Trip Report from Tanzania

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Oct 11th, 2005, 01:04 PM
  #1
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Trip Report from Tanzania

Hubby and I got back from Tanzania on Sept 30th. Really enjoyed the trip. It was my dream. Actually was going into the Peace Corps (to Zambia) when I met him. He told me that if I would stay, he promised to take me to Africa. He made good on his promise and these are the results.

We flew from Huntsville, AL to NYC, then to London. We took several hours and went about in the city, very nice. Excellent rail system. Would invite anyone that has a layover to do the same. Don't just stay in the airport, explore, it made for an exciting day trip as neither of us had been there. We also found the showers at Heathrow before going on, and that made a world of difference for travel comfort. The showers were clean and also dispensed soap!

From London on to Nairobi, then to Arusha. We had a pleasant restful time adjusting. We then found out our rooms were unavailable to us in Tarangire NP. They did upgrade us to the River Camp, and we had a beautiful tented camp overlooking a dry river bed. The main congregating are was built around a giant baobob tree and the food was fantastic. We did have to be escorted by Masai to and from our tents as the animals were in close proximity. As for the park, it was the best for simple abundance of animals. They were everywhere.

Next we went on to Lake Manyara, a mixture of rainforest and hot/dry soda lake. There were fewer animals here, however, we had our closest encounters with elephants here. The accodations included baboon locks (needed because the little beggars were devious)! We went swimming as this was one of the warmest stops on the trip. Food was very good, service excellent. Laundry was also the cheapest here.

Ngorongoro was a bit of a let down. I am an ecologist by degree and just knew this was going to be the best area of all. But I was mistaken. The view was breathtaking from our lodge. The service was good. The lodge fantastic. The entertainment was the best at this lodge also. Our trip in the crater was hampered by poor weather. Visibility was cruddy due to high winds and bookoos of dust. Ugh, the dust! Our guide told us it was bad weather for the rhinos, and we only got a few seconds, and they were gone in the forest. We did get amazingly close to the lions, and saw many other good sights, but the day was again rather squelched, when all I wanted at the end of the day was a shower. I swear the shower was filled with mud! It was quite cool in the mornings and in the evenings, so a fleece was a good thing to have.

Then on to the Masai camp and Oldupai/Olduvai Gorge. The camp was very special, but I wonder how authentic. I also wonder if this isn't actually a detriment to thier culture catering to tourists. I may have opinions, but not actually know the true toll. It could benefit them. I did enjoy it all the same. I felt pressure however to pony up the $20 extra each person to explore thier culture. I suppose you could not pay the extra and sit in the van, but where's the fun in that? The gorge was a short stop on the way to the Serengeti. There weren't any bones, but they did have a nice interpretive speaker and a nice small museum that documented the scientists research. The bathrooms are rotten, but they are working on them, but bring your own tissue at all times!!

The Serengeti was all that I had hoped it would be. There were animals, fresh kills, and more animals. The lodge, however, (Wildlife lodge)left a lot to be desired. The common areas were nice enough, even maybe the most elegant, but the service was not good, and the people were less friendly. We had older folks in our group and they found it to be troublesome climbing the kojpe to get to the restaurant and bar area. The food was good, but we got a room on the front of the lodge and this was not good. There was traffic noise and local folks conversing until 11:30pm. This did not make for a good impression. Then, there is the balloon thing. Ugh! That was rotten. We were supposed to go on the hot air balloon ride and were told along with four others, too bad. Sorry you had prior reservations and had paid, good luck getting your money back! This lodge had a kiosk for the balloon company right there, and they did nothing for us. We were told too bad. TOO BAD??!! That's not the way to start off. Unfortunately, that colored my perception of the lodge too. They just said too bad, as they continued to pander themselves to incomming travelers. We were also told that if we had not gotten there early (around 5:00pm) that even though we had reservations, we would be sent to Lobo about 75 km. down the road. I suppose they overbook the lodge and the lucky get to have their rooms. The unlucky get sent away to the north (where fewer animals were currently).

The Serengeti was certainly the crown jewel, but there were other places which took our breath away. My dream has be realized.

If you'd like to see pictures, I have uploaded to snapfish, but I'm uncertain as to getting those to this site. Do I just post the specific page address here? If you can help I will try and add that tomorrow!

Thanks for reading. Oh, by the way, we used 2Afrika (statside) and they used Predators (in country). See my other posts for their performance.
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Oct 11th, 2005, 01:06 PM
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P.S. We reversed our trip and spent a day and a half in London, then spent the night and partial day in NYC. I had my 29th birthday while in London. It was a great present. Hubby did well!
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Oct 11th, 2005, 01:46 PM
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Thanks for the report, TanzaniaBound. I'm sorry you didn't get the balloon ride; how disappointing.

Some questions: how many people were in your group (this was a group tour, right)?
Which 2afrika trip was it? Was there a particular driver/guide you all had, and if so would you recommend him?

I love Tarangire, too, and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

re: snapfish. With kodakgallery I send an email to myself inviting me to "share" or view my photos. Then when I get the email I copy the link they've provided and paste it here. I was thinking snapfish would work the same way.

Welcome home!!!
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Oct 11th, 2005, 02:02 PM
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Hi Tanzaniabound (hopefully this mean you are planning your next trip!)

Where is the Masai Camp? I have not heard of this one.
Eben
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Oct 11th, 2005, 02:22 PM
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TanzaniaBound:
That is quite a sweet story about your husband-to-be convincing you to stay and promising to take you to Africa someday. I am glad that you had a good trip.
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Oct 12th, 2005, 04:52 AM
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http://www.snapfish.com/share/p=5401...=SYE/otsi=SALB I think this will work, if not, let me know and I'll try again.

Leely, Thanks for your comments! We signed up for the "Affordable Tanazanian Safari" through 2Afrika. I don't think they are running that promotion any more though. We found an add for it in Budget Travel magazine. Think this is where most on our trip found it too. The rates are going up in several parks, so I think their profit margin was decreasing on that trip.

There were 3 buses of 6 people each plus the driver/guide. The nice thing was that though there were many other people, we didn't really feel cramped. Sure it was challenging at times, it wasn't a two person safari, but we didn't stay with the other vans in our group. We did, however, get the benefit of getting to spend time with the folks from the other vans during meal times. This ensured that we had variety in breakfast, lunch, and dinner conversation. During the safari we traveled mostly on our own, except when a real treat came up. I will say that it is up to the Safari Gods if you get good van mates, though. We got excellent ones, an older couple from Vancouver, and a couple from Las Vegas. Wonderful. However, there was another van that would have cheerfully sent two of their mates overboard to fend for themselves against the predators. I had to agree, they even bothered us by proxy. If they're van came to the same site as ours to view something, they would make animal noises at the wildlife! By the end, I wanted to toss them to the lions!

We did not know anyone on the trip prior to our arrival in Tanzania. Our guide was Dennis Kisusi, and he was fantastic. We couldn't stump him on a single question. And believe me, we asked some doozies! He knew the gestation times for all of the animals, mating habits, eating habits, etc. For everything we saw. For the two questions he didn't know/remember, he promptly found out using other resources. He did not forget or brush it off. I would highly recommend him. Also there was another driver that another group really enjoyed, Godfrey (also with Predators). He has many years (about 30?) experience, and his passengers really enjoyed him as well. Thanks for the help with Snapfish!

Eben, I think the Masai camp was between Ngorongoro and Oldupai/vai gorge. It was about an hour from our lodge, which means 30 minutes past the turn off for the entrance gate to Ngorongoro. The camp was just off the main road on the left. And, yes, I'd love to go back during the rainy season!

Bat, Thanks for the good thoughts. He is a good husband. I know all my co-workers rolled their eyes, thinking, oh yeah, sure he's taking you to Africa! It only took four years, but that time is nothing. It was worth the wait!
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Oct 12th, 2005, 05:14 AM
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bat
 
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photo album works fine. Great photos--I thought that your lion group shots were particularly good. Thanks for sharing.
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Oct 12th, 2005, 05:24 AM
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Heather, What a great way to enjoy a morning break! Thanks for sharing. The great photos were extra special to me. Liked the perspective you two added with neat shots such as the "lone tree" in the Crater and the early morning look see into the Crater. Very nice way for me to recall trips to those areas.
Dick
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Oct 12th, 2005, 05:40 AM
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Welcome back!!!!
Thanks for the report - I'd follow this up with the operator since you booked it through them and it's their responsibility (regardless of whether they personally organise it or not) to ensure it happens or to provide a refund.
Keep us updated!
Hope you'll stick around on the board to contribute to chats about our favourite continent and to help other travellers - and just to relive your trip!
Kavey
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Oct 12th, 2005, 06:17 AM
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TanzaniaBound:

Very nice pictures! We just came back from Tanzania and went to the same areas.

You will not believe it, but I think we even photographed the same snake!!

Compare your photo "Python" with my photo "P1000254" on:
http://www.snapfish.com/share/p=2531...=SYE/otsi=SALB
You can read my trip report on this forum:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34487305
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Oct 12th, 2005, 07:14 AM
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TanzaniaBound, thanks for the trip report and the photos. I loved the lion cubs. Nice to see a grazing topi! Iím almost a topi myself. I liked the trees, flowers, Tarangire sunrise and crater morning. I had another look at Marynusí python and it might be the same one. Iíve never seen a python Wonderful to see a superb starling who looks into the camera Ė or at least it looks at you. I liked everything else as well. Asante sana.
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Oct 12th, 2005, 08:47 AM
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Just got a chance to see your photos: they are wonderful! What kind of camera did you use?

I am thinking I may have to take some sort of photography class. My pictures were rubbish and maybe I should try for better next time.

Thanks for saring these, TanzaniaBound. And it's always good to read a trip report that combines the apparently oxymoronic words "Affordable" and "Tanzania."
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Oct 13th, 2005, 04:19 AM
  #13
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Marynus, holy crow, I think we took a lot of the same pics, wow.

Thanks to all of you for your kind replies! You all sure know how to make a person feel welcome!
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Oct 13th, 2005, 12:28 PM
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Thanks very much for your trip report and photos! Sorry to hear you missed your balloon flight. Were you ever able to get your money back?
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Dec 17th, 2005, 02:32 PM
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TanzaniaBound-
Just read your report and looked at your album - great report and fabulous pictures!
A question on the London layover-
We have a 7 hour layover on the way to Nairobi at Heathrow, just wondering if your recomendation to not wait at the airport could apply to us. Do you think we have enough time to go in and maybe do the 'eye'? Did you take the rail in, or the Underground?
Thanks!
Lynda
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