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Part 2 of Trip - Great Safari with Swala Safaris + Photos

Bristol
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Part 2 of Trip - Great Safari with Swala Safaris + Photos

We had arrived in Moshi on April 3rd 2013 and spent our first 2 weeks with ACTT, a social enterprise that we support in Moshi.

For the first part of my trip report see

tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g317084-i10289-k…

So we were now ready to set out on our safari to the Serengeti. When we booked the safari we were aware that April was low season due to the long rains that occur between late March and May. This seems to put a lot of people off travelling at this time and so we benefited from low prices and few other visitors. However we actually loved the Serengeti at this time of year, the scenery was fantastic, everything was so green and colourful. Also the lack of other tourists meant that we often drove around for hours without seeing another vehicle. Most of our game viewing was done without anyone else around, which was great. Also all the lodges and camps were very quiet, sometimes we were the only guests staying, sometimes there might have been 1 or 2 other groups. This meant we got personal service wherever we stayed, the food was great, always freshly prepared and managers and staff always had time to chat to us.

We booked our safari through Swala Safaris in Arusha. We had used them before and had a great trip so it was an obvious choice to use them again. We basically planned our own itinerary with a some help from Rose in the Swala Office, Felix our guide, and a friend or 2 on TA!! We checked the price of the trip with about 6 other TO’s and found Swala to be joint cheapest so we were happy with the price.

We stayed at 5 different lodges/camps over the 10 nights. Country Lodge at Karatu, Mbuzi Mawe, Serengeti Sopa, Ndutu Safari Lodge and Ol Masera Camp. I have reviewed all the lodges/camps separately on TA so I wont go into details here but I will just say that all the accommodation was great and I would happily stay at them all again.

Our itinerary basically took into account that we were starting and finishing in Moshi and that we wanted to spend most of our time in the Serengeti/Ndutu including visiting the area up towards Lobo (just for the scenery). We wanted to take things fairly slowly and not rush around.

Considering it was the rainy season we had very little rain. I think we only had to put the roof of the car down twice during the whole 11 days, once for about 5 minutes and once for the 20 minutes at the end of the day when returning to the lodge.

We were very happy with the services of Swala and Felix, our guide. Everything went exactly as planned with no problems. Having used Felix before it was like meeting up with an old friend. When he arrived to pick us up we had coffee and chatted for a good half an hour before we set off. We then stopped in Arusha to pay the balance of our trip and had lunch with Felix and Rose at the Arusha City Park ( a place they chose when we asked to go somewhere Tanzanian that was frequented by locals) before setting out properly on our safari.

During our safari Felix was a pleasure to be with. He was always professional whilst being good company and fun. He is good at spotting wildlife and very knowledgeable about both animals and birds. He never used a radio and said he always preferred to spot the wildlife himself. As I said before we hardly saw another car during our trip and watched all our exciting animal encounters completely alone. It really was wonderful. He was also a good driver and a trained mechanic. Although it was the rainy season and in some cases the driving was quite challenging we never got stuck in the mud.

Our car was a Landcruiser and was not new but seemed in good condition. It was very clean and fitted with extra cushions etc. We had 1 minor car problem during our 11 day trip and Felix sorted this out in about 10 minutes. Every evening he checked the car over and cleaned it.

It is impossible for me to list everything we saw but some highlights included watching a pair of lionesses hunting, a lioness dragging a wildebeest she had killed back to her pride of about 12 other lions who all then fed on it, a cheetah mum and her 2 cubs searching for prey by climbing up several trees for a good view of the area, cheetahs eating a young wildebeest they had killed before being chased off by hyaenas and vultures who then finished off the remains, 2 separate leopard sightings, lots of lions up trees, male impala fighting right in front of the car, large numbers of migrating zebra and wildebeest across the plains and many fantastic birds and other animals. I could go on but I think I will just let the photos speak for themselves. I have posted a selection of the 2500+ we took and tried to annotate then correctly. I’m amazed we still took so many photos as having been on safari before we often decided to put the cameras down and just sat back and enjoyed the action.

Of course another highlight was meeting up with Worms (our TA friend!!) and her husband. Felix had arranged with Juda (Worms guide) that we would meet at the Seronera picnic area. We were there first waiting for them and I easily recognised them when they arrived. As soon as she saw me Worms let out a huge scream, it was so funny. I still think that it’s amazing that you can make such good friends through an internet forum. We then exchanged gifts. Worms brought us loads of bits from the USA - I now have the flags displayed on a shelf in our lounge. Anyway we chatted non stop until it was time to leave. It really was such fun to meet someone like that. I think we amused our guides as well!

So after 7 days in the Serengeti/Ndutu we headed back towards Moshi stopping at Ol Mesera camp for a couple of nights so we could visit Lake Manyara NP. We were there about 3 weeks after the dreadful damage occurred due to the flooding. I could not believe how bad it was. Again the pictures speak for themselves. We definitely saw more workman than tourists on that game drive.

On our last day we had a leisurely breakfast with Felix at Ol Mesera and then headed back to Moshi. We stopped in Arusha to do a bit of shopping and then again at Usa River for lunch with Felix (again at a bar he chose that did Tanzanian food). I can’t remember the name of the bar but it did a really good buffet. We got back to Moshi about 3ish. We then headed for the Kilimanjaro Coffee Lounge so we could have one last coffee with Felix before he headed back to Arusha. Sandra from TemboTamu also joined us for coffee here. We then transferred our bags from one car to another and said a sad farewell to Felix.

It really was a great trip and far exceeded our expectations. We had been on safari before in Tanzania in September and October but for me April was so much better. I will definitely visit again at this time of year.

Anyway on return from safari we then had a further 10 days in Moshi. I have to say these last 10 days were brilliant and I will document these in Part 3.

For safari photos go to

flickr.com/photos/…

Mentioned in this post
Moshi
Moshi
Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania
Arusha
Arusha
Arusha Region, Tanzania
Ndutu Safari Lodge
Ndutu Safari Lodge
454 Reviews
Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
Usa River
Usa River
Arusha, Tanzania
Alameda, California
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1. Re: Part 2 of Trip - Great Safari with Swala Safaris + Photos

I miss my safari!!!! (Sad face). I still think of it every day...there is some thought that will pop in my head about our guide, Julius, the animals, the country...something pops up each day! We traveled mid March, and I was surprised how empty everything was, including our camps. I thought that low season would still mean that people were traveling, yet saving some money. But nope! We were often the only ones at our camps, or just a few other tents. And very few vehicles seen in the parks. We loved it!!!

I am sure you r guides were VERY amused with you r rendezvous with Worms!!! So cool!

Edited: 14 May 2013, 20:09
Ottawa, Canada
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2. Re: Part 2 of Trip - Great Safari with Swala Safaris + Photos

Thanks for the review and more pictures. Green season is definitely my favourite too. People are catching on though. I was on safari third week in May and was usually just a day in front of the hordes. What a shame about the visitor's centre and area at Manyara. It was so nice. Did it drive away all the thousands of storks, or were they still in residence in the trees above the visitor's centre?

Alameda, California
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3. Re: Part 2 of Trip - Great Safari with Swala Safaris + Photos

Thanks for the pics. Very interesting about the lion with the injured tail! Also, we never saw any giraffes that weren't standing, so to see them all having a siesta was fun!

Honolulu, Hawaii
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4. Re: Part 2 of Trip - Great Safari with Swala Safaris + Photos

Thanks for the report and the wonderful pictures. Makes me real exited about going again this July/Aug. time is flying. What kind of camera did you use?

So fun to see you with Worm and her husband.

Somerville, New...
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5. Re: Part 2 of Trip - Great Safari with Swala Safaris + Photos

I love when a whole paragraph is dedicated to me!!! :)

Great trip report and even better pictures.

What an amazing experience for you; doing and seeing so much this trip! Cheetah cubs, how exciting!

I love my Union Jack Flag. Its in my bedroom, proudly on display. So happy I had the opportunity to meet you and Peter

Until we meet again...................

Edited: 15 May 2013, 00:34
Bristol
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6. Re: Part 2 of Trip - Great Safari with Swala Safaris + Photos

Hi everyone,

QM- Unfortunately at the time we were at Manyara we didn't see any storks in residence in the trees around the Visitors Centre so it seems they may have left for the moment.

Aloha - we are only amateur photographers and both our cameras are fairly old. Mine is about 7 years old and is Panasonic DMC-F27 and Pete's is about 4 years old and is a Nikon CoolPix P100. So nothing very flashy at all. However I was really pleased with the results, but then we did have some really good close animal encounters. I hope people enjoy them.

Sparks - thanks for you comments

Worms - it was great to meet you and Rob too. As you say.....until the next time!!

Honolulu, Hawaii
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7. Re: Part 2 of Trip - Great Safari with Swala Safaris + Photos

Thank you. I though you pictures were truly spectacular.

Brooklyn, New York
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8. Re: Part 2 of Trip - Great Safari with Swala Safaris + Photos

great report and photos. Brought back lots of memories... The lion chewed off his own tail, OMG!

Lancaster
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9. Re: Part 2 of Trip - Great Safari with Swala Safaris + Photos

Great Trip report and loved the pics too, I would have loved to meet a fellow TA en route, very special!

Benson, Arizona
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10. Re: Part 2 of Trip - Great Safari with Swala Safaris + Photos

Loved your report...and of course all the photos....it certainly brought back memories of my trip....all good of course...