Traveler Tale: Unreal Experience in Tanzania

On July 18th we received a Vacation Request from Jennifer saying that she wanted to ‘make lemonade out of lemons’ and book a trip to Tanzania. At the time, Tanzania was one of the few countries permitting American visitors.

With a lot of help from our supplier partner, Gilt Edge, we were able to plan and book a 10-day trip to Tanzania for Jennifer and her friend Kenneth. Their departure was on August 14, less than 30 days after their initial inquiry. With their negative COVID test results in hand they set off for adventure.

Their itinerary:
Day 1 – Elwana Arusha Coffee Lodge
Day 2-4 – Safari tour on the floor of Ngorongoro Crater
Day 4-7 – Game drives in both Serengeti National Park and Ndutu area
Day 7-10 – The “spice island” of Zanzibar, located 26 miles off the coast of Tanzania

On the day they were to depart from Houston to Qatar to Tanzania, their flight to Qatar was canceled. Our team worked over time securing them on the following day’s flight and adjusting the itinerary for once they arrived in Tanzania.

We asked Jennifer for feedback on her experience traveling to Tanzania and working with us.

What was the overall experience of your trip?
It was amazing. Safari/East Africa had never been on our bucket list, but when we realized this was a trip that we could make happen quickly, we jumped at the chance to go. Everything about our trip felt surreal. From the safari to the Ocean, we had an incredible experience.

Were there delays due to new health procedures at airports, hotels or lodges?
One of our connecting flights (en route to Africa) was canceled. I don’t think this was due to health procedures, but likely because demand was low. The flights, hotels, tours within Africa were first rate, on-time and well done. We didn’t experience any extraordinary delays due to health procedures. The airports were rigorous in checking temperatures and COVID tests but the delays these procedures caused were minimal. That said, there were fewer people traveling so I can’t be certain that these checks wouldn’t cause delays if there were more people.

What was the safari experience like?
Unreal. To be so close to animals you’ve only seen on National Geographic was unlike anything I could have expected. The landscape was majestic and I have never felt so relaxed in my life. I am well-traveled and to be honest, going on safari was not high on my destination list. I’m so glad that this opportunity presented itself, I would definitely do it again. In addition, the companies we worked with (Gilt Edge in Tanzania and Lynn Clark at Travel Leaders) were amazingly attentive, so every detail was taken care of.

Is there anything you think that should be changed to make travel for tourists easier in East Africa?
More direct flights from the US would be a dream. The trip there was a bit arduous (and made more so due to COVID restrictions in our layover city, Doha Qatar). I think the Tanzania Visa process could also be made clearer. I’m pretty tech savvy and I had trouble completing the application online and had to pay a local party to do it for me at the airport. That was a drag and different from other online visa applications I’d completed for other countries. That said, the people in East Africa that we met were the ultimate hosts and it is clear that they are doing everything they can to make tourists feel welcome.

How would you rate this COVID-era trip to other holidays you’ve been on?
This was simply one of the best holidays I’ve ever had, COVID-era or not.

Any other comments?
I can’t wait to go back.

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