Wednesday
Nov052014

6 Nights - 1 million animals - The Serengeti and Grumeti - October 2014 

 

This past October, I was fortunate to spend 6 nights in the Serengeti NP & Singita Grumeti Reserves. Never in the past 23 years as a guide have I been so privileged to see such quantities of wildlife. It was a remarkable experience shared with a wonderful couple whose enthusiasm and interest made the safari a resounding success.

The safari started in the remote reaches North of Tanzania on the banks of the Mara river. Unseasonably heavy rains in Tanzania drew the bulk of the wildebeest migration out of the Maasai Mara across the river into the Serengeti National Park. In 2 days we estimated 750 thousand animals crossed this crocodile infested river. It is very difficult, if not nearly impossible to capture on film or in words the enormity of the spectacle of so many animals in one place.

 

We were superbly cared for by the team at Legendary Serengeti Camp. This is an exclusive use mobile camp that captures the true romance and traditions of camping in the Serengeti as it moves with the migration. 

Moving on to our next camp, I was a little concerned that the experiences of the past 2 days would be hard to equal, but the wildlife in the Singita Grumeti Reserves has never failed us and certainly did not this time. Everything that we missed in the Serengeti we saw at Grumeti. 

 

This area has come such a long way since we first visited the reserve in its early days of 2004 and we are very proud of our association with Grumeti and all the amazing people who have shaped this area into arguably Africa’s finest wildlife viewing area that it is today. If you only ever get to visit Africa once, then this destination must surely be at the top of the list! 

 

We spent our days based out of Singita’s unique Faru Faru Lodge which is based on a small hill over-looking the Grumeti River. From here we spent most of our days out in the field traveling through one of Africa’s most beautiful landscapes. It is such a rewarding pleasure to guide people through Singita’s Grumeti Reserves, as it is such a vast area that produces amazing wildlife experiences in spectacular landscapes with so few other vehicles. At times we felt like we were the only people in the 350 thousand acre reserve. 

 

We watched lions playing in the early morning light, a mother cheetah and cubs hunting on the short grass plains and a leopard resting in an acacia tree in the heat of the day. A pair of Crowned Cranes in the evening light and a pair of serenading rock Agamas.

With a “super-moon” rising over the Serengeti on our last sundowners I was reminded how privileged we are to live in such a unique world. Thanks to all the great people who made this and every safari into such life changing experiences. 

Sunday
Sep212014

Mwiba River Lodge

Mwiba Lodge, the newest addition to the Legendary Expeditions’ portfolio, is set among massive stone boulders, ancient coral trees and acacias, which overlooks a rocky gorge on the Arugusinyai River.

The interiors of this stylish destination are a collaboration of both traditional and modern design elements with layer upon layer of textured creams paired with natural suede, tans and accents of black and charcoal. From the linen dressed slope-armed sofas to ornately carved wood leg tables and cascading lighting, the eight double suites all give way to a wide-open layout where each room flows to another.

The philosophy for the bath is one of nature, traditional canvas walls accented with copper fixtures, large soaking tubs with private outside showers, all with transporting views from hardwood plank decks. The grey slate lined infinity-edge pool overlooks three springs where guests can enjoy the sights and sounds of a constant parade of wildlife. Vast and privately controlled, this exquisite 126,000 acre wildlife reserve is lush with color-infused botanicals, saturated with wildlife and features 33 freshwater springs.

Wednesday
Aug202014

Wild Dogs

 

Wild dogs must be one of the most under appreciated of Africa’s large predators. So often when on safari the guides will get so excited when they find them and the guests will say “Wild dogs - what are those?” 

A Wild Dog is about 35 inches tall and weigh about 60 pounds. They are one of the rarest canids in the world, only a few a few thousand left. Once roaming through most  of Africa, today their strong holds are limited to wilderness areas of Botswana and Zimbabwe, threatened by loss of habitats and diseases associated with domestic dogs.

 

Wild Dog are remarkably efficient hunters, being successful in as much as 80% of their hunts, comparatively lions are successful about 30% of the time.

The best time and places to experience these remarkable creatures is in Botswana and Zimbabwe in June through July when they are expected to be denning as their puppies anchor them to an area and they trade in their nomadic lifestyle to rear their pups. They can have as many as 16 puppies, typically from one alfa female and fathered by one alfa male.



Tuesday
Jul012014

Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

In June this year I guided two safaris, that took us through Hwange National Park in North Western Zimbabwe. With the first couple we went to Little Makalolo and then we went to Somalisa with a family 9 we went to Somalisa.

This was my first time back to this park in a number of years and we were rewarded with great sightings. 

Covering over 5,000.00 square miles, Hwange is a massive National Park, 2/3rd of which are undeveloped for tourism. With an estimated 35 thousand elephants, Hwange is one of the last strongholds for these massive creatures but the park is also home to over 100 other larger mammals. Hwange’s meager rains fall between November and April and so as the dry season progresses, these animals congregate around the few remaining waterholes bringing to life a rich abundance of wildlife experiences. Below are a few photographs taken over the space of just a few days.





Wednesday
Jan152014

Private Guide Profile: Mark Homann Posted by EJAfrica Blog on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 

Mark Homann is one of our favorite private guides to work with. Mark grew up in Zimbabwe and has spent the past the past 20+ years in the safari industry, managing camps and guiding clients throughout East and Southern Africa. He now lives in the US (one of only two fully qualified Zimbabwe Professional Guides based in the United States) with his wife Maria and their two young children, and continues to guide safaris through out Africa.

We got him to answer a few questions for us about his experiences as a private guide.

 

When and why did you become a guide?

I started guiding in 1992. I grew up out outdoors, as many children did in Zimbabwe in the 70s & 80s. Even our schools were in rural areas and they had a strong focus on wildlife and natural history. So with a passion for wild places from a young age, it was hard to imagine doing anything else. I have to say that I have been very fortunate to have never looked back and have loved every minute.

Somewhere you have always wanted to take guests but never have?

Wilderness Safaris new camps in the forests of Odzala National Park (you can read more about lowland gorilla tracking in Odzala here)

What’s on your bucket list?

Without question the forests of Gabon and Equatorial Africa.

2 things you always tells your guests to bring when traveling

Enthusiasm and an open-mind.

2 things you think guests should know about Africa

It is safe and it will be the best experience you could imagine.

Camera or binocular recommendations?

There are many great brands available but for a good camera, Canon or Nikon with a good lens. For binoculars I prefer Swarovski Optiks but there are many good options as long as they are 8 x 30 or 10 x 40.

Do you have a specialty?

It is hard for me to have a specialty as a guide as I have visited so many different places across Africa and there is always more to learn and discover in so many different fields. I love history, people, photography, Africa and wildlife, what else is there?

Your most memorable experience as a guide

Probably spending time with the large herds of elephant that congregate around the waterholes in Hwange National Park at the height of the dry season are some of my most memorable experiences. It is easy to sit for hours marveling at their shear magnificent presence. But walking through the Malilangwe Hills, sitting with gorillas in Rwanda or floating down the Lower Zambezi in a canoe are all close seconds!

Safari moment you were most thrilled to have helped a client experience

People are the most important facet of being a guide. Seeing your guests feel the emotion of Africa is the most thrilling and rewarding aspect of what we do. To see the wonder in people’s eyes as they experience the thrill of a 100 thousand wildebeest pouring across the Mara river or the joy of watching wild chimpanzees interact all around you. Africa is a feast for human emotions and experiences that will touch even the most distracted mind.

Top 3 favorite properties

1) Singita Pamushana in southeast Zimbabwe,

2) Vumbura Plains in the Okavango Delta in Botswana

3) The Singita properties in Grumeti Reserve in the Western Serengeti of Tanzania

it is so hard to say as there are so many great camps in Africa and new properties opening all the time.  The new Mwiba River Lodge in the Serengeti is a good example of a new lodge that has great potential.

Top 3 favorite national parks

1) Definitely the Serengeti, it is the Eden I dreamed of as a child, so much to learn and to see, from the dawn of mankind to the greatest wildlife spectacles on the planet.

2) Mana Pools on the Lower Zambezi in Zimbabwe for its beauty and remoteness.

3) The greater Kalahari ecosystem of Botswana and Zimbabwe for it harsh dry seasons and huge herds of big game.

Your favorite trip

I can’t say one single safari is my favorite but it would definitely one that includes a great variety of animals, landscapes and experiences. Maybe Northern Tanzania and Rwanda or a combination of the Kalahari, the Lower Zambezi and the lowveld areas of southeastern Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Somewhere you have always wanted to take guests but never have?

Wilderness Safaris new camps in the forests of Odzala National Park (you can read more about lowland gorilla tracking in Odzala here)

What’s on your bucket list?

Without question the forests of Gabon and Equatorial Africa.

2 things you always tells your guests to bring when traveling

Enthusiasm and an open-mind.

2 things you think guests should know about Africa

It is safe and it will be the best experience you could imagine.

Camera or binocular recommendations?

There are many great brands available but for a good camera, Canon or Nikon with a good lens. For binoculars I prefer Swarovski Optiks but there are many good options as long as they are 8 x 30 or 10 x 40.

Do you have a specialty?

It is hard for me to have a specialty as a guide as I have visited so many different places across Africa and there is always more to learn and discover in so many different fields. I love history, people, photography, Africa and wildlife, what else is there?