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Tanzania Safari Photoshow, Report, & Advice

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Jambo! Got back from climbing Kilimanjaro (we posted that report a few weeks ago) and a 7 day safari in Tanzania.

Photos: Here's the link to the photoshow, which contains music- click on "view photoshow." It may take a few minutes to download. (http://brianrfox.net/Photos/Safari/data/index.html)

General Advice:
WEATHER- we went on safari during the 3rd week of March. We had a little rain. Towards the end of the trip we had regular thundershowers at night. End of March/April is the beginning of the rainy season.

SAFARI CLOTHES- We didn't notice many bugs at all. We brought the deet like we were told to do, but didn't really use it. We wore zip off pants and short sleeves every day. We mostly brough neutral colors.

MALARIA MEDS: We took Malarone and had no problem at all. Our doc back home prescribed Lariam, which is really potent. Both our climbing co and safari co told us to avoid Lariam and go for the Malarone.

VISAs- We got these via mail from the TZ embassy in DC before we left. It was very convenient.

MONEY- We brought all US cash-- lots of different demoninations-$1s and $5s for tips. Everybody took US. Some of the larger tourist shops took VISA, but not many places. I am sure there are ATMs in Arusha, but we didn't need to use them.

SAFETY- We felt really safe. Much safer than in most large US cities, or even Costa Rica (where our passports were stolen from our locked car, which was parked in front of the hotel lobby). In fact, I found the people very friendly.

FLASHLIGHT: Be sure to bring this. Many lodges and tented camps (even the Crater Sopa) don't have power after a certain time every night.

TOILETS: (You can probably tell I'm a female by mentioning this!). The public restrooms at the National Parks- Crater and Serengeti are actually nice. There are a few stalls with actual toilets, and others with a hole in floor-- most had toilet paper. Some of the larger gift shops in Arusha have nice toilets too. Otherwise, it's pretty much a hole in the floor or going outside. I didn't find it that bad.

ROADS- As you drive west from Ng Crater to the Serengeti all the roads are dirt and really rough. I wasn't expecting perfect roads, but I guess I didn't realize how taxing it is to drive in the hot weather on dusty roads all day. Be prepared for a rough ride. When you are safari, you're in the car all day- driving to and from your locations and also for game viewing/drives. If you like small planes and can afford it, it might be nice to do some of the safari via air.

Trip Report:
We used Kiliwarriors for the safari portion of our trip. They did a solid job. The driver was timely, informative, and helpful. His personality type was a little serious or at least not very gregarious. It might be useful to try to talk to your safari company about matching your personality to that you want in your driver. The accomodations Kiliwarriors booked for us were really first class. The only downside was that on our last day we were out in the Serengeti and were scheduled to drive back to Kilimanjaro airport. This is a long and dusty drive on many dirt roads (about 6-7 hour drive). We switched our accomodations, at our expense, for our last night to stay closer to town so we'd have time to do last minute gift shopping and be more rested before the long flight home. Also, our trip packet came a little late. Otherwise, they had good suggestions for our itinerary and were very professional. Their packing list is about 10 pages long- very thorough.

Safari Day 1: After climbing Kili our driver picked us up from our hotel in Moshi. We drove to Lake Eyasi and we stayed at Kisima Ngeda Camp. This camp is hard to get to. "Rock and Roll" roads (as our driver said) for about 2 hours of the journey. The camp is very beautiful. The service was great. I had the best cream of asparagus soup I've ever had. The tents are all fully plumbed. Coffee waiting for us in the morning- overall great place!

Day 2- The next day we went to see the Bushmen (Hadzabe tribe) and we did a hunt with them. We brought them beans, corn, etc. we bought at a local market. Apparently, the Bushmen like "weed." They grow their own. Our guide told us they were disappointed we didn't bring them any "weed" to smoke. We also had a special "bushmen guide" who was a local kid (he wasn't very good as he seemed pretty disinterested). We went on a hunt with the "special" guide and the Bushmen. They didn't kill anything except a few baby birds they took from nests. Although I understand they must do this to eat, I'm a vegetarian, so I secretly hoped they didn't kill a larger mammal.

We stayed at the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge that night. We liked the Sopa. Clean, large, pretty good food. Felt a little "Disneyesque" (e.g. they have a dancing show in the main dining room after dinner & a pharmecutical company was holding a small convention there). Overall, it was a nice hotel. The Sopa is really close to a road leading down the Crater, which is nice.

Day 3- We did game drives in the Crater for the next few days. The Crater is like a natural zoo. You'll see many animals, but they are all confined by the high crater wall so they are easy to spot.

We also did a trek to the Olmoti Crater. Our guide and a armed ranger went with us. The "trek" is only about a 1/2 hour walk up to a waterfall, which is really pretty. It was a nice diversion to get out of the car for a while.

Day 4- Visited a Maasai Boma on the drive out the Serengeti. It was really interesting to visit the Maasai houses- mud and stick huts (with LOTS of crickets crawling on the walls!). The bomas on the tourist roads have lots of necklaces and jewelry out for you to buy after your visit- we usually ended up buying one on the way out.

Day 5/6: Stayed at Olakira Mobile Tented Camp. Again, great service. They bring you juice and wet towels when you arrive at camp! The food was also great. Giraffes were grazing on acacia trees within 1 minute from our camp. We saw lots of game- buffalo, zebra, gazelle, lion, jackal, hippo, wilderbeest, etc. on our game drives from this camp.

Day 7- Stayed at Lake Manyara (Kirurumu Tented Lodge). Another good camp. Service staff wasn't as phenomenal as Olakira and Kisima Ngeda, but there was a great bar overlooking the park. Met another fodorite here. Hello "travelnat!"

Last day- Stopped at gift shops on the way back to Kilimanjaro airport. (No price is ever "fixed"- there is always room for negotiation). We stayed at the Kia Day Lodge for the afternoon to get ready for the flight. Just a bed and shower to clean up before you leave. It was just ok- clean, but nothing special- don't expect tv/internet etc- they didn't have it.

Overall, we really enjoyed our trip and want to go back soon! Thanks for all the advice from those on this board!
Travelers from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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