User Reviews – Tanzania
Being immersed in Nature: a surreal experience defying expectations
Stunning scenery, access to all wild nature and an enthusiastic knowledgeable driver / guide made the whole experience unforgettable.
Highlights such as “fights” between teenage elephants, lionesses surveying migrating zebras and crocs submerged in the water lurking for their moment to strike were vintage as was the hospitality offered while glamp-ing in the wild.
Masai villages, probably unchanged in the last 20,000 years were a point of serious reflection as the realisation that Serengeti was once part of the Lake Victoria before it dried up.
Email Nadia Vena | 35-50 years of age | Experience level: first safari
We had a great time in Tanzania! Highlights would definitely be the Safari. It was exhilarating to see the animals in their habitat. This was truly an experience for us, as obviously this is not available to us in Canada. Our guide was excellent - he was knowledgeable and made every effort to make our Safari experience memorable in trying to see as many animals as possible despite the rainy condition of the day. Our trek back from Mikumi was a challenge, due to to the traffic jam we encountered. However, our guide got us back to our hotel safe and sound. We would recommend Selous Explorer to others travelling to Dar Es Salaam. Thank you!
Email Kadir | 35-50 years of age | Experience level: first safari
Tanzania was beautiful but the change of our travel plan by Uhuru was not nice
We visited end of February Tanzania. Wildlife, scenery and the weather was perfect. We did camping. So nothing luxury, but the tents and sleeping bags were clean. It was a great experience to hear the wild animals in the night in the near of the tents. The cook prepared amazing food for us. So Tanzania was beautiful and I recommend everyone to go for it. One thing was not nice. It was planned that we visit first Tarangire, then Serengeti and then Ngorongoro. Uhuru changed our travel plan, we visited first Serengeti and then Ngorongoro with two other tourists. In the third day the safari ended at 1 PM for us (half day!). The two other tourists went with the same SUV to Arusha on the same day. We spend the half day at the camping side. Next day another car brought us to Tarangire. This change was not nice. Uhuru informed us about the change at the first day of the safari. So we did not have a chance other than doing the best out of the safari.
Email Theo Panagopoulos | 50-65 years of age | Experience level: first safari
Exactly as I had expected although naturally much more impressive living it up close, live n direct
First of all we were 100% satisfied with Hello Tanzania Tours service from word go! They were nothing less than perfect right to the end and best priced in the market by a country mile! Tanzania as a country from the moment we landed at the airport and had to line up for visa, baggage collection etc was generally a struggle. The roads the heavy traffic, the culture shock, the poverty needed getting used to over the first few days and then the friendliness and genuine smiles and happiness of the people just captivated you and helped you ease into the vibe of the country. Jumbo and akuna matata two well branded words, went with the territory along with trying to avoid continuous street sellers asking for exorbitant prices for unwanted souvenirs and taxi rides.
A beautiful country in its own right, blessed with a heart throbbing wildlife and beautiful friendly and happy people despite their daily struggles, I felt however disillusioned by the exuberant prices tourists were expected to pay for services that might cost less than half in other more developed tourist destinations. I don't care how high the season is, the prices being asked by hotels, some in Zanzibar were well above $1,000 per night, very nice granted but not any nicer than any hotel you might find in Dubai or Greece at high season.
Personally I was humbled how happy and genuinely positive and cheerful Tanzanians seemed in the face of abject adversity and poverty! That for me was priceless and something everyone in the developed world who correlates happiness with wealth and money should go and experience at least once a year as a reminder to themselves!
I hope to return and see other safari parks one day soon.
Thank you Hello Tanzania Tours for tirelessly bending over backwards to make this trip as memorable and accommodating as possible.
Email M. | 20-35 years of age | Experience level: first safari
It could have been better
The most important point when you book a safari is to ensure that it will be reliable. We took a 3 days safari, but it was not as well as it should.
In the description of the safari we could read the that the first day we drive to Mikumi National Park which is approximately 5 hours from Dar es Salaam. False. It was 8 hours and a half. When we arrived there was almost sunset, so we coudn't access to the park the first day. This was because the driver drove at 45 km per hour until the park. What's the catch? The three-days-access to the park was included in the total amount, so the agency (Kiliholidays Tours) saved the first day access.
Also, the car broke down the first day (problems with the refrigeration). The second day occured problems with the battery. The third day finally in Dar Es Salaam the car broke down, and we have to take other car to our hotel with a non-known driver. This driver broke down his car as well (ran out of gas), so we had to wait inside the car in the middle of the night until he came back 30 minutes later.
In summary, we had bad luck choosing the agency: we lost the enter the park the first day, and the third day we spent almost 10 hours to came back to Dar Es Salam because car breakdowns.
As something positive, we loved the park, although we didn't stay there all the time that we paid.
Email Kris | 20-35 years of age | Experience level: first safari
incredible and unique adventure
Wildlife was amazing
weather in July / August was perfect to do the safari
accommodation/Food very good (staff was very friendly)
guide was great, has a very good Knowledge about the Wildlife
Email Elizabeth | 50-65 years of age | Experience level: 2-5 safaris
with a couple of exceptions not overwhelming
I chose African Habitat safari company as it had good reviews and states in its info that they "believe in going above & beyond". That was not our perception. The interaction ended with the deposit payment.
On arrival in Arusha we were taken to the office of the agent they employ there & he allocated whatever driver & vehicle he chose. Really we could have put all the safari companies in a hat & drawn out one to go with. All the research we did to try to choose a "good" company was a bit of a waste of time.
we negotiated with the agent to send a taxi to transfer us to the airport for departure as we stayed in the area for two nights after the safari ended,,he forgot !! After lots of excuses a taxi arrived & we just made our flight. It just reinforced to us that despite all the "jumbo" & "akuna matatta" we are just an income stream
Email Sunil | 50-65 years of age | Experience level: first safari
7-day tanzania wildlife safari
My trip started from Tarangire National Park, and ended at Serengeti National Park. Everything went well until the day before my trip ended. We had a flat tire and the our truck was not equipped with proper tools to change a spare tire. So we got help from other guides. The spare tire was not in a good shape. So the next day (last day of our trip) we had another flat ; which turned out to be the spare tire. Now we don't have any spare tire . So I felt unsafe to continue on our game drive for the rest of the day. Not only that, while entering the Serengeti, the fuel tank strap broke thus hanging on one strap all the way. That slowed us down too.
I believe for any company the vehicles should be double checked for basic things such as proper inflation in tires, spare tires in good condition, overall health of the engine , check all the fluids, etc. And last but not the least , tools to change spare tires that are in working order.
Email Joann H Petrina | 65+ years of age | Experience level: first safari
A little disappointing.
The weather was very nice. Wildlife not as abundant as I expected but then it was the dry season. MY accommodations were NOT what I paid to have---I paid for a mid-range tented lodge and ended up in a tent on the ground and shorted one day stay in the Serengeti. MY agent took the money I paid (in advance) and did not make any hotel arrangements, no one day hike on Kilimanjaro nor did he provide any arrangements for the 2 day stay in Kenya for Amboseli National Park or the Park fees in Tanzania National Parks (3). This is at least $1,000 loss and time wasted. I actually had to spend a day filing a police report on firstname.lastname@example.org---Victor Nagol. This site needs to be shut down to prevent this scum from hurting other travelers and ruining the safari business in Tanzania. Most of the people were extremely nice in trying to help sort all of this out for me and make sure I saw what I came to see. I was in a group of 6 but it was a little stressful as the guide/driver never knew what to do with me. Please DO NOT advertise for this site. He is a crook
Email Nick Dale Photography | 35-50 years of age | Experience level: over 5 safaris
Fantastic beasts and where to find them
As Noël Coward never said, "Very flat, Tanzania."
When God painted Tanzania, he did so with a very limited palette of green and brown. There's not much variety in the landscape either, and some of the grassy plains are so flat you could lie on your back and see for a hundred miles! The only relief is the occasional kopje, or rock formation, but that's more like the artist's signature on a blank canvas. However, when He carved the Serengeti heat alive with wildlife, His imagination knew no limit. I saw a total of 38 animals and 85 birds during my Classic Tanzania Safari with Exodus Travels, including lion, leopard, elephant, Cape buffalo, rhinoceros, cheetah, zebra, giraffe and impala. We even saw the very rare caracal, which is a medium-sized cat similar to a lynx. There wasn't as much game as there is in the peak season from July to September, but we still saw thousands of wildebeest and zebra taking part in the Great Migration, and I took over a thousand pictures a day! In the end, I came back with 669 shots I thought were good enough to sell through stock agencies, and I even chose three prints to include in my next exhibition.
The spectacular and exciting variety of animals in places like Tanzania is the reason I keep going back to Africa, and, for me, the highlights of any trip are usually connected with the pictures I manage to take. After all, I count myself a professional photographer these days, so I never just go on 'holiday' any more! We didn't see a kill - which is the crowning glory of any safari - but we did see a cheetah just after it had killed a hartebeest. It spent around half an hour gorging itself right in front of us - only five or ten yards away - while a marabou stork and over a dozen vultures waited patiently for their share of the spoils. On the horizon, the hartebeest's mother kept up a solo vigil the whole time. Very sad...
Another highlight was seeing so many lions. One day, we were driving through a meadow with very tall grass, and I told our driver Julius that we were in 'lion country' now. Within a couple of hours, we'd seen around 14 lions in two separate prides, one lounging on a termite mound and another sleeping beside a tree! I love the excitement of predators, so it was great to be able to get such good sightings.
The other highlight was the birds we saw. Tanzania has a huge bird population, with more than 1,100 species, and we saw some spectacular specimens, including a red-cheeked cordon-bleu and a red-and-yellow barbet that I never even knew existed! When it comes to individual shots, my favourite was the one of the lilac-breasted roller at the top of the page. It's a beautiful bird anyway, but I was particularly lucky when it fluttered its wings unexpectedly without taking off. That gave me the chance to get a rare 'action shot'. I prefer action shots to portraits, but there wasn't much action to see on this trip, apart from a couple of buffalo fighting in the distance and two elephants 'fighting' like punched-out heavyweights in the 12th round of a fight, so we had to make the most of what we were given.
There were nine guests on the Exodus trip, which ran from 12-21 January 2018, plus an excellent guide called Jackson and a couple of drivers - Alex and Julius - for the four-wheel drive Toyota Land Cruisers we were using. One of the guests put a message on the Exodus community website before the trip, so I ended up meeting her at Heathrow and travelling with her all the way to Kilimanjaro, where we joined with the rest of the group. The actual 'travelling' is the only bit of travelling I don't like, so it was nice to have some company on such a long journey (and in the jeep later). Getting to Africa is never straightforward, and it took me over 38 hours to go from my flat in Putney to the front seat of the Land Cruiser on our first game drive!
I love close-up shots, so I followed my usual habit of renting a Nikon 800mm lens from Lenses For Hire for our trip. I have two Nikon camera bodies, a D810 and a D850, and I usually fit my Nikon 80-400mm lens to one and the 800mm lens to the other. I end up taking roughly half my shots with each camera. The only other things I take with me are my SpiderPro belt (just to help me carry everything to the jeep!), a lens cloth and a spare battery. You generally spend most of the day in the safari truck, so you don't need to worry about bringing hiking boots. I just put on trainers, cargo pants (with plenty of pockets!), a long-sleeved shirt (or merino base layer if it's cold) and a proper sun hat with a chin strap (not a baseball cap, as the brim gets in the way, and it might blow off!). The sun is usually very hot, and I always use a Nivea stick on my nose, but I avoid having to put on too much sun cream by covering up my arms and legs. If you're a photographer, you don't go on safari to get a sun tan!
Game drives are the whole point of going on safari, and you soon get into a routine. Whether you're staying at lodges or permanent tented camps or even in tents you have to put up yourselves, you always end up doing pretty much the same thing - and this trip was no exception. You generally wake up to an early breakfast - either at dawn or even earlier - and go out in your safari trucks for a few hours before returning for lunch or eating a packed lunch somewhere along the way. After another game drive in the afternoon, you head back to camp for a shower, drinks, dinner and a relatively early night. When I get back to camp, I like to edit all the pictures I've taken during the day, so that usually means hunching over my laptop for a few hours here and there. I wake up early at the best of times, so that means I can do a few hours' work before breakfast or, if I can't sleep, in the middle of the night!
Most safaris take place in a few different places, so the routine will also often include a journey to the next stop. Apart from a quick visit to the Oldupai Gorge to hear about the Leakeys' paleontological discoveries, we visited four main locations on our trip: Lake Manyara, Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire National Park, and they were all very different.
Lake Manyara National Park is not the most famous safari destination, but it does have a reputation for its 'tree-climbing lions'. In fact, all lions can climb trees, but the lions that climb trees at Lake Manyara (which we actually saw) get the extra benefit of cool breezes on the slopes of the surrounding hills. Inside the park, you'll find Lake Manyara itself and a flat, marshy plain around it, but also the heavily wooded hills that form the walls of the Great Rift Valley. This was formed by plate tectonics and is a vast corridor that runs the length of Africa, all the way from Jordan to Mozambique. It splits into eastern and western spurs, but they're both so wide that you can never see the hills on both sides. Instead, you find the enormous flat plains known as the African savanna(h), which are the home to all the 'traditional' game animals, including the Big Five (rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and Cape buffalo). When you enter Lake Manyara National Park, the first things you notice are the trees and the hills that form the walls of the Rift Valley. The lack of open ground means that game is tricky to spot initially - apart from a few vervet and blue monkeys in the trees - but it gets easier once you drive out to the lake. Sadly, there was an unusually large amount of overnight rain during the course of our trip, so the lake and other water holes we passed were not the 'game magnets' that they normally are during the dry season. However, if the quantity of sightings was low, the quality was high, so that kept us happy.
The Serengeti plains are the stereotypical African safari destination. There is a good quantity of game all year round, and the landscape is ideal for spotting them as there are so few trees. Apparently, all the volcanic activity in the area has left a layer of tough igneous deposits a few feet below the surface that prevent trees from getting the nourishment they need to grow. Whatever the reason, it means that you are able to see those iconic, unbroken vistas that remind you of the etymology of 'Serengeti', which means 'endless plain'.
The Ngorongoro is named after the sound a Masai cowbell makes. It is surprisingly small, and you can see the walls of both sides of the caldera from wherever you are on the central plain. There is also a strange optical illusion at work. The crater is 600 metres deep, and it looks like a very long way from the viewpoint up on the rim at 2,400 metres above sea level, but, when you look back up from the crater floor, the hills don't look that high at all. Strange... Anyway, the Ngorongoro has a justly deserved reputation as a safari destination and contains all the animals you'd expect to see - with the exception of the giraffe, which can't get down the steep slope from the crater rim because its legs are too long! On our trip, we had a couple of good sightings of lions here, particularly on the kopjes, where they choose to lie high up on the rocks to get a better view, and we came across a family group of elephants on either side of the road that gave us a great chance to get up close and personal.
In terms of the landscape, Tarangire National Park is a kind of cross between Lake Manyara and the Serengeti. It boasts the hills and water of the first, but with the open savannah of the second. It also has quite a few of the distinctive baobab trees. Baobab trees can be up to 2,000 years old, but there are few young ones as they get eaten by elephants, which eat the bark of the tree in the dry season as it contains large amounts of water.
Unfortunately, we didn't see much game there when we went. Normally, it's an important source of water for the animals, but the unseasonal rains meant that there was enough water for them to range far and wide without being tied to the Tarangire River. That meant they could 'save' that water source for when they really needed it in the dry season. We spent most of our time in Tarangire driving around looking for game, and the only good shot I got was the one of the lilac-breasted roller. On the other hand, the views were spectacular, and we spent our last night at a wonderful place called the Tarangire Safari Lodge, which gets a star rating in Lonely Planet. It had a long row of tents for all the guests, each with solar-powered lights and showers and a veranda with chairs and a table out front. There was a lookout point on the cliffs a few yards away that offered a spectacular panorama of the hills and river below, and the main building incorporated an enormous circular banda, with a vast roof above the dining area.
The food was a cut above the usual fare, and our dinner there consisted of pumpkin and ginger soup, mango and green pepper salad, bean and vegetable salad and then beef stew with rice or potatoes, followed by passion fruit mousse and plum tart with custard. The only problem was all the bugs flying around - even indoors. They managed to bite me even through my shirt, leaving four angry red spots on my back. It was horrendous, and it was the first time on the entire trip that I threatened to lose my sense of humour. Trying to edit my pictures on my laptop at the bar after dinner was almost impossible. The staff didn't do anything about all the creepy-crawlies and flying insects - apart from clearing away the dead bugs with a broom! - and it got even worse when I got back to my tent. It was crawling with insects, but there was no bug spray, and the bed didn't even have a mosquito net. When I couldn’t find the light switch as it wasn’t in the bathroom...well, I lost it and started sweating my head off! I hope my neighbours didn’t hear me! In the end, I had to squash all the bugs with a laminated menu card from the welcome pack. What a way to ruin - and I mean absolutely ruin! - what should’ve been a great experience to end the trip.
This Is Africa
That brings me on to a final point about going on safari. You have to take the rough with the smooth. 'This Is Africa', as they say, so you should expect a few minor problems and even one or two dramas, but you have to take it in good part. "Hakuna matata," as they say, or "No worries." If you were to write a list of pros and cons for going on safari, it would look something like this:
Long journey to get there
Long hours in the jeep
No electricity during the night (if at all!)
No hot water during the night (if at all!)
Patchy mobile coverage
Patchy or non-existent wi-fi
Broken equipment, eg in-car radio transceivers
Mosquitoes carrying a risk of malaria (and therefore having to take Malarone pills every day)
Tsetse flies (with a very sharp bite!) carrying a risk of sleeping sickness
All kinds of other insects and bugs, dropping on you wherever you are and making a home in the bathroom
Not being able to drink the water
Poor quality food and lack of alternative options
Constant worry about losing something or having it stolen (particularly bad in my case when staying in a tent without a lock on it with £30,000-worth of camera equipment in my bag!)
Daily risk of food poisoning (particularly from ice in drinks and/or washed vegetables such as green peppers - which directly caused me to make five unscheduled trips to the bathroom in Tarangire!)
Having to share a room/tent with someone who is not necessarily your favourite person in the world (unless you pay hundreds of pounds to sleep on your own!)
Vehicles often breaking down or getting stuck
Animals trying to get into your tent at night
Having to be escorted around the camp after dark in case of animal attack
Etc, etc, etc...
Er, that's it...
Yes, I know it's a very long list of cons and a very short list of pros. In fact, it was worse than that on our trip as a bridge was washed away by the flooding, and we had to find a way to ford the river in our Land Cruiser. So many jeeps got stuck in the mud trying to do the same thing that it looked a bit like the elephants' graveyard, but we eventually found a way across. Our problems didn't end there, though, as some enterprising locals had decided to pile rocks on the way up from the makeshift river crossing and were demanding money to let us through! We eventually had to have a whip-round and gave them a few Tanzanian shillings. Even then, we got stuck in the mud on the way back to the main road, and it was only when all the passengers climbed out of the jeep that Julius was able to make it to safety. We all thought he'd done a great job - until we found out that Alex had managed drive the other jeep across without any problems at all!
And yet, and yet...we did see fantastic wildlife. It may not sound like much compared to having to get up at five in the morning and go without hot water, electricity and wi-fi most of the time, but the fact I keep going back speaks for itself. When you sit down with your grandchildren on your knee, and they ask what you did during your lifetime, are you going to tell them you had eight hours' sleep every night and a hot shower every morning and never let a day go by without checking social media, or are you going to tell them you saw the best of God's creation in Africa...?
1 x tube of sun cream (confiscated at Heathrow)
1 x tube of shower gel (confiscated at Heathrow)
£60 fine for exceeding hand luggage weight limit (confiscated at Heathrow)
Cape (or African) buffalo
Common (or plains) zebra
Abdim’s storkAfrican fish eagle
Black-necked sand goose
Brown snake eagle
Common house martin
Eastern chanting goshawk
Grey crowned crane
Southern ground hornbill
Tailed rufous weaver
Von der Decken’s hornbill
White-faced whistling duck
White-headed buffalo weaver