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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.

cadoganVery few tour operators have anything like as many days in-country as we do, and 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.

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.

September 30, 2016

Alien Igloos, Lions and Leopards

Filed under: Tanzania Odyssey News — Tanzania Odyssey @ 12:53 pm

Shake, shake, bang. The car jerks down another dip on the dirt track; fine volcanic dust swirls up in our wake. As it clears, moon-white faces appear brightly in the distance. They move closer, revealing three young girls with spirals and geometric patterns painted thickly onto their skin in chalk.

I’m in North Tanzania, on my way to stay at a new lodge tucked up in its highlands, well away from the tourist hullabaloo that concentrates around the country’s famous Ngorongoro Crater. Here, 22km north-east of one of Africa’s biggest tourist attractions, there are no other lodges; just wide, open land where the Maasai roam, their lives seemingly little changed.


A view over the Highlands camp near Ngorongoro Crater (Asilia Africa)

As we pull up at the camp, after a three-hour drive from Lake Manyara Airport, the air is notably cooler – we’re now 2,670 metres above sea level. Overgrown grassy paths, flanked with swathes of wild flowers, lead us to a scattering of almond-coloured, bulbous domes peeking over the vegetation. There are eight of these unusual, alien-looking tented pods spread across the hillside. It’s like I came looking for a safari, but found a sci-fi set instead.


Inside the main lounge of The Highlands camp (Asilia Africa)

The camp is within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a Unesco World Heritage Site and multiple land use area, where protected wildlife wanders freely among the Maasai, who number 50,000 here. While it’s Ngorongoro Crater that draws crowds for the incredible concentration of wildlife within, there’s also a wealth of under-explored riches outside its rim.


The Empakai Crater is a quieter spot for enjoying the wildlife (Asilia Africa)

“Our guests visit the Ngorongoro Crater but also Empakai and Olmoti, two less well-known craters we’re close to,” Victor, the lodge’s manager, explains. “We call them the silent craters because no visitors go there.” This is a volatile and restless land where tectonic plates shifted more than two million years ago, ripping apart Earth’s crust. Volcanoes lifted their fiery heads, before some collapsed to create the peppering of calderas that now surround us.

One morning, after looking out at glorious uninterrupted mountain views over a big breakfast on the lodge’s terrace, we head off to explore Empakai Crater. We go with an armed ranger (it’s compulsory) as well as our Maasai guide, Lenganasa, because unlike in the Ngorongoro Crater, where you are vehicle-bound, we can be footloose and fancy-free. As footloose as you can be with unpredictable buffalo around, anyhow.  Looking down into the crater from the top, it resembles a big washing basin with a lake as its centrepiece, fringed with shimmering white salt. We clamber down through the forest cloaking the crater’s steep walls. At the bottom, flamingos lift their wings, flashing salmon-pink feathers. Decorated morans (young Maasai warriors) sit among herds of cows.


Flamingos, zebras and wildebeest in Tanzania’s northern highlands (Asilia Africa)

After the one-hour climb back up we return to camp by car. Outside, hills sweep down into wide plains sprinkled with clusters of Maasai bomas (livestock enclosures). Buttercup-gold light bathes zeals of zebras and the open land accentuates kori bustards, yellow-billed kites and golden-winged sunbirds. Herds of cattle are dwarfed by the expanse. Each herd circles around a burst of colour: the Maasai’s red checkered shukas (traditional garments) jolt the landscape.

Back at the lodge nights are cosy. Although the days are warm, temperatures at night can drop as low as -1C. Early evening one of the housekeepers – a large percentage of the lodge’s staff are Maasai – lights fires in the wood burners (each dome has its own) and the enormous beds are warmed with soft, faux-fur-covered hot water bottles.

The lodge is the latest from the well-respected South Africa-based safari company Asilia, and it ushers in a new species of safari camp. While in the beginning I found the “alien igloos” a little too at odds with the ancient land rising up around them, once I get used to the contemporary design there is much to love.

After a delicious supper of grilled beef we are escorted back to our tent by one of the camp’s friendly night-duty guards. “There’s a leopard often seen in the camp,” Victor explains. Solar lights, which hang from shepherd hooks, trail up the hill, lighting the way.

Inside the pods, animal skins cover the floor and photographs of Maasai life adorn the walls. The fronts of the tents are made of strong clear plastic, so in the mornings you can admire the sweeping views stretching out before you without leaving the bed.


You can enjoy sunrise without leaving your bed (Asilia Africa)

Next morning, Olmoti Crater entails another beautiful walk and has a waterfall tumbling down its sheer sides. Climbing back up, we are excited to pass fresh lion prints. Chameleons clamber in the grasses and old man’s beard hangs from the trees. At the top we lie in the sunshine, and steppe eagles soar so close I can see their markings. We watch cows tramping down the hills like large armies. They head to the spring water which flows along the crater bottom, their steady advance relaxing to watch.

Despite my preference for safaris without crowds, we spend one day in the Ngorongoro Crater. There’s a reason why more than 400,000 people visit per year. It’s one of the world’s largest unbroken calderas, and its walls form a natural enclosure for one of the biggest concentrations of wild animals on earth. “The problem is there’s no limit on the number of vehicles that can enter,” Lenganasa explains. But fortunately our lodge is closest to the Lemala entrance, quieter than the alternative Lodoare gate on the crater’s opposite (and busier) side.


Lions are prevalent in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (Asilia Africa)

We see zebra stallions fighting and ostriches streaking past rhino. Lions are everywhere; we watch them mate (the male roaring right by us after he rolls over), a lioness stealthily stalking a wildebeest, and a huge pride sleeping soundly, all stretched out by a stream. We count 27 spotted hyenas, their humped backs dramatic against the big sky, mingling with grey crowned cranes, jazzy with their red throats and golden mohicans. One corner of the grassland is forested, full of beautiful yellow-barked acacia trees and herds of elephants.

Our last day is spent strolling among the hills near the lodge and experiencing slivers of Maasai life up close. In other parts of Tanzania, meeting Maasai has become limited to fake encounters at a tourist boma – something The Highlands is thankfully determined not to replicate. Instead they organise for us to visit a family in their village.


The semi-nomadic Maasai people live among the wildlife in the conservation area (Asilia Africa)

As we arrive Loosidan, a Maasai man with stretched ear lobes and a dagger at his waist, finishes placing his goats inside a kraal. Women wear striking necklaces, the colour of tropical birds, around their necks and have silver beaded chains sparkling from their ears. Loosidan ushers us inside his home – made from mud, cow dung and sticks. We sit chatting with him and his wife, while their children run around and my eyes adjust to the dark, smoky interior.

Suddenly we hear a truck pull up. Several morans jump out, their silver headpieces glinting, and one carries a blackened cooking pot. “They’ve just returned from spending a week in the forest,” Lenganasa says. “A group of them go to eat meat and medicinal roots. This tradition, called orpul, makes us strong.”


Zebras are a common sight around the camp (Asilia Africa)

The majesty of these highlands is made all the more beautiful by this distinct and colourful culture. As we leave I take one last look back: the shukas and the setting sun all blaze red.

Travel essentials

Getting there

Kate Eshelby travelled with KLM ( from Heathrow to Kilimanjaro International Airport via Amsterdam. Connecting flights with Coastal Aviation ( take you on to Lake Manyara.

British passport holders require a visa to visit Tanzania, available at the airport (US$50).

Staying there

Kate Eshelby was hosted by Tanzania Odyssey 0208 704 1216 Accommodation at The Highlands camp starts at US$760 per person per night, including full-board with house drinks and all activities. This excludes the Ngorongoro Conservation Area fees which are $70 per person for 24 hours and the crater descent fee which is $295 per vehicle. The Highlands camp only accepts children from the age of five. Children aged five to 18 are charged 50 per cent of the adult rate.

September 9, 2016

3 Reasons to Visit Tanzania

Filed under: Tanzania Odyssey News — Tanzania Odyssey @ 11:53 am

“I love Tanzania because of the light, colours and life in almost every scene. Especially at dawn: the rising sun floods the cool grasslands with gold, school children walk along the roadsides and vendors set out their wares. And when nature surrounds you, there is exuberance everywhere: the largest of animals mingle with the most minute; birds of every size and colour soar and sing; trees and plants burst with flowers; landscapes are colourful and diverse. Mostly, though, it’s because of the equanimity, charm, dignity and welcome offered by so many Tanzanians.”
– Mary Fitzpatrick, Writer

There are countless reasons to visit a country as unique and beautiful as Tanzania, but if we had to narrow it down to three, our reasons would be: safari, beach and city:


Tanzania has 17 diverse National Parks including Sealous Game Reserve, Africa’s largest protected area, and the Serengeti National Park, which comes to life each year with the annual wildebeest migration. The Ngorongoro Crater is a must-see for its unbelievable geology, and abundance of wildlife. Then there’s Tarangire, Katavi, Ruaha and Arusha – all iconic African parks.

From magical Pemba in the North, to the famous island of Zanzibar, Tanzania’s beaches are paradise on earth. The glorious Swahili coastline caters to every whim and snorkelling or scuba diving in these clear waters opens doors to a whole new world beneath the waves.

Tanzania is unique and multi-cultural with many fascinating cities worth visiting. Dar es Salaam is the second largest trading port in East Africa and a trip there offers an interesting insight into the commercial hub of the country. For a more cultural experience, we recommend visiting Stone Town in the heart of Zanzibar.
Quite simply put, Tanzania has something for everybody to enjoy.

August 17, 2016

Touring Tanzania on Foot


“In a country crowned by the tallest free-standing volcano in the world and almost bisected by chains of ancient mountain ranges, hiking takes on a high profile. Stunning scenery and rugged terrain combine with a fascinating cultural backdrop to create several challenging and adventurous routes.” – Lonely Planet

The hustle and bustle of travelling can be exhausting at times. Whisking off from one place to another means that sometimes there is barely enough time to enjoy every experience to the full and that’s a downright shame! The whole point of travelling is to encounter new things and immerse yourself in different experiences. In doing so, you learn about the country’s unique culture and traditions, as well as visiting places completely unique to your own homeland.


Tanzania has so many exquisite things on offer and we believe that one of the best ways to explore some of this country’s highlights is on foot. Walking allows travellers the time to develop a deeper connection and understanding of their surroundings. It forces you to be completely involved and aware and travellers will often discover and learn about things that they never would have even noticed before.

Here are a few of our favourite places for taking a walk in Tanzania:

Ngorongoro Conservation Area


Famous for being one of Tanzania’s premier wildlife destinations and home to the famous volcanic Ngorongoro Crater, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area offers rugged and scenic guided walking opportunities. There are no set routes, which makes for many possibilities, and guests are often treated to thrilling up-close wildlife encounters. Walking is less invasive than driving in game vehicles and therefore provides a more eco-friendly and authentic safari experience.

Stone Town

© Helen Suk

© Helen Suk

Stone Town is the oldest part of Zanzibar and also the cultural heart of the city. As the world’s oldest functioning Swahili city, many of the landmarks in Stone Town have been restored to their former glory. Walking down the narrow streets of the city, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported back in time as you take in the grand old Arabian homes lining the winding alleys.

Lake Victoria


Bordered by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest freshwater lake and yet is one of the least visited regions of Tanzania. This remote and scenic area is a birdwatcher’s paradise and perfect for nature walks. There are also a few villages in the area which can be visited, including Musoma and Bukoba, which have a quiet waterside charm.

Gombe Stream National Park


Gombe Stream National Park is the smallest national park in Tanzania. The park is home to many species of primates and mammals but is most famous for its chimpanzee population. Guided walks take visitors into the forest to observe chimps in the wild – a true bucket list activity!

In other words, if you’re planning a trip to Tanzania, make sure to pack a comfy pair of walking shoes. You’ll be needing them a lot!

July 26, 2016

The Cycle of Life in the Serengeti

Filed under: Tanzania Odyssey News,The Great Migration — Tanzania Odyssey @ 10:24 am


When the wildebeest migration arrives on the plains of the Serengeti, a time of plenty begins for the predators. It’s basically a big moving ‘all you can eat’ buffet and the drama that unfolds during this time makes for some of the best wildlife sightings. It’s no wonder that this spectacle is on so many safari enthusiasts bucket lists!

“The survival tactics, the perfectly timed executions and the unexpected escapes are bound to leave any wildlife lover enthralled. However, a certain degree of empathy is also stirred from observing wild animals in their quest for survival, and the raw simplicity of life in the bush is an alluring aspect for many visitors. There are also many lessons to be learnt from the animal kingdom – from trusting instincts and embracing strengths, to working as a team and adapting in the face of adversity.”Africa Geographic describes the migration in a gallery titled ‘Life and Death in the Serengeti’ featuring a series of powerful images captured by wildlife photographer, Björn Persson.

Here are a few on the photographs that were featured:


Entering the world as baby wildebeest, odds for survival aren’t great. With predators around every corner, a weak little wildebeest is an easy target. Getting on their feet and walking as soon as possible is their only chance of survival.


When the calving season arrives, the big cats feast in the Serengeti! During this time, it is vital that they gain weight and store energy for the future when easy meals might not be as abundant.


Built for speed, cheetahs have the option of targeting prey that would be more difficult for the other predators to catch. Once they have caught their prey, cheetahs need time to rest but they also have to eat their meal relatively quickly as larger predators often chase the cheetahs off their kill and steal it for themselves.


Unlike cheetahs, lions cannot rely on their speed to make a kill and need to carefully stalk their prey until it’s the right time to pounce. Often taking advantage of the cover of darkness, lions usually hunt in groups to increase their chances of success.

Click here to see the rest of the gallery.

If this sounds like your kind of safari experience, then get in touch with us! We consider ourselves to be somewhat ‘experts’ on the topic and can help you plan the best safari possible in the heart of the Great Wildebeest Migration.

July 21, 2016


Filed under: Tanzania Odyssey News — Tanzania Odyssey @ 1:13 pm

At Tanzania Odyssey we are always looking out for  talented people who have a passion for Africa and are looking to start a career in luxury travel.

The ideal scholarship candidate would be a recent graduate with good grades, attention to detail, the ability to work with urgency and accuracy and a passion for Africa.  The role would include work on all aspects of the business, including website, advertising, PR, administration and accounts as well as learning about the booking process and tailor-making trips to Africa.


To apply please send your CV and covering letter to Ted Archdale at [email protected]

This scholarship is run on an annual basis

Award amount: $500

Selection process:  after consideration of the various CVs we will award the scholarship to the candidate most suited to the post

Disclaimers: Any information collected will be used expressly for the awarding of the scholarship and not marketing purposes.

For more info about us please see Tanzania Odyssey and for what we do see Tanzania Safaris
PS you may also be interested in our sister companies Africa Odyssey, Asia Odyssey and South America Odyssey

February 26, 2016

Bye bye, Bird

Filed under: Tanzania Odyssey News — Tags: — Tanzania Odyssey @ 11:10 am


As many of you will already be aware, last weekend we lost our crazy, characterful, avian member of the Nomad family, Big Bird. He is missed by all of us, particularly the Greystoke team who have cared for him for the last three years. Judging by the pictures and memories that you’ve shared with us, we won’t be the only ones to miss him. Hopefully he’s found somewhere just as idyllic as Greystoke Mahale in the next life. He’s certainly made a splash with a lot of people in this one, among them Jean Campbell, who shared this with us, and we take pleasure in sharing it with you.

15 Life Lessons (in no particular order) – As Reminded To Me By A Pelican
1. You can fit way more in your beak than you think you can ( or should I say your gular pouch?).
2. Beauty and inspiration comes in many shapes and forms.
3. Persistence pays off.
4. It’s okay to bite someone’s head as long as you don’t press too hard.
5. Embrace your own unique waddle, it’s all you need.
6. Just because you’re born a pelican doesn’t mean you’re JUST a pelican.
7. Be ready and present. You never know when life will throw you a fish.
8. Sometimes you have to push yourself right into the middle of things. No one should go unnoticed.
9. Changing your perspective can change everything.
10. Family is not limited to relatives.
11. A little love, affection, and a good wing scratching goes a long way to making the world a better place.
12. Stormy days can yield unexpected silver linings, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still hurt.
13. Some days it’s okay to stay on the roof with your head tucked under your wing for longer than usual.
14. A friend is someone who’ll run alongside you, flapping their arms as a way of encouraging you to fly, even though they know they themselves never can.
15. It really isn’t about how long you’re on this earth. It’s all about the impact you make while you’re here.

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

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: Tanzania Odyssey News — 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

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

March 13, 2015


Filed under: Tanzania Odyssey News — Tanzania Odyssey @ 1:21 pm

3 Safari Destinations You have to Visit Before You Die

For many people, going on an African safari is a dream vacation. But it’s important to choose the right area of the continent for the life-changing sights you want to see. Africa is overflowing with natural beauty and rare wildlife, unlike anywhere else in the world. Here are the places you should visit to make the most of your safari adventure.

Tanzania This Eastern Africa country is well known for its variety of landscapes, from lush green vegetation, to beaches and lakes, to the amazing peaks of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Hiking the lower slopes of the mountain, you can see various species of birds and monkeys, as well as giraffes and buffalo. Visitors to Tanzania also get to meet and interact with local tribes like the Maasai, who lead hiking trips to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This UNESCO World Heritage Site contains 25,000 species of large animals, including black rhinos, hippos, crocodiles, cheetah, and one of Africa’s densest population of lions. Whatever you’re aiming to see in Africa, a Tanzania safari has something for everyone.


Kruger National Park Kruger Park is located in South Africa, known for its incredible diversity of wildlife and its easy access to skilled game trackers and guides. Kruger is a prime location for travellers interested in a luxury safari experience, because it offers superb accommodations and the chance for game drives with wildlife experts. In the park itself, you can spot 145 mammal species – rhinos, giraffes, elephants, buffalo, and more. Only four hours from international hub Johannesburg, a Kruger safari can be combined with visits to other urban hot spots like Cape Town. For travellers interested in African culture as well as animals, it remains one of the best destinations for a safari vacation.

Kruger National Park

Serengeti National Park Africa’s most famous wildlife park is covered in grassy plains and home to the largest collection of wild predators in the world. The Serengeti is known as home to the Great Migration, where herds of wildebeest and zebra move clockwise through the area, searching for places to graze. This allows them to be stalked by a variety of predators, including many big cats. Lions, leopards, and cheetah abound, but so do hyenas and crocodiles. There are a wide variety of options for camping in the Serengeti and for viewing wildlife, even including hot air balloon safaris. Overall, the park earns its reputation as the one of the most majestic safari destinations in Africa. Whichever safari option you choose, you are guaranteed to have the experience of a lifetime. Whether you prefer climbing mountains or sleeping in luxury tents, experiencing Africa’s breathtaking scenery and exotic animals is something you will never forget. Crossing this trip off your bucket list may be easier than you think.

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