Mefi's Safari Story

Not lyin' about a leopard a day on Safari in South Africa

It was raining leopards on my Safari in South Africa in Mala Mala and Sabi Sabi private game reserves. Okay, not literaly but I was in bliss as I saw at least one leopard a day. Beautiful leopards too.

I don’t think it was just luck because these two areas have a reputation of consistent leopard spotting [nature is always un-predicatable though] and of course great teamwork amoungst the guides and the trackers [some lodges have trackers] help.

I saw leopard mama with playful baby, leopard on a prowl - the patient waiting and the hunt as well as the feast, baby leopard munching on an impala hunted by mama the night before, leopards sleeping, young leopard having a blast in the mud hole ++ .

From Mala Mala Game Reserve.

Who doesn’t enjoy a mud bath?

Who doesn’t enjoy a mud bath?

Now, I am hungry.

Now, I am hungry.

From Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve.

Patiently waiting ….

Patiently waiting ….

… grabed a warthog which we later saw her enjoy.

… grabed a warthog which we later saw her enjoy.

If you want to increase your odds of spotting a leopard on Safari, Mala Mala and Sabi Sabi Game Reserves are your spot.

Let’s get you here for your Journey To Africa Safari.

Botswana. You are amazing!

Dumela. Hello in Setswana.
I have so many Safari stories to share with you from my Safaris in Botswana and South Africa; two amazing Safari destinations and each so unique. I am so excited to have explored these country so I can now tell you first hand why you too should go on Safari here.

My first stop was Botswana and I have fallen in love with this country so here goes with my ….

Top 5 reasons to visit Botswana on Safari!

1: Okavango Delta and the surround marshes.
If you love wildlife, you know you have the Okavango Delta on your must-visit Safari area in Africa. Well, I am so fortunately to say I have been and it did not dissappoint. The Okavango Delta floods usually from June onwards to October when the water arrives from the rains in Angola. In February, it was still dry and hot [the permanent channels and river had water but they will fill out to the brim once the water arrives] but wildlife viewing was spectacular in the many different areas of the Okavango Delta and it’s surrounding. I saw 3 packs of wild-dogs, huge elephant herds with lots of babies, beautiful lion prides with lots of little playful cubs, leopards, birds and so much more.

Wild dogs so close to the vehicle from Kwando Splash.

Wild dogs so close to the vehicle from Kwando Splash.

By the beautiful channel near Machaba Camp in Khwai concession.

By the beautiful channel near Machaba Camp in Khwai concession.

A stunning morning with these cuties from Kwando Lebala.

A stunning morning with these cuties from Kwando Lebala.

2: Exploring the waterways.
There are many options of enjoying water activities because of the permanent water channels and rivers. I had a sunset and sunrise water activity almost every day from the different lodges I visited. Sunset cruise was on a big boat with a roof [you can see me sitting up here when it was my time slot] which was lovely.

Then, mokoro. All Botswana Safaris photographs you see show you a mokoro, which is a canoe boat that was used as a mode of transportation. Well, I did a few of these and the verdict - worth it. It is calming yet checks your fear meter [hippos close by], and each guide has their stories of how their parents taught them to ride, using the mokoro to get from the village to town, usually Maun - the gateway town in Botswana, or how they went fishing on the mokoro. Some riders still use mokoros in their villages. In some lodges, the mokoro rider is different from your Safari guide - fun way to get to know more Setswanans.

The mokoro in the Safari land is made of fibreglass so no tree has to be cut but in the old days, it was carved out of large tree trucks.

Sunset cruise from Kwando Splash in private Kwando concession.

Sunset cruise from Kwando Splash in private Kwando concession.

Ailin and I with our fantastic Kwando guide Joseiya on a mokoro in Kwando concession.

Ailin and I with our fantastic Kwando guide Joseiya on a mokoro in Kwando concession.

3: Off-roading.
I had the luxury of going off-road. This gives you the advantage of getting so close to the wildlife almost always. The main reason this is doable is because the areas in and around the Okavango Delta that I went to are private concessions and have only a few lodges there which means fewer vehicles in that area. The landscape does not take as much beating unlike some place like the Serengeti [a National Park] where there are so many vehicles and if every vehicle went off-roading, it would be awful. This leads me to my next reason …

Mitre, my fantastic guide from Gomoti Plains scanning.

Mitre, my fantastic guide from Gomoti Plains scanning.

We were so close - we saw the male lion eating a whole impala - nature!

We were so close - we saw the male lion eating a whole impala - nature!

4: Fewer vehicles.
Because again these areas are private and only a few number of lodges, you have the advantage of controlling the number of vehicles you can have in the area and the guides are part of the the company hence same standard of guiding.

If you are enjoying a sighting, another 3-4 vehicles will be with you but really, no more than that. You also have the unspoken rule of sharing [they said around 3-4 vehicle per sighting] so if you have been with the sighting for say 10-15 minutues, you offer the courtesy to the other vehicle to come and enjoy the sighting while you leave and look for your next adventure which is always around the corner.

Baby leopard and mama seen early in the morning from Machaba Camps with my amazing guide Moreri.

Baby leopard and mama seen early in the morning from Machaba Camps with my amazing guide Moreri.

Black backed jackel showing lots of loving from Kwando Lebala. Love Kwando Lebala.

Black backed jackel showing lots of loving from Kwando Lebala. Love Kwando Lebala.

A yellow-billed hornbill - spotted from Kwando Lebala.

A yellow-billed hornbill - spotted from Kwando Lebala.

5: Water-animals.
With a lot more water channels and rivers, you have aquatic antelopes like the red lechwes. Such beautiful animals splashing back and forth. I spotted a not so commonly seen situnga on my sunset boat ride from Kwando Splash camp. My guide Joseiya and Kwando rep Ailin were so excited - I had to come back and Google situnga to realize I did spot something rare. Birds like lesser jacana was also seen but it flew away before I could capture it.

The beautiful Red Lechwe jumping the Linyanti Swamps from Kwando Lebala.

The beautiful Red Lechwe jumping the Linyanti Swamps from Kwando Lebala.

The rarely spotted sitatunga - a water antelope from my sunset boat cruise from Kwando Splash.

The rarely spotted sitatunga - a water antelope from my sunset boat cruise from Kwando Splash.

So would I say go on a Botswana Safari, a loud Yes!
Amazing people, great Safari lodges, and spectacular wildlife in a country who have done a fantastic job of conservation. With 45% of the land set aside to wildlife and low human population, Botswana, you have something really special to offer.

And I can help you.
Let’s chat about Your Safari to Botswana!

Okavango Delta + Sabi Sands

“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.”
- Sir Richard Burton

2019, I am taking the ‘Africa’ in Journey To Africa seriously and exploring other parts of Africa besides keeping with mostly Tanzania. I will always love my home country of Tanzania but I am ready to explore other parts of Africa so I know what I am talking about when I am planning Your Safari. So here goes! I can’t wait to share more countries in Africa with you.

First stop, Okavango Delta in Botswana. I am tickled to be heading to this unique eco-system.
Some of the questions I get is what is the difference between Serengeti or Okavango Delta, which area to explore first, or the best when it is from my past guests who want to go and need my help with planning their Safari. Serengeti is my jam but I am ready to find out why Okavango Delta is such a draw. Fingers crossed, I get to ride in the mokoro if the waters are high.

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Then, South Africa.
South Africa has other attractions outside of wildlife which gives you a wide range of adventures to enjoy. There is Cape Town, the winelands with Franschoek being high on the list, hiking up Table Mountain and then of course Safari. I am heading to two private reserves near famous Kruger National Park; Mala Mala and Sabi Sand Game Reserve. The wildlife here is supposed to be fabulous - I am game!

Here’s to my adventures in 2019.
What will be yours? Let’s chat.

2018; Asante for a great year!

When Voyage Houston came knocking at my door asking questions about me [Mefi] and Journey To Africa, it was fun rewinding back and thinking how far I have come 18 years later!

“18 years later, I still get super excited talking about Safaris. I can feel the excitement when planning a Safari, especially if it is a first timer on Safari or with a repeat guest in a new area I have just explored.”
Full interview about me on Voyage Houston.

It is truly an honor Safari planning with YOU, envisioning what will suit you and your family/friends when I am dreaming up a Safari itinerary of where to take you + where you will stay, sharing in your excitement of going on your Safari, and the best; hearing your Safari Stories on return. Those stories are what keeps me going.

Asante sana [thank you so much] for your trust!
To many more adventures together to the different corners of Amazing Africa.

Yours truly, in my element, on Safari.

Yours truly, in my element, on Safari.

Tanzania with Mefi - Katavi + Mahale + Ruaha.

I rubbed shoulders briefly with a male chimp called Christmas on my trek up Mahale Mountain from Greystoke Mahale. Yes, you heard it right, this Safari had many firsts for me. 

Mzee Jairo, Sarina, Lisa, Drusti, Sally, and your's truly, Mefi. 

Mzee Jairo, Sarina, Lisa, Drusti, Sally, and your's truly, Mefi. 

My third Tanzania with Mefi Safari. I was with three adventurous ladies.
Sally, whom I have traveled together with before [and she's been on other private Safaris with friends and family in Tanzania where her soul lives]. Drusti, an Elephantopia member and her extreme love of elephants keeps bringing her back to Africa. She went to Zambia with Journey To Africa. Lisa, a Safari newbie and I can safely say, the Safari bug has bitten her. Sarina, a single traveler who became part of the group was a true city girl who definitely warmed up to nature. 

Our first stop in this epic adventure was Katavi National Park; a remote park in Western Tanzania. So remote, there are only two flights a week. 

On arrival, we meet Mzee Jairo with Chada Katavi.  A quiet man, but a hawk. His animals knowledge, instincts, and his eye-sight lead us to some amazing viewings. 

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We had an up-close [about 10 feet away] encounter of two hippos fighting - heart pumping moment, saw three lioness fight which was a #natgeo moment, healthy numbers of lionesses and lion cubs, beautiful birds including the ever beautiful lilac breasted roller, listened to bone-crunching sounds by a leopard enjoying lunch right above us, and spotted the elusive elephants of Katavi who were hiding in the bushes. 

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Katavi was wet as the short rains had already arrived in this part of Tanzania. This made the landscape so fresh and green. The drawback was that it was muddy and at times buggy but really, it was a non-issue if you go with the flow. 

Katavi, in the low season, can become your own private park. With very few camps, we spotted 2-3 vehicles a day. We stayed in Chada Katavi which is truly a rustic lodge. Eco-bathrooms and outside showers in comfortable tents with fans and charger in the room. The staff at this camp were amazing. By day two, they knew our drink preferences and would have them ready on arrival after our game. In case you are wondering, mine is warm water with lemon. Perfect for a cool evening. 

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On to Mahale Mountains and magical Greystoke Mahale.
I had been dreaming about this place for years. To see the chimps and to experience this place that everyone says is one of the best places in Africa. 

I concur. The Nomad Tanzania group at Greystoke have got it down right.
From the introduction to the fantastic guides on the boat ride to Greystoke, the terrific crew in the camp, the ultra-comfortable rooms, activities outside of chimp trekking, and more. 

Guide extraordinaire Butati, ranger Husein, me with my huge smile, uber-guide Mathias who I am so grateful made to go on my second hike as we saw so many chimps. 

Guide extraordinaire Butati, ranger Husein, me with my huge smile, uber-guide Mathias who I am so grateful made to go on my second hike as we saw so many chimps. 

But, the dream was the chimps. And we were all touched, literally. Special shout out to guides Mathias and Butati who lead our group, TANAPA rangers especially Hussein and trekkers who go out early to spot the chimps and let us know when to start the hike while we wait, all ready to trek at a moment's notice. 

We had four nights at the camp and every minute was throughly enjoyed. 

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The chimps.
The first trek and the first chimp I saw was a baby chimp. And then, drum roll, we spotted the back of Primus, the alpha male leader of the M-group. I was shrieking inside and smiling so hard but did not let out more then a little peep. The 1 hour with them went by too fast but each second was amazing. What we saw was typical human-like behavior - Primus waiting on his lady Yuna to get moving. And because he is alpha, a grooming session with another male chimp. What a pinch me moment!

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christmas

Second trek, we had a lot more chimps interacting. Christmas, a male chimp walked right by my shoulder and started shaking a tree towards me which hit my backpack - he is the one you see me photographing. No hard feelings Christmas. Apparently, he was aiming at a fellow guest who Christmas did the same action last time.

Primus and Yuna where having their moment together - Primus is making sure his DNA is passed on. Also, within the hour, we saw a whole scene where Juno, a female did not want to mate with Primus, and was screeching loudly, and how the other 5-6 males - including Christmas - were trying to get in their turn with her but in the end, Primus prevailed. And calm Sally had Primus right by her as well when she and Mathias got super close to the mating action. Every minute of the 1 hour with them was filled with excitement. 

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The days we did not trek where enjoyable as well. Our group plus other guests at Greystoke, Mathias, Butati, at that time manager Julien and Hussein played a few rounds of 'The Bowl' game and Kingdom - ask me if you want to know how to play. We also got to take a magnificent sunset cruise on Lake Tanganyika and swim the blue waters of the deepest lake in Africa. Total bliss. 

November is the rainy season and that makes the trek slippery and also because food is abundant higher in the mountains, the chimps move up. Anyone who wants to go see the chimps, need to be physically fit. We trekked 4-6 hours minimum each trek up and down. Tips for trekking Mahale Mountain and how this process happens - read here.
* Best time to come to Mahale for chimp trekking; dry season which is July to October but why November, low season rates. 

Mahale Mountains and Greystoke - you spoilt us and I can't wait to get YOU to experience this splendid place.

elephant

Our final park in Tanzania, wild Ruaha National Park. Ruaha is larger than Serengeti at 8,000 sq. miles. Serengeti is around 6,000 sq. miles. The last time Sally and I visited Ruaha was in May 2015, right after the rainy season. It was green, with tall grass that we had a hard time spotting wildlife - but we still loved the park so much that we came back. In November, the rains were not here yet and the park was dry as a bone with short grass. Every season has it's advantages and keeps it fresh. 

Because it was dry and grass was short and not bushy, it was easier to see large herds of elephants, five cheetahs - a mom and her cubs having just hunted, huge buffalo herds, and finally a pinch me for me, wild dogs. What a thrill. Elly, a guide was taking us for a night game drive and boom, a pack ran in front of our vehicle. The sun was setting casting a reddish orangish glow on them. A few minutes with them and they were gone. Wow! 

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We spent time in Kigelia Ruaha, another beautiful Nomad Tanzania property. The camp has flush eco-toilet, hot and cold water bucket system for washing hands and face, filtered water for brushing, and outdoor shower. The camp currently is overlooking a river and dinner by the banks, under the stars was lovely. 

This truly was an Epic Safari with some amazing memories and #SafariStories made with old and new friends. To many more! 

Want to head out on Safari and create your own Safari Stories? Yes.

Lioness Fighting.

Drama with the Lioness.
Katavi National Park.
We were having high tea - as one does on Safari - when Jairo, our Chada Katavi guide rushes to say we should get going because the camp manager Hamza has spotted a few lioness in a tense mood. We hopped in our Safari vehicle thinking we were going to see a hunt - topis were close by and on edge - instead, what we saw was Nat Geo worthy. A fight between a single lioness, who we believe was trying to hide her cubs and walked away from the den and two lionesses from the Chada pride who were trying to protect their territory.

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What we witnessed was dramatic! I was nervous because I was not prepared to see a fatality. The single lioness showed all the signs of submission - she was yawning, licking, lying really low - nothing helped. It all transpired in less than a minute and a half. Enjoy the sequence. 

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And done. The Chada pride's territory was marked with lots of rubbing the bushes and a pee here and there. They two Chada lionesses walked away after a few minutes into the bushes - we had sundowners with them. 

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One of the Chada lionesses may have bitten the mama lioness hard - see some red around her teeth - but I think everyone left intact. 

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You never know what you will see on Safari.
These are my Safari Stories from my Epic Tanzanian Safari to Katavi National Park, Mahale Mountains, and Ruaha National Park. 

2016; Kwaheri.

As we bid another year good-bye, we are grateful we got to show You the beauty of Africa.
The range of wildlife, birds and other creatures in the amazing National Parks of Africa, the chimps of Mahale Mountains and gorillas of Rwanda, the warm people, the blue waters of the Indian Ocean or Lake Tanganyika,  the highest peak in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and much more.

There is just so much to love on an African Safari. Thank you for letting us share our love.
Cheers to 2017. We welcome you.

Serengeti, Tanzania

Tanzania with Mefi

I LoVe being on Safari.
Absolutely love the feeling of being in the wild, with abundant wildlife and myriad of amazing birds, the amazing scenery of this un-spoilt land, and the people. 

My smile pure joy and pretty much 'on' the whole time.

My smile pure joy and pretty much 'on' the whole time.

My Safari this past May was just that. And I got to share this with two Houston Bloggers Sheree and Natalie. This is my second time taking guests on Safari with me and seeing Tanzania through their eyes has just added to my Safari love affair. 

When my guests travel with Journey To Africa, I plan Safaris where I draw upon the many connections I have in Tanzania from my years living there. I also tap into all the Safari knowledge I have accumulated in the 16 years I have had the pleasure of showing clients my Tanzania. 

And I take my own advice and plan my own Safaris accordingly. 

Natalie and the kids having a good time.

Natalie and the kids having a good time.

Our first stop was the village of Mkuru with my friend Tati. Tati and I go way back to early 2000 when she and Paul Oliver used to run the original Oliver's Camp. The Oliver's Camp that was a mobile camp before the current luxury glamping. 

She has started a project where she works with an Italian jewelry designer to create modern jewelry using traditional methods, each hand-crafted by Maasai women at the village, or at her store in Arusha. 

The day was spent with the Maasai ladies and their children who showed us how they live in a lifestyle that is so different from our western ways. Having grown up in Tanzania, their lifestyle is not surprising to me, but observing from Sheree and Natalie's perspective was an eye opener.

We had lots of discussions on this difference. I feel we need to come to terms that just because it is different, it does not mean it does not work. That lifestyle works for most of them and those that seek change, have options like work shops and teaching colleges. We can not force change on anyone unless it is desired.

Trying out original Maasai necklaces.

Trying out original Maasai necklaces.

This day also presented many commonalities. Jewelry. Sheree and Natalie got to indulge with fashionable accessories worn by the Maasai women themselves as well the jewelry that is Maasai-inspired. A fun day.

Then ...  a glorious Safari. Ah! My favorite activity. 

Elephants in Tarangire

Our first stop was Tarangire National Park. For Natalie, her request when we met in Houston, Texas for our pre-Safari planning was she wanted to see elephants since she missed seeing these mighty giants in South Africa.

Well, her wish got fulfilled - over and over again. Sheree, her eyes were just lite with awe. Her first ever Safari and any animal that moved made her jump with delight. Pumped me up to be with a first timer on Safari.  We were serenaded by birds, amused by elephants, babies and young ones as well, given a show by monkeys, peeked by giraffes and more. Tarangire, as always, did not disappoint. 

Rift Valley Children's Village.

There is also the people connection you make on Safari. Natalie had brought in a bag full of under garments from Peach. We got to hand deliver the bag to our friends at Rift Valley Children's Home. This home is truly a special place for the many children who would have had to struggle but instead found love, support, shelter built warmly by Mama India and Peter. Asante for all your do guys. We support you!

Our Safari Life. Pretty Amazing.

Our Safari Life. Pretty Amazing.

Ngorongoro Crater was our own little park. The advantage of going in May is that high season is not in full swing. Besides Sheree showing us her ninja moves and flamingo dance, Natalie taking a post breakfast nap, we got to spend time with the endangered black rhino, three lion cubs just a few months old, zebras, flamingoes and more. Fazo, our guide, helped out Mama Simba, the local Crater researcher, in updating her on the new cubs. We just chimed in on how we thought those little goobers were so darn cute. 

Sheree, co-piloting.

Sheree, co-piloting.

Our last stop, mighty Serengeti. Sheree flew us there, well, almost. She used to be a pilot about 20 years ago and she has not forgotten. The pilot let her handle a control or two and Natalie and I held our breath when she pulled the knobs. Suffice to say, we landed safely.  :)

Hippos in Serengeti

Serengeti! Serengeti Shall Never Die. Really, this place never disappoints.

The different habitats gifted us with a range of wildlife. Cheetahs in the plains near Namiri, Wildebeest and Zebra Migration in the tall grass around Central Serengeti, elephants in the savannah bushes, giraffes near the acacias, lions on the kopjes warming themselves, 100 + smelly hippos that we were so lucky to see, baboons and so much more. And birds, don't over look birds. These beauties were everywhere. Sheree would draw upon her Colorado birding knowledge and Natalie, I have to work on her some more for our next Safari together. 

The Crew at Dunia Camp. We were sad to leave on our last day.

The Crew at Dunia Camp. We were sad to leave on our last day.

Besides amazing wildlife, birds, landscape, on Safari there is friendships to be made, dancing to be enjoyed, lots of stories to be shared with people from all over this World and Tanzania. 

This is why I love my Safari Life. I encourage you to come on a Journey To Africa Safari.
There is so much to explore in amazing Tanzania. 

Sign up for our newsletter if you want to know when I will be leading a group on Safari to Tanzania or another part of East or Southern Africa. But, with me or not, I encourage you to go - Life Worth Exploring.