Tanzania Voted Top Safari Destination

Courtesy of Ellen Wilson

Giraffes are just some of the wildlife you’re likely to view on the Tanzanian plains. Photo taken by Ellen Wilson on a 2013 Ujuzi safari in Tanzania.

Tanzania has been voted as the number one destination for safaris by reviewers on Safaribookings.com. Reviewers there recognize what we’ve known for a while:

  • Tanzania is home to superb wildlife viewing in top-class parks, including two Unesco World Heritage Sites.
  • Tanzania is a great place to view the annual great migration, where over 2.5 million wildebeest and zebra migrate from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
  • The country has a wide range of budget, mid-range and luxury safari options.
  • Travelers have the option of beach holiday extensions on Zanzibar Island.
  • Excellent chimp tracking can be done in Gombe and Mahale Mountains National Park.
  •  Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, offers enjoyment for climbers and mountaineers.
  • Tanzania is a politically stable and generally safe country.

Interested in visiting Tanzania? Whether you’re interested in wildlife viewing, cultural excursions, lounging on the beach or scaling mountains, we have plenty of options for you. View our sample itineraries or contact me at info@ujuzitravel.com

Courtesy of Ellen Wilson

Hot air ballooning is a great way to view Tanzanian wildlife. Photo taken by Ellen Wilson on a 2013 Ujuzi safari to Tanzania.

Travel Tip: What to Bring on a Gorilla Trek

Coutesy of Linda Mueller

Linda Miller enjoys spending time with young mountain gorillas on a trip to Rwanda organized by Ujuzi African Travel.

A mountain gorilla trek is an experience of a lifetime. Nothing compares to seeing these close genetic cousins in the wild. Ujuzi arranges gorilla treks in Uganda and Rwanda, two of the three countries where mountain gorillas live. (Because of political instability, we do not arrange mountain gorilla treks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the third country they call home.)

In order to minimize the spread of disease and give gorillas ample time to themselves, tourists who have a gorilla permit are allowed 1 hour of viewing on any given day. But the total trek is much longer, since reaching most gorilla families requires a significant hike through the forest.

Make sure that you enjoy every minute of your gorilla trek by preparing properly. Here’s a list of things to bring on a gorilla trek.

You should have:

  • Comfortable clothes with pockets. On top, wear a t-shirt and a long-sleeved shirt or sweatshirt that you can tie around your waist if you get too hot. Also pack a light rainjacket or poncho, since sporadic showers are common in the forest. Long pants (nylon or canvas) will protect your legs from stinging nettles and brambles.
  • Supportive, waterproof boots that you’ve broken in before the trip. Since gorillas move around the forest, you can never be sure how far you’ll need to walk before you spot one. The entire trek can take anywhere from a few hours to the entire day, and you’ll likely be spending a lot of time on uneven or muddy terrain. So supportive shoes are a must. Boots are preferred because mud can be deep and you may encounter red ants, which sting.
  • Money. We highly recommend that you hire a porter to carry your backpack and water on the trek. Porters can be hired at the morning meeting site prior to your trek. The fee is typically about $10 or $20.
  • Small bottles of insect repellant and sunscreen. Apply these before heading out on the trek, and bring some extra along in case you need to reapply during the day.
  • Light gloves (such as gardening gloves). These protect your hands from stinging nettles and brambles.
  • Hat. It’s good for protecting you in the sun and the rain.
  • Handwipes.
  • Any prescription medicine you are required to take during the day.
  • Backpack or waist pack. For carrying food, snacks, camera, etc. Keep in mind that you may have to remove your backpack and leave it with the porters when you view the gorillas. This is why it’s important to have pockets in your clothes!

We highly recommend you also pack:

  • A camera with a backup memory card, extra batteries, and a waterproof case or bag. Flash photography is prohibited around gorillas because it can scare them, so you’ll need to disable the flash. A zoom lens is useful, as is a neck strap. Don’t bring a tripod or monopod.
  • Binoculars.
  • Sunglasses.

Your do not need to pack (because they are provided):

  • Walking stick. These are available at your morning meeting point prior to the trek.
  • Snacks and water. Your lodge will provide food and water to bring along for the day. You may be tempted not to bring all of it with you, but ignore that temptation. The walk may take longer than you expect; it’s much better to carry a little extra water and food than not to have enough.

Featured Guide: Mule Endelea

Mule and me - Edited
Mule Endelea (left) with Anne Medeiros, owner of Ujuzi African Travel, in Kenya this past April.

Mule Endelea is an experienced tour guide with an extensive knowledge of animals and a great sense of humor. He was born in Kenya and brought up in Uganda and Nairobi. He lives with his family at his home outside of Nairobi, where he gardens and raises chickens.

Mule (pronounced MOO-lee) started his career as a tour guide in the early 1990s. He worked for a large tour operator in Nairobi for five years before joining Liberty Africa Safaris in 1997. A member of the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association (KPSGA), he has operated a wide variety of safaris throughout East Africa.

Mule finds adventure in looking for the more elusive big game, especially the large cats like lions, cheetahs and leopards. He is fluent in English, Swahili and Kamba, his tribal language. He enjoys sharing Kenya’s history and culture with visitors and is always glad to teach safari-goers some new Swahili phrases.

Tented Camps: A Luxurious Way to Experience the African Bush

Huge tents at Governor's CampA family tent at Governor’s Camp in Maasai Mara National Reserve.

Staying at a tented camp is a great way to experience the East African savannah and all it has to offer. Tented camps offer visitors fresh air and close access to wildlife without sacrificing comfort. Stargaze after nightfall, then fall asleep to the singing of frogs in a nearby watering hole; wake to the cooing of doves and the songs of starlings. Before breakfast, sit outside your tent with a hot coffee and a pair of binoculars to watch the sunrise and observe game as they head out for the day.

Enjoy watching the wildlife from Governor's CampView from a veranda at Governor’s Camp, Maasai Mara, Kenya.

DSC04419View of Samburu National Reserve, Kenya, from Larsen’s Tented Camp.

There are two main types of tented camps: mobile tented camps and permanent tented camps.

Mobile Tented Camps

Mobile tented camps are temporary. They may move locations every few weeks to follow game or bird migrations, or they may be set up on an as-needed basis for travelers whose safaris take them off the beaten path. Accommodations vary, but many are quite luxurious. It’s common for mobile camps to include spacious, comfortable tents with traditional beds and mattresses, rugs, chairs and tables. They often come equipped with solar-powered lights. Bathrooms may be adjacent to each tent or in a central location, and flush toilets are common. A few have sinks and showers with readily available running water; at others, attendants bring hot water for washing up in the morning, after game drive, and at other times that the guest specifies. To wash hands and face, the guest uses a Victorian-style wash basin; for bathing, the guest orders a bucket shower.

A bucket shower is just what it sounds like: an attendant fills a bucket or similar waterproof container with water, attaches it to a showerhead with a hose, and raises it up on a pulley so the water flows down through the shower head at the desired water pressure. The shower stall is in a private, enclosed space, and the individual taking the shower can refine the water flow with a knob or lever. You can read more about bucket showers here.

Masek Under Canvas Tented Camp
Dining tent at Masek Under Canvas Mobile Tented Camp, Tanzania
Masek Under Canvas Tented Camp 2
Masek Under Canvas Mobile Tented Camp, Tanzania
Naipenda mobile camp 2
Private bathroom at Naipenda Mobile Camp, Tanzania

Permanent Tented Camps

Permanent tented camps are more akin to lodges; they remain in one location year-round. Tents are similar to small cottages or bungalows, but with canvas walls rather than ones built of wood or brick. They usually have wooden or stone floors that are raised off the ground; attached, fully plumbed bathrooms with showers, sinks and flush toilets; and outlets for charging cell phones and camera batteries.

A bath with a viewPrivate attached bathroom at Serian Mara, Mara North Conservancy, Kenya

Bath at Mara IntrepidBath at Mara Intrepid Tented Camp in Maasai Mara, Kenya. The shower and toilet are in private rooms to the left and right of the sinks.

Permanent tented camps tend to be built in scenic areas with good views of wildlife. For example, they may be on a river bend or in a lush savannah, usually in or near a national park or nature conservancy. Most are too far from residential areas to connect to a local power grid, so they get electricity from generators, solar power, or both. To conserve energy, generators are usually shut off for a few hours during the day while guests are away on safari, and again during the night when guests are asleep. Have no fear if you wake up in the middle of the night, though; camps supply flashlights and lanterns for use when the generator isn’t operating.

Typical facilities at permanent tented camps include a dining room and bar, public lounge, and gift shop. Swimming pools and nature activity centers are also common.

Mara Intrepid gift shop - Almost every lodge has one!Gift shop at Mara Intrepid Tented Camp, Maasai Mara, Kenya

Elephant BedroomOutdoor lounge in the shade at Elephant Bedroom Tented Camp, Samburu National Reserve, Kenya

Our breakfast at Serian MaraBreakfast patio at Serian Mara Tented Camp, Mara North Conservancy, Kenya

Pool at Larsens CampPool at Larsen’s Camp, Samburu National Reserve, Kenya

Service

The level of service at tented camps matches and often exceeds what you would expect in a lodge.  For example, since tents aren’t equipped with alarm clocks, many camps offer a personal wake-up call with fresh tea or coffee and a small snack. You won’t be eating dull camp fare; four-course dinners featuring fresh, local ingredients are typical. Other common services include laundry and a la carte spa services. Staff are eager to make you as comfortable as possible on your stay, so speak up if you have any questions.

Bedroom at Elephant WatchElephant Bedroom Tented Camp, Samburu National Reserve, Kenya

Mara Explorer - Does this look like a tent??Four-poster bed at Mara Explorer Tented Camp, Maasai Mara, Kenya

Tented camps offer a truly unique experience that enriches your travels. Contact me for more information about tented camping options in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania or Rwanda.

Featured Lodges: The Elewana Collection Brings Luxury to Your Tanzania Safari

Tarangire Treetops, Tanzania
Tarangire Treetops, Tanzania
Arusha Coffee Lodge, Tanzania
Arusha Coffee Lodge, Tanzania

Elewana means “harmony” in Swahili, and the Elewana Collection of lodges in East Africa seeks to bring harmony to its guests and to harmonize with the natural environment.

The Elewana Collection includes seven boutique lodges and hotels:

  • Arusha Coffee Lodge, a group of 30 cottages on one of Tanzania’s largest organic coffee plantations, at the base of Mount Meru. Guests have the opportunity to learn about coffee harvesting and roasting, and to sample beans that are grown and brewed on site.
  • Tarangire Treetops features 20 tree houses and elevated guest rooms built around the trunks of enormous baobab and marula trees. It is in a private game reserve bordering  Tarangire National Park, Tanzania.
  • In Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, Serengeti Migration Camp provides 20 luxuriously appointed tents that blend seamlessly with the surrounding rocky outcrops. Serengeti Pioneer Camp is an intimate 10-tent camp with a low ecological footprint.
  • The Manor at Ngorongoro is located on a large coffee estate next to Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania, and includes 20 spacious Cape Dutch-style cottages. On-site activities include horseback riding, bicycle trails and coffee processing tours.
  • Kilindi Zanzibar is a 15-room beach escape that combines Scandinavian minimalism mixed with the dramatic overtones of Middle Eastern architecture.
  • AfroChic Diani Beach is on the white sands of the Kenyan coast near Mombasa. Situated near an 18-hole championship golf course and local boutiques, spas, craft markets, it’s an excellent place to unwind at the end of a safari.

Read more about the Elewana Collection in Luxury Travel Magazine. Interested in booking a luxury safari to East Africa? Contact me at info@ujuzitravel.com.

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