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  1. #61
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    Default Epic East Africa Trip 2022

    Lakeshore Lodge - Lake Tanganyika - Tanzania
    Mid-April 2022

    We've been hesitant to visit Lakeshore Lodge after reading Andrew's (Caldriver in the forum) trip report, but Louise, the owner, soothed our fear.
    https://stuckinlowgear.com/category/...nzania/page/2/

    And really, the road down to Kipili and Lake Tanganyika is not difficult to take at all with our caravan in tow, except for the last bit of track uphill, but we manage to get to the campsite.

    The only inconvenience is the Tsetse flies that bite us heavily when we stop along for a wee in an uninhabited stretch while driving downhill through Lwafi Game Reserve. Well, now we know why the area is uninhabited.

    We stay a couple of days at the Lakeshore Lodge's Campsite Nr. 1 and just relax.

    The bread baked at the Lodge is great!

    The campsite is biiiig, offering lots of shade under old Mango trees. Ablutions are great, clean and spacious, so far the best ones we enjoyed during our trip.

    The chalets are directly built into the lake.

    https://lakeshoretz.com/
    Campsite US$ 15 pppn
    Homebaked bread TSH 5.500
    3-course dinner US$ 15 pp

    Enjoy the pictures
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    Last edited by Southerndreams; 2023/01/03 at 12:42 PM.

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  3. #62
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    Default Epic East Africa Trip 2022

    Utengule Coffee Lodge - Tanzania
    End of April 2022

    After some absolutely relaxing days at Lakeshore Lodge, we intend to leave early to make our way to the Utengule Coffee Lodge, a 470 km drive, Google Maps estimates 8 hours, which means for us, it would be an 11+ hours trip.
    Well, the intention was there, but our starter battery, only one-year-old, is unwilling to start, dead.
    So dead that not only our Powervault device refuses to work, but also connecting the fridge and starter battery with cables doesn't work either.
    Finally, Chris, the Lodge owner, helps us to start with a big truck battery and off we go with an hour's delay.

    This was going to be a long day, but we didn't want to stay over again in Sumbawanga.
    Although the road from Sumbawanga is a great tar road (it was just being built by the Chinese when we last travelled along Lake Tanganyika), one's journey is heavily slowed down by a never-ending number of 50 km zones.

    Additionally, there's also s never-ending number of speed humps and zebra-striped humps. These things basically slow us down to 5 km to avoid the caravan jumping up and down like mad.
    Often, the 50 km zones start ways before the tiny settlements and end the same distance ways out on the other side. So tiring.

    It's Sunday, and were not once been stopped by traffic cops!
    The last 15 or so km to Utengule Coffee Lodge our way leads, in pitch black, through densely populated areas, on a bad track with people having a Sunday night party.

    Luckily, we can still get something to eat at the Lodge restaurant and the short evening ends well relaxed with a huge delicious burger and chips, a G&T and a Safari Lager.

    The last time we stayed at Utengule, over a decade ago, we camped at the helipad, but we remembered that this felt a bit exposed,
    as one can watch the field from above's lush gardens and from the restaurant, this time we opt for a bungalow, just to have privacy and our own ablutions, but our own bed.

    The next morning hubby is off the workshop in Mbeya, which we also already know from our last trip.

    We had visited Kitulo National Park, and on leaving towards Mbeya, we suddenly could only limp along in first gear (automatic).
    Luckily, there was a great Landrover / Toyota / 4x4 Swiss-owned workshop indicated on T4A.
    They quickly found the reason for our dismal, old gearbox oil that got too cold and compressed in the 2600 m high national park.
    Lesson learned, since then, we changed gearbox oil before leaving for big trips.

    A new battery is built in at the staggering cost of TSH 420.000, more than double the price we paid a year ago for a new battery in Botswana. (R 3000 / US$ 300).
    After another night camping next to the chalet and some good coffee and another nice dinner at Utengule Coffee Lodge.

    We can't wait to reach Kisolanza Old Farmhouse, one of our all-time favourites in Tanzania.

    Camping-Bulgalow option US$ 17 pppn.

    https://www.utengule.com/lodge
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    Last edited by Southerndreams; 2023/01/03 at 12:41 PM.

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  5. #63
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    Default Epic East Africa Trip 2022

    On the way to Kisolanza Old Farmhouse - Iringa - Tanzania
    End of April 2022

    If you've ever stayed at The Old Farmhouse Kisolanza, you'll never forget this location.
    Kisolanza, Kapishya, and Elephant Sands, that's all places we love a lot, and we'll always come back, even if it's a detour.
    We've been to Kisolanza many times before and eaten many candlelight dinners, always with great pleasure.
    I did read somewhere their campsite is closed due to COVID, but yeah, they're open and back to normal.

    But first, we need to make our way through the most dreadful part of Tanzania's highway A104, 280 km riddled with dozens and dozens of 50 km zones, and today, it's a weekday, so traffic police is up and running in full force!

    An hour away from Kisolanza we're caught, although driving less than 50 km (according to our speedometer). The lil handheld device shows 64 km.
    Without long negotiations, we pay TSH 30.000, about R 220. We feel treated a little bit unfairly.
    As usual, locals speed along while discussing, with 65 / 70 / 80 km? And are not stopped.
    We're tired. We've been slowing down at each and every 50 km zone.

    A mere 10 km further, we're stopped again, allegedly driving 54 km.
    But this time, I'm better prepared, I think.

    I push my phone, showing a screenshot of our Tanzanian phone number, into the cop's face, the gentleman might please send us the picture to this number, as we would like to object this fine.
    No, we must go to the police station to object.
    OK, no problem. I can also take a photo of the little screen?

    Now, he starts getting angry and makes a big mistake, he calls hubby "my brother". He hates this.
    "I'm not your brother"!
    "My uncle ... " he says, bigger mistake, while pulling him away from that obviously dreaded, tired, sweating, ugly white woman that he can't deal with. Fred explodes.
    Both are absolutely agitated, and the not so any more gentleman like Tanzanian macho threatens me now with his stick.
    Now I'm furious. The little devil in me teases me now, asking him if he's a thug, beating his wife?
    His female colleague quickly flits away. Why doesn't she has a stick? She tries to grin. Poor girl.

    Oh my, how I hate this machismo. Asking him if his new (first female in Tanzania) president would like what he does, he suddenly retreats and cries, go away, go, go, go!
    We drive away, defeated. But we haven't paid. I hope his wife mustn't pay the bill for our small victory.

    Later we learn that up to 55 km isn't even punishable.
    From now on, we slow down to 49 km, running the Garmin all the time, meticulously watching the speed.

    And don't get any more speeding fines....

    https://internationaldriversassociat...driving-guide/
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    Last edited by Southerndreams; 2023/01/03 at 12:39 PM.

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  7. #64
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    Default Epic East Africa Trip 2022

    Finally at Kisolanza Old Farmhouse - Iringa - Tanzania
    End of April - beginning of May 2022

    Our nerves are still shattered from the altercation, when we finally arrive at the farmhouse.
    But staff recieves us with a warm welcome and we book in for campsite and dinner.
    A hot shower and we're good as new.

    We'll spend 4 nights at Kisolanza.

    Somehow I lost some pictures from my phone, probably when I backed the pics up, so no dinner or campsite pictures at the moment.
    Attached some shots I took from the various accomodation that are offered, beautiful, very individual chalets and some budget rooms in the old farm stables.

    Kisolanza is a fully working farm, and and one can see herds of cattle and sheep roaming and grazing.
    They also grow a delicious range of fruits, vegetables, as well as larger crops.
    Meals are prepared using only the freshest homegrown ingredients.

    It’s a real luxury to the experience the tranquility and freedom on the farm. There are some beautiful walking routes that meander past stunning scenery and an amazing bird life.

    On our last day, we buy meat, veggies, coffee, bread and fresh, organic strawberries.

    https://www.kisolanza.com/contact/
    TSH 11500 pppn
    3 course dinner TSH 23000
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    Last edited by Southerndreams; 2022/08/06 at 08:53 AM.

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  9. #65
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    Default Epic East Africa Trip 2022

    To Ruaha National Park - Tanzania
    Beginning of May 2022

    Ruaha National Park is calling, and we hit the road again to tackle the "Never ending road to Iringa".

    There's a direct road leading down the escarpment to Ruaha, but this one we shouldn't take, we've been advised.

    So we first drive along the A 104 into Iringa to almost turn back to reach the park on a bad dirt road.
    Somewhere the road splits into two, depending on which advice you follow, the right or the left one is better, both lead to Ruaha.

    But they're both bad and both Tsetse fly infested.
    We turn right and are soon encircled by the dreadful flies. They cling, glue, stick, hang on our vehicle, and even mate while sitting outside on the window and the moment one stops and gets out, you're bitten.

    Bites are painful and at me immediately swell into big heaps that will itch for two weeks at least.
    Wait a moment, wasn't there someone saying that there are no more Tsetse flies around Ruaha? Well, we're doomed. There are!

    Arriving at the gate, we pull all the clothing layers over us we've got in our car. Of course, mostly black and blue stuff.
    A young lady officer thinks she must send us to the visitor's parking 50 m back. No.

    While we wait, outside the office, to pay our entrance and camping fees, Tsetse flies buzz around the officer and us, biting all of us relentlessly. "Ouh, they are bad today," she says. "It's the black stuff". Her colleagues are all inside the class case, one even spraying around with a half a meter long tin of Doom, while we are doomed outside. Excuse the pun.

    Behind reception, a drill of about 20 men and women takes place. It's mid-day. 35°.
    How are these rangers that are supposed to protect the environment, humans, nature and wildlife, treated by their government? Should not, after 10 years or longer, have the TsTse fly problem at the park gate been solved? Should they not be treated with the best working conditions? I'm still furious months later. There are Tsetse fly traps in all other Tanzanian parks, around the gates, around ranger and antipoaching camps, just not in Ruaha.
    After a seemingly endless time, we were sent to the park without payment, we shall pay at the airport building tomorrow. No network today!

    We head into the park and first explore Kiboko public campsite. While there is shade underneath a big Baobab tree, there is no view, the river is far away, and the space around the huge kitchen building is littered with burnt rubbish and broken glass.
    Ablutions are way too far and surrounded by lots of bushes. Someone must have burnt several trash bags right underneath the tree.
    We don't like this campsite and proceed to Tembo public campsite, where we stayed years ago and camped quite a distance away from the only shade-giving tree, which was then a popular baboon roosting spot.

    The baboons are still there and will sleep in the tree each of the six nights we stay in the park.

    Camp is quickly set up, the campsite isn't maintained at all, and there's no water in the ablution tank, but we're directly above the river's edge.

    Thankfully we're alone. Elephants cross the river in a distance, hornbills call and underneath us, hippos swim-walk along, grunt and their unmistakable calls echo up and down the river.

    Later, while we light our little fire, pearl-spotted owlets fall into the chorus of evening songs and sounds. Life is good again. Just a little itchy.

    https://www.tanzaniatourism.go.tz/en...national-park/
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    Last edited by Southerndreams; 2023/01/03 at 12:37 PM.

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  11. #66
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    Default Epic East Africa Trip 2022

    In search of the mighty Ruaha Lions - Ruaha National Park - Tanzania
    Beginning of May 2022

    Lions roar all night and the next morning were up and on a game drive as soon as the sun comes up.
    The rainy season has just finished, and the grass is high. Many tracks along the riverbed are still inaccessible.

    There are only about 20.000 wild lions left in Africa, the species lost 94% of their former range in the last 100 years since the first guns were brought to the continent.
    Tanzania is said to hold 8000 of them, mostly in the greater Ruaha environment. We always spotted lions in Ruaha, but this time, we were unlucky.
    We don't even spot a tip of a lion tale.

    But Ruaha is more than lions. There is this spectacular landscape, huge baobabs characterize it, and big herds of elephants roam through.
    The next days mirror the first. Loud roaring all night through, there seem to be lion prides on both sides of the river.

    On one of our morning drives, a friendly guide points out two cheetahs. But they're shy and quickly disappear.

    A definite highlight is a huge elephant bull that just strolls through our camp a meter away from the caravan at broad daylight.
    He leisurely walks towards the river, underneath the Baboon tree, climbs down the riverbed and crosses the river.

    Every evening, the hippos swim-walk underneath our camp.
    Every morning, the parade goes in the opposite direction.

    The twilight sounds are just amazing. In the morning, when the sun goes up over the riverbed, nature awakes, hippos grunt, elephants trumpet, pearl spotted owlets call their amazing accelerating series of fwooos and puuueeeww whistles and the baboons slowly come down from their roosting tree.

    After we tried three times to pay at the airfield, we only succeeded on the last day.
    The guy points out the US$ 30 fee for the vehicle, he sounds really apologetic.
    But at least we don't need to get out again at the Tsetse fly-infested gate!

    During our last of the six nights, the lions are really vocal.
    On both sides of the river. And this night, we finally have a lion in camp.
    We don't see him, but he's on our camera trap! Success, at least....

    https://ruahanationalpark.com/
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  13. #67
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    Default Re: Epic East Africa Trip 2022

    Thoroughly enjoying your trip reports!
    So well written.
    Thanks for posting.

    “Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same." - Ernest Hemingway

  14. #68
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    Default Epic East Africa Trip 2022

    Mikumi National Park - Tan- Swiss-Lodge - Tanzania
    May 2022

    Mikumi National Park is Tanzania's fourth biggest park, a small but important part of the 150.000 km2 Selous-Niassa ecosystem.

    There's a huge variety of animals, elephants, lions, hyenas, leopards, zebra, eland, impalas, wildebeest, buffaloes, waterbuck, giraffes, and more. Even wild dogs are said to live around the park. The park is divided into two halves by the Tan-Zam highway.

    After tackling the never-ending road to Iringa a second time, we make our way to Mikumi National Park. We stay in Mikumi town, at the Tan-Swiss Lodge, a few km in front of the National Park.

    A very neat lodge, run by a Swiss and Tanzanian couple, the restaurant offers some great findings, like, Swiss Roesti. We end up eating at the restaurant every evening.

    We visit the park but sadly don't manage to find any lions. But four times, we're constrained to retreat by some rather unfriendly elephants. Because it had rained a lot, we couldn't finish any loop.
    An interesting find is Mikumi's giraffes, they are very small and feed on bushes very low on the ground. The Eastern part of the park, containing a lodge and two public campsites, is, what other could it be, Tsetse fly infested.

    Surprisingly, the lady at reception can not enter our SA registration number into o their system. So, we are allowed to enter the park without a permit and sort out the problem later. That's very kind.

    A big buffalo herd makes our day! Over 200 animals parade along and disappear into the bush, even at KNP we didn't see such huge numbers.

    On leaving the park, we pay for our permit. Surprisingly, for the car, we only pay US$ 9. And are allocated a local number plate.
    The beautiful receptionist excuses herself again for the time loss we had in the morning, but they have a new system!

    https://tan-swiss.com/en/
    https://www.mikuminationalpark.net/
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  16. #69
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    Default Epic East Africa Trip 2022

    Daressalam - Sunrise Beach Resort - Tanzania
    Mid May 2022

    After having all our laundry done at Tan-Swiss Lodge, visiting Mikumi National Park twice and producing a lot of ice to survive a serious drought, we decide it's time to head to Daressalam, Tanzania's unofficial capital city.

    Slowing down to exactly 50 km the umpteenth time at every settlement one could think, is a tiring business. But we succeed and are not caught again for speeding!

    But there's light at the end of the tunnel, there's a big new bridge now leading to South Beach, and we don't need to cross with the odd Magogoni Ferry to South Beach anymore (see the first picture)

    We arrive late at the Sunrise Beach Resort. It's hot. And humid.

    This might be the safest campsite we've ever stayed in Africa, the security guard is glued to his chair, positioned not more than 5 m away from us.

    That guy must be a serious businessman! He's on his phone literally for hours! While staring at our table and our dinner. Only a day later, when I complained to management, he was moving to a spot probably 10 m away.

    Our greatest find in Dar is the Village Supermarket.
    They offer anything one could imagine, a lot imported from South Africa or Great Britain, good local meat, liquor, and even some kind of "Peaceful Sleep" mozzie spray.

    Even things that are hard to find in South African shops. Like a washing machine cleaner. It took me years to find that in Cape Town. Not that we would need that now. Or Monin Syrup. Nutella. Kinder Schokolade. And, they sell ice. Wow, we are stoked.

    We spend a couple of sweaty nights in Dar and have an oil service done at our Mitsubishi Pajero, but we can't find anywhere to refill our gas bottle.

    Alrighty, well do it in Arusha.

    http://www.village-supermarket.com/

    http://sunrise-beach-resort.dar-es-s...hotels.com/en/
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  18. #70
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    Default Epic East Africa Trip 2022

    Irente Farm - Lushoto - Tanzania
    Mid May 2022

    Despite leaving early it's going to be a long day. We do a last try to refill our gas bottle in town, and it's already 11 when we finally drive off towards Bagamoyo.

    We were considering to stay over at the Firefly Lodge in Bagamoyo, but it's too early for us. And it's too hot and humid in the ocean. We push on to Lushoto.

    I found out about Irente Farm in one of the multitudes of travel-related Facebook groups I'm a member and I must say, what another great find!

    It's at least, adventurous to get to the farm. Once we leave the "highway" to Arusha to climb up into the Lushoto/Usambara mountains, it's like one reaches a completely different world. It's mountainous (obviously), green, and there are some little waterfalls. Along the tar road, there are shops and small enterprises, a lot of them are, sadly, closed.

    We spot a multitude of small-scale quarries, where "quarrymen", mostly women and small children, break down big rocks into various grades of gravel. It's heartbreaking to watch these poor people sitting there and knocking down stones with bare hands and a hammer. It's dreadful, dusty, body-wrecking, inhumane work. I take a picture of such a quarryman from afar. You still find such quarries all over East Africa. It's heartbreaking to see.

    Once you don't expect any more settlements, one reaches Lushoto town. We are absolutely surprised to find out it's a really big village/small town with two filling stations and even a university. On the way further up to Irente farm, we're almost stuck, the government is carrying some roadworks out and the "main road" is closed. A young man on a motorcycle guides us through the village on side roads, adventurous but doable. He receives some money for his job and for the petrol, after a bit of negotiation. Petrol is expensive nowadays, mama.....

    The ride through the village gives us some insight into the locals' daily lives. Usually, at most African countrysides, each house or homestead has some little outhouses nearer or further away from the main house. Outhouses are nothing else than little loos, a hole dug into the ground, the hole covered with wooden planks or cement, with a hole in the middle to do your business. Sometimes, one might find a toilet seat mounted over the hole.
    But with the limited space here in the mountains, we don't see any outhouses. Where do they do their business?

    Irente Farm is a community benefitting project run by the Lutheran church. The goods offered in the farm shop are produced in town by the smallest-scale enterprises and sold on their behalf. Despite the millions of cows in Tanzania, there's hardly any cheese made in the country, most cheeses sold come from Kenya or are imported from overseas.
    We buy Gouda cheese, Feta cheese, various jams and honey. Yeah, we were just running out of jams (we produce our own at home). Irente farm also offers meals, it's a surprisingly big variety.

    There are two (big) campsites and some chalets. Hot water comes from a donkey that is far from us, and it takes almost 10 minutes to reach the shower. It's one of our coldest nights so far, 9°. Some cows are noisily mooing us into sleep right above the campsite. Bush babies call throughout the night.

    The next morning we meet the German-rooted farm manager and chat a bit about the work the church does in and around Lushoto. Surprisingly, more than 50% of Lushoto's citizens are Christians. They run kindergartens, schools and orphanages as well. He points to a detour, but it turns out that was the road we came up.
    We would have liked to stay another night, but the Serengeti is calling...

    Irente Farm is a great halfway stopover between Daressalam and Arusha. Especially because there aren't many great alternatives to camp along the highway to Arusha. It's a 5 to 6 hour drive and thankfully, there are not many 50 km zones along, the area is thinly populated. However, there are many trucks on that road.

    We are stopped now and then, and while an overeager officer checks our papers or only wants to chat about "where are you from", meanwhile you can see the three trucks that you've just heeled over, passing again. TIA.

    http://www.irentefarmlodge.com/about-us/
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  20. #71
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    Default Epic East Africa Trip 2022

    Excursion - Hilarious Traffic Signs

    We found some of the most hilarious road signs around the Lushoto area.
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  22. #72
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    Default Epic East Africa Trip 2022

    Arusha - USAriver - Twiga Lodge - Tanzania
    Mid May 2022

    We got the tip about this great location from another Overlanding colleague that we met at the Lakeshore Lodge at Lake Tanganyika.

    Another great find! Twiga Lodge is situated right next to the entrance of Arusha National Park, a green oasis 20 km outside Arusha town (don't mix up with another Twiga Lodge somewhere near Karatu).

    Owners Erika and Paul are a British couple that came first to Tanzania on their honeymoon 14 years ago and fell in love with the country.

    They came back soon and started Twiga Lodge. Both of them are such lovely people, always trying to help fellow travellers, in the same time, they're not intrusive. They've got a wealth of information about the country and safaris into the Ngorongoro, Serengeti, Tarangire and Lake Manyara NPs, as well as the Arusha NP, of course.

    They not only manage the lodge and campsite but also run a safari company, Shaw Safaris, renting out fully equipped Landrovers.

    Paul is a gifted mechanic as well, and the workshop is splendidly equipped. The loveable couple welcomes us on their premises, and we set up right next to the little ablution block, so far the most beautiful and cleanest one we've seen on our trip!

    During the following days, they'll help us to organise our safari into Ngorongoro and Serengeti and even lend us some bags for the tour...

    At night, we hear the bushbabies, it's the avocado season, and of course, the elephants that keep on intruding into the village to feed on maize, which is just ripe.

    Every night we can hear the noises of dogs barking, people shouting, and shots being fired to push them back into the park (which is unfenced).

    The bird's songs are amazing!

    https://shawsafaris.co.tz/about-us/
    https://shawsafaris.co.tz/accommodation/

    https://www.facebook.com/shawsafaris/
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  24. #73
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    Default Epic East Africa Trip 2022

    Arusha - Organising the safari into Ngorongoro and Serengeti - Tanzania
    Towards the end of May 2022

    We visited Ngorongoro and Serengeti many years ago. The roads were already bad. Now we've been warned about the bad bad roads from the Ngorongoro crater into the Serengeti, and we are thinking about using a tour operator, something we've never done before and probably never do again.

    We meet with Paul, a Facebook friend, at a mall in Arusha. He's a very energetic, lovable, funny young man, much younger than I thought, judging from his Facebook photo.

    We like each other at the first second, we're hugged and then get to have a coffee at the Village Supermarket in the same mall. We all drive together to the "office" of the company.

    After some lengthy explanations about the company's history, we tell H., the owner, our wishes.

    We want to stay one night on the Ngorongoro Crater's edge, spend half a day in the crater and stay 8 nights in the Serengeti.

    Our main requests for the budget tent safari are stretchers plus mattresses, firewood and ice. Yes, all not a problem, we've got a fridge. We'll bring ice and firewood. We ask twice. Yes, no problem.

    Their offer is incredibly cheap. We calculated park, camping and vehicle fees for us plus diesel, but no food would be +- US$ 3.500 if we would go on our own. The offer is US$ 5.500 for the two of us all inclusive VAT, excluding tips.

    After it's been confirmed that Paul would be the guide, we make the deal. Usually, it's me pushing forward on such occasions, but while I would rather sleep over the decision, hubby wants to go on. So we confirm. Paul is excited. We bring him back to the mall and return to Twiga Lodge.

    The company will hardly make any money, we know that. But will we survive the trip ? ? ? A few days later, when we start, Fred doesn't seem to be so sure about it....
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    Last edited by Southerndreams; 2023/01/03 at 12:23 PM.

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    Default Epic East Africa Trip 2022

    Arusha National Park - Tanzania
    End of May 2022

    We've been visiting the park for over a decade ago, and we think it's time to revisit.

    We arrive at the gate around 8 o'clock. That's early enough.
    Again there's the problem that the system doesn't pick up the foreign number plate.
    After an hour of lengthy tries, the guy takes a picture of our vehicle document, and we're released into the park. Ugh... his female colleague at Mikumi was much more accommodating.

    The bottom of the Ngurdoto crater is still covered in mist. We can hear the trumpeter hornbills call, it sounds like a dying trumpet, but we can't see them.

    We proceed into the mountainous sector. At the Fig Tree Arch, we're extremely lucky, some black and white colobus monkeys deliver a first-class show.

    A park ranger stops and kindly takes some pictures for us with our cellphones in front of the trees opening.
    Not many tourists in the park, just one local with a tour operator.

    At one of the many viewpoints, we make breakfast before heading towards the Momella lakes. Kilimanjaro is covered in clouds.

    Who did NOT watch the epic film "HATARI" with John Wayne and Hardy Krüger Sen. in his youth?
    It was filmed here in 1962 in the park, and Hardy Krüger fell in love with Momella Lodge, which he bought and where he happily lived for 13 years.

    The Momella lakes are located within the Arusha National Park, they are alkaline lakes whose shallow waters come from underground sources; on their bottom, they grow many algae that many water birds that live on their shores feed on.
    Each lake has a source of spring water separated from the others and also has a different colour ranging from green to turquoise; the reason for these different colours depends on different minerals contained in the individual lakes, in fact, even if they are not far one from the others, each of these lakes has a particular composition of minerals, that makes them all different from one another; there are also different algae that grow there, as well responsible for the different colours.
    The lakes are the perfect habitat for many aquatic birds, both resident and migrant, who are located in the park.

    At the checkpoint, which separates the different sections, we are even able to buy some cool drinks, locally made potato chips, a map and, hurray, the park office has got stickers for our car!

    Before reaching the Momella lakes, we find the cutest waterbuck baby we've ever seen.
    We drive around the lakes, the flamingos are sleeping in groups rather uneventful and not photogenic.

    But the giraffes we see on the way back to the entrance are posing for us, together with zebras, pumbas (warthogs) and waterbucks.
    No elephants, sadly, just the metal one at the entrance gate, we quickly want to pay and then check for them at the waterhole near by, where one can climb on a platform.

    But we never get there, at the office, we're surprised by a hefty overcharge. Instead of US$ 40 for our Pajero, we are asked to pay US$ 150.
    But our Pajero has exactly 2000 kg, not 2001 kg.

    The guy plays dumb, telling us that this was the headquarters' decision.
    We say no, we don't pay that. I show him page 17 of their regulations, and we even walk to the car, showing him the disk.
    He still says NO. Finally, Fred drives to Twiga Lodge to pull out our old permit from Ruaha NP to show him (strangely at Ruaha, there was no problem with adding the car to our bill at the US$ 40 rate)
    We get the permit, and I can pay the same amount we paid at Mikumi, US$ 9 for a locally registered vehicle.

    Not our problem, the fees in Tanzania are steep enough, with the additional VAT plus credit card fees. No other East African country charges VAT on top of the published fees.

    Now we're not in the mood for the waterhole anymore, just upset and exhausted.
    A pity that park staff doesn't honour the few tourists visiting the park.

    But we look forward to revisiting the Serengeti, having two G&T instead of one and enjoying the fire at the Twiga Lodge campsite, a few more days to go to the Serengeti!

    https://www.arushapark.com/
    https://www.tanzaniaparks.com/arusha-national-park/
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    Last edited by Southerndreams; 2023/01/03 at 12:28 PM.

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  28. #75
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    Default Epic East Africa Trip 2022

    Arusha USAriver - Organising the safari into Ngorongoro and Serengeti - Tanzania - Part 2
    Towards the end of May 2022

    We spend the few days before we leave on Safari at Twiga Lodge cleaning the car and the caravan, and Paul's team also services one side of the trailer bearings.
    I ask Erika where to get a haircut, and she sends me to Anthony, an energetic young man in USAriver.
    Wow, I get the best haircut in the shortest time and a wonderful massage from his female colleague.

    We stock up at Shoppies and at the Village Supermarket in Arusha and also fill our gas bottle up at Monji's Gas.
    A flawless process. We drop the bottle in the afternoon and pick it up the next morning.

    On Sunday, the day before we leave for our safari, we join Erika and Paul's regular picnic in the lodge garden with guests that enjoyed a bird walk in the Arusha National Park.
    The food is wonderful, great salads and the meat is braaied perfectly.

    https://shawsafaris.co.tz

    https://www.facebook.com/ManjisGasL.t.d/

    http://www.village-supermarket.com/locations
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    Last edited by Southerndreams; 2023/01/04 at 11:01 AM.

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    Default Epic East Africa Trip 2022 Mkomadzi National Park Tanzania

    This post is supposed to be placed after the one about Irente Farm, but somehow I missed it.

    Mkomadzi National Park - Tanzania
    Mid May 2022

    From Wikipedia: Mkomazi National Park is located in northeastern Tanzania on the Kenyan border, in Kilimanjaro Region and Tanga Region. It was established as a game reserve in 1951 and upgraded to a national park in 2006.

    The park covers over 3,234 square kilometres (323,400 ha) and is dominated by Acacia-Commiphora vegetation; it is contiguous with Kenya's Tsavo West National Park. The area commonly called 'Mkomazi' is actually the union of two previous game reserves, the Umba Game Reserve in the east (in Lushoto District, Tanga Region) and the Mkomazi Game Reserve in the west (in Same District, Kilimanjaro Region); in government documents, they are sometimes called the Mkomazi-Umba Game Reserves. Of the two, Mkomazi is larger and has more diversity of relief and habitat and a long shared border with Tsavo West National Park. In the rest of this entry, 'Mkomazi' will refer to both the Mkomazi and Umba reserves together.

    Mkomadzi National Park became my focus primarily because we were looking for an alternative to break the trip between Irente Farm and Arusha into two and avoid staying over in Moshi.

    So we first book only one night.
    We arrive pretty early, which is perfect as the park permits in Tanzania are valid for 24 hours. The public campsite next to headquarters is huge and well maintained, there is solar, but the lights hardly work.
    We get a key for the ablutions which we don't need, all doors are open. Well, that's Africa.

    Mkomadzi is quasi the Tsavo West National Park's backyard and one can experience the big five, including black rhinos and wild dogs.

    The park consists of several zones. DINDIRA drive leads in about an hour from the campsite to a little lake where most plains game is concentrated that regularly needs to drink water.
    Eland, impala, warthogs and giraffes dominate the scene. In comparison to the ones at Mikumi NP, the Mkomadzi giraffes are huge.
    Plenty of gazelles, antelopes and zebras entertain us for hours.

    We also spot lesser kudu, a first-ever for us. They can be easily distinguished from greater kudus, they are just smaller. Only their necks are a bit longer than those of their bigger cousins.
    We decide to stay two more days to explore the park a bit better.

    Early morning on our second day we leave for a day's drive. We first check the Kimana high-level security zone in the centre of the park, where highly endangered black rhinos and african wild dogs are bred.
    It would cost an extra US$ 200 + p.p. to visit the zone and do a game drive with a ranger.
    The guys at the gate really do their best to sell us this drive, while the rangers on site tell us a game drive would be more or less impossible as the area is inaccessible after the rainy season.
    The zone is heavily secured with electric fences, and plenty of K9s are waiting in their kennels to do their jobs.

    We spot a lot of dik-diks, funny small little antelopes with longish noses. They live in pairs, in a niche similar to that of our South African steenbok.
    Mkomadzi is the only place in Tanzania where one can also find gerenuks and fringe-eared oryx. They are all very shy, while the elephants we see are really relaxed.

    We hardly see any animals on our way to MAORE, the next area to explore. The area around Maore special campsite is a location that can be "teeming with wildlife or dead quiet",
    according to the description on the map we received at the gate. Yes, there are still parks in Africa where visitors receive a map!

    Well, this time it's dead quiet at Maore, but even without any animals except some birds of prey and a few shy zebras, it's a great spot. It must be a real hotspot once the et elephant herds migrate from Tsavo into Mkomadzi. One big tree builds the special campsite. Water is pumped into a man-made dam.

    We have a quick breakfast under the tree, and soon we're spotted by some rangers that are patrolling the border to Kenya. Well, we're the only tourists in the park, they seem to be happy to have someone to chat to.

    After breakfast we slowly make our way along the border, a rather uneventful drive over hardly ever driven tracks.

    We try to find our way back to the main camp but got lost around the other fenced zone, where one could see white rhinos, lions etc., if we'd pay another fee of US$ 35 p.p.

    We end in two different ranger camps before we backtrack some 30 km. The camps all look good, there are tsetse fly traps everywhere, and no tsetse flies pester us. I still get angry when I remember them at Ruaha NP.

    Well, the roads. During the three days in the park, we experience a lot of roads and tracks that are either under maintenance or not existing anymore.
    We guess that of the almost 400 km we drove in the park in the three days, about 100 km were backtracking and detours.

    The maintenance is serious roadwork. We're just at the end of the rainy season, and without those elevated tracks the park would be inaccessible for another month looking at the black cotton soil.

    Before finally leaving the park for Arusha, we have a quick look at the new chalets next to the headquarter.
    They are lovely, very neat and clean. 2 chalets each for 2 people are built wall to wall to accommodate families, a bar and a lapa adds on more amenities.
    According to the manager, the chalets are in high demand during the main season from June to October, and we can see more chalets are under construction as well as a new gate.

    The parks headquarter can also accommodate larger groups at the public campsite, another huge building contains tables, chairs and even a TV set and a kitchen making conferences possible for 20 or 30 people with the option to switch on 220 V.

    Mkomadzi NP is a real gem, his potential is completely underestimated. We will definitely come back to the park in the future, probably a bit later in the year, we're just at the end of the rainy season now.

    https://tanzaniatourism.go.tz/en/des...national-park/
    https://www.mkomazi.info/
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    Last edited by Southerndreams; 2023/01/01 at 03:38 PM.

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  32. #77
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    Default Epic East Africa Trip 2022

    Some more pictures from Mkomadzi NP, Tanzania
    The chalets are really great.
    Paired in two units to cater for families.
    Chalets are situated next to the headquarter.

    The other pictures with the green tables/chairs show the conference facilities at the campsite.

    Plus, some pics of the area.

    https://www.tanzaniaparks.com/mkomazi-national-park/
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    Last edited by Southerndreams; 2023/01/03 at 12:22 PM.

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  34. #78
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    Default Re: Epic East Africa Trip 2022

    Arusha USAriver - Finally leaving to go on safari into Ngorongoro and Serengeti - Tanzania
    23. May 2022 Ngorongoro Crater (NCAA) - Tanzania -

    Ngorongoro, Serengeti - were coming!
    We again are so astonished by Erika's and Paul's ways they go out to help their guests. We can put all the contents of our fridge pack into the Twiga Lodge fridge. They even borrow us two duffel bags for our clothes!

    The wait is over; the crew picks us up shortly after 6 o'clock on Monday morning.
    Surprisingly, we have 3 staff that will accompany us, guides Joaquim and Paul.

    In Arusha town, we pick our chef up, called Cookie up, plus a lot of stuff, stretchers (!), tents, mattresses, boxes with food, and egg trays. Another stop to pick up our lunch boxes, and we're on our way to the Ngorongoro entrance gate.

    We are stopped by the traffic police (normally police aren't allowed to stop tourism-related vehicles). But we were too fast. Joaquim manages to talk himself out of a fine.

    One more stop, the tourism police check the registration number of the company. That's a rather lengthy procedure.

    A very last stop in Karatu to fill up with diesel, payment is made via Mpesa from the company's office. Yawn.

    Finally, at 11:30, we reach the gate to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.Thankfully, check-in goes fast, fees have been paid in advance.
    An hour later, we drop most of our load at the Simba A campsite on the rim and head down into the crater.

    The famous Ngorongoro Crater!
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    Last edited by Southerndreams; 2023/01/04 at 11:18 AM.

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  36. #79
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    Default Epic East Africa Trip 2022

    23. May 2022 - NCAA - Ngorongoro Crater Game Drive - Tanzania

    A caracal kill in the caldera.
    While we drive along the crater rim, many people walk along, men, women, and children. The Maasai are allowed to live in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and to graze their cattle along the slopes of the volcanoes and in the other parts of the NCA, but not in Tanzania's national parks.

    We descend down, Joaquim explains to us that the Ngorongoro actually isn't a crater but a caldera. What is the difference between caldera and crater?

    • A caldera looks like a volcanic crater, but it is actually formed when the overlying rocks collapse when a magma chamber is emptied creating a vacuum below.

    • A volcanic crater is a bowl-like structure at the top of a volcano that has an opening for the eruption of lava and ashes.

    Very few vehicles drive around, there's almost nobody at the picnic stop at Hippo Pool. We watch the hippos while having our packed lunch, which isn't bad. And there's even a coffee truck now.

    We take some obligatory pics in front of the big Hippo Pool parking tree, and off we go for our game drive. It's 2 o'clock. Honestly, we do not expect a lot of sightings. The light is rather bad.

    We find a few lionesses, but they sleep in a donga. The usual suspects are elephant bulls, buffalos, crowned cranes, and hyenas, it's rather quiet. But suddenly eagle-eye Paul spots a movement in the grass, it's a caracal, and he's hunting! Wow wow wow. Such a rare-to-see animal and then a full kill from the beginning to the end. From the point of stalking to the end, when the successful hunter starts eating his prey. We're all ecstatic. Paul immediately falls in love with hubby's phone. And with our binoculars. We should've brought both our binos.

    After the caracal finally disappears, we find a powerful lioness with her kill, a wildebeest she took down on herself. She defends her prey against a golden and a black-backed jackal.

    With a sighting of two of the highly endangered black rhinos, we finish our game drive and ascent up to the public Simba A campsite for our very first dinner with the boys.

    When we came back to the campsite, Cookie had set up our tents, nicely made the beds and arranged the dinner table in the dining hall and cooked dinner.

    Were positively surprised by a hot shower at the ablutions at Simba A.

    Now comes a setback. There's no ice in the fridge! There's basically NOTHING in the fridge. WTF?

    Didn't H. promise ice? The little kiosk in the dining hall has exactly 2 little plastic trays of ice cubes in his freezer, he gives us the ice for free, so we can at least have one G&T.

    We thought at least, the meat would be in the fridge and some ice? No, the fridge is for the client's drinks! is his explanation later. And we left two bags of ice at Twiga Lodge .....

    Anyway, we get freshly made popcorn, tea, coffee or hot chocolate is available. The food is surprisingly good.
    A daily varying veggie soup, a main course with or without meat, salad and fresh fruits will be available for the next more nights.

    We don't let the lack of ice take our mood down and celebrate the caracal's successful hunt.

    It's been a long day. Buffaloes and zebra graze peacefully around the tents, the zebras even sleep in the security of the tourist tent city.

    Stats of the day
    4 lionesses
    1 lioness at a kill with bb and a golden jackal
    elephant bulls
    2 black rhino
    buffaloes
    caracal hunting
    4 spotted hyenas
    eland
    defassa waterbuck
    thomson's gazelle
    grant's gazelle
    zebras
    crowned cranes
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    Last edited by Southerndreams; 2023/01/04 at 11:49 AM.

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  38. #80
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    Default Epic East Africa Trip 2022

    End of May 2022

    24. May 2022 - Serengeti - Seronera Area - Tanzania

    Serengeti May Not Die!
    I grew up in Germany with the extensive presence of the polish Professor Grizmek on our black and white TV screen, presenting a new species every week at the best broadcasting time, real living animals of course.
    This was a sensation in the 60/70ies, and we were glued to the screen to see a living animal presented in the film studios. Of course, the film "Serengeti must not die" left a long-lasting impression on me.
    I grew up with a deeply embedded love for animals of all kinds.

    We visited the Serengeti, Ngorongoro and the Maasai Mara over a decade ago during our first long trips through Africa and always wanted to come back. Here we are!

    The second day of our Ngorongoro/Serengeti trip starts at 7 with an excellent breakfast at Simba A. Chapatis, samosas, fresh bread, and fruits; we just add our homemade jam and the butter we brought with us. Great!

    We help clean the dishes, take the tents down and load the stuff back into the vehicle (We're not supposed to do that, but we urgently need to move our old, aching bodies).

    The night was surprisingly good on the stretchers, but the seats at the back of the Landcruiser ain't good for my back, so from now, I enjoy the luxury of the co-drivers seat, and Paul needs to sit in the back.

    At 8:30, we descent from the lush greenery of Ngorongoro into the dry, barren, dusty, desert-like parts of the NCAA. A shocking sight.

    We see many cattle and goats. Obviously, it's too many of them and several settlements. How do the people survive here? A few giraffes feed on some dry acacias. We don't see any other animals.
    It seems as if zebras and wildebeest can't compete against the domestic concurrence.
    Joaquim tells us that the Tanzanian government, under the new (first-ever female) president, is now taking action against the overpopulation of humans and livestock in certain protected areas.
    Hopefully, a solution suits both sides, humans and nature.

    The Maasai have a unique status in the areas where they live in Tanzania and Kenya, and they can move around freely and cross borders where ever they want to go.
    We later find out that their status amongst Tanzanians isn't the best, "they're only Maasai". They are treated as a kind of stateless, second-class citizens, almost like a caste.
    Mixed relationships or marriages are not much welcomed.

    The tracks down into the Serengeti are as bad as they were a decade ago. Or even worse? Maasai women sell honey from stingless bees along the road. We stop at the Olduvai turn to take the obligatory pictures.

    At 10 o'clock, we reach the virtual border between the NCA and the Serengeti National Park. A few more pics are taken. An hour later, we check in to Serengeti at Naabi gate.
    On our way to the Seronera public campsite, we find a sleepy lioness under a bush. These lions here are massive! Much bigger than our Kalahari lions.

    At Seronera, we enjoy a delicious lunch that Cookie had already prepared in the morning, leave him with his setup duties, and go on an afternoon game drive.

    Spot on, we find a big male cheetah with fresh prey. Only one other tour operator's vehicle is with us, for now, but soon one after another arrive, their radios are switched on constantly.
    The cheetah isn't bothered by the constant traffic; he has eaten his first portion of meat and is happy, rolling around on his back like a kitten.
    We stay an hour with him. We've got a prime viewing spot, and most drivers prefer to leave soon anyway, having ticked off a cheetah.

    We only make it back into camp shortly after 7 o'clock (closing time is 7, and we switch off lights on the last 100m).

    A delicious dinner is served in time, and we go to bed early to be ready for the next morning's game drive.

    Stats of the day
    1 lioness
    1 spotted hyena
    1 golden jackal
    male cheetah with kill
    giraffes
    grant's gazelle
    thomson's gazelle
    zebras
    hippos

    25. May 2022 - Serengeti - Seronera Area - Tanzania

    Finding predators on your own is easier than one thinks!
    We leave camp shortly after 6. Our radio is switched off. An african wild cat gives us a short appearance.
    A beautiful lioness catches the first sunrays laying on a koppie, a classic Serengeti motive. Another lioness enjoys the cooler air high in a tree.
    Soon, I spot a cheetah decoratively perched on a termite mound. We soon leave her alone so as not to draw any attention.
    On our way back to camp, we stumble across a sighting of a cheetah mother with four cubs feedings on a kill, but about 10 or 12 other vehicles are already "sitting on their laps".

    In the afternoon, somewhere near a popular picnic spot, a pride of 10 lionesses and cubs unsuccessfully tries to hunt.
    We must leave the sighting at one stage to get back into camp. Again we need to switch off the lights when we enter the camp shortly after 7 pm.

    Stats of the day:

    african wildcat
    lioness on koppie
    lioness in a tree
    pride of 10 lionesses and cubs
    cheetah on a termite mound
    4 spotted hyenas
    cheetah mother with 4 cubs at a fresh kill
    hippos
    black-backed jackal
    dik-diks


    26. May 2022
    - Serengeti - Seronera Area - Tanzania

    Just another day on Safari

    We return to where we left the lionesses and cubs hunting the previous evening. Next to the picnic spot, we find a fresh zebra carcass, but the lions aren't anywhere to be seen.
    We wait an hour, but no one appears.
    Sometime later, around a nearby koppie, the lion pride reappears and soon, two of the lionesses make a kill far in the distance. The pride splits up.
    Because the location is nearby the picnic spot, plenty of vehicles appear, and the koppie is soon surrounded.
    Additionally, someone has detected a leopard in a nearby tree. Traffic Jam! Everybody wants to be everywhere at the same time.

    We decide to let the leopard be a leopard and find a spot where we could watch the lionesses and cubs around the koppie.
    Accompanied by lots of Aaaaahs and Ooooohs from the mostly very young safari-goers, the lions try to reorganize their family. Lion by lion, they retreat on the koppie.
    More Ahhhhhs and Ohhhhs every time one of the cubs appears on the scene, stumbling and climbing behind their siblings, moms and aunties. There's no daddy to be seen.

    Koppies are the lion's favourite hang-out spots. There aren't many trees growing on the Serengeti's short grass plains due to the area's unique ecology and geology.
    But even with a wide area one can overview, it can be difficult to spot them. Or, one can spot them, but no tracks lead towards them.
    The Serengeti lions also love climbing into trees to rest, as do leopards.

    Stats of the day

    5 hyenas
    zebra kill no lions or hyenas
    10 lionesses with cubs on a koppie in the morning
    same lionesses making a kill in the afternoon
    2 different leopards in a tree

    27. May 2022 - Serengeti - Seronera Area / Western Corridor - Tanzania

    Catching up with the great wildebeest migration. Today is a day of decisions. We eagerly await the famous wildebeest migration.
    And we want to do a balloon flight over the Serengeti to see the thousands of wildebeest and zebras on their yearly move through the short grass plains.

    But it looks as if the weather gods are against us, since we arrived in the park, it has been overcast, and now and then, it's even raining.
    Nonetheless, the sky delivers spectacular scenery in the evenings, but it's bland light during the days.

    We could wait for better weather towards the weekend, but then we would not move camp towards Lobo. We'll see if we can catch the migration and then make a decision.

    The migration should be somewhere halfway between Seronera and Sand River.

    After about 2 hours of driving, we find some groups of wildebeest, and a few zebras, not really the masses, but we find some very determined animals walking, walking, walking.
    An interior force pushes them forward, following an ancient path to fulfil their destiny.

    The wildebeest droppings fertilize the rolling plains. With an almost impenetrable underlying layer of volcanic ash,
    the nutrients from the droppings enable the grass to grow quickly and plentiful as they don't wash out of the soil.
    Their meat feeds the Serengeti's multitude of predators. Their bones and hides are staples for hyenas, jackals and vultures.

    Tree-climbing lions are a usual sight at the Serengeti. From a young age, climbing is practised. We soon spot a cute baby lion.
    He tries to climb up to his mother while at the same time, he wants to find a comfy position. The tree is too far away for excellent pictures, but the memories count.

    We spot some spotted hyenas with a wildebeest carcass and 12 more in a short time.

    The weather doesn't look like it will get better soon, and we say goodbye to the idea of a balloon flight, for now.
    An absolute pity Joachim could get a deal for us, including one of the guys, at no extra costs! Tomorrow we'll head on to Lobo.

    I can't remember the two leopards I've noted, they were probably surrounded by other vehicles, and I didn't bother to take pictures. Sometimes it is unavoidable to bump into crowded sightings.

    Late in the afternoon, we arrive at a sighting of a beautiful male lion mating with a lioness with a collar near Seronera.
    Lions mate every 20 minutes for about 3 days; then, the cycles get longer and longer. The couple has clearly reached the end of their honeymoon,
    and most of the other vehicles have already left the scene when it comes to "the act". Patience is key when watching lions...

    His coalition partner peacefully rests nearby. The two males are fairly aged and calm.
    They probably will both mate with the female. They are just stunningly beautiful, and once again,
    we creep into the public campsite with lights off shortly after 7 o'clock.

    Stats of the day
    a glimpse of the migration
    lioness with 2 cubs
    hyena with wildebeest carcass
    12 hyenas, one with a carcass eland
    lioness in tree + 3 cubs
    male lion + female
    3 lionesses, 1 of them in a tree
    2 leopards
    another lioness in a tree
    2 male lions 2 lionesses with 1 cub
    various vultures

    Pictures to follow
    Last edited by Southerndreams; 2023/02/18 at 09:47 AM.

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