The Snows of Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)

Jambo! Another extended trip – this time on the trails of Grzimek and Hemingway into Tanzania. The country offers a huge variety, with pristine white beaches in Zanzibar, famous mount Kilimanjaro, and the untamed wilds of the Serengeti and the many other National Parks. Tanzania is amongst the finest Safari locations in the world and one of the very few where you can still find all of the big 5 and see the great migration of millions of animals.

I have created a 90 second teaser video to summarize the trip highlights. Enjoy!

Trip Details:
Trip duration: 9 days
Vacation days required: 5 days
Trip cost: 270€ / p.P. / day (high) (all in, all tips, drinks, taxis etc. included)

Day 0+1: Bumby Arrival
Day 2: Zanzibar
Day 3: Arusha
Day 4: Tarangire National Park
Day 5: Into the Serengeti
Day 6: Masai Mara and Northern Serengeti – Great Migration
Day 7: Ngorongoro Crater
Day 8: Return to Arusha and departure next morning

Day 1: Flight troubles

The standard approach to a safari to Tanzania is to go 9-10 days for safari and then complement with a 3-4 day stay on Zanzibar before returning home. Zanzibar is a beautiful island just off the coast, famous for its historic city Stone Town (center for spice trade) and the white sand beaches and turquoise waters. The cost of a Tanzania trip is high. So flights and the stay on Zanzibar should be booked separately of the safari tours as it is easy to do and cheaper. We also decided to book it the other way around, first visiting Zanzibar and then onwards to Arusha near Mount Kilimanjaro. This makes the flight tickets much cheaper, as demand is lower in this order.

Unfortunately, our trip started badly, with 12h+ delay on Turkish Airlines. So we got stuck in Istanbul as we missed our connection. Turkish Airlines turned out to be a really shitty airline, they did not support any of the stranded passengers, treated all of us rudely, and provided no information. As we were originally scheduled to arrive early morning, we had to cancel all bookings and reservations for the entire day. Thankfully, after I fought with the staff for two hours, we got rebooked via Doha and continued with Oman Air, which was much better quality. Turkish Airlines: [not recommended].

I think most important is to stay positive in a negative situation and so we made the best of it. I asked the restaurant to pick us up directly from the airport and take us straight for dinner. Since we had only hand lugagge, this was an easy thing to do. So right after we touched down, the restaurant driver picked us up and even did a quick stop for us to see one of the famous beaches nearby (Paje).

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Then off to the restaurant “The Rock“. A tiny restaurant in the middle of the ocean! Check it out:

We even got the transfers free of charge and we responded in kind by ordering the giant seafood plate and giving a big tip.

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And we got to enjoy a nice sunset view from the restaurant.

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After the ferryman brought us back (you can only walk across in low tide), we had a long evening drive to our hotel, which is located in the northern part of the island, and then went straight to bed.

Day 2: Zanzibar

Since our first day was gone, we got up quite early to make up for some of the lost time. But all bad memories were wiped out by our breakfast view:

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Still, the delay meant diving was no longer an option, as we did not have enough time on the ground (you cannot dive shortly before/after a flight or risk pressure problems). So I chartered a small boat with the help of the hotel and off we went towards Mnemba Island for snorkeling. On the way across the ocean we encountered a few boats and the captains yelled: Jump Jump! This was right in open water, but we tied up the boats and jumped. Dolphins!

Normally you do not find them in the North, but rather off the Southern peninsula, near Kizimkazi. Which is like 2hrs (1-way) from our hotel and the way it is done there is questionable. So we hadn’t even considered that. But here they were. We got so lucky. After this we drove onwards towards Mnemba. The island is private property (luxury resort), but snorkelers are tolerated nearby. I got into trouble with island security for flying my drone, but luckily was able to talk my way out of that. So I hope you like the pictures, they were hard work:

After almost crashing my drone (i.e. being stupid and trying to land on a moving boat in strong wind) we first went to two different snorkling spots and then to the nearby shallow water beach. Fantastic:

My girlfriend asked me to take a picture with her cellphone and I dropped it in the ocean. The salt water made quick work of it and it did one last sad beep and died. Things like this just happen (especially on vacation and especially to me) so we both have very cheap, simple phones and all stuff backed-up. Imagine you are one of those “I must have the newest 1000€ iphone X++ to use WhatsApp” types and this happens. Vacation would be ruined. She was totally cool about it, hogged my tablet instead for the rest of the vacation, and I ordered her a new phone once we got back to the hotel bar. Since there was almost never any stable wifi/network on the entire trip, we hardly ever touched our phones anyway.

The boat tour and snorkling had been so amazing that we were nonetheless in high spirits. So after a cocktail at the bar, we went off for Kite Surfing. We were both out on (or mostly in) the ocean – so no pictures. But great fun and the Eastern beaches have strong solid onshore winds, so almost ideal! Once we got back, we both freshened up and went for a walk along the beach.

With evening approaching we jumped into a cab towards Ningwe Beach. This is the northernmost tip of Zanzibar and the number one spot for sunset views. And it didn’t disappoint:

The Dhow is the traditional boat of fishermen and you can also take sunset tours on them. But I rather prefer having them as picture motifs instead. These are small ones, but I still like these two shots:

After dinner (and maybe a few too many drinks) it was time to head back and get a good rest after this long and eventful day.

Zanzibar is a must-do [recommendation] when in Tanzania. It’s ideal for (kite) surfing and snorkling/diving. The strong tide limits opportunity for ocean swimming to specific times of day though. I really enjoyed it and wished we’d had more time here.

Day 3: Arusha

The next morning we flew across to Arusha. There are two airports near Arusha, which is one of the biggest cities. Kilimanjaro Airport, the international one, and Arusha airport, for small domestic planes. We landed at the local airport as this was our plane:

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On a clear day, you can see both Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro, but the giants were shy and hiding behind dense clouds. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and famous backdrop to Hemingway’s novel, so I was hoping to catch a glimpse. Hemingway is one of my favorite writers. I do not share his passion for drinking, hunting or bullfighting. But he has truly lived life to the fullest, seen the world, and experienced all the things he wrote about first hand. His writing is elegant and he can express the most powerful and complex meaning with only a few short words. ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro” is the title of one of his stories and inspired by his time here in Africa. We had booked a night in Arusha to do a bit of city sightseeing. Arusha – in contrast to strictly Muslim Zanzibar – is mixed Christian and Muslim. It is a bustling economic center, mostly for agriculture trade and Tanzanite mining. Tanzanite is a rare blue gem, found only in this area. However, after all that action the two days before, and since weather was just so-so, we instead did a chill day and relaxed before the Safari departure the next morning. We also spoke to several other travelers and even our local guides confirmed: not much to see here and city exploring for Arusha [not recommended].

Day 4: Tarangire

The first day of Safari. Safari actually just means “journey” in swaheli. I had booked a private safari for the two of us. I don’t mind company, but if you are condensed into a 4×4 for 5 days in a row and can’t escape, I prefer to have a private vacation. Private is a bit more expensive, but you can go at your pace and go to chase what you want to see. The target for today was Tarangire National Park, famous for its large elephant population and its unique Baobap trees. However, it is home to many other species as well, especially in the dry season from June-November. The main activity on a Safari is to drive around (you are not allowed to leave the car) to see and experience animals in their natural environment, so I will move all animal pictures together with short descriptions about each animal into a separate section towards the end of the article. We spent the entire day exploring the park, seeing many of the animals I described:

The way Safari is usually done is by bringing packed lunch and driving all day with a short break for lunch inside the parks. In the evening you then have the option of staying in a camp either inside the park or just outside. Not all parks offer inside camps. Inside is more expensive, but you reach the animals earlier and can stay later (good as many predators hunt at dusk and dawn). Outside is cheaper, but you have to leave the park after 6pm and can only return at 6am. Since this time limit also applies to the inside lodges (no driving without daylight) the difference is exagerated by many tour providers. As we had only one day planned for Tarangire, we had a lodge arranged just outside the park near Lake Manyara, which is famous for bird watching. Our camp was Burunge, which is a tented lodge style camp. Let me explain about the different camp styles.

  • You have lodges, which are your regular hotels with solid housing and a fixed location plus all conveniences. Generally outside of the parks.
  • In tented lodges, you stay in a tent, but the structure is stable and location is also permanent. It is more immersive as you will hear the animals roaming about and have no windows, just mosquito nets. You also generally have all working amenities such as running water and full electricity.
  • And finally, tented camps. These are often mobile and, depending on the season, might be found at different locales inside the national parks. Immersion ist highest, you are right in the wild. Amenities are least, often only bucket showers and limited or no electricity. But there are different kinds and they can still be very comfortable.

As I wrote, Burunge was a tented lodge with a view of Lake Manyara. This was the view from our lodge and during the night you could hear all the animals roamimg about:

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Day 5: Into Serengeti

We were sad to leave the lodge as the staff were really amazing and the food had been great as well. This was our breakfast table, where we sat at sunrise (6am):

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Still, we were excited as today we were heading North into the Serengeti! To get there meant another long drive, as you have to pass through Masai country and cross the outer rim of Ngorongoro crater. As we were scheduled come back to the crater on our last day of Safari, we did not stop and continued until finally:

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Serengeti means “Endless Plains” and really does its name justice. We spent the rest of the day scouting through the southern Serengeti. As the larger herds are still migrating back from the North, our main sightings were antelopes, predators, and birds.

In the evening, we did not leave the Serengeti but stayed in KatiKati Campsite. For the Serengeti I recommend to stay inside, as the drive out is far. KatiKati means “center” and this tented camp is always located at the central area of the Serengeti, although it moves around. Staying in a tented camp is a unique experience. You have to pre-order your showers and they bring heated water buckets to your tent. But sitting by the campfire in the evening, right in the middle of Serengeti, is outstanding. You have to be escorted back to your tent from the main campsite as there are so many animals around and it is pitch black. During the night we heard Hyenas rummage through the camp looking for food. We still slept quite well though. 😉

Day 6: Northern Serengeti and Maasai Mara

Time to head further North and see the great migration. During the great migration, over one million wilderbeest and around 200.000 zebras move towards the evergreen fields of the North in dry season and then back south when the rain comes back. The migration is driven by a strong instinct, and many drown or get eaten by crocodiles and other predators. We left camp very early as it is a long drive up North. There is a hot air balloon operation nearby KateKate. It is strictly controlled and very expensive, but you can fly over the plains at sunrise. We had done it before in Myanmar, so we didnt, but the balloons with the golden sunrise are still a nice postcard motif:

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The Northern Serengeti is much different. In the south, you have vast dry grassland. Lobo – the northern part – is much greener and the plains are full of trees. Sections of the Serengeti get burned by the rangers in controlled fires for regrowth. So you will experience many diverse landscapes:

On the way we saw plains full of Gnus and Zebras, already on their way back South:

Then finally, we reached the river Mara, which separates the Serengeti from the Masai Mara and Kenya from Tanzania. This is the place where all animals must cross. It is not easy to see an actual crossing, as the animals come in large packs and cross very quickly due to the many dangers. Also they take a long time to pick the right spot and our guide told us some people wait for days to see a crossing. We got lucky and within half an hour we already saw an elephant family cross. And then, when we were taking our lunch break, over a thousand wilderbeest gathered at the rivershore. They carefully checked many different crossing spots. Suddenly, one large one ran forward and all followed suit. They rushed into the water, jumping all the time to protect against the underwater crocodiles. It was a gigantic noise and chaos, but over in just a few minutes.

Several Zebras and latecoming gnus suddenly stopped and did not follow the main group. We first didn’t realize why, then we saw one young gnu still in the water. It looked like it was standing still, not moving, but when it was trying to get loose we saw: a large crocodile had gotten hold of his leg. The young gnu was not strong enough to break free and slowly other crocodiles came. Until finally another one bit his throat and pushed it underwater, turning around and breaking his neck…a scary sight, but also part of the great migration.

We were a bit shaken on the way back from the whole experience but excited that we had had the chance to see this. We got back to KatiKati Camp right at sundown. This was our last night in the Serengeti and we were awarded with a crystal clear night sky and a fantastic view of the stars in the southern hemisphere and the milky way:

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Day 7: Ngorongoro Crater

When I came out of the tent the next morning, I was literally just 5-6m away from an elephant. Elephants have padded soft feet, mostly to protect their bones from the heavy weight, but this way these giants can also move in absolute silence. I had heard nothing and it was quite an encounter. I think he was as surprised as I was. After checking each other out carefully, he headed back to his group. I rushed into the tent to get my camera, but until I was ready they were already further away. Still a good morning picture and memory:

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The staff told me afterwards that elephants come often into the camp to drink all the water from the tanks. So this little thief had been about to steal my shower water! 😉 After finishing our last bush breakfast, it was time to leave the Serengeti and head to Ngorongoro in the south. Ngorongoro crater is actually the remains of an ancient collapsed super volcano. The crater is a perfect habitat for wildlife and has the highest density of lions in the world. It is also one of the few places in the entire world to see the last remaining black rhinos. Additionally, it is famous for ancient human fossils (“lucy” was found here) and is a UNESCO heritage. The crater rim is covered by thick jungle vegetation and the lower crater floor features forests, grasslands and marshes. We spent all day exploring the crater landscape and were rewarded: a black rhinoceros! Sadly, I have no clear picture as the hot air caused the image to blur and the rhino was far away. But we saw it with the binoculars. Even beyond the rhino, the crater features stunning flora and faunas:

On the way back we stopped at the Grzimek monument. The German zoologist Bernhard Grzimek is one of the main reasons we still have the Serengeti intact today. He and his son Michael catalogued all the animals and their oscar-awarded movie “Serengeti must not die” got worldwide attention for the risks to this wildlife area. Michael Grzimek died in the Serengeti when his plane collided with a vulture. His father continued the work until his death and both are buried here at Ngorongoro crater.

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We stayed at a nearby farmhouse for the night, enjoying all the locally grown vegetables and then continued back to Arusha the next day. Another half-day of relaxing around the hotel and then it was time for our early morning flight home. I was a little sad that I had not managed to see Mount Kilimanjaro, but then our plane passed through the clouds and into the bright morning sun. And there he was, majestic above the clouds, saying farewell.

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Animals

In this section you can find all animal pictures and a short intro on each major species.

Baobap:
Baobap trees loose all their leaves in dry season and because of their strange looks, the saying is they were plucked from the ground by the gods and plucked-in the other way around, with the roots up in the sky. They are hollow inside and often used by poachers as a hiding place for Ivory. Baobap trees can be huge and ancient, up to 1000 years and older. Check the large elefant next to this baobap for a comparison of size:

Elephant:
Elephants are common in Tarangire, but you find them abundantly in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro as well. They are hunted by poachers for their tusks, but are well protected in the national parks. The African elephant is the largest land animal on earth and can reach over 10tons. Their Asian cousins are much smaller. Elephants eat mostly plants and insects, which is also why they peel off the bark of trees and you will find many “naked” baobaps in Tarangire thanks to hungry elephants. Elephants have a specific set of teeth to grind plants and will regrow these as they age. They can only regrow their teeth a limited number of times and in fact will die of starvation in old age, when the last pair has been used up. While some males are solitary, Elephants usually stay with their families and thus especially suffer in captivity. While poachers are the main risk for African Elephants, mass tourist entertainment with captive Asian elephants, for example in Thailand or Cambodia, is torture.

Giraffe:
While the elephant is the heaviest, the giraffe is the tallest land creature and can be up to 6m in height. It evolved to escape food competition from other smaller herbivores. Giraffes have a very unique and elegant walking style, moving both legs on one side at the same time. They can reach a speed of over 50km/h. Still, they are common prey of predators and, as defense, kick with their long legs. Their kick is powerful enough to kill a human. A group of Giraffes is called a “tower” of giraffes. Guess why 😉

Zebra:
Another common encounter in Tanzania is the Zebra. You can find tens of thousands in the Tanzanian national parks. It is a long discussion whether Zebras are white with black stripes or black with white stripes and both camps provide strong arguments. Equally extensive is the number of reasons given as to “why” they are striped in the first place. Camouflage, visual cues, for cooling, or to motion dazzle predators. To be honest: does it matter? Take your pick and enjoy. They look cute no matter the reason. Zebras have fantastc eyesight and you will often find one on the lookout for the herd. They are very social animals, staying together in large herds.

Gnu/Wildebeest:
The most common sight is the wildebeest and you will see them often accompanied by Zebras. Wildebeest have a very good sense of smell and hearing, a perfect complement to the good eyesight of Zebras. So the two collaborate in the lookout for approaching predators and warn each other. Wildebeest are a sub group of Antelopes and they are the main group to form the great migration. They are the prime target of many predators, including lions and crocodiles, who go for young or sick members of the herd.

Antelopes: Waterbuck / Impala / Eland / Dikdik and the Gazelle
There are many different versions of Antelopes across the Serengeti and the other national parks. Most common are waterbucks, dikdiks, elands, and impalas. Similar common are gazelles. Most antelopes are sedentary, so even in dry season can be found in the hunting grounds of territorial predators. Rangers refer to them as “fast food”, as they are the last resort choice of food for slower predators such as lions due to their high speed. They come in all shapes and sizes from the tiny dikdik to the large eland.

Buffalo:
One of the big five. The big five are historically refered to as the 5 animals of Africa which are most dangerous and difficult to hunt. The big five are: Buffalo, Lion, Elephant, Rhino and Leopard. The Buffalo is considered by many as the most dangerous of the five, as they are most aggressive. Only very few predators can challenge a buffalo and we were told a fight between lion and buffalo is a sight to behold, as it is far from certain who will win. They are also aggressive towards humans and cause several fatalities each year.

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Hippo:
The hippopotamus is mostly found in rivers. Hence the name, which originates from the greek name “river horse”. It is the third largest land animal, after elephants and rhinos. Hippos might look slow and calm, but they are aggressive and unpredictable. Their life depends on finding and protecting a water pool, so they will fight any contender. Hippos and crocodiles share common waters as they do not compete for food and crocs know better than to attack a Hippo.

The small ones: Warthog / Mongoose / Lizard
These small animals can be found all over the national parks. Notice from my picture how the warthog kneels down to eat the grass. They also quite cute as their tails all go up when running as they use them for steering. This is also how the piglets keep track of “Mom” in high grass. Of course there are hundreds of other small species such as pythons, mambas, aardvarks and many others, but they are hard to catch on film.

The primates: vervet monkey & olive baboon
I am really not a big fan of monkeys, maybe because they annoyed the crap out of me in Myanmar and Thailand, but most likely because they just remind me too much of humans. Like all primates, vervets and baboons have complex social structures.

Leopard:
Another member of the big five and for him you have to look up! Chilling in the treetops, this powerful cat climbs and runs at incredible speeds. It is weaker than a lion and to avoid fights over food with lions or hyenas, it drags its food up into the trees. Leopards also hunt baboons, but must be careful as many baboons will band together and might swarm and kill the leopard.

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An example of “food storage”:

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Crocodile:
Especially in the rivers of the northern serengeti the waters are not safe. Usually staying in sweet water, crocodiles can survive in brackish or even salt waters. Within their element, they can take almost any other animal and their bite is so powerful, it is almost impossible to cut loose. They usually bite and latch on and then pull their prey under water to drown.

Lion:
The king of the Serengeti. Although not unchallenged. Buffalos will put up an even fight, and adult elephants crush them with ease, as would a strong rhino. Still, the lion is the strongest predator and second in size only to the tiger. Compared to other felines, lions are very social and a pride of lions often consists of brothers, associated females and a bunch of offspring who all hunt together. Lions are mostly nocturnal hunters, so no wonder the guys were sleeping in almost every picture I took. Characteristic of the male lion is the large mane, and the longer, fuller and darker his mane, the more attractive the lion is for the girls. So just like with us humans! 😉 It was very cute watching them all groom one another and the baby lions practice fighting grass or hunting their mothers tail. However, lions are relentless and powerful predators and we saw them having hunted a Zebra for dinner.

Hyena:
A less likeable candidate. I really like cats and dislike dogs, and the spotted hyenas of the serengeti very much remind me of them. I know they serve a useful purpose as carrion eaters, but the fact (just like wild dogs) that they eat their prey alive is really horrible. Other predators (e.g..lions) bite the neck of the prey to choke them, these guys just start eating. Anything. Even each other. They are also called laughing hyenas due to their characteristic bark.

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Birds of the Serengeti:
Don’t just look at the ground! For many other amazing inhabitants of the Serengeti you have to look up into the sky and this is a gigantic group as there are over 500 species of birds in the Serengeti. From big vultures, to colorful cranes, and running ostriches. Here are my favorite shots:

Rhinoceros:
Rhinos are almost everywhere highly endangered and in 2011 UNESCO declared the western rhino extinct. So the black rhinos here in Tanzania are amongst the last ones on earth. They are extremely aggressive and quickly charge at any threat (including too close cars). Rhinos are solitary and frequently fight each other in mortal combat.

The 4×4:
The last animal I want to introduce is the 4×4 landcruiser. This animal has just recently invaded the Serengeti. But now can be found everywhere. Joking aside, tourist numbers are high and you often see 4-5 cars next to a group of animals. All cars are very robust and have a raisable roof, so you can stand and take pictures unobstructed. The whole thing feels a bit mass touristy. Thankfully, many of the small tented camp sites limit the guest number to maybe a dozen. This is a great help. But still, the game drives are just chauffeuring masses of tourists around for pictures

 

Shoot

Zanzibar:

  • Bring an underwater camera for the snorkeling tours
  • Streets and spice markets of stone town
  • Mnemba island up North
  • Nungwi beach for sunset
  • The Rock restaurant, even if you don’t eat there
  • Paje and Matemwe beach at high and low tide

Serengeti / Tarangire / Ngorongoro:

  • Well this is a no brainer. Animals. Lots.
  • Make sure to bring a tele lens and a big SD card.
  • You have better chances for predators in the early morning or evening
  • Bring a tripod for stable night sky pictures
  • Baobap trees in Tarangire

Drone

  • Drone photography requires a permit in Tanzania. You can apply for this here and must have international insurance, a recognized drone piloting license and proper registration. The authorities are very slow and almost never respond. Your best chance is to go via a tour operator who is based in Dar-es-salaam and can apply for you personally.
  • In the national parks, even with this general approval, drone filming is not allowed. You must apply for a special filming permit which costs several thousand dollars. Also not worth it as the shots are not that superior and birds of prey might attack the drone.

Plan

A Safari is an amazing experience and must-do in a lifetime! You will see animals and nature closer than ever before and get memories you will never forget. However, be aware it is long hours of sitting in the car and driving around. A very passive vacation. So I would [not recommend] to book more than 4-5 days or add a walking safari to mix it up. Also, the way Safari is done in Tanzania is a premium package vacation and, while expensive, has become slightly mass touristy. You will not really experience local Tanzanian life nor the local culture, but then that is probably not what the Safari is about. I [recommend] to go for small (more expensive) tented camps and a private driver to make it more unique and memorable, but suggest to keep the game drives to one day per area.

  • Many diseases are endemic in Tanzania. Make sure to have proper vaccination. This includes cholera, yellow fever, rabies, hepatitis and a refresher for all standard vaccinations.
  • Almost all diseases are spread by mosquitoes. And they are everywhere. Bring high deet repellent. Wear long sleeves. Apply even at night. Don’t take this lightly.
  • Tours differ massively in prices. Scan markets and compare. Everyone pays the same national park fees, drives the same 4x4s, and pays the same local guides. The only noticable difference is in lodge quality, but in many cases the premium prices by the tour agents are a rip-off. You can save more by directly approaching the local companies. They all speak perfect English and the international agents are just parasites with their share and do nothing. Big (semi)local operators are for example Leopard Tours or Tanzania Experience. But there are many.
  • The great lodges are small. Book early.
  • Game drives go from 6am to 6pm. With a lunch break at a picnic place at 1pm. In between you have to go “bush toilet” for restroom breaks. Which means, since you can’t leave the road, that you have to go on the street behind the car.
  • The roads are very dusty. Your clothes will be yellow with thick sand layers every evening. Although many tour operators recommend light colors vs. the mosquitos, sand color or darker might be better with the dust. If you are sensitive you might want to bring a mask.
  • I normally do not recommend to change money in advance. But for Tanzania bring USD. You need small bills for tips and have to give a big tip to the guides at the end of the trip in cash. Food is included in the lodge price as are all entry fees. Shopping you can pay with credit card. All else you can pay with USD. Ex. Rate is not good, but still the better deal vs. getting Tanzanian schilling. Get several hundred usd, bring a visa card, and you are fine.
  • Get travel health insurance that includes home transport. Sickness is common, medical care very bad or very expensive.
  • You can get a visa on arrival at all international airports. It costs 50USD. You can pay usd or with visa. Bring cash as the machines sometimes don’t work.
  • Ngorongoro and Serengeti can get chilly in the morning/evening. Bring a sweater.
  • Bring diarrhea medicine even if you have cholera vaccination.
  • Malaria is a risk. Be safe and take malaria pills as precaution. I had no troubles taking them. Remember to keep taking them for 1 week after returning as it can take up to 7 days for the parasites to die.

Avoid

  • Tipping is common. However, I advise against tipping individual staff every time. All lodges have a tip box. Put some money in these when you leave, it is shared between all staff.
  • Do not self drive. You technically can, even in the national parks. But you need offroad experience and there are many police checkpoints. Especially on Zanzibar, police ask for bribes and can get you in trouble. Also you get massive problems when you hit an animal and, last but not least, the roads are not marked and gps does not always work. Easy to get lost
  • Many areas in Arusha and the other cities are not safe. Also do not go out alone at night or avoid going out at all after dark unless in a safe area.
  • Do not take the touter cars at the airport and only official pre-registered taxis. Abductions and extortions have happened.
  • Do not drink the tap water. Do not use it for brushing your teeth.
  • Do not eat anything that you cannot boil, cook, or peel. Food in the lodges is safe.
  • Do not leave the lodges at night and do not head into the bushes…many poisonous animals.
  • Do not swim in any sweetwater lake (e.g. Lake Victoria) very dangerous parasites!
  • Theft and robbery is common. Keep valuables out of sight on your person.

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