We cannot speak too highly of Go2Tanzania and the personal level of service. Actually planning the holiday took an immense amount of time as we changed our minds a number of times and Christine patiently advised us afresh each time. We thought our safari was fantastic and a wonderful return to Tanzania.
Hatari, Maweninga and Gibbs Farm all went out of their way to ensure that our requirements were more than met with an eagerness that reflected their high opinion of Christine. Special mention must be made to Go2Tanzania for providing us with our truly wonderful safari guide Alphayo Leiyan, whose knowledge, friendliness, driving skills and animal spotting skills were outstanding and enriched our experience so much.
When Qatar Airways were late on our London-Doha flight so we missed our direct flight from Doha to Kilimanjaro, Christine arranged for us to be met at Dar and looked after while we waited for the next flight. She also ensured that we did not miss out on our safari by subtly changing the timetable of the first 2 days. We have no hesitation in wholeheartedly recommending Go2Tanzani for their exceptional advice and service during the planning stage and throughout our holiday. Thank you Christine!
We arrived late for dinner, (instead of breakfast as planned) due to extreme delays with the journey from UK. Dinner is normally taken at a long communal table but the lodge kindly arranged a separate table for us as, after 30 hours of travelling, we were a little tired! On the second night they ensured that we were sitting with other English speakers and we had a great evening chatting with the different nationalities! Although there was a set menu, enormous detail had been paid to our pre-notified diet requirements. We were escorted to our well- equipped and spacious en suite lodge by a Masai to ensure there were no animals en route and the Masais kept watch all night as animals would roam freely though the lodge grounds. Although electricity goes off overnight, Hatari had kindly arranged battery power for a sleep apnoea machine. Malaria is not a problem here because of the altitude so no mosquito nets were needed. The highlight of Hatari was the sight of giraffes and other animals grazing very close by as we ate our excellent a la carte breakfast.
We spent a day going up Mt Meru to the caldera, stopping off as we drove part of the way up to view wildlife and waterfalls, driving through an arch formed by a massive fig tree, before walking up escorted by an armed guide to see buffaloes and baboons. We had our best packed lunch of our whole safari when the driver produced a tower of metal dishes, each containing different hot delicacies. The next morning’s drive showed us lakes pink-ringed by flamingoes feeding as well as local sites of historic interest.
Tarangire and the Maweninga Tented Camp
After lunch, we met our driver, Alphayo Leiyan, who was our private driver for the rest of our safari. He was well-educated and a pleasure to talk to, an excellent driver with a superb knowledge of the animals we wished to see, where best to find them, and the ability to make out well-camouflaged game at an unbelievable distance.
Tarangire has about 3,000 elephants and a mass of other game in a relatively compact area, which makes it ideal for those experiencing the African plains for the first time. Long herds of zebra and wildebeest move slowly across the savannah, largely ignoring the tourist jeeps but keeping a keen eye out for the predators. Lions lie lazily in the shade, too idle to move in the heat of the day, however close the jeeps come. We were extremely fortunate that Alphayo spotted high in the branches of trees both a sleeping leopard and a tree-climbing lion. We also saw a python and a monitor lizard, where he practically had to bring us into touching distance before we saw them, though he had picked them out from 100 yards away as well as cheetahs, ostriches, giraffes, springboks and other antelopes.
Maweninga Camp consisted of a number of spacious tents perched on an escarpment, looking across a lake to the towering side of the rift valley, with an amazing view, wonderful for both sunrise and sunset. The evening meal was excellent, and again due notice had been taken of dietary requirements, breakfast was passable but the packed lunch disappointing. Again we were kindly given the only tent with overnight power, although there were facilities for charging appliances at reception, and there was no need for a mosquito net round the bed. The Masai were very much in evidence throughout our stay as guards. The worst part of the camp was the late afternoon approach after a day’s safari, which suffered from the attention of tsetse flies which sting viciously though we were assured that there was no risk of sleeping sickness. However, the effect of the sting wears off very quickly and they are not around in the morning or evening so the meals could be eaten al fresco.
Gibbs Farm and the Ngorongoro Crater
Gibbs Farm is in the most wonderful setting right on the outside edge of the Ngorongoro Crater, nestled into the game reserve – a true paradise and well worth a day to itself, as well as being a good base for visiting the Crater. Our ‘Weaver’ cottage was luxurious, well-equipped and huge with indoor and outdoor showers and a massive stone bath. Most of the delicious food (all organic) came from the farm, including the coffee and there was a good selection of dishes for the four courses. As we were celebrating a birthday we spent a day there relaxing and exploring the farm including milking a cow, and had a wonderful birthday treat at dinner time with a dozen staff bearing a cake, stamping feet and singing Happy Birthday! A number of talks were on offer down by the fire pit, which was lit as one of the deterrents to elephants from the nearby crater entering and eating the produce in the extensive vegetable gardens! The “sundowner” included waiting silently to watch the shy bushbabies creep down to a feeding tray.
The Ngorongoro Crater was all it was supposed to be. If you have only one day to spend viewing game on your holiday, this is the place to go. We saw all the big 5 as well as many other animals here and a good selection of striking birds. Lunch was spent watching hippos in a lake. The view of the world’s largest caldera was spectacular as we descended from the rim.
After our safari, we spent a week in Zanzibar and the last night in Dar es Salaam
Zanzibar Palace Hotel, Stone Town
We spent a night here to look at Stone Town and indulge in retail therapy. The hotel is an old merchant house tucked amongst the back streets. Our room was good sized with a bath large enough for two, but a steep climb up the steps with no lift. Breakfast was adequate and the hotel service was excellent. The narrow streets were atmospheric but another time we would have preferred to stay at one of the hotels on the beach for a better view.
Next Paradise Hotel, Zanzibar
This hotel on the east side of the island is paradise indeed – relaxing, peaceful and beautiful- on a wonderful white sandy beach with palm trees. The terrace of our ground floor room was only a few feet from the Indian Ocean and there were two swimming pools. The food was excellent, based largely on fish, and one could ask for changes to the menu if advised by late afternoon. Our bed was decorated each day with towels and flower petals- it seemed a pity to spoil it by going to bed! It is not a hotel for those wanting some night life but great for somewhere to recharge one’s batteries after the excitement of a safari.
Southern Sun Hotel, Dar es Salaam
This is a business hotel in the heart of Dar es Salaam. It was comfortable and the staff readily changed our room when we pointed out that our non-smoking room smelled of smoke. We ate there for convenience and it was fine. The reason for our stay was a nostalgic visit to the city where Jonathan lived when young. He remembered learning to swim at Oyster Bay but sadly his memories of the white tropical beach were now somewhat tarnished by the debris littering the beach, visible at low tide. Go2Tanzania arranged a driver not just to collect and deliver us to the airport, but also to tour the neighbourhood looking for old haunts and we were delighted to visit two of the houses he used to live in. However the undoubted highlight was an unscheduled visit to his old primary school, where we were joyously welcomed by the teachers and pupils and had a photograph taken of him sitting in “his” old wooden desk, surrounded by ecstatically happy, smiling faces.
Our wonderful holiday was made possible through the amazing organisation of Christine and Fiona at Go2Tanzania, a company which we have no hesitation in recommending. We had severe problems with our outward journey but it was wonderful to have Christine at the end of the phone to provide much-needed assistance and to rearrange our early timetable. From that point on everything went to plan and we had an unforgettable holiday – thank you Go2Tanzania!