RSS Feed

Tag Archives: tanzania

OTA’s Wildlife Wonder – East Africa’s best game parks in two weeks

OTA’s Wildlife Wonder – East Africa’s best game parks in two weeks

The Maasai Mara and Serengeti form a cross-border eco-system that supports millions of animals and is the scene for the Great Wildebeest Migration.  In January, OTA is leading a tour to these parks as well as Lake Naivasha, Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Natron, giving guests the opportunity to experience a variety of landscapes throughout their safari.

angelique-3

Spectacular wildlife in Maasai Mara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater is the biggest draw-card of this safari, but the stunning birding in Lakes Naivasha and Natron is not to be dismissed.  Throughout the safari, we will travel through several different environments, each providing incredible scenery.  Guests will also have the opportunity to visit a traditional Maasai village.  Travelling in a comfortable safari vehicle fit for photography, game-viewing and touring and accompanied by an experienced driver-guide, on this trip you will stay in three-star tented camps and lodges.

black-rhino

Francis Wamai, Founder and Director of OTA, says: “Lake Naivasha is the biggest of the Rift Valley lakes and Lake Natron has an alga that makes it look red; both are home to millions of flamingos.  Maasai Mara is famous for the Great Wildebeest Migration that arrives in July and returns to Serengeti in November – that’s where you’ll see the herds on this trip.  Ngorongoro Crater is the caldera of an extinct volcano and local people believe it is the Garden of Eden, especially as nearby Oldepai Gorge is where some of the earliest human remains have been found.”

dsc_2444

OTA’s 13-day Wildlife Wonder Tour is designed for those looking for an exceptional and unique safari experience.  The tour cost is US$3460 per person inclusive of all meals, accommodation, entry fees to Maasai Mara, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Natron, and an English-speaking driver-guide.  There are limited seats available so contact tracey@ota-responsibletravel.com today to reserve yours.

elsamere

Advertisements

Kenya and Tanzania – Where to Travel First?

Kenya and Tanzania – Where to Travel First?

Many travellers visiting East Africa come to see the Wildebeest Migration, climb a mountain, and relax on the beach.  Kenya and Tanzania offer all these experiences and the quintessential safari combines the three experiences across the two countries.  But where to start?  Planning any holiday is fraught with challenges as you want to make it perfect, so here’s a short guide to help you plan your East African safari.

OTA Kenya Safaris www.ota-responsibletravel.com

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya is the biggest transport hub for international flights, so the chances are you will arrive there.  Therefore it makes sense to start your safari in Kenya.  You can take a shower and rest in Nairobi after your long flight or set off immediately to the game reserves.  After an international flight, do you really want to transfer onto another flight to Tanzania or spend your first day in Africa driving along a highway from one city to another?

Working backwards in planning your trip also gives some clues about the order of the itinerary.  The majority of travellers like to finish their safari on the coast where they can spend a few days washing the dust off in the Indian Ocean.  Both Kenya and Tanzania have beautiful coastlines, but it’s mythical Zanzibar, off the Tanzanian coast, that attracts most people.  Especially with the recent spate of attacks in Mombasa, Kenya, the Tanzanian coast is increasingly popular.  There are regular flights from Zanzibar back to Nairobi to catch your departing flight home, so finishing here is a relaxing end to your holiday.

Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania or Mt Kenya is another popular pursuit that travellers to East Africa often include in their itineraries.  So surely it’s better start with the climb and then you can relax for the rest of the safari?  Not really.  It is better to start with the safari and climb after you have enjoyed the animals and sights.  Despite the numbers of people tackling Kilimanjaro’s summit, it is not a walk in the park and the altitude and physical exertion can knock a person around.  You don’t want to be sick or flaked out in the back of the safari vehicle while your fellow passengers are watching a lion hunt.

So in planning your East African safari holiday, start in Kenya with the famous Maasai Mara or other game reserves before heading south to Tanzania to climb Mt Kilimanjaro or enjoy the beaches of Zanzibar.

OTA Kenya Safaris www.ota-responsibletravel.com

Are you planning a safari in East Africa?  What experiences are on your bucket list for the trip?  OTA offers tailor-made itineraries for individuals and small groups with a focus on excellent customer care, safety and responsible travel.  We work closely with our clients to design their ideal itinerary according to their objectives, budget and time, incorporating both sightseeing highlights and visits to local NGOs and community projects.  

OTA Kenya Safaris www.ota-responsibletravel.com

Northern Tanzania

Since the last post, we have arrived safely back in Nairobi…. despite the flood alert we heard on the radio upon crossing the border!

Usambarra Mountains, Tanzania, OTA - Overland Travel Adventures www.ota-responsibletravel.com

The view from halfway up the mountain on the way to Lushoto

We made a stop in Lushoto, a small mountain village in the heart of the Usambarra range.  With Mt Kilimanjaro so close, hiking in the Usambarras does not often make it onto many itineraries, but there’s no reason not to explore this region.  For a start it is A LOT cheaper than Kilimanjaro!

Usambarra Mountains, Tanzania, OTA - Overland Travel Adventures www.ota-responsibletravel.com

On the way to Lushoto

Lushoto is a lovely town with several local tour companies operating various hikes and cultural programs.  There is a strong community focus here, with a few of the companies contributing a percentage of their profits to development projects.  For example, Friends of Usambarra Mountains works with schools and the wider community on conservation education and tree planting.  TAYADEA is a youth organisation and the proceeds from the tours assists young people get into skill training institutions so they can become employable.  We also stumbled upon the guide who Francis worked with many years ago.  They were quite excited to meet after almost six years.  While he is still conducting tours, Jerome’s focus now is on building a guesthouse.  He invited us to his place a bit further up the mountain.  He has a beautiful garden with plenty of space for camping as well as six rooms.  It’s an ongoing project as he saves some money to invest into it, but when it is complete I’m sure it will be a wonderful place to stay.

Usambarra Mountains, Tanzania, OTA - Overland Travel Adventures www.ota-responsibletravel.com

Waterfall in the Usambarra Mountains

And finally we got to Arusha where our mission was to find a suitable Tanzanian partner.  The politics between Kenya and Tanzania makes it necessary for tour operators to work together to give guests seamless trips but with local guides in each country.  It’s not bad for tourists, because it means you have Tanzanian guides with their local knowledge of Tanzania and Kenyan guides with the local knowledge of Kenya.  After a couple of false starts with some contacts, again Francis’ network of past colleagues came in handy.  As we were chatting to Henry who had worked alongside Francis for a long time he revealed that he too had started his tour company, Voyage Africain.  They specialise in Serengeti and Ngorongoro safaris and Mt Kilimanjaro hikes.  We were shown the tents they use: special hiking tents for Kilimanajro and safari tents for the Serengeti, as well as toilet, shower, dining and kitchen tents.  So we are happy with our new partnership and can’t wait to start welcoming guests for combined Kenya-Tanzania trips!

Serengeti, Tanzania, OTA - Overland Travel Adventures www.ota-responsibletravel.com

The tents for camping in the Serengeti

Arusha, Tanzania, OTA - Overland Travel Adventures www.ota-responsibletravel.com

The camp toilet if you hike Kilimanjaro

Mt Kiliomanjaro, Tanzania, OTA - Overland Travel Adventures www.ota-responsibletravel.com

The tents for hiking Mt Kilimanjaro

Arusha, Tanzania, OTA - Overland Travel Adventures www.ota-responsibletravel.com

The campsite at Ndoro Hunter’s Lodge 

 

Return from south to east: Livingstone to Arusha

The nicest thing about being in southern Africa was the lack of hassle from the traffic police.  Since entering Tanzania two days ago, we have been stopped no less than 15 times!  We have not been speeding or driving dangerously – these are simply routine stops to check you have driving licence, insurance, fire extinguisher, warning triangles, first aid kit, that your lights all work, etc etc.  This morning we got a fine for the light over the number plate not working.  Meanwhile real crimes are happening but the police are too busy getting money from us “rich tourists”.  Tanzania is pushing their tourism in foreign media currently, but after the way the police have ben speaking to us (the one this morning was shouting at us because we wanted to go to the court to check the fine was genuine) how can we recommend people to come if they will get treated so rudely?

That’s my rant over, now onto the nice aspects of our week travelling.  We said farewell to our guests in Livingstone, but before starting the journey home we had to spoil ourselves just once.  Francis and I went to the Royal Livingstone Hotel, the most expensive hotel in Livingstone.  It sits on the Zambezi River just at the top of Victoria Falls and you can sit on the sundeck sipping a cocktail while the sun sets over the water.  One cocktails cost more than our typical dinner for both of us, but that wasn’t important at the time!

Victoria Falls, Zambia, OTA - Overland Travel Adventures www.ota-responsibletravel.com

Sunset over the top of Victoria Falls from the sundeck at the Royal Livingstone

The next morning we started the long drive back to Nairobi.  We decided to take it a bit easier than we had on the way down, so our first stop was Bridge Camp on the banks of the Luangwa River.  The border with Mozambique is on the other side of the river here and reports are that they will be tarring the road between there and Livingstone through Lower Zambezi National Park.  When that is complete, it will be a great new route – much more interesting than following the main highway through Lusaka.

Mikumi National Park, Tanzania, OTA - Overland Travel Adventures www.ota-responsibletravel.com

Elephant spotted out the window as we drove through Mikumi National Park, Tanzania

We continued into Malawi, the land of missing speed limit signs but plenty of police with speed guns.  I was told there by a policeman that I “should not use my thoughts” and to just follow the signs.  So because many signs were missing, I thought we were passed the village and we were safe to go at speed again.  But the speed sign was still to come, unbeknownst to anyone.  I explained that other signs had been missing so I assumed this one also was because there were no houses around to slow down for and I had been stuck doing 50km/h for about half an hour earlier waiting for the signs that never came.  That’s when he said I shouldn’t think and just need to follow the signs (that don’t exist??!!).  Are there any questions about Malawi’s lack of development if the man in the uniform tells me I should not be thinking??

Tanzania, OTA - Overland Travel Adventures www.ota-responsibletravel.com

Poor goat!

We stayed at Flame Tree B&B, run by the lovely Maggie.  It was a surprise to find such a place in Mzuzu, which had previously struck me as a market hub but not worth spending much time in.  The food was excellent and we met an English couple who have spent many years in Malawi and had recently set up a charity working on improving agriculture and supporting education.  Normal farming practices mean that during the rains, all the topsoil gets pushed away taking all the nutrients with it.  The charity was teaching farmers methods to keep the precious topsoil and thereby improve their harvests.  And they are enjoying success.

We were almost glad to be back in Tanzania (or East Africa), although we discovered that on our way down the officials at Namanga had cheated us on some taxes.  But we found a great guesthouse, had a reasonable dinner and continued through the dozens of police check points the next day.  We got as far as Morogoro before continuing into Dar Es Salaam yesterday.  We had two missions in Dar: meet Investours and learn about them, and buy new tyres.  New tyres are fitted now and we are really excited to start introducing Investours into our itineraries.  They are an NGO that ensures tourism dollars are actually getting to the local population.  It started in Mexico, but now has a branch in Tanzania.  An excursion with Investours only involves a day and you visit two entrepreneurs who have applied for a micro-loan and by the end of the day you are to decide which of them gets the money that you have paid for the tour as their loan.  You are also taken to the Woodcarvers Market to meet some entrepreneurs who have benefited from the program and a traditional lunch with locals is included, providing those women with some income as well.  The entrepreneurs who are qualifying for the micro-loan must live under the poverty line which is a measly 950 shillings per day (approximately 65 cents).  They receive a $200 interest-free loan to be paid back in three months – this ensures they pump the money into their business and work hard to grow it so they can meet their obligations.  Investours is planning to expand to Arusha and Moshi, opening up opportunities for entrepreneurs in those towns and also enabling visitors to Kilimanjaro and Serengeti to participate in this fantastic program.  We cannot wait to start supporting this organisation, so we hope some of you will also get excited about it as well!

Investours, Dar es Salaam, OTA - Overland Travel Adventures www.ota-responsibletravel.com

Meeting Peter from Investours in Dar es Salaam

And now we are on our way to Moshi and Arusha where we will be researching all the good accommodation, updated prices of Kilimanjaro climbs and Serengeti safaris and maybe have a little relaxation with some friends before getting back to Nairobi.  We heard it’s raining in Kenya, so I’m not in a super rush to leave the sunshine down here.

%d bloggers like this: