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A Return to the Serengeti: Migration Season in the South (February 2017)

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By getting lost, you were found. and what a discovery! my favourite small cat ever. and isnt it just so gorgeous. what a wonderful long sighting of it. 

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We recently returned from a 9 day/8 night trip to Tanzania in February 2017. We have had the pleasure and good fortune for this to be our 8th trip to the continent, starting with our honeymoon year

So after we ate, it was getting hotter and dusty but we decided to keep driving for a bit.  I'm not sure what we thought we could see that would top lions with a kill or a cheetah kill but you never k

So quickly why Alex Walker's Serian camps? On a previous trip (see trip report here http://safaritalk.net/topic/15748-september-2014-kenya-tanzania-safari-with-serian/)we had stayed at their Ngare Se

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@sek07 You got so lucky I still have never seen a caracal. It remains on the top of dream animals which I am dying to see.

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Thanks for the ID @offshorebirder.  i agree an apt name


A few more shots of the feline beauty


what a beauty, the blue eyes, the smirk and the earsIMG_1908.thumb.JPG.904ca3de89b8aff2db904086d83dc1ff.JPGZoom.thumb.jpg.6a9c533ec4e4b0f146ff1e917daa8e04.jpgIMG_1906.thumb.JPG.334d7d063265905b3cb5e19f024190a1.JPG

A look back from where we came you can see the fog we were in earlier


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Really enjoying riding along with you. You seem to have had some fabulous sightings particularly the Pangolin and Caracal  The shot of the Caracal in the last post toward the end with those stunning blue eyes is pretty special.


How interesting to see the honey hunt and collection, Well done eating the grubs! I love the black and white, smokey image of one of the honey hunters. That could be an award winner I would have thought! :)


Fly camping is fantastic and I am so glad you both enjoyed it. It is something I have done many times but never have I been provided with a bath! The height of luxury. 

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@Kitsafari its hard to argue for another cat above the caracal i agree.  i have a new view on getting lost!


@optig i think you are due given how much time you have put in on safari.  I will be very pleased to hear when it happens for you, but also get the sense you are not a list checker and your safari resume is among the more impressive i think i have seen


@wilddog i agree and this was probably more 'comfortable' than true fly camping but it was a start and anything that encourages M to want to do it in the future is great for me!


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The day had turned into a hot beautiful day, and we left our amazing sighting to go have some brunch close by.  On the way back to camp we were still in a state of shock/excitement and we found a brand new wildebeest taking its first step.  Have I said this is a staggering area at this time of year?



Still wet and taking its first steps


Encouragement from mom


And the whole herd


We then found these two cheetah on the way home which Masha determined were the mother/son we had seen on the way down from ndutu.  

Then ANOTHER wildebeest birth




Truly amazing cycle of life



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First steps




After this finally a picture of an eland where it wasn't running for dear life away from us.  For whatever reason this one stood still while the herd took off



Note the herd taking off below



the remains of probably a cheetah kill


For the vulture lovers out there



Edited by sek07
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Return to camp for sundowners, and another epic one 




Tonight would be our final night in camp and while we were obviously super sad our safari was coming to an end it had been so outrageously amazing that it was hard to be sad.  there was also a new family in camp that we met at sundowners and it was a family from california on their first safari.  We hit it off with the young couple and their first safari drive had been from the airport to camp that day.  We asked if they would like to join us on a night drive and made sure it was ok with the guides (of course!) and we were off. 

I decided not to even bother with the camera tonight to just take it all in and enjoy it and really experience it.  It was so neat being with people seeing so many things for the first time.


It was an absolutely gorgeous night and we saw:  white tailed mongoose, a honey badger (had to explain this was not a common sighting to them), a baby giraffe, multiple bush babies including one very close to the vehicle, an african wild cat, several spring hares.  In addition, we had the most incredible view of the milky way tonight, along with a lightening storm way off on the horizon.  We could even see satellites arcing across the sky it was so clear.  



Edited by sek07
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We woke up on our last day on safari ready to make the most of the few hours we had left.  Some people choose to sleep in on the last day with a long day of travel ahead.  We view it as our last chance to get our moneys worth and to make the most of what we came all this way to see. 

We set off as the sun was just starting to shine light on the day.


Some maribou storks on a kill, we couldnt find the culprit


Another honey badger!?  our third of the trip


Another of many wildebeest births.  Didn't bother counting how many



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Sometimes guides get on a mission-  Masha knew there were lions somewhere in the area.   And he wanted to show them to us before we left.  We headed in the direction of the Maswa reserve, which until recent years had been a hunting concession and i believe now houses several upscale lodges in the Legendary brand.  They look super nice (see ATR website).  

We passed tens of thousands of wildebeest on our way, including the calving above and passed many more giving birth.  We covered a lot of territory but it is just so enjoyable seeing what the next turn will bring.  The area we were searching was a bit more wooded and general game a little less dense.  

Eventually, however, as is the case almost always with Masha, he found us lions.


This pride of four was a mother with 3 approximately 1.5 year old cubs


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We searched valiantly for the male father who apparently is impressive but could not locate him.  He was probably asleep deep in the bushes right near where we were looking.  We decided to go have some breakfast and saw one of the most impressive journeys of giraffe imaginable.  




Look at all of the eland and zebra mixed in


wouldn't be a tanzania trip report without one lilac breasted roller




don't stop, believing



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We finally returned to camp and packed our bags and had a final lunch.  We said our goodbyes to the staff in camp, Alex, and the other guests we had befriended.  Is there anything worse than leaving camp on the last day of safari?   We were headed home with incredible memories, made some new friendships and renewed and strengthened others.  Promises were made to return, or to meet in other far off exotic places. 


And like that we were off headed north towards the Ndutu airport and towards what looked like dark thunder clouds and claps of thunder not too far away from us.  The first part of the drive was dry but eventually we  were surrounded on many sides by rain clouds.  We eventually hit where it had started raining and the black cotton soil was terrible so we slowed down considerably.    We saw a vehicle stopped and they were watching two cheetah, likely the pair we had seen a few times in the vernal area.  (really more cheetah?)


Then masha got an excited call on the radio.  we were very afraid it was a call saying our plane was late or cancelled due to weather and started to stress about our connections. Instead it was someone reporting a sighting.   We were not far from the airport at this point and were due to take off in a 1/2 hour.  

At this point what hadn't we seen right?  We expected Masha to continue on but instead he turned and said....


Wild dog have been sighted, a pack of three that are the only ones left in the area and they aren't often seen.  Do we try?  

Ummmm, i guess we can miss our plane and three connections back to new york for WILD DOG in tanzania.


And like that we were off, driving 100mph (ok maybe not but it felt it) in the direction he was told.  On the way we passed a male lion without barely slowing down 



We were the first to get to the dogs, one of which is collared. We could see dust flying from a few directions as cars on the radio heard about the rare sighting.




Are you kidding me at this point?  We could only spend a few minutes before we had to race back to the airport but it was so worth it.  expert driving Masha if you read this.  We were a couple minutes late for the plane (sorry we were those people) but i think wild dog is a worthy late pass

Oh and on the way from the dogs to the airport i saw two cheetah running and i am 90% sure they made a successful kill but we were driving so fast there is no way for me to be sure.   Absolutely surreal.


And so our LONG journey home began, and our epic tanzania journey came to an end.    

Thank you masha and felix and the whole Serian team.  just unbelievable, and thank you guys for the nice comments and indulging me on reliving our trip.




Edited by sek07
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Caracal is a super find.  Such blue eyes.  I hope those dogs can hang on in Ndutu and build up a presence.  Great that you saw them.

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What a great trip.  Amazing shot of the giraffe lined up all along the horizon.  It looks like they were on a mision.

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Fantastic trip and trip report!


If having a delayed flight would mean I would see a pangolin, serval, caracal, honey badger, wild dogs and cheetah poofs I think I might give it a go :D  I am glad it turned out so great for you after your initial ordeal.  Absolutely top-notch sightings!  Thank you for sharing such wonderful experiences!

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What a splendid trip. What a super Serval sighting, I thought, and then I was speechless about that wonderful Caracal encounter. And Wild Dogs for farewell - extraordinary!

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On 10/21/2017 at 9:40 PM, sek07 said:

 Is there anything worse than leaving camp on the last day of safari?


Very little, I would say. But, wow, what an incredible experience. Pangolin, serval, caracal, honey badger, cheetahs galore and the wild dogs there at the very end, and those are just some of the highlights. I have to say I would not have been as stressed about missing my flight back home as much as I would have over that near miss of yours at the start.  Thanks for sharing your trip with us. 

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  • 1 month later...

Amazing trip... If we are lucky enough on our April 2019 to see a pangolin, wild dogs, caracal, serval, or wildcat I will literally do cartwheels upon return to camp. I suppose getting to see all would mean I need to start preparing for acrobatics. Wonderful report.

Edited by Amylovescritters
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I am booking on a honey badger sighting and hope to not be disappointed, but then again every day on Safari is a gift ;) 

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Only just read this excellent trip report. Wow! So many amazing rare sightings- it would be almost unbelievable without the photos.  

Never heard of anyone seeing anywhere near that  many, on one 7 night safari - pangolin, serval, caracal, African Wild Cat, honey badger, Wild dogs, very young lion cubs, cheetah cubs and a successful cheetah hunt.

Have to go to that area of the Serengeti in the future......

Edited by Julian
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  • 3 weeks later...

Sorry to reach the end of your trip report! What a great read! I hope we're can be 1/2 as fortunate as you on our trip. 

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Wanted to reach out and thank you for this report.  My wife and I leave four weeks today for Africa and based on your report (and others) we are spending a couple of weeks in the South Serengeti in mid to the end of February.  I fully expect to see Wild Dogs, a Pangolin, Caracal, Serval, Honey Badgers and many Wildebeest being born.  However, I will be more than satisfied with even one of the above.  I do admit that I have gone back to your report many times and in the back of my mind I keep thinking maybe we will get that lucky also.  So I am going to go and buy some lottery tickets........................

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  • 2 months later...

Fantastic cheetah sightings, but the pangolin and multiple honey badgers are also great!

I don't think I knew that there were dogs in Ndutu...awesome find.

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