I’ve had lots of incredible wildlife encounters over the years having been fortunate enough to conduct dozens of safaris in the Serengeti. However, having cheetahs jump on my vehicle was one specific sighting that had always alluded me until last week on a recent trip to the Serengeti.
Ironically, the night before we had a wonderful dinner lecture at our camp by Dennis Minja, the project manager of the Serengeti Cheetah Project (btw, I highly recommend adding this presentation if staying at Sametu Camp since Dennis is usually in the immediate area studying his cheetahs). Dennis was briefing us on the status of the cheetahs in the Serengeti, their behavior characteristics and the types of data they are collecting.
We shared some of our cheetah pictures that we had taken that very day at the Gol Kopjes and he was able to identify each one by their spot pattern and provide some back story. I had asked about cheetahs jumping on the vehicle since we receive pictures from our guests of this interesting phenomenon. He replied that there were currently 5 individuals in the Serengeti (he knows just about every cheetah in his study area by name) that regularly jump up on his vehicle and that he didn’t think there were any negative consequences to this behavior.
The next morning, we headed off to Barafu Kopjes, a remote complex of kopjes on the far eastern Serengeti plains. This is one of my most favorite areas of the park. The scenery is something akin to an alien landscape and the plains, peppered with the gazelle migration, are truly breathtaking out here.
Similar to the more popular Gol Kopjes (see map here), Barafu is also famous for cheetahs except that very few people ever visit this area (I’ve never seen a non-ADS safari vehicle out this way). It was at Barafu we spotted this family of cheetahs including a mother and her two adolescent cubs of about 9 months (one boy and one girl) and it was the cubs that quickly approached our vehicle.
What was even more special about this encounter was that I experienced it all with my family. My daughter, in particular, is obsessed with cheetahs…her favorite animal by far!
One of the things I find most interesting behavior wise is that at about 3.48 minutes into the video you can see the brother jump up and nudge his sister in essence telling her to ‘come down…it’s not safe’. I think he was a little scared of the sunshade as it was rattling in the wind…a very endearing moment between brother and sister!
I hope you enjoy the below video. To expand to full screen, click the arrow icon in the bottom right corner.
Recently the U.S. enacted a carry on electronics ban requiring any device bigger than a smartphone to be packed in checked baggage on certain flights to the U.S. This includes just about every major device larger than an iphone including cameras, laptops, tablets and e-readers.
Having recently returned to the U.S. from Tanzania on a Turkish Airlines flight via Istanbul with a laptop, camera and tablet in hand, I found the new procedures to be just a minor inconvenience and all items were returned safely. Furthermore, other guests returning on the impacted flights are reporting the same.
This new electronics ban is applicable on flights to the U.S. from 10 airports in 8 countries. Three specific flights commonly used by ADS guests are impacted by this new rule and include:
- Turkish Airlines flights from Istanbul to the U.S.
- Qatar Airways flights from Doha to the U.S.
- Emirates Airlines flights from Dubai to the U.S.
Note that the Delta/KLM airlines flights from Amsterdam to the U.S. and the Ethiopian Airlines flights from Addis Ababa to the U.S. have NOT been impacted. Also, note that the new rules only apply to the one specific flight segment (i.e. Istanbul to the U.S., etc.) and you can continue to carry on devices on all other flight segments.
There are two options available for checking in devices on your trip home:
Pack your camera, tablet, laptop and any other device larger than a smartphone in your checked luggage from your point of departure in Africa, which is Kilimanjaro Airport for most guests. Make sure to securely bubble wrap the items (bring some bubble wrap from home) and use a TSA approved lock.
Carry on your electronic items on your first flight segment from Africa to Istanbul/Doha/Dubai and then check the items in at the gate on your final segment back to the U.S. I recently did this at the gate in Istanbul and they are well organized with padded bags and hard shelled suitcases. You could even check in a suitcase at this point too if you have several devices.
Either way you will be given a claim ticket. Once you land in the U.S., the electronic devices will be deposited next to the baggage claim and you will need your claim ticket to pick them up. The ‘electronic device line’ next to the baggage claim can be a little long so make sure to head straight there.
Please feel free to post any questions below.
This is my sixth safari, and my second with Africa Dream Safaris. I have taken enough safaris to compare different outfitters, and I go with ADS from now on for a number of reasons.
First of all is the service, from both Sharon in the U.S. as well as the team in Arusha. On this particular safari, we had a problem at one of our locations, and our guide immediately contacted the office in Arusha who made things right. Which is what I’ve come to expect from ADS.
The second is the quality of the guides, which is second to none. I made the mistake on one of my earlier safaris of going with a budget safari company (you see their vehicles throughout the Serengeti, but I won’t name them). What I learned about budget safaris is that you get a driver, not a guide. The driver on that safari knew the roads, but did not know where the animals where, how to spot them, or anything about their behavior.
ADS guides are educated and passionate about the animals, as well as where to find them. Want to see a lion? Leopard? Cheetah? Just ask. And how they spot them is continually amazing to me.
Our safari was fantastic, and our guide Thompson was able to find things I’ve never seen on previous safaris – Serval cat, Caracal, Striped Hyenas, Bat-eared foxes, and others.
I’ll be back to Africa, and I’ll be with ADS.
San Diego, California
Safari Dates: March 7, 2017 to March 17, 2017