meant for the few hours we were in the area, definitely not a more comprehensive statement.

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That's a beast of a leopard.

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I'm very interested in this - I'm off to Tanzania on Friday (southern Serengeti first, followed by Namiri).

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welcome back. what a cat-fest you had, but you also had a too-many-vehicle fest not in a good way. i'm sure the cats made up for it.

 

that's a leopard Brute! such a handsome brute though.

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I've been looking forward to this report ever since you announced it. Welcome back, and look forward to more.

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Now that's what I call a horse of a Leopard - bring on the show Zubbie!

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I've never seen a larger leopard either in a photo or on safari.Unfortunately I've only been in the Serengeti once although i can't wait to return on a longer visit.I definitely will in combination with Tarangire national park.

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welcome back good photos

 

it is a pity that you could not have added a day or say at the front as a snow problem allowance

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That leopard looks so large, its head seems unusually rounded - filled-out cheeks, and although there is nothing else in the photo for comparison, those paws look enormous.

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Thanks all - @@COSMIC RHINO, I guess we did have a buffer day in a way. I'd planned 3 days in Tarangire at the start to get over our jetlag, even though maybe it isn't the best in the green season (depends on one's priorities). So losing that night wasn't the end of the world, although I would've preferred to be in Africa.

 

Yes, the leopard was a big old guy. I'll have some wider pictures of him once I get to my TR.

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The leopard's head looks more jaguar than leopard. Looking forward to your TR.

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  • 4 weeks later...

What a massive male leopard1 It is giving me the willies and making me kinda scared! Not my normal reaction to wildlife. This thing is a monster. Looking forward to hearing more about your trip. Interesting about the rule breaking...............

 

Smart move on the spare day. I try to do that when possible also. In Feb, 3 nts in Tarangire is at least one more than needed. So I think you came out of that delay ok.

 

I see your leopard is generating a lot of shock and awe. It really sends primordial chills.

 

Having also just returned from Tanz, I can attest to good behavior in Ndutu. In fact, I saw nothing out of line. But March has fewer visitors to get out of line. I had been hearing about boorish behavior in Serengeti, though. Didn't witness it.

 

Looking forward to revisiting through your trip report and I am impressed with your speedy reporting, @@Zubbie15.

Edited by Atravelynn
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