A Safari with the Segolis

July 10th - 16th 2022

  Day 1 10th July

When Moran invited me to join the Segolis on a safari to Tanzania, I jumped at the opportunity. Eitan and I have visited Kruger and other parks numerous times, where we have always been amazed by the variety of animals we were privileged to see. But they were usually ‘lonelies’ as our Tanzanian guide Njano was wont to call solitary animals. I wanted to see “lots of,” large numbers. MMS324

Travelling with the Segolis can be challenging. Both Moran and Mikhal
 have doctorates in Ecology, are fascinated as much by insects as by the
Five, while Maayan is fascinated by birds and Lotem and Zoe just
 love animals, especially the babies. They were all as enthusiastic to

observe a pack of mongooses as to spend half an hour watching sleeping lions.

Despite the huge crowds at Ben Gurion airport we went through fairly quickly and were happy to board the Ethiopian airlines plane, where the seats were surprisingly spacious. After another long wait at Addis Ababa we excitedly arrived at Kilimanjaro airport where we were met by our guide Njano Amity Mbilinyi and piled into the safari jeep, driving to Tarangire National Park.


On the way we passed many villages, reminding me of countless poor African villages. We were surprised by the number of young men lounging on motorbikes near the roads until we learnt that they, in addition to the tuk tuk taxis, were waiting to take people home on sandy roads that the buses couldn’t traverse.

Different kinds of acacia trees and baobabs, termite mounds and dry grassland formed a familiar landscape, remembered from various African safaris, among them, Tsavo in Kenya, Gorongosa in Mozambique and Namibia


At a designated toilet stop Lotem made the acquaintance of a Vervet monkey. Everyone became excited to see mongooses racing in the grass.


By the end of the day we were glad to reach Tarangire Safari Lodge, where we enjoyed a welcome drink and a much needed moist towel to wipe the dust off our faces and hands. The lodge is quite open and after being escorted to our rooms we were told to wait for the guard who would fetch us for
The tall Maasai stood ready with sharp tipped spear to chase away any threatening animals. In the dark he showed us where to see elephants browsing in trees not far from us. Food was good and we were surprised to enjoy an excellent zucchini soup. By the time we returned to our rooms the mosquito netting was down and we too were soon down, exhausted after a sleepless night on planes.

Day 2 11th July


The next morning we were up early and after a hearty breakfast we said kwaher, goodbye to the staff, after posing for a photo.

We saw elephants, giraffe, gnu, zebra, buffalo, tons of Thomson’s gazelle, the most common gazelle in all the parks, in addition to impala,  Reedbuck, dik dik, waterbuck, as well as hyenas, jackals and warthogs.

Njano, who has amazing knowledge of animals and their behavior also has an uncanny ability to spot animals both big and small even while driving his jeep over the roughest terrain.

MMS10Our first important stop was by a waterhole. With the roof up, Njano showed us where a lion lay in wait. First a herd of elephants came to drink, mainly mothers with their babies and young males. The females, led by a matriarch, stay together their whole lives while the males leave when reaching adulthood. The herd drank and enjoyed the water. If they were aware of the lion they weren’t bothered but always made sure to keep the young within the herd. After they left and congregated just outside the water hole
a group of wildebeest (also known as gnus because of the sound they make) came hesitantly to drink. The lion made its move  but the gnus were quick to run away. It wasn’t the lion’s day as he also failed to catch buck or zebra that came to drink that day.

We stopped by a roadside shop where Lotem and Zoe tried their hands at weaving and Lotem shared pictures of her drawings with the local artist. I was interested to see men making bricks.


We ate our lunches packed in little brown paper bags at the Matete picnic site overlooking the Tarangire River. We were delighted to see the animals come to drink.  In our packed lunch I enjoyed eating a delicious samosa. Eitan and I always try samosas, well remembering the delicious samosas from Durban and are invariably disappointed. But this samosa, from Tarangire Lodge was excellent. The Vervet monkeys are not afraid and often came to tables where people were eating and snatched away anything that was on the table.


We stopped at a huge tourist complex. Lotem and I watched as men carved a ‘totem pole’ out of ebony. Ebony is a very dark dense wood and very expensive. It takes 3 men to carve. One man strips the lighter outer bark from the log: the one in the picture does the carving, while the third polishes the wood. I had hoped to buy Tanzanite, not realizing that it was a very precious and expensive stone, found only in a certain area of Tanzania.


That day we saw a troop of Olive Baboons sitting and eating the ripe sausages that had fallen from the sausage tree Kigelia africana. Eitan and I love to eat pizza in Netanya by a restaurant surrounded by sausage trees. We always make sure to park our car away from the trees; quite sure a falling sausage would dent our car, or us.


After lunch and stopping to look at elephants and buffalo we made the long drive to Acacia Lodge in Ngorogoro. What a welcome we received, with moist towels and a drink served by the staff singing and dancing.


We were introduced to the staff, notably Martin our butler (!) who looked after our every need. After being lead to our rooms we quickly changed and went for a swim in the sweet water. Surprise – zucchini soup for supper!


Acacia Lodge was built by a local man who made his money from growing onions.The lodge is surrounded by a high wall which meant the Segolis could walk around at night and look for bush babies and chameleons in the trees and they even saw a hedgehog.

Day 3 12th July


At breakfast we had to choose what we wanted for a packed lunch. The morning was cold and rainy. I was dressed totally inappropriately and was cold the whole day.  In the early morning we saw young children make their way to school, neatly dressed in school uniforms. The lucky ones were bussed to school; the poorer ones had to walk, often running to school in the rain.

We drove through thick mist blanketing the mountain forests, surprised to see that elephants had no trouble climbing the 1500 meter high slopes. We reached the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a massive crater that was originally part of Serengeti and descended down to the crater bed.  The ‘new’ animals we saw were hippo and flamingo. There is a salt lake in the center of the crater, but because of much rainfall the brine shrimp and algae were not easily accessed by the flamingos and most sought different feeding grounds. My favourite picture is of a ‘devil’ hippo. He had been feeding on the grass by the lake and got this scary face.


They say the reason there are no giraffes in the crater is that they cannot negotiate the steep decline from crater rim to bottom. Because of the cold weather we never got to see black rhinos, the only one of the Big Five that we missed.

We stopped for lunch at Ngoitokitok springs picnic area with a bunch of hippos nestling not far from the lake area. This time it was brown hawks that were ready to swoop down and relieve us of our lunch with a marabou stork ungainly walking around and hoping for some scraps. It was bitterly cold


We enjoyed finding the horns of buffalo and posing with them.


 On our return to Acacia Lodge we were welcomed again by wet towels drinks and singing. We regrouped and were taken on a tour of the gardens at Acacia Lodge. They grow all their own fruit and vegetables and grow and process Arabica coffee that grows at 1500 m.


 Among the many coffee capsules that Eitan buys is one called robusta;
I learnt it was coffee that grows at low altitudes.
We sat in front of the warming fire with drinks and snacks until we went for supper. Surprise – zucchini soup again!

Day 4 13th July

After another early rise and hearty breakfast we made our way to Serengeti in bright sunlight. We added topis, warthogs and hartebeest to our list of sighted animals in addition to numerous birds. One of the highlights was seeing a cheetah chase a Tomson’s gazelle and catch her baby without much effort.

During the day we saw huge numbers of gnus, adults and babies, walk in single file as they migrated toward the Mara River in Serengeti, which they would cross, making their way to Masai Mara in Kenya where food was plentiful..  The young are about 5 months old. Almost 2 million gnus, zebra and gazelle will cross the Mara River now. It is the dry season and grass is becoming scarce.  Once they cross they will rest and make their way to Kenya to Masai Mara where they will remain until about October. Njano said although they are in different areas they will all start at the same time to make the treacherous journey back to Serengeti when the river is in full flood and swarms of crocodiles wait to attack.

As we made our way to Maniata Maasai village we had a toilet stop from where we could see the Olduvai Gorge in the distance. Mary Leakey in 1959 discovered the earliest evidence of the existence of our human ancestors. Olduvai means wild sisal plants which we saw frequently, used still to make ropes.

At the village we were greeted by the Maasai and garlanded with beaded necklaces. Both men and woman danced in a weaving circle and we joined in. While chanting various warriors would come forward and jump as high as they could, showing their strength and prowess as warriors. We were very proud of Maayan’s attempts which they appreciated. We then went to the school for children between the ages of 3 and 6 and were impressed by their neat notebooks, arithmetic and ability to sing abcd etc. (Zoe joined in).

MMS392 MMS386

Click on the picture for a short video clip
maayan jump

A flat tire needed to be changed. While Njano struggled with it, Moran, Lotem and Zoe did some stomach presses, asking me to photograph them. Just a minute, just a minute I kept on calling long after taking the photo until they collapsed from tiredness and we from laughter.


We stopped to study acacia trees with their symbiotic ant swarms. The ants reside in the swollen thorns of the acacia tree where they get food from the
tree. Should a herbivore try and eat the acacia the ants swarm out and bite the animal on its nose


Just before 6.00pm, the time when people are supposed to be out of the park, we arrived at Mbuzi Mawe Serena tented lodge. Again a place with no fences. This time we had two guards escorting us to and from the rooms - one with a kalatchnikov, the other with a sling shot. Surprise - zucchini soup for supper.

Day 5 14th July

We were advised to wear long clothes that were not black as it attracted tsetse flies. We saw special blue material hanging in trees all over Serengeti, meant to attract and sterilize the flies.  On our honeymoon Eitan and I went to Tsavo Game Reserve, officially closed, but we found someone to take us around. At some point the car got stuck. Fully expecting the driver to get out and push we were surprised by his adamant refusal to leave the car as he was afraid of tsetse flies, leaving us no option but to get out and push... and pray.

Always in the distance we saw fires from burning grass. It is to hasten growth of green shoots to feed the  huge numbers of migrating animals and also to kill the tsetse fly eggs laid in the grass.

We ate lunch in an area of short grass (who wants a lion stalking us?). It gave Moran and Mikhal another opportunity to search for insects



We watched as an increasing number of vultures, griffon and
lappet-faced vultures, and marabou storks gathered near the
carcass of a gnu. Only a few of the strongest were eating while
any challengers to the feasts were chased away; the storks
 hovered by, waiting for their chance to snatch a morsel.


Camp Zebra Kogatende is a temporary tented camp erected only during the two migration seasons and so is rather basic but pleasing.

Although there was running water for the sink and toilet, before a shower we had to inform the men who would then fill containers by the showers with warm water. It reminded me of our days in Sinai when Eitan improvised a similar method for us to shower off the salt at the end of the day. The kitchen was quite a way away from the dining tent – they didn’t want any reason for animals to approach the tents too closely. But we did hear gnus, hyenas, zebras and even a lion during our two nights there.

 MMS429MMS430MMS431  MMS468This time our guard escort was equipped with a bow and arrow

Day 6 15th July Camp Zebra

We woke early  and admired the spectacular sunrise


Njano assured us the wildebeest would not cross before 800am. We watched amazed at the thousands of gnus milling about on the plain above the river, as more and more gnus joined them. Suddenly great numbers started to run along the plain and we were frightened to miss their crossing. Njano assured us he was not moving as they might just come back. Which they did. Then suddenly it started. They didn’t choose the easiest way to get down to the water, sliding and falling on the sandy banks. The water is very low at this time of year and although the vast majority raced across the river, some were more relaxed and stopped to drink. We were horrified to see a group of young gnus race back into the water, but Njano assured us they were just looking for their families. After a long pause another group made the crossing, scrambling up the bank just in front of our vehicle. The huge plain that had been full of gnus earlier was now empty of animals. The dust subsided and the river returned to its slow flow until the next crossing.


We did not see crocodiles in the water nor any animals dying during the crossing, although a few were limping. A great disappointment for the vultures and marabou storks waiting nearby to eat the remains of a kill. One gnu did not move, injured I suppose, but we were told that until it died the vultures would not move in.

For the first time we would return to the camp for lunch and remain there until the heat of the day had abated. I lay down trying to rest but my mind’s eye was full of the gnus crossing the river. After some twenty minutes I told Lotem, with whom I was sharing the tent that I couldn’t sleep with all the gnus in my head. She scoffed saying I was snoring almost immediately. Oh no, Lotem I replied, that was the gnus gnuing!

TAN146In the afternoon we saw full-bellied cheetahs lying in the grass.

The others had seen a leopard previously,  I had not and so we (=Njano) were on a hunt to spot a leopard. A gutted Tomson’s gazelle was in the branches of a tree; we stopped, remaining to look for the leopard. We were well rewarded when the leopard came into view and subsequently climbed  the tree  and lay on a branch near his kill. It was a very warm day. Slowly we saw one leg drop down and then the other leg, on the other side of the branch, and then a front leg. Head down and the leopard, totally relaxed, fell asleep.


Late in the afternoon we did see crocodiles in the river and did not know whether we saw two crocodiles fighting or one thrashing with a kill. MMS252

We drove northwards and came to the border between Tanzania and Kenya, marked only by a concrete block


Seeing a vehicle stopped a few hundred meters away we joined them to see two fully grown male lions in the grass - here is one them..  TAN19

We returned to Camp Zebra.

Day 7 16th July

We were packed and ready to go after an early breakfast with the hope of seeing another crossing before we returned. The gnus obliged and we saw 2 more crossings including a few zebra with the masses. One gnu lay dead in the water

. MMS293

Lotem very much wanted to see a snake. Incredibly the last thing spotted was a bright blue black-headed spitting cobra. We couldn’t go too near as it can spit up to 8 meters, causing blindness if the venom enters the eyes.
Considering the long hours and rough terrain interspersed with periods of inactivity just waiting for something to happen, we all got on remarkably
well and not a cross word was exchanged.

During our safari we saw over 50 lions, 5 cheetahs and 2 leopards, besides thousands of other animals. We saw griffon vultures and lappet faced vultures, hawks, eagles, flamingoes, starlings, rollers, various bustards, secretary birds, cranes and others I don’t remember,  I was very pleased. “Lots of” it certainly was.

We drove to the local airport and were surprised by the number of propeller planes landing and taking off. We weren’t the only people who wanted to avoid the difficult drive back. After taking off from Kilimanjaro airport we finally saw Mount Kilimanjaro rising 5,895 meters high, with a little snow on its peak.


Again a stop at Addis airport and an easy flight home. We all agreed it was a most successful safari.

Click on the picture for a short  video clip


Many, many thanks to my amazing husband Eitan who with patience and incredible skill spent long hours combining and uploading what I wrote with my and Moran's photos into a coherent whole, all the time while in charge of the European Youth Bridge Championships.

Although I only included special pictures following is a checklist of the animals we saw. The bird list is only partial as I am not a bird watcher:
lion, cheetah, leopard, gnu, zebra, elephant, giraffe, buffalo, hippo, crocodile, ostrich, Tomson's gazelle, Grants gazelle, hartebeest, impala, topi, eland, waterbuck, reedbuck, dik dik, klipspringer, oribi, hyrax, Vervet monkey, olive baboon, monngoose, hedgehog, bushbaby, chameleon, griffon vuture, lappet-faced vulture, marabou stork, various herons, crested cranes,  hawk, eagle,  flamingo, egyptian geese, guinea fowl