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Trip Report Back from Tanzania Safari

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We have returned from Tanzania after our first safari. WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! It was more than I could have imagined or hoped for.
I spend a lot of time before the trip on THIS site gathering information from so many that were generous with help. Now, I would like to try and pay back by offering some observations that might help someone else.
We had a 13 day tour which included travel time to get there. We flew out of JFK and stayed overnight in London to break up the trip. Good idea...WISH we had done that on the way back, also! Getting sleep on a plane does not happen with us and we did not want to take sleep medication because it is best on long flights to do some moving around to prevent clots in legs, etc.
We were in:
Tanangire Nat. Park
Lake Manyara Nat. Park
Ngorongoro Crater
Serengeti Nat. Park
We were in lodges..very nice, but I think staying in a tent for a couple of nights would have been 'icing on the cake'. The tent experience is not like the camping I am use to. Often the tents were nicely furnished..including toilets. I was told you do not sleep much because you are hearing the sounds of the animals up close...but can be so exciting.
The meals were all buffet unless you had a boxed lunch for a day trip. (All the food was set out and you put in the box what you wanted. We were careful not to take things that needed refrigeration.)
Bottled Water was always available and I was prepared to ask for "no ice cubes"...but that was never an option. I never saw an ice cube. Diet drinks were more than double the price of regular cokes, etc. because they have to be imported...and we usually paid $1 for a reg.coke.
Beige was the best color of cloths to have. I am glad that I put the effort into having mostly beige. Do stay away from blue. It attracts a nasty fly! Red shows up in the distance more that I could have imagined.
Don't try to share binoculars. You will want your own..TRUST ME ON THIS! I do wish we had spend more $$ on better ones. They seemed fine when using them around our home area, but were not as adequate for the sights of the safari.
I took a new back-up battery for my digital camera. I found out that when it was needed, it was defected. (I guess there can never be enough back-up stuff.) So I switched to my 35 mm camera. I had the 800 film hand checked through the airports. I was told in US and London that the x-ray for carry-ons would not hurt that film, but in Africa, I was told the film would be ruined going through their machines....and my film accidently went through! I was so worried the rest of the trip thinking (as I continued to take pictures) I would not be capturing all those wonderful sites. Someone gave me one of their extra disposable camera which I was thrilled to have....because there was NO PLACE to buy anything like that. (The good news...all my pictures turned out fine!!!) Take LOTS of film!!!!!
We did not take an electrical adapter because we had something ruined(melted) with one once. I did not want that to happen with my rechargeable digital camera. Others had the adapter and it worked fine....but many of the places we stayed used generators and the electricity was off during part of the day and in the late evening. No TV's or phones in most rooms...but were never missed. We did have a new flashlight...which did not work...see what I mean about having back-up for the back-ups!
Often the hot water for on only during a couple of hours a day.(Don't be on the end of that time or you will have a cold shower, anyway!) The rooms all had the small bottles of lotions, soaps, etc...but not wash clothes.
We took rain ponchos because we were there in the rainy season, but we never needed them. WE WERE SO LUCKY WITH WEATHER...it was almost perfect. A nylon wind breaker was the most useful item on cool mornings or evenings. Be sure to get a hat with a brim...not a visor-type. On the one hot afternoon we had, the top of my head was soooo hot with the visor. My husband bought his $8 hat at Nairobi Airport...which is a good place to find things.
Sun Screen and Deet-spray for bugs are a must. Extra glasses and sun glasses I would recommend. You will not see any place selling sunglasses, etc. while on the safari.
We bought things that the Maasai made like wood carvings, bracelets, etc. Space in the luggage was so limited that we could not get much to bring back. Dollars were accepted everywhere.
We never exhange money. The shilling and the dollar had the same value for the things and the dollar seemed prefered. There was NO place to cash a traveler'c check or use a visa until we got back to the airport. Bring cash....especially dollar bills. You will need them when taking pictures of the people. They expect to be paid..and it was usually a dollar. Children will ask for a dollar...and you will probably want to give that when you see how they barely survive.
(We were told that the annual wage per year is about $400.)
Having less luggage was stressed and now I can see why. Take less than you start out packing. There is laundry service most places and where we stayed for 2 nights, I did a hand wash. Everyone gets use to seeing the same clothes over..just rotated. At dinner most change into something other than what they wore during the day. I could have used a second long-sleeve top. I did have a beige cardigan which became my uniform for the plane, mornings, evenings.
I packed a medical kit with a sampling of "just-in-case'stuff. I did not use most of it, but felt secure having it.
I thought I could remember which animals I saw during a day. I realized within a half hour, I needed to write down what I saw...I think the first day, we saw over 25 different animals and some were ones I never heard of.
We thought about safety when planning this trip. We never felt un-safe. Tanzania is listed as one of the safest places in Africa. And the people we came in contact with were so friendly and warm.
By the way,we booked with 2AFRIKA. I would recommend them highly. Their cost was lower than most others... and we stayed in the same places and saw the same sites as others who paid more. Even the vans we were in were the nicer ones. 2AFRIKA could not have been nicer to work with! Budget Travel Magazine featured them last year.
I hope I have helped someone because I appreciated all the help I got from this site. I would be happy to answer any questions.

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