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The Accidental Safari – Rocco’s Tanzania Adventure - Trip Report

The Accidental Safari – Rocco’s Tanzania Adventure - Trip Report

Mar 23rd, 2006, 02:28 PM
  #21  
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Eben,

Jambo? No, she is well beyond Jambo. She took four days worth of Swahili instruction and has already started on Swahili classes in Los Angeles each weekend. She has really taken a passion to the Swahili language.

The best thing is now I will have a Spanish translator, an Assyrian translator (with a little Farsi thrown in) and a Swahili translator.
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Mar 23rd, 2006, 02:31 PM
  #22  
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Mkhonzo,

Alexsandra and I work very hard and appreciate all the blessings that have been bestowed upon us. I am most proud, not of the safaris and luxury goods, but being able to care for 11 wonderful dogs who are either rescues, or the offspring of rescues.
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Mar 23rd, 2006, 02:34 PM
  #23  
 
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Hey Rocco,

While I appreciate your appreciation of your blessings and all that, I keep checking this thread to see if you've added another installment.

C'mon! Inquiring and impatient minds want to know.
Leely is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2006, 02:47 PM
  #24  
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Leely,

I hear you...the next installment, however, will not follow until later tonight. An arteest cannot be rushed!
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Mar 23rd, 2006, 02:57 PM
  #25  
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(Now I am seeing the value for an EDIT button on Fodors...let's try this again)

Mkhonzo,

And the moral of the story is:

Only those fortunate enough to crash a fully insured and paid-off porsche can afford to go to Tanzania in peak season!!

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Mar 23rd, 2006, 03:03 PM
  #26  
 
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Glad you found the humour, wasn't questioning your values, but was having a go at the high season pricing in Tanzania.......
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Mar 23rd, 2006, 10:01 PM
  #27  
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TANZANIA BLUES

Well, even though I could have chosen to sacrifice my deposit and still managed to go to Botswana, I just could not allow $3,750 to go up in smoke…at least I wanted the tour operator to work for their commission, rather than to just hand it over.

This was a bittersweet position to put myself in. On the one hand, I was not too happy about the cancellation policy, especially since I did not read it properly prior to booking. However, I made no bones about it…it was right there in black and white. On the other hand, it is never a bad thing to HAVE TO go on a safari!


COUNTDOWN

Between working on setting up my tour operation, twice weekly dance lessons with Alexsandra, a rash of weddings to attend (about three in four week and all out of town) and numerous boxing photography assignments, including San Jose, Central California, and a couple in San Diego, the last couple months leading up to Tanzania really flew by quickly.

I did make a few modifications to my itinerary. The biggest modification was to add a five night Zanzibar extension, calling on Sandi from Fodors (Africa Serendipity) to book 3 nights at the Palms and 2 nights at the Serena Inn. Although I have never really been a beach person, Zanzibar seemed like a fascinating destination and the Palms website is really quite seductive (www.palms-zanzibar.com) Furthermore, with only six villas, it was sure to remind me of an exclusive safari lodge more than a typical beach resort.

The lack of rains in late January to mid February was definitely a concern, and it did make me thankful that due to the Kiliminjaro Marathon, that by now had been abandoned, was in late February, causing me to push the trip back a couple weeks later than I otherwise would have.

After coming to grips with reality, I abandoned plans of even doing the Kiliminjaro Half Marathon…yes, I could have struggled through it, but after doing a marathon, a half marathon is nothing more than a failed attempt at a full marathon. As a result, I now had two nights too many in Arusha and I successfully added two nights at Tarangire Tree Tops to start my safari. Swala would have been my first choice, since it seems like the nicest option within the park, but it was not available for my requested nights. Tarangire Tree Tops was a nice consolation prize, although I had to get aggressive with my tour operator to book me into anywhere other than Mawe Ninga. Unbelievable.

Fortunately, because I was such a glutton for my September safari, there was not much that I really needed for this safari…I had all the lenses and camera bodies I needed, and that made it easier this time around. Ultimately, a trip to Marshall’s department store for a few items, a trip to Samy’s Cameras for a couple more camera batteries, 3 more Gigabytes of CF Cards and some other minor accessories, and a very expensive trip to PetSmart for four weeks worth of dog food for 11 dogs, was about all the preparation I needed to do for this safari.

There was just one final thing in the final night before my safari. A nagging ingrown toe-nail. Yech. I thought a trip to a Nail Shop for a pedicure would fix that, but when they saw my nail, it was already infected and there was nothing they could do about it. “Come back next month”, was their reply. Great.

Alexsandra insisted that I go to the Emergency Room at the hospital to seek medical attention. So, at 1:30AM, with a flight scheduled for 7:30AM, there I was at the hospital to get medical attention. After a minor surgery, I was out of the hospital at about 4AM, armed with antibiotics and Vicodin, returning home by 4:30AM with less than an hour to go before leaving for the airport.

Trusting Alexsandra, I didn’t even bother checking my luggage that she had packed. I just made sure that all my camera gear was there and satisfied that it was, we were off to the airport at about 5:15AM with my mom volunteering as our taxi.

For once we were not stressed out about making our flight, that is until my mom, lost deep in monologue, speeding down the 605 Freeway, first missed the 105 Freeway and then missed the 91 Freeway, taking us all the way down to the 405 Freeway! So, it was quite a tour of the Los Angeles freeway system, going on the 405 North back up to the 105. Even so, we still arrived to the airport just after 6AM, and because we were in Business Class, we didn’t have to worry about a long line and checked right in, this time without the indignity of putting on “The Vest” to harbor my photographic contraband.

And with that, we were off, for a nonstop flight…all the way to Atlanta, that is, with a three hour layover before connecting to Amsterdam. With frequent flier seats, you take whatever you can get!


(The good stuff to follow tomorrow and the juicy stuff to follow this weekend)
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Mar 23rd, 2006, 10:59 PM
  #28  
 
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Hi Rocco,

Boy, can you drag it out! All I can say is "ARE WE THERE YET?"

Kind regards,
Kaye
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Mar 24th, 2006, 06:18 AM
  #29  
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KLM SCARE-A-PLANE

The flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam on Delta Airlines was mostly inconsequential, as was Delta’s Business Class service. Unlike South African Airways, there was no flat lying bed or video on demand.

The layover in Amsterdam was very short…only about 1 hour 45 minutes. To complicate matters more, while I flew on Delta to Amsterdam with frequent flier points in Business Class, my next flight from Amsterdam to Kiliminjaro was on a different airline, KLM, through economy seats that I purchased, not having the necessary miles to get all the way to Tanzania in Business Class.

Upon exiting the Delta flight, I spoke to one of the Delta representatives at the arrival gate who was responsible for directing people to connecting flights. She told us not to worry about our luggage, but instead to go right to our connecting flight, assuring us that she would make sure that our luggage made it on the flight. Because there were different airlines involved, we were unable to check our luggage all the way through, and not wanting to risk missing our flight to Kiliminjaro, we followed her instructions, only half trusting that our luggage would meet us in Kiliminjaro that same night.

The flight to Kiliminjaro was mostly inconsequential…until the last two scheduled minutes of the flight. As we were coming in for landing, one could see lightning all around when looking out of the plane. We were obviously in a thunderstorm, but it appeared that we were okay to land and we were going to do so right on time, at about 9:30PM.

However, just as we thought we were landing, instead the nose of the plane pulled up and the plane thrusted back up into the sky, acting more like a rollercoaster than a jumbo jet. After circling around for about 15 minutes, we were going to attempt another landing, although we could still see that there was a thunderstorm. Déjà vu all over again, as the plane again pulled up just as it seemed it was going to land.

An announcement was made to the dismay of most on board that we would abandon our landing attempt at Kiliminjaro and instead fly to Dar Es Salaam. So off we go to Dar Es Salaam arriving at about 11PM, only to be held in a roped off arrival gate where we sat without food or water until nearly 1AM.

At around 1AM, we reboarded the plane and returned to Kiliminjaro. During the flight we were told by the head flight attendant that KLM was doing us a great service by returning us to Kiliminjaro because they were supposed to pick up passengers from Dar Es Salaam and fly them to Amsterdam. Gee, thanks.

The storm seemed to subside and it now appeared safe to land, although it was now nearly five hours later than anticipated. Just as we are getting ready to land, unbelievably, the plane does an encore and again pulls up lame and elevates back into the sky. No worries, the storm is over, just a little problem with the LANDING GEAR!

By now, passengers are either scared or upset or both. One Angolan professional hunter (guide) that was seated near me is absolutely irate and has to be yelled at by the flight attendant over the loud speaker before he returns to his seat. Clearly the flight attendant seems stressed out, and this does nothing to alleviate the fear of the passengers, myself included. The pilot of the aircraft is behaving like a deaf mute and not once, to my recollection, does he address the passengers, instead, leaving this burden on the head flight attendant.

I am dreading a return flight to Dar Es Salaam and at this point, I just want to land, whatever the consequences. We go in for another landing and finally, on the fourth attempt, we make a successful landing. I had ideas of telling the pilot what I thought of him as I exited the plane, but the coward never showed his face, and passengers exited from the rear of the plane. Oh well, it was 2AM and I was exhausted, but at least I was finally on the ground in Kiliminjaro!
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Mar 24th, 2006, 06:27 AM
  #30  
 
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Next time fly to Heathrow and onto Nairobi via Air Kenya...

So things could only get better from now. Am I right?

Matt
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Mar 24th, 2006, 06:42 AM
  #31  
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Matt,

Yes, there are, quite literally, green pastures ahead!
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Mar 24th, 2006, 07:00 AM
  #32  
 
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Unsettling departure to say the least.
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Mar 24th, 2006, 07:26 AM
  #33  
 
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ohmygosh, I would NOT have been a happy camper either! Phew! What a way to start your trip!
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Mar 24th, 2006, 08:24 AM
  #34  
 
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I am chomping at the bit but as I don't have internet access at home, I will have all Rocco's excitement waiting for my reading pleasure on monday--i can't wait! enjoying the photos!
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Mar 24th, 2006, 08:25 AM
  #35  
 
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I wonder what was worse, all the problems with the plane or spending time on the Los Angeles Freeways

Seriously, I appreciate pilots being careful, but somethign really strange must have been going on in that cockpit and we will never know what
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Mar 24th, 2006, 09:45 AM
  #36  
 
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What a crazy adventure you've had so far! Can't wait to hear the rest!
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Mar 24th, 2006, 12:14 PM
  #37  
sandi
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Rocco -

Did you not check your luggage tags when checking in at LAX? That the tags were marked with the flights to ATL, AMS and JRO with the respective flight numbers.

Everyone, regardless where you're traveling should always ask to see these tags to be sure the agent is not sending your bags to Alabama (home of lost baggage). Most all major carriers have agreements for thru-checks, especially Delta and KLM. Unlike, some as Precision Air and KLM from TNZ.

Otherwise, sorry to hear of your rollacoaster almost landing at JRO, then DAR and back at JRO. My tummy was doing loops just reading this. Doesn't terra ferma feel good once you're on the tarmac? WOW!

Now, looking forward to read the good stuff.
 
Mar 24th, 2006, 12:19 PM
  #38  
 
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Lord. I'm exhausted already! ;-)
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Mar 24th, 2006, 12:35 PM
  #39  
bat
 
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Rocco:
This was fun to find after being off-line for a day--can't wait for the "juicy" stuff.
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Mar 24th, 2006, 02:26 PM
  #40  
 
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Rocco:

Keep it coming please! Can't get enough of it.

sandi - to add to your note people also might want to purchase a folder that you strap to your luggage giving all your fight numbers, times, hotels and itinerary. The only time I had a bag lost, by the time I went to the "lost luggage" desk in Nairobi they said my bag was already on the way from Amsterdam because of this folder. The tag applied by the airline had come off the bag and had I not had this folder with my itinerary the bag never would have found me. G Just remember to type up a new itinterary for each trip you go on and insert in the folder. Magellans carries them.

Jan
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