Back from Tanzania Safari

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Apr 17th, 2005, 07:46 AM
  #1
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Back from Tanzania Safari

We have returned from Tanzania after our first safari. WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! It was more than I could have imagined or hoped for.
I spend a lot of time before the trip on THIS site gathering information from so many that were generous with help. Now, I would like to try and pay back by offering some observations that might help someone else.
We had a 13 day tour which included travel time to get there. We flew out of JFK and stayed overnight in London to break up the trip. Good idea...WISH we had done that on the way back, also! Getting sleep on a plane does not happen with us and we did not want to take sleep medication because it is best on long flights to do some moving around to prevent clots in legs, etc.
We were in:
Tanangire Nat. Park
Lake Manyara Nat. Park
Ngorongoro Crater
Serengeti Nat. Park
We were in lodges..very nice, but I think staying in a tent for a couple of nights would have been 'icing on the cake'. The tent experience is not like the camping I am use to. Often the tents were nicely furnished..including toilets. I was told you do not sleep much because you are hearing the sounds of the animals up close...but can be so exciting.
The meals were all buffet unless you had a boxed lunch for a day trip. (All the food was set out and you put in the box what you wanted. We were careful not to take things that needed refrigeration.)
Bottled Water was always available and I was prepared to ask for "no ice cubes"...but that was never an option. I never saw an ice cube. Diet drinks were more than double the price of regular cokes, etc. because they have to be imported...and we usually paid $1 for a reg.coke.
Beige was the best color of cloths to have. I am glad that I put the effort into having mostly beige. Do stay away from blue. It attracts a nasty fly! Red shows up in the distance more that I could have imagined.
Don't try to share binoculars. You will want your own..TRUST ME ON THIS! I do wish we had spend more $$ on better ones. They seemed fine when using them around our home area, but were not as adequate for the sights of the safari.
I took a new back-up battery for my digital camera. I found out that when it was needed, it was defected. (I guess there can never be enough back-up stuff.) So I switched to my 35 mm camera. I had the 800 film hand checked through the airports. I was told in US and London that the x-ray for carry-ons would not hurt that film, but in Africa, I was told the film would be ruined going through their machines....and my film accidently went through! I was so worried the rest of the trip thinking (as I continued to take pictures) I would not be capturing all those wonderful sites. Someone gave me one of their extra disposable camera which I was thrilled to have....because there was NO PLACE to buy anything like that. (The good news...all my pictures turned out fine!!!) Take LOTS of film!!!!!
We did not take an electrical adapter because we had something ruined(melted) with one once. I did not want that to happen with my rechargeable digital camera. Others had the adapter and it worked fine....but many of the places we stayed used generators and the electricity was off during part of the day and in the late evening. No TV's or phones in most rooms...but were never missed. We did have a new flashlight...which did not work...see what I mean about having back-up for the back-ups!
Often the hot water for on only during a couple of hours a day.(Don't be on the end of that time or you will have a cold shower, anyway!) The rooms all had the small bottles of lotions, soaps, etc...but not wash clothes.
We took rain ponchos because we were there in the rainy season, but we never needed them. WE WERE SO LUCKY WITH WEATHER...it was almost perfect. A nylon wind breaker was the most useful item on cool mornings or evenings. Be sure to get a hat with a brim...not a visor-type. On the one hot afternoon we had, the top of my head was soooo hot with the visor. My husband bought his $8 hat at Nairobi Airport...which is a good place to find things.
Sun Screen and Deet-spray for bugs are a must. Extra glasses and sun glasses I would recommend. You will not see any place selling sunglasses, etc. while on the safari.
We bought things that the Maasai made like wood carvings, bracelets, etc. Space in the luggage was so limited that we could not get much to bring back. Dollars were accepted everywhere.
We never exhange money. The shilling and the dollar had the same value for the things and the dollar seemed prefered. There was NO place to cash a traveler'c check or use a visa until we got back to the airport. Bring cash....especially dollar bills. You will need them when taking pictures of the people. They expect to be paid..and it was usually a dollar. Children will ask for a dollar...and you will probably want to give that when you see how they barely survive.
(We were told that the annual wage per year is about $400.)
Having less luggage was stressed and now I can see why. Take less than you start out packing. There is laundry service most places and where we stayed for 2 nights, I did a hand wash. Everyone gets use to seeing the same clothes over..just rotated. At dinner most change into something other than what they wore during the day. I could have used a second long-sleeve top. I did have a beige cardigan which became my uniform for the plane, mornings, evenings.
I packed a medical kit with a sampling of "just-in-case'stuff. I did not use most of it, but felt secure having it.
I thought I could remember which animals I saw during a day. I realized within a half hour, I needed to write down what I saw...I think the first day, we saw over 25 different animals and some were ones I never heard of.
We thought about safety when planning this trip. We never felt un-safe. Tanzania is listed as one of the safest places in Africa. And the people we came in contact with were so friendly and warm.
By the way,we booked with 2AFRIKA. I would recommend them highly. Their cost was lower than most others... and we stayed in the same places and saw the same sites as others who paid more. Even the vans we were in were the nicer ones. 2AFRIKA could not have been nicer to work with! Budget Travel Magazine featured them last year.
I hope I have helped someone because I appreciated all the help I got from this site. I would be happy to answer any questions.







MariMari is offline  
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Apr 17th, 2005, 08:00 AM
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MariMari,

Some excellent to-the-point advice, covering all aspects of a safari. Did you have any favorite sightings or parks? Glad it was such a successful trip and welcome back!
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Apr 17th, 2005, 09:47 AM
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Excellent! Thank you!

Can you tell us more about your camps/lodges?

Was this a shared safari or private?
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Apr 17th, 2005, 09:51 AM
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No favorite spot because each area was unique. Each scene was special, but one stands out to my husband. Two hippos jumped out of their pool and ran across the road in from of us...one chasing the other. They went so fast none of us could get a camera ready. They ran FAST as far as the eye could see. Our driver said a "lady hippo" was probably the cause of the two males to be ready for combat. We did not realize that a big, heavy animal with short legs could travel that distance so fast!
I did forget to mention a fashion statement that was popular with women as well as men....the safari vest. It was so handy to carry everything because you really do not want to leave the important things in your room.
We did not have one, but rather wished we did. (On the hottest day, I think they would be warm to wear.)

Now, I see them on people who have never
been on safari!
Marilyn ([email protected])
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Apr 17th, 2005, 10:49 AM
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Marilyn, thank you for the report. Brought back loads of memories. And, the suggestions for going as that time of the year were also appreciated.
Dick
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Apr 17th, 2005, 12:53 PM
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sandi
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Glad to hear your "experience" was more than you could have imagined. Great reminder to check that everything works before leaving home.

But do tell where you stayed and for how long at each park.

Thanks for sharing.
 
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Apr 17th, 2005, 02:58 PM
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We were on a group safari of about 24 people. Most did not know each other before we started, but we all felt like friends at the end. Addresses, home and e-mail, were exchanged and I would love to see all of them again!

In the van that we views animals, rode from place to place in, etc. there were 5 of us and had room for more. Everyone gets a window seat.

The first night we actually did not go with our group. We got bumped from the plane because the plane held 17 people and there were 29 tickets sold. We were taken to Nairobi to a 5 star resort for the night. It sounds like a nice experience, but going to and through Nairobi was not my favorite thing to do late at night and we had to be up by 4a.m...and that was after not sleeping for 2 days while traveling to get there.

The next day we met up with our group for lunch. That night we stayed at Tarangire Sopa Lodge....a VERY nice place. It was my first time to sleep with mosquito netting over my bed. I felt that I was in one of the old jungle movies!!!

The next hotel was a two-day stay at Lake Manyara Hotel. The rooms were not as fancy, but the scenery was outstanding. We were up high up over-looking Tarangire Nat. Park. (With binoculars, we could see animals in most of the places we stayed.)

The next stop was Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge for 2 nights. Each room had a view of the Ngorongoro Crater. Again, breath-taking.

The last Lodge was Serengeti Wildlife Lodge and we stayed 3 nights. It was the most remote place. Again, the rooms were ordinary, but being in the middle of the animals was awesome!
Just outside our window a giraffe walked by...2 cheetahs were chasing a impala while the monkeys were screaming in a near-by tree at the action. Then at night the lions were roaring and 9 ended up walking though the lodge lobby. The guy on duty locked himself up in a office until it was cleared.
(There are no doors in some lobbies...all open..and there are monkeys and other small animals going through all the time.)

Most of these hotels and lodges can be found on line so that you would have some idea of they are like.

When we showed people our pictures, they were surprised at where we stayed. I guess they expected we would be 'roughing it' more!

Just thinking about it gets me all thrilled again. We toured a few countries in Europe a few years ago. I am glad we did that, but I actually got tired of looking at the old churches and castles. It took me over 5 years to get those picutes into an album. The Tanzania pictures were in albums within 2 days of getting them developed!!!
Marilyn

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Apr 17th, 2005, 03:19 PM
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Marilyn,
Thank you for the report. I'm so glad you had a good time, and it's nice to know 2Afrika does such a good job.

I have had that "Oh, we just ruined all the film" feeling before, too--what a relief to know the photos turned out.

A friend and I stayed at the Seronera Wildlife Lodge last year. Nothing as exciting as a lion in the lobby, but we loved the sight of the guys chasing hundreds of monkeys away from the dining room as we ate breakfast each morning. It's such a funny place, so "standard" and yet in the middle of the wilderness.

Which airline overbooked your flight, if you don't mind telling? (We also were bumped from a seriously overbooked flight out of Zanzibar...but since it was on our way home we didn't mind too much!)

Welcome home!
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Apr 17th, 2005, 03:43 PM
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You had some amazing viewing right the Wildlife Lodge. Lions in the lodge, my goodness.

Is a return to Africa in your future? Maybe you can convince some of those friends who enjoyed your photos to join you.
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Apr 17th, 2005, 03:47 PM
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Kenya Airways. We had two problems.
The first one is that our flight was delayed hours in London on the way there. The other was the over-booking.

No comment!!!
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Apr 17th, 2005, 03:52 PM
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I would not pass up a good opportunity to go again, but there are still a lot of places I have yet to see.

And any other place will have really have to be really outstanding to compare to this trip!
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Apr 17th, 2005, 06:56 PM
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Thank you! That was a great report.

csuss
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Apr 17th, 2005, 07:23 PM
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I am just starting to plan and have already received ALOT of help from this board and have written down your packing ideas. Would you mind telling me the "title" of your 2afrika safari? I've looked up their website and they offer quite a few. Thanks.
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Apr 18th, 2005, 02:32 AM
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To Dreamseeker: The package we took was called 13-DAY AFFORDABLE TANZANIA SAFARI.
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Apr 18th, 2005, 03:03 AM
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Sounds like a great trip!
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Apr 29th, 2005, 12:37 PM
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Since you took photos with both film and digital cameras, which pictures turned out to be the best? I am agonizing over whether or not to buy a digital slr to replace my old slr. I really enjoyed your report! Tanzania is on my wish list and I am working my way there!
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Apr 30th, 2005, 08:04 AM
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Dear MariMari,
Thanks so much for posting, my husband and I took a 2AFRIKA safari in 2002 and it seems our experiences mirrored each other. Thanks for brining back memories of the best trip of my life, so far!!!!
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May 4th, 2005, 04:57 AM
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Marsh, this is a late reply to your camera question.

Both my 35mm and digital came out great. I really recommend both...especially after my experience. The simplicity of using the digital is nice, but the zoom on a 35mm is usually longer and you can get close-ups that you can't get with the digital...at least, with mine.

So..my advice is to "mix and match"... and always think about having "back-up"!

I hope you make the trip. We have been to many places in the world and this trip is really at the top of our list as a favorite!!!!
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Jun 9th, 2005, 04:32 PM
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Hi MariMari. My wife and I are getting ready to depart next month on the exact same trip/itinerary with 2Afrika that you went on. One question that we both still have is clothes. I'm thinking that during the drives, we'd wear shorts and t-shirts, and then in the evenings, we switch to khakis and shirts. How many of each of the following would you recommend each of us take: shorts, long khakis, short sleeve shirts, and long sleeve shirts? Is one pair of tennis shoes and one pair of casual type boots sufficient? Thanks for the write up on your trip. Since we are going on the same one, it was extremely helpful and exciting. Thanks again.
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Jun 10th, 2005, 06:18 AM
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I've been traveling myself, so am just catching up on what Fodorites are writing and I know that what I am about to say will anger some of you. I am chagrined to read that you gave dollars to children who asked for them. We Westerners, especially Americans, are encouraging begging and fostering an unhealthy attitude around the world by distributing money and small gifts, even pencils, to kids. Rather than sermonize more on this topic, of which I am fully capable, let me suggest that tourists with digital cameras volunteer to take photographs of the children and then play back the images. It gives the kids a big thrill to see themselves---it's really better than those old Poloroid photos because there is no financial outlay on the part of the photographer. ZZ
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