Monday, February 15, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

There are six lion prides in the Ngorongoro crater. This male had a full stomach and fresh blood on his chin. We found him shortly after our early morning decent into the crater. A wildebeest carcass was only three feet away from him as he napped and struggled to keep the rest of his pride from eating.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lions are not always perfect looking. They lead a very dangerous lifestyle and sometimes it shows in their faces. This female was limping, and missing her top, right, canine, as well as her right eye. And her face was swollen from infection, probably from a solid kick in the head. Despite the injuries, she was found mating with a large male. 
Wildebeest in Ngorongoro Crater. It is said the crater (actually a caldera) got it's name from the sound the Maasai cow bells make as they were herded through the area.
Early morning in Ngorongoro Crater.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

After Tarangire we visited Manyara National Park. Known for it's very large baboon troops, it did not disappoint. We did not, however,  see the tree climbing lions in Manyara. The ground water forest in this area is made up of old growth and is very different from the surrounding areas.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Tarangire River camp was very remote and surrounded by a landscape only Africa can provide. The architecture of the camp is part treehouse, part luxury lodge. The sounds of lions, leopards, and hyena fill the night air. Maasai escorts provide protection after dark as you walk between your tent platforms and the main lodge. The area is k own for it's massive Baobab trees. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I am an Art and Photo high school teacher in Belfast, Maine, USA. I am also an amateur naturalist and African wildlife enthusiast. I am constantly improving my Swahili and expect to continue visiting Tanzania. My goal is to share my trips through photography and help guide people on photo safaris. I shot all the photos you see on this blog while on my last trip. I'll add more in June and July. My work is not on any of the links.
Tanzania is truly a magical place. Anyone who has visited its game parks,or spent any time with its people, comes away feeling different, more fulfilled. It's like seeing the world when it was young.
The people are friendly, modest and can usually speak English. They are stewards of something very special and ecotourism is something they are getting very good at managing. Granted, the country is extremely poverty stricken and many of its residents struggle with the daily challenges of finding fresh water, keeping their families fed and finding and affording health care. In fact, many of its' rural tribes have none of these things on a reliable basis. The company is owned and operated by Tanzanians. They have incredibly knowledgeable guides who work hard and are eager to show off their country. All the money from clients goes to Tanzanians. I fell in love with Tanzania and have been putting a considerable amount of time in learning Swahili, the language spoken by most Tanzanians.
There are about 120 different tribes in Tanzania,all with their own language. I was impressed with how many people I met spoke Swahili AND English. In fact, our guides spoke several other languages and knew the Latin words for the many plants and animals we asked about. It seemed we could not stump them with any question about the flora and fauna which is so abundant. For anyone who wants to see biodiversity in vast amounts, I am pretty sure this is the place for you.
In this blog (I'm new to this, so bare with me) I will post photos and write about my February, 08 trip. I will also post information about the June/July, 09 trip that I am leading.
The gear is ready to be packed.

The crew is ready to go! Pictured from left to right: Phil Bowen, Joan Bowen, Sandy Evans, William Murphy, Charles Hamm and Carson Pease.
The next trip is much like the 08 trip. Although, we will be going to even more remote areas. (I didn't know more remote areas existed!) The safari is for amateur and professional photographers as well as wildlife enthusiasts who simply want to experience Africa as they've always imagined. The itinerary includes Arusha Ntl. Park, Tarangire Ntl. Park, Lake Manyara Ntl. Park, Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti and Loliondo. The trip includes excellent meals, early morning starts, plenty of room in the stretch Land Rovers for you and your gear, comfortable lodges with some camping in deluxe, tented camps and expert guides the entire time. This trip will not be considered roughing it. Every effort will be made to allow participants to focus solely on the natural beauty and wildlife. The safari coincides with the wildebeest rut, and we are sure to witness thousands of these animals with all the typical predators in tow. The itineraries used by the guiding service have proven to be very productive, with the maximum amount of game viewing with the minimum amount of traveling. The guides are all local Tanzanians working for a locally owned guide service. The organization was started 18 years ago and is the best guide company in Tanzania. If anyone is interested in joining, there is still room. Booking closes in March. I am not making a profit on this trip. I'm simply organizing everything for clients. I will offer tons of pre-trip literature, a CD of photos of you on safari, advise, as well as packing lists and a safari guide. I will answer questions regarding wildlife, teach you a few words in Swahili and share my enthusiasm.
The cost is $6500 without airfare. If you are interested in this all inclusive safari, please contact me at

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Itinerary starts at Arumeru River Lodge

Day 1

Arrive at Kilimanjaro airport in the evening on KLM air. VIP meet and greet by Unique Safaris and drive to Arusha for dinner and overnight at Arumeru River Lodge. 

Arusha National Park

Day 2

Wake at Arumeru Lodge for an early breakfast.  We will have options for this day, including a morning game drive in Arusha National Park, afternoon tour in Arusha or resting for part of the day. 
Arusha National Park is divided into three distinct area: Ngurdoto Crater, Momella Lakes and Mt. Meru. The park is home to many black and white Colobus monkeys. With the exception of lions and rhinos, you will see all kinds of wildlife and hundreds of different species of birds. Views of Mount Kilimanjaro may be enjoyed when it isn't hidden in cloud cover. 

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tarangire National park

Day 3

After an early breakfast, we drive through Arusha town towards Tarangire Ntl. Park. (2 hours) Afternoon game drive in the park. Tarangire Ntl . Park is known for it's diverse and wild landscape. Most famous for it's elephants, it's a wonderful place to get close to these giants. In addition to many elephants, Tarangire this will offer us the best chance to see giant rock pythons. Silali swamp will be somewhat dry, forcing the giant pythons out of their habitat so as not to get stepped on by migrating herds. The park will be choked with a high concentration of animals as the surrounding landscape will be enduring the dry season. There is always water in Tarangire, and the herds, along with many predators, remember.  Tarangire is also one of the few places with wild dogs. They remain extremely elusive. 

Tarangire River Camp

Day 4

Game drives in the National Park. This is peak season for Tarangire. 


Day 5

Lake Manyara, Karatu

Drive out of the national park and straight to Lake Manyara Ntl. Park for a game drive and picnic lunch. After lunch, continue to the area of Karatu and stop along the way to visit a medical clinic (pictured above) and the Shalom Orphanage. Meet Dr. Frank Artress and his wife Susan, founders of FAME-Foundation for African Medicine and Education. Continue on a short drive to Bougainevillea Lodge for dinner and overnight. 

Bougainevillea Lodge

Day 6

 After breakfast, we drive to meet the Hadzapi tribe, Tanzania's bushmen, still speaking in clicks and living a nomadic lifestyle. We will meet a family group and engage in some traditional activities. We will also visit the Wa Toga tribe.  In the evening we relax and enjoy dinner back at at the  Lodge. 

Ngorongoro Crater

Day 7 and 8, Ngorongoro Crater

Serena Lodge is a supreme facility in an incredible location. Built on the rim of the crater, every room has a balcony overlooking the crater floor! Ngorongoro Crater is a world heritage site and for good reason. It is the largest unflooded caldera in the world. Measuring ten miles across, the crater is a memorable experience. Four lion prides inhabit the interior as well as black rhino and a population of old bull elephants. Of course, the crater does not disappoint regarding many, many of the other well know African animals. In fact, 30,000 permanent resident animals make it their home. Giraffes and impala are about the only animals not seen here. It is not known why impala aren't found in the crater. Giraffes are unable to descend into the crater without lowering their heads which raises their blood pressure to dangerous levels. Lions are often seen relaxing in the shade of safari vehicles, providing some challenging photo ops. The wildebeest and other ungulates, don't migrate out of the crater as it has its own micro-climate, providing good forage year round. Another plus in the crater is the ever present population of flamingos which give the alkaline lake it's pinkish hue. Flamingos often fly at night to avoid the many birds of prey found in the area.

7. Drive to the crater (1-1/2 hours) brief check-in and game drive with picnic lunch in the crater.

8. Full day down in the crater with picnic lunch.


Day 9, 10-Private Mobile Camp

Unique Safaris has made a very comfortable site for us to use for two nights. We will split our camping between two different sites in order to maximize our game viewing. The Serengeti National park is a site to behold. The park is a 5,700 sq. mi. portion of the 9,600 sq. mi. ecosystem known as the Mara-Serengeti. A staggering four million animals live in this region. One of the most impressive events on earth occurs here as well, over a million wildebeest and half a million zebras follow the rains in a clockwise rotation throughout the vast plains between Tanzania and Kenya.

9. Game drive on the way to our private camp in Serengeti, stopping along the way to visit Oldupai Gorge, the site of the Leakey’s famous discovery of “Lucy”, homo habilis.

10. Game drive all day looking for cats.

Buffalo Luxury Camp

Day 11 ,12, 13, 14 Buffalo Luxury Camp, Loliondo

Loliondo is a game controlled area outside the Serengeti National Park. It is part of the Serengeti ecosystem even though it is not part of the park. It is a very remote area. Visitors get more intimate interactions with the Maasai due to less tourists visiting the area. Ol Donyno Lengai volcano, sacred to the Maasai, is also in this area. The volcano has been putting on a show lately. Hopefully it will be in full display when we visit. Loliondo is also one of the last places to find wild dogs. This rare African animal is always a treat to see in the wild.

11. Drive to the northern area of the Serengeti along the Mara River in hopes of seeing wildebest and zebra trying to elude Nile Crocodiles as they cross. 

12. Early morning visit to a Maasai village in time to watch the women and children preparing the goats and cattle for grazing. Lunch at camp and afternoon game walk. Night game drive this evening!

13. Game drive all day.

14. Early game drive, travel to the Kleins airstrip to fly back to Arusha. Shopping spree at the Cultural Heritage Center, day room at the Arumeru Lodge. Relax, repack and prepare for the return trip.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


There are not enough appropriate words to describe the quality of wildlife viewing in northern Tanzania. Suffice to say, it really is incredible and will far exceed your highest hopes. All the big mammals Africa is so well known for, are close and in great abundance. Lions within spitting distance from the Land Rovers and Elephants so close and numerous, you might forget to take a photo! Birding is phenomenal, vast flocks and hundreds of species make for spectacular photo opportunities. 


All meals are exceptional. The lodges we stay in all have top notch food. Although I have to say, my favorite meals are the ones we enjoy while camping. It's truly amazing what the chef is able to prepare on hot coals. Of course, having a generator at camp to keep the drinks cold makes camping very luxurious. We also utilize the power to keep all our electronics fully charged. A dining tent with china and cloth napkins brings "tenting out" to new heights. 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Land Rovers

We spend most of our days traveling in "stretch" Land Rovers. These are modified to specifically meet our needs. Plenty of interior room, an open roof, extra charging outlets, a built-in cooler filled with water, soft drinks and snacks, all make for a comfortable safari.  Our driver/guides take great pride in the maintenance of these rugged vehicles.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Visiting the Maasai is often the highlight of many safari goers. A more generous and hospitable people would be difficult to find anywhere. Steeped in history, this tribe clings to a traditional lifestyle reminiscent of our earliest ancestors. We are asked to donate $10 each to the tribe and $10 each to their school children when we visit their boma. This gives us carte blanch regarding photography. 

Packing list

This is a general packing list. It will vary depending on your gear and how light you want to pack. It is possible to pack much lighter. I also pack an additional 50 pound bag full of medical and school supplies. Before the trip is over, I donate the supplies and fill the suitcase with souvenirs and gifts to bring home. My general luggage is also lighter on the way home as I leave most of my clothes and personal supplies with the clinic in Karatu. It makes me feel good to contribute in any way I can.

 Safari Packing list


Checked bag-50lbs. Limit

3 pr. Pants

3 t-shirts

1 long sleeve pullover shirt

1 long sleeve button down shirt

2 pr. Shorts

6 pr. Socks

6 underwear

(sports bra for women)

1 dress or skirt

rain gear




hooded sweatshirt

hat (knit for winter, ball cap for summer)

long underwear

laundry bag




travel clock

multi prong plug-in (pigtail)

Ziploc bags

Kitchen trash bag (2)


Photo-copies of all documents


Bath kit





Bug repellant


Eye drops





Antiseptic hand cream

Baby wipes

First aide kit




Nail clippers

Powdered Gatorade





Camera bag/carry on

Canon XTI digital body

Canon Rebel film body

Canon Sureshot point and shoot

100-400mm IS lens 

70-300mm lens

28-70mm lens

lens filters

cleaner kit w/butterfly for digital

40 rolls film (ALWAYS CARRY ON!)

batteries for everything!

Chargers for everything!

4-1gig CF cards

4-1gig SD cards



Camera bean bag (no beans)

Remote camera switch


Wolverine (stand alone data storage)




Neck pillow

Tylonol PM

Bare essential bath kit




Extra pair of eye glasses and sunglasses



Camera vest for most of this



Immunization record


Cash/dollars $400/100 in ones

Credit cards


Swahili book


Contact info for home and Tanzania Prescription Cipro for stomach

Prescription pain killers

Prescription malaria pills

All meds in original bottles with original prescription paperwork

Departure checklist


Flight arrangements

Make your flights ASAP. You can usually pick a seat 90 days from departure. This is done on-line and can insure an aisle or window.



Get one right away. If you have one already it needs to be valid for at least six months after your trip. Always, always, always keep it on your person.



Your visa is included in your safari and will be taken care of ahead of time. When you get to the Kilimanjaro airport, you will be greeted with VIP service and speedy customs.



You will need to contact the Center for Disease Control (CDC). In Maine, it’s in Augusta. Their contact info is:

Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention
286 Water Street
State House Station 11
Augusta, ME 04333-0011

General Information / Receptionist: 287-8016


Once you make an appointment I recommend asking about:

Hepatitis A and B

Yellow Fever (personally, it’s a must have)

Boosters for tetanus-diphtheria, and measles


Many travelers only get the Yellow Fever, it’s between you and your doctor.

You should also get a complete physical examination as well as see your dentist for a check up if you haven’t recently. When you see your personal physician, you might want to ask for a prescription of Cipro, (for stomach)

a prescription for a painkiller, in case something happens when we are far away from the nearest medical facility AND Malaria pills (another must). The CDC will probably take care of the Malaria script. You’ll need to ask about the different types of meds for Malaria. The side effects vary.




Travel Insurance

Please get some! This is an added expense but well worth it. I would NEVER spend as much as you are and not have it. There are many policies out there. Some include emergency evacuation, luggage allowances, and complete reimbursement to you in case of family emergencies of hardship if, in the end, you can’t make it on the trip. is a good place to start.


Medical Insurance  

You should definitely look into whether or not you are covered while abroad.

If you are not covered, you may want to look into getting some insurance. There is an organization, Flying Doctors’ Society of Africa,

that covers you for evacuation to Nairobi. Membership is around $50. If you are the really cautious type, this might be an option you can look into. Unique Safaris stopped providing this service as it was used only twice in eighteen years and nowadays the air evacuation is very good and Nairobi feels closer than ever.



Tanzania uses the Tanzanian shilling. However, the American dollar is welcome everywhere except the most remote village. Exchanging money is not necessary unless we are advised to do so by our guides. We can change a small amount of money at the lodges before heading to remote bush villages.

It’s a good idea to carry at least fifty, one-dollar bills for tipping. Credit cards are accepted at the lodge gift stores and the Cultural Heritage Center (large shopping spree at the end.) You should also carry enough money to settle your bar bill and laundry tab in camp. Alcoholic drinks are similar in price as in the US. Laundry is around $5-$7 a day if you have things washed everyday. Do not bring bills larger than $20. And make sure the money you have is not marked or torn. Always, always, always, keep all of your money and credit cards on your person. Bottom line? I suggest bringing $350-$500 cash to cover all tips, laundry and bar tabs that aren’t at lodges. This will also provide you with enough cash to purchase souvenirs in remote areas. Again, credit cards can be used at lodges.

Recommended reading

I found that chance does indeed  favor the prepared mind. Wherever I travel, I try to do some homework before I go. It helps to familiarize myself with the geography, history and wildlife. I found these books helpful. Safari Journal, By Boyd Norton is my favorite.

The Tourist Travel & Field Guide of the Serengeti National Park by Veronica Voodt

This book is carried by our guides. It's a very comprehensive field guide for Northern Tanzania.

Safari Journal by Boyd Norton, Edward Borg, Ed Sokolosky, and Stephanie Sokolosky

This is a great way to journal your trip and keep track of animal sighting as it has many wildlife photos and captions interspersed with blank, lined pages for writing. I used mine everyday on my first trip.


The Art of Outdoor Photography: Techniques for the Advanced Amateur and Professional by Boyd Norton

I feel this is the most comprehensive book out there for beginners and pros alike who want to shoot outdoors. The author led my Feb. 08 trip.


Innocent Killers by Hugo Van Lawick, Jane Goodall, and Jane Goodall

This is a great book for the “research” minded individual. It’s a little dry but very interesting. It gives accounts of hyena, jackal and wild dogs.


The Rough Guide to Swahili Dictionary Phrasebook 3 (Rough Guide Phrasebooks) by Rough Guides

This is a great beginners language book. There are plenty of others. I also like this because it’s small and light.

Swahili on-line

Swahili is the language most commonly spoken in Tanzania and neighboring countries. I have always made an effort to meet and greet in the language my host people speak. Whether in Italy, Greece or Tanzania it really pays off in regards to the total travel experience. There is something about the Swahili language that hooked me into learning more and more. Presently, my goal is be fluent in the next couple of years. It's a beautiful language that is both melodic and challenging.

Thank you-Asante
Good bye-Kwa heri
Good night-Lala salama

There are many websites that are very helpful. I found many books and audio recordings available on


summary of the cost breakdown for the 09 safari. There are many safari trips you can sign onto. I can say from my personal experience that the guide service I'm using is exceptional and the amount of game viewing is fantastic. It will exceed your wildest daydreams.



June 23rd Arrive @ Kilimanjaro airport (leave US on the 22nd)

 July 6th  Depart from Kilimanjaro (get back to US on the 7th)


Cost-$6500     Includes-VIP pick up and drop off at the airport in Tanzania, visa, all meals, bottled water, all park fees etc, full guide service, all lodging, flight from Buffalo camp to Arumeru Lodge

…does not include airfare from US to and from Tanzania, laundry, extra soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, tips, and personal expenses



Payment schedule

$3,500, Due March 23rd, 2009

$3,000, Due May 4th, 2009

$1310, single supplement (split between March and May)

A roommate can be requested or assigned

Note: Between March 23 and May 4th, 50% return for      cancellations, after May 4th there will be no refunds


Monday, December 1, 2008

It is difficult to imagine the vast amount of animals found in the Ngorongoro Crater. A world Heritage site for good reason. It is the largest unbroken, unflooded caldera in the world. A hundred square miles of protected wilderness where most of the famous African animals can be found. It is one of the last stronholds of the black rhino. Four prides of lions live in the crater as well as many huge bull elephants, zebra, wildebeest, hyena, hippo, baboons, jackals, vervet monkeys, cheetahs, leopard, and many different birds, including a large population of ostrich and flamingos. The Maasai can often be found grazing their cattle alongside the wild herds in the crater. the Maasai are the only people allowed to freely roam the crater as they have grazing rights and live along the crater rim in their home bomas. 
One of my favorite aspects of "camping" is enjoying the camaraderie found in the dining tent. Breakfast and dinner are served here and more often than not, lunches are boxed and eaten picnic style in the bush.

The sounds of the African night wrap around you as you fall asleep in spacious tents with comfortable beds and plenty of blankets. A sleeping experience unlike any other.
Camping is an intimate way to experience the great outdoors. On this safari, camping is taken to new heights. Morning and night, warm water is just outside your tent in private wash basins along with chairs and writing tables. Comfortable beds, lanterns, charging outlets, towels, bathrobes, chem toilet and hot showers are all part of the experience. The tent sites place you as close to the herds as possible and give access to the sounds of the African night. A warm campfire and a sundowner tops off the day.
Meals are excellent, professionally prepared and always go well with a cold Kilimanjaro beer and good friends.
The pool at the Arumeru lodge is a wonderful way to end a long day of shooting.
Lodging? My trips include only the best lodging Tanzania has to offer. The grounds are well groomed, secure 24 hours a day and are filled with the sounds of the exotic birdlife found so abundant in Tanzania. Arumeru Lodge, pictured here, is the starting and ending point for our safari. It boasts a wonderful outdoor pool, indoor and outdoor dining, lounge and full bar. Internet connection is found in the main lodge for a small fee. The rooms are housed in bungalow style, separate buildings. Inside, the beds are comfortable and surrounded by mosquito nets. All rooms have en suite bathrooms and outdoors sitting areas.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A serene moment caught in a photo of a lioness. It is said a lions day is made up of 23 hours of sleep and 1 hour of sheer terror for all the other animals.
Lions live a competitive lifestyle, to say the least. This guy was actually part of a two lion coalition. We watched him limp up onto this kopje. The tip of his tail was missing and he had many scars all over his body. Still, his strength and sense of power had not diminished.
Bull giraffes can grow as tall as 18 feet! This one seemed to be enjoying the cool shade of the date palms along a small river near Naabi Hill, Serengeti National Park. The temperature that day was around 85 degrees Fahrenheit