Tag Archives: safari

On safari: Driving a 4×4 through the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Imagine driving a 4×4 through the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania on safari with Africa Expedition Support. Weaving your way through narrow tracks in search of African wildlife; without warning there is something moving through the grass in the distance. Thinking back to the wildlife documentaries about the Serengeti National Park you have watched over the years and remember the exhilaration as David Attenborough narrated in his deep calm voice “and ….in the distance ….… there she is …… oh how magnificent ……. Standing so tall and proud …..a lone lioness.” On safari in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is living up to all expectations.

Turning off the 4×4 engine you sit and wait, watching as she comes closer; this is nothing like a documentary. The Serengeti can only be truly experienced live, being there, being in the thick of animal activity. The lioness comes closer, she is totally undisturbed by your presence. After all, this is her territory, she is Queen. She wanders by, no less than 15m from the vehicle, crosses over the track and continues off into the distance. In the meantime you are trying to decide whether to sit and watch her or take hundreds of photos of this incredible human wildlife encounter. Deciding to watch her and take a few pictures as it is only early in the day and hopefully there will be more wildlife encounters to come.

A lone lioness

A lone lioness


Turning the 4×4 engine back on and driving slowly along the track through the Serengeti NP, alert and excited you immediately start looking for more wildlife. Around a corner you come across a watering hole complete with date palms reaching high into the clear bright blue sky. In the water there are a few hippos lazing in the cool water, a troop of Vervet monkeys play in the nearby trees and a herd of zebra nervously approach for a drink. With so much activity you don’t know where to look first. You sit and watch for 30 minutes or more, there is no hurry; in the meantime tourist vehicles arrive and leave allowing just enough time to take a picture. Realising you have made the right decision in booking a guided self drive safari and not opting for an organised tour being driven.

Eventually deciding to continue, it is not long before stumbling across a herd of elephants meandering across the plains with several newly born babies huddled in the middle of the herd, closely protected. A family of warthog run by, their little legs taking them at lightning speed as if they have an important mission to accomplish. Surrounded by herds of wildebeest, gazelle and zebra grazing peacefully complete the picture. A little later something flashes across the track and make its way up a tall tree. A leopard? Slowly making your way forward, hopes become a reality and there is a male leopard perched on a branch looking out across the plains. What a magnificent animal.


Feeling like the luckiest person in the World with so many animals and so much activity from unique birds, large and small, to countless plain animals, a lion and a leopard. On the lookout for more lions the decision is made to take a narrow 4×4 track toward a large rocky outcrop, as luck would have it you stumble upon several lions with cubs. The cubs play joyfully in the grass as mum and the other lionesses watch over them; noticing a bush move not far away and a large male lion rises from his well hidden spot. His mane is golden brown, flowing in the slight breeze, he moves a few metres and lies back down again; the cubs spot him and make a dash jumping on his mane and playfully trying to chew his paw. He is unperturbed and tries to sleep through the minor distraction. The cubs don’t give up, they desperately want daddy to play and continue trying to get his attention. Out of luck, the cubs bounce back to mum where she gently grooms them as they try to cheekily bite her leg and neck. You sit in awe of this family encounter and giggle as the cubs try desperately to get the adults to play with them, uncoordinated they fall off their mothers back and tumble to the ground only to bounce back up again. Before long 2 hours have past.

Lion cubs playing with mum

Lion cubs playing with mum

As it is getting late you decide to head back to camp to meet the rest of the group and share the day’s game driving experiences and stories. A couple of kilometres down the road there is a cheetah perched high on a rock overlooking the plains. By the looks of it he is looking for dinner! Gracefully he glides down from the rock and starts striding through the tall grass; not before taking several photos. He is not alone as he is joined by 2 more cheetahs and what looks like a cheetah cub. The four glide through the grass and then 3 drop to the ground out of sight. All that is visible is the little head of the cheetah cub. In the distance there are gazelles grazing and you soon realise the cheetahs are hunting. One of the cheetahs sits up and strikes the cheetah cub with her powerful paw and immediately the cheetah cub drops out of sight; mother is teaching the cub hunting techniques. The cheetahs are out of sight, all of a sudden the gazelle let out a cry and run in the opposite direction – they are aware of the cheetahs and that they are hungry. The cheetahs rise and continue on their way. Feeling a little disappointed for the cheetah but happy the gazelle got away!

This leopard looks rather comfortable from his position high in the tree.

This leopard looks rather comfortable from his position high in the tree.

Continuing back to the camp you spot impala, bushbuck, serval cat, dik dik and more.

Back at camp the crew greet with a cheese and fruit platter in hand and ask how the day was. Where to begin you ponder …… by now everyone in the group has returned to camp. Grazing away at the cheese and fruit platter the stories start to flow, everyone had an incredible day. The stories continue over a scrumptious dinner until it is time for bed. The crew smile ….. just another day in the Serengeti National Park.

For more information about Africa Expedition Support and this tour check out http://www.africaexpeditionsupport.com/africa-overland-adventure/ or email Debs at info@africaexpeditionsupport.com


Packing for your safari

So now your trip is booked, flights sorted, and jabs done it is time to think about what to pack. The biggest mistake most people make is to over pack – everything barring the kitchen sink ends up in the luggage. How many times have you been on holiday only to return home with over half your clothes untouched?

It is easy to fall into the trap of “just in case I had better take this and this and that”. At the end of the day the more you take the more you have to carry.

The key to successful packing is not brain surgery.

Keep it simple, pack what you feel comfortable wearing from your wardrobe. There is no need to run out and buy an entire new “travel” wardrobe – unless your wardrobe is full of business clothes and suits and lacks any casual wear.

Over the years I have heard people say never take jeans – they are heavy and take too long to dry. I personally always travel with jeans – they are comfortable, warm and don’t need to wash them as often as lighter clothing.   This is just my personal preference.

There are plenty of products on the market, quick dry, light material, durable, made for trekking …. And the list goes on. I personally don’t see the point in spending a fortune on “travel” clothes. I have several faithful pairs of shorts, 3/4 s and long trousers all purchased from Kmart, Target or Mr Price – cheap and cheerful. They are nothing special, but they are presentable, comfortable, don’t take that long to dry and if they are lost or destroyed I don’t care.

I have put my washing into the hotel reception or campsite only to see them a couple of hours later being bashed against rocks in between dipping and scrubbing in lakes or rivers. You definitely don’t want your $100 designer T shirt being put through this torture ……..

The only thing I did splash out on was a warm durable jacket – preferably something that is spray proof on the outside and fleece on the inside. For years I have travelled with the same faithful jacket and it was worth the investment over and over again.

So now you have decided to go through the wardrobe and take stock of what you have. How many T shirts, shorts and long trousers etc to pack?

This is personal preference and will depend on where and how long you are travelling. If you are travelling to conservative countries (East Africa for example) then packing hot pants and tank tops may not be the most appropriate clothing. You may decide to pack more long trousers rather than shorts and more long sleeve shirts rather than T shirts.

No matter whether I am leading a safari for 2 or 8 weeks or travelling back to Australia to see family and clients I always travel light. A couple of pairs of jeans, a couple pairs of shorts, 3-4 T shirts, 1-2 long sleeve shirts, 6 pairs of socks, a warm fleece and couple of changes of good clothing that can be mixed and matched for the odd dinner out or when dealing with government officials.

In terms of shoes, for years and years I have only ever travelled with 2 pairs; my trusty blundy’s (pull on work boots) and flip flops. Underwear is something I do pack a healthy supply (10-14 pairs) bearing in mind in some cultures it is not appropriate to hand in underwear for washing at hotels/campsites so I can get away with hand washing them myself every 10 days or so.

Then there is my camera, extra batteries and memory cards, laptop (this is for work purposes), mozzie spray, moisturiser, sunscreen, cap, swimmers, head torch and basic toiletries (toothpaste, brush, shampoo etc), sleeping bag, appropriate power adaptors, yellow fever certificate, passport and a basic medical kit with antibiotics, pain killers etc.

The one item I do suggest and something that is not often in the laundry cupboard is a quick dry travel towel. Actually, I travel with 2 – 1 large and 1 small for my long hair. These are invaluable as there is nothing worse than packing away a wet towel!

My advice is to keep it small and simple and if you feel comfortable in something don’t let other people tell you not to pack it. Not only do you want to have a great time on safari you also want to be comfortable.

Happy Packing

Feel free to drop Debs an email info@africaexpeditionsupport.com for more specific information depending on when and where you are travelling in Africa.


Off the grid but not off the planet

It has been a while since I have posted on this blog.  I could use the excuse that I have been far to busy, too stressed, not enough hours in the day etc.  Which they are all true.  So what have I been doing that has kept me away from the blog?

Once we got over the Christmas rush and festivities it was time to see out 2 very different overland trips. 

The first was a family from Victoria, Australia – mum, dad, 3 kids and grandma.  Mum and Dad decided they wanted their 3 girls to experience travelling East Africa on an overland safari truck – just like they had 15 years previously before the girls were born.  So the family chartered “Boomer” one of  our 20 seater overland safari trucks for around 3 weeks.  It may seem a bit over the top, an overland truck for only 6 people however when you think about it, it is actually quite a smart move.  There is ample luggage space, a huge kitchen (we also supplied a cook), the inside of the truck meant everyone could have their own space, and several places to look out of, and most importantly due to the height of the vehicle the game viewing vantage point is second to none. These guys saw the Big 5 in the first few days of being on safari!!!



bartering with the Masai women for souvenirs out of the gate of the Masai Mara

I spent months emailing to and fro itinerary options, and together we came up with an itinerary that suited the budget of the family most importantly,  and visited the places they most wanted to see, and did the activities they wanted to do without having to share the experiences with other people.  Some days we left open for the family to do activities which they could pay as they go, on a couple of days everyone decided that it was too much effort to move and instead decided to hang out at one of our favourite campsites near Lake Naivasha, Kenya.  And who could blame them, overlooking a lake filled with flamingos and pelicans with giraffe, zebra, eland and gazelles grazing in the distance!  That is the beauty of a private family safari ……….. the time is yours.

The second trip I saw out was our 8 week Africa Discovered guided self drive expedition.  A very different trip to the one described above.  This is where we have a lead vehicle with 2 of our crew and several of our Land Rover Defenders driven by the clients themselves. Most are couples 50 years plus, Australian or Kiwi, have a 4×4 at home and have explored some or most of their great countries.  They are now looking for a new adventure but don’t want to sit on the back of an overland truck and be driven across the African continent – they want to drive and experience Africa in a very different manner to the regular off the shelf package safari.

If you have the time I believe this is the best way to see and experience Africa.  Driving yourself knowing there is a backup vehicle with crew to sort out the day to day logistics and take care of the maintenance of the vehicles; giving you the opportunity to sit behind the steering wheel and take in all the sites and smells of Africa.  All without the hassle of having to plan ahead where to stay, where to shop for food, how to organise permits for the next game park, where to buy fuel etc.    



Game driving in Lake Nakuru NP, freedom to game drive at your own pace.

I said farewell to the clients, our crew and our vehicles after months of preparation. When I see an expedition depart it not only gives me a sense of satisfaction to see dreams realised, but it also leaves a void, a sense of sadness that I am missing out on another adventure of a lifetime.

By the time I had seen the expedition leave and the family from Victoria return from their safari it was the end of January. First month of the year gone.

February and March were spent ensuring our expedition to Cape Town went without a hitch, although I may be in the office in Nairobi, in spirit I am with each group every inch of the way, ensuring bookings are confirmed, permits are obtained, accommodation and campsites confirmed.

I did have the pleasure to lead a short trip in Namibia during February for 12 days. It was fantastic to be back on the road again, something I don’t get to do all that often these days. I was able to revisit places I have not been to for a couple of years, lead a safari, cook on open fire for the group and drive through some of the most stunning desert in Africa.

So here we are in April, 2 days from Easter and I cannot believe that we are already half way through the 4th month of the year. I am now finalising details for the last section of our Cape to Nairobi Africa Discovered which departed Cape Town last month. As well as finalising details for trips coming up in May, June, July, August and September.

I am actively selling the last places on our Dr Livingstone 4 week guided self drive departing in August from Nairobi as well as our 8 week Africa Discovered expeditions departing in January and March 2015!

So while I may not be active on the blog, I am certainly keeping busy organising everybody else’s trips of a lifetime so they have something to write on their blogs.

Debs Thiele

Africa Expedition Support