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Kenya & Tanzania Sept. 2010


Ellie
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EAST AFRICA JOURNAL

For those who don't want to read the full report, here's a short synopsis:

 

Kiliwarriors (Eben Schoeman) was our coordinator, arranger, etc. for the "in-country" portion of this trip. They did a wonderfull job. Seamless transitions from place to place (and there were a lot of them), great guides and drivers, seriously good advice given promptly and as far as we could tell without bias. Our itinerary:

 

Nairobi - Ole-Sereni Hotel (Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, Giraffe Sanctuary)

Entim Camp, Masai Mara - 4 nights

Tarangire Safari Lodge - 3 nights

Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge - 2 nights

Kigelia Camp, Ruaha - 4 nights

Impala Camp, Selous - 4 nights

Zanzibar Palace Hotel - 2 nights

 

Short story - we had a really great time, saw lots and lots of animals, some crossings on the Mara, a lion kill, a cheetah kill, and lots of fabulous birds. We would recommend all of the places we stayed without hesitation, even the Sopa Lodge which for a large hotel-type place is in a great location for the crater and has very nice accommodations. For details, and hopefully a few photos, read on.

 

9/5 to 9/8 – We flew 12 hours or so from LA to Frankfurt, then overnighted at the Steinenberger Hotel about 2 minutes from the airport. Perfect for an overnight stay. Back to the airport early on the 7th to catch a commuter flight to Zurich, which then connected to our flight to Dar es Salaam. We discovered that the flight to Dar stopped first in Nairobi. Too bad I didn’t know that we were going to Kenya when I made the air reservations to Dar. So on the morning of the 8th, we flew back to Nairobi after spending the night at the Holiday Inn in Dar. Insane. We were met in Nairobi by James Macau, a very funny young man who really knows how to drive in the thing they call “traffic” in Nairobi. Nairobi has some of the worst traffic we've ever seen. Dick said he was exhausted just from watching our driver dodge all the crazy drivers and pedestrians. Driving in Nairobi really should qualify as one of the 7 circles of hell. gallery_6396_329_752088.jpg

 

We went to the giraffe center today, and got to hand feed a few giraffes (these were an endangered species of giraffe, since their natural habitat has been wiped out by farming and other things). Daisy was our favorite of the 3 ladies and one gent. gallery_6396_329_715709.jpg I did not, however, swap spit with Daisy, although I watched some other crazy lady put a giraffe chow pellet in her mouth and Daisy's tongue (all 3 1/2 feet of it) snaked out and into her mouth to retrieve that little nugget! Eeeeeewwwww. Factoid of the day: some male giraffes have 5 horns; female giraffe horns are furry on top, male giraffe horns are smooth and shiny on top.

 

After that we went to the Sheldrick elephant orphanage and visited "our" baby elephants. OMG, they are soooooo cute! They came running into the barn area all hot-to-trot to get their milk, then they each sucked down about a gallon of milk in 2 minutes or less! The littlest ones then messed around with their beds (pretty much just like Hampton (one or our dogs) does with the blanket or pillow) and then it was down on the ground on their sides with their heads on the bed like a pillow. gallery_6396_329_157046.jpggallery_6396_329_38122.jpg Can you say "Awwwwwwwwh"? Too cute for words. I got to hold the bottle for one of “my” babies, and it was really funny to watch her eyes half closing and kind of glazing over as she sucked down the formula - kind of reminded me of our daughter at that age... There were also three orphaned Rhinos, one of which was completely blind, and a small herd of “tame” warthogs. Very strange to pass within inches of those fearsome tusks. What a great place! gallery_6396_329_460216.jpg

 

The hotel we're staying at (Ole-Sereni) is right on the edge of the Nairobi National Park, so we have this great view of wilderness, but so far haven't seen anything but buzzards circling in the distance. The hotel is great, however. Really new, nicely decorated, comfortable, and above all, it has great food! It was used as the U.S. Embassy right after it was built, so it has gorgeous wood floors and some interesting features like a curving staircase from the entrance to the second floor where the reception desk is located, and some very nice artwork. Also a really tight driveway area with a guardhouse in front. Odd configurations for a hotel, but normal for an embassy. gallery_6396_329_309515.jpg

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Great start to your report Ellie - I'm looking forward to reading more particularly your impressions of the Crater, Ruaha (one of my favourite parks) and Selous.

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Here's Part 2 of our East Africa Trip Report:

 

9/9 - James Makau picked us up this morning and drove us to Wilson airport on the other side of Nairobi from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Traffic was horrendous! How anyone survives the exhaust fumes and the incredible lines of cars, trucks, mini-vans and motorcycles all sitting there without moving, is beyond me. And there are NO rules of the road – people just cut in front of you and you either let them in or you hit them. Nerve-racking to say the least.

Our flight to the Mara was completely full, including one group of three Indian couples with four young children who were in constant motion and did not shut up the entire 35-minute flight! We were SO happy that they didn’t get off at our stop! I saw 2 crossings of the Mara River as we were coming in for a landing; I couldn’t tell what was crossing, but it certainly boded well for the Masai Mara part of our trip. gallery_6396_329_517143.jpg

Lucas, our Masai driver from Entim Camp, met us at the plane and we loaded up this really beat-up land rover which had to be pushed to start! gallery_6396_329_540119.jpg

We took off on our first game drive in the Mara. We only got about a half-mile from the airstrip when we came across a bunch of Griffon Vultures feeding on a carcass next to the road. We stopped to take some photos, and the land rover died again. This time we had to wait a while for another vehicle to push us. gallery_6396_329_420577.jpggallery_6396_329_1197171.jpg

By now we’re wondering if we’re going to get to the camp or spend the night in the truck. At least we have all our luggage with us, including some snacks!

We made it to the camp with no further stalls, and got our first glimpse of the migration along the way. It’s beyond mere words to describe the sight of millions of animals stretching as far as you can see (which in the Mara is a long way). Dick said it must be what our great plains looked like when the buffalo still roamed. ‘Tis truly a sight to behold. gallery_6396_329_1241653.jpg

We saw about a dozen Masai giraffes on the way to camp, some lying down which we’d never seen before. They look just as dorky lying down as they do standing up. gallery_6396_329_1073410.jpg

We also saw Impala, Thompson’s gazelles, a Waterbuck, a few Eland, a couple of Topis, Ground Hornbills and some warthogs. gallery_6396_329_73353.jpggallery_6396_329_1670265.jpg

It is so much easier to see the animals here than in Zambia, and they are in such huge numbers compared to other places.

Entim Camp is very nice, and our tent (No. 9) has a view of the Mara River. While writing this, I’m watching a huge herd of Wildebeest about a quarter mile away headed toward the river. They apparently want to cross back into Tanzania, but the river is very high. We took a close look at the crossing place just below the camp, and the bodies of the Wildebeest that didn’t make it across the last time are still lying along the riverbank. The crocodiles haven’t even touched them – they’re too full from the others they’ve already dined on.

After lunch and a nap, we went out again with Lucas for our afternoon drive. We also discovered why we were in the land rover instead of one of the newer land cruisers – there are 16 South Africans along with one Australian and one Pennsylvanian here on a photographic tour, and they are using all of the other vehicles (and tents) in the camp.

We had the good luck to come across a cheetah family (mom and 2 grown sons) but they were on the other side of the Talek River. gallery_6396_329_199463.jpg We were going to cross over, but the group on the other side radioed that the cheetahs seemed to be looking for a way over to our side. We parked on the cliff overlooking the river and watched them. Mom finally took the plunge and ran across where the river was fairly narrow – she didn’t get wet above her knees! gallery_6396_329_99937.jpg The 2 boys came across then, but at another spot, and although they acted like they’d passed through fire and brimstone when they joined up again with mom, they too were only wet to the knees! gallery_6396_329_1216761.jpg After making sure everybody was ok after that harrowing river crossing, the three started up the slope toward a lone Thompson’s Gazelle grazing about 100 yards away. gallery_6396_329_33107.jpg Before we could even register the fact, mom took off after the gazelle, and by the time we caught up 3 seconds later, she had the gazelle down and was strangling it. gallery_6396_329_157749.jpg The boys trotted up and joined in the kill. It took only about 20 minutes for the three of them to polish off the entire gazelle, except for the head and entrails which they left for the scavengers. Amazing. gallery_6396_329_889081.jpg

After that, everything else was kind of anticlimactic. We saw a couple of lionesses taking it easy, a beautiful fishing eagle, a Goliath heron, our first Dik Diks, and some storks. gallery_6396_329_567993.jpggallery_6396_329_1197653.jpg

All in all, a great first afternoon in the Masai Mara. We had a bonfire before dinner, with drinks and appetizers and a lot of stars. Dinner was Beef Wellington. Not too shabby.

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Well, that was some Day 1, I'd be happy with that.

 

With the vehicle stalling, did your driver turn it off for photos of sightings or did you have to keep it running? It would have annoyed me if you had to take photos with the engine vibrating.

 

These photographic tours are becoming very prevalent. Every second photographer seems to be running tours … perhaps the only way they can make a living?! :)

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Twaffle - luckily that was the last stall we had. We actually ended up coming to be quite fond of that old land rover - it went where others feared to go, and once the plugs and points were changed, it was kind of an awesome ride. We ended up keeping it even after the photo folks left. Turns out it was a "loaner", not one of Entims regular vehicles, and our guide Lucas was also a fill-in, although he was quite satisfactory (other than not being great on birds). He had incredibly good eyesight, and could spot the tip of a leopards tail in tall grass at 100 yards or more.

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Thanks Ellie, interesting on the use of a fill in vehicle and guide. When we are all trying to assess one camp over another, these little matters can't be considered. It becomes so subjective so if we are going to travel during the busy migration, it may be that a camp which is well regarded on forums doesn't cope so well with big groups. (Not saying that it was the case with your stay). In the last few weeks we have had rave reviews about one camp (such as mine of Serian - out of migration) but then on Fodors a fairly poor review during the migration. We have seen a couple of rave reviews of the Porini camps, but then Richard has given them a fairly poor review for guide behaviour at a crossing just recently. I wonder if these were their regular guides or fill ins? It adds an interesting dimension to trying to plan ones trip, more critical at migration time than at others. It will be interesting to see how Africaddict got on at Rekero. He should be back reporting soon. :)

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Your itinerary looks wonderful. Great start to your trip, even if there was no spit swapping. The intense lighting for your wilde picture looks surreal. But I was there too in Sept and saw that same thing.

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Here's Part 3 (Lion/Wildebeest standoff)

 

9/10 – we started before dawn this morning and got a beautiful sunrise for our trouble. gallery_6396_329_166685.jpg All the animals were hiding out, except for the zebras, antelopes and wildebeest. gallery_6396_329_345914.jpg We finally managed to see the hyena family, with 3 adults, 1 teenager and 2 cubs. The cubs played with a hide just like puppies. Mom (or an auntie) was collared, and there were a couple of young women there doing hyena research (at least that’s what the sign on their truck said). gallery_6396_329_642544.jpggallery_6396_329_338753.jpggallery_6396_329_135384.jpg We came back for breakfast around 9, and watched a small group of elephants, including a year-old calf, browsing along the opposite bank of the Mara from where we were eating. Nice mealtime view. There were a lot of Wildebeest massing near the camp, and Lexie (one of the camp managers) said they might cross. Sure enough, about an hour later, while I was typing this journal, I heard a ruckus and looked up to see that a crossing had started just up-river from the camp. We had a perfect view from our porch! I walked down the hill toward the river with some of the staff and Lexie to get a better look, and everyone was using my binoculars to get a good look at the crossing. What a sight! There must have been 20,000 Wildebeest leaping into the river and swimming across. This went on for about 20 minutes, non-stop. Even the hippos got out of the water to let the migrants cross! Then something scared them, and as quickly as it started, the crossing was over. Now those who haven’t yet crossed are milling around trying to get up the nerve to try again. It’s certainly been an interesting morning!

 

The afternoon drive was another good one, with Blackbacked Jackal pups, a nice old buffalo with a Yellowbilled Oxpecker on board, and lots of other birds and beasts. gallery_6396_329_88999.jpggallery_6396_329_716382.jpggallery_6396_329_308415.jpg

 

9/11 – This morning we took a bush breakfast and left at 6:15 just as the sun was coming up. Lucas wanted us to see a crossing, even though we’d seen the one yesterday from camp. We went to the area where the male leopard was yesterday, and we were late arrivals, since there were at least 10 vehicles lined up trying to spot him in the bushes. Lucas decided to move to a different position, where he thought we might have a better view. The leopard must have been waiting for us to get there, because within a few minutes of our arrival, he got up and came out of the bushes heading straight for our truck. Dick didn’t even have to stand up to take pictures of him – just shot through the open window! What a beautiful animal! gallery_6396_329_52143.jpg

 

We headed out for the crossing area on the Mara River, and got there late again, trying to find a spot to park to see the crossing that was already in progress. What an incredible sight – there must have been 5,000 wildebeests jammed together on the slope above the river, and they were leaping in one after another and swimming across. No crocodiles were attacking them, so the only danger they faced was the high water and currents, along with the difficulty of getting out of the river on the other side. It was steep and rocky in some places, and steep and muddy in others, and they were all trying to climb over one another to get out. It was a complete madhouse, made even crazier by their incessant bellowing. After about 5 minutes, they suddenly stopped jumping in. Some on the other side already even started swimming back across. gallery_6396_329_1281368.jpg About this time a couple of lions, a big black-maned male and a female, showed up on the opposite side of the river (where of course there were another 10 or so vehicles watching the crossing from that side). The male lay down near some of the vehicles and commenced posing for pictures, while the female wandered over to the edge of the cliff to check out the state of the wildebeest who’d crossed but not yet made it up to the top. One of the adult wildebeest caught sight of the lioness, and they just stared at each other for a while, she above and the wildie about ten feet below. gallery_6396_329_521532.jpg She watched this wildebeest manage the rocks and finally make it up to the top, and we thought sure she’d jump it, but she let it go past her without making a move on it. We figured maybe she didn’t want to work that hard for a meal and was waiting for something easier to tackle than a full-grown wildebeest. The male lion of course was still just posing for pictures, and the people on that side of the river couldn’t see what was going on with the lioness. She finally focused her attention on a young wildebeest that was trying to make its way up the steep bank to the top. gallery_6396_329_660490.jpg The young wildebeest eventually managed to get to the top, with the lioness tracking it all the way. We again thought she’d jump it right away, but she just approached it slowly. When she was about 6 feet away, the wildie turned and charged her! gallery_6396_329_91564.jpggallery_6396_329_39035.jpg She jumped and ran back a few feet and they had another stare-down. This went on for quite a while, with the lioness approaching every time the wildie turned and moved away to try and rejoin the waiting herd, and then the wildie turning and charging the lioness who would again give way. gallery_6396_329_129698.jpggallery_6396_329_345434.jpg

 

Then Mr. Lion decided it was time to put an end to the game, and he sauntered over to where the latest staring contest was taking place. He approached, the wildebeest youngster turned and charged him, and the Mr. Lion just dropped on it like a ton of bricks. gallery_6396_329_348139.jpggallery_6396_329_153100.jpggallery_6396_329_140850.jpg

Game over. The lioness was clearly just toying with the wildebeest, and didn’t want to get stuck with a horn for her trouble. Mr. Lion apparently was not in the mood for playing around.

 

We stopped for our breakfast along the Mara River a little way from where the crossing had been. We got out and walked to the bank, and I almost lost the snack I’d eaten that morning. There were about half a dozen really ripe wildebeest carcasses trapped against the bank right below us, and the wind was NOT blowing away from us. What an incredible stench. We told Lucas there was no way we could eat there, so we moved to another spot. There were about a dozen huge, very well fed crocs lying on the far bank just above the water line, and they were so full they totally ignored the fresh dead wildebeest continuously floating by. On our way back to camp, we saw a baby Thompson’s Gazelle, the smallest we’d seen yet (maybe only a couple of days old). So tiny and delicate. We both hoped that it would not end up being something’s meal. gallery_6396_329_560422.jpg

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Part 3 continued:

 

After lunch there was a wild tropical downpour that lasted about an hour. An amazing amount of rain (and some small hail) fell, and the thunder was truly impressive. We’d never heard continuous thunder before. The afternoon game drive was the first one that was a little slow (OMG, jaded already!). Lucas did another of his amazing half-mile spotting feats, and found a cheetah female lying in the deep grass. We have no idea how he manages to do this time after time. She was not ready to go hunting yet, but was having a nice time rolling around and licking herself dry after all the rain. gallery_6396_329_266711.jpggallery_6396_329_69325.jpg

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Great stories and pictures - thanks for sharing.

 

One thing though - GW would likely appreciate it if you adhered to his recent request regarding picture size......

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Wonderful adventures by the look of the photos.

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Wow, fabulous and love the images to go with the lion/ lioness/ baby wilde story.

Amazing sightings and photos!

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Pangolin - what's the request re: picture size? I'm a complete neophyte at this, so if I need to reduce the size of the photos when I upload them, can someone give me detailed instructions as to how to do it? thanks!

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Great report and pics Ellie. I always reduce my pics when sending them around the world on emails and to forums. I have a program called Irfanview which is a free download. in Irfanview with your picture on the screen click Image then click image reduce and choose 640 x 480 and save it in a special folder, mine is called "email photos".

http://www.irfanview.com/

Let me know how you get on.

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Pangolin, thanks for mentioning this. Ellie, the only problem with uploading large images, (therefore large file sizes) to Safaritalk is very quickly it takes up a lot of disc space, which, down the line means I'll have to pay for more space. It's not a siutation critical so don't worry overly, but there's a quick guide here.

 

And another request from me Ellie, those cheetah images definitely need to be included in the Show us your Cheetah Pictures topic. They are great!

 

Thanks, Matt

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Here's Part 4 of our East Africa Trip Report:

 

9/12 –We did another bush breakfast today, and were treated to a lovely sunrise complete with hot air balloons taking off in the distance. gallery_6396_329_18391.jpg

Our first stop was the tree where we’d found a male leopard trying to get some rest the day before. gallery_6396_329_114599.jpg

 

This morning he was up in another tree attempting to eat part of his kill from the day before, but he couldn’t quite manage to find a place that would hold him steady and allow him to rip meat off the piece of carcass he was carrying. gallery_6396_329_69456.jpg The problem was that the meat was attached by a strip of hide to a couple of forelegs that kept getting in the way, hanging up on branches and generally causing him a lot of grief. It was comical to watch his struggles! gallery_6396_329_63672.jpggallery_6396_329_33996.jpg

He finally managed to get the hide strip lodged into a tree crotch and was starting to tear at the meat when the hide ripped in half, and he almost fell out of the tree! gallery_6396_329_42067.jpggallery_6396_329_64657.jpg

He still had that piece of meat in his mouth, so he decided to bail out of the tree and eat on the ground.

A little later we came across a gorgeous young black-maned lion feeding on what was apparently an early morning wildebeest kill. gallery_6396_329_8227.jpg From the sag of his belly, this was either a second breakfast or an early lunch for him. gallery_6396_329_14526.jpg And apparently it takes a fair amount of effort to eat a wildebeest, based on the contortions he was going through, and the sound of crunching bones and cartilage. gallery_6396_329_35690.jpg He was surrounded (at discrete distances) by a lioness, some hyenas and a few jackals, all patiently waiting for their turns to eat. gallery_6396_329_46649.jpg When he finally finished his meal, he headed off to join another male lion we’d seen napping in the shade earlier. gallery_6396_329_36734.jpggallery_6396_329_62567.jpggallery_6396_329_10077.jpg As he strolled off, he was accompanied by one of the jackals – sort of the Mutt and Jeff of the Mara. gallery_6396_329_22845.jpg

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Here's the next part of our Trip Report:

 

This afternoon we visited a Masai Village not far from the one Lucas lives in when he’s not guiding. It’s one thing to know that both the cattle and the people live inside the same boma. It was another thing entirely to actually go through a narrow opening in the thorn boma (just wide enough for a cow) and find yourself walking on years of accumulated cow dung, to see the outside and inside of very tiny homes built of sticks and plastered with mud and cow dung, to watch little kids playing in the cow dung and most perplexing of all, to realize that it didn’t really smell particularly bad. gallery_6396_329_1611510.jpg The houses are built by the women, who tend to be short; since the men are mostly quite tall, they have to stoop when inside (there’s probably a moral there somewhere). The entryway is narrow and the first “room” is a small pen for a calf or two, to keep the calf from nursing during the night so that the cow will give milk to the family in the morning. The rest of the house is a single room, with sleeping areas consisting of a raised platform covered in hide (one for the adults and one for the children) and the center used as the kitchen/living area. gallery_6396_329_847936.jpggallery_6396_329_723579.jpg The only windows are a few tiny round holes in the walls. gallery_6396_329_897482.jpg There is no water supply to the village, and no crops – just lots of cows, goats and sheep, which along with cornmeal, milk and blood is the mainstay of the Masai diet even today. This village is made up of about 10 small huts which according to Joseph, who was showing us around, housed 60+ adults and children (he actually laughed when I asked how many kids were in the village, saying he really had no idea, like nobody ever bothered to count). We were told the houses lasted about 10 years, after which they were abandoned and new ones built, again by the women. gallery_6396_329_62245.jpg

We were treated to the men’s welcoming dances and then to the women’s welcoming songs. Both men and women wore the ever-present cotton or woolen blanket, which served as decoration, clothing, baby carrier, tablecloth, bedding and undoubtedly a dozen other uses. gallery_6396_329_72227.jpggallery_6396_329_29196.jpggallery_6396_329_39758.jpggallery_6396_329_11327.jpggallery_6396_329_32342.jpg The men’s dances included a series of incredible jumping contests which went on for about 20 minutes. This is a serious business for the boys and young men because apparently the better jumpers get the prettiest girls. The Masai equivalent of high school football players and cheerleaders, I guess. gallery_6396_329_16639.jpggallery_6396_329_18043.jpggallery_6396_329_557143.jpg

 

We were invited (frequently) to take as many pictures and videos as we wanted (although I find it hard to point a camera at people who are just going about their daily business – seems rude to me). We then were invited to view piles and piles of things either made by the women or brought in for sale to tourists, and of course we spent way too much and made some additional cash donations “for the children to go to school.” Even if the money wasn’t used for that, they had so little (other than a cell phone or two) and we have so much, it would have been impossible not to give them whatever we felt we could afford. This was definitely an experience I would not want to have missed even though it made me uncomfortable as I didn’t want to seem condescending or superior or anything else even remotely offensive. By contrast, the villagers seemed perfectly at ease and remarkably content although you could see that some of the women wished we would go away so they could get back to their work.

The afternoon drive was highlighted by a nicely pink breeding male ostrich, close enough to finally get a picture, a couple of Secretary Birds, and some very young giraffe babies – how cute are they?! gallery_6396_329_28640.jpggallery_6396_329_48547.jpggallery_6396_329_44029.jpggallery_6396_329_59312.jpg

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Lovely pics Ellie and much better sized down! You must have had a great time. Isnt it awful being back, still memories can last a long time and photo's help to take you back.

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There's some tremendous pictures and stories there. The lion with the you wildebeest is great. Thanks for sharing Ellie.

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Great visual tales Ellie. Dramatic stuff, especially the lion and the wildebeest calf - although that was not a fair fight!

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thanks to all of you for your kind remarks. I had a great time journaling this trip, and Dick's pictures depicted our adventures perfectly. Matt, we are so flattered that you ask us to post our pictures on this site, where so many great photos have been shown. And Samburumags - it was indeed a great trip and the photos do make us want to go back again! Your trip and ours were pretty much side by side, and yet each of us saw so many varied and marvelous sights. That seems to be Africa in a nutshell.

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You have one amazing vignette after another, all illustrated with fantastic photos. The wilde chasing the lion is unique as is the big cat little dog Mutt and Jeff. Exciting stuff!

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Here's the next installment - Part 5 Trip Report

 

9/13 - Today we drove a fairly long way to see a lioness with some newborn cubs. However, she’d moved from the prior afternoon, and it took a while for one of the Entim guides to find her new den. She was really hidden in a draw near a creek, under a tree root forming a small cave just big enough for her and her babies. We could see the lioness fairly well, but only a couple of the babies were visible. They were only five days old, according to Lucas. gallery_6396_329_58667.jpggallery_6396_329_59384.jpggallery_6396_329_16462.jpg

 

After we spent some time watching them, we drove a short distance and discovered that the park patrol was in the area, which meant an end to going off-road. We saw a cheetah on a termite mound, with a couple of young cubs nearby, but only from a distance too far to take pictures. We saw lots of banded mongoose gallery_6396_329_5867.jpg many birds (most of which Lucas couldn’t identify) gallery_6396_329_81653.jpg and a cheetah with a 6-month old cub which we got close to for long enough to take a couple of pictures while the other Entim group kept a lookout for the patrol! gallery_6396_329_3126.jpggallery_6396_329_89855.jpggallery_6396_329_16636.jpg

 

This evening we spent some time with a 50ish couple from Zimbabwe. Very interesting to hear their stories. Both were born and raised in Zimbabwe, and he had lost his farm to the government land grabs. He then became a cricket coach and did some other things part time, while she ran a library and did some other things. Neither wanted to leave Zimbabwe. They said their kids were having some difficulty traveling because they had Zimbabwe passports, which are not allowed to enter some countries.

 

9/14 – Today we said good-bye to Entim Camp, and Jonathan, Lexie, David and Lucas and the rest of a really fine staff. We slept in and had breakfast around 8, then left for the Mara airstrip around 9. gallery_6396_329_28366.jpg On the way we saw a large herd of Eland (about 10) with one really nice bull, gallery_6396_329_63527.jpg and a tawny eagle ripping away at strip of meat on a termite mound. gallery_6396_329_16296.jpggallery_6396_329_14378.jpg Very cool.

 

The flights to Wilson, and then on to Arusha’s Kilimanjaro Airport were fine, only 35 and 40 minutes long. gallery_6396_329_34092.jpg George from Kiliwarriors met us at the airport and drove us to Tarangire, which took about two and a half hours on good roads (except for the last maybe 10 kilometers on gravel). Traffic in Arusha was awful, since it was the time when schools let out and a lot of people apparently get off work then as well. Very interesting drive through many small towns with crowds of shoppers in many tiny businesses along the main highway. (The pictures were taken from a moving vehicle, so not so good.) gallery_6396_329_47370.jpggallery_6396_329_28327.jpggallery_6396_329_31071.jpggallery_6396_329_27762.jpg

 

We also saw lots of Masai with herds of cattle and goats and some sheep, and many small bomas with a few huts. The huts down here are round with thatched roofs instead of rectangular with flat mud/dung roofs. We saw a number of ponds where cattle and goats were drinking on one side, women were doing laundry on another side, and other women and children were filling water cans from the same pond. George told us that although the local Masai were able to drink the water from those ponds without any serious side effects, there was no way he, or anyone else not accustomed to doing so, would survive ingesting that water without severe side effects!

 

The entrance to the Tarangire park has an elephant skull on display, which really shows the size and heft of the beast, as well as all those grinding teeth. gallery_6396_329_80762.jpg On the way to Tarangire Safari Lodge, we saw so many birds it was indescribable. George is really good at spotting and identifying birds. We even got a picture of a Lilac-breasted Roller in flight! gallery_6396_329_344.jpg I love this place, even before we see the elephants for which it is famous! We had a lovely sunset, complete with baobabs (of which there are a gazillion in Tarangire). gallery_6396_329_14863.jpg

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