Tanzania Safari, Hannah Kitching, Sept 2011
We arrived at Karama Lodge after a reasonable flight, the staff were really friendly there but it was late so we pretty much went to bed, on our way to breakfast the next morning we encounteres a free-range cow in the grounds! Apparently they have 3 so that was fun. Our guide Nathan picked us up and took us to Lake Manyara, he was lovely, really friendly and we had a great day, we were so excited to see our first lion! And a baby elephant and it's mum walked down the road right towards us, which was amazing. After doing the rest of the holiday it became clear that a visit to a small park like Lake Manyara was a fantastic introduction to a safari on the Serengeti. Nathan took us to Plantation Lodge, which was a beautiful place to stay and pamper ourselves with the luxury of hair straighteners & electric lighting for the last time.
The next morning Nathan took us to the airstrip and we flew out to Lobo where we were met by our next gudie, Chedi. Getting on those internal planes was a bit worrying, there were basically 3 planes in the middle of a field and you had to check your name with the pilot & get on, no more formality than that, so we were slightly concerned we may end up anywhere! But I figured it's all part of the experience! Chedi was a fantastic guide, we can't praise him enough, he knew so much about the animals and every time we saw another giraffe, for example, he'd tell us a bit more, increasing our knowledge everytime. He also was comfortable with silence, giving us time to enjoy our surroundings rather thn constant chatter, which was perfect for where we were. On the way from the airstrip to camp we saw a pride of lions, Chedi thought he could count 20-21, mostly lionesses & cubs.
The Northern Serengeti Camp was fabulous, I can't believe that they can produce such a wonderful place in the mdidle of the bush! The food was amazing (and again, so hard to believe they could produce it where they were), I was very impressed with the showers as they filled them up just when you wanted a shower and the temperature was always perfect! Chedi took us out on really long game drives, much longer than the other people were going out for, and I think he did this becuase he knew we'd rather be out than having a mid-afternoon nap (unlike most of the other people there who looked forward to their nap!) so we often had lunch out on the Serengeti, he got chairs & a table out of the 4x4 and we parked up and had lunch while admiring the view! It was so surreal to think we were having a picnic in the middle of the Serengeti! We saw all sorts of amazing animals (we took 800 pictures), one of the most spectacular was a newborn giraffe, Chedi heard about it on the radio & took us to the site, we missed the birth but we stayed for an hour watching the baby try to stand, eventually, most of us left as the guides felt that the mother was concentrating more on us, than getting the baby up. We heard he did stand after about 90mins. I thought it was really good that the guides were so respectful of the animals, another time we saw a leopard & Chedi thought it may be getting ready to hunt but when it stayed hidden for a while, he felt that maybe we were hindering it so we left it in peace, it seemed like the right way to behave. We saw pretty much every animal you could imagine, cheetahs, black rhino, gazelles, millions of wildebeest, elephants, loads of lions, giraffes, water bucks, reed bucks, and some fantastic African birds as well. And on the first night camp was full of wildebeest, we heard lots of noises in the night & thought we may have heard a big cat, Chedi confirmed in the morning that a wildebeest had been killed, he thought by a lion. Hyenas came to feast in the morning and then we saw vultures finishing it off! Some people may have been scared at the thought of a lion in camp but we felt perfectly safe & were just proud that we had identified what we were hearing so well!
I was a bit sad to leave the Serengeti camp as we had had such a great time & the staff were wonderful, especially Babu who served the drinks & food and tried very hard to teach me Swahili even though I was a rubbish student! But we moved on to Loliondo which was also beautiful, the yurts were a bit hotter than the tents which was a little uncomforatble during the day but great at night. Loliondo was a change after Serengeti & Lee and I spend days debating over which it would be best to do first. There weren't so many big game animanls at Loliondo but it was a different pace and after our busy dasy on the Serengeti I thought it was nice to have a bit of a change and didn't mind not sseeing so many big animals, there were still lots of antelope, zebra and birds to see. The wildebeest became my favourite animal by the end of the trip! Everybody else thought I was crazy but I could watch them for days!
The firstt morning in Loliondo, we went for a walk in the bush, with Chedi & a Maasia with a spear to protect us, we had a lovely walk and saw lots, it was nice to see the wildlife from a different perspective, we were taken to a surprise breakfast table laid out for us in the bush, it was beautiful, (I have attached another picture although you can see I look less glamourous after a few dyas in the bush!), we were given a cooked breakfast out there - amazing! We had some more game drives in Loliondo and went on a night drive which was fantastic. We also had a visit to the Maasia village where we spend a couple of hours learning all about them, we really enjoyed that visit too. The food, again, was fantastic, especially when you considered the conditions they had to prepare it in! Chedi got us up early on the last morning so that we could stop & take time to watch anythign we might see on the way to the airstrip, the other couple travelling to the airstrip thought this was awful and wouldn't get up early for their guide! I was really pleased that we did though because we saw 2 magnificent male lions and watched them for ages, one crossed the road in front of us, about 1 foot away from the bumper of the 4x4, we hadn't seen any fully grown males so that was a fabulous way to end our trip & my final picture is of one of those two.
It was a long journey back but totally worth it, the whole time we were away, we just kept saying to each other that we couldn't believe that we were there, and it was so much better than we expected (I thought we'd be lucky to see one lion, we must have seen over 40 by the time we left!) it was easily the best holiday we've ever had. Unfortunately for Lee, he has to book the honeymoon (it's going to be a surprise for me) and I have no idea how he's going to be able to beat it! My mum & dad now seem very keen to go themselves (after my sister is better, they won't leave the country before then) and I shall of course be recommending you guys as you organised such an amazing trip.
Posted by: Caroline