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Zubbie15

Tanzania Take Three - Time for an Intervention

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Zubbie15

My wife and I traveled, for our third trip, back to Northern Tanzania in September of 2019 (after September 2013 and February 2016).  I’ve posted reports from our previous two trips on SafariTalk, which can be found in the Tanzania Trip Reports forum.  Because this is another return to the same area, which I have covered and others have also, I debated whether to write a report on this trip.  But with @wilddog asking where the trip reports had gone (a few months ago), and now @mtanenbaum looking for distractions during the current crisis, I guess I’ll give this a go.

 

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We booked this trip with the guide we’d had for our previous  two trips, Mussa Rajabu.  He used to be one of the senior guides at one of the better-known (at least on TripAdvisor) companies in Tanzania.  Since our last trip, he’d left and started his own company (Roam Serengeti Safaris), and we decided to travel with him again.  He’s a friend at this point, and really in our mind an excellent guide – I have worries for both his health and his company over the coming months, and hope he can weather it.

 

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Our itinerary was as follows:

Itinerary:

Day 1, August 31st. Arrive on the KLM flight, stay at the African Tulip.

Day 2. Morning stocking up on supplies and gifts, then proceed to Manyara Ranch Conservancy.

Day 3. Manyara Ranch all day.

Day 4.  Early morning Manyara Ranch, then by midday enter Tarangire.  Overnight at Lemala Mpingo Ridge.

Days 5, 6, 7.  Tarangire, staying at Lemala Mpingo Ridge.

Day 8.  Depart from Tarangire, drive to the Crater, afternoon descent.  Stay Lemala Ngorongoro.

Day 9. Early morning descent in Crater, drive to Seronera.  Stay Kubu Kubu.

Day 10. Full day Seronera, stay Kubu Kubu.

Day 11.  Morning Seronera, afternoon drive north. Stay Lemala Kuria Hills.

Days 12, 13 and 14.  All day Kogatende, stay Kuria Hills.

Day 15. Morning flight to JRO, day room at KIA Lodge.  Evening departure on KLM flight.

 

To explain the title - we booked this trip in late 2018, and over the Christmas holiday we got together with the other couples we traveled with on our first visit.  Well, the first thing my sister-in-law said when she saw us was that we needed an intervention because we kept returning to Tanzania.  They clearly weren't as taken by Africa as we were!

 

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I haven’t figured out how I’m going to structure this report, but know I won’t provide a blow-by-blow description here.  For anyone who’s interested, I posted a very detailed report on the appropriate TripAdvisor forum (not out of any love for TA, but to help Mussa get some more exposure) and can happily provide a link if at all desired.

 

 

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janzin

off to a great start--fantastic photos! Especially that first leopard, and the sunset shot. Gorgeous!

 

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mtanenbaum

Thanks so much for posting! Your photos are gorgeous. Looking forward to seeing more!

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elefromoz

@Zubbie15, glad you decided to write a report, everyone is little different than the one that went before it. New reports will dry up soon, then who knows....

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Biko

@Zubbie15 These photo’s are a very promising start of your TR, which is very much welcomed and will bring back sweet memories. I made a very similar trip with my 80 year old mother back in 2008.

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kilopascal

@Zubbie15 also happy to read your report.  While I have branched out to other countries a bit I will always return to Tanzania and, like you, with the guide we originally traveled with. I too have great concern for their livelihood as I do for many in our own countries.  Love the wildebeest pic. 

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kilopascal

....and it’s too late for an intervention.  

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Zubbie15
21 hours ago, janzin said:

off to a great start--fantastic photos! Especially that first leopard, and the sunset shot. Gorgeous!

 

 

Thanks Janet - the leopard was our "gift" from the safari gods, on our last evening's drive.  As you might imagine I have a lot of pictures of him, but you'll have to wait until the end for them.  

 

19 hours ago, elefromoz said:

@Zubbie15, glad you decided to write a report, everyone is little different than the one that went before it. New reports will dry up soon, then who knows....

 

9 hours ago, kilopascal said:

@Zubbie15 also happy to read your report.  While I have branched out to other countries a bit I will always return to Tanzania and, like you, with the guide we originally traveled with. I too have great concern for their livelihood as I do for many in our own countries.  Love the wildebeest pic. 

 

9 hours ago, kilopascal said:

....and it’s too late for an intervention.  

 

I have plans, assuming things are back to normal, to head to Kenya in 2022.  As part of that, a while back I started reading old reports from the Mara and conservancies, and realize that multiple versions are certainly useful.  In any case, yes the intervention would be much too late at this point. 

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xelas
On 3/21/2020 at 2:42 AM, Zubbie15 said:

Because this is another return to the same area, which I have covered and others have also,

 

No trip is the same, ever! So great decision to start the trip report. And yes, plenty of time to read it :(:).

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Pamshelton3932

I’m anxious for more!  I need an intervention from Kenya, so maybe this will be it!  Love the baobab sunset.

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Alexander33

@Zubbie15

 

Thanks for doing this. We could all use a little uplifting right now. The sunset photo with the baobab and those dramatic clouds is spectacular.  

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Zubbie15

Thanks for the comments @Pamshelton3932 and @Alexander33, I guess on the bright side this report will probably end up coming in slow drips, so hopefully it can keep people entertained for a while.  

 

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Zubbie15

Stop 1.  Manyara Ranch.

 

I had been intrigued by Manyara Ranch ever since reading about it in a report by @Safaridude shortly before our previous trip in 2016.  Mussa had never been here before, despite ~13 years of guiding, and it really doesn't seem to be on too many itineraries.  We had a dedicated Maasai guide (Amani) who was with us throughout our time at the camp, and who helped guide us through the conservancy.  I haven’t yet been to Kenya, but this camp made me think of the reports of the conservancies around the Mara.  There are only 6 tents for the entire conservancy, and in fact we were the only guests the first night, and there was only one other pair of visitors on the second night, so it was very exclusive.  There was also a nice variety of activities, with morning walks and evening drives available in addition to regular game drives.   I wanted to go here not only to support the conservancy and its vital role as a migratory corridor, but also because they have on their mammal list a decent number of species that we hadn’t seen.  They claim on their website, for example, that aardvark are "regularly" seen on night game drives, but the camp manager (who's name I don't recall) told us in 3 years there he'd only seen one once, and that wasn't even on a trip with tourists.  The conservancy has a variety of landscapes, from wide-open savannah, to fairly heavily bushed areas, to a few water pools which retain the animals  year-round.

 

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The relatively dense bush in many areas, along with the hesitancy a lot of animals seemed to have around vehicles, did pose some challenges, but nothing too major for the most part.  

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Atravelynn
Posted (edited)

May no intervention ever materialize.  Brilliant colors in your first photos and nice colorless  b & w.  Thanks for the aardvark info.  I had thought aardvarks were much more common at the ranch.  Not sure where I got that impression, but I certainly had it.  Your intro photos would be perfect in the current thread

 

Post one of your photos that immediately takes you...

back on safari.

 

 

Edited by Atravelynn

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Zubbie15
8 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

I had thought aardvarks were much more common at the ranch. 


According to the Foley et al Field guide to the Larger Mammals of Tanzania, aardwolves are seen on average roughly once every two night game drives on the ranch (spoiler, we didn’t get one).  Perhaps that’s what you were remembering?

 

i have a photo I’m thinking of posting in that thread, just need to get to my actual computer sometime. But thanks for the reminder.

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Zubbie15

I think for Manyara Ranch, at least, I'll break things down roughly by species. Let's start with an easy one - there's one hippo on the conservancy right now, he lives in the largest body of water.  No one seemed to be sure exactly where he came from (presumably from Lake Manyara), but he's been there for a while.  He wasn't particularly comfortable with us - most of our sightings of him were just his eyes and nostrils poking above the water as he watched us.  However, one time we came around a corner and found him out of the water.  He immediately ran to the water, and I was only able to get this one shot of him. 

 

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You'll probably notice over time, I've ended up processing a decent number of the photos from this trip in black and white.  I'm not totally sure why, maybe just the mood I was in!

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Zubbie15

One of the cooler sightings we had for the entire safari came on our first day on the Ranch, where we found this snake catch a mouse, eventually consume it after a bit of a struggle, and then go back to probing the other nearby burrows for other mice.  The three men in the car thought this was very cool... my wife, not so much. :D

 

The initial capture - the snake didn't have a great grip, and the mouse wriggled free.

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Second attempt - grabbing the tail kept the mouse from getting away. I really like this photo, just wish I'd thought to use use a narrower aperture to get the mouse's face in focus too!  Unfortunately it was cloudy and they were moving fast, so I needed the speed of a wider aperture at times. 

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Time to eat.  It was interesting how fast it went down, and then how little of a "bulge" it caused in the snakes abdomen.

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Back on the hunt. Immediately after finishing swallowing, the snake started probing for other mice (you can see an opening to the left of it).  Pictures didn't really do this justice, it was actually bringing up mouthfuls of dirt to get further in.  Unfortunately for it, there apparently weren't any more mice inside. 

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gatoratlarge

Very cool photos!  Thanks for sharing----the snake photos are especially cool---I am looking forward to the entire report but especially Kuria Hills as I'm supposed to stay there in November if this confounding virus doesn't prevent it!

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Zubbie15

Thanks @gatoratlarge, I really enjoyed the snake sighting. Kuria Hills is quite something, it’s hard to imagine how they can maintain that luxury in such a remote location.  It does depend on what you’re looking for, but we really enjoyed it as a nice splurge to end our trip.  I really hope you’ll be able to experience it this year!

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mtanenbaum

Amazing snake pictures! A bit gruesome but that's nature and without snakes the mice and rats would take over the world....

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Soukous

More please :D

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Zubbie15

The Conservancy had a pretty healthy population of elephants, although you could definitely tell that they were rather wary of the vehicle and generally wouldn't let us too close, and would definitely let us know if they felt we were too close.  The density of elephants seemed comparable to what you'd get in Tarangire, they just were nowhere near as relaxed.  I'm not aware of a major poaching issue in the area (I think we did discuss it with some of the camp employees at one point, but the specifics have faded on me).  But in any case, having not been to Africa for 3 years, any elephant was a good elephant!

 

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Biko

@Zubbie15 Not only the elephants, but also the landscape looks beautiful, with the hills in the background

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mtanenbaum

The colors in your photos are so beautiful! Do you mind my asking--is that what came directly from the camera, or do you use a photo imaging editing program to adjust the contrast and colors? I never have bothered with editing my images in photoshop or Lightroom but I would really like to learn how. 

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Zubbie15

Thanks @mtanenbaum, these are RAW files converted with Lightroom, with the occasional use of Photoshop and Nik plugins.  I imagine you're in lockdown right now, there are lots of educational videos on Youtube designed to teach people Lightroom - you could try looking into some of those.  There are a lot of good teachers, some you could consider would be Serge Ramelli, Matt Kloskowski, Scott Kelby, etc.  None of them are wildlife photographers, but the basics still hold.  I think Adobe is also offering their Lightroom and Photoshop bundle for free for the next couple of months (e.g. https://petapixel.com/2020/03/18/adobe-is-giving-everyone-2-months-of-free-creative-cloud-heres-how-to-get-it/), so you could also play around with it without any commitment. 

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