Similar but different....and how so?

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Sep 19th, 2012, 10:05 PM
  #1
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Similar but different....and how so?

After a few false starts and missed opportunities, I'm happy to report I'm headed back to Africa!!!

I've been to Kenya twice, but this will be my first trip to Tanzania. So I have few questions for all of you seasoned Africa travelers: how similar or different are these countries from each other? How about the flora, fauna and crafts--anything special to be found in Tanzania that cannot be found elsewhere? And any special tips to share?

Also will be spending a few days in Rwanda, but imagine that will be an entirely different experience ---especially since I'll be doing the gorilla trek.

Any and all comments much appreciated!
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Sep 19th, 2012, 11:53 PM
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As you already know, scenery is completely different from Kenya, in Rwanda. But what struck me even more is how different Rwanda feels in terms of --how to put it? --law and order. Billboards denouncing corruption--and it's not just words. Motorcycle riders and passengers consistently wearing helmets. Police not stopping cars for some absurdity, as in Kenya, and trying to have the driver grease their palms.

I was there only two nights/three days, and it made quite an impression.

Try to see the Genocide Memorial in Kigali if you can. Are you flying into Kigali?
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Sep 20th, 2012, 06:01 AM
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I found that people were a little more reserved in Tanzania. The influence of Islam was also more visible in Tanzania, for instance in the way people dressed.
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Sep 20th, 2012, 06:02 AM
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And I forgot to add, Tanzania had tsetse flies which I had not experienced in Kenya.
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Sep 20th, 2012, 08:31 AM
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Femi -

Had similar conversation with a friend on this very subject of tse-tse in Tanzania and not Kenya. However, I can't imagine there are NO tse-tse in Kenya, just that we never come upon them or those who have don't report it.

live-aloha -

Kenya vs Tanzania - replies can vary for a return trip depending on which country visited first, as the saying is 'you fall in love with your first safari country' - but that's not to say the second isn't also wonderful, rather just different.

I often here that Kenyan's are friendlier and more welcoming. Both countries have elephant parks, both share the eco-system of the Serengeti/Masai Mara separated by a border... both with open plains kopjes
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Sep 20th, 2012, 08:42 AM
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... sorry about that.

open plains, hills/kopjes, forest/woodlands, etc. Game is pretty much the same, but for the unique species in Samburu and other northern areas; more rhino to see and close-up in Kenya.

Of course the 'migration' depending on what time of year visiting, does spend more time in Tanzania than Kenya... but unlike Kenya, does move from area to area. Of the Northern Circuit parks, it's the Ngorongoro Crater that is unique to Tanzania, but visitors have mixed reviews... some are thrilled, others feel it to be 'ho-hum.'

When visiting either country you can get off the beaten path, whether the Southern or Western parks in Tanzania, or those to the far North in Kenya and even towards the West. Likewise the coastal beaches and/or islands.

As you did your research for the Kenya safaris, guess you have to do the same for Tanzania. But let's see what other input we get on this interesting subject.
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Sep 20th, 2012, 09:58 AM
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I can vouch for the fact that there are definitely tsetses in Kenya I've encountered them in Meru and Tsavo but only when driving through wooded areas.

Where in Tanzania are you going and when and where in Kenya have you been?
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Sep 21st, 2012, 01:18 AM
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Appreciate your responses!

CaliNurse: interesting observations! And yes, I'll be flying in and out of Rwanda via Kigali and plan to include the genocide museum as a must see. (BTW, I'm a nurse, too)!

Femi: oh yes, I'm not looking forward to the dreaded tsetse flies,,,maybe I'll get lucky and not have to have that experience! Do you know if that stuff people put on to calm mosquito bites works for tsetse bites?

Sandi: I hear you about falling in love with your first safari country--which is probably why I ended up going back to Kenya the second time around! Last trip I got lucky and was able to experience the migration while in the Mara in August 2010--quite a sight to see!

Patty: Kenya Nov 1986 and August 2010 Nairobi, Masai Mara, Amboseli, Samburu, Tsavo, Mombasa
Will be leaving soon (October 1st) for Tanzania (Arusha, Northern and central Serengeti, Ngorogoro Crater, Tarangire)

Needless to say, starting to get pretty excited!!

How about crafts specific to the areas? Does anyone have a favorite they have brought home?
Baskets? Best places to buy souvenirs that benefit the local craftsman?
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Sep 21st, 2012, 08:47 AM
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Thanks for those details Patty.

Guess I escaped them at both Meru and Tsavo, but as you mention 'woodland' areas. So yes, this is where one is likely to encounter the dreaded tse-tses whether Tanzania or Kenya. Unfortunately oft used repellents don't work... you just have to avoid them and hope for the best. Whatever, do not scratch at them, but do have an antibiotic/itch cream to help somewhat.
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Sep 21st, 2012, 06:04 PM
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Luckily my tsetse bites did not get as inflamed as my mosquito bites do, nor were they as itchy. The actual bite was more painful though.
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Sep 22nd, 2012, 10:05 AM
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Just back from Tanzania and Rwanda. Loved both. Never have been to Kenya. Rwanda is a beautiful country and the gorillas are a must experience. be prepared to do a long hike, even if you ask for an easy one, it is unpredictable. We had Tsetse flies in Tanzania but they didn't bother us. I have been to South Africa and Botswana and realize that each country is a unique experience. As for souvenirs, we didn't find anything that w couldn't get a NYC street fairs. Perhaps we just didn't go to the right places as I would have loved to find something unique and fabulous.
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Sep 22nd, 2012, 04:58 PM
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We have had extraordinarily vicious mosquitoes in NC this summer. I have found a product, Corticool, which is a hydrocortisone anti-itch gel that has made it possible to survive gardening or mowing the lawn in the day and trying to sleep at night. We've bought two tubes to take on safari next month (Zimbabwe). I can't imagine any insect bite being more miserable, but we are prepared!
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Sep 23rd, 2012, 08:23 AM
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As to local souvenirs, Patrissimo is correct... many can be found at NYC street fairs. And for those unique/unusual items as produced by 'women's groups' in these countries... many are now being exported to the West to be found at the likes of Macy's, Bloomingdales, others... surprisingly, the prices aren't all that exhorbitant.
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Sep 23rd, 2012, 11:07 AM
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Appreciate your responses! Thanks for the advice on the tsetse flies concerns

Patrissimo: any tips on clothing/footwear for the gorilla hiking? Or any other tips in general? How cold did it get at night? Will layers do?

Too bad about the lack of local souvenirs, since it's always so nice to bring something special back as a reminder of the journey (besides the memories, of course)!
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Sep 23rd, 2012, 01:13 PM
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There are souvenirs to be had, but depends on specifically what you're seeking and probably will meet your wishes. As to communities producting specialized items... suggest you inquire of your tour operator and if so, be sure you make the time to shop.
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Sep 25th, 2012, 08:01 PM
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Colgate toothpaste stopped the tsetse fly itch. Afterbite helped too. I also found that swimming in the chlorinated pools helped. I got lots of bites in Feb. in Tarangire and the Serengeti woodlands around Kusini camp.
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Sep 26th, 2012, 02:15 PM
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To answer your question on layers, feet, cold:

Layers are a good idea to help with cold. Once you are hiking you warm up in a hurry. What month are you going?

From my report, where I did a lot of different treks, not just one or two, but most should still apply


-Feet first
With all the strenuous hiking I knew I’d be undertaking, orthotics were just one aspect of my comprehensive foot care. Even though boots may be well broken in over decades, the stress and friction on your feet caused by traversing the steep, vine-covered hills of Rwanda and Uganda may irritate parts of your feet that normally feel fine. I’ve learned that from past hikes.

So I brought a variety of insoles, hiking socks, wicking socks, liner socks, mole skin with mini scissors to cut it, (toe)nail clippers, Dr. Sholes callous and corn pads, and anti-fungal/anti-athlete’s foot spray. I took two pairs of boots in case something happened to one pair and to have the luxury of switching between pairs from day to day. In case of the dreaded turned ankle, I brought two kinds of supportive ankle wraps, which I fortunately brought home unused. If you are doing more than one or two hikes, I’d recommend overcompensating on foot care products to make the most of your investment in the $500 (more now) permits.

When I think back to my first gorilla visits in 1995 when the porters were barefoot, the above seems ridiculous.

• -Staying well for the gorillas
I decided to gargle daily with salt water as an added prevention against a sore throat that might hinder my gorilla visits. I packed numerous little restaurant packets of salt. (I would not recommend dumping salt in a ziplock as it could be mistaken for something else.) I also packed more than the usual in the way of upper respiratory medications such as a chapstick-size Vick’s inhaler, saline nose drops, and decongestant, all because if you are blowing your nose and coughing you may be denied a visit to the gorillas. None of it was needed.

-Gorilla Gear
There are numerous threads on this topic:
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=34863680
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=35094525
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=34863680
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=35094525

I’ll add a little more. The gorillas were all decked out in black, with silver accents for the elder males, and let me tell you--they looked marvelous! For the guests visiting the gorillas, I saw everything including blue jeans and bright colors, but no shorts. Some people wore rain gear when it was not raining, just in case. I put mine in my backpack, which was carried by a porter.

About 25% of the people had “Gators” or some kind of ankle guards. The prize went to a group of six who had tucked their pants into their socks and used orange duct tape to tape the top of their socks and parts of their shoes where dirt could enter. Everybody was taking pictures of their feet. I asked Kirenga about the ankle guards, especially in the wet season. He remarked that they are useful to keep out dirt and mud but that tucking in socks is sufficient for deterring insects.

The stinging nettles are not that big of a deal. I wore quick drying, light fabrics to stay cool and got about 6 pokes through the material in 4 visits, none of which were that uncomfortable or distracting. In the many gorilla visits I have made in the past in both Uganda and Rwanda, I’ve found the nettles are not a worry if you don’t grab at the vegetation. And if you do get stung, it lasts about 30 minutes and is nothing like the pain of a bee or wasp sting. There even were times at a sighting where I made the conscious decision to kneel on a patch of stinging nettles in order to see better. Sometimes I paid the price, sometimes not.

I only used gloves after the gorillas had been located. That’s when you dropped your walking stick, put your camera (in my case two of them) around your neck and walked about 5-10 minutes to get to them. The lack of walking stick, the march to the gorillas through thick bushes and vines without a trail, and the awkwardness of the swinging camera(s), made using my hands for balance more necessary. The gloves prevented me from accidentally grabbing any stinging nettles.
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Sep 27th, 2012, 09:55 PM
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Mahalo!

Sandi: Will be looking for baskets! I brought some beautiful ones home from Kenya, so of course will need to add one or two (not that I need them!) fromTanzania and/or Rwanda.....

Novak: nothing like personal experience to know the best treatment! Appreciate your advise

Atravelynn: Perfect...just the info I've been looking for (and so eloquently stated I might add)! the only problem for me is,,,,,omg, now I'm stressing over how ill prepared I am. Guess I'll be doing some shopping this weekend. I'm leaving on Monday, Oct 1st!!!!! Heading to Tanzania first -----I get to spend my b'day in N. Serengeti (Olakira camp) before heading to Rwanda on the 12th. I'll be doing the Rwanda leg by myself, so a bit anxious about that....but pretty sure it will all work out ok
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Sep 28th, 2012, 02:39 PM
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Happy birthday, happy shopping, and have fun!
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Sep 28th, 2012, 11:02 PM
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Thanks, Atravelyn

I think recalling from a past post that you, too, are a fellow Libran----so happy birthday to you as well!
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