Click here for part 2… I was really fortunate to be able to go to sunny Tanzania in July 2014 on our scheduled tour – Tanzania Wildlife & Cultural Explorer while it was cold and raining in Cape Town. I flew from Johannesburg to Dar Es Salam and Dar Es Salam to Kilimanjaro. On that second flight I was lucky to see the snow-capped of Mount Kilimanjaro from the top which was a really great experience. The moment we landed in Kilimanjaro, the landscape had changed completely to mountain looming over the plains of the savannah. I had a warm welcome from our friendly guide who was on time to pick me up and transfer me to the lodge located in Arusha with our 4×4 Safari vehicle. After a delicious dinner I joined the rest of the group and we had a pre-departure meeting with the operations manager of Jenman East African Safaris. It was necessary and really informative because he prepared us on what we will expect during our safaris trip and taught us few Swahili words such as “Hakuna Matata” which means “No Worries”.
The following day we left the lodge quite early and headed to Tarangire National Park. Upon arrival at the gate our guide, Victor, gave us a general briefing about the park. Tarangire National Park is the sixth largest national park in Tanzania. We were lucky to be there during dry season because that’s the season where thousands of animals migrate to the Tarangire National Park from Manyara National Park. We saw a lot of birds, wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle and different species of Baobab tree. Also we saw herds of elephants who scratched the dry river bed for underground streams. Victor had so much knowledge about the fauna and flora. He always had a story and explanation on everything we saw during our safari. It was really phenomenal because the more you are informed with what you see, the more you find it fascinating. After a full day safari, we headed to our next Lodge in Manyara. The following day we left for Mto Watu Village for our first culture experience. We were walking through the village accompanied by a local guide. He explained the daily life of the local community, where they are from originally and why they have moved there. Mto Watu Village is a cosmopolitan village where immigrants from all over Africa come to find refuge.
The local community are very welcoming and the soil is fertile which can be an attraction. We visited a group of hand-craftsman from Mozambique where the Tanzanian government gave them land for their workshop and their shops. They are not allowed to cut the trees. They are only allowed to use branches that have fallen from the tree. We also visited the Chagga family to see how they make banana beer. As we walked through different farms, the local guide pointed out the various fruits and vegetables growing in the area. We then headed to a local home where we enjoyed a delicious home-cooked food by the ‘big mama’ in the village. From there we were transferred to the Lodge to rest or lay down by the stunning swimming pool. Around 3 pm, we visited a local school that Jenman East African Safaris is supporting by providing them a new library. One of the guests was a teacher from Australia and that was the moment that she was looking for. She had brought soccer balls, school bags, pens and pencils to the students. They were so excited with our visit. They even sang us a song of which I won’t forget. What an amazing experience. I was almost in tears to see their excitement and happiness to see us. After our school visit we went to see an orphanage who also expected our visit. We played with them and listened to their story. This was a once in lifetime experience for me…
Click here for part 2.