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Jenn's Adventures in Africa (Tanzania- August, 2006)

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Here goes my first attempt at a trip report. For those who are interested my pictures can be seen at (warning, there are a lot of pictures)

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    About Me:

    I live in Westchester County, New York, although I grew up on the west coast in Oregon. I have three brothers and am the only girl in the family. I am a very nice and sweet person. I can be quiet at first, but tend to be very silly once you get to know me. With my friends and especially with my brothers I am always laughing and making jokes.

    I work as a full time live in nanny/household manager to three children ages 9, 7 and 6 years old. I have been their nanny for almost 7 years now and am lucky to get quite a lot of vacation every year. I love to travel, but also love to see my family in Oregon especially now that I have nieces and nephews to spoil :). It can be a challenge to balance getting to see my family and getting away for real vacations.

    My travel companion:

    I had originally planned on traveling by myself as none of my friends had the time, money and/or inclination to travel to Africa. I didn’t want to travel totally alone, so I had chose to join a small group safari. I had lucked out when my agent found me a group with only 4 other people to join that fit exactly in my vacation dates.

    At one point in the past I had posted on the lonely planet forum seeking a travel companion, but it wasn’t that important as I was fine to travel by myself. A girl named Arielle contacted me sometime in May, but I had already paid the deposit and had a confirmed itinerary by this point. She was also from New York, so we chatted a bit and met for lunch a few times. She only had an itinerary that was priced out, but nothing confirmed. I explained to her that since August was high travel season, I wasn’t willing to give up my confirmed reservations and deposit at this point. I sent her my itinerary to look over, but she didn’t want to spend 10-11 nights on safari and only 3 nights in Zanzibar. We kept in contact, but she was planning a different trip. She then contacted me again in early July asking if she could join me. I told her she would have to contact my agent to see if it was even possible, but I didn’t have a problem with it. It turned out to be fine, so that is how Arielle and I ended up traveling together.

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    The planning:

    I have wanted to go to Africa for as long as I can remember. Two of my friends did an amazing trip to Uganda and Kenya about 2 years ago, but unfortunately the time of year didn’t work out for me.

    When I really decided I wanted to go for sure I contacted the agent they had used since they loved her so much. She is a local agent near where I live, and she was very helpful. She was the one that recommended Tanzania for me since I would most likely be traveling by myself and she said it was easier to join a small group there. Once I started researching Tanzania I was hooked! I actually started planning a trip for last summer, but realized quickly I had started planning too late in the year. The airfare alone was very expensive. I had specific vacation days, I didn’t have much flexibility. Even though I was disappointed, I decided to put off going to Tanzania for another year so that would have more time to plan. I ended up going to Thailand last summer instead.

    I had every intention of starting early and planning the perfect trip for this summer, but things didn’t work out as planned. I had a very rough fall and winter health wise and ended up having to get my tonsils taken out in early spring. I just didn’t have the time and energy to put into planning this perfect vacation like I had envisioned.

    I didn’t want another summer to pass without going to Africa though, so I decided try my hardest to pull a trip together. My original agent didn’t have anything that would work with my vacation dates, so I had to start from scratch. I contacted a lot of companies, but it was hard to find a small group to join. I finally lucked out with Go2Africa who uses Predator’s Safari Club as their ground operator. They had a group of 4 others already booked which fit into my travel dates that I was able to join. It wasn’t my dream itinerary, but I was just happy to be going to Africa!

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    August 6, 2006

    I wake up early this morning so excited because today is the day I’m going to Africa! I have wanted to go on this trip for so long, I can hardly believe the day has finally come. My flight doesn’t leave until about 4:30 p.m., so I have plenty of time to get ready. I make sure I go for a nice run since I might not have a chance to do this for the next 2 weeks. I then get showered and all ready to go.

    I look at my luggage one more time to make sure I have everything. I am normally not a light packer, so I can’t believe I’m going with just one duffle bag, a camera bag and a small back pack that I’m using as my carry on! I load all my stuff in the car and I’m all set. I get about 2 minutes down the road and realize I’ve forgotten my camera! Oh my goodness, how stupid can I be? All that worrying about how much memory to bring, etc.... was almost wasted. Oh well, at least I realized it now instead of an hour down the road. I go back and collect my camera and now I’m really on my way. I’m flying from Newark airport, so it’s a bit of a drive. I chose the flight from Newark instead of JFK because it left earlier I wanted to make sure I made my connection in Amsterdam. Turns out I had nothing to worry about and should have just taken the flight from JFK, but now I know for next time. I run into some traffic getting on the GW Bridge and I’m getting a little nervous. I’m one of those people who likes to be at the airport 3 hours ahead of time. After what feels like forever, I finally get to the airport. It’s later than I would like it to be, but everything turns out fine. I get all checked in and to the gate with plenty of time to spare.

    The flight from Newark to Amsterdam was uneventful. I watch a few movies and read my book a little bit. I don’t sleep as I am too excited and also it’s a bit early in the day for sleeping anyways. I’m sitting next to a very nice older lady who has no idea where Tanzania is, so I show her on the map. We land early in Amsterdam and now I wish I’d taken the later flight. I have 5 hours until my next flight and I’m feeling very sleepy. I just tough it out as I can’t find any good places to lie down in the Amsterdam airport. I’m excited to finally board the flight to Kilimanjaro airport, but very tired as well. I fall asleep fairly fast and sleep off and on most of the way to Tanzania.

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    August 7, 2006

    Getting off the plane in Africa was very exciting for me. I love when you get off the plane and walk down the steps outside, instead of a jet bridge into the airport. We all head into the customs area. It’s very confusing in there, but I ask someone where I should be and he tells me to get in line. I don’t realize until I’m almost to the front of the line, that I’m in the wrong line! I was in the line for people who already had their visas and I needed to get one on arrival. So, I get out of that line and go to the back of the very long line for people who are purchasing visas. I don’t feel so bad when several people end up behind me in line that have done the same thing. The line moves very slow and it takes me more than an hour to get my visa. I finally get it, clear customs and collect my bag. A very nice lady brings me a luggage cart as she seems me struggling with my duffle bag. I didn’t bring a wheeled duffle because of the weight restrictions, but it’s a challenge carrying my duffle, camera bag and back pack all by myself.

    I head out looking for a sign with my name on it as I was supposed to be met on arrival. I quickly look around and I don’t see my name! I’m hoping that the driver wouldn’t have left without me since I took so long getting through customs. I have that little feeling of panic creeping up over me as I’m not sure what to do. It’s late, I’m tired and no one is here to pick me up. I haven’t researched at all how to get from the airport into Arusha, so I have no idea how much it should cost, etc... I just take a deep breath and tell myself to calm down, I can handle this as it’s not the end of the world.

    I have a few taxi drivers asking me if they can give me a ride, but I just tell them someone is coming for me. I go change some money at the cambio, so I will have local currency just in case. I’m just getting out my itinerary to see who I should call when a nice man asks if he can help me. I tell him what’s wrong and he offers his cell phone so I can call whoever what supposed to be there to pick me up. He tells me that I can take the shuttle for the Impala Hotel for only $10 into Arusha instead of a taxi which would cost a lot more. I am tired and I don’t want call anyone and have to wait around any longer for them to come pick me up, so I just take the shuttle. As I’m walking out to the car with someone I don’t know thousands of miles from home, I have visions of this being my last night on earth.

    The driver turns out to be very nice and friendly. There is another girl in the van with me, so I don’t feel uncomfortable at all. I’m staying at the Ilburo Safari Lodge and the driver has said that he will bring me all the way there. I didn’t realize how nice this was of him until we turned on the road leading up to the lodge and I experienced how long and bumpy it was! He helps me with my bags and makes sure I am okay. I give him a nice tip and thank him for all his help.

    I go to check in and the lodge doesn’t have a reservation for me. I’m starting to really worry now as first no one was at the airport and now this. We get out my itinerary and they see that I am supposed to be there. They give me a room with no problem and tell me not to worry as we will work it out. After I get settled in my room I come back down to reception. They help me call Predator’s and it was just a little mix up. They had mixed up the arrival days of my travel companion and me. They thought my friend was arriving today and me the next day, when it was the other way around. No big deal I say, I just wanted to make sure I was in the right spot! I’m here safe and sound and that is all that matters, although I was annoyed that they didn’t apologize. I go back to my room and take a nice luke warm shower. It’s colder than I expected here in Arusha, so I bundle up to sleep. I’m exhausted after a long day of traveling and have no trouble falling asleep.

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    August 8, 2006

    I sleep all night but have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning as my body is still on New York time. I force myself get up though and go eat some breakfast as I know it’s best thing for resetting my body clock. Arielle is due to arrive this morning/afternoon, so I’m looking forward to that. I don’t really have much to do in the mean time, so I read my book.

    The weather here in Arusha is a surprise to me as I had not expected it to be this cold. I start worrying that I didn’t bring enough warm clothing for the safari. I wonder if I should go out and buy some more long sleeved shirts while I’m here in Arusha. Just as I’m really starting to worry about it reception calls and tells me my friend is here. I run down to reception and I’m very happy to see a familiar face. She introduces me to Muro, the driver who picked her up from the airport. He seems very quiet, but nice all the same. He tells us we need to be ready at 9 am tomorrow morning, and we say no problem. We thank him and tell him we’ll see him tomorrow morning. We aren’t sure at this point if he is our driver/guide or he was just picking us up and taking us to the office for our briefing.

    We head back to our room and I fill her in on everything so far. She had flown into Dar last night and spent the night there, so she tells me how her night went as well. Then she took a small plane to Arusha this morning. She realizes that she has gotten a mosquito bite during the night and is convinced she has malaria already. I try not to laugh and all I can think is that I hope she’s not this paranoid about everything.

    We decide to go eat lunch as she is very hungry. We sit down and look at the menu. We order our lunch and then start talking. She is still worried about having malaria and then she gives me a lecture about all the foods that you can’t eat in Africa. I try not to laugh again as she pulls a list a mile long out from her bag that the doctor has given her. It has so many things on it that I don’t know what you would be able eat if you followed that list! Our meals come and she tells me I can’t eat the catsup since it says “no condiments” on the list. I tell her I’ll take my chances with the catsup.....LOL. I’m just hoping that she relaxes after being here a few days.

    We walk around the hotel grounds a bit and look at all the pretty flowers. We wish that it was warm so that we could sit and relax by the pool. After a while we go back to our room and Arielle soon falls asleep. I am tired, but am trying hard to stay awake until the evening. I know that if I sleep now I won’t sleep later in the night. I wander around the hotel grounds and realize that have free internet service so I check my e-mail. My brother and sister in law are expecting a baby, so I want to see if he has arrived yet. There’s no news of a baby, but I still check in with everyone and let them know I have arrived safely

    I walk around some more and end up meeting some other people who have just arrived via the shuttle bus from Nairobi. After some talking we realize that we are going to be part of the same group traveling together. There are two couples (Luca/Cinzia and Ugo/Francesca) from Italy who are all very nice and speak very good English. Then there is a mother and daughter (Teri/ Susan) from California, with the daughter being close to my age. They both seem very nice as well.

    After Arielle joined me on safari, they added Susan and Teri to our group to make two groups of four instead of a group of six. We have been told that we would be in two separate vehicles, so it would only be 4 people in each which I think is nice. I learn that no one has ever visited Tanzania before, so this will be new to all of us. However, everyone else has been on at least one safari before, so Arielle and I are the only safari virgins.

    I return to our room and Arielle is just waking up and she has discovered she has another mosquito bite. She is almost in a panic as she gets out the pamphlet on malaria that the travel doctor has given her to read about all the symptoms, etc...... I try to calm her down, but I don’t end up doing a very good job.

    We go to eat dinner and Arielle has trouble finding something on the menu she thinks she can eat. She finally decides to order a pasta dish. Then she almost doesn’t eat in when she tastes it and thinks that she can taste cheese in it since her doctor has told her that she can’t eat any dairy products. I’m trying not to laugh at her but it’s hard since I’m so much more relaxed in general. We finish dinner without any other issues and then head off to bed. I have no trouble falling asleep, but Arielle does since she slept all afternoon.

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    August 9, 2006

    The day starts off in a panic when we wake up and realize it its 8:35! We are supposed to be in the lobby packed and ready to go by 9, so we don’t have much time. Thank goodness I haven’t really unpacked since I’ve been here. I take a very quick shower and get dressed as fast as I can. Arielle took a shower the night before, so she just gets dressed. Amazingly enough we are both down in the lobby ready to go right on time.

    It’s raining this morning in Arusha, so it’s even colder than it was yesterday. We had decided that we didn’t have any time to go eat breakfast, so we will have to eat one of the power bars we have brought with us. They don’t taste great, but they do the job so we are not starving.

    Our two driver/guides show up right on time to pick us up. The first one is Muro, who had picked Arielle up the day before from the airport. We also meet the other one who’s name is Godfrey. They are both very nice and we say we would be happy to go with either one. I’m not sure who decided but Arielle, Teri, Susan and I end up with Muro. We get all of our things loaded and we’re ready to go. We make a quick stop on our way to the office so everyone can change some money and then head to the office. Muro decides that we need a new tire, so they change it while we are inside getting briefed.

    We’ve all been thinking that were off to Tarangire this morning as that is what was on our itinerary. We are informed during the briefing they have changed the itinerary around and instead we’re starting in Lake Manyara. They also tell us they have changed a few of our accomodations and give us all the new itinerary. There goes all that careful photo copying my itinerary for my mom in case of emergency! Let’s hope she doesn’t try to get in contact with me as nothing is the same. Some of the others are a little upset, but I’m just happy to be heading out on safari, so I would be happy with anything at this point.

    New tire and all, we’re finally off to Lake Manyara and we’re all very excited to be on the road. The ladies from California proceed to ask Muro what feels like a million questions, but he is very nice and answers them all with a smile. We stop at some point for lunch. I was kind of dreading the lunch boxes after reading all the comments on this board, but it turns out to be surprisingly good. Maybe because the only thing I’ve had to eat today is that barely edible power bar and that was 4 hours ago.

    After lunch and a little shopping we continue on and check into the Lake Manyara Hotel. We see lots of baboons on our drive up to the hotel, so that is our first official wild animal sighting! We just drop our stuff quickly off into our rooms and then head back down to the lobby as we’re off for our first game drive! After a short drive and a quick wait for the guides to sort out the paperwork, we head into the park. We have a nice game drive seeing blue monkeys, elephants, giraffes, impalas, zebras, hippos (in and out of the water), baboons. flamingos, pelicans and lots of other birds I can’t remember. We stay until closing time and then head back to the hotel.

    We all go to dinner together and have a nice time. Our waiter is especially nice and makes us laugh. The food was nothing to write home about, but it wasn’t bad either. Arielle of course has a hard time finding things to eat, but we’re beginning to see that’s par for the course. After dinner we go outside and watch some dancing, but I’m tired so I don’t stay long. I’ve learned my lesson and make sure I set the alarm on my cell phone tonight before turning in for the night.

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    You handled the rocky start very well. So a baboon was your first animal! Some good photos. I especially liked the zebra behinds, your closeups of the blue monkeys, the female impalas, crowned crane, the ele tossing dust, and the vervet on the textured trunk. You have some lovely colorful people shots too. Looks like you had nice cheetah views and some very close lions.

    I hope your traveling companion expands her menu. I can't imagine a reputable doctor with knowledge of international travel limiting her diet so. Unless she has special allergies or something.

    I always look forward to 75% of the stuff in the lunchbox.

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    Lynn, Patty and Bat,

    I'm glad you are enjoying it so far, I really had a fantastic time even with the wacky traveling companion :).

    I thought I would have a chance to write more today, but one of the little girls I take care fell off her pony and broke her wrist this morning. Dad is out of town, so I had the other two all day today while mom was at the hospital with the injured one. It was a bad break, but luckily they were able to set it without surgery and pins, so she will be okay. I'll try and write some more tomorrow though.


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    August 10, 2006

    I’m up early this morning feeling refreshed. I attempt to take a shower and but it’s not easy I tell you. Our shower has one of those shower heads that you can either hang the wall or hold in your hand. Looks nice until you go to use it and realize it has a tiny hole/kink in the hose right at the bottom, so it doesn’t work at all if you hang it up on the shower wall. Then when you take it down you have to hold it just right to get the water to come out at anything more than a trickle. If all of that isn’t complicated enough, the water goes from freezing cold to steaming hot several times while I’m in the shower.

    We all go to eat breakfast together before we are to meet Muro and Godfrey for our second game drive in Lake Manyara National Park. I ignore Arielle's disapproving looks and live on the wild side this morning ordering a cheese omelet. I make it a double whammy by drinking some of the fresh fruit juice and I'm sure she's thinking I'm going to die. There were lots of choices for breakfast though and everything was pretty good.

    After breakfast we all head out and have a very nice morning and afternoon in Lake Manyara. We see all the same animals we saw the day before plus buffalo. We have an especially nice time watching a family of elephants with a tiny baby. We still haven’t seen any predators at this point, but we are having a fantastic time just being silly and getting to know each other in our vehicle. There is a sign on the window that says “no standing on the seats”, but Muro lets us stand on them anyways any time we want. I’m not sure if this is the norm, or he is just being nice to us. I somehow manage to fall down because I’m fiddling around with my camera and not holding on while he is driving. Now that’s probably why they have those signs on the windows that say no standing on the seats for clumsy dumbo’s like me. I was fine though, so we all get a good laugh, especially Susan and I.

    As we are watching a big troop of baboons Muro just comes out tells us that baboons can be homosexual and they have been known to masturbate. Now this is a tid bit of information I definitely wasn’t expecting to come out our guide’s mouth who has up to this point been somewhat quiet and reserved. I then point out to Muro that would actually be considered bi-sexual since they are technically swinging both ways, which everyone gets another laugh at . :) I’m starting to really warm up to Muro and see that he isn’t as quiet as I originally thought. I think all of our silliness has brought him around ;)

    We get back to the lodge just in time to have lunch. Well, actually our vehicle is late for lunch, but they let us eat anyways. We then we have the rest of the afternoon at leisure and we all hang out and do different things. We see lots of baboons around the hotel grounds and one particular guy who keeps chasing them off. We wonder if there is a special position here called “baboon chaser” as that is all we seem to see him do :) . We also see a very cute family of banded mongooses that I wish I could have gotten a picture of, but they are too shy and run away.

    This is the day when big terrorist plot is discovered in London, so I spend quite a bit of time watching television this evening getting all the updates. It sounds like a terrible time to be traveling and I’m just glad that I’m not flying home for almost 2 weeks. I’m hoping security will be a little more relaxed by then. My boss is actually a pilot for United, so I send him a quick e-mail and ask him to keep me updated if there is anything big I need to know before flying home. Dinner tonight is similar to last nights with another group dancing this evening. Totally different type of dancing, but enjoyable. I’m in bed at a decent hour, but I have a little trouble falling asleep.

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    I'm enjoying your trip report, and looking forward to the rest of the story.
    I'm also considering inventing pseudonyms for both myself and my tour companions. Although in my case, I have to admit, I'll probably be the timid one...

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    LOL Dennis, I'm so daring eating cheese and drinking juice!

    Arielle is really very nice person, just totally different personality than me as I'm much more laid back. I guess I just never expected someone who chose to go to Africa on there own to be so worried about so many little things. To me it's just not enjoyable to travel that way. Luckily I can usually lighten up the mood with my silliness, so it really wasn't that bad traveling together.

    Ann- When do you leave again? If I remember correctly it's fairly soon.


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    Hi Jenn,
    I leave Oct 10th. And my friends are baffled, because I'm afraid of EVERYTHING, yet here I go. That's why I need to be on a tour, since it allows me to step back from some of the things I would otherwise be worrying about or micromanaging, and just trust in the tour leader.

    And as I said to my friends two years ago when they were scared at the idea of my travelling to Turkey - I work in one of the 5 'targeted' buildings, so it is probably safer for me to go on vacation anywhere in the world, than to have a normal day at work.

    I wasn't worried about cheese and condiments, LOL, but the travel doc did warn me off of fruits and vegetables, so I haven't yet decided what to do about that. And I do wonder if anyone knows if the milk is pasteurized.

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    August 11, 2006

    Our original itinerary had going on game drives every day, but the revised one has today just as a travel day. We are to have the morning free and then drive to Ngorongoro in the early afternoon. The office tried to tell us that we actually have more time on game drives, but I don’t know what kind of math they were using or what they were smoking when they figured that out.

    Anyway, since we are free this morning we had asked Muro if we could go visit a local school. Susan and I had both brought some school supplies to donate and we wanted to give them directly to a school in need. He told us he would be happy to take us and we agreed to meet him at 10 this morning. It’s nice to not have to be ready too early this morning especially since we had to be all packed up as we are traveling today.

    We don’t drive very far from the lodge to get to Kibaoni Primary School. The children are very excited to see us and many of them shout out “hello”. The headmistress comes out to meet us and we go into her office for a briefing. She reads us a nice little history about the school and we all ask questions. We learn there are over 700 children at this school and only 18 teachers. The classrooms are over crowded, but they don’t have any more space. They have no electricity or running water either. It sure puts things in perspective and makes you realize how lucky we are here in the United States. Susan and I give her all of the school supplies and she is so thankful. Between the two of us it is quite a lot of stuff and it’s all things that they can really use. I know it’s just a small thing, but I am happy to be able to help out.

    She then wants to take us on a tour and show us around, especially Arielle since she is a 1st grade teacher here in New York. We get to go into to several classrooms to meet the children and teachers. When we walk into each classroom she makes all the children stand up and greet us properly, which is a little awkward. Each teacher shows us a sample of what the children are learning as well. In the 1st grade class they persuade Arielle to teach a little lesson. That is quite fun as we are all giggling and laughing

    Just like at home some children are very outgoing, but some are painfully shy and quiet. We quickly learn that they all love having their picture taken and then seeing it on the digital cameras. It’s so much fun to see their faces light up when they see themselves on the screen and we all share lots and lots of giggles. I take way too many pictures, but don’t want to disappoint anyone by leaving them out, so just keep clicking and clicking away. We finally pull ourselves away and say goodbye as we feel that we’ve disrupted the classes enough for one day.

    We then head back to the lodge and meet up with the Italians for lunch. They tell us that we might have to stay here in Lake Manyara for another night as there is a problem with our reservation at the Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge. None of us are happy to hear about this as we had all been looking forward to moving on today. Lake Manyara has been nice, but we are ready for a change.

    They tell us that Godfrey said he would know by 2:30 if we were going or staying, so we all sit around after lunch waiting for the news. We’re all very happy when we hear that they have found us another place to stay called Crater Forest Lodge. I’m a little nervous as both drivers tell us this is a new lodge and neither one has been there before, but just try to think positively.

    We get everyone rounded up and say goodbye to Lake Manyara. We make a quick stop in Karatu for gas and our land cruiser is soon surrounded by several men trying to sell us things. Arielle and Susan both end up buying drums from these young men, but I’m not interested. We continue on and find the turn off for the lodge.

    Although we turned off the main road at the same time, Godfrey soon leaves us in the dust! In fact they are so far in front of us, that we don’t see them again until we reach the lodge. I don’t understand how they can be driving any faster than we are as the road is extremely bumpy and it doesn’t seem like Muro is driving slow! We decide that Godfrey must be an aspiring race car driver and call him proceed to say to him “Go, go speed racer” whenever we see him for the rest of the trip. :)

    After about 25-30 mins of very bumpy driving we arrive at what is actually Crater Forest Tented Lodge. I think the office left out the word tented on purpose when they told us where they are staying, but I’m excited for a new experience. We have several very nice young good looking men meet us we with wash clothes and cold drinks in hand. The Italians have arrived so far in front of us, that they have settled in at the lounge and are drinking wine waiting for us to arrive. We all get a little briefing about the lodge and learn we are the only guests here for the evening. We are then all taken to our tents by different individuals and given a little tour. We’re told that we shouldn’t walk around by ourselves since they get a lot of elephant and buffalo here. This is new to us as we were able to wander anywhere around the hotel grounds we wanted in Lake Manyara.

    As I’m settling in I realize I don’t have my camera with me. I break the rules and walk back go to the reception area by myself so I can ask Muro if he’s seen it. He tells me it’s still in the car, so we go and get it. I ask him if he likes it here and he says it’s very nice, but he prefers to not be so far in the bush! I’m laughing as I point out that’s an odd thing for a safari guide to say. :) I tell him that I really like it here as it’s very pretty and peaceful.

    Camera in hand, I head back to my tent, but run into Susan along the way. We ask if we can go for a walk/hike along the road, but they tell us not by ourselves. They tell us a Masaii
    can take us, but none of them speak very good English. That is okay with us as we just want to get some exercise and have a look around, so we set off with our Masaai warrior to protect us. We walk about 20 steps when a young man named Nicolaus comes running after us. He speaks very good English, so he decided to come with us.

    Nicolaus turns out to be very nice good looking young man who is 26 years old and from Arusha. He’s a lot of fun, so we all share lots of laughs along the way. He ends up giving us both advice on dating too :) On the walk, I see lots and lots of spider webs near these holes in the ground and that worries me as I don’t like spiders. Nicolaus assures me that the spiders are just little ones, but I don’t believe him until I see one for myself.

    When we arrive back at the lodge we run into the owner. The camp manager is gone for a few days, so she is here instead. She is very nice and has her adorable 9-month old baby girl named Natalie with her. We have a very nice time talking with her asking all sorts of questions about living in Tanzania. She is Dutch, but has lived here for about 10 years now. I have a great time playing with Natalie as she is very sweet. When her mom learns I am a nanny, she jokes that I should come and work for her in Arusha. I tell her I have to make sure I tell my employers that even half way around the world I got someone offering me another job :).

    It’s getting late now, so we go get cleaned up for dinner as we are supposed to be ready at 7:30. Dinner here is 3 course meal with a set menu instead of a buffet like we had in Lake Manyara. The food was very good and the service was even better. After dinner the Italians and Teri all retire to their tents, but Susan, Arielle and I stay at the bar with all of the guys who work here.

    As we are all in the same age group (mid 20's-early 30's) we get along very well. We have a very fun night drinking way too much rum and asking all kinds of silly questions. Music is a big topic of conversation and they all want to know if Arielle and I know 50 cent since we live in New York. Yes, I hang out with 50 all the time I tell them. :) We also talk extensively about dating, marriage and all kinds of other things.

    We ask them to teach us some more Swahili greetings, so we can be more hip with the younger people we come in contact with. Instead of the standard Jambo, we’re now armed with Mambo....Poa and Niagi (sp?)......Poa plus a few others. We ask them to write down the words to the Jambo, Jambo Bwana song so we can learn all the words and they are happy to do so. Then they make us sing it and laugh hysterically when we do. We finally go to bed at about midnight since we do have to be up and ready to leave at 7. Our tent is nice and warm since they have put hot coals in the fire place and we sleep well.

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    Jenn, I'm just catching up on your report and wanted to let you know how entertaining it is. Way to roll with every little bump!

    And, yes, you're one in a long, illustrious line of people whose reservations at Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge get somehow "messed up." Sounds like in your case everything turns out for the best.

    Looking forward to more.

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    It sounds like you had alot more fun at the Crater Forest Tent Lodge than you would have had at the Wildlife Lodge. This trip (with all of the changes) would have driven me nuts--it is great that you are so flexible.

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    Hi Jenn
    I'm new here (researching my own trip to TZ). I'm really enjoying your trip report; it's gotten us very excited for our adventure!

    I like your photos (esp. those taken at the school)...what kind of camera did you use?
    Looking forward to hearing more...

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    I'm glad you are all enjoying the report and pictures. I'm actually having fun remembering all these little details.

    Leely- I loved reading your report, so I'm happy I can entertain you now :).

    Bat- We definitely had more fun at the Crater Forest Tented Lodge. By the way, I'm not always so flexible and there were times I got upset with all the changes. I tried my best to just be happy that I was in Africa though.

    Teri- I have a Kodak P850, but I'm really just a novice photographer. It's nothing fancy compared to what alot of others here have, but it does have 12X optical zoon. I also had an additional lense that extended the zoom a little bit, but not that much.

    Moremiles- I'm glad you liked the pictures. visiting the school was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

    Hguy74- You can see the Crater Forest Tented Lodge at I can't remember exactly how far it was to the crater floor because we stopped a few times, but it wasn't that close.

    Lynn- I'm glad you are still enjoying it, we definitely had a lot of fun!


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    August 12, 2006

    If I had drank as much rum and went to bed as late as I did last night at home I would be dragging my butt out of bed this morning. Not so in Africa, as I hop right out of bed at 5:30 with no problems.

    Since arriving in Tanzania I’ve had a string of sucky showers, but my luck is about to change this morning. The day before when they had given us a briefing of the tent they told us that the hot water was very hot and to make sure you turn on both hot and cold when showering. I thought they were just exaggerating, until I turned it on this morning and HOLY HOT WATER!!! In addition the water pressure is banging, so I can actually wash and rinse my hair out good. It is so nice to have a decent shower and I stay in there twice as long as I normally would. I tell Arielle I think I would come back to stay here at this lodge just so I could take a good shower.

    Nicolaus comes to our tent to see if we are awake at about 6:15 ish. I’m all set, but Arielle is still getting ready, so I walk with him to the reception area. We drop off my bag and he takes me for a little walk around and shows me where they are going to put a watering hole. The day before I had told him I really liked the belt he was wearing and asked him where he got it. So, this morning as we are standing there looking at where the watering hole is going to be, he pulls another belt out of his pocket and gives it to me. I’m very flattered, but I don’t quite know what to say and/or if I should take the belt. He tells me he really wants me to have it, so I accept it and tell him thank you very much. I put it in the pocket of my jacket and we walk back to the dining room. Almost everyone else is there now, so we all sit down for breakfast. Susan and Arielle ask me where we were, but I tell them I’ll tell them later :)

    After breakfast we gather up all of our things and get ready to leave. I make sure I take time and write a little thank you card to Nicolaus for the belt and leave a very good tip in the tip box. They all walk us out and we gets lots of hugs. We really liked it here, so we’re a little sad that we have to leave. We’re all very excited to be going into the crater though, so we have that to look forward to. After we leave, I show the girls the belt Nicolaus gave me and they proceed to tease me about it for the rest of the trip. We take the bumpy road back to the main road (with Godfrey leaving us in the dust again) and we’re off to the crater! We stop briefly at the gate and then again at the Wildlife Lodge to dump our luggage off. We get our room assignments so there won’t be any surprises tonight as far as lodging goes. I had told the ladies in our vehicle that I had read that the road descending down into the crater was really bad. They didn’t really believe me until we started down it and then they all buckled their seat belts! I think we were all happy when we finally made it to the bottom.

    The first thing that struck me when entering the crater was the DUST. Up until now I thought all of this talk about the dust on safari must be much ado about nothing, because we haven’t really had any. Well now I see what all of you have been talking about as it’s extremely dusty here!

    We saw lots and lots of zebra and wildebeest in the first few minutes of being there. We haven’t been in the crater very long when we see several vehicles stopped ahead of us on the road. As we approach we see there are three lionesses lazing around the vehicles. Oh my, we are so excited as these are the first cats we have seen! We stay and watch them for quite a while and see them move several times to different spots for shade. At one point another one comes out of the grass so there were four in all. They walk by our vehicle several different times so we get to see them very close up. We also see a cheetah in the distance up on a hill, but it runs away when one of the lionesses gets up and trots after it.

    Godfrey calls and tells us that they are watching a Rhino, but we don’t want to leave the lionesses, so we stay there. We finally leave and drive just a little bit when I see two somethings that look like hyena to me way out in the grass, but when Muro looks he says they are Cheetah! Cheetah are my favorite animal, so I am so excited! We watch them for a while as they are walking, but then they stop and lie down in the tall grass and we can’t see them very well. We wait to see if they will get up again. We’re happy when we see them start moving towards us. We wait patiently and they come right towards us, cross the road and keep on going. We got to follow and watch them for quite a long time and I was in heaven.

    We finally leave the cheetah as it is almost 2 p.m. by now and we’re all a little hungry. Teri has to use the bathroom really bad as well, so we start heading to the picnic spot. On the way there we spot a Rhino, so we stop for that. We don’t stay too long as Teri really needs the restroom, but we got some good pictures and see him move around a bit.

    By the time we get to the picnic spot it’s almost 2:30, so there are not many other people here. We all use the bathroom and then drive around to the grassy spot to eat lunch. After lunch, Susan and I notice that some Zebra have come down over the hill so we go to look at them. I try to use my best sneaking moves, but they just keep moving away if you get too close. We take some pictures and then leave them in peace.

    When we come back we see that Teri has decided to take a little nap on the grass. I switch my camera to video mode and we have a little fun. We make a little video national geographic style with me whispering “Here is an animal that is very rare and you usually only see it after lunch time near the picnic spot resting in the shade”. We get a lot of laughs out of Muro and a group of people who are eating next to us.

    After that we all just relax for a little bit since it is a beautiful day. I ended sitting and having a very nice conversation with Muro. I learn that he thinks Americans are lots of fun in general and likes guiding them. I tell him that no other group can possibly be as much fun as us ;) He also tells me it’s kind of rare for him to have a group of just women, so this is different for him. He asks me when I am going to get married and have a baby and I tell him whenever I meet the right person :). He tells me that white people like to know and date people for too long of a time before getting married......LOL.

    After our rest we head out to see some more of the beautiful crater. We have a wonderful rest of the day seeing ostrich, zebra, hippo, warthog, wildebeest, elephant, vervet monkey and lots of birds! We make the long drive back up out of the crater and this road is even worse than the one coming down! I am exhausted and totally covered in dust by the time we make it back to the wildlife lodge. This must really be my lucky day because there is lots of hot water so I get to take a nice relaxing shower before dinner.

    Dinner here was another buffet. I was really tired this evening, so I didn’t eat that much. The deserts were really good though surprisingly enough. After dinner Arielle, Susan and I watch the dancing in the lobby for a little bit. We see Muro walking around, so he comes over to talk to us. We stay and talk to him for quite a while about all kinds of serious and goofy stuff. We had learned he has two daughters who are 24 and 22 and a son who is 15. We like to ask questions about them and how they have grown up and the things they have done. It’s interesting to learn about the differences in culture and experiences. I think we are all tired from the late night and early start, so we all go to bed early tonight.

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    Holy Hot Water indeed! Great report. It is so convenient that the lions love the shade of the vehicles.

    And yeah Jenn, stop taking time to get to know a person before you marry them. ;)

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    Hari- I'm glad you are enjoying my trip report, thanks for reading! Good to see we have something in common too with the cheetah :)

    Kyle- Thank you very much for the nice compliment :)

    Wayne- Call me crazy, but want I to get to know a person well before I chose to spend the rest of my life with him :)

    Lynn- Our guide wasn't Maasai :) He never gave me a specific amount of time, just said that our customs are so much different than theirs in terms of dating/marriage.

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    August 13, 2006

    We are supposed to be ready to go by 7 this morning, so I make sure I am up by 6. I take a quick shower, get dressed and then head out to the lobby with my bag. I don’t see anyone else from our group yet, so I just sit down and listen to my I-pod for a little bit. Teri and Susan soon come out, so we all go eat a quick breakfast., grab our lunch boxes and head out to the car Arielle is running late so we don’t actually get on the road until about 7:20, but it’s not a big deal. We say goodbye to the crater and the nice paved road as we’re off to the Serengeti today!

    We are visiting at a Maasai village along the way, so that is our first stop. The Italians of course have beat us here, but that’s because they were ready on time, not because of Godfrey’s driving today :) . They are finishing up with their visit just as we were arriving. I’m jealous because they got to visit by themselves and we are now there with about 4 other vehicles full of people. I guess that is what we get for running late. We all gave our money to Muro and then stood around waiting for a little bit. It is really windy and dusty here, so I run to the car and get my sunglasses to protect my eyes from the dust a little bit.

    After a while all of the men come out dancing and jumping and making that sound that they make. Then we all go inside the village and watch more singing, dancing and jumping. After all of that, we get to go inside a boma and see what it is like. It is just the way it looks from the outside, small, dark and smokey. Then they wanted you to look around and buy things from them. This is where I really didn’t enjoy myself as I felt I couldn’t really walk around and look at things. If I touched and/or picked something up they were immediately trying to sell it to me. I ended up buying a few bracelets and necklaces, but would have bought more if I could have shopped in peace.

    I was standing with Muro when someone asked me if I wanted to see the “school”, so I walked up there with them and checked it out. The other girls were still shopping up a storm, bargaining for Masaai spears and other things. Since I was all finished, I just played with some of the children and waited patiently. One little girl in particular was sitting on the ground crying. Muro told me she was saying she wanted her shoes to be put on, so I helped her put her shoes on and then she was happy :).

    I have to be honest and say I didn’t really like the visit, but everyone else in my group did. I just felt the whole thing was too touristy with all of the people milling around. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more had we been the vehicle of people there? I did enjoy seeing and playing with the children though.

    Everyone finally gets finished shopping and we back on our way to the Serengeti. We are all dirty as it was really windy here, so I pass out wet wipes to everyone. The road to Serengeti sucks and it’s very dusty and bumpy drive, but we make it to the Naabi gate in one piece. We all get out and use the restroom while Muro is sorting out the paperwork and we meet some nice people who are on their way to Ngorongoro. They tell us that they have seen a cheetah mother with 4 tiny baby cubs this morning here in the Serengeti, so I am excited.

    We don’t drive very far into the Serengeti before Muro sees one his driver friends Max, so we stop. We had actually met Max when we were in Arusha, so we all say hello. Muro asks if he has seen Godfrey since they left before us, but he hasn’t. We make jokes that Godfrey probably drove by so fast that he didn’t see him because he was in a cloud of dust :). We all say goodbye to Max and continue on our way.

    We drive a bit farther and Muro takes us to see some kopjes. We spot two lionesses just sitting and relaxing in the sun. We are the only vehicle there at first, so it is nice to just watch them as they are really beautiful. After a while another lioness comes walking up out of the grass and joins the other two up on the rocks. We leave the lionesses and soon come upon two beautiful lions just lazing right by the road. We are excited to see them because these are the first male lions we have seen. We stay and watch these two boys for a little bit, but leave as they aren’t doing too much.

    Godfrey has called us on the radio and told us about a cheetah family they were watching. I want to see them since I love cheetahs so much and we don’t have to drive very far to find them. We see that it is a mother with her three sub adults cubs. They are so cute just all piled up lying in the shade all hanging out. You can barely tell where one cat ends and the other one begins. The light isn’t great for pictures, but it is still fun to watch them. The cubs little faces are just so adorable! We stay and watch them but they don’t seem to be doing anything but napping, so we move on after a bit.

    It’s getting a little late now, so we stop at the visitor’s center to eat lunch. We’re eating lunch when we get some bad news. Our itinerary had us staying at the Lobo Wildlife Lodge for the next 3 nights, but instead we find out we are going to the Seronera Wildlife lodge today. Even though I had read that it wasn’t the best in terms of accommodations, I was looking forward to being in the Lobo area at this time of year. It gets worse when we are told that we will have to move every night here in the Serengeti. I’m so disappointed because I was looking forward to staying in one place for three nights so I could really unpack, get my laundry done, etc.... I don’t think anyone was happy with the moving around, but we try to make the best of it. Muro tells us at least we are very near the Seronera Wildlife Lodge, so that’s good at least. After lunch I wander around the visitor’s center a little. It’s interesting to learn about the history of the Serengeti, but it’s very hot here, so I don’t stop and read every little thing. We then head to the dreaded lodge and check in. It’s about 2:30 so we decide with Muro to be back at 3:30 to go for a game drive.

    It is noticeably hotter here in the Serengeti so the first thing I do is change into shorts and flip flops and wash my face. Then I make sure I put more sun screen on so I won’t get a sunburn. After two days of really dusty driving, I feel the clothes I’ve worn are really dirty so I go down to the front desk and ask if laundry can be done in such a short time. They tell me it’s no problem, so I go back and get all of my dirty clothes together and drop them back off at the front desk. This makes me happy at least as I will have clean clothes now. After all of that it’s almost time to head back out so I gather up my camera and go to the lobby. Amazingly enough we are all there on time, so we head out for our afternoon game drive right on time.

    We leave the lodge and are not driving very long when we see a cheetah walking right by the side of the road. We stop and watch and he soon crosses the road right in front of us. We are the only ones there, so we just watch as he just saunters away towards a herd of thompson’s gazelle. Muro says he thinks he might hunt, so we want to stay and watch. He gets pretty far out into the grass and it’s a little hard to see him, but he is definitely hunting. While we are watching the cheetah hunt we get a call from Godfrey that they are watching a leopard who is sleeping in a tree. It’s a tough call, but we decide to stay and watch the cheetah hunt for at least a little longer. We stay for about another 30 mins and leave when the cheetah seems to have given up his hunt.

    We now head towards where the others are watching the leopard. We are excited as we haven’t seen a leopard yet. Muro tells us it’s not a far drive, so we’re all holding our breath that it will still be there when we arrive. We’re all very disappointed when we arrive and find out not two minutes before the leopard hopped down from the tree, walked right past their vehicle and disappeared into the tall grass. We stay and wait for quite a while hoping to get a glimpse, but we never see the leopard.

    We finally give up on seeing the leopard and move on to find a lovely elephant family. At first it seems like there are only 3 of them, but when they move we see there are two adorable little babies that they were hiding. We are all enamored with the babies, so we stay and watch them for quite a long time. It’s getting late, so Muro says we have to head back to the lodge. We get to see a beautiful sunset on the way back and get some lovely pictures. We’ve decided that we would like to do an early morning game drive tomorrow, so we say goodbye to Muro and tell him we’ll see him at 6. Dinner here was another buffet and was the food was fine. Arielle of course has trouble finding things to eat, but we've all taken to ignoring her whining about the food by this point. :) We skip the entertainment this evening and head to bed early so we can be up early tomorrow morning.

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    You are being charitable to Arielle and her tardiness. I will be interested in how she handles the 6 am departure.

    Did you mention what company you booked with?

    While the Maasai stop may have seen fabricated, your kindness to the little girl putting on her shoes was a genuine gesture I am sure she appreciated.

    I agree with you that a cheetah on the hunt is worth more than a far off leopard in the tree.

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    We booked with Go2africa, but their ground operator is Predator's Safari Club. At the end of the safari they tried to give us an explanation of why we had so many changes, but I didn't really believe them at that point.

    Teri actually yelled at Arielle that morning for being late, so she shaped up a bit after that. Traveling with Arielle was kind of like traveling with a teenager. She was very whiny and liked to blame stuff on other people. On that particular morning she blamed being late on me because she said I didn't wake her up early enough :) Meanwhile I didn't even know I was supposed to wake her up because she never asked me to. She was up when I left the room that morning.

    I love cheetahs, so I thought it was very exciting to watch that guy hunt. In any event, there are certainly worse things in life than having to chose between watching a cheetah or a leopard while you are in the Serengeti :).


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    August 14, 2006

    I am up really early this morning with a bad headache. My stomach is queasy too, so this is not starting out as a good day for me. I’m just hoping that if I take some medicine the headache will go away. I dig a juice box and some crackers out of my bag that I have left over from a lunch box so I don’t take the medicine on a totally empty stomach. The hot water here doesn’t get switched on until about 5:30, so I can’t even put a warm cloth on my head :( , which is what I would do at home . I think briefly about skipping the early morning game drive, but I hate missing out on things, so I decide to go.

    Apparently wonders never cease as all four of us manage to make it out to the lobby ready to go by 5:55 a.m. Serious game drivers that we are, we are leaving at 6 for our early morning game drive, while the Italians have chose to start at 6:30. Muro is there of course ready to go, so we actually get going on time today. I’m still not feeling very good, but I just tough it out.

    The first thing we spot after leaving the lodge are a few hippos out of the water. There isn’t enough light to get any good pictures though, so we just watch them for a while as they slowly make their way back to the water. We leave the hippo and soon come upon some giraffe which are lovely to watch as the sun rises. We also see a very cute pair of dik-dik and get some good pictures of them as they are not as shy as all the others we have seen.

    After missing the leopard sighting yesterday, we tell Muro we have to find a leopard today. He says he will try his best :). We get a call from Godfrey saying that they are watching another leopard, so Muro starts heading in that direction. I can’t believe that they left a half an hour after us and they have already found a leopard! On the way we stop briefly to take a few pictures of a beautiful lioness lying right by the side of the road, but we don’t stay long since we don’t want to miss a leopard for a second time. We can’t believe it when the leopard has disappeared again right before we arrive. They just seem to have all the luck with the leopards!

    We see a vehicle that Muro says is tracking some radio collared lions which is interesting. We then see two lionesses out in the grass and can tell one of them is wearing a collar. They are a little far away, so we continue on our search for the elusive leopard. We soon come upon a very beautiful male lion that is on the move. Even though you don’t always get good pictures, I enjoy viewing cats on the move as they are usually napping. We stay and watch him until he disappears into the tall grass. We continue on and soon come upon a very beautiful lion and lioness laying right by the side of the road. They are both very relaxed and don’t seem to mind us at all. We stay for quite some time and get some very good pictures. It’s about 8:30 by this time, so we head back to the lodge for breakfast. When Muro drops us off at about 9:00 we decide to meet again at 10:30 for another game drive.

    This was one of the hardest game drives for me since I really did not feel well. The first hour or so we were out really wasn’t enjoyable at all since my stomach was so queasy and the bumpy roads didn’t help. In the end I am glad that I went since we saw so many lions in a short amount of time and by the time we were heading back for breakfast, I was feeling much better.

    At breakfast we learn that the President of Tanzania is here in the Serengeti today. I guess that is the reason that we have seen so many park rangers around while we were out this morning. Apparently the President is scheduled to go on a game drive this morning before flying out this afternoon. We joke that we should follow the presidential motorcade around as we would be guaranteed some good sightings then.

    After breakfast we get all our stuff together and gather back in the lobby. I can’t believe it, but everyone is on time again. Muro loads our stuff up and then we are off on another game drive. We didn’t see anything exciting on the game drive and head back to the lodge at about 1:00 for lunch. We have learned that we will be staying at Ikoma Bush Camp this evening, so we have a bit of a drive to make after lunch. We all meet back in the lobby at about 2 and set off for Ikoma.

    I like to stand up and just gaze out over the horizon as Muro is driving, so I do that most of the way down to Ikoma. We don’t see anything too exciting on the drive down, but it’s still nice and peaceful. We finally make it to the Ikoma gate and exit the Serengeti as the camp is just outside of the park. We all use the bathroom while Muro is showing the guy at the gate the paperwork.

    We start driving again and I realize I can’t find my safari hat. I think maybe I left it in the bathroom. Then I remember I took it off when I was standing up and realize I must have left it on top of the car. I jump up quickly because I don’t want the hat to blow off and be lost forever. I manage to grab the hat, but in my haste I must not have put my foot in a stable position. My foot falls off the seat and scrapes all the way down the side cooler. I’ve twisted my ankle a little and it hurts, but I don’t say anything at first because I don’t want to seem like an idiot. Then when I look down I realize I have a big scrape that is bleeding all over.

    I have a little first aid kit in my back pack, so I quickly get out a gauze pad so I can apply pressure to get the bleeding to slow down a bit. By this time everyone realizes I’m hurt, so Muro asks if I want to stop. I know we are very close to the camp, so I just tell him to keep going. I just want to get checked in and be able to go to my tent so I can clean up my ankle on my own. I put some bandages over the top of the gauze pad so it will stay in place and tell everyone I am fine. Muro is worried about me and wants to get the first aid kit out, but I tell him to wait until we are checked in.

    The Italians have arrived at the same time, so we all head to the reception area. We get briefed about the camp and get our tent assignments. Muro and Godfrey want me to clean my cut with iodine, so I tell them I will be back soon. Arielle and I are shown to our tent and get a little briefing about it. Arielle is worried about the animals here, but I don’t have the time or patience to listen to her craziness right now.

    I head back out to the reception area so I can get my cut cleaned up. My ankle is hurting and a little swollen now too. The camp manager comes over and everyone has a different opinion on what the proper way to take care of it is. I’m feeling like a real idiot by this point and I start crying a little bit. I hate all the attention I am getting as everyone keeps coming over to look and wish I would have stayed in my tent at this point. Susan comes to check on me and helps me get cleaned up and calmed down. Muro ends up having some great bandages in the first aid kit that cover the whole scrape, then we wrap the whole thing in gauze to keep the dirt out. I’m a little worried about it getting infected since it is so dirty here. I have two of those instant ice packs in my first aid kit, so I go get one to put on my ankle to help with the swelling.

    When I come back everyone is out sitting around the outdoor fireplace except for Cinzia. I learn that everyone is very unhappy with the accommodations, but I think it’s fine, especially since we are just staying for one night. We all sit around outside and talk until it’s time for dinner. Everyone else drinks alcohol, but not me tonight. Dinner here was another three course sit down meal and it was pretty good. After dinner we go outside and star gaze for a while. It is a very clear night and it is very cool to see the Milky Way so clearly.

    When Arielle and I walking back to our tent I stumble on some of the rocks and kind of fall into one of those bushes with the big thorns and get three of them stuck into my hand. They hurt a lot, but luckily are easy to pull out. I decide that today just really isn’t my day and should just go to bed before anything else can happen to me :).

    Arielle is really nervous about lions coming to eat us up in the middle of the night, so she makes me take the bed closest to the door. She also very worried about all the “bugs” she sees around the tent. Now, I don’t like bugs, but the only thing that is in our tent are a few moths and those little tiny knats that are attracted to the light. She gets all her stuff ready and goes into take a shower. She is in the bathroom about 30 seconds before she starts screaming at the top of her lungs “Get me out of here, Get me out of here”. She is so panicked that she can ‘t get the door to the bathroom unzipped fast enough. She tries to tell me that there was a bat in the bathroom, but when I go in there I don’t see anything. She then proceeds to zip and velcro the bathroom door up tight and tells me I can’t use the bathroom for the rest of the night! I tell her she is being ridiculous and if I have to use the bathroom, I’m going to use the flippin bathroom! She says “Fine, I hope you get rabies then.” and I just bite my tongue at this point. This has been one very long day for me, so I’m very happy when I crawl into bed and fall asleep.

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    Jenn, you must have been posting your latest installment when I was responding to your last comment re: cheetahs hunting vs. leopards lying around.

    I'm really sorry about your ankle! That must have hurt.

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    Leely- I don't know what happenned as I tried to post that installment a few times.

    Anyways, you are not the first person to say it sounded like I was babysitting Arielle....LOL I never thought of charging her for the hours, maybe I should send her a bill :)


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    I take it back -- I'm not really like Arielle. I get anxious about things, but I'm not tardy, and I'm not high maintenance, and I would NEVER tell my roommate that she should get rabies!

    It sounds like you were a real trooper. I can hardly wait to hear the rest of your report.

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    Hi, Jenn--
    I'm loving your report, and I check the boards two or three times a day to see if you've added another segment. I'm interested in your safari experiences, of course, but I think among the main draws is all that drama with Arielle. Can't wait to see what happens next with her, and I'll be interested to learn whether you two will ever be in touch again. Also interested to know if SHE knows about these boards. Whoa!
    I have to give you a lot of credit. It seems that yours was the Murphy's Law of all safaris, but you were able to get past the unexpected and sometimes disappointing changes in your itinerary, all the while dealing with a freak of a travel partner, and were able to focus on the positives. Says a lot about your character.
    BTW, I'm forwarding this thread to my own travel partner, Jeri, as new segments come through. Being retired, I have more access to the computer than she has (she's still teaching, but will retire in June). She's enjoying the report, too. It brings back a lot of memories of our own trip to Kenya and Tanzania a year ago July. Fortunately, our own trip to Africa went pretty much without a hitch, but we've traveled to many other places over the years and situations have arisen from time to time where we've just had to "roll with it". We've learned that it isn't productive in most cases to get all fussed up over things we can't control. In MOST cases. One phrase which has served us well over the years is, "Oh, well.... On to Plan B". Of course, we've been very compatible travel partners and haven't had to deal with paranoia in each other. I think a self-absorbed, controlling hypochondriac of a partner would just about do it for me.
    Looking forward to the rest of your report, AND looking forward to our return to Africa in September, 2007, when Jeri will be retired. This time to Botswana.

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    LEOPARD TO HIMSELF: Uh oh, I better get out of this tree and hide, Jenn & Arielle are coming!

    I am really glad you didn't get rabies Jenn ;)

    I also saw a lion with a radio collar in the Serengeti.
    I think this was one, you just can't see it from this angle.

    When are they going to develop collars that aren't so big and clunky? I know they have to be uncomfortable and they alter the behavior of any animal wearing them.

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    I'm glad that I'm enteraining everyone with my trip report.

    In all fairness to Arielle, I can be quite a smart ass sometimes, so I probably wasn't as nice to her at all times as I could have been. In fact I think I may have said something to the effect of "there would actually have to be a bat in the bathroom for me to get rabies" as I honestly didn 't see and/or think there was anything in there.

    Also, we come from radically different backgrounds. I grew up in a beautiful smaller community in Oregon where outdoor activities are an everyday part of life. On top of that I have three brothers, so spent my childhood hiking, biking, fishing, camping and all sorts of other things with them.

    She grew up in Brooklyn and is the youngest of 3 girls. I think she may have been camping once in her life before going to Africa.

    The hardest thing for me was the paranoia about everything. I haven't even wrote about half the things she was scared of.


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    Jenn, I totally agree with you on the Maasai boma visit, though I went to a manyatta versus a boma. Very fake and not worth the $50 I paid. I would not recommend that people visit these places.

    I wanted to tell them to stop jumping and chanting and go back to doing whatever you were doing before I got here. I doubt women really wear that much jewelry in a normal village. All the jewelry displayed in the middle of the village for sale was cheesy. Then I go over to see the 'school' (I'm not even convinced this structure is really used as a school) and coincidentally, the kids are singing songs. I look on the blackboard and it said "1+1=2, 2+2=4" and so on... I thought, oh give me a break.

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    August 15, 2006

    I wake up this morning at the ungodly hour of 5 am for some inexplicable reason since we don’t have to be ready to go until 9 this morning. I stay in bed and tried to go back to sleep, but finally give up and get up around 6. I sneak into the forbidden bathroom and take a shower, hoping that the sounds of the velcro and zippers don’t wake Arielle. I clean up my ankle carefully and put a fresh bandage on. The swelling is looking a little better this morning and it doesn’t hurt too much, so that’s a good sign. I try to put my sneakers on but they press right on the worst spot, so I just settle for flip flops. I am very happy to see Arielle is still asleep when I come back out so she can’t say any nonsense to me. I quickly pack my things up so they will be ready to go for later.

    I head out to the reception area with a book and grab a cup of hot tea. The manager comes over to me and asks how my ankle is and tells me I should have it elevated. There are not many people around, so I had some quiet time to read and relax while I sat outside. As it gets later our group starts trickling out of their tents. The Italians have chosen to leave a little earlier than us this morning, so they set off around 8:30 while we are still eating breakfast. We are all ready to go on time though and we’re off not far behind them at 9:00.

    I’ve been keeping score and up until now it’s Leopards- 2 and Our Vehicle- big fat 0. We are determined to turn that around, so as we set off we tell Muro we must find that elusive leopard today. He just smiles and tells us he will do his best. We are heading back up to the Seronera area today, so we have a little bit of a drive. On the way we stop at the river and we three baby warthogs drinking. They are alone, but Muro says they are big enough to survive on their own. They are very cute if you like warthogs :). We also saw a small crocodile in the river and a monitor lizard near the river. I’ve been really hoping to see a big crocodile, but we haven’t had any luck so far.

    As we continue driving we come upon a lone lioness walking along the road. Muro tells us that she looks like she is old. As we get closer we can see that she has a big gash on her right side and we feel bad for her. We follow her for a while and she just keeps walking and walking taking no notice of the cars. We finally leave her and a little bit later we see a couple of more lions. They are far away and you can’t see them very good in the tall grass, so we don’t stay too long.

    We stop fairly early today for lunch at a nice picnic spot. The bathrooms were really yucky, but it is nice to be the only people here. We are almost finished eating when we hear “Muro, Muro” on the radio from Godfrey. Muro goes to answer and comes back so relaxed we think it couldn’t have been anything exciting. I can’t believe it when he tells us they have found another leopard! That Godfrey is a professional leopard spotter I tell you. We are all excited and we clean up very quickly. Muro is laughing because he says he doesn’t think he has seen us move this fast before. We hop in the car and speed off determined not to miss another leopard sighting.

    Apparently luck is on our side today because the leopard is still there when we arrive! I think we all cheered when we saw it. It’s a little bit far away, but you can see it clearly sleeping in the tree. I am so happy to finally see one, I don’t really care how far away it is :). The light is terrible for pictures, but I still take a million anyway. We stay for quite a long time watching him/her just sleep. I know it’s not very exciting, but they are very beautiful. It seems like he/she might get up a few times and changes positions a little, but then he/she just keeps on sleeping. After a long time we decide we would like to go around to the other side as it looks the cars on that side are closer. Muro tells us he doesn’t think it will be good over there, but we want to try, so he heads over there. Once we get over there we realize the view here is terrible, so we don’t stay long on this side.

    After that we head towards the visitor’s center for a little rest stop. We all use the bathroom and have a cold drink which is nice as we had been sitting in the hot sun for quite some time watching that leopard. We learn we are splitting up today as our group is staying at Mbalegeti and the Italians are staying at the Sopa Lodge. We have quite a drive to reach Mbalegeti, so we soon set off.

    The drive down was pretty much the same as the drive yesterday to Ikoma as we see lots and lots of zebras, wildebeest, gazelle’s and giraffes along the way. Funny how we are so used to seeing these by now, that they seem normal to us. We’re lucky to come upon a herd of zebras and wildebeest drinking from the river though. They are so funny to watch as they all come down and drink for about 60 seconds and then all run away. Then they turn around and all come back to have a drink again and then run away. They keep repeating this over and over again. We stay and watch for quite a while and take lots of pictures.

    Although the drive was enjoyable, I’m very happy when finally reach the turn off for Mbalegeti as I’m tired of driving by now. We see a pair of bat eared foxes as we are approaching Mbalegeti, but they are very shy and run away quickly.

    We reach Mbalegeti and are greeted warmly with nice cold wash clothes and drinks. We sit down and have a proper briefing with the manager to learn all about the property. He is very serious about telling us everything. I get a case of the giggles and I don’t think he appreciates that very much. We have to decide what time would like to eat dinner and breakfast the next morning so they can send someone to collect us at our rooms at the right time. We also get to chose from a menu what we want for our lunch box tomorrow, so that is very nice.

    We finally get through all of the briefing and are shown to our rooms. The rooms are very nice and I’m happy to see there are so many outlets here! I can charge up my ipod and my camera batteries at the same time. There is also an outlet in the bathroom that you can use a hair dryer with!

    Arielle decides she wants to take a shower and freshen up before dinner, so I go to look around the property. The property here is fairly big and everything is quite spread out. There are these nice trails and it’s very nice to walk around.. I wish I didn’t have a bum ankle, as it would be very easy and nice to go for a run here.

    After I am finished looking around, I head to the reception area to use the computer. I want to check my e-mail to see if my new nephew has been born yet and check in with my family in general. I try for about 20 minutes, but I can’t get logged into my e-mail, so I finally give up and head back to my room. I take a quick shower before dinner as I am very dirty today. They have one of those rain showerheads here, so it is a very enjoyable shower :).

    Everyone else is ready before me and have left to look around the property, so I am alone when the askari comes to collect me for dinner. He speaks very good English and it’s a long walk to the dining room, so we have a nice conversation on the way. I meet up with the other ladies at the bar and we sit down for dinner soon after.

    We chose to dine outside and we get a very nice table right by the swimming pool. It’s Thai night here at Mbalegeti, so we have a selection of Thai foods for dinner. It’s very odd for me to be eating Thai food in the middle of the Serengeti :) We get to order what we want for an appetizer, soup and dessert, but the main courses are served family style and shared amongst all of us. The food was kind of mixed as some of the dishes were very good, but some weren’t that great. After dinner we all head back to our rooms and turn in for the night. We have a very long day of driving tomorrow and are supposed to be ready to go by 7:00. The beds here are very comfortable and I get a good nights sleep. I’m even allowed to use the bathroom here as much as I want as there don’t appear to be any bats ;)

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    Hi Jenn,

    I literally dropped my morning toast from my fingers, when i read the thai dinner in the Serengeti!!! My goodness!!!

    I'm sure you enjoyed the Mbalageti very much. Like i said, i'm enjoying your trip report. Thanks.....


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    Hi Jenn,
    Just want to let you know that I'm enjoying your report. I admire any woman your age who seeks the unknown - there's just so much out there to discover.

    Also, we had some really good Chinese food in the Serengeti. It was much different from most of the Chinese food I've had in the States or even China.

    I just find it amazing that these guys in the Serengeti can obtain the needed ingredients and cook at all in some of those spare kitchens.
    I'd probably just serve up power bars :)

    Look forward to hearing more.

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    Great, you found the leopard! Some bat eared foxes are a nice addition too. I am sure were relieve that your ankle was improving. Those things either go one way or another.

    I hope you've swept up your toast crumbs.

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    Hello Jenn,
    I too am enjoying your report. Reading about Arielle makes me even more convinced that solo travel is the way to go. She sounds like a real travel problem, unlike lunch boxes not being gourmet standard etc. Though it seems like you managed to have a wonderful trip anyway.

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    Sherry- I'm glad you are enjoying my trip report, thanks for reading!

    Lynn- The ankle was more annoying than anything. The scrape had one part that was pretty deep, so I was worried about it getting infected.

    The bat eared foxes were very cute, I wish we could have watched them longer. Forgot to mention I impressed my guide by identifying them correctly before he saw them :) I guess all of that time I've spent here on fodors looking at other peoples pictures helped me out :)

    Nyamera- I'm glad you are enjoying the trip report. I am fine traveling by myself, but I have to admit it is nice to have someone to eat meals with and stuff. I got along really well with the rest of the group though. I'm sure Arielle's trip report says that I am the one who is a complete pain in the ass :)


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    I'm really enjoying your trip report. Your writing style is fabulous and the details are fun. I also have to admit, I thought I was the only one who did things like fall off the seats.

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    Jenn: thanks for putting so much time and energy into your report. I'm glad you had lots of cat sightings in between your roomate issues. If only she knew the 'bat' could have eliminated the bugs that she was afraid of she could have eliminated half her fears.

    Wayne: the size of the telemetery collars are based on the size of the battery. The largest battery possible is usually desired by researchers because the longer it lasts the more data they can gather without having to handle the animal again wich is better for the animal as well as more cost effective on the research budget. There are actually battery weight limits for each species based on their size and the intent of the limits is to minimize any impacts to the animal. I've worked with really small animals (tiger salamanders) where you can implant the transmitter because its so small but the battery life is short. An example is I have collared jumping mice with a little wire whip collar but the batter weight they can carry is so light that the batter life is only 30-60 days whereas a collar on a lion could last 2 years or more. Collars will get smaller as lighter batteries with longer life continue to be developed but also new computerized features being added are off setting some gains in battery weight.

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    Hi Jenn,
    Enjoying your trip report too! You sound like alot of fun to travel with. I am in a similar predicament as far as traveling solo or finding a tentmate, so after reading your experiences I am leaning towards going solo. Can you provide more details on the small group you joined, did it have a name, how many days, etc. This is something I may consider. Thanks.

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    I gotta scour the net and other travel boards. Somewhere I will find:

    Arielle's Adventures in Africa:
    Jenn nearly caused me to get rabies by letting giant vampire bats in our room... I can't believe I took this trip with her...

    PredatorBiologist: Thanks for the info! I really hope they get to work on those smaller more powerful batteries. Those big thick collars chafe the neck :(

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    Shari- You are definitely not the only one, I can always find something to trip on or fall off of at least once during vacation :) I'm glad you are enjoying the report, thanks for reading!

    Predator- I am glad we got to see so many cats as well, especially the cheetahs! I just love those cheetahs. Thanks for the info about the lion collars! I'm glad you are enjoying the report :).

    Carla- I'm glad you are enjoying the report and thanks for the compliment! I think in general I'm a fun person to travel with, but we all have our bad days :). I think the key to traveling with a small group is to make sure you pack your sense of humor! Where are you thinking of traveling by yourself?

    Wayne- LOL, let me know if you find that trip report!

    Ann- I didn't realize you hadn't met your roommate yet! You are braver than me :) Honestly though, Arielle and I did share some fun times too. We had many a conversation about dating and men in general at night before going to sleep :)


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    PB (Bill),

    On that note of the batteries and the did mention that the batteries on lion collars die out after two years or so, what is the norm? Do they dart the animal again and replace the batteries? Is there a long term effect on the animals with all the tranqualizers that are injected for the purposes of research?


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    Hari: there are big variances in available equipment and of course the purposes of a study. Battery life is dependent on the size/type of the battery so in general larger animals can carry longer lasting batteries. The best (most expensive collars) have special options built in that allow you to remote tranquilize which is an awesome feature -- basically you track the animal and when in sight you can just push a button that injects the animal right from the collar avoiding the stress of darting with a gun which can be difficult especially since you don't want the animal to associate people or the vehicle with the darting. Another feature is break away collars which can be programmed to drop off at a certain time or triggered again by remote. This way the researcher can recover the collar and not have to disturb the animal to do so.

    If the study is longterm than yes the animal must be handled to change out the battery at whatever interval is necessary. Tranquilizing agents should not cause any long-term effect from multiple uses as it just has a temporary impact and works its way through. However, each time there is an element of danger as there is stress to the animal and there is always a possibility that the animal could suffer a bad reaction (rare), proper dosage is also critical. Then the animal must be protected during the recovery period since they are helpless until they get their wits back.

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    Thanks Bill....very informative. I guess, it boils down to $$$$ involved to the research team in order to utilize all the new expensive equipment....

    Glad that there isnt any long-term effects on the animals in the name of research.


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    Exactly Hari -- it's all about $$$. There is amazing satellite technology now that can track all kinds of things and well funded researchers are using it but as you saw first hand in Phinda there's still a lot of people using the wand and triangulating positions which is very labor intensive but still cheaper since us biologists will work for just about nothing.

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    Treston told us that the research was done by KZN parks dept and Phinda was nice enough to allow them do the research in their property. Also, the research trip by Phinda guests is a way to help the research project. That to me was the highlight of the Phinda trip.


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    I'm still laughing over the bathroom rules. Until I read your trip report, all I worried about was that my roommate might snore. Now I'm afraid she might put me on bathroom restriction! I'll know in 5 days...

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    Nevermind- I'm glad you are enjoying the trip report, thanks for reading! I'd love to see Arielle's version myself ;)

    Ann- I don't think most people put their roommates on bathroom restriction, so you should be okay :)

    Leely- I haven't been feeling well this week, but I did just finish the next installment :)


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    August 16, 2006

    All of this moving around every day is getting to me. We are supposed to be ready this morning to leave at 7, so I asked for a 5:30 wake up. I was already awake and I heard the guy walking down the path coming to wake me up, but I had a hard time actually getting up. I hate to be late though, so I make myself get up and hop in the shower. I have to say the rain head showerhead is very nice plus there is an abundance of hot water here, so I get out feeling very clean and refreshed.

    We all manage to make it to breakfast on time and chose to sit outside again by the pool. The others all get omelets of some sort, but not me. I got tired of eating eggs about 5 days ago, so I just eat cereal and fruit. We get to see the sun rising over the hills which was very pretty. We are all ready to go on time, but then Susan has trouble paying for something she bought at the gift shop the night before, so we don’t get going until about 7:20. I secretly think Muro has been telling us we have to be ready earlier than we really need to be :)

    We have a very long drive today all the way to Tarangire, so we hit the road running. Teri later tells us that she thinks Muro was driving too fast, but I was fine the whole time. We don’t make any stops and get back to the central part of the Serengeti in good time. We stop briefly at the gas station, but then we’re off again.

    We’re not far from the gas station when we get a call from Godfrey on the radio. As they were leaving their lodge they found another leopard! I can’t believe how lucky they are. Muro tells us it’s a really good sighting too because it’s very close, plus it has a fresh kill up in the tree. We ask if we can go, but it’s too far in the opposite direction. Oh well, at least we saw one leopard :) Muro then hears on the radio about another leopard that it close to us, so he takes us to see that one. It’s a little closer than the one we saw yesterday, but we can’t see this one’s face. We take a few pictures, but we don’t stay long.

    We continue on driving towards the Naabi gate. We stop when we see a few lions along the way, but they are hard to see in the tall grass. We finally make it to the gate and meet up with the Italians. The guides go to do whatever it is they do at these gates and we get to wander around a bit. We have learned that we will not be staying in the same lodge again tonight, so we all exchange addresses with each other. Soon enough it’s time to go, so we pile back into the jeep and hit the road.

    We are visiting Olduvai Gorge today, so that is our first stop. We get plenty of time to look around the museum first. Then we go and listen to the brief lecture on the history of the gorge. It was all very interesting, but I am tired so I’m not paying close attention. The whole group has decided we would like to try and get some pictures of all of us together, so we gather everyone after the lecture. We ask some poor unsuspecting soul to take our picture and then shock him when we hand over a million cameras! :)

    We’re back on the road soon enough and soon reach the Ngorongoro area. It’s clear today, so our group makes a quick stop at the rim so we can take some pictures. We continue on and finally reach the paved road again! Hooray!!!

    As we are driving on the windy road through the Ngorongoro area we come upon a safari vehicle that has had a very bad accident. When we see it is off the road, upside down and all dented up. There are lots of Maasai sitting around guarding the vehicle, so Muro asks them what happened. They tell us that the driver of the vehicle came around the corner too fast and hit a Maasai that was walking on the road and then lost control. The vehicle flipped over 2 or 3 times and all six passengers plus the driver were injured. Also, the Maasai that the driver hit was killed. We feel bad for everyone :( Seeing the accident reminds us that things can happen anywhere, even when on vacation. We all make sure our seat belts are buckled up for the remainder of the trip.

    We continue on driving and soon make it to Karatu. Arielle and Susan would like to use the ATM, so Muro takes us to the bank. Unfortunately neither one is able to get any of their cards to work here, so it ends up being a stop for nothing. We meet up with the Italians for lunch and then continue on to Tarangire. It’s been a long day of driving, so I’m very happy when we make it to the Tarangire gate. Elephants are my second favorite animal, so I have really been looking forward to visiting Tarangire.

    We head into Tarangire and the first thing we see is a pair of dik dik. One of them has a broken leg, but it somehow manages to get around fine on three legs. I had heard many stories about the elephant population at Tarangire, so I had these visions of elephants being everywhere. I’m a little disappointed when all we seem to see is zebra, zebra and more zebra at first. We finally find some elephants though, so then I’m happy.

    We’re driving along when Muro suddenly stops and backs up. He points out to us that up in the tree is a dead baby zebra. He tells us it must be a leopard kill and it looks pretty fresh to him. We also spot a lone lioness hanging around in the tall grass at the bottom of the tree. We stay and watch the lion for a bit, but she doesn’t seem to be doing anything so we move on. We go and see the poachers hide and then it’s time to head to camp as it’s getting late.

    We were supposed to stay at Maramboi Tented Camp, but of course that’s not where we are going! We had learned earlier in the day that we would be staying at Tarangire River Camp instead. At this point I’m so tired of driving that I really don’t care as long as there is a bed for me to sleep in :)

    We arrive at Tarangire River Camp just as it’s getting dark, so we don’t really get a good look around, but we are met again with nice cold wash clothes and drinks. We all head up into the lounge area for our briefing about the camp. It’s close to dinner time, so they ask us if they can just drop our things off in our tents and then show us around after dinner, so we all agree. Dinner here was very good, especially the chicken they served.

    After dinner we are shown to our tents and they are very nice. I am really tired tonight and I have another headache, so I’m rather quiet this evening. I’m feeling sad that our safari is ending too, so I’m not in the best mood. Muro wants to take us on another game drive in Tarangire tomorrow morning before we head to Arusha, so we have to be ready to go at 7 a.m.

    I took a quick shower since I feel so dirty from all of the driving. Then I got most of my things packed up and ready to go for the morning. I want to take time and write a nice thank you note for Muro, so I go outside to sit on the porch so I can get all of my thoughts together. Arielle comes to join me, but she doesn’t last very long as she swears she hears something out in the bushes. She tells me I have to come in as well, but I just ignore her.

    After I’m finished I’m come back inside and climb in bed. Arielle is very worried about sleeping here and is almost in a panic as we are going to bed. She really thinks that a lion will come in and eat us up and that is what she is most scared of. She has made me sleep closest to the door once again, so the lion can eat me up first (her words, not mine)

    I try my hardest, but I can’t convince her that she is safe here. When I say to her “thousands of people come to East Africa every year and I’ve never heard of a lion coming into a tent in the middle of the night to eat them up” she responds to me “well, there is a first time for everything”. I am really exhausted, so I finally just give up and just fall asleep.

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    She made you sleep closest to the door "so the lion can eat you first"???!!!!

    I'm still laughing. I can't imagine anyone over the age of 6 actually saying that.

    I admit that one reason I wanted a roommate was because I thought it might be comforting to have another person in the tent when hearing animals outside, but I'm not considering a tent-mate to be lion fodder!

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    Ann- She made me sleep closest to the door on many occasions....LOL. She was VERY scared of lions in the night, she honestly thought they might come inside the tent. I'm just glad that we never heard anything that was actually scary during the night because I think she may have had a heart attack she was so nervous about it. :(


    P.S. I hope that you have a wonderful trip!

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    How awful for the poor Maasai man and that driver - it's hard to imagine sometimes that a pedestrian would get hit out in the middle of nowhere. Our guide was awakened during the night to go help get some people out of a over turned vehicle that slid down an enbankment next to the road heading from the Sopa to the main gate. At least one person was fatally wounded.

    As for Arielle, I would have been tempted to attach fresh meat to her headboard after she fell asleep - she's a trip - too funny.

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    I was very sad for the Maasai and his family :( Apparently the Maasai didn't want help the driver of the vehicle because of the situation and that was one of the reason's they were guarding the vehicle so closely when we came by. We never heard if anyone else died in the accident, so I hope that everyone else was okay. It certainly was a wake up call for us and we buckled up the rest of the trip.


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    August 17, 2006

    I wake up at 4 am this morning to Arielle yelling “Jenn, Jenn, Jenn, Jenn”. I can tell it’s early because it’s still pitch black out, so I can’t imagine why she is calling my name. It takes me a few seconds to process what is happening, but I finally ask her what is wrong. She is in a panic and tells me she keeps hearing noises. She is convinced there is a lion inside the tent and actually says we are going to die! I don’t hear anything, so I am convinced she is crazy at this point!

    She continues to yell at me “don’t you hear that?” over and over. I finally tell her to be quiet so I can listen. I listen for a few seconds and I don’t hear anything at first. I finally I hear something rustling in the grass outside, but it could be just the wind. I grew up riding and I hear that familiar sound “Brrrrrrrr” sound that horses make through their noses, so know it must just be a zebra. All of this fuss and it is zebra outside grazing on the grass!

    I am not happy at this point so I tell her to please be quiet now so I can go back to sleep and next time she thinks she hears something “inside the tent” switch on her darn light and have a look around herself. She does apologize for waking me up, but tells me that because it took her 10 or 15 times of saying my name before I answered she thought I was already dead! Now how something could have got inside and killed me without her knowing or hearing anything is beyond me.

    Arielle apparently has no trouble falling back asleep, but I never managed to. I finally just get up at about 5 a.m., take a quick shower and then head out to the lounge area. I’m in a grouchy mood and tired of traveling with Arielle, so I’m happy for the peace and quiet as I’m the only guest who is up so early. I meet the camp managers nephew and we have a nice conversation. He was brought up in Zambia and is really a nice guy. He laughs when I tell him the lion in our tent story, and I’m in a better mood by the time everyone else gets up.

    We all eat breakfast together and are on the road right on time. On the drive to the park I ask Muro if he has ever seen leopards or cheetah here in Tarangire. He tells me yes and in fact he saw a mother cheetah with 4 sub adult cubs hunting the last time he was here. Then I ask him if he has ever seen zebra here. He laughs and answers “no, zebra are very rare here in Tarangire” :) We enjoy a nice game drive in the park seeing thompson’s gazelle, elephants, lions, dik dik, zebra and many others. We drive by the spot where we saw the leopard kill yesterday and see that a lot more has been eaten. There are two different kinds of eagles there picking at the carcass today, but it is hard to get pictures of them.

    We leave the park by about 10 and start heading towards Arusha. Susan and Teri are catching the 2 p.m. shuttle back to Nairobi and Arielle and I are on the 3:20 flight to Zanzibar, so we have plenty of time. The Italians had an earlier flight as they are heading to Mozambique, so they left early this morning. We stop right before we get to Arusha to eat our last boxed lunch and then continue on our way.

    On our way to Arusha we see another safari vehicle off the road. We stop to see if they need any help, but they are okay. Thankfully it was just a blown out tire and not a big accident this time. Everyone was okay and they had another vehicle there already to take the passengers.

    We arrive in Arusha at about 12:30 and it’s just as bustling as when we left. The office has called Muro and asked him to bring us there before we leave so they can’t speak with us about all the changes in our itinerary. Arielle and Susan still need to get money, so he takes us to Barclay’s bank first. I decide to get some money out as well, so we all use the ATM with no problem’s. We also make a quick stop in Arusha at a shop so that Susan can buy some last minute T-Shirts.

    My cell phone works here in Arusha, so I make sure to call my mom while I’m here to check in and because it’s her birthday tomorrow. It’s very early on the west coast, so I just get the answering machine, but I leave her a message telling her I’m still alive and wishing her a happy birthday.

    We finally make it to the office by about 1:30. Teri and Susan are worried about missing the shuttle bus, but apparently they have told them to stop and pick them up here. Teri is very upset at this point with all of the changes in our itinerary and things do not go well at the office when the lady gives an explanation. They end up shouting at each other and it’s not a very pleasant exchange.

    The other lady gives Arielle and I our plane tickets to Zanzibar and tells Muro to take us to the airport. We are surprised when we learn that the plane leaves from the Kilimanjaro airport and not the one here in Arusha like we thought. It’s almost 2:00 by this point, so we need to get going! We say a quick good bye to Teri and Susan and are on our way to the airport. I’m nervous that we are going to miss our flight, but Muro says it’s no problem.

    On the way out of town Muro sees his brother in law so he stops quickly and tells him when he will be back. We joke that he will have tell him what a crazy group of girls he had on safari this time! He smiles but says that we are very nice, fun girls and he will miss us. He says that he thinks should keep one of us here to be his second wife! :)

    On the way to the airport it’s clear so we get a to see Mt. Kilimanjaro with is very pretty. We make it to the airport at about 2:40 and quickly unload all of our things. We give Muro a big hug and say thank you for everything. We have each wrote him a nice thank you note and put our tip inside, so we give him that as well. There is a big line of people just to get inside the airport, so we line up. The line moves slow, but we finally make it inside.

    We must have the worst luck ever because when we get up to the ticket counter we learn that the flight to Zanzibar is full so we can’t check in! :( As we are standing there we meet two other families of 4 that are in the same predicament, so there are 10 of us total that don’t have seats on this flight. The flight to Zanzibar leaves on time without us and nobody is happy in this little group of 10.

    Someone from Precision Air finally comes out to deal with all of us. He collects all of our tickets and tells us he will be back soon. We can’t really do anything but wait, so we all make ourselves comfortable. One of the families is from Canada and the other is from Germany. Both families are extremely nice and each have two older teenagers.

    I sit and talk with the oldest child from the Canadian family. She is 18 and heading off the college this fall, so we talk about that. When she learns that I am a nanny she tells me that she grew up with a nanny too and always loved her nanny. She tells me that she had the same nanny for about 7 years when she was younger just like I have been with my current charges.

    The fathers of the two families basically take charge of the situation and do all the negotiations. They try valiantly to get us to Zanzibar today, but in the end it doesn’t work out. For a while it looks like we might be getting a private charter flight, but that falls through because they can’t find a pilot to fly the plane. Then they say there is a flight from Nairobi that can stop and pick us up, but then it doesn’t have any free seats.

    We are all tired of sitting around the airport, so we finally give up on getting to Zanzibar tonight. We all agree to stay at the Kia Lodge with meals included and have confirmed seats on the 11 a.m. flight tomorrow morning. Nobody is very happy to be staying the night here instead of Zanzibar, but at least the Kia Lodge is very close to the airport. I tell the airline they have to give Arielle and I separate rooms so I can have a peaceful night :)

    I don’t know what to expect, but am pleasantly surprised when we arrive the Kia lodge. It’s very nice here and the staff is very friendly. We all get checked in and I am ecstatic to have my own room! The rooms are very nice as well and they even have A/C. It’s not really hot here, but I turn on the A/C just because I can.....LOL.

    I sit in my room and think about what I should do now that we didn’t get to Zanzibar today, since we will now only have 2 nights there. I don’t really want to go, but am not sure what else I would be able to do if I stayed in Arusha. Also, since my flight leaves from Dar Es Salaam, I would need to get there on Sunday. I’m just so tired of moving every single night, I just want to stay in one place!

    I finally go see what Arielle is up to and we talk about what we should do. I tell her that I don’t want to go to Zanzibar and she asks what I will do instead. I tell her I am happy to just stay here for the next 2 night and relax. She is tired of moving every night, but she doesn’t want to stay in here or in Arusha. I tell her she should just go to Zanzibar alone, but she says she can’t go by herself. I ask her why and she says that her parents told her she wasn’t allowed to travel by herself and that’s one of the biggest reason’s she is traveling with me.

    I can’t believe it as I didn’t realize this before. Now I understand a lot of her behavior and see why her parents have called so many times while we have been here. I am at a loss for words as I have always been so independent and would never let my parents tell me what I could and could not do at this age. Not to mention my parents have always encouraged me to travel and experience new places even if it meant going on my own.

    We decide to go eat dinner because it’s getting late. We see the other two families that missed the flight and say hello. I am really hungry and I thought the food was quite good, but Arielle didn’t like it, so she didn’t really eat anything. Things are a little tense between us because of our differences in opinions on what to do with the next two days. I don’t see what the big deal is if we split up since we are both grown ups here, but Arielle is against it. We finally decide we will get a good night of sleep and then decide what we want to do in the morning.

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    I've never been lion bait before but you have! I am really enjoying your trip report. It's really fun reading about your adventures (and misadventures). It sounds like you had a great time even with the problems.

    Would you use the same company if you were to return? It doesn't sound like to trip you paid for is the trip you took.


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    Hari- I'm glad I can give you a good laugh :) It is quite funny now when I think about it, but at the time I was far less than amused.

    Dennis- It still boggles my mind that she actually thought I was dead! How did she think anything could have got in there and killed me without her hearing anything? I told her it would have been her fault had I died anyway since I always had to sleep closest to the door :)

    Cindy- I'm glad you are enjoying my trip report :) I wouldn't use the same company again simply because I wouldn't trust them to not mess up. We got to stay at some lovely places, but it was not fun to have to move every single night.


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    I'm interested in the particulars regarding the verbal exchange between Teri and the folks at the office during the debriefing session (what was the company, again? Go2Africa?) I understand the strong probability of one or two hitches in any given trip, but the number of changes for your group was ridiculous. What was the explanation, and was there any attempt to offer some sort of compensation? I agree with Cindy--the trip you took certainly was not the one you signed on for.

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    she says she can’t go by herself. I ask her why and she says that her parents told her she wasn’t allowed to travel by herself...

    This explains so much! I am going back through your report to see if you give any indication of how old Arielle is. By the way, wouldn't the "lion" have heard her screaming JEN JEN JEN if it was inside the tent? OK, why am I even thinking about this? :)

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    Seeing the aftermath of the accident on the side of the road must have been upsetting. The poor Maasai that was killed, how terrible. The fate of the people in the vehicle may not be good either.

    Your interactions with Arielle are unbelievable and getting more so. Any lion in the tent would have made itself known during the 15 minutes of name yelling! If for no other reason than to shut her up. I was laughing out loud at this part.

    I'm glad you left Arielle's comment about not being allowed to travel alone until the end. We were able to come to the same realization as you were about the previous childish behavior. I wonder if Arielle told her parents you were a nanny when you were sharing travel plans, and that's why they let her go.

    I am sorry about Zanzibar.

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    Bo- It definitely wasn't the trip any of us signed up for, although it was never dull :) The ground operator was Predator's Safari Club, so it was their office that we were at. It's a little complicated because Teri and Susan actually booked with, when the rest of us booked with, so they did not pay the same amount as the rest of us. They put us all together to make the two groups of four.

    The verbal exchange in the office was very unpleasant and I didn't stay around for the whole thing, but I can tell you what I know. They tried to tell us that it was all the lodges faults for overbooking and closing down rooms for renovations at the last minute. While I'm sure the lodges were to blame for some of it, none of us really believed it was all the lodges fault. Remember they didn't pick me up at at the airport and switched our itinerary around from the very beginning. Arielle and I had to leave for the airport, but I spoke to Susan when I got back and she told me they did end up getting some money back from Predator's. They didn't offer anybody else money back though.

    Wayne- Arielle has just turned 25 or 26, I can't remember which one. She's definitely not old, but she's not a kid either. I'm a few years older than she is, but not that much :) Not to mention, she lives in NYC for crying out loud, I think she could have handled laying on the beach for 2 days by herself!

    Lynn- Thinking about lion in the tent still makes me laugh! :) The comment about the parents definitely put all of her behavior into perspective.

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    Very sorry to hear about the road accident.

    And that Arielle: what a piece of work.

    I spent about 5 hours in Dar Es Salaam airport once because Precision had overbooked our flight from Zanzibar to Nairobi. Darn them.

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    Leely- Apparently all of the Precision Air flights for the next day were over booked as well, so it was an ongoing problem. I'm sure there was another unhappy group of people staying at the Kia Lodge the following night who would have rather been in Zanzibar.


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    So you are Arielle's babysitter! I know it must have been frustrating for you, but she's providing us with endless entertainment.

    BTW you're not the first poster to mention similar issues with Predators Safari Club. There were a few reports last year that mentioned last minute accomodation changes and unpleasant exchanges with their office staff.

    And there's a poster on the Tripadvisor forum who is going on her honeymoon this month. She recently found out that all of her accomodations including Zanzibar were booked at different properties than she had requested and thought was confirmed back in May.

    I know others on this board have had good experiences with Predators, but I'd be extremely wary of booking with them after having read multiple accounts of similar problems.

    Sorry to hear about the accident.

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    It's unfortunate because I really liked both guides that we had and would love to be able to travel with either one of them again. I just wouldn't trust the office to not screw up the itinerary. I was exhausted having to move every single night for 6 nights in a row like we did.


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    While I was waiting to fly to Zanzibar, I met a European couple (the country escapes me at this point) on their honeymoon. They booked with Predator as well and told me how their itinerary was changed including places they visited and their accomodations.

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    One more thought--Have you shown your photos to the children you care for? I bet they would be really interested. Maybe you can talk the whole family into a trip. Even if you were responsible for the kids, it couldn't be more work than Arielle.

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    Good suggestion from Lynn.....start the kids travelling early and let them learn from their sister is planning to take her two boys on safari in May next year. They are 13 and 7.


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    Yes, the children have seen my pictures and they loved them. The girls especially loved the zebras and couldn't believe it when I told them how many I saw :) They are always very excited to have me come back and love to see pictures, so they are usually first ones I share the pics with.

    I don't usually like to go on working vacations, but going to Africa would be a different story! The little boy is just turning 6 this month, so maybe should wait a bit longer.

    They really don't travel that much for pleasure as they usually use their vacation time to spend at their vacation home in Maine. I think because both parents travel so much for work they prefer to just chill out for vacation. Maybe that will change as the children are getting older and easier to travel with though. Definitely something to think about. :)


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    August 18, 2006

    I wake up this morning feeling very refreshed and happy NOT to be sharing a room with Arielle. Insisting the airline give us separate rooms was one of the best things I’ve ever done I’ve decided as we really needed a break from each other. I know she is not a bad person, but she has just really worn me out. I feel bad about it, but I was really dreading going to Zanzibar with her as I just have no patience left for her craziness. I decide to go ahead and get showered so that I would be ready to go no matter what I decided to do today.

    My peace doesn’t last long as Arielle comes knocking on my door soon after I get out of the shower. She wants to know what “we” are going to do today. She’s very whiny this morning saying she can’t stay in the Arusha area because it’s too cloudy here and she will get depressed! Just go to Zanzibar I tell her, but she won’t go by herself. I just don’t understand why this girl can’t do anything on her own and I want to shout at her that there is no “we” as we are not a couple here. I make quite a few suggestions of activities in this area like Arusha National Park and some of the cultural tourism programs. She isn’t interested in doing any of the things that I would be interested in doing if staying here, so I don’t know what else to tell her.

    I finally tell her we should call the office and tell them what has happened and see what they suggest. We try calling from my room, but the front desk has trouble connecting us, so we go to the office instead. I end up being the one to speak with Nabeela from Predator’s and she thinks we should go to Zanzibar. I talk to her for quite a while and finally agree to go. She tells me that she will call the driver and hotel to make sure there will be someone to pick us up and that there will be no problem’s with the hotel reservation.

    We head to breakfast and run into both of the families from yesterday. We tell them we are definitely going to Zanzibar and they are happy. Arielle continues her whining throughout breakfast about the food and the weather here. I am really reaching the end of my rope with her, but I manage to make it through breakfast without saying something really mean. After breakfast it’s time to collect our things from our rooms and catch the shuttle back to the airport. We all pile in and make the short trip.

    We all get through the security line fairly quick and the guy from Precision Air spots us. He comes over with all of our tickets in hand. They have printed all of our boarding passes already, so they just need to check our luggage in. It’s all very quick as they don’t make us stand in line or anything, so we’re off to the gate in no time. We have lots of time before our plane takes off, so I go look in the shops for a while. I find some children’s books by a local author so I buy some for my nieces and nephew.

    Soon enough it’s time to board the plane and we’re finally off the Zanzibar! We get a very nice view of Kilimanjaro from the airplane, so that was a nice surprise. We land, collect our luggage and find our driver with no problems. He’s a very nice friendly young man who is very talkative. Arielle has been wanting to buy some CD’s with some popular Tanzanian music so she asks him if he can stop somewhere along the way. He’s says no problem, so we’re off to look for some CD’s before we head to Nungwi.

    We don’t go very far when he stops, quickly hops out of the van and says he will be right back. When he comes back he says the place he was thinking of is closed, so we will need to go into Stonetown, which is no problem for us. He hops back in the van but when he turns the key nothing happens! The battery must be dead he says. I can’t help buy start laughing at this point, because we just seem to be a magnet for bad luck!

    We’re thinking that we are going to be stuck here for a while, but then a nice man offers to give him a jump start. We have to get out of the van so they can push it back a little and get the other car in position. It takes a while, but they finally get it going. We say thank you very much to the nice family that helped us and hop back into the van. He asks us if we still want to stop for CD’s, but we say no thank you! :) We don’t want to make any more stops, so we head to straight to Nungwi.

    I was sitting in the front seat, so he chatters on stop to me the whole ride up to Nungwi to me. He was a nice guy, but after while I was wishing I had sat in the back seat instead. I try to pretend like I was falling asleep, but he just keeps on talking. He asks me if I want to go to a club in Stonetown with him and some friends that evening, but I pass up the invitation telling him I am too tired.

    We finally reach Nungwi and make it to our hotel. We are staying at Nungwi Village Beach Resort which ends up being one of those places that looks nice on the internet, but not so nice in person. The first room they try to give us is really bad, so we go back and ask for another. We’re are moved to a beachfront room which is marginally better and we decide we can live with it for just two nights.

    Arielle hits the beach right away and I go and take advantage of their internet connection. I haven’t checked my e-mail in about 10 days so I have a million e-mails to sort through. It takes a while, but there is nothing too important. There is no e-mail from my brother, so it appears that my new nephew has not made his arrival yet. I do have an e-mail from Nicolaus (Crater Forest Tented Lodge) which makes me laugh. After I’m finished I go join Arielle on the beach. The beach is beautiful and weather is very nice here, so I start to relax and feel happy that I decided to come.

    There is a big group of about 10 people next to us on the beach and we talk to them a little bit. They are mostly South Africans here on a week long beach vacation and all seem very nice. We had a light lunch while sitting on the beach and just chill out for the rest of the afternoon. When I was ordering our lunch and drinks I met several of the staff members who were all very nice. Once again they are intrigued that we live in New York and ask many silly questions. :) We stay out on the beach as long as we can but head inside when it gets dark and the bugs get too bad.

    Arielle wants to go snorkeling the next day, but of course she won’t go by herself so she wants me to go with her. At first I said I would go, but then I have second thoughts. The cut on my ankle isn’t looking the best as it’s very swollen, pussy and looks like it might be getting infected. I can’t decide if I should be going into the water or not. On one hand I think the salt water might be good for it, but on the other could make it worse. Also, I would rather just spend the day by myself rather than with her, so I can’t decide what to do.

    We decide to just eat dinner here at the hotel so we get cleaned up after a while and head down to their restaurant. They have a set menu with a few different choices for each course. Arielle reverts back to her old self and starts complaining about the food and the hotel. She thinks that it doesn’t smell good here and complains about that as well.

    I finally lose it with her when she freaks out over the hotels cat wandering around. All the things that I have been thinking and feeling for the past 2 weeks come pouring out of my mouth. I tell her she is the most paranoid scared of everything person I have ever met in my entire life. She tells me she doesn’t understand what I am talking about because she doesn’t think she is scared of things. I point out that she thought there was a lion in our tent that had eaten me up in the middle of the night for crying out loud! She tells me that I am just a mean person who doesn’t understand or empathize with other people’s feelings. I am on the verge of tears at this point, so I just left the table and went over to the bar.

    I sat over at the bar for quite a while and try to not cry. All the employees were very concerned about me, but I tell them I’m fine. I’m just tired of traveling with this girl who complains about and is scared of everything. Arielle comes and tells me I have to give her the room key, and tells me she doesn’t know how I am going to get back into the room since they don’t have another key at the front desk. The manager of the hotel over heard her say this, so after she leaves he tells me he will get me another key from housekeeping. It takes him a while, but he finally comes back with another key for me :)

    I head up to the room and I can tell Arielle is surprised that I have my own key since she asked for one and couldn’t get one. She apparently was going to take the bed that I had chosen already because she moved all of my things off of it and put them in a pile on the floor, which I think is very strange. We don’t speak to each other at all, which suits me just fine at this point. I change into my pajamas, wash my face, brush my teeth and re-claim my original bed. I think I am just exhausted emotionally and physically and am hoping that after a good night’s sleep I will feel better.

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    August 19, 2006

    I wake up this morning when I hear Arielle moving around but I don’t actually get up out of bed until she has left. I get up and think about going running because I know it would make me feel better, but my ankle is still too swollen and sore to put my sneakers on. I get ready and go downstairs to eat breakfast by myself. After breakfast I decide that I can at least go for a walk along the beach, so I gather my things and head off up the beach.

    As I’m walking I meet some very nice English girls who I end up walking with for quite some time. They have been here in Zanzibar for several days, so they show me around. After a while I leave them to head back towards our hotel. Along the way I run into a mother and daughter that I had seen at breakfast earlier. I introduce myself and learn they are Canadian. They are very nice and invite me to walk back with them. We do some shopping along the way and I buy some cute necklaces for my nieces. We end up walking all the way down passed our hotel to the end of the beach where the turtle aquarium is.

    We all pay the $2.00 and go into the aquarium to see the turtles. I’m surprised to see that Arielle is there with some of the South Africans we had met the day before. She obviously doesn’t see me and I actually over hear her talking about me saying how mean I was to her the night before. It’s a little awkward when she sees me, but oh well. They move on to look at the big snake that they have there and we feed the turtles. They are very cool and the guide that shows us around is very nice. After we are done feeding the big turtles he shows us the babies and lets me hold one. It was all lots of fun and I’m glad that we went in. Unfortunately I didn’t bring my camera with me on the walk, so I didn’t get any pictures here.

    After we are finished we head back to the hotel to relax on the beach. When we arrive I see the English girls I had met earlier, so I go over to talk to them. We all sit and chat for quite a while and they invite me to join them for lunch. They are meeting the rest of their group down the beach and I’m happy to be invited. Everyone was really nice and we have a really nice lunch. They are heading into Stone Town late this afternoon, so I thank them for inviting me and say good-bye.

    When I get back to the hotel I see Arielle is heading out somewhere with about half of the group from South Africa. The ones that are left behind tell me that they are going on a sunset cruise/snorkeling trip, so they will be gone for quite a while. They are all very nice and tell me I shouldn’t let Arielle bother me. They get lots of laughs when I tell them some of our stories from safari and I feel much better. I end up spending a very lovely rest of the afternoon relaxing on the beach with them. Right before sunset they break out a huge bottle of gin and they insist that I drink some with them. I don’t really like gin, but I cave to the peer pressure and join in the drinking. :)

    The rest of group returns from snorkeling and they all seem to have had a great time on their trip. They have made plans for dinner and have invited both Arielle and I to join them. Since the group is so large it’s easy for us to both join in and not really interact with each other, which is nice for both of us. We all end up having a wonderful dinner with lots of laughs and lots of drinks. We are all leaving tomorrow, so it’s quite a last night out! These South Africans sure know how to have a good time and drink a lot!

    After dinner we all manage to make it back to the hotel without anyone falling down which is quite an accomplishment. :) One of the guys is named Andrew and he used to work here in New York, so we have lots to talk about. He is very nice and I stayed out on the beach talking to him for quite a while. They all have to be up early to catch their flight, so I say good bye to everyone tonight in case I miss them in the morning. We all exchange information so we can stay in contact with each other. They all invite me to come visit them in South Africa any time I want and I invite them to come visit me as well.

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    I'm really loving your trip report. Your honesty is appealing and refreshing.
    I started getting so nervous about my upcoming roommate that I googled her. The only thing I was able to find out is that she is 76.

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    I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed your trip report. It has been endlessly entertaining and a great way for me to procrastinate during the day. I'm looking forward to hearing about your adventures in Stonetown.


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    Jenn, this is such a good trip report because the open and honest way that you've written it makes me think I've experienced this myself before - even though I haven't. Great job.

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    Hi Jenn,

    One of the things that stand out in your reports is your interests in interacting with lots of people from all round the world. Very nice and a good skill to have....


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    hearing all that "we" & "us" made me cringe when you were trying to tell Arielle to go to Zanzibar alone. But this made me nearly hit the ceiling:

    ...she moved all of my things off of it and put them in a pile on the floor... Aaaarrghhhhh! :-@

    I can feel all the anger I have supressed from college roomate days coming up my throat! I hated coming into my room and finding my stuff on the floor or coming to the laundry room on our floor and finding my just washed clothes on the floor or on the table and someone else's clothes in the machine.

    Of course she probably needed that bed so that if the cats got into your bedroom they would attack you first. ;)

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    I've really enjoyed your trip report. All the problems you had make me appreciate my wonderful traveling companions even more!

    ann nyc
    When I read about your future roommate being 76 years old the 1st thing that came to my mind is "I hope it isn't a "Gabriella!" You can read my trip report "lillipets trip report" to find out why that name should strike fear in your heart!

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    Ann- I'm glad that you are still reading. You must be so excited with only 3 days to go!

    Kim- I'm happy that you are enjoying the report, thank so much for reading.

    Clem- Thanks so much for the compliment. I almost didn't write a report because I didn't want to talk bad about Arielle.

    Hari- Thanks for still reading. Yes, I usually have no trouble making friends and interacting with people from everywhere. The South Africans have invited me to join them in Thailand over Christmas. I love Thailand, but I don't think my mother would be very happy :).

    Wayne- I think she wanted to take my bed just to be mean to me. There were many times when dealing withe Arielle brought back memories of my living with college roommate days ;)

    Lili- Thanks for reading and I'm glad you are enjoying my report. LOL about Gabriella, don't scare poor Ann!


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    Hi Jenn,

    Thailand. Nice place, very friendly people.....i was in Krabi, Thailand in must definitely go!!!

    Why would she hv a problem with you going there? The recent political change? It should be ok. I know ppl who are going to Bangkok on business later this month and they say no issues really regarding any security lapses.....


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    Hi Hari,

    I love Thailand! I went there last year for about 3 weeks. I started in Bangkok, went west to Kanchanburi and then all the way north to the borders of Laos and Burma, then came back down south to hit Chiang Mai before heading back to Bangkok. I didn't make it south to the beaches though because I ran out of time. They are just doing a beach vacation, so it would be fun to go with them.

    My mother wouldn't be happy because it's over Christmas time....LOL. For all my living far away from my family and traveling around I've always made it home for Christmas. I'm not sure of their specific travel dates yet though, so might be able to squeeze it in :)


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    Poor Yankees :( I like baseball, but not a die hard fan of either team since I'm not a native New Yorker. One of my friends husband has Yankee season tickets though, so I get them on occasion. It's always fun to go to a game, especially because the seats are right on the third base line so you can stare at Derek Jeter all night ;)

    I like watching post season baseball the best and I'm really hoping a National League team will win the world series this year.


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    I'm glad Zanzibar offered an opportunity to spend time with people other than Arielle. Moving your items off the bed and onto the floor is an act of roommate war!

    Maybe your next trip will be to South Africa with your new found friends!

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    August 20, 2006

    I wake up this morning feeling both sad and happy. I’m very happy that this is my last day traveling with Arielle. A I’m sad to be leaving Tanzania and wish I could stay longer.

    Arielle is still sleeping, so I get up and go down the office so I can call and confirm that someone is going to be here on time to take us to the airport. It takes me a while, but I finally get someone on the phone. Our flight isn’t until 5:20, so he says he will come at 2:30 which is fine with me. While I’m down there I check my e-mail and there is still no word from my family about my new nephew. I guess he decided not to make an early arrival as the doctor had predicted and wait until his due date of August 22nd after all. Since we are not leaving until 2:30 the office wants us to check out of our room at 11:00. Then they will give us another room to take a shower in and stuff before we leave.

    I head back to the room to tell Arielle that we need to get packed up and checked out by 11. We haven’t really spoken to each other since the blow up at dinner the other night, so things are still tense between us. She’s a little snotty to me at first, but I decide to just suck it up and make the best of this last day of traveling together. I kill her with my kindness :) and we get along fine for the rest of the day. We both get all packed up and checked out of the room with no problems.

    Arielle heads straight out to the beach and I check out breakfast but nothing looks good to me so I don’t really eat anything. I join Arielle on the beach, but it’s a little chilly today. It keeps raining on and off, so we keep packing and unpacking our things. We meet a very nice Italian women who is by herself here in Zanzibar, so we talk to her for quite a while. Soon enough it’s time to head in and get ready to go to the airport. The driver is there right on time and gets all of our things loaded up before we are even there. It’s a different guy from the one who drove us up here, but very nice as well. We say goodbye to everyone and start the long journey back to New York.

    We are about 2 mins down the road when the drivers cell phone rings. He answers it and then tells me it’s for me. “What?? Who can possibly be calling me on your cell phone” I say, but he tells me to just take the phone. It turns out to be the same chatterbox driver who drove us up here, apparently these two are friends. He asks if he can have my phone number and address so we can stay in touch, but I tell him I don’t think my (fictional) boyfriend would like that. He continues to chatter on and I finally say goodbye. Arielle gets a good laugh in the back seat.

    We make it to the airport without any problems and get in line to check in. It’s very chaotic here and hard to tell where exactly you are supposed to be. The guy checks us in and takes our bags away quickly. Both are bags are overweight by now, so we lucky that they didn’t weigh them.

    We get through the security and have plenty of time to kill before our flight. It’s crowded in here, but we manage to find two seats to sit down in. We are both hungry, so I go in search of something to eat while Arielle saves our seats. The choices are slim here, so we settle for a very healthy lunch of pringles, kit kats and soda to drink. Arielle has no objections to eating American junk food , so no problems here :)

    This airport is crazy busy for it’s size and you can’t tell which flight is leaving when. We get in line to board more than once for the wrong flight. While Arielle is shopping I see a couple that I met way back on our first safari day when we stopped for lunch on our way to Lake Manyara. They are from New York and were on their honeymoon here. I go over and talk to them and we talk about our trips here. They are really nice people and I was glad to run into them again. They are on a different flight to Dar, but we are all on the same KLM flights back to New York so I tell them I’ll see them later as it’s finally time for Arielle and I to leave. We make our way out to the little plane and have a very quick uneventful flight to Dar. We catch a quick taxi over to the international terminal.

    It’s barely 6 p.m. now, so we have lots of time to kill before our flights out this evening. We find a place to sit down and I stay with all the luggage while Arielle goes to use the internet. I turn on my cell phone and it goes crazy beeping telling me I have lots of messages. I have text and voice messages from my mother, my two best friends, my employers, Nicolaus and my ex boyfriend.

    I call my mom first and she’s happy to hear from me. I learn that my sister in law has just gone into labor, so I haven’t missed anything at all. I get to talk to my very sweet 2 year old nephew Carson and he asks me “Jenn, Jenn are you in York?” I tell him that I’m still in Africa and he wants to know when I’m going back to “York” :) I tell my mom I will call them when I’m back home and hang up. I then text message everyone else except the ex boyfriend to tell them I’m fine and I will talk to them when I get back.

    Arielle comes back and asks if I want to use the internet, but I don’t need to. It’s starting to get dark now, so we go upstairs to the restaurant. We stay there up there until about 8 just hanging out and then head downstairs to check in. Arielle is flying on Swiss Airlines and I am on KLM, so we head in different directions.

    I’m happy to see that I won’t have to check my camera after all as the only thing that is restricted are liquids in the carry ons. I shift some things from my carry on around while standing in line and get checked in and through security with no problems. I see Arielle briefly inside the airport, but then she rushes off when they are calling Swiss passengers. It turns out that her flight left at 9:35, not 11:35 like she thought, so she barely made it on the flight, what a nut!

    I do some shopping and spend most of the Tanzanian schillings that I have left buying last minute gifts. I run into the same couple from New York and we all sit and chat until it’s time to board the flight. It has been a long day and I’m exhausted and I’m asleep before the plane even gets into the air which is unusual for me. I wake up a few times, but sleep most of the way to Amsterdam.

    I’m so glad I’m on the flight going to Newark and not JFK so I only have 2 hours here in Amsterdam this time. I drink lots of water here since you can’t carry liquids on board so I won’t be too dehydrated. Soon enough it’s time to board and I’m on my way back to New York. I am still tired though and sleep a good portion of this flight as well.

    I have no troubles collecting my luggage and get through customs after landing. I head out and find my car where my friend has left it for me yesterday afternoon. I call my brother and learn that my new nephew was born late last night and both mommy and baby are doing fine. His name is Connor Robert and he weighed in at a healthy 8lbs. He asks how my vacation went and I tell him a little bit. I will see them next all week when I travel to Oregon over Labor Day, so I tell him I’ll bring lots of pictures.

    On the drive home I’m already thinking about when I can return to Africa, without Arielle of course :)

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    Hi Jenn,

    Congratulations on becoming an auntie and for a great trip report. Your nephews are adorable.

    So disregard my original request for the information on the company you used for your trip, I posted that way too prematurely. Too many changes and problems for me to handle. I am also convinced to never travel with someone you don't know...EVER! Other than that your report was entertaining

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    Hi Jenn,

    Congratulations on becoming an auntie and for a great trip report. Your nephews are adorable.

    So disregard my original request for the information on the company you used for your trip, I posted that way too prematurely. Too many changes and problems for me to handle. I am also convinced to never travel with someone you don't know...EVER! Other than that your report was entertaining, you heartbreaker you! I had to laugh that Arielle was eating the American junk food at the end, geez!

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    Hi Jenn,

    Congratulations on your new nephew, and thanks for posting such an entertaining and informative trip report.

    My anticipation of meeting my room-mate is growing more acute by the hour. I've unfortunately noticed that her name rhymes with Arielle, and also with Gabriella, so I'm hoping there isn't a common thread there. Led by your example, I've decided that even if I don't have a good room-mate, I can enjoy the absurdity of it, and remember all the details to tell you guys when I return!

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    The final moments with Arielle were a bit anti-climatic. I was expecting some finaly words or something... but I guess after all that time together there were enough words and you just needed it to be over ;)

    Jen, I was telling my wife last night about your saga. We went through your photo album looking for a picture of HER. I don't think I saw one...

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    sorry to see this fantastic, hilarious and entertaining trip report end. one of my favorites. you and arielle really should travel together again, the stories are just too good to end here! :)
    Congrats on your nephew and happy you had such a great time despite everything you went through!

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    Hi Jenn -- thanks so much for writing this report and sharing your experiences (both good and bad) with all of us. I got a lot of laughs from reading it, and at the same time really admire you for your patience with the crazy roommate and all the changes to your itinerary. (I wonder how well I would handle those same things...) Your stories just really showed how amazing travel can be, even in less-than-ideal circumstances. I especially enjoyed hearing about all the people you met along the way. And I'm going to think of you and how great your trip was, whenever I get hung up on all the little details of planning our own Africa trip. Happy future travels!

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    Jenn, congratulations on your newest cute nephew.

    I'm disappointed you aren't planning on travelling with Arielle next time. I'd like to read Arielle in Africa II. I think your report would be perfect for a film in fake documentary style, but based on completely real events. I'm happy you had a great trip and met interesting people. And I think I'll remember not to recommend Predators Safari to anyone.
    Thanks for sharing

    Wayne, have another look at the photos. I've seen Arielle there.

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    Anyone can see animals in Africa, but not everyone can meet Arielle. She is the star of this trip report. I will miss her. I am looking forward to her trip report. Jenn - make it happen.

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    Thanks to everyone for the compliments, you are all too nice. :) I'm glad that you enjoyed reading my report and got some laughs, it was fun to write.

    Sorry to say there will be no part 2 to traveling with Arielle :). I really want to do gorillas in either Uganda or Rwanda next, maybe to both. Arielle said she wouldn't travel to Rwanda because she saw the movie "Hotel Rwanda", so it's a no go on that one.


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    OK, I found here picture.

    I am sad we won't get to read The Further Adventures of Jenn & Arielle.

    The funny thing is I felt 100 times safer walking around in Rwanda than I did in Arusha.

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    Sorry the trip and your compelling report had to end, but I guess eventually you have to return to York.

    What a laugh in the cab, "It's for you."

    What did they name your new niece/nephew? Don't you dare say it is a girl named Arielle!

    I remember my first niece/nephew was a couple months from being born when I went on safari. One night around the campfire, after a few drinks, I was explaining how excited I was about my sister's baby. I wasn't sure of the baby's sex so I added, "we'll have to wait until it is born to see if I'm an aunt or an uncle." Oops. That was good for a laugh, like I said, it was after a few drinks.

    If they make this report into a movie who will play you and Arielle?

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    Yes, I had to return back to my regular life here in boring old York :).

    Getting the phone call in the cab was quite funny. I didn't quite know what to say and I was trying not to laugh.

    The new baby's name is Connor Robert. We knew it was a boy, so there were no worries of it being baby Arielle. My other brother and his wife are having their second girl in December though, so maybe I should tell them the name is off limits :)

    LOL about the aunt/uncle story around the fire! That is really cute. Did you end up with a niece or a nephew?


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    Jenn, you are truly a good sport!

    Atravelynn, I just saw this same uncle/aunt joke on Friends tonight! Funny that it really happened to you...

    Wayne, and Nymera, I agree. Wayne, what was up with Arusha?

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    Loved your heartfelt report Jenn, sorry to see it end. Hope that the brand new babe took the sting out of re-entry.Perhaps you've inspired Arielle to grow as a women - doubt it, but you never know.

    Now I must figure out what name rhymes with Arielle - now that was a very funny Sienfeld episode :S-

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    Hello Jenn24 - I am new to this board. Just last night I was saying to my husband that it's time we went to Africa (neither of us have been). I decided this morning to start reading the posts on the Africa board and I found your trip report. It is AMAZING!! I have printed it out so that I can read it on the way home again because I really want to start planning a trip. Thank you!!

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    Hi Jenn,
    I don't know how I missed your wonderful trip report on it's first go-round, but I'm very glad I've seen it. Thank you for writing with such honesty - it was a very enjoyable read.

    And I know what you mean when you say "I grew up in a beautiful smaller community in Oregon where outdoor activities are an everyday part of life." Me, too. Southern Oregon. And I'm constantly amazed by the people I run into every day who have no concept of how the natural world works.

    Anyhow, your report is a classic! I'm glad that you were able to roll with the punches and enjoy.

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