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Six Kansans on a Tanzania safari


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On the way back to the Sopa Lodge we again were enjoying the sights of the Masai going about their daily lives, herding their flocks and collecting wood and water.

 

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It was the year for the rites of initiation into adulthood or the warrior class for the Masai young men.  We saw these groups in numerous places standing along the road hoping for tourists to stop and take their photo, I assume for money.

 

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Further down the road we passed a huge herd of sheep and goats with several young herders out watching over them.  There were several of the young herders standing next to the road in hopes that we would stop.  As we passed by something hit the window right next to me.  One of the little scamps had thrown his staff at the vehicle.  Fortunately, I had the window closed.  George slammed on the brakes and he and Zachari jumped out and took chase after them.  The race was on with the youngsters having a head start.  Zachari caught one herder who chose not to run.  He was pointing at the others as if saying it wasn't me, it was those guys.  George tried to cut one off but youth won out and he got away. Zachari had his rubber mud boots on but still gave a gallant chase.   After about a quarter mile chase our team had to throw in the towel.  We didn't know what to expect when George and Zachari came back.  They both started laughing when they got near the vehicle, and said I bet they don't try that again.  I suspect the bush telegraph got the message to their parents and they were in a heap of trouble, especially when they weren't counting on a fleet footed ranger in the vehicle with us.

 

 

 

THE RACE IS ON

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GEORGE HAS MADE HIS POINT

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What an adventure to finish a day of wonderful memories and activities.

 

 

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wow you had a cat-filled stay in Tarangire, which was our first spot in our safari history and where we fell in love with the bush. what is surprising is the number of vehicles in the park now, when we were there (end-June2013) there weren't many vehicles in the park, which still looks lovely. and so does the crater - we loved our time there. Look forward to more. :)

 

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Enjoyed the few photos that Mama Ndege took of the birds. The photos of the fog cloud pouring over the rim of Ngorongoro Crater are stunning.  Sounds as though a zip wire down and a chair lift back up is what we would need to get to see the lake.

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4 hours ago, Kitsafari said:

wow you had a cat-filled stay in Tarangire, which was our first spot in our safari history and where we fell in love with the bush. what is surprising is the number of vehicles in the park now, when we were there (end-June2013) there weren't many vehicles in the park, which still looks lovely. and so does the crater - we loved our time there. Look forward to more. :)

 

@Kitsafari Yes, we had a good start in Tarangire.  As the one who was responsible for mapping out this tour for our friends, I felt that the pressure was off of me. 

The vehicles were especially heavy around the Silale Swamp, but we didn't feel that it was anything like the central Serengeti in the rest of the park.  We had plenty of instances where we were the only one around.

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3 hours ago, CDL111 said:

Enjoyed the few photos that Mama Ndege took of the birds. The photos of the fog cloud pouring over the rim of Ngorongoro Crater are stunning.  Sounds as though a zip wire down and a chair lift back up is what we would need to get to see the lake.

@CDL111 Yes, the fog cloud drifting down the rim of the crater was spellbinding.  It looked like a stop action photo of a waterfall.

If we can make it up and down Empakai, most people could.  On our way back up, another group of folks about our age were headed down.  One lady was hanging on to the arm of her guide, wearing a pair of what looked like house slippers.  We weren't too sure how they were going to fare.

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I thought it was interesting when you talked about one of the young herders threw a staff at your window. Almost the exact same thing happened to us when we were there a few months ago. We were travelling from the Serengeti to Sopa Ngorongoro. Around the area where there were lots of giraffes, we were passing a group of young herders, suddenly I heard a noise in the back of the vehicle. One of them threw a rock and cracked the back window. Our guide gave chase but to no avail. He told us that this had never happened before but I guess it happens more often than you think now that I read your report.

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On 9/13/2018 at 5:25 PM, mapumbo said:

He said that was the first time he had ever had a ranger armed with a spear to accompany tourists.

How soon George forgets! It must be 5 years ago in May that I had some students there who were going to hike the shorter and easier Olmoti Crater.  It was off season so there were not many rangers there and those that were claimed to be "busy".  Not to be dissuaded, George drove to the start of the hike then took off on foot down to the village and recruited two young Maasai and their spears.  Well, the students loved this and by the time the hike was done everyone had exchanged Facebook accounts.  It is true, however, that the spears did not have to go in the car.

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20 hours ago, mapumbo said:

George slammed on the brakes and he and Zachari jumped out and took chase after them. 

Oh my god, I am still laughing

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31 minutes ago, kilopascal said:

How soon George forgets! It must be 5 years ago in May that I had some students there who were going to hike the shorter and easier Olmoti Crater.  It was off season so there were not many rangers there and those that were claimed to be "busy".  Not to be dissuaded, George drove to the start of the hike then took off on foot down to the village and recruited two young Maasai and their spears.  Well, the students loved this and by the time the hike was done everyone had exchanged Facebook accounts.  It is true, however, that the spears did not have to go in the car.

 

@kilopascal

I think that is what he meant.  That was the first time he had to load a spear in the back of the car.  He had his trademark grin going anyway when he put it back there.  Plus it was his new car.

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32 minutes ago, kilopascal said:

Oh my god, I am still laughing

@kilopascal

You know George better than we do but I'm pretty sure he is over 50 and he is darn spry yet.  At least in a short sprint.  

Like I said, we weren't sure how Zachari and George were going to act when they came back after chasing those little rascals.  I think they had as much fun chasing them as we did watching.  George said the worst thing was all the holes in the ground, that you had to watch out that you didn't step in and trip.

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Leaving the Sopa lodge we head north and west toward the Kusini Plains and our next stop for two nights at the Sanctuary Kusini Camp.  It is very foggy as we head down off the rim.  Finally we drop down on the side of the crater that is much drier.  We are still seeing some wildlife in this dry environment.  Giraffe, Thompson and Grant's gazelle, wart hog, elephant and ostrich.  We remarked that we had not seen so many ostrich on all our other safaris.  It must have been the breeding season since we noticed many of the males with their bright pink legs and neck following females around.

 

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As we got closer to the Sanctuary Kusini Camp we started seeing the large rock outcroppings.  I have always loved seeing these kopjes and of course they can be a great place for cats to hang out.  Although this one had a pair of klipspringers on it.

 

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As we neared the camp there was a huge troop of baboon scattered throughout the woods foraging.  Many of the females had babies riding on their back.

 

 

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Approaching the camp we suddenly were invaded by tsetse flies.  They came into the vehicle and everyone is swatting them.  I don't think anyone got bit.  When we arrived at the camp we stepped out and were greeted by the friendly staff along with the pesky flies.  They hustled us up to the lodge and the flies did not follow.

 

OUR TENT DURING OUR STAY AT SANCTUARY KUSINI

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This camp is billed as a luxury camp and the billing is accurate.  We were the only people there and I know we got a discount rate since it is the off season.  The laundry is done complimentary so everyone was holding out for this camp to get their clothes washed.  I think we were all down to our last clean outfit.

 

The service here was superb.  We were spoiled and since we were the only ones there we thoroughly enjoyed it.  It happened to be Mama G's birthday as well so the festivities were extra special.  We counted 17 staff members dancing and singing around the table celebrating Mama G's birthday.  

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7 hours ago, anocn4 said:

I thought it was interesting when you talked about one of the young herders threw a staff at your window. Almost the exact same thing happened to us when we were there a few months ago. We were travelling from the Serengeti to Sopa Ngorongoro. Around the area where there were lots of giraffes, we were passing a group of young herders, suddenly I heard a noise in the back of the vehicle. One of them threw a rock and cracked the back window. Our guide gave chase but to no avail. He told us that this had never happened before but I guess it happens more often than you think now that I read your report.

 

@anocn4

 

I'm not sure how often this occurs.  I wish I had asked George if this had happened before.  I know it didn't take him long to stop and jump out to chase them.

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When planning this safari, I had suggested to The Wild Source that I would like to check out the Ndutu area and the Kusini Plains that I had read so much about on Trip Reports.  They advised that we would not see the great amounts of game but that we could get a good rate at Sanctuary Kusini and possibly see some cats.  Also I wanted to see the Moru Kopjes.  We took a drive through the Ndutu Plains and saw a lot of Tommies, a few hyena and giraffe and small groups of grazers.  It looked like perfect cheetah country, but no luck there.

 

We could tell that we were the only ones interested in checking this area out.  The trails that we drove on had obviously not had any traffic for some time.  We met one other vehicle all day and they looked to be just transferring through.  We still enjoyed the kopjes and the solitude and scenery.

 

So the next morning we left Sanctuary Kusini very early.  We had our breakfast with us.  We planned to return for lunch and enjoy the camp a little bit at mid -day.

 

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We had our breakfast stop in the middle of a vast open plain.  There is a fairly large group of buffalo on the horizon heading for water.  Of course Thommies are dotting the area 360 degrees.  It is still a bit chilly so I have the blanket provided for us around my shoulders and am dubbed the cowboy Masai.  After enjoying a breakfast in the peaceful area we load up and go just a short way and suddenly a cloud of dust pops up ahead of us.  We have startled a group of hyena at their den.  There are several fairly young ones with them so we stop for a good while and observe.  They become used to us enough that one of the youngsters begins to nurse.  The mother is a rich golden color.  For a hyena she is quite attractive.  Of course, the young ones are still cute.

 

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We spend the rest of the morning touring around touring around this area. We have the first sighting that I can remember of a steenbok.   Also, there was this giraffe with what looked like lumps on his forehead.

 

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Later that afternoon 4 of us took off with George to take a look around the Kusini area.  Someone had seen wild dogs not too far away a couple days before.  That got us pretty excited about that possibility.  We didn't see any around but we did come across a male ostrich in his breeding colors and a couple of bat eared fox near the road. 

 

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It was starting to get time to turn around when we approached a small stream and spotted a lioness with several young with her.  She got up and moved closer to the stream where there were at least two other females.  The around 3 month old cubs had just nursed so they were in the mood to play.  This was one of the things I was hoping to see on this safari.

 

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After enjoying watching the cubs play for as long as we could we headed back to the camp.

 

This is a photo of the kopje right next to the lodge where you can sit and enjoy sundowners.

 

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Thank you for this TR. I especially appreciate the Crater instalment as it brings back so many memories for me. The clouds spilling over the crater rim like a waterfall is an image I will never forget and is something I tell anyone and everyone about. Your photos captured this wonderfully.

And gosh you got some great sightings.. bat eared foxes.. and cubs!! :wub:

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23 minutes ago, monalisa said:

Thank you for this TR. I especially appreciate the Crater instalment as it brings back so many memories for me. The clouds spilling over the crater rim like a waterfall is an image I will never forget and is something I tell anyone and everyone about. Your photos captured this wonderfully.

And gosh you got some great sightings.. bat eared foxes.. and cubs!! :wub:

I'm glad you are enjoying this TR.  Sometimes you forget all the great sightings you have until you review your photos.  Doing a trip report allows one to relive the great times.

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Odd markings on the giraffe, did anybody have any suggestions as to the cause?

As there is no photographs of the adults, were they away on a hunt?

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15 minutes ago, CDL111 said:

Odd markings on the giraffe, did anybody have any suggestions as to the cause?

As there is no photographs of the adults, were they away on a hunt?

 

@CDL111

We did not discuss the issue of the lumps on the giraffe.

I failed to add the photos of the female lions.  There actually were 5 adult females including the mother.  The first photo shows 4 of the cubs nursing when we first spotted them.  Then she got up and led them closer to the other females and the stream.  There was a 5th cub laying down there by himself.  He did not look as healthy as the others.  When they began to play he did play with them a little and then he went up by himself to nurse the mother.  Hopefully she had some milk left for him.

 

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This youngster did not look as healthy.

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On his way for some nourishment

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We left Sanctuary Kusini the next morning heading north towards central Serengeti and the Seronera area.  We were on the same road we took last evening when we were looking for the wild dogs and ended up seeing the 5 female lions and 5 young cubs.  We were hoping to see them again as 2 of our group had not seen the cubs.

 

As we approached the bridge JG said LIONS.  We were looking on the left side of the road where they were before but they were on the right side a ways off the road with the male.

 

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We could not see the baby lions that were with them last night  So we carried on.

 

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Further down the road we saw a couple of male ostrich in breeding plumage and there was a female about 100 yards away.  We stopped to look at them and one of the males headed toward the female and began to display.  The female also made a movement  that must have signaled to the male that she was receptive.  He quickly approached her and mated with her.  It was quite a stunning display, and lasted quite awhile.  We had never seen this before and found the whole process very interesting.

 

 

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Our day of having interesting animal behavior sightings was just beginning.  As I had mentioned previously, we were taking the road less traveled.  On this route towards Seronera from Kusini we encountered only one other safari vehicle all morning.

 

  The next interesting sighting started out by seeing a tawny eagle on what looked to be a zebra carcass.  The vultures got the memo about breakfast and began showing up from all directions.  They chased the eagle away and took over.  One went over to a nearby bush and grabbed some entrails which just happened to have a jackal attached to the other end.  This got the jackal involved in the action.  He began chasing the vultures away from the carcass.  He would eat a while and then very aggressively chase the vultures away.  At one point he bit one on the leg and held on and was airborne for a moment.  This was quite entertaining.  Finally, the jackal had enough of either the meal or the vultures and left.  Of course the vultures mobbed the carcass at that point.

 

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We were headed for the Moru Kopjes, another spot I wanted to check out in the Serngeti that I had read about in a safaritalk TR.  As you may have figured out by now, I love kopjes!!  What interesting geological outcroppings and perfect subjects for photo ops.

 

 

GROUND HORNBILL WITH LUNCH

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Every time we would see any ground hornbills we would have to stop.  Mama Ndege and I had heard their deep booming call one other time and I was hoping that we could all hear it again.  Not to be I'm afraid.  

 

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In addition to enjoying the kopjes if you throw in a lion pride in front of them you really have the perfect photo op.

 

 

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Our next animal behavior exposure happened while we were looking at the lion pride.  A grey heron was in the foreground and started to walk through the grass.  He would stop and do this thing with his neck like a coiled cobra swaying to the rhythm of a flute.  On and on he did his walk which became a stalk and then the neck wobble thing.  Finally he stopped and had his eye on something while still wiggling his neck and suddenly struck and caught a lizard.  The lions had been forgotten during this exercise with the heron stealing the show.

 

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It was lunch time and George presented us the perfect spot.  It is called N'gong Rock.  There are steps going up to the top.  It was at one time a place for early man to play a musical tone by striking a smaller rock against the side of a big boulder.

 

 

GEORGE GOING UP FIRST TO CHECK IF ANY LIONS HAVE A RESERVATION AHEAD OF US.

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VIEW FROM THE N'GONG KOPJE.

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Just a short drive down the road from our lunch spot we see a group of elephants on a rock climbing foray.  Again, this struck us as interesting and unusual behavior.  Our day of entertainment was continuing.  From a distance we could see quite a number of the herd on top of the kopje.  We hoped that we could get closer and get some good photos of them before they came down.  Some of the adults came down while we were driving up but several younger ones were still up there and seemed to be having a good time.  This gentle group then slowly walked very close by our vehicle.  What a wonderful moment.

 

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DRINKING WATER FROM THE HOLES ON THE ROCK

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Really loved these last posts. Especially the elephants on kopjes.

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