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Tanzania Feb 5 - Feb 26, 2006   Slideshow 22 slideshows   Blog 1 blog
Overview: The mainland half of Tanzania (the country was formed and named by uniting mainland Tanganyika and islands of Zanzibar); for simplicity, I treated Zanzibar separately on its own page.

We spent 1 week on safari in northern Tanzania, 2 nights in Moshi (view of Mt Kili) and 2 weeks on Zanzibar (mostly beach).

This 1 week safari was the second half of our Comfort Class (i.e. hotels, not camping) trip through Kenya and Tanzania from GAP Adventures, an eco-friendly small-groups Canadian tour company we highly recommend. This specific GAP trip is detailed here (note that the Kenya and Tanzania portions of the safari can each be booked separately). We took advantage of a one-time discount special at the time :-)
Meals (mostly buffets) but not drinks were included in our package. Accommodations were also included, though I list prices in the sidebar for reference only.
We saw all of the Big Five animals (elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes and rhinos) in Tanzania.

Scroll down for the stories, or skip directly to a section:
Arrival, Arusha, Lake Manyara, Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Karatu, Marangu, Moshi, Airport Departure, Miscellaneous


Map is copyright Lonely Planet
For a more detailed map, see UniMaps.com
Satellite Photo: See this satellite map with pushpins and then zoom in at least once.
Arrival: Having left Kenya at 8:15 with our safari group, we arrived at the border town of Namanga (Kenya) 2 hours later. We stopped just shy of the border at a curio stand and WC stop, which also had the yellow Kenya exit forms. At the border, we exited the vehicles to file through the Kenya exit building, then re-entered the vehicles and drove 150m to the Tanzania entry building, filling out an entry form similar to the Kenya exit form. This went quickly for those of us with visas.
Then all 15 of us piled into one bus with 4 "guides" for the 2 hour drive to Arusha on a smooth paved road, with box lunches provided (very similar to the box lunches we had in Masai Mara). We had views of 4566m Mt Meru, but 5896m Mt Kilimanjaro was obscured by clouds.
Arusha: The second largest city in Tanzania, with a population of 400,000, Arusha is a surprisingly green but uninteresting city. Only Dar Es Salaam is bigger with a population of 1 million. This implies that, with a population of at least 31 million, Tanzania is primarily rural (65% of the population).
We drove straight to the local tour operator's office (Bobby Camping Safaris, which we do not recommend).
After an argument about the vehicle(s), we drove to the hotel with a stop at an ATM en route; the first ATM was out of order, and at the second ATM there were 4 guards outside!
The 5-month-old City Link Hotel served us juice on arrival as we filled out one registration card for all 7 of us in 4 rooms total. It had nice lounge chairs on each breezy level, a bar and a huge grassy courtyard with music and a BBQ (with many locals present with surprisingly nice shiny cars). I spent the afternoon journaling (I was a full week behind!) in the shade with a pot of coffee (the local instant coffee, Africafe, which at least was slightly better than Nescafe; disappointing since Tanzania grows a lot of coffee beans!). Our dinner was simple but good: soup, stew and fruit. We had wanted to eat at 18:30 and they wanted to serve us at 19:30, so we compromised on 19:00; apparently they eat later here than in Kenya.
The hotel was much nicer than expected, but we had a poor night's sleep due to the loud music from the hotel's bar which went late, followed by multiple dogs barking for 45 minutes straight, in turn followed a mere 2 minutes later by a rooster crowing!
Arusha
Lake Manyara NP: After an ok breakfast of scrambled eggs, we drove for 2 hours on a paved striped road (paid for by the Japanese) through beautiful countryside and farms with rich red soil. Some of the Maasai houses we saw were fancier round huts (compared to Kenya), and a few were even made of brick. Along the way we stopped at, you guessed it, a curio shop with WC. This one had a cement floor (not dirt) and price stickers on items (unusual) in US Dollars -- very expensive! Definitely catering to the well heeled safari crowd, they didn't bargain much (though they told Susan to consider 80% of the sticker price the starting point); on the plus side, there was no annoying hovering or pressure by the salespeople.
Lake Manyara NP lies in the Great Rift Valley, which runs the length of Africa (5,000km) from Jordan to Mozambique and is visible from space. The lovely national park only includes the northwest quarter of its namesake lake. The visitor centre had a beautiful stained glass "map" of the Great Rift Valley and interesting information. The initial road into the park goes through a dense green forest with famous but seldom seen tree-climbing lions. We were entertainingly blocked for a few minutes by amorous baboons in the middle of the road (one of them lying spread eagled on his back while the other played with his string bean "manhood").
Morning (inc. monkeys, elephants (baby!), warthogs (baby!), giraffes)
The lake was much smaller than usual due to the ongoing drought, so the water's edge was far away and thus the flamingoes were barely visible (unlike at Lake Nakuru in Kenya). By mid afternoon we arrived at the Lake Manyara Wildlife Lodge, perched on the edge of the western edge of the rift, overlooking the lake and park down in the Great Rift Valley. We spent a leisurely late afternoon relaxing by the cliffside pool with a cold beverage, followed by free (instant) coffee and warm cookies. Our room was very nice with a good mosquito net, comfy bed and a balcony. A large Japanese group arrived just before dinner, which was a buffet that also included some very good vegetarian dishes (palak paneer, lasagna).
Afternoon (inc. bird, giraffe (baby!), lodge)
We woke up to find 2 baboons peering through our sliding glass door before moving on to the next balcony. After an early breakfast, we departed for the Serengeti NP via Ngorongoro CA. The latter is a large area, of which the most interesting feature, the actual Ngorongoro Crater, is a separate park within a park. The paved road ended at the Ngorongoro CA gate where we stopped at the informative visitor centre, which had a relief model and interesting posters about the local flora and fauna. About 20 minutes up the dirt road through a leafy forest, we stopped briefly at the crater rim for a teaser view of what would come a few days later, after the Serengeti.
Note that I placed the crater rim slideshow further below in the Ngorongoro section, but if you want to see it now (in its chronological position) click here.
Serengeti NP: From the Ngorongoro crater rim viewpoint, we drove for 35 minutes along the crater rim road with only occasional views. Then an 85 minute drive to the Serengeti NP gate and picnic area via: down green slopes with acacias and Maasai villages, greenish valleys with zebras and wildebeest, scruffy trees and shrubs, and finally dry dusty flat land.
We also stopped at another Maasai tribal village, but only Susan and two others bothered to visit it; despite the guides' insistence that it was different than the ones in Kenya, it really wasn't.
Tribal Village (inc. more colourful Maasai)
The actual border between the large Ngorongoro CA and the much larger Serengeti NP is simply a virtual line demarcated by a sign hanging over the lone road. The official gate and picnic area is at a big kopje (pronounced "copy", from the Dutch word) with views, 18km further into the huge park. Kopjes, also called inselbergs (from the German, meaning "island mountains") are rocky outcroppings which appear randomly in the Serengeti's endless treeless plains but are very important to a variety of animals. Note that Serengeti means "endless plain." Also, there is more to the Serengeti NP than just the plains, so there are in fact trees (just not in the plains themselves).
One side-effect, cost-wise, of these two parks' entry fee system is that you have to cross the Ngorongoro CA to get to the Serengeti NP, so you pay a 24-hour entry fee even though you are only passing through, and then the 24-hour clock is reset when you pay to enter the next park.
Because of this 24-hour pay situation (esp. wrt to timing of leaving the park 48 hours later), as well as to avoid driving in the hot low-animal-sighting middle of the day, we had a long 90 minute lunch stop before entering the Serengeti NP gate.
We did see a few animals on our 80 km/h "game drive" through the park to our lodge.
Day 1 (inc. beetle, lizards, lionesses, Grant's gazelle, wildebeest (baby!), water buffalo, hyena)
Due to an unfortunate mix-up, we ended up at the nice wood-and-glass Lobo Wildlife Lodge, 2 hours further north than Seronera, which is at the centre of the park. In fact, the lodge was only 30km from the Kenya border (i.e. the Masai Mara) which is not where the wildebeest migration and majority of the animals are at that time of the year.
Our room didn't have a balcony or mosquito net, but a strong breeze in our 3rd floor southeast facing room kept it nice and cool. After some serious in-room laundry and a refreshing shower, we enjoyed a tasty buffet dinner in a gorgeous high roofed room which reminded me of a ski chalet. Then we met with our drivers to discuss game drive options for the next day.
Lodge (inc. rock hyraxes, lizard, beetle)
We left at 6:30 for a pre-breakfast, cool air pre-dawn game drive which was very good. We saw the feast of a lion kill (see below) and saw cute jackals for the first time.
Day 2 Morning (inc. lions (cubs!), jackals)
We watched this early morning feast of a water buffalo by a group of lions and cubs; we did not see the kill happen as lionesses hunt at night. Waiting in the wings were jackals and Marabou storks. At first we did not see one of the cubs who was inside the kill's body, but then he popped out and jumped on top of the carcass to swat playfully at a bird.
Lion Kill Warning: not for the faint of heart!
After a good breakfast and some time to lounge by the pool with a coffee and a spectacular view (not to mention lots of hyraxes at the lodge), we departed at 10:45 for a slower drive back to Seronera, which was unsurprisingly fairly animal-free. However, we did see one group of wildebeest where each female had a baby. One baby ran up to our vehicle to check us out, then quickly ran off again. While we were standing up watching these cute little guys, our driver Michael drove off without warning!
Once we were in the Seronera area, we saw much more: lions mating, a leopard (see below) and many lines of migrating wildebeest and zebras. The wildebeest would huddle in the shade under trees in the hot mid-day (the dark patches in the small photo on the right is not just shade, it's cheek to cheek wildebeest!).
The mating lions were interesting: they would hang out in the shade of a small tree, then every 20 minutes like clockwork, the lioness walked 5-10m away and lie down on her belly, followed by the lion who would hump her from behind/top for all of 10 seconds. Then they returned to the shade to repeat the cycle. They do this for 1-2 weeks without eating.
Day 2 Afternoon (inc. wildebeest (baby!), lions (mating!), bird, zebras, giraffes)
We watched a leopard descend from one tree, retrieve her earlier kill, a baby antelope, from a stash in a nearby tree, then return to the original tree and climb it with her kill in her mouth. What a graceful, powerful animal!
Leopard (in, down and up a tree)
At 17:00 we made the 1 hour mostly-animal-free drive to Ikoma Bush Camp, just outside the Ikoma park gate (which closes at 18:00). The semi-luxury camp was surprisingly nice: permanent large tents on a cement slab with "attached" bathroom and a thatched roof over the tent (for temperature control). The good netting on 3 sides allowed a nice cooling breeze and mosquitoes weren't a problem. After a great sunset, we followed the kerosene lamp lit pathway to the main tent for a plain dinner at 19:30 (expensive warm drinks).
Bush Camp (inc. tent, sunrise, weaver bird in nest)
We were too tired to go on the 2 hour night drive that left at 21:00, but regretted that decision in the morning when we heard how good it was from 3 of our fellow travelers (plus the fact that night drives aren't allowed inside the parks). They went on an open-top Jeep with a driver and a spotlight-wielding guide, who pointed out many nocturnal animals: bush babies (a type of monkey), chameleons, bat-eared foxes, birds and... a poacher with a bow & arrow hiding in a thorny tree!
We elected to skip a morning game drive, as we were too far away from Seronera to be there early enough. So we had a leisurely morning and breakfast included a made-to-order omelette with cheese, over a gas burner.
We didn't see any animals in the first 40 minutes of the drive into the park, but then we saw a hawk, topi and other antelopes, zebra and wildebeest on the way to the "official" hippo pool which contained lots of hippos and one crocodile in the very smelly and dirty water. We also saw a giraffe "stampede" across the road, including 2 young giraffes.
We ate our box lunch at the Serengeti Visitor Centre in Seronera, which had a fascinating display set in an outdoor circular walk. On a tight schedule, we didn't have enough time to soak in all the information. As we left, the road was totally blocked by a tree that an elephant had felled the night before; we simply drove around it on the flat ground.
Then we closed the popup roof of the Land Cruiser and made the long drive back to Ngorongoro CA, seeing a herd of 10 elephants in the plains and a Maasai's group of camels including a baby on the side of the road.
Day 3 (inc. hippos, birds)
Ngorongoro CA: The Ngorongoro CA is a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising various ecosystems, of which the most famous is the Ngorongoro Crater. The crater is one of the largest calderas in the world, about 20km in diameter, with steep, unbroken walls.
The crater is a good size: neither too large nor cramped, with relatively few roads/tracks, especially compared to Kenya parks. There are several watering holes, creeks, a large lake (though it was small at the time of our visit, due to the droughts), swamps, savannah and treed areas. In other words it has a good diversity of ecosystems in one manageable area. It contains all of the Big Five animals (elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes and rhinos) except leopards. Also there are no giraffes.
Crater Rim (actually seen on the way to the Serengeti a few days earlier)
Driving from the Serengeti back to the crater rim, we stopped in the centre of Ngorongoro CA, at the Olduvai Gorge museum which was small but interesting, chock-full of info (too much!) and followed by a brief talk in the shade outside overlooking the gorge. This is where Mary Leakey discovered ancient hominid fossils, as well as 3.75 million year old footsteps of early hominids preserved in ash/lava. The gorge itself is 50km long and 100m deep, containing a clear series of 5 layers of volcanic deposits over 2 million years.
En Route (inc. Olduvai Gorge)
We stayed at the swanky Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge on the eastern rim of the crater, reached by a 23km, 45 minute, bumpy dirt road from the crater lookout. We arrived shortly before sunset so we didn't really get to enjoy the facilities much. The rooms were curvy and very large, with a foyer, 2 Queen beds, a glass-enclosed patio with a stunning view of the crater, and a heater for those chilly nights. First order of business was a shower, as we were so dirty we had dirt unibrows and black collars. Then I rushed out to catch the terrific sunset over the far wall of the crater rim.
The main lodge consisted of 2 round buildings connected by an atrium containing the reception, lobby and curio shop. One round building had the bar, with almost every patron smoking. The restaurant was in the other beautiful building, with large windows and a 360° stone fireplace in the middle. The high sloping roof reminded me of a huge palapa. We ate dinner at 19:30, ordering from a very tasty full service menu; there was no buffet for a change. And with dessert we enjoyed a real Tanzanian drip coffee!
We went to bed early as it had been a very long tiring day...
Lodge (inc. sunset)
Another early morning start: a 6:30 buffet breakfast and a 7:00 departure, descending through an acacia forest to the plains at the crater floor by the nearby entry road (one of only 2 entries). As I said before, the early morning and late afternoon game drives are best, and this early morning one did not disappoint!
We saw many different bird species, hyenas, a den of bat-eared foxes, an eland (the largest antelope), black rhinos, and cheetahs, as well as (by now) more pedestrian animals such as elephants, zebras, ostriches, hippos, lions, antelopes, warthogs, wildebeests and buffaloes.
We almost witnessed a wildebeest birth, seen through binoculars. Two baby legs were sticking out of the mother, but she got up and walked away before the birth was complete. Baby wildebeest can run within 20 minutes of birth, which is a good thing since if the mother is separated from her baby for more than 20 minutes, she forgets she has a baby! It's the baby's responsibility to keep up with its mother if the group needs to run.
We saw a black rhino with baby, running away from the too-high 24 or so vehicles "chasing" them.
Morning (inc. birds (multiple), bat-eared foxes, black rhinos (baby!), hyenas, wildebeest (baby!), antelopes (eland...))
We spent a good hour simply sitting at a water hole and waiting for the (animal) world to pass by. And they did: streams of wildebeests and zebras, plus buffaloes, birds, warthogs etc.
We saw one baby wildebeest, on the other side of the water hole, sadly look in vain for its mother while crying plaintively. The baby even walked up to a water buffalo as if to ask, "are you my mommy?"
Water Hole (inc. eagle, hippos, birds, wildebeest (baby!))
The black (hook-lipped) rhino, is more aggressive than the white (square-lipped) rhino, though both are in fact grey in colour.
We saw a cheetah in the plains, but no chase this time.
And elephants in the swamp.
Mid Day (inc. black rhinos, eland, cheetah, antelopes, ostriches)
Near our picnic spot next to a little lake with hawks soaring overhead, we spotted a small pride of lions by a rocky outcropping.
Leaving the crater floor in the southwest corner involves a 20 minute steep dirt road full of switchbacks, offering glimpses back into the crater.
Then we headed out of the park, just before our 24 hour entry fee expired, and 20-30 minutes later arrived in Karatu.
Afternoon (inc. hawk, wasp)
Karatu: A small, scruffy town in between Ngorongoro and Lake Manyara, it is surrounded by lovely countryside. We stayed at the budget Ngorongoro Safari Resort, an ok hotel but having an "afternoon of leisure" her seemed pointless. Our guides told us to be wary of and not to talk to the locals, but 3 of us set out for a walk through town, finding the interesting little local market off the main drag: no touristy curio shops, just little shops selling hoes, plastic buckets, hardware etc. Just beyond those shops was the food market, full of bananas, tomatoes, dried little sardine-sized fish and lots of vegetables and fruits. Susan gave stickers to some vendors' kids, bringing out the smiles.
We also saw a barbershop with a brightly painted outside wall doubling as a sign for the illiterate.
Our sister camping group showed up and set up their tents on a grass strip next to the parking lot; we enjoyed hearing about their safari camping experiences.
The next morning we left at 8:30, after a so-so breakfast. First we stopped at a curio shop, one without price stickers, yet still less pressure and haggling than in Kenya. Amongst other things, we bought a mask at the last minute through our jeep's window, paying TZS 15,000 (~US$12) where the original price as US$55!
Then we visited the Snake Farm, including an interesting tour by a very knowledgeable guide who explained a lot (too much info :-) about the snakes. Most interesting where the green and black mambas, which have a neurotoxin for which there is no cure! The black mamba is actually gray, but the inside of its mouth is black.
I held a harmless garden snake (it felt like plastic but muscular) and a foot-long baby crocodile that tried to bite my hand by snapping his head sideways (I wasn't holding his head tight enough between 2 fingers, even though I could feel his skull).
Unbeknownst to us, Susan played with a rescued baboon in a back cage; Susan rubbed the baboon's neck, and the baboon picked through Susan's hair. Just before we finished our hour-long visit, our guide fed a baby mouse to a snake, who pounced on it within 2 seconds of releasing it in the cage.
Karatu (inc. barbershop, snake, baby crocodile)
Marangu: From Karatu the drive is a about a 3.5 hour drive, going back through Arusha (more lunch boxes), then through Moshi (green with brilliant red flowers on the trees) and finally to Marangu, a town at the southeast end of the Mt Kilimanjaro NP (one of the Mt Kili ascent routes starts here). We noticed buildings with a big red "X" painted on them; these buildings are built too close to the road and are scheduled to be demolished. We arrived tired at 15:00 at the pleasant Nakara Hotel in Marangu.
Thirty minutes later I left with our sister camping group on a "3 hour roundtrip hike to a waterfall," though said waterfall was only 10 minutes away through a banana plantation. There was a large group of local boys swimming, though they stayed on the rocks while we were there.
Some of our group went on for a longer hike up to the Mt Kili NP gate, while others (the campers, plus myself) went for a shorter hike to taste banana beer. After walking up the far riverbank, down the hill and across a bridge in an almost alpine setting (it reminded me of the Pacific Northwest in the USA), we tromped through a banana plantation back to the road, stopping at huts where they ferment the banana beer; we also sampled the best, buttery, sweetest avocado I've ever had.
The banana beer was served in a large traditional gourd (vs the plastic mini bucket). It tasted as bad as it looked (chunky; I'll omit a nasty visualization here). Our guide had several campers give traditional greeting by sipping from a gourd and offering it to one of the locals (e.g. youngest man to oldest grandmother). The banana wine, which has 7% alcohol and comes in beer bottles, was marginally better; I bought a bottle for Susan and my fellow "lodgers" to try.
Walking uphill for 10 minutes back to the hotel, we passed a church where a choir was practicing (donations accepted so they could record a CD). I went to the hotel bar to have a coffee and journal, but ended up talking to the campers and our guide, Faustin, who, it turns out, is a coffee farmer too. He translated my order for proper brewed coffee and I bought some of his roasted beans from him.
After drinks in the bar with our 2 drivers, we were seated in the dining room. The avocado salad was excellent, with a lovely little dressing on it. The entrees were unremarkable, except for Susan's very tasty vegetarian curry.
We slept well as the slight increase in elevation made the night nice and cool.
Marangu (inc. waterfall, local kids, banana beer)
We woke up early on Sunday morning to say good-bye to our safari group, who were leaving at 7:00 to drive back to Nairobi via Arusha, since we had already decided before the trip to leave here and spend a few days in Moshi before flying to Zanzibar from the nearby airport. As an added bonus, we had time for a relaxing breakfast before taking a "taxi," arranged by the hotel, to Moshi. On the road into Moshi, we were pulled over by a police checkpoint; it looked like the policeman wanted to look in the trunk, but after a brief Swahili exchange with our driver, we continued on.
Moshi: We checked into the centrally located Kindoroko Hotel, which has a nice ground floor lounge, a restaurant we didn't use, an Internet café, curio and travel shops, plus its best feature: a great rooftop bar with a view of Mt Kili (at least in the early morning before the clouds roll in). We paid for one night only, despite having a 2 night reservation, just in case we flew a day earlier (or decided to change hotels :-). We paid using local currency, and surprisingly (for a cash society) he didn't have TZS 4,000 change from the TZS 40,000 we handed him; we did receive the change later that day. There was also a power outage, which is not uncommon, so we couldn't use the Internet café yet.
Our 1st floor room (called the 2nd floor in North America), looked so-so, except for the odd all-concrete bathroom with separate toilet and shower "stalls." The room had rebar-ed windows on 2 sides (3 counting the bathroom), making for a nice cross breeze. I noticed the mini room for housekeeping, next door to ours, had a bunk bed in it.
We walked around the neighbourhood, but the Coffee Shop restaurant from our guidebook was closed, as most of the town seemed to be (it was Sunday, after all). So we ended up eating lunch at the Indotaliano Restaurant (Indian and Italian food), about 2 blocks from our hotel, sitting outside on the patio in the shade of a large tree. We shared a very tasty vegetarian pizza with "baby marrow," which turned out to be zucchini. Susan decided we should eat vegetarian more often in Africa.
Kitty corner from the restaurant was the 7 month new Zebra Hotel, and we decided we would switch hotels the next day since they had spotless modern rooms with A/C for about the same price.
We returned to the hotel and had brewed coffee with milk at our rooftop bar (since the restaurant was out of milk). I popped in to the nearby local market which was closed, but there were a few vendors in front of the market on the street. I haggled for 2 avocados from TZS 600 each to 2 for TZS 300 (though I accidentally said "400" when I thought I was saying "300" in Swahili - oops! That reminded me of a similar incident in Egypt where I confused the written symbol for 7 and 8 and argued over it).
We returned to the same Indotaliano Restaurant for a very good dinner, this time off the Indian half of the menu: papadum masala (w/ tomato & onion, like bruschetta), dal, veggie rice and a very tasty/tender chicken tikka. I wanted to try the Tanzanian wine (TZS 5,000) on the menu, but the waitress said they were out and that it wasn't good anyways. So we chose a bottle of South African Chenin Blanc instead.
During dinner, the lights at the hotel across the street kept flickering like an Xmas tree; I should point out that lots of loud generators were running, as the power was still out. After dinner, we walked back to our hotel with another couple we recognized from our hotel (and to whom I had offered some wine earlier in the meal), as the street was looking a little dark and we thought about safety in numbers.
We didn't sleep well as there was loud party music until 12:30, and a prayer call at 5:15. Also, in the middle of the night I had to duct tape the holes in the mosquito net after being bit multiple times (we had been too tipsy to bother with that after dinner). And finally, it was quite hot in the room as the power was still out so we couldn't run the ceiling fan.
We just missed a great sunrise at 6:45, with swirling mists in the trees of the surrounding suburbs, yet a great clear view of Mt Kili, including a little cloud floating over the second peak (looking like a circumflex accent).
Moshi (inc. Mt Kili)
After a so-so breakfast, we checked out and immediately into the new Zebra Hotel two blocks away. This time, the hotel didn't even have TZS 1,000 change from the TZS 40,000 we handed the clerk. Sigh. So we told the porter to get the change from the clerk later, as a tip. They were going to give us the same room #109 as at the Kindoroko Hotel (coincidence!) but we asked for room on a higher floor. Oddly, the sheets and pillowcases had the hotel's name on them in big print.

click to expand/collapse the following section(s) Additional details: inc. the Coffee Shop resto, Internet Café.
When Jennifer (from our safari group) showed up at our hotel around 18:30, we headed across the street to (where else, especially for a vegetarian!?) Indotaliano Restaurant. We had a drink while we waited for a better table. We had a vegetarian pizza, papadum masala, another dish plus vegetarian "curry" (they were out of the dal that she wanted). Oddly, it wasn't until now (after the end of the safari trip) that it occurred to me to look up something in my Swahili phrasebook for Jennifer, who is vegetarian but allergic to sweet peppers: the phrase "I don't eat (sweet) peppers" is the easily remembered and pronounced Swahili phrase sili pili pili (pronounced "seelee peelee peelee").
Jennifer had arranged for her driver to pick her up later (at 22:00), though he didn't show up We waited for a while with her, then Jennifer used our receptionist's mobile phone (no outside landline) to call the phone number from the business card the driver had given her. But she couldn't really understand the person who answered. Then she paid the doorman to go buy two TSZ 1,000 refill cards for the receptionist's mobile phone so that she could call again and have the receptionist speak to the other party in Swahili for her. The receptionist translated that the driver was in another town and that this person had no idea who Jennifer was. At this point our hotel manager asked if he could help and got her a taxi (TZS 3000) to her hotel compound. We wondered for several days later if Jennifer made it OK, and were relieved to receive an e-mail from her after her Kili climb.
I have to admit we had our best night's sleep so far in the air conditioned room that night!
Airport Departure: After an unexciting continental breakfast (extra TSZ 1,000 for eggs), we packed and left our big backpacks behind the receptionist for a few hours. It was so humid, and our daypacks sufficiently large & heavy, that we decided to park Susan at the Coffee Shop while I walked to the ATM (unstated max withdrawal was only TZS 200,000 in forty TZS 5,000 notes). I returned 30 minutes later, all sweaty. The juice was refreshing, but the cappuccino was not as good as the previous day.
For lunch we went to (where else?) the Indotaliano restaurant for an excellent vegetarian pizza. We asked the waitress how much a taxi to the airport should cost (we had previously been told US$30-35 and US$40-50 by two different people); she didn't know, but went to ask a taxi driver waiting nearby. Another guy, possibly the resto manager, helped with the negotiation/translation and we settled on a price.
The Kili airport, known locally as KIA (as opposed to the IATA airport code JRO), is small-ish and in good shape. There were no checkin lines, and we weren't even asked for ID by the Precision Air agent; as I was putting my passport away in my money belt, my wad of forty TZS 5,000 notes (from the ATM that morning) spilled out onto the floor. Oops! Very subtle! With no one in line behind us, only the agent at the next checkin counter noticed and looked amused/surprised.
The airport had very clean restrooms, and pricey cold drinks.
Our seat assignments meant nothing on the turbo prop (2x2 seating) for our one hour flight to the exotic island of Zanzibar.
Miscellaneous:
  • Tanzanian bills have a giraffe watermark.
  • Note that pre-booking flights within Africa can be tricky: a few days before leaving North America, I discovered that Travelocity could not actually issue tickets for the Air Tanzania flight which they happily listed on their website! Furthermore, I had difficulty finding a travel agent who could physically issue the tickets, and eventually chose Precision Air for one leg, and Air Tanzania and South African Airways for the other legs (using two different travel agents!). However, pre-booking flights online in South Africa is easy.

Safari Tips:
  • Avoid more than 3-4 passengers per vehicle or it will feel cramped both when driving and when viewing wildlife.
  • You need lots of optical zoom on your camera.
  • You want a set of binoculars per person.
  • Generally you can't get out of safari vehicles, so sport sandals (e.g. Tevas) can be comfortable footwear.
  • You will get dirty (dusty); bring some detergent to wash some clothes in your hotel sink, plus a travel clothesline.

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