Poor Tanzanian Safari with Africa Smart Safaris
We took a five day two night safari trip from Africa Smart Safaris Ltd. Soter Clemence Mutambalik the manager lied to us that there were three Spanish who had joined already and our joining could cost lower. He also said we could pay in credit card. Things went wrong from there, he tricked us to do cash advance from credit card instead of visa payment.
On the next day the driver Salim picked us up on time at 9am. It we have to wait for 1.5 hour for him to get lunchbox, fuel, get another japanese whom Soter tricked into our tour about a holland guy joining, another Egyptian guy who only joined a day tour to Tangarie national park (our first day schedule). We saw Soter and asked him about the Spanish and he lied that they had stomach problem and would join the same night. We were at the gate at 12:30pm and can only stayed in the park for 3.5 hours. The driver was just a driver not a guide. He wanted to end early and just that we pushed him to stay longer and we had half hour more.
Of course the Spanish did not come that night, the cook Mase was slow on cooking and his food was salty. We thought he was new on this freelance job. The next morning we had to wait for an hour from our 8am scheduled start, for a new girl who fell on Soter's trap to join, for the cook slow packing. Later the driver made us wait another half hour to pay for bank-in for park entrance payment (shouldn't it be done before ?). Later the driver was caught and fined for a flat tyre and that took us another half hour.
There are too many things going wrong : the cook does not know how to set up the tent, his food stayed on lousy, the driver was not really familiar with Serengeti and kept asking other drivers around for the animals. He did not have much planning about the areas to go ant we kept around Serenora and can stay on the road without seeing any animals.
Don't trust Africa Smart Safaris Ltd and Soter Clemence MutambalikRelated to:
- Adventure Travel
Terrible Safari with 'Meru Mountain Treks'
A friend and I did a three day safari to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro crater recently with Meru Mountain Treks & Safaris ltd based in Arusha, Tanzania. We organised the safari through Thabit, at Celina Tours. Both companies were terrible and must be collaborating to rip tourists off.
Considering this sort of safari is something you do once in a lifetime, we were devastated with how terrible both these companies were.
On day one, when they were supposed to pick us up and drive us to the Serengeti, they picked us up and drove us to the bus stop and tried to make us catch a bus there and said someone would pick us up. After we refused to get on a bus, we waited for 2 hours until they organised a taxi for us to take us to where the safari car was. This was already cutting into our time in the park. You don't pay $140 per day to get on a bus when they tell you someone will drive you there. Especially not a Tanzanian bus.
We eventually met with the safari car which wouldnt start. Finally we got going to the Serengeti. we saw a few animals and had a good afternoon. When we got to camp, there weren't enough sleeping bags for us. So we spent the cold night shivering in a tent wearing all our clothes and using a towel for a blanket. The guide, Geoffry, was hopeless. He didn't have any idea about the animals or plants. ABout the parks, history or massai people. He made things up throughout the safari. One day he told us that Hippo's can hold their breath for up to 20 minutes. The next day he said it was 50 minutes.
On the second day our car broke down for about half an hour the first time in the morning, and again in the afternoon. We spent the night again, freezing in the tent. The last day was in Ngorongoro. We got up at 5am to leave the camp by 6 but on the way out of the camp ground, surprise surprise, the car conked out again. We got into the park at around 9am due to the mechanical issues of the car.
We saw some more animals, but when we asked to stop to take photos the guide kept rushing us to hurry up because we had to be out the park gate at a certain time.
On the way home, we stopped at Karatu, a small town for some 'quick repairs' on the car. We spent 4 hours on the side of a dirty road while the car was being repaired. Worse still they kept telling us the car would be fixed in ten minutes. We were meant to be back in Arusha by 3pm that afternoon. At 11pm we got home.
It was deplorable the way we were treated and how terrible the service of these companies were. When we notified both companies, they blamed each other. The Actaul safari was with Meru Mountain treks and safaris. The lift to the Serengeti was supposed to be organised with Celina tours.
I wouldn't want anyone else to go through this experience. So be weary of Meru Mountain Treks and Safaris and also of Celina Tours based in Arusha.Related to:
- National/State Park
Unfortunately, although I liked Tanzanians very much there is a small part of them, especially young boys who have this bad habit.
They come behind you very silently and wait for a chance to open your backpack . Sometimes they come in groups and while one of them is trying to attract your attention by selling you something or asking for something, one of the group comes behind you and does the “job”....You usually don't hear or feel anything.
It happened to me once in Rwanda and once in Tanzania. Fortunately I heard the sound of the zipper opening maybe because I am always alert for situations like this...I reacted spontaneously and caught the thief by the arm , shouting at them to intimidate them.
So when you have your day pack on your back, just keep away from groups of local people or else just keep it in front of you. Keep your money next to your body! Good luck!
The monkey in the photo has just practiced this technique..ha.ha....he jumped on the table opened a bag and grabbed something to eat...!
Beware Frostbite If You're Climbing Kilimanjaro
If you're climbing Kilimanjaro be warned that it gets COLD as you summit. As we were climbing up, we saw a woman on her way down who had this horrible scabbing all over her nose. We couldn't figure out what it was...we thought maybe it was sunburn. Well, we learned the hard way! As you summit, you're climbing at night and reaching higher altitude. You don't really feel the cold because you're warm from the physical exertion of the climb. And even though I had a face mask, I didn't keep it up the whole time because it was harder to breath in the high altitude. Big mistake! When we woke up the morning after the climb, 3 of us had swollen faces with pus pockets all over our nose and cheeks...these eventually popped, scabbed and peeled over the course of the next 5 days. Our guides told us it was frost nip. My advice is to keep your face covered and only unmask to take pictures or drink water. And definitely have a tube of neosporin on hand in case you do get the 'nip.' This was the only thing that helped us.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
PLEASE PREPARE! Malaria can sometimes be fatal and at best may make you regret that you survived. Medicines must be taken sometimes weeks BEFORE you come here. There are 4 different species of Malaria and humans can get them all from the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Illness and death from malaria are largely preventable - if you plan ahead.
While you are here you need to use a repellent spray early in the morning and any periods of darkness, especially at night. The Bartender at my beach hotel had Malaria 3 times before he was 25. Do not take chances!
I would suggest you buy repellent with 100% DEET.
- Budget Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
BEWARE OF IMMIGRATION AND CORRUPT POLICE IN ARUSHA
I have just escaped from one of my worst experiences in Arusha Tanzania last week -10th Nov 2009-I was stopped by corrupt Immigration officials in Arusha -they confiscated my British Passport[I am a white British male ] and they said taht I had come on an a bogus Visa,although I was granted a visitors Visa at Dar Airport on arrival for three months-my visa was still valid for 2/12 months when I was arrested.My Tanzanian hotel manager tried to intervene on my behalf -but was warned not to come in between-as they would also frame him on bogus charges and that they were considering raiding his hotel premises witha view to arresting some wazungus and extorting money from them.I was told by my Guide that these Immigration officials always target tourists around the Christmas time and YOU HAVE NO HOPE OF BEING HELPED BY ANY OFFICIALS-as they are all on the honey bounty.I realised this when I demanded to see the Regional Immigration Officer...who turned out to be a muppet ..a joker..eventually my hotel manager told me to settle with the corrupt senior immigration official-otherwise they would frame me up with bogus charges and hand me over to their corrupt Police colleagues -a case thye recently did with a AUSTRALIAN lady tourist.[HER OFFENCE...HELPING HER GUIDE TO COOK AT THE MASAAI MAARA CAMP SITE]
I had no choice,after speaking to everyone and everybody in Arusha and Dar-I found that all my comlplints fell on deaf ears-I finally settled by paying the corrupt immigration officials ..
650-000 TZS-so I COULD GET MY PASSPORT BACK.I was told by the Immigration officials that had I not settled today,they were going to frame me up on some charges and throw me in Jail.I could be in detention for months,and my passport would be confiscated..the British Embassy would be able to do NOTHING!
SO PLEASE BE AWARE-ALWAYS KEEP A PHOTOCOPY OF YOUR PASSPORT-AND VISA PAGE WITH YOU-AND KEEP YOUR ORIGINAL PASSPORT SOMEWHERE SAFE-NEVER HAND OVER YOUR PASSPORT TO IMMIGRATION OR POLICE -AS THEY WILL BLACKMAIL YOU WITH IT-TRY TO SETTLE WITH THEM THERE AND THEN-OFFER THEM "A BONE" AND TRY TO SHAKE THEM OFF SOONER RATHER THEN LATER.
I will never ever return to this lawless country.!
As in many parts of Africa the roads in Tanzania are often not paved, making for bumpy, dusty rides. You will probably want to travel with the windows down much of the time – not only is it cooler, but you get more vivid impressions of the country (sights, scents and sounds) that way. So don’t wear your best clothes as whatever you have on will get grubby and will have a reddish tinge at the end of any long drive. You may find too, as we did on occasion, that the dusty will get in your throat and leave you thirsty and even coughing at times, but it’s all worth it for the experiences you will have a long the way.
Another thing to bear in mind is that all this dust will find its way onto more than just your clothing, so be sure to clean your camera every night if you don’t want the grit to seize up the mechanism or ruin your photos with unwanted black blobs!
Elephants may look cute ...
... but beware. On our first full day in Tanzania we visited Lake Manyara National Park, and after early encounters with a troop of baboons and some grazing giraffe, we were thrilled to spot our first elephant, a large bull. Reginald stopped the vehicle and we observed him eating for a short while, before he moved behind a bush to find some juicier leaves. So that we could carry on watching, Reginald backed up our vehicle a few yards, but in doing so unfortunately let one wheel drop off the side of the track into a gully below. When he tried to drive forwards again, we realised that the vehicle was stuck.
Not to worry – he had all the equipment he needed in order to lift it and get us moving again. However, when he opened his door he attracted the attention of the elephant, who started to move towards us, flapping his ears rather threateningly. Quickly Reginald slipped back into his seat, and shut the door. The elephant paused – but didn’t retreat. What to do now?
After a few minutes, when the elephant seemed to have turned his attention once more to eating, Reginald tried again, but no sooner was the door opened than he started to move towards us again. We were trapped. The thought started to occur to both Chris and me that the vehicle, though sturdy, would not stand too much interference from such a large beast. We questioned whether Reginald would be wise to make a third attempt at getting out, but couldn’t see how else we were going to get away. How long would it be before the elephant got bored and moved off?
Then Reginald came up with a plan. He used his two-way radio to see if any other safari vehicle was in the vicinity and luckily there was one only a few minutes’ drive away. Its driver came to our rescue, bringing his vehicle around the other side of “our” elephant and distracting him sufficiently for Reginald to at last climb out of ours and get us moving again.
We were never completely certain whether we had been in any real danger, or had just felt that we might be, but the incident was a dramatic introduction to our week on safari and gave us a healthy respect for the power of these huge beasts.Related to:
A valid passport and visa are still required for all visiting Tanzania. However, a visa can also be obtained at any of the country’s entry points. The costs did recently go up to US$100 (cash only). I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of always be conscious of your surroundings. I consider myself a seasoned traveler and I sill fall prey sometimes. During my last trips I decided to travel as the locals do by bus from Kenya, I purchased and received my Tanzanian visa (no problem) and begin to make my way from the Kenya boarder into Tanzania (there is about 20 feet of no man’s land) meaning your nether in Kenya or Tanzania and your fair game to the pick pockets, peddlers selling their wares, and just about anything else that lurks in that space. Walking along I felt something moving (more like a tug) on the back of my arm, and as I turn to look behind me I found someone elbow deep in my bag luckily the only thing in there was film, a bottle of water, and a couple of magazines. He immediately backed off (mainly because I pushed him so hard he stumbled) and my bus driver was at my side pronto. With that said, it is 99.1% safe. Just be aware.
If you’re not quite ready for that kind of adventure just yet, no problem give your self plenty of time to get your visa prior to your arrival.
Happy Travels!Related to:
- Study Abroad
YELLOW FEVER VACCINATION REQUIREMENT.
02 April 2008.
I wish to inform you that Tanzania Health Authority has advised that all passengers traveling to Tanzania will be required to produce a valid yellow fever Vaccination Certificate upon arrival in any entry point to Tanzania.
This requirement also covers visitors from East African Community partner states.
The vaccination validity is at least 10 days before date of travel.
Drugs in Tanzania
Once walking with a friend down a street in Moshi town, a man apporached us asking if we wanted a safari (this is a very common occurence), when we refused his offer he started spouting off about drugs, asking us if wanted to "kiss the sky". My advice is, do not buy any street drugs in Tanzania. I cannot emphasis this enough. The punishments are extremly harsh even for small amounts of marijuana. You will arressted thrown into Tanzanian jail, and at the mercy of your country's embassy (if they choose to assit you). Forgeiners do not get any special treatment when it comes to illicit drugs.
Acute mountain sickness due to the altitude is the one thing on Kilimanjaro that we saw a lot. If you exhibit ataxia (can't stand with feet together and arms by your sides with your eyes closed) then you are supposed to immediately descend.
To properly acclimatize, you would need to ascend only 1000 ft (305m) per day with a rest day every 3rd day if you're at 10,000 ft (3,048m) or higher. We didn't want to stay up there that long so I took Diamox and had no problems. Others were quitting early, throwing up, and suffering... ultimately not making it to the top.
We initially saw people looking sick at the Lava Tower. Previous groups who were chatty no longer talked. Some people had headaches that wouldn't go away, even with pain killers. Once we got to Barranco camp people still had bad headaches. Most people complained that they felt sick at Karranga camp and then even more so during the summit attempt. One woman threw up 12 times and "crawled her way to the rim", but had to turn around instead of go to the summit. Another woman was evacuated due to cerebal edema and went to the hospital.
In our group, the people that had no problems at all were those who acclimatized by climbing Mt. Meru before Kilimanjaro or those who took Diamox. I took 250 mg twice a day starting the morning of day 3. My friend took it after Lava Tower when she had a "skull-crushing headache". The drug forced me to breathe faster so my nose and throat dried out, and my lips felt tingly the first day and my fingers felt tingly after a couple days of taking it, but that was it.
Tanzania is a poor country. Electricity mainly comes from hydroelectric plants in the inland. Though Tanzania generally receives lots of rain, the water levels of the main lakes are very low after a period of draught in specific parts of the country. Therefore, daytime power cuts have been introduced. During my visit in July and August 2006, power was cut on Monday, Wednesday and Friday between (about) 8 a.m. and (about) 5 p.m..
Late September 2006, my parents-in-law informed me that there is no power availabe any more at any day of the week (including the weekends) at daytime. And the situation is getting worse.
Rich Tanzanians, expatriates and top class hotels have their own diesel generators, but if you travel on a low budget, be prepared for not having electricity for most of the time. And keep in mind that many refrigerators don't work and some food may not be fresh any more.
In order to enter Tanzania, you are required to have been vaccinated against yellow fever. It is not compulsory but highly recommended to take anti-malaria profilaxis and to protect against mosquito bites.
Make sure you have enough diesel
When driving through Tanzania, you'll see lots of people who are just sitting along the road side. You'll also see jerry cans, lots of them. And you'll see trucks that have stopped for a break in ridiculous places. So what's that!?
Truck drivers are said to get paid very little. To 'earn' a bit extra, they sell small amounts of diesel to the people sitting along the road side. So they pretend that their truck uses just a little more diesel than it actually does. The selling price (between druck driver and local people) is below the regular market price.
If you're stuck without diesel somewhere, the people along the road will be willing to help you out. This friendly service will only be offered if you pay them exceptionally high prices, well above the regular diesel price. And it is highly likely that the price will additionally double or triple if they see that you are a 'Mzungu' (a foreigner). The alternative in such a situation is to call someone to help you out (but whom!), or to start walking along the road to find a petrol station. The latter may only be an option in cities. But what about leaving your car unattended?
So, always be sure that you have enough diesel (or regular petrol), and maybe bring a full jerry can yourself.Related to:
- Road Trip
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