Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I travel with Meru Slopes Tours and Safaris?
We specialize exclusively in Tanzania. No other company comes close to our level of quality control and superior service.
We employ over 40 full-time staff including highly trained guides, logistics specialists, office staff, reservations managers, drivers and mechanics. We are large enough to be respected as the premier tour operator in Tanzania and still small enough to care about every single one of our travelers. See the bellow Frequently asked questions
Why is Tanzania the best safari destination?
Safari in Kiswahili, the language of East Africa, simply means "journey". Today, the word is synonymous with a wildlife viewing adventure in the African Bush.
If your primary reason for traveling to Africa is to experience an abundance of African wildlife in unspoiled wilderness, then Tanzania should be your destination of choice. Tanzania protects over 30% of its land through national parks and reserves, more than any other country on the continent. You simply cannot beat the wildlife concentrations found in Tanzania.
The parks and wildlife reserves of Tanzania are inhabited by vast herds of wildebeest spread out across the Serengeti savanna, huge populations of elephant and buffalo, as well as plains game and their predators. All these animals interact and roam freely, the same as they have for thousands of years. Here you'll witness an incredible diversity of ecology and will find the vegetation and bird life as fascinating as the big game. Tanzania is home to 90% of the film series produced on African animals. Tanzania also boasts a remarkable number of World.
Heritage Sites including, Serengeti National Park, Kilimanjaro National Park,Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Selous Game Reserve (this reserve alone is the size of Denmark), Kilwa Kisiwani and the Songo Mnara Ruins.
When is the best time of year to go on safari in Tanzania?
Anytime is a wonderful time to be on safari. April tends to be rainy, but for the more adventurous travelers, we can arrange a private trip for you during that time. At MERU SLOPES TOUR AND SAFARIS we adjust our safari itineraries to take advantage of the best possible game viewing in accordance with the seasonal concentrations of wildlife.
Where is the best place to go for wildlife viewing in Africa?
You simply can't beat northern Tanzania for wildlife concentrations. Most people have heard of the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater and the wide array of wildlife dwelling on the crater floor. Most have heard of the vast Serengeti, which hosts the annual migration of wildebeest and the predators that follow in its wake. This is only the beginning of the natural phenomena awaiting your discovery on a safari to Tanzania. Guests of Meru slopes Tours consistently tell us the wildlife they experienced far surpassed their most optimistic expectations.
What kinds of animals will I see on safari in Tanzania?
Tanzania is home to over 35 species of large mammals and has over 1,000 species of birds. On a typical safari in northern Tanzania you can expect to see elephant, buffalo, giraffe, hippo, baboon, monkeys and a variety of plains game such as wildebeest, hartebeest, zebra, impala and gazelle. Most people see lion and hyena, and possibly cheetah or leopard.
In Ngorongoro Crater you may see one of the few remaining black rhino to be found in Tanzania, in addition to bull elephant, lion, gazelle, hyena, wildebeest, African buffalo and more. You'll undoubtedly also see several different species of mongoose, hyrax and other smaller mammals you may not expect on safari. If you're lucky you'll see one or more of the smaller cats, foxes, wild dog or the more reticent antelope like lesser kudu, bushbuck, oryx or eland.
Almost everyone has heard of the Great Migration of the Serengeti, where millions of wildebeest, Meru slopes tours and safaris gazelle and zebra traverse the plains in search of food and water. But how many of us know the real story?
At Meru slopes Tours, we believe in setting the right expectations. There's so much more to a safari than the Migration! There's more wildlife, culture and beautiful scenery than you can imagine, and with new animal species still being discovered, who knows what exciting sightings you'll make. We think an informed traveler is a happy traveler, so here are some important facts about the Migration that you need to know.
Fiction: The main goal to go on safari just to see the Migration.
Fact: Theres so much more to a safari! The Great Migration consists largely of wildebeest, gazelle, and zebra, all of which you will see in abundance whether you witness the Migration or not. What about elephant, lion, giraffe, African buffalo, rhinoceros, flamingo, hippo, leopard, warthog, hyena, impala and countless other species, some of which you may have not even heard yet? One thing is certain, Tanzania has the largest biodiversity on the planet, has the greatest concentration of wildlife, devotes fully one-third of its land to national parks, conservation areas and reserves and has wowed innumerable safari-goers with its sheer beauty and its diversity and quantity of wildlife.
Fiction: The Great Migration takes place during a specific time of year.
Fact: It's actually a year-round phenomenon. The simple story is that these vast herds are on a continual search for food and water and spend the entire year moving in a more-or-less clockwise direction around the Serengeti ecosystem. Weather, specifically rain, is the driving force of the Migration, so any change in the seasonal weather patterns (more, less or no rain) has a huge impact on the location of the Migration and the size of the herds.
Fiction: The Migration is predictable.
Fact: While we can do our best to reference historical patterns, study weather trends and stay in touch with a superior team of guides out in the bush, no one can predict with any certainty where the great herds will be. When was the last time you were able to accurately predict the rainfall totals and regional location of rain within your state?
Fiction: If there are so many animals on this migration, it would be impossible NOT to see them.
Fact: First of all, it's important to understand that Serengeti National Park is the size of Connecticut, and the much larger Serengeti ecosystem spans far beyond the park's borders. It includes not only the park itself (6,000 square miles!), but Kenya's Masai Mara (only 600 square miles), parts of the neighboring Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and beyond. Then, you must consider that wildebeest, while they tend to travel in herds, are not joined at the hip! Groups of wildebeest may range from 10 to 100 to 1,000 or 100,000 individuals, and these can be spread over miles and miles. Sometimes, you may see what appears to be a single-file line of wildebeest that spans the horizon. Other times you may see clusters of smaller herds here and there. And, yes, sometimes you may even be lucky enough to see the massive herds that turn the grassy plains into a vast tapestry of ungulates.
Finally, you must also understand that the reason the National Park is so rich with wildlife is because the land is so highly protected. Keeping as much of the landscape as possible in pristine condition means limiting the road system in the park. There are vast swaths that are wonderful ONLY accessible to the wildlife. Taking these facts into consideration, Meru slopes Tours and safaris. Tours will arrange expert guides with rugged, customized vehicles to take you as close as possible to the wildlife- with the most up-to-date information from the bush and without any mileage restrictions.
Fiction: The Great Migration consists of vast herds crossing rivers, dodging crocodiles and making death-defying escapes as they flee.
Fact: Well, yes that does happen, and, yes, it's just as dramatic as what you've seen on the Travel Channel. The reality, however, is as much about luck as it is about patience. In order to get that kind footage, a film crew positions themselves for weeks or months in one spot, waiting patiently for these bursts of absolutely astounding activity. On safari, it is much more likely that you'll see varying sizes of herds grazing quietly on the plains.
Fiction: Other companies can guarantee that I'll see the Great Migration.
Fact: This is simply not true. Mother Nature offers no guarantees. To anyone. Ever. But don't worry! You will definitely see examples of all the animals that comprise the "great migration": wildebeest, zebra and Meru slopes tours gazelle throughout your trip. They may not necessarily be part of the Great Migration of the Serengeti (for example, at Ngorongoro Crater the herds are mostly non-migratory). Even the quantities may vary widely from one location to another and from one time of year to another. Still, having said all that, it is true that on a Meru slopes tours you are very likely to see some part of the migration. You may not see that dramatic river crossing (few people ever do), but you'll probably see varying sized groups of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle as they graze, play and gather on the plains.
Almost all Meru slopes tours itineraries include staying in two separate, seasonally appropriate regions during your four days in the Serengeti. It's all about maximizing your chances of seeing the most abundant wildlife during your safari.
BONUS FACT: Above all else, do not get your heart set on the TV-version of the Great Migration. There is SO MUCH MORE to the safari experience. You WILL see a great deal of wildlife! You are not only going to Tanzania, the world's best safari destination, but you are going with one of the best, most experienced companies out there; it's a given that you will see a magnificent variety and quantity of animals. Twenty-seven years of experience in the wilds of Tanzania allow us to make that promise without hesitation.
Will I have a chance to interact with the local people of Tanzania?
The vast majority of Tanzanians are still living very close to their traditional lifestyles. Most of the people are subsistence farmers. The Maasai live a pastoral existence following their herds of cattle to better grazing areas, still adhering to the traditions and ceremonies of their ancestors. Their "villages" are located throughout northern Tanzania. Other small tribes of hunter-gatherers, living according to their ancient customs and traditions can also be found in this area.
At Meru slopes tours , we consider the cultural component of any safari to be subtle yet essential. All of the guides are Tanzanian born. They are an excellent resource to help you gain greater insight into the local culture. On some of our trips, we begin with a visit to a traditional village where you are welcomed as friends of Meru slopes tours and safaris As we drive between parks, we pass many villages and Maasai Bomas giving you further glimpses into the lives of the Tanzanian people. More often than not, we are able to stop at one of these bomas to get a more in-depth perspective on Maasai culture.
What if I want a custom safari?
We would be delighted to work with you to help you and your family, friends or organization plan the best possible safari to match your interests and budget. We organize custom safaris for professional photographers, honeymoon couples, families and many museums and educational institutions, including Boston's Museum of Science, Harvard University, American Museum of Natural History, Princeton University and Stanford Travel Study, to name just a few.
Can I take my children on safari?
YES! Meru slopes tours and safaris has a personal understanding and deep commitment to meeting the special needs of families. We have designed unique Family Safari programs to allow you and your children to experience the wonders of Africa together.
Special features for children ages 6-16 include: Penpals with whom kids will correspond and then meet in Tanzania
- Young Adventurers Serengeti Workshop
- 40 page Safari Logbook including a journal, bird lists, mammal lists, games, sketchpads, and address lists
- Safari Guides who enjoy and relate to children
- You'll have a chance to deepen your understanding of cultural diversity, discover the many miracles of nature, and at the same time play, laugh, and enjoy the pleasure of one another's company. Our trips are well suited for children six years and older.
Will I stay in tents or lodges?
Our safaris offer a wide array of safari styles to suit your interests and budget. Please see our brochure or the accommodations section of this site for a description of the different types of accommodations we use on our trips.
How big are your safari groups?
Our scheduled safaris vary in size depending on the nature of the safari, family departures being slightly larger to accommodate for kids and grandkids. On a typical sold out trip, we may use 3 to 4 customized Land Rovers, guaranteeing everyone a window seat, and allowing for a more intimate connection with the African bush.
What's the weather like in Tanzania?
Located at an altitude of 5,000 to 7,600 feet, northern Tanzania's dry, sunny climate is nothing like the steamy African jungle of Tarzan movies. The weather is spring-like year round, with daytime temperatures in the 70s and 80s, evenings in the 60s. From June until August, temperatures are slightly cooler, ranging from the upper 50s to the mid-70s during the day. The coastal and lowland areas tend to be more tropical in temperature.
What clothes should I bring on safari?
Safari dress is comfortable and casual - layers are recommended. Keep it simple and bring things you don't mind getting dusty. After you have booked your safari, we will send you a pre-departure information booklet including a detailed packing list to help you prepare for your safari.
What's the food like on safari?
You will be pleasantly surprised by both the quality and the variety of the food available on safari. In most lodges, meals are served buffet-style so you can choose what you like. The food is prepared according to western tastes, with some curries and local cuisine included. If staying at any of the Meru slopes Tours and Safaris, fresh meat and produce is procured locally and then prepared by expert chefs to the highest standards. Returning guests are consistently amazed by the meals we are able to prepare out in the bush.
Can special dietary requirements be accommodated?
Special dietary requirements such as vegetarian or diabetic meals can easily be arranged with advanced notice. If you are vegetarian or vegan you may wish to bring along some alternative protein sources. If you have multiple food allergies, you'll definitely want to bring along supplemental snacks. It is important we know of any possible dietary restrictions as soon as possible.
Are safaris in Tanzania safe?
Today's modern safari is a far cry from the rugged safaris of the past and the images we see in old movies. After a stimulating day of wildlife viewing, you can relax at comfortable, attractive lodges, with amenities like swimming pools, full service restaurants and en-suite bathrooms. Located right in the heart of scenic settings within wildlife reserves, the lodges and Safaris are close to nature, but not too close for comfort. Askaris (night watchmen) patrol the grounds at night, just to make sure that all is well. Tanzania is one of Africa's most stable countries, where you'll receive a warm welcome from its gracious people. Everycare is taken to ensure your health and safety on safari.
Is it OK to drink the water?
We provide bottled water on wildlife viewing drives and in any of our Safaris, and you can purchase good quality bottled water at all the lodges.
Are there a lot of bugs in Tanzania?
There are more bugs in many places in the USA than you will encounter on safari. Again, remember that most of the areas you'll be visiting are arid (especially from July - November). The bugs you will see are fascinating, but certainly not anything to be concerned about.
How far in advance should I book my safari?
It is better to book as far in advance as possible to ensure availability at the time you wish to travel, especially during the peak seasons (June through August and Christmas time). This is especially important for those wishing to travel on private custom safaris and those adding extensions to the scheduled trips.
Can I use a credit card to pay for my safari?
Yes you can pay by credit. The balance is due 90 days prior to departure and is payable by credit card, check, wire transfer or money order.
What additional costs can I expect when I travel with Meru slopes tours and safaris.
Our safari land packages include all accommodations, meals, airport transfers, park fees and services of Meru slopes tours and safaris. Tours guides and drivers.
It is customary to tip your guide and driver, as well as the Meru slopes tours and safaris staff (we suggest typical amounts in the pre-departure information we send you after you book on one of our safaris). You must remember, however, that tips are not required and are completely subjective. You will also need to pay for your own bar beverages (we provide water at meals and on game drives) and personal items like laundry service and phone calls. Before you go, you are responsible for any passport and visa fees (we send you the visa application form with your pre-departure information). We also highly recommend you purchase travel insurance (a pamphlet is included in your pre-departure packet). And finally,if you know yourself to be a big souvenir shopper you'll need to budget accordingly.