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Stepping Through Northern Tanzania with Green Footprint: A Report

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The idea of seeing more of Africa began percolating shortly after returning from Botswana in 2006. Even though we had our shots, the safari bug had bitten us.
Narrowing down options for east Africa, I focused on Tanzania. I read the Brandt Guide and Lonely Planet Tanzania and sent away for catalogs from some of the big safari specialists. The prices put me into sticker shock. I wanted to go on safari and not as part of a group. Surely there had to be a better way.

I lurked on Fodor’s for a bit, checked out lots of web sites and requested quotes from a few different types of companies: the US budget safari company that we used last year, the agent who had left that company to become an safari planner, a US/TZ based company and Green Footprint Adventure. Pleasantly, Green Footprint, based in Arusha, put together the most unique safari at the best price. Plus we would have a private tour unless we found some friends to join us. We were preparing to go as a couple but when I gave the itinerary and price to two friends, they wanted in. Aside from bringing down the cost pp, sometimes, no matter how much you love your spouse; there is such a thing as TOO much alone time.

The travel gods were smiling on us when we left Newark Airport on time -a phenomenon in itself and arrived early in Amsterdam. After a brief layover we were on our way to JRO.

24 Oct – arrival Kilimanjaro Airport

We deplaned into the warm night air around 8 pm local time. Somehow we were the last on line to get our visas but luckily our luggage was still spinning around on the baggage carousel when the process was completed. Being last into the arrival hall made it easy to spot our names on a sign with a now familiar logo after months of correspondence: those little feet. Such a relief to know we hadn’t wired money across the ocean to a fictitious company! Elisa was to be our official guide and Albert was in training, along for experience. Introductions all around and we packed our gear into the back of the land cruiser for the first of what would be many times.

Making our way through the darkness to Arusha and barely discerning the outline of Mount Kilimanjaro, we arrived at the gated entrance to Karama Lodge. The restaurant stayed open late to accommodate us so after a nice dinner we headed off to our stilted log chalet. The Arusha street dogs decided to serenade us for several hours and when they stopped, the local owls picked up the chorus. Not exactly a restful night but heh, we’d made it to Africa!

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