Don’t Mess With Us!

When Heather T. kindly shared her November 2015 Tanzania Safari photos with me, this sequence of photographs made me want to know more. What happened here? What was the end result?

I emailed Heather and this is her account.

” The elephant was chasing a lion couple because it was leading a small group of elephants which included a baby elephant they wanted to protect.  Indeed there was trumpeting and the elephant stood its ground, scaring the little cats away – twice!  The first time they did not move far enough away for her liking. ”

Oh, I would have loved being part of this conversation in the Safari vehicle with my friends.
“Here she comes.” “She’s scooting them away.” “Oh watch out lions. Don’t make her angry” “What, moving in again” “Go get them mama elephant.” “Oh, the look of defeat.” “Better luck next time.” “No, pick another animal.” “She was so scared, she pissed in her ….”

Okay, this is what is going through my mind when I am looking at these photographs having read Heather’s account.

A memorable moment on Safari!

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Come on Safari and witness these great encounters on your African Safari.
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Get in touch via email – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
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Early Morning Game Drive.

One of my many favorite experiences on Safari is an early morning game drive. Your guide will usually ask you if you are up for a 6:00 – 6:30 am start. Say yes most of the time! That means, early morning wake-up call.

What is a wake-up call on Safari?

The time your lodge staff cheerfully wakes you up with a ‘habari za asubuhi – good morning’ but they also bring you coffee/tea and cookies. Ah, the little things in life.

I usually ask for a 5:00 am wake-up call. The reason is that besides them coming outside your tent and waking you up cheerfully, it is a pleasure to sit outside your tent and enjoy your hot coffee/tea listening to the early morning bird calls. Sometimes you have other animals joining the wake-up call. The hyenas, roaring lion or the wildebeest grunting.

Totally makes getting up early on your holiday worth it!

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Early morning light in Northern Serengeti [June 2014]

And then you head out with your guide who should be waiting for you at the lounge area. You will be in an open vehicle or closed depending on where you are on your Safari journey.

As you are bumping along the wilderness in semi-darkness, tada, you see the sun creeping up, about to light up the amazing land. Oh that glorious moment that awakens your senses. You see things clearly. The wildebeests, the hidden elephant, the birds, the flowers, all ready to be captured in your soul. For photographers both professional and amateur, that sun flare.

These are the moments that will become your memory makers. The luxury of experience. And it’s just the beginning of your day. You must stop and enjoy more coffee/tea with breakfast in silence and in awe. You are on Safari!

Captured by our partners Nomad Tanzania.

These moments await you. We can be your guides.

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Get in touch via email – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Call us at 1.877.558.6288 or 713.592.6228.

Together, we can plan your early morning Safari for the memory books. Life worth Exploring. ™

 

 

Lake Natron Camp.

My first stop on my Safari back to Tanzania was Lake Natron Camp in middle of the Great East African Rift Valley.

welcomeAfter a beautiful drive through this stunning landscape with Paul, we arrive at the crunchy dried soda ash entrance to the Maasai ladies coming to welcome us.  The sun setting behind us was spreading the golden hour rays making Ol Doinyo Lengai and the stunning hills around the camp look lovely.

IMG_0611Cold refreshments were served in the dining + lounge tent while the manager checked us into the camp. For those interested, wi-fi is available here. Paul, who knows Ake Lindstrom, the owner of the camp, mentioned that Ake is very keen on supporting the local Maasai community. Most of the staff here are from close by Engare Sero village. Kudos!

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Spring water in front of most of the tents.

roomAfter our long drive, we wanted to freshen up so we were escorted to our tents. Not many dangerous wildlife here so walking on your own back to the dining camp does not require an escort.

Each of the 10 tented rooms are under a protective layer of black tarp to keep the inside cooler from the blistering heat of the Great East African Rift Valley especially during the hot months [December to March]. I am glad they had that layer as it was hot especially during our mid-afternoon siesta, part of the Safari Life. The poor old fan tried to help. You just have to give in and embrace the heat. In the evenings, with the fan on, it was more comfortable.

To leave minimal footprints in this region, the rooms are powered with solar. Sun is not a problem here.

bathroomThe bathroom has compost toilets which works fine for this harsh environment. There was enough water for a nice bucket shower. Additional lighting would make the bathroom comfortable especially in the shower area so you could find the bucket shower string.

diningThe dining and lounge area during my February stay could use an update. More lighting was needed at night around the whole dining + lounge tent. The chef serving area was in the dark side of the tent. Our table was outside the main area and did not feel like it was part of the dining area. The bar was not well stocked yet and seems detached from the main area.

I have seen reports of improvements since then. The food served by the chef was delicious and appropriate. From warm meals in the evening to the cool lunches during the heat of the day.

stunning_landscapeThe deal sealer here is the access to Lake Natron and its many splendors. Early morning walks to capture the sunrise over Ol Doinyo Lengai, the many hills and mirror-like Lake Natron. Golden hour moments in the evenings and finishing off with a glorious dip in the fresh water spring while enjoying sundowner [snacks and drinks before your evening meal] and maybe a tickle tilapia pedicure. Your feet and ‘soul’ will thank you.

sundowner_spotI look forward to returning back to Lake Natron Camp, located in the vast Rift Valley, the belly of the Earth.

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Ebola and Safari in Tanzania and Kenya

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Enjoy waking up on Safari from Namiri Plains in Central Serengeti, Tanzania

Ebola has been in the news a lot lately. It is a terrible disease that has plagued West Africa. The good news for those heading to, in, or planning to head to Tanzania and Kenya on a Safari – we are 3,300 miles away.  The distance of Orlando, FL and Juno, Alaska.

The virus has not been detected in Kenya or Tanzania. The airport officials are on a look out with anyone coming in that look like they have a symptom. Thermometers and thermal scanners have been brought in for detection in some airport. They would be immediately quarantined. No one has been quarantined yet in Tanzania and Kenya. Kenya and other countries with airlines are so cautious that they have stopped flights.

Talking about flights, it is not transmitted via air.  You would need to handshake a person with Ebola to contact this terrible disease.

Should a sick individual even have a ticket to travel from West Africa, they will not be able to travel as they will be too sick. And may not even be able to get on board.

So, don’t change your Safari plans. If you are planning a Safari to Tanzania and Kenya, don’t let Ebola stop you.  There are some great Safari deals right now for both Tanzania and Kenya to take advantage.

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Photo of the week – Southern Ground Hornbill

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Watch out! I am landing.

Birds! Birds! Who knew each one had so much personality. My fifth reason for loving Serengeti.

This pair of Southern Ground Hornbill was spotted in Northern Serengeti. These large birds are ground feeders and feed on snakes, tortoise, frogs, lizards and such. The group which consists of up to 11 hornbills are very vocal. Some even go far as saying lion-like.

The elder Southern Ground Hornbill tend to help the inexperienced young breed [co-breeders].  The couple, usually monogamous, will lay about 2-3 eggs every 9 years or so. 1 egg will usually survive. The male will tend the nest with eggs which they build on tree cavities.  Team working birds! The group work together to tend the young.

Life worth Exploring! ™ Make memories on your Journey To Africa Safari.

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Walking in Serengeti

When you are on Safari, you spend a lot of time in our Safari vehicles.  Driving is great. You get to see the various landscapes, the scenery and wildlife.

Now try walking.

Walking heightens your senses‘, as my guide Richard of our partner company African Environments told me. And he is right.  The minute we got out of the land cruiser and touched Mother Earth in our private walking area in Serengeti, the  hairs on the back of my neck were on alert.  Let the walk begin.

Our first encounter, buffalos. Three of them. “Get behind me and walk sideways‘, instructs Richard who is carrying a loaded gun. Yes sir. I am thinking, will this large 70-300 mm L canon lens work as a weapon. I will swing hard. Luckily, I did not have to try this maneuver.  They run away. Whew.  My heart stops pounding.  What a thrill. And that is only the first 30 minutes.

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Richard on alert after the buffalos.

As we continue our morning Private Serengeti walk up and around the kopjes, we pass through lots of colorful butterflies, birds, klipspringer, hyrax and male impalas. The grass is tall from the long rains but dry. It is hot even in June. I am reminded to drink water.

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Walking through the lovely kopjes.

Good walking shoes are definitely recommended. Leg gaiters would have helped from getting the sticky seeds from poking. Tsetse flies are a bother. Keep calm and swat them away.  Wear loose clothing so they can not bite you through your shirt. Light colored clothing would have been a better choice. Lesson learned the itchy way.

After about 3 hours of walking [you decide what is comfortable for you], we stopped for a delicious barbeque lunch by the dried up river.  Chicken, beef, variety of vegetables, fruit, salad, coffee and wine – the whole works here for lunch.  Relax and enjoyed the view after a yummy feast. Hard working crew – Asante.

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Chef grilling the delicious lunch

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Under the tree for a good shade and lovely breeze.

After a good strong cup of coffee, Richard and I continue our afternoon walk. We encountered more animals in our afternoon walk. Elands, hartebeest, kudu, harem of female impalas and about 4 male bachelors, topis, and more.

The one male impala with his harem gave us a good show. When they first saw us, half of the females ran left and the other half followed the male to the right side. You could see the male trying hard to get back to his group on the left to bring them back to the rest of his females on the right. I was rooting for the left group females to run away and leave the ‘demanding’ male behind.  It did not happen. Alas, they rejoined and the group was together once again.

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Two topis towering atop the terrace.

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Eland family

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Tall grass during the walk. With Deo, the TANAPA ranger.

Richard and I were enjoying the walking when we came across a barbed snare. According to Richard, this area, east of Central Serengeti was closed off to the public for a long time by TANAPA. There were no protective eyes here. Poaching was easy until the five + hand-selected companies known for their ethical practices, one of them being our partners came into the area. This has helped with poaching.  The numbers have gone down but not completely unfortunately.

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Our ranger Deo collecting the snare. He will take it back to HQ for disposal.

And one thing you will notice when walking in Private Serengeti, the animals here are afraid of humans.  They run when they see you. When you are on a game drive in a vehicle in the main areas of Serengeti, they do not budge.

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Stunning rock formations.

Around 5:30 pm or so, we are getting close to camp, walking on a dry river bed when we hear some noise behind the bushes on top. Now Deo has been a calm ranger all this time but when I hear him cock his gun, I can hear my breathing quicken. Richard is on alert. My arm hair is stand up again. Fear is healthy. My heart is pounding. I am instructed to climb up the bank. I run. False alarm. Buffaloes lazily grazing up top the river bank.

I ask Richard, what happens if it is a lion and it is going to spring on us. He said they would shoot to kill. Luckily in the 5+ years he and his guides have not had to do that. 

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Richard with his gun, ready to fire if necessary.

We make it to our Wilderness Camp.

This is comfortable basic camping with a cot but still good food in a closed dining tent. The dome shaped tent has a comfortable cot with sheets, blankets and pillows. Toilet and bathroom are outside and the make shift walk-way is lit with solar lamps hoisted on a tree stump.

The toilet is a pit latrine – toilet paper included. You cover with dirt after you are done doing your business. An eco-friendly way to leave the land when the camp is packed up. Basic.  The shower is a bucket shower which was comfortable and the 5 gallons was enough water. Soap and shampoo in pump bottles was included.

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Dome tent with toilet tent [blue] and the shower tent.

I ended up taking a shower at 9:00 pm – adventurous!

Why you ask?
When we got there, it was around 6:00 pm. The crew at the camp had started a beautiful roaring fire and the sun was about the set. I was not about to miss this lovely setting. So I opted to wait to wash away my day.

And I am so glad I did. I was rewarded by some of the most glorious stunning sunset sitting by the cozy fire over a cold Kilimanjaro beer. Oh the colors! Brilliant.

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Magnificent colors of the sunset.

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Richard enjoying the sunset by the roaring fire.

Between enjoying the magical sunset around 6:30 pm to shower time around 9:00 pm, I enjoyed a lovely dinner in the dining tent while it rained outside. The crew again – asante for your hard work.

The rain continued to drizzle but that did not deter Richard and I from heading back out to the fire, hurdled under one large umbrella, sharing stories about the walk, our children, Safari life and more.

At around 9:00 pm, I did take the bucket shower under the dark skies and slight drizzle.

I can honestly say this was one fantastic experience I can not wait to experience again and share with you all. Happiness is being on Safari. I sure made lots of memories on my Private Serengeti Safari.

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Email – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
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Safari Diary – Olakira Mara Camp [Lodge Review]

I know why we continue to send clients to Olakira Camp, one of our favorite camps in Serengeti.  It is because they have maintained their excellent standards but also continue to improve.  From finding lovely locations, great guiding to camp details, Olakira Camp is luxury tented lodging at its finest.

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Sunrise over Olakira Camp.

Olakira Camp, a Asilia Africa camp, moves every year between Northern and Southern Serengeti to be close to the every moving, never predictable but oh so awesome Wildebeest and Zebra Migration. When in Northern Serengeti, they find the best spot and for the past few years, they have made their home for 6 months near Mara River. Its meandering river gives you a glinting reflection.

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Teatime at the lounge area.

The warm staff with Kenneth as their current manager have made Olakira Camp extra special.

This story really sticks out in my memory. My Olakira Camp resident guide Reuben and I were on my evening game drive and had plans on enjoying a sundowner [watching the sunset while enjoying a drink of choice] when we spotted  the 20+ lion pride. I did not want to move. The little ones were too captivating.  The Olakira Camp kitchen crew came to where we were parked and handed us delicious, freshly roasted, warm cashews and peanuts. They were ready to pass over the wine as well. Now that is service. The nuts, oh so yummy! Watching lions never felt better.

And Reuben managed to get me the sunset shot … I was still enjoying my cashews and peanuts.

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Sunset before heading to Olakira Camp for dinner.

Each of the well spaced 10 luxury tented rooms are spacious with three sections. There is also a family room here as children over 6 years of age are warmly welcomed. We like having children on Safari. The twin bed room has a door to the main bedroom.

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Spacious, comfortable with lots of attention to details. Just splendid!

There is a lounge area in the front where you can enjoy a good book, have your tea in the morning and watch the sunrise before you head out for your early morning game drive and bush breakfast.

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View from the bed when enjoying a bit of rest before my evening game drive.

The bedroom area has a desk for your diary or letter writing. Here they have some good information on the ethics behind Olakira Camp and other Asilia Africa camps. Lots of conservation effort by Asilia Africa, one of the main reason we support their camps. Luckily, they are excellent as well.

“Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better”.

The comfy bed. The staff adding some personality to the bed.  The side tables with comforting gadgets like a whistle, blow horn [hopefully you will not need to use it] and torch.  Drinking water is also provided.

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With the open canvas, you can hear the wildebeest grunting in the distance and the many birds that sing for you through out the day.

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Look which animal is on my bed to give me company.

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Cozy room at night after dinner.

The private bathroom has flush toilets and bucket-shower nook.  About 5 gallons [about 20 liters] are provided which was very comfortable with my long hair. When you know what will not have endless water, you do tend to shower quite quickly. Makes you realize you don’t need too much water for a good shower.

Tips on how to take a shower are //  turn on the shower, get wet, turn off, soap and shampoo, scrub, turn on, wash it off, enjoy the last bit of hot water. If you need more, yell loudly, the staff will bring more.  No worries! It has happened to all of us.

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Flush toilet – check! Running water – yup.

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The bucket shower. You realize you can shower quite quickly when you have limited water.

Good food, wine and drinks with good company.

At the end of the day, you start off with some snacks by the camp fire where you start getting to know other people if you are interested in chatting.

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Dining area where you eat family style. Some good stories to be enjoyed here.

Then head to the dining area. Being on Safari makes you hungry and good food is part of the experience.

On my Safari, I met with a couple from Switzerland who have been to Africa 10 times [South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia to name a few – lucky them] and this was their first Tanzanian Safari. They loved being in Tanzania and were very complimentary of Olakira Camp. That says a lot coming some a couple who have been to quite a few luxury lodges in Africa.

“A day in Africa is a lifetime of memories”

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Make memories on your Journey To Africa Safari
when staying at Olakira Camp.

Get in touch //
Email – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Call us – 1.877.558.6288 / 713.592.6228