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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5 unforgettable Safari experiences for Mothers.

mother's_dayBeing on a family Safari is a special time to make memories that you can remember forever. And who better than a mother, who loves getting everyone together, so that family stories are kept alive. Indulge mama on her Luxury Safari.

We know 5 experiences mommy would love on her Safari.

1] Let’s start with jewelry.
Mamas, we all like browsing, receiving and buying jewelry. On Safari, you will see lots of beautiful Maasai jewelry on display. So why not go straight to the source to see how it is done. Head to the Maasai village with our friend Tati of Tanzania Maasai Women Art Spend time with the Maasai women seeing how they use their beads to create unique jewelry piece. She will always have something to admire and reminisce.

The Maasai women get assistance designing these unique pieces from an Italian designer.  This relationship has helped the Maasai women gain financial independence and given us jewelry that we mother’s can enjoy. We love supporting other women.

2] A cooking class in the middle of Serengeti.
Chefs at many of the lodges will set up time to help mother’s cook up a feast. Of course she will have lots of help from the sous chefs and the kitchen staff  – she is on Safari after all. The chef will show off their talents in their kitchen. The chef will come up with a cooking plan that best suits mama and her cooking skills.

A gourmet meal is always on the menu on Safari.

3] How does date night sound on Safari!
Would mommy be traveling with young children? A big yes to bringing children on Safari. Babysitters are available!  The babysitter can play with the children in the room until you get back from your date-night dinner.

The goal here is for you to enjoy a delicious dinner with amazing wine under the African skies on your night out. Bliss on Safari.

4] A massage for mama.
Imagine coming back after your wildlife viewing to a soothing room, essential oils burning, and a massage. Don’t you feel your muscles relaxing already? Some of the lodges take you outside where nature gives you the music.

Get pampered on your Safari. Yes mom, you deserve it!

5] Fly high over Serengeti or Tarangire in a hot-air balloon.
Oh the little luxuries in life for the mother in your family. Soar over the African savannah and enjoy this special family moment in your own balloon basket. Upon landing, you will have a breakfast table set up in the middle of the park where you can toast with champagne bubbles and enjoy a delicious English breakfast under a tree.

A high flying family treasure to keep.

Add any of these fun memory keepers to your family Safari. Happiness is being on Safari.

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Get in touch with us via email at Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Call us on our Toll Free No. at 1.877.558.6288.

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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We hope you will join us on a Luxury 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

 

Lost in translation

On Safari, you are going to be spending a lot of time with your guide, your new friend. This person comes from a different culture, different background, does not know you, your personality yet he is going to show you a great time. That is his goal and our repeat clients are a testament to how hard they work to make it happen.

Be open and patient with things that can get lost in translation.

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Makubi sharing some photography tips.

My guide Makubi from Dunia Camp in Central Serengeti was telling me his Wakuria tribe culture was not to look in the eye when talking. That is a sign of aggression. He would never do that in his village with his elders or peers. In our western culture, if you don’t look in the eye when talking, you are rude.  The dilemma. He adapted.

Reuben, my guide from Olakira Camp, one of my favorite camps in Tanzania is a Maasai. A proud warrior whose maasai blanket [his tribal clothing] would peek from his sleeve. He said wearing the clothing reminded him of his heritage. He would sit with us for dinner and share some good stories. When we were served polenta with our lamp chop,  he would be polite and have small bites but I have a feeling after our meal, he would head to the kitchen and prepare his own local food.

They go through lots of training so they can understand our western sensibility and adapt for our comfort. To be fair, be open to a different culture. Don’t get offended with what may not translate to our culture.  Talk. You will learn from your new friend when on Safari. Isn’t that part of the adventure?

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

Walking in Serengeti

When you are on Safari, you spend a lot of time in our Safari vehicles.  Driving is great. You get to see the various landscapes, the scenery and wildlife.

Now try walking.

Walking heightens your senses‘, as my guide Richard of our partner company African Environments told me. And he is right.  The minute we got out of the land cruiser and touched Mother Earth in our private walking area in Serengeti, the  hairs on the back of my neck were on alert.  Let the walk begin.

Our first encounter, buffalos. Three of them. “Get behind me and walk sideways‘, instructs Richard who is carrying a loaded gun. Yes sir. I am thinking, will this large 70-300 mm L canon lens work as a weapon. I will swing hard. Luckily, I did not have to try this maneuver.  They run away. Whew.  My heart stops pounding.  What a thrill. And that is only the first 30 minutes.

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Richard on alert after the buffalos.

As we continue our morning Private Serengeti walk up and around the kopjes, we pass through lots of colorful butterflies, birds, klipspringer, hyrax and male impalas. The grass is tall from the long rains but dry. It is hot even in June. I am reminded to drink water.

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Walking through the lovely kopjes.

Good walking shoes are definitely recommended. Leg gaiters would have helped from getting the sticky seeds from poking. Tsetse flies are a bother. Keep calm and swat them away.  Wear loose clothing so they can not bite you through your shirt. Light colored clothing would have been a better choice. Lesson learned the itchy way.

After about 3 hours of walking [you decide what is comfortable for you], we stopped for a delicious barbeque lunch by the dried up river.  Chicken, beef, variety of vegetables, fruit, salad, coffee and wine – the whole works here for lunch.  Relax and enjoyed the view after a yummy feast. Hard working crew – Asante.

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Chef grilling the delicious lunch

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Under the tree for a good shade and lovely breeze.

After a good strong cup of coffee, Richard and I continue our afternoon walk. We encountered more animals in our afternoon walk. Elands, hartebeest, kudu, harem of female impalas and about 4 male bachelors, topis, and more.

The one male impala with his harem gave us a good show. When they first saw us, half of the females ran left and the other half followed the male to the right side. You could see the male trying hard to get back to his group on the left to bring them back to the rest of his females on the right. I was rooting for the left group females to run away and leave the ‘demanding’ male behind.  It did not happen. Alas, they rejoined and the group was together once again.

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Two topis towering atop the terrace.

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Eland family

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Tall grass during the walk. With Deo, the TANAPA ranger.

Richard and I were enjoying the walking when we came across a barbed snare. According to Richard, this area, east of Central Serengeti was closed off to the public for a long time by TANAPA. There were no protective eyes here. Poaching was easy until the five + hand-selected companies known for their ethical practices, one of them being our partners came into the area. This has helped with poaching.  The numbers have gone down but not completely unfortunately.

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Our ranger Deo collecting the snare. He will take it back to HQ for disposal.

And one thing you will notice when walking in Private Serengeti, the animals here are afraid of humans.  They run when they see you. When you are on a game drive in a vehicle in the main areas of Serengeti, they do not budge.

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Stunning rock formations.

Around 5:30 pm or so, we are getting close to camp, walking on a dry river bed when we hear some noise behind the bushes on top. Now Deo has been a calm ranger all this time but when I hear him cock his gun, I can hear my breathing quicken. Richard is on alert. My arm hair is stand up again. Fear is healthy. My heart is pounding. I am instructed to climb up the bank. I run. False alarm. Buffaloes lazily grazing up top the river bank.

I ask Richard, what happens if it is a lion and it is going to spring on us. He said they would shoot to kill. Luckily in the 5+ years he and his guides have not had to do that. 

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Richard with his gun, ready to fire if necessary.

We make it to our Wilderness Camp.

This is comfortable basic camping with a cot but still good food in a closed dining tent. The dome shaped tent has a comfortable cot with sheets, blankets and pillows. Toilet and bathroom are outside and the make shift walk-way is lit with solar lamps hoisted on a tree stump.

The toilet is a pit latrine – toilet paper included. You cover with dirt after you are done doing your business. An eco-friendly way to leave the land when the camp is packed up. Basic.  The shower is a bucket shower which was comfortable and the 5 gallons was enough water. Soap and shampoo in pump bottles was included.

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Dome tent with toilet tent [blue] and the shower tent.

I ended up taking a shower at 9:00 pm – adventurous!

Why you ask?
When we got there, it was around 6:00 pm. The crew at the camp had started a beautiful roaring fire and the sun was about the set. I was not about to miss this lovely setting. So I opted to wait to wash away my day.

And I am so glad I did. I was rewarded by some of the most glorious stunning sunset sitting by the cozy fire over a cold Kilimanjaro beer. Oh the colors! Brilliant.

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Magnificent colors of the sunset.

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Richard enjoying the sunset by the roaring fire.

Between enjoying the magical sunset around 6:30 pm to shower time around 9:00 pm, I enjoyed a lovely dinner in the dining tent while it rained outside. The crew again – asante for your hard work.

The rain continued to drizzle but that did not deter Richard and I from heading back out to the fire, hurdled under one large umbrella, sharing stories about the walk, our children, Safari life and more.

At around 9:00 pm, I did take the bucket shower under the dark skies and slight drizzle.

I can honestly say this was one fantastic experience I can not wait to experience again and share with you all. Happiness is being on Safari. I sure made lots of memories on my Private Serengeti Safari.

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Life 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

 

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