"safari and Kilimanjaro trekking" Tanzania Favorite Tip by yayocandy
Tanzania General: 116 reviews and 115 photos
Favorite thing: I am writing to offer some comments on our trip to Tanzania this year. I hope to help people, who like I did, are searching for answers to their concerns while they plan their trip. My wife and I did a Mt Kili climb and then followed with an 8 day safari. The whole trip was even better than we had envisioned. We chose Lipi Adventures as our Tour Operator based in Tanzania and Kenya and it worked out great to our dreams and expectation. The Director and the owner of Lipi Adventure and the Operations Manager were very good about answering all our emails as we made plans and he met with us 2 times during the trip to make sure everything was well. We started with the Kilimanjaro climb on the Marangu route. We had a team of 2 porters, a cook and a guide for just the 2 of us. Our guide, Amani, was very well organised and a great person to spend the day with. He told us a lot about life in Tanzania and he was extremely knowledgeable about the mountain and its plants and animals. We were very happy with the food on the climb. After washing up each morning in a nice basin of warm water we were served breakfast, coffee, tea, oatmeal, fruit, toast, eggs, and sausages. The box lunch we carried each day would have sandwich, cheese, hard boiled egg, a piece of cold chicken, fruit, a juice box and a cookie or chocolate bar. Upon arrival at the huts each day, again we were each given a basin of warm water to wash up with and then tea and snacks were served. Dinner would always start with soup followed by meat and vegetables with potatoes, rice or pasta. We would finish with tea, coffee or hot chocolate with a bit of sweet.
Before we went, we read a lot of negative comments about the Marangu route. We found it to be OK. The huts were small, 4 beds to a room, but clean warm and dry in wet, cold weather. Kibo huts are larger more dormitory style with approx. 12 people per large room. (Not really an issue as you only sleep there for a few hours at most.) They were building more huts at Kibo while we were there. There were solar light in each hut and also in the dining chalets. All meals were served in the dining chalets where the long tables had a separate tablecloth for each group and we enjoyed having the chance to talk with many different people from all over the world. There were flush toilets at Mandara and Horombo huts and Pit toilets at Kibo huts. All were cleaned a couple of times per day by staff at the huts.
Until the summit night, the trail up the Marangu route is long but nicely maintained, wide and relatively easy. The first day is through lush forest, hot and humid. The second and third days were in moorland with vegetation that is shorter and much less dense. The weather is cooler and we had some rain. After leaving Horombo huts you enter the Alpine desert. Now it gets colder and we had some snow as we got closer to Kibo huts. Fortunately we had a clear, windless night when we went to the summit on Feb. 6, 2010. After only a couple of hours sleep we got up at 10:30pm, packed our bags, ate some oatmeal and started hiking at midnight. The trail up from Kibo is really steep and very slow going. There are a lot of switch backs and the ground is quite loose. We had both been taking Diamox (with no side effects) and my wife had no problems with the altitude. I did experience altitude sickness and felt terrible on summit night and was vomiting most of the way up. Our guides kept a close watch on my condition noting no headaches or difficulty breathing so we were able to reach Gilman’s Point at sunrise and Uhuru Peak at 7:30 am. It was absolutely fantastic. I think most people we talked to later had made it to the summit including some people 60 – 70 years old. We had a good night and did not find the weather too cold but we were wearing good ski gear. In fact my wife took off her balaclava and we both removed one layer of fleece we had been wearing. I think a lot depends on the wind. People we talked to who went up the night before us had both snow and wind and they said it was very cold for them.
After about 30 minutes at the top we began our descent, feeling better with each step on the way down. There was a short stop for a nap at Kibo huts and then all the way down to Horombo huts arriving at about 4:30pm. It was dinner and a good sleep for us so that we could go the rest of the way down the following day.
Our safari started a couple of days later and it was as just as good as the climb. Again the service was excellent. Our driver Cosmas “duugu”was friendly, knowledgeable, always on time and found us nearly every animal that we wanted and lots of them. Our safari was 8 days (7 nights) and went through 4 game parks, Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro including the crater and Serengeti.
All of our accommodation for the week was very good. We stayed in regular lodges, a permanent tented lodge and one mobile tented camp which were all clean, comfortable and had good food. Our 2 favourite ones were the Tarangire Safari Lodge and the Ndutu Safari Lodge. Tarangire lodge is a permanent tented camp with all the comforts you could want. It is in a fantastic location on the edge of an escarpment overlooking the river and game park below. Large tents are on concrete slabs with showers and flush toilets. We woke in the morning to find baboons and dik-diks right outside the tent. We had drinks on the large patio and watched elephants at the river below. There was a pool and large comfortable lobby and restaurant which served very good food. The Ndutu lodge also had spacious common areas to sit and talk with other travelers (including a campfire) and good restaurant. It had small cabins to stay in that were very nice with zebra and gazelle grazing right outside the door. We spent 3 nights in 2 different Sopa lodges and although they were very nice we found them too westernized for our liking.
The first park we visited was Tarangire. It was beautiful with a winding river going through rolling grasses and lots of acacia and baobab trees. There were countless animals including impala, warthogs, waterbuck, baboons and very close encounters with lots of giraffes and elephants.
Lake Manyara was our least favourite park. We did not see as many animals there. Although it was the first place we found hippos they were farther away and not as easy to see. Perhaps Feb. is not the best time of year for this park. Just outside the park we spent the morning on a cultural tour of Mto Wa Mbu village which we found very interesting and worthwhile.
The Ndutu area of Ngorongoro park was really fantastic. Feb. is when the wildebeest migration is in the area and calving season is in full swing. We stood in our Landcruiser and as far as we could see in all directions were thousands of wildebeest. Among them are large numbers of zebras, gazelles, giraffes, and of course predators like lions, hyenas and cheetahs. The high point of our safari was watching a cheetah stalk and then take down and kill a wildebeest.
After Ndutu we spent 2 days in the Serengeti and 1 day in the Ngorongoro crater. Both were really great especially the crater which has its own closed ecosystem. Nearly all the animals you see in the other parks are in the crater. We were lucky enough to see a couple of rhinos at a distance but with binoculars we had a good look at them.
During our safari we drove more than 1200 km. on some very rough and dusty roads. Some people might find that too long. We would get up early each morning and be out driving by 7:00 – 7:30 am as the animals are more active before the heat of the day. Some days were very long, not getting to our lodge until almost 5:00. Our truck was older than some used by other companies but it was clean and reliable. AC is really not a consideration as you have the roof open most of the time anyway. Flat tires are common but trucks carry 2 spares and they are changed quickly.
We would recommend LIPI ADVENTURE COMPANY Tanzania/Kenya as a tour operator. All the people we dealt with were friendly and professional and they give very good value for your money.
Fondest memory: Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro