Overall, I had a great time in Tanzania. For reference, the previous summer I went to Ecuador with Global Works and the summer before that I went to Peru with Windsor Mountain International. Specifically I thought there were 2 elements that set this company apart from the other two I participated in:
a) the leaders;the leaders of my trip were very very nice, knowledgeable, well trained, reasonable and generally fun to hang out with. They followed the rules of the program but were always trying their hardest to make it so the students had as much fun as possible. We also had a Tanzanian staff member, named Mohamed who was the single nicest man I have ever met in my entire life. I know people tend to get way hyperbolic in these reviews but in all seriousness, he was an amazing human being. I still maintain contact with him via facebook just to check in every once in a while and make sure hes doing ok.
b) the quality of the service; we worked hard for 3 weeks to construct a bathroom for girls at a school that previously only had one bathroom. It felt like the construction we did in our village of Ilkindinga had way more impact than the other 2 programs I participated in. We actually 100% finished the bathroom, which was impressive (to the leaders as well) and it really seemed like we were doing something to benefit the community, not just our consciences. Global Routes balanced and rotated the different worksite jobs so you were never dreading work. We all worked hard, but never so hard that it really became painful, as there were always some less intense jobs to be done if you really got tired. (Preparing lunch, painting murals etc.)
Also as an animal lover, this trip really held something special for me. The trip begins right away with a 5 day safari trip. I was worried it wouldn't be enough safari time but it turned out to be the perfect amount. The safari was amazing, we saw tons of animals and the drivers and guides were all really nice, fun guys. I remember we did one night of camping in Ngorongoro and I woke up in the middle of the night and peered out my tent to see a water buffalo just munching on some grass 20 feet away, it was unreal.
The final trip in Zanzibar was unreal and as close to paradise as it gets. Its 5 straight days of nonstop fun and relaxation. We got plenty of time on the most beautiful beach I had ever seen in my life and we also got a chance to snorkel, visit some really interesting island (which included more beach time), and eat incredible seafood. As Zazibar is a Muslim enclave in the religiously divided country of Tanzania, it was just so incredibly different from anywhere else I have visited.
My homestay experience was really perfect as well. It might be because I already had practice but I had a particularly strong bond with my homestay family. It was so much fun to be in a family of 10 odd people as there was always someone to hang out with. I had my 3 little guys, Lolu, Nickson and Musa who were respectively 4, 5 and 6 years old, my loving mama and baba, Cuthbert, a teenage boy like myself among many other family members. All of them were so sweet and so hospitable, they really did everything they could to make me feel comfortable, to the point where I felt a little uncomfortable for inconveniencing them so much. We had a rudimentary (bucket showers and hole-in-the-ground toilets) but huge, comfortable and clean house. I honestly did not even feel like I was "roughing it" during the homestay. Another note: Global Routes will tell you that no one in your homestay will speak English, this is false, usually at least one person does, if not more.
Except for Zanzibar, I am not the biggest fan of East African food. Its not that it tastes bad, it just doesn't have any variety or too much flavor.
Because we were such outsiders and couldn't speak Swahili, our "free time" was pretty limited. If you want to party, there are other programs out there.
Because Global Routes is responsible for your safety, the leaders will sometimes be forced to kind of "baby" you as they really can't mess around