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All the travel arrangements were in place – we were met at airports – whether from international flights; or at a remote airstrip somewhere in the bush – by a good driver or guide and a vehicle fit for purpose. All bookings had been made as per the itinerary. Things happened flawlessly clearly indicating that Travel with Jules is on top of their business.
Everything was done well! Even a minor ‘problem’ was sorted in double quick time and very much to our advantage (Clients contacted TWJ urgently needing a change to their itinerary – we contacted the ground agents who promptly came up with a solution). The camps chosen for us were exactly as per our brief – small and ‘back-to-nature’ but curiously luxurious all at the same time.
Highlights included seeing a Leopard resting in a tree – that has to be pretty special! 4 young Cheetah is also up there as a highlight too. But there are so many to choose from – 3 month old lion cubs – a bush walk with Devon – the sheer scale of the African landscape – The camps – the welcome from our Tanzanian hosts. It seemed genuine and honest. All these were very special highlights too.
Sanctuary Crater Camp at Ngorongoro is simple luxury and yet ‘just right’. The staff there go out of their way to welcome guests. Sanctuary Swala in Tarangire with the watering hole just in from of the tent (we had Reedbuck tent) could not have been bettered for a truly wild experience. The Zanzibari Hotel on the island of Zanzibar is everyone’s dream of a beach hotel – pristine coral sand fringed by palm trees and I had the luxury of a bedroom with only three walls. The ‘air conditioning’ was the welcome breeze from the Indian Ocean. One other highlight is that we did not have to worry about the small details of our travel arrangements. We were confident that all had been arranged with attention to detail – and it had! A very memorably ‘once in a life-time’ holiday.
One of Anna’s highlights was a bush walk in Tarangire …. here is her account of this very special safari experience:
“A Walk on the WildSide”– a bush walk escorted by Devon, Manager of Swala Camp and Joseph, the Park Ranger.
In preparation for my walk in the bush around Swala Camp, Tarangire National Park, I was given a very thorough safety briefing, (This is no emergency briefing where exits are indicated by lights on the floor.) The “emergency exit” hand signal of primary importance is an upheld, tightly balled fist – meaning FREEZE: do not move a muscle: and certainly DO NOT RUN. This is no visit to the zoo; and as we set off, I was acutely aware that we were indeed in the wild – there are bull elephant everywhere and, as we soon discovered, leopard too. The Park Ranger and Devon are acutely aware of any unusual animal activity maybe indicating danger to us. Devon had explained that around camp the elephant are habituated to the smell of humans, but away from camp, human activity is a threat and they will react so we must keep down-wind of any elephants at all times. Very early on in the walk we froze. The ranger indicated that the black-faced monkeys had given an alarm call, as had a nearby herd of Impala antelope. Possible leopard in the area? We listened for a while, no further alarm calls, so time to calmly and quietly resumed our way. In advance, I had indicated to Devon that I was interested in exploring the smaller ‘stuff’, often overlooked when in the search for the larger game; the termite mounds which abound throughout the park; reading the pug marks in the sand; discovering what the scat and dung piles contain and listening to and identifying different birds. Soon we found the white, tell tale scat of hyaena, evidence that these animals had recently been through camp. Only hyaena have the jaw strength to crush big bones and the scat is white as a result. We found the skull of a porcupine – teeth for grinding at the back and long incisors at the front. Next the pad print of an elephant took our attention. The indentations of this one were from a relatively young animal as the indentations were clear to see. Further pug marks gave away the secret movement of an elusive leopard which had clearly visited the environs of camp in the last day or so. Devon and I spent a long while discussing the life of the termite mound. These are but tip-of-the-iceberg constructions. A huge colony of termites are busily building an elaborate set of chambers, stretching in all directions and reaching a water source a considerable depth below the surface. This is co-operation on a gigantic scale. We had an interesting moment when a bull elephant decided to alter course and come rather too close for Devon’s comfort, but as we were down-wind and he was unaware of our presence, the big bull soon moved off, quietly browsing the dry brush and undergrowth trying, in these lean, parched times, to fill that enormous belly. Two and a half hours passed in an instance. Soon we were back in camp and off again in the truck. On our subsequent game drive we did indeed see leopard in a tree and cheetah resting in the dry grass. So from the termite to the big cats, I saw it all from Swala Camp, Tarangire National Park. Tanzania….
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