Highlights of the last season 2008
So … another year has gone. How is it that they go so fast? Whoosh … and here I am ready to start the next year’s safaris. Even Christmas holidays have already been done, so now it’s the US trip departing in about four days time. I will be seeing many of you there.
The year was fantastic and busy, the wildlife was spectacular and I think it’s safe to say that we all had fun on safari. The best news of all is that despite the world’s economic woes 2009 is fully booked. Right now I have ten days free in June and another ten days somewhere in late September. If those days stay unbooked then that’s fine, we all need a break! I could do with one more safari in November or early December if any of you have any plans.
Here is some news from the year that’s just whisked by at such breakneck speed. Claudia Guy and Terri Richardson came out in April. Claudia did it by mistake really. Although she was expecting something completely different, safari life worked its magic on her and before long both her and Terri were enjoying things tremendously. We landed right in the middle of the migration on the short grass plains and spent hours driving slowly through mile after mile of wildebeest. The private camp was superb and the rainy season afternoon sky made for some great photos. We did some walking and horseriding and even jogging in Maasailand which is as always a treat.
I then went away for a while to build a tented camp in Monduli and to open up the roads for the concession. As always that was a real treat. Day after day spent out on the roads cutting away the overgrown parts and filling in potholes. Or to be more honest the staff do that while I look for lesser kudu and interesting birds and snakes. We only saw one black mamba.
Another memorable safari in June was with the David and Janet Lionberger. It was a grand affair which started of at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and then on to Kusini in the southern Serengeti. After a few days of that we did a long drive to Maswa Game Reserve where we spent ten days on a good buffalo hunt.
The Keens and Garcias also had a memorable safari, the highlight of which, for me was the little camp we set up in the western corridor of the Serengeti. We also rode horses and hiked in the Natron area of Maasailand.
What I remember most from the Perusquias safari (aside from what a wonderful family they are of course) was the elephant disaster on the road. We were driving at a reasonable speed in order to get to our new lodge before dark. We were able to stop to look at a few animals but really did not want to spend too much time on the road. And then of course ….. the road wound its way through a very long thicket and there in the middle was a small breeding group of elephants. We had to stop … no way passed. We watched as two teenager elephants started playing something very similar to football with a baby elephant. They kicked it back and forth a few times until it collapsed on the ground. The mother ran back trumpeting and chasing the teenagers a short way off. But the baby was in bad shape. She tried using her trunk and her tusks to pick it up but it could no longer stand. The teenagers returned and assisted her by picking it up. It just kept collapsing though. Finally it fell one last time and died. The mourning was a bit intense needless to say … both in our car and among the elephants. And we could noy get passed. We tried alternative roads, we tried bush bashing but there just didn’t seem another way to camp. We were flummoxed. It was getting dark and we still had some way to go and we were sitting wondering how on earth we were going to get passed the elephant funeral on the road. Suddenly a small white car with a group of missionaries chugged up from the other side. Without a moments hesitation it nudged its way through the group of elephants and drove passed us, its occupants waving happily. I’m not sure if it was a case of ignorance is bliss or perhaps the driver was a world authority on elephant behaviour! Whatever the case we did exactly the same thing.
The biggest safari this year was with the Mc Reynolds and the Josephs. We started of doing a bird shoot and then the younger generations of both families joined for a Ngorongoro and Serengeti trip. When in full swing we had 13 people so each dinner was a full dinner party with great fun had by all.
My friend Robert Maxted returned again with his daughter Tsiana and the highlight of that trip was exploring the Natron area around the lake. Ker & Downey has put up a wonderful tented camp on a ridge overlooking the lake. In the past we have had to drive quite a distance to get to the lake but now we overlook it. The views are spectacular and the country is huge and wild. We found a large flowing river on the northern most point of the lake and even went for a swim in it. I wonder now if there are any crocodiles in it! I did look but could not see any signs of them.
Tom and Ruth Ann also returned this year and we were once again able to explore the Lake Natron area on foot and by vehicle. It is truly spectacular and I am very lucky to have private access to a place like this. Ruth Ann became more involved with the local maasai than I’ve seen on any safari. One day she took the car and went with a few Maasai ladies to a market in a distant village. She returned tired but having had a great look into maasai life. The next day she went off to the Maasai boma and spent the whole day there learning beadwork!
Charles and Pat Mc Mahen came out in October and again we started with a bird shoot and then moved into a photographic safari. For some reason this year the wildebeest migration seemed to hang out around the Mara river for several months. How we manged to predict that I will never know but I had five safaris go there and we all saw great wildebeest crossing of the Mara river. On two occasions we saw crocodiles catch wildebeest. The crossings are spectacular as thousands of wildebeest leap through the dust into the churning water. The only problem is that I took so many photographs that it is impossible to sort through them to find the good ones – there are several hundred that look just like the one before, and the one after!
Well I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year. I look forward to seeing some of you in the US in a few days and others of you back out here in Tanzania during the course of the year. This year will be a personal record for me – I have 7 out of 10 safaris with people who have been before with me. Of these 7, five have been more than once! And 2 safaris are to be with people who were referred by old safari guests.
That is a great mark of success in my books. So thank you all for coming and thank you all for coming again … and again.
Below are a few photos from some of the year’s safaris. Pls click on images to view enlargements: