Jenn's Adventures in Africa (Tanzania- August, 2006)

Old Sep 22nd, 2006, 03:31 PM
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Jenn's Adventures in Africa (Tanzania- August, 2006)

Here goes my first attempt at a trip report. For those who are interested my pictures can be seen at (warning, there are a lot of pictures)

http://www.kodakgallery.com/Slidesho...y=-texcxz&Ux=1

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Old Sep 22nd, 2006, 03:33 PM
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About Me:

I live in Westchester County, New York, although I grew up on the west coast in Oregon. I have three brothers and am the only girl in the family. I am a very nice and sweet person. I can be quiet at first, but tend to be very silly once you get to know me. With my friends and especially with my brothers I am always laughing and making jokes.

I work as a full time live in nanny/household manager to three children ages 9, 7 and 6 years old. I have been their nanny for almost 7 years now and am lucky to get quite a lot of vacation every year. I love to travel, but also love to see my family in Oregon especially now that I have nieces and nephews to spoil . It can be a challenge to balance getting to see my family and getting away for real vacations.

My travel companion:

I had originally planned on traveling by myself as none of my friends had the time, money and/or inclination to travel to Africa. I didnít want to travel totally alone, so I had chose to join a small group safari. I had lucked out when my agent found me a group with only 4 other people to join that fit exactly in my vacation dates.

At one point in the past I had posted on the lonely planet forum seeking a travel companion, but it wasnít that important as I was fine to travel by myself. A girl named Arielle contacted me sometime in May, but I had already paid the deposit and had a confirmed itinerary by this point. She was also from New York, so we chatted a bit and met for lunch a few times. She only had an itinerary that was priced out, but nothing confirmed. I explained to her that since August was high travel season, I wasnít willing to give up my confirmed reservations and deposit at this point. I sent her my itinerary to look over, but she didnít want to spend 10-11 nights on safari and only 3 nights in Zanzibar. We kept in contact, but she was planning a different trip. She then contacted me again in early July asking if she could join me. I told her she would have to contact my agent to see if it was even possible, but I didnít have a problem with it. It turned out to be fine, so that is how Arielle and I ended up traveling together.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2006, 03:34 PM
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The planning:

I have wanted to go to Africa for as long as I can remember. Two of my friends did an amazing trip to Uganda and Kenya about 2 years ago, but unfortunately the time of year didnít work out for me.

When I really decided I wanted to go for sure I contacted the agent they had used since they loved her so much. She is a local agent near where I live, and she was very helpful. She was the one that recommended Tanzania for me since I would most likely be traveling by myself and she said it was easier to join a small group there. Once I started researching Tanzania I was hooked! I actually started planning a trip for last summer, but realized quickly I had started planning too late in the year. The airfare alone was very expensive. I had specific vacation days, I didnít have much flexibility. Even though I was disappointed, I decided to put off going to Tanzania for another year so that would have more time to plan. I ended up going to Thailand last summer instead.

I had every intention of starting early and planning the perfect trip for this summer, but things didnít work out as planned. I had a very rough fall and winter health wise and ended up having to get my tonsils taken out in early spring. I just didnít have the time and energy to put into planning this perfect vacation like I had envisioned.

I didnít want another summer to pass without going to Africa though, so I decided try my hardest to pull a trip together. My original agent didnít have anything that would work with my vacation dates, so I had to start from scratch. I contacted a lot of companies, but it was hard to find a small group to join. I finally lucked out with Go2Africa who uses Predatorís Safari Club as their ground operator. They had a group of 4 others already booked which fit into my travel dates that I was able to join. It wasnít my dream itinerary, but I was just happy to be going to Africa!
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Old Sep 22nd, 2006, 03:36 PM
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August 6, 2006

I wake up early this morning so excited because today is the day Iím going to Africa! I have wanted to go on this trip for so long, I can hardly believe the day has finally come. My flight doesnít leave until about 4:30 p.m., so I have plenty of time to get ready. I make sure I go for a nice run since I might not have a chance to do this for the next 2 weeks. I then get showered and all ready to go.

I look at my luggage one more time to make sure I have everything. I am normally not a light packer, so I canít believe Iím going with just one duffle bag, a camera bag and a small back pack that Iím using as my carry on! I load all my stuff in the car and Iím all set. I get about 2 minutes down the road and realize Iíve forgotten my camera! Oh my goodness, how stupid can I be? All that worrying about how much memory to bring, etc.... was almost wasted. Oh well, at least I realized it now instead of an hour down the road. I go back and collect my camera and now Iím really on my way. Iím flying from Newark airport, so itís a bit of a drive. I chose the flight from Newark instead of JFK because it left earlier I wanted to make sure I made my connection in Amsterdam. Turns out I had nothing to worry about and should have just taken the flight from JFK, but now I know for next time. I run into some traffic getting on the GW Bridge and Iím getting a little nervous. Iím one of those people who likes to be at the airport 3 hours ahead of time. After what feels like forever, I finally get to the airport. Itís later than I would like it to be, but everything turns out fine. I get all checked in and to the gate with plenty of time to spare.

The flight from Newark to Amsterdam was uneventful. I watch a few movies and read my book a little bit. I donít sleep as I am too excited and also itís a bit early in the day for sleeping anyways. Iím sitting next to a very nice older lady who has no idea where Tanzania is, so I show her on the map. We land early in Amsterdam and now I wish Iíd taken the later flight. I have 5 hours until my next flight and Iím feeling very sleepy. I just tough it out as I canít find any good places to lie down in the Amsterdam airport. Iím excited to finally board the flight to Kilimanjaro airport, but very tired as well. I fall asleep fairly fast and sleep off and on most of the way to Tanzania.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2006, 03:41 PM
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August 7, 2006

Getting off the plane in Africa was very exciting for me. I love when you get off the plane and walk down the steps outside, instead of a jet bridge into the airport. We all head into the customs area. Itís very confusing in there, but I ask someone where I should be and he tells me to get in line. I donít realize until Iím almost to the front of the line, that Iím in the wrong line! I was in the line for people who already had their visas and I needed to get one on arrival. So, I get out of that line and go to the back of the very long line for people who are purchasing visas. I donít feel so bad when several people end up behind me in line that have done the same thing. The line moves very slow and it takes me more than an hour to get my visa. I finally get it, clear customs and collect my bag. A very nice lady brings me a luggage cart as she seems me struggling with my duffle bag. I didnít bring a wheeled duffle because of the weight restrictions, but itís a challenge carrying my duffle, camera bag and back pack all by myself.

I head out looking for a sign with my name on it as I was supposed to be met on arrival. I quickly look around and I donít see my name! Iím hoping that the driver wouldnít have left without me since I took so long getting through customs. I have that little feeling of panic creeping up over me as Iím not sure what to do. Itís late, Iím tired and no one is here to pick me up. I havenít researched at all how to get from the airport into Arusha, so I have no idea how much it should cost, etc... I just take a deep breath and tell myself to calm down, I can handle this as itís not the end of the world.

I have a few taxi drivers asking me if they can give me a ride, but I just tell them someone is coming for me. I go change some money at the cambio, so I will have local currency just in case. Iím just getting out my itinerary to see who I should call when a nice man asks if he can help me. I tell him whatís wrong and he offers his cell phone so I can call whoever what supposed to be there to pick me up. He tells me that I can take the shuttle for the Impala Hotel for only $10 into Arusha instead of a taxi which would cost a lot more. I am tired and I donít want call anyone and have to wait around any longer for them to come pick me up, so I just take the shuttle. As Iím walking out to the car with someone I donít know thousands of miles from home, I have visions of this being my last night on earth.

The driver turns out to be very nice and friendly. There is another girl in the van with me, so I donít feel uncomfortable at all. Iím staying at the Ilburo Safari Lodge and the driver has said that he will bring me all the way there. I didnít realize how nice this was of him until we turned on the road leading up to the lodge and I experienced how long and bumpy it was! He helps me with my bags and makes sure I am okay. I give him a nice tip and thank him for all his help.

I go to check in and the lodge doesnít have a reservation for me. Iím starting to really worry now as first no one was at the airport and now this. We get out my itinerary and they see that I am supposed to be there. They give me a room with no problem and tell me not to worry as we will work it out. After I get settled in my room I come back down to reception. They help me call Predatorís and it was just a little mix up. They had mixed up the arrival days of my travel companion and me. They thought my friend was arriving today and me the next day, when it was the other way around. No big deal I say, I just wanted to make sure I was in the right spot! Iím here safe and sound and that is all that matters, although I was annoyed that they didnít apologize. I go back to my room and take a nice luke warm shower. Itís colder than I expected here in Arusha, so I bundle up to sleep. Iím exhausted after a long day of traveling and have no trouble falling asleep.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2006, 03:44 PM
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August 8, 2006

I sleep all night but have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning as my body is still on New York time. I force myself get up though and go eat some breakfast as I know itís best thing for resetting my body clock. Arielle is due to arrive this morning/afternoon, so Iím looking forward to that. I donít really have much to do in the mean time, so I read my book.

The weather here in Arusha is a surprise to me as I had not expected it to be this cold. I start worrying that I didnít bring enough warm clothing for the safari. I wonder if I should go out and buy some more long sleeved shirts while Iím here in Arusha. Just as Iím really starting to worry about it reception calls and tells me my friend is here. I run down to reception and Iím very happy to see a familiar face. She introduces me to Muro, the driver who picked her up from the airport. He seems very quiet, but nice all the same. He tells us we need to be ready at 9 am tomorrow morning, and we say no problem. We thank him and tell him weíll see him tomorrow morning. We arenít sure at this point if he is our driver/guide or he was just picking us up and taking us to the office for our briefing.

We head back to our room and I fill her in on everything so far. She had flown into Dar last night and spent the night there, so she tells me how her night went as well. Then she took a small plane to Arusha this morning. She realizes that she has gotten a mosquito bite during the night and is convinced she has malaria already. I try not to laugh and all I can think is that I hope sheís not this paranoid about everything.

We decide to go eat lunch as she is very hungry. We sit down and look at the menu. We order our lunch and then start talking. She is still worried about having malaria and then she gives me a lecture about all the foods that you canít eat in Africa. I try not to laugh again as she pulls a list a mile long out from her bag that the doctor has given her. It has so many things on it that I donít know what you would be able eat if you followed that list! Our meals come and she tells me I canít eat the catsup since it says ďno condimentsĒ on the list. I tell her Iíll take my chances with the catsup.....LOL. Iím just hoping that she relaxes after being here a few days.

We walk around the hotel grounds a bit and look at all the pretty flowers. We wish that it was warm so that we could sit and relax by the pool. After a while we go back to our room and Arielle soon falls asleep. I am tired, but am trying hard to stay awake until the evening. I know that if I sleep now I wonít sleep later in the night. I wander around the hotel grounds and realize that have free internet service so I check my e-mail. My brother and sister in law are expecting a baby, so I want to see if he has arrived yet. Thereís no news of a baby, but I still check in with everyone and let them know I have arrived safely

I walk around some more and end up meeting some other people who have just arrived via the shuttle bus from Nairobi. After some talking we realize that we are going to be part of the same group traveling together. There are two couples (Luca/Cinzia and Ugo/Francesca) from Italy who are all very nice and speak very good English. Then there is a mother and daughter (Teri/ Susan) from California, with the daughter being close to my age. They both seem very nice as well.

After Arielle joined me on safari, they added Susan and Teri to our group to make two groups of four instead of a group of six. We have been told that we would be in two separate vehicles, so it would only be 4 people in each which I think is nice. I learn that no one has ever visited Tanzania before, so this will be new to all of us. However, everyone else has been on at least one safari before, so Arielle and I are the only safari virgins.

I return to our room and Arielle is just waking up and she has discovered she has another mosquito bite. She is almost in a panic as she gets out the pamphlet on malaria that the travel doctor has given her to read about all the symptoms, etc...... I try to calm her down, but I donít end up doing a very good job.

We go to eat dinner and Arielle has trouble finding something on the menu she thinks she can eat. She finally decides to order a pasta dish. Then she almost doesnít eat in when she tastes it and thinks that she can taste cheese in it since her doctor has told her that she canít eat any dairy products. Iím trying not to laugh at her but itís hard since Iím so much more relaxed in general. We finish dinner without any other issues and then head off to bed. I have no trouble falling asleep, but Arielle does since she slept all afternoon.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2006, 03:50 PM
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August 9, 2006

The day starts off in a panic when we wake up and realize it its 8:35! We are supposed to be in the lobby packed and ready to go by 9, so we donít have much time. Thank goodness I havenít really unpacked since Iíve been here. I take a very quick shower and get dressed as fast as I can. Arielle took a shower the night before, so she just gets dressed. Amazingly enough we are both down in the lobby ready to go right on time.

Itís raining this morning in Arusha, so itís even colder than it was yesterday. We had decided that we didnít have any time to go eat breakfast, so we will have to eat one of the power bars we have brought with us. They donít taste great, but they do the job so we are not starving.

Our two driver/guides show up right on time to pick us up. The first one is Muro, who had picked Arielle up the day before from the airport. We also meet the other one whoís name is Godfrey. They are both very nice and we say we would be happy to go with either one. Iím not sure who decided but Arielle, Teri, Susan and I end up with Muro. We get all of our things loaded and weíre ready to go. We make a quick stop on our way to the office so everyone can change some money and then head to the office. Muro decides that we need a new tire, so they change it while we are inside getting briefed.

Weíve all been thinking that were off to Tarangire this morning as that is what was on our itinerary. We are informed during the briefing they have changed the itinerary around and instead weíre starting in Lake Manyara. They also tell us they have changed a few of our accomodations and give us all the new itinerary. There goes all that careful photo copying my itinerary for my mom in case of emergency! Letís hope she doesnít try to get in contact with me as nothing is the same. Some of the others are a little upset, but Iím just happy to be heading out on safari, so I would be happy with anything at this point.

New tire and all, weíre finally off to Lake Manyara and weíre all very excited to be on the road. The ladies from California proceed to ask Muro what feels like a million questions, but he is very nice and answers them all with a smile. We stop at some point for lunch. I was kind of dreading the lunch boxes after reading all the comments on this board, but it turns out to be surprisingly good. Maybe because the only thing Iíve had to eat today is that barely edible power bar and that was 4 hours ago.

After lunch and a little shopping we continue on and check into the Lake Manyara Hotel. We see lots of baboons on our drive up to the hotel, so that is our first official wild animal sighting! We just drop our stuff quickly off into our rooms and then head back down to the lobby as weíre off for our first game drive! After a short drive and a quick wait for the guides to sort out the paperwork, we head into the park. We have a nice game drive seeing blue monkeys, elephants, giraffes, impalas, zebras, hippos (in and out of the water), baboons. flamingos, pelicans and lots of other birds I canít remember. We stay until closing time and then head back to the hotel.

We all go to dinner together and have a nice time. Our waiter is especially nice and makes us laugh. The food was nothing to write home about, but it wasnít bad either. Arielle of course has a hard time finding things to eat, but weíre beginning to see thatís par for the course. After dinner we go outside and watch some dancing, but Iím tired so I donít stay long. Iíve learned my lesson and make sure I set the alarm on my cell phone tonight before turning in for the night.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2006, 04:53 PM
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You handled the rocky start very well. So a baboon was your first animal! Some good photos. I especially liked the zebra behinds, your closeups of the blue monkeys, the female impalas, crowned crane, the ele tossing dust, and the vervet on the textured trunk. You have some lovely colorful people shots too. Looks like you had nice cheetah views and some very close lions.

I hope your traveling companion expands her menu. I can't imagine a reputable doctor with knowledge of international travel limiting her diet so. Unless she has special allergies or something.

I always look forward to 75% of the stuff in the lunchbox.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2006, 11:30 AM
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I'm really enjoying your report! I laughed out loud at the no condiments restriction Looking forward to more.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2006, 12:30 PM
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Jenn:
Good for you sticking to your plan to go on an African trip this year. I hope that Arielle relaxes some.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2006, 06:17 PM
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Lynn, Patty and Bat,

I'm glad you are enjoying it so far, I really had a fantastic time even with the wacky traveling companion .

I thought I would have a chance to write more today, but one of the little girls I take care fell off her pony and broke her wrist this morning. Dad is out of town, so I had the other two all day today while mom was at the hospital with the injured one. It was a bad break, but luckily they were able to set it without surgery and pins, so she will be okay. I'll try and write some more tomorrow though.


Jenn

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Old Sep 23rd, 2006, 06:44 PM
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Great start jenn! sounds like you had the travelling companion from hell! Glad it didn't dampen your spirit! Excellent pictures too!
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Old Sep 23rd, 2006, 07:13 PM
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August 10, 2006

Iím up early this morning feeling refreshed. I attempt to take a shower and but itís not easy I tell you. Our shower has one of those shower heads that you can either hang the wall or hold in your hand. Looks nice until you go to use it and realize it has a tiny hole/kink in the hose right at the bottom, so it doesnít work at all if you hang it up on the shower wall. Then when you take it down you have to hold it just right to get the water to come out at anything more than a trickle. If all of that isnít complicated enough, the water goes from freezing cold to steaming hot several times while Iím in the shower.

We all go to eat breakfast together before we are to meet Muro and Godfrey for our second game drive in Lake Manyara National Park. I ignore Arielle's disapproving looks and live on the wild side this morning ordering a cheese omelet. I make it a double whammy by drinking some of the fresh fruit juice and I'm sure she's thinking I'm going to die. There were lots of choices for breakfast though and everything was pretty good.

After breakfast we all head out and have a very nice morning and afternoon in Lake Manyara. We see all the same animals we saw the day before plus buffalo. We have an especially nice time watching a family of elephants with a tiny baby. We still havenít seen any predators at this point, but we are having a fantastic time just being silly and getting to know each other in our vehicle. There is a sign on the window that says ďno standing on the seatsĒ, but Muro lets us stand on them anyways any time we want. Iím not sure if this is the norm, or he is just being nice to us. I somehow manage to fall down because Iím fiddling around with my camera and not holding on while he is driving. Now thatís probably why they have those signs on the windows that say no standing on the seats for clumsy dumboís like me. I was fine though, so we all get a good laugh, especially Susan and I.

As we are watching a big troop of baboons Muro just comes out tells us that baboons can be homosexual and they have been known to masturbate. Now this is a tid bit of information I definitely wasnít expecting to come out our guideís mouth who has up to this point been somewhat quiet and reserved. I then point out to Muro that would actually be considered bi-sexual since they are technically swinging both ways, which everyone gets another laugh at . Iím starting to really warm up to Muro and see that he isnít as quiet as I originally thought. I think all of our silliness has brought him around

We get back to the lodge just in time to have lunch. Well, actually our vehicle is late for lunch, but they let us eat anyways. We then we have the rest of the afternoon at leisure and we all hang out and do different things. We see lots of baboons around the hotel grounds and one particular guy who keeps chasing them off. We wonder if there is a special position here called ďbaboon chaserĒ as that is all we seem to see him do . We also see a very cute family of banded mongooses that I wish I could have gotten a picture of, but they are too shy and run away.

This is the day when big terrorist plot is discovered in London, so I spend quite a bit of time watching television this evening getting all the updates. It sounds like a terrible time to be traveling and Iím just glad that Iím not flying home for almost 2 weeks. Iím hoping security will be a little more relaxed by then. My boss is actually a pilot for United, so I send him a quick e-mail and ask him to keep me updated if there is anything big I need to know before flying home. Dinner tonight is similar to last nights with another group dancing this evening. Totally different type of dancing, but enjoyable. Iím in bed at a decent hour, but I have a little trouble falling asleep.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2006, 07:55 PM
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I wonder what Arielle is saying about you over on Lonely Planet..."my traveling companion Jenn was so daring...she drank fruit juice AND ate cheese!"
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Old Sep 23rd, 2006, 08:06 PM
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I'm enjoying your trip report, and looking forward to the rest of the story.
I'm also considering inventing pseudonyms for both myself and my tour companions. Although in my case, I have to admit, I'll probably be the timid one...
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Old Sep 23rd, 2006, 08:22 PM
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LOL Dennis, I'm so daring eating cheese and drinking juice!

Arielle is really very nice person, just totally different personality than me as I'm much more laid back. I guess I just never expected someone who chose to go to Africa on there own to be so worried about so many little things. To me it's just not enjoyable to travel that way. Luckily I can usually lighten up the mood with my silliness, so it really wasn't that bad traveling together.

Ann- When do you leave again? If I remember correctly it's fairly soon.

Jenn

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Old Sep 24th, 2006, 02:08 PM
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Hi Jenn,
I leave Oct 10th. And my friends are baffled, because I'm afraid of EVERYTHING, yet here I go. That's why I need to be on a tour, since it allows me to step back from some of the things I would otherwise be worrying about or micromanaging, and just trust in the tour leader.

And as I said to my friends two years ago when they were scared at the idea of my travelling to Turkey - I work in one of the 5 'targeted' buildings, so it is probably safer for me to go on vacation anywhere in the world, than to have a normal day at work.

I wasn't worried about cheese and condiments, LOL, but the travel doc did warn me off of fruits and vegetables, so I haven't yet decided what to do about that. And I do wonder if anyone knows if the milk is pasteurized.


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Old Sep 24th, 2006, 03:09 PM
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August 11, 2006

Our original itinerary had going on game drives every day, but the revised one has today just as a travel day. We are to have the morning free and then drive to Ngorongoro in the early afternoon. The office tried to tell us that we actually have more time on game drives, but I donít know what kind of math they were using or what they were smoking when they figured that out.

Anyway, since we are free this morning we had asked Muro if we could go visit a local school. Susan and I had both brought some school supplies to donate and we wanted to give them directly to a school in need. He told us he would be happy to take us and we agreed to meet him at 10 this morning. Itís nice to not have to be ready too early this morning especially since we had to be all packed up as we are traveling today.

We donít drive very far from the lodge to get to Kibaoni Primary School. The children are very excited to see us and many of them shout out ďhelloĒ. The headmistress comes out to meet us and we go into her office for a briefing. She reads us a nice little history about the school and we all ask questions. We learn there are over 700 children at this school and only 18 teachers. The classrooms are over crowded, but they donít have any more space. They have no electricity or running water either. It sure puts things in perspective and makes you realize how lucky we are here in the United States. Susan and I give her all of the school supplies and she is so thankful. Between the two of us it is quite a lot of stuff and itís all things that they can really use. I know itís just a small thing, but I am happy to be able to help out.

She then wants to take us on a tour and show us around, especially Arielle since she is a 1st grade teacher here in New York. We get to go into to several classrooms to meet the children and teachers. When we walk into each classroom she makes all the children stand up and greet us properly, which is a little awkward. Each teacher shows us a sample of what the children are learning as well. In the 1st grade class they persuade Arielle to teach a little lesson. That is quite fun as we are all giggling and laughing

Just like at home some children are very outgoing, but some are painfully shy and quiet. We quickly learn that they all love having their picture taken and then seeing it on the digital cameras. Itís so much fun to see their faces light up when they see themselves on the screen and we all share lots and lots of giggles. I take way too many pictures, but donít want to disappoint anyone by leaving them out, so just keep clicking and clicking away. We finally pull ourselves away and say goodbye as we feel that weíve disrupted the classes enough for one day.

We then head back to the lodge and meet up with the Italians for lunch. They tell us that we might have to stay here in Lake Manyara for another night as there is a problem with our reservation at the Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge. None of us are happy to hear about this as we had all been looking forward to moving on today. Lake Manyara has been nice, but we are ready for a change.

They tell us that Godfrey said he would know by 2:30 if we were going or staying, so we all sit around after lunch waiting for the news. Weíre all very happy when we hear that they have found us another place to stay called Crater Forest Lodge. Iím a little nervous as both drivers tell us this is a new lodge and neither one has been there before, but just try to think positively.

We get everyone rounded up and say goodbye to Lake Manyara. We make a quick stop in Karatu for gas and our land cruiser is soon surrounded by several men trying to sell us things. Arielle and Susan both end up buying drums from these young men, but Iím not interested. We continue on and find the turn off for the lodge.

Although we turned off the main road at the same time, Godfrey soon leaves us in the dust! In fact they are so far in front of us, that we donít see them again until we reach the lodge. I donít understand how they can be driving any faster than we are as the road is extremely bumpy and it doesnít seem like Muro is driving slow! We decide that Godfrey must be an aspiring race car driver and call him proceed to say to him ďGo, go speed racerĒ whenever we see him for the rest of the trip.

After about 25-30 mins of very bumpy driving we arrive at what is actually Crater Forest Tented Lodge. I think the office left out the word tented on purpose when they told us where they are staying, but Iím excited for a new experience. We have several very nice young good looking men meet us we with wash clothes and cold drinks in hand. The Italians have arrived so far in front of us, that they have settled in at the lounge and are drinking wine waiting for us to arrive. We all get a little briefing about the lodge and learn we are the only guests here for the evening. We are then all taken to our tents by different individuals and given a little tour. Weíre told that we shouldnít walk around by ourselves since they get a lot of elephant and buffalo here. This is new to us as we were able to wander anywhere around the hotel grounds we wanted in Lake Manyara.

As Iím settling in I realize I donít have my camera with me. I break the rules and walk back go to the reception area by myself so I can ask Muro if heís seen it. He tells me itís still in the car, so we go and get it. I ask him if he likes it here and he says itís very nice, but he prefers to not be so far in the bush! Iím laughing as I point out thatís an odd thing for a safari guide to say. I tell him that I really like it here as itís very pretty and peaceful.

Camera in hand, I head back to my tent, but run into Susan along the way. We ask if we can go for a walk/hike along the road, but they tell us not by ourselves. They tell us a Masaii
can take us, but none of them speak very good English. That is okay with us as we just want to get some exercise and have a look around, so we set off with our Masaai warrior to protect us. We walk about 20 steps when a young man named Nicolaus comes running after us. He speaks very good English, so he decided to come with us.

Nicolaus turns out to be very nice good looking young man who is 26 years old and from Arusha. Heís a lot of fun, so we all share lots of laughs along the way. He ends up giving us both advice on dating too On the walk, I see lots and lots of spider webs near these holes in the ground and that worries me as I donít like spiders. Nicolaus assures me that the spiders are just little ones, but I donít believe him until I see one for myself.

When we arrive back at the lodge we run into the owner. The camp manager is gone for a few days, so she is here instead. She is very nice and has her adorable 9-month old baby girl named Natalie with her. We have a very nice time talking with her asking all sorts of questions about living in Tanzania. She is Dutch, but has lived here for about 10 years now. I have a great time playing with Natalie as she is very sweet. When her mom learns I am a nanny, she jokes that I should come and work for her in Arusha. I tell her I have to make sure I tell my employers that even half way around the world I got someone offering me another job .

Itís getting late now, so we go get cleaned up for dinner as we are supposed to be ready at 7:30. Dinner here is 3 course meal with a set menu instead of a buffet like we had in Lake Manyara. The food was very good and the service was even better. After dinner the Italians and Teri all retire to their tents, but Susan, Arielle and I stay at the bar with all of the guys who work here.

As we are all in the same age group (mid 20's-early 30's) we get along very well. We have a very fun night drinking way too much rum and asking all kinds of silly questions. Music is a big topic of conversation and they all want to know if Arielle and I know 50 cent since we live in New York. Yes, I hang out with 50 all the time I tell them. We also talk extensively about dating, marriage and all kinds of other things.

We ask them to teach us some more Swahili greetings, so we can be more hip with the younger people we come in contact with. Instead of the standard Jambo, weíre now armed with Mambo....Poa and Niagi (sp?)......Poa plus a few others. We ask them to write down the words to the Jambo, Jambo Bwana song so we can learn all the words and they are happy to do so. Then they make us sing it and laugh hysterically when we do. We finally go to bed at about midnight since we do have to be up and ready to leave at 7. Our tent is nice and warm since they have put hot coals in the fire place and we sleep well.
jenn24 is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2006, 11:07 AM
  #19  
 
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Jenn, I'm just catching up on your report and wanted to let you know how entertaining it is. Way to roll with every little bump!

And, yes, you're one in a long, illustrious line of people whose reservations at Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge get somehow "messed up." Sounds like in your case everything turns out for the best.

Looking forward to more.
Leely is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2006, 01:02 PM
  #20  
bat
 
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It sounds like you had alot more fun at the Crater Forest Tent Lodge than you would have had at the Wildlife Lodge. This trip (with all of the changes) would have driven me nuts--it is great that you are so flexible.
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