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Tanzania To Kenya And The Western Kilimanjaro Pass

The Western Kilimanjaro region is fairly new to the northern safari circuit of Tanzania. It is not therefore frequented by hordes of safari makers. Little information exists. There is no National Park here and the area is contained in a private concession- a type of private park. It is a very special area sitting on Tanzania’s borer with Kenya adjoining Kenya’s Amoboseli Park.

I would strongly recommend this area for a few days if you find yourself planning a safari in Tan...

tanzania, safari, tanaznia, western kilimanjaro,

The Western Kilimanjaro region is fairly new to the northern safari circuit of Tanzania. It is not therefore frequented by hordes of safari makers. Little information exists. There is no National Park here and the area is contained in a private concession- a type of private park. It is a very special area sitting on Tanzania’s borer with Kenya adjoining Kenya’s Amoboseli Park.

I would strongly recommend this area for a few days if you find yourself planning a safari in Tanzania and truly want, unique, off the beaten track and an ‘out of African experience’. Many destinations offer these qualities but Western Kilimanjaro truly delivers.

I visited this private concession this weekend. We left Arusha, my driver and I, heading toward Kilimanjaro. An hour out of Arusha we turned left and spent another ninety minutes on a very rough road. It was slow going as the 4 x 4 rattled slowly along the track whist all the time I was wondering if all this would be worth the effort. I was unsure of what to expect but had heard good reports about this new area and so looked forward to a pleasant experience.

My heart sank as we entered the camp. The tents were under local thatch and it all looked very basic; the luxury I was looking forward to, I feared, was greatly exaggerated. I was surrounded by African bush and the camp looked non existent. However, the camp is built into its surroundings, well hidden. .I soon realized that the en-suite tents and the entire camp is indeed luxurious.

No other vehicles were at the camp, [we were the only guests this weekend] and with no other camps in the area we were literally off the beaten track, just myself, the driver and the camp staff. We arrived in time for lunch and the food was superb, five courses, in elegant surroundings. As there were no other guests my driver/guide, who was also Maasai, joined me for each meal. The driver being with me turned out well as I got to know all the staff very quickly.

The rest of the day I spent relaxing around the camp, drinking in the surroundings. Relaxing and getting to know the local Maasai. The following day Kalisti [the driver] and I were joined by the camp guide and he showed us the surrounding area and where to find the animals. Seeing herds of elephant against the backdrop of Kilimanjaro was a highlight of many years spent in East and Southern Africa. We then drove to a big white stone that signposted the Kenyan – Tanzanian border and we stopped for photographs. After this we drove across the border and around the Kenyan Amboseli National Park.

On the last evening, as the sun waned, we drove to the top of a large hill just not far from the camp. We watched the sun begin to set, the clouds clearing around Kilimanjaro and the snows turning pink with the setting sun, whist below the acacia trees were silhouetted as the dusk seemed to be rising from the ground, upward. Then as I thought it could be no finer than this, the Maasai from the lodge came dancing and singing up the hill, bringing champagne as this was to be my last evening. We toasted a most enjoyable stay and the staff and Philemon sang Maasai songs and danced into the early evening. If ever I was in Africa proper it was this evening. Not a tourist or car in sight, Kilimanjaro and local Maasai warriors dancing and singing into the night. Words cannot express the emotions of that evening. One cannot have a more African experience than to spend some time in this luxurious, eco friendly camp.

If ever you come to Tanzania, I recommend this area, this camp. Forget everything else. Your African experience should start in the Western Kilimanjaro on the Tanzania – Kenya border.

 

The Katavi National Park In WesternTanzania

In recent years the Serengeti had 100,000 visitors; in contrast the Katavi National Park in the remote and inaccessible west of Tanzania had only 383 people through the Park Gates. It is rumored that when a guest arrives at the park gates the wardens there are shocked and bewildered, so rare are tourists to this park. Here, in this park the only other people you will meet are other guests and the staff at the one [tented] lodge in the entire park. Here you have one million he...

safari, Tanzania, Katavi, National Park,

In recent years the Serengeti had 100,000 visitors; in contrast the Katavi National Park in the remote and inaccessible west of Tanzania had only 383 people through the Park Gates. It is rumored that when a guest arrives at the park gates the wardens there are shocked and bewildered, so rare are tourists to this park. Here, in this park the only other people you will meet are other guests and the staff at the one [tented] lodge in the entire park. Here you have one million hectares to yourself.

I am sure you have heard and read many times about destinations being ‘off the beaten track’ - this park is the personification of overused term ‘well off the beaten track’. That is for the moment; with the tourists insatiable appetite for something new, somewhere not frequented by other tourists, in this ever shrinking world, one wonders how long this park will remain remote and secret.

The thing that helps keep this park a hidden jewel is the remoteness of the park. To drive to this park is an endurance test in the extreme. Departing from Aruhsa, or Dar es Salaam, involves a three to five day, spine breaking and brave drive in a robust 4 x 4. Alternatively to hire a charter flight is an easier option, if not equally more expensive. I say easier but this also involves a four hour flight in a light aircraft, with a refueling stop en-route.

If you dive with the intention to camp, you must be totally self sufficient. You will be driving into the true wilderness. When you think of campsite, think of a cleared piece of ground for the pitching of tents. Here you will be truly alone with nature. It is well worth the effort if you are up to the adventure.

The park is truly magnificent, covering over one million hectares of land. There are two lakes, Lake Katavi in the north and Lake Chada and the Katuma River in the south. Diverse woodland and acacia bush in the park is home to elephant and many types of antelope. The game here is said to be unrivaled in the rest of Africa, this park offering an exceptional opportunity to see Africa as it once was. Reputedly there are herds of buffalo in access of three/four thousand animals. The park is mostly high plains grassland - grassland in the dry season, and swampy wetland in the wet season. The best time to visit is in the dry season - June to October.

In the dry season all the animals in this park congregate around the lakes and along the river. Huge crocodiles line the rivers and share the lakes with a solid mass of hippo. If you like hippo this park is the place to see them en-mass. Some of the pools and the centre of Lake Chada can have three thousand hippo at any one time. There are also leopard and many lions in this park. The buffalo being the preferred meal for a lion means there are no shortages of lion in this park.

There are over four hundred species of birds, including - Angolan Pitta, Blackfaced Barbet and the Blue Swallow. A highlight of viewing the birds is to watch the Maribou Stork wading in the mud and feeding on the barbel [cat fish]. At times the mud boils with these fish and the storks causally extract them form the soft mud for a quick and easy meal.

If you get the chance visit this park before more lodges open and the remoteness and matchless beauty are lost to the tourism industry.

 

The Responsible Tourists Of Tanzania

Tanzania not only has it all – it has it with style - a uniquely African style. Tanzania is a full on assault on all your senses; Tanzania is an adventure. Responsible tourism should be an obligation for everyone including the humble tourist. Whilst you are on safari and in the towns and villages you can impact in a negative or positive way – your safari will make an impact it is a question of what kind of impact. Tourism and Tourists have a responsibility to the environment...

Tanzania, safari, responsible, tourism,

Tanzania not only has it all – it has it with style - a uniquely African style. Tanzania is a full on assault on all your senses; Tanzania is an adventure. Responsible tourism should be an obligation for everyone including the humble tourist. Whilst you are on safari and in the towns and villages you can impact in a negative or positive way – your safari will make an impact it is a question of what kind of impact. Tourism and Tourists have a responsibility to the environment and just as important to the people whose country you visit.

It is possible and in fact should be the case that Responsible Tourism requires you to simply relax and enjoy your safari. You don’t actually have to do anything while on your safari. So what can a responsible tourist do to make the difference...?

A small percentage of the money you part with and hand over to a tour operator should be used help the communities in Tanzania; the communities that the success of your safari rests upon. Take time when booking a safari to make sure the companies you use are genuinely helping the people and the places you are visiting. Some play lip service to helping the community, some simply lie and others help individuals. Responsible tourism should help the whole community.

Charities are increasingly looking to become self finding, this means becoming leaner and becoming more responsible, they must become a business. Some charities and businesses such as Afriko Club, Naipenda Safaris and maybe Hoopoe for example, are three charities or businesses that use tourism to fund community projects in a responsible way. Funds raised by tourism go toward building schools, eco friendly lodges, clinics and caring for young children who would otherwise be left to fend for themselves.

Whilst on safari I encourage you to take an hour or two, even a day or two if you have time and are just slightly interested in responsible tourism and to village life of Tanzania. You will be richly rewarded and your safari will gain a deeper, a more lasting memories.

Maybe visit a Community Initiatives and spend time to see what is being achieved. I do not recommend the artificial over-orchestrated 'cultural addition'. A genuine experience of village life either in the peripheries of town or in the Tanzanian Bush is both easy to arrange and encouraged. If not by your tour operator a good safari driver/guide will organize this for you. If you are not interested do not worry just use a safari company that will help a Tanzanian Community and sit back and enjoy your safari and know you are making a difference.

Try to choose a company whose profits will remain in Tanzania - not a South African company, not an American or European company - use a Tanzanian Company. The indigenous safari operators in Tanzania are more than 80 percent of the licensed tour companies in the country, their figures in tourism arrivals add up to less than 20 percent of all the tourists visiting Tanzania.

Many foreign travel agents use ground operators based in Tanzania - ask when you book a safari which ground operator will be used and check out the web site for any signs that they are involved in Responsible Tourism and that they are Tanzania owned. If the profits remain in Tanzania somehow the communities as a whole will benefit.

I encourage you to come to Tanzania and explore, the culture which is just as rich and exciting as the scenery and dramatic wildlife - Safari means 'journey' in Swahili - let your safari be a journey to discover a different culture and to discover more about yourself. Make difference when you visit Tanzania and take care to use a company that is committed to building a stronger community.




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