The fear of bugs and insects is generally much greater than the reality of what you will encounter. However, tolerances differ widely from individual to individual. The temperate climate and high elevation of Tanzania’s Northern Parks mean that insect concentrations are significantly less then other areas of Africa. Please be aware though that insects can be present in significant numbers depending upon your location and current weather patterns. This could pose to be an annoyance for some individuals.
Mosquitoes are present but they are generally not active during the day. The African Mosquito is most active from dusk to dawn. Flies can be more of a nuisance, especially when you’re near the wildebeest migration. Flies are attracted to animals and the droppings of herd animals, so you don’t get one without the other. You will undoubtedly know when you have found the larger migratory wildebeest herds (100,000 plus!)
Tsetse flies are worse than the average fly and they are mainly found in the woodlands, and their bite does hurt. There is no insect repellent that is effective against the tsetse fly. The best protection is to wear long sleeves, pants and socks and to roll the windows up when you are driving through a tsetse fly infested area. Additionally, dark blue and black colors attract tsetse flies and it is recommended not to wear these colors when game driving in tsetse areas. Tsetse flies require the thick bush and woodlands to breed and survive. The open plains of the Southern and Eastern Serengeti as well as the Ngorongoro Crater and the southern parts of the Central Serengeti are tsetse free. The highest concentrations of tsetse flies are found in Tarangire National Park and the Western Serengeti.
Please keep in mind that if it weren’t for the tsetse fly, many of the parks and reserves in Tanzania would simply not exist in their current capacity. The tsetse fly is commonly referred to as the ‘greatest conservationist in Africa’! The tsetse fly transmits a blood parasite that causes the ‘sleeping sickness’ in cattle but is very rarely transmitted to humans in East Africa. Wild animals are immune to this disease. The tsetse fly has inadvertently forced ranchers and their cattle out of areas like the Serengeti and Tarangire leaving these important refuges ecologically intact for use by their native and wild inhabitants.
Most people have no adverse reactions to tsetse flies but some individuals have an allergic reaction and the area around the bite mark swells and becomes itchy and irritated. Benadryl makes a product called the ‘Benadryl Itch Relief Stick’. This handy little stick can relieve the itch of bites and is highly recommended.
Snakes are common throughout Africa but they are seldom encountered on safaris. There are a few python sightings reported in the trees that line Silale Swamp in Tarangire but that is the normal extent of snake sightings. The vast majority of tourists never see a snake while on safari.
Please be aware that game driving can be very bumpy and may pose a problem for some individuals including those with back problems. Please inform us well in advance if you have any conditions that may be adversely affected by bumpy roads and we will plan accordingly. The most comfortable seat is the passenger seat at the front of the vehicle next to the driver-guide. This seat offers the smoothest ride and is highly recommended (especially on longer game drives) for those individuals experiencing discomfort due to poor road conditions.
The roads to and from Arusha/Kilimajaro leading up to Tarangire, Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Gate were completed in December 2004 and are completely paved. However, the roads and tracks in the national parks and conservations areas are not paved. Many game drives (especially in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area) will be entirely off road/cross country. Game driving off road and on poor tracks, which are found in most areas, can be aggravating and exhausting for some individuals. This is compounded on longer game drives where you may be on rough roads for several hours at a time.
Game Drives and Transit Time
Please be aware that the majority of time on safari is spent in a vehicle game driving and wildlife viewing. Please advise us well in advance of any potential problems with long duration game drives and we will plan your itinerary accordingly and alert your driver of the situation in order to minimize any negative impact. Our private safaris are completely flexible and if need be we can shorten game drives and transit times, add additional flights and eliminate areas of rough terrain from your itinerary.
Even in the green season, dusty conditions can be aggravating while out on game drives. The Serengeti Plains are especially prone to dusty conditions due to the shallow soil base and lack of long grass roots. During the dry season, dusty conditions are significantly worse. Please be prepared for dusty conditions and let us know in advance if you’re especially sensitive to dust and we will adjust your itinerary accordingly to help minimize any negative impacts.
Photography and video equipment may be especially prone to dusty conditions. It is a good idea to bring a bag that can be easily opened and completely sealed so you may store your equipment when not immediately needed. Bring a couple photo soft cloths to wipe dust from the lenses. Contact lens wearers may be especially sensitive. Please plan accordingly and bring an ample supply of lens lubricant.
Tanzania resides just south of the equator. The strong equatorial sun combined with the fact that you are at elevation can lead to sunburn and sun poisoning quickly. The vehicles have a convertible canvas top, which means that you will be completely exposed when game viewing. You may of course quickly close the canvas top as needed. The canvas top may also be rolled back half way in order to provide shade for the first set of seats and sun for the back seats. It is important that you wear a hat and apply sun block frequently to all exposed areas.
The secret is out with Northern Tanzania and most of the general public is now aware that this area offers the very finest wildlife viewing in all of Africa. Tourists from all over the world are flocking to the famous northern safari circuit to enjoy its beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife. Please note that high vehicle concentrations in many high use areas including the Central Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater may pose an inconvenience. To combat this potential problem, we highly recommend early morning game drives and adventure game drives to some of the more remote areas of the Serengeti, which can be even more rewarding. Please keep in mind that by departing at 6.00am each morning, you will have most areas all to yourself until about 10.00am when the package tours begin. Our expert guides know many secret spots and strategies to get you off the beaten path and avoid vehicle concentrations. The Serengeti, in particular, is a massive park and there are plenty of areas where you will likely encounter not one other vehicle but rather an abundance of wildlife and beautiful pristine topography. Make sure to communicate to your driver-guide your interest in adventure and exploring the more remote areas.