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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

Itinerary   Feb 27 Arrive Kilimanjaro International Airport on KLM, scheduled to land at 9 pm. Drive 1 hour to Arusha and o/nt Tulip Hotel, arriving after midnight, due airline delays and an hou

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Atravelynn

~ @@Atravelynn

 

The dozen or so birds wheeling above the elephants is a nice capture. Thanks. Birds often add interest. I find that a flock of the white cattle egrets flying overhead or dotting the ground can transform a scene from nice to fabulous.

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

A friendly greeting? Yes, all in good youthful fun!

Ho Ho! Look at that ostrich family! What a classic image. Yes, I love baby ostriches!

Barafu Kopje was doing its best to fit in with the orange theme. It looks like reptile country! Morning light was very orangey. Had we been able to drive over to Barafu Kopje, I am sure we would have found many sunning agama lizards!

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

Tom K.

 

 

@@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?

Spending the day or part of it in Seronera is easy to do. It was our daily strategy to leave for the day with packed lunch and breakfast boxes, which were tasty and very ample. That gave us plenty of time for both NP and Seronera. We would always take the main road into Namirii Plains each morning, leaving at 6 am. We'd check out what was there and found the cheetah family each morning either on the way out or the way back. We only left the cheetahs because they disappeared out of sight, often when lions appeared in the area.

 

Breakfast was usually consumed before leaving Namiri Plains in the vehicle. Then the drive to Seronera took about an hour. The area was empty of animals when we went, but other times of the year it could be hoppin' all the way. Probably will be empty in a few weeks when you are there. We did pass some kopjes between NP and Seronera and found lions on them. Seronera had lots of animal activity--leopards in the trees, tree climbing lions, etc. Of course more vehicles there, but you'll probably experience about the least traffic the area has to offer if you will be there in a few weeks. When we returned near the end of the day, we would drive down the Namiri Plains road again, as far as time would allow. We never got too far or saw too much in the late afternoon or evening. But I heard others had some cheetah cub sightings and ele sightings in the late afternoon, way down the road.

 

If the rains have not washed it away, look for the natural sphinx between NP and Seronera. The rear view photo here does not do the Sphinx justice. The bird on top is a Rufous-tailed Weaver.

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@@Atravelynn I've asked @@AsiliaAfrica to comment on the TANAPA ruling and hopefully they will revert ASAP.

 

Matt

Good idea!

 

Thank you @@Tomas. As you well know, Tanzania has so much to offer and March is an eventful time of year!

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Hammer_of_the_Gods

TANAPA haven't changed the rules regarding off roading at Namiri; officially off roading has never been allowed and that is the official response you get from Asilia. I can provide you details with recent events but will only do so via PM not on an open forum.

 

Lynn is correct though - the road network is extremely limited and if you cannot deviate from them at all you could be in for a very monotonous stay. They are trying to get some more roads put in but without them and\or off roading the majority of the area around the camp is inaccessible.

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Atravelynn

TANAPA haven't changed the rules regarding off roading at Namiri; officially off roading has never been allowed and that is the official response you get from Asilia. I can provide you details with recent events but will only do so via PM not on an open forum.

 

Lynn is correct though - the road network is extremely limited and if you cannot deviate from them at all you could be in for a very monotonous stay. They are trying to get some more roads put in but without them and\or off roading the majority of the area around the camp is inaccessible.

Thank you. Please do pm me. Let me guess, Hammer, Led Zeppelin fan in addition to safari enthusiast?

 

Maybe Asilia will also respond here too.

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Sangeeta

Nice to hear about Maramboi, Lynn - the views are lovely. How was that walk around the lake? Did you see encounter any wildlife on foot or just lovely scenery?

 

One more thumbs up for the trousers. What a lovely gift and how thoughtful to wear them in appreciation. So much for the beige/tan brigade :D

 

Amazing cheetah cubs - you seem to have gotten so many of them in that wonderful honey-badger state! Were most of the cheetah on the Makao plains and back towards Matiti, or also many on the Ndutu/marsh areas?

 

Hidden Valley zebra pics are outstanding. Where was your leopard lurking?

 

Did you drive into Namiri with George and your own car?

 

That sphinx rock is a real highlight for me & my habit of seeing animals in every last inanimate object. From the back, that's def a male lion. Looking forward to more.

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SafariChick

@@Atravelynn just got to finding and reading your report so far - great stuff! Love the photos of all the babies - cheetahs of course but those ele babies and ostrich babies too! The Hidden Valley area was beautiful and, as others have mentioned, especially liked the zebras and birds photo. Look forward to more!

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Atravelynn

Continuing with the rationale for the locations and camps chosen…

 

Ndutu—That was the focus of the whole safari and the rest of the trip was built around it. Six nights is longer than an average stay, but certainly not too long. Even though I started planning a year in advance, my first choice of dates had to be rearranged. It worked out fine, but the lesson is to plan early for Feb-March travel to Tanzania. I believe it was Namiri Plains, not even the Ndutu property, that had booked up already.

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Lake Ndutu - flamingos photos are a possibility here

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Makao Plains, Ndutu

Njozi Ndutu Camp—This is The Wild Source’s Camp so I stayed there. Wonderfully welcoming and warm camp in a nice location, #3 at Lake Ndutu. Waterproof tents, that were put to the test with heavy rains starting near the end of my stay, great food, helpful staff.

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Njozi Ndutu Camp

Because we were out all day, every day, I did not have the opportunity to experience Njozi and see the animal visitors during the day. I would ask about who showed up while we had been out and was told about giraffe, elephants, and zebras. I did get to see a few zebras and a giraffe, along with some impala, looking out from camp.

 

William did a great job as my tent over-seer. He even assisted me in star photography with my tripod one evening because I was not to be outside the tent alone. The results were a dud, through no fault of William’s. He was quite helpful and patient. I need some more practice or better equipment for celestial night shots.

 

On one of the few days we were back a little early because of heavy rain, Saimon the camp manager added librarian to his job description by delivering an assortment of books to me from the camp “library” that stretched from guide books to novels.

 

The food at camp was outstanding, and plentiful. I had to request half rations so as not to leave food on my plate. The banana soup sticks out as a culinary highlight.

 

For the wonderful breakfast & lunch boxes, my request was for 1/3 the normal amount of food, the boxes were so ample. Really appreciated all the fresh fruit in the breakfast box. Sometimes I’d save some for a fruit snack later in the day in the vehicle. Quality boxed meals were an important component of the trip because we were out 6:00 am – 6:15 pm or 6:30 pm most every day, and did not return to camp for meals. Ndutu’s official hours are 6-6. The extension a little bit beyond the 6 pm deadline usually occurred on the road to the camp.

 

I got to experience Njozi with a group of 8 or 9 guests; with a couple from the office staff; and as a solo. All configurations were handled well. One of the group members was so impressed with the excellent cuisine that she asked if the chef was married. I don’t recall the response. He may have diplomatically evaded the question.

 

When I was a solo, Manager Saimon (now playing waiter) provided tent/room-service for my evening meal on the verandah, out of the evening rain.

 

* Njozi Ndutu Camp has pioneered adding camp biologists to the staff to study animal behavior, specifically lions preying on livestock and using cheetah recognition software.

 

* The family tent’s furniture, scheduled to arrive soon, will be all locally made out of recycled materials by an Arusha based architect turned creative furniture maker.

 

* Garbage is shipped out of camp to be disposed of in an ecological manner.

 

* Toilet sanitation is treated by the special bio-bacteria process.

 

* Njozi became solar powered in December. Right now they still use a generator a little bit each day for their freezer but everything else is working off the sun's grid.

 

* One amenity in which I did not personally partake, since I am not a coffee drinker, is the high quality coffee made from beans bought directly from small batch farmers who don't have enough volume to get the best prices from the wholesalers. But I am going to make it a point to have a sip of coffee next time (with lots of cream and sugar.)

 

I had the last, end tent on the right when facing the dining tent. I don’t think there are #s or animal names for the tents. It was great and the bucket showers were nice and warm, though I felt a little guilty requesting one during a downpour one evening, meaning William got a shower too, but his was far less pleasant and relaxing. Thanks again, William. There was also the option of round-the-clock warm water from the sink in the basin.

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Makao Plains, Ndutu

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Makao Plains, Ndutu

To be continued...

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Atravelynn

@@Atravelynn just got to finding and reading your report so far - great stuff! Love the photos of all the babies - cheetahs of course but those ele babies and ostrich babies too! The Hidden Valley area was beautiful and, as others have mentioned, especially liked the zebras and birds photo. Look forward to more! Thanks. There will be an excess of baby cheetahs. Same 2, many poses.

 

 

Nice to hear about Maramboi, Lynn - the views are lovely. How was that walk around the lake? Did you see encounter any wildlife on foot or just lovely scenery? Birds. Mud. It was an outstanding walk. There will be a short section devoted to the walk coming up.

 

One more thumbs up for the trousers. What a lovely gift and how thoughtful to wear them in appreciation. So much for the beige/tan brigade :D

 

Amazing cheetah cubs - you seem to have gotten so many of them in that wonderful honey-badger state! Were most of the cheetah on the Makao plains and back towards Matiti, or also many on the Ndutu/marsh areas? All the big action was in Makao Plains this year. The pair of honey badger cubs and the older cub playing with mom were within viewing distance of each other in Makao Plains. We saw 2 unrelated males in Matiti. No cheetahs seen near marsh.

 

Hidden Valley zebra pics are outstanding. Where was your leopard lurking? Small marsh this year--different leopard from 2 years ago. When I saw the Small Marsh leopard I posed the question to George, "Do you think it could be the one we saw make the kill 2 years ago." George immediately responded, "No it could not be. The one that made the kill had lost the end tip of its tail." He remembered!

 

Did you drive into Namiri with George and your own car? yes

 

That sphinx rock is a real highlight for me & my habit of seeing animals in every last inanimate object. From the back, that's def a male lion. Looking forward to more. I thought of you when I took that and one other inanimate. I think you started the thread of animals that are really sticks or bushes, etc.

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AsiliaAfrica

@Atravelynn

 

Hello all,

 

Thank you @@Atravelynn for your wonderful write up of your stay with us - what amazing pictures and memories!

 

With regards to road closures, there has never been off-roading allowed by TANAPA so this has been something that has been happening for many years. These are the following roads we make use of:

At Namiri Plains we have a road circuit going to the Barafu Kopjes from the camp via the Fever Tree Forest. We also use another one from the camp going to Zebra Kopjes, around Zebra kopjes and then back to Soit le Lemotonyi. There is also the normal one from the Semetu Kopjes and back to camp.

I hope this helps everyone reading this post. Please let us know if you have any more questions.

 

Safari regards,

Asilia Africa

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Game Warden

@@AsiliaAfrica Can you confirm the TANAPA ruling for off roading as mentioned by @@Atravelynn in her post above and how that has impacted game drives in this area? When did it come into affect and for how long is it to be enforced? Thanks, Matt.

 

Edit: thanks for confirming details in your post above.

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TonyQ

@@Atravelynn

A wonderful report with lots of very helpful practical details.

I am loving the baby cheetahs (is it possible to have too many - I think not!)

Also great to see the elephants and another vote for the Suni - a beautiful animal.

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Atravelynn

@Atravelynn

 

Hello all,

 

Thank you @@Atravelynn for your wonderful write up of your stay with us - what amazing pictures and memories! 3 very young cheetah cubs is both amazing and memorable. What a fortunate find, and 3 times over.

 

With regards to road closures, there has never been off-roading allowed by TANAPA so this has been something that has been happening for many years. These are the following roads we make use of:

At Namiri Plains we have a road circuit going to the Barafu Kopjes (viewed from several hundred meters away at the time of my visit in early March) from the camp via the Fever Tree Forest. We also use another one from the camp going to Zebra Kopjes, around Zebra kopjes and then back to Soit le Lemotonyi. There is also the normal one from the Semetu Kopjes and back to camp.

 

To help illustrate your narrative of landmarks, a simple map could be helpful. I always appreciate being able to see the lay of the land that I'll be traversing. That could be a helpful addition to your website, which I note already has a map showing Namiri Plains' location within the Serengeti eco-system.

I hope this helps everyone reading this post. Please let us know if you have any more questions.

 

Safari regards,

Asilia Africa

Thanks for the reply. Namiri Plains is a gorgeous area and my photos from only 3 days in camp show some of what is out there and visible. Three young cheetah cubs is a highlight of any safari. More so when you are a cheetah lover, as indicated by my avatar. When I was there at the start of March, we were only allowed to use the one main road, back and forth. No offshoots or side roads.

 

I believe there was one loop near the Fever Tree Forest, where we saw the lovely ele herd a few times near the main road, in nice light no less. All the other Asilia vehicles remained on the main central road too. As we headed toward Serengeti, we did pass near kopjes and sometimes there were lions on them.

 

This more limited driving policy or more limited practice differed from what had been in effect or what had been practiced in Namiri Plains into most of 2015, from what I learned.

 

Good luck with your Namiri Plains property and the fine cadre of staff that makes it work; along with your other Asilia properties.

 

Keep the drink cart rolling!

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Atravelynn

@@Atravelynn

A wonderful report with lots of very helpful practical details. Thank you.

I am loving the baby cheetahs (is it possible to have too many - I think not!) We are in agreement. The blatant plastering of baby cheetahs all over this thread will resume shortly.

Also great to see the elephants and another vote for the Suni - a beautiful animal. An early highlight in the trip.

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bettel

@@Atravelynn, thank you very much for your report. You cover so many really important topics (at least for me those are deal breakers): number of vehicles, traversing areas, etc. It is exactly the information I need to make my decisions and it is so hard sometimes to get it even from travel agents. Your effort is greatly appreciated!

 

And so many nice photos :)!

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Ndutu’s official hours are 6-6. The extension a little bit beyond the 6 pm deadline usually occurred on the road to the camp.

 

 

I don't get it, you are the second one who states these times - both in 2014 and 2016 I've spent nine nights each in Ndutu and never ever did we return before 7 pm (and neither did any of the other cars we saw) - strange

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Hammer_of_the_Gods

 

TANAPA haven't changed the rules regarding off roading at Namiri; officially off roading has never been allowed and that is the official response you get from Asilia. I can provide you details with recent events but will only do so via PM not on an open forum.

 

Lynn is correct though - the road network is extremely limited and if you cannot deviate from them at all you could be in for a very monotonous stay. They are trying to get some more roads put in but without them and\or off roading the majority of the area around the camp is inaccessible.

Thank you. Please do pm me. Let me guess, Hammer, Led Zeppelin fan in addition to safari enthusiast?

 

Maybe Asilia will also respond here too.

 

 

I'll PM you.

 

Good spot on the name. It was either that or "Valhalla_I_am_Coming" which may have been a little too melodramatic.

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Atravelynn

@@Atravelynn, thank you very much for your report. You cover so many really important topics (at least for me those are deal breakers): number of vehicles, traversing areas, etc. It is exactly the information I need to make my decisions and it is so hard sometimes to get it even from travel agents. Your effort is greatly appreciated! Thanks. That is the beauty of a place like this. You can get info from recent visitors who have zero agenda. I must admit do have one agenda--blanket the remain empty space of this report with baby cheetahs!

 

And so many nice photos :)!

 

 

Ndutu’s official hours are 6-6. The extension a little bit beyond the 6 pm deadline usually occurred on the road to the camp.

 

 

I don't get it, you are the second one who states these times - both in 2014 and 2016 I've spent nine nights each in Ndutu and never ever did we return before 7 pm (and neither did any of the other cars we saw) - strange

Well of course you were out until 7 pm. You were hiding under the tree until 6:20 pm! :o

 

The 6-6 are the official hours. We stretched the closing time by half an hour often, but we were usually close to our camp at that point. There may be leeway in stretching the rules that you were able to take advantage of. Perhaps around Ndutu Lodge, which is a fav of pro photographers, enforcement is intentionally lax. Lots of rules in the parks can be a little murky. We just had a previous discussion of park rules and murkiness earlier in this report.

 

Staying out later does coincide nicely with lovely evening light in the green season. I always erred on the side of not getting Guide George into any kind of predicament.

 

 

 

Thank you. Please do pm me. Let me guess, Hammer, Led Zeppelin fan in addition to safari enthusiast?

 

 

 

Good spot on the name. It was either that or "Valhalla_I_am_Coming" which may have been a little too melodramatic.

 

 

Ahh-ahh-ahhhhh-ah! Ahh-ahh-ahhhhh-ah!

 

You have to use your audio imagination on the above. Looking forward to receiving the PM.

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mapumbo

Atravelynn, You have set the gold standard for explanation of itinerary, camps, weather, parks. This is so helpful for someone like me who is always researching the next safari. Thank you for the useful detail.

 

There are never too many cheetah and especially baby cheetah photos.

 

Your stop at the cattle and goat markets would be high on our list to include in a safari. You got some really nice people shots there.

 

Did you request and pay for a private guide and vehicle?

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anthracosaur

@@Atravelynn Interesting that you brought your guide in with you, we were told Namiri Plains allowed use of only their guides.

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Atravelynn

Atravelynn, You have set the gold standard for explanation of itinerary, camps, weather, parks. This is so helpful for someone like me who is always researching the next safari. Thank you for the useful detail.

 

There are never too many cheetah and especially baby cheetah photos. A healthy philosophy!

 

Your stop at the cattle and goat markets would be high on our list to include in a safari. You got some really nice people shots there.

 

Did you request and pay for a private guide and vehicle? yes

Why thank you. I'll tag you when the section devoted to the markets comes up. Photography at the Kisonga market was discreet and real quick snapping. I put in an order for Guide George a year in advance. He has guided me before. The next segment in this report is about Guide George Mbwambo. I have been able to work out a private vehicle setup with Bill from the Wild Source that makes a trip for one possible. But he also does group trips to Ndutu and Serengeti. I crossed paths with one of the groups at his Njozi camp. You could add the private market trip on to the front or back of a set departure (unlikely to get a group for cows, but who knows??) then join the group for the main safari. Or do the whole thing privately.

 

@@Atravelynn Interesting that you brought your guide in with you, we were told Namiri Plains allowed use of only their guides.

It was no problem. Did not know it could be a problem. Bill uses various Asilia properties for some of his group trips, so maybe that helped my cause. The Asilia vehicles and our vehicle stuck to the same roads while in Namiri Plains. I know the Asilia vehicles also ventured into Seronera for the day or part of it from NP because I ran into some camp-mates in Asilia vehicles while in Seronera.

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Atravelynn

post-108-0-47214900-1460499791_thumb.jpgGeorge 4.0 post-108-0-47214900-1460499791_thumb.jpg

 

This is my fourth Tanzania trip with Guide George Mbwambo. The last two have been booked through The Wild Source. I appreciate George’s competence and character and I am thrilled with the results of each outing with George in charge.

 

When I’ve asked George what his favorite animal is, he always responds, “I like the cats.” That makes sense because I believe George thinks like a cat, and I have benefited from this thought process.

 

Based on our success over four safaris, I believe there is also a compartment in his brain for various other species, ranging from the bat eared fox to elephant. I’d go so far as to speculate—with all due respect and highest regard—that George even has a hint of pregnant wildebeest cow floating around in that gray matter.

 

Whatever is going on up there, it is a winning formula. I hope to experience George 5.0 and additional updates of this outstanding guide.

 

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George and Lynn

 

George is not a running commentary of: “Gestation period is, life span is…” Thank goodness. His insights and comments are pertinent and pointed. For example:

 

We were observing a mother cheetah and her two cubs in one of our extended viewing sessions. I was watching, clicking, watching, enjoying the contented, uneventful scene under scorching midday skies. George pointed out, “The mother is teaching the cub how to look around.” That simple statement directed my attention to the classic cheetah head-turning behavior that was being transmitted from parent to offspring right in front of me. Sure enough, the cub was intently mimicking Mom. Adorable, yet critical to survival! It became a favorite safari moment for me.

 

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Mother cheetah teaching cub how to look around and survey the landscape. Makao Plains, Ndutu

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Mother and cub look around. Makao Plains, Ndutu

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here is the vehicle and the adapter.

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These hang-down holders are new and very handy. Notice a big bean bag was provided in the vehicle. There were actually 2 bean bags: the large pro series that screws into the bottom of the camera and the traditional brown canvas bag of beans.

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Adapter is G-type. The prongs would fit into the orange charging station in the vehicle. I never used the charger in the vehicle and just charged my batteries at camp.

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A little blurry. Need to work on macro skills. I always take more than one adpater in case on fails, gets lost, or is stolen by a baboon, etc.

Edited by Atravelynn
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deano

Hi @@Atravelynn - I'm a bit late to this one so apologies for repeating what others have said but the cheetah images in particular are fantastic and the Hidden Valley landscape also.

 

Your last post above is typical of what makes a great guide for us - never mind how much they weigh and how often they hunt and catch (although I doubt I will ever tire of that information) and I can see how that became a favourite moment for you. Would liked to have witnessed that for myself.

 

I have a question for you on Masaai (Masai?) safari dress code - my safari wardrobe is neutral/bush based on previous trips - in this report I see that the regular guides stick to that dress code and the Masaai stick to their traditional vivid reds - what do you think would be said if I turned up in Masaai red? I would of course have to get such an outfit custom made as I didn't see a Masaai section last time I was at Bass Pro Shops.

 

Looking forward to more.

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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Atravelynn

Hi @@Atravelynn - I'm a bit late to this one so apologies for repeating what others have said but the cheetah images in particular are fantastic and the Hidden Valley landscape also.

 

Your last post above is typical of what makes a great guide for us - never mind how much they weigh and how often they hunt and catch (although I doubt I will ever tire of that information) and I can see how that became a favourite moment for you. Would liked to have witnessed that for myself.

 

I have a question for you on Masaai (Masai?) safari dress code - my safari wardrobe is neutral/bush based on previous trips - in this report I see that the regular guides stick to that dress code and the Masaai stick to their traditional vivid reds - what do you think would be said if I turned up in Masaai red? I would of course have to get such an outfit custom made as I didn't see a Masaai section last time I was at Bass Pro Shops.

 

Looking forward to more.

 

kind regards

 

deano.

Thanks for you kind comments. If you are headed to some Maasai villages, I think you would be a hit. They'd appreciate your effort and it would be a great conversation starter.. I will mention that while the shukas look like "red fabric" to us, each Maasai group has their own style based on where they live. While it looks standardized to us, it is not to them.

 

In the vehicle, I would continue to wear your neutrals. That topic came up this trip and definitely on foot you need neutral, but even when visible from the vehicle (like standing up) bring colors reflect light differently and can agitate or scare animals.

 

Now around the campfire is another story. I think other guests would get a kick out of it. Many times the Maasai work in the camps and that would be a chance to interact with them using your clothing as the ice breaker. Actually after safari in the camp would be the best use of your Maasai red IMO. You could pose this question as a stand-alone post, too.

 

Rather than packing from home, you could also buy the fabric upon arrival and let your guide know at the start you want a shuka.

 

You are certainly thinking creatively for your upcoming trip!

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Lynn,

 

Thanks for a brilliant report where you highlight all the details others who plan or might decide to visit, appreciate so much. Really nice pictures of all the cheetah cubs and mothers - Hari must be in heaven :).

 

Namari Plains is one of the camps I would like to experience so I have a few questions. First, why did you decide to only spend two nights there- it is a fair distance from your other camps. And then, I am quite confused about the TANAPA rule enforcement. I understand there is no off- reading in the Serengeti even though I have experienced guides ignoring the rules. Rules are rules and if no off-roading is allowed it should be followed. There are several roads/ tracks in the park that should allow you to have enough flexibility. However what is disconcerting is reports about only being allowed to take one specific track with others somehow closed off by the authorities. That would likely be a real problem. Please elaborate.

 

Also, did you find not being able to off-road a problem. I would the think it would be a constraint - yet when I see the great pictures taken by you, Paco, Hari and others that stayed there, it appears it may not be as big an issue as one might think.

 

Again thanks for taking the time to do this detailed report.

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