Tag Archives: africa photo journey

African Safari Review #travel

10635882_10202902160185556_8969120803906696545_n Jambo!

Well I just got back from an amazing journey of an African Safari in Tanzania. This was a guided safari through Gate1 Travel and met all my expectations. We started out with flights from Cleveland to Chicago on United. Then on a KLM flight from Chicago to Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro. KLM is super strict about the weight and size of your carry on item so be prepared when going with them. Upon arrival at Kilimanjaro, paperwork was need to confirm you were not infected with Ebola, just a couple of questions and no temperature was taken. JRO is a pretty small airport so there is no gangway and you take the steps down to the tarmac. Some passengers are then off to get visas. I was lucky enough to have completed mine in advance of the trip so was able to skip the line of people waiting for hours to get the visa before getting in line for passport control. The price was the same for the visa at the airport compared to the in advance so highly recommend that process.

The Gate1 representative, Ruwand, was right there to pick me up for the transfer with a good hand shake and a bright smile. I later found out that he would also be one of the drivers with us on the safari. After the hour drive to Arusha Hotel we were provided our keys and dinner on site. I had the opportunity to eat with Susie and Randy from New York and Lydia from Canada. I would meet the rest at the briefing in the morning. The room was comfortable with bottle water for brushing teeth and drinking provided all along the way. Word of warning, there are no clocks in Africa. The entire time I would look for one with none to be found. Also they work on AFT which I later learned meant Africa Flexible Time. Think “Island Time” and you’ll understand what I mean.

1904003_10202907900689065_6213080290041185851_n

In the morning we met the rest of the group. The meeting included the head of the program, Edward, who reviewed what would see along the way, meeting the drivers: Ruwand and Edmond, and the rules with going on drives. Then we were off to the Ngorongoro Crater! We checked in to the Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge that was positioned right on the edge of the crater so that you can look down for the animals.

10623339_10202934090063783_2170530621157521573_o

After lunch we headed out on our first game drive. This was it; this is what I came all the way here for. Everyone warned me that I may not see a thing due to the time of the year and to not get my hopes up. Well they were wrong! Here is what we saw in one drive: Giraffes, Water Buffalo, Zebra, Cranes, Ostriches, Warthogs, Wilder beast, Flamingos, Rhinos (even saw them charge towards a car), Hippos, Hyenas, Antelope, and Lions.  All that in less than 2 hours! Not all of the animals were by the road but the binoculars I brought were amazing and then even had some in the car for those that didn’t. Then we were back to the lodge. Keep in mind that they do turn off the generators at night to save power, so make sure that everything is charged and you have your phone to use as a flashlight to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

10703646_10202909866058198_7027388978666796958_n

The next stop was where I wanted to be the whole time. I choose this tour due to the amount of time that was spent in the Serengeti National Park. With three days there we saw a ton of animals! Some of the new ones that we hadn’t seen in the crater were: Baboons, Camels, Gazelles, Jackal, Elephants, Leopard, Rabbis, Monkeys, Dik Dik, Heart Beast, Cheetah, Impala, Owls, and Water Buck. Mind you in one drive alone we saw 26 lions, 2 cheetahs and a leopard while enjoying dinner on the side of the road. We stayed at the Lemala Ewanjan and all I can say was it was out of this world. You would never think of this as a tented camp. They had hard wood floors in the tents, plush beds, laundry service, and soda/beer/wine included. The service was outstanding with personal care from your room attendant and a morning wake up with tea/coffee and cookies. The only thing I would hear from them when I had a request was hakuna matata! All I thought was Lion King and I was smiling like a fool.

10700308_10202934090423792_4709831246860419872_o

What is a little adventurous with the camp is there was no fence and you are literally in the middle of the Serengeti so it should come as no surprise that there was a lion outside the camp walking around in the middle of the night. But do not worry. There was a Maasai warrior outside making sure everything was safe and secure. I also  went on a hot air balloon ride right at sun rise with Serengeti Balloon Safaris. You’re able to go where the trucks can not and see the animals a little bit closer. Even if you have a fear of heights the highest we went was tree height because any higher and you wouldn’t be able to see the game. After about an hour air born there is a “controlled crash landing” other than a couple of bumps which felt like you just went over speed bumps a little too fast we were off to breakfast. Here you have the opportunity to use the ‘Loo with a View’, a three sided tent where you can watch the game do by as you take care of business.

1609752_10202934175825927_816298900028517232_n

The next stop was to Lake Manyara National Park, where we stayed at the Lemala Manyara. Now while it was the same company, the experience was slightly under what was expected. The food was amazing but the tents were leaking in the bathroom and the room attendant wasn’t as accommodating to the prior location. We were even told at the welcome meeting this would be the least favorite place. Another word of warning: Tsetse Fly. Yep, it’s a fly that when they bite it’s the worst experience ever. You will itch and itch and even a week later I am still itching. DEET will not stop these suckers either, even 100% DEET spray or shoes or jeans did not slow them down.  There really weren’t many new animals to see, just more in packs like lions, elephants, baboons, and flamingos.

1897793_10202919020087043_2620843651858958743_n

The final stop was to Tarangire National Park, where the tsetse flies were still present. The Tarangire Sopa Lodge was another amazing place. The rooms were like little huts that the local people stay and provided a view of the park from the balcony from a small sitting area to enjoy coffee or tea. Lunch was served pool side and the only time we had that we can jump in for a little dip and lay out in the sun. In Tarangire we saw a python, mongoose, vultures, leopard tortuous, and a cheetah with her son. We later saw that it was a hunting lesson. I was able to get some amazing video of mother cheetah trying to take down a baby zebra with her son slowly trailing behind her. They were not successful and you could tell it was the sons fault with a little spat afterwards. The last dinner was amazing; since it was my birthday I received the local Happy Birthday song version and a cake to share with the group. We ended the day making sure everything was packed and ready to go for the 30 hours it would take to get home.

10418435_10202920378000990_6480561626237293001_n

On the final day, the group met back up with Edward to discuss the trip in a debriefing and to provide the feedback in a welcoming environment. Our drivers were amazing, patient for answering our questions, some of the same ones 7 times in a row. They knew their animals and birds like the back of their hand and would give you the information on how to tell which was what. They would also stop and wait for you to be able to capture the picture you wanted, even if you needed 100 pictures of those cute little lion cubs playing with a stick. We couldn’t have asked for better people to have along with us. Then we were off to the airport where we could clearly see Mt. Kilimanjaro. She wasn’t shy for us and we were able to see the snow-capped peak with no issue.

10710646_10202903399976550_875460008131833314_n

Couple of Friendly Tips:

  • Never drink the water, ice or brush your teeth in the tap water. There was bottle water in every room in each hotel and water in the truck to drink when out on game drives.
  • Power tends to be turned off at night so be prepared with your phone or flashlight to find your way to the bathroom.
  • Tipping in the hotel is highly recommended and there is a tipping box in the lobby.
  • The JRO airport is not air conditioned and you’ll want to get your visa in advance to avoid the line with hundred others in the hot crowded small room.
  • No places were air conditioned for that matter.
  • Lunch and dinner are served pretty late. Lunch was normally around 2 pm and dinner was usually 7:30 pm or even 8:30 pm.
  • Tsetse flies love the color blue and black so avoid wearing those colors and cover up every inch of your skin.

For more information or to experience this trip yourself, please contact Traveline at 1-888-700-8747.

10689972_10202902145305184_5885498989308836209_n

Advertisements

New Photo Trip: Mountain Gorillas

NEW TRIP! Mountain Gorilla Photography Expedition
If you have an interest in nature photography,I bet you can easily think of a half-dozen nature photo destinations that are on your lifetime travel list, from Antarctica to Zimbabwe!

But here’s one you may not have considered, and you should…

The Mountain Gorillas of Central Africa!

Imagine trekking into the dense rainforests of Rwanda and Uganda, guided by expert gorilla trackers, to capture the special moments that come from observing one of the world’s few remaining populations of wild mountains gorillas — a species which shares 98.3% of humans’ genetic code. Snap images of babies clinging to mothers’ backs, juveniles munching on leaves and giant male silverbacks surveying their surroundings.

On our newest Nat Hab Photo Tour, we’ve taken our classic gorilla safari and added additional tracking days for more chances to gain that special image.

We’ve also arranged for one of Africa’s top wildlife photography leaders — Simon Stobbs — to guide this exceptional primate journey, allowing our small and exclusive group to gain valuable experience in photographing gorillas (four treks!), chimpanzees and golden monkeys in the wild.

There’s simply no other primate photo safari out there with this depth of experience and expertise. So if nature photography is your thing, I’d suggest you consider this special adventure!

A safari like this — with a top guide like Simon and only 11 spaces for our guests — is sure to sell out quickly.

Trip Highlights

  • Four separate gorilla tracking expeditions—two days each in Uganda and Rwanda—to maximize photo opportunities with the last of the world’s endangered mountain gorillas
  • Complete the primate experience in Kibale Forest National Park to photograph wild chimpanzees and colobus monkeys, and see golden monkeys as well
  • Join NHA’s top Expedition Leaders as we track the famed primates, as well as traditional African plains game and predators, on the savannas of the western Rift Valley
Location of Adventure

Uganda and Rwanda

Group Size Limit

Approximately 11 travelers
A very important feature of our trips is the limited group size, as nature expeditions are best experienced with small groups of travelers.

Our Specialized 4 x 4 Safari Vehicles
The safari vehicles we use on this trip add greatly to our overall experience. They were specially designed for adventures in Uganda and Rwanda, with two goals in mind: providing comfort during overland drives on sometimes rough roads, and allowing for excellent game-viewing opportunities for each passenger. We use Nissan Patrols, Land Cruisers and Land Rovers in varying sizes. Depending on our group size, we may use a vehicle that seats seven, five, or three passengers, plus a driver, and each traveler will always have a window seat. Every vehicle has roof hatches that we leave open during game drives for 360-degree viewing and photo opportunities, but which can be closed for comfort during longer drives. All are four-wheel-drive and are fitted with high-quality, imported tires, to ensure that we can press on through rough spots. Seat belts are three-point, instead of the typical lap belts found in most safari vehicles, for added safety. All vehicles are outfitted with a cooler box with drinks, as well as tea and coffee, guide books on mammals, birds and trees, umbrellas, and bean bags upon request for avid photographers. Each vehicle was designed with an environmentally friendly oil bypass filtration system that allows for an extended engine service period. This limits the amount of waste oil that must be disposed of, as Uganda and Rwanda do not yet have oil recycling facilities.

Included

Accommodations, airport transfers on Day 1 and final day, all meals from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on final day, bottled water, services of NHA Expedition Leader, local guides and lodge staff, gorilla trackers, and one porter on gorilla treks, most gratuities, four gorilla, two chimpanzee, and one golden monkey trekking permit per person, all entrance fees and taxes.

Not Included

Travel to and from start and end point of trip, alcoholic beverages, some gratuities, passport and visa fees, optional activities, items of a personal nature (phone calls, souvenirs, etc.), airline baggage fees, airport and departure taxes, optional travel insurance, and required medical evacuation insurance.

Physical Requirements

Moderate to Difficult
The strenuous (sometimes very strenuous) treks to the gorillas usually take between two and three hours, but can be as short as 15 minutes and as long as four to eight hours (we’ve had one trek take even longer than that). We travel at a pace to accommodate all hikers. Travelers are not required to participate in all activities and are welcome to forgo any portion of the program. Travelers should be aware that if they turn around due to fatigue, illness or any other reason, the remainder of the group, including the Expedition Leader, will go on. The returning traveler will be escorted by a local guide.

Important Information

Perhaps the two biggest benefits of choosing NHA for your primate photo safari are our professional Expedition Leaders and our carefully crafted itinerary—both are integral for an extraordinary journey through the highlights of Uganda and Rwanda without backtracking. Our leader understands our guests’ needs and makes special arrangements to capitalize on impromptu opportunities along the way. This trip is designed for those seeking exposure to the range of habitats of the mountain gorilla. NHA has been visiting gorillas in Africa since 1989, and this itinerary is the pinnacle of our offerings. A total of four gorilla treks — two in each of Bwindi (Uganda) and in the Virungas (Rwanda) — are the highlight. In addition, we’ll visit the chimps of Kibale Forest and observe Africa’s classic wildlife at Queen Elizabeth National Park. We ask our guests to understand that the accommodations in this region are not, collectively, of the standard that may be found in other more established safari countries. Some lodges are very luxurious while others are plain but clean and comfortable.

Getting There & Getting Home

Please plan to arrive in Entebbe, Uganda in time for a 7 pm welcome dinner on Day 1. We encourage travelers to arrive a day or more early to rest from their long plane trip. You are free to depart from Kigali, Rwanda after 3 pm on the final day.

For more information or to book,

click here to contact Traveline

or call us at 1-888-700-TRIP.