Questions for Oct in Tanzania/Rwanda

Aug 31st, 2008, 04:30 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 19
Questions for Oct in Tanzania/Rwanda

I am traveling with A&K in Tanzania and Big Five in Rwanda at the end of October. It is my 1st Africa trip and I am so excited!

My plan is to try and do 2 carry on bags. I'm flying American/British Airways through London (luckily enough on miles for First Class!). I am traveling alone...wish me luck!

Here is my itinerary.

Oct 27 - Overnight London
Oct 28 - Overnight Nairobi, Kenya

TANZANIA Portion
Oct 29 - Arusha - Mountain Village Lodge
Oct 30, 31 - A&K Tarangire Tented Camp
Nov 1 - Lake Manyara Serena Lodge
Nov 2, 3 - A&K Ngorongoro Crater Camp
Nov 4 - Serengeti Serena Lodge
Nov 5,6,7 - A&K Serengeti Tented Camp, hot air ballon ride one day

RWANDA Portion
Nov 8 - Kigali Serena Hotel
Nov 9 - Virunga Lodge
Nov 10 - Mountain Gorilla trek then on to Mountain Gorilla Lodge or Virunga Lodge (TBD)
Nov 11 - Fly home

For Cameras, I am bringing a Canon SD800 IS and a Panasonic FZ28. I am not a DSLR type.

My biggest questions are
-How much cash to bring
-What types of stuff to buy/where
-What will make the drives most comfortable (i hear the roads are a bit bumpy) that I should bring
-How to prep for the Mountain Gorilla trek...do I need to exercise? What do I need to pack?
-Where would you expect that I will have electricity to charge batteries/my Kindle? (i.e. do the A&K tented camps have electricity? can you charge in the car?)
-A lot of people have mentioned giving items to guides, etc. What is best to bring?
-Any particular watch outs for a single woman traveling alone?
-Anyone have experience in tha A&K mobile camps?
-Best packing list to reference?
lovejl is offline  
Aug 31st, 2008, 07:17 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 509
Hi lovejl!
We just returned from a 3-week trip ending with two days of gorilla trekking in Rwanda, which was absolutely magnificent. (I'm graduallly adding to my trip report, but probably won't get to the Rwanda portion until next weekend?)

For packing, search for LyndaS and her packing list; it's an outstanding starting point. We took rainsuits for trekking; the jackets were our everyday windbreakers throughout the trip. We only used the rainpants for trekking but were glad we'd packed them -- it can get pretty dirty out there! It was warm enough that we wore only long sleeved shirts for the trek and they got filthy -- I washed them three times when we got home and still couldn't get out all of the stains. But no problems with the pants I had on under my rainpants. The waterproof material is also good protection against stinging nettles if you encounter them. Be sure and bring (leather) gardening gloves to protect your hands and help you grasp vines if needed. And have a lightweight backpack for adding or subtracting layers of clothing, camera stuff, water, etc.

As for preparation, I think the main issue is stamina. I should have started sooner, but I did consciously try to walk 1-3 miles at least three times a week in the 4-6 weeks before departure. But then we had almost three weeks, while on safari, with little physical activity (sitting in game vehicles) and too much good food!

All will depend on which gorilla family you are assigned to visit. Our first day we found the gorillas in about 40 minutes; the second day it took us close to 3 hrs! I'm not sure I'd have made it without a porter; be sure to hire one ($10/day)! Even if you find you don't need help, you are providing needed employment. Most are former poachers who now understand they can make $$ by protecting (rather than killing) these beautiful animals. Mine was absolutely great!!

Group assignments are usualy made, as best I can tell, by language and age. You can request a specific group (or just easy, medium, hard) or guide, although I don't think they'd put someone my age (~60) in the Susa group unless they'd seen on another day that you were up to it. The large Susa group is usually quite high up. (The group we visited the second day is usually in the low forest, but about once every other year they go up high...we managed to hit one of those days! But it was definitely worth the hike!!)

Re: comfort, I brought a small, microbead-filled travel pillow, thinking I could use it behind my back or sit on it, plus it could double as a beanbag camera support...but found I didn't use it. Re: shopping -- I'm not a good shopper but we did bring back Rwandan coffee beans...and had some to drink this morning while sorting pictures! Good luck to you!!
skibumette is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2008, 04:45 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
-How much cash to bring
I am assuming this is a group departure.

Kenya tipping about $5-10/day for guide and $3-$5 for lodge/camp staff. You'll probably have to buy beverages for several dollars per day.

If you are on a solo private safari, then tipping is usually a few times those guidelines.

Rwanda tipping-It is a good idea to use a porter to carry your stuff because it makes the climb easier for you and it employs the porter. Even a sherpa should get a porter for reason #2. I think the customary tip for them is about $10 now. For the head tracker, I think at least $10 is also given. Your driver to/from the gorillas is tipped as in Kenya.

A&K should give you up to date guidelines on tipping.

I take an additional $500 beyond whatever I think I'll need and usually bring it home. I count out the approximate amount of tips I think I'll give and have a separate envelope for each.

Lotsa one dollar bills! Other low denomination bills.

-What types of stuff to buy/where
no info

-What will make the drives most comfortable (i hear the roads are a bit bumpy) that I should bring

There are special pillows you can buy for back support.


-How to prep for the Mountain Gorilla trek...do I need to exercise?

Yes, but I see you are doing only one trip so you don't have to recover for the next one. You should be in good shape and able to walk a few miles uphill. But you can go slowly.

What do I need to pack?

There is a link for gorilla packing that I'll look for.

-Where would you expect that I will have electricity to charge batteries/my Kindle? (i.e. do the A&K tented camps have electricity? can you charge in the car?)

I'd ask A&K that because they'll have the most current info on their own camps. Also ask them about adapters and converters.

-A lot of people have mentioned giving items to guides, etc. What is best to bring?
Money is best. Baseball caps & T-shirt from your hometown or local college, sunglasses.

-Any particular watch outs for a single woman traveling alone?
I've had no problem alone where you are going and am planning a return so all went great.

-Anyone have experience in tha A&K mobile camps?
no info

-Best packing list to reference?
I'll try to find LyndaS's.


Have a fantastic tarip.
atravelynn is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2008, 04:50 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Packing specifically for gorillas

http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=34863680


http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=35094525

You may want to bring some Dr. Schollís (sp?) moleskin or just bandaids in case the steep terrain rubs your feet against your shoes and causes discomfort or blisters.


Lyndaís packing list
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=34802443


Other packing info
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34639696


http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34782437


http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34606894

http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=34934728


atravelynn is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2008, 08:26 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 19
atravelynn...

thank you so much...you really are the fairy godmother of the fodor's africa board....

I appreciate the feedback.

Where all have you been in Africa?
lovejl is offline  
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