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Tanzania Safari Aug 2018


Zalipolo
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After lurking here for the last year or so I thought it was time I paid back the community. I've gleaned a lot of information from here to be able to plan my trip. Hopefully this trip report will provide some information and/or entertainment to someone.

 

Tour Operator:

 

I had shortlisted about 5-6 tour operators from names I had seen come up from various sources. I had reached out to several of them. Roy Safaris was who I ended up choosing. The person I was dealing with was always prompt with replies and was really good about talking me through and reworking the itinerary until I was satisfied.

 

Overall I was completely satisfied with Roy Safaris. From the minute I walked out the door of the airport on arrival to the minute I was dropped off on departure I did not have to worry about a thing. That's how it should work. Every detail was taken care of and I was just free to enjoy my time.

 

We had a new Jeep(2 months old) and our guide was really terrific. I gather most of these guides have a seemingly superhuman ability to spot animals and that was certainly the case. He also had a good knack for animal behaviour and was very good at anticipating what the animals next move would be. He had a good eye for photography and was always trying his best to get in a great position to capture great shots.

 

Our itinerary had us starting out in Tarangire > Ndutu > Central Serengeti > Northern Serengeti(2 nights) > Central Serengeti > Ngorongoro Crater

 

Camera:

 

I'm no photographer. Prior to the trip I had purchased a Canon SX540. Basically a superzoom point and shoot. In the right hands I'm sure someone that knows what they are doing could take some fantastic pictures. In my hands I was forced to use the PSP camera technique. Point Shoot and Pray that I got something good. I wasn't wearing reading glasses all trip so often between the sunlight and lack of glasses I couldn't tell on the LCD screen if I had gotten a good shot or not.

 

Also the first few days I was having some issues with blurry pics. I had been trying to use the auto setting because I didn't really know how to use the other modes. After some tinkering I for the most part got that sorted. However, overall I ended up with a lot of mediocre photos that probably could have been great in another persons hands.

 

Unexpected:

 

I read quite a few trip reports to prepare myself before and after planning. But there were a few things that came up that were unexpected / unanticipated.

 

Travel time: I can look at a map and see that it is quite a large area. I just didn't really anticipate how much travel. Or perhaps I did and just glossed over it. The sales reps from the tour companies are kind of like real estate people that say charming instead of small. What you get is “travel to x with game viewing en route” which apparently is code for you might be able to spot some animals out your window as your flying/bumping by.

 

Time commitment: When you read peoples trip reports they kind of flow from event to event and it seems like it's just a constant movement from one sighting to the next. I hadn't fully comprehended that there may be periods of hours of driving around not seeing anything. Or hours waiting at a sighting for something to happen. Safari is not a zoo going from one exhibit to the next and I understand that. I just didn't fully understand how much “lull” time there can be.

 

Animal fatigue: The first time you see a new animal it's like “oh wow look at that”. But then after your hundred millionth gazelle it's like “oh another” gazelle. We finished in the crater where apparently more people start. So it became very apparent there. “Oh what have they spotted? An ostrich? Move on”

 

Wifi: I had totally not expected to have wifi throughout the trip. I had figured the lodges would have it but figured once we headed into the serengeti for mobile tented camps we would be out of luck. No such case. Everyplace we went to had wifi which was a welcome surprise for us.

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Day 0-1 Arusha > Tarangire > Karatu

 

We arrived at JRO late afternoon on Wednesday. We had a flight delay so it was later than anticipated. Total travel time (to from airport, flights, changing planes etc) was 31 hrs. So I had booked a hotel on arrival for us to rest up before our safari actually started.

 

This was also the day of our 20th wedding anniversary. Although after travelling for 31 hours neither of us was feeling very romantic that day.

 

Roy Safaris owns the African Tulip hotel so they had recommended it. I was somewhat skeptical of the bias of the recommendation but not enough to care to much. As it turns out regardless of ownership the African Tulip is a very nice hotel. It's “charming” to use a real estate term. But it was very nice inside. Comfortable. Well decorated and the food was pretty good. We relaxed ate slept and got ready for our adventure.

 

I don't know why but I didn't take an photos at the African Tulip

 

The next morning we met with a sales rep to go over the itinerary and then met or driver/guide Nicolas. No time to waste. Get the bags in the car and let's get moving. I believe it was around 90 mins to get to Tarangire. On the way there we had Nicolas stop at a store so we could pick up a couple of things. We bought some beer and water. The safari company provides 1 litre per person per day but we didn't want to risk running out. Better to have more then be stuck needing it. Turns out we bought too few beer and too much water.

 

We also grabbed a couple of rolls of toilet paper. In retrospect 1 probably would have been sufficient. But considering the supply inconsistency at rest stops and the “bush breaks” I'm sure my wife would attest to our personal supply being a godsend.

 

Aside from countryside cows and goats our first game sighting would end up being the monkeys hanging out at the gate at Tarangire. A quick stop for paperwork and we are on our way into the park.

 

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We made our way into the park and saw various groups of zebra and elephants as well as some birds and giraffe.

 

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The excitement started when we were up on a hill looking down on a tree beside the road far below. Nicolas stopped because there was another Jeep down below. Leopard he says. I couldn't believe it. In reading the various trip reports I know some people miss out on a chance to see a leopard so this was a good start. It was very far away and we could only see a small glimpse of him/her.

 

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We quickly raced down to the tree the leopard was in but the leopard had come down out of the tree in the time it took us to get there. The above crappy picture was basically all I had from our leopard spotting. We waited around a little while to see if it would come out of the grass or go back to the tree. It didn't so we eventually moved on.

 

More giraffes and elephants. Eventually we came across a tree with around 20 baboons hanging around. We stopped for a bit to watch them.

 

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Then we spent some time watching a herd of about 8 elephants eating. There was a couple of younger ones with them so we just sat and watched.

 

Once we got moving again we come across a valley. On the other side was a cluster of jeeps looking at something. I know that each animal group has a unique name for the group. Crash of rhinos, memory of elephants, pride of lions. I wonder what the term for a group of tourist jeeps should be? I'm going with a cluster of jeeps. Short for clusterf**k which it can be.

 

From our side of the valley we could see the leopard in the tree. We had a pretty decent view of him. We watched for awhile as he stirred and yawned and sure enough he ended up jumping down in the grass and then disappeared. I tried my best to get some good shots but it was pretty far away. It was still pretty cool to see our second leopard that day and this time we had a good look. We probably spent 30-45 mins watching him.

 

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It is now getting later on in the afternoon and we start to head back towards the entrance. We stop at a pool where there was some birds and a few elephants bathing. Including a couple of youngsters that were playing together.

 

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After that we headed to Karatu for our overnight at the Retreat and Ngorongoro. This was another Roy owned property. However it certainly did not dissapoint. What an absolutely gorgeous property. Everything was spot on. We stayed here twice during our trip and it was by far my favourite place.

 

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Eat, rest, get ready for another day.

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Day 2 Ndutu > Central Serengeti.

 

I chose to include Ndutu in the itinerary because I was intrigued that it would offer a different experience with the ability to go off road. It wasn't the best time of year to be going there. However we were mainly interested in cats and our guide said it's a good hangout for cheetah.

 

A quick breakfast in the morning and we were off. The morning really flew by. It's a bit of a drive to get there from Karatu. So between the drive, gate paperwork, and a stop at the Ngorongoro viewing point the morning kind of just disappeared. The scenery was pretty great though. Such a radical landscape difference coming down off the crater rim into the plains of Ndutu.


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We saw some birds and giraffe and gazelles. And gazelles. And more gazelles. Everywhere you looked there were gazelles.

 

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We took advantage of the off road ability and spent hours driving around tree to tree trying our luck at spotting some cheetah. We must have checked hundreds but out of thousands it's kind of like a needle in a haystack. Overall it had been a pretty uneventful day. I should also mention that all day long we never saw another person in the park. Near the end of the day we were coming up on a tree near the road when we saw a flash of orange.

 

There was a male and two females lions sleeping under a tree. They were kind of in there and I didn't get any really nice shots. We stuck around for a bit watching them and then moved on.

 

As we made our way out of the park we had a few more general sightings.

 

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We made our way to our residence for the night. Lake Ndutu luxury tented lodge. I think the lodge part is a bit of a stretch. It's a permanent tented camp so the facilities were much greater then what you'd find further in the interior. But it doesn't compare with other “lodges”. The place was very nice. Great accommodations. Food and service were very good. The water here was a little weird. I guess they get there water from a local alkaline lake. It has a soapy feel to it. It was a bit hard to shower cause you never knew if you actually rinsed the soap off. Overall though a very nice place to stay.

 

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Edited by Zalipolo
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You did extremely well with your new camera!  I love "headshots" or face closeups, and you have many here.  But that lilac breasted roller (the rainbow colored bird in your first post) is exquisite.  About as good as I've ever seen!

 

I laughed about your "oh another" comment about impala.  I was the same way.  We went to Tarangire first, and all we saw for the first hour or so was impala, and I must have 150 photos of them.  Now they have to be doing something really interesting for me to bother!  I look forward to reading more, and to see if Ndutu paid off the next day.

 

Yes, there can be quite a bit of downtime, but other days you can be inundated with sightings too.  I think that's what I like about it, you never know what you're going to get every morning when you wake up!

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Day 3 Central Serengeti

 

We got up had breakfast and then hit the road for the central Serengeti. We traveled to the Serengeti gate and then had to spend some time there as our guide sorted out a problem with our itinerary. We were supposed to be spending 4 days in the Serengeti but due to the timing of the 24hrs passes it was going to put us in a bad spot on return as we would be re-entering the Ngorongoro conservation area too early and that would cut short our stay in the crater.

 

Nicolas had to make some calls and eventually got it all sorted out. Off we go. We made our way into the park with various spottings along the way.

 

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We found a nice spot by a rock to have lunch and while we were sitting there Nicolas spotted a mound way off in the distance. I mean past binocular distance. He states “ there's lions there” We look and look and can't see a thing. He uses his binoculars and confirms he sees them. We finished off our lunch boxes and head over to check it out. Sure enough a couple of lioness' laying around in the sun.

 

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Once we got moving again we hunted around for awhile and came across a car in a distance looking at a small tree. There's a cheetah there Nicolas says. I couldn't see anything if my life depended on it. My wife and I were very excited as we pulled closer that we would be seeing our first cheetah. Ratchet that excitement up 10 more notches when we pull up and find not just a cheetah but her 3 cubs.

 

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We probably spent 90 mins here watching them before moving on. Surely the highlight of our day. Today was going so much better then the slow day the day before in Ndutu. Within 20-30 mins of leaving the cheetahs Nicolas suddenly stops the jeep and says cheetah. What? Where? We had to be almost on top of it before my wife or I could see it. He spotted it from like a mile away. We get closer and find a male cheetah hanging out under a tree.

 

We watched him for a good while lay and roll. Then he finally got up, marked the tree and went wandering off in the grass.

 

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It was getting time to get moving as we had a bit of travel to get to our camp for the night. Enroute close to the camp we came upon a cluster of jeeps looking at a tree. Apparently there had been a leopard in the tree but it had jumped down into the grass before we got there. We waited a bit to see if he would get back in the tree but it was getting close to dark to we headed for camp.

 

Lodging for the night was at Tortillis camp. This was our first mobile tented camp so we got to see the difference between mobile and permanent tented camps compared to our previous nights stay. The accommodations were excellent. Absolutely no complaints. It was our first experience with the hot water for shower brought in buckets. But it's not a big deal. Just takes some planning and a quick shower because you don't know when it's going to end.

 

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Edited by Zalipolo
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So you DID get to see cheetahs! What a wonderful sighting!!

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Day 4 Central Serengeti > Northern Serengeti

 

At dinner the previous night we also encountered an unexpected event. The guide joining us for dinner. When I say unexpected I don't mean anything negative. I just had never heard anything about that. Nicolas explained that the lodges don't do it that way but the bush camps do. It was a pleasant surprise.

 

At dinner we discussed the itinerary for the next day. On paper they had us going out early. Returning to camp for breakfast and then heading back out for viewing until we had to travel to northern Serengeti. This was also my wake up call to the salespeople's generous use of the term of “game viewing en route”. Nicolas explained the reality of tomorrow which was game drive until about 2 pm and then a 4hr hard bumpy slog to the northern part of the Serengeti..

 

There was no way we were going out for a game drive and coming back to camp for breakfast. A complete waste of time in our opinion. We arranged for breakfast and lunchboxes and arranged to head out at 6am.

 

We met Nicolas at 6 and off we went. First stop was the leopard tree from the night before to see if it was still there. It was still pretty dark when we got to the tree but sure enough Nicolas spotted the leopard hanging out in the tree. We waited here a total of 2 hrs. Originally waiting for the sun to finally come up so we could get some better shots. We ate breakfast while we waited.

 

Mere minutes before the sun was about to peak out and give us some good light, the leopard got up grabbed part of a gazelle he had stashed in the tree and dropped down into the grass to have his own breakfast. We waited about an hour after that to see if he would make his way back in the tree but we eventually gave up.

 

Here's a couple of bad pics I got in poor light before he jumped down.

 

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20 mins later we come upon a cluster of cars and sure enough. Another leopard in a tree. He was just hanging out sleeping and didn't look like he was moving anytime soon so we moved on. It was far enough and obscured by branches that I didn't really get a good shot.

 

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As we were driving around looking for animals a camp truck stopped us on the road. The guy told us that just outside their camp they had seen around 20 lions sleeping in the grass. It was a bit far but we took off to see if they were still there.

 

Once we got to the spot we found that the lions had moved to the other side of a field. They were well off in the distance. Even with binoculars you could just make out their shapes. We watched them for a bit and then saw a group of warthogs slowly making their way closer to the lions. With the binoculars we could see the lions begin to take interest and slowly move up towards a bush.

 

What excitement. I wish it would have been closer. But at least it looked like I was going to be able to see a kill/hunt happen. This all happened over the course of about an hour. And it all exploded into action in the course of seconds.

 

A lion that we hadn't seen had made there way south of the pack of warthogs. She took off after them and they started running towards the main pack. Once the warthogs got a look at the main pack they turned south and were running for their lives TOWARD US. It all happened SO fast. In the time it took for me to drop my binoculars on the seat and grab my camera they had closed from almost out of binocular range to right at our jeep.

 

I grabbed my camera and not wanting to miss a second of this with my eyes I employed my point shoot pray photography technique and just started clicking away madly hoping I would catch part of the action as I whirled around inside the jeep as the passed about 20 feet behind us.

 

The warthog made a fatally wrong decision to veer right but the lioness had the angle on it and got a paw on his haunch and it was all over. This is all happening about 30 feet from us. I'm glad a decided to use my eyes and not my camera as it's something I will never forget. A couple of squeals later the warthog was done.

 

My heart was beating so fast. I couldn't believe what I had just seen. My wife and I were smiling like little kids at Christmas. Of course I feel bad for the warthog but WOW what an incredible thing to see.

 

We made our way over to the lioness with her kill as she sat and caught her breathe before beginning to feast.

 

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Slowly the rest of the group made their way over and we got to watch the feeding frenzy take place. We counted 25 lions and cubs. They fought and feasted and then hung around for a bit before making off for the long grass after. We stayed through the whole thing.

 

I'll include a link to a short video:

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We waited around for quite a bit to see were they would go. But we lost the pride in the long grass. Eventually we gave up and moved on. It's a good thing we decided on those breakfast boxes after all. We would have missed the whole thing.

 

We came across a group of elephants that passed right by the jeep. In fact one of them stood in front of us and gave us the stare down because we were in his way. Saw a nice bird(another roller) and a couple of lazy male lions off in the distance that we watched for a bit but eventually left because it looked like sleep was all that was on their agenda.

 

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We had to start making our way to the northern road soon so we started meandering in that direction. We came over a hill and could see two clusters of jeeps. One was hanging out by a tree. And the other was a couple of hundred feet away by some long grass and a watering hole. We headed for the long grass.

 

When we got their we found a pride of about 8-10 sleeping the day away in the grass. There was also a male with them. We hung out a bit and took a few pictures when on the other side of the watering hole a group of warthogs started making their way into view. One of the younger lions perked his head up and began watching. Slowly a couple more began to watch as well. The younger one started walking off making his way around the watering hole with his siblings watching with disinterest.

 

Once the young guy had made his way almost directly across from us on the other side the warthogs spotted him and took off. BOOM lion explosion. It just happens so quickly. The warthogs curled around the watering hole back towards where our jeep was. 3 or 4 went off chasing a warthog 40 feet or so in front of our jeep. One of the warthogs was veering back towards us. That finally got the males attention. He was up like a flash and raced in between the gap in front of our jeep and the jeep in front of us. I'm sure Nicolas got a full on face view of a lion sprinting right in front of his face.

 

Now being an experienced lion hunt observer I was prepared to add an element of skill to my aforementioned PSP camera technique. Fortunately this time I was successful.

 

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It was interesting to see the dynamic this time around as all the females backed off and let the male have his meal. They just stayed back and looked longingly on their lunch being eaten. We were running short on time so we split. 2 kills one day. That's how we do our safaris! And we made the right choice. The other cluster was just watching a lazy male and female dozing under a tree.

 

Stopped to take a few baboon pictures on our way back to the northern road.

 

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On the way to the northern road we come upon another cluster of jeeps. 2 female lions sleeping in the grass right beside the road. But wait there's a few more about 50ft from the road in the long grass. One two three... slowly they are popping heads up here and there and there's about 8 of them. Queue the warthogs...

 

So the warthog group starts walking blindly into this pack of lions that are hiding behind bushes and long grass. We lost sight of the warthogs but there are 4 lions intently watching just waiting for their moment. The warthogs move closer but eventually spot their fate and hightail it out of there. One of the lions takes off after them. She was a bit slow to get moving and the warthogs had a good head start. The other 3 just stood there watching. Eventually the lion gives up. Lions 2 Warthogs 1.

 

We find the northern road and begin our 4 hr bone-jarring ass-breaking journey to the north. A long ride after already being in the jeep game driving for 8 hours. The scenery was interesting. About 3 hours into the trip our guide who I didn't think was looking at anything besides trying to navigate the “road” stops suddenly. A lioness relaxing in the sun. We stop to take a few pics.

 

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Back on the road and just as it's getting dark we pull into our stop for the next 2 nights. Tanzania Bush Camp(North). Same great accommodations we had experienced the night before. However they had a boiler system at this place. You still had to make a shower appointment for them to hook up the pipes but you weren't time limited like a bucket.

 

We headed to the lounge to relax and relive the day. I was really beginning to enjoy relaxing before dinner and enjoying a nice cold Safari Lager. Then disaster struck. The delivery truck broke down on the road and they didn't have an beer. Noooooooooo.

 

We had our dinner and made our plans for the next day. We went to the fire pit and met a nice couple from the UK on their honeymoon and traded stories. They had seen a serval. I was jealous. They had also waited all day for the wildebeast to cross and no luck for them. Good luck for us as it increased our chances of seeing it happen the next day. Time for shower and bed.

 

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Day 5 Mara River

 

We arrived at the Mara river early in the morning. During the journey there you could see the great herds of wildebeast making their way towards the river. At this time of year the wildebeast are heading north towards Kenya. We scoped out a few locations and could see a pretty large herd 20-30k beginning to congregate in one spot. We decided to sit and wait.

 

Our guide got a call from someone else giving him to location of a small herd that was making a crossing. We made our way over there and got their in time to watch the herd hilarity ensue as they couldn't get up the other bank. Back and forth follow the leader they tried and tried. One unfortunate wildebeast had had some sort of mishap and was lying dead in the water. After a fair amount of time one of them finally found a way and the herd made it's way across.

 

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On the way back to our spot we came upon a group of vultures making a meal out of an unfortunate wildebeast. And I finally got a decent shot of an Eland.

 

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We arrived back at our spot and spent the next 6hrs waiting. The large group kept congregating and moving towards the river and then one would get spooked and they would walk away. There was us and another jeep waiting a better part of the day in that spot and nothing happening yet.

 

At around 2 o'clock a camp truck comes over and says he just saw a group crossing downriver and nobody is there. He saw us waiting around so he figured he'd let us know. Off we go.

 

After a bit of searching we find the spot. And fortunately these guys have already crossed but for whatever reason are crossing back to our side. So instead of a bunch of ass shots we are getting to view it face on.

 

Lots of wildebeast making their way across. Along with some topi and zebra. Nicolas all of a sudden spots a croc in the water making his way to the middle of the throng that is crossing.

 

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Just as the croc is moving in a group of wildebeast come rushing in jumping and thrashing their way across the river. The croc got jumped on stepped on and squashed. We don't know what happened to him but we never saw the croc again.

 

That crossing eventual petered out so we headed further downriver and saw a group that looked like they were going to go. We waited about 10 mins and then boom it was on. Here's some random pics.

 

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That mama wildebeast had crossed and spent 20 mins crying on the bank looking for her baby. Eventually the baby made it's way across and we got to see them reunited.

 

We made our way back to our first spot and find a couple of people that had been in that area all day and nothing. It was now time to make our way back to camp for the night. But not before snapping some elephant pics in great light. And some crocs.

 

 

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Back to the same camp as the night before. Eat shower sleep. Good news was the beer guy found his way there.

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Day 6 Northern Serengeti > Central Serengeti

 

The plan for the day is to head out at 7 and get the 4hr drive back south out of the way. After an uneventful journey we arrive back in central and head to the hippo pools. We spend a bit of time here taking a few pictures and stretching our legs.

 

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A cluster of jeeps is spotted so we head over to see what they've got. Leopard in a tree. He's moving around a bit so he may get down and the grass under the tree is matted down so we'll have a good view if he does. We spend a couple of hours here waiting and having lunch. But he doesn't seem all that interested in forgoing his nap for our entertainment so we move on.

 

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Next stop is a ring of around 20 jeeps in the middle of the road. Once we get close enough we see it's male lion enjoying a nap.

 

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After his yawning he gets up and wanders over to the taller grass for nap 2.0. We start to move on but then spot his brother off in the grass. After a few minutes the brother decides to get up and walk around.

 

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We drive around and stop to take some elephant pictures.

 

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It's getting dark so it's time to head to camp for the night. We are staying at Tanzania Bush Camp. Same company as the previous 2 nights. Just a different location. Accommodations are slightly different but overall the experience was great just like the previous 2 nights.

 

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Day 7 Central Serengeti > Ngorongoro

 

I said the experience was just like the previous 2 nights but that's not quite accurate. The activities began during dinner. The staff/guides camp sits around 100-150ft behind the main camp. There was a group of 8 or so lions back there attempting to kill a buffalo.

 

We got alerted to this by the camp staff who were using their flashlights to illuminate the numerous hyena dashing through our camp. We go to bed early on advice from the staff that are visibly shaken at what is going on. We spend a relatively sleepless night listening to the lions and hyenas fighting over the kill.

 

The next morning we get the lowdown. At around 8 the night before the lions had wounded a buffalo about 25-30 feet from our guides tent. They spent 2 hours trying to kill the buffalo. Their progress was hindered by other buffalo storming in trying to protect their friend. Eventually they were successful. Being so close to camp the staff was out there with flashlight watching this happen and the eventually fighting between the lions and hyenas over the kill.

 

We were told somewhere near 100 hyenas were milling about. Later into the evening the lions decided to drag their kill further into the bush away from the flashlights.

 

In the morning we decided to go see what the commotion was about.

 

In this picture you can see our guides tent and just in front a bit of pink in the grass. That's where this was all going down.

 

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We could only spot 3 lions hanging around. 2 had apparently had their fill. One was still eating. The hyenas were patiently waiting their turn.

 

We headed out to see what else we could find. It was going to be a shorter day as we had to check out of Serengeti before 2:15.

 

We came upon a cluster of cars near a tree just in time to see female cheetah walking away from them. We got on the south side of here as she walked towards us and promptly plopped down in the long grass near a tree. I had enough time to to snap a few pics but they are more grass then cheetah.

 

We stopped to grab a couple of warthog pics that either weren't running for their lives or in a lions mouth.

 

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We checked various trees and rock outcrops and eventually found a mama lion and 3 cubs hanging out in the shade. A good a spot as any to hang out and have lunch.

 

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After lunch we happened upon a young male hanging out by himself by a tree and then made out way to the gate to check out of the Serengeti. On our way out there were a couple of males hanging out by the Serengeti sign to wish us farewell. But they were buried in the trees a bit and we didn't have a good position.

 

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From the Serengeti/Ngorongoro gate it was about a 3 hr drive to our lodging for the night. Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge.

 

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While the lodge itself is nice and that staff super attentive it just wasn't for me. It was my least favorite place to stay. The dated décor, food was meh, and it was just way to large and busy. We had a crater view room but that was wasted on me. On beach vacations I don't bother with ocean view rooms either because I don't spend much time in the room and if I'm in there it's dark.

 

Every other place we stayed I would happily stay at again. Sopa I would pass. It just wasn't for me. We had better availability of hot water and wifi at some of the mobile tented camps deep in the Serengeti than this lodge. Whatever, time for bed. Crater tomorrow. Very excited I was looking forward to the crater all trip.

 

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Day 8 Ngorongoro Crater.

 

We are up early and head out and are at the descent gate by about 6:20. By the time we hit the crater floor it's just starting to get light out. Oh and I should also mention that it is absolutely freezing. I knew about temperature changes and layering etc. But man by 8am I was frozen and shivering. I kept looking for the sun to come out behind the clouds and warm the place up.

 

I had been so looking forward to the crater. I don't want to say that I was disappointed. I just may have built up the fantasy in my head more then reality could live up to. I do recommend people go to the crater however because it provides 2 very unique experiences. One the landscape is breathtaking. No matter where you are in the crater the backdrop is just amazing.

 

Two the animals within the crater are so accustomed to the jeeps they pretend they aren't there. This presented the opportunity to get up close with many animals that we had previously seen as very skittish: Hyena, Zebra, Wildebeast, Warthog.

 

We drove around the crater all morning(it eventually warmed up some) and spotted various animals. The only time it seemed like some action was going to happen was when we came across 8 lions on the other side of a small bank from a herd of zebra. The lions looked like they were going to do something and had begun to get into position. But they waited too long and the zebra eventually moved off so the lions went back to bed.

 

I'll just get to the pics

 

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We had to be out of the NCA by 2:15. So we started our ascent at around 1pm. We made it to the NCA gate around 2 and sat to eat lunch and watched the baboons at the gate terrorizing the various jeeps.

 

We made our way back to The Retreat at Ngorongoro for a final night stay before heading back home. Again I'll say this place is fabulous. We got their late last time. This time it was maybe 3pm so we had time to stroll around the beautiful grounds and really check the whole place out.

 

I think there was only 5 groups at the resort this time so dinner was a la carte instead of buffet.

 

I didn't talk much about food the entire trip. For the most part it was good. There was a couple of things bordering on really good. Nothing amazing. The pepper steak I had the last night at Retreat was solidly in the really good category. Throughout the entire trip we never really experienced anything bad. Maybe some stuff that was not to our taste but never any food that was just outright bad.

 

And holy cow do they ever pack the food into you. We had lunchboxes every day. We never did experience a camp where you pick your own. Some of ours gave you an option of chicken or beef. But everyday it was a bit of a surprise opening it up to see what was there. Most days both my wife and I could have split one lunchbox and still had food leftover. I felt bad for the food I wasted but I just couldn't eat it all. Long story short. Your not going to go hungry on safari.

 

We enjoyed dinner. And then a nice fire in the fireplace in our room and then retired for the evening.

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Day 9 Karatu > Arusha > Kilimanjaro

 

Leisurely wake up as we didn't need to head out till 11am. It's 2.5 hrs back to Arusha and then another hour to the airport. We drove back to Arusha to Roy Safaris office and parted ways with our guide Nicolas. We had a different driver to the airport.

 

It was time to begin our long slog home. Total travel time between The Retreat and our home was about 35hrs. With a few spots of sleep on the plane. I find flying to be a horribly uncomfortable experience. But it's a sacrifice that must be made to get here.

 

Overall I can't say enough good things about our trip. It was an amazing, exciting, humbling, and breathtaking experience. I'm so glad that we chose to do this and will now have memories for a lifetime.

 

Upon reflection I think there are three key traits to have to ensure a successful safari. Patience, an easy going nature, and an open mind. Don't worry about the minor details. Look at it as an experience as a whole. It will be the time of your life.

 

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Found a few pics on my wife's phone of the African tulip hotel.  That's why I didn't have any pics.

 

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A pic of us getting ready to rob the first bank we see in the Serengeti

 

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A pic of us and Nicolas at then end of the trip.

 

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And best for last.  A video of the second kill we saw.

 

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Wow!  Your day 4 was crazy!!!  And day 5 just as good.  You had some pretty awesome sightings!  Loved you trip report!  (And you did really well with your psp method!  Excellent pics!)

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Quite a whirlwind trip, but you really had some great sightings.  I still haven’t seen a successful lion hunt after 4 weeks in Tanzania, so 2 in a day makes me rather jealous.  Thanks for sharing.

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What a excellent safari!  I have yet to see a kill after 6 safaris.  I loved your writing style and devoured every word.  Very enjoyable reading.  Thanks for all the detail.

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Did a second pass through the photos and selected a few more I like.  Not as great as the first batch.  But I still like them.

 

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Outstanding trip report @Zalipolo!     It came so fast I was unable to comment on individual posts.

 

How lucky you were with the Lion kills!   And Cheetah sightings.  Leopards too.   Nicolas sounds like an excellent guide.

 

You also did very well with the photos.  And videos - thanks for sharing the one of the successful Lion-Warthog hunt.  Great stuff.

 

 

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love your first lilac breasted roller photo and the one with the lone bull elephant amidst the wildebeest. you were so lucky to see 2 lion kills in one day! we were in the mara and watched 4 lioness stalking a lone warthog in the long grasses. we were sure we were going to see a kill but somehow the 2 in the front didn't get the message and the warthog got away.

 

for our first safari we saw a cheetah kill a hare-not too gross. this year we saw a cheetah kill a pregnant gazelle. a bit tougher to watch.

 

so glad you had a great safari. also, the more you learn about the animals makes them so much more interesting so it's not just "oh, there's another zebra." their behaviors are fascinating.

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Yeah I keep coming back to that LBR pic as well.  So lucky it turned out.  I had what I thought was a really great bee-eater photo but upon closer inspection at home it's not so great.  I really thought it was going to be great.

 

I like closeups(that's easy to see) but I think the problem was also magnified by the glasses/lcd screen I mentioned.  I'd take medium range photos and have a quick look at the preview and it didn't seem like you could really see the target.  Then when I looked at home I'm like damn I missed some great opportunities.

 

I mentioned animal fatigue.  Another element is also photo snobbiness.  Later into the safari we would run across a sighting and my wife would be like oh that'll be a great picture.  And I'm like no the lights not good let's go.  Look at me.  Photography newbie talking about good/bad light haha

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What a stellar trip report! Your cheetah cub closeup and the crocodile caught in the midst of the wildebeest are my favorite individual moments that you've shared with us, but really the whole thread is chock-full of excellent photos and storytelling.

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What a great safari.  We were in many of the same areas at the same time.  You had some great sightings.

We have yet to see a successful hunt in 7 safaris.

 

You were fortunate to see multiple river crossings without the mass mayhem of the other tourists mobbing the access.

 

Your photos are really sharp and good.  

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Serengeti doesn't disappoint!  Last trip there I watched a pride of lions hunting numerous times, warthogs and Buffalo and each time they failed.  You got quite lucky there!  

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