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Trip Report to Tanzania


love_nature
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Hello everyone,

 

I just came back from my first safari trip to Tanzania. It was such an amazing trip and I am already planning

for a return trip there. I am not sure if it will be next year, but I definitely will be going back soon.

 

I am going trough my pictures and I will post some very soon.

 

Here is a very brief trip report:

 

Day-1

Arrived in Arusha and got through immigration. Once I got all my bags, I was trying to find my driver/guide.

I was not greeted immediately by my driver/guide until I passed the customs area. I approached a

representative of the Ranger Safari's who is stationed at the airport and asked him if he can help me call

Ranger Safaris’ office to locate my driver/guide. He looked at my itinerary and told me that he knows my

driver and will call him for me. At this point the Ranger Safari’s rep asked me and the other

travelers to follow him and headed towards the customs checking area. Once we got there, a female customs

officer rudely asked for my passport. I gave her my passport, and when she was done, she asked me to open

my bags and show it to the inspecting officer.

The inspecting officer started going through my luggage and my camera equipment and immediately started

making comments like "this item is new how much did you pay for it?" He also asked me how much

each of my equipment cost. I gave him an estimated amount of $10,000 for all. By this time I noticed

that the airport was clearing up fast except for a group of 4 American travelers and myself.

The Ranger Safaris' rep left me at the customs check area and proceeded with the other travelers to

connect them with their drivers/guides. He then came back and started discussing with the customs officer

in Swahili. After a minute or so, he took me to the side and said “the officer is saying that you have a lot of

expensive equipment and he will confiscate it unless you show him a paper from the US customs saying that

all the equipment belongs to you. I suggest you give him about $200 USD and he will let you go". I refused to

pay anything and argued with the Ranger Safari's rep. I asked him to call his head office and report to his

manager, but he kept telling me the easiest thing to do was just to pay his partner in crime. Now there were no

travelers at the terminal. The officer who was waiting a bribe from me was joined by six other airport security

personnel all enjoying a popcorn snack and discussing me in Swahili. With no chance to contact Ranger

Safari's head office or the American embassy, I gave the Ranger Safari's rep $20 USD. He went over to his

partner and gave him the $20. After a short while, he came back and said, " I explained to him that you are a

Ranger Safari's customer and he decided to let you go because he knows me very well".

I reported this case to Ranger Safari's staff the next day during our orientation meeting and they assured me

that they will follow up with the case and they will take some action against their rep at the airport. Honestly,

they will not take any action against him.

It seems that bribery and stealing are just a way of life in Tanzania. If anything, he will get a tap on the

shoulder for what he did.

 

Day-2 ~ Day -9:

Game drives in Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti & Lake Manyara were all excellent.

We saw lions, cheetah, leopard, hyena all kinds of birds, birds of prey, etc. The only animal that

we haven't seen was the Rhino.

 

Day-10:

The last day, we stayed at the Karama Lodge. The lodge is not bad and like any other place you visit in

Tanzania, they have smiling and friendly staff, but with sticky fingers. Here also we had to check out from

the lodge at 10:00 am and our flights were at 9:30 pm.

The front desk at Karama offer a room that is locked and secure. They assured us that there is only one

person that has the key to the room. We put all our bags there since we were not going to leave the

Karama lodge until about 6:00pm. I msitakenly put my passport/money pouch in my camera bag and

forgot to take it with me. About two hours later, I rememberd that I had left it and went back to get the

pouch, someone had already opened the office and stole $100 USD. Ofcourse everyone denied it including

the duty manager that day. It could have been worst with all my passport and camera equipment stolen.

Partly I blame myself for trusting the hotel staff. Trustworthiness & honesty are just unfortunately words

that the Tanzanian's don't seem to know.

 

Highlights of the safari:

1) A visit to a Masai village. I knew before hand that we were going to visit a Masai village and took with me a

total of 240 pencils to give to the students.

I was happy to see the faces of those children light up as their teacher started handing them two pieces of pencils

each. It breaks your heart to see so much poverty and impoverished life despite Tanzania being rich with so

much natural resources.

 

2) Being in the middle of the migration: During a visit to Lobo, we were right in the middle of the Wildebeest

migration. It is such an amazing sight to see.

 

3) A visit to Ngorongoro Crater: I am still amazed at the natural formation of the crater and the wildlife it supports.

 

In conclusion, other than the two incidents, I am truly happy that I experienced the natural beauty and wildlife of Tanzania. I will not allow what happened to me to keep me back from going back there again. It is my hope that I will have a better experience the next time I visit.

 

Manny,

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  • 1 month later...

I just saw your report. The bribery story at the airport is unfortunate but it is good you held your ground and were out only $20 and not $200. Ranger needs to deal with this guide. I am just wondering if you booked with Ranger direct or through an agent.

 

You had some wonderful wildlife viewing and I am glad you enjoyed your trip enough to return, despite the couple incidents of dishonesty.

 

What do you have planned for next time?

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Hello Atravelynn,

 

How are you? Thank you for the kind words.

I am trying to put the two bad incidences behind me and move forward.

I booked my travel with 2Afrika and they used Ranger as their provider in TZ. I reported the incidents to 2Afrika when I came back to the US and they took the matter seriously. They complained to Karama lodge and Karama issued me $100 check for the money that was stolen on their property. Ranger also e-mailed me a few weeks ago saying that they took a disciplinary action against their employee so he does not repeat it again. I am not sure that I could believe that. I guess you can say I have some closure to this issue and as time goes by I will be fine. I definitely want to go back and experience the amazing wildlife that TZ offers.

 

Right now I do not have anything planned yet. I would like to take a trip to Denali sometime in the near future, but for now I am staying put.

 

Thanks again Atravelynn.

 

Manny

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Somehow I also missed this report so sorry Love_Nature that you received so little response to your thread. I would love to see your photos sometime. I feel really annoyed on your behalf that you should have been treated like that at the airport. I don't know what I would have done in your place, however it is more indication (if any is needed) that I must keep up my Kiswahili lessons as at least I would be able to tell them in their language what rotten, cheating scoundrels they are! But then I might find myself on the exclusion list like Nyamera! :o

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Hello Twaffle,

 

Its alright that I got little response to my post. I just wanted to share my experience and let others know to watch out. I guess I will need some kind of special membership or endorsement by one of the senior members like you to get some attention huh! ;)

 

Thank you for understanding what I went through and I just hope no one experiences it. Knowing Kisiwahili will definitely help. I am sure arguing with them and telling them how rotten they are gives you relief, but as you said, it probably will not take you far. I believe the corruption is just part of the everyday life in most African countries. I have seen bribery go on more than once in the 10 days that I stayed there. For instance when our driver/guide was taking us to the airport, a traffic control with laser speed trap stopped us and claimed that he was driving over the speed limit. When he got out of the car I saw him take out some TZ bills and he handed it to the traffic officer (one of the six or seven that were there) as they shook hands. When he came back to the car, he was mad and complaining and told us that the speed trap was not even on.

 

 

I will post some of my photos soon.

 

Thanks again Twaffle.

 

Manny

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I’ve been to Tanzania about 9 times over the years I think, on my first visit back in the eighties a customs or immigration guy at Arusha asked for a gift to speed things up, he didn’t want money as far as I can remember he wanted some film but I think we refused. Otherwise I’ve never had a problem at Kilimanjaro or Dar. Though once back in 92 after an expedition in Tanz I visited the Egypt Air office in Dar to change my flight home and discovered I could send some of my surplus luggage home on an earlier flight. So I and a couple of friends decided to do this, we were taken to the airport by a nice Tanzanian guy, after we’d filled out all the forms and handed over our bags he suggested that if we each agreed to give a gift of 1,000 Tsh (I think) to the man in the relevant office the process would go much faster. It never occurred to us to refuse as it was only a small amount of money for us, had it been $200 then obviously we would have said no. This is really the root of the problem if the amount is modest the majority of people just pay up and as a result corruption is endemic in Africa and in many other parts of the world. Only when everyone stands up and says no will things change.

 

For example some years ago I joined a budget overland trip from Bangkok to Hanoi crossing Laos with an Australian company called Intrepid, who have a very strict no corruption policy. When we reached the remote border crossing between Laos and Vietnam the Laotian immigration guys asked for a dollar each to process our passports. Despite the small amount we refused on principal, as a result things took a little bit longer but because we were a group of 12 they had really had no option but to back down. On Vietnamese side in the customs room a uniformed officer was sat behind a table with his hat on the table, while we waited to have our luggage checked local people would walk in slip a couple of bills under the hat and then go on their way. Had I been crossing this border on my own I would have paid up just like everyone else. Whether it’s tourists like us or big business I’m afraid too many people take a ‘when in Rome do as the Romans do’ attitude to corruption and so it persists.

 

I’m glad your experience hasn’t put you off visiting Tanzania as I’ve always found it to be one of the safest friendliest countries in Africa.

 

I will be interested to see you photos

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  • 2 weeks later...

LoveNature,

 

You have $100 toward Denali or wherever you decide to go. Following up and complaining may have saved someone else a problem.

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I’m glad your experience hasn’t put you off visiting Tanzania as I’ve always found it to be one of the safest friendliest countries in Africa.

 

I will be interested to see you photos

 

I agree on both counts. Very sorry you had this trouble and I admire you for not letting it sour your memories of your whole trip (not sure I could manage that, though I'd try).

 

And definitely would like to see photos if/when.

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