Kwihala Camp in Ruaha.

I can see you spending many nights in Kwihala Camp, a luxury tented lodge in wild Ruaha National Park. Many nights you say? First, you need at least 3 days to explore this stunning National Park.  Trust me, you will thank me. Then, you have this lovely little camp where you can completely unwind after not only game driving but also daily walking Safaris and night game drives. So yes, many nights!

As common with most Asilia Africa Lodges, on arrival you have the host welcoming you at the entrance with a refreshing drink and cold towel to wipe off the dust. My host for Kwihala was Sandy who is originally from Zimbabwe.

lounge_teaNext stop, the lounge area where I met up with my client Sally. Sally had been on two previous Safari and she joined my on her third Safari. After the many phone calls and emails we had exchanged, it was great sitting down with her face to face, sipping Tanzanian tea and enjoying freshly baked cookies. dining

I felt privileged to be in vast Ruaha National Park, with Sally, a client who trusts me in planning her many Safaris to Tanzania, about to head out on an evening Safari in amazing Africa.

sally_lorenzo_leverdIn comes professional guide Lorenzo Rossi. I was really excited to meet him as I had been following his work. He is one of the training experts in Tanzania as well as a skilled photographer. I also learnt he does not like to wear shoes. Well then. Leverd was learning the ropes of guiding.

Kwihala Camp has some of the best guides in the Safari business. From Pietro Luraschi, who has been published by Africa Geographic to Tony Reumerman. Guiding at it’s finest. 

tentThere are currently 8 rooms at Kwihala Camp.  The distance between the tents are well spaced out to give you bush privacy. Far away where you can’t hear the person snoring but close enough where a scream will not go unheard. Umh, try to keep in mind that geckos are your constant companions.

room_with_bathroomPower for charging your electronics is generated by solar panels. An electric fan is there to keep you cool during the hot months of October to February March. Walkie-talkie for the emergency calls which we hope never has to be used. Flashlight for the walks back and forth. If you need anything extra, just ask Sandy or any of the staff members and they will help.

bathroomThe beaded styled bathroom has all the amenities to make this a comfortable stay. Flush toilets, running sink water though conservation is always appreciated, bucket shower with enough water, soap, shampoo and conditioner and a cozy bathrobe to snuggle.

Evenings have to be by the campfire. That is where Sally and I were the first night with Lorenzo. Stories shared, wine had, owl call followed and spotted under the African skies.

dining_candlelight_1The second night after our afternoon walking Safari and night game drive, a delicious lantern-lite dinner await us on arrival. Banana stew [mtori], bbq ribs, rice pillau [rice with lots of spices], grilled fish, roast potatoes and more. Pure delight.

I look forward to returning to Kwihala Camp in wild Ruaha.

logo

 

Get in touch via email – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com

Call us at 1.877.558.6288 or 713.592.6228.

Together, we can plan your family Safari for the memory books. Life worth Exploring. ™

 

 

Advertisements

Lake Natron Camp.

My first stop on my Safari back to Tanzania was Lake Natron Camp in middle of the Great East African Rift Valley.

welcomeAfter a beautiful drive through this stunning landscape with Paul, we arrive at the crunchy dried soda ash entrance to the Maasai ladies coming to welcome us.  The sun setting behind us was spreading the golden hour rays making Ol Doinyo Lengai and the stunning hills around the camp look lovely.

IMG_0611Cold refreshments were served in the dining + lounge tent while the manager checked us into the camp. For those interested, wi-fi is available here. Paul, who knows Ake Lindstrom, the owner of the camp, mentioned that Ake is very keen on supporting the local Maasai community. Most of the staff here are from close by Engare Sero village. Kudos!

tents_oldoinyo

Spring water in front of most of the tents.

roomAfter our long drive, we wanted to freshen up so we were escorted to our tents. Not many dangerous wildlife here so walking on your own back to the dining camp does not require an escort.

Each of the 10 tented rooms are under a protective layer of black tarp to keep the inside cooler from the blistering heat of the Great East African Rift Valley especially during the hot months [December to March]. I am glad they had that layer as it was hot especially during our mid-afternoon siesta, part of the Safari Life. The poor old fan tried to help. You just have to give in and embrace the heat. In the evenings, with the fan on, it was more comfortable.

To leave minimal footprints in this region, the rooms are powered with solar. Sun is not a problem here.

bathroomThe bathroom has compost toilets which works fine for this harsh environment. There was enough water for a nice bucket shower. Additional lighting would make the bathroom comfortable especially in the shower area so you could find the bucket shower string.

diningThe dining and lounge area during my February stay could use an update. More lighting was needed at night around the whole dining + lounge tent. The chef serving area was in the dark side of the tent. Our table was outside the main area and did not feel like it was part of the dining area. The bar was not well stocked yet and seems detached from the main area.

I have seen reports of improvements since then. The food served by the chef was delicious and appropriate. From warm meals in the evening to the cool lunches during the heat of the day.

stunning_landscapeThe deal sealer here is the access to Lake Natron and its many splendors. Early morning walks to capture the sunrise over Ol Doinyo Lengai, the many hills and mirror-like Lake Natron. Golden hour moments in the evenings and finishing off with a glorious dip in the fresh water spring while enjoying sundowner [snacks and drinks before your evening meal] and maybe a tickle tilapia pedicure. Your feet and ‘soul’ will thank you.

sundowner_spotI look forward to returning back to Lake Natron Camp, located in the vast Rift Valley, the belly of the Earth.

logo

Life worth Exploring. ™
Make memories on your Journey To Africa Safari.

Get in Touch //
Email us – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Toll Free – 1.877.558.6288
Outside of US – 1.713.592.6228
Form – Request Information

Safari documents + Travel Insurance

Here is an incident I am embarrassed to admit. I have advised clients on this matter after all.

I was checking into  Zanzibar Airport coming back to Arusha after a great time in Stone Town and the beach of Nungwi with my husband and the kids. At the check-in counter, I could not find my paper ticket for my flight back. This was not the little Safari airstrip where guides take care of you. This was the International Airport. I frantically searched all the pockets of my backpack. No luck. Lucky for me, I was going back to Arusha [and not getting on board an international flight], the Regional Airline office was near by and they printed a ticket for me.

traveldocs Lesson learnt. Always keep your documents in one bag.

This means always carry with you at all times your :
– Passport. A client had given me a copy of her passport and when they were in South Africa, their bag was stolen. I was glad I could help by emailing them their passport copy.
– Paper e-tickets. Print your International Airline tickets before you leave. Don’t depend on your phone.
– Money. Keep $100 per person for the visa should you be getting that at the airport. Then have some for tips, drinks and shopping. We have guidelines on our Traveling Tips.
– Vaccination paperwork should you be coming from another African Country

Note here:
When you are on Safari, your local flights ticket on the Safari route from say Manyara to Serengeti and Serengeti back to Kilimanjaro will be with your Safari guide in Tanzania. The airstrips have you on the flight manifest and you don’t need a ticket printout. If you are flying to a location where our guides are not with you, we will have a tickets for you so you don’t fall into the predicament I was in.

We also highly recommend getting Travel Insurance. I know you have heard of this and it is another cost to add to your Safari but it is so necessary. I always get it. My thinking is what if I get hurt and I need to be evacuated back to the US. I will need all the help possible. From getting a seat on a flight to financial assistance.

We offer via AIG / Travel Guard. You have lots of choices at different price level. If anything, get the basic plan so you can have some protection on your Safari. Life happens! Be prepared.

Twende Safari – let’s go Safari.

logoLife worth Exploring! ™
Make memories on your Journey To Africa Safari.

Get in touch //
Email – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Toll Free within US – 1.877.558.6288
Outside of US – 1.713.592.6228
Form – Request Information

What is a Luxury Safari?

Luxury is relative to each one of us. Is it having 300+ thread counts in our beds or would using a wilderness tent [small dome tent with a sleeping cot] be okay with you if it means enjoying walking in our private area in Serengeti? The best bottle of wine with gourmet meals? Are you going to be happy with perfectly good 5 gallon bucket shower or do you need endless water and a bubble tub? We want to know more about your expectations on Safari.

sunset_one
How do we define luxury Safaris? 

Here are our 4 thoughts. The minimum expectation you are guaranteed when enjoying our Safaris in Tanzania, Kenya and beyond.

1] Peace of Mind.
Our Safaris take care of you from arrival into Kilimanjaro Airport or Jomo Kenyatta Airport  to when we drop you off at the airport for your flight home. “Safaris are like grandmothers” – Susan Portnoy, a photographer mentioned. All the care with the warm and fuzzy.

We will book your Safari lodges and take care of all the in-between. Your park fees and conservation fees.  All meals and snacks on Safari are arranged. Our well maintained closed or open vehicle will have bottled water and soft drink as well as plugs to charge camera batteries, phones and other electronics so you don’t have to wait until the evening when you go to the lodge. Local flights will be booked. Transfers will be arranged – someone will pick you up and drop you off. And much more.

What we insist you must do is sit back and relax! You are on Safari.

2] Experiences and Great Memories.
Many studies
show that happy people are those who have accumulated experiences and memories in their lives. We aim to enhance your happiness.

“Travel is my therapy”

How do we plan on doing that?

– Via our guides and their knowledge, warmth, patience and more. To our first time on Journey To Africa Safari goers to our fifth time client, our guides are our backbone. They help make great memories and experiences on your Safari. They are also our ambassadors.

– Adding details to your Safari.  We don’t want to give away too much of what we do here but it’s the little things that make the big things happen.

food for Safari - sundowners - Oliver's Camp

3] Ambiance.
Trust us! You will not go hungry on your Safari. Three meals cooked with the basic of tools and snacks – we are talking cakes and cookies and nuts –  at any time. And the abundance of good coffee and tea.

But the best luxurious part is that the settings will be amazing. You may have breakfast in the middle of park, lunch overlooking the Serengeti, Tarangire River or Hippo pool in Ngorongoro, have picnic under the accacia tree and spot elephants roaming in a distance. And dinner under the stars with candlelight sharing stories with your camp manager and other Safari goers while hearing the hyenas, wildebeest or lions in the distance.  Different from how you enjoy your food at home. Luxury.

Food evokes memories and after a Safari, you will bring home lots of those.

dinner ambiance

4] Lodges with a Soul.
Our criteria when choosing the lodges we recommend is that they have to have the 3 Cs. Conservation + Community + Carbon off-setting ethos.

Your dollars help out in a lot of behind the scenes effort.  Now that is luxury to us. The ability to assist the visiting country, it’s people and the precious wildlife.

Whether it is wildlife conservation via Honeyguide Foundation with our Asilia Africa lodges like Olakira Camp or supporting a sustainable orphanage by building a fully equipped bakery like Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge or off setting carbon footprints like our walking Safari partners.

Our lodges also support a lot of families. 1 staff member in our lodge will take care of 4-6 + family members at home. Ask us for more details on each organization should you be interested.

packforapurpose

We hope you will join us on a Luxury Safari.

logo

Life worth Exploring. ™
Make memories on your Journey To Africa Safari.

Get in touch //
Email – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Call – 1.877.558.6288 / 713.592.6228 [outside US]
Form – Request Information

 

The Great Migration

News from the bush //

Northern_Serengeti_June_2014

The Wildebeests moving into an area very close to Olakira Camp in Northern Serengeti. Taken around 6:45 am on our morning game drive.

As much as you see pictures, read articles or watch videos, nothing really prepares you and your senses when you are in the middle of the Great Wildebeest and Zebra Migration, one of the Natural Wonders of the World.  The sheer numbers of Wildebeests and Zebras. The grunting and galloping sounds. The smell from these animals. The single file walking. The springy trotting.  The predators [amazing 20+ lions enjoying a wildebeest] that are enjoying a field day as ‘food’ is finally abundant.

This is how I feel when sitting in the middle of the herd in one of my favorite areas, Northern Serengeti [which is a great place to visit year round] in early June when the migration had arrived into this region earlier than the normal cycle from Western Serengeti. They usually arrive into Northern Serengeti in late June to early July. That is nature for you.  Unpredictable and awesome in its splendor.

Travel Insurance

A friend in the industry recently was recalling an incident when her phone was stolen from her hand in Dar-Es-Salaam, the capital city of Tanzania. Things happen even at home but become cumbersome when it is not on your own turf.

When clients head to Safari, we always recommend getting travel insurance.  We took our own advise and purchased our travel insurance from our provider Travel Guard.

Some of the reasons why our clients have been glad they had travel insurance.

  • Jann F was scheduled to leave in two days when she had an emergency appendix operation. The recovery was going to take a week and if they did end up going to Tanzania [accounting the international flight penalty and fare change], they would have missed most of the Safari with their friends.  Luckily, they had travel insurance with Travel Guard and her and Bernie, her last husband, managed to enjoy the same Safari the following year with some other friends.
  • US ambassador Thomas Pickering was all set to head on Safari when his daughter broke her arm right before her Safari. She could not join them  and had to cancel her Safari. Refund was provided by Travel Guard.
  • You can not climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with a broken leg. Our client Debbie G was in Amsterdam ready to board her flight to Kilimanjaro Airport when she fell in at Schipol airport and broke her leg.  She was devastated she could not join her friends for the climb. She had to fly back to the US.  Travel Guard reimbursed the extra cost of the flight from Amsterdam to US and refunded her Safari.

These occurrence are not common – thankfully – but they did and do happen. Losing the Safari + international flight money would have added more injury to the already hurt wound.

And then there are those clients that don’t let a cast stop them from enjoying a ‘limping’ Safari. Darrell and Drew Howton enjoyed their 2nd Safari with Journey To Africa in Katavi and Mahale + Lake Natron and Southern Serengeti with professional guide Paul Oliver.

Darrell enjoying Katavi with a cast on his leg

A broken leg did not stop Darrell from enjoying Katavi