Out of Africa

Oct 26th, 2018, 04:59 PM
  #81  
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,144
I am determined to finish this report!

The next morning, after breakfast, we loaded all of our gear into the Land Cruiser as we would not be coming back to Mara Under Canvas after our game drive. It was a bittersweet goodbye as we really enjoyed our time there and were sad to leave, but were also looking forward to spending a few days in Zanzibar. The staff were wonderful and so were the other guests that were there. There are only 10 tents there so it is quite intimate.

I was wearing a photojournalists' vest that I bought about 30 years ago and took out of retirement for this trip. The flight from the airstrip in the Serengeti was on a small plane, and we were told we could bring a maximum of 33 pounds, including carry-on, but we could fill our pockets as long as we didn't weigh more than 200 pounds. Since DH and I are pretty trim and fit, we figured we could carry a lot of stuff on our persons. I had all of my camera equipment, guide book, toiletries and anything else I could fit into the multitude of pockets. I looked like a suicide bomber and gave some of the other guests a good laugh when saying our goodbyes. Once we got into the vehicle, I took the vest off and laid it in the back so I could be comfortable for our very last game drive.

We went back to the Mara as Silas got word that the wildebeest were gathering there again and seeing another crossing would be a wonderful way to end our safari. We did see the wildebeest cross, but it was a much smaller herd than what we saw a few days earlier. One thing that was amusing is that one of the animals made it across, got to the shore, and decided he didn't really want to stay, and crossed back over to where he started from! Like I said earlier, not the brightest bulbs.

We saw more elephants, giraffes, zebras, gazelle, hippos, crocs and other animals, and Silas did drive much slower and stopped for animals. That morning's drive was a few hours, but then we needed to head over to the airstrip for our flight.

The airstrip was much more crowded than I had anticipated. Silas took care of getting our tickets to whomever it was that was collecting them, and making sure we got on the right plane. It was sad saying goodbye to him, after spending 10 days with him. He continued to apologize for hitting the gazelle the previous day, and I told him that as long as he knows from now on that he must always give the animals the right of way, it would be okay. We did not stiff him on the tip, and actually gave him more than the suggested amount. He knew how we felt about what happened, but I also wanted him to know that we accepted his apology and felt he learned his lesson. And I felt a bit guilty about reporting him, though I did not tell him that I had written to Pearl. Before getting on the plane, I needed to use the restroom, and when I came out, Silas said that DH was already on the plane and he walked me over to it. In fact, everyone else seemed to be on the plane. It held maybe 10 people. I got on and saw that my luggage and backpack were already loaded. DH said that nothing was weighed. I fretted for months prior to this trip, looking at luggage before deciding on what to buy for it, and during the trip, worried that we might go over the allotted weight, and it turned out that they did not even weigh anything! I could have put all of my crap in my bags and not looked like a nutcase or felt like I was carrying lead in my pockets. My guess is that the pilot could eyeball everything and estimate whether there would be too much weight to fly safely. At least that is what I told myself.

The flight was pleasant enough. The pilot gave out cold bottles of water to everyone. I don't remember if I took Dramamine. I probably took it before the game
drive. In any case, I did not feel sick and we got some very nice views of the Serengeti from above. We made one stop to refuel and drop off two passengers, somewhere in the Serengeti, and then on to Zanzibar! Seemed a bit odd that we had to refuel less than an hour after takeoff, but what do I know.

We got to Zanzibar in the early afternoon. We had to go through a sort of immigration and customs even though it is the same country, but it wasn't a big deal. I had read that sometimes they want to see proof of yellow fever vaccination when you get to Zanzibar, even coming from mainland Tanzania. Since DH and I had gotten yellow fever vaccinations for a trip to the Amazon and they were still in effect (the vaccine lasts about 25 years), we brought our yellow cards, just in case. It turns out that we were not asked to produce proof of yellow fever vaccine but better safe than sorry, especially since we did have the cards so it was no big deal to bring them. We were met by a driver who drove us to our hotel, the Jafferji House and Spa, in Stone Town.

I wanted to stay in Stone Town, rather than go to a beach resort, which is what, I believe, most people do. DH and I are not the biggest beach people, but for the past 10 years, we have spent a week per year on the beach in Punta Cana, DR (and going again on December 14) and one week a year is enough. Since Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage sight, I wanted to spend the three nights there. Pearl originally booked us into the Kisiwa House in Stone Town, which looked very nice, but it didn't look very special and I wanted something different. I did some searching (I spend hours looking at hotels and accommodations for every trip I take) and fell in love with Jafferji House. I asked Pearl if she could book us into that hotel instead. She had never used it but said that she could, and did.

We were brought to the hotel, which was on a small narrow street, and we had to park around the corner. The lobby was small and looked a bit worn. We were told our room wasn't ready yet, so we went to the rooftop restaurant for some lunch. We got upstairs (no elevators, but that was fine) and ordered some drinks and food, and I wanted to use the restroom before our drinks came. I went down one flight to the restroom and was sorry I did. It was quite lacking, shall we say (it was rather disgusting), and not a good omen for what was to come. I was beginning to think that maybe we should have stuck with Pearl's original suggestion. Anyway, we had lunch and a few drinks, and when we went back down, our room was ready. We got up to our room, which was one floor up, and I wanted to take a shower before heading out. The room looked nice enough, but there was something that was off about it. I realized that it smelled like sewage. There was no way I was staying in that room. I went to pick up the room phone to call downstairs and saw that the phone was filthy. I did not want to use it. This was not a cheap hotel mind you. It was about the same price as the Kisiwa House, in the $185/night range, which is not cheap for Zanzibar. I went downstairs to tell them that the room smelled and that we would not stay in it. The woman at the front desk was very nice and showed me another room, which was close by and did not smell, but it was a lot smaller than the original room so I said that it was not acceptable. I also told her that I was rather disappointed that the phone in the room was filthy and much of the furnishings needed a good cleaning, not to mention that the rest room for the restaurant was horrible. She clearly wanted to please and have us leave with a good impression, so she showed us another room, a suite really, that was huge and gorgeous. While I had to disinfect the phone in that room as well, I told her it was acceptable. This room was more expensive than our original room, but I did not feel guilty considering the first room stank. DH thinks that a pipe came loose and gases were leaking into the room, causing the horrid smell. While not dangerous, it would ruin any stay. I took a shower and got myself ready to go out and explore Stone Town.

I'm having trouble posting photographs. I'm certain it's a Fodor's problem so I will try again tomorrow.
laurieco is offline  
Oct 27th, 2018, 02:06 PM
  #82  
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Posts: 13,144


Croc



Jackal


Our upgraded non-stinky room at Jafferji House


Bathroom at Jafferji House


Another room shot


And another. The room was beautiful, but it needed a good scrubbing and upholstery stuffing and carpet cleaning.


The much much smaller river crossing. Hardly a sight to see!
laurieco is offline  
Feb 15th, 2019, 10:49 AM
  #83  
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 219
Out of Africa

Laurie,
Thank you so much for this fabulous trip report and great pictures! It really helps us while we plan our safari to Tanzania.

Karen
TravelerKaren is offline  
Feb 16th, 2019, 05:27 AM
  #84  
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Thanks Karen. Glad you found it helpful. Maybe one day Iíll finish it!
laurieco is offline  
Feb 16th, 2019, 09:36 AM
  #85  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,098
Hi. We have 2 done 2 Kenyan safaris over the last 2 years and have always stayed at Kicheche camps-first time was 5 days at Sanctuary at Ol Lentille (amazing spot - wonderful cultural introduction to Kenya plus tons of pampering), 4 at Kicheche Laikipia and then 5 at Kicheche Mara.

This time we spent 2 weeks at all 3 Kicheche camps in the Mara-5 at Mara, 5 at Valley and 4 at Bush. I cannot recommend them more highly. Guiding, vehicles, food, tents, - we wanted for nothing and thoroughly enjoyed the managers and other guests. Valley Camp is the newest and most luxurious (my dd and i had massages!) and it may have been our favorite bc of our stellar guide, Micah. They have a 4 for 3 special too.
plambers is offline  
Mar 9th, 2019, 06:43 PM
  #86  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 351
Loving this trip report! We will be in Tanzania at aprox the same time frame this year, visiting the same areas. Were tse tse flies a problem anywhere? Also, I know morning drives start off cold and then heat up, but how cold? Thinking about packing already! Thanks for the tips of Dramamine.
Poconolady is offline  
Mar 9th, 2019, 09:21 PM
  #87  
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Hi Poconolady! You are going to love Tanzania! I'm jealous. I cannot wait to go on another safari.

Tsetse flies were not a problem. They are prevalent but they are pretty much like any other fly: annoying but basically harmless. Sleeping sickness is very rare, and you should be using an insect repellent with no less than 30% Deet anyway and that will keep the flies off of you. Supposedly, blue and black attract the flies. I don't really know how true this is but I guess it can't hurt to avoid wearing those colors. I didn't worry about it much, but most of what I wore was tan or khaki.

It is cold in the mornings, but not freezing. Wearing a fleece jacket or sweater and long pants should keep you warm enough. Dress in layers so you can peel off the layers as it heats up. I wore a short sleeved top under my fleece jacket, and zip off pants, so when it got warm, I just zipped the legs off. Sneakers or sandals, whatever you are comfortable with. I hate wearing socks, but some mornings I wore them with sneakers, but then just took the socks off (and the sneakers, you are in a vehicle all day so who needs to wear shoes anyway).

Dramamine was a life saver! I get motion sick pretty easily but never felt sick on safari. Have a great time and report back!
laurieco is offline  
May 3rd, 2019, 12:39 PM
  #88  
 
Join Date: May 2019
Posts: 2
Luggage

Hello, I have enjoyed your report and it gave me so much insight for my upcoming trip. Can you please take a moment to tell us about luggage you took? What worked and what you would change for next time/. Also is tripod a necessity?
Thank you,
Sonal
sonalkishore is offline  
May 8th, 2019, 02:45 PM
  #89  
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,144
Hi sonalkishore! Iím so glad you enjoyed my trip report.

I used this Rick Steveís bag
https://store.ricksteves.com/shop/p/carry-on-backpack

ebags sells something similar. It holds a lot and I was happy with it. I also bought wheels from Samsonite and was glad I did for walking through airports. Itís not necessary though.

We hardly used the tripod. Youíre better off bringing some sort of bean bag to steady your camera. There just isnít a whole lot of room in the vehicle to set up a tripod.

Where are you going? I hope you have a wonderful safari. I canít wait to go on another.
laurieco is offline  
May 9th, 2019, 07:05 PM
  #90  
 
Join Date: May 2019
Posts: 2
Thank you Laurieco. Before your post I was nervous, after reading them I am now excited for my trip. I am going to Tanzania.
sonalkishore is offline  
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