A Travellerspoint blog

Tanzania

Imagining Paradise in Matemwe

With sincere condolences to our many friends on Canada's wintry west coast.

sunny 33 °C

Imagine a pristine beach with icing sugar sand so white that it reflects the tropical sun and stays cool even at midday...
large_Matemwe_Beach.jpg
Imagine a crystal clear lagoon sheltered from the turbulence of the Indian Ocean by a coral reef, where the gently lapping water is as warm as a soothing bath...
large_Indian_Ocean.jpg
Imagine a tropical land where cloves drying in the sun by the roadsides scent the afternoon air...
Cloves_drying.jpg
Imagine a leafy shoreline fringed with lofty coconut palms swaying in the soft evening breeze as the sun sinks into a clear blue sky...
large_On_the_beach.jpg
Imagine the tropical night air perfumed with the fragrance of a thousand frangipane blossoms...
Frangipane.jpg
...and a Garden of Eden delicately painted with the blooms of roses and bougainvillea..
large_Villa_Kiva_Garden.jpg
Imagine dining under the stars by the side of a warm pool...
Pool_at_Night.jpg
Now imagine all of these things without noisy throngs of happy-hour tourists; without beach bums and kiss-me-quick hat merchants – just an endless tropical beach, a glassy aquamarine lagoon and a pretty waitress to serve you dinner before you slip into a peaceful air-conditioned sleep in a luxury bungalow...
Dausi.jpg
Now you have imagined paradise. But you don't have to imagine any of this. You too can find paradise in Matemwe on the remote north east coast of Zanzibar. Here you will discover an idyllic corner of an island paradise where Kamila and her staff will be waiting to serve you with a smile at the Villa Kiva...
large_Villa_Kiva.jpg
As a certain fictional detective turned author once penned, “If this be a dream, wake me never – that I may not suffer the pain of disillusionment.” But wake we must, and soon we will leave this paradise island in search of another. Stay tuned.

Posted by Hawkson 06:49 Archived in Tanzania Comments (6)

Down to Earth in Stone Town

Zanzibar

sunny 32 °C

It is just a short flight from Arusha, the end point of our safari, to the capital of the Zanzibar archipelago in the Indian Ocean. Gone are the wide open pastures, the semi-arid deserts, and the forests and scraggy woodlands of Northern Tanzania. Gone too are the multitudinous herds of exotic animals and the packs of predators stalking them. In just one hour we have flown to another planet – a much hotter one - where the meagre thatched huts of the Maasai Boma...
large_Maasai_Boma.jpg
...have been replaced by the masonry buildings of Zanzibar's ancient capital – Stone Town...
large_4B541581FB07B656313E5EC6271DC56D.jpg
Stone Town is just the central part of a much larger Zanzibar City today, but beyond the old city boundaries there is little of significance for tourists. However, the old city is particularly interesting because of its tumultuous heritage. The islands off the east coast of Africa first attracted slave traders and merchants at the beginning of the 16th century and the Portuguese seized control in 1503 and held on until 1698. They erected many European style buildings from the local coral rock...
old_building.jpg
In 1698 the Sultan of Oman overthrew the Portuguese and brought both Islam and its distinctively Arabian architecturt to the islands. This was the 2nd Sultan's grand palace, the Palace of Wonders, on Stone Town's waterfront...
Second_sultan_s_palace.jpg
And this is the excellently maintained waterfront promenade...
large_Promenade.jpg
Unfortunately, much of the old city is just a labyrinth of crumbling ruins – many held up by makeshift wooden bulwarks. The stonework of the colonial fortress is just about holding on...
large_4B5238E4BA57C27086244FC449B65A2D.jpg
The doorways of Stone Town are some of its best features. There are some 200 elaborately carved entranceways like this...
ornate_door.jpg
An Arab dhow returning to port after a days fishing made an atmospheric sight in the sepia light of the dying sun...
large_Dhow.jpg
...But the stench and the chaos at the city's fishermen's wharf was considerably less romantic...
large_Dhow_harbour.jpg
Sheila first came to Zanzibar on an Arab dhow from Dar-es-Salaam almost fifty years ago. The voyage took a day and a night on an open boat. Frequent high-speed ferries now make the journey in two hours and passengers are no longer allowed on the dhows.
The Sultan was overthrown by a revolution in 1964 when 20,000 islanders died. Zanzibar, under a socialist government, then joined forces with the newly independent Tanganyika to create the country of Tanzania. However, the Muslim influence has remained and for the first time in a while we were woken in the early hours by the muezzins calling the faithful to prayer from the mosques' minarets.

Posted by Hawkson 19:35 Archived in Tanzania Comments (7)

Diary of a Safari – Bonus – The Out-takes

semi-overcast 31 °C

Here we are in the ancient, (and somewhat crumbly), capital of Zanzibar, Stone Town, but our thoughts are still with the wild creatures of the Serengeti. Looking back over our safari pictures we see that there are so many that we weren't able to include in our daily diary entries – so here are just a few of the out takes as a bonus.
Although we often commented on our close proximity to so many of the animals, these pictures show just how close we came to the big cats. These three beautiful cheetahs sat just inches from our front bumper in the Serengeti...
large_Cheetahs.jpg
After a while they loped off to stalk some gazelles, The gazelles caught wind of them so, together with a fourth, the cheetahs came right back and lay down next to us in the shade of a small tree. Shade trees are a rare commodity in parts of the Ngorongoro crater so this lioness took shelter from the sun under the next best thing...
large_Foolish_lion.jpg
No matter what we or the driver and occupants of this jeep did, this friendly beast would not budge. After a lengthy stalemate the driver inched back and forth until he was able to get clear.

There are two types of animals in the world. The charismatic ones like pandas, koala bears and cheetahs - adored by all, and then there are those beloved only by their mothers and spouses – like this husband and wife team of dung beetle...
Dung_beatles.jpg
Before you poo-poo the idea of a creature living on dung just think how mucky this land would get without someone doing the daily chores. Dung beetles collect the fresh poop, form it into balls and roll it home for breakfast (lunch and dinner). If James was as strong as a dung beetle he would be able to move a rock weighing more than a hundred tons!

Another creature that would never make it to the centrefold of Playanimal magazine is this male warthog...
large_Warthog.jpg
These leopard tortoises on the other hand may be either charismatic, or not, depending on your point of view...
Leopard_tortoise.jpg
Because we focused on the tens, (possibly hundreds), of thousands of large mammals that we saw on our trip, we tended to lose sight of the fact that we were always surrounded by birds. We saw great flocks of pink flamingos...
large_Flamingos.jpg
We also saw large numbers of raptors. This is an augur buzzard...
Augur_Buzzard.jpg
And this one is ...
large_Mystery_bird.jpg
Maybe you can help out here because we just can't figure out what it is called.
These Maasai boys would probably know...
large_Maasai_boys.jpg
Maasai youths are circumcised at puberty and are then expected to make their own way in life as men. Many of them paint their faces and stand by the roadsides begging from passing tourists – they demanded $20 US for us to take this picture? As the average annual income in Tanzania is less than nine hundred dollars we thought that twenty was a bit steep. However, we managed to get them to give us, and you, a parting smile from the Serengeti for ten.
So that really is the end of our safari diary. Now we will dodge Zanzibar's tropical downpours to show you around this island in a few days.

Posted by Hawkson 02:18 Archived in Tanzania Comments (5)

Diary of a Safari – Day 9 The Final Chapter.

sunny 31 °C

We could write a hundred posts and show a thousand photos of our time in Tanzania but can never truly convey the intense emotional experience of being at one with some of the most powerful and beautiful wild animals in the world. Perhaps the majestic lions were our favourites...
large_Sisterly_love.jpg
And this cute creature is a bat-eared fox...
large_Bat_earred_fox.jpg
However, not all safaris are created equally. While we had a spacious land cruise and guide to ourselves, and dictated our own schedule and lodgings, most group tours had already left the lodges by the time we were enjoying a leisurely breakfast and arrived too late to enjoy the beautiful swimming pools in the afternoon sun. This is the pool at the Sopa Lodge overlooking the Great Rift Valley and Manyara Lake...
large_Pool_at_Lake_Manyara_Sopa.jpg
Although 2,000 feet above the valley, the water of the infinity pool seemingly flows into the lake below.

We had arranged all of our stays in lodges within the national parks, but our Serengeti choice was swarmed by a group of 100 Americans and we were bumped. We were not happy campers especially when they said we had been upgraded ... to a tent. Roughing it just isn't our thing and the idea of sleeping under flimsy canvas in the midst of lions was not appealing. To make matters worse, we arrived at the campsite in semi-darkness during a tropical downpour and the generator wasn't working. There was nothing to do - the nearest hotel was several hours away and was probably full. However, this was no backpackers campsite and this was no hiker's tent..
large_Tent.jpg
It was fully furnished with two four-poster queen beds, an ensuite bathroom complete with his and hers sinks, and even a valet to turn down our beds and escort us to the sumptuous dining tent. And when the lights came on our tent turned into a palace.

Not all the animals in this Garden of Eden are wild. Outside of the national parks the Maasai herders drive their cattle and goats across the arid pastures in search of grazing. While the native Maasai espouse their desire to adhere to their traditional way of life, many of them spend their days dressing up and performing for tourists. We prefer to see them with their herds – though preferably not blocking the road...
Masaai_and_cattle.jpg
Now it is time to leave this wondrous place. It has truly been a trip of a lifetime and we have to thank Anne at Amazing Memories Safaris of Nairobi and especially our fantastic and knowledgeable driver and guide, Charles Edward, for creating this most memorable experience...
Charles_our_driver-guide.jpg
We are going to take a breather for a few days, but will be back soon with pictures and stories from the tropical spice island of Zanzibar. In the meantime, this is our farewell look at the incredible Ngorongoro Crater as we say goodbye to all the wondrous creatures and the many lovely people we have met here...
large_Jim_and_Sh.._Ngorongoro.jpg
Every day here has been filled with incredible sights and sounds, every meal has been excellent and every bed has been luxurious. But all good things must come to an end and so we leave you with this picture of the sunset over the Serengeti...
large_Sunset_on_the_Serengeti.jpg
Kwaheri – Goodbye for now from Northern Tanzania – the birthplace of our civilization.

Posted by Hawkson 05:00 Archived in Tanzania Comments (10)

Diary of a Safari – Day 8. Ngorongoro - The Dawn of Time

sunny 28 °C

Ngorongoro - For humankind, this is the place where life on earth began. This is the area of Ngorongoro in the heartland of East Africa known as the “Cradle of Civilization” - the very place where archaeological evidence has shown that primates first climbed down from the trees, stood upright, and began their long walk to the very ends of the earth. This is our, and your, ancestral homeland. The DNA of all of humans can be traced back to this land and this blue monkey seemed happy to welcome us home...
Blue_Monkey.jpg
If this sounds like the introduction to a National Geographic special it is because every moment here has been a truly amazing experience - and today was no exception. We began at dawn when the Ngorongoro crater was still bathed in mist. Our safari lodge was perched on the rim of the crater more than two thousand feet above the caldera's floor and by the time we began our descent through the acacia forest the sun rose and the skies cleared...
Road_to_Ngorongoro_crater.jpg
The Ngorongoro caldera is all that's left of a massive volcano that erupted catastrophically 3.2 million years ago. The explosion flung rocks the size of apartment buildings for a hundred kilometres in every direction and its effects would have been felt worldwide. The Ngorongoro caldera is a peaceful place today where more than 25,000 large wild animals have learned to co-exist with the jeeps filled with camera-wielding safari goers like us. This family of baboons was the first to greet us with a howl of welcome as we entered the crater in the rising sun...
Monkey_choir.jpg
And this massive male elephant stood calmly just ten feet away and gave us a nod of approval...
large_Elephant_greeter.jpg
This wild mammoth weighed at least 5 tons and could have picked us up, jeep and all, and tossed us like a kid's toy. But Charles just turned off the engine and we and the elephant looked at each other safe in the belief that neither of us wished the other ill will. After a few minutes we moved onto the crater floor where we found this lion eating wildebeest for breakfast...
large_Feeding_time.jpg
We had eaten pork bacon and beef sausages for our breakfast so we didn't begrudge him his bit of protein.
After breakfast the lion casually wandered across the road behind us, actually brushing himself against our back bumper, and went to quench his thirst at the river where the zebras were congregating for their morning assembly...
large_Zebra_coffee_morning.jpg
With the lion safely out of the way the scavengers quickly moved in on his leftovers. This golden jackal was hoping to get in on the act before the vultures arrived...
Golden_jackal.jpg
The Ngorongoro caldera covers some three hundred square kilometres, part of which is forested with yellow acacias, so it isn't always easy to spot the game. This is particularly true of the very few black rhinos that live here. The large herds of gazelles are much easier to find. This is a Grant's gazelle...
Grant_s_gazelle.jpg
Wildebeests, zebras, gazelles, warthogs and ostriches can be easily spotted on the open grasslands of the caldera, but rhinos tend to live in the shadows and we, together with jeep loads of other visitors, spent the morning searching for them. There are many animals in this picture – but can you see them? And can you spot a rhino?...
large_Crater_wall.jpg
Here are some fabulous birds that we could see at close quarters....
Crown_cranes.jpg
These are grey crown cranes – the national bird of Uganda.
Now – the bad news. After a day searching the Ngorongoro crater for rhinos we finally gave up and headed back to our lodge . Rhinos have lived here far longer than mankind, and will probably still be here after we have become extinct, but life carries on – and so must we. Tomorrow is our last day on safari in Africa.

Posted by Hawkson 07:12 Archived in Tanzania Comments (4)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 14) Page [1] 2 3 » Next