Preparing for the Great Adventure
Trip Start Jan 18, 2012
18Trip End Feb 04, 2012
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Fifty two years ago a U.S. Military Air Transport four engine Constellation took off from the dirt runway in Yaounde, Cameroun, and started west with its cargo of 28 chimpanzees, gorillas…and me. It was August 1960. It was my last day in sub-Saharan Africa.
Fast forward to 2011. I have retired and my wife, Beth, and I are discussing where our "bucket list" of travel aspirations will take us. I have tried to explain to her how Africa insinuates itself into one's being. The feeling is difficult to explain. The sensation is primal. Africa is where it began for man. We first walked on two legs in Africa. We first learned to use tools there. I have felt the irresistible pull of Africa many times before but I wanted to feel it again. And, I wanted Beth to share that experience in the incomparable settings of Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Maasai Mara.
I knew from living in Africa that the Dark Continent operates on a very different timetable from America. African life is slower. I prefer the African pace. That is indeed fortunate because - like it or not – neither you nor I will change Africa. Relax and enjoy.
Our Tauck Tour Director regularly reminded us that things rarely go exactly as planned in Africa. She lived what she preached. She always had several backup plans ready.
Her advice was excellent so I did myself (and everyone else) a favor by checking my high strung, short tempered American self at the Arusha airport. Instead, I reached out and found my laid back “product of Africa” persona of fifty years ago. It was a good decision. I had a wonderful two weeks.
After weeks of reading and comparing different East Africa tours, we chose Tauck Tours. We had no experience with Tauck but Gulf Breeze Travel recommended them highly and we trust Brenda, Candy and Regan at GBT. We chose a departure date of January 19, 2012.
We had six months to Departure Day. We were on the Internet daily reading everything we could find on safaris and on East Africa. I read three Kenya / Tanzanian newspapers on-line every day. We found a list of key travel words in Swahili and began practicing. Beth was determined she would be able to ask for the Ladies Room in Swahili. Neither of us was particularly good at the language but we made a lot of friends because we tried.
In terms of preparing for safari, the absolute best advice we found came from Tommye Fleming. She took the Tauck safari in 2009. You can find her blog on www.Tauck.com under the heading “Kenya Tanzania Classic Safari”. Or, you can go directly to the blog at http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog/spoonball/2/tpod.html.
Tommye has 16 daily entries to her blog. At the end of the last entry, there is a list of items she recommends taking with you. Her list is excellent. I cannot improve upon it. However, at the end of this blog, I will mention a few things we found valuable.
It Is D-Day Minus One
Tomorrow we leave for Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) by way of Atlanta and Amsterdam. We are ready. We have prepared thoroughly.
At 6:20 PM we are about to eat dinner when the phone rings. Delta Airlines is calling. Our flight tomorrow out of Atlanta will be delayed 2 ½ hours. That means we will miss our KLM connection from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro. We are told a cargo door cannot be secured on the aircraft.
How insulting! Delta has 22 hours to fix the problem or switch aircraft yet they choose to panic and throw everyone’s schedule into chaos. Oh Lord, I’ve already forgotten my own advice to stay cool and go with the flow.
We call Brenda at Gulf Breeze Travel. Regan says she’s aware and already on phone with Delta. Brenda finds “work around” options for us. But three hours later (10 P.M.), she calls to report a “miracle”. Delta has fixed the defective door and our flight is restored. Why mention this fiasco?
To encourage you to do as we are doing and travel a day early to your safari jumping off point. We’ve read tens and tens of safari blogs. Whenever there is a problem, it invariably stems from airline glitches.