Kyle Witten in Ruaha and Nyere National Parks, Tanzania
My journey to Tanzania begin with a night at TWA Hotel at JFK to be in place for the Kenya Airways non stop flight to Nairobi the next morning. I love this hotel if you have to connect through JFK it is connected to Terminal 5 and by AirTrain to other terminals.
I found Kenya Airways to be well serviced and would definitely fly them again. On arrival in Nairobi Swissport was there to meet/greet and assist through transit to connect to Dar Es Salaam.
On arrival in Dar es Sallam I cleared immigration (got the visa online prior) and met Olmari who transferred me to the Hyatt. The room was comfortable and enjoyed a late dinner (Peri Peri fried chicken sandwich and fries) at Flame Tree Lounge– perfect after all that airplane food.
Olmari picked me up very early the next morning to go the Dar domestic airport. Have a printed copy of your flight schedule – they check your fight and ID before you enter the building. All bags are screen as well at the entrance.
The flight to Ruaha was about 2.5 hours with 2 touch downs along the way to Kigelia Camp. Kigelia is a comfortable old school style tent – no bells and whistles but very comfortable bed, flush toilet and outdoor bushbucket shower on demand. October is hot so a few cool showers in the afternoon is a requirement to beat the heat.
Julius was at the strip waiting for me and I crack open a beer and enjoyed the game drive to the camp. I got to camp around 1pm. That afternoon game drive was very productive with good elephant and a wonderful sighting of two pairs of mating lions on “honeymoon”.
The staff at Kigelia is exceptional and both Simon and Joseph were very hospitable waiters, they did a great job in keeping everyone happy, full and well hydrated. My guide Julius was fantastic- always eager to spend as much time at sightings as we needed and also looking for something new to find.
Ruaha is a baobab tree lovers dream. The forests of baobab blew me away.
We had a productive night drive seeing white tail mongoose, genets and chameleon. We saw two different owl species one evening on the way back after sundowners.
After three nights I flew to Sand Rivers in Nyere National Park. The rooms at Sand Rivers are quite unique. They are completely open front to back so if you have don’t like a few geckos for room mates this might not be the place for you. Drifting off to sleep to the chorus of hippos in the river – or waking to them munching outside your room at 3am is a dream come true for me. I love hippos!
Pay was guide a Sand Rivers and I really enjoyed my time with him. Bernadette was a wonderful hostess. Steven makes a great G&T. Martha, Simba (he has great taste in shoes), Ornessta and everyone at the camp were so warm and hospitable.
The fishing day was a lot of fun with a great riverside picnic. We saw two lion from the river and crocs stealing a kill on land and dragging chunks of it into the river – never seen so many crocs in my life. Pay and I did some fishing and I even caught a croc.
I went for a quick swim in the thermal pools located a short hike off one of the game viewing roads. The night drive here was fantastic just like Ruaha. There were so many crocs they were actually coming out of the bush to get the lake a night – where were they during the day???
The camp also has an elevated hide and one of the flood pans. They set up a whole bar with snacks and drove away – just me and lots of Tanquery and elephants on the plains – heaven!
The fish tacos and filet at Kigelia were fantastic. The picnic breakfasts at Kigelia were the best. quiches, cereals, yougurts, juices, coffee, bacon fruit. The pork Bao Buns were a clear winner at Sand Rivers lunch. The lamb barbecue was delicious at Sand Rivers. I liked the serve yourself lunch style at Sand Rivers – it was so hot I really did not want a big lunch so it perfect to take just what you wanted.
Don’t be shy about not eating everything they serve. Thankfully there is no waste so I know everyone enjoyed my lunch and dinners as well.
The highlight to my final days in Africa was meeting up our AAC team – Shelley, Megan, Daniella, Maria and Kerry for dinner and drinks at Kahawa Cottages in Arusha before they left on their northern circuit safari.
I enjoyed a few sight inspections the next day and lovely dinner with Anita and Finias that evening.
I had a dayroom in Nairobi at House of Waine – a lovely property in the Karen area. I was a very relaxing spot and only about 20 minutes for the airport now that the highway is finish in Nairobi airport.