Planning a family vacation to Africa can be confusing …and expensive! I would suggest using a travel agent that has experience in planning African Safaris. Here are few helpful tips:
- Plan stay for at least 2 weeks so that you can visit all of the places you want to see. You paid a lot of money to get there, so take advantage of it!
- Plan to have an English-speaking tour guide show you around. Many people will speak a little bit of English, but people will take advantage of you if you are not careful. Touring with an African guide will keep you out of trouble.
- Vendors will try to get you to pay outrageous prices. You must barter & negotiate to get a fair price for your souvenirs.
- Be sure to tip porters, servers , etc. fairly, but don’t over tip. Offering hand-outs increases the problem of people taking advantage of Americans. Generosity is a good thing, but please give to area missions, charities, schools, orphanages, or other organizations. They will be able to make sure your money goes to good use.
- If possible, bring clothing, medical or dental supplies, school supplies, etc., with you to give to local organizations. There is great need, and these types of supplies are difficult to obtain in some areas. You may want to contact an organization before you travel to see what specific needs they have.
- Bring water, Pepto-Bismol tablets, toilet paper & hand sanitizer everywhere you go.
- Note: If you staying anywhere near the city you will hear the Muslim Call to Prayer over loud speakers. The chant-like praying can be a little eery if you are not expecting it, so be sure to prepare your children.
Best Places to Visit near Arusha, Tanzania:
- Mount Kilimanjaro – Actually a dormant volcano, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa. Believe it or not, this mountain that sits only 3 degrees away from the equator has an ice-capped peak all year long! I have not hiked the mountain myself, but I have been told that the trails are easy. They have different treks to chose from, some lasting 5-12 days.
- Ngorongoro Crater – Ngorongoro is a massive volcanic crater that is home to many different species of wildlife and vegetation. In the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, I saw African lions, zebras, Black Rhinos, wildebeests, ostriches, hyenas, giraffes, elephants, baboons, dik diks, and much more. I even saw a cheetah hunting an impala! It was like watching Discovery Channel up-close & personal.
- Lake Manyara National Park – Set on the beautiful Lake Manyara, this park is also filled with wildlife. We saw lots of elephants, giraffes, baboons, hippos, and hundreds of flamingos.
- Arusha’s Cultural Heritage Centre – The Cultural Heritage Centre in Arusha is a must-see! Bring plenty of cash for shopping with you. You will not want to leave without some Tanzanite jewelry or ebony statues. Take a moment to watch the linked video. The video shows exactly what the store is like. You need to plan at least half a day for this visit.