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First Time Safari Trip Report- Tanzania and Uganda June/July 2023

Miss Biscuit

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Miss Biscuit

Our trip was so amazing that at times (many times) I was overcome with the moment. I could weep for beauty and uniqueness of the experience and at times I did. I’ll start off with some info upfront before getting to photos.

My husband really wanted to do a self-drive safari in South Africa (and this is in keeping with how we normally travel)  but I was pretty adamant that if this was a one-time thing  (oh you sweet summer child), I wanted to go to the Serengeti (with a private guide) as for me, that was the end all be all of safari locations. I had done research back in 2019 going so far as to start to get quotes from tour operators. But my husband balked at seeing initial quotes, I didn’t follow up right away, then the pandemic happened and it kind of got forgotten about. Early this year, I had been researching and starting to plan a trip to Indonesia to include orangutans but something wasn’t clicking ( I still want to do this trip) and my husband mentioned the safari again. It all seemed to happen so quickly and before I knew it, in February we were sending  wire transfers for a deposits to go to Tanzania AND Uganda in June!

I don’t know where to begin. I don’t want to do a blow by blow of every day but sticking to the highlights would mean just about everything!


First of all, our tour operator and guide were the best. We (my husband and I) booked with Basecamp Tanzania and I want to go back just to spend another evening drinking, laughing and chatting with Achmed! We appreciated that he met with us both before and after our safari. And I have him to blame for a new soft drink that I love that unfortunately, I will never find in the U.S., Stoney Tangawizi. I got one of these everywhere that had them.

Our guide Thomas has been guiding for over 30 years and he was great. He was easy going and jovial. He has eyes like a hawk and could spot an animal/bird and identify it in a split second from far away. He also regularly networked with other guides to find what we would call “something special.” Even though we don’t speak Swahili, we came to be able to recognize when he had received some good intel. He didn’t always want to tell us in case it was gone but we came to recognize words like “simba,” “chui,” and “duma.” My husband really started picking up some Swahili and would practice it.

And everyone was so nice and hospitable and it was so refreshing.


Weather was fantastic! Usually warm but not hot during the day and there were almost always some clouds so the sun wasn’t constantly blazing down from clear blue skies. Also, no humidity which was wonderful. It didn’t rain although at one time I swear I could smell/feel rain coming (it was exhilarating to feel it in the air). Cool in morning/evenings and at night – perfect sleeping temps for us. Did not miss air conditioning one time. Cooler but not cold at Rhino Lodge and the crater in the morning but I just added an extra layer and was perfectly fine. I got a kick out of seeing locals in heavy puffy coats. It was winter but for us it was like a nice early Fall or Spring. One of my uninformed safari hesitations was being hot and miserable with no a/c.


We did bring the standard recommended clothing, didn’t reinvent the wheel. Tops and pants in neutral colors, no blue or black. I don’t wear shorts. Mainly wore light long sleeve shirts and was comfortable. I wore trail runners in the vehicle on game drives and would slip them off if I wanted to stand on the seats. I wore sandals in the evenings and to dinner. I also wore sandals the entire time we were in Uganda except while on the primate treks. I had a light fleece that I usually needed in the mornings and the evenings. It has a hood which I used at the crater in the morning We had laundry done several times. I tried to keep one outfit that I just wore for the evenings/dinner. I had a rain jacket that I brought for Uganda and used that one time in Tanzania as an outer windbreaking layer at the crater. But I wouldn’t have brought this if we weren’t going to Uganda and would have survived. And it only rained briefly one time in Uganda. I did bring one extra jacket and one light merino wool sweater (old but in good condition though too big for me in everyday life) that I thought I might need but didn’t and so intentionally left behind at Rhino Lodge along with a pair of cotton khakis that I wore one time and hated (bought just for the trip). I prefer moisture wicking, quick drying materials with some stretch.

Of course had a wide brim hat that I also use for hiking. I put sunscreen on everyday but found that with long sleeves, hat and being under the pop-up, sun exposure wasn’t much of an issue. Didn’t bring nor need gloves.

I didn’t fix my hair (wash and air dry) or wear make-up the whole time. I managed to fit all my stuff in a carry on size but it was packed full and I wish I had used a size up just to not have to pack it perfectly every time. It was checked luggage anyway since my photography gear is my carry-on and my personal item contains a variety of things to make the plane ride more comfortable. We had plenty of space in the vehicle.



We visited a travel health clinic to get our vaccinations (yellow fever for Uganda) and prescriptions for malaria prophylaxis and we also bought some meds from them for digestive issues. We brought Travelan which is meant to be taken with your meal and is supposed to prevent problems. We brought DiaresQ which is to be taken once symptoms begin and then we also brought Imodium for emergency situations. Let’s just tactfully say, we had to use all of these medications.

For insect repellant and treatment. We brought Deep Woods Off Wipes (Deet) and a similar lotion. I brought topical Benadryl gel and oral anti-histamine and also some bite wipes that have lidocaine. My husband is a mosquito magnet. He was covered in bites by the end of our trip whereas I maybe had one confirmed mosquito bite. We did encounter the tsetse fly a few times in parts of Tarangire and parts of Western Serengeti but nothing horrible and nothing that lasted too long. I find it interesting to note that one of our guide’s outfits was completely blue in color, blue pants and bright blue fleece.



I have 2 dslr bodies (Nikon D800 and D810) which really makes a huge difference not needing to change lenses. I brought 2 landscape lenses which were practically a waste of space. One I didn’t use at all (16-35) and one I used sparingly (24-70). Not saying there aren’t landscape shots to be had but I just focused so much on the animals.

Then two telephoto lenses which, of course, were heavily used: 70-200 2.8 and a rented 200-500 5/6. The 200-500 was mostly adequate but if I had it do over again, I would choose something else. I also brought a DJI Osmo (gimble for my iPhone) for videos. But since I’m the photographer, had to rely on my husband to get videos.

We forgot to bring our binoculars from home but our TO supplied a good set for each of us plus the pair Thomas had. Also, our TO supplied us with bean and rice bags for my cameras which were indispensable when shooting from the pop up.



We live in southern Indiana and our home airport is not an international passenger airport. We drove 5 hours to Chicago to have better options. We flew on Ethiopian from ORD to ADD, then ADD to JRO. We had bulkhead seats in coach. For the first time, I tried a blow-up foot rest and it made a huge difference for me. However, I can’t imagine this could be useful for any type of seat other that bulkhead seats.

Decided to do visa on arrival and this was a smart move. I’d say 75% of the people on our plane did online visa and they wait in a separate line from voa. Only a few people in line in front of us even with at least half the plane off before we got in line. Waited maybe 15 minutes total. We also came prepared to pay in USD.


First view and only view of Kilimanjaro was from the plane.




Why can’t we get Stoney’s in the States??!!! The only soft drink I drink is regular Coke. I love regular Coke but I don’t drink it often. I wasn’t going to try these but was convinced by Achmed and then I had one every chance I got.




Spent the first night in Arusha at Iburo Lodge.




First up was Tarangire. So I’m going to post my bird photos not because they are anything spectacular but because some I’m not sure on the identification. I bought a field guide off Amazong right before we left. I really didn’t want to bring a book and some of the field guides are expensive but I did find one with photos for $20.  I can’t believe there is not a good field guide app. In the end, I’m glad we had it, I did use it. I should have brought sticky tabs to mark animals as they were identified. I made notes as our guide identified everything as we saw it. But I couldn’t keep track. Anyway, I used it to label my photos.


Lilac breasted roller













First lion sightings. Came to realize that if there was a crowd of vehicles then it was almost always big cats, and usually lions.  This pride was just lounging, I didn’t get a lot of good shots. There were cubs and I was perfectly situated to get a good shot of a young cub and then a vehicle moved in front and I never got another chance. Also, our guide wasn’t keen on sitting at one sighting for a long time and especially if there was a crowd.












Various animal shots, didn’t see any “action.” The park is beautiful and it was a great first day if a bit overwhelming.








Not the sharpest photo but the only one I have of a giraffe drinking.



Love the landscapes!


















Bateleur Eagle






Cape Buffalo



We stayed at Tarangire Safari Lodge in a tented camp. This was our first stay in a tented camp and we really liked it. This would have been less pleasant if it were hot as I can’t sleep when I’m hot but the nights were cool so it was perfect.






Next morning...












We think this is a juvenile Crowned eagle






Tawny Eagle






White-browned coucal






Love birds






Female ostrich




Red and Yellow Barbet











such a cutie





We think this is a brown snake eagle?








Von de Decken’s Hornbill ( we called them zazus when we saw them even though I think the zazu is a different kind of hornbill).






I think this is an African Gray Hornbill




These 2 lions were just chilling right by the road hidden in the grass. Our guide spotted them. We would have never seen them on our own. But they were being lazy. The male moved once but I still didn’t get a great shot of him.








Snake eagle




Crested Hoopoe




Southern Ground Hornbill




We saw ostriches several times but I don’t love any of my photos of them. But I got better ones of the females which I actually think are prettier.




I love these next shots of the egrets in this dead tree looking like white leaves. I tried a few different edits.










African Fish eagle




Helmuted guineafowl family






More elephants!














We were stopped watching zebras at a waterhole when yet another elephant herd approached, crossed in front of us and got right in waterhole and had a good ole time splashing and rolling around. It was the best “action” we’d seen thus far and we loved seeing their joy!








This one is kind of blurry.





This zebra has an unusual pattern




I loved these scenes with the giraffes. So beautiful and graceful










Dik Dik




Yellow-necked spurfowl family




We were supposed to do a bush walk in Tarangire but they said the grasses were too high. But we did do a night game drive.

I went into this with low expectations and it started off kind of slow. Also, we were in one of those open vehicles and at first I felt very exposed in the dark. Saw several small animals like a hare and a glimpse of wild cat that the night guide said it was only the 2nd time he saw one since he’d been doing the night drive. We did see our first hyena and that was thrilling for me and that alone would have made this a successful outing.

On our way back to the lodge, he spotted eyes in a tree. Parked, got out his binoculars…”I think it’s….Yes, it is…a leopard.” Just the way he said those words with hushed excitement and the pregnant pauses gave me the chills. We really perked up. At first we couldn’t see it but once he pointed him out, he was clearly visible. Our first leopard, a gorgeous male! He was able to get closer and I got some good shots for it being night photography. We headed back to the lodge very happy with our night game drive.

My photos were really noisy and wasn’t using the best lens for low light photography. That 200-500 is heavy and in the open vehicle, I didn’t have anything to rest it on so I was hand holding. Because of that, I upped the shutter speed to account more for shake so I that meant I had to increase the ISO. Anyway, for my first and only time shooting in these conditions, I really love these.






More to come...Next up is Lake Manyara.











































Edited by Miss Biscuit
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~ @Miss Biscuit:


What a wealth of lovely safari images!


Thank you so much for organizing and posting these photos.


Sharing your safari highlights here brings joy to us who weren't there.


Many thanks!


         Tom K.

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@Miss BiscuitCold Stoneys, nectar and I particularly like the Zebra reflection shot and that spotty Zebra (very unusual).

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Miss Biscuit

Hmm, not sure why some of my photos posted twice there at the end. 


13 hours ago, AndrewB said:

@Miss BiscuitCold Stoneys, nectar and I particularly like the Zebra reflection shot and that spotty Zebra (very unusual).

Yes, it is indeed nectar! Thank you!


@Tom KellieThank you! More to come!

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Miss Biscuit


We did a short game drive the next morning in Tarangire and then headed for Lake Manyara. The route we took to get there was on abysmal road conditions. I don’t enjoy off-roading but it is what it is. I know Lake Manyara is not what it used to be but I still found it gorgeous and we had some unique for us sightings. Here is a sighting of me in safari gear!




Yes, I wanted a photo of the blue balls on the vervet monkey.




So I didn’t know that Lake Manyara is famous for tree climbing lions. It seems to me that lions that climb trees is not an unusual thing. But we were completely surprised to pull up and see a bunch of vehicles viewing what I thought at first was a heard of Cape Buffalo. But our guide knew better and the result is one my favorite images of the trip.  This lioness was simply stunning and in a gorgeous setting by the Rift. She was watching the buffalo. We didn’t see other lions but our guide said they were no doubt nearby. 




This next one is one of my favorite photos of the whole trip.



We were just at the right place at the right time.










Wide view. There she is in the far left tree.





I liked these giraffes




We saw blue monkeys several times in the park but these were the best photos I got.



Kudo Lodge – This was like staying in an apartment minus a kitchenette. It was huge and luxurious by our standards. The food was really good too with a nice buffet but I suspect this is the place that started my, ahem, digestive issues.




Long drive to the Serengeti and of course we got our photo op at the entrance.






First thrilling sight in the Serengeti was a hyena with a kill. Don’t know if it was his or if he stole it/found it. Light was harsh but I’m really happy with these.
















Golden Jackal






Another lion pride with a crowd.








And then my favorite photo of a male lion. I did a few different edits








And then some lion hanky panky.








Here are some more that somehow didn't make it to the proper spot in the post.








More to come later...

Edited by Miss Biscuit
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Glad to see that you had a good time, I'm looking forward to reading more. A quick comment on some of your birds, your juvenile Crowned Eagle is actually a Gymnogene or African Harrier Hawk, the Lovebirds in Tarangire are Yellow-collared Lovebirds and the last of your hornbills, is actually another Von der Decken's, it has a dark bill unlike the others, because it's still a juvenile bird, I'd also probably say that your Crested Hoopoe is an African Hoopoe, because they usually are, although I still don't entirely know how you tell an African Hoopoe from a Eurasian Hoopoe and some people still regard them as the same species. 

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Very nice trip report - thank you @Miss Biscuit


I think the Dik Dik in your first post might be Günther's dik-dik but I am not sure due to the angle of its head.



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@offshorebirderThe dik-dik is a Kirk's, I am absolutely certain of that, they're not easy to tell apart, but I've just checked the IUCN map and Günther's is a Northern Kenya and Horn of Africa species, I'm only conscious of seeing one in Ethiopia, but I probably have seen them in Kenya, at some point, possibly without realising, it's a long time since I've been there, Günther's is not found in Tanzania at all, Kirk's is the only dik-dik in Tanzania, if you consider it a single species and don't accept recent attempts to split it into multiple species, I don't, I think the idea that every subspecies is actually a separate species, gets a bit silly, but I'm not a scientist, according to the book Bovid's of the World, in Tarangire it would be a Thomas's dik-dik, but as far as I'm concerned it's just a Kirk's dik-dik, this is the view that the book A field guide to the Larger Mammals of Tanzania goes with. You might be interested in this science paper   


Distributions in Uganda, Kenya, and north Tanzania of members of the Günther’s dik-dik Madoqua (guentheri) and Kirk’s dik-dik M. (kirkii) species groups, regions of sympatry, records of aberrant-coloured individuals, and comment on the validity of Hodson’s dik-dik M. (g.) hodsoni


Published in Gnusletter 

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Miss Biscuit


@inyathiOh, thank you so much for the corrections. I knew I got some wrong. We tried!


@offshorebirderThank you! I don't know why I only have one photo of the Dik Dik. We thought he was a baby but our guide corrected us. 


More to come later!




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We’d been driving around for a bit looking and we stopped to chat with another guide. After that we high-tailed it to another sighting. We came up to a group of vehicles but didn’t stop. Thomas said, “these are lions, we will see many lions, we are going to something special.” Lions aren’t special? But we trusted him and he was right. Because we pulled right up to this with only one other vehicle there.




My first time seeing a cheetah and I’m reasonably certain I’ve never even seen on in a zoo. Just a beautiful cat. I've got a lot of photos of it so bear with me.



A yawn series






Doesn't he look precious here.




He got up and we thought some action was about to happen but he just turned around. But I wasn't complaining...this was a great sighting in my book.










Another yawn




More vehicles arrived and we left to let others get a look. Drove around some more and low and behold, Thomas had to come to a quick stop as we rounded the corner and this was in the road! It didn’t even flinch and never looked at us.










Right about now you might be thinking you are getting ready to see a cool action shot of this serval pouncing…. and well...














Haha, you are kind of right...Neither my shutter speed nor my reflexes were sufficient. You can tell I’m not an experienced wildlife photographer.


My husband got this and he’s quite proud of it. Motion blur as it is, at least he didn’t cut off the head like I did.




Haha, It's growing on me.

The serval didn’t get his shot(prey) either.






He disappeared off into the grass. We were very happy with this sighting too. And no one else was around.


Kori bustard



We spent some time at rock outcropping waiting for a leopard to show itself but it never came into full view and we had to get to our camp before dark. We didn’t have anymore sightings on the way except for some kopis in the distance. It was a beautiful evening though and just loved standing in the vehicle with the top popped, feeling the air, smelling the freshness of it all. It’s a magical place.




We stayed at Tanzania Bush Camps in Central Serengeti. We really liked it here too. We definitely heard animals hear. I woke up and started recording the sounds for Thomas to identify. I have a pretty loud recording of what turned out to be a hyena. I'm pretty sure we heard a roar one night too.  Food was good, it was plate served instead of buffet. Also, we had to tell them when we wanted to shower and then they would fill our tank up with hot water. I wanted to shower after dinner and they forgot about me. I didn't say anything. I had packed some body wipes just in case and they came in handy a few times, including this night.






So we were delayed getting started because I had digestive issues this morning. It was after 8 before I felt I could leave. Imodium did its job for the day and I didn’t eat until dinner and kept it light.


Zebra nursing






Our next best leopard sighting. Again, many vehicles parked waiting for this leopard to move to a more visible part of the tree. We were far away in the line of vehicles. Just as we were about to give up, I spotted movement in the binoculars and quickly switched to my camera.  This series isn’t great, they are cropped down so the leopard isn't sharp, but it was our best day time sighting by far and the last clear view we would have of a leopard. I really love the leopards (who doesn’t) I’d love to go back and see more leopards.


















He disappeared into the grass so we moved on...but only just a little...

Right nearby, our guide spotted something way off in the distance, it was a rhino. I’d almost say you’d have to take my word for it but here at 500 mm and cropped down a lot is a crappy photo to prove it. It must have been several hundred yards away. Our guide was very excited, more so than we were, and kept telling me to take a picture. Some people didn’t believe we had seen a rhino in the Serengeti but we did.




Stay tuned for more!



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Sounds like your karma was in order @Miss Biscuit with the almost-private Cheetah sighting and the Black Rhino sighting.


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From Cheetah to Leopard on a tree to Serval to Rhino ........ You had an amazing trip!!! 

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Nice trip report- I saw your pictures and report on another forum but it’s much better here! 

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Miss Biscuit
On 8/27/2023 at 8:40 AM, AKR1 said:

Nice trip report- I saw your pictures and report on another forum but it’s much better here! 

Oh thank you! It must have been Trip Advisor. It's easier here being able to directly post photos. 

I'll be adding more later. 

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@Miss Biscuit we had our first safari in Tanzania in Tarangire, lake manyara, the crater and central and north serengeti as well, and your awe and enthusiasm so reminded me of how wonderful we had felt on the first sightings  of everything in the bush!

you had amazing beginner's luck - a rhino in the seregenti and a serval out in the open in daylight! i love cheetahs too - aren't they just beautiful?!


great photos and looking forward to more of your adventures. are you hooked already? :P 

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Miss Biscuit
8 hours ago, Kitsafari said:



great photos and looking forward to more of your adventures. are you hooked already? :P 

I am hooked! Thank you!

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Miss Biscuit

Continuing on...

We didn’t have a lot of sightings the rest of the day, not for lack of trying. We checked out a lot of the rocky outcroppings, had a rare lunch out of the vehicle at a picnic area with a pond. We watched elephants walk by. Saw even more elephants which is what these next photos are.



Pushed the poop out of it!








Then we did see some lions in trees somewhat far away.





Thomas wanted to return to the camp by 4 pm and we didn’t really question why.


Were able to get out earlier the next morning. This morning made me wish we had gotten out near dawn more often. Besides being a beautiful time of day, there is some crossover seeing the nocturnal animals and day time animals at the same time plus seeing some of what transpired over the night.






Barely out of the camp area and came across this lion cub trying its best to open up this wildebeest its mom had taken down. She was off to the side, resting. Thomas said the cub has to wait for mom to open it up but he sure was trying.









I would have liked to have sat a bit to see what transpired but we moved on.

Today, we are moving to the western corridor in hopes of finding the migration.

Then almost immediately we came upon this young hyena. I was really happy with these captures as I found it to be quite beautiful.  Perhaps its family was nearby. It somewhat near the wildebeest kill.
















Tawny eagle





We did come up on another leopard sighting in a tree. He was pretty hidden and had his back to us. There were many vehicles waiting but we didn’t stay too long and it never moved.


Moving on towards the west, we stopped on the side of the road to watch a giraffe fight which was pretty interesting.













Pale chanting goshawk




Ruppell’s griffon vulture 




Stay tuned as, spoiler alert




We see the migration in my next post.


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Miss Biscuit

We saw the migration! I have so many photos of wildebeest, don't worry, I won't post them all. It was unbelievable how many there were. They just kept coming. And all throughout our time in the west we’d see lines of them that stretched for miles. There are so many of them and they all look so much alike and walking in lines like drones. They stopped looking real to me as if they were CGI or some matrix creation. It’s one of those things you have to see, it can’t be described.






 They just kept coming.



And coming...




And coming...












We saw a lot of vulture activity in this area. Here is on a dead wildebeest on the side of the road.








I really like this one with its head covered in blood.




Leopard tortoise




Marabou Storks





I loved the secretary birds but never got a good photo of one. Very shy and always moving away from us it seemed.





Though we saw hippos at Lake Manyara and in Central Serengeti, they were in water so this was the first time we saw them out of the water and a large herd of them at that.












We stayed at Mabageti lodge. Our hut was really nice and had a great view. This was the only place we stayed that I didn’t care much for the food but it was ok and I didn’t starve.






They have a nice view at their restaurant.








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Miss Biscuit

So the next morning we did the balloon safari. This had not been on my radar to do but leading up to our departure, I had read many accounts of how awesome it is and someone I knew told me that they knew someone that said it was the best part of their safari experience. So before we left Arusha, we stopped by our TO’s office and booked the balloon safari and chose the western corridor for the chance to see the migration from above. $600 per person and I have to say, I wish we had spent the money elsewhere. It was neat to be sure especially having breakfast afterwards in the bush but we didn’t think it was worth it. I’d have rather done an early game drive. It wasn’t a pretty morning so not very scenic, we saw some animals but all the ones we did see, we had much closer views of on game drives. We kind of saw the migration from the air but it was far away. I’m sure under different circumstances we might have said otherwise and many people love it. It’s one of those things that you don’t know if its worth it until you do it. Personally, I wish we had put that money towards a flight out of the Serengeti back to Arusha (instead of driving back).














We met up with Thomas at an airstrip not far from our lodging and had a game drive before turning in early.


Fish eagle




More wildebeest including a young one that Thomas said was rare to see at that time year.









Hooded vulture




Baboons and gazelle having a refreshing drink amongst the lily pads.







And we watched giraffe family for a while that had a gorgeous dark male.

















Gimme a kiss!




We did get to see some crocs.







One thing that did come out of the balloon safari, we told Thomas that we had seen colobus monkeys from the balloon (still far away). He knew exactly were to go to find them.














More to come. Sorry it's long. We haven't even gotten to Uganda yet!

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Nice photos @Miss Biscuit - I like the riverbank Croc a lot.


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I think I should separate these trip reports. I think I should have put this one in Tanzania and do a separate on Uganda. I've noticed it doesn't show up in the Trip Report banner on the home page. Anyway...


Another early morning as we had a long arduous drive to the crater.




Drove through the migration again, just amazing.








Muddy hyena






Pumbas! Yes, we called them Pumbas and we saw them a lot and every time we saw them we’d say “Pumbas!” kind of like how in the States when people drive by horses, there is a compulsion to say “horses.” We saw Pumbas (warthogs) everywhere but they always seemed to be running away so these are my best photos of Pumbas.






We did do a short game drive in Central before departing the mighty Serengeti We stopped to see a jackal and Thomas was chatting with another guide. We abruptly left and we knew we were going to something special and again, it was. Such a fitting end to our time in this amazing park. 










It was feeding on a hare. We couldn’t see it laying down but it popped its head up several times and looked around. Thomas said it was watching for hyenas. I love the cheetahs.


Had our long drive to the crater and arrived in time to do a crater rim walk with a ranger. It’s a beautiful view from the top.










We saw a giraffe right away and then we almost stepped on this guy.




Thomas said we are very lucky as he thought looked like a black mamba. After that we didn’t see any wildlife on our walk. Went on to our lodging at Rhino Lodge for one night.


We were up and out before dawn and on the road to the crater entrance, there was a leopard. We caught glimpses of it on the road but there was a vehicle in front of us following it. Lucky for them they had a great view. Then it went off into the brush.




Thomas’ goal in the crater was to find a rhino. We did have some other neat sightings. It’s a beautiful area however, now wish we did the Serengeti last. Should always save the best for last. It was arranged this way because we decided not the spend money on flights out of the Serengeti but I now think that it’s worth the expense if one can make the budget stretch. Drive in fly out or vice versa. It’s a long drive and not a comfortable one as the road is bad. Not doing the balloon ride would have paid for about ¾ of the flight cost. And flying probably would have saved us a day in the itinerary.


We did find a rhino after about an hour in the crater. Far away but probably half the distance as the one we saw in the Serengeti. So this is again heavily cropped.




He was just off to the right (out of frame) of this gorgeous scene. The way the fog/clouds roll over the crater is amazing.





In the crater was the only time I got good shots of great crested cranes.DSC_8152.jpg.5d7d6e4e71a6b9899d025241c8009f3f.jpg








More hippos!






In the crate while everyone was out looking at the rhino, we asked someone to take our photo with Thomas.




Last animals we saw before leaving the crater were lions though at a bit of a distance.






We drove back to Arusha and spend the night again at Iburo Lodge were we had a great relaxing evening chatting and drinking with Achmed and the lodge owner and friends. The next day we caught our flight to Kigali, Rwanda where we spent the night and were transferred the next day to Uganda for gorilla, golden monkey in Mgahinga, chimp trekking in Kibale and a shoebill stork tour in the Mabamba Swamp. This report is so long, maybe I'll post that separately.

I've definitely caught the safari bug. We can't do a trip like this every year but I'm seriously looking at South Africa self-drive for next year (maybe splurge on a few days in the private concessions) I know it will be very different from this experience.  And then maybe a trip to the Pantanal for a jaguar safari. 



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Thank you so much for this report. It brings back memories of my first safari in 2008, when I did more or less the same trip with my mother who was 80 at the time. I did not make your quality of photographs at that time, though. But the pictures are still in my head. Fly-in and out is for me what I prefer in most safari destinations.

I wish you many more wonderfull trips in the future.

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Thanks for sharing @Miss Biscuit, it's always fun to live a safari through a first-timers eyes! You had some really nice sightings. I definitely agree with you about the flying back plan, it's a much more efficient use of time if you can make it work. I'm looking forward to your Uganda report, as I've never been there. 

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Alex The Lion

Looks like a great first safari!


I think you made the right choice with Tanzania for your first time. Southern Africa is very different, with game harder to spot, less dense and without expansive plains.



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@Alex The LionSee, I hope I can adjust my expectations if we do a self-drive in Kruger. I've been doing initial research and people love it and swear by it. Everyone has their favorite way and favorite place but it sure was nice to be driven around with an expert that can spot and identify animals. So I don't know, I feel like we could do a few days in a conservancy. I don't care about the luxury they offer and sharing a vehicle doesn't sound great to me but I would like to have that off roading experience. Kruger and greater Kruger seems to have chances to see wild dogs and maybe better chances of seeing leopards but I know it's nature and nothing is guaranteed.

I'd also love to go to Kenya and stay at Lentorre for that amazing hide they have. OMG so many places.


Speaking of vehicles, I liked being in the Land Cruiser with a pop top. I liked that we could stand during game drives because I really thought we'd be sitting the whole time (which was not a positive for me). I liked being high up and looking around and feeling the air. It also helped to have something to rest the camera/lens on with a bean bag. I saw people in those open vehicles where I'm sure you have to sit and was glad we weren't in those. 


I really do wish we had splurged and done Serengeti last and flown back to Arusha. It's worth it, saves time and I did not enjoy that road between the Serengeti and the crater. 

I do wish we had gotten out at sunrise more but a few days it couldn't have been helped anyway. 

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