We recently returned from about 2 weeks in Tanzania. Since I've been an avid reader of this forum, I thought I'd share my experiences. This trip was less of a "vacation" but hopefully it will be helpful to others.
Our flights on Delta/KLM were smooth and we landed in Dar late in the evening. We (group of 11) passed through customs/immigration without hassle and were able to change money just outside. We spent the night at the Landmark Hotel. It wasn't great but it was just for a night. We had hired a mini-bus to drive us to Iringa where we would spend a week. At first, I thought a 7+ hour bus ride on jet lag would be pure misery but the scenery and topography was just fabulous. We saw our first wildlife as we passed through Mikumi National Park. Cameras snapped at each of the animals we saw as we zipped through the park. We had no idea what was to come at the end of our trip!
Our primary reason for spending a week in Iringa was to visit our companion congregation and visit a variety of charitable organizations the Lutheran church supports. All of that was wonderful and impressive but we also had plenty of time to explore the city of Iringa.
The market was fun to visit and we picked up lots of baskets, textiles, spices, and Maasai at great prices compared to what we saw later in northern Tanzania. We had dinner at Sai Villa two nights and found the food delicious and the location beautiful. We had a great lunch at a place attached to the English language bookstore on the main street. Great sandwiches! I would also recommend Neema Craft Centre for no-hassle shopping and great lunches. They sell crafts made by artisans with disabilities and also train people with hearing impairments to work as servers so it's fun to support their work. They also have fast wi-fi and a computer available for a very, very reasonable price.
After a great week, we flew to the Ndutu airstrip for 3 days of safari. Our safari was organized by Dorobo Safaris. I can't say enough great things about them! Our guides Doudi and Kasani were so knowledgable, professional and FUN. I would recommend them without hesitation! The company is owned by the children of Lutheran missionaries so we feel they are a company with a solid reputation and do ther part for the greater good by supporting charities in the Arusha area.
The wildlife viewing was outstanding. Two people in our group had traveled the same itinerary in past years (at the same time of the year) and remarked that the wildlife viewing was better than ever. We saw a huge pride of lions (at least 12) within 30 minutes of leaving the Ndutu Safari Lodge on our first game drive followed by lots of other animals in just a few short hours. In the morning we did a second drive and saw 4 families of Cheetah (15 total), more lions, more giraffe, and even a leopard with babies among plenty of others. From there we traveled to the Rhino Lodge off the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. I've posted reviews of each hotels so I won't include that here. The Ngorongoro Crater was amazing! Our guides had eagle eyes and pointed out lots of animals including several rhinos. The hippos were fun, too. From there we traveled to the Tarangire Safari Lodge. I was most excited about staying at this lodge and it did not disappoint. Sleeping in a "tent" (the best kind with real beds and a bathroom) was quite an experience! The "sniffing" at our tent in the night and the morning welcome from a mama elephant and baby were treats. We were a little disappointed that we didn't see more elephants up to this point but our guides kept promising we would see plenty of elephants in Tarangire and they were not wrong. One member of our group estimated we saw at least 500 elephants on a morning game drive.
We ended our trip with two nights at the Ilboru Safari Lodge in Arusha and visiting several Lutheran organizations in Arusha. After the beautiful nature we experienced and the warm people we met in Iringa, Arusha was a bit overwhelming and not a place I need to spend much more time. However, if I needed medical care in Arusha, I wouldn't hesitate to go to the Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre! Our great Dorobo Safari drivers delivered us safely to the airport and hugged us all goodbye. Kilimanjaro even peeked out on our way to the airport. A great end to our time!
Wi-Fi and internet access was spotty at best throughout the trip and I'm happy to say being "off the grid" enhanced by experience of visiting Tanzania. Highly recommended!