Personal Encounters with the Wildlife.

Planning a 40th Birthday Safari for Joshua and Teri was a joy. They had brought in a Safari itinerary from another company that was cheaper but when we put the two together, they were not apples to apples. They would have been jumping from park to park daily causing more time on the road doing transfers instead of enjoying the park and its wildlife, no Serengeti to Arusha flying taxi flight hence a 6+ hour road transfer and staying in large 70+ rooms lodges.

We encouraged them to look at the logistics and chose smaller quality lodges that have our 3 Cs requirement – Conservation, Community and Carbon Off-setting ethos.

They were also from Houston, Texas and having a Safari Chat before they left was fantastic. They had a lot of questions for me and I could go in detail over each answer.

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“Journey to Africa was everything we needed … a great experience, from planning to execution, to our return home. Very fair pricing, and very attentive team, in particular Mefi. Our time and money were very well spent for the trip of a lifetime!

While on safari, the game drive trucks were perfect providing plenty of view and very personal encounters with the wildlife. The drivers were experts and were so knowledgeable of the wildlife, landscapes, history, and weather!

Mefi and the team supported our budget and duration goals, as well as our goals for a truly wild experience, limiting impact to the communities / outdoors, and also enabling encounters with the local community (for example, the opportunity to visit an orphanage and make a donation of lesson books to a school in Rhotia Valley).

We would not change anything, and there is zero doubt in our minds who we will call for our next trip to Africa!”

Joshua and Teri G.
April 2015 Safari
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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

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Why Serengeti still takes my breath away

As soon as we passed Oldoniyo Lengai, the volcanic mountain in Loliondo, east of Serengeti National Park from my Tanganyika Flying Company scheduled flight to Kogatende airstrip in Northern Serengeti, my heart skipped a beat.  Serengeti, here I come … again and again.

Why Serengeti still takes my breath away?
My current top eight reasons why I could go back to Serengeti in a heartbeat.

One.
The Great Wildebeest and Zebra Migration.
Oh yes!  Being surrounded by hundreds and thousands of animals is unexplainable unless you have been there to witness it first hand. When I was flying to Serengeti in early June, I was expecting to see the migration in Central Serengeti. Well to my surprise, and lucky me, I got to see the arrival of the herd in Northern Serengeti earlier then normal from Western Serengeti. There is no exact timetable on these matters.  Luckily our guide said some of the Wildebeest and Zebra groups where still in Western Serengeti as we had clients booked in that region to experience this phenomena.

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Walking in single file. The herds are coming into Northern Serengeti from Western Serengeti. Oh the excitement!

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The longer we sat watching them march in, the larger the herds grew. What an experience!

Sunrise over Northern Serengeti

The morning sun spraying gold over Serengeti. Here is a small herd having just crossed the river.

Two.
Cats and cats. 
Oh these beautiful animals. Serengeti is home to a large concentrations of lions, cheetahs and leopards. In Northern Serengeti, I was lucky to see group of about 20+ lions ranging from couple of month olds to their mamas having a go at a freshly hunted wildebeest. ‘Food’ aka the migration was coming in. What an experience! Reuben, my Olakira Camp guide and I did not want to leave. He had promised me a sundowner near the table hills but we opted to stay back. How can you blame me. Look at those eyes.

We spent a while enjoying the interactions of this beautiful family in the Northern Serengeti valley.

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In the valley, about 20+ lion family enjoying a recent wildebeest kill. Some cubs were just a few months old.   What a splendid sighting!

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Some having a go at dinner while others needed a stretch or rub after some grub.

Central Serengeti is known as cat central. And it did not disappoint. We got to enjoy a few sighting away from the crowds that Central Serengeti attracts. Trust your guide and head the other direction.

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Look at that wee one following her mama through the tall grass.

Rains were about to come when in Central Serengeti and my guide Makubi and I were trying to get to Dunia Camp. Well, this stunning leopard appeared and getting wet was an understandable option. We got to hang out for a bit and stare.

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A stunning leopard spotted resting on a branch.

Three.
Elephants.
I love elephants! They are just beautiful and so precious and threatened.  In Northern Serengeti, I spotted a few but at a distance. South Central Serengeti, very close to Moru Kopjes, I was elated. Large herds were right next to the road. Elephant mama and babies – lots of them. Please stay safe! I am coming back to see you grow.

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Elephant mama warning us. We hear you mama. We will not harm you and your babies.

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Little one marching on. Look at that little trunk.

Four.
Impalas, why of course.
On this Safari, thanks to Makubi and my private Serengeti walking guide Richard,  I got to know more about these beautiful yet polygamous animals.

Did you know a male impala has a harem of female impalas? Yup, one male can have up to 20 ladies at his back and call. Then there are the bachelor herds who are always ready to spring into action should a window open.  As per Makubi, it is similar to the Maasai and Kuro tribe members who live on the boundaries of Serengeti. Ummmh!

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A female group with babies.

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Privacy please! Here is a male impala getting ready to mount on the female. The mating ritual lasted for about 20 minutes before she would let him on.

Five.
Birds.
My friend and elite guide Paul Oliver is a birder. I know many birders. He has been trying to get me into birding.

So this time, I chose to look up and was so impressed with the many colors that were presented to me. Lovely magpies shreks, common but colorful lilac breasted roller and egyptian geese.  I will have to work on honing my birding skill on my next Safari. I am hooked.

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The beautiful watercolor like Lilac breasted roller

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Magpie shrek. Mama bird with the white feather just handed over a worm to the baby Magpie. It was a fun exchange to witness.

Six.
An array of eco-system.
Serengeti has so much to offer. My time in Northern Serengeti and Central Serengeti gave me a glimpse of hills, valleys, rivers, endless plains, long grass, short grass, stunning kopjes, bushy terrain, woodlands and more.

When game driving or heading back to your camp, you can stare at the landscape and not tire of what you have in front of you. The sunrise that starts to peek behind the acacia tree and the sunset that makes for the magic golden hour are pure bliss. Serenity in Serengeti.

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The table hill of Northern Serengeti. So many other hill dotted in the North.

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The open plains of Central Serengeti heading towards Dunia Camp near the Moru Kopjes

Seven.
Great lodges here to unwind end of the day.  
At the end of the day, it feels so good having a comfortable bucket shower [common in most tented camps] and then heading to the main lounge and dining area. Usually the first stop is the campfire [unless is rains like it did for me at Dunia Camp] where you get to relax with your drink and get to know other guests. This is when the stories start. Who got to see what, were and do you have pictures to share? You get to sharing things like where are you from, why Tanzania, where are you going next, etc.  I usually get the envious, how many time have you been on Safari?. Plenty but many more to come.

Just a good way to end a day on Safari. Oh, and the food is delicious as well.

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The stunning view of Serengeti from Lamai Serengeti.

Eight.
Private Serengeti!
What a thrilling experience this was for me. No vehicles, seeing animals on foot, adrenaline pumping moments and you being able to hear your breath as you try to be still when a buffalo is 30 ft away from you. I would jump at a chance to be out there again. I ended my day sitting with a cold Kilimanjaro beer on a kopje, watching one of the most memorable sunsets in Serengeti.

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Golden Hour! Roaring fire, cold beer, stunning sunset while sitting on top of a kopje in Serengeti. Happiness.

Serengeti never fails to take your breath away.  An adventure awaits all day, any time, all year-round. Karibu [welcome] Serengeti!

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

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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

Swahili words

Jambo! Our guide with client Cynthia and Michael C.

Jambo! Our guide with client Cynthia and Michael C.

When you landing in Kilimanjaro Airport, the first thing you will hear is Jambo!
Jambo means hello in Swahili and a good word to learn.  Don’t worry, the custom official, your guide and most people you will pass on your Safari will speak English but saying Jambo to them will let them know you are happy to be in Tanzania or Kenya.

Want to know a few more words so you can really flex your Swahili.
– Habari gani? – How are you?
– Asante – Thank you.
– Karibu – Welcome.
– Lala Salama – Sleep well.
– Habari za asubuhi? – Good morning.
– Chai – Tea.
– Kahawa – Coffee.

To really impresss a local.
– Shagala Bagala – ‘this is messed up’ in a fun sense.
– Poa – I am chilling.

Happy Earth Day!

A day to begin a year-long celebration of our fragile earth.

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What are we doing here at Journey To Africa?

– Using Safari lodges that generate energy using solar power, recycle their waste  and offset their carbon footprints by supporting surrounding reforestation programs with organizations like Carbon Tanzania.  We also sponsor Carbon Tanzania who do great work in Tanzania. An example of their work is they not only plant trees but educating the locals about the benefits of preserving their land.

– Encouraging clients to offset their carbon emissions when flying to Africa. Airlines like KLM Royal Dutch Airline offer such programs or before the clients depart, we give them the option to do so with Carbon Tanzania.

– Our office is as ‘green’ as possible. We do not print brochures or Safari itineraries. All of the communication is done via email and the information is sent over via PDF files.

We can always do more!

– We are planning to join Throttle the Bottle [http://throttle-the-bottle.org/] program. No more plastic bottles on Safari. It is distressing to see wild animals play or worse get caught in plastic bottles. Plastic bags are even worse. Zanzibar Island is in the process of banning plastic bags which effect the marine life.

Small steps to creating a less stressed Earth.

Asante Sana.

Plantation Lodge

When planning your Journey To Africa Safari, we usually like using lodges where we have overnighted, spent time with the manager or owner, enjoyed a meal or coffee / tea with some cookies and pastry, seen what they offer for activities or entertainment + more – we want to be able to tell you about the lodge first hand.


Plantation Lodge.

Owned and operated by Renate and Udo Marahens, the lodge is located in Karatu Region about 20 minutes away from Ngorongoro Crater gate. This lovely lodge was first visited on our research Safari in year 2000. It was in its early stages of operation. Renate and Udo had recently opened Plantation Lodge after having successful managed Rhino Lodge also in Karatu. Our last visit was in October 2009 – we can not wait to go back to Plantation Lodge.

My relationship with the Marahens goes a long way back when living in Arusha.  They were coffee farmers in the 80s and they would come to get supplies from Tanganyika Farmer’s Association, a company where my father worked. They had been based in the Karatu Region long before Tanzanian tourism started taking off with more lodges and better infrastructure.

Why Plantation Lodge?

Plantation Lodge offers excellent food with most of the produce grown locally in their garden near the lodge.  Spend time in the  large well decorated wine cellar with a glass of wine, beer and other drinks from all over the world but mostly from Southern Africa.  Enjoy their coffee locally roasted in Karatu- one of the best coffee producing regions in my opinion. Lunch can be enjoyed outside in the beautiful gardens and dinner in served in the large dining area or enjoy a private dinner outside in the patio.

The lodge grounds are amazing. The lush garden with Arabica coffee bushes overlooking the Ngorongoro Highlands or the nearby farms, a large avocado tree that produces avocados the size of a football – American football, the eucalyptus and jacaranda trees providing lovely shade during the hot days, an array of beautiful flowers from iris to bougainvillea and frangipani well maintained by gardeners  with green thumbs. Enjoy the orchestra of many bird species serenading you when you are outside enjoying your coffee, taking notes on your Safari or inside the lounge area having fresh baked cakes or sipping tea as the windows are always open.

Talking about coffee, ask them to take you on a tour of the local coffee farm and see the very beginning steps of how your favorite cup of coffee gets produced.

The rooms are spacious [even the non-suite], tastefully simplistically decorated with flowers and personal touches and with balconies where you can enjoy the beautiful garden and the views out in the horizon. They also have a family suite with two rooms and a Garden House which has four rooms, perfect for large families or a large group with its own dining area.


They have a pool which can be used during the daytime. During the cool season [April to August], you would have to be brave to dip in the cool pool but during the hot months [September to March], a cool dip may be just the perfect way to end a dusty Safari day or enjoy an afternoon siesta with a good book and enjoy the bird sounds and trees rustling.

As I have mentioned before in my food post, Safari is hard work. Lots of delicious eating you know. Well, you need a massage afterward. In comes the fabulous masseuse Sumaya. Her touch is heavenly. You can choose from a full body massage to foot massage. Book her when you first check-in. You will come out refreshed.

Karibu on a Journey To Africa Safari and enjoy a night, two or more at Plantation Lodge. We definitely have a blast staying here.

Some photos courtesy of Plantation Lodge.

Food on Safari

One question that I often get from clients booking their Journey To Africa Safari is what is the food going to be like on Safari? If staying in our preferred camps, I can confidently say ::

  • fresh and tasty. our chefs will cook you some amazing meals with basic equipment. think hot and fresh breads + beef and veggie mishkaki [barbeque] using a coal grill + organic salad plucked from the garden right around the corner as in Plantation Lodge.
  • well prepared. Our well-trained camp chef and crew will come up with gourmet meals in the middle of the bush. They really want you to enjoy their culinary experience.

But let us talk about the beautiful setting you will get to experience when enjoying your food and snacks on Safari.

Wake-up coffee and cookie at beautiful Oliver’s Camp

On Safari you normally start off your day with a wake-up call. You can start really early should you have chosen to go on a sunrise morning game drive or morning walking Safari like you can do from Oliver’s Camp. You sit on your lovely patio and have your cookie or biscuits as we say and sip your hot cuppa tea or coffee listening to the sounds of the wild and watching the sun rise. A perfect morning on Safari!

Breakfast from lovely Olakira Camp. An variety of items to choose from or head out for your bush breakfast.

Then on to breakfast. A good breakfast to start off the day full of adventures. You are going to have an array of options. Cereals, variety of juices, eggs with warm bread sometimes cooked in the bush for a bush breakfast, bacon and potatoes and more.  Nothing like having the most important meal of the day with a great view as you see here from Olakira Camp in Central Serengeti.

You need a snack in the middle of game driving. With Albert, resident guide at beautiful Sayari Camp in Northern Serengeti.

When on your game drive, you need a snack. Game driving is tough! Our vehicles carry water, soft drinks, juice and snacks which you can enjoy during your game drive. In some areas, like what we are experienced in Northern Serengeti with Sayari Camp guide Albert, you can stop, set a table and enjoy your snack with the animals close by. Don’t worry. Our guides will choose an open area away from the thick bushes. Prepare to enjoy your mid-morning or afternoon snack.

Campfire is a good place to end the day with a good glass of wine or drink of choice.

Dinner time is the most romantic time. Soft flicker of the candles or lanterns invite you to your table. Here you will chill with a glass of wine or the drink of choice while chatting with other Safari goers or share a meal with the camp manager and share stories that go beyond the parks you are visiting.  Bush dinners are available for those who want a private dinner or just want to sit under the stars. Bon appetite!

And then tomorrow, the wonderful cycle begins again.

Dinner!

Don’t you want to be on Safari snacking or having a delicious meal right now?
Choose from our many Safari itneraries which we will personalize to your liking.

Karibu Safari with Journey To Africa.

Get in touch //
Email – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Call – 1.877.55.6288

 

The Smell on Safari

When we have confirmed your Journey To Africa Safari, you are anticipating the beautiful lodges you will be staying and the comforts we have talked about when planning your Safari, the animals you will potentially see when in the National Parks, the landscape, the people you are going to meet, etc. But one thing that we can’t really describe that you will also experience is “smell”.

The smell of Africa. For me, the minute they open the KLM door in Kilimanjaro Airport, I smell ‘home’. I can smell the wood burning in the distance, the dust, the cleaner they use at the airport. When you get out and start your Safari, the smell of the trees, the open air, the vehicles and its emissions .. the good and the bad.

On Safari, you smell the musky dirt when it has rained or the dust during dry season. The animals and let me tell you, when you in the middle of thousands/ millions of wildebeests and zebras [poop, flies and all] or next to the hippo pool and all the gas that is emitted by the dozens of hippos or you have just passed a carcass – WHEW! Memorable to say the least.


Expand your senses. Go on a Journey To Africa Safari.