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Tanzania Safari Blog

February 12, 2015

The Cadogan guide to Tanzania

Filed under: A guide to Tanzania,An Introduction — Tanzania Odyssey @ 7:21 pm

We are justifiably proud of our expertise when it comes to the best of Tanzania and Zanzibar. Very few tour operators have as many days in-country as we do but, when out in Tanzania, we don’t just visit the good stuff. We also have a wealth of knowledge about the country’s less visited areas that do not feature on our site.

We have all contributed to this growing database over the years but we have within our ranks an expert amongst experts, our director Annabel, writer of the Cadogan guide to Tanzania. After a quick scan through her book we think you’ll agree – few people know Tanzania better than her! If you have an interest in the road less travelled, you will find it sated by her fantastic guide.

The Cadogan guide to Tanzania As well as information on some of Tanzania’s lesser visited areas, the guide provides a background to some of the areas we do recommend as well as a brief history. Even though we plan your trip to perfection and provide all the necessary information, it’s still nice to come with a little local knowledge.

You may find it enriches your travelling experience! For those who prefer a hard copy, you can still buy the second edition at Amazon or you can wait til we finish the 3rd edition! To see all the chapters simply click on the Guidebook category on the toolbar to the right. Links to the major chapters can also be found below.

General

Safari

Beaches

Other areas

 

August 25, 2015

How we came together as a family and got my parents their Safari

Filed under: Tanzania Odyssey News — Tanzania Odyssey @ 6:24 pm

How we came together as a family and got my parents their SafariAn article from one of our clients:

For years now, me and my 3 brothers have heard is how much our parents have wanted to go on a safari. Ok maybe it wasn’t in every conversation but it was certainly mentioned at least a couple of times a year ever since we were young! As me and my siblings have gotten older, we started getting jobs and moving out of the house which meant we’re earning a bit more money and can afford to finally treat our parents to their safari hey always wanted. But why stop there we thought? What if it wasn’t just me and my brothers that helped out? What if we got the whole family involved? Here’s a short explanation on how we got them their dream safari, where they went and what they got up to!

How we came together as a family and got my parents their Safari

 

Plumfund

I’ve always thought that crowd funding is a good idea but it always lacked that personal touch. Ok so you can raise money but it felt like you weren’t really involved in the process and anyone and everyone could give money. Me and my brothers decided to raise money in a similar way but only where family, friends and loved ones can donate. The site was called Plumfund and it enabled us to reach our desired goal within 3 weeks or so. Once word circulated round what we were doing, all our family and friends (even distant relatives who you only see at marriages!) helped to chip in! The result was that we were finally able to get them a top of the range safari. So now we have the money, where shall we send them?

Picture 3

Location

So we heard quite a few passing comments from my parents over the years about the destinations they want to go to. Kruger Park in South Africa was mentioned, as was Kenya; but there was one location that was noticeable mentioned more than most, and that was Tanzania. So without their knowledge, we stole their diary’s and found a 2 week break around 6 months in advance and we went ahead and booked the 10 days safari to Tanzania, in particular, the bulk of the holiday was located near the Ngorongoro Crater.

Favourite moments

It seems like a bit of a silly subheading in this article but hey, I thought I’d quickly mention what their favourite moments of the holiday were. First of all, their reaction to the news that we all grouped together to give them this holiday was amazing. They pretty much fell over in joy, well maybe not fell over but they looked a bit wobbly! After getting over that shock, they couldn’t wait for the holiday and after 6 long months they finally hopped on the plane to visit Tanzania and the Ngorongoro crater. After they came home they told me their favourites moments were the sunrise and sunset picturesque views, the lion cubs walking with their mum and the wide ranging variety of animals they saw in various locations.

To them it truly was the perfect holiday and one that they wouldn’t forget! I’m just glad I was able to give them something back after all those years of putting up with me and my brothers!

July 20, 2015

Namiri Plains, Serengeti’s newest luxury safari camp

Filed under: Tanzania Odyssey News — Tanzania Odyssey @ 12:04 pm

A perfect place to watch the annual migrations of wildebeest, zebra, and gazelles, and the predators that prey on them, the camp offers tented suites with king-sized bed and indoor and outdoor showers, writes Nick Walton

It’s a safari camp, then? Yes, but not all camps are created equal. Namiri Plains is one of the Serengeti’s newest camps, built to coincide with the reopening of the surrounding Soit Le Motonyi reserve, a remote area of Tanzania that was closed off to mankind for 20 years in an effort to revive the cheetah population. The result is unique in the Serengeti, which welcomes more than 20,000 camera-toting tourists each year – a luxury camp 45 minutes from its nearest neighbour and perfectly positioned for the annual great migration of wildebeest, zebras and gazelles, in a closed reserve where the big cats rule supreme and people are few and far between.

What will we see? There are more than 200 lions, in 12 prides, in the eastern Serengeti, as well as cheetahs (the stars of the eastern plains), shy leopards and servals, spotted hyenas, elephants, giraffes, waterbucks, warthogs, wildebeest and fearless honey badgers. There is also an abundance of bird life, and migratory species including the Cape buffalo. You’ll encounter wildlife as soon as breakfast – Namiri Plains has a resident lioness that watches over the camp from the reeds of a dry riverbed a mere 50 metres from the dining table.

So we’ll be active? The camp’s team, led by manager Blessed Mpofu, offers daily driving and walking safaris. The driving excursions usually take place early in the morning or just before dusk (the latter including sundowner cocktails timed to coincide with an often stunning sunset), when the animals are most active. The camp’s custom-built, open-sided Land Rovers are comfortable and offer an elevated view, as well as power sockets for last-minute camera recharging. Game walks cover the unique flora and fauna of the eastern Serengeti, and are accompanied by the camp’s spear-toting Maasai warriors, who double as security. Wrapped in traditional red wool robes, the tribesmen also escort guests to their rooms under the cover of darkness, when things really do go bump – or growl – in the night.

What about creature comforts? Although you’re staying in a remote safari camp, that doesn’t mean you’re roughing it. Each spacious yet durable tented suite (above) comes with a separate seating area, a king-sized bed, an indoor bathroom (below) with bucket shower and an oversized outdoor shower, under the plentiful stars. Mesh windows ensure a cool breeze flows through without bringing insects with it. Next to the dining tent (bottom) is a comfortable lounging area, filled with couches and books. Many meals – the tariff includes three squares with wine a day – start with cocktails around the fire pit followed by alfresco dining beneath a towering acacia tree strung with fairy lights.

July 17, 2015

Katavi National Park

Filed under: Tanzania Odyssey News — Tanzania Odyssey @ 4:37 pm

Thirty-one years after his first visit, Andrew Sharp returns to Katavi National Park, in the remote far west of Tanzania, to see if it still has the same magic

HR-Sharp-VehicleIt was June 1983. My wife and I were young, venturesome and travelling from Zimbabwe to Uganda in a Land Rover that was scarred from the Rhodesian war years and weighted with mine-proof steel plates bolted to the footwells. The road north through remote western Tanzania was deeply rutted, dusty and deserted, and for six hours we ground our lonely way past miles of miombo woodland whose dry leaves seemed primed to catch fire in the heat.

Inside the vehicle we sweltered, with the windows shut to prevent an invasion by the tsetse flies swarming furiously around the spare wheel on the bonnet. There was no air con in those days. As evening approached, exhausted and drained, we looked for a place to camp and turned off the road onto a faint, narrow track.

We ascended a low hill, but there was no let up in the thorn scrub. It seemed most unpromising. Little did we know that we were about to stumble upon one of the most alluring places in Africa.

We crested a sandy ridge and came to a standstill, stunned by the sight that opened up before us: a vast open expanse stretching to the horizon, verdantly green and threaded with silver waterways, streaked in black by huge herds of buffalo and liberally humped with hippos and elephants, all under a soft, pinking sky. We had arrived at Katavi, one of three floodplains that form Katavi National Park, the third largest in Tanzania.

Later, watered and cool, and breathing in the honeysuckle scent of nearby mahogany blossom, we lay in our little tent listening to the stealthy army of hippos grazing all around us. Out on the dark plain, under the bright constellations, lions rocked the night with their roars and hyenas yodelled. It was probable that we were at least a hundred miles from any other human being. This, surely, was the wild whose call the nineteenth-century explorers and hunters would have felt. We vowed that one day we would be back.

It took us more than thirty years to fulfil that dream. This time there was no gruelling journey to make. We could now afford to fly in with a safari company, and would be ‘glamping’ rather than crawling into a two-person tent. Despite our comparatively luxurious transport we still caught a sense of Katavi’s remoteness as the Cessna made its way west from Dar es Salaam. En route we landed on dirt airstrips to drop off fellow tourists in Selous Game Reserve (described in guidebooks as ‘remote and wild’) and then in Ruaha National Park (‘even remoter and wilder’), and then flew for another two hours with barely a scar of human habitation below. Still we wondered if our memories of Katavi were rose-tinted or whether our Eden was gone. Three decades is a long time in the modern world.

After the steep Mlele Escarpment on the park’s eastern boundary came into view we descended in a gentle arc, down to the tiny airstrip, our eyes drawn compulsively to the great floodplains spreading north and south. Our safari camp was on the edge of one of the park’s three main mbugas (or ‘marshy plains’) of the 4471 sq km Katisunga, which is, incidentally, larger than Rutland. From our canvas-and-thatch room we gazed out over the plain to distant lines of zebra and giraffe that resembled flotillas of sloops on a wide sea.

In 1983 we had been the only people camping in the park, and even now there are just four permanent tented camps. The network of game-viewing roads is confined mainly to the centre of the park. The south is largely trackless, and passing another safari vehicle is uncommon enough to prompt mutual interest. We explored our wilderness, armed against the flies with Dettol spray, fly whisks, Maasai blankets and smouldering elephant dung in a pot on the back of the four-wheel drive. Katavi isn’t famed just for its insects but also for the huge pods of hippos that crowd the Katuma River. Nothing prepared us for the gloriously thick muck and muddle of such tight presses of the beasts. Stubble-headed marabou storks stood, hunched as always, wobbling their fleshy gular sacs and relieving themselves shamelessly on their hosts. Forced into ever-smaller stretches of dark-brown, glutinous water as the dry season progressed, the hippos grunted and jostled, sharing their pools uneasily with five-metre-long crocodiles.

At night, sitting around the fire at Foxes’ Katavi Wildlife Camp, Nick Greaves (camp manager, writer, photographer and all-round bush expert) traced for us the constellation of Scorpio that arched over the plains like an ancient and wise protector. Katavi abounds with big beasts such as lion, roan antelope, buffalo, elephant and more. But when our guide showed us the clever architecture of a weaver’s nest, we had an overwhelming sense that every single blade of grass in the wide expanses of the park, living and dead, and indeed every invisible bacterium in the dung-enriched earth, every ant, tsetse fly, scorpion, mongoose, sandgrouse, wild sesame, acacia and palm, is vital for the health of the whole ecosystem and its astonishing biodiversity. While tracts of our world such as this remain, there seems hope for the survival of our planet.

Our six days in the park were not long enough to explore its far reaches, but we could not leave without attempting to find our campsite from thirty years before. It’s a two-hour drive from Katisunga to the Katavi plain, travelling first south and then west around the huge floodplain, before finally heading north. There is no convenient shortcut. With our guide, Whiteman, we started early, to avoid the tsetses, and journeyed through beautiful forests of umbrella acacia, ashy-barked marula and then Cape chestnut, their pale branches stretching gracefully upwards into the blue sky. Even the stinging flies could not dampen our mood as we drew closer to our destination.

We finally joined the old main road that we had taken three decades before. It was still dusty and bumpy: that much at least had not changed. The side track was instantly recognisable, though now it was signposted ‘Lake Katavi’, raising our excitement to new levels. Slowly we crested a sandy ridge and — yes! — the same stunning sight, just as we had remembered it, crossed with strands of water, despite it being so late in the dry season. We found the precise spot where we had camped in 1983, recognising the lie of the land and remembering the crackle of the leaves under our groundsheet and the sweet aroma of mahogany blossom.

Soon coffee was served, and we sat and watched waterbuck and baboons sipping from the water channels while a 25-strong herd of male elephants lumbered past.

On the far horizon zebras shimmered in the sunlight. A pair of noisy blacksmith lapwings harassed an African marsh harrier that was hunting for eggs, just as they have done in Katavi for tens of thousands of years. It seemed then that three decades was not such a long time to have left it to come back.

Andrew Sharp and his wife travelled with Africa Odyssey http://www.africaodyssey.com/

Ode to Katavi
The scenery here is spectacular, both in scope and drama. The Katuma River flows into Chada Lake, an amphitheatre framed by the Mlele Escarpment. Wedge-shaped Kipapa Hill stands sentinel over herds of animals that roam the region in a never-ending quest for grazing. And faraway horizons, bruised purple at dusk, remind you that you’re tucked under the western arm of the Great Rift Valley.

Katavi shouldn’t be beautiful — its remoteness and wildness should give it teeth — but with its tamarind trees blushing at the prospect of rain, the marula, terminalia and pod mahogany trees shivering with similar anticipation, the rattle of the parchment fronds of borassus palms and the long pod cassia festooned with sunshine-yellow blooms, it is. Very.

But it’s scorched. Its low elevation means it’s simmering. You can hear it in the pressure-cooker hiss of a thousand invisible cicadas. You can see it when mirages dance an agitated, shimmering distortion at the edge of the earth. You can feel it when your hair sticks to the back of your neck. The sky seems to be pulled taut, with a few faint, teasing wisps of cloud that are nudged along by the reluctant exhalations of an enervated breeze. The savannah is the colour of cracked poppadums. The star-chestnut trunks are bleached bone white.

Elephants lumber down the Katuma’s bank to drink and slap mud onto their sunbaked skin. Crocodiles snap shut jaundiced, malevolent smiles and then slither into the water as you approach. Lions snooze in the shade of sausage trees, observing rare visitors with slit-eyed interest. Everything pants, willing the rain to hurry up.

Anthea Rowan

Safari Planner
• Getting there The writer travelled with Africa Odyssey, who can arrange all your transport and accommodation. By road, the journey from Dar es Salaam to Katavi takes three days. Safari Air Link flies twice a week from Dar es Salaam to Ruaha, Katavi and Mahale on Lake Tanganyika, and many travellers visit all three parks on one trip.
• Where to stay The two longest-established camps are Foxes’ Katavi Wildlife Camp, on the edge of the Katisunga plains, and Chada Katavi, run by Nomad Tanzania. Alternatives are Flycatcher Katavi Camp, Palahala Luxury Tented Camp and Katuma Katavi Tented Camp. All include game drives and most offer fly-camping adventures.
• When to go In the dry season (May-October), when the floodwaters retreat and animals congregate around the rivers.
• Health Check with your doctor or a travel clinic at least two months before you go to be certain which vaccinations are currently required. Antimalarials are essential and tsetse flies can be a nuisance, so be sure to pack effective insect repellent.

July 1, 2015

Tanzania voted best safari country in Africa

Filed under: Press Articles — Tanzania Odyssey @ 10:36 am

Tanzania voted best safari country in Africa
A new poll crowns the East African country the king of safaris

Tanzania is the best place for a safari, according to a new poll.
First problem when considering a safari — where to go.

Zimbabwe has the majestic Victoria Falls, South Africa great boutique reserves.

Kenya offers chances to see big cats and Botswana is a leader in eco-friendly tours.

But you’d be best off selecting Tanzania, according to a recent poll on safaribookings.com.

The Netherlands-based website polled 1,000 safari tourists and 756 experts, including guidebook authors from Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Frommer’s, Bradt and Footprint, over two years.

The result: Tanzania is a clear favorite for novice and veteran safari-goers alike.

“Tanzania is home to Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater,” wrote Tim Bewer, a Lonely Planet guides author and one of the experts polled. “This alone makes a solid case for declaring it Africa’s best safari country.”

Adventure calls

Tanzania has seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including safari favorites the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park, home to millions of wildebeest that form one of the world’s most spectacular sights as they migrate the area year-round.

The country is also home to Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.

Tanzania’s only drawback, according to Safari Bookings, is that there are “too many highlights to fit in one safari.”

The news comes as welcome affirmation of the country as a tourist destination, after a recent bombing at a rally that killed two in Arusha. That event sparked anxiety among visitors.

Ratings out of 5 of Africa’s top safari countries

As voted by tourists and safari experts

Tanzania – 4.84
Botswana – 4.75
Kenya – 4.66
Zambia – 4.58
South Africa – 4.55
Namibia – 4.54
Uganda – 4.16
Zimbabwe – 4.14

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