Tanzania Feb 2013 -- my first but not last safari!

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Mar 11th, 2013, 07:24 AM
  #21
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The tents themselves serve as mosquito nets, so there aren't additional nets over the beds. Of everywhere we were, we were least bothered by mosquitos there. Only at dinner was I bitten at either mobile tented camp. Just remember to keep your tent zipped when you're not there or in it. Open it only to come and go.

Generally, the mosquitos dropped off the further into the Serengeti we got. They were worst in Tarangire and Manyara and hardly a bother in Ngorongoro and Serengeti. But maybe that's a time of year thing, and could change from season to season.
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Mar 12th, 2013, 06:09 AM
  #22
 
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OK, thanks - we'll definitely keep tents zipped
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Mar 13th, 2013, 12:16 PM
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Amyb, you mentioned flying to DAR on Precision Air from KIA. Why was that, since the KLM flight you were taking from DAR stops in KIA before continuing on to DAR? Was there a scheduling problem? Loved the report, BTW! I've stayed at all these Tanganyika Wilderness Camps properties and have always enjoyed them.
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Mar 13th, 2013, 01:30 PM
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Sharon -

Interesting what catches our attention ... as your mention of the Precision flight KIA/DAR... I've read those few lines a few times and still can't quite figure out where that Precision flight came into play. Of course not knowing Amy's original flight routing, with an assumption only... if KLM from AMS to JRO/DAR (this flight is heading to both airports in Tanzania)... and then home from JRO/DAR to AMS... as you mention, once the flight lands JRO it goes onto DAR before heading onto Europe/AMS.

Times below are estimates only -
The KLM flight departs AMS about 10am,
arrives JRO 7:30pm... paxs for JRO deplane (those heading to DAR remain onboard).
Those pax departing from JRO to AMS board (filling those seats of paxs who just got off) and takes off about 9pm for 1/hr and lands at DAR where DAR paxs deplane.
Those paxs at DAR heading to AMS board (filling those seats of paxs who just got off);
flight takes off about 11:15pm to AMS, landing next morning about 6:30am... here to connect to onward to the States, Canada, elsewhere in Europe or other.

In the end no matter, curiosity only.

As to the tse-tse and mossies -
The tse-tse are an issue during daylight and in woodland areas, where besides southern Tarangire, there are lots of areas in the Serengeti they can be found as seen by the many blue/black triangles (containing chemical) hanging off the trees throught... where you close vehicle windows and pop-top till out of the area.

The mossies, on the otherhand are an issue between dusk to dawn, so you can certainly leave your tent flaps open during daytime hours if not out on game drives/taking a walk or other... no reason to keep zipping/unzipping.

There are, however, other mossies about during daylight hours that might carry diseases as Dengue Fever, though rare, so if this is something of concern or you are a magnet, zip up the tent and use repellent on skin. And a spritz of Doom in the tent (not over your bed linens) doesn't hurt.

As the Crater is situated over 7,000' feet, remember mossies do not like altitude, cold or wind... thus rare to find them when staying on the rim. For that matter, most areas if over 5,000'.
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Mar 14th, 2013, 05:01 AM
  #25
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Good question. What ended up happening is three of the four of us (not me) booked air on KLM direct from JRO to AMS (with an intermediate stop in DAR). When I went to book that a day later, that particular routing fare showed up for $5k+ (yes, you read that right). There was an alternate option of taking Precision from JRO and picking up that very same KLM flight in DAR, which was showing up for what my travel mates paid for it, so I took it, not having read anything about Precision. Foolish decision in retrospect, but I thought it was harmless at the time, and saved me $3k.

What remains a question is why I was bumped to the next day. The Precision flight went out as scheduled (I saw it go), was not canceled. They "found" me seats on the KLM flight my friends were on but not after some serious stress, and, I will admit, some palm greasing on my part. The whole experience left me feeling dirty but I just wanted to be home at that point.
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Mar 14th, 2013, 07:38 AM
  #26
 
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Now I'm super curious -- how did the palm greasing work? If you don't mind me asking. Does that mean just what it sounds like? I thought that only worked with maitre d's at restaurants
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Mar 14th, 2013, 08:03 AM
  #27
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Well, here's the thing. I debated with some fellow forum-goers how much, if any of this, I should share. The whole thing smacked of wrong-ness and I feel duped and stupid but also feel others should be aware, so here it goes...

Arriving at JRO with my three travel mates, I was not allowed in the airport at all, as you can't get in without a valid ticket for travel that day. A security guard outside stepped in, heard my story and said he could help, but it'd be $150. I took out a credit card thinking that was the change fee on KLM, but he said he only takes cash. Still without really thinking about where this was going or why, I hit the ATM, got shillings which our guide converted to USD for me (the guard wanted USD) and off he went with my e-ticket. A couple hours passed with him going back and forth, in and out of the airport, me on the sidewalk with my luggage and my guide (who said he'd stay with me and take care of me in the event I don't get on a flight that night). The guard would fluctuate between "it looks good" and "not so good" and that he was waiting for a KLM manager to show up.

Ultimately the KLM manager showed up and I watched them confer and look and point at me. The guard came back out, and asked for another $100. I said I already gave him $150, he said that's for me. This is for him. So back to the ATM I went. With that cash, the guard escorted me through the security at the main door to the airport, directly to the front of the check-in line, where two boarding passes (one to AMS, the other AMS to BOS) were already waiting for me.

I have no idea where the money went, why it had to be cash and not credit, but it got me home without my having to spend money on an overnight stay and day room the next day in Arusha. (As the flight wasn't until 9:30 pm, I would have had to stay somewhere all day as the airport doesn't let you in until the check-in for your flight is open).

I've traveled out of the US over 30 times in my life, and never had an experience like this, nor do I want one again. It took until the plane took off from Amsterdam that I shook the feeling that that just sucked and I was taken advantage of somehow. It does not ruin my safari experience but does make me think that maybe things get done differently in other parts of the world. If anyone has an alternate explanation, I'm more than willing to hear it. I'd like to believe anything else!
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Mar 14th, 2013, 08:42 AM
  #28
 
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Hate to say it, but yes... 'suckered' - 'chai' (bribe, not tea) is quite usual many places around the world and sadly also in Kenya/Tanzania.

Couldn't your tour operator help you out with this? Even though your own booking, at least they speak the same language and have a darn good idea of what's going on.

For $250 you could have stayed at a hotel, relaxed before heading home, transfer to airport. But, once at airport I can understand why you just 'wanted outta there.'

Just write it off to experience and learn local language (anywhere) 'no money' 'not card' 'no nothing' = a pouting lower lip and even a tear could help.
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Mar 14th, 2013, 08:55 AM
  #29
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I really wanted to get home, plus didn't want to stay alone, as nice as the Arusha lodge was, I didn't have a bathing suit or other clothes suitable for lounging around in really hot/humid weather without air conditioning, which it was there. A lot factored into it. Our guide (who was not the one we had on safari, he was driving the land rover back from Serengeti where we left him) couldn't figure out why I wanted to leave so badly, but supported me in whatever I wanted to do, but other than that, stayed out of it. There was no indication that this was a bribe or that it was necessarily a bad thing.

Chalk it up to experience, I suppose. What is funny though is that I did try to cry, figuring they wouldn't know how to handle that and would do anything to get rid of me, and I just couldn't do it. Ha!
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Mar 14th, 2013, 10:23 AM
  #30
 
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Wow, how interesting. I'm surprised that they didn't take your money and then say sorry, we can't help after all. At least you got on a flight for that $250!
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Mar 14th, 2013, 11:17 AM
  #31
 
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Yes, Amyb, I can believe that jump in price. KLM pricing is crazy at times! They are now going to have some competition from Turkish Airlines going into JRO and Ethopian Airlines already goes in there (both are Star Alliance members.) I have to say I haven't seen such blatant bribe-taking in Tanzania, but Sandi has been there more than me. I definitely think that your guide should have been more involved in that encounter. He shouldn't have allowed you to be taken advantage of that way. Still, you got home and that's what mattered for you at that point.
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Mar 15th, 2013, 04:30 AM
  #32
 
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I thought that too about the guide. I understand he wasnt't the one you had traveled with and so didn't have a "relationship" with but still! Maybe he felt he'd get some future trouble from the security guard if he sees him frequently when picking up/dropping off clients. But he could've talked to you when you were away from the guard and explained exactly what was going on in case there was any doubt that you were fully aware. Maybe bribes are common enough that he didn't think it was a big deal.

Funny about not being able to cry! You might have a new appreciation for actresses who can cry on demand. :'(
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Mar 17th, 2013, 03:28 AM
  #33
 
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Your trip sounds delightful . We are just starting the process to research the details. It seems we are going to share the same safari trip and hopefully their experiences. Just wondering thou, if you could be specific on the types of luggage you had used. The amount and types of clothing as well.
Thank you in advance for any information you may forward .
I love (repeated) readings of your.trip. I have great enthusiasm for this trip, even more so since reading your journals
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Mar 17th, 2013, 08:56 AM
  #34
 
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I haven't personally seen such bribery, but know it's not unusual. My immediate response would have been 'no' nothing/way to get additional cash; next would have tempted me to raise my voice, but that's not done in Africa... they'd haul me off to the police or nut-house, but being soft spoken and a tear seems to work most places. In the end, we all come upon situations where we simply have to go with the situation and learn from the experience.

patti - there are lots of threads on this forum regarding luggage and what to pack. Do a search of the forum in the box above. Though I sure hope your tour operator/outfitter supplies this information; maybe check their web site as many include such details.
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Mar 17th, 2013, 11:26 AM
  #35
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Patti, I took a large duffle as my primary suitcase, a small carryon for a change of clothes and things for the plane rides, and a day-bag that I didn't mind getting really dirty for carrying my camera, binocs and wildlife book while out on game rides.

Your luggage and whatever you wear will get filthy, at least ours did, so I'm glad I didn't bring my usual suitcase. Plus there is limited space in the back of the vehicle, so using duffles that can sort of bend and flex into the space available is useful for the guide. One of our group did bring suitcases and was flummoxed by not being able to drag them over dirt paths, or having them jammed into the back. It got pretty beat up. Others experiences may vary.

I got moisture wicking short sleeved tops from Sierra Trading Post and REI online. I wore capris most of the time and on two days longer shorts, all moisture wicking. I was more concerned about being hot and staying dry and those clothes worked for me. Never needed or wanted a jacket, except for the very early morning on the way to the hot air balloon, but I was coming from 25 degrees in Boston, so even 65 would have felt tropical to me (it was close to or over 80 the entire time we were there). I kept to pastel tops and beige bottoms as our tour operator suggested, but I did see just about everything on other tourists, including red t-shirts and nice sweater and short sets that I'd wear to a BBQ party at home!

I wore hiking shoes and was glad I did as I'm not sure sneakers would have kept up with the mud and be as easily cleanable.

I kept one outfit to wear after the game rides were done for the day and I'd showered. Even though I only wore it to dinner and back every night, it was nice to feel clean and have something reliably clean to wear for a few hours every day. (Our MO was to shower before dinner, to be cleanest longest. Early, early mornings weren't conducive to glamming up (and who needs to anyway?) so we'd just jump out of bed, dress and go. We were dusty/sweaty within minutes most days.)

I had one pair of pants that were insect repellant, and I'd never wear them again. The one day I wore them was the day I was bitten most. So I'd not recommend paying up for pre-treated clothes, just apply your own repellant to your skin.

It was indeed an incredible experience. I've spent a lot of time since I've been back planning the "next" one, probably for late 2014. They weren't kidding when they said I'd be bitten with the bug once I've gone on safari!
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Apr 21st, 2013, 09:41 AM
  #36
 
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Amy your trip report is absolutely wonderful and I loved seeing your photos over on Safari Talk! I'm in the early stages of planning a February 2014 trip following a similar route to yours.

I have a question for you about Tarangire, which I originally thought I'd include on my itinerary. From your report you obviously had great sightings there, but from the research I've been doing it seems June to September are considered the best months, and now one of the agents I've contacted is saying they don't recommend Tarangire for February and suggest more time in Ndutu and south/central Serengeti instead. So I'm curious how did you decide to include it, did you request it or did A2T recommend it?

And if anyone else has opinions on Tarangire in February I'd love to hear your input.
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Apr 21st, 2013, 11:37 AM
  #37
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A2T recommended our itinerary and after researching myself and talking with my travel mates, we agreed. I thought our first two days there were stellar and a fabulous way to start. The encounter at the watering hole was over two hours long, because we could not believe the sheer numbers of elephants that just kept coming in from every direction. That just blew me away. I also thought we had great cheetah and lion cubs sightings there as well. When I return (not IF!) I would go back to Tarangire if it was the same season. If I were to change anything, I'd drop Manyara to be honest. I know some of it was due to visiting mid-day, but other than the monkeys, we didn't have a lot of luck in sightings there.
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Apr 21st, 2013, 01:07 PM
  #38
 
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At one time it was felt that the only good time at Tarangire was between Jul-Oct. However, with the worldwide weather changes, seems now it doesn't much matter.... Tarangire is a small gem that seems to be great year-round. In fact, many visitors actually prefer Tarangire over even the Serengeti.

Of course for a Jan-Mar visit, the Ndutu/Southeast Serengeti area is good for the 'calving' but I sure wouldn't trade one for the other. If you have at minimum 3/nts at Ndutu and at least 2/nts at Tarangire... do it.
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Apr 22nd, 2013, 12:19 PM
  #39
 
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Thanks Amy and Sandi, this really helps. I think Tarangire will stay in our trip.
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May 18th, 2013, 03:17 PM
  #40
 
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Great trip report! I felt like I was there. Did you journal everyday? I think you must have, for how else could you remember those details. I must have missed something. Where are your pictures?
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