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A tale of two safaris - Tanzania 2016 (followed by Rwanda)


Zubbie15

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Zubbie15

Well, it’s taken me longer to get this started than expected! Let’s just say that life has gotten in the way and really slowed me down, I only finished processing my photos a couple of weeks ago (4 months after returning, ugh). I obviously had expected to get to this quicker, based on my previous post a couple of days after getting back (http://safaritalk.net/topic/15876-just-back/)! Thankfully, @@Atravelynn and @@africawild presented their awesome trip reports from visits they made around the same time; in fact, maybe it’s good to be delayed, given how great their reports were. For anyone who hangs around the Tanzania/Rwanda TripAdvisor forums (hi there @amybatt), I posted a lightly edited version of my travel journal on there already, mostly to give people contemplating their first safari an idea of what it’s like. This report will be for more advanced travelers. :) I expect it will be heavily photo focused, although my last (Australia) trip report completely morphed from what I had planned to what I actually did, so we’ll see. In any case, I know myself well enough that once I get this started I will get through it, so let’s begin.



Tarangire Sunrise


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Well, it’s taken me longer to get this started than expected! Let’s just say that life has gotten in the way and really slowed me down, I only finished processing my photos a couple of weeks ago (4 mo

Getting to Africa Flying in February there’s always a risk of snow-related delays, but we’d had a pretty calm winter to that point, and when I started looking at the 10 day forecast prior to our

Thanks @@dlo, @@TonyQ, @@Alexander33 and @@Hads for the kind words. I have to agree about the green season safari, in ways the wildlife viewing takes more work, but the green background is much nicer

xelas

Lovely sunrise, @@Zubbie15 ! And a lovely opening of what will surely be an exciting voyage through the wonders of Tanzania and Rwanda.

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amybatt

Wonderful! Can't wait to read this report as well!!

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TonyQ

@@Zubbie15

A great opening photo! I am looking forward to your report.

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michael-ibk

Love the Tarangire sunrise, such a classic shot. Looking forward to this report - get going! :)

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@@Zubbie15 looking forward to this! I still have a half finished report from a 2012 visit to Rwanda and Tanzania eyeing me disapprovingly from my desktop. So 4 months ain't so bad ?

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mapumbo

Beautiful shot. Looks as if you could step right in to the frame.

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Zubbie15

Thanks all for the kind words. @@ld1


, I guess I won't feel bad, 2012 is quite a long time ago!



Let's start with some details. Our first trip, back in September 2013, was in our mind a great success (apart from fueling my continued obsession with going on safari…), so we decided to return to Africa, and to Tanzania, at a different time of year. This led us to decide on visiting in February, which should offer both much greener scenery and the possibility of wildebeest calving on the Ndutu plains. Given the success of our earlier trip, we booked with the same TO (Access2Tanzania) and requested the same guide (Mussa). I think we were actually one of Mussa’s last clients with A2T; shortly after we returned, we found out he’d started his own company (Roam Serengeti Safaris). I've suggested to him that he join this site, but I guess he hasn't had time yet.



Once I got the approval from my wife to plan the trip, I started looking into various permutations, and eventually decided that since we were going so far it would be nice to include something different, so we decided to tack on a visit to Rwanda at the end of our trip. Around the time we were planning the trip, A2T was in the process of organizing a sister company, Treks2Rwanda, which made it easy for us to book everything through one contact.



Our original itinerary looked as follows:



Day 1 – arrive Arusha, stay KIA lodge


Days 2, 3, 4 – transit to Tarangire, stay Tarangire Safari Lodge


Day 5 – transfer to Lake Manyara NP, Kirurumu Tented Lodge


Days 6, 7 – Ngorongoro Crater, Rhino Lodge


Days 8-11 – Ndutu, Kati Kati Camp


Days 12-13 – Seronera, Kati Kati Camp


Day 14 – fly to Kigali



It was maybe too much time in Tarangire for the time of year, but I figured we could take it easy there and get over our jetlag. I also am not sure if prices went up a lot or it was the different time of year, but I found lodging to be much more expensive than last time, so we ended up in fairly basic accommodation (but it was all more than sufficient).



Ngorongoro Crater elephant


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elefromoz

@@Zubbie15, great to see you up and running. Looking forward to re-visiting Tanzania and Rwanda through your report.

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Both the orange skyline landscape and the Elephant in the crater are lovely shots. Look forward to more.

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amybatt

As an aside for those reading this as research for their future trips, I'm another Access2Tanzania happy customer (first safari, trip report filed here on Safaritalk in 2013) and I booked my upcoming Rwanda 2017 gorilla safari with their sister company Treks2Rwanda. I was thrilled to find Zubbie's TR on Trip Advisor, and even happier still he's going to write a more robust one here!

 

Gorgeous elephant shot, Zubbie!

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Atravelynn

What a beautiful intro photo!

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Zubbie15

Getting to Africa



Flying in February there’s always a risk of snow-related delays, but we’d had a pretty calm winter to that point, and when I started looking at the 10 day forecast prior to our flight everything looked good. However, about 48 hours before takeoff the forecast started to show the potential for some snow, and by the day before a moderate storm was being predicted. So of course we ended up having a big storm the morning of our flight, and despite it stopping around mid-day, it caused havoc at the airport. We had a 3 hour connection in Amsterdam, but kept waiting and waiting to board. We finally did, 2 hours late, so I was hoping things would be alright. But then we sat on the tarmac for an hour, so we had at best a run through the terminal to catch our flight. Anyway, long story short, as best I can tell we landed at Schiphol right as they closed the gate for the flight to Tanzania, so we got to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam paid for by KLM. It was annoying to miss our flight, but we took advantage to catch up on our sleep, and we definitely felt less jetlagged when we did get to Tanzania, and we forgot about it pretty quickly after starting our safari.



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Zubbie15

Alright, well I think that’s enough background and preliminary information, time to jump into the safari. After crashing in Arusha for the night, and then picking up some cash, groceries and a SIM card the next morning, we set out for Tarangire. Almost immediately, we could see the striking difference between going at the end of September, when everything was dry and brown, and now in February, with lush green growth everywhere. We also noticed, particularly as we approached Tarangire, the much wider variety of birdlife that was present along the sides of the roads.



Once we reached the gate, our guide went to get the paperwork approved while we set up our cameras. Some vervet monkeys in the trees helped us take a few test shots.



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We had planned to eat lunch in the parking lot, but a cheetah had been seen just past the entrance to the park, so we decided to postpone lunch and have a quick look around. Unfortunately, we couldn't locate it, but we did see a lot of the more common wildlife.



Impala


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Giraffe


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We decided after a while to stop looking for the cheetah, and so stopped by this little body of water for lunch. The day in general was quite grey, and it had been raining quite a bit lately, so things were wet and muddy. Unfortunately, that meant that the night game drive we'd booked through Tarangire Safari Lodge was cancelled.



Green season in Tarangire


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We didn't spend too long eating, and once we were done we headed off to keep exploring. We came across a herd of waterbuck, including these males sparring.



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There were also a lot of impala in the area.



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And quite a few giraffe.



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We also saw a family of dwarf mongooses, which we hadn't seen on our previous trip.



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And it didn't take long for the baboons to appear.



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We had a lot of interesting birds during our time in Tarangire, starting with this red-and-yellow barbet.



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Edited by Zubbie15
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Lots of lovely shots @@Zubbie15 and that opening Boabab is a great example of Tarangire's beauty. Really do love a green season safari.

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Great start @zubbie, I love the barbet pic!

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TonyQ

@@Zubbie15

It is great to see the wildlife with such green backgrounds - beautiful photos!

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Alexander33

Gorgeous cheetah shot, and I am now as convinced as ever about the wisdom of a Green Season safari in east Africa. Missing that flight must have been frustrating, but it looks like you got right back into the swing of things.

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Zubbie15

Thanks @@dlo, @@TonyQ, @@Alexander33 and @@Hads for the kind words. I have to agree about the green season safari, in ways the wildlife viewing takes more work, but the green background is much nicer. For comparison's sake:



Tarangire in late September, at the end of the dry season (not sure why I processed it so dark back then, but you get the idea)


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A similar view in February


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Actually, while I'm on the topic, there were two reasons I titled this trip report "a tale of two safaris." Not only is there the obvious one, involving the different countries we visited, but within Tanzania it seemed like we almost had two separate safaris; Tarangire and Seronera, with the long grasses, being more challenging, while the NCA (both the Crater and the Ndutu area) with it's short grasses was almost easy. It was an amazing difference. We'd had a cloudy day up to that point, but it started to clear and we got to enjoy more typical Tarangire sights.



Elephants in the Tarangire River


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Boabab


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Giraffes (and elephants in the background)


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Giraffes


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As we were travelling around, the call came over the radio that lions had been spotted on the other side of the river relatively close to the road. We decided to slowly make our way to that area. The nice thing about not being on our first safari was that we didn't have to rush to every view of a lion that we heard about. So when we got to the bridge to cross, we spent a fair amount of time watching the waders that were fishing in the water, including a lot of Hammerkops, and some Black Storks. We had not seen a single Hammerkop on our previous visit to Tanzania; this time, they were all over the place in Tarangire. Unfortunately, pictures were a bit of a challenge as we couldn't stop on the bridge, and so needed to watch them backlit by the sun.



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Thats a great comparison shot of the different seasons, really stunning difference! Looking forward to more.

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Alexander33

Agree, the comparison landscape shot between the dry season and green truly embodies the saying that a picture is worth 1,000 words. The hammerkop was very cooperative!

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Zubbie15

We headed off toward the location of the lions, but had minimal luck beyond a couple of glimpses due to the high grasses. It would've been nice to have a better view, but we figured that there wouldn't be a lack of lions for us over the coming days. We were starting to feel the jetlag a bit by then, so we decided to slowly head toward our camp (Tarangire Safari Lodge - it was alright, but could've used a bit of sprucing up). By the time we got back to the bridge, the sun had moved enough that the pictures were less challenging. We came to a fork in the road shortly later, with a vehicle right behind us - we took the left fork, they took the right fork. 30 seconds later, the radio burst to life in excited Swahili, and we jammed on the breaks. Oops, I guess we went the wrong direction. We quickly reversed direction, and found a female cheetah on a hill in the nice golden sun. She went down away from us, into an area with no roads, so we continued along our way. Again, we found some lions in the long grass, but no great views. It was a good day, and nice to be back on safari.



Tarangire landscape. The bush at the bottom middle had several lionesses hiding behind it.


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Baobab


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Vervet monkey


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Hammerkop in better light


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Hammerkop with fish


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Female cheetah


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Solitary baobab


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Atravelynn

Frustrating start to the trip.

You weren't challenged by photo of the fish in the hammerkop's mouth. The 2 Tarangire shots were great comparison pieces. The baboon carrying baby is a great shot.

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Zubbie15

Day 2 - Tarangire, a birder's paradise



Tarangire is definitely a park that changes an amazing amount over the seasons. Even though it's not considered as good during the green season, when a lot of the large ungulates leave the park for the surrounding areas (we did not see a single zebra or wildebeest during our time in the park, for example). On the other hand, at the same time the birdlife in the park explodes. We were to experience the difference in spades this morning. We decided to spend the day, slowly travelling down to the Silale swamp area and then back. It had rained during the night, and we quickly came across lion pug marks in the mud of the road, and we followed until they veered off into the grasses. Apart from a few giraffes, and a lone waterbuck, we saw no mammals during the whole morning. However, the birds more than made up for it.



Cloudy and foggy morning


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Giraffes


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Southern ground-hornbill


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Juvenile Bateleur


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Hammerkops


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Pygmy Falcon


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Common Fiscal's with prey


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Von der Decken's hornbill


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Still a rather grey day!


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Southern ground-hornbill with a prize


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Tawny Roller


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White-bellied go-away-bird


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Atravelynn

Really great birds shots, such variety. Did you get any info on cheetah #s in Tarangire? I know there is 1 from your photo.

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