I went on this trip to see African wild dogs - despite several previous trips to Africa I’d only had a short, twilight encounter with one individual, so when we managed to see a small pack dozing that = success! Good memories of the trip also came from the group I travelled with which isn’t something you can plan for – small groups (just 6 of us) can be good or bad, so I count myself lucky – thanks guys and gals!
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
I don’t know about inspirational but the wild dog group was the highlight – make or break for me. It’s a tick on my list but not ticked-off – having seen them on this trip I’d love to see wild dogs again – so charismatic, and an honour to see such an endangered animal.
- What did you think of your group leader?
Rashid was a good spotter and driver (especially on the rough roads/tracks - a little crazy on the tarmac roads just a couple of times!) but he's not yet a tour leader especially in terms of clear communication - I sometimes wasn't certain about what was happening/what had been seen when we were out on the game drives, and Rashid needs to let people know what his plans are - for the immediate future so guests understand why they are/aren't doing something, but also for the day ahead/next morning so that guests can plan. I'm sure all this will come with training and experience.
Rashid is good at keeping calm in situations like getting stuck, and having someone with the knowledge to do little running repairs to the vehicle was much appreciated too.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Be patient with the visa-on-arrival process - it all works out in the end. Changing money at the airport was blissfully easy, and some things (including the guide's tip) can be paid for in US dollars or a mix of dollars and shillings anyway.
As with many holidays like this, be prepared to be flexible in terms of slight changes of accommodation, itinerary etc. - I don't think any changes were for the worst, in fact our change of lodge meant I got a lovely walk-in tent!
Be aware that hunting is permitted in Tanzania. We didn't stumble upon this at all but if you're anti-hunting (as I am), roadside signs advertising the prices to kill different species or overheard conversations amongst hunters can spoil the experience just a little. I think whether the government has banned hunting will probably influence where I go for my next African trip, but not because of anything that happened on this tour.
Veggies should be prepared to clarify what you do and don't eat once you arrive, but bearing in mind the remoteness of most camps I thought I was pretty well catered for.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
A lot of the game drives were full-day so we missed what in my experience is the best time of day for mammal sightings and nice light for photos (early morning) and were often out across the hottest, brightest part of the day when many mammals seek shade and are inactive. The days when we split the drives between early morning and late afternoon/evening were the best.
The birding didn't appeal to me but I know I'm an exception and most guests are more all-round wildlife enthusiasts who like looking at the birds through bins as much as watching the mammals!
The vehicle could perhaps have been a bit better maintained and equipped for eventualities like getting stuck. Mostly it all added to the experience but I would have liked more of the seatbelts to be working for when we were on the tarmac roads which for me were too fast to not be buckled-up - fellow guests were very understanding in giving me the 'belted' seats for these journeys.