You worked really hard to meet the budget and needs of our group with many changes to the itinerary to accommodate needs for our birding safari in Tanzania. Thank you very much for this and the discount you gave us to make this happen.
Joseph was an excellent and safe driver and good on birds with which he was already familiar. There were long travel days to and from the Usambaras but this was worth it for the day we had there. Might be better to have two days there but that would have meant missing a day elsewhere. Also the afternoon and following morning on our last day at Tarangire Safari Lodge was a little flat and in retrospect we perhaps should have moved onto the Manyara area.
Peter and Joseph's recce of the Beesley's Lark site really paid off for us and we greatly appreciate that. I think having a specialist group like ours was a challenge for Hoopoe! Joseph was an excellent and safe driver and good on birds with which he was already familiar.
The bird guide Martin at Usambaras was really excellent being able to locate birds by their calls and knowing where to best find them. The day birding in the East Usambaras was excellent and we saw some of the special birds we had hoped for including the Usambara Thrush, Long-billed Tailorbird, Kretschmer's Longbill, Sharpe's Akalat, Uluguru Violet Backed Sunbird, Banded Sunbird and Kenrick's Starling. That evening was good too as we had a night walk searching for chameleons and frogs with a keen-eyed local guide who found three different species of the Usambara endemic chameleons.
The Masai guides at the Beesley's Lark site located not only Beesley's Larks but also Short-tailed and White-tailed Larks and our luck stayed with us when four Southern Grosbeak Canaries flew in to say hello as we ate our breakfast by the car! Tarangire was good for birds with the three Tanzanian endemics – Yellow-collared Lovebirds, Rufous-tailed Weavers and Ashy Starlings – all numerous and very easily seen. Additionally the large game viewing was brilliant with hundreds of elephants and several good sightings of lions and we even had cheetahs.
Gibbs Farm in the Ngorongoro Highlands was exceptional, although their local ‘naturalist’ learnt more from us than vice versa! Simon's favourite was Tarangire Safari Lodge, partly because of the epic view, but it was just a well-run place with plenty of wildlife. Meru View Lodge was excellently placed for Arusha NP and is clean and comfortable.
Joseph was an excellent driver and ‘fixer’ and he was a fine safari guide, very good at spotting stuff, positioning the vehicle for photos etc, and eager to learn more about birding. He was exactly what most of us hoped we would get. It was a tough tour for him, I suspect, with an awful lot of driving, early starts etc but he was always on time, smiling, and the vehicle was immaculate. Transfer arrangements etc worked very well and it was good to meet Peter when we arrived at KIA Lodge and the work that he and Joseph had put in to setting up the Bessley’s lark site was brilliant and we really appreciated it. Likewise Joseph’s guiding in the crater rim area at Ngorongoro, despite the rubbish weather, got us a much-valued bird, Jackson’s widowbird, so we were very happy.
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