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. To combat mosquitoes in the evenings, we recommend bringing along something with at least 10% deet; whether you use a lotion or spray is simply a personal preference, but some find that lotions are easier to pack. There are any number of products on the market that all work great. One particular lotion called "Sawyer Premium Controlled Release Insect Repellent Lotion" seems to work very well and is available online at Amazon.com.
You might also consider some of these disposable towlettes that are now on the market - they seem to be really convenient to pack and use. Past clients have had good luck with them.
A further option to consider is to spray your clothes (a couple nights before packing them) with a product called "Repel Permanone Clothing and Gear Insect Repellent." It is probably not necessary to do this, but then again we’ve had very few insect bites on safari, so we must be doing something right!
Flies can be more of a nuisance than mosquitoes, 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 southerly 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.
It is hard to avoid being bitten by Tsetse fly on any safari but keep in mind that they do not spread diseases like mosquitoes. Most people have no adverse reactions 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 2004 and are completely paved. However, the 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.
No 24-hour Electricity
Please be aware that most lodges and camps in Tanzania do not operate 24-hour electricity as they rely on power from a diesel generator. Many lodges and camps turn off their generators in the late evening until just before dawn the following day. Additionally, given the frequent power outages in Tanzania, even those properties that do have full 24-hour electricity may not be able to have their power running overnight. The result may be that your tent or room is pitch black in the middle of the night. To avoid tripping or other accidents in the middle of the night (getting up to use the bathroom as an example), we recommend that all guests bring their own small flashlight and keep it readily accessible.
Please be aware that many lodges and camps in Tanzania do not have in-room phones but instead employ radios, whistles or other communication devices that should be used with regards to moving to and from your room and the main lodge area or in emergency situations. There will be a security briefing at most properties upon arrival, which will include using such communication devices. Always follow the safety instructions from the lodge or camp's staff with regards to moving to and from your tent.