Just back from amazing Tanzanian safari!

Jan 9th, 2006, 02:09 PM
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Thanks George! Swala really spoiled us. Interesting that Steve is filling in at Kusini. Maryna mentioned that they try to get to some of the other camps whenever they can.

Did she happen to mention if they have seen any wild dogs around lately? Just curious...
lisa is offline  
Jan 19th, 2006, 07:23 PM
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Hello, Lisa,

I'm in the planning stages of my East African Safari with Narry from Good Earth Tours....could you please expound on your experience with the company. Thank you for any help!! SOUNDS AMAZING...we're also looking to go into Uganda. Did you go?

llambiris is offline  
Jan 20th, 2006, 03:07 PM
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Leeann -- No, we did not get to Uganda unfortunately. We really had a great time and I do recommend Good Earth -- feel free to post any specific questions you have, or check out homepage.mac.com/lisaandmarktravel for more info & photos, and there is a link at the bottom of each page there to e-mail us if you'd like. My main advice to you (and to anyone planning a safari) is to be as specific as you can with your operator about what your interests are. My husband talked to Narry in great detail before we went about what we were hoping to see and photograph, and the guide we had turned out to be perfect for us, which I think was the most important factor in our enjoyment of the trip. Be as upfront as you can about what you like and don't like. E.g. if you have a particular interest in birds, tell them that, and they may recommend certain accommodations and/or drives and/or guides over others.
lisa is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 10:13 AM
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Sounds like you were looking at the same leopard we were that was watching the lioness stalking the hartebeest. We were lucky to see a lioness take down a baby zebra, it did happen in a clould of dust but we saw the run up and the pride of 12 eating afterwards. It truely was an amazing sight to see all those animals! I would love to be able to go back but there was a couple on our safari for whom this was the 12th safari. They said that we saw so many unique things, like a pair of mating lions, 35 young ostriches being herded by 4 females, an insect hatch at the crater being eaten by swarms of birds, Hippo eating at night right outside our window so loudly that it woke us up 2 nights etc. that we might be disappointed on another trip as we would assume it would always be that great.
tnale is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 03:10 PM
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Wow! I just got a look at your and Mark's photo albums--amazing! We are going in late May/early June and wonder if you had any thoughts about which would be a better choice for Tarangire: Treetops or Swala? I understand that they're quite far apart and that the sights are very different. Is the Moru Kopjes private caming different from the Migration Camp? Did you have an en-suite bathroom in your tent? Also, was there anything (besides more film!) that you wished you had brought? And finally, how did you handle tipping the staff at the hotels/lodges/camp?
mairseydotes is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 05:53 PM
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Mairseydotes -- At Tarangire we decided to stay at Swala because it is inside the park, whereas I think Treetops is outside. Both have their advantages -- if I recall correctly I think you can do night drives at Treetops (you can't at Swala), and the accommodations at Treetops look wonderful. We loved Swala. It is definitely a long drive south through the park though. It is special because the animals roam freely through the camp and there are lots of them! Also the food and service were top notch at Swala. You probably can't go wrong either way. You can ask your operator to price it for you each way and see if there is any price difference, if that matters to you.

Moru Kopjes are in central Serengeti; Migration Camp is in northern. The Great Migration was in the northern part of the park when we were there, so Migration Camp was a logical choice for that time of year for us (and Migration Camp is fantastic). Migration may not be the place to be at the time of year you're going through. We spent a lot of time driving in central Serengeti, including some time around Moru Kopjes. We saw a large lion pride on one of the rocks near Moru Kopjes. It was incredibly dry when we were there though and most of the game was down closer to the river at that time.

I assume when you talk about private camping you are talking about a mobile camp that they set up for you, so they will set it up in a prime location for game viewing. We decided to do luxury permanent camping rather than mobile camping but both have their advantages. I think it's nice that you're doing a couple of nights in luxury mobile camps -- it should be very different from the permanent camps, much more secluded and "wild." The bathrooms will not be as nice as in the permanent luxury camps, but I'm sure it will be worth it for a couple of nights.

No matter what you decide I'm sure you'll have a fantastic time.
lisa is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 06:06 PM
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Forgot to mention -- yes, all of the places we stayed had very nice en-suite bathrooms with real flush toilets and showers with plenty of hot running water! Also, Eben's page has lots of good photos of various accommodations in Tanzania, at www.go-safari.com. And in answer to your other question, the only other thing I wish I had brought more of were antibacterial hand wipes.

tnale -- Wow, unbelievable that we saw the same leopard & lioness sighting!
lisa is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 06:21 PM
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CCAfrica just announced that night game drives were now allowed within the park at Lake Manyara...I wonder if night drives will soon be allowed within the park at Tarangire?

I am going next month, and while my first choice for Tarangire was Swala, and my second choice was Oliver's Camp, I was still happy to be able to ultimately stay at Tarangire Treetops since this was a late add-on to my schedule. I originally booked my safari back in July, but I made this late change just a couple weeks ago.
Roccco is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 07:07 PM
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Thanks for the excellent photo album and trip report. Very entertaining reading/viewing and it has me looking forward to my own safari next month, now more than ever before.

I was very pleased to see such a variety of birds as well as so many hippos, which I have come to love from my time in Zambia. It was a bit of a turnoff to see the gridlock at the one leopard spotting, but at the same time it was comforting to see that group of people stuffed in one vehicle, since, like you, I am going the private vehicle & guide route.

31 days left until my own departure!
Roccco is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2006, 03:37 AM
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Good to read your travel report Lisa. We are setting out on our Tanzania safari in a couple of weeks and would appreciate some advice. We will mostly be staying in tents and tented lodges. What's the best footwear to take - walking boots, trainers or sandals? It seems to be commonplace to carry large sums of cash/travellers cheques with you on these trips - is it best to have lots of small denomination notes for tips etc. Assuming food, lodging and park fees are already paid for, what would be a realistic budget per day Finally, did you use the local currency at all or just dollars? Sorry to bombard you with all these questions but it would be great to have advice from someone who has been out there.
utlending is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2006, 06:27 AM
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Rocco -- At most of our sightings we were the only ones, so don't be too put off by that photo! It was unusual. I hope you have as great a time as we did. I also hope you aren't too disappointed in Mbuzi Mawe -- after Migration Camp we found Mbuzi Mawe a bit of a letdown, although it's really fine -- it just suffered a bit by comparison. Just make sure they put you in a tent that doesn't rattle around in the wind too much.

utlending -- I brought one pair of sandals and one pair of lightweight hiking shoes (not real boots), in addition to the pair of loafers which I wore on the plane and to dinner most evenings. In terms of currency, we did not change any money into Tanzanian shillings. The only thing we found we couldn't use dollars or credit cards for were postage stamps for our postcards, so at one hotel we did change a few dollars just to buy stamps. The exchange rate fluctuated pretty wildly from one lodging to the next -- the worst exchange rate was at Ngorongoro Serena where it was 1000 Tz shillings to the dollar -- whereas at other places it was as much as 1345 Tz shillings to the dollar. It couldn't hurt to change some dollars to Tanzanian shillings, but if you don't you'll be fine. The amount of cash to bring really depends on whether you are planning on doing things like visiting a Maasai village, nature walks, how much you plan to tip, etc. We paid $50 cash to visit a Maasai village plus donated a little extra to their school and bought a few beaded trinkets there. We paid cash for a couple of nature walks that we did, which were $20-25 per person. We tipped porters $1 per bag, so figure each time you check into and out of a place you're going to tip the porters a bit. Plus if you tip housekeeping, waitstaff, etc. Then whatever you plan to tip your driver/guide (they recommended $15 per day for both of us; we ended up doing $20 per day). And $50 per person for a Tanzanian visa when you arrive, if you don't have that already. I brought 3 $50 bills and my husband and I each brought a stack of 50 $1 bills, plus some $5 bills, $10s, and $20s. We went through all of the $1 bills so I would say bring lots of those. We also brought traveler's checks. Drinks like beer, wine, etc. were just added to each lodging bill which we paid with a credit card when we checked out. Also if you plan to do any shopping outside of the hotels, you may get a better price for paying cash rather than with a credit card. This kind of stuff is very personal...but I think on our 15-day trip we each ended up bringing between $450-$500 in a combination of cash and traveler's checks, and that was more than enough for us. I hope this helps?
lisa is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2006, 08:26 PM
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Hi Lisa,

E-mail (they use a slow radio link at Steve's camp (Maryna is there now too for a visit)) has been down so no news on wild dogs yet. Will keep trying.

tuckeg is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2006, 11:59 PM
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Hopefully by the time I will have arrived at Mbuzi Mawe, it will seem like relative luxury compared to my prior three camps, Nomad Piaya, Nomad Masek and Olduvai Camp.

If anything, I am expecting to be reminded that I am a mere mortal once I leave behind Tarangire Treetops, Lake Manyara Tree Lodge and Ngorongoro Crater Lodge for Olduvai Camp and the Nomad camps. There does seem to be a shortage of luxury camps in the Serengeti's short grass plains and long grass plains. Even Kusini did not particularly dazzle me, so I just ended up choosing the most exclusive (smallest) camps I could find with Nomad Masek & Nomad Piaya. Perhaps it is all in their marketing, but Nomad seems to have an excellent reputation.

I cannot yet quite believe that I am leaving on February 23rd!

The only thing that I will splurge on before my trip is an extra wide lens to best capture the amazing landscapes I am expecting to see in Tanzania. I will probably go with the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 lens for about $450, shipped.

Oh well, even if Mbuzi Mawe is a bit of a letdown, I will have the Palms Zanzibar immediately following, as well as the Serena Inn, the Canal House in Amsterdam and then for the grande finale, the King George V Four Seasons in Paris.

The itinerary is so nice that it borders on obscene. More like some dream itinerary that has somehow become a reality. Thanks again and again and again to all of you very patient East Africaphiles who helped me make halfway intelligent decisions in putting it altogether!
Roccco is offline  
Jan 26th, 2006, 05:00 AM
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Hi Lisa
Thanks for your detailed reply regarding tips and money etc. It have given me a much better idea of how much to take and what to expect. We are leaving on 12th Feb and I am getting butterflies - it's the first time I have been on safari and I hope I cope with the heat, dust and insects. Everyone seems to have such a great time though that they never mention this. I will report back in March.
utlending is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 02:50 PM
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Great report Lisa.....if only I had your patience to note down all those details!!!
I still have over 20 hours of safari video to edit going back to a few trips since 2002. I am just too lazy..

Out of interest, what dates were you in TZ, mid- or late-November? As you said the larger migrating herds had reached central Serengeti. I know it can change each year but it would be great to know for future planning.


Africa is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 03:34 PM
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Hi Lisa,

Thanks for a great trip report -- definitely whetting my appetite for Tanzania!

What was the weather like (temperature and humidity) when you were in Tanzania?

Did your husband find out how long the iPod downloads took? Does his camera use CF or SD cards? I'm thinking about upgrading to the video iPod from the iPod photo, but it would be nice to see how it performs.

jasher is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 05:33 AM
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Gaurang/Africa -- We were at Migration Camp Nov. 22-25, Mbuzi Mawe Nov. 25-27, and Serengeti Serena Nov. 27-30.

Jasher -- Weather was great. The short rains had reached northern Serengeti when we were there and it sprinkled for a few minutes and was a bit chilly one day, but the other days were hot and sunny in the daytime (high 80s-low 90s) and cooled off to the 60s at night usually. Other than northern Serengeti, everyplace was exceedingly dry and dusty with extremely low humidity. Ngorongoro Crater was significantly cooler than everyplace else -- I wore several layers -- it was down in the 40s at night and in the morning, and highs on the crater floor were maybe in the high 70s-low 80s at midday.

I will ask my husband to respond to your photo questions. I do know that when we went to the Apple store, they have a test model of the video iPod that you can use to try out the download time for yourself. We brought one of our cards with a few photos on it to the store with us so we could test out the download time and ease of use.
lisa is offline  

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