Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Africa & the Middle East
Reload this Page >

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

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

Mar 24th, 2006, 04:23 PM
  #41  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
DUDE, WHERE’S MY LUGGAGE?

Upon disembarking the aircraft, it was every man & woman for himself/herself at the Visa window. There was no order whatsoever and instead of having single file lines, there was just a clump of at least 100 tired and agitated people all trying to get their Visas. The Tanzanian officials accepted no responsibility for restoring any semblance of order, and to make matters worse, instead of processing Visas on a first come first serve basis, they did so by nationality.

Every so often an insolent tour group leader would push to the front of the line. When I dared take my rightful place in front of one such tour group leader, a French woman of about 50, I can only imagine the sweet nothings she was shouting at me in Frenglish. When I dared hand my passport and money to the customs official, she then laid into the customs official in Frenglish, but it was to no avail...it appears that even with all the languages in Tanzania, Frenglish just has not caught on yet!

Just another Ugly American I must have appeared to be, daring to take my rightful place in line…the nerve!

Once I had my Visa in hand and I proudly showed it off to my newly made French "amie" (anything to improve U.S. – France relations), I then proceeded to look for my luggage, although I didn’t really expect it would have made it onto the plane. At least with such low expectations, there was little disappointment when the luggage did not show.

After a quick visit to the lost luggage department, I filled out the necessary paperwork and was promised that the luggage would arrive on the following night’s KLM flight. However, this meant that I would not actually get the luggage until the morning of Day 3…wool pants and a long sleeve button up shirt it was for my first two days of my summer safari!
Roccco is offline  
Mar 24th, 2006, 05:45 PM
  #42  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 890
Rocco, definitely next time fly to Nairobi and catch the Precision air turbo prop to Kili: only four people alighted before it flew on to Dar and we were through the Visa section in a matter of minutes. And our luggage awaited us folornly alone on the conveyer belt.

Matt
Matt_from_England is offline  
Mar 24th, 2006, 06:00 PM
  #43  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
PIMP MY RIDE

(My apologies for terms that may be foreign to some…there is a reality show on MTV called Pimp My Ride, that takes someone’s beat up old car and during the show the car is restored, sometimes to a ridiculous level, like spending $25,000 on a car that is worth $1,000)

We were met at the airport by our guide, Alex, from Mt. Kiliminjaro Safari Club (MKSC). As promised in my ATR (www.africatravelresource.com) itinerary, I was provided with a Land Rover 110. However, as an added bonus, MKSC was thoughtful enough to provide me with a vehicle with two broken side windows in the rear that did not open, and for added comfort threw in bolted down armrests for the middle seats, making these seats useless for a couple big boned Americans, and for good measure, the front passenger door rattled incessantly and even flung itself open on a couple occasions while Alexsandra was seated in the front seat. Given the fact that the seatbelts were also inoperable, it was a good thing that Alexsandra was not leaning against the door but was usually turned 180 degrees to shout at me in the third row of the vehicle, as would be the case for our entire seven days in this vehicle.

We arrived to the Moivaro Coffee Lodge at nearly 3AM after driving through a constant drizzle from the airport. It seemed nice enough for one night, but definitely not as nice as the Arusha Coffee Lodge appeared to be. See, the Arusha Coffee Lodge is part of the Elewana group of properties, http://www.elewana.com/ the upscale branch of the Sopa properties, owned by the son of the owner of Sopa. Unfortunately, however, ATR seemingly has a policy that has them steer their clients away from any property that goes against one of their preferred properties. So, while I did initially request Arusha Coffee Lodge, I naively believed my agent when he said that Moivaro Coffee Lodge was just as nice. While this was not a problem, given that I stayed all of 6 hours in my room, it would have been a big problem had I stayed my originally planned 3 nights. Now there is nothing, per se, wrong with Moivaro, it is just not in the same league as Arusha Coffee Lodge. http://www.elewana.com/acl.html The strange thing is that I basically gave ATR a blank check to allow them to put me up at the best possible places, but it was not enough to convince them not to try their hardest to put me up at MKSC properties and at Moivaro Coffee Lodge.

The next morning, during a mediocre breakfast, I was met by the Arusha representative for ATR. I reported the problems with the vehicle but I was again bamboozled and asked to “give the vehicle a chance.” Once the vehicle was emptied of the luggage, it was reasoned by the coy ATR rep, it would surely be much more comfortable. Besides, I was told, there are no other spare vehicles at the moment, but one should become available within the next day or two, and if I still wanted to switch vehicles, it would not be a problem and one could be delivered to me. (And this is the part of the cartoon, where am transformed from a human to a big red sucker (lollipop)).
Roccco is offline  
Mar 24th, 2006, 06:28 PM
  #44  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 230
Rocco - the stories get better and better! Loved your Franco-American relations at the airport. At least you kept your sense of humor about you (or at least saw the humor in these mishaps in retrospect!). Great reports - keep 'em coming.

Sharon T
stamiya is offline  
Mar 24th, 2006, 07:56 PM
  #45  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,252
"Give the vehicle a chance!"

What a beauty! =D>

This is a really good read.
kimburu is offline  
Mar 25th, 2006, 03:01 AM
  #46  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,422
Rocco!
This is great stuff! You are quite the author-Bill Bryson better watch out! I love the titles to each section. Get this printed out in book form and I'll be the first buyer!
Eagerly awaiting the next installment.
Lily
Lillipets is offline  
Mar 25th, 2006, 04:06 AM
  #47  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,087
Oh man, I am having some serious belly laughs.
Rocco rocks!
mkhonzo is offline  
Mar 25th, 2006, 05:19 AM
  #48  
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
jan -

I have just that same tag on my bags. My full itinerary is inserted in the plastic with flight numbers, hotels, incountry contact. Also the same itinerary inside my bag. And, yes one has to definitely insert the new itinerary wherever it is that you are traveling next.
 
Mar 25th, 2006, 07:32 AM
  #49  
bat
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,790
more fun and the safari has not even started yet--thanks, rocco. [come to think of it the only rude person we met during our almost 3 weeks was a French woman at Ronjo--it was kind of bizarre. She kept pushing her chair away from her table into Mark's back and making annoyed noises. Mark tried to get out of her way in the limited space that he had but she kept doing it and I finally asked if there was a problem and her male companion quickly said no.]
bat is offline  
Mar 25th, 2006, 01:53 PM
  #50  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
Rocco,
Hey, it's been almost 20 hours since the last chapter of your trip report. We want more NOW.
regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Mar 25th, 2006, 04:31 PM
  #51  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,880
Usually over on the Europe board but popped over here to take a look and glad I did. Great report so far. Your pix are amazing especially the big cats, loved the ones of the lion in the tree. after seeing all those beautiful animals I think I have just become a vegetarian.
laartista is offline  
Mar 25th, 2006, 06:43 PM
  #52  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
CARJACKING OF A DIFFERENT KIND

Off we went on the road to Tarangire. Arusha was much bigger than I was expecting and there was actually traffic in the streets as we left Arusha.

On the way to Tarangire, we stopped at a giant tourist trap/curio shop, Cultural Heritage, I believe it was called. Overpriced items from the cheapest little souvenirs to large Tanzanites priced at $10,000+. I bought a t-shirt and we were off.

Once we reached the small wooden sign reading “Tarangire Tree Tops”, I figured that we were almost there, but we were still more than an hour away at that point. On the dirt road to Tarangire, every now and then we would pass a Masai with his cattle or goats, but there was not really any wildlife. The only notable wildlife that we encountered on the way to Tarangire Tree Tops was a Chameleon crossing the road. This sigting, alone, however, was a real highlight for me, as it was the first time I had seen a Chameleon. With no other wildlife around, I was able to get down from the vehicle and take all the time I needed with my photographs.

By this point, after traveling all day in the MKSC vehicle, I felt that I had given the vehicle a chance. I was still not happy so again requested a new vehicle. I had decided that the following day I was going to use the lodge’s open sided vehicle for my game drives during my stay. As a result, my guide, if necessary to avoid sending a second person out with the other vehicle, could return to Arusha to switch vehicles. MKSC and ATR, however, had other ideas.

A vehicle had “just become available” but if I wanted to switch vehicles, it was going to be a small fee of $150 extra per day. It would be delivered the following day and with five days remaining by then, I was looking at a $750 charge.

I was very disappointed with the position of MKSC and ATR, and I mention both, because both had their hand in it, making frequent calls to my guide to discuss the issue.

It was a non-issue to MKSC/ATR that my provided vehicle was unsafe with its front passenger door and its busted rear windows made it uncomfortably hot and inadequate for photography. Although Alexsandra was furious, I calmed her down and politely declined the petty offer to switch vehicles.

After what seemed to be about a 5 hour drive, including a couple stops, it was nice to finally arrive at Tarangire Tree Tops. We were welcomed both my the management and by a couple Masai Warriors, who when not busy posing as Masai Warriors, also act as bellboys, swimming pool cleaners and many other odd jobs around the camp.

After a welcoming drink and signing our waiver, Alexsandra and I were shown to our room, room #20. We were both extremely pleased with the accomodations, a beautiful room measuring 850 sq. ft. with a huge balcony and an incredible shower for two, with two shower heads directly overhead and a stainless steel backsplash. The kingsized bed was heavenly and perfectly positioned to offer the best vantage point overlooking the vista from the opening of the tent onto the balcony.

Given the comfort of our room and our jet lag, we had no desire to force in a short afternoon game drive. Instead, we were happy to soak in the environment of our room and just rest up for our long journey that had really only been broken up, thus far, by six hours at Moivaro Coffee Lodge. The extra five hours of travel, due to the KLM Scare-A-Plane problems, really took its toll.

Although the lodge has 20 rooms, it does not feel like such a big lodge, as the rooms are nicely spaced from each other. However, it was still apparent that it was a bigger lodge than we were accustomed to in South Africa and Zambia, and that, and seeing my French “amie” with her tour group, persuaded us to enjoy dinner privately on our balcony.

Our dinner, and the rest of the food at Tarangire Tree Tops, was excellent, with our only complaint being the Diet Coke. It just wasn’t as sweet as we were used to, and this led Alexsandra, for the remainder of the trip, to ask for half Diet Coke and half regular Coke, or half & half’s as they eventually came to be known. Myself, I just switched to regular Coke’s.

Although it had rained earlier, shortly after dinner, there was a wonderful thunderstorm and from our bed, overlooking the horizon, we enjoyed the frequent lightning, knowing that this was good news as the rains were likely also showering the Serengeti.

The following morning, following an 8 o’clock breakfast at the lodge, we made off for a full day game drive within the park. Being less than happy with the MKSC vehicle, I gladly forked over $30 per person for a game drive in the open sided Elewana vehicle. We had the vehicle all to ourselves, making a true bargain.

It was a tediously long drive, with not much wildlife outside the park, although I was told that between July and September, the area surrounding Tarangire Tree Tops is teeming with wildlife. The landscapes were interesting but not overwhelming and unfortunately the Baobab Trees all had leaves, making them a bit “unbaobabish” in appearance.

Near the entrance to the park, a great looking lodge was being built, named Boundary Hill Lodge. Located within about five minutes to the entrance of Tarangire National Park, it features an excellent location.

http://www.tarangireconservation.com/boundary.htm

Once inside the park, there was sufficient wildlife but nothing that was especially mindblowing, probably about the equivalent of the Sabi Sand but without all the predators in plain sight. There were quite a few elephants and zebras at a couple locations, and the occasional ostriches and warthogs.

There were not many other vehicles, but it was odd to have vehicles and not know where they were from. Also, with so many different companies, it didn’t seem that there was much camaraderie between the different vehicles. At one sighting I was enjoying with elephants and zebras near a huge watering hole, a couple fully packed minibuses from Predators pulled up. I was just outside the vehicle taking pictures, as I had been for the previous few minutes, when I was asked by a young German woman if I minded moving, since I was in their picture. Not a very motivating request, I didn’t move, and as a result, they took the hint and exited their vehicle to start taking photos with their 5x zoom point and shoot cameras.

On another occasion, after we passed a couple safarigoers in another vehicle, waving hello, and not receiving a response, Alexsandra half-joked that from now own we should just give everyone a one finger salute as we passed them. Hmmm, not a bad idea, I thought!

It was great to be back in Africa, but we were not exactly seeing anything we had not seen before, and not packing a lunch, we cut our drive off at about 1PM, arriving back at the lodge by 2PM for lunch.

I had signed up for a night game drive and although this would be in the area around Tarangire Tree Top, I was still looking forward a nice night game drive in warm weather. The game drive took place after dinner, and Alexsandra sat this one out. For $30, I enjoyed about a 2.5 hour night game drive, seeing nocturnal animals such as springhares, scrubhares, genets, mongoose and a few others. Nothing extraordinary, but a good little warmup for the masses of animals that I knew would be seen in the approaching days.

Despite limited gameviewing, Tarangire Tree Tops was the perfect way to kick off our safari. The down time allowed a good rest, allowed our luggage to be delivered by a KLM driver and allowed me the opportunity to expirement a bit with my cameras. Although Tree Tops was very nice, we knew the best lodging was about to come with Lake Manyara Tree Lodge and Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. Best of all, each lodge would have their own vehicles for my use. In retrospect, a fly-in safari would have been nice.
Roccco is offline  
Mar 26th, 2006, 03:56 AM
  #53  
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
laartista -

Welcome to Africa!
Maybe this will be your next adventure. Try it, you'll like it.

Hey, guys you've got to read her trip report on the Europe board... the funniest for a gal traveling on her own through Provence to Rome.
 
Mar 26th, 2006, 06:55 AM
  #54  
bat
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,790
rocco:
Thanks for the next installment.
bat is offline  
Mar 26th, 2006, 07:05 AM
  #55  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 890
Rocco, to quote a certain UK crdit card add...

Porsche Boxster - 15,000 dollars
African safari and a lifetime of memories - priceless.

I'm glad despite the setbacks you had such a great time - indeed perhaps the problems only added to the sense of adventure?

What dismays me somewhat is the service provided by A.T.R: having researched a little I thought they offered only the best and yet it seems you were treated poorly in some respects. I'd like to know (at the end of the report) just what your overall impression was of them as a company.

Anyway, keep it coming.

Matt
Matt_from_England is offline  
Mar 26th, 2006, 09:11 AM
  #56  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
ditto what Matt from England wrote.
atravelynn is offline  
Mar 26th, 2006, 09:33 AM
  #57  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 890
What "crdit" ;-)
Matt_from_England is offline  
Mar 26th, 2006, 02:39 PM
  #58  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
LAKE MANYARA TREE LODGE


Another long drive was in store as we left Tarangire Tree Tops to Lake Manyara Tree Lodge. As we would come to learn later, our guide, who was very capable, had a hard time telling us the truth on the true length of time of our transfers. I think he was just trying to sugarcoat things a bit for Alexsandra, but we could count on each transfer taking about an hour longer than he had stated.

I was amazed at how nice the tarmac road was between Tarangire and Lake Manyara. Every couple minutes we would pass other safari vehicles going the opposite way. Ranger Safaris (marked with an offset RS), Predators and Leopard Tours seemed to be the most prominent. When I commented on this to Alex (our MKSC guide), he responded that having so many vehicles also diluted the quality of the guides…so much that eventually they will hire anybody with a drivers license. While they would be able to identify the obvious, they usually had very little background with flora & fauna.

Alex, on the other hand, had spent many years as an ecologist for the national parks, prior to being gored by a buffalo. After spending four months in the hospital and returning to the job, he perceived mistreatment for not being able to be as mobile as he was before the accident. As a result, he left his career as an ecologist and became a guide. He prided himself on his ecologist background, however, and while this did seem to make him very knowledgable in one respect, in another respect, it seemed that he did not have his heart 100% into guiding, almost as if it were beneath him, especially given the lack of experience and training of many other guides. However, MKSC, he claimed, as well as Nomad and one or two other companies, really paid their guides better than the bigger companies.

Nearing the entrance to Lake Manyara, at Alexsandra’s request, we did stop at a place where there were rows of curio shops inside an alley to do a little shopping. It was unbelievable how aggressive these curio shop owners were. “Number three, come inside number three and see my shop…just have a look…okay, promise me that on your way out you will have a look in number three!” This was typical of the curio shop owners. Also, the owners of these shops were quite good at blocking the exit, once you were inside.

All the shops were basically the same. Carvings of Masaii in their different roles, wooden bowls with decorative designs, wooden carvings of animals, napkin or candle holdhers with different African themed designs. Whatever price was initially offered, if one could not buy it for half the price, then the price was too much. While I bought a few things, spending about $70, Alexsandra didn’t buy a thing. It seems that they were trying to charge her even more than they were charging me, and they did not budge on their pricing to her, the same way that they had for me.

As we were leaving this place, every curio shop owner that I had told I would visit on the way out, reminded me “Remember me…number three...you promised me that you would look in my store…please come in number three”, adding to the time it took to finally leave. Seeing my Expodisc Custom White Balance Filter on its neckband, and confusing it for some fashion accessory, I was offered various items as a trade, none of them good enough to tempt me, however. Next on the list was my olive green baseball cap that caught their attention with its red rubber tag on the side marked “Prada.” “Prada…is that American…trade me this hat for your hat” they would ask, offering me a New York Yankees baseball cap. Again, not quite tempting enough!

Once able to escape, we were not far from the entrance to Lake Manyara. As we waited for Alex to do the necessary paperwork, we went down to have a look at the monkeys that lived in the little forest that had been built into a big display, with various signs providing information about Lake Manyara and its flora and fauna. Also there was a small souvenir shop operated by the national park. Within its walls were many of the same items we had just seen at the curio shops we had just visited. The pricing was the same or better than the final numbers we were able to negotiate with the vendors!

Entering the park, there were baboon troops all along the road, along with the occasional blue monkey. Also very well represented were giraffes, probably more giraffes than I had ever seen. As we made our way out along the lake, it was apparent that the park was really suffering from drought. The road that likely previously hugged the lakefront, was now nearly a kilometer back from the receding lake. Unfortunately, the wildlife mostly chose the lake over the road, a quite rebellious stance to take, completely shunning their paying guests!

As we made our way deeper into the park, the majority of vehicles disappeared, and the rode hugged the escarpment of the Great Rift Valley. Klipspringers, Waterbuck and various types of Eagles were found partially up the escarpment, but no predators were spotted. The 80-400mm ultrazoom lens was definitely a necessity as it allowed me photos of the Klipspringers and Eagles.

Nearly three hours after entering the park, along with a few stops for photo opportunities, we finally arrived at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge. Given its distance, it is most appropriate for guests staying a minimum of two nights.

The entrance to the lodge was beautiful, with dugout canoes featured in an artistic way, stood up by each other on each side of the path from the drop-off point to the lodge. We were met by the manager, Julius, a couple porters and our “butler”, Adam. After a welcome drink, signing the waiver and the handing out my business card (“Yes, our Johannesburg offices have already advised us of your arrival”), arrangements were made to have a private CCAfrica opensided vehicle and CCA guide for the short duration of my stay. Fortunately, the only extra charge was for the night game drive, as this fee went to the national parks.

Arriving at 5PM, there was little desire for a game drive, and after finishing our welcome drink, we were shown to our room by Adam. The room was absolutely stunning, beautifully decorated, generously sized, featuring a huge bathtub, an outdoor shower, and a huge balcony that wrapped around the room about 270 degrees, extending from the outdoor shower on one side, to the length of the room, back to the entrance of the room on the other side.

Shortly after we were in our room, it started pouring rain, but I used the little shelter there was and enjoyed a Kiliminjaro Beer on the balcony. Kiliminjaro Beer, at least to me, tasted exactly like Budweiser, but being a good sport, I drank it down anyway, although I much preferred the Mosi brand beer I was accustomed to in Zambia.

With ample time to rest before dinner, we arrived refreshed to a beautiful scene of a lantern and torch lit boma, with our fellow guests already dining at their own tables. There were 10 other guests in camp, consisting of a party of six Americans doing a tour with Micato, and a couple our age from Los Angeles who was dining with an older French couple (he about 60, she about 40). Arriving later than the others, and not having drinks at the bar before dinner, it did make us feel a bit distant from the other guests, but that did not deter us from soaking up the wonderful atmosphere.

Having seen the movie “Darwin’s Nightmare” with me, Alexsandra was very interested in the dinner menu that included Nile Perch fish as a possible entrée. I opted for the first what would be the first of about a dozen “beef fillets” on this holiday. While Alexsandra wasn’t so keen on the Nile Perch (too steaky, she said), she did enjoy the rest of the food, as did I.

During dinner, one of the torches was a bit too close to our table, attracting insects, so had we had the staff move it back about five feet. While this was happening, the French woman had excused herself from her table and upon returning, walking with her head down, she came inches from walking into the torch. “Shit!”, followed by a bit of nervous laughter on my part, followed by a “careful” suggestion. She laughed it off and returned to her table, depriving us of what could have been a real dinner show.

The following morning, we enjoyed a very early morning game drive, leaving at about 6AM. While there seemed to be more wildlife near the entrance to the park, we did see more of what we had seen on the way to the lodge the previous day. We also visited the hot springs that were not too far from the lodge. The viewing was again, however, affected by the drought, as the wildlife was just too far from the road, making the majority of our sightings along the escarpment, rather than on the other side of the road where the lake was now far away. Again, however, there were plenty of giraffes and elephants, to help compensate for the wildlife that preferred the lakeshore.

Returning from our game drive at about 11AM, we had a chance to meet some of our fellow guests, including the Angelenos (Los Angeles residents) who were about the same age. Two different worlds…they from Santa Monica, and on a rushed 11 night trip before returning to their jobs, us from the Pasadena area, self employed and on a 23 night trip. I get over to Santa Monica about as often as I get to Africa, and the Los Angeles that is featured in movies and television is not usually the Los Angeles that I know and live. To make a sweeping generalization, people that live outside of West L.A., in my opinion, seem to be much more down to Earth and not so self-important. So, while it seems that we would have something in common with this other couple, there was really little or nothing in common, and we were relieved when they chose to eat dinner again with the French couple that night.

Prior to dinner that night, I went out by myself on a night game drive in the CCA vehicle, leaving the lodge at about 5:30PM. It did get dark by about 7PM, and my brain not quite firing on all cylinders, did not think to use my 70-200mm f/2.8 lens as it was getting dark, missing a few photo opportunities.

It had been a pretty quiet drive, and I didn’t have very high hopes, but just then we came across a lioness crossing the road. We waited and listened and we were able to hear that she was in some nearby bushes. Given that the bushes were just beside the road, we went in for a little peek, and found the lioness with another lioness on a day old buffalo kill. We watched for about 30 minutes but the lions were mostly illuminated with the red light that CCA uses, although the guide did agree to use his small flashlight when I asked, although this forced me to use a very slow shutter speed of about 1/20th of a second, not making for very sharp photos. Returning to the lodge, we did come across a Giant Eagle Owl and a Bushbaby, two lesser seen sightings that I photographed.

Returning to the lodge at nearly 9:30PM, Alexsandra waited for me and we enjoyed a very late dinner. Lake Manyara Tree Lodge has a great Tandoori oven, and I enjoyed some sort of curried chicken, with naan bread. Before we could finish dinner, we were rained out from the Boma and had to seek shelter in the breakfast/lunch area to finish our dinner. With such a late night and not scheduled to do a Crater game drive until two days later, we arranged for a late departure from Tree Lodge, hoping to leave around 11AM.

The next morning, we were in no hurry to wake up, and we did not do a game activity. Instead, we lazed around, and eventually had breakfast at around 11AM. Not even packed yet, we then returned to our room and it wasn’t until about 1PM that we finally were ready to leave.

Despite less than ideal conditions, due to the drought, we loved our stay at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge and thought the staff and management was fantastic.

Only once we are on the road did Alex advise us that we may have to pay an extra $50 in cash because we were supposed to be out of the park by Noon, although he said he would try his best to get the fee waived but because we were so late, it would be a challenge.

Upon arriving at the ranger station/exit gate, our paperwork was checked out and we were waved through by one of the male rangers. Just as we were driving away, however, after just about 5 meters, another official, a big woman, who seemed like the enforcer of the bunch, shouted at for us to stop. Busted, I thought, prepared to pay $50.

The female official approached the vehicle and was not very pleased with Alex, seemingly scolding him and pointing to her wristwatch. The exchange was in Swahili, but Alex said he would have to go inside to talk to “The Boss.” After a couple minutes, The Boss approached the vehicle and with a smile on his face he asked Alexsandra why we were so late leaving the park. Having no idea what excuse Alex had given, Alexsandra had to improvise, claiming that she was not feeling well that morning and it was for that reason that we were late. He responded that Alex had mentioned car problems and which was it, being sick or car problems. “Both” was the response by Alexsandra, and with that response he smiled knowingly and handed us back our passports and waved us through. Alexsandra responded with an "Asante Sana" and we were off to the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge.
Roccco is offline  
Mar 26th, 2006, 02:49 PM
  #59  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
(Correction...the name of the manager of Lake Manyara Tree Lodge is Francis, not Julius)
Roccco is offline  
Mar 26th, 2006, 03:36 PM
  #60  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 890
Being online almost 24 hrs per day I am privileged to be reading your reports hot off the press. From what you say of Manyara the drought has really affected things since I was there in Jan 2005. From what you say though it was worth the expense of the night drive to see the lions at the kill site.

Where you were seemingly "fleeced" sounds like the town of Mtu Wa Mbo (Mosquito River) - I actually stayed here for a couple of days and wandered through the town with a cultural guide and found it very interesting as can be seen in some of the photos here:

http://clubs.wanadoo.co.uk/pictures/...lbumID=5280137

From the way you write I can imagine you to be very good company on safari - who knows, one day in the future a Fodors safari club with annual trips?

Take care

Matt
Matt_from_England is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:38 PM.