Unsurpassed opportunities to view and photograph wildlife in a spectacular natural setting. Explore with your private safari guide Africa’s premier game parks including Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater and Manyara National Park. Please consider the featured itinerary only as a guideline since we are able to adapt our safari programs to the needs and expectations of our clients and also their time frame.
Classic Tanzania Migration Safari
The Green Season
December to June Option
12 days/11 nights
Travel with Your Own Specialized Private Driver/Guide
This is Africa as you've always imagined it! Unsurpassed opportunities to view and photograph wildlife in a spectacular natural setting. Your adventure will take you to some of Africa's premier game parks including the Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater considered a World Heritage Site and Manyara National Park. Accommodations include deluxe lodges constructed of local materials and in harmony with their environment and luxury-tented camps where you will be immersed in the sights and sounds of Africa. Food at all locations is well prepared and delicious.
No fixed departure dates. You choose when you want to go. There can be just two of you or a group of friend. You can also plan it as a family vacation. Private guide and services throughout the program. We are flexible and able to make adjustments to the program in order for us to meet all your needs and expectations.
• VIP meet and greet at the airport tarmac. We process your visa upon arrival in Arusha
• game drives in Central and Southern Serengeti with unlimited miles each day
• special permit to drive though the Gol Kopjes
• explore Ngorongoro Crater a World Heritage Site with double permits so you enjoy full days in the crater
• superb accommodations in luxury tented camps and lodges
• wine and culinary experiences in the bush under the stars
• the Maasai cultural heritage
• a sense of history and tradition at Gibbs Farm
• visit Manyara National Park
Arrive in Tanzania
Arrive in the evening on KLM. VIP meet and greet and connect with Mondo Verde Expeditions representative. VIP services include the cost of the Tanzania visa and a private security officer will meet you. The security officer will collect your passports and personally stamp them while you continue to baggage claim. Transfer to Arusha for dinner and overnight at African Tulip Hotel.
Early breakfast and transfer at 7:15 am to the nearby Arusha airport to check in for your flight to the central Serengeti. The flight leaves at 8:00 and arrives at the SERO airstrip at 10:30. Meet and greet by your private safari guide and enjoy an immediate game drive in the central Serengeti. During the green season the herds actively move from rain cloud to rain cloud, so your driver guide will have an excellent sense of where to visit to follow the herds and/or look for interesting cat and mammal activity. Enjoy a sundowner, campfire and dinner. Overnight at Sametu Camp.
Serengeti National Park is one of the most famous wildlife areas in the world. The park's 5,700 square miles are part of the 9,600-square-mile Mara- Serengeti ecosystem, home to incredible herds of wildebeest and other grazing animals. It is the largest national park in Tanzania, with a staggering animal population of about 4 million within 14,763 km sq. It is the largest wildlife sanctuaries in the world and the site of one of the most breathtaking events in animal kingdom-the migration of more than a million wildebeest. The area consists of treeless central plain, savannah dotted with acacia and granite outcroppings called kopjes, and riverine bush and forest in the north. The park's name is derived from the Maasai language "SIRINGET" which means endless plains. The famous "Migration" that people dream to experience, is actually a dynamic process taking a full year to complete.
Depart with box lunches from Sametu Camp and game drive to the southern plains of the Serengeti going through the Gol Kopjes with a special permit. The famous wildebeest calving is in full swing and nearly 450,000 babies will be born over a 10-12 week period. The females prefer the southern plains due to the particular species of grass that are rich in the nutrients essential for lactation. The next three days will be spent exploring Lake Ndutu, Lake Masek, the Kusini Plains, Hidden Valley and parts of the Moru Kopjes. The lakes offer wonderful flamingos, cheetah hunting, elephant and a huge diversity of birdlife. Dinner and overnight at Lake Masek Tented Camp.
Game drive to the famous Ngorongoro Crater, stopping along the way to visit Olduvai Gorge, the site of Louis and Mary Leakey’s famous archeological discoveries. Continue to the descent road for the Crater and enjoy the majority of the day on the Crater floor with a picnic lunch. Ascend on the eastern rim to Crater Sopa Lodge.
Lodging upgrade: For clients looking for lodging upgrade, we recommend Lions Paw.
Ngorongoro Crater is one of seven World Heritage Sites designated in Tanzania, and it is the world's largest un-flooded caldera. This means the entire rim of the old volcano is intact. The Crater is a memorable experience, while only 100 square miles in total, it also offers six distinct habitats: acacia forest, swamp, short grass, long grass, riverine and woodland. Each habitat attracts a variety of animals. NCA is also the world's first multi-purpose land use experiment, combining tourism, research, archeology, wildlife management, grazing rights and farming.
Full day down in the Crater. Be prepared to leave the lodge by 5:50 am to be one of the first vehicles on the Crater floor. The best times for game viewing are early morning and later afternoon. These are not only the best times for photographic light, but predators are more active at these times and there are fewer tourist vehicles to compete with. Overnight at Crater Sopa Lodge.
Depart from the Crater and arrive at Gibbs Farm well in time for a hot lunch at this active coffee plantation. After lunch you’ll visit Manyara National Park a relatively small park, only 130 square miles (80 square miles of which is the soda lake) however it offers many recorded bird species. The famous hippo pool at the soda lake has more than 38 bird species from this site alone including herons, storks, pelicans, teals, duck, plover, the African pied wagtail and of course, flamingos.
Manyara has a large number of hornbill species including the ground hornbill, the grey hornbill, the red-billed hornbill and Von Der Deckens hornbill. The area along the Msasa River is an excellent location for Hammerkop, pied kingfisher and crowned cranes. A lovely number of bee-eaters and sunbirds are also seen in the park. Return to Gibbs Farm for dinner. After dinner, enjoy the lovely gardens, as it’s the perfect place to wind down after your time in the bush. You might even want to book a wonderful massage to ease your muscles from the many days in the vehicle. Overnight at Gibbs Farm.
Manyara National Park
Today you’ll visit Manyara National Park, a relatively small park, only 130 square miles (80 square miles of which is the soda lake) however it offers many recorded bird species. The famous hippo pool at the soda lake has more than 38 bird species from this site alone including herons, storks, pelicans, teals, duck, plover, the African pied wagtail and of course, flamingos. Manyara has a large number of hornbill species including the ground hornbill, the grey hornbill, the red-billed hornbill and Von Der Deckens hornbill. The area along the Msasa River is an excellent location for Hammerkop, pied kingfisher and crowned cranes. A lovely number of bee-eaters and sunbirds are also seen in the park. Return for a hot lunch and enjoy the remainder of the afternoon relaxing. Dinner and overnight at Gibbs Farm.
Back to Arusha – Flight Out
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast, departing by 10 am for your drive back to Arusha. You will stop at the Cultural Heritage Center for shopping and a hot buffet lunch. You will continue to the African Tulip for a day-room so that you can shower and repack. You will have an early farewell dinner at the hotel and then an early evening transfer to Kilimanjaro International Airport for your return flight.
- All meals and accommodations from dinner upon arrival to dinner upon departure
- All park, camping and concession fees
- All game drives including private vehicle(s) and driver guide(s) with unlimited daily mileage
- All local travel including transfers and bush flight(s)
- All activities listed in the itinerary
- Beverages at all properties in the bush (with purchase of supplement)
- VIP arrival services, including the cost of the Tanzania visa and a private officer to assist you through Immigration
- Porterage at all accommodations
- Membership in AMREF (emergency medical evacuation to Nairobi Hospital)
- International air or travel insurance.
- Tips/gratuities for safari guide and accommodation staff.
- Items of a personal nature such as laundry, communication needs and souvenirs, etc.
- Any changes made to the program once in Tanzania.
- Any costs associated with flight delays or cancellations.
- Beverages at the African Tulip, Sametu, Crater Sopa/Lions Paw and Gibbs (unless you purchased the supplement for all Camps). This includes bottled water, soft drinks, juices, tea, coffee, local beers, house wines, specialty and non-specialty spirits.
- Spa treatments at Gibbs Farm.
Green Season 2015 -2016
|# of pax||Price pp 2015/16||Child Rate||Junior Rate
||# of cars
|Single Supplement fee||1,495||n/a must share||n/a must share|
|Child Definition||6-11||must share with two adults|
|Junior Definition||12-15||must share with two adults|
|Beverage Supplement p.p.||150.00|
- Tanzania Visa and VIP Arrival service through customs at Kilimanjaro Airport for quick entry.
- All meals and accommodations from dinner upon arrival to dinner upon departure. All park, camping and concession fees including double permits while staying at Lake Masek.
- All local travel including transfers on official start and departure dates and domestic flight.
- All game drives with private vehicles/guides and unlimited daily mileage.
- Beverages and snacks in the vehicle.
- Porterage at all accommodations.
- Membership in AMREF (emergency medical evacuation to Nairobi Hospital).
- Beverages at Lake Masek Tented Camp. This would include bottled water, soft drinks, juices, tea, coffee, local beers, house wines, specialty and non-specialty spirits.
- International air or travel insurance.
- Tips/gratuities for safari guide and accommodation staff.
- Items of a personal nature such as laundry, communication needs and souvenirs, etc.
- Any changes made to the program once in Tanzania.
- Any costs associated with flight delays or cancellations.
- Beverages at the African Tulip, Sametu, Crater Sopa/Lions Paw and Gibbs (unless requesting a beverage supplement at Unique Camps). This includes bottled water, soft drinks, juices, tea, coffee, local beers, house wines, specialty and non-specialty spirits.
- Spa treatments at Gibbs Farm.
Journey requires minimum walking since most activities are vehicle based. However participants must be in very good heath and reasonable physical condition. High heat and off road driving can present a challenge.
This safari guide is divided into two parts, for your convenience in planning. Part I contains important information you will need prior to departure. Part II contains information that will be helpful to you while you are on the safari. Please read all the information carefully. We think you will find the checklists extremely helpful as you organize your trip.
Finalize flight arrangements. Airline reservations should be made as early as possible to ensure seat availability and the best possible price.
Get a passport. If you do not already have a passport, you need to apply for one ASAP. (Please see more detailed information on documents on the next page). If you do already have one, make sure it will remain valid for at least six months after the date of your return from Tanzania.
Obtaining a Tanzanian visa. Tanzania requires a visa. Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC has arranged for a VIP services at the Arusha airport so that our visas are expedited at time of arrival. You DO NOT have to apply for a visa in the USA before your departure. You will receive a tourist visa that is good for single entry into the country. It is valid for a period of three to six months. We will obtain your visa upon your arrival at Kilimanjaro airport. The price for a visa is US$ 100.00 per person and it is paid in cash.
Take the necessary health precautions. Contact your local Travel Clinic to determine
the updated requirements for travel to Tanzania. You will also want to check your health
insurance coverage, since your provider may have restrictions about where you can receive your immunizations and medications. Your physician can be most helpful in deciding and prescribing any first aid and precautionary items you should take with you. If your health insurance does not cover international medical treatment, you need to secure additional medical coverage.
If you have a valid passport, make sure that it will remain valid for at least six months after the date of your return.
If you have changed your name, be sure that is reflected on your passport. You must always use the name as it appears on your passport for all applications, visas and identification.
If you have a passport that has expired, or one that will not remain valid for at least six months after the date of your return, you will need to renew it. That requires two passport photos, your latest passport, and payment for the renewal fee.
The information provided on health may sound ominous. It is not. You are under no serious health risk, especially if you take some simple precautions and receive individual advice/approval from your physician.
General Health Precautions for Travelers
Before you leave for an extended vacation, especially one to an international destination, you should consult your physician. Make the doctor’s appointment for as soon as possible and no less than 8 weeks before your departure. You will need some prescriptions, inoculations and perhaps some special advice that relates to your own physical condition. If you haven’t had a physical examination recently, you should definitely plan to get one. Discuss your itinerary and describe your planned activities with your doctor if you have any questions about your fitness.
It is important that your doctor have specific, current information about the health conditions in the country you will be visiting. This is why is it preferable to receive more detailed information from the Travel Clinics, as well as your immunization schedule. In addition to getting specific inoculations and drugs, it is a good idea to bring along some general medicines as well, which is best decided by your physician. We recommend putting together a small first aid kit containing some prescribed medications and some over-the-counter supplies. Some recommendations to discuss with your physician:
- a broad-spectrum antibiotic is advisable. Cipro is often the choice of many travelers. Be sure to know if any of your antibiotics will cause hypersensitivity to the sun, however. Talk to your doctor.
- pain reliever (just in case!)
- antihistamine, especially if you have specific allergies
- diarrhea medicine, both over the counter and prescription.
- allergy medication for rashes or itches
- insect repellent
Important If you have any medical condition that requires special care or medications, inform us so we can alert the driver-guides. Be sure to bring enough of the prescription medications that you are currently taking. When you pack, make certain that you have all your medications in your carry-on luggage. Never pack any of your medications in your checked luggage! Just in case luggage is lost. It is also a good idea to carry a written copy of the prescriptions for any medication you may need, giving its chemical name rather than a brand name. It is easy and very inexpensive to get medications in a city in Tanzania.
If you have any special condition or allergy that might require attention overseas, have your physician write a letter describing the nature of the condition and the treatment. Carry the letter with you. If you should happen to need medical care away from home, the temporary physician will be able to treat you more effectively.
HEALTH PRECAUTIONS FOR TANZANIA
You are under no serious health risk while traveling in East Africa, and by taking a few simple precautions, you should be as healthy as you are at home, perhaps, even more so.
For the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) go to:
Discuss with your doctor what is recommended there and discuss at least the following:
See your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.
- Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
- Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months, or be exposed through medical treatment. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11–12 years who did not receive the series as infants.
- Yellow fever. Previous Yellow fever shots are good for ten years.
- As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles, and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults.
- Typhoid fever. Since this vaccine only protects 50-80% of recipients, ask your doctor about this one.
When vaccines are required, you will need to have proof in the form of an international vaccination certificate, which will be provided by your doctor or clinic. Currently, none are required for Tanzania unless you enter from a Yellow Fever endemic zone (see the CDC site).
General advice for travelers to Malaria-endemic areas
All travelers to malaria areas of the world are advised to use an appropriate drug regimen and personal protection measures to prevent malaria. Travelers should be informed that regardless of methods employed, malaria still might be contracted. The areas of Tanzania you are visiting are not particularly highly infested, however, it certainly does exist. Malaria symptoms can develop as early as eight days after initial exposure in a malaria-infested area and as late as several months after departure from an area, after preventative medication has been completed. Travelers should understand that malaria can be treated effectively early in the course of the disease, but delay of therapy can have serious or even fatal consequences. Individuals who have symptoms of malaria should seek prompt evaluation as soon as possible.
There are three different medications that are currently being prescribed to prevent malaria. They are Larium (mefloquine), Doxycycline and Malarone (atovaquone/proguanil). Discuss these with your doctor to determine which one will be best for you. Keep in mind that there are advantages and disadvantages to each.
For example, some past clients taking Doxycycline have experienced sensitivity to sunlight with sometimes severe and painful consequences. If you use this drug, wear long sleeved shirts and a hat at all times.
Everyone agrees that the best way to avoid malaria is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes! The mosquito that carries malaria only feeds after dark (dusk to dawn), with 10 PM to 2 am being their most active time. Use insect repellent containing DEET at night for any parts of your body that are not covered by clothing or bedding.
Note: You will not be able to donate blood to the general population for at least 3 years after taking medication for malaria prevention. Please consider donating blood before your trip, if that is important to you.
The Centers for Disease Control website for travelers is www.cdc.gov/travel. The website also has a very good list of where to get yellow fever vaccinations.
It is a good idea to see your dentist a month or two before departure. A broken or lost filling can be most annoying or uncomfortable. You might also want to talk to your dentist about purchasing a dental emergency kit. These kits usually contain temporary fillings, cements for crowns or caps and some toothache medication. Better to be very safe than sorry.
Any expenses resulting from medical problems or emergencies are your own responsibility. Therefore, we suggest that you check with your insurance agent to make sure that your present health policies (medicine and hospital) cover you while traveling overseas. If they don’t you might want to take out a separate medical insurance policy that is especially designed for travelers. This is usually included in trip insurance policies.
EYE GLASSES AND CONTACT LENSES
If you wear eyeglasses, take an extra pair along the trip. If you wear contact lenses, you may want to take an extra pair or a back-up pair of regular glasses. Wearers of soft contact lenses that need daily care should not hesitate to bring them. If the lenses require treatment in an electric sterilizer, however, be sure that you bring plug adapters and a voltage transformer that will allow you to use the equipment on 220 volts. Please note that while we are camping, you will not be guaranteed access to electricity. In addition, some of the lodges turn off their generators during the late night hours to conserve energy. We have found that the dust on the roads usually does not bother soft lens wearers. However, hard lenses are more sensitive to the dust while traveling. In any event, bring along an ample supply of lens lubricant.
- Consult your physician for individual health considerations and prescriptions
- Consult a Travel Clinic or CDC for necessary and recommended inoculations
- Get a malaria preventive (Let the doctor know if you are or will be pregnant)
- Carry a letter from your physician if you have any medical conditions which may need treatment
- Carry all medications on the plane with you. Do not pack any medications
- Take out additional medical insurance (trip insurance) if your own policy does not cover you overseas
ITEMS TO TAKE
We can’t emphasize this enough. You will be surprised at how little you will need. A more complete list of what to pack is provided in a few pages. The weather can be variable, ranging from hot and dry (85-90 degrees) to quite cool in the evenings (55-70 degrees). If your trip is in January-February you will be there during the hottest time of year, but it can be cool, if not chilly in the evening. If you travel there in June or July you will be in Tanzania during their winter, which usually means dry and cooler, perhaps 70-85 degrees during the day and 50's in the evenings. Variations make it difficult to say for sure.
You will need to bring your passport (which also contains your health certificate and visa), and you may want to bring this travel guide to refer to. DO NOT put any important documents in your check-through luggage! Keep all documents in your carry-on luggage.
LUGGAGE AND PACKING
International flights allow 2 checked bags. Northwest/KLM allows 50 pounds per bag; however Check the airline’s website for current limits. Overweight penalties can be hefty, but you should never even come close. All of the luggage will need to be placed in our vehicles and hard-sided luggage is not only heavy, but does not easily conform to smaller spaces. However, hard-sided luggage does offer good protection to delicate or fragile items and, because of carry-on restrictions, it may be necessary to pack an extra camera body or certain lenses in your check-through bags.
Note for Photographers: If you are using film. Please, never put your film in your check-through bags.
Here is what many of us do when traveling to Tanzania. Bring one or two hard sided suitcases. Each person is allowed two check-through bags. In one or both, pack an empty duffle type bag to bring on safari with all your clothing, toiletries, etc. The hard suitcases can then be left at the lodge or hotel in Arusha while you are out on safari. At the end of the trip, back at the lodge or hotel, pack everything back into the hard suitcases. And remember, the best way to pack delicate items is with bubble pack. It’s light weight and offers excellent protection. Bring extra sheets to wrap and bring home any delicate purchased items like carvings.
Internal flights using smaller planes in Tanzania often have a stricter weight limit of 33 pounds for checked luggage. If you have any concerns, please contact us.
Now comes the tricky part for serious photographers. Restrictions have made it very difficult to travel with lots of camera equipment. Most airlines restrict passengers to ONE carry-on. Northwest Airlines says it will also allow special items such as laptops and “camera bags” to also be carried on, meaning that you can have two. However, KLM (Northwest’s partner), does not always honor that allowance. We have had instances of people leaving the U.S. with two carry-ons and then being forced to check one of them either in Amsterdam or at Kilimanjaro airport departing at the end of the trip. It can be disastrous for delicate cameras and lenses to be put in check-through without adequate protection.
What do you do?
Here are some strategies. First, remember that you can often get away with one carry-on that is a little overweight (weight limit currently is 40 pounds on Northwest/KLM) as opposed to having two bags. The best type of single carry-on is a backpack that meets the strict size requirements (45 linear inches) – but just. If you get one of those fancy backpacks with the neat dividers, strip out all the dividers – they take up too much space. Wrap camera bodies and lenses in bubble pack. Put film in ziploc bags. Pack the bag from the bottom up with heavier items at the bottom, more delicate stuff toward the top. Big lenses pack large end facing down with smaller items packed around it. If you have removable lens hoods, pack them in your check-through. The idea is to get as much vital equipment as possible into the bag. It may have the density of a black hole, but it works.
Wear a photo vest. It’s like having a second carry-on, but one that won’t be hassled over by airline people (“Hey, it’s my coat. I gotta stay warm, don’t I.”). You can stuff items, even smaller lenses, digital storage devices, and filters into the many pockets. Who cares if you look like the Pillsbury doughboy? It works.
BIG lenses are the biggest problem. If you already have one of the monster 600mm f/4 or 500mm f/4 lenses, you’ll have to deal with it. If you are contemplating a purchase, consider that a good choice might be a 400mm with a 1.4x and a 2x extender. Many of these extenders are of excellent quality and are small and compact and easy to carry.
Try to pack the big glass in your carry-on. Take off or reverse the lens hood. Because of the size you may have to pack some other lenses and maybe spare camera bodies in your check through bags. However it works out, try to have at least a basic shooting setup in you carry-on, along with film or digital storage devices.
If you are traveling as a couple, and one of you is not a serious photographer, you can divide equipment between the carry-ons that each of you bring.
You will want the carry-on bag in your possession at all times. In this bag you will carry medications and tickets, passport and camera gear. Again, DO NOT pack any film in your check-through luggage. The dimensions of the carry-on luggage should not exceed 21.5 inches in length, 15.5 inches in width and 6 inches in height and 40 pounds weight. Always check with your travel agent or airline before departure to learn about the most up to date information regarding check-through luggage and carry-on restrictions and fees.
Once again, travel light. There will be almost daily opportunity for clothes to be laundered and there is little to no opportunity or need for fashion. Casual wash and wear clothing is most appropriate. During the day while on safari, the best clothing is shorts or jeans. Lightweight cotton tops and T-shirts make up the usual clothing. Many people suggest wearing khaki or neutral color clothing, claiming that these colors least upset the animals and birds. This is, of course, nonsense (in the same category of foolishness as putting camouflage covering on lenses). The khaki color does hide the dirt better! You will also want to bring one sweater or sweatshirt. There is opportunity to purchase sweatshirts and T-shirts along the way – some of them quite nice and reasonably priced. Many women also like to bring one dress, sun dress or skirt for the few occasions we are dining in a nice lodge. After weeks of grunge, it is nice to feel a little more special. You should also pack a bathing suit.
Comfort is the key. Some people prefer sneakers, others sandals and others still prefer lightweight hiking shoes as the thick soles protect against ground heat and the ankle height keeps out dust. We don’t need to remind this group of people not to bring any of your high heels.
Do take along a hat for protection from the sun. Remember that you will be just south of the equator and the sun is quite intense. Many people prefer a soft cloth hat, since it can be folded and is less likely to blow off than a stiffer brimmed hat. Or you might prefer a scarf or bandanna.
CAMERAS AND FILM
If you are an old fashioned photographer bring plenty of film. You will have some opportunity to buy film in Tanzania but the price will be high and storage conditions uncertain. How much film you bring depends upon two things, how avid a photographer you are and whether you will be shooting prints or slides. If you are shooting slides, you may want to bracket your shots (varying exposure) and that will necessitate more film. Some people shoot as little as two rolls per day to as much as 20 or more rolls in one day. It all depends on what we encounter. As a general rule, you will want 80% of your film to be ISO 100, 10% 200. The remainder may be ISO 400 film.
Lenses. For most wildlife shots you will need a minimum of a 300mm lens and a 400mm is even better. You will also need to bring lots of extra batteries. A second camera body is always good insurance against camera malfunctions.
Video shooting. Many people nowadays bring video cameras. Be sure to bring at least two extra high capacity batteries for the video camera. One can be charging while you are shooting during the day. See below for information about charging batteries. Tape quantity: if you are shooting both stills and video, you may not need a lot of tape. Fortunately, however, mini-DV tapes are very small and lightweight; ten tapes should be sufficient if you do a lot of video during your stay. Incidentally, these tapes CAN be packed in your check-through baggage. High intensity X-rays do not harm magnetic media.
Digital shooters. You should bring at least two extra sets of batteries for everything. You will have re-charging capabilities at the lodges (220 volts) and at our Serengeti tented camp (a generator, also 220 volts). At camp we have one of our staff members take care of charging batteries during the day when we are out in the field so by rotating with spare sets you should have enough battery capacity during the day and freshly recharged batteries for the next day. Occasionally we may run the generator in early evening after we return from game drives, BUT WE DO NOT LIKE TO RUN THE GENERATOR FOR VERY LONG AT NIGHT, FOR OBVIOUS REASONS. WE WILL NOT RUN THE GENERATOR AFTER DINNER OR DURING SLEEPING HOURS.
The current in East Africa is 220 volts, 50 cycles, so if you have American electrical equipment you want to use (battery chargers, razor, hair dryer), be sure your equipment can be switched to 220 volts, or take along a transformer. Many electrical appliances, including battery chargers, now available in the US operate on dual voltage. In this case, you will not need a transformer. However, in either event, you will need an assortment of adapters to place onto your appliance plugs so that they will fit into the electrical sockets. You can purchase these adapters at any travel store or Radio Shack. Most common in Tanzania is the large plug with flat spades in a triangular pattern (see illustration).
ITEMS TO TAKE ON SAFARI
- small but powerful flashlight
- binoculars for game viewing
- hat or scarf
- bandanna which can be used as a dust mask
- suntan lotion, sunscreen and insect repellent
- premoistened face towels
- facial tissues
- transformer and/or adapter plugs
- spare pair of prescription glasses, contact lenses
- camera, lenses, film, digital storage, video tape, extra batteries
- bathing suit
- reading material (driver guides carry a nice selection of mammal/ bird guides, but you may want to carry your own).
- 2 pairs of shoes (sneakers and sandals)
- journal or notebook for recording your daily observations
- basic first aid kit including Band-Aids, antiseptic ointments, headaches, stomachache medications, etc)
- prescription medications
- 2-3 pairs of shorts
- 1-3 pairs of long pants
- 4-6 T-shirts
- 1-2 long sleeve shirts
- 1 sweater or sweat shirt
- 1 light weight jacket if you usually feel cold
- underwear (women; be sure to pack a few sport bras, the roads get very bumpy)
- 1 dress or skirt
- 1 pair of pajamas
- camera vest or jacket
- Ziploc bags, varying sizes; jumbo size to put cameras in to protect against dust, rain.
- Kitchen size white trash bags, 2 or 3, for laundry bags.
- Large trash bags, 2 or 3, to slip over camera bags or other items to keep out dust on the road.
NOTE: These items must be packed in your carry-on luggage:
- passport, tickets and any travel guides you want to bring
- all medications and first aid and toiletries
- camera, lenses, film, tapes, some batteries
- extra glasses or contact lenses
- anything else of value to you!
The basic unit of currency is the shilling. In September 2006, one American dollar equaled 1272 Tanzanian shillings. Do you need to change money when you arrive in Tanzania? You can if you wish, but it is not really necessary. Most Tanzanians will accept American dollars and in fact, prefer them. The only exception is when we visit a Maasai boma. Here it is sometimes necessary to have Tanzania shillings because the Maasai live in more remote areas and don’t have easy access to a bank where US dollars can be exchanged. About $50-$75 in shillings should be enough. You should be able to exchange money at the lodges (but not at camp) and at the airport in Arusha. And remember, you will have a big shopping op at Cultural Heritage at the end of the trip when we return to Arusha the last day. Here you can buy Maasai necklaces, bracelets, even a spear, as well as other great African items. And you can use credit cards! Also, Cultural Heritage will even honor personal checks from our groups.
Travelers checks may be convenient, but they are difficult to use in many places and many merchants charge an extra fee. Also, when you use travelers checks merchants will insist that you put on the back of every one your name, address, phone number and passport number. Don to use travelers checks to tip your guides or hotel staff. It is a real hassle for them to cash travelers checks. In general, we recommend that you not bring traveler’s checks.
Never,leave any money in your rooms, vehicles or luggage at any time. Over the years we have had no problems with theft of any kind, but it is best not to make it easy or tempting. The economy has improved dramatically over the past ten years, but it is still a poor country.
Credit cards are accepted in Tanzania and it is a good idea to bring one or more. Visa, Mastercard and American Express are accepted in most places.
HOW MUCH MONEY WILL YOU NEED?
The cost of almost everything is included in the safari price. You will need extra money to pay for any laundry at the lodges, personal items, soft drinks or alcohol in camp or the lodges, tips for porters and the tips for your driver-guides and camp staff (see section on Tipping below) at the end of the trip. At the lodge at Ngorongoro Crater you can use credit cards for bar bills and laundry and any purchases in the shop. Incidentally, each room has sealed bottled water supplied each day. You can purchase additional bottled water if you need it. At our Serengeti camp it is nice to relax around the campfire each evening with a beer or glass of wine or another drink of your choice. An honor system signup sheet is kept for drinks and here you do have to pay cash at the end to settle your bar bill. (You can mix leftover shillings with US dollars if you like.) Beer (Tanzania beer is very good) is $3, a glass of wine $4 (South African, and also very good). A bottle of wine for dinner runs between $15 and $20 for a good quality South African vintage.
Additional cash. During your international traveling it is good to have $100 to $200 in cash with you for any contingencies.
Traveling with cash. As mentioned above, travelers checks are sometimes more of a hassle than they are worth. Which means you’ll be carrying cash and credit cards. To be as secure as possible, do this: divide you cash between pockets. Keeping it all in a wallet is not a good idea because if the wallet is stolen, so is all your cash. Same thing for credit cards – divide your cards between pockets or places you can carry them. Some people use the flat purse-like passport carriers around their neck and slipped down and inside a shirt front. Good idea, but still keep some money and credit cards elsewhere. In general, you won’t be in large cities or towns where pickpockets are active.
Bills. Carry $40 to $50 in one dollar bills. You can use these as tips and for other miscellaneous things. Do not carry bills larger than $20. You may have a very hard time getting large denominations changed. Make sure the bills you carry are not ripped or torn or worn or marked up in any way. Otherwise they won’t be accepted. Also, make sure the bills are the very latest currency. Older ten and twenty dollar bills are often rejected. When making purchases, don’t pull out a big wad of money. If possible, have a small amount of money in one particular pocket available for small purchases. Keep your big bills hidden elsewhere. Again, these are common sense things that apply no matter where you travel. And again, there have been almost no problems in past years of travel in Tanzania.
When you arrive at lodges there will be porters to carry your bags to your room. A recommended tip is $1 per bag or per 2 bags, at your discretion. This can be in U.S. dollars. Sometimes it’s nice to leave a tip for the dining room staff at the lodges. One dollar from each person, left when you leave the table, is sufficient.
We recommend planning to tip your driver guides $12 - $15 (or more, if you wish) per day that they are with you. This is not each driver but, rather, we pool this and present it to the drivers collectively so they can split it among themselves. On a normal trip itinerary your drivers will be with you for a total of 11 days. Therefore each person would contribute $110 to $132 (or more, if you wish) and this will be pooled to present to the drivers at or near the end of the trip (usually our last night). If you have a small private group, you might want to consider a larger tip. You will see that the quality of your safari depends almost entirely on their ability to spot wildlife, to know the more unusual areas to visit and to cater to your individual needs and interests. They are among the very best driver guides in all of East Africa.
We recommend tipping the camp staff $12 or more per day per client for the days in camp (usually 6 to 7 days). Again, this is pooled and presented to the camp staff our last morning in camp before departing.
As you will see, all of these people work very hard to make your safari the best possible experience for you.
HEALTH, BAGGAGE, AND TRIP CANCELLATION
Should it become necessary for you to cancel your trip before departure or to discontinue your trip once it has begun, you will inevitably lose a significant portion of your investment. We strongly recommend that you take out trip cancellation insurance to protect yourself. These companies offer cancellation, baggage insurance in the event of lost or delayed baggage and additional health insurance overseas. Two we can recommend are: Travel Guard (www.travelguard.com) and Access America (www.accessamerica.com)
There is an excellent company called Traveler’s Emergency Network that provides emergency evacuation back to the US from anywhere in the world. The telephone number is 1-800-275-4836. Their website is www.tenweb.com
TANZANIA – THE COUNTRY AND THE PEOPLE
Tanzania has been recognized as unique among African nations in its tolerance for tribal, religious and racial differences. There are over 132 distinct tribes in Tanzania and they are considered of equal value. Tanzanians have learned the value of respecting differences and living in peace. It is not to say that all tribes have affection for one another, but they have peacefully accepted these differences. Most Tanzanians have a hard time understanding the violence among other tribes on the African continent. You will be immediately impressed with the hospitality, warmth and interest the Tanzanian people display towards you. One client told me “Tanzania is the one third-world country I would visit over and over again. It was truly the most friendly place I have ever visited.”
Historically, the country achieved its independence in 1961, as part of the United Nations de-colonization initiative. Then known as Tanganyika, the country had been a German protectorate from 1884 until 1917 when the German colony was given to the British at the end of World War I. While the English settled and developed Tanzania, it was never on the scale of their activities or interest in Kenya. The advantage to this was that the Tanzanian people also did not receive the same psychological and cultural impact on their culture as did the Kenyans.
Upon achieving independence as Tanganyika in 1961, the first president, Julius Nyerere, established the country as a socialist economy. In 1964, the island of Zanzibar joined the mainland and the country officially became known as Tanzania. The union of the mainland and Zanzibar is a unique arrangement and leaves most Tanzanians with definite opinions about how the two governments should interact.
Nyerere had a profound and very positive impact on the psychology and founding philosophy of Tanzania. He made it very clear that no matter what your religion, tribe, race or country of origin, first and foremost the citizens of this country were “Tanzanian”. This has created a sense of unity that is the catalyst for tribal harmony that is unique on the continent. Nyerere’s philosophy was called “Ujamaa” or family. He saw the nation as an extended family, sharing common African values and working together towards self-reliance. With over 132 tribes, the priority must be the nation and working together to build its future. Nyerere also created a vast and effective system of public education, with education seen as the most important factor in progressing the country.
Unfortunately, Nyerere’s economic policies were not as successful as his founding philosophy. His acceptance of socialism gained him aid from countries such as the Soviet Union, China, and the Scandinavian countries, but did nothing to create international investment in Tanzania. The second president of Tanzania, Ali Hasan Mwinyi, spearheaded economic reform, privatizing many industries and striving for international investment. While Tanzania is a very poor country, it has made remarkable progress in its democracy, economy and dedication to conservation and tourism. It is a politically stable country with incredible growth and hospitality.
One other historical event of significance in Tanzania, was the war with Uganda in 1978. Idi Amin had announced his “invasion” of Tanzania and Nyerere responded by sending troops into Uganda to stop Amin’s violence and destruction. Julius Nyerere considered Idi Amin an embarrassment and shame to all Africans. Although successful in ousting Idi Amin, Tanzania suffered enormous losses. The cost of war for a newly developing country was devastating, destroying the nation's high quality medical system and devastating the economy. It was at this point that education, once considered strength in Nyerere’s Tanzania, began to suffer, as there were limited resources to devote to children. The sad irony in winning the war was that the Tanzania soldiers brought back what has become the worst epidemic in Africa, the HIV virus. While Tanzania took the initiative to stop the evil of Idi Amin, none of the industrialized countries responded to the resulting needs of this third world country. There was no aid, no development or assistance to help rebuild the devastated country.
One of the recurrent problems of travel is losing things and having things stolen. Most people simply are not used to a nomadic way of life and don’t keep track of their personal possessions very well while on the move. Remember also that travelers are usually quite conspicuous, and thieves thrive on carelessness. Here are some important points to keep in mind:
- Avoid wearing flashy items like jewelry and fancy clothes in public. It is best to leave your jewelry home.
- You may be particularly vulnerable while standing in lines, in baggage-claim areas, and in crowded places. Watch all your bags constantly.
- Do not talk to strangers on the street. Don’t listen to any pleas for help or any other line that you may be given. Con artists of all sorts abound, so just ignore them and continue on your way. They have very convincing stories and are unbelievably good. If someone persists, go into a shop or other public place and report it to someone there.
- Always keep all of your important items in a safe place. You must keep your passport and money on your person! This is one reason why camera vests are so handy; you have many pockets easily available to hold your valuables. Keep your carry-on bags with you at all times while you are traveling. Don’t leave money in your hotel room. Never leave a purse or camera bag unattended.
- Many of us carry camera equipment of value approaching the gross national product of some countries. Be assured that, so far, in Tanzania there is not a black market in stolen camera gear. You may safely leave cameras and lenses in your room at the lodges and in your tents at our Serengeti camp.
It is a sad but true aspect of air travel that bags get delayed, misplaced and even lost. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen and there is not much that we can do about it. The hopeful note is that the odds of it happening to you are thousands to one. But if it does happen,
DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES LET IT SPOIL YOUR TRIP! Take it on the chin, keep smiling and think of all the stories you can entertain your friends at home with. We will all chip in and find a way to get you the things you need.
This would be a good time to remember the wonderful Swahili phrase Hakuna Matata (No problem!) Actually, the correct Swahili is Hakuna shida or hamna shida. This truly means no problems, while Hakuna Matata means no argument. Remember to pronounce the “I” as an “e” sound.
To tide you over, purchase some essentials and keep your receipts; the airline and your trip insurance should reimburse you. Unique will do everything possible to locate your luggage and transport it to you in the bush.
TRAVEL FATIGUE AND JET LAG
According to an old expression, getting there is half the fun. A lengthy flight, however, can be downright exhausting. The sheer fatigue of air travel, coupled with jet lag can precondition you for problems when you arrive.
Travel fatigue is primarily caused by lack of sleep. Airplane seats become uncomfortable after a few hours and your feet may swell during prolonged sitting. The in-flight routine of safety briefings, passing out of headsets and drinks, meal service, tray collection, miscellaneous announcements, duty-free shopping and movies often seem like a three-ring circus designed to keep you awake. Other factors can also cause fatigue. Cabins are pressurized at 5000 feet, which means that those who live at sea level may experience some oxygen deprivation. And the bone-dry air can cause a raw throat and dehydration.
Air travel experts and experienced travelers have techniques for combating travel fatigue. Some things you should do to reduce travel fatigue are:
- Get plenty of rest the day before you leave
- Avoid alcohol during the flight, but do drink plenty of other liquids. According to some experts, dehydration is the most debilitating part of air travel. You should drink at least 8 ounces of fluid every hour.
- Eat lightly during the flight.
- Exercise. Although the cabin crew may disapprove if you jog around the plane, you can get up and stretch and walk about. There are also simple exercises that will relax your muscles and circulate your blood.
- Stretch out if there are some unoccupied seats. Some people recommend taking off your shoes; others say be careful because you may not be able to get them back on. Fluid will settle in your feet and sometimes keeping your shoes on keeps the fluid out. Note: there are special stockings that you can wear and these seem to help prevent swollen feet and ankles.
When you travel across time zones, your circadian rhythms are thrown off schedule. For instance, the hands on your watch tell you it’s time to wake up, while your body convincingly argues it is time to sleep. Coupled with general travel fatigue, jet lag can cause impaired body and mental functions. Chief among the symptoms are restlessness and fatigue, digestive problems, altered kidney and bowel functioning, pronounced reaction to alcohol, cloudy vision and short-term memory loss.
Several factors can influence the seriousness of jet lag: the number of time zones crossed, the length of the flight, whether there is a stopover during the journey, and the departure and arrival times. In addition, traveling from east to west seems to be more difficult than traveling from west to east.
There are a number of things you can do to alleviate jet lag. First, follow the suggestions given above to combat general travel fatigue; rest before the flight, exercise, drink plenty of liquids and so on. Second, in preparation for your journey, you can consciously adjust your diet and sleeping patterns to put you more in sync with your destination’s time frame. We generally find that jet lag is not a big problem going to Africa, perhaps because of the excitement. You usually will find that you “crash” on the second day in Africa, sleep really well and then are ready to go. The jet lag on the return flight often is more pronounced.
Stomach and intestinal upsets are common traveler’s complaints. They range from mild discomfort to diarrhea and vomiting. The vast majority are harmless and quickly pass. Some digestive upset is probably inevitable for most people. Readjustment of the body clock and exposure to new flora and minerals in the water cause part of it. Overindulgence, a rich diet and changed eating and drinking habits are responsible for much of it as well.
FOOD AND WATER IN EAST AFRICA
Good sanitation, fresh foods and good food preparation techniques keep health problems on safari minimal in East Africa. At the lodges where we stay there is generally no need to avoid raw vegetables, seafood, dairy products or other foods. However, everyone may have his or her own opinions about what to avoid. Some of you may not want to eat any raw vegetables, others may not trust that all dairy products are pasteurized and may want to avoid them. In recent years we have had very few, if any, problems that might be associated with food preparation at the lodges or at camps. This includes the eating of salads, but again if you have a sensitive system, you may want to avoid them. At our Serengeti camp they take great care in food preparation. Salads are washed with only bottled water and other foods are handled carefully. A generator provides power for refrigeration (including keeping our beer cold!).
Water is another matter. You should not drink anything other than bottled water while you are in Tanzania. Certain lodges provide filtered or boiled water carafes in the rooms, but you may want to opt for bottled water. The water may be safe, but the different mineral content can still upset your stomach. You should not brush your teeth with water from the tap. Unique Safaris will provide you with bottled water at all times at camp and in vehicles. You will be provided with one bottle of water each day for your use at camp. Additional water is available on the game drives, along with bottled soft drinks. You may purchase bottled water at other lodges, though it is usually supplied in each room.
While many people are careful about not drinking tap water or brushing teeth in tap water, it is easy to forget about showering. The best rule is don’t sing in the shower! Keep your mouth shut and don’t let any water dribble into your mouth.
Diarrhea is a common malady among travelers anywhere. When it occurs, there are basically two things you can do, stop it with drugs or let it run its course. A common over-the-counter drug is Immodium. Your physician may prescribe Lomotil for your trip, or another prescription for a bacterial diarrhea. Some physicians argue that diarrhea is nature’s way of ridding the system of harmful poisons and therefore shouldn’t be stopped prematurely. You should consult your physician on whether, and under what conditions you should take diarrhea medicine.
Bring with you a ziploc bag with powdered Gatorade, enough for at least two large glasses (double bag the powder to keep it from spilling). Diarrhea causes severe dehydration and loss of electrolytes. Gatorade can help replace the electrolytes and help you bounce back quicker.
Traveling increases the risk of contracting sniffles, throat infections and other such maladies. There’s not much to be done except to take something along for the symptoms. Many people strongly recommend taking vitamin supplements to increase the effectiveness of your immune system. A good multi-vitamin or extra strength vitamin C may be especially helpful.
Smoking is not allowed in any of the vehicles, or the tents.
Don’t underestimate the tropical sun on the equator, and especially when you’ve just come from winter. It feels good, but its effects quickly accumulate. Sunburn and sun poisoning can result and both can cause actual illness. Wear a hat. Use sun lotion and sun block.
The fear of bugs and insects is much greater than the reality of what you will encounter. Most people express great concern about what kinds of creepy crawlies they may find in Africa, but are frequently surprised at how few bugs there are. Here are the three most common misconceptions:
- Mosquitoes These little pests are not as bothersome as they are in the American woods! The African mosquito is active at night and not during the daytime, appearing at dawn and dusk and most active between 10 pm to 2 am. The female anopheles mosquito carries the malaria parasite and can be protected against by wearing long sleeves and pants and using insect repellent. And be aware that the buzz of African mosquitoes is not as loud as they are in North America – so you may not be aware of their presence.
- Flies Flies can be more of a nuisance, especially when you are near the great herds. Flies are attracted to the droppings of the herd animals, so you don’t get one without the other. These are not biting flies, but they can be annoying. Tsetse flies are found in the wooded areas and are more annoying, though you won’t encounter many. Their bite is painful and is comparable to a deer fly bite. There is no insect repellent that is effective against the tsetse, but wear long sleeves and pants and pull your socks over your trousers to prevent them from biting your ankles. Pure citronella oil is sometimes effective and can be ordered by your pharmacy. And in case you wondered, in the regions where we will be traveling there have been no cases reported of sleeping sickness (trypanosomiasis) from tsetse fly bites.
- Snakes Snakes are common throughout Africa, but are difficult to encounter. There are more people who want to see snakes, but they are not easy to find. Snakes will do everything possible to stay away from people and are not drawn to your rooms or tents. The people who are at risk are indigenous people who must walk through high grass and are often barefoot.
When you are camping, remember to keep your tents closed to reduce your risk of bugs flying into your tent. Also keep your luggage closed in your tents. You don’t want to find an unwelcomed hitchhiker when you get home.
SAFETY AND ACCIDENTS
East Africa is a safe place, but you do need to be careful, as you are in traveling anywhere. When in a city, take care to walk in the company of another person and don’t stop to talk to strangers on the sidewalk. It is also advisable not to wear jewelry in public or display other valuable items that are liable to attract attention. Keep your wallet and passport safe from pickpockets. You should not be afraid to explore, but use good sense and caution about exploring alone.
It is true that most accidents occur in the home, where we spend most of our time. But traveling away from home can certainly increase your risk of accidents as well. When traveling, you are in new, unfamiliar territory. And you are often distracted, enthusiastic, or tired enough to make mistakes and forget the little hazards around you. Please take care. For example, watch your fingers when the vehicle doors are being closed; go slowly when entering or leaving a vehicle (don’t bump your head or lose your footing); watch your footing when walking on rough ground where there may be rocks or holes; take special care when crossing streets; brace yourself when the vehicle is going over bumpy roads (which is much of the time); watch out for branches in the face when standing in the open roof hatch. In fact, if you do stand up in the open roof hatch (it is fun and it helps in spotting game) be especially careful – hold on to the sides with both hands and watch out for branches. When driving off road in Serengeti, it is not advisable to stand up in the open roof hatch. The ground may look smooth, but more than once a vehicle has stopped abruptly when a wheel dropped into a hidden aardvark hole. Also, don’t feed monkeys or baboons. They’re cute, but if you give them food, they will want more. When they don’t get it, they get frustrated and nasty. What might be an insignificant accident at home, where medical attention can be immediate, can turn into a very unpleasant and uncomfortable situation while you are traveling.
EMERGENCY MEDICAL CARE
Should you become seriously ill, it might become necessary to leave the tour and receive medical care in a hospital or fly home. These situations are extremely rare, but you should feel assured that everything will be done to get you the care you need. Medical evacuation may require extra expenses. Again, refer to your trip insurance policy.
Some diseases may not manifest themselves immediately. If you become ill after returning home, be sure to tell your doctor where you have traveled. Most people who acquire viral, bacterial or parasitic infections abroad become ill within six weeks after returning home. However, some diseases may not manifest immediately (malaria may not cause symptoms for as long as six months to a year after returning). Always advise a physician where you have traveled within the past 12 months.
MISCELLANEOUS TRAVEL ADVICE
Getting to know your driver guides
The pace of the trip is not rushed, but the days are full and active. We will frequently rise at dawn or pre-dawn so that we can be out scouting for animals by dawn. Animals are the most active pre-dawn and early morning, before the heat of the day. The light for photography is also much more interesting in the early day and late afternoon. You will see that we will usually have a much earlier start than most other tourists. Do not feel obliged to go along with the rest of the group on a particular game drive if you would prefer to rest or stay at the lodge or camp. In short, adjust to your own pace; you have paid a lot of money to be here and you should do what you want.
This is primarily a trip for animal lovers, photographers and very patient people. Unlike most tourist groups, we will not run from animal to animal, but rather will take our time to find interesting interactions and stay with them for as long as we desire. The true beauty of watching wildlife in Africa is in the complexity of interactions and what each situation creates for other animals and birds. Remember that game viewing is a cooperative event, not a competitive arena. If one vehicle finds something interesting, we attempt to alert the others in our group and share the interesting sights.
There are certain guidelines for etiquette to be aware of. Most people taking photos are using long telephoto lenses that are very sensitive to movement. If you are going to move inside the vehicle, it is best to state “moving” before you do so. That way, if someone is getting ready to take a picture they will have the time to ask you to wait a moment before you move. Conversely, if you know you are getting ready to take the picture, state “shooting” to alert people not to move in the vehicle.
For photographers, it is important to be aware of what everyone else in your vehicle is doing. For still photographers, be aware that if someone is shooting video, you may need to be still and not move for several seconds. When in doubt if someone is shooting, ask. The most important thing to keep in mind is to be relaxed about your photography so it does not affect the rest of the group that may just want to enjoy the outing and view wildlife. We are not on a photo safari. This is Friends and Family trip and we want to return to USA as friends and family.
The drivers will frequently remind you to be very quiet around some animals or situations. In fact, when around any animals please keep a low voice or whisper. Sometimes the ambient sounds themselves are fascinating. Please be aware that some animals are disturbed by the sound of voices and they may either run, or you may ruin the picture for someone else. Sudden movement can have the same effect, so if you encounter a shy animal, move slowly as you set up your camera. This is your safari; feel free to ask the drivers to stop for anything interesting. “Simama” is the Swahili for stop (although all our driver guides are English speaking).
Although the driver guides make themselves available to your every need, remember that their days are very full. They do need some time to themselves to recuperate from us!
Many people express interest in having their driver guides join them for meals at the lodges. The guides are provided meals by the lodges in the drivers’ quarters. If you would like them to join you, the cost of the meal needs to be covered by the clients. For this reason, the drivers will never invite themselves to a meal. You would need to invite them and offer to pay for the meal. At camp, things are different. Often at dinner one or more of the driver guides will join us, usually rotating each evening. And the last dinner in camp is very special, so all of them will be with us then.
Driver guides may appear shy and quiet at first. Part of this is their culture to be respectful and not to intrude on you. However, if you ask them questions, they will understand that you do enjoy talking with them. Our driver guides enjoy talking about many aspects of life in Tanzania, so please feel free to ask questions. However, remember it is difficult to look for animals and talk at the same time. Allow the driver time to find the most interesting animals for you.
All of our vehicles are equipped with long distance radios. The radios are used both for communication between driver guides and with the office in Arusha. You will be provided with information about emergency communication between the United States and Tanzania and if there are messages for you, the office will contact the driver guides by radio and read the communication to you. Conversely, if you need to communicate back to the States while you are in the bush, you can write out a message and the driver guide will read it to Arusha who will then fax or email the communication on your behalf. Both faxes and emails are charged in Tanzania, so you will be asked to pay for any mail you are sending back to the States.
If you need to call the States personally, we recommend that you use a phone in one of the lodges and pay for the call with your credit card. Pre-paid phone cards do not work in Tanzania.
Remember that Tanzania is 8 hours ahead of Central Standard Time during daylight savings and 9 hours ahead in the winter months. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The best emergency contact, for people in the US trying to reach you, is Meg Katzman: 612-201-4461 (mobile) or 651-405-6683 (evenings and weekends). She is in frequent contact with Arusha.
INTERACTING WITH LOCAL PEOPLE
In general, speak with your driver guide for advice about interacting with local people. Unique Safaris has a strong commitment to supporting indigenous people and the programs and services being developed to help communities. Some people will welcome your curiosity and interest and others will resent it or ask for money. You should not take pictures of people without asking your driver for his advice. Your driver guide knows a great deal about the various tribes, their customs and traditions. We welcome the opportunity to teach you about the culture, so please do ask. The driver guides are also aware of every possible “trick” that might be played on you in an effort to get money or gifts, so please use them as a resource.
Many clients want to give something away, especially to children. Please be very cautious. Tanzanians are proud of their country and do not wish to encourage begging. What is well meaning on your part can produce arguments and physical fights after you leave when children or adults fight for what you are giving away.
Gifts such as pens, paper, school supplies or clothes are distributed to a headmaster or village elder for distribution in an equitable manner. If you are visiting a particular school, community or service program, we will inform you in advance of needed supplies.
First time visitors often ask if they should bring T-shirts to trade for craft items. Do not expect someone who has worked many hours on a fine carving or other work of art to trade it for a T-shirt. In fact, they may be better dressed than you are and the T-shirt is a mere trinket to them. It’s fine to give away T-shirts as gifts, but don’t expect to use them as trading items. Pens also make fine gifts, especially for children.
Classic Tanzania Migration Safari