We are back from our RTW trip with One World, with the Tanzania portion organised through ATR. Thanks for all the help we received from all of the Fodorite crew. The trip was fantastic and we are so happy with what e did, what we saw and who we met!!!
After eight months of planning, it all came together.
Our itinerary was:
Dec 23 Sydney – Toronto (We were able to upgrade to business using our points which was great). The plane was late getting into LAX so we missed our AA connection. Got into TO at 9.30 pm rather than 5.00 pm.
We met up with our 14 yr old daughter who has been living in TO with my brother’s family since August. Letting her go was the hardest thing I have ever done, but the best. We spent Xmas with my family. Tony’s brother & sister in law who are living in NYC also joined us in Toronto and London.
Dec 28 Toronto – London – I paid for an upgrade to World Traveller Plus which was well worth it. Used Just Airports. We will never use them again. I gave the driver a GBP 6 tip and he demanded more saying he had waited more than 45 minutes yet we came out before the arrival time as we were early. They also wanted to charge a 50% premium to drive us to the airport on NYE – at 4.00 pm, not during the night. I used another company who charged us a straight fee. We stayed at the new Ibis London City in the City which we got for a great staff rate. Highlights included the Tower of London, the London Eye and dinner at Gordon Ramsay’s bistro - Boxwood.
Dec 31 London – DAR
01-Jan Fly : Zanair : Dar es Salaam international to Arusha
Accommodation : Arusha : Moivaro Lodge
Safari : Tanzania Northern Parks : overland safari
02-Jan Accommodation : Karatu : Gibbs Farm
03-Jan Safari : Ngorongoro
Accommodation : South Serengeti : Olduvai Tented Camp
04-Jan Accommodation : Central Serengeti : Ronjo Flycamp
05-Jan Accommodation : Central Serengeti : Ronjo Flycamp
06-Jan Accommodation : South Serengeti : Ndutu Lodge
07-Jan Accommodation : South Serengeti : Ndutu Lodge
08-Jan Accommodation : Ngorongoro : Serena Lodge
09-Jan Fly : Zanair : Manyara to Zanzibar : via Arusha
Accommodation : Zanzibar Island : Pongwe Beach
10-Jan Accommodation : Zanzibar Island : Pongwe Beach
11-Jan Accommodation : Zanzibar Stonetown : Dhow Palace
12-Jan Fly : Coastal : Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam
Fly : TC7908 : Dar es Salaam to to South Africa
12-18 Jan Staying with friends outside Durban
18 Jan Fly to Capetown
18-19 Jan Caledon Villa STELLENBOSCH
20-23 Jan Accommodation: The Peninsula All-Suite Hotel
23-Jan Tour with Selwyn
24-Jan Fly: Capetown-Victoria Falls
25-Jan Fly: Vic Falls – Jo’burg – Sydney
26-Jan Sydney on Australia Day.
We ended up with quite a lot of Columbia. Lots of stone & khaki and Rocco vests
Shopped around for Malarone.
We are happy with the performance of our Fuji 5500. Our small IBM X20 thinkpad was perfect for downloading our photos. I had a half gb card but bought another full gb card which we never used. We managed to download every night. The big surprise was how my daughter took to the canon video camera we bought at the last minute. We used 6 1 hour tapes. Every camp and lodge other than Ronjo had facilities to recharge our electronics. The 4 outlet power pack worked like a dream as it only requires one adapter. Two sets of binoculars between the three of us was plenty. We have two small paklite soft bags that convert into backpacks that we bought 15 yrs ago plus a larger backpack. While we carried cameras and binoculars in our safari vests, we carried 2 carry on bags each. Our baggage was never weighed even on Coastal which has a total weight limit of 15 kg.
Arrived in Dar after a reasonable flight from London on BA. We had hoped the plane was going to be half empty, but it was relatively full despite it being New Years Eve. It turned out two of our seats were right at the back with a wall behind us, with my seat being across the aisle. I noticed that there were four seats empty in front of me. I quickly moved into the row in front and sat in the middle. Then the flight attendant told my husband and daughter that there was a row of two on the other side of the plane. We ended up having a reasonable sleep. The captain woke us at midnight to announce the New Year.
We awoke to see Mt Kilimanjaro. This turned out to be our only sighting as it was in cloud or a dust haze. The arrival in Dar was pretty simple. We did not have visas but this wasn’t a problem. Our Zanair rep took our money, passports and applications to the authorities. We then headed off to the domestic terminal. Our plane was supposed to leave DAR at 9.10am but it quite a bit later. As we were returning to DAR with Coastal, ATR had very helpfully arranged for us to leave a large suitcase with them. This was a godsend as my daughter had been in Canada for 4 months and we had travelled via Canada and London so had winter clothing.
After eventually left DAR and taking a very short flight in a very small, very hot plane to Zanzibar, we transferred into a larger plane for our flight to Arusha. Tony was caught up in taking pictures of the planes etc. Just after we left we realised we had left our carry on bag with all our drugs (including $600 of malaria tablets) on the first plane which was going onto Pemba (a smaller island). We told the pilot but we were convinced that was the end of the bag.
The flight to Arusha took around 2 hours. The landscape was very dusty and dry. Our ATR guide, Reggie, was there to meet us. We had requested Reggie as he was recommended by previous ATR customers. A lovely guy. Explaining our problem with the bag he got right onto it. Another flight was due in at 2.00pm so he expected it to come up on that flight.
We then headed through Arusha to the Moivaro Lodge. The town of Arusha was bustling even though it was New Years Day. The trip to the Lodge went quickly. Reggie reckoned he would be back around 4.00pm with the bag. The Lodge is set in very green grounds and gardens. Our bungalow fitted all our needs. The beds were all adjoining and set under one very large net. The level of maintenance on the curtains etc. was slightly below par. We had hamburgers for lunch and warm soft drinks. That was one thing we were to learn. While it seemed always possible to get cold beer, it wasn’t the same case with the soft drinks.
We tried to spend the afternoon by the pool, but it was too hot and the sun really burnt. Some guests took a guided walk but we were still trying to cope with jet lag. 4.00pm went by and no Reggie. My fear was that we would be spending the next day getting our malaria tablets replaced rather than heading off on our safari.
Dinner started at 7.30pm which we found was the norm throughout Africa. We headed up around 7.00 pm to find our bag sitting in reception. Reggie had spent all afternoon at the airport as they kept telling him it would be on the next flight. Everything was still there -what a relief!
Lots of people at the Lodge had climbed (or attempted to climb) Kili. It sounded wonderful but we certainly weren’t sorry that we would not be climbing it. Very strenuous and a lot of people don’t make it to the top. Maybe if we were younger and fitter.
Woke up after a greatly needed sound sleep. Petra from ATR met us for breakfast to discuss our itinerary. We hadn’t settled on whether we would go to Lake Manyara or straight onto Gibbs Farm. We then found out that the short rains in November/December were cut very short and that the Serengeti was basically a dustbowl. The migration was stalled as the wildebeest were waiting for the rains. She recommended that we go to Lake Manyana as it was quite green as it benefits from ground water from the ranges.
We also found out that the airstrip at Lake Manyana was under repair and Zanair wouldn’t be able to pick us up so we would have to drive back to Arusha on the 9th from the Crater for our flight to Zanzibar.
The trip through Arusha was interesting as it is the centre where they are holding the Rwanda genocide trials and it was quite strange to see a modern court building with lots of satellite dishes in a dusty African town. It also means that Arusha is quite a cosmopolitan centre with many different nationalities.
We stopped at the Barclays ATM to get some Tanzanian money. One thing to keep in mind is that the bank is not in the main part of town but rather about 3 Km away. You do need a driver and time to get there. We took about USD 400 with us with over USD 50 in one dollar notes. I was quite worried as we had read on the forum that only new notes would be accepted. We had absolutely no problems.
Reggie, our driver, is Maasai so on the way to Lake Manyara we stopped at a local Maasai market and experienced a Maasai butcher shop where they were slaughtering goats at one at one end of the lean-to butchering them and actually BBQing them on the spot and the Maasai would happily buy the cooked goat and eat it straight away. Reggie was kind enough to give us a try of some kind of offal from one of his friend’s plate which wasn’t bad as long as you didn’t think about what you were eating. At the same market we purchased some dried beans from a Maasai woman. I think we made her day as we paid 3,000 shillings which is the equivalent to $3.00US, we put the beans into one of the socks that the airlines give you and used that as a steading base for the camera when we took shots out of the car.
We experienced our first game sightings at Lake Manyara, and we were very excited when we saw our first lion in the distance, not realising that we would see many more along the way. We also experienced our first safari lunch which consisted of a quarter of dry roast chicken, boiled egg, fruit , dry cake, chocolate bar which we thought was pretty good considering we were not realising that this would be the staple for the next nine days.
After three hours on safari at the lake we proceeded to Gibbs Farm which is a lovely coffee plantation on the side of a mountain with stunning views of the valley. We had a lovely meal there with most of the produce actually grown on the farm. We went for a walk around the farm and they had a great vegetable patch with pretty well every thing that you needed from artichokes to lettuce to beans and cabbages.
I remember one Fodorite was disappointed with the room size at Gibbs Farm but we found our room was very spacious with two double beds.
After a good night sleep we started the morning with a hearty breakfast served in the dinning room at Gibbs. After breakfast Reggie informed us that he had been to the doctor the previous night and he had been told that he had a bad case of malaria and that he would not be able to continue with us on the safari. We were a little perturbed firstly for Reggie’s sake, and secondly, for us as we were really enjoying his company and knowledge, to his credit he had organised another driver by the name of Justin, who had driven overnight from Kilimanjaro so that we would be able to leave on time.
After loading the 4X4 we set off at 8.00am for Ngorongoro Crater. It was a quick trip as the road to the Crater had recently been paved, sealed and paid for by the Japanese government, which had cut the travel time from three hours on shocking roads to one hour.
The descent into the crater was absolutely spectacular (and hairy). Much has been written on the crater and we weren’t disappointed.
That’s it for now. Happy to take any questions and comments.
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