Birding Tour Tanzania: 19-day Birding Safari
19-day Tanzania Birding Safari: Savanna Birds, Wildebeest Migration, and Eastern Arc Mountain Endemics
Tanzania surely comes closer to what people expect of Africa than any other country; the vast plains of the Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater, and Africa’s highest mountain (Kilimanjaro) epitomize the continent. Our Tanzania birding tour allows one to see the wildebeest migration, the big cats, an abundance of birds (East Africa is the easiest place on the continent to amass a huge bird list very fast with hardly any effort), and then a suite of Tanzanian endemics that lurk in the Eastern Arc Mountains and on Pemba Island (a more idyllic version of Zanzibar). Tanzania has lots of endemics, is one of Africa’s greatest wildlife havens, and boasts varied, spectacular scenery.
Yellow-collared Lovebird is an incredibly striking Tanzanian endemic.
We start our Tanzanian birding safari in the famous (for wildlife) northern parts of the country near the Kenyan border. After arriving at Kilimanjaro International Airport we head for Arusha on a journey that (weather-permitting) will give us good views of Africa’s highest mountain. We spend a good amount of time in the great parks such as the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro, Crater, finding not only the great herds and accompanying predators, but also localized lovebird species, Grey-crested Helmetshrike and other Kenya/Tanzania endemics, along with birds like Rufous-tailed Weaver that inexplicably don’t cross into similar habitat on the Kenyan side. Birdlife absolutely abounds, and we also find a lot of more widespread African species. We then head southeastward from mountain range to mountain range, looking for Afromontane forest endemics (many of them restricted to Tanzania).
Eventually this epic Tanzania birding tour ends at the tropical Indian Ocean city of Dar es Salaam, from where there is the option of joining a short extension to Pemba Island for its four endemics and/or a “rough” extension to some of the more remote Eastern Arc Mountains for endemics we won’t see on the main tour. Please ask us at [email protected] if you are interested in either or both of these extensions.
Rufous-tailed Weaver is not too difficult to find.
Itinerary (19 days/18 nights)
Day 1. Arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport, the Lark Plains, and Arusha
This is an exciting day as we arrive in northern Tanzania, weather-permitting with views from the plane of Mount Kilimanjaro rising out of the vast African plain below us. We’ll stop for photos of Africa’s highest mountain as we head for our site for the Critically Endangered Beesley’s Lark (less than 200 remaining). This is also an excellent place for other larks, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, pretty wheatears, shrikes, and many others. Many of the Serengeti-type birds can also be found here in the grassland and whistling-thorn habitat. Red-throated Tit is possible, as are some fine barbet species. We also hope to see our first mousebirds in the form of White-headed Mousebird. Colonially-nesting Grey-capped Social Weaver is always a delight, and we may see (and hear the loud call of) Nubian Woodpecker. After birding this area we eventually head to Arusha for the night (depending on flight arrival times, sometimes we bird the Lark Plains the next day).
Overnight: Korona House, Arusha
Days 2 – 3. Serengeti: wildebeest, predators, and a dazzling array of spectacular birds
We embark on a spectacular journey that few people would ever forget. We head out from Arusha to Serengeti National Park, having lunch (being careful not to have your food taken from your hands by opportunistic Yellow-billed Kites) on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater on the way. If you’ve never been to Africa before, you’re likely to be amazed by African Elephants, African Buffalo, and the sheer number of bird species. After an exciting drive we’ll eventually reach the Serengeti, where we look at the wildebeest migration, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Plains Zebras and Thomson’s Gazelles. This is one of the best places on the planet to see big cats – we’ve sometimes seen Lion, Leopard, and Cheetah in a single day. Finding a kill should allow us to see a good number of vulture species. Birds of prey are everywhere, including the most colorful of the world’s eagles, Bateleur. Secretarybird regally roams the plains, and Common Ostrich tries to be regal but without much success. Smaller birds absolutely abound, and so many of them are brightly-colored – bee-eaters, barbets, lovebirds, and all the others. Interestingly, the Serengeti is home to quite a few extremely localized bird species. Karamoja Apalis, which favors the weird whistling thorn habitat we’ll visit mainly for this species, is one of these range-restricted birds; it only occurs here and in a tiny part of northern Uganda (it has a strangely disjunct distribution). Red-throated Tit, Fischer’s Lovebird, and Grey-crested Helmetshrike are other examples. The Tanzanian-endemic Rufous-tailed Weaver is also one of the Serengeti’s target birds.
Cheetah in a savanna landscape is quite a scene.
Day 4. The incomparable Ngorongoro Crater
The crater rim is wetter and more forested than the crater floor, and we spend some time here, looking for localized birds such as Golden-winged Sunbird and Brown-headed Apalis. the prehistoric-looking Schalow’s Turaco adds a spectacular flash of crimson and green, and, if one gets a good view, the spectacular crest leaves even a hardened birder gobsmacked. Grey-capped Warbler is one of those more widespread, characteristic East African species we might also encounter here. Sunbirds such as Eastern Double-collared Sunbird as well as White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Thick-billed Seedeater, and others are also often present in this area.
Descending into the crater floor is an unforgettable experience. There’s a high density of lion and large herbivores, some of them to some extent “trapped” by the natural enclosure formed by this huge, nicely intact caldera. About 25,000 large mammals, which also include black rhino and a pool with hippos, inhabit the crater floor. With luck we might also see Serval, Bat-eared Fox, and other amazing smaller mammals. The highlight for many people is, however, the African Golden Wolf, formerly classified as an African variant of the Eurasian golden jackal but now thought to be more closely related to the grey wolf. As always, however, our main focus is on birds, although we stop for the other wildlife too, and we expect many additions to our growing bird list – Lesser Flamingo, Pallid Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Pectoral-patch Cisticola, Abdim’s Stork, White Stork, and many others are expected.
Lesser Flamingo can be seen in Ngorongoro Crater!
The big African animals, spectacular birds, and stunning scenery combine to make this one of the most incredible wildlife experiences planet Earth can offer you. The rim of this amazingly intact crater rises spectacularly 600 meters (2000 feet) above the plain at the bottom (which has a diameter of 24 km (15 miles).
Overnight: a lodge on the crater rim with spectacular views onto the floor far below
Day 5. Transfer to Karatu with a possible visit to Lake Manyara National Park
Time-permitting, we can visit Lake Manyara National Park today, where we usually add quite a number of birds to our list, which might include the beautiful Spotted Palm Thrush, bee-eaters, tinkerbirds, barbets (the spectacular-looking Red-and-yellow Barbet often joins us during our picnic lunch), Crowned Hornbill, the huge Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, various storks, ducks, Collared Pratincole, Great White Pelican, and more. Troops of thickset Olive Baboons are common here.
Today, if we are still missing them, we also look for some extravagant-looking seedeaters such as Long-tailed Paradise Whydah, Straw-tailed Whydah, and jet-black indigobird species.
Days 6 – 7. Tarangire National Park
We visit Gibb’s Farm, which is a great place to have a meal and add new birds to the growing list. Eventually we continue to Tarangire, a breathtaking place of red (because of the soil) elephants, baobabs, savanna-clad hills, and wild rivers: the real Africa as far as scenery goes. Here at magnificent Tarangire National Park we have some localized Northern Tanzania specials and endemics to find:Yellow-collared Lovebird, the long-tailed Ashy Starling (but duller than the much more widespread Superb Starling), and the charismatic Northern Pied Babbler are some of them that we usually find rather easily.
Overnight: Tarangire National Park
The aptly named Superb Starling.
Day 8. Back to Arusha
We head back to Arusha, where we spend a night before heading to the endemic-rich central parts of Tanzania after a week in the famous (for wildlife in general) northern parts near Kenya. We will bird en route today, and even in Arusha we sometimes find some good birds such as Green-backed Honeybird, seedeaters, Spotted Eagle-Owl, and quite a number of good birds on a short walk from our guest house.
Overnight: Korona House, Arusha
Day 9. South Pare – start of our Eastern Arc birding
We leave the north to seek a plethora of Tanzanian bird endemics of the beautiful (and off-the-beaten-track) Eastern Arc Mountains further south, starting with a drive to the South Pare Mountains. En route we’ll bird a site that allows us to find quite a number of arid-area Kenyan birds that marginally cross the border into Tanzania – these are Tsavo-type birds not shown on the distribution maps for Tanzania! We’ll also start looking for endemics such as Usambara Thrush and Usambara Double-collared Sunbird.
Overnight: South Pare Mountains
Days 10 – 11. The next range: birding the West Usambara Mountains
We traverse some arid areas containing widespread African birds such as the beautiful Lilac-breasted Roller and a lot of others. Rocky slopes will be explored for Mocking Cliff Chat and Striped Pipit. The real targets are, however, the mountain-forest endemics once we reach our next destination, which will hopefully include Usambara Weaver, Usambara Akalat, and Spot-throat, among quite a number of others. Hartlaub’s Turaco, even more spectacular than many of the other turaco species and a classic East African mountain endemic, will hopefully be found without too many problems. The gorgeous Black-fronted Bushshrike with its strange calls, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, Evergreen Forest Warbler, and African Wood Owl are also often encountered here.
Overnight: West Usambaras
Days 12 – 13. Birding in the East Usambara Mountains
We continue looking for Eastern Arc forest endemics, including Long-billed Forest Warbler, Sharpe’s Akalat, Banded Green Sunbird, Uluguru Violet-backed Sunbird, Usambara Hyliota, Dapple-throat, Pale-breasted Illadopsis (a unique subspecies), Usambara Eagle-Owl, Ruwenzori Nightjar (another unique subspecies that could be split into “Usambara Nightjar) and a lot of others. A few of these species are highly enigmatic and some require immense luck. Pairs of Fischer’s Turaco are not too difficult to find, and Green-headed Oriole gives its presence away with its liquid calls emanating from the canopy.
Day 14. Miombo woodland birding
Miombo (Brachystegia) woodland is a beautiful dry forest that boasts a lot of south-central-African endemics, extending from southern Tanzania to Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Angola (see our blog on miombo birding). Since we’ll be in a completely new, very unique habitat, we’re bound to add a lot of new birds to our burgeoning list. Mikumi National Park is where we search for miombo-woodland birds – and we have to be quite careful, as there is stacks of big game (some pretty dangerous) around. Racket-tailed Roller sits quietly on more concealed perches in thicker woodland than other rollers. Shelley’s Sunbird and various other more widespread sunbird species might be around. Miombo Rock Thrush sings beautifully from under the canopy. Pale-billed Hornbill, Böhm’s Bee-eater, Dickinson’s Kestrel, and a bunch of other brilliant birds will also be looked for.
Böhm’s Bee-eater can be seen in the miombo-type woodlands.
Leaving the national park and heading to our accommodation, we’ll stop if we see Black-winged Red Bishop (Fire-crowned Bishop being an alternate, nicely descriptive name for this species, which does look like it’s on fire), the stunning little Half-collared Kingfisher, a vulture that rarely eats meat, Palm-nut Vulture, and stacks more.
Days 15 – 16. Sampling the vast Udzungwa Mountains
While the Udzungwa Mountain National Park warrants a mini-expedition to see some of the best endemics, such as Udzungwa Forest Partridge and Rufous-winged Sunbird (we can arrange this as part of the remote extension – please ask us), the more remote parts of the park are beyond the scope of the main tour. Instead we focus on other quality birds, such as the brilliant Livingstone’s Flycatcher (or Livingstone’s Warbler, as it might be more of a warbler than a flycatcher), Green Malkoha, Lesser Seedcracker, Green Barbet, and many other south-east-African birds.
Overnight: Udzungwa Mountains
Day 17. Undescribed species of the Kilombero Valley Floodplain
Today involves a lot of driving on a rough road, but it’s worth it, as the Kilombero Valley Floodplain is an intriguing place. The fact that it’s a mission to get to could explain why it has two very distinctive yet undescribed cisticolas and the recently described Kilombero Weaver. All three of these birds are easy to find here, along with a range of other excellent water-associated species such as coucals (the massive Coppery-tailed Coucal being a highlight), herons, lapwings (such as the attractive White-crowned Lapwing), kingfishers, the quite localized Marsh Tchagra, etc. The beautifully colored Orange-breasted Waxbill can sometimes put in an appearance. The floodplain is heavily used by humans for fishing and cattle-grazing, so it’s quite a scene to behold.
Overnight: Udzungwa Mountains
Day 18. Transfer to Dar es Salaam
We start the day by trying to clean up on the mountain birds before heading gradually to the tropical East African city of Dar es Salaam on the warm Indian Ocean. Here we’ll look for terns, shorebirds, and other species.
Overnight: Dar es Salaam
Day 19. Coastal birds and departure
We’ll bird until we take our flights for home or to one of the extensions.
Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes have to use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.Download Itinerary
Preparing for your tour to Tanzania
Step out into the vast open plains that dominate much of Tanzania and you suddenly feel very, very small. And so you should. You’ve just joined one of the largest, wildest animal populations in the world. Wildebeest, monkeys, big cats, and crocodiles might be encountered as we search for birds.
You will find that Tanzania’s people are so very friendly, despite the poverty experienced by the majority of the country’s inhabitants.
On our “Introduction to Africa” tour we visit the touristy north, which has a good infrastructure. On our 19-day tour in addition to the north we also go “off the beaten track” to find the endemics and specials of the mountains to the south. It is important to note that almost a third of this tour is in remote areas, sometimes with basic accommodation. If you are joining the extension to Pemba then you can experience a little time in a tropical paradise.
Full country name: United Republic of Tanzania
Area: 945,090 km2 (364,879 mi2)
Population: 40 million +, with recent Census figures to be released
Capital cities: Dodoma and Dar Es Salaam
Languages: Swahili, English, and many local languages
Government: Republic (multi-party state)
GDP: USD7 billion
GDP per head: USD220
Major industries: Tourism, agriculture, fishing, and mining
Major trading partners: India, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, The Netherlands, South Africa, Kenya, U.K., Saudi Arabia, China, and the USA
Please have your passports and air tickets handy on arrival. Visas are required by all and can be obtained on arrival in Tanzania. If you choose to get your visa on arrival, just complete the visa form/card at the immigration desk, pay cash (USD or EUR), and there you go. We recommend you also keep a photocopy of the important pages of your passport in a safe place in case of loss. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is now required for Tanzania and recommended for all of East Africa. Please also bring your travel insurance certificate. Kindly ensure you have visas for other countries in which you may be overnighting en route.
It is recommended to try to get near the front exit of your aircraft on arrival, so you do not end up at the back of a queue. The time taken to pass immigration with or without a pre-arranged visa is usually similar.
On arrival look for a driver with a Birding Ecotours sign.
MONEY AND BANKING
Each East African country has a different currency, but the majority of tourist services also accept US dollars and euros. If you do have US dollars you need to ensure that the notes are recent, as older notes are viewed with suspicion and may not be accepted. All USD bills should have been printed or issued after the year 2006.
Currency is TZS (Tanzanian Shillings).
Cash is obtainable at ATMs in most major towns en route, and there are exchange bureaus in the main cities and airports. Traveler’s Checks/Cheques are not accepted/used these days, and exchanging them is only generally possible at a few private bureaus. Some hotels will exchange cash too, but often at poor rates. VISA and MasterCard are widely accepted and can be used for drawing local cash.
Credit Cards are accepted at many tourist shops and at many hotels (for souvenirs, laundry, drinks, etc.).
In East Africa wages are low, and tips are generally very welcome (but not compulsory of course). Tips and gratuities are not part of the package price of our tours, so should a guest/client wish to give a tip to the driver and guides at the end of the trip or to individual crew at the accommodations it is received with thanks. Many lodges will have a tip box for all. However, there is no obligation to tip anyone.
Below is a sample tipping scheme as a guideline
Airport/hotel/lodge porter: USD2 or TZS2000
Room attendant: USD2 or TZS2000
Safari Driver/Guide/Tour Leader: many people give about USD5 per day but the amounts vary greatly. A lot of people tip nothing and that is also OK.
Site guide (if any): USD10 or TZS10,000
Quite often an entire group will tip USD5-30 per day for the driver and for the guide.
We only give these tipping guidelines because most people ask us to provide them – not because anything is expected.
Cell phones/mobile phones are now very common throughout East Africa. They even work in the middle of remote reserves such as the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater.
This is a round-up of the bands available in the country Tanzania: GSM 900 and 1800 MHz; Limited 3G in Arusha, Dar es Salaam, and Moshi
Weather patterns have become noticeably unpredictable in recent years, so the information below is just a vague overview of the seasonality of the region; it rains when it traditionally shouldn’t and sometimes doesn’t rain when it is expected….
January to March: dry season
April and May: short to long rains but not usually a problem, and these are two of the very best months for the wildebeest migration.
June to September: dry season
October to November: short rains
December: dry season
The rainy seasons can give a false impression; even in these seasons rains are not constant and might generally fall in short or consist of heavy showers in the late afternoon or evening, if at all. In the rainy season it usually rains at night or around dawn (of course, this is tough to predict, though, especially with the climate change that East Africa seems to have experienced recently – which affects the timing of the wildebeest migration profoundly).
On our tours there are big changes in altitude, and the higher you get, the more likely it is that rain will occur, and the temperature will also drop with altitude of course. In the highland areas rain is more frequent and can fall at any time. The Ngorongoro Highlands and the Usambara Mountains are good examples.
A lot of East Africa is quite high in altitude (Ngorongoro is at 2700 meters or almost 9000 feet, Arusha is at 1400 meters or over 4000 feet, etc.). This means it is often cooler than most people expect in Tanzania, especially in the evenings (day time average: 18-26 OC or 78 OF, sometimes dropping a lot at night).
Electricity is 230-240V, 50Hz throughout the region.
Tanzania usually uses three-square-pin plugs (UK), but a three-round-pin plug is also used, ITA type G/D.
Power cuts (outages) are common, and several hotels have generators to counter this. The voltage can surge, so we would advise against using sensitive equipment whenever possible.
LAUNDRY AND LUGGAGE
There are laundry services at most of the larger hotels. Laundry can often be done on the same day if handed in early in the morning. It is of course best arranged at hotels where there are two-night stays. Small accommodations in the remote countryside may not have laundry services at all.
We ask all participants to try and keep their luggage to a minimum, as the luggage space in the vehicles is not large, at least when the tour is full or nearly full (5 or more participants). We also strongly recommend soft-sided bags/duffle bags such as the below if possible.
Don’t bring anything that you would mind getting dusty.
WHAT TO BRING
You will need a range of clothes to suit the temperature and weather conditions mentioned above. Stout walking shoes or boots are recommended, although sneakers/trainers are perfectly adequate except in the dewy mornings or in damp or thorny areas. A sweater and/or a fleece are recommended for the cool early mornings and evenings, and light rainwear in case of rain. Otherwise a selection of long sleeved and T-shirts and shorts and long trousers/pants are advised, as well as a hat for protection against the sun.
Medicines and toiletries
Please remember to bring your regular medications, if any, and your personal toiletries, and we usually recommend putting an adequate supply in your hand luggage in case of loss/delay of luggage. Do not forget your malaria tablets.
We recommend that everyone bring their own binoculars. Spotting scopes are optional, and not required for most of the time, and are a matter of personal choice. There will be many photographic opportunities, and a lot of mammals can be captured using a “point and shoot” camera. Many birds also allow close approach in Tanzania but of course if you’re a serious bird photographer you’ll need a decent camera! We would recommend that you bring equipment to keep your optics clean, as Tanzania gets dusty, especially in the game parks.
The light in this part of Africa is fabulous for photography in the hours after dawn and before sunset; the light becomes “harder” during the middle of the day as the sun approaches and passes its zenith.
An “ordinary” 35mm camera is quite sufficient to take good wildlife shots, but also bring:
A good telephoto lens – 300mm should be sufficient, unless a professional 500mm is a choice for you.
Suitable filters. UV filters are very useful.
Basic cleaning materials.
A protective lightweight bag – the biggest problems are dust and bumpy roads. Rain might also be a problem.
Sufficient Memory cards (available in main centers and some lodges, but the choice may be limited and quite costly).
Please see https://www.birdingecotours.com/field-guides-to-africa-and-madagascar-what-to-take-into-the-field/ (scroll down to East Africa) for field guides and apps.
The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals (Princeton Field Guides) is recommended. This guide book is simply one of the best regional mammal guide books in existence. There is a pocket version of this guide which is very good, as is the larger (but nevertheless not massive) standard version.
We give each tour participant a copy based on the latest IOC taxonomy.
There are a number of potential health risks that you need to be aware of. Most are preventable by vaccination, protection against insect bites, and drinking bottled water while on tour. Please read https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/tanzania carefully.
Being on the equator, the sun is very strong. This is exacerbated by the fact that a majority of East Africa is very high above sea level. This means that sunburn occurs very quickly, even when it feels cool or is overcast. The best prevention of sunburn (and sunstroke) is to keep your skin covered and to treat exposed areas of skin with sun block (SPF 15 minimally). A hat is a sensible precaution, especially in the middle of the day. The light can be very bright, so we advise wearing sunglasses whenever possible.
The majority of visitors to East Africa have a trouble-free time, but there are various dangers, mostly from people. The guidelines below list these dangers. All are rare but should always be borne in mind. A majority of East Africans are friendly and open, and they are accustomed to tourists, and none of the situations below has ever occurred on our tours.
This is unlikely to occur in a group situation. However, care should be taken when walking alone. Most hotels have their own compounds and security guards, so you should be safe within their grounds. If someone intent on robbery approaches you, do not attempt to resist. Avoid wearing jewelry and other displays of wealth and remember that you are in a poor country. Do not venture outside the hotel, especially at night, unless with the group. The locals generally abhor thieves.
This occurs sometimes in Dar es Salaam and is usually aimed at single people driving expensive new vehicles and therefore very unlikely to occur (and never has) on a guided tour.
The risk of being involved in a terrorist incident is extremely low, especially since the majority of the time on tour will be in remote places – but terrorism has unfortunately become a worldwide phenomenon.
Inter-tribal conflicts and political rallies
These are not uncommon and are not aimed at tourists, so are generally of little concern. They break out sporadically, usually involving cattle-rustling, and they die down fairly quickly. During the tour the leaders and drivers keep themselves informed of anything that might prove dangerous, and they would alter the itinerary to suit. We obviously avoid any political rallies (if any) on the route.
There are obvious dangers with megafauna, but you are unlikely to come into close contact with them, except from the safety of vehicles.
However, hippos do graze on some lodge ground lawns at night. Avoid getting between these animals and the water.
The lodges on the crater rim at Ngorongoro have old, lonely elephant bulls, and buffalos can lurk on the hotel grounds – do avoid getting between them and the rooms and do accept the assistance of a guard to escort you to your room at night!
Also, do not venture too close to water – here, crocodiles wait for food.
We also visit forest areas which hold elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo, so stay close to the leaders and follow their advice if they sense any presence (uncommon – these animals certainly do try to avoid people where possible).
Baboons are quite common on lodge grounds and can be a menace; they should be avoided wherever possible. Always keep your lodge doors closed.
Vervet monkeys are not uncommon and are fairly fearless, although they will generally keep out of your way unless food is about. They can and do bite, though, so don’t be tempted to offer them food, however cute they look.
Black/Yellow-billed Kites circle around several of the picnic sites and often steal sandwiches from people’s hands.
Snakes are unlikely to be seen, as they can sense your approach some distance away, but try to be aware of where you step. They will not usually bite unless trodden on or cornered; adders sometimes do not move even if they sense your vibrations.
Scorpions are unlikely to be seen unless you go turning over stones, but there is a very small possibility that you might see one at night. It is a sensible precaution to store your footwear above ground level and to shake it out before putting it on, as scorpions will see a shoe on its side on the ground as a nice hiding place.
Spiders are also unlikely to be seen or to be a danger. But do be aware. In general most people are surprised by how few insects and other invertebrates they see.
DELAYS AND ANNOYANCES
East Africa is third world, so do not expect the same services you receive at home. You are also traveling well away from towns, and a birding safari should be viewed as an adventure.
Road conditions can be poor, and this takes its toll on vehicles. Punctures are common.
All this, along with various local bureaucracies, can cause delays. Obviously we do our best to minimize these, and most tours go smoothly.
GIVING MONEY WHEN ASKED
East Africa is not a wealthy region. In towns and cities visitors may come across people genuinely asking for money or other items. While the giving of money is a matter of personal preference or conscience, in our opinion it is best to give a donation to a proper charitable entity, as opposed to freely giving cash to individuals. Please ask your tour leader/guide where it is accepted to give a donation or money.
This tour is fairly easy-going apart from a handful of days.
Should you have any fitness problems please consult your doctor before travel. Also note that participation in any day’s events is purely optional, with the obvious exception of days when activities take place en route from one location to another. Should you not be willing to participate in any tour activity let your guide know about this the evening before. This is your holiday!
THE DAY-TO-DAY ITINERARY
Typically (but not a hard and fast rule by any means) each day will often begin with either an optional bird walk in the hotel grounds at say 6:30, followed by a 7:00-8:30 birding session. Sometimes an early breakfast is indicated when we hope to get moving by 7:00 or so. In most forest areas we will opt for the early breakfast and hope to start birding by 7:30, as prior to this the birds don’t move much, as it is dark in the understorey. Daylight hours are around 6:30 – 19:00, and for safety reasons we try to avoid driving after dark wherever possible. Due to park regulations we do not drive before 6:30 and after 18:30 in the parks.
ACCOMMODATIONS, MEALS AND DRINKS
Accommodations are generally good (but that is always relative); generally we of course try to provide en suite bathrooms. Accommodations have been carefully selected as the best for birding and big game opportunities for the tour.
Amani Rest House does not have proper showers but has flushing toilets.
Electricity is unreliable in Tanzania.
The exact times of arrival and departure at the lodges usually depend on how good the birding is before departure from an area.
All meals are included on our tours. Bottled water is provided in the vehicle. If you buy bottled water or other drinks at meal times it is for your own account.
Tap water is untreated and not safe to drink. Avoid drinking running piped water in the hotel rooms or tents. To avoid traveler’s diarrhea fruit and vegetables should be peeled before consumption, and beware of salads.
CHANGE OF ACCOMMODATIONS
During the months of December – March and July – September, the peak tourist visiting seasons, it may be difficult to get reservations at the accommodations mentioned in the itinerary. Thus we sometimes will have to book into the next-best available accommodation in the same range as the one originally planned and listed in the itinerary.
Unfortunately hotels may be overbooked or temporarily closed following a decline in tourism traffic or due to seasonal upgrading (often in the low tourism season when we run our birding tours). We thus sometimes are, again, forced to change accommodations.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
Participation in this tour is subject to the standard terms and conditions shown on https://www.birdingecotours.com/about-birding-ecotours/terms-conditions/.
If you experience any problem on the tour please speak to the tour leader/guide immediately. Usually the problem can be fixed fast (we are usually able to do magic). It’s better to tell us immediately as we prefer to solve potential problems as they occur.
PARK REGULATIONS, ETC.
On tour, please do respect the authority of the guide/tour leader concerning national park regulations, local government laws, and social/cultural lives of the people of East Africa.
Conservation is very important to us. Our small groups help minimize disturbance, and we ask all participants to leave the environment as they found it, for others to enjoy. Our drivers are trained to do their utmost to minimize damage to the environment by vehicles, and they will always work within eco-guidelines and according to the national park regulations.
|Clothing: All daywear should preferably be of a subtle color, ideally khakis and beiges or dull colors – white is not a good color.
|Equipment: Mosquito nets are generally provided at the accommodations, but nevertheless please take anti-malaria precautions, as in East Africa it’s not impossible that occasionally there might be holes in the nets, etc. Flashlights are often provided at hotels, and we recommend you use them. We highly recommend you also bring your own as a backup.
|Soft bag for clothes
Notebook and pens
Camera and film/cards
Mosquito net optional
Driver’s license optional
|First aid kit
English and Swahili are Tanzania’s official languages.
Quick Swahili guide: