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Where is the Migration this week?

The Great Migration is one of the most spectacular wildlife events on the planet and one of our favorite safari adventures to plan.


We have been following the HerdTracker twitter updates that are tracking the herds from four different expert sources: bush pilots sending in reports from the sky, Tanzania National Park rangers, lodges like Four Seasons, and safari guides on the ground in safari camps and mobile camps. 



For example, here are a few recent posts:


Over the past three or four days we have been seeing larger and larger herds of zebra and wildebeest around Four Seasons, and this morning the lines of wildebeest that have been feeding around the lodge and running past our villas, started congregating in large numbers at our waterhole, quite a site for our guests to enjoy the migration from the comfort of the lodge - and pool! - from Four Seasons


An update of the migration from yesterday morning. Huge herd of wildebeest. At least 10,000 strong, 15 mins south of Serengeti Pioneer Camp, they have passed Moru and are heading towards Lake Magadi. Very dry, still no rain, and the herds are on the move. – from Serengeti Pioneer Camp


Just an update from Moru area, the situation is getting a little desperate, it is extremely dry and the wildebeest and zebra are in desperate need of both water and grazing, we are all hoping for rain soon. – from Mkenda @ Ranger Safaris

Yesterday evening there was some thunderstorm activity to the south of us. On Sasakwa Plains this morning there is a strong movement of wildebeest heading west towards Nyasirori as seen from Sasakwa Lodge. – from Singita Grumeti


Pretty amazing stuff!  For a front row seat to the Migration, consider a private safari like our 14 Day Private Safari with Great Guides to Tanzania.

Up Close: Gorilla Trekking at Rwanda's Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge

What does it feel like to track gorillas in Rwanda's incredible Volcanoes National Park? Here’s a very special look at AAC client Kathy Paraking’s notes from her Gorilla Safari journal written from the spectacular lodge location:   


“Felecia arrived at 0515 with our coffee and hot chocolate and cookies; Sammie drove us to the park HQ where we were assigned the Hirwa gorilla family and we met our fellow trackers who seemed older and less fit than ourselves except for a lovely couple from Ireland. Our guide discussed the Hirwa family and what to expect on our visit. We then got back in our vehicles and went to the starting point. It was a 3-minute drive from the Sabyinyo. We all arrived and hired our porters who carried our packs and assisted us on the slippery trail.




As we headed up the trail we went through eucalyptus trees and field after field of potato plants in various stages of growth from just being put in the ground to flowering. There were cattle grazing and goats and sheep. People working the fields. We arrived at the park wall and were informed that the family was just 10 minutes ahead. We all needed assistance from the porters getting over as there was a 6 foot crevice that was 3 feet wide to traverse. The porters were great.


The four trackers, I think they should be called caretakers, were great at getting us all in good spots to see the gorillas and they frequently made low grunting sounds to communicate with them. We saw many juveniles, babies (those under 4) and females as well as the Silverback nicknamed Lucky. In the last few minutes of our hour, one of the females came over to sit by Lucky and several juveniles and babies with her own 2 week old. The baby was completely adorable. All the while there were gorillas walking around us getting within inches. One female climbed a bamboo tree and came crashing down. One of the babies tried to climb on Lucky but was unceremoniously pushed off. Lucky was initially lying down with a bundle of babies and juveniles and I did not recognize that he was there. When he lifted his massive arm to scratch himself I was shocked at its size. He did eventually sit up and he is a very big boy. I never at any time felt fear, only admiration and joy with several chuckles at the various behaviors like accidentally rolling down the hill.

Like everyone had told us, the hour was up all too quickly.”


Join in a gorilla safari adventure on one of our  Primate Safaris to Rwanda and Uganda.


6 Secret Highlights of a Tanzania Safari

Tanzania is one of the top wildlife viewing destinations in Africa, known, of course, for the migration of millions of wildebeest and zebras (and the predators who follow them) across the vast Serengeti. But beyond the justifiably famous migration, the country is also a place of unique landscapes, wondrous wildlife, and incredible people that are often only witnessed by those in the safari know. 

Now you can get in on all the secret highlights of our Under Tanzania Skies Safari safari for yourself: Available departures Jun 13: Jul 11: Jul 25: Aug 08: Aug 22: Sep 12: Oct 10; Dec 19:

1. Spotting Elephants by the Thousands in Tarangire – If it’s Elephant you’re after, Tarangire National Park is a must visit. Herds here reach numbers up to 6,000 strong! Sylvia Hegyi, a senior consultant at AAC, calls this little known park her favorite spot in East Africa for its “immense herds of elephants, huge number of baobab, incredibly beautiful landscape, and vast open spaces.”


2. Tree Climbing Lions!  What’s that you say, lions don’t climb trees? Maybe the ones in southern Africa haven’t taken to the treetops, but in Manyara Lake National Park, the lions not only climb Acacia trees, but also sleep in the branches (perhaps, it’s thought, to escape the tsetse flies that bother them on the ground). It’s a unique site, and this corner of the Great Rift Valley is one of the only places to witness it.                                                                                                                                                                                         

3. Descending into a Volcanic Crater – Some of the best wildlife viewing in Africa is in a 2 million year old crater filled with lush, green, prehistoric-looking vegetation. Ngorngoro Crater is known for its fabulous wildlife sightings, but it’s also the largest intact, inactive, unfilled volcanic crater in the world (it’s estimated that if this volcano hadn’t imploded, it would have grown as big as Kilimanjaro). Covering more than 100-square-miles, the crater acts as a natural safety barrier to the 30,000 mammals who call it home, including a large group of Black Rhino.

4. Crowd Free Serengeti – What’s the secret to beating the crowds and having the most intimate wildlife experience in the popular Serengeti National Park? Safari camps that move when the animals do! Serengeti Seasonal Camp moves three or four times a year to maximize wildlife viewing for its guest. With just 8 (very comfortable) tents, and a separate safari guide and jeep for each, there’s no better way to view the sensational Serengeti migration and seasons.

5. Philanthropy in Every Stay – At intimate Ndarakwai Ranch, at the foot of magnificent Kilimanjaro, guests have the opportunity to visit local Maasai villages and a portion of every guest’s stay is donated to The Kilimanjaro Conservancy which works in the local communities, often where staff at the ranch is from. The local non-profit organization undertakes community anti-poaching activities on and around Ndarakwai, supports local schools, and promotes initiatives to reduce human/wildlife conflict. AAC clients Liz and Mike Lang add that, at Ndarakwai “the opportunity to visit the Maasai, with their beautiful, innocent children, was special, particularly since our guide from the ranch knew this particular village."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

6. Multiple Life-Changing Experiences in One Trip – Astounding elephant herds, tree climbing lions, a volcanic crater filled with wildlife, cultural outreach. For other places in the world, an itinerary with this many unique elements would be impossible in one trip, but on the Under Tanzanian Skies, it can all comprise one unforgettable trip.  14 Day - Group Safari Under Tanzanian Skies

Photographic Safaris

Get those cameras ready to photograph some stunning landscapes and once in a lifetime viewing of African wildlife on these five departures.

We feature four “Signature Safaris” to Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Rwanda & Uganda, and Botswana. Top quality guides lead these trips to Africa’s Top Wildlife Countries!


15-Day Zimbabwe “Eyes on Elephant”

Priced - $10,995.00
This safari highlights the extraordinary guides in Zimbabwe who will lead you on this signature trip. Experience Northern and Southeastern  Hwange with Dave Carson and Nic Polenakis, and in Mana Pools you will take walking and canoeing safaris with Nick Murray.

2015 Departures: Jun 07, Jul 12, Aug 02, Aug 15, Aug 28*, Sep 20


14-Day Under Tanzanian Skies

Priced - $6,995.00
An Africa Adventure Company Signature Safari that highlights one of the top wildlife destinations in Africa! With only 8-10 guests traveling in a small exclusive departure; the areas you visit include the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. Big cat and migration photography!

2015 Departures: Jan 17, Feb 07, Mar 07*, Jun 13, Jul 11, Jul 25, Aug 08, Aug 22, Sep 12, Oct 10, Dec 19


14-Day Primate and Plains Safari to Uganda and Rwanda

Priced - $9,595.00
We designed our Primate and Plains Group Safari to include two gorilla treks, one in each country, anticipating that guests would like to visit both!

2015 Departures: Feb 03, Jul 04 & Sep 06

Priced - $10,995.00
Visit the prime areas of Linyanti, Okavango Delta and Moremi periphery. Accommodations are in classic permanent tented camps.

2015 Departures: May 29, Jun 09, Jun 27, Jul 12, Jul 29, Aug 15, Aug 29, Sep 16

Priced - $6,595.00
Your itinerary focuses on a luxury getaway to South Africa. Enjoy a best of Africa wildlife experience on a Private Game Reserve.

2015 Departures: Oct 17

AAC Guide Field Sightings from Tanzania on August and September 2014 safari trips

AAC Guide Field Sightings from Tanzania on August and September 2014 safari trips


Lioness and cub
Mkenda was with Trissel Party and reported great sightings on their adventures:

My clients had very high expectations due to the fact that they specialized in birding and they had put in a request for a birding expert. I had to be at my very best and needed to put on my “birding hat”. 

     Mkenda in Tanzania great sightings
     Lilac-breasted roller   Lion in the field

Even though they love birds, especially Mr. David, they also enjoyed and loved the nature scenery and larger game too. The client’s had a wonderful experience and their expectations were exceeded. We were able to identify 252 birds, an achievement and a record for me. We were very lucky especially as it was the dry season when most birds have migrated.

Verreaux’s eagle owl   Tanzania bird

Our safari adventure started as we headed towards Lake Burunge Camp. On the way we identified fifty birds including some that were identified earlier on a walk on the lower slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.

On the way I explained the geology of the Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara and Tarangire biodiversity, which was formed as the result of the formation of the rift valley about 20 million years ago and that the rift valley resulted in the formation of the alkaline lake or Soda Lake due to the precipitations of bicarbonate of different salts. These lakes attract lot of water birds including but not limited to flamingos, pelicans and storks. The droppings of these water birds especially the flamingos, precipitated at the bottom of the lake and then these droppings were pressed by the ash that landed on the top of the lake from the volcanic eruption of the near-by volcano. This resulted in the fertilizer being mined at the junction to the Tarangire Park.


Throughout lunch and thereafter we kept birding as we went into the park where I explained all about the Tarangire National Park as being one of my favourite parks in the dry season! The Park is about 3000 square Kilometers which is inside a huge game reserve region of almost 35,000 square Kilometers. This is where all the animals in that 35,000 square Kilometers converge and take refuge due to the hydrological regime and the only place where water can be found is in the Tarangire River, which flows through the park. 

Animal researcher’s statistics show that the park having more than 6000 elephants making it the park with the highest density of elephants in the world, almost 3 elephants per square Kilometer. In the park we saw plenty of wildebeest and zebras and elephants.

  Elephant in Tarangire National Park   Big snake on the tree

The following day we had a full day game drive including a trip to the Selalei swamp for birding. We also saw a leopard and a tree climbing python on an acacia tree which was an awesome experience!  It was great to identify lots of birds with some of them endemic to the park like the orange belled parrot and yellow collared lovebird. We were also lucky to see red and yellow barbet, and open billed storks just to mention a few highlights

We continued our adventure as we used a back road access from The Lake Burunge Camp to Lake Manyara Park. We were lucky to identify very rare birds like Peter’s Twinspot, red headed weaver, and many water birds keeping in mind that this park has more than 460 bird’s species.

The next morning we had the opportunity to explore Manyara National Park as we began our drive at drive at 6:00am. We saw some birds such as the beautiful woodland king fisher and later on we spotted a pride of lions with very young cubs along the Munge River and a handsome male lion and lots elephant in Relay Forest. We also saw a rhino from the distance and plenty of wildebeests, zebra and other general game.  

Pride of lions with cubs   Beautiful woodland king fisher on Mayara Park

Our adventure continued as we drove to Serengeti Explorer Camp, along the way we drove thru Olduvai Gorge where we saw a lot of birds including red bishop, Rufous Chatterer and canaries.

We spent the day exploring the Serengeti plains. In the morning we shared exciting stories as during the night Karen and her daughter Sara had head the deep sounds of the Lions roaring! It felt like they were extremely close to Camp! It was certainly going to be an exciting story for them to tell their friends back home. 

We had another special game drive as we saw a leopard on the tree, which eventually came down and walked close by our vehicle. We eagerly watched as the leopard tried to scan for food, given there wasn’t a good chance close by, it went back up the tree. We also saw lots of birds including an owl the verreaux’s eagle owl.

Leopard on the tree  King fisher woodland

The following day, we had a full day game drive to the Mara River where we saw lots of migratory animals including wildebeest and zebra. We also saw crocodiles and two male cheetahs. We also saw lots of new birds including northern black flycatcher, northern throated tit, and the goliath heron.

As our adventure was nearing the end and we drove towards the Seronera air strip, we acknowledged that we had some great sightings with many different species of birds. David, Karen, Joshua and Sarah were very happy with the record bird sightings for them, and for me it was a record of 252 birds during the dry season!  It was awesome.

George Mollel and Ephata Lotashu were with The Eig & Swain Party and reported: 

We began on our safari adventure, venturing from Arusha town to Gibb’s farm in Karatu for lunch. As it was dry season we saw a large number of Maasai women and boys at the water pools fetching water. We got to Gibb’s farm at around twelve thirty just in time for lunch.  After lunch we visited Shalom orphanage which was a very interesting and enjoyable experience. The guest received a brief from the matrons about the orphanage and the children. Later the kids had the chance to interact with the orphanage children and share with them some gifts that they had brought with them. In the evening we drove to the Crater lodge for dinner and overnight.

The following day was an exciting one. This was our first day with the opportunity for game viewing so we left the lodge early at 6:00am with our breakfast. We saw good sightings of lions, elephants, hippos, rhinos, hyenas, zebras, and wildebeest. Some of the guest had been to South Africa and they said that they saw a lot more here within one day compared to a day in South Africa. The Lunch setup was spectacular as a special lunch was arranged on the crater floor by the lodge and this was a fantastic experience! After lunch we did a short drive and we headed back to lodge as they had pre planned activities, the boys had a spear contest with the Maasai guards at the lodge and the girls were going to learn to do some bead work from the Maasai women.

Tanzania guide Ephata Lotashu   Tanzania guide George Mollel

The following day, we left the lodge early in the morning at 7:00am and drove to the Manyara airstrip. The guests boarded their plane and flew to the Serengeti to continue their adventures. 

Mkenda was with the Masterson Party and reported some incredible adventures stories:

The clients experience exceeded their expectation and we were very lucky with our sightings which we were able to enjoy all alone with few vehicles or no vehicles. In Tarangire National Park we were able to see lesser and greater Kudu. We had game drives in the crater late evening and in the early morning and managed to have some great sightings.

Lions with a kill   Hyenas on the field

After a nights rest at the Lake Duluti Lodge, our safari began as we drove towards Tarangire National Park heading towards Oliver’s camp for lunch. On the way we spotted great game including lions and leopard. After lunch we headed out for an Afternoon game drive and were lucky to spot another leopard which made the highlight of the day.

The following day we had a very early start, we left at 6:00am and saw a python and two cheetah hunting but unfortunately they were unsuccessful. As we continued our game drive we saw a pride of 4 lionesses and plenty of elephants. In the evening my guests had a walk conducted by the camp guide and later on they experienced a night game drive and were able to spot some nocturnal game.

Python on the tree  Two cheetah hunting

The following day we continued to explore and we drove in remote area where we saw greater and lesser kudu. It was an incredible adventure as we were alone for almost the whole day, and everyone enjoyed the scenery around us, happy to be in the presence of wildlife.  

One great kudu   Young kudu

After Breakfast we departed and headed towards Ngorongoro, and as we drove through Mto wa Mbu I gave a talk about the formation of the Great rift Valley, which caused the formation of the Ngorongoro highland and in turn resulted in the flat plains of the Southern Serengeti.

The Ngorongoro Highland is a very important biodiversity in the area, as it collects and absorbs rain water like a sponge which percolates under the rocks and is released down at the foot of the rift valley wall of the escarpment. The water is very clear as the rocks beneath are rich in lime stone. The creeks created from these springs are used by local people for irrigation purposes where they produce lots of vegetables, banana and rice. The produce got good prices as tourism increased back in the 1960s and that attracted various tribes. With over 120 different tribes in the area this has become one of the tourist attractions.

On the rim of the crater we enjoyed the view, then after lunch we went to the crater for an afternoon game drive. In the evening we enjoyed we saw two lionesses with three cubs. We were very lucky as they were on the road. We couldn’t stay longer as we had to make our way back up the crater rim.

Lioness and cub on the road  Lioness on the field

We had a very early morning start at 6:00am and as we were inside the gate it was easy to be in the crater floor first. We were lucky to see a lioness with her two tiny cubs on the road. Then we started to follow lion’s tracks which took us to the whole pride of lions eating a kill we watched it for over an hour! It was an awesome experience tracking lions and then finding the pride with the kill. This pride was unique as it had 4 big males, a couple of lionesses, and several cubs all eating together.

Lioness with her cubs on the road  Hippos in the water

We continued on our game drive to the picnic site and en route we saw hippopotamus outside the water. We enjoyed our breakfast overlooking the hippos in the water.  After breakfast we saw a serval cat hunting and then we saw an elephant from far away, we stopped and waited for half an hour for the elephant to come. It was such a breath taking site as a huge elephant with massive tasks crossed just in front of our vehicle.

Serval cat hunting  Huge elephant with massive tasks

The next day we left at 06:30am for Manyara Airstrip where the guests were flying on a plane to Lamai in Mara River and to explore the Serengeti plains. We had a fantastic Safari with some incredible sightings.


Jabshir was with Zollner Party and reported interesting sightings:

Tanzania guide Jabshir

After arriving from Namanga we began our safari journey by heading to Maramboi Camp for an overnight.

The following day we started our tour to Tarangire National Park where we saw plenty of animals as this is usually a very good park especially during the dry season. Here we saw a lion kill on wildebeest.


After Tarangire we went to Manyara were we saw more birds, giraffes, and other general wildlife including hippos which was a new sighting for the clients. We went on to Ngorongoro Farm House for an overnight.

The next day, as planned we departed early heading down to the crater floor for the whole day. We spotted even more lions, flamingoes, and two rhinos at a distance which was one of the highlights.

Lion waiting for a kill   Hers of zebras

After the crater we went back to our lodge getting ready for the following day where we planned to continue our journey to the mighty Serengeti plains.

On our way we visited Oldupai Gorge and then continued to Serengeti where we managed to spot a large pride of lions and a cheetah.

Serengeti was really good as it had received a small amount of rain which settled the dust and brought the new shoots of grass turning areas on the plains into a nice greenish color!  We saw a lot of animals all over the Serengeti and it continued to rain a little almost every day in the afternoon.  The sightings we encountered were great. The guests flew to Tarime then Migori to continue their adventure in Maasai Mara.

George Mollel was with Herman party and reported:

After spending their first night in Arusha and relaxing from the long flights to Tanzania, we started our journey and drove towards Tarangire Natonal Park, stopping at Tengeru primary school for a short visit.

After the School visit, we drove to Maromboi camp for lunch and then into Tarangire Park for an afternoon game drive. We were lucky to spot some interesting wildlife such as lions, elephant, zebras, wildebeest, giraffe, Impalas, and warthog.  A highlight was the sighting of an albino baboon which is a very rare sighting! 

  Rare sighting of Albino Baboons  Rare sighting of Albino Baboons

The following day we departed with a picnic lunch for full day’s game viewing. We saw elephants, cheetah, ostrich, waterbuck, and birds. A highlight was seeing four male lions on top of the tree! This was certainly a surprise to see lions on trees in Tarangire National Park. The guests were looking forward to seeing tree climbing lions in Manyara.  

We started early and left the camp after breakfast and drove to Lake Manyara Park for more game viewing and here we saw hippo, baboons, monkeys, klipspringers, and lions feeding on a giraffe. Another highlight for the guests was seeing the flocks of flamingoes.

Departing Kitela lodge early in the morning, we had a short drive to the Ngorongoro crater for our crater tour.  During our game drive we saw lions with cubs, jackals, hyenas, buffaloes, gazelles, and hippo. After lunch we went to the Maasai for a cultural visit which was of great interest to our guests. Our highlight was seeing lion cubs and the lioness carrying her cub with her mouth. What a spectacular sight!

We departed early in the morning for Manyara airstrip. The guests were flying to Serengeti to continue their safari adventures in the mighty Serengeti Plains.

Elephant on Serengeti plains  Pride of lions resting on the bush


Wilfred Mollel was with the Lang Party and reported: 

We began our safari adventure at Ndarakwai Ranch for two nights. We arrived there in time for lunch. After lunch they planned out their activities for their stay including a walking safari, a night game drive, and a visit to the Maasai village.     

Giraffe and other animals on the field.   Beautiful camp on the forest

Early in the morning we started our drive to Tarangire National Park. En route we visited an orphanage as the guests had brought along with them some gifts in the form of school supplies and stationary. They also made an additional a monetary contribution to buy three dairy cows for the orphanage.

We arrived at Tarangire safari lodge for lunch. After lunch we ventured out for our afternoon game drive and spotted wildebeest, zebras, impalas, water buck, giraffe and three cheetah in the distance. Before arriving at the lodge we saw a big herd of elephant moving away into the woods.  We arrived at Oliver’s Camp where we would spend three nights. 

Hers of elephants coming down to drink.

The following morning the guests started with a walking safari. We then headed out for a game drive with our packed picnic lunch. We spotted general game including different herds of elephant coming down to the swamp for drinking, wallowing and feeding. We saw a leopard resting on an acacia tree, a lilac breasted roller, superb starling, hornbills, and many vultures. We watched a lioness killing a wildebeest although this was quite far away from us. After that we drove to the camp for dinner and an overnight.


We started the last day in Tarangire by leaving camp very early in the morning with a packed breakfast box and picnic lunch. We saw nightjars, scrub hare, impalas, a few grant gazelles, and two male cheetahs walking along the road. We then saw a lot of elephants and buffalo, giraffes, dik-diks, elands and some lions.  As we were heading home we came across a male buff bellied bustard putting on a display for three females. We ended up the day game drive by spotting some lesser kudu close to the camp. Later during the evening the clients had the opportunity to go on a night game drive to see some nocturnal wildlife.

Two male cheetahs walking on the road

After breakfast we drove towards Kuro airstrip seeing many animals along the way. An exciting experience was watching a lioness move her three cubs to a new hiding place. From Kuro airstrip the guests caught a flight to Kogatende air strip in the Northern Serengeti to continue their Safari adventure.  

George Mollel was with Bhatnagar party and reported:

After an overnight and morning at leisure at the Lake Duluti Serena, we departed after lunch on a scenic drive towards the Ngorongoro Highlands and to Ngorongoro Farm House. On the way we saw giraffe, baboons, and marabou stork on their nesting site around Lake Manyara.

The following day we left the lodge at around 6:30am and went to the crater floor for our game drive. En route while still on the rim we came across Hyena’s eating a carcass! Down on the crater floor we had good sighting of lions mating, buffalo, hyena, rhino, ostrich, flamingoes, kori bustard, and many other birds. Our highlight of the crater was seeing the hippos rolling in the mud at the pool and a pair of ostrich mating.

We decided to head out to Manyara Park for a morning game drive and to have lunch at Manyara Serena.  As the guests were keen birders, we took the opportunity to explore the parks diverse habitats viewing many birds including the rare palm-nut vulture and the martial eagle the biggest eagle in Africa.  We saw elephants, flamingoes, baboons, giraffe, and monkeys but the highlight was seeing a cheetah in Lake Manyara. What a special and rare sighting!

We decided to leave the hotel at around 8:00am for Tarangire stopping on the way to visit a Maasai Village and get an experience of their culture which the guests were looking forward to. After an enriching time spent with the Masaai we proceeded to explore Tarangire National Park.

In the park the guest were looking forward to seeing an owl and we were rewarded with two great sighting of Verreaux’s eagle-owl, and Africa barred owl. We also enjoyed other sightings of lion, elephants, baboons, jackal, Impala, zebras, and wildebeest. 

   Leopard spotted on the tree

The following day we left the lodge with both packed breakfast and packed lunch as we spent the entire day exploring the park enjoying great sightings of leopard, lion, bat eared foxes, python, monitor lizard, and lots of birds with a great sun set. We were fascinated at the large number of elephant at the Silalei swamp and the high concentration of animals in the park.

Our last day in the park we had a short morning game drive and were rewarded by  good sightings of leopard spotted by Nick, giraffe , ostrich, and bat eared fox that was close up. This was the perfect way to bid farewell to the guests as they continued their great adventure by leaving for the Maasai Mara.

Herds of beest on the plains  One young elephant  Lioness on the field

Willfred Mollel was with Hudson Party and reported:

We started our journey and headed towards Tarangire National Park, entering the park gate and then continuing to the lodge for lunch. After lunch we went for an afternoon game drive and we saw plenty of birds and animals including herds of elephants, cheetah, and a pride of about ten lion.  We drove back to the safari lodge for dinner and overnight.

The following day we started early at 6:00am taking a packed breakfast and a picnic lunch then heading to the south part of the park. It was a beautiful morning with many birds chirping away and we spotted the ring necked dove, colored love bird, martial eagle and tawny eagle. We spotted Impala, grant gazelles, zebras, wildebeest, common water buck, vervet monkey and ostrich. Around the swamp we saw a lioness trying to hunt as her cubs watched from a hiding spot in the tree, we also saw a cheetah and a leopard. We drove back to the lodge for dinner viewing a heard of buffalo and a troop of baboons along the way.

Departing from Tarangire and continuing our adventure, with our picnic lunch we preceded towards Lake Manyara National Park, hoping to find blue monkey, troops of baboons and vervet monkey which we did. We managed to find lot of birds especial the pink flamingoes, pelicans, yellow billed storks and egyptian goose. We found animals such as elephant, buffalo, Impala, warthog, and a male lion before continuing on to escarpment lodge for dinner and overnight.

The next morning we went back to the park and saw the same kind of animals including giraffe and a cheetah lying down in the distance. We saw birds like vitalline masked weaver, morning thrush, African harrier hawk, superb sterling and the tropical boubou before driving back to the lodge for the night.

Lodge on the park

We had an early start as we left Escarpment Lodge heading to Ngorongoro Crater. On arrival we saw a lot of animals but the most active ones were the hippos flipping around and splashing the water on their body with their tail, we then saw three male lions walking along the road. We drove to Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge for a late lunch and to spend the afternoon at leisure relaxing with the magnificent views of the Ngorongoro Crater.

The following morning we started very early with breakfast and a packed picnic lunch. Among the beautiful animal sightings that we saw was a lioness playing with and nursing a little cub, a serval cat walking along the swamp, five lionesses walking across the grass plain, a rhino  walking and sleeping, male hippos chasing one another. We saw birds such as crown cranes, cattle egret, rufous tailed weaver, and we treated with a male ostrich dancing. We drove back to the lodge for dinner and overnight.

We left Ngorongoro and started our journey towards the Serengeti, along the way we stopped at the Oldupai Gorge and then at a maasai village. In the park we spotted two male lions resting under the tree, a dazzle of zebras, and herds of both Thomsons and Grants gazelles before arriving at the camp for lunch.

Later that day we went for an afternoon  game drive and came across spotted hyenas, giraffe, and three lioness under the tree with a cheetah walking on the plains.

We also witnessed white bellies bustard doing a courtship display, a pair of secretary bird fixing the nest, and elephants wallowing.   

We continued further north to Kogatende, along the way we came across herds of wildebeest moving towards the central area. We spotted a lone male lion and plenty of hartebeest, waterbuck, warthog, eland, elephants and buffalo before arriving at Ubuntu Camp for the night.

We spent three full days searching for river crossings, more action from the large cats, and just exploring other parts of the area. Among our many sightings we saw was two lionesses with eight cubs enjoying two wildebeest carcasses, one of the carcasses was almost gone and vultures and jackals were present as well. The cubs were having good time chasing the vultures off the carcass. We were lucky to find a leopard with a baby wildebeest carcass hidden in the bush and lions enjoying lying on top of the rocky out crops. There was an amazing number of oribi, klipspringer, agama lizard, and hyrax on the rock as well. We were finally lucky enough to witness herd of wildebeest crossing the Mara River on the last day of the game drive which made it even more special and the best sighting for the end of the trip.

Herd of wildbeest crossing Mara River

The following day we drove to Kogatende airstrip as the guests were flying back to Arusha and would connect to their international flight later on. 

December is when the next trip reports will be coming from the Southern Plains of the Serengeti. 

Beyond the Migration - Tanzania Year Round at Singita

Giraffes under a huge tree
Visiting Tanzania is about much more than the annual wildebeest migration that traverses the Serengeti. At any time of year, the region offers travellers diverse game viewing, from big predators to prolific prey, on its vast open plains and along its river banks.

Be captured by the awe of the many seasons this area has to offe

Herds of zebras on the field

January to March

Warm and fairly dry, this is a great time to visit the region with large herds of topi, zebra, eland, giraffe and Thompson’s gazelle starting to gather on the open plains. It is also the calving season. Read more »

Large elephants

April to May

Known as the season of the long rains, this period transforms the landscape as lush, longer grasses grow and rivers, lakes and pans start to fill up with water again. Large herds of elephant are common  sightings. Read more »
A pleasant warm day for game viewing

June to October

The dry season commences in June and continues until the end of October. Considered high season in Tanzania, it is characterised by pleasantly warm, sunny days and easy game viewing. Read more » 

 Lodge with a great view of the park

November to December

Short rains and brief, spectacular thunderstorms give way to clear skies and amazing colour contrasts for photography. Awesome cheetah and lion sightings are common, there are a large number of babies, and migratory birds return. Read more »

Be captured by the awe of the many seasons this area has to offe r - watch this short video »

Ol Donyo Lodge

Guide James and Lion Tracker Lenka discussing the route through the  Chyulu Hills to the collared lion Nemasi
Guide James and Lion Tracker Lenka discussing the route 
through the  Chyulu Hills to the collared lion Nemasi

April’s word has to be lions! The sightings have been amazing with so much Lion activity……… Nemesi has been consistently seen with her 3 cubs who are growing rapidly and seem to be doing extremely well and absolutely loving their home in the Chyulus. We are able to track the prides movements using our Maasai tracker Lenka and a special tracking antenna which responds to Nemasi’s collar when she is near. The guests get to experience tracking in the vehicle but also on foot and see first-hand what is involved with protecting and observing these magnificent creatures.

A unique look at Nemasi’s collar on a lion use for tracking the pride
A unique look at Nemasi’s collar.  This is how we are able to track this pride and are able to share this incredibly raw and unique experience with our guests.  

Easter was fantastic, and what could be a better way to spend the morning then to spoil our guests with a Bush Breaksfast.  Now a bush breakfast is already an amazing experience under the umbrella of an acacia tree with Kilimanjaro as a back drop but just as one of our guests was riding in after a morning horse ride, Annie, the stables manager spotted 2 cheetahs just lazily lounging under a tree within viewing distance of the breakfast table! They were so relaxed and were seemingly just as interested in the horse riders as the horse riders were in them. It was a great start to Bush Breakfast.

Breakfast on the bush

Our waiters Douglas and Isaac waiting patiently to surprise the guests with Mimosa’s ….. little did they know as the picture was being taken there were 2 cheetah just a stone’s throw away wanting to be a part of the celebration, too.

Finally towards the end of April we had some heavy and well needed rains across the plains which is not only a spectacular sight from the lodge but also a huge help to the animals that roam the plains. The rains allow the animals to traverse the area without worry of going thirsty, many of our animals can be seen in large groupings slowly making their way to Tsavo or Amboseli national parks in order to breed or graze in green pastures.

An elephant enjoys one of lush lakes and green pastures of Amboseli over the rainy season.
An elephant enjoys one of lush lakes and green pastures of Amboseli over the rainy season.

This for us is an excellent time for our guests to explore a little further afield as well and we can treat our guests to longer game drives into the areas where the animals are enjoying themselves. One of the most beautiful areas this time of year is Amboseli and it is under a 2 hour game drive from the lodge to the main gate.

Although the park covers only 392 sq km, despite its small size and its fragile ecosystem the park supports a wide range of mammals, well over 50 of the larger species and over 400 species of birds.

 A beautiful Grey Crown Crain
 A beautiful Grey Crown Crain can be one of the many species of birds found in this area.

Amboseli National Park is one of the best areas near the lodge for photography thanks to the abundant wildlife all under the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro and at this time of year it has a decent dusting of snow, and the mountain is consistently clear making any photo with an animal in the foreground that much more dramatic. Amboseli has a large number of elephants and some of the biggest breeding herds around, it is breath-taking to watch the elephants, water buffalo and hippos just go about their day as if you didn’t exist, wallowing in the mug or lazily wandering through one of the many swamps. These swamps and springs are fed by underground rivers which are fed by the melting snows of Kilimanjaro and they form permanent watering places for the wildlife through times of drought. The park’s best game drives are around these swamps and there is a fantastic lookout on Observation Hill which offers views over the whole of the park and beyond, one of our favourite spots to serve up a delicious picnic lunch consisting of ever changing items, this month we had items such as individual fennel and butternut squash quiche, grilled brie and eggplant chutney sandwiches, Tikka chicken skewers with Harissa yogurt dip and for dessert spiced Jamaican Banana bread with dark rum buttercream!

Hippos on the plains
Imagine, picnicking whilst watching the hippos on the plains! 

Amboseli and the Imbirikani group ranch on which the lodge is situated conjur up images from the words written by Ernest Hemingway and Robert Ruark Manyatta, rolling hills which at this time of year are a lush emerald green, easing out onto golden savannahs of waving grass and wildlife.

Bride Veronica with our ol Donyo staff members
Bride Veronica with our ol Donyo staff members (left) Mwangi and (right) Jackson to help celebrate their special day.

Once again we were privileged enough to be invited to a traditional Maasai wedding this past month by one of our staff members, Veronica.  All of us at ol Donyo would like to end our April newsletter by congratulating her and her new husband Dan- who just happens to be a guide at our sister camp, Mara Plains in the Masai Mara.  …..What a perfect match, indeed!

Traditional Maasai wedding held on Ol Donyo
Congratulations Veronica and Dan!

Renovate good times come on!!! Doopy Doopy Doop - It’s a RENOVATION Share

Hello Lamai friends!!
Don't panic but we're back in the bush and we're frantically knocking stuff down and building stuff up again

Knocking stuffs down for renovation

There is gratuitous use of tractors and I've taken the opportunity to finally squeeze some tractor photographs into the blog - who doesn't love tractors?

Exactly - nobody!!

Tractor with woods to be used.

We are planning on removing this before you all arrive this season.

Huge tractor

Check below for the resulting shiny new pool deck, whooop!

Lamai's new pool deck

Mzee Apaeli - sweeping said pool deck with a big smile.

Mzee Apaeli - sweeping said pool deck with a big smile.

Doing his best Dick Van Dyke impression - What can I say... he just digs Mary Poppins!

One of the staff cleaning the deck.

The star of the off season show below - introducing Mr Kennedy HEAD OF MAINTENANCE (red T-shirt)!

He's currently extending the dining deck at the front of our "mess" (that is more an accurate description than a military expression at the moment!).

The extension will allow the waiter team to spend the season dancing around the tables with out falling off the edge.... and here they all are below, just look at how happy they are about it.

****Note to the upper management types, you'll notice they are NOT sloshing wood finish all over their shiny new uniforms, we have this thing overalled and covered, taped up and corked!****

Happy team doing the renovation.

Here I am below, playing hang man with myself so as not to get under the six very busy feet of Jana, Yahaya and Kennedy. 

Ha Ha, only Joking....... I'm playing Naughts and Crosses.

*****Note to my boss - I promise to be once again clean shaven with a tucked in shirt when our guests arrive****

Perfect viewing spot in the Serenegti

Roof repairs - in terms of the view this is the best job in the Serengeti.

****Note to those involved, you know who you are, please don't tell Jo (beloved interiors lady and the creative mind behind Lamai) that we climbed on the roof like this - she said it was a bad idea.****

Staffs is repairing roof.

****Note to Jo, if your reading this firstly, wow thanks for reading the blog that's really cool, and secondly we're sorry we climbed on the roof like this - but it turned out great and nobody fell through or destroyed anything!!****

Staffs is repairing roof.

......and finally for those of you about to un - subscribe due to the outragous beginning of season maintenance blog with it's lack of fuzzzy, furry, wet noseyness ......Drum Roll Please....

Our mongooses had babies!!! Again!!!

Mongooses on the Camp had babies.

I found them scurrying around underneath the office this morning - Ahhhhhh sweeeeeeet!

Mongoose on the Camp had babies.

June 2014

Magnificent thunder and lightning shows have returned to Odzala with blue skies and misty mornings in tow: the short rainy season is upon us and is making up for lost time with almost 100 mm falling in one day, of which almost half fell one hour. Needless to say we were looking forward to drying out but Mother Nature was having none of it! With a further 60 mm the next day, the rivers are now swollen and Lango Bai resembles a lake; the view from the camp changes dramatically as the stream carries the rainwater into the bai.

The small streams drain quickly, but the Lekoli and Mambili rivers are full to the brim. The rainy season also brings changes to the forest. Whereas trees can survive the dry season by adapting so as not to lose too much moisture, the sudden onset of downpours and strong winds can catch many of them unawares. Leaves, fruit and branches are shaken loose and fall to the forest floor, continuing the circle of life as they add to the leaf litter layer. The force of the wind can also uproot or simply snap entire trees.

Ngaga Camp
The expansive Ndzehi forests are home to a high density of western lowland gorillas, which works in our favour of course – but also sometimes to our detriment. The interaction between the wild groups, solitary males and the habituated groups makes for very interesting behaviour observations but can make gorilla tracking more difficult. It is only with the skills of expert trackers that we are able to locate and view the two habituated groups; gorilla tracking has been both very rewarding and very challenging this month.

Neptuno continues to enjoy utilising the southern tip of his home range, which has meant long walks to enjoy the rewards of seeing this gorilla group. The rainy season is often a time when gorillas dig for roots. Each individual in the group has his or her own personality and it is wonderful to see some of the younger individuals becoming more confident and more curious as they grow older and more used to the presence of our researchers and guests.

Jupiter’s group on the other hand has been monopolising the area behind Ngaga Camp. This is a more open canopy forest meaning that more light reaches the forest floor, allowing an incredibly thick understorey of marantaceae to develop. Time spent with this group in the marantaceae has required patience and trust in the tracker, but in each case we have been rewarded with sightings of many of the gorillas feeding up in the fruiting trees. Jupiter, the silverback, is curiously shy for such a large, powerful creature but we have had better sightings of him recently too.

One very special encounter with Jupiter’s group recently involved a youngster digging for and eating ants. Our tracker, David, managed to get us into just the right position, close enough to observe but not too close that we risked disturbing her; this allowed the young gorilla to continue as if we were not there. Digging for ants is no easy task: this little one would dig for a few minutes, then quickly raise her arm to her mouth and try to lick off all the ants off before they reached more sensitive parts of her body and started to bite. Periodically she would leave her digging site only to return from a different angle so as to catch the ants unawares. Watching this behaviour was very special indeed and a real testament to David’s skill and anticipation.

Besides gorillas, these forests are home to a plethora of other creatures: this month we have been lucky enough to get good sightings of putty-nosed monkeys, a small bush viper and several species of bats, which have been difficult to identify. We have also been finding evidence of the anomalure (“flying squirrel”) in camp, but so far we have not managed to get a good sighting, while night walks in the forest have revealed pottos and two different galagos (bushbabies), namely the Demidorf’s and Thomas’.

Ngaga has also welcomed a new staff member to its kitchen contingent and we all look forward to many more delicious meals from chef Rea.

Lango Camp
We have been very impressed with the elephant activity around Lango this month. The rains seem to bring elephants more often and we are now seeing bulls regularly visit areas along the river or out in the savannah. They are also getting more used to encountering us and are becoming more tolerant of our presence, allowing us to get some great sightings. Forest elephant bulls only rarely form “bachelor groups” and a typical forest elephant matriarchal herd size is just three or four individuals, which can surprise people who might be expecting to see much larger herds. 

The bai areas – and Lango Bai in particular – play a very important role in elephant social interaction; it has been found that elephants will spend 50% longer in bais if other elephants are present. This results in magical nocturnal congregations which can be best appreciated by the silvery light of a full moon. On one special night this month we saw 22 elephants congregating by moonlight. Two of the bulls were testing each other’s strength, and the sound of clashing tusks rang out across the bai and echoed back from the surrounding trees.

Lango Bai was also visited by two sitatunga bulls, one at the far end of the bai and the other right next to the main deck; both these animals provided excellent sightings, being available for viewing for about 20 minutes.

The primate viewing along the Lekoli River has been good too, with four different monkey species being seen in one afternoon. The riverine forests have consistently proven to be the preferred habitat for most species of monkey, from the quick mangabeys to the less agile colobus. Some monkeys are actually competent swimmers, such as de Brazza’s monkey with his red-crested head and white beard, and so will always choose a habitat near water.

With primates, the balance between fear and curiosity worked in our favour, as each species – grey-cheeked mangabey, agile mangabey, guereza colobus and de Brazza’s monkeys – stuck around to get a better look at what was going on in the boat – while we were all having a better look at what was going on in the trees! Even chimps are known to visit the river, but typically we hear them more often than we see them. The combination of elusive animals, a swift-flowing river and tangled vegetation means that it can be very tough to locate the source of the noise.

The rains also seem to have brought out the amphibians and reptiles, with a sighting of the much-sought-after slender-snouted crocodile on a palm tree overhanging the Lekoli River and a dwarf crocodile spotted crossing the road in the middle of the savannah the day after heavy rains. Spotted bush snakes continue to amaze us with their bright green colours and this month we were lucky enough to come across a small female Blanding’s tree snake curled up in the fronds of a palm tree. The chorus of frogs is facing some competition with the noise from the elephants but they continue to do their vocal best to drown out the much larger animals.

We have three new additions to Lango Camp this month. Firstly, we are very happy to welcome Ashley and Tara to the Lango Camp management team and secondly we have been very excited about the presence of a grey-cheeked mangabey that now seems to be calling Lango home. It is unusual for this species to be alone, but it is possible that this young male has left his natal group and is now waiting to form his own family. We hope he continues to visit us regularly, as the guereza colobus do.

April has been especially productive for birding and there seem to be many fledglings learning the ropes at the moment. The most noticeable of these are the red-necked spurfowl running down the road with three or four little chicks in tow but the tree-nesting birds have also undergone a “baby boom” with eastern-bearded greenbuls and blue-billed malimbes also feeding their young.

Kingfishers are always a colourful highlight and this month we have seen pygmy kingfisher, chocolate-backed kingfisher, woodland kingfisher and shining-blue kingfisher while the blue-breasted kingfisher continues to call from all parts of the forest – but keeps us on our toes when it comes to actually trying to catch a glimpse of him. In the bai this month we managed to see a juvenile African harrier-hawk, which is quite uncommon for the region and a juvenile black-casqued-wattled hornbill, recognisable by his small casque, brown cheeks and lack of colour on his wattle. A collared sunbird was another special sighting on a flowering liana while blue-headed crested flycatcher, blue malkoha and guinea turacos are our (albeit somewhat shy) camp residents.

Guests walking beside buffalos. Guests walking beside buffalos. Guests walking beside buffalos. Beautiful sundowner.

Trekking to see the Golden Monkeys

We left Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge at 7am and drove to the National Park HQ. At the office we paid our fees (US$ 100.00 for non-residents) and were introduced to the Guide who would be escorting us to the Monkeys.

The Golden Monkey, Cercopithecus mitis kandti is a local subspecies of the better known Blue Monkey and is only found in the high altitude forests in this area. There are two habituated groups of Golden Monkeys both consisting of between 80 and 100 individuals. The group of Golden Monkeys we were due to visit live in the forests at the foot of Mt Sabyinyo, very close to the Lodge. After a briefing from our Guide, we drove back to where our trek would start, which is very close to the Lodge. The trek starts in the potato fields and after a 30 minute up-hill walk we eventually arrived at the National Park boundary. The boundary consists of a stone wall which was built to keep Buffalo and Elephants inside the Park and stop them raiding the potato fields. Just before entering the forest we were lucky with a sighting of a Regal Sunbird, Cinnyris regia. This Sunbird is endemic (only occurs) to the highland forests in the Virunga’s. Crossing the wall we entered the bamboo zone of the forest. Shortly after entering the bamboo we had good sightings of an Archer’s Robin-Chat, Cossypha archeri and a brief sighting of an Abyssinian Ground-Thrush, Zoothera piaggiae. Both of these birds, although common, are difficult to see in the forest undergrowth.

Rare bird sighting.

After a 35 minute climb in the bamboo zone we came across a group of Golden Monkeys. Although Golden Monkeys eat a variety of plant species (20–30) they prefer bamboo and this is what they were enjoying. At first, the only Golden Monkeys we could see were high up in the bamboo eating the fresh new leaves but the tracker soon found some which were feeding lower down and we were able to get good views and photographs of them.

Golden Monkeys are continually jumping from one area to another.

Unlike the Mountain Gorillas, the Golden Monkeys are continually jumping from one area to another, which does make photography a little difficult. Luckily, visitors are allowed to use the flash on their cameras (not allowed with Gorillas). Fill-in flash usually works better than full auto flash. As with Gorillas, visitors are only allowed 1 hour with the Monkeys. All too soon our time was up but everyone was excited with the close personal experience with such a rare Monkey. Our trek down the mountain through the forest only took 20 minutes and, after crossing the boundary wall, we all chatted about what we had just experienced. The trek back to our safari vehicle did not take long and we were soon at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge for a well earned welcome drink.

- by: Dave Richards
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge. 

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