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Re: Field recording in Tanzania, or South(ern) Africa

Subject: Re: Field recording in Tanzania, or South(ern) Africa
From: "Daan Hendriks" daan_humanworkshop
Date: Wed Jun 29, 2011 1:45 am ((PDT))
Hi Kin,

Wow, that is a brilliant response! Gives me a huge amount of extra context,
insight and food for thought. Really great, very much appreciated!


On Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 12:17 AM, kincorning <> wrote:

> **
> Hi Daan,
> I have made a number of trips to northern Tanzania, and various other
> locations in Africa. I should say, however, that I am new to this list and
> sound recording, so these comments are based on experience in the location
> but not specifically with recording there.
> I would not recommend group tours if you want to focus on recording,
> because you will be driven by the schedule of the group and most peoples'
> desire to see a lot of things rather than concentrate in one spot for any
> length of time, plus the lack of quiet in a larger group setting.
> Anywhere in Africa you can organize a personalized itinerary through an
> agent/safari operator who specializes in Africa. There are such agents in
> Europe or you can work with one in Africa. They will plan around any program
> you want, and work with the camps to organize your transport from one place
> to another. In this scenario, daily activities (game drives, walking, etc.)
> are typically with guiding staff employed by the camp where you are staying,
> and you will be handed off to a new guide as you move from camp to camp.
> Depending on which country you go to and what camps you select, the cost of
> this can range from moderate (in relative terms) to very expensive.
> Throughout Africa, there is a very wide range in price which is primarily
> driven by the camps where you stay.
> In northern Tanzania (Tarangire, Manyara, Ngorongoro, Serengeti, etc.)
> there is another option which is not the case in most other countries, and
> in fact is sort of the norm in northern Tanzania: You can do a 'safari' in
> the traditional meaning of the word, with a driver who will meet you in,
> say, Arusha and act as your sole driver/guide for an overland tour through
> the various locations you select. We have done this for trips as long as 3
> weeks and 1500km, from Arusha to Tarangire to Ngorongoro to southern and
> then northern Serengeti. This is not an inexpensive option, but if you are
> travelling with friends or family (3-4 plus the driver/guide in a
> long-wheelbase Land Cruiser is still comfortable and personal) the cost can
> be spread.
> Rental/self-drive is an option, but you need to look carefully what you are
> getting into. Travel on the main highways is not a problem, but most other
> roads are unpaved and in some locations/seasons can become very difficult.
> In places like southern Serengeti or across the (vast) Ngorongoro
> Conservation Area, a road where the vehicles are churning up huge clouds of
> dust can become completely flooded or a slippery quagmire of mud in just a
> couple hours of downpour. You may well practice getting unstuck or changing
> flat tires on a Land Cruiser no matter whether you go on your own or with a
> guide. If you want to camp on your own (rather than staying at a safari
> camp), then this is possible but I'm afraid I'm not familiar with what
> reservations, permits, etc. may be required for the campsites. Going with
> someone who has experience in self-travel in Tanzania would be a good idea,
> particularly so on a first trip.
> You should be aware that most of November and December are rainy season
> ("the short rains") in northern Tanzania. This may be a good thing for
> recording, in that bird nesting should be in full swing, I believe, but
> rains can be torrential affecting how much you can realistically do,
> affecting travel as noted above, and potentially limiting what areas are
> accessible. I have never been in Tanzania later than early November nor
> earlier than mid-February, so I can't comment more specifically. The rainy
> season is a great time to experience Africa, but honestly I'm not sure it
> would be my advice for a first trip.
> You also need to research season in terms of what is going on in the
> locations you select. For example, a park like Tarangire is by far at its
> best for game in the dry season when an absence of water in outlying areas
> drives elephant and other animals to the permanent water source of the
> Tarangire River. If you want to see the wildebeest migration in the
> Serengeti, you need to be in the far north on the Kenya border (or in the
> Maasai Mara) in roughly August, but in the far south of Ngorongoro
> Conservation Area (near Ndutu) where calving takes place in roughly
> February.
> Everyone has different objectives, but I would personally avoid the major
> tourist locations. Ngorongoro Crater is wonderful to see (and despite my
> comments to follow I'd go back) but has the feel of a safari park somewhere
> in Europe with all the vehicles from the big lodges and day-trips out of
> Arusha. The main part of Serengeti near Seronera is the same -- you will see
> elsewhere-difficult sightings like leopard but you will probably see it with
> 40 other vehicles gathered around. Anywhere there are a lot of big lodges
> (as distinct from the smaller tented camps) there will be a lot of vehicles.
> On the other hand, if you go even a little off the beaten path, the number
> of people drops dramatically, and especially so off-season.
> You should be aware that within the major national parks it generally is
> not permitted to get out of your vehicle. There will be exceptions in more
> remote areas or at designated rest stops, where camps have arranged walking
> concessions, and of course within the boundaries of whatever camp you are
> using. Working from a vehicle may be ok for opportunistic recording of
> things you encounter, but will be a challenge for capturing ambiences of any
> length. This might cause you to consider more remote locations, areas
> outside the national parks, and camps on the various semi-protected game
> reserves if sound recording is your primary objective. For example, we are
> going back to Tanzania in August and one of the places we are going is Lake
> Natron, where a large majority of the world population of Lesser Flamingo
> breeds. It is remote and dusty, with only a couple ok-not-great camps, but
> you are able to walk, and there is some woodland/waterfall habitat as well.
> Most camps and campsites are set into patches of open woodland, so the
> nighttime sounds and dawn chorus are wonderful, and camps should be a great
> place to record. However, in camps within parks that have big game, they
> will not permit you for safety reasons to wander around on your own after
> dark or before dawn. Most camps are unfenced and in places like Tarangire
> and Serengeti it is common for hippo, buffalo, elephant, lion and leopard to
> wander through camp at night. I would work with the camp manager to select a
> spot where you can leave equipment protected from weather and
> elephants/vervet monkeys/baboons and let it record as long as battery life
> permits, or if feasible do so with long cables back to the recorder in the
> comfort of your tent.
> The typical safari in Tanzania is in savannah or open woodland habitat (the
> northern parks I mentioned above, Ruaha in central Tanzania, Selous,
> Katavi), but there are also some interesting alternatives. Mahale National
> Park on Lake Tanganyika has habituated chimpanzee in dense woodland, and I
> assume you can walk there (I've not been), so I would guess it to be
> excellent for recording. And, you have the highland locations on the slopes
> of Mt Meru. Arusha National Park is a little gem in my opinion --
> under-appreciated and thought of as a place for day-trippers out of Arusha
> town -- but has some great highland forests. Guereza Colobus is readily
> found there, as well as the more common Blue Monkey, and the birdlife and
> sounds in the highland forests are really special. (You will still, however,
> mostly be confined to a vehicle in the park itself). It would appear from
> the earlier replies to your question and the recordings that he has posted
> that Andrew Skeoch is working in t his area and the nearby Mkomazi reserve,
> as well as the riverine woodlands of Tarangire which is my personal favorite
> park in Africa (although as I said, not best for big game in Nov/Dec).
> If you stay in safari camps (vs. a safari with your own driver/guide), make
> sure you know what the vehicle arrangements are, i.e. if you are sharing
> with others and how many. If so, it will be a crapshoot whether your
> companions in the vehicle will want to sit in one place for any length of
> time, be quiet enough for you to record, etc. I usually travel with my wife
> and son and, in Tanzania, with a guide we know personally. In other
> locations we select camps where we know we will have a dedicated guide so we
> can go at our own slow pace without bothering anyone else.
> Finally, other countries: Of course there are countless options but I'd
> suggest Botswana (Moremi, Okavango) which would be stunning for recording.
> In Okavango activities are organized around walking and boats which would
> work well. Another great option is Zambia and I'd suggest Lower Zambezi and
> South Luangwa for a first trip (you could comfortably do both on a 2-3 week
> trip). Nov/Dec may a bit late for both countries, however, and I know some
> of the camps in South Luangwa close for the season as the river floods. I
> think some of my same comments (great for birds, but wet and thick
> undergrowth, not so good for big game) would apply but I've never been to
> either country later than October so I have no personal experience -- you'd
> want to research that. On the price scale, Botswana has generally become one
> of the most expensive places in Africa, but I think some good low-cost
> options remain. Zambia, on the other hand, is at the lower end of the Africa
> price scale in relativ e terms.
> Sorry about the length of this note, but I hope something here helps.
> Kin.
> --- In  Daan Hendriks <> wrote:
> >
> > Hello hello!
> >
> > I'm a long-time lurker to this mailing list, and have been enjoying to
> > read and learn from the group. I was hoping to take the opportunity of
> > my first post to the group to ask a generally broad question regarding
> > the following...
> >
> > I am intending to book a 2 to 3 weeks holiday, of which a main purpose
> > would be to do lots of field recording. I'm currently undecided where
> > to go, but my eyes have fallen on Tanzania, as it seems to have a huge
> > amount of national parks and wildlife.
> >
> > My intention is to visit in December, or perhaps November.
> >
> > Has anybody here been to Tanzania, and if so, what was your experience
> > like in terms of field recording? Is it relatively easy (and cheap) to
> > organise a personal safari (as opposed to a group), in order to avoid
> > being with noisy crowds?
> >
> > Related to this; as I'm still undecided where to go exactly, perhaps
> > there are better places to visit in southern Africa for the purpose of
> > a field recording holiday?
> >
> > Thanks a lot!
> >
> > Best,
> > Daan
> >
> > --
> > Daan Hendriks - Audiomotif
> >
> > Sound Design | Music Production | Audio Editing
> >
> >
> > +44(0)7842917821
> > skype: humanworkshop
> >

Daan Hendriks - Audiomotif

Sound Design | Music Production | Audio Editing
skype: humanworkshop

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