Safari Diary

  • Snow on Kilimanjaro in October

    Bryan Fawcett
    November 23, 2017

    One of the strangest things to experience in hot humid October in Africa, is snow! The only reason for it is altitude, yet it still is strange! Coming from overseas, it is cold already and snow is normal, but for us Africans, this is not normal at all, even temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius is most parts of Africa! As seen in the pictures below the landscape of Kilimanjaro changes completely and the beauty of it does not disappoint.

    Two beautiful young ladies completed their bucket list item in the snow! Starting in the raging heat and humidity of Moshi, they started the gradual climb, first to the base of Kilimanjaro where they met the team that would help them summit the largest free-standing mountain in the world. Acquiring on the permits and park fees etc takes several hours, before you start climbing the mountain at lunchtime. Now the distance to the summit on the popular Machame route is but is takes several days to it, due to the elevation increase. Doing an average of 7km a day, the climb up the mountain is physically draining on the body. So up the mountain they climbed, slowly and steadily under the watchful eye of our guide Amir.

    Taking many stops along the way, to eat or just take shorts rests to catch your breath on the ever less oxygen availability. Hiding behind rocks and large boulders, these women re-hydrated on water and replenished their belly’s with snacks. From the stunning photos you can see the change in vegetation to the lack thereof. From the rain forest at the base and light showers, to the barren lands with harsh winds and snow; the scenery has the ability to make you hold your breath in each of these places on the way up and down the mountain.

    Close to the summit one has to climb over and around a glacier, one of the few left in Africa. Snow encompasses the entire peak of the mountain, temperatures drop well before zero. Starting in the early morning, 3 a.m. to be exact, with an all dawn trek, they get to see the sunrise right at the peak of the mountain. Stopping to take stunning shots of the landscape, that this elevation provides. The pictures below show you that this is certainly true. It takes 6 days to climb and about a day to decline. The same day you summit you are back in Moshi, stoked beyond belief. The climb down is fast, and much shorter than most. It is a long day but most likely the one you will remember for a lifetime to come!

    Climbing this mountain does require some level of fitness, when preparing to climb Kilimanjaro make sure you have it a good hiking fitness is good. At Shadows Of Africa, we make sure you are kept safe and healthy all the way up and down, our guide and porters are there to assist you with any need. If you haven’t climbed any of the mountains in East Africa yet, contact us today to get details.

     

  • Eleven Days Well Spent in Tanzania

    Bryan Fawcett
    November 21, 2017

    If you want to know how to spend 11 day on an Africa safari in Tanzania, here is a great account. Arriving at Kilimanjaro Airport, they were met by their guides, Lomayani and Freddie. From there they overnighted in Kilimanjaro Lodge, unaware of the great sightings they had in store and the experiences they will have. Well, they had expectations, but they are normally nothing compared what is experienced.

    Early the following morning they headed for Manyara National Park. Here they saw basic animals like elephants, and many small antelope, Impala, Dik dik. The next day, they arrived in the Serengeti National Park. Right at the gate, they had the pleasure of seeing a small part of the migration that is in the south of the park at the moment. The main sightings in the Serengeti were the big cats – lion and cheetah, that they saw over the three days that they were there. The Serena Lodge in the Serengeti was their base for these three days. Going out after a relaxing breakfast they had the pleasure of enjoying sightings throughout different times of the day. Animals are visible at certain times of the day, waterholes early morning and late afternoon, in shady areas at lunchtime, scattered on the grasslands the rest of the time. The predators are generally around little hills so they can have a lookout to see what is there from them to capture. At the lodge they saw buffalo and dik dik. Seeing these magnificent beasts whilst relaxing in the lodge is pretty amazing!

    In the Serengeti they had the opportunity of watching a lion family on the hunt, and how the mother and father look after their cubs. As you can see by the pictures they had a kill, now the father brings it closer and in a safer place for the cubs to feed. Protected by the rocks they can safely feed on the wildebeest that had been killed for them, the parents eat as well but make sure there is enough for the little cubs to eat. Other families seen were the cheetah laying about, as you can see they had recently eaten, hence the reason why they are lazing about. On the second day in the Serengeti they had a picnic lunch at a remote picnic site, The picture below shows how they spent it, great enjoyment all around.

    From the Serengeti they headed out and into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The next day, they went into the Ngorongoro Crater, termed as the “8th Wonder of the World”. Inside the crater they got to see the black rhino, one of the most endangered species on Earth. Thereafter, they overnighted nighted in Karatu before heading to see the native tribes of the region. Two tribes with specific industries amongst them. The Hadzabe tribe specializes in hunting and the Datoga tribe in the blacksmith trade. Here they learnt how the Hadzabe hunt and the Datoga make tools and weapons. The trade between themselves and others for survival, the group had a local lunch with the tribes. Later, they headed to Tarangire National Park, where they went on a night game drive, with Brendan, the night safari guide. During this game drive they say jackal, bush babies, zebra, buffalo and elephants. Seeing these creatures at night is very different from the day, a true feeling of Africa comes over you.

    On their last day of safari they headed to Arusha National Park, where they saw flamingos and beautiful scenery around Mt. Meru. Spending these 11 days in Africa gave the ma true and authentic experience in Africa. Come join us on a similar itinerary customized just for you.

  • A Tanzania Safari Adventure

    Bryan Fawcett
    October 26, 2017

    A ten day safari multi country safari that became an adventure of a lifetime. Our client arrived in Arusha excited to go on a journey through the African bush. Her safari would take her into the depths of Tanzania and Uganda, finding animals that are awed among all others. 10 days and 6 parks was her itinerary for her epic adventure.

    Many of us including myself are jealous of this tailor made itinerary. Her first stop was Tarangire National Park. Here she stayed in Sangaiwe Tented Lodge it is has a beautiful view from the room balcony, after the drive and game drive through the park it was a great place to relax and see wildlife still. In the morning after breakfast, she had another game drive through the park seeing various animals and particularly having a few special moments watching elephants by the river.

    Exiting the park the went into the Ngorongoro region and spent the night at Country Lodge in Karatu. This is just a stopover before carrying on in the morning in the Serengeti where she headed to the central part to catch the plethora of animals there this time of year. This trek between parks is known for its “serengeti massage”, a term coined because of the continuous corregations on the dirt roads. Lomayani, our driver made this trek as pleasant as possible with colourful conversation and information to keep her happy. Once in the park, she had sightings of leopard, lion, buffalo and rhino allowing her to check of seeing the ‘Big Five’. On the game drives that day and the next two in the Serengeti she had the ability to the wildebeest migration in the Central Serengeti. Tanzania is wildly known for this great migration of animals moving in a southern to northern pattern and back again depending on the season and time of year. This specific time of year the main herd of the migration was in Northern Serengeti and Maasai Mara as the rains have hit that region before the southern and central parts. This guest had sightings of the smaller groups of animals, during her entire trip. Her stay and Serengeti Kati Kati camp was amazing they treated well and made her stay exceptional.

    Leaving the park on the third day she headed for Ngorongoro Crater. Some consider this to be the “The Eight Wonder of the World”. With the help of her driver they spotted. Overnighting at Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge, she had the perfect view of the crater right in front of her. In the morning, after an early breakfast they headed down into the crater to capture the beauty of this bucket list location. A few factors affect this awe inspiring crater; firstly, the scenery of how this crater has become an animal sanctuary; secondly, the diversity and plethora of wildlife; finally the combination of the previous factors has left people speechless and thankful for such amazing places on Earth. Our guest truly enjoyed herself here seeing the range of animals around.

    The next day was spent in traveling across to Uganda, where she would have a very different experience on her 10 day African safari. We will dedicate a full blog to her adventures in Uganda with the Gorillas. Send us an email if you want to know more on booking a safari with us and going on an amazing adventure.

  • News on Tarangire National Park

    Bryan Fawcett
    October 17, 2017

    Reports from recent safaris in Tarangire National Park, we can see the movement elephants in the region. Water is low now, due to the lack of rains in this short rainy season. A lot of the animals are migrating to where there is water still. The National Park is still relatively full of wildlife, as the region is protected from villages trying to seek water for their domestic herds of cattle, goats and sheep.

    The animals migrate in the park according to weather patterns and the access to water. The Tarangire River rarely drys up, so the elephants hang around the extent of the river depending on the vegetation in the area. Tarangire National Park is known for its large elephant population.

    At the moment the herds, are on the move and are covering large areas every day in search of food. Other animals are hanging around the swamp areas where there is more water and vegetation around. At lot of the lodges have pumped waterholes which allow for animals to stay in the areas but this is dependent on the vegetation in the area.

    From our pictures you can see that the elephants are moving in big herds relying on each other for protection and food. The lodges are getting fantastic views of elephants, zebra, waterbuck, the odd wildebeest and a plethora of birds. It is without a doubt that you will wake up to sound of birds and a view of animals close by. You may even get an elephant close to your room in the night! Tarangire Safari Lodge, Sopa Lodge and Oliver’s Camp are excellent examples of lodges with this atmosphere around them.

    The WMA’s (wildlife management areas) next to the park have it pretty rough at the moment where domestic animals and the wild ones fight for vegetation and access to water. The areas close to the lodges in the WMA’s are a safe haven for wildlife and having waterholes close by they tend to stay. Nimali and Tarangire Treetops are prime examples of such places.

    Our guests recently have had the pleasure of seeing vast amounts of elephants and a range of other animals. Some were lucky enough to see lion, and a few other predators like hyena. This time of year the wildebeest and zebra are still here in a reasonable number, as later in the year they migrate for the calving season in February.

    I mentioned birds earlier, now let me explain them a little more. The amount of bird species in East Africa is huge, with many sub species. So for the avid birder reading here, you will immensely enjoy being in Tarangire, you just may fill up your SD card with birds! The beauty is that you don’t have to look hard, they are everywhere! Some birds you may get tired of seeing but there are certainly others that you won’t get the opportunity of seeing again! If you are counting you will be adding up your list pretty fast here.

    Keep on watching our blog and we will with delight bring you updates and news from places and events in East and Southern Africa.

  • An Extraordinary African Safari

    Bryan Fawcett
    October 11, 2017

    Before we get to the actual story, I have to restate the heading. A wild dog sighting in the Serengeti National Park! To see these amazing creatures is truly amazing, there are not many packs left in the wild throughout Africa today, there are an estimated number of 6,600 left in the wild, and they have been endangered for more than 20 years. A pack can cover a range of 900 square miles, so getting a chance to see them is awesome! I have lived in Africa all my life and have only seen them in the wild twice; hopefully, I’ll get to see them again soon! So these guests of ours were truly lucky! Most areas where they exist now have programs that monitor and protect them.

     

    These guests had the beauty of seeing a few endangered species on their safari, with different settings to admire these magnificent creatures. So they saw the wild dog and the vulture, two of Africa’s endangered animals. They had the opportunity to see the wild dogs playing about in the shade and the vultures at a zebra kill. Both sightings are really good the photos will show you that. Yet, as mentioned earlier, the wild dog is by far one of the rarest sightings you will have in the Serengeti.

    The guests were overjoyed in seeing these beautiful animals! Our driver, did a great job in finding these animals. The wild dogs are a playful bunch always looking for fun and games. They are such great creatures.

    The guests were able to watch vultures and lion squabble over a zebra kill. Vultures are also amongst the endangered species that exist in the savannah plains. Sitting and watching these animals you realize that survival of the fittest is at play here, there is no mommy to look after you in the African bush.

    The strongest only survive here and from these pictures you can see that! Even among the same species you have to fight, survive and be better than the one next to you. You can learn a lot about life from watching wildlife whilst on an African safari.

    Here is a picture of a cheetah on an anthill, from this picture you can see he is on it to get a view of his surroundings so that he can locate his prey. On examination of this picture you can see that this anthill is used for many things, it’s a den from hyena or warthog sometimes both. Fun fact, termites which built this anthill are regarded keystone creatures in the circle of life, as they provide shelter for themselves and also for other animals.

    Lion prides are common because of the plethora of animals around. Our guests got to see a few prides in different settings, from lazing in the shade to defending a kill. It is always good to see cubs about this shows that the lion population is maintaining itself in the region.

    Our guests were extremely lucky to see a vast range of animals on safari and especially to see some of Africa’s most endangered animals.

  • Climbers Experiences on Mount Kilimanjaro

    Bryan Fawcett
    September 30, 2017

    We all get told climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is amazing, that it is one of the seven great peaks to climb on your bucket list; here is some great stories of guests who climbed it recently. First, before I relate these stories to you, let me give you an overview of the largest mountain in Africa. For it has a few facts that most people get confused with. Mt. Kilimanjaro is located in the Republic of Tanzania, in East Africa, most people think it in Kenya as well just like they think the Serengeti is in Kenya too; but they are not, Tanzania is the place for these great features.

    Our latest brochure is about Mount Kilimanjaro and it explains to you what we offer and what is needed for this bucket list adventure of climbing this mountain. There are a few routes, but we mainly take our guests up the Marangu route or the Machame routes. The number of days needed to climb and get back down vary per route and per group! So when booking, make sure you know these important details, because these details will make your Kilimanjaro trek far more satisfactory and enjoyable. Below is a story from one of our guests recently.

    For the Mt Meru trek, our group of 3 were led by Amir and his team of support staff (1 cook, 1 waiter/head porter and 5 other porters). We were grouped together with 3 other companies totaling 9 clients. This was because visitors to Arusha National Park are required to be accompanied by one of their armed rangers which there are a limited number of. Shadows of Africa was noticeably more professional than the other companies I saw. During the trip briefing, Amir made sure that we all had the necessary clothing and equipment by actually checking what we brought over. Our heart rates and oxygen levels were monitored and recorded at the end of every day during the trek (something I’ve never had to do elsewhere — nice touch!). We were talking to our other fellows trekkers with other companies, and almost none of them were as well briefed as us. Some were quite unprepared clothing wise and their guides lacked professionalism (more on that below). The porter to client ratio is apparently set to 2:1 and they each have a weight limit restriction as the government is trying to dissuade operators from overloading their porters. So it’s not surprising if the number of support staff is quite large relative to the group size. My recommendation would be to do the 3D/2N option instead and ask your operator beforehand if they can arrange a car to pick you up from Miriakamba Hut and drive directly back down to the park gates.

    Our guide, Amir was an excellent guide given his experience in leading treks up to the much higher, Mount Kilimanjaro. My friend felt weak from stomach problems before the trek even started, and he provided attentive care throughout the entire trek. On the morning of the third day when we were summiting, one of the other trekkers started feeling unwell with blurred vision likely due to the effects of high altitude. As we were at the front of the group, we didn’t find out about her condition until well into the summiting trek. It’s to my understanding that her own guide (who was also the park ranger overlooking all of us) had her keep going up and barely addressed her concerns. Amir had to step in and lead her hand-in-hand safely back down. I’m quite disappointed on how the guides from the other companies handled the situation as they barely provided any help. Even though the girl wasn’t their own client, they somehow didn’t find it in them to even provide words of comfort. They just stood off to the side. I’ve been on many treks before where the guide doesn’t really play an important role but after this incident, I now realize how important it is to have an experienced guide. Amir saved the day! I highly recommend requesting for him for trekking tours with Shadows of Africa.

  • Adventures on Safaris this July

    Bryan Fawcett
    September 21, 2017

    The safaris in July were absolutely fantastic, our clients truly enjoyed themselves, and were left awestruck. The parks traveled to were mainly the Serengeti, Tarangire and Manyara. We had a variety of clients, from families to just single people traveling in groups or by themselves.

    Our drivers are some of the most experienced locals in the industry, because of this the guests leave not sightings species but also are able to tell stories to their families and friends back home about these beautiful creatures. Our goal is to create experiences for our guests and educate them about Africa and the beauty of it. As distances are far getting from one place to another, it is guaranteed that our drivers will make the drive pleasant filled with laughter and stories about this great continent.

    Most of our safaris have a cultural tour inserted inside which allows the guests to experience first-hand shooting bows and arrows, watch how domestic animals are skinned if you have the stomach for it that is. Otherwise, you can learn how to throw Maasai spears. In these tours, you learn about the culture of the native people in the area and how they live, their traditions and history, sources of income and food. What amazes myself and I am sure most of you, is how they have integrated their cultures etc into the modern world, yet the simplicity of their lives is outstanding. Could you live like this even for just a week?

    As this particular dry season, this year has been drier than normal, the wildlife was pretty scattered across the parks in search of water and food, having a great sighting of animals was pretty lucky. By the photos in this post, you can see that the guests made great memories and had lots of fun. If you have not been to Africa yet, or not this part of Africa we can assure you that memorable experiences will be created with us.

    The migration in July was in northern Serengeti, the river crossing sightings were spectacular! As this is the time of year that they are moving in between the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti. The Mara River is one of the best places to see the famous wildebeest river crossings. Here you will how the animals cross and how the predators take advantage of this movement of animals. In Africa, survival of the fittest and strongest is essential to life. At first, the wildebeest are shy then they literally surge across, here picking out prey is easy for the crocodiles; lions sit and wait for them, and catch them whilst they are weary or the stragglers that are hesitant to cross. Watching the circle of life take place in right in front of you is truly amazing!

    Those that visited Tarangire National Park, got the opportunity of seeing the largest mammals in Africa, the African elephant, this park holds the largest elephant population in East Africa, thereby you won’t drive far without seeing these majestic animals. You will also have seen the ground hornbill, those big black birds with red beaks. Did you know that the elephants are ruled by the Matriarch, the females are the ones who control what is going on in the herd, and the males get kicked out at times.

    If you read our reviews on TripAdvisor you will be able to read the personal stories of the guests on safaris. Join us on an adventure and tick of those items on your bucket list! You can contact us at info@shadowsofafrica.com

  • A Day Excursion in Nairobi

    Lesia
    September 21, 2017

    What is there to do in Nairobi if you have just a one day layover? When visiting Kenya, proceeding on safari to the famous Masai Mara, Amboseli, Lake Nakuru or even Ol Pejeta is quite common; as we know Kenya is one of the most accessible countries in East Africa. Yet, if you have just a one night transfer in Nairobi for business and don’t have lots of time for the long safari carry on reading.

    nairobi-national-park-safari

    We have a solution for you! The capital of Kenya, Nairobi, can boast an opportunity to see wild nature without even having to go out of the city. Recently, our youngest team members loved their visit to Nairobi National Park, the Elephant Orphanage and the Giraffe Center.

    The Elephant Orphanage only allows visitors strictly between 11 and 12pm. Julia and Lesia from Shadows had adopted two young elephants in the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust about six months ago. It gave them an advantage to visit at 5pm when these cute creatures were getting ready for sleep. That is why they planned their day accordingly.

    david-sheldrick-wildlife-trust Wirh adoption certificates, February 2017

     

    At 8am, after a refreshing breakfast, they headed to Nairobi National Park for a short game drive and to be in time for the giraffe and elephant visits. It is quite a short drive to the park, but when it concerns Nairobi, you may need to be ready to deal with heavy traffic. Realistically, it takes around 40 minutes to get there.

    The most special thing about the Nairobi National park is the opportunity to observe wildlife right in front of the skycrapers. Just a short distance from the entrance, you can see zebras, giraffes, antelopes and African buffaloes. If you are lucky enough, you will get to see at least a couple of lions and even the endangered black rhinos. The ladies were more than surprised to observe around 7 rhinos at the same time! Elijah, from our Nairobi office, explained that in Nairobi National Park it is possibly the best place in Kenya to view these rare and endangered species. In stunning Nakuru National Park, you may only get a slim chance at seeing such a big group.

    rhinos-safari-kenya

    nairobi-rhinos-kenya

    The team also paid a visit to the Ivory Burning Site Monument, where more than 100 tons of ivory was burnt to hinder poaching.
    It was the largest ivory burn in history.

    After the game drive, the ladies visited the Giraffe Center, which is open from 9am up to 5pm. The center allows visitors to touch the giraffes and even feed them; but you need to be careful, these proud animals can hit you with their heads.

    giraffe-center-nairobi-kenya Julia in the Giraffe Center

     

    Finally, the most exciting part of the trip for Julia and Lesia was the visit to their adopted elephants Jotto and Malkia. They were saved by the David Shelrick Wildlife Trust and will be re-introduced back into the wild at the mere age of three. Any visitor of the orphanage can choose an elephant to sponsor. The minimum donation per year is just $50! This helps the foundation to supply babies with milk, food and to save more animals all around the Kenyan National Parks.

    elephants-orphanage-nairobi In hurry to get some milk

     

    The Trust is not just hosting elephants, but as well as warthogs, rhino and a giraffe. This is a great chance for you to be a part of rescuing and saving african species from extinction. Some of the guests adopted more than 5 babies and come regularly to visit them. There is even an opportunity to adopt elephants online; this means that you can make an appointment to visit your baby at 5pm, when there are not that many tourists around. Thereafter, they spent a fanstic evening enjoying the restaurants of Nairobi.

    Nairobi is definitely a city of contrasts. Here you will find everything - skyscrapers and slums, wildlife and traffic, a mix of nationalities and cultures. It is one of the most modern African cities with its own atmosphere.

  • Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Manyara Safaris

    Lesia
    June 14, 2017

    Our customers from Norway, Olga and Edvard had an amazing safari with Shadows of Africa's guide Alex.

    After a relaxing overnight in Moivaro Lodge, they headed to Ngorongoro Crater to start their search for the Big 5. They were lucky enough to see a black rhino there and spot some prides of lions as well.

    It is not easy to spot the shy black rhinoceros as they are usually spotted too far away from the roads. You definitely need to use binoculars to watch them. This time it was much closer and Alex was even able to take a picture from his phone.

    Of course, some elephants showed up during their game drive in Ngorongoro.

    While our travellers were heading to have a picnic lunch, this couple of lions had a rest near the lake. Probably, they were lucky and had their lunch much earlier.

    Olga and Edvard had a chance to compare warthogs with Pumba from the "Lion King". Though some people include these wild pigs as part of'The Ugly Five", we still think they are very cute.

    After enjoying beautiful views from the NgorongoroSopa Lodge, the travellers continued the trip with a game drive in Serengeti National Park. They explored both the Central Serengeti and the Western Corridor, - the area where wildebeests are moving to the Grumeti River during the migration.

    It's not every day that you can see even one cheetah, but a couple of them at the same time is very lucky. Olga and Edward were able to observe them upclose and personal.

    Of course, some lions were crossing the road on the way to the migration.

    But finally, travellers could see for themselves the famous Great Wildebeest Migration. Wildebeests and zebras were heading though the Western Corridor to the North of the Serengeti.

    Edward and Olga were especially lucky in their drive, as they also got to see a regal leopard in the wild!In the end of the itinerary, Olga and Edward travelled to Lake Manyara National Park. This place is famous for its tree-climbing lions and beautiful flamingos.

    Anil and Basak from Turkey also had a successful safari this May. Both the Big Five and the Wildebeest Migration were on their list and they saw both!

    What makes a safari so memorable is that you never know what else you can see!

    Just as Edward and Olga did, Anil and Basak had three parks in their itinerary: Serengeti, Ngorongoro, and Lake Manyara. They travelled with our guide, Bashiru who shared some pictures from their safari.

    The travellers and Bashiru enjoyed witnessing a small part of the Wildebeest Migration on the plains of the Serengeti.

    They were surprised with the amount of lions in the Serengeti. This pride of young predators would be happy to catch some wildebeests for their lunch.

    Cheetahs were hunting for food too.

    And zebras had plenty of food in Ngorongoro Crater.

    Some elephants in Lake Manyara and buffaloes on the way made The Big 5 complete.

    Anil and Basak were happy to go for a safari with one of our best guides. You should join us next time!

     

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