After flying into Arusha on Thursday 16 December 2010 my husband and I went into the City Centre to arrange our safari. The Tourist Office does not book safaris but offered us information of the main safari companies around the town centre. The Tourist Office has a black list of safari companies but also a list of recommended safari companies. We went to four safari companies. All four companies offered the same itinerary.
Safari Company 1 (Camping)
The first safari company had a safari leaving the next day, in a vehicle for 5 passengers. They already had 3 people and we would make up the safari. We queried about the 5th person who would be sitting in the middle in the back of the vehicle. They advised that when the vehicle went out animal spotting, the cook would be staying at the camp, so the 5th person could sit in the front. All very well but there is a lot of travelling on dusty roads when the 5th person can’t sit in the front.
Safari Company 2 (Camping)
Safari Company 2 was just down the hallway from No. 1. This company only puts a maximum of 4 people in a 5 person vehicle so everyone has a window seat. His price was the same as Safari Company 1. He already had 2 people and we could join them. The only downside was the safari was leaving on Saturday which meant we would have to stay an extra day in Arusha which does not really offer much to do.
Safari Company 3 (Permanent Tents)
Safari Company 3 did not offer camping safaris but a permanent tented safari. The accommodation looked beautiful but unfortunately was out of our price range.
Ilmaasai Expedition (Camping)
The tout who had been following us took us to his office. We met another couple also doing the rounds who joined us. While discussing our options with the manager, another couple arrived so we decided to all go together, 6 of us in a 7 passenger vehicle. They showed us 2 vehicles, 1 had an electric camping fridge and the other a cooler box. I pointed out the vehicle with the fridge (did it work?) would be better but the driver said the other vehicle was a better choice.
After discussion amongst the group we chose Ilmaasai Expedition. While the driver/guide was good we would not recommend this company as:
– No fridge to keep food, drinks, snacks, etc cold during the safari
– Meals were poor, especially when you saw what other safari groups around you were eating
– Tents leaked in the rain
Our safari cost around US$425 per person which included accommodation, meals and some entrance fees.
– Only go with a company that ensures everyone has a window seat
– Inspect the safari vehicle you will be travelling in
– Ensure the safari vehicle has a working cold fridge
– Ensure bottled water is included in the price
– Pay the US$500 for the dawn balloon ride over the Serengeti Plains