Tanzania Trip Report (long and detailed)

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Apr 2nd, 2005, 08:01 AM
  #1
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 359
Tanzania Trip Report (long and detailed)

The night before we left, we had packed and set the rollaboards out for the morning drive to the airport.
Now we were up on time and ready to go. Excitement was running high. We drove to the airport and
caught our small plane to LAX to begin our journey. I wondered if the Wildebeests could understand what
we were going through just to see them again. Would any of them remember us from Kenya 2003. Oh
excuse this but when youíre the one getting ready to go there is some craziness even after repeated
trips.

The small map they gave us showing the terminals at LAX showed about 2Ē between our arriving
terminal and the AA terminal we were to leave from. Now it looked like it was over a mile! We took off
pulling our bags but we saw the shuttle coming and hopped on. The First Class check-in was over in a
different section than the regular check-in, over beyond the escalators. We found out why later. We
checked in and got our boarding passes. We were given passes for the First Class Lounge. Did that
agent know we just couldnít believe this really was something we had gotten with our airline miles? We
were told to go up the nearby escalator and we would be at the head of the security line. We had
skipped the long security line and were directly in from of the TSA. We quickly checked through and
hurried off to find our lounge. This was going to be such fun! We felt it was worth every cent to buy the
last miles that would qualify us from Business Class to First Class. The lounge was almost empty and we
dropped our things and explored all the things they were offering us. Drinks of every kind. Not this early.
We settled on a bottle of water and a cup of yogurt each so as not to spoil the meals ahead for the day.
They offered bagels and all kinds of rolls, toasters to brown them, juices, sodas and other snacks. They
told us later in the day they would be offering sushi because there was a flight coming in from Japan
around noon. They had beautiful rest rooms and a shower you could put your name on a list to use if
you wanted.

We flew first class from LAX to Chicago. We had upgraded a few times for flights within the US so this
was just wider seats and more leg room, but it was still nice. We are just dying to see the Flagship Suites
out of Chicago to LHR. We settled back but were watching the time because we had been booked with
only 50 minutes between flights in Chicago. I had been assured by AA that we would be fine because
these two flights always arrive and leave from the same area of the concourse. The plane was all set to
take off when an announcement came over from the pilot that we would be delayed an hour. This wasnít
due to weather in Chicago, but the fact that the flights had been over scheduled and the airport was too
busy. All flights into Chicago would be delayed. We started sweating. The cabin attendants didnít know
what would happen, but we were told that this was a feeder flight that was used to connect passengers
with the other flights out of Chicago. What if we miss the flight with the flat beds that I had planned so
carefully? Were we to then have to fly in the old seats and not get to see these Suites? Oh NO!!

We arrived in Chicago at gate K11, our LHR flight would be at gate K12. What luck. We ran to K12 and
we spotted a lady in an airport vest with orange stripes and she was waving a baton towards me. She
had an anxious look on her face and I held up 2 fingers and then I was so overcome with emotion I
couldnít speak. She said Frazier? I nodded and again held up my 2 fingers. She said for us to go directly
to the gate and board immediately. Max was behind me with the two suitcases. I had the camera bag and
our back pack. I looked down the jetway as I entered the gate and the 2 pilots were standing at the end.
One said Frazier? and I nodded. I was saying Thank you, thank you as we passed the gate attendant and
the two other airline employees along the jetway and as I neared the 2 pilots I said ďIím practically
weeping, thank you so very, very much. The pilots followed us aboard and the attendants said, Mrs.
Frazier, go forward and turn left. They all knew our name. The aircraft door was closed behind us and the
pilots grabbed our bags and hoisted them in the overhead as we sat down and buckled up. I felt like
shouting, but I settled back and looked at the beautiful surroundings. We had really made it. Our suites
were individual cubicles and were huge. A table was on the right directly in front of the windows and
stretched for the three windows each seat had. I had picked the first two seats along on the right hand
side for us. The chairs swivel so that you can position yourself facing the windows with your ďdeskĒ in
front of you. The TV was there as well as space to put some things. There is a foot stool where someone
can come and sit with you to visit or dine. It also supports the seat you are in as in reclines into a bed.
We were handed a menu right away. There were four pages of wines and drinks and I was perusing the
wine list when the attendant came to take my order. I selected the Wild Mushroom Borsettini. It was a
cheese Borsettini tossed with Shiitake Mushrooms and Spinach, with a creamy mushroom sauce. First
though there was a smoked salmon appetizer cart that came by, a salad cart, and a bread basket. You
could dine whenever you wanted.

I ordered a gin and tonic and they served crudites with a ranch dressing and a small bowl of hot roasted
mixed nuts. We thought WOW. Little did we ever think when we were living in the country in LaCenter,
WA, a small farming community in SW, WA, that when we got those airline cards that one day we would
be sitting in the first cabin like this. WOW, this was the ďBest of the BestĒ to us.

I put on my pair of Bose noise canceling head sets that were there and showed Max how to operate his
just as dinner was starting to be served in courses. A delightful Australian Shiraz wine was offered and I
selected that along with the salad with Lobster tails from the salad cart. This was followed by the most
wonderful main course. The cheese in the Borsettini was just melting and the dishes were warmed. This
was the most delicious creation and it happened to be the vegetarian meal. I went up to join Max for
dessert and came back to my seat for coffee and to get ready to sleep.

It was a short night and breakfast was being served when we woke up. Rice crispies with fresh
raspberries and kiwi slices. Yogurt and coffee. We were landing and I was still eating. By the time we got
all of our things together everyone in first class was gone. The crew laughed at us when we walked out
and said, ďOh yeah, the last two againĒ. We would surely have been without our bags if we hadnít carried
it all on board.

We had 3 hours at LHR so we werenít in a hurry at all. Bus to the next terminal, TSA let us go right
through without searches and we scurried off to find the Concorde Lounge to wait there until it was time
to board our flight to NBO. We boarded and noticed the BA suites were older and didnít swivel. Only 6 of
us in the first cabin now. We ordered lunch even though we were hardly hungry. I had a pecorino and
potato tart with parsley and truffle oil dressing. It was very good. I also felt compelled to try the pumpkin
soup with creme fraiche. By the time I got the halibut, I thought I would pop. I noticed they had
Tanqueray number 10 gin on the menu and never having had that before, I tried it. This was incredible.
When I told the attendant it was the best drink I ever had, I was presented with another. I had to send it
back as I was now on overload. I made up my bed and just laid down and groaned as quietly as I could.
Max came back to say he had ordered the fruit basket and was presented with what appeared to be a
large centerpiece of fruit. I laughed when he showed me. He tried to eat some but heíd been done in too.
We napped and by the time we woke up and brushed our teeth it was time for tea. We only had 3 more
hours to go. This was the shortest trip over we ever made. We also didnít have any long lay overs this
time. Having the kind of seats and service really made a difference too. My whole anxiety level was
down to nothing compared to what weíve dealt with in the past.

They served chocolates but neither of us even went over and looked at them. There is a table in the
center where they place things for us. Definitely over did the eating. We couldnít pass up trying the
scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserves. Okay, thank you, I will have another, just this once.

We arrived in NBO and were first through for our Visaís, met our driver and were whisked to the
Intercontinental Hotel for an overnight. What a noisy place. We slept fitfully and grabbed a quick
breakfast and departed. There was a guard on our floor directly in front of the elevator all night and I
tipped him the next morning for protecting us. He was so grateful and he gave us a snappy salute and we
left. We were met at JRO and taken to Roy Safaris and ushered upstairs. Pretty soon Sanjay Pandit,
one of the owners, came and briefed us about our trip. He told us the migration calved at Ndutu and then
had to immediately leave in search of greener grass and water. Over half of the babies did not make it
and they were dropping at an alarming rate. He also told us then that we had been booked without
laundry or drinks. I mentioned that some camps did include them and he told us that they had taken
them out as they didnít feel the extra cost was worth it. I mentioned that I wasnít asked for my desires on
this and he said only Kusini and The Crater Lodge now included the drinks. Red flag. (Why wasnít I
asked my preference.) You think you have figured out how to do things and in a money saving attempt,
the agents find another way to offer their cheaper rates. So, we find that all packages offered are NOT
the same. We were to find that laundry and drinks are very expensive with the exchange rates charged
by the camps and I voiced my concerns on this. To no avail. Note to self---remember to tell friends
about this.

We are off and went first to the Heritage Cultural Center with only one hour to shop. First off we saw the
size of this place and glanced around and knew it would take at least half a day to even just scan through
it, so we left. We werenít looking for anything in particular and we were just too tired to shop and jet lag
was beginning. We instead went on to lunch at a coffee farm outside of Arusha. The amounts of food
you get for each meal here are staggering. We ate a bit and started our journey to Tarangire.

We were just in awe of the countryside. We could see that Tanzania had risen to a higher level and the
roads and scenery seem to say ďWelcome to ParadiseĒ. We arrive at Kikoti Camp which is quite
isolated, at 5PM. We find out we will be the only guests for the two nights we spend there. We enjoy the
Park on our morning game drives and are just bowled over to see the boabab trees all decked out with
leaves. The scenery is lush and green and gorgeous, but other than elephants in large numbers we
decide to use this 2 days to rest up for the next place. Tarangire is beautiful, we had been there before
and were anxious to see the migration and wondered why we had been put here. We didnít realize the
isolation and we were a bit scared at night when the wind howled and we heard banging noises outside
our tent. We felt very vulnerable here for some reason. There were no ladies working here, only young
men and it just felt eerie here. We skipped the night game drives as we didnít see much on this side of
the park although we spent hours driving around trying to spot leopards in all of the trees. We never
heard any lions or hyenas at night, just the wind howling. We were not offered sundowners or the boma
dinner which is included for the guests on the last night. Since we were just 2, I guess they figured it
wasnít worth it. I had done a tour of the grounds our last afternoon there and found the room where they
do the dishes. I saw the stagnant dish water with scum floating on top and I asked about it. It looked like
it hadnít been changed in a week. The young man who was the ďactingĒ manager told me, that yes the
water was used for dishes, but only the ones used by the help there. Oh well we didnít get sick and we
were leaving the next day. The food was very average here so we used this time to try to reduce our
calories. That night we didnít sleep well at all. Realizing we were the only guests in camp and then we
questioned the cleanliness of the camp.........we decided we were letting ourselves get carried away and
lay there and listened to the wind until the wee hours. We left at 8AM and were very glad to be going.
When we settled our bar and laundry bill we saw that this was going to be a major expense. Fortunately
we had brought plenty of extra money for tips, etc. so we didnít have to worry. But I must remember to
tell my friends about this. On the way out of the Park we noticed a newer camp on a bluff overlooking
the Tarangire River. It is the Tarangire Safari Lodge. It is inside the Park and looks very nice from the
road. The design is the masai style rondavel huts with straw roofs. I found out that the Tarangire River
Camp is located close to the gate but is outside of the Park and it is very nice too. Kibo Safaris books
this camp a lot. Tarangire Tree Tops is very nice too for their night game drives they always get to see
the Bush Babies jumping through the trees. These camps are much better situated near to the entrance
or close by and are not so isolated clear across the Park as is Kikoti and Oliverís Camp. It is a looooong
drive across the Park and most of the animals seem to be on the entrance side.

We left and drove to Karatu, our next stop the Ngorongoro Farm House, located just outside of Lake
Manyara National Park. The road we are traveling is brand new and a delight to use. We pass through a
small village where they raise bananas. They have so many different types that we stopped and bought
two different varieties. One was a red banana and the other was a very small yellow banana. These
were like nothing we get at home. The red banana was short and fat. The substance was quite solid and
tasted very different, although it was delicious it just seemed very substantial. The yellow banana was
sweeter and smaller but still different than ours. They were very good. There is also a green banana they
use in cooking and it is added to their stews. It is quite tart and has a citrus taste. The people become
adjusted to eating the tart flavor but it would probably be upsetting to us to eat consistently. We didnít try
those.

Here in this small community we also came upon the largest Heronry we had ever seen. Since we so
love the large migratory birds, we were just in awe of the sight of them. There were literally hundreds if
not thousands of yellowbill storks in the trees. This was the only place we could see them as the forest
within the Park was not accessible. So we pulled over along the side of the road to gaze at and
photograph the birds. I would jump out and I had about 3 minutes before the local children could get to
me to beg before I would jump back in the car and weíd pull up a bit and try again. Sanjay had told us
that their policy was to not stop and give things to the children on the side of the road. The children then
wouldnít go to school because they would rather beg from the tourists. We were glad to follow their
request.

We were close to the Farm House and were surprised to be told that Roy Safaris doesnít normally use
this property, preferring to use the older Plantation Lodge. I am finding out a whole new side of this
booking process. Apparently their affiliation is with the other property, but on nearing our lodge I could
see this was no run of the mill farm. We pull into the parking area and are met by a lady with cool damp
washcloths on a tray. We start to wipe our face and hands and are met with the sweetest floral fragrance
I believe Iíve ever smelled. Surely it must be from some of these gorgeous flowers blooming here. How
welcome we feel. We have a long stairway to climb to the reception area but when we see it we are just
so surprised. This huge building houses the reception, bar and lounge and dining area. In one corner is a
fireplace and a TV and conversational area. We are glad to be here and are shown to the lunch area
where we will be served. We are sitting out on the lawn, close to the pool and some guests have already
had their lunch and are swimming. One couple is sunning and had their lunch brought to them. This
place is a working coffee farm and they also raise all of their own produce which is served here. It is
newly opened to guests and they have huge cottages located at different places around the farm. It is all
so pretty and clean and I think, ah yes, I could spend a couple months here every year............ but we
know we canít do that. Our cottage has a queen size bed, a fireplace, 2 easy chairs in front of the
fireplace and all the hot water and electricity you could want. The plug in for our room has a cord adapter
and since we have a battery charger with a built in adapter, we could plug our charger directly to the wall
outlet. We use this opportunity to top off all of our batteries. I had purchased a new smaller traveling
battery charger from Thomas Distributing Co. on the Internet and bought the MH-C204W unit that has a
discharging function in it that is good for batteries that must be fully discharged first. It is compact and I
am quite pleased with this purchase as it tucks neatly into our small camera bag.

We are seated on the lawn and the sun is warm and a soft breeze is blowing. We are served a starter of
tomato slices and mozzarella cheese with a balsamic vinegar dressing. Then a huge bowl of fresh green
salad is brought out. It contains home grown lettuce leaves that are the most gorgeous shades of red and
green curled leaves. A refreshing oil and vinegar dressing was tossed with the fresh vegetables and
lettuce. It is huge and we just make a small dent in it. But it is left on the table. The main course is a
vegetarian quiche, beef rolls, corkscrew pasta and carrots and new potatoes cooked just tender with a
butter sauce. Fresh farmhouse rolls and soft butter accompany the meal. The dessert is a banana tart
with a banana sauce and orange and mango slices. This was all on our very full plates brought from the
kitchen. We couldnít even do it justice. Why do they serve such huge meals? At 5:30PM Max
accompanied me to the bar for a double GT and as I sat and enjoyed it, he left with the camera to take
pictures of the grounds area. Finding this beautiful lodge will give our friends going to NG Crater another
option of places to stay. Its not as cold here as on the rim and although it takes about an hour and a half
to get to the floor of the Crater, when you leave the Crater you are within 10 minutes of the farmhouse.
The temperatures at night are much better here. You are also close to Lake Manyara and Oldupai. At
7PM we will meet our driver for dinner and then we shall return to our suite where a fire has been laid in
our fireplace.

Our driver comes in and we go to our table and begin the dinner buffet. Our driver seemed to be a bit
upset about something which we found out was the comments we made to each other about Kikoti Camp
as we were drive here. He escalated the discussion to a level I found distressing as I couldnít understand
why he was making such an issue of it. Max said we just didnít care for it and let it rest. I feared we were
going to hear this one again later. The driver had stood up abruptly and departed and we went on with
the dinner. There was a large group in the dining room with us as we went to the dessert line we were in
among them. I began talking to one lady and she was so cute. It was her first trip to Africa and she was
literally jumping up and down with excitement. I told her we had been to Africa a few times and I invited
her to stop by our table if she wanted to visit. She did stop over and we talked to her for about an hour I
guess. She was with a group of 5 middle aged couples and 5 ladies who appeared to be 30ish. Some of
the ladies were single and 2 or 3 of them were married but had husbands who didnít share their passion
for Africa. They seemed to be a very compatible group. The outfitter was Overseas Adventure Travel
and Kibo Safaris was the ground supplier. They had come from Tarangire, having stayed at the
Tarangire River Camp, and would be heading to the Serengeti the next day for 4 days of mobile
camping. She seemed to be quite versed in the various outfitters and we got the latest scoop from her on
what they had found out as they moved around. Predator Safaris was supposed to be the #1 choice,
followed by Leopard Safaris and Kibo Safaris. We were to see a lot of these other vehicles on our
journey and they certainly had the most numbers. Staying on the entrance side of the Park, they had
seen leopards, lions and much more than we had. I found out that Kibo also books private safaris so that
would be a good one to get a price from. Max and I left for our bungalow and no sooner stepped into the
front door and shut it than the heavens opened up and it rained torrential rains on into the night. The
bungalow had a tin roof and it was wonderful hearing the rain and sitting in front of a roaring fireplace.
We slept to the music of the rain. We had decided to pass on the visit to Lake Manyara after the
experience at Tarangire and rather head for the Crater in the morning after breakfast.

This is Sunday, and we were awakened at 5:30AM to get an early start for the Crater. It was overcast out
but we didnít get any rain and it didnít really get hot today so we had picked the perfect day for our
venture into the Crater. We originally hadnít even wanted to go into the Crater since we had both been
there before and remembered the long lines of cars lined up to go in. Not today. We drove up and
entered and never saw another car all day except in the distance we saw one or two here and there. No
crowds at all and everything was just so lush and green. Driving through the Crater Highlands I felt that
this must be much like the vegetation where the Mountain Gorillas live. Too bad they couldnít import
some here because the forests seem to lack wildlife and the trees seem to go on for miles. We saw the
same type of forests as weíve seen in films with the Gorillas, but since they arenít native here I guess it
wouldnít work. We had such a lovely time here and we saw so much that as we were leaving I
commented to Max that I could easily have spent a week here just poking around. We were surprised at
the lack of many Flamingos. We heard that they have left most of the lakes they used to gather at and
are mainly at Lake Natron, I believe. When we were here 10 years ago we saw hundreds, we barely saw
a hundred it that many this trip. We took lots of photos and carefully logged down each bird by name to
identify later. The migratory birds are in Tanzania and we had wonderful photo opps with them. We saw
many Wildebeest calves and brand new zebras too. A portion of the migration comes in the Crater and
stays and leaves to join the other herds when they depart the southern Serengeti. We are most anxious
to see where the migration will be. We will leave for Kusini Camp with a lunch stop at Ndutu Safari
Lodge tomorrow. It will be a nice game drive to Kusini where we hope to meet up with the migration and
we are thrilled to have 3 nights coming there.

We awake to a downpour and by the time we leave for breakfast it is clear out and we walk to the dining
room for the wonderful doughnuts and the best hot coffee of the trip. The doughnuts are served warm
and are not very sweet and we just love them. Serengeti here we come.
Liz_Frazier is offline  
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Apr 2nd, 2005, 11:18 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Glad your flights over worked out after some initial tension. Thanks for your insightful comments on the camps in Tarangire.

So when will you go back?
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Apr 2nd, 2005, 01:40 PM
  #3
sandi
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Liz -

What a wonderful way to spend the latter part of a rainy Saturday afternoon - reading your trip report. It's great and looking forward to the rest of your adventure.

FYI - regarding drinks/laundry - these extras can add between $30/$40-day per person and doesn't include champagne and/or certain imported brands. If one doesn't drink or have laundry done daily it is pretty high surcharge to pay and not use.

We've found that our bar bills (a few beers [maybe at lunch] and a glass or two of wine at dinner, over our many trips rarely justified having prepaid ($60/couple/day) for what we didn't use. For those properties (in your case Kusini and Crater Lodge) that don't permit oufitters to remove this amount from the price, it's a good point that prospective visitors inquire if this is important to them.

 
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Apr 2nd, 2005, 02:12 PM
  #4
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 359
Sandi- You make very valid points. I didn't want to be bothered with paying separately. Don't think laundry is cheap at all. When you're paying as much for a room as these camps charged, I would have preferred to have been given the choice. The rate we paid through our outfitter was no cheaper than the rate we were quoted by another agent who was all inclusive. I didn't think they could take the things out at the camps that included them.
I've seen you post to others that Kirawira included all of this and their website also said it. Not necessarily the case. Thanks for your comments. Liz
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Apr 2nd, 2005, 02:39 PM
  #5
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We head out for Ndutu. We were going to Oldupai and Shifting Sands, but changed our mind and
decided to head straight to Ndutu where we were scheduled to have lunch. This would allow us time to
stop along the way should we choose. As soon as we can see the plains ahead we can see that it isnít
raining, so we donít hold out much hope to see the migration early on.

As we approach the Ndutu area the fine powder dust is blowing and we can see it hasnít rained here. We
meet Louise, the manager and have a quick look around the facility. We have our lunch which is once
again way too much food and leave for a game drive to Kusini. Once we had left the main road to come
to Ndutu, we would not be going back to that road again. From now on it was game driving on the open
plains and we had waited for this opportunity and were very pleased to be doing it. We met a herd of
Wildebeests heading towards us but they turned and headed for Kusini Camp and the greener grass
there.

We arrive at Kusini Camp at 4PM and meet the managers. They were new in December having come
from Sandibe Island Camp in Botswana. We are told that all laundry and drinks would be included in this
camp and we are very glad we chose to spend 3 nights here. We were shown our tent which is named
the Honeymoon tent. Only one other couple is in camp for this and tomorrow night. Soon they set up the
bar on the large rock kopje that slopes right up to the lounge/dining tent. It is so wonderful how this rock
is shaped so you can just walk right up to the top on a gradual slope. Large heavily stuffed pillows are put
out each evening and you sit on one and it is like an easy chair. The rocks have absorbed the sun all day
and as the day cools the rocks release heat which makes the pillow nice and warm. You can see for
miles and miles from this rock and you also happen to be facing the sunset. You truly feel you are in
heaven here. Soon it gets dark and we make our way down to the camp fire to await dinner.

Dinner was really great. While we are sitting at the camp fire, we get a glimpse of a striped hyena who
hangs around the camp. Sometimes she will come closer to the fire, but tonight she didnít.

We both woke up during the night as a lone cricket chirped away somewhere in our room. Some old
buffalos reside around the tents and you can hear them snort and carry on sometimes during the night.
We left for early game drives while we were at Kusini, then came back for breakfast and went out until
lunch. We came in then for the period where the animals are seeking the shade and did our personal
laundry, showered and rested until late afternoon. Sundowner time rolled around and we had it to
ourselves this evening as the French couple had left early for Seronera and didnít get back until late.
We sat by the camp fire until 9:30PM and then turned in.

For our last night at Kusini, 4 others had checked in and joined us for sundowners and dinner, we leave
the next morning so we trundled off to bed and to pack. It had rained for part of the day and we hadnít
noticed that the safari ants had come out of the ground and were in the walkways. Since it was dark and
we couldnít see well and were looking outward for buffalo, we didnít notice I was walking right through a
big nest of these biting ants. What happened next wasnít a pretty sight, but I ended up jumping up and
down and ripping my clothes off and picking ants off my body. What an end to a perfect three days. It
must have looked hilarious, but I wasnít laughing. I dreamed of ........... what else........ ants.

We left the next morning after breakfast and game drove for 4 hours to the Seronera area where we
would branch off towards the western region and Kirawira. It is a wonderful drive and we will miss this
area. We saw many Wildebeests heading out towards Seronera as we left. Apparently a larger group had
left a couple of days before and we met them in the central area too. We came upon a pride of lions in
the rocks who were anxious to welcome the migration and we knew excitement awaited around the area.
We had brought box lunches with us and when we stop to enjoy them we are bowled over by the salads
Nicola packed for us. It was the best box lunch weíd ever had in Africa. We were lucky enough that we
also got to see the Zebra migration in this area. They do not accompany the Wildebeests when they go
south. There were huge numbers and we were thrilled to be among this many zebras.

As we leave and head for Kirawira and the western corridor the terrain becomes woodlands. The wide
open plains is mainly between the central and the southern areas. Further north and west it is wooded.
We are just amazed at the beauty of Kirawira. It lies about 1 1/2 hours from the central area. It is a huge
camp, although you arenít really aware of other tents around you until you stand on your deck and see
how large it really is. We met so many other guests in the lounge area and are again impressed by the
large groups. There there was a Grand Circle group and an OAT group. The Grand Circle group will go to
Victoria Falls after they leave the Serengeti, before returning home. It really sounds like a nice trip. They
are mostly older couples and we spend an hour chatting with them before we head off separately to
dinner. One group passes around sheet music and they sing African songs before dinner. We had
another huge meal, but we opted for the vegetarian meal which was Eggplant stuffed with vegetables.

Dinner is served in dining tents set up with individual tables. There are two tents. One is for larger groups
to be alone and then the one we are in has a smaller group and the groups of 2 or 4. The drinks are very
expensive at this camp. We were tired from our trip so we bypassed the lounge after dinner and headed
for our tent. Once again we no sooner got to our tent and it just poured the rain. What luck weíve had on
the trip with the rain. It has rained mostly at night after we have turned in. We get to enjoy the rain lulling
us to sleep.

We got up for an early game drive and would be taking the reverse trip from yesterday, so we have
breakfast, settle our bill, pack and leave. We have a game drive as we depart and we feel the effects of
having to stay on the roads. It seemed about half of the roads they had, the rangers had closed off, so
when we saw a pride of about 10 lions, they were quite a bit off the road and our driver broke the rules
and snuck over there. He was so nervous, we told him to go on back to the road. We had known better
than to ask for this, but we did get some nice pictures of the lions.

We then left this area at 10AM and drove straight to the central area. We were shocked to see that all of
the thousands of animals that had been there the day before had just vanished without a trace. We never
saw them again on this trip. When we left the central area this time we took the main road to Ndutu. So
rather than the 4 hour drive, it became just 1 1/2 hours. Since it rained on this portion we were glad to be
on the road. We arrived at Ndutu and were assigned to one of the dhow rooms. The two chalets at either
end of the rows of rooms were set up with these huge queen size beds made from old dhows from the
coast. I really felt honored to be placed in one of these newer rooms and it was very nice. Hot water
began being available at 4:30PM until 10PM so we had hot showers before we left for the lounge and
camp fire to meet some of the other guests. We had a beautiful sundown hour and wonderful
conversation with an English couple. Virginia, the photographer who spends 2 months here every year
was eating early and turning in due to an early morning so we missed seeing her. Dinner was a barbeque
and it was served with plenty of vegetables so we concentrated on that. They served filtered water that
was captured from the roofs, boiled and then filtered, so we broke our bottled water rule and lived to
regret this decision very much.

Although the migration was not here, we had our camera full of wonderful shots of the animals and we
just enjoyed seeing this area and the residing predators for the day. We had arranged to have dinner with
Virginia our last night so we met up with her sat around the fire with another couple we had met here and
by the time dinner rolled around, I couldnít eat. I had picked up a water borne illness which would
continue to get worse until we left. We talked and enjoyed the evening but definitely something was up
with me. By the time we left the next day and headed for Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, I was sick. For the
entire time at the Crater Lodge I did not eat. We stay in the most expensive camp in Tanzania, and I
missed all of the meals. I was up during the night and by morning we had the reception call a doctor. The
doctor gave me some medicine to carry with me and we left for Arusha. We had decided that this would
be our final trip and we were very happy we had chosen to return to Tanzania. It turned out to be a bit of
heaven and if we were younger, I would try to find a way to spend a few months every year here. It is
such a safe country and has so much diversity that it would be ideal for longer stays. When we were at
the Farm House we noticed some couples had come to dinner and were seated in another part of the
dining room from the tourists. They appeared to be residents and this was a restaurant for them. I could
have gotten used to that. Karatu is a nice town that has its Saturday market and Arusha is just a few
hours away by paved road. Oh well, we lived a dream for two weeks and we bid farewell and head for
Nairobi and on to home.

When we board the BA flight, since it is an overnight flight we are given sleep suits and I change into
mine before we leave. We are served another meal but I cannot enjoy this one. The attendant brings me
some broth and a dry filet sandwich on toast. This is the first food Iíve had in two days and he makes my
bed for me with duvets and he fusses over me until I go to sleep. Paul Bunn, the BA agent, was my
angel. By the time we get to London, Iím feeling better and we change to AA and continue on to LAX and
home. We are caught by a storm in LA and are held up for 5 hours. We arrive home at 3AM and shower
and drop in bed. P.S. I wanted to call Rocco when we were in LA, and have him take us in, but I thought
better of it. tee hee
We had some bumps in the road, but overall the trip was wonderful. I learned even more about booking
a trip which I will be happy to pass on to others, but all in all we decide we are just too old for this tiring of
a trip again.
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Apr 2nd, 2005, 03:26 PM
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I love this report. There is something about Tanzania that is just positively bewitching. Thank you for sharing!

Sorry you were sick for the Crater Lodge, but all in all it sounds like another fantastic journey. I hope, even if you don't return to Africa, you will certainly return to the Africa board.

My computer at home is soooo slow, so I will wait until Monday to look at your photos. Imagine, me looking forward to a Monday at work.

Thanks again, Liz.
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Apr 2nd, 2005, 03:59 PM
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Thank you Leely, your comments are very important to me. Liz
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Apr 2nd, 2005, 05:56 PM
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DJE
 
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A wonderfully detailed report, Liz, and a pleasure to read. Being swarmed by those ants must have been quite an experience...

I know the pleasures of first class travel as we used points to fly FC on SAA from London to Jo'burg for our African trip 2 years ago. Talk about being spoiled!! Thanks again for an entertaining read.
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Apr 2nd, 2005, 07:51 PM
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Liz,
Thanks for sharing your experiences with us--so glad you had a great time except for your stomach distress. Even if you don't go back to Africa--how wonderful that the weather and the animals cooperated with you! Since you offered, I would be interested in hearing what you learned about booking a safari and anything else that would be of help in dealing with suppliers and operators. I'm sure there are others on this board that would also appreciate anything you can share with us. Thanks and welcome home --
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Apr 3rd, 2005, 08:25 AM
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Thanks for your comments DJE and billmarie.
billmarie- I've placed things throughout my postings about things to be alert/aware of. Number 1 thing that concerns me is that many travel suppliers make assumtions they shouldn't make. For example, everyone is cheap-let me cut corners here without checking with them; or it seems they are saying: I can make a buck if I do it this way, even though it isn't what would be best for the customer, its best for me. There doesn't seem to be responsibility on travel agents. They seem to share a common trait of here let me drop everything on the customer who is paying me a lot of money to supply their wishes, I will not share any responsibility not just for things being wrong, but for doing things so things aren't wrong. I say: Do not count on anyone you are dealing with to do things in your best interest. A sad commentary but most every problem I've had on safari could easily have been prevented if the supplying agent would have been looking out for me. I had one trip we took ten years ago totally ruined because of this. When I'm spending this much money and time, I think I should be able to trust something. It comes down to how you approach the process of buying a used car I think. Expect that.
But the things I wanted to mention to you folks are mostly said either in my trip report or one of the other Tanzania threads I started here. I could itemize things that could have been much better about this trip, but I cannot say that similar things might be wrong with a different outfitter I haven't used. I encourage someone always to get 2 or even 3 bids and look at the details. Carefully. It isn't all in the bottom line. How have you been treated along the way by this agent is also an indication of how they are handling the details of your trip. Had I placed more importance on concerns early on, I would have chosen a different outfitter. Liz
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Apr 3rd, 2005, 10:25 AM
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Liz:

Thank you so much for the marvelous trip report. Really sounds fantastic.

Even though you and Max aren't planning on any return trips, please do not desert the forum. We have all learned so much from your experiences that it would be a shame if you didn't continue to contribute. You would be missed terribly.

Jan
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Apr 3rd, 2005, 11:27 AM
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Liz

I enjoyed reading your trip report! Our excitement is building for May/June!

Can you please tell me a little more about Kusini Camp? Did you stay at the main camp or the new extension nearby? If not, did anyone say something about the new camp such as location, comforts, size, etc?
Thank, Eben
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Apr 3rd, 2005, 12:16 PM
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Liz -

Thank you so much for the detailed report. Sorry to hear that you became ill at the end of the trip. I had a couple of questions - you mentioned the costs for the bar tab/laundry - how much on average was this? It will help for us in estimating how much cash to bring with us. Also - were you able to use credit cards for the bar tab? And, the last $$ question - what about tipping in the lodges?

Thanks again for the trip report & the photos.

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Apr 3rd, 2005, 02:49 PM
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Jan- Thank you my friend. I feel after this long association and my respect for you and your opinion/experiences that I will miss you greatly.
I do plan on leaving the forum. I have gone into great detail on these posts since my return so that there is nothing I need to add. I think they have about run their course and they will be there for historical research by newcomers. I've tried to make them easy to find for searches. So I really feel that there is no purpose to my remaining and we are going to be into other things. Max has placed his desires below mine in this endless search for the base of these feelings I developed for Africa 20 years ago. I think that I did reach them on this trip and I will exit on a very high note. We will soon be 70 and there is a vulnerability I didn't feel before. Had I placed Max in harms way, I never would have forgiven myself. I sincerely appreciate your comments. Thank you. Liz
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Apr 3rd, 2005, 02:56 PM
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Eben- You know I had every intent of visiting the new Kusini and from what I read it was designed for small walking safaris more than the other (main) camp.
You won't believe that I totally forgot to even ask the managers about it. I saw no evidence of it and no one anywhere on our trip mentioned it. The last day there I remembered about it and then in the saying of goodbyes, totally forgot it. Sorry I don't even know if it is there or not.
As much detail as I went into about the main camp and the photos I posted, I can't imagine what else I could say. If you have an area I've overlooked I'll be more than happy to elaborate.
The managers will be on leave for April and I think the camp is closed in May as they do repairs then. The managers requested to be back for the repairs and beyond that I don't have any information. Nicola says that she does email with people making reservations so you could do that, but I think this month is when they will be gone. Good luck on your trip. Liz
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Apr 3rd, 2005, 03:10 PM
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Wow, having looked at your photos I must say I had no idea you were nearly 70 -- you look so much younger! Regardless, I hope you are not hanging up your wanderlust for good as I think it is part of what keeps one young at heart.

I enjoyed the details of your report so much. Thank you.
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Apr 3rd, 2005, 03:35 PM
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lorib- Yes I forgot to post prices on laundry and bar. The costs varied for each camp. We were always able to pay that by credit card and they did convert it to USD and we asked them to charge it that way. We may have gotten a better rate on the exchange by the bank, but the 3% or 4% our credit card charges for converting foreign money would have probably been more. We did pay cash for that bill at Kikoti. I just really felt something strange was going on there and didn't want to leave our credit card number there. I can remember that one days laundry as being $10.00. A double GT was $7 at Kirawira and $3.50 at Ndutu. That was the high and the low. Likewise the tariff for the camps were about double at Kirawire to Ndutu. As I recall a glass of wine was around $4 to $7 and most of the camps had SA wine in boxes which I had never seen before. It was very good. I would have 2 double GTs for sundowners and a glass of wine with dinner. The tab at Kirawira was $27.00. Max only drinks ginger ale. We only spent one night at Kirawira so we had no laundry bill. (They double charged our credit card for the amount we charged. I emailed them and they credited one of the charges back after investigating it.) Although that charge is less than the all inclusive rate addition for laundry and bar, I have no knowledge if we actually were charged a lesser rate when they excluded those things. If my husband drank too, the all inclusive rate would be less as we probably would have had our drinks together and perhaps added another one. What bothered me was that we went to quite a bit of expense for this trip and I didn't intend that we be nickel and dimed. In other words if you are paying separately, I also had to keep track so that we weren't overcharged. Not my idea of a luxury vacation. I always asked to see the slip with prices ahead of time so they would know that I knew what each item should cost. The laundry and bar tab amount could very easily soar to as high as $300 for a two week trip, and if you weren't prepared, yikes! I'm only talking about moderate drinkers, not those celebrating anything which many people do on such a holiday. I never drank any name brands or wine other than house wine. Not very classy when you are on a luxe safari to always remind them to be sure not to switch to imports when filling the order. When we were at Kusini (drinks and laundry included) I didn't change my drinks.
I asked at every camp what the camp tip included, and all but one camp included everyone in the camp. I then would ask about the bartender, room stewards, guards who walked us to the tent, etc. It included everyone. Ndutu was the exception. Their camp tip only covered those people you did not come in contact with, i.e., the laundry, cooks, and thats about it I think. The recommended amount is $10 a day per couple for the camp tip and we used that as a guide. At Kikoti we doubled the tip simply because we felt sorry for the help there. We were the only guests in camp and although we didn't care for the camp, it wasn't their fault. I did have second thoughts when I visited the rest of the camps and saw the extent everyone really went to to make us comfortable, etc. But I have no regrets about our tipping at all. We always left a couple of $ a night for the room steward and always tipped the guard $1 when they walked us to or from our tent. Same for the person who carried our bags in and out of camp. We went prepared with extra money just so there wouldn't be any suprises. If I forgot anything, please re-post. Liz
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Apr 3rd, 2005, 03:43 PM
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lisa- Your comments are very kind. Thank you. I tell people, Hey, this is what 70 looks like now. Not like when I was growing up.
You must have missed the post where I told the trips we have planned for this year. We will still be doing plenty, only closer to home. Liz
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Apr 3rd, 2005, 06:43 PM
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Liz
Thank you very much for your detailed post - it has been very helpful and your pictures are beautiful. Could you tell me what your laundry and drink bill was at Kikoti Camp - I will be there in August? Also, how much USD did you take and did you ever convert to Tanzanian dollars?
Was this your first trip with Roy's?
Thank you
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Apr 3rd, 2005, 08:29 PM
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Silivia- My husband says the tab at Kikoti was $42. We carried $800 cash with us and the credit card. We did bring some cash back with us. If we hadn't carried the CC we would have run short. We didn't expect the booking to turn out as it did. We didn't convert any money to TS. Didn't need to. Everyplace and everyone accepted USD. They all seemed very happy to be getting money. Yes to your last question. Liz
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