Tanzania was by Far the Best Trip.

It’s always fun for me to meet clients before they leave for their Safari. I meet with Fr. Bierschenk in Dallas, TX at Starbucks. He was very calm and had no real questions for me — this was his third Safari to Africa [Kenya and South Africa were his previous Safaris], his first one with Journey To Africa and Tanzania. He was excited to taking time off from his duties and submerge in the quiet Bush Life.

Thank you for letting us show you Tanzania, Fr. Bierschenk!

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“Fr. Mocio and I want to thank you for all your work in putting together out wonderful trip to Tanzania.  It was our third trip to Africa, and we agreed that Tanzania was by far the best trip. We had a wonderful time.

The Guides: We enjoyed John Bingo very much.  He was very personable and showed us so much.  He is an excellent guide, and since we spent so much time with him, I appreciated his friendliness and interest in us and his sharing of so much information about the life of the people in Tanzania.

At Kimondo, we were picked up by our guide at the airport. He took us on a drive, and we witnessed a crossing by the Wildebeests, during which one was carried away by a crocodile, and as the animal was bleating, a lion ran out from the brush looking to see what he could get – it was amazing.

The Lodges:  Each was unique, well run and enjoyable to stay in.  The most fabulous was Kimondo, and we happened to be there on the night the that the owner of Asilia and his family were visiting.  We had a wonderful and interesting dinner with them.

We also enjoyed the camp at Rhotia Valley.  We had a wonderful view across the valley from our deck. There was one issue there you should ask them about before you book with them again.  They use solar power to heat the water for the shower.  Our first evening we took a cold shower, and I told them about the trouble.  The next day, we had the same problem, and during dinner the manager assured me that when we got back to the tent there would be hot water, but there was no water at all. They did comp our drinks for the inconvenience.  [*Journey To Africa note – we talked to the lodge owner and the assured us that this problem has been looked over and fixed ]

We enjoyed the hotel you put us in for the final night in Arusha.  It was very relaxing and restful before the long trip back.

From beginning to end Journey to Africa prepared a wonderful experience of Tanzania for us.  Everything we needed was taken care of.  I will be recommending you without any reservation.

Even though your literature says in many places that it could be cooler there in the evening, I was not really prepared for the temperature, especially in the Rhotia Valley.  A wonderful change from Texas in July!

Thanks again for assuring that our trip to Tanzania was so fabulous!”

Fr. Bierschenk.
July 2015

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Keep Calm and Swat Away!

TseTesThis is Richard, my guide on my exhilarating Walking Safari in our private area in Serengeti. He has company – Tsetse flies. I had their company as well … I was right behind him and took this shot.

When on Safari in Tanzania and Kenya, there are areas in the parks and conservation areas where you just can not avoid these pesky flies. We are talking amazing areas like Northern and Central Serengeti and Tarangire National Park.  Rivers, bushes, woody areas are were you find them. Not going there would be such a shame.

You can do a few things to help yourself.

Wear light-colored clothing.
These buggers are attracted to dark colors. Avoid dark blue and black clothing on Safari. You will notice cloths with this color hanging from trees in various areas, put there by the park officials, in hopes that these flies will be hanging out on the cloth instead of on you.

Try loose clothing.
Create a barrier between the fly and your skin. This is the best protection. And will keep you cool when hot. Win-Win.

Fly swatter.
Some clients have brought these swatter and it has helped them but you have to be really fast. They come in droves and are quick to nip.  You have to Keep Calm and Swat Away. You will feel accomplished when you get a few.

Anti-itch cream.
Okay so let’s be realistic here. Chances of getting bitten are there. You can put some anti-itch cream right away and it will help with the itch. And try not to scratch the sweet itch as you are in risk of getting a gash – personal experience here. Ouch.

Tsetse flies do carry the disease sleeping sickness but the chances of getting the sickness is very rare. If you exhibit high fever for days and it is not Malaria, let your hospital/ doctor [with help from infectious disease] know you have been in areas with Tsetse flies.

The silver lining here is that these flies keep the cows and humans away from the wildlife zones. They don’t seem to bother wildlife which means more areas for the wildlife to roam and slow down of human encroachment. We are talking about the Maasai tribe who live on the periphery of the parks with their cow herds and farmers with their machines. Stay back!

Keep Calm and Swat Away. Happiness is being on Safari … even with pesky Tsetse flies.

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Email us – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
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Outside of US – 1.713.592.6228
Form – Request Information

 

This close.

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Move out of my way.

How close do you get to the wildlife on Safari?
Close, really close. In fact sometimes they can get so close, you can smell them. And that can be a memory etched in your brain forever. In a good way of course, especially when you are away.  You just have to be in the right place at the right time.

When on my Safari to Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire National Park this year, I was lucky to encounter a lion with her baby, 20+ lion family snacking on a wildebeest [taken with my iphone], lots of elephant families in both Serengeti and Tarangire, female impalas harems, rhino crossing close by and more.  When we were driving out of the private area after my Serengeti Walking Safari, I even saw a cheetah with a baby cub walking right by our vehicle. Side note here – do not pack your camera as I missed this shot. Or maybe it was nice just enjoying the moment without taking pictures. Safari problems.  

My client Carlos M has had a cheetah jump on a Safari land cruiser close by when in Masai Mara. How close is that!

In Northern Serengeti, we were enjoying some coffee when a herd of wildebeest decided to gallop right past our vehicle. Coffee time with a view – very enjoyable.

Migration in the background

Hello wildebeest. Coffee?

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

Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater is home to approximately 30,000 animals in an area only 12 sq. miles wide and a wall 2000 ft. high at its highest point. Once a towering mountain larger than Mt. Kilimanjaro, the eruption two to three millions of years ago created a caldera, a bucket-like geological splendor.

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Resident animals. A group of stripped zebras always make for beautiful pictures.

Why Ngorongoro Crater should be a must-see on your Northern Tanzania Safari? 

One.
The animal population in this small area is dense. With only 12 sq mile wide, this little eco-system increases the chances of seeing lions or the long tusked bull elephant close by the road. Cheetah walking, zebra grazing, hippos lazing – all close encounters possible. Endangered black rhino – maybe – we were lucky to see one cross the roadrhino_crater

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There were at least 20 + elephants at the exit gate of the crater. This may be the same herd Jo Anderson, our elite guide has mentioned about. Read our Elite guided Safari post.

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Hippo at the hippo pool have a fun time splashing around in the muddy pond. Close your nose.

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The vultures or the ‘cleaning crew’. They are an integral part of the food chain.

Two.
The crater eco-system makes for stunning views. From many points on the crater rim, you get to see the whole ‘bucket’ eco-system and from every angle the crater is beautiful. After many Safaris here, it still takes my breath away. On the crater rim which is around 7-8,000 ft in elevation,  can get quite cold during the cooler months. The early mornings tend to have a blanket of heavy mist which can result in not getting a glimpse of the crater. When you are on the ground, you have to admire the soaring 2000 ft crater wall.  Early in the morning, the clouds cover the wall which adds to the beauty.

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The beautiful crater. This was taken near Lemala Gate.

Three.
Ngorongoro Crater is a world heritage site, the largest intact volcanic caldera and has been known to be called the 8th wonder of the world. If you are going to Tanzania for the first time, it should be on your list of places to Safari.

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The wall of the crater covered in clouds.

How to avoid the crowds?
Because the crater is small and everyone wants to see the caldera for the above reasons, your guide will help you avoid the pitfalls.

Start early in the morning.
If you can reach the entrance gate by 6 am, you are likely to share the crater floor with fewer vehicles.  The government is trying to figure out how to speed things here as well. The paperwork at the main gate and the crater rim gate takes a while – patience is key here.  Spend time with the baboons at the entrance gate.

Drive the other way to avoid the crowds.
Our guides will drive the other way when they see a ‘herd of vehicles’.  But there are exceptions. Our guide Elissa was not comfortable with us being with the ‘herd of vehicles’ when we were admiring the black rhino and would have prefered to guide us in another direction. He asked us our preference and we said we were okay sharing the rhino.  We were also on Safari during the low season so there were not that many vehicles.

Low season.
If you can go during low season , April to June and November, chances of sharing the crater with fewer vehicles are higher.  But if high season is when you are on Safari, relax and enjoy the experience. You are on Safari!

Ngorongoro Crater, a must see destination especially for the first timer on Safari! 

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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 Diary 2014 – Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge [Lodge Review]

As you turn from the main tarmac road connecting Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, past the beautiful sunflower field and the corn/ maize farms, towards Ngorongoro Highland on the slightly bumpy road toward Rhotia Valley, you are welcomed with refreshments by managers Evelyn and Arjan and their dog.

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Karibu Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge on a Journey To Africa Safari.

Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge.

Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge.

Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge has a wonderful soul. A portion of the proceeds fund the Children’s Home that is about a 10 minutes walk from the lodge. The Children’s Home takes care of about 40 kids, orphaned or some whose parents can’t afford to take care of them. They have made the home stand on its own by setting up a bakery. They produce enough bread to feed themselves and sell the surplus in Karatu. A win-win situation.  The children who played with us [my two kids were with me] greeted us as they were coming from school and spoke great English which they have picked up from volunteers as well as school.

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Rhotia Valley Children’s Home.

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Fun playing with the kids at Rhotia Valley Children’s home. From swings, football to talking about becoming pilots. Dream Big!!

About the lodge //

Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge is a rustic yet comfortable lodge. Each of the 15 rooms are comfortably sized with double beds or two double beds for our family of four. Hot water bottles were tucked in at night to keep you warm in the cold June nights.

In the bathroom,  they will explain why there is bucket near the shower – it is to collect the initial cold water before the hot water comes through. Keep the cold water bucket – they will use it to water their organic farm where they
grow a lot of their vegetables and herbs. Water heating and lights in the room are controlled by both solar power [9 -7 pm] and generators during the peak shower hours of [7-9 pm]. Drinking water that is provided will be plastic bottles or water purified via biofilter.

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Comfortable inside of the room. You can see the hot water bottles on top of the bed that will be filled up when you come back to your room after dinner.

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The organic farm where they grow most of their vegetables and herbs.

The food at night was delicious as well as the packed lunch. From the dining room, you can see the hustle bustle of the open kitchen and the charcoal fire that is preparing good food.

The views // Two sides //
From the fire-light front lounge deck and some of the rooms, you get the greenery from the farmlands of fertile Karatu Region. Corn or maize as Tanzanians call it, beans, sunflower … the list goes on. From the side facing the Ngorongoro Highlands, you have the greenery from the thick forest. Either way, you are in for some great views and amazing sounds of the birds in the morning.

Rhotia Valley is a wonderful place to spend a few days on Safari.

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You can see the children’s home in the distance. Rhotia Valley does a wonderful job supporting the kids of the Children’s Home.

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Room view from the south side of the lodge.

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Room view looking at Ngorongoro Highlands.

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The beautiful lounge area where you can enjoy your drink before dinner and enjoy the fire place. The dining area is right behind the lounge. At night, they close the canvas in the back to keep the cold wind out.

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The lovely deck. Lunch is sometimes taken from here.

Safari Diary 2014 – Gibbs Farm [Lodge Review]

Our first night stop on our Tanzania Safari was the beautiful Gibbs Farm in Karatu Region close to Ngorongoro Crater gate. You pass through schools and homes of people in Karatu to get to the gate. Then you turn into Gibbs Farm and are welcomed by amazing lush vegetation. A garden with hundreds of species of plants.  Truly a green feast to your tired eyes.

You are welcomed with a rhubarb drink before you are escorted to your lovely cottage.  Each of the currently 17 cottages are beautiful decorated with soothing colors. Little touches like slippers are provided to wear inside the room. There is a fireplace in each of the rooms as Gibbs Farm is located high in the Ngorongoro Highlands and it can get cold here in the mornings and evenings. The bathroom also shares the fireplace. Each of the bathrooms have 1 indoor shower, 1 bathtub and 1 outdoor shower for the hotter days and bath shampoo + wash +lotion are provided. A change from the Safari lodges where water is scarce but at Gibbs Farm, water comes from a bore hole.

A Farm-to-Table concept.
90% of the food at Gibbs Farm comes from the farm right near the lodge. In fact, we woke up early to see the cow getting milked and the chickens laying eggs.

The lodge has a well curated art gallery where every 6 weeks they feature a new artist. Their in-house artists offers activities like making recycled paper – a fun break from Safari activities.  And they have a Maasai healer who comes to your cottage to give you a personal massage. Start slow with Lengare. He is a strong Maasai.

We will definitely recommend Gibbs Farm to you.

The lush plants and trees hidding each cottage from view.

The lush plants and trees hidding each cottage from view. A welcoming sight.

The cosy rooms each with their own fireplace.

The cozy rooms each with their own fireplace.  This was a family room but they have double rooms as well.

The bathroom with 3 options on how to clean after a Safari. Indoor shower, outdoor shower or tub. Choices!

The bathroom with 3 options on how to clean after a Safari. Indoor shower, outdoor shower [surrounded by all the greenery] or tub. Choices!

The lush view from the room. Enjoy your morning coffee from here.

The lush view from the room. Enjoy your morning coffee from here.

The morning mist from the main lounge area. The coffee plantation is hidden in the mist.

The morning mist from the main lounge area. The coffee plantation is hidden in the mist.

Art Gallery in the main lounge area. They offer shipping to your home.

Art Gallery in the main lounge area. They offer shipping to your home.

The cow heading to the barn after getting milked. A morning activity to enjoy.

The cow heading to the barn after getting milked. A morning activity to enjoy.

An assortment of breakfast jams. Majority made at Gibbs Farm from their own produce.

An assortment of breakfast jams. Majority made at Gibbs Farm from their own produce.

The dining room with large windows  and beautiful fireplace.

The dining room with large windows and beautiful fireplace.

Make memories on Safari with Journey To Africa.
Get in touch //
Email – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Call us – 1.877.558.6288

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.