The long, long road to Arusha and back - Page 2




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  1. #21
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    Default Re: The long, long road to Arusha and back

    Another request:
    I am totally floored by the spectacular, raw beauty of these parks and the campsites. After a refeshing night in Karatu we will have six nights at special campsites. Our little group is mostly around 60-something and while we are all doing ok with the roughness....it would be great if we could have a meal (and a loo ) at a lodge now and then. I know this question was asked and answered before but I can't find the details at the moment. Has anyone had experience with lodges around Lobo or Mara that might accept dusty travellers for a meal?

  2. #22
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    Default Re: The long, long road to Arusha and back

    Quote Originally Posted by Carol28 View Post
    Another request:
    I am totally floored by the spectacular, raw beauty of these parks and the campsites. After a refeshing night in Karatu we will have six nights at special campsites. Our little group is mostly around 60-something and while we are all doing ok with the roughness....it would be great if we could have a meal (and a loo ) at a lodge now and then. I know this question was asked and answered before but I can't find the details at the moment. Has anyone had experience with lodges around Lobo or Mara that might accept dusty travellers for a meal?
    There are no lodges in the Mara section of the Serengeti - only very exclusive luxury seasonal camps. Those seasonal camps will not welcome you. However, there is a lodge at Lobo where you will be welcome for a cold drink, lunch and then you can use the loos. Also the main big lodges near Seronera will be happy to take your shillings for a cold drink and, perhaps, a meal. You, sometimes, have to talk your way past the gateman, but just say you are going for lunch and a drink.

    On the Ngorongoro crater rim, the lodges there will welcome you for a drink and a meal - for sure the Serena lodge. In East Africa when camping, we always go into the nearest lodge for a cold drink, but don't go into the very exclusive seasonal tented camps - although if you need assistance, they will help a traveller in distress.

  3. #23
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    Default Re: The long, long road to Arusha and back

    Hi Carol,

    Lobo lodge will accept you for a meal and even for a day room, but, at a cost!

    Enjoy it!

    AP

  4. #24
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    Default Re: The long, long road to Arusha and back

    Correct, when the public campsite at Lobo ran out of water, the nearby Lobo Lodge allowed people to use their showers for quite a stiff fee.

    If you want to have a meal at one of the larger permanent lodges in Ngorongoro or Serengeti, I am confident they will accommodate you if you pop in and make arrangements the day or morning before. In the Mara Serena Lodge not far from Eluai Public Campsite they might agree to a drink or a prearranged meal especially if not full.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

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  5. #25
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    Default Re: The long, long road to Arusha and back

    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Weakley View Post
    In the Mara Serena Lodge not far from Eluai Public Campsite they might agree to a drink or a prearranged meal especially if not full.
    They were actually very welcoming when we popped up for a drink couple of times last December. Cold beer on hot December day when you don't have a fridge in your car - priceless!

    Intend to pay them a visit also this year. And the view from the terrace is stunning!
    24 hours in a day.... 24 beer in a case.... Coincidence?

  6. #26
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    Default Re: The long, long road to Arusha and back

    Quote Originally Posted by ortelius View Post
    They were actually very welcoming when we popped up for a drink couple of times last December. Cold beer on hot December day when you don't have a fridge in your car - priceless!

    Intend to pay them a visit also this year. And the view from the terrace is stunning!
    I think both Stan and Ortelius are getting confused here! This thread is about the Serengeti in Tanzania not the Mara Game Reserve in Kenya.

    The Serena Group (part of the Aga Khan Foundation) owns numerous lodges and camps all round East Africa. Indeed, Ortelius would have gone to the Mara Serena in Kenya on his last trip to Kenya. And Stan is confusing campsites - Eluai campsite is in the Mara Game Reserve in Kenya and is, indeed, near the Mara Serena.

    The Ngorongoro Serena Lodge in the Ngorongoro in Tanzania similarly has an incredible view and will welcome you for a drink and/or a meal. This lodge is near the Simba public campsite on the Ngorongoro crater rim.

  7. #27
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    Default Re: The long, long road to Arusha and back

    Quote Originally Posted by Carol28 View Post
    . Has anyone had experience with lodges around Lobo or Mara that might accept dusty travellers for a meal?
    Ok then, it was this Mara reference that confused me, must be the Mara River on the Tanzanian side. No blatant senile dementure yet?
    Landcruiser 76SW.

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  8. #28
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    Default Re: The long, long road to Arusha and back

    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Weakley View Post
    Ok then, it was this Mara reference that confused me, must be the Mara River on the Tanzanian side. No blatant senile dementure yet?
    Hopefully not, Stan! Confusingly, the northern sector of the Serengeti National Park - which borders the Mara River and Kenya - is called the Mara sector. There is no border crossing between the Serengeti NP in Tanzania and the Mara Game Reserve in Kenya so, unless Carol was really desperate for a cold beer (or the loo), it would be a bit of a mission to get from the Mara sector of Serengeti NP to the Mara Serena Lodge in the Mara Game Reserve in Kenya!

  9. #29
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    Default Re: The long, long road to Arusha and back

    Hi Carol,

    I do not sincerely believe that the upscale lodges/ camps in the Mara section of the Serengeti will serve you a meal or a cold beer. Nevertheless, Mara is just three/ four hours drive from Lobo (Bolongonja road), and still use the Lobo Lodge!

    Boa Viagem/ Safari Njema!

    AP

    P.S.: Ortelius, how did it go in Namibia? Considering a trip report?

  10. #30
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    Default Re: The long, long road to Arusha and back

    Quote Originally Posted by apfac View Post
    P.S.: Ortelius, how did it go in Namibia? Considering a trip report?
    Apfac, Namibia was great, of course. After all, it's in Africa! Currently I'm busy going through all the photos from the trip, making some sensible selection. TR will come after that. Although, those parts of Namibia that we have visited are so well traveled, that I'm asking myself is it worth publishing TR.

    P.S. Sorry for the offtopic....
    24 hours in a day.... 24 beer in a case.... Coincidence?

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  12. #31
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    Default Re: The long, long road to Arusha and back

    Greetings from Utengule. Tomorrow we leave Tanzania after 30 intense days. It is going to be difficult to leave this amazing country! I am so grateful for all the advice we received on this forum. It has saved us so much time and helped us enjoy so many gems.
    So, as to the northern circuit...
    Before going into detail, like others who have posted here, I would like to give my highest praise for the rangers of TANAPA and the NCA. We took the opportunity, when possible, to engage in conversation with these men and were impressed at the high level of education some had obtained through their own effort after hours. All were well informed and helpful. Their skills range from exposing themselves to the challenges and dangers of wildlife, taking a clear and strict approach to poaching (stealing honey or wood included) and political diplomacy in dealing with the surrounding villagers. I have also come almost to look forward to obstacles as they provide an opportunity to leave the car and interact with lively, professional Tanzanians. In Mwanza we stopped at the Toyota dealer/workshop to see if we could get the locking system of the car repaired. A contact had rattled loose and our trouble shooting hadn't found the fault. While the master mechanic went through the elimination process and found the fault, we entertained ourselves with a gaggle of apprentices (including two women, one of whom was the supervisor) who were practicing assembling a large engine. Wherever we have been, we have felt welcome, safe and well taken care of. My deepest thanks.


    My feeling on leaving Serengeti was like having had a hard punch in the gut together with the deep thrill of a first real kiss and perhaps also the open-mind feeling I imagine buddhist monks might feel. I should start by saying that I lived in Maun for a few years some 25 odd years ago, in the days when a traffic light was inconceivable and the road from Nata to Maun was not for the faint of heart. So I felt quite smug about my ability to handle what Africa might throw at me. I now realise that I knew nothing. My husband likes to say that Africa is a jealous lover, you have to give her your full commitment. This never felt more true than in Serengeti.
    But first a few words about the other parks.


    Tarangire
    105km from Arusha to turn off, very good tar, easy drive
    About 30min on gravel to park entrance
    Short queue at the entrance.
    Wonderful game drive. Large numbers of elephant, so at ease. One could stop next to them and observe them seemingly without bothering them at all. Late afternoon we went towards our campsite, Hondohondo. What a fantastic view as we came over a little rise and saw the vast wetland. Waterbuck, zebras, storcks and huge variety of birds and antelope. As we arrived at the campsite we saw a row of large tents and indeed, it was now our turn, our campsite had been double booked. We were literally threatened by the tour operator when we tried to put up our tent in an inconspicuous place next to their staff accommodation (Just try put up your tent, you will see what will happen). A ranger arrived at around 17:30 and promised us a new campsite. We agreed to move the next day. The operator said that he had paid TANAPA the day before we arrived which seems like strange behaviour when you are offering a luxury tour for people who must have booked months in advance and it was our names in the booking bible in Arusha. Nevertheless, we had a good night and the next morning were taken to Nyaki in the north east which was not nearly as interesting but we had our peace. My favourite memory from Tarangire is the numerous dik-diks, upon spotting a couple they would present their blue-silver rumps supported by such skinny legs, then cast a glance over their shoulder, allowing us to see one huge almond shaped eye, then move their jaw left and right, which seemed to indicate wavering courage and whoosh, gone. We did see a couple of lions but quite a distance away, a good leopard spot (the seven vehicles were a hint) and hippo at the river.


    Lake Manyara
    I didn't record the time but it was an easy hop, I think about 90min from Tarangire.
    Lake Manyara is, of course, for the birds. We didn't see the famous tree lions but that didn't bother us one bit. As we had some trouble tearing ourselves away from Tarangire, it was after midday when we entered Manyara. We stopped for a picnic at the Endala picnic site and watched seven giraffe standing in a row on the open shore seemingly not moving for hours. They were looking like loading cranes at a harbour. We had Lakeshore campsite which certainly lived up to its name. About half way down the lake there is a clear sign. You take a left and follow the road through the shrub until it opens out onto the shore. Then you drive a couple of 100m further until you become acquatic or stop. That's the campsite. As previously reported here, there is no shade, so we rigged the ground sheet and opened the RTT and sipped cold drinks intil it got cool. The clucking of 1000s of flamingos as well as some marabous who seemed to believe that we had taken their spot, all made the evening seem enchanted. However it was only the next morning when we woke up to the most amazing flight show that we really got the splendor of the place. Flamingo after flamingo swooping in directly in front of us, in the distance formation flying, persumably on early morning thermals. Wave after countless wave. Later I thought that I could have climbed onto the roofrack as they were coming in so low I would have been able to view them from above. But at the time I was so gob-smacked it didn't cross my mind. I can't really find the words to describe the privilege of experiencing this magnificent event alone, only with nature.


    We forced ourselves to pack up camp before it started to get too warm and decided to visit the advertised hippo pool before leaving. I expected to see one or two in a pot of stodge. Wrong again. First a drive through wonderful tropical forest, a good look at 7 forest elephant who decided to cross the road in front of us and then arriving at the smaller lake, or pool, to be greeted this time by many 100s of pelicans, geese, ducks. There is a raised road that goes through the centre of the pond and gives the feeling that one is in there with them. Finally we arrived at the end and were able to stand on a viewing platform to view the hippo, one of which opened his mouth very theatrically, thank you very much. Feeling rather elated, we left for Karatu and treated ourselves to a room with a shower at the Kudu Lodge, which was the best value for money we've had from a hotel so far. Camping sites also looked very good.


    Ngorongoro
    Perhaps my expectations were just too high. On the morning we left Karatu, I could hardly contain myself.
    Karatu to Ngorongoro entrance: 16km very good tar. 20min.
    No queue at the gate, done in 15min.
    Entrance to Seneto: 30 km, mostly fair gravel, about 1hr
    Decent: slowly 10min, unproblematic, 2 or 3 steep spots.
    Ascent road Lamela: similar to descent
    At the end of the descent a pride of lions were under a tree in "an extreme state of relaxation" to quote the guide book. We took a right to the Lerai forest and saw several elephant but not the big tuskers mentioned. Most interesting was a wilderbeest kill at the entrance to the picnic site. Vultures and marabous were enjoying the remains. After lunch I walked back to take some photos but kept a distance when I saw that a hyena had come for seconds. The rest of the afternoon was pretty disappointing. The feeling of being in the crater was significant, however it remained hazy. The whole central area had been burnt. A ranger told us later that this was controlled burning. The hours were pretty much spent eating the dust of rabid tour operators (I filmed them all, in the absence of other sights to view 😜) and looking at sparse herds of dazed antelope and wilderbeest. Only the zebras seemed slightly perky. I am sure that it could be a different experience in the wet season. After about 15:00 we had the feeling of being alone on the moon and at 16:30 we made our way to Lamela special campsite just next to the ascent road. The ascent ends at a ranger station and a ranger drove the 300m with us to the campsite. The lush vegetation on the rim gave the feeling of being in a primal forest and we had a lovely night.
    My opinion is that the financial outlay for Gombe Stream was much more fulfilling than for Ngorongoro.


    Serengeti
    Next day we left early as we had to get from Lamela which is on the eastern crater side (only special campsite available) to Lobo in the Serengeti.
    Lamela to Soneto 1 1/2 hrs
    Soneto to Naabi gate 2hrs
    Naabi to Lobo 4 hrs


    The roads from Senato to Seronera and Lobo, then out to Ndabaka are so rough for such a long distance. We took them really slowly and it was just not fun, at times really pushing us to the limits of our tolerance. Perhaps it was us or perhaps it was because the Hilux was the smallest car in town but we could not find a speed where we did not rattle to the core.
    We stayed at Lobo1 which is well marked. There is an error on the GT map - Lobo1 is actually where Lobo2 is indicated. Grateful to have arrived we made camp just as it started to rain so the evening was spent huddled in our tent. It rained most of the night on and off. A distant lion could be heard and several hyenas. After we went to sleep we heard a lioness quite fairly close by. The next day we had very enjoyable game drives, not seeing masses of game but enjoying seeing the antelope and birds new to us. The backdrop of the rocky hills is very beautiful. We had lunch at the Lobo Wildlife Lodge (thank you very much for your inputs - they alone were like a cold drink on a hot day) and complained about the prices but enjoyed the luxury. It rained again in the late afternoon but this time we sat stubbornly at our table with our rain ponchos on and made a good fire. I made tuna salad which seemed to drive the hyenas into a frenzy but things quieted down once we had washed up and stashed the garbage in the car. The next morning we set off for the Mara river in N Serengeti (sorry for not being clear earlier). The road directly west from the Klein's gate turnoff was most direct to our Woga7 campsite and we were informed that we could do this in 1 1/2 hrs. We translated this into 3-4hrs and planned a game drive first. This was really spectacular along the grumeti river on the short loop. We saw 1000s of wildebeest that I understand stay in this eastern area between Lobo and Bologonja (if I understood correctly), almost as many zebra as well as shrikes, vultures, buffalo, eland, topis (got to love those knees), gazelle and many more. We then took the road going west which soon became a track. We could see that one other vehicle had passed through before us so we dapperly started crossing wet patches and little streams. The black slick patches were getting longer and about 90min in we were both elated by being the only humans as far as we could see in this vastness of gnus and zebras, and also felt rather small. I have a sat phone but imagined that, if our own recovery efforts failed, a lodge would be less than impressed at having to haul us out - and there are no lodges marked on this route. Also, two of our group of four were now down with a surprisingly merciless stomache virus. So, we screamed loud and cried a little but decided to do the wise thing and turn back.


    We already knew that there were no campsites available further north so we drove back to Seronera and were able to swop two nights for an "extra special campsite" a little further out than Sero6. It was really beautiful and on the river. We had impressive game drives, with 4 lions sightings, one pride containing 13 lions. They got up one by one to move to a new spot so we were easily able to count. At another sighting a beautiful male who had just finished eating got up and walked straight towards our car, crossing the road directly in front of us. We all squealed into our hands like we were 16 at our favorite rockstar concert. Didn't bother him a bit. He marked his territory then disappeared into the grass. There were so many other animals too. I can't remember ever seeing such a game intensity. On the second afternoon it started raining lightly again so we decided to plan the rest of our week. As we were pawing over maps, a tour operator pulled in to tell us that some lions 80m away were watching us. We slunk to the car and a squiz through the binoculars indeed produced a large female looking right back, although she was lying down and seemed alert but relaxed and I think it was more like 200 - 300m away. Given the morning's sightings, we were a bit concerned about possible others that we could not see as it was rapidly getting dark. But all was well and we felt like we had had a huge adventure.
    The next day we left for Kirawira2. Again the road took it out of us and the intensity of the tse-tse from time to time (including at the turnoff to the campsite) was more than some of our group were prepared for, as well as the roughness of the special campsites and continuing illness so, after 3 nights (Tarangire, Manyara)+ 5 consecutive nights (Ngorongoro, Serengeti) of bush camping and so many incredible sights, we left the Serengeti with a little sob. I will post the details I could collect of the special campsites on the dedicated thread amd update here to add a little info on Gombe and Katavi. Will also put this in a consolidated format with some photos of the campsites when we have more internet.

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  14. #32
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    Default Re: The long, long road to Arusha and back

    Thank you, Carol, for this wonderful update on your travels in Tanzania. I am enormously moved by your acknowledgement of the many fantastic hard-working Tanzanians. You are so right. Everyone on this sort of forum would benefit enormously from talking to and interacting with the many ordinary (and extraordinary) people one can meet on one's travels. I totally agree with you about the niceness and professionalism of the TANAPA and NCA rangers who, despite the extreme limitations of the Tanzanian educational system, have worked hard as an adult to get to where they are now.

    Twende Tanzania! (Let's go to Tanzania).

  15. #33
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    Default Re: The long, long road to Arusha and back

    Am so enjoying your account, makes me so keen to revisit those TZ parks. Any pics of the flamingoes at manyara? Looking fwd to next installment.

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