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Planning a 5 to 6 week trip to Tanzania/Kenya

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Can anyone help with this? I'm 66, reasonably active and fit, and hope to be in Africa (Dar es Saleem , Nairobi etc) mid Feb to late March 2013. Some, or possibly all, of this trip will be solo. I'm considering two weeks volunteering with an NGO agency,(where you pay and they cover all aspects of the experience) then some kind of two weeks travelling around inc. safari, and a beach/resort type thing (Zanzibar?) for about a week.I can fly in to Dar, and out of Nairobi, or even Johannesbug. I need to do all of this on a budget, as it's an extended trip and will be costly. Any suggestions?? Thanks A LOT in advance..if you can think of ANYTHING, I know it would help, not just with the practical planning but just visualizing how this can evolve and become a reality!!

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    I've been involved with the Rift Valley Children's Village near Karatu (near the Ngorongoro Crater) for several years, sponsoring a young boy there and also taking groups to the Village. They can take volunteers for as short a period as 3 weeks. Their website is www.tanzanianchildrensfund.org. Their fees are $100 admin fee, $200/week for room and board, and $550 for a Class C Residence Permit. A visa for Tanzania is $100 for US citizens. Working with the kids at the Village and perhaps at the local primary would be a great experience!

    After that, you can jump into a safari into the Crater and the southern Serengeti... different options depending on your budget. A few days in Zanzibar is always a great way to end a Tanzania trip. My favorite place on the beach is Pongwe Beach Lodge and, in Stone Town, Tembo House on the waterfront.

    If you can't fly into Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO) near Arusha from an international location, then I'd suggest Nairobi over Dar. There are actually better connections from NBO and it's closer to JRO than is DAR. Are you using frequent flier miles? If so, you have options directly into JRO with both Delta/Skyteam (KLM) and United/Star Alliance (Ethiopian at present and Turkish Airlines beginning in December.)

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    ShayTay, hello, and thank you so much for this! Actually, there is currently a great special on KLM flights from Toronto (where I live), something like $1299, to any one of Kilimanjaro, Dar, or Nairobi, so any of these are an option. I was thinking Dar, as a volunteer starter, to be near a large urban coastal metropolis, then from there for the Zanzibar week, then up to Arusha/Kilimanjaro and a Serengeti adventure. I've really only started to research this today, and knew little or nothing prior to this. You've given me another possible location re volunteering though. I've also chatted with United Planet in Boston, where they situate you in Dar or a nearby small city, with a host family, another possiblilty, but I have a funny feeling I might end up with a bunch of 18-25 yr olds!!; and there is Cross Cultural Solutions, which I had heard about before, but they seem more expensive..one lives at a volunteer centre with them, vs host family. Re the prices you quoted, can I just go there for 2 weeks, vs 3 or longer, and also, why would I need a Residence Permit for such a short time. I thought I'd just be a tourist. Are you saying this Permit is necessary for any kind of volunteering?
    Meantime, thank you also for the Zanzibar suggestions. I can look these up. Is Zanzibar very commercialed and overcrowed? Do you know anything about the heat/AC/rainy season situation? I'm pretty tolerant of heat, actually, and travelled remote regions of Indonesia (Sulawesi) and Borneo last winter.
    Thanks again so much!

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    Pasangei has given some good information on the permit. I think that reputable organizations will insist that you get the permit if required so that they can continue to operate in the country. They don't want to run afoul of the law. As for the 2 vs 3 weeks, I'd contact TCF directly and ask.

    I didn't find Zanzibar to be overly commercialized. Stone Town is a World Heritage Site, although a hotel chain is "threatening" to build a modern hotel right in the heart of Stone Town which would threaten that status. Get a tour company like Indoma Tours to set things up for you. I've used them and one of their directors has been my Zanzibar guide quite a few times.

    There are a wide variety of Zanzibari beach resorts, from large to small. I think Pongwe is just the right size, with a wonderful beach and great food (new chef from South Africa.) The weather is much the same year-round, warm and tropical. If you are at the beach, you'll get a nice sea breeze. Pongwe doesn't have AC, but there are ceiling and floor fans in the room if needed. Tembo House does have AC in the rooms.

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