Notes of my Travels
I’m on the road or in the air, probably going or coming back from a safari or other travel destination. I’ll be adding comments occasionally.
Feb 24, 2013
Arrived at Kilimanjaro Int’l Airport, where we had a painless and quick customs and immigration check…..This could ordinarily and easily take a couple of hours, but my guests all sent off for their visas long before we left the USA, as I had requested of them. This made for a smooth and efficient entry.
Destined To Travel’s driver, Paul was waiting patiently for the group as we exited customs. The drive to our pre safari nights stay took approximately one hour. The length of the drive will be dependent upon where the first property is located.
For this trip, our first stay began at Legendary Lodge, a serene property located on a working coffee plantation, where meals are exquisitely prepared and staff is always available to pamper and spoil you.
As on most trips, the first stay is an overnight in Arusha, the heart of the city and where most Tanzania pre safari nights are arranged. However, for this group, because they arrived from various USA destinations, and two having preceded the trip by a gorilla trekking excursion in Rwanda, we are spending five nights at the property before heading off on safari.
During our time in the city, we have arranged shopping tours, coffee plantation tours, town tours and our regularly Operation Backpack excursion. Operation Backpack takes us to UAACC, United African Alliance Community Center, a children’s home owned and operated by Pete and Charlotte O’Neal (see A Panther in Africa, available on the internet, for a documentary on Pete O’Neal), where children are in desperate need of basic necessities. Here we are greeted by many children, who welcome us into their home. We give back to them with backpacks and suitcases filled with the items we are told that they need. We listen to the history that Pete shares with us, while Charlotte, his wife is off on tour with her movie of her own soon to be released movie of her life (where incidentally one of my guests and I went to the Los Angeles premiere of the movie).
After some relaxing days, we are off on safari…..to Tarangire National Park, where we will spend two nights at Oliver’s Camp. to be continued.
Sent from my iPad
March 1 or thereabouts
On what turned out to be a beautiful sunny day, two of my guests hiked on Mt. Kilimanjaro, and saw the wonders of the mountain. Rejuvenated and amazed, they returned to share their experiences with the rest of the group.
Tarangire National Park. After a long mornings drive, we make it to Tarangire National Park….where much to our amazement and pleasant surprise, we are detained every five minutes for elephant viewing and sightings. We must have seen thousands of elephants and the way poaching has taken out elephants, we were certainly happy to see them. We saw them rolling in mud, mock fighting, mock charges, eating, sleeping, playing, sparring and trekking. We saw baby elephants no more than a few days old, teenaged elephants, mothers, fathers, families and solitary bull elephants.
very where we turned, we saw more elephants over the course of two nights at this park. THis is a must see for this time of year and while we stayed at Oliver’s Camp, there are other choices in varying price ranges.
From Tarangire, we head to Ngorongoro Exploreans, where we are greeted warmly by Morly Stanley, the manager, and Saidi, the Assistant Manager. We make our way to our spacious and luxurious room, our home for two nights.
March 2 and March 3
leaving the camp today, just around the bend, we stumble upon a leopard stretched out amongst the coolness of one of the small bushes on the plains of the Serengeti. Watching him or her for quite a time, we assumed he would not be getting up anytime soon, so off we went where we spotted a mother cheetah and her family of four cubs, almost as big as she was. they were sleeping as we drove up, but it wasn’t long, before they were up and Round, curious to see what all these big things were that surrounded them. First there was one vehicle, then two until there were about ten vehicles.
Each of them maneuvered over to our vehicle to relax in the shade of our vehicle where they stayed until we drove off. We hated to take their shade away, but we had to make our way for more game sightings.
Sent from my iPad
Actually the dates for Exploreans was Feb. 28th and March 1.
March 2 and 3 – we head to Olakira in the Ndutu area, of the Serengeti. En route, we stop and visit Shifting Sands and Olduvai Gorge. Shifting Sands is a phenomenon that occurs regularly where a huge pile of sand shifts from one area to another, and stays in tact, in the shape of a crescent moon. It is amazing to look and see how much it’s moved in ten years, and still nothing out of place. I know of nothing like this.
Then we pass by Olduvai Gorge where the first remains were discovered in the Cradle of Mankind. Quite a lot of history here.
En route, we see the most spectacular thing. A wildebeest in labor, ready any second to give birth. We know this by the sac hanging from it’s rear end. We spot it and follow it, as it moves from place to place, pretty much alone….though there are hundreds of wildebeest around.
It is obviously in labor and it sits and stands and walks and stays still. We know she’s ready, we just have to encourage her and that we do. Push, push, lie down as if she could hear us. Then after twenty minutes of up and down, she finally lies down and we have to give her space. It is not an opportunity to interrupt nature, so as the last final push comes, the baby spits out…..covered in the umbilical sac. The mother licks it way, leaving part on the ground.
The baby is fragile and tried immediately to stand up. It was amazing. It kept trying again and again, and again and again, it would fall backwards or forwards or tumble over. It kept trying, and trying. After just a few minutes of trying, the baby was up walking with the mom, and within seconds running. What a feat of nature. Up and running within eight minutes of birth, if not less. I had always wanted to see this, but never was fortunate enough to do so. I will share a video when I receive it from my guests.
At some point later in the day we make it to Olakira. This is a tented mobile camp right in the heart of the action. The location of the tent is moved as the migration moves in and out of the area. For this trip, the migration was present in many big pockets and corners of Ndutu.
On the second day here, several take the hot air balloon where they see a different perspective of the migration, the greatest show on earth.
Food and activities here are second to none. Location Location Location….An Asilia company camp – one would be very happy to stay here.
March 4 and 5 – Dunia Tented Camp
Another Asilia property, we stayed here for two nights, our last two nights in the Serengeti. It was here that we just drove out of camp and encountered a leopard in the tall grass, camouflaged very well. He doesn’t move, so we decide to come back later and off we go to see the cheetah mom and her four cubs. What a treat this was, as the cheetah decides they need the shade from our and other vehicles, so they make their way behind our vehicle and under others. My guests, as well as me too, got a kick out of watching them move from place to place.
Our last two nights here and we enjoy the wildlife that the Serengeti has to offer. It is teeming with wildebeest and it is here that we see the remaining two million wildebeest and three hundred thousand plus zebra, crisscrossing the plains of the Serengeti, being followed by lions at every turn…..but the lions have plenty of food with all these animals around, so they can afford to sleep and just wait and watch. And they do. This was nature at it’s very best.
From here we fly to Zanzibar, where we start our five nights on March 6, with a three night stay at the luxurious beach property Baraza, and two nights in Stone Town at Jafferji House. Shop Shop Shop til our hearts content and when we leave, we are all shopped out for our long trip home.
Actually this trip was short – only 22 hours…..nine hours from Los Angeles to Amsterdam and another 9 or 10 to Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania. I’ve been on much longer, so five movies later, we arrive home, worn and torn, but I, am ready for another safari, how about you. I will be back in Tanzania twice before the end of the year….and two trips right now planned for 2014. Will you be the lucky one to go with me. I surely hope so. Please feel free to ask me about any of them, and be sure to mark March 30th on your calendar – for the presentation I’ll be doing. It will be held at The HourGass Art and Wine Gallery at 8200 Haven Avenue, Suite 103, Rancho Cucamonga 909-941-9300. Please note it and I’ll send you a reminder.