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December 2012

Selous Safari

Posts Tagged ‘ Selous Safari

E. Fleming and J. Ledyard, UK (2012)

Dear Africa Odyssey,

[I have lost my email Contacts so if this can be passed on to the man who planned our trip, we’d very much appreciate it.]

This is a belated note of thanks for our trip to Selous Safari Camp in Tanzania last July 21-25. You may recall, my husband was very excited about the trip, but I was quite nervous. I want to thank you for your prompt and reassuring replies to my questions. As a result, I embarked on the trip with enthusiasm, which made the trip an exciting adventure, not a fearful one!

Ironically, thing I feared most, the ride in the prop plane, was beautiful — not a single bump, just a feeling of serenity, surrounded by blue sky, looking down at the African landscape. We were greeted so graciously and cordially by Emil and staff with cool drinks, escorted to our exquisite rooms to freshen up and meet up for a boat ride, where our adventure began–and didn’t end until we left.

We saw every animal we had hoped to see, and many more. Giraffes, elephants, hippos, zebras, wildebeest, lions and cubs a few feet from our Jeep, chimpanzees with babies riding on their parent’s backs, even a large turtle walking along by itself. All agreed the high point was a sighting of Wild Dogs. Our driver was determined that we would see these rare animals. He did, and we saw them —and their cubs— migrate from one area to another. We never expected to see them, and treasure the video and photos we were able to get.

My favorite experience, was the day I took a nap while everyone went on the boat one more time. When I woke up, I sat at the antique desk on the veranda where I wrote postcards with a giraffe a few yard away, elegantly nibbling leaves . As if on cue, the man who took care of us, appeared with a tray of tea and freshly baked apple cakes. He was so gracious. As I enjoyed these delicacies, a baby elephant ambled slowly across our land. What a memorable afternoon.

I could go on and on. Altho I approached this trip with ‘fear and trembling,’ I would love to return. It goes without saying my husband, John Ledyard, was utterly thrilled with this trip: the quality of every detail, the experience itself, and becoming acquainted with Emil and all the lovely people at Selous, including the Maasai warriors.

With much appreciation and joy,
Elaine Fleming and John Ledyard

J. Ritzema, 2012, UK

We had an amazing time and thanks so much for all your help and advice in planning it. Your advice to upgrade to Selous Safari Camp was spot on and we were impressed as to how you took on board what we wanted from our stay at the beach when recommending the Ras Nungwi. We had the time of our lives wandering up and down the near deserted beach.
We were overwhelmed by the kind nature and generosity of everyone that we met. The combination of safari, beach and city was perfect, 3 holidays in one. Flying back next to the pilot from Zanzibar to the mainland was awesome! Everything went to plan.

Selous Safari Camp
If you are planning a trip to Selous and think this camp is outside your budget please push the boat out and stay there, you will not be disappointed. The camp is truly excellent. The accomodation is superb, to describe them as tents does not do them justice. The beds are huge. To shower outdoors whilst being watched by a baboon was quite an experience and to sit on your verandah watching giraffes a stones throw away was quite special. Elephants round the swimming pool was the icing on the cake. A word of warning – you will now get much sleep as the animals pass by under darkness but what a special thing to lie in bed listening. Food was excellent, I am a vegetarian and the chef was wonderful in making creations just for me. Pietro and Ricus run a superb ship, to be met by at least one of them with cold towels or a drink after every trip to make sure it was just so was a very personal touch and their company around the fire in the evenings was much welcomed. The guiding was superb, our guides surpassed all our expectations. It felt like whatever we wanted to see they managed to find! A safari in Selous is special, the small number of camps make you really feel like you have the place to yourselves. Go on the walking safari, you might not see big animals but it was fascinating to learn about animal life in the bush and to walk past a bush from which a hyena ran out was superb. All I would say is ignore the tip guide in your guidebook and bring double – you will want to thank everybody for making your stay so special.

Beyt al Chai
This is a great hotel if you are after somewhere with character right in the heart of Stone Town. Our room was lovely, with lots of windows. The Serena Hotel is right in front of you so you don’t get an open aspect. Room was spacious with a quirky way of locking the door (I ended up locking my husband in so he couldn’t meet me as arranged which could have been difficult!). Only downside with the room is there was no shower just a bath attachment and the bathroom is part of the bedroom which might put some people off from a privacy point of view. Small friendly bar downstairs. The service was very slow when we had lunch in the restaurant and for breakfast but food was good. Upside for us was its location, you could walk into the town and gardens at night without having to negotiate the narrow back streets that some of the other hotels were located on which meant we felt safe at all times. Well insulated we thought we’d be woken by the prayer calls all night as there is a mosque a few feet away but we managed to sleep through it. Worth upgrading to a sultan room.

J. Ritzema, 2012, UK

V. Kite, 2012, Australia

Hi Ed,

Will give some more specific feedback sometime later this week.

Game viewing was excellent…so much so that after the first 7 days Marg looked at me and said, “well, what else is there to see? What are we going to do for the next 3 weeks??”

As you would expect, we saw lions everywhere – as usual, lying around looking fat and doing nothing! I think we saw lions at every camp/lodge (except Mahale and Ras Kutani of course – he he!). The lions were so inactive we got excited when they even did so much as stand up. However, did catch lions mating at two places.

Plenty of leopard sightings (three separate sighting at Ruaha) and cheetahs (Ruaha and Tarangire) also. Saw wild dogs both days at Lake Manze. The chimps were amazing – if I were to tell you that we even got an extra chimp viewing session when they came into camp the morning we were leaving, you wouldn’t charge me extra would you??

In the Serengeti, we saw our first crossing 5 minutes after being picked up from the airstrip when we casually drove down to the river for a quick look – nobody else there either, as they were crossing north to south, so no one had been watching for them. Saw a huge crossing each day…got sick of all the death and destruction. The migration was in full swing in the area when we were there.

No rhino sightings unfortunately – never mind.

Highlights:

. food and various ‘experiences’ created by the Beho Beho team (lowlight – how much weight I put on).
. wild dogs (my favourites) at Lake Manze
. overall game viewing at Ruaha – definitely the best overall game viewing of the whole trip, aided by an excellent guide (Joffrey)
. Mahale and Lake Tanganyika – everything about it! – the camp, the chimps, the varied experiences and things to do, and above all the wonderful guides there
. Serengeti – the lodge (Lamai)…particularly the pool! Sighting of a male leopard right on dusk…then hearing another leopard call in the distance, and witnessing the male leopard cab reuniting with his mother
. Tarangire – night drive, and the wonderful relaxed atmosphere created by our favourite managers, Ken and Michelle (strangely enough, who happened to be fellow Aussies)
. Ngorongoro – such a wonderful surprise when Peter turned up on our first night there to be our butler at the Crater Lodge – he came back especially for the two days in the middle of his leave just for us; wine and cheese out on Marg’s deck overlooking the Crater is an experience I’ll never forget
. Ras Kutani – an absolutely perfect, relaxing way to end. So glad we went here rather than to Zanzibar
. made some great friends in our travels

Cheers,

V. Kite, 2012, Australia

D. Trice, 2012, USA

I just wanted to let you know that our group had a fantastic trip and that all the arrangements you made for us were perfect. The highlights of the trip were the stays at Serian and Beho Beho, the latter being the favorite of the ladies. The Crater and Manyara were predictably crowded but we had a good day in the Crater. We spent 3 nights in Stone Town on Zanzibar and all agreed that one night there would have been better.
My favorite place was Alex’s Serian camp and we enjoyed having Alex as our guide. The days were long (6:30 am til dark) but we saw some incredible things. The highlights were:
– a huge male water buffalo walking straight through a pride of 15 lions at twilight to get to his watering hole. He had no fear of the lions who gave some thought to an attack but without males around, they wisely avoided a contest.
– 2 Mara River crossings and another tributary crossing
– a cheetah kill of a Thompson’s gazelle
– a leopard catching the early morning sun on a high rock. Later, a lion appeared on the rock above the leopard. The leopard was quite aware of the newcomer but the rocks were screened by shrubs and it did not appear the lioness was aware of the leopard. We watched the leopard climb down the rocks and later into a tree.
– some of our group also saw a rhino
– lots and lots of elephant and obviously 1000’s of wildebeest.

At Beho Beho highlights were:
– tracking lion prints and finding 5 lions on a very recent kill of a small giraffe
– birds at Lake Tagalala
– walking trips away from the lodge and getting within 15 meters of an elephant
– finding a leopard on the way back to the lodge after sundowners
– a lion walking through the camp one evening and letting us know of his presence
– a group of 8 elephants who visited the camp daily. The herd included 2 very young elephants and they were a joy to watch. We shot a short film of them from the shower in our banda.
– the accommodations at Beho Beho were luxurious and service and food (thanks Karin) were outstanding. As mentioned, the all the women loved Beho Beho including the more relaxed pace where you return to the lodge for lunch and avoid the mid day heat. This makes sense but I would have liked the option to stay out and would have liked more time to explore around Lake Manze where we saw lots of game and lions.

All in all a fabulous trip which was greatly enjoyed by all 13 in our group. Thanks for all your assistance.

D. Trice, 2012, USA

T. Enticknap, 2012 (UK)

Hi Edward,

Thank you for the attachment.

No, we didn’t see wild dog, although we spent a morning looking for them, but we saw just about everything else! Lots of lion – in prides with a kill, solitary males, and in small groups. One pride had two cubs and we were really lucky to find a pair of lionesses (with three adorable two-month old cubs) who were in the process of hunting. One continued on her way across the valley to hunt giraffe, whilst the mother lay down in front of us and suckled her cubs. A magical moment! We saw a female cheetah three times, again with three cubs – the first time they were very thin and hungry, the second she was hunting impala but failed to make a kill and the third time they all had full bellies! Add to the list wildebeest, a 300-strong herd of buffalo walking directly towards us, civet cat and, on two separate occasions, serval! Eland, dik-dik, Grant’s gazelle, vervet monkeys, greater and lesser kudu, hippos etc as well as the usual suspects and lots and lots of birds. One very early morning, our guide was hugely excited to spot an ardwolf, but Tony just got a glimpse and I didn’t see anything at all! Oh yes, and we saw a pair of hyena with a young cub sunbathing outside their den as well as a group of three squabbling over the remains of a kill, surrounded by jackals. As for the leopards, we saw our first up a tree between being picked up from the airstrip and taken to Mwagusi – what a welcome! The second slunk across the track in front of us just as it was becoming dark one evening and it was a very brief sighting, but a leopard nonetheless! On the third occasion, we saw two cubs a few months old, each up a separate tree whilst the mother was off hunting. An elephant tried to take off our banda roof one night, and was blocking the doorway on the morning we left! I find it amazing how quickly they can change from placid creatures into raging behemoths when they feel they are being threatened. We had a couple of scary moments, including one afternoon when we were on the lake at Selous, close to the bank, and an elephant got quite stroppy and charged us. We backed off and were lucky enough to see him swimming across the lake to an island, using his trunk as a snorkel. That was quite a moment! By the end of the trip, we were just awestruck by the amount of wildlife we had seen and couldn’t believe our good fortune. Undoubtedly, a lot of this was down to the skill of our brilliant guide at Mwagusi who had a real instinct for knowing where to find the animals, and his knowledge and enthusiasm were outstanding.

Sorry to go on about it – of course you’ve heard it all before, but you did ask!!

Lucky you to have lived in Africa for so long – we can’t wait to return.

Kind regards,
T. Enticknap, 2012 (UK)

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