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Trip Report from Tanzania

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Hubby and I got back from Tanzania on Sept 30th. Really enjoyed the trip. It was my dream. Actually was going into the Peace Corps (to Zambia) when I met him. He told me that if I would stay, he promised to take me to Africa. He made good on his promise and these are the results.

We flew from Huntsville, AL to NYC, then to London. We took several hours and went about in the city, very nice. Excellent rail system. Would invite anyone that has a layover to do the same. Don't just stay in the airport, explore, it made for an exciting day trip as neither of us had been there. We also found the showers at Heathrow before going on, and that made a world of difference for travel comfort. The showers were clean and also dispensed soap!

From London on to Nairobi, then to Arusha. We had a pleasant restful time adjusting. We then found out our rooms were unavailable to us in Tarangire NP. They did upgrade us to the River Camp, and we had a beautiful tented camp overlooking a dry river bed. The main congregating are was built around a giant baobob tree and the food was fantastic. We did have to be escorted by Masai to and from our tents as the animals were in close proximity. As for the park, it was the best for simple abundance of animals. They were everywhere.

Next we went on to Lake Manyara, a mixture of rainforest and hot/dry soda lake. There were fewer animals here, however, we had our closest encounters with elephants here. The accodations included baboon locks (needed because the little beggars were devious)! We went swimming as this was one of the warmest stops on the trip. Food was very good, service excellent. Laundry was also the cheapest here.

Ngorongoro was a bit of a let down. I am an ecologist by degree and just knew this was going to be the best area of all. But I was mistaken. The view was breathtaking from our lodge. The service was good. The lodge fantastic. The entertainment was the best at this lodge also. Our trip in the crater was hampered by poor weather. Visibility was cruddy due to high winds and bookoos of dust. Ugh, the dust! Our guide told us it was bad weather for the rhinos, and we only got a few seconds, and they were gone in the forest. We did get amazingly close to the lions, and saw many other good sights, but the day was again rather squelched, when all I wanted at the end of the day was a shower. I swear the shower was filled with mud! It was quite cool in the mornings and in the evenings, so a fleece was a good thing to have.

Then on to the Masai camp and Oldupai/Olduvai Gorge. The camp was very special, but I wonder how authentic. I also wonder if this isn't actually a detriment to thier culture catering to tourists. I may have opinions, but not actually know the true toll. It could benefit them. I did enjoy it all the same. I felt pressure however to pony up the $20 extra each person to explore thier culture. I suppose you could not pay the extra and sit in the van, but where's the fun in that? The gorge was a short stop on the way to the Serengeti. There weren't any bones, but they did have a nice interpretive speaker and a nice small museum that documented the scientists research. The bathrooms are rotten, but they are working on them, but bring your own tissue at all times!!

The Serengeti was all that I had hoped it would be. There were animals, fresh kills, and more animals. The lodge, however, (Wildlife lodge)left a lot to be desired. The common areas were nice enough, even maybe the most elegant, but the service was not good, and the people were less friendly. We had older folks in our group and they found it to be troublesome climbing the kojpe to get to the restaurant and bar area. The food was good, but we got a room on the front of the lodge and this was not good. There was traffic noise and local folks conversing until 11:30pm. This did not make for a good impression. Then, there is the balloon thing. Ugh! That was rotten. We were supposed to go on the hot air balloon ride and were told along with four others, too bad. Sorry you had prior reservations and had paid, good luck getting your money back! This lodge had a kiosk for the balloon company right there, and they did nothing for us. We were told too bad. TOO BAD??!! That's not the way to start off. Unfortunately, that colored my perception of the lodge too. They just said too bad, as they continued to pander themselves to incomming travelers. We were also told that if we had not gotten there early (around 5:00pm) that even though we had reservations, we would be sent to Lobo about 75 km. down the road. I suppose they overbook the lodge and the lucky get to have their rooms. The unlucky get sent away to the north (where fewer animals were currently).

The Serengeti was certainly the crown jewel, but there were other places which took our breath away. My dream has be realized.

If you'd like to see pictures, I have uploaded to snapfish, but I'm uncertain as to getting those to this site. Do I just post the specific page address here? If you can help I will try and add that tomorrow!

Thanks for reading. Oh, by the way, we used 2Afrika (statside) and they used Predators (in country). See my other posts for their performance.

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