Holiday review by Mrs. Barbara Barker
Name: Mrs. Barbara Barker
Date of trip: 03/02/2014
Number of people: 2
One of the best moments was the sighting of a pack of 9 wild dogs, something we'd hoped for but not overly optimistically. Some of our fellow travellers had seen them hunt and kill the previous day on a Sable Mountain game drive but we were moving on the next day to Lake Manze. We needn't have worried because we came upon them en-route. They weren't hunting, but they just trotted along happily to a muddy, shady spot to 'chill out'. We saw them again the next day, and another group of 6, and on our last game drive there was one lost pup, wandering around on it's own, calling for it's family. We will never know if he found them. Another fantastic moment was finding the group of male lions, with 2 lionesses. We were witness to fervent mating activity but then an amazing fight ensued between the mating male and another male (presumably over the female!). A fellow traveller managed to record the whole incident, and hopefully she will be sending us a copy. It was quite a tense moment sitting just a few metres away from all this! Another tense moment was watching a very large bull elephant approach the landrover, and having faith in our guides that they were reading the signs correctly that he wasn't about to charge. It wasn't until our driver took us to the airstrip the next day that he confessed he was more than a little worried too!! A very much calmer 'highlight' were the incredible antics of the carmine bee-eaters. They flew alongside the landrover in their (seemingly) hundreds picking off the insects disturbed by our wheels in the dusty road. How on earth they avoided being run over we do not know.
Sighting a baby elephant no more than a few weeks old was special too, watching it trundle along between it's mother's legs, then being protected in between 2 adults as the herd moved on. In that same herd a group of 4 or 5 stopped in a very small, muddy pool and a very comical scene developed where they were pushing each other over in it. When one tried to get up another leaned over and almost sat on him!
Having never undertaken a safari holiday before we were unsure what to expect, but we certainly were not disappointed. The abundance and variety of wildlife was amazing. We met some great people along the way too, both fellow travellers and camp/hotel staff. Everyone was really friendly and nothing was too much trouble for the staff - Hakuna Matata with broad smiles all the time!
Very positive experience, thank you very much. As first time safari-goers I needed a lot of guidance in the planning of this trip.
The only thing we weren't prepared for was the amount of departure tax payable at Zanzibar airport as we had not enough dollars put aside for this.
We cannot fault our guides / drivers at either of the safari camps. They were extremely knowledgeable about the area, the wildlife, the tracks and signs to look for, and looked after us very well. They were also pleased that we went with some prior knowledge and could discuss rather than be lectured to.
The driver at Lake Manze is to be sincerely congratulated on his skill in getting us out of muddy 'ravines' on several occasions as we had a couple of serious thunderstorms during the week.
On our boat safari we had the unfortunate experience of the outboard motor breaking down, but within ten minutes another boat arrived (to tow us we imagined)but they transferred their engine to our boat so we could continue our trip. Our rescuers then rowed themselves back.
The deputy manager at the Zanzibari proved to be an excellent tour guide for Nungwi village, and they arranged a good guide for Stone Town too.
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
Everyone we spoke to was aware of the plight of the elephants and poaching. At Sable Mountain they were selling water flasks to take out on game drives in order to raise a bit of money to help the elephants cause - many of us bought these to support it. Many of us also bought items of jewellery from the Masai Village and I bought a couple of locally made items from the Lake Manze shop.
In Nungwi we were taken to the local school where we spoke to the Headmaster. His office roof had been seriously damaged by a falling tree in the previous nights storm and our group made donations to help him fix it. I also bought a handmade basket from a lady in the village, and we made donations to the local boatbuilders after they allowed us to watch them at work handcrafting a fishing dhow.
The places you stayed
Nyerere National Park (Selous)
The tented banda accomodation was great, with a good view across the treetops to the mountains in the distance. The bathroom is very basic, but perfectly adequate, the large double bed very comfy. We had one evening visitor - a bat, but he was easily persuaded to go back outside.
We loved the 'Landrover's Return' - the bar area made from the first landrover the camp used.
The food was very good - though mostly quite European. We would have liked to perhaps try something different (though if you weren't careful the mantis landed on your plate!)
All the trips were well organised, everything seemed to run like clockwork, until we had a tremendous thunderstorm just as we were to sit down to dinner. The staff were amazingly efficient at moving all the things off the dining table whilst the wind and rain howled through the verandah, then it was replaced as if nothing had happened within minutes of the storm abating. Brilliant.
The picnic on the boat surrounded by crocodiles and hippos is quite an experience too.
Nyerere National Park (Selous)
The tented accomodation was good, though the bathroom was very basic and open to the sky - quite a weird experience especially in the night! The tents are well spaced out so you do have privacy. There are no electric lights in the camp - they just use candles and paraffin lamps so if you want to read after supper you really need a headtorch or similar. There are Masai guards always on hand to escort you to and from your tent to the dining area as there are frequent visitors such as elephants that wander in and out of camp.
You definately need to heed the warnings about not drinking the water here and watching what you eat, although the food was ample and good.
All the trips were well organised and could include bush breakfasts or lunches,and the guides always take extra drinks in cool boxes on the drives.
The accommodation was really nice here - the beds were comfy, and very prettily decorated with flowers on arrival. The gardens are well laid out with a nice swimming pool area and seating area overlooking the sea. There is not a sandy beach here though.
The food was very good, with a good choice of breakfasts and 3 choices of main meal in the evenings. The bar area was made from a Dhow - including sail which was very unusual and attractive. The main problem whilst we were there was the unreliable electricity supply.