My wife and I elected to make our 4th trip to Tanzania just 5 months after we returned from our 3rd trip. Two of the deciding factors in this decision were that I got an incredibly good deal on the long flight to Kilimanjaro, and we still had not made the trip during the January and February season when all of the Wildebeest babies are being born. So with the expert help and recommendations from ADS, plans were made and off we went. As other people have commented many time on this blog, ADS has been a perfect private safari trip planner for us. In addition, the people in Tanzania are so friendly, helpful and welcoming is just incredible.
We were sad to find that often we were only the only ones staying at the tented camps due to the overly cautious (my opinion) concerns of Sars-Covid19. At no time did we have any concerns particularly since we were virtually alone most of the time. Talk about “social distancing”—some days we didn’t ever see another person other than Chris, our guide for the entire day. Just so you know in advance, ADS tests the guides before every trip for your safety.
My hobby interest is photography so a private safari is the best choice for me. I don’t want to have to fight for a place on the side of the vehicle where the best photo opportunity will be. I just have it to myself, and ADS is hands down the best at planning your private safari – it’s all they do.
So here are some photos to share with you. Just to show you how you never know what you are going to run into each day, these are my best 3-4 pics from each day and are in the order in which they were taken.
Momma Cheetah with a young Thompson’s gazelle for her little ones
One of the young Cheetahs that was just fed
Yet another cheetah
We had really hoped to actually see a wildebeest born but never got that lucky. We did however see this gazelle just born, struggling to free himself from the amniotic sac. It was interesting to see that the mother kept watch from some distance in order to not alert predators that this easy prey was there. He eventually got free and made a happy reunion with his momma.
Leopard on the hunt for an easy meal
This was a great find, and a first for us in 4 trips. This is an African Wild Cat. FUN FACTS,: This is the wild prototype of your tabby cat. About the same size as a domestic short hair cat with slightly longer legs. African wild cats were domesticated by the Egyptians by 4000BC. Mostly nocturnal. These will freely interbreed with domestic cats
More Cheetahs ( We saw LOTS of Cheetah this year). These hunting brothers are feeding on a young Wildebeest which we watch stalk and kill.
We saw many elephants but this was my favorite photo op. Early morning pic with the sun just barely over the horizon (the Golden hour) and these two walked slowly across the small pond leaving a beautiful reflection in the dead calm water.
Another Early morning shot near Lake Ndutu with the migration silhouetted on top of a ridge.
Bat Eared Fox. We ran across a den of several foxes FUN FACTS: Feeds on Termites and lizards, but also will make leaps to catch grasshoppers and birds in mid air. Uses its large ears like antennas and can hear dung beetle larvae 6-12 inches underground and can quickly dig them out to eat..
Of course we saw many thousands of Wildebeest in the south Serengeti. This picture shows many newborn wildebeest, most of them just a day or two old. FUN FACTS. It is estimated that Wildebeest drop almost 500,000 newborn each year during a very short calving season. Estimates are that 8000 are born daily for about 7 weeks during Jan/Feb. Newborn calves are able to stand within 5-7 minutes after birth and can keep up with a running herd within 2 days.
More Cheetahs. This momma had 4 cubs that she was caring for. Here she’s cleaning the blood of this one’s face after his meal
Lions—yes we saw plenty of lions too!
Honestly, not much of a birder, but there is an incredible variety of bird life there and I’m always impressed how the guides easily identify them with just a glance. Here are a Tawny Eagle ( very common) and a Black Winged Stilt.
Wildebeest and Zebra crossing Lake Masek (or was it Ndutu). This is a shallow lake, maybe 3 feet deep. Good practice for August when they will be crossing the Mara River, with the benefit that there are no Nile Crocs here.
Another early morning pic of the Great Migration. Wildebeest, Zebra, A safari vehicle, and even a Balloon from the Miracle Balloon Company.
Leopard on the lookout for prey
Hippos—plenty of opportunity to see Hippos in the pools and rivers. FUN FACTS: Hippos are HUGE, weighing in at 3500-7000 lbs. and are surprisingly fast. They can run as fast as 18 MPH! They stay in the water during the day to protect their bare skin but travel as far as 5 miles nightly while grazing on up to 88lbs of grass. As far as land animals go, these territorial giants are the most dangerous in Africa, causing about 3000 deaths a year.
Martial Eagle One of the largest eagles in the Serengeti feeds on Mammals, birds and reptiles.
Lesser Flamingos in Lake Magadi. FUN FACTS: Lesser Flamingos feed primarily on an algae that only grows in very alkaline water. The algae are Blue-Green but contain photosynthetic pigments that give the flamingos their pink color. Presence of Flamingos indicates that the water in NOT suitable for irrigation because of its alkalinity.
Dark Chanting Goshawk with a green Mamba. Despite the fact that the Green Mamba has a highly neurotoxic venom, this Goshawk decided it was a meal it couldn’t pass up.
Cape Buffalo. We saw many large herds of Cape Buffalo including this large bull that had just finished his mud bath—done mostly for protection from the Tsetse flies which feed on them (and occasionally you!)
Sleeping Lion. We saw lots of lions and this is a typical daytime pose for lions. They sleep a LOT! The little black spots on his chest are flies. When there are a million Wildebeest and Zebras around, there’s lots of poop, and lots of flies as well. Irritating sometimes but at least these don’t bite.
Young Cape Buffalo calf with Red Billed Oxpeckers. FUN FACT: Frequently seen on Buffalo, Rhinos, and Giraffes, the oxpeckers feed on Ticks, Screwworm Larvae and blood and flesh of the mammal. The Swahili name for the red billed Oxpecker is Askari wa kifaru (The Rhino’s Guard). The Oxpeckers will alert the poor sighted Rhino of potential danger.
Elephants. We ran across a very large herd of Elephants—probably close to 100 in the group, with quite a number of newborns.
Servals. My wife and I love seeing the cats and our favorite is the Serval. FUN FACTS: A specialized predator of rats and mice, hares, and birds. Can jump into the air and catch birds in flight. Uses its dished ears to locate pray in the grass and leaps up to come down on the prey several feet away with about a 50% success rate
Cheetahs. We were told by the local guides that follow these cats closely that this is a male Cheetah that was recently rejected by his momma because he was old enough to make it on his own. He got up on the rock and spent a long time calling out for his Momma!
Lions. The male lion is likely the father of the 3 cubs which the lioness was taking out for their first trip after being born.
Secretary Bird. You’ll see many Secretary birds wandering around hunting for food—snakes and Lizards. FUN FACT: While not for sure, the Secretary bird might be named from the Arabic “saqr-et tair” which means “Hunter Bird”.
Again More Cheetahs and Leopards. Two (of three) Cheetah cubs check us out as they cross the road following their Mother, and a Leopard rests in the shade atop a kopje.
African Spitting Cobra Although I can’t really confirm this, our guide said that this was a newly hatched African Spitting Cobra we spotted along the road. This guy was only about a foot long but had an “Attitude” that said don’t mess with me. FUN FACT: Adult spitting cobras can spit their venom as far as 20 feet. They aim quite accurately toward eyes and the venom will cause blindness. Note to self: Don’t mess with African Snakes!
Asante Sana (Thank you very much) for coming along on our fabulous trip. We hope that these pictures will encourage you to make a Safari trip to Tanzania and you can’t do better than having ADS as your guide through the process.
Bill and Sue D.
Safari Dates: January 26, 2022 to February 9, 2022
6 Comments Leave a Comment
Bill, what a great trip and amazing photographs. I really enjoy living this adventure over again through other peoples trips. I hope to get back there one of these days.
All of these photos are amazing and inspired! I especially love the lions, cheetahs and hippos… not to mention the birds and snakes and…oh heck I love them all!!!
Fabulous! Thanks for sharing.
Was there a lot of rain when you were there? We went in May/June. The weather was perfect. One of our favorite events where the Cheetah climbed up on our land Rover and watched us. Very curious…it was great even though we were all scared to death. We hope to go back this year.
Thank you for sharing your pictures…they are wonderful.
I really enjoyed your travelogue and Fun Facts.
BTW, what airlines did you use to get to Kilimanjaro? Was it a direct flight?
We flew KLM from Houston to Amsterdam, then from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro. Long trip, about 22 hours, so we schedule a rest day before our Safari. we also believe in “Fly first class or your heirs will”