Travelogue Tanzania 2009
Organization, Agencies and Tips
Once we had the idea to go on safari we quickly found the specialized agency Afrika Tours Individuell which has its office by chance a couple of hundred meters from where we live. Therefore we had the possibility to talk to the specialists in person instead of using telephone and internet only. Soon it was clear that Tanzania was the best destination for us. Where to go is highly dependent on the time of the year you want to travel. First we were a bit skeptical as rainy season was to start in by the end of March, but this year it started late, there were few tourists and it was a very good point of time to see the animals.
In different guide books we found the recommendation to book our safari in Germany and not in Tanzania because it would be saver, quicker and not more expensive. We did so and were very pleased with everything. In Tanzania our whole safari was handled by Simba Safaris and on Zanzibar Island Express was taking care of us.
These are the things you should consider when planning your safari:
- Get a detailed schedule for your trip. You should have a description of each single day, most important the "game drives", your tours to the national parks should be listed. Checking this plan carefully and asking questions about a day without enough details saved us trouble because what we were told in Germany was not what Simba had planned for us regarding one single game drive. Everything else was perfect.
- Your programme has to be adapted to the time of the year as for example the big migration of zebras and gnus passes through different parts of the Serengeti at different times.
- Check the type of your vehicle. It should be a 4-wheel-drive off road vehicle with an elevating roof. The elevating roof not only gives you the possibility to stand in the car while watching the animals but also provides sun protection. Make sure that you get a car which is technically flawless. Choosing a low price might give you an old vehicle and make you lose a day due to break downs.
- Choose a well setablished agency, even if it is more expensive. Apart from a good car the eyes and the experience of your guide will decide if what you see and how close you get to the animals.
- Check the number of seats of you vehicle and the maximum number of passengers in the car. In our case there would have been six passenger seats but it would have been crowded with four persons already, as you need space to move in the car while watching the animals. Check if it might happen that two or more cars will form a convoy. Consider the option of a private safari with no other passengers in your car. We had such a private safari as there was no other option at this time of the year but it is not much more expensive anyway and will be much more relaxed as you have space and you are 100% free to decide what to do, e.g. how long you want to watch a certain animal.
- If you are looking for good pictures a compact camera will not do the job. We had a digital reflex camera with two lenses, 17-85mm and 70-300mm with lens hoods and filters to protect the lenses. During the game drives the 70-300mm was best. For quick wide angle shots we had an additional compact camera. Changing the lenses is hardly possible during the game drive and definitively not quick enough. There is a lot of dust, so bellows are essential to protect your equipment.
- Do not go on safari without binoculars each person. We had two pairs of 10×42 and were very content with them. Best are binoculars which are filled with nitrogen to keep humidity outside, e.g. due to a humid climate or a sudden rain.
© Volker Umpfenbach