Tanzania safari report (abbreviated) Jan 09

Jan 30th, 2009, 03:29 AM
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Tanzania safari report (abbreviated) Jan 09

Ok. I am sitting at my hotel in Dar Es Salaam at the moment, because our KLM flight departing JRO last night had an equipment failure while getting refueld in Dar. After sitting on the tarmac for more than 5 hours, they took us off and we grabbed our bags and got hotel vouchers. Frustrating experience, as we didn't get to our hotel until 7am this morning. And apparently the plane is getting fixed and they are picking us up from the hotel at 4:30 *tomorrow* morning. Which means I have no connecting flights left for the day to the US, so I have to spend the night in Amsterdam. GRRRR.

Anyway......

I spent a tad less than 3 weeks out on safari, split between Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. All locations we had fantastic wildlife viewing.

The Serengeti turned out to be my best 8 days ever spent in the park, as every game drive yielded portfolio quality images. In those 8 days I had 9 solid leopard sightings, and all were worthy of sharing the resulting images. And cheetahs and lions were excellent as well. The migration is fairly scattered around, with pockets near Naabi Hill, between Moru Kopjes and Seronera, and some reported to be in Maswa G.R. There are tommies and green green grass east of the Masai Kopjes and around vilima saba (7 hills) slightly to the south. There have been daily rains in the Serengeti, as well as at the crater, but they only started about halfway into my trip. So a little dust at the beginning and then green grass after that.

We saw a brand new baby elephant 2 days ago at Lake Manyara, and we were able to see his/her first suckling for milk. It was a moving experience, for sure.

This is just a very brief posting, as the wifi signal here at the hotel is being sucked dry by all of us from the cancelled flight. Oh joy. Looking forward to going home to see my family.
andybiggs is offline  
Jan 30th, 2009, 02:54 PM
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Great baby ele sighting. Hopefully that baby will be enjoying the wilderness for years to come.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 30th, 2009, 04:55 PM
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Looking forward to reading more and seeing photos eventually.
twaffle is offline  
Jan 30th, 2009, 07:47 PM
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Well, the saga continues. We were told to go back to the Dar airport this morning at 4:30, and we all got there only to find out that the plane is still not fixed. We are talking about a 777 aircraft. After 32 hours, they still don't have it fixed, yet they don't have a single employee at the counter at the airport. I searched for any KLM employee that I could find, so I could get some answers. So I called their international number, explained my case, and she ended up hanging up on me. And I wasn't even fuming yet. No information, no answers, no schedule. Just sit and wait at our hotel until they notify the hotel.

I am massively disappointed that KLM would strand an entire wide body plane of people here with no clear path towards getting back to Amsterdam. At best I will get home 2.5 days late, or around 56 hours. That is best case. And KLM claims that all of their Nairobi and Dar flights are completely booked up, as well, so there are basically no options. Some of the people in my group are actually being told that their business class seats are being downgraded to economy and will fly out on a different plane flight that isn't even a normally scheduled plane. So that brings more questions than answers right now.

I have made reservations at the AMS Hilton, just in case, but I suspect I will have to forfeit if we don't show up.

KLM is definitely on my doo doo list right now.
andybiggs is offline  
Jan 30th, 2009, 08:17 PM
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We had a similar problem with South African Airlines, but they handled it very well.
We turned back to Frankfurt half way to Johannesburg.
They immediately put us up at the Airport hotel, supplied our needs, and kept in touch by having a rep. at our hotel.
We left at 4.00 p.m. the next day which meant a 11 hour layover in Johannesburg for us, as we were landing at 2.30 a.m.
They once again offered was changed at the last minute, so another 2 1/2 hours was added, and we lost the money for 1 1/2 days at Lion Sands.
South African Airlines always seemed aware of where we were heading, which increased our confidence level.
I am sorry that you have had problems with KLM
We were in Holland on the infamous Sept.11.
I can't tell you how well they handled the situation.
24 hour rep. at hotels.
Walkie Talkies, so that we could wander the city and be called when a flight became available to fly home.
All other airlines with no exceptions simply stranded their passengers, and would not even answer their phones.
Hope you get home soon.
We have not yet started our return flight.
Your trip sounds amazing.
erly is offline  
Jan 30th, 2009, 08:19 PM
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sorry, I think faster than I type.
I left out that they offered us a hotel in Johannesburg as well
erly is offline  
Jan 30th, 2009, 10:06 PM
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Sorry about your problems there Andy, but still interested in hearing how it is being (not) handled. I would have expected better from KLM. The rigors of travel and joys of being a tour leader . Hope your next posting is good news.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 12:21 AM
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Thanks, Tom. Massive frustration over here, primarily because KLM refuses to be good communicators about what is going on. Supposedly there is another 777 plane that has been sent to pick us up. If this is the case, we will be 2 days late. If not, who knows when we will leave. I would have been better off flying to Nairobi and jumping on a KLM flight from there.

At best I will be home 48 hours late. I made hotel reservations at the Schipol Hilton just in case for tonight, so I am going to have to eat that fee right off the bat.

KLM is going to have a nice letter from me (not that it matters or that I have any clout whatsoever).
andybiggs is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 03:29 PM
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Sorry about the delays. With cutbacks and less revenue I am wondering if your predicament will become more common.

Just keep thinking of the baby ele back in Tanzania and your baby at home.

atravelynn is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 03:43 PM
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Such a pity for you andy!

I particularly HATE when people gamble with my time - for whatever reason!

Of course sh§§ can happen with any airline but KLM is a NO NO for me because of their luggage problem in Amsterdam which creates many safaris without luggage.
And your experience just adds to my decision.

I have flown them once and never again.

SV
spassvogel is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 08:35 PM
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We finally made it to Amsterdam!!! 48 hours late, mind you. Time to go find a supervisor and squeal.
andybiggs is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 10:39 PM
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Interesting updates. All down hill now for ya'll!!!!!

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 10:55 PM
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Yeah, just waiting for my connecting flight back home. Ready to get on with it. Heck, I may even be able to watch some of the Super Bowl with my two sons in my lap!
andybiggs is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2009, 09:44 AM
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Andy hopefully by now you have made it home & got some superbowl time with your boys. Did you end up having to overnight in AMS or did the flight end up getting you in there at a time that you just waited for a connection? I would assume/hope that if you had to overnight that KLM paid for that one!
J
jules39 is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2009, 10:31 AM
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Jules, I finally made it home and I was able to spend the rest of Sunday with my family. I didn't have to overnight in AMS, as we arrived about the same time of the day that I would have normally arrived. I did forfeit my payment to the hotel, though. Oh well. It was insurance, in case 300+ people on my flight all wanted an overnight at the only hotel at the AMS airport.
andybiggs is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2009, 10:53 AM
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Sorry to hear about your problems with KLM, Andy, but am glad you got home safe and sound. A similar thing happened to a friend of mine, trying to fly out of Houston on KLM. An engine blew while they were boarding and their departure was delayed 27 hours. Because it's the only KLM flight there, contract gate personnel are used and they disappeared! They had no overnight lodging, no alternative flights, a near riot at the gate, police were called in... what a mess! Her arrival at JRO was delayed two days.

I've had other problems with KLM, as well, but there aren't many alternatives at this point.
ShayTay is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2009, 10:57 AM
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wow, what a horrible story!
andybiggs is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2009, 11:47 AM
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Glad you made it home Andy! You were so right to reserve a room "just in case" it is worth the money if the worst case senario happened!
J
jules39 is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2009, 12:15 PM
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Hi Andy,
Glad you made finally made it back. KLM is not one of my favorites either, but the alternatives are just not there. Last March, on my return from Tanzania, they canceled our flight from Amsterdam to Dulles. Instead we had a 10 hour layover in Amsterdam and then they flew us to DETROIT. They simply canceled our earlier flight to Dulles with no explanation. Evidently the airlines are the exception to the common belief that competition creates a better product or service. I thought you were doing an Antartic trip, I didn't realize that you had back to back Tanzanian safaris. How did the crowds compare to same time last year? I'm anxious to hear how you liked the Nikons.
Regards-Chuck
safarichuck is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2009, 12:33 PM
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the only hotel at the AMS airport

There's now also a Yotel so at least there are 2 choices airside.
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