And Sure Enough, Across They Started
First of all, we had a fantastic time, and our safari exceeded all expectations, for which we thank you and the rest of your team.
As you know, we flew to Amsterdam on the evening of August 15th and spent the nights of the 16th, 17th and 18th at the Hotel Kraznapolski right smack in the middle of the City, departing for Arusha on the 19th. And, are we glad we did. Not only did we enjoy immensely our visit to Amsterdam, which I had not visited in over 50 years, but we got over our jet lag quite easily and arrived in Arusha quite refreshed. I highly recommend that you advise future clients, who can afford both time and money, to do the same, as it really gave us a leg up on those who flew straight through and were quite fatigued for the first few days of their safari. I only wish we had done the same thing on our return, as the flight through Dar Es Salaam to Amsterdam, the six hour layover, and then the flight to JFK was interminable after departing Swala at 8:00AM.
The meet and greet was efficient, friendly and most helpful. Thanks for Room 602 at the Mount Meru Resort. The executive suite was certainly far more than we need for out first night and the few hours upon our return, but most welcome. A lovely view over the golf course.
I don’t know who selected our guide for us, but it was a stroke of genius. Francis Peter Powell guiding Peter Francis Ryan and Sara Barchilon took some real magical powers. And, Francis was wonderful, always on the lookout, with eyesight not to be believed. and, a most interesting man : well educated, well read, knowledgeable about anything we might encounter on the safari, knowledgeable about Tanzanian and East African history and politics, even up to date on the American political campaign.
Sally had seen the wildebeest migration and the river crossing when she had been in the Serengeti 5 years ago and we did not have any expectation of seeing it this time. But we did. We watched the herd for some time milling about on the other side of the river, sometimes going downriver and sometimes up, but clearly indecisive. So we gave up and headed slowly up river, pretty much following the progress of the animals on the other side of the river. Suddenly, the animals in the lead reversed position and started running rapidly downriver. We had seen them do this before, but we decided to follow one last time, and positioned the vehicle somewhat behind a tree on our side where we could watch what they were doing, but remain unobtrusive. And sure enough, across they started.
Francis called the guides for the other two ADS vehicles in the area to alert them, and we watched undisturbed for several minutes. Unfortunately, it seems that the drivers for other safari operators also listen in, as cars began to arrive from all directions. Soon there must have been at least 30 cars, many of which lined up right at the edge of the river bank, effectively blocking the progress of the wildebeests, who then interrupted their crossing. People were standing in their popups, and some were even standing on top of their vehicles. Many of the wildebeests who had arrived on our side of the river stopped and turned around to go back, apparently realizing that members of their families were missing.
Something should be done to enforce respect for the animals. I am sure the guides know better, but i think they should get some reminding about park etiquette.
We must have seen at least 50 lions – prides up to 17 members, animals eating a kill, lions with cubs, a lion treed by buffalo, lions mating, even elephants mating, which Francis said he had never seen before. This young fellow could not a quite get the job done, which Francis thought might have been because it was his second or third time around. Also, cheetah, leopards on the ground and in a tree, countless zebra and elephants, and the elusive rhino at some distance but clearly visible at a distance in the crater. I don’t think there could have been much we did not see.
All the camps were a success. Lamala River Camp the least, but we both liked the group dining, which I kinda missed at the others as I think we would have better enjoyed comparing experiences. Serena Lodge at the crater is delightful and most comfortable, and we followed your advice and were the first group to enter the crater the following morning.
Swala was truly exceptional in every way. We were in Tent #12 Impala at the very end, and what a treat. We were constantly surrounded with impala, zebra, the occasional elephant, birds galore. Liz and Garth were perfect hosts, especially Liz. One negative. We asked Francis about the accommodations and food for the guides, which he described as among the most meagre of the camps.
Thanks again for a superb safari.
Peter Ryan and Sara Barchilon
New York, NY
Trip Dates: August 19, 2012 to August 28, 2012