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Any Travel/Packing/Safari advice for late May/early June '05 trip to Tanzania/Zanzibar?


Apr 25th, 2005, 09:39 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2
Any Travel/Packing/Safari advice for late May/early June '05 trip to Tanzania/Zanzibar?

We are taking our first safari trip in late May/early June, 2005. CC Africa is handling our tour, but we are not with a set group. Our itinerary is:

Fly in Kilimanjaro airport (KLM)
New Arusha Hotel
Ngorongoro Serena Lodge
Lake Manyara Serena Lodge
Serengeti (Grumeti River Camp)
Serengeti (Klein's Camp)
Zanzibar (Breezes Beach Club)
Fly out Dar Es Salaam airport

Any comments on any of these accommodations, especially the food, activities, and services offered, would be much appreciated.

I would love some advice about what to bring on the trip, and specifically for the safari portion. I have found lots of helpful information on this site already, but am still confused on some issues.

Currency: Do you need to convert any US$ to Tanzanian shillings? What denominations of US$ were most useful? Were you able to cash traveler's checks? Did anyplace take credit cards? Did you feel safe leaving your passport and extra cash in your room/tent when you were out on game drives? Were safes available?

Shopping: What souvenirs were unique/good value? We will probably only have the opportunity to shop in Arusha and Zanzibar. Did you ship any items home? Also, we are arriving in Zanzibar on a Sunday and are concerned shops will be closed. We have only a few hours in Stone Town before heading to the east coast. Would you recommend coming back into town one afternoon to shop? Any recommendations about buying Tanzanite?

Clothing: I am not sure what type of clothing and how much clothing I will need for the safari portion of our trip. We will be flying on small planes between parks, so I believe our baggage allowance is quite limited (about 30 lbs. per person). The temperature range looks to be from 50-85 F. How important is it to wear all neutral colors? I've heard that white is not a good choice. Are pants that zip off into shorts practical? What did you see most women wearing on game drives and around camp? Is it possible to wear sandals at all on the game drives or around camp, or do you always want shoes and socks because of dust and mosquitoes? Do people dress up at all for dinner? Are skirts practical at all, or do you want your legs covered with pants in the evening? Will I need more than a sweater and/or windbreaker in the early morning/evenings in the higher elevations? Some people recommended gloves and a fleece head band. How many items of each type of clothing would you recommend for eight days of safari? Did you have any trouble with laundry service? Is an umbrella necessary if I have a windbreaker with a hood? What type of mosquito repellant worked best for you? Did you treat any clothes with it before leaving home or buy any of the Buzz-Off brand pre-treated clothes? Is the dress casual at the beach resorts on Zanzibar? Would my husband need anything nicer than slacks, a shirt with a collar and sandals for any reason if we are only dining at our resort? I've heard that the night market in Stone Town is wonderful, but also that it is too dangerous to drive there and back from the east coast beaches at night.

What type/size of duffel bag worked best? Any other recommendations with regard to luggage/packing tips? Do I need to bring my own water bottle?

Safari equipment: What type of day pack worked best to take on the game drives? Do they provide the beverages for you on the drives? What power of binoculars worked best? [We bought one pair of 8x22 so far, but would like advice on what type to choose for our other pair] Do you recommend taking a video camera in addition to a still camera? [We are not videographers, and our video camera is cumbersome]. Do you recommend taking along a field guide on the game drives to help identify animals? Any recommendations? Did you keep a log of the animals you saw while on the drive or fill it in after?

Activities: Is canoeing still allowed on Lake Manyara? Are there any other activities in addition to the game drives that you would recommend for our itinerary? Is a trip to Oulduvai Gorge worth it? Would you recommend a dolphin sighting cruise in Zanzibar? Any favorite dive sites?

Miscellaneous: What was your experience in giving any items to native children? I've heard different opinions - from don't give them anything to give them candy or pens and pencils. Did anyone give away items of clothing at the end of their trip?

Any advice about these questions or any other recommendations you have about travel in Tanzania would be much appreciated. Thank you.
Lemur is offline  
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Apr 25th, 2005, 12:48 PM
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Lemur -

You've got a great itinerary for that time of the year. We too will be in Tanzania and Kenya around the same time. However, you don't mention how many days you'll be spending at each lodge/camp. But wherever you spend 2-days or more, you can have laundry done for a small fee at the Serenas... at Grumeti and Klein's it should be included. Since you're traveling at the end of the rainy season, and considering that laundry is line dried, then ironed, don't be surprised if some laundry is returned slightly damp - keep this in mind.

As to what to wear, there are so many threads on this board regarding safari attire - a search using the box on the top of this board - enter "safari clothing" - threads will appear in the left column for you to read. I always figure the length of my longest stay, i.e., 4-days - so that's all the safari clothing I need; you rewear clothing... everyone does. Because morning and evenings will be cool to cold, pants are a better option when on game drives, however, skirts are good especially if you need to make a "pit-stop" in the bush. It's a personal choice. Since you will be in open vehicles at Grumeti and Klein's it can be quite chilly and windy when the vehicles take off in search of animals - socks, a scarf, hat or headband and gloves can only help and don't weigh much. Better to have, then be uncomfortable during these drives. It's not necessary to bring your own umbrella as most places provide these to get around camps or lodge properties.

I can't comment re binoculars - don't use them; nor have any comments re a video camera, but if it adds weight, leave it home. Don't forget extra batteries for your cameras, plenty of film if using 35mm; batteries and charger for digital cameras and an adapter plug for the charger. Battery charging can be done at night, or while out on game drives. Have the one battery/ies in your camera and a back-up battery/ies; the third battery or set of batteries recharging. And, do have sufficient memory cards or whatever medium your digital uses.

Depending on how many days you'll be at Breezes, of course, you can arrange to go into Stone Town to shop. You can also arrange other tours - town tour, spice tour, etc. Your hotel can advise what is available and prices.

Like threads on clothing, there are numerous threads regarding insect repellent; search for those and see what people recommend. I would not give local children candy (no dentists available)... pens and pencils are fine, solar calculators, notepads - useful items.

A 30" duffle bags should work for whatever you need for the entire trip. And, of course, a small carry-on bag for your camera equipment and medicines or anything of a personal nature. Bottles of water, or purified water is provided at most all camps (free), so it's not necessary to bring a separate water bottle.

It really isn't necessary to hit the ATM on arrival for local currency, as USD are accepted everywhere; bring relatively new bills, those with the larger faces and tri-color $20s. Have lots of $1, then $5s, $10, $20s, $50. But if you feel you want Tanzanian Shillings, get a small amount; maybe equal to about $30-$40 worth which can be used for tipping of camp staff and/or small purchases. It's difficult to cash Travelers Checks and there are fees attached, so unless you feel you want these "in case of an emergency" then purchase in USD. More then likely you won't need them and can just redeposit them in your account when you return home.

Credit cards are accepted but there is often a fee for their use, so unless you're making a major purchase, you can pay with USD. At Grumeti and Klein's your drinks should all be included. Whereas, at the Serena's and at Breezes, these will be extra... can be paid for with USD.

Regarding Tanzanite - there have been a few threads that what was purchased wasn't more than a purple/lilac piece of glass. But a recent thread by "climbhighsleeplow" mentioned a shop/jeweler in Arusha that he felt was reputable. Search for that thread. My feeling though about purchasing stones/jewelry - unless you know what to look for, can determine quality/value... don't. You can probably do better Stateside.

Most of the lodges/camps have safe deposit boxes where you can leave your passport and/or extra cash. If not, take them with you regardless where you are... they'll fit in a fanny-pack.

Nobody "dresses" for dinner, but if you feel you want to, black slacks with a great sweater, or your safari clothing with a great scarf or costume jewelry will work fine. Remember that the evenings will be chilly, so you'll need a jacket or sweater on top of whatever you wear. And don't be surprised to find a hot-water bottle in your bed when you return to your room/tent when it's time to retire for the evening.

I'm sure there will be other responses for you to take into consideration.
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