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Trip Report My 1st African Adventure/June 2011

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My 1st African Adventure/June

3 nts – Nairobi – Macushla House
2 nts – Samburu – Samburu Game Lodge
3 nts – Masai Mara – Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp (classic)
1 nt – Arusha – African Tulip Hotel
1 nt - Lake Manyara – Serena Lodge
2 nts – Ngorongoro Crater - Sopa Lodge
3 nts – Serengeti – Kirawira – Tented Camp
3 nts – Zanzibar – Mchanga Beach Resort
3 nts – Stonetown – Beyt al Chai Hotel
1 nt – Nairobi -Macushla House
1 nt - Nairobi – Giraffe Manor

I am a single female in her late 50’s from Vancouver, BC who did a lot of travelling in my younger days but not so much in the last 15 years. Needless to say I was really ready for a big splash out so when my company gave me an extra vacation week for my 25th year of service it seemed the right time for a major trip. Africa was always the carrot waiting for me at retirement but then realizing by waiting till then that I wasn’t going to be any younger, any healthier or have more money, it made sense to go for it now.

My 1st post on Fodors was August 2010 asking if I was altogether crazy for thinking of travelling to Africa on my own and I received such amazing responses from other single females that if I was crazy then so were they!! And so the planning began, complete with sleepless nights from the sheer excitement of it all.

Scoured thru Fodor’s The Complete African Safari Planner for ideas and found the guidance from this forum selfless and immeasurable so heartfelt thanks to everyone here!

My new friend and African adviser Lynda_S was always there at the end of the phone line to answer all my sometimes silly questions and soothe any panic that may have surfaced, not to mention offer the loan of binocs, flashlight, inflatable pillow and other safari “must haves”, all for the price of a few bags of gummy bears!!

I will try gearing this report to others who are researching their 1st safari in hopes of paying it forward a bit and will apologize now for its length. :)

Packing

Putting together the appropriate safari wardrobe presented a bit of challenge not only with the in country flight baggage restriction of 15 kgs but also because nothing in my closet remotely even came close to the earth tones suggested due to everything being in bright jewel tones worn with lots & lots of black. I must admit to rebelling at first, refusing to add the cost of a new safari wardrobe in beige no less (gasp!) and one that most likely wouldn’t ever be worn again, to the already skyrocketing price of the trip. But as time went on I knew that if going on safari I also wanted to look the part and besides I’ve never been one to turn down an excuse to go shopping! Settled on 4 outfits in various shades of olive green with a little purple thrown in cause 23 days in one colour would have been too much!

“Know your wardrobe” was the big lesson here. Make sure you’ve worn & washed everything before you go as my capris/pants all had 5% lycra in them, were bought loose for comfort and within an hour of wearing had stretched to a point where for the 1st time in my life I was thankful for big hips to hold them up!!!! Plus when laundered, and all the places I visited did, including smalls, the clothes were dried in the sun & didn’t have the heat from a dryer to provide any shrinkage. :((

Best thing I took was a light scarf as the mornings & evenings were cool and when not being worn it was great for covering my camera. The scarf also jazzed up the outfits for evening. Took a light fleece and wore it every day, even slept in it at the crater. Flip flops, walking sandals & covered shoes were included but I pretty much wore the flip flops everywhere. Really could have left the covered shoes at home and saved myself a kg or 2 in weight since my bag did weigh in at around 17kg at Wilsons but they kindly overlooked that. (phew!)

With friends in London I hadn’t seen in 25 years I chose to fly British Airways in World Traveler Plus where for a whole bunch more money you get more leg room, a seat that’s 2 inches wider and a newspaper. Was it worth it? Well yes the leg room was great but the arm rests are solid & can’t be raised and they house the remote control which pretty much took up that extra 2 inches so I’m not entirely convinced it was worth the extra money. And that's an awfully expensive newspaper. Next time I would look at Vancouver to London flight deals and then deals from London to Nairobi rather than booking all the way thru with one carrier.

Both Kenya and Tanzania visas were purchased at arrival in each country with no hassle whatsoever.

Anti-malarial drug was malarone with no side effects other than slightly more vivid dreams than normal, altho those could also have been due to all those lions roaring during the night.

Any cash carried was kept on me at all times in 2 separate little pouches that I attached to a loop inside my handbag and kept at the bottom of the zippered Baggalini handbag.

http://www.ebags.com/product/baggallini/hampton-bagg-crinkle-nylon/76574?productid=1111629

For one who seldom leaves home without make up on, a little mascara applied, sometimes with just a flashlight or in very dim lighting, became the norm as anything more in such a natural environment, well just seemed wrong!

Shampoo was provided everywhere but not conditioner or a facecloth so the old thin one I took really came in handy.

Ziplock bags of various sizes were used to store most things which really helped in easily finding items altho with a duffle bag it sometimes felt like the old "needle in a haystack" search which invariably ended in removing everything from the bag and starting over. argh!

Next - Kenya along with some photos by a non photographer (be easy on me please)

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