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Big drama on arrival in Arusha, Tanzania! A large storm with very heavy rains had toppled a tree which fell over onto power-lines at the entrance to the lodge. Had to meet Eric, Emily, Andrea and Feliciano with a 220,000 volt hand shake through fallen branches and leaves… not ideal. 🙂 Thankfully, they managed to visit the local market in Arusha while workers clearer the tree and high voltage cables.
Our first camp was Olakira. It was located on top of a hill overlooking a lake and had great access to surrounding woodlands and plains. Massive herds of wildebeest and zebra were roaming but our big reason for visiting this part of the Serengeti at this time was to hopefully witness a wildebeest birth. We came across a female gnu that had legs of a calf sticking out and we waited with her for 2 hours but sadly, the birth was unsuccessful.
Our guide Muusa was very good. We had several great cheetah sightings – one female looking for her cubs -and Feli had found his seat at the back of the vehicle which he loved. Charging points and a fridge in the safari vehicle allowed for full day excursions which was great!
We saw a lioness sleeping in a tree, a cobra being mobbed by lapwings, and a few very fat hyenas.
The bush breakfasts, picnics and private dinners on moonlit nights under flat-top acacias were exceptional. Game viewing continued to be great with large herds of zebra and wildebeest crossing the drying lake, dramatic skies eventually ended off our amazing 3 days with vodka sundowners.
This mobile camp is located on a private concession bordering the Serengeti. It is truly an unreal location with views looking out over the vast plains with huge herds of wildebeest and zebra. We were a little put out that our old friend and guide, Eugen, had come to collect us from Olakira in a closed top vehicle. But this played into our hands as we managed to bump into 3 cheetah. One of which decided to climb onto the vehicle before we could get away! This was a massive highlight on the trip! We all sat quietly but naturally, selfies were taken and my experience on ‘how to capture the best selfie’ helped relax everyone – even though Feli was saying a silent prayer and Emily got hissed at 🙂
We saw plenty more cheetah hunting gazelles, lions hunting wildebeest. But again, our main focus was trying to capture that wildebeest birth! We eventually saw what looked like a massive water balloon hanging outside of a female wildebeest while scanning between herds of thousands! We watched her for 45 minutes until the calf eventually dropped! The mother stood most of the time, but then lay down for the rest. It took about 4 minutes or so for the calf to attempt to walk, stand and suckle… just incredible to watch!
Wild dogs hunting was another highlight. We sat with them for over 2 hours until they became active. We then followed them for about 8 kms until they found a wildebeest herd and began hunting. They were causing chaos with the herd, trying to create panic and dust which confuses the younger ones. Sadly we missed seeing the kill but we were certain they were successful. Lots and lots of adrenaline for the excitement! 🙂
One of the most awesome activities offered was a walk with Hadzabe tribe. We followed greater honeyguides until they found a tiny hole in the ground where stingless bees were living. The tribesmen stuck a grass stem into the hole to determine direction of hive and then hacked out on either side for about 30 mins to locate the hive. Eventually they pulled out some honeycomb and my guests and I squeezed it to get honey dripping down our hands into our mouths. There were big celebrations from the tribe members when they found it, and I won’t lie, it tasted awesome. We left the honeycomb for the honeyguide to access the larvae inside to thank him for his work. We also had bow and arrow competition. Feli and Emily were very good, as was our guide Eugen… Callum not so good.
We ended off our Tanzania leg of the trip with an amazing lunch at the exquisite Mwiba Lodge. After which we saw wild dogs again! This was especially great for Eric, because after 5 visits to Africa, he had yet to see wild dogs on safari.
I then accompanied Eric and Emily on a private charter to Entebbe and then Kasese to Kyaninga Lodge. A beautiful lodge overlooking a crater lake, and our spot for 2 nights while we searched for chimpanzees in the Kibale National Park. We spent some time with a newly habituated group of chimps and didn’t get very close, but watched them feeding in the fig trees and calling. The fig trees were also covered with Great Blue Turacos which was awesome! Our guide Wilson took us to try for another group and we were lucky to see Toti, the dominant male I had seen on a previous trip to Kibale.
We had 2 amazing gorilla treks in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Both groups were found fairly quickly and had amazing sightings and experiences! Because of this, it allowed us some extra time to visit community projects such as schools, hospitals and markets in the area. Eric and Emily loved this! We ate fried banana chips, drank cold local beer in an old favourite – The Pork Joint 🙂
All in all, what an amazing trip! My guests loved every moment and we were spoilt with some amazing sightings, as well as other unique experiences such as walking with tribes and learning bush lore, and local community projects.
Pafuri, Kruger National Park, Londolozi, Cape Town, Franschoek, Okavango Delta
Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kibale National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
“Just over a week into my safari and I wonder how I’ve changed, if at all. Certainly the experiences I’ve had and things I’ve seen have shaped me in someway. But then, as if by some ancient, unspeakable memory, I remember… it’s in my blood.”