This time next week I will be in Tanzania.
Other than a package holiday in Tunisia many years ago, Africa is a completely new continent to me. I am simultaneously jumping for joy about the prospect of my upcoming trip; yet at the same time, I am starting to panic.
I’m jumping for joy because – it’s Tanzania: I have seen incredible photographs of elephants standing silhouetted against a blazing red sunset, like the gorgeous picture I used at the top of this article (from pixabay). I have dreamed of going to an African Safari for years, and I want to take pictures like that.
However; now that the trip is close, I’m panicking, because – in spite of the reading I’ve done, and the packing lists I’ve seen – I still don’t feel I really know how to prepare for Tanzania.
Have I got the right equipment to get those great photographs? What lenses will I need? Can I charge my devices at the camp?
How hot will it be? How cold? What should I wear? Should I take a backpack or a suitcase?
See, I’m freaking out!
I am travelling as a teacher with an International School group, so I haven’t had to do
much any planning. All I have had to worry about is packing my case. Yeah, I know, school trips sure have changed since I traipsed around a muddy field looking at Roman ruins in the rain! All I needed then was a set of waterproofs and a lunchbox.
But, preparing for Africa is very different. There will be no shop visits, no markets; so absolutely no opportunity to buy anything I’ve forgotten.
Our group consists of 33 students and 3 teachers. Another three schools will join us at the camp; these schools are coming from Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Together, we will participate in community building projects; work with students in a local school; and, of course, we will go on Safari. Our students have been involved in all sorts of activities to prepare, such as initiatives to raise money, and making Tanzania-inspired Art.
It’s the trip of a lifetime, but I can’t help worry about silly things, such as:
What do you wear on Safari?
What should I wear to look stylish? Apparently, on safari you should wear neutral colours such as beige or green, but can you find clothing that respects cultural sensitivities and protects you from the harsh sun, whilst avoiding cliché safari-wear? Now, I’m no fashion guru, but those hiking trousers that zip off to make shorts make me shudder! I can’t wear many of the things I would usually wear, such as mid-length skirts and tank-tops, but what do you do to keep cool in the climate?
Do I need hiking boots, or can I get by with simple trainers and flip-flops? I don’t really like those hiking sandals, but I don’t think my trusty Havaianas are sturdy enough.
What about Malaria prevention?
Last time I took Malaria pills I got sick, so I don’t want to use them again, but I don’t know if long-sleeved clothes and DEET will be enough to keep the mozzies away. In past trips, the mosquitoes have generally left me alone – even those in the Amazon, but maybe Tanzanian mozzies will like me more. Apparently, our camp is located at an elevated altitude, which I think means there are fewer mosquitoes around.
On top of everything else, what should I be more concerned about: spending a week in a tent surrounded by almost 100 teenagers, or spending a week in a tent surrounded by hungry lions?!
Honestly, reading this post you would think I’ve never really travelled before, wouldn’t you? I know I’m going to have a great time, and that once I get there none of these things will even matter. But, until then, if you have any advice I’d love to hear it!
Have you been to Tanzania? What advice have you got for me?