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Atravelynn

infant overload. very cute. My plans are to overload to the point I might get cheetah cub warning points. and very bright trousers. The trousers might be illegal too.

 

 

More wonderful photos! Great action shot at the Hidden Valley, and wonderful sighting of the Verreaux's Eagle Owl. Thanks for including such detailed info about driving times - very useful info while planning for my self drive trip in the Serengeti :) You are adventurous!

 

 

Love the picture at Hidden Valley

Thanks. The atmosphere, not to mention the occupants of, Hidden Valley can vary greatly over the course of a few hours.

 

 

post-108-0-05988900-1460166694_thumb.jpg Weather Report post-108-0-05988900-1460166694_thumb.jpg

 

Overall 2016’s rains started a little early, perhaps due to El Nino. Then they halted. After that, the rains and the wildebeest migration seemed to proceed normally. The fact that the big rains started on March 9, a little ahead of the official March 21 change of season, may also be El Nino’s doing. But El Nino’s effects on the migration were not profound up to March 10, from what I was told and what I saw.

 

Atmosphere and weather ranged from dull, dreary skies…

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Hidden Valley, Ndutu. The acacia where the eles are resting was the location of a great leopard sighting and kill the previous trip.

It is interesting to see the “stage” remain constant but to observe the actors change by visiting in different years.

…to bright blue cloudless skies….

 

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Hidden Valley, Ndutu. Abdim Storks and White Storks in Foreground.

...to richly hued skies with dramatic cloud cover...all in a matter of a couple hours, within the same location.

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Hidden Valley, Ndutu

 

The above three photos were taken at approximately 2.5 hour intervals within 100 meters of each other.

 

Green season can produce vibrant skies with rain in the distance...

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Big Marsh Pride, Ndutu.

…and mysterious misty mornings.

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Ndutu. The short double hilled mountain is Matiti (Swahili) and Naibatati (Maasai). It translates to breast.

The two hills are only visible in the distance. Up close it looks like just one hill.

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Dodoma Road back to Arusha, after heavy showers.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Where the cheetah cubs romp is a take-off on the Namiri Plains slogan, “Where the Big Cats Roam.” Romping in Makao Plains, Ndutu. Mother and a pair of 3-ish month old cubs

Subtitle: Trip of the Traveling Trousers   Back in 2014 as we headed back to the Kilimanjaro International Airport at the end of our safari, Guide George Mbwambo stopped briefly at a market and re

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Atravelynn

post-108-0-48978000-1460170122_thumb.jpg Why Feb 27-March 10?post-108-0-48978000-1460170122_thumb.jpg

 

March has fewer people than February. The dates of March 4-10 in Ndutu were late enough to see wildebeest the calves even if calving was late—which it was not. Based on two other recent green season trips and general advice, usually later in the season (into March) is better for cheetah families. But less chance of seeing a wilde birth.

 

A detailed explanation of predicting and witnessing wilde births is linked here in my mid-Feb 2014 report, along with daily weather.

 

http://safaritalk.net/topic/12456-the-circle-of-life-in-just-9-days-tanzania-mid-feb/

 

Post #5 in this linked report gets into full moon, rain, signs of labor, etc. for birthing.

 

 

In 2014 mid-Feb (14th-21st in Ndutu only , 7 nights) I saw several wilde births; loads of placentas indicating recently born calves; and lots of minutes-old, still-wet calves. I saw 13 different cheetah in Ndutu, which included 2 families. Saw no cheetah hunts, but did see a leopard kill.

 

Mid-March 2013 (14th -19 th in Ndutu, 5 nights as part of an entire itinerary ) produced the most cheetah families. The various cheetah family encampments across Ndutu’s Triangle area could be seen with the naked eye as one looked out across the horizon. I saw 18 different cheetah in Ndutu, which included 4 families. No wilde births but I was told about a single placenta that had been seen. Saw several cheetah hunts by mother cheetahs, 2 successful (for the cheetah).

 

Here is the Mid-March report link, containing daily weather.

http://safaritalk.net/topic/10939-tanzania-mid-march-70-serengeti-100-sensational-includes-daily-weather/

 

 

For this year’s 2016 early March trip (4th -10th Ndutu, 6 nights as part of an entire itinerary) I saw 14 different cheetah in Ndutu & south of Naabi Hill, which included 3 families. But the cute baby cheetah awwww-factor was off the charts this trip. Saw one newly born wilde, no actual births, and 4 placentas, indicating recently born calves. Witnessed one kill by a mother cheetah.

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Example of above mentioned cute baby cheetah awwww-factor in Ndutu

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The one newly born wildebeest calf in Ndutu that we found after a night of rain. We were its first sight as it peeked around Mom.

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The cheetah kill of a Thomson’s that we observed in Ndutu. The 3 vehicles "in attendance" viewed the hunt from 300+ meters away. :) We approached at the conclusion.

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Dining on Zebra. Ndutu

The above Ndutu comments only mention cheetah, their families, hunting , and wildebeest calves, because these are highlights and unique opportunities Ndutu in Feb-March. But all three trips also had many other memorable and varied highlights, aside from cheetahs and wildes, that alone made each trip overwhelmingly worthwhile.

 

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Each of these early morning shots were taken with an external flash--Lots going on besides wildebeest and cheetah in Ndutu.

 

There is a reason why people return year after year to Ndutu in the green season. I saw some familiar faces and asked George about some other regulars that I had missed. He pointed out the repeat visitors he knew from past years.

 

My Ndutu buddy from Lithuania that comes every year and who I’ve seen each of my three visits pulled up next to me after a cheetah sighting. We picked up our conversation from two years ago, which had originally started when we met at Nasikia Camp three years ago. He’ll be back next year about the same time.

 

While three green season Ndutu trips is no study, my experience fits the pattern that has been explained to me for timing births (mid-Feb) and cheetah family sightings (odds increase into March). Of course, as weather and rains become less predictable, so do patterns of any kind. A few years back very late rains threw the calving out of whack, as I recall.

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Makao Plains, Ndutu

Or forget all this and just find out when @@ice is going and book those dates. His summary of sightings in Ndutu reads like an action movie. Incredible stuff!

Next installment is Why this itinerary and accommodations?

Edited by wilddog
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madaboutcheetah

Lynn, what was the vehicle crowding situation in Ndutu for March?

 

have you not considered going earlier or later to Ndutu? - i.e., Nov/Dec or April? - Yes, migration might be more of a ? - but, I think you will have a quiet "ME" time with the Cats!!!!

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Or forget all this and just find out when @@ice is going and book those dates. His summary of sightings in Ndutu reads like an action movie. Incredible stuff!

Next installment is Why this itinerary and accommodations?

 

Since I was lately laughed off when I mentioned that my experiences at Ndutu were way superior to my sightings at LWC, I might soon start another thread, not as a trip report but simply as summary to what we saw in 2014 and 2016

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Atravelynn

Lynn, what was the vehicle crowding situation in Ndutu for March?

 

have you not considered going earlier Yes, but just mid Jan to a little earlier in Feb. or later to Ndutu? Later, yes, such as April, but I think I'd concentrate more on the crater in April - i.e., Nov/Dec not Nov/Dec for mainly Ndutu because the cheetahs tend to be in Central then. But if I were doing a general Northern Tanz trip in Nov/Dec I think I would throw a couple of days in for Ndutu. or April? April, yes, would enjoy a low season/low price trip then - Yes, migration might be more of a ? - but, I think you will have a quiet "ME" time with the Cats!!!!

This March the other vehicles were not bad at all. Often we were alone with the cheetahs. Sometimes another 2 or 3 vehicles. It got up to 5 or 6 on rare occasions at the cheetahs, but those vehicles were transient. I was alone at almost all my lion sightings. We would be out for hours and not see another car. Three max vehicles around a leopard eating in a tree, two for the majority of time. I never saw a big grouping of vehicles. (The most vehicles were when Sverker's group and I had our GTG on the plains and a bunch of other cars came roaring up and parked nearby to see what was happening.)

 

There were fewer vehicles this trip than the past two. It may be because we spent our time in areas further away from where other vehicles tend to go if they head back for breakfast and lunch. We may have been more on the "outskirts" just because that is where we were finding our sightings. We also were in search of big herds that were very dispersed this year and we drove to less visited areas to look for the herds.

 

 

 

I did a #s count for 2013 (mid-March) and 2014 (mid-Feb) and have copied it from the 2014 report.

 

The Ndutu Car Count. In sum, more cars in Feb than March. Mid-day in both months, there were very few vehicles.

 

Lion

Feb

At several large sleeping lion prides where we stayed only a few minutes, the vehicles ranged from 6 to 18.

On our way out of Ndutu, a male and female sitting together brought 20 vehicles together.

Watching cubs play during 2 early mornings, there were 0 to 2 other vehicles.

A pride of grooming and playing lionesses cubs near a kill one afternoon had 3-4 other vehicles, then quickly dwindled to about 2 other vehicles.

We came upon lone lions or small groups about 3 times with 0 vehicles.

 

March

We saw a couple of females here and there, shared by maybe 2 other vehicles.

We followed a male who joined with 2 females who had killed an eland early one morning. We had the sighting to ourselves (0 vehicles) for most of the time until 1 other vehicle joined us at the end.

I happened to see few lions in March.

 

Leopard

Feb

We listened to a leopard gnawing bones for an hour with 1 other vehicle. We saw the leopard briefly with 0 other vehicles.

We watched that same leopard hide for hours, hunt and kill with 2 other vehicles.

 

March

No leopard

 

Cheetah

Feb

Two instances of cheetahs on a kill eating, there were approx 8 other vehicles.

Much of one day and several hours another day were spent with a mother and son cheetah; 0 vehicles for 90% of the time & 3-4 other vehicles 10% of the time.

We stayed with one cheetah all day and other vehicles would come and go, 0 vehicles for 80% of the time & 5-6 vehicles 20% of the time.

Mother and 2 young cubs had 2-3 other vehicles when we first encountered them running. When they hid in the thicket, up to 3 other vehicles joined us at times, sometimes 0 vehicles. When they emerged and headed out, there were 0 vehicles.

When a cheetah or a pair were found resting with herds in the background, so that they might hunt, there would be 5-6 vehicles for 20% of the time and 0 for 80%.

We encountered lone cheetahs a time or two with 0 vehicles.

 

March

We spent many days with various cheetah families for hours. Cars would come and go. 30% of the time 4-5 vehicles, 40% of the time 1-2 vehicles, 30% of the time 0 vehicles.

Waiting for hunting and watching the hunt and kill the first time, approx 5 other vehicles

Waiting for hunting and watching the hunt and kill the second time, 1 other vehicle and then eventually at the kill site a total of 2 other vehicles.

 

Hyenas

0 other vehicles in Feb or March, not a lot of hyena sightings

 

Jackals

Feb = 0 other vehicles

March = 0 other vehicles except at carcass with vultures, then it ranged from 5-12 vehicles

 

Bat Eared Foxes

Feb = A single, brief glimpse and 0 vehicles

March = For hours on at least 2 mornings we watched many bat eared foxes with 0 vehicles, 1 or 2 vehicles joined us at most

 

Wildebeest Births

Feb = 0 other vehicles

March = no births

 

Driving around/through wilde herds

Feb and March, we'd occasionally see another vehicle in the distance but usually 0

 

Watching wildes and zebras cross rivers/lakes

Feb = 25% of the time 0 other vehicles; 75% of the time 2-3 other vehicles, sometimes in the distance

March = no crossings

 

Elephants

Feb = 0 vehicles for the 3-4 ele sightings

March = saw no eles

 

Giraffe

Feb = Dozens of giraffe "neckling" and moving across the dried pans; 80% of the time 0 vehicles, 20% of the time 1-2 other vehicles.

March = not much giraffe activity

 

Steenbok

Feb = My best photo ever of a standing steenbok was shared with 0 other vehicles.

March = no steenbok photo ops.

 

Birds we had to ourselves with 0 vehicles in Feb and March

 

When the only Reedbuck of the trip was seen galloping with the wildes, there were 0 other witnesses in Feb. I believe March had been Reedbuck-less.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Atravelynn

 

Or forget all this and just find out when @@ice is going and book those dates. His summary of sightings in Ndutu reads like an action movie. Incredible stuff!

Next installment is Why this itinerary and accommodations?

 

Since I was lately laughed off when I mentioned that my experiences at Ndutu were way superior to my sightings at LWC, I might soon start another thread, not as a trip report but simply as summary to what we saw in 2014 and 2016

 

He who laughs last laughs loudest.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Lynn, what was the vehicle crowding situation in Ndutu for March?

 

have you not considered going earlier or later to Ndutu? - i.e., Nov/Dec or April? - Yes, migration might be more of a ? - but, I think you will have a quiet "ME" time with the Cats!!!!

 

 

you can have your private sightings even in the highest season, it's just a matter of where you go - 99% of the cars stay in the open plains, as soon as you go into the woodlands, maybe even park (and hide) in the shade of a tree, you will be all by yourself, that's what we sometimes did and that's what professional film crews do as well

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what Lynn says is absolutely true: at one cheetah kill (in the open plains) I counted 22 different cars - 5 (!) minutes later 18 of these 22 cars had raced off again..most guides don't look for animals, they look for parked cars, that's why we sometimes hid under trees

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Atravelynn

A little Interlude of Romping

 

It was not only the baby cheetah cubs romping about. This mother cheetah and her nearly adult son tore up the turf having fun. This pair was sometimes visible in the distance when watching the mother cheetah and 2 young cubs, prompting us to wonder if the mothers were sisters.

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Makao Plains, Ndutu

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The cub is just stalking his mother now, but these skills will serve him well.

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Mother and Nearly Adult Son on Makao Plains, Ndutu

But it was not all fun and games for this family containing one nearly grown cub. Our last morning we saw two hyenas hone in on their resting places and track them down.

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These two hyenas were actually faced off with these two cheetahs. Takes 2 photos to show it. Makao Plains, Ndutu.

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Getting bored and disgusted with the hyenas. Into the ignoring phase.

Interestingly, we had gone to Makao Plains to try to find the mother with 2 cubs for our last morning out. We did not see them, and instead witnessed this hyena-cheetah encounter in the same general region. George told me he did not see the mother with 2 cubs when he returned to Ndutu a week later. The hyenas may have frightened her off. (He saw 2 different cheetah families, though, that next week.)

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Ndutu presents an expansive playground on which to romp. Makao Plains.

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Makao Plains, Ndutu

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Looking for new grounds in Makao Plains, Ndutu on which to romp.

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And heading off to explore.

Next installment is: Why this itinerary and accommodations?

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Zubbie15

Very cool hyena/cheetah sighting! Our experience was similar to what @@ice described, most guides didn't have any patience; even at sightings they'd typically come up, let the clients snap a few photos, and move off somewhere else.

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michael-ibk

Ndutu really is Cheetah heaven! Thanks for all the valuable inormation, sooner or later I really have to get there. I absolutely love the Hidden Valley shots with the Storks and Zebras, stunningly beautiful!

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Gregor

@@Atravelynn

 

This is a fantastic trip report with a lot of interesting information. I really like the picture of the leopard and the picture with both hyenas and cheetahs, and of course all the cubs.

 

Thank you :)

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Atravelynn

 

Lynn, what was the vehicle crowding situation in Ndutu for March?

 

have you not considered going earlier or later to Ndutu? - i.e., Nov/Dec or April? - Yes, migration might be more of a ? - but, I think you will have a quiet "ME" time with the Cats!!!!

 

 

what Lynn says is absolutely true: at one cheetah kill (in the open plains) I counted 22 different cars - 5 (!) minutes later 18 of these 22 cars had raced off again..most guides don't look for animals, they look for parked cars, that's why we sometimes hid under trees

That's where I'll be looking for you in Ndutu, hiding under a tree!

 

 

Very cool hyena/cheetah sighting! Our experience was similar to what @@ice described, most guides didn't have any patience; even at sightings they'd typically come up, let the clients snap a few photos, and move off somewhere else.

Thank goodness for the more structured programs out there that keep vehicles churning and moving along, right? It could also be that the clients have seen their cheetah and now want to move on to find the_______ fill in the blank.

 

Ndutu really is Cheetah heaven! That is true. Though finding young cubs can be tough. Thanks for all the valuable inormation, sooner or later I really have to get there. Probably sooner. I absolutely love the Hidden Valley shots with the Storks and Zebras, stunningly beautiful!

 

 

@@Atravelynn

 

This is a fantastic trip report with a lot of interesting information. I really like the picture of the leopard Thanks! I think without my external flash it would not have worked at that early dark time. In fact similar shots without the flash were unartistically, unattractively blurred. I asked before using the flash and got the ok. The leopard did not react or even blink to the flash. and the picture with both hyenas and cheetahs, and of course all the cubs.

 

Thank you :)

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Marks

I am adoring your cheetah photos. Ndutu looks better and better every time I see it on ST! :)

The vehicle statistics are also pretty useful.

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Caracal

Great reporting packed with wonderful photos and lots of interesting commentary.

 

I find the photos of Hidden Valley and misty morning particularly captivating and evocative. Wonder how Hidden Valley got its name - it looks quite expansive and open.

 

PS I did momentarily wonder if the handsome Vereaux's Eagle Owl was ruffling its feathers at -

and the newborn wilde was taking a peek at -

 

those colourful pantaloons but then I remembered they were being reserved for the Sverker meeting day!

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Julian

Wonderful cheetah photos, especially the cubs - of course, and all the other photos.

Great detailed trip report.

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Atravelynn

Thanks, @@Julian. The cheetah cub photos may become excessive by report end. I am admitting this in advance.

 

I am adoring your cheetah photos. Ndutu looks better and better every time I see it on ST! :)I am torn between agreeing wholeheartedly, and on the other hand, dissuading everyone from booking (for selfish reasons) with comments like "Avoid at all costs. Nothing to see here people. Just clumps of wet grass and a few dung beetles."

The vehicle statistics are also pretty useful. I will mention vehicle #s as I proceed. Fortunately for this trip the #s will be low.

 

 

Great reporting packed with wonderful photos and lots of interesting commentary.

 

I find the photos of Hidden Valley and misty morning particularly captivating and evocative. Wonder how Hidden Valley got its name - it looks quite expansive and open.

 

PS I did momentarily wonder if the handsome Vereaux's Eagle Owl was ruffling its feathers at -

and the newborn wilde was taking a peek at -

 

those colourful pantaloons but then I remembered they were being reserved for the Sverker meeting day!

Those are some hilarious and very keen observations. I commend you! My trousers can stir up the birds and birth wildebeests! You are right that the colourful pantaloons made their safari debut for the Sverker group.

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Atravelynn

post-108-0-86550700-1460310569_thumb.jpgWhy this Itinerary and these Accommodations? The Rationale.post-108-0-86550700-1460310569_thumb.jpg

 

The lodging form will be completed for all safari camps.

Arusha NP—(1) Always good to have a buffer day upon arrival, especially in winter. (2) I wanted to do an escorted hike with a ranger, which is easy to set up in ANP. (3) There is an excellent chance to see Colobus Monkeys, an opportunity that is hard to pass up.

 

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Colobus Monkey and Bushbuck Fawn in Arusha National Park

But I was completely surprised and entirely delighted with the Suni Antelope possibility that also exists!

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Suni in Arusha National Park, seen on game drive.

An account of the Arusha National Park walk and game drives will follow later.

Tulip Hotel in Arusha—Bill of the The Wild Source suggested it and has a deal with them. If you like bread art at the breakfast buffet, good food, and a nice place to stay, this spot is for you! It was about an hour from Kilimanjaro International Airport.

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Bread art on display at Tulip Hotel’s Delicious and Varied Breakfast Buffet, Arusha

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Tulip Hotel, Arusha

Cattle Markets—Something different I wanted to see! Cattle are so integral to the Maasai way of life, this seemed like an interesting opportunity. It was. Certainly an authentic market where cattle and goats outnumbered tourists zillions to one (me being the one). I’d recommend Kisonga and Nanja Markets if you have the better part of a Monday to devote to them. They are located about 30 minutes apart on the way to Lake Manyara. A fine way to spend my 2016 Feb 29 Leap Year Day, I thought.

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Nanja Maasai Market for Cattle and Goats

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Kisonga Maasai Cattle Market

A detailed account of the cattle market will follow later.

Maramboi Tented Camp—Needed a convenient place after the cattle market. A really lovely accommodation. Though I had not planned it, a late afternoon walk with Maasai Guide Lingato was timed perfectly for my arrival after the cattle markets and for late afternoon sun on the lake.

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Lake Manyara as viewed on foot, afternoon walk from Maramboi

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Lingato, Maasai Walking Guide at Maramboi, leading afternoon walk from Maramboi

I learned Maramboi would work well if visiting both Lake Manyara and Tarangire was your plan along with minimizing lodging changes. Maramboi is 20 minutes from Tarangire. It is 30 minutes from Lake Manyara in the drier times (which included when I was there) when a short cut through a rutty area can be taken. If I had not previously visited Lake Manyara a couple of times, I would have spent at least one drive in the park and not bypassed it like I did in this trip.

 

I also was not aware of the Tanganyika Wilderness Camps (of which Maramboi is one) approach to breakfast and lunch boxes. You build your own in the morning with the help of a staff member. So no reason for complaints! I discovered I am an outstanding boxed meal chef.

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Part of the make-your-own breakfast/lunch box operation at Maramboi Tented Camp.

I had Bweya Tent (Jackal) at Maramboi. Excellent views of Lake Manyara. It was the closest to the lodge area and I think Kusaka (Lovebird) Tent and Nilwa (dove) Tent have almost as good of views and are farther from the lodge. Bweya was great and lodge activity did not disturb me during my brief one night stay.

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Bweya Tent at Maramboi is the top photo. Views looking out from Bweya, the bottom view through the tent screening.

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View looking out from Bweya Tent at Maramboi early in the morning.

 

A little more on the Lake Manyara walk, bird photography, and mud will follow later.

The Ngorongoro highlands , enroute to the Serengeti, are literally fertile grounds for interesting sightings and overviews of the crater. Had I not visited the crater in green season previously, I definitely would have stopped for at least one night to allow at least 2 visits into the highly productive and beautiful Ngorongoro Crater.

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Ngorongoro Crater, viewed from lookout point

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The super-charged colors of the Ngorongoro Highlands need no pumping up in post processing.

Next installment continues with Rationale for Parks, Accommodations: Namiri Plains & Ndutu

Edited by Atravelynn
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Marks

Bread art! I had to do a double-take to make sure I read that correctly.

The cattle market seems like a really cool idea to visit.

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Oh man do I love a breakfast buffet! Next time in Arusha the Tulip Hotel it is! I'll check on a commission for you Lynn.

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Tom Kellie

~ @@Atravelynn

 

Thank you for posting the superlative suni image.

I've seen suni at a distance in low light. Your detailed image is a revelation.

I like your color creativity in the text.

Orange and pink text brings to mind 1960s space-age Century 21 decor.

It's fun and stimulating to read a trip report done in a different way.

I hesitate to mention this, as it's very likely imagined, but your photos generally seem somehow different, as in brighter, with a more vivid color tone range.

While looking through the landscape shots, my mind kept saying to itself that these have a different quality.

In any case, all to the good!

Tom K.

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Atravelynn

Bread art! I had to do a double-take to make sure I read that correctly. In that double take you may have noted some non-native species. A kangaroo for sure and maybe a platypus or a small seal.

The cattle market seems like a really cool idea to visit. Blazing hot in midday sun, but yes it was cool to see.

 

 

Oh man do I love a breakfast buffet! Next time in Arusha the Tulip Hotel it is! I'll check on a commission for you Lynn. How kind of you!

 

 

~ @@Atravelynn

 

Thank you for posting the superlative suni image.

I've seen suni at a distance in low light. Your detailed image is a revelation. Very lucky to have him linger momentarily near the road. So did his wife, but no pics of her.

I like your color creativity in the text.

Orange and pink text brings to mind 1960s space-age Century 21 decor. Groovy Man!

It's fun and stimulating to read a trip report done in a different way.

I hesitate to mention this, as it's very likely imagined, but your photos generally seem somehow different, as in brighter, with a more vivid color tone range.

While looking through the landscape shots, my mind kept saying to itself that these have a different quality. Thanks! It is all compliments of the sun, clouds, and general atmosphere that time of year. Plus the highlands are so vibrantly green after rains. No special settings used. I've seen where photographers prefer the rainy times to the dry season for those very reasons. As I was posting those photos with the pumped up colors, I noticed a helpful thread from Matt on comparing green and dry season photos of the same place. http://safaritalk.net/topic/16115-green-season-dry-season-comparison-photos/ The role of season and light can be highlighted in comparisons like that.

In any case, all to the good!

Tom K.

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Atravelynn

Continuing with the rationale for the locations and camps chosen…

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Orange sunset and orange zebra trousers, both in Namiri Plains Camp in Eastern Serengeti

Namiri Plains—“Where the big cats roam” is their tagline. Namiri means big cats, which I like and the ability to off-road in this eastern part of the Serengeti that has only recently been opened to visitors was very appealing. The combo clinched it for me to add Namiri Plains to my itinerary. I also think I got a bit of a price break because I was booking for March and not the Feb high season. I arrived March 1.

 

But the Tanzania National Parks Association (TANAPA) changed the rules so that off-roading in the area is now forbidden. My visit was March 1-4, 2016. The “namiri” still were roaming but not necessarily near the one available road that guests are required to remain on, which runs through the middle of the concession.

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The one road through Namiri Plains

 

We saw a lion pride on a kill through binoculars plus other lions roaming around through binocs. We had a daily sighting of a spectacular cheetah family with three 8-ish-week old cubs from a distance of usually at about 150-200 meters. Plans to put in additional roads were mentioned. Don’t know the timetable.

 

While access is now limited, the exclusivity factor remains strong. With the exception of one cheetah family sighting, we never shared the Namiri Plains road with another vehicle for more than 5 minutes.

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Here’s the cheetah family (seen all 3 days) photographed at 50x optical Zoom and even the 100x-200x digital zoom on my Canon SX50.

Only once were the cheetahs shared with two other Namiri Plains vehicles.

We had better luck getting close with three encounters over two days of a wonderful elephant herd that liked to relax in the Fever Trees not far from camp, but ventured out near the road.

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Not only near the road, but crossing it. Namiri Plains

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Only one of the elephant calves belongs to this mom. Namiri Plains

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All elephant sightings were alone except for about 5 minutes with another Namiri Plains vehicle.

I had Chui Tent (Leopard) #5, closest to the lodge. Its location was fine and it was extremely comfortable. The drink cart at happy hour is worth a photo—and a complimentary drink or two.

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Note the picturesque drink cart. I was tempted to ask if I could wheel it around for a test drive. I did not ask. Namiri Plains

 

The facility itself is outstanding and it is not Asilia’s fault that the driving rules changed, which I discussed with Epi-Mark, the camp manager. George and I spent the middle part of each day in the Seronera Valley, about an hour away, devoting mornings and early evenings to NP.

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Heading through vast open areas to reach Seronera Valley, about an hour from Namiri Plains

Back in Namiri Plains, here are some other sightings:

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Gusty winds were at a peak one morning at Namiri Plains. The ruffled jackal fur hints at the strength. Wind would kick up and die down throughout the trip.

Highest winds during dry spells. After rain, winds calmed, in general. Tawny eagle on the end. Namiri Plains

 

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Namiri Plains - Eastern Serengeti

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Namiri Plains - Ostrich sighting to ourselves

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Barafu Kopje at Namiri Plains

Next installment continues with Rationale for Parks, Accommodations: Ndutu

Edited by Atravelynn
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Tom Kellie

~ @@Atravelynn

 

The dozen or so birds wheeling above the elephants is a nice capture.

What's up with the two elephants face-to-face with trunks entangled.

A friendly greeting?

Ho Ho! Look at that ostrich family! What a classic image.

Barafu Kopje was doing its best to fit in with the orange theme. It looks like reptile country!

Your bespoke orange pants are the big cat's meow...er...roar.

Tom K.

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anthracosaur

@@Atravelynn Enjoying the TR so far, the cheetah and elephant photos in particular. The drinks cart is rather impressive, reminds me of something we rigged up one year to haul rocks and fossils out of a dig location far from a road. I'm going to be at Namiri Plains in a few weeks, would you recommend spending a good bit of time in the Seronera area due to the limited road network around the camp? How easy was it to do all day drives from camp?

Edited by anthracosaur
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