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Trip Report Tanzania Trip Report (long and detailed)

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The night before we left, we had packed and set the rollaboards out for the morning drive to the airport.
Now we were up on time and ready to go. Excitement was running high. We drove to the airport and
caught our small plane to LAX to begin our journey. I wondered if the Wildebeests could understand what
we were going through just to see them again. Would any of them remember us from Kenya 2003. Oh
excuse this but when you’re the one getting ready to go there is some craziness even after repeated
trips.

The small map they gave us showing the terminals at LAX showed about 2” between our arriving
terminal and the AA terminal we were to leave from. Now it looked like it was over a mile! We took off
pulling our bags but we saw the shuttle coming and hopped on. The First Class check-in was over in a
different section than the regular check-in, over beyond the escalators. We found out why later. We
checked in and got our boarding passes. We were given passes for the First Class Lounge. Did that
agent know we just couldn’t believe this really was something we had gotten with our airline miles? We
were told to go up the nearby escalator and we would be at the head of the security line. We had
skipped the long security line and were directly in from of the TSA. We quickly checked through and
hurried off to find our lounge. This was going to be such fun! We felt it was worth every cent to buy the
last miles that would qualify us from Business Class to First Class. The lounge was almost empty and we
dropped our things and explored all the things they were offering us. Drinks of every kind. Not this early.
We settled on a bottle of water and a cup of yogurt each so as not to spoil the meals ahead for the day.
They offered bagels and all kinds of rolls, toasters to brown them, juices, sodas and other snacks. They
told us later in the day they would be offering sushi because there was a flight coming in from Japan
around noon. They had beautiful rest rooms and a shower you could put your name on a list to use if
you wanted.

We flew first class from LAX to Chicago. We had upgraded a few times for flights within the US so this
was just wider seats and more leg room, but it was still nice. We are just dying to see the Flagship Suites
out of Chicago to LHR. We settled back but were watching the time because we had been booked with
only 50 minutes between flights in Chicago. I had been assured by AA that we would be fine because
these two flights always arrive and leave from the same area of the concourse. The plane was all set to
take off when an announcement came over from the pilot that we would be delayed an hour. This wasn’t
due to weather in Chicago, but the fact that the flights had been over scheduled and the airport was too
busy. All flights into Chicago would be delayed. We started sweating. The cabin attendants didn’t know
what would happen, but we were told that this was a feeder flight that was used to connect passengers
with the other flights out of Chicago. What if we miss the flight with the flat beds that I had planned so
carefully? Were we to then have to fly in the old seats and not get to see these Suites? Oh NO!!

We arrived in Chicago at gate K11, our LHR flight would be at gate K12. What luck. We ran to K12 and
we spotted a lady in an airport vest with orange stripes and she was waving a baton towards me. She
had an anxious look on her face and I held up 2 fingers and then I was so overcome with emotion I
couldn’t speak. She said Frazier? I nodded and again held up my 2 fingers. She said for us to go directly
to the gate and board immediately. Max was behind me with the two suitcases. I had the camera bag and
our back pack. I looked down the jetway as I entered the gate and the 2 pilots were standing at the end.
One said Frazier? and I nodded. I was saying Thank you, thank you as we passed the gate attendant and
the two other airline employees along the jetway and as I neared the 2 pilots I said “I’m practically
weeping, thank you so very, very much. The pilots followed us aboard and the attendants said, Mrs.
Frazier, go forward and turn left. They all knew our name. The aircraft door was closed behind us and the
pilots grabbed our bags and hoisted them in the overhead as we sat down and buckled up. I felt like
shouting, but I settled back and looked at the beautiful surroundings. We had really made it. Our suites
were individual cubicles and were huge. A table was on the right directly in front of the windows and
stretched for the three windows each seat had. I had picked the first two seats along on the right hand
side for us. The chairs swivel so that you can position yourself facing the windows with your “desk” in
front of you. The TV was there as well as space to put some things. There is a foot stool where someone
can come and sit with you to visit or dine. It also supports the seat you are in as in reclines into a bed.
We were handed a menu right away. There were four pages of wines and drinks and I was perusing the
wine list when the attendant came to take my order. I selected the Wild Mushroom Borsettini. It was a
cheese Borsettini tossed with Shiitake Mushrooms and Spinach, with a creamy mushroom sauce. First
though there was a smoked salmon appetizer cart that came by, a salad cart, and a bread basket. You
could dine whenever you wanted.

I ordered a gin and tonic and they served crudites with a ranch dressing and a small bowl of hot roasted
mixed nuts. We thought WOW. Little did we ever think when we were living in the country in LaCenter,
WA, a small farming community in SW, WA, that when we got those airline cards that one day we would
be sitting in the first cabin like this. WOW, this was the “Best of the Best” to us.

I put on my pair of Bose noise canceling head sets that were there and showed Max how to operate his
just as dinner was starting to be served in courses. A delightful Australian Shiraz wine was offered and I
selected that along with the salad with Lobster tails from the salad cart. This was followed by the most
wonderful main course. The cheese in the Borsettini was just melting and the dishes were warmed. This
was the most delicious creation and it happened to be the vegetarian meal. I went up to join Max for
dessert and came back to my seat for coffee and to get ready to sleep.

It was a short night and breakfast was being served when we woke up. Rice crispies with fresh
raspberries and kiwi slices. Yogurt and coffee. We were landing and I was still eating. By the time we got
all of our things together everyone in first class was gone. The crew laughed at us when we walked out
and said, “Oh yeah, the last two again”. We would surely have been without our bags if we hadn’t carried
it all on board.

We had 3 hours at LHR so we weren’t in a hurry at all. Bus to the next terminal, TSA let us go right
through without searches and we scurried off to find the Concorde Lounge to wait there until it was time
to board our flight to NBO. We boarded and noticed the BA suites were older and didn’t swivel. Only 6 of
us in the first cabin now. We ordered lunch even though we were hardly hungry. I had a pecorino and
potato tart with parsley and truffle oil dressing. It was very good. I also felt compelled to try the pumpkin
soup with creme fraiche. By the time I got the halibut, I thought I would pop. I noticed they had
Tanqueray number 10 gin on the menu and never having had that before, I tried it. This was incredible.
When I told the attendant it was the best drink I ever had, I was presented with another. I had to send it
back as I was now on overload. I made up my bed and just laid down and groaned as quietly as I could.
Max came back to say he had ordered the fruit basket and was presented with what appeared to be a
large centerpiece of fruit. I laughed when he showed me. He tried to eat some but he’d been done in too.
We napped and by the time we woke up and brushed our teeth it was time for tea. We only had 3 more
hours to go. This was the shortest trip over we ever made. We also didn’t have any long lay overs this
time. Having the kind of seats and service really made a difference too. My whole anxiety level was
down to nothing compared to what we’ve dealt with in the past.

They served chocolates but neither of us even went over and looked at them. There is a table in the
center where they place things for us. Definitely over did the eating. We couldn’t pass up trying the
scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserves. Okay, thank you, I will have another, just this once.

We arrived in NBO and were first through for our Visa’s, met our driver and were whisked to the
Intercontinental Hotel for an overnight. What a noisy place. We slept fitfully and grabbed a quick
breakfast and departed. There was a guard on our floor directly in front of the elevator all night and I
tipped him the next morning for protecting us. He was so grateful and he gave us a snappy salute and we
left. We were met at JRO and taken to Roy Safaris and ushered upstairs. Pretty soon Sanjay Pandit,
one of the owners, came and briefed us about our trip. He told us the migration calved at Ndutu and then
had to immediately leave in search of greener grass and water. Over half of the babies did not make it
and they were dropping at an alarming rate. He also told us then that we had been booked without
laundry or drinks. I mentioned that some camps did include them and he told us that they had taken
them out as they didn’t feel the extra cost was worth it. I mentioned that I wasn’t asked for my desires on
this and he said only Kusini and The Crater Lodge now included the drinks. Red flag. (Why wasn’t I
asked my preference.) You think you have figured out how to do things and in a money saving attempt,
the agents find another way to offer their cheaper rates. So, we find that all packages offered are NOT
the same. We were to find that laundry and drinks are very expensive with the exchange rates charged
by the camps and I voiced my concerns on this. To no avail. Note to self---remember to tell friends
about this.

We are off and went first to the Heritage Cultural Center with only one hour to shop. First off we saw the
size of this place and glanced around and knew it would take at least half a day to even just scan through
it, so we left. We weren’t looking for anything in particular and we were just too tired to shop and jet lag
was beginning. We instead went on to lunch at a coffee farm outside of Arusha. The amounts of food
you get for each meal here are staggering. We ate a bit and started our journey to Tarangire.

We were just in awe of the countryside. We could see that Tanzania had risen to a higher level and the
roads and scenery seem to say “Welcome to Paradise”. We arrive at Kikoti Camp which is quite
isolated, at 5PM. We find out we will be the only guests for the two nights we spend there. We enjoy the
Park on our morning game drives and are just bowled over to see the boabab trees all decked out with
leaves. The scenery is lush and green and gorgeous, but other than elephants in large numbers we
decide to use this 2 days to rest up for the next place. Tarangire is beautiful, we had been there before
and were anxious to see the migration and wondered why we had been put here. We didn’t realize the
isolation and we were a bit scared at night when the wind howled and we heard banging noises outside
our tent. We felt very vulnerable here for some reason. There were no ladies working here, only young
men and it just felt eerie here. We skipped the night game drives as we didn’t see much on this side of
the park although we spent hours driving around trying to spot leopards in all of the trees. We never
heard any lions or hyenas at night, just the wind howling. We were not offered sundowners or the boma
dinner which is included for the guests on the last night. Since we were just 2, I guess they figured it
wasn’t worth it. I had done a tour of the grounds our last afternoon there and found the room where they
do the dishes. I saw the stagnant dish water with scum floating on top and I asked about it. It looked like
it hadn’t been changed in a week. The young man who was the “acting” manager told me, that yes the
water was used for dishes, but only the ones used by the help there. Oh well we didn’t get sick and we
were leaving the next day. The food was very average here so we used this time to try to reduce our
calories. That night we didn’t sleep well at all. Realizing we were the only guests in camp and then we
questioned the cleanliness of the camp.........we decided we were letting ourselves get carried away and
lay there and listened to the wind until the wee hours. We left at 8AM and were very glad to be going.
When we settled our bar and laundry bill we saw that this was going to be a major expense. Fortunately
we had brought plenty of extra money for tips, etc. so we didn’t have to worry. But I must remember to
tell my friends about this. On the way out of the Park we noticed a newer camp on a bluff overlooking
the Tarangire River. It is the Tarangire Safari Lodge. It is inside the Park and looks very nice from the
road. The design is the masai style rondavel huts with straw roofs. I found out that the Tarangire River
Camp is located close to the gate but is outside of the Park and it is very nice too. Kibo Safaris books
this camp a lot. Tarangire Tree Tops is very nice too for their night game drives they always get to see
the Bush Babies jumping through the trees. These camps are much better situated near to the entrance
or close by and are not so isolated clear across the Park as is Kikoti and Oliver’s Camp. It is a looooong
drive across the Park and most of the animals seem to be on the entrance side.

We left and drove to Karatu, our next stop the Ngorongoro Farm House, located just outside of Lake
Manyara National Park. The road we are traveling is brand new and a delight to use. We pass through a
small village where they raise bananas. They have so many different types that we stopped and bought
two different varieties. One was a red banana and the other was a very small yellow banana. These
were like nothing we get at home. The red banana was short and fat. The substance was quite solid and
tasted very different, although it was delicious it just seemed very substantial. The yellow banana was
sweeter and smaller but still different than ours. They were very good. There is also a green banana they
use in cooking and it is added to their stews. It is quite tart and has a citrus taste. The people become
adjusted to eating the tart flavor but it would probably be upsetting to us to eat consistently. We didn’t try
those.

Here in this small community we also came upon the largest Heronry we had ever seen. Since we so
love the large migratory birds, we were just in awe of the sight of them. There were literally hundreds if
not thousands of yellowbill storks in the trees. This was the only place we could see them as the forest
within the Park was not accessible. So we pulled over along the side of the road to gaze at and
photograph the birds. I would jump out and I had about 3 minutes before the local children could get to
me to beg before I would jump back in the car and we’d pull up a bit and try again. Sanjay had told us
that their policy was to not stop and give things to the children on the side of the road. The children then
wouldn’t go to school because they would rather beg from the tourists. We were glad to follow their
request.

We were close to the Farm House and were surprised to be told that Roy Safaris doesn’t normally use
this property, preferring to use the older Plantation Lodge. I am finding out a whole new side of this
booking process. Apparently their affiliation is with the other property, but on nearing our lodge I could
see this was no run of the mill farm. We pull into the parking area and are met by a lady with cool damp
washcloths on a tray. We start to wipe our face and hands and are met with the sweetest floral fragrance
I believe I’ve ever smelled. Surely it must be from some of these gorgeous flowers blooming here. How
welcome we feel. We have a long stairway to climb to the reception area but when we see it we are just
so surprised. This huge building houses the reception, bar and lounge and dining area. In one corner is a
fireplace and a TV and conversational area. We are glad to be here and are shown to the lunch area
where we will be served. We are sitting out on the lawn, close to the pool and some guests have already
had their lunch and are swimming. One couple is sunning and had their lunch brought to them. This
place is a working coffee farm and they also raise all of their own produce which is served here. It is
newly opened to guests and they have huge cottages located at different places around the farm. It is all
so pretty and clean and I think, ah yes, I could spend a couple months here every year............ but we
know we can’t do that. Our cottage has a queen size bed, a fireplace, 2 easy chairs in front of the
fireplace and all the hot water and electricity you could want. The plug in for our room has a cord adapter
and since we have a battery charger with a built in adapter, we could plug our charger directly to the wall
outlet. We use this opportunity to top off all of our batteries. I had purchased a new smaller traveling
battery charger from Thomas Distributing Co. on the Internet and bought the MH-C204W unit that has a
discharging function in it that is good for batteries that must be fully discharged first. It is compact and I
am quite pleased with this purchase as it tucks neatly into our small camera bag.

We are seated on the lawn and the sun is warm and a soft breeze is blowing. We are served a starter of
tomato slices and mozzarella cheese with a balsamic vinegar dressing. Then a huge bowl of fresh green
salad is brought out. It contains home grown lettuce leaves that are the most gorgeous shades of red and
green curled leaves. A refreshing oil and vinegar dressing was tossed with the fresh vegetables and
lettuce. It is huge and we just make a small dent in it. But it is left on the table. The main course is a
vegetarian quiche, beef rolls, corkscrew pasta and carrots and new potatoes cooked just tender with a
butter sauce. Fresh farmhouse rolls and soft butter accompany the meal. The dessert is a banana tart
with a banana sauce and orange and mango slices. This was all on our very full plates brought from the
kitchen. We couldn’t even do it justice. Why do they serve such huge meals? At 5:30PM Max
accompanied me to the bar for a double GT and as I sat and enjoyed it, he left with the camera to take
pictures of the grounds area. Finding this beautiful lodge will give our friends going to NG Crater another
option of places to stay. Its not as cold here as on the rim and although it takes about an hour and a half
to get to the floor of the Crater, when you leave the Crater you are within 10 minutes of the farmhouse.
The temperatures at night are much better here. You are also close to Lake Manyara and Oldupai. At
7PM we will meet our driver for dinner and then we shall return to our suite where a fire has been laid in
our fireplace.

Our driver comes in and we go to our table and begin the dinner buffet. Our driver seemed to be a bit
upset about something which we found out was the comments we made to each other about Kikoti Camp
as we were drive here. He escalated the discussion to a level I found distressing as I couldn’t understand
why he was making such an issue of it. Max said we just didn’t care for it and let it rest. I feared we were
going to hear this one again later. The driver had stood up abruptly and departed and we went on with
the dinner. There was a large group in the dining room with us as we went to the dessert line we were in
among them. I began talking to one lady and she was so cute. It was her first trip to Africa and she was
literally jumping up and down with excitement. I told her we had been to Africa a few times and I invited
her to stop by our table if she wanted to visit. She did stop over and we talked to her for about an hour I
guess. She was with a group of 5 middle aged couples and 5 ladies who appeared to be 30ish. Some of
the ladies were single and 2 or 3 of them were married but had husbands who didn’t share their passion
for Africa. They seemed to be a very compatible group. The outfitter was Overseas Adventure Travel
and Kibo Safaris was the ground supplier. They had come from Tarangire, having stayed at the
Tarangire River Camp, and would be heading to the Serengeti the next day for 4 days of mobile
camping. She seemed to be quite versed in the various outfitters and we got the latest scoop from her on
what they had found out as they moved around. Predator Safaris was supposed to be the #1 choice,
followed by Leopard Safaris and Kibo Safaris. We were to see a lot of these other vehicles on our
journey and they certainly had the most numbers. Staying on the entrance side of the Park, they had
seen leopards, lions and much more than we had. I found out that Kibo also books private safaris so that
would be a good one to get a price from. Max and I left for our bungalow and no sooner stepped into the
front door and shut it than the heavens opened up and it rained torrential rains on into the night. The
bungalow had a tin roof and it was wonderful hearing the rain and sitting in front of a roaring fireplace.
We slept to the music of the rain. We had decided to pass on the visit to Lake Manyara after the
experience at Tarangire and rather head for the Crater in the morning after breakfast.

This is Sunday, and we were awakened at 5:30AM to get an early start for the Crater. It was overcast out
but we didn’t get any rain and it didn’t really get hot today so we had picked the perfect day for our
venture into the Crater. We originally hadn’t even wanted to go into the Crater since we had both been
there before and remembered the long lines of cars lined up to go in. Not today. We drove up and
entered and never saw another car all day except in the distance we saw one or two here and there. No
crowds at all and everything was just so lush and green. Driving through the Crater Highlands I felt that
this must be much like the vegetation where the Mountain Gorillas live. Too bad they couldn’t import
some here because the forests seem to lack wildlife and the trees seem to go on for miles. We saw the
same type of forests as we’ve seen in films with the Gorillas, but since they aren’t native here I guess it
wouldn’t work. We had such a lovely time here and we saw so much that as we were leaving I
commented to Max that I could easily have spent a week here just poking around. We were surprised at
the lack of many Flamingos. We heard that they have left most of the lakes they used to gather at and
are mainly at Lake Natron, I believe. When we were here 10 years ago we saw hundreds, we barely saw
a hundred it that many this trip. We took lots of photos and carefully logged down each bird by name to
identify later. The migratory birds are in Tanzania and we had wonderful photo opps with them. We saw
many Wildebeest calves and brand new zebras too. A portion of the migration comes in the Crater and
stays and leaves to join the other herds when they depart the southern Serengeti. We are most anxious
to see where the migration will be. We will leave for Kusini Camp with a lunch stop at Ndutu Safari
Lodge tomorrow. It will be a nice game drive to Kusini where we hope to meet up with the migration and
we are thrilled to have 3 nights coming there.

We awake to a downpour and by the time we leave for breakfast it is clear out and we walk to the dining
room for the wonderful doughnuts and the best hot coffee of the trip. The doughnuts are served warm
and are not very sweet and we just love them. Serengeti here we come.

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