Keep Calm and Swat Away.

african safari

This 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.

When on Safari, there are areas in the parks and conservation areas where you just can not avoid these pesky flies.  Don't worry, they are not going to bother you all the time; they come only in certain areas. 

A few things to help yourself.

Wear light-colored clothing.
These buggers are attracted to dark colors. If you can avoid dark blue and black clothing on Safari. You will notice clothes 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 those clothes 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.

Bug Spray.
This brand of spray has worked on me. At least kept a lot of them at bay, even when wearing black. Yup, I do wear that color on Safari as it is hard to get away from black clothing. 

Anti-itch cream.
Relief for when those pesky flies do get in your vehicle. Put some anti-itch cream right away; it will help with the itch. And try to avoid scratching the sweet itch. 

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 the slow down of human encroachment. We are talking about tribes like the Maasai who live on the periphery of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation with their cows or the farmers with plantations close to Tarangire or Ruaha. Stay back, we need to give wildlife their space.

Keep Calm and Swat Away.  Don't let them stop you from going on a Safari. 

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 will work hard 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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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 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 of his people, wildlife, Tanzania, etc. 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 of traveling to another place?

Feel Good Moment on Safari.

I'd would like to share with you a warm fuzzy stop on your wildlife Safari experience in Northern Tanzania, a place that is near and dear to me. I know it will be yours as well. 

Rift Valley Children's Home.

When you and your young world explorers want to head out on a life changing Family Safari in Africa to see the amazing wildlife but also want to leave a mark of compassion not only for wildlife but also citizens of the world; then let me introduce you to a children's home we support. 

Natalie came prepared with undergarments for the girls and boys. They were so thankful. 

Natalie came prepared with undergarments for the girls and boys. They were so thankful. 

A bit of background.
When Baba Peter worked in the Safari industry with Mama India, he once told her he would like to help the many orphaned, neglected, abused children of Karatu region by providing them a safe home but would love her help in finding funding. Mama India had just moved from New York after a Mt. Kilimanjaro climb [which she did not want to do but on arrival, ended up falling in love with Tanzania], and told him sure. Well, years later, she and Peter have adopted around 100 kids from around Karatu region. 

Now why is this place different?
Each child has a home. A home where there is a Mama. A mama to cuddle at night for when you have nightmares, a mama to cook your special food because it's your birthday, a mama to make sure you do your work, a mama who keeps you in check. Each home has around 10-15 kids so you actually feel like you are living in a home. There is a kitchen, a living space, a patio, some space in your room; just like home.

Our client enjoying a game of soccer with the kids. Fun times for everyone. 

Our client enjoying a game of soccer with the kids. Fun times for everyone. 

It's not only a safe space. It's where the child will thrive. 
The kids go to good school close by thanks to funding provided by you, me and the donors, have medical help onsite via a registered nurse, maybe their parents are being helped so they can get on their feet with micro-financing, have a lovely soccer field because well, soccer or football as we say, is huge, basketball court because there are lots of US volunteers and it's just a fun game and much more. Mama India and Baba Peter together with a team of volunteers truly care for the kids. 

We can set up an afternoon for you to spend time here.
Play with the kids, see the mamas in action, learn more about the organization ++.  
And, I have many clients including Sydney, my young explorer who said she'll come back here and volunteer when 21. Now, that is a Safari moment for the books.

"Tanzania is definitely an exception."

When Matt and Ashley D. contacted me to plan their 10th anniversary Safari, they had one request. They wanted to spend time in Oliver’s Camp.

Why? Their friend John H. had recommended that Safari lodge. John H. and I met randomly at Oliver's Camp in 2009 while having dinner in the family style table. A friendly chat lead to us keeping in touch for all these years.

The Deel's Safari was super fun to plan. 
And I managed to surprise them with a few anniversary treats.  

African Safari

"THANK YOU SO MUCH for planning our amazing anniversary trip.  We’ve traveled to numerous countries over the years and I always say “I don’t like going to the same country twice because the world is so big and there is so much to see”, but Tanzania is definitely an exception to this rule!  It is such a beautiful country with wonderful people.  I can’t wait for our return trip and I hope to bring along friends and family so they can experience all Tanzania has to offer as well.   

Thank you again for making this exceptional vacation happen!

African Safari

- How was your time with Fazo? 
Fazo was exceptional!!  He was courteous, professional, knowledgeable and so much fun.  We enjoyed getting to know him, laughing with him, and enjoying a beer at the end of the day with him. He truly cared for the land, animals, and people.  He was patient and kind, he not only cared about us and our experience, but he also cared about the other camp guests and wanted to ensure everyone had a great safari experience. One safari guide staying at a camp with us was new to the area and didn’t know his way around very well. Fazo was disheartened to hear that those guests didn’t see the same animals and have the same great experience as we did during the day, so Fazo very politely spoke with the resident camp guide and the new guide and helped make sure the guests had a better experience the next day. He privately took the new guide under his wing and gave him advice, while not speaking down to the new guide or making him (or his guests) feel uncomfortable.  This is only one example of Fazo’s passion for his job and his country.   We told Fazo that he is welcome in our home if he travels to Florida, Missouri, or Kansas.

- Did you enjoy your Safari experience? Wildlife, birds?
We absolutely enjoyed our safari experience. The wildlife, birds, bugs, and insects were all amazing (yes, I even took pictures of the dung beetles).  I also really enjoyed the people and the culture.  Seeing and visiting with the Maasai was definitely a highlight.

- Any favorite story/ stories?
1) We really enjoyed meeting a Maasai boy outside of the Ngorongoro crater that Fazo had befriended over the years.  The boy was about 8 years and an absolute pleasure to meet.  As we were driving I saw a small boy in the distance sprinting across a field. After a few twists and turns in the road we came upon the area where the boy was running to and Fazo noticed that the boy happened to be his friend (the Maasai boy had recognized our car in the distance).  We stopped and visited with the boy for about 10-15 minutes and I definitely consider this to be a highlight of our trip.   

2) A favorite was also the late afternoon game drives when Fazo packed a few snacks and a couple beers.  Happy Hour in the bush watching a lioness and her cubs play is hard to beat! 

3) The staff’s recognition of our anniversary was also great.  We had a surprise sunset bubble bath and champagne at Oliver’s Camp (we didn’t even know our room had a bathtub!) and we also really enjoyed the celebratory dancing and singing with cake and champagne at Olakira.  Such unexpected treats! Thank you, Mefi for coordinating the celebrations.

4) Having Fazo tell us about the baboons that jump into cars and steal food, then to witness it firsthand a few minutes later when another guide failed to close down the roof before parking.

5) Seeing an elephant in the crater get upset at a safari car and charge the vehicle. Luckily Fazo was always watching and paying attention because he promptly started our car and zoomed down the road so that the car behind us (the one the elephant was charging at) didn’t run into us.

6) We enjoyed learning about Fazo and his family.  His volunteer work protecting the wildlife, his avid volleyball playing, his wife and children, his knowledge of sign language, his support of the deaf community, and his love and respect for the people and animals within his country.

7) Having Fazo ask us questions about where we grew up (rural Missouri and Kansas) and his surprise that we had dirt roads and how similar the views of the Kansas plains are to the Serengeti plains.

Olakira Camp Serengeti

- What about the Safari Lodges? Did you enjoy your time here?
All of the lodging was great.  Oliver’s Camp and Olakira were our favorites because we enjoyed the camping experience, but all of the accommodations were fabulous.  

- Was Zanzibar enjoyable? Did you enjoy the Stone Town and Spice Tour?
Zanzibar was beautiful!  During our one full day there we went on a snorkeling tour that included lunch on a private beach (coordinated through Matemwe Lodge), it was a great way to spend the day.  We weren’t sure what to expect from the Stone Town and Spice Tour, and to be honest we weren’t really looking forward to them, but they were great and I am so glad we went on them.  We learned so much on the tours and we enjoyed seeing another side of Tanzania. Our Zanzibar guide was very knowledgeable and the tours were fantastic.

- Any suggestions for us for future clients? Any improvements we can make?
A suggestion for a future client would to bring more long, moisture wicking dresses.  I only brought two and I wore those more than anything else on our trip.  They kept me cool and comfortable on game drives and in the evenings when I wanted to dress up a little I wore them with my wedges (not that dressing up was ever required). "

Happy Anniversary!
See you back on another African Safari with your family. 

A Typical Day on Safari.

Everyday is a different day on Safari. No agendas; just you and your Safari guide making plans on what to see, where to go, how long to be out, and more. Here are guidelines to navigate your day on an African Safari.

Serengeti breakfast Tanzania

Morning.
For the most part, I'd say on Safari, waking up early should be the norm even if you are not a morning person. Why? Sunrise. This time of the day is truly glowing. 

Your wake-up call can be any where from 6:00 am onwards.

1. You can decide to have breakfast at the lodge. Enjoy coffee in your room, then head to the main area. Majority of the Safari lodges in the national parks have a deck looking out at the park. Enjoy the sunrise while eating breakfast.  
2. Start around 6:30 am and go out looking for wildlife in the early morning, when the sun is lighting up the African soil. Have breakfast around 8:30 -9:00 am [or when your stomach calls for food] in the middle of the national park. This should be your choice at least once or twice in each national park.

serengeti safari tanzania

Afternoon.
Depending when you have started, you will have two choices. 

1. Stay out for lunch in the parks. If you have stayed in for breakfast, go out and stay out for a bit longer. There are many picnic spot your guide will take you or in some cases, you will eat in the car while watching the rhino crawl or in the middle of the Wildebeest Migration.
You can come back to the Safari lodge at your own leisure for your afternoon siesta.

2. Come back for lunch at the Safari lodge. If you have been out from early morning, this can be an option. And if you want, squeeze in an outdoor shower when the sun is out. 

sundowner, tarangire, tanzania

Late afternoon / Evening.

Around 3:30 - 4:00 pm, you will be heading out again if you have been in the Safari Lodge. Go out to capture the evening golden hour. If you've had enough for the day, stay back. There are no rules. 

You will be out and about until 6:30 pm, stretching it to 7:00 pm before you have to return back. Many a rush drive back have been had as you want to soak in every last light on Safari.
Also, this is the time for sundowners. The time you park your vehicle, enjoy a drink while watching the glorious sunset in Africa. You will pinch yourself, you are on Safari.

story time tarangire

Night-time.

Pure cozy. Campfire, Safari stories by the camp manager or staff + dinner.
Some stories that have to be heard like this Maasai warrior telling us about his right of passage by hunting lions. Keep an open mind - it's not all black and white, lots of grey, lots of changes that need to be made, lots of traditional ways that have to alter, lots of cultural stories that need a new course - listen. 

In the end, you decide your travel style. Some clients want to be out all day; they want to soak every minute of being on Safari. Others want to relax a bit more; have all meals or more meals at the lodge and go out on game drive at leisure. 

Whatever your style, you will love your day on Safari. 

"Reactions were Priceless"

When the Angela H. emailed to say she wanted her children [twins aged 12, 15 and 17 year old] to experience more than wildlife on their winter-holiday Family Safari to Tanzania, I knew where I wanted to take them - off-the-beaten-path area of Lake Eyasi where the Hadzabe tribe live off the land as well as my favorite organization, The Rift Valley Children's Village. As you will see, Sydney who is 17 year old is planning on going back here.

Grier's feedback is very honest about the sounds at night. I should suggest having a white noise app or device in my packing list. And the twin boys, well, Angela's bees and birds topic got taken care off by the wildlife on Safari. Nature at its' best. 

Planning the Hall Family Safari was great fun. 
Thank you for trusting me to show your beautiful family my Tanzania.

Family.jpg

" We had an incredible time on Safari.
First, we must thank you for being so flexible & helpful on the trip delays and then with the delayed baggage. This greatly reduced the stress of 50+hrs of travel getting there, knowing that you and the team were handling everything. 

You are correct – John Bingo is an awesome guide, and that totally made our trip as special as it was. He sometimes got more excited than we did to find certain animals or see the animals do funny things (a female elephant itch her butt in a mud pile, or a zebra scratch it’s belly on a large rock). We came across the largest group of dung beetles John had ever seen so he slammed on the breaks of the truck & jumped out so fast!

Kids:

  • Sydney was enthralled by the Rift Valley Children's Village. She has already asked to set up a savings account just to buy another plane ticket there so she can volunteer for a year after she turns 21!

  • Grier was terrified of the night noises – so she didn’t get much sleep. My favorite Grier quote was “The days are neat, but the nights are so long.”

  • The boys took so MANY pictures & go-pro videos. They also got some animal kingdom sex education – lol. Lions mating & a Thompson gazelle giving birth. Think both grossed them out, but we all thought their reactions were priceless.

We crammed the Night Safari & Walking Safari into the single evening/morning at Oliver’s Camp – it rushed us a bit but we understood why (due to the travel delays)."
[*Journey To Africa note - They were disappointed they would miss these activities when they realized they were going to miss a night at Oliver's Camp due to weather related flight delay leaving Boston but we made it happen.]

The Hall Family.
December 2015

elephants
lion
Lake_Eyasi_Sunset
leopard_tanzania
baobab_tarangire
walking_safari

Life worth Exploring!
What will your Family Safari Story be? We can help You find out. 

2016; Kwaheri.

As we bid another year good-bye, we are grateful we got to show You the beauty of Africa.
The range of wildlife, birds and other creatures in the amazing National Parks of Africa, the chimps of Mahale Mountains and gorillas of Rwanda, the warm people, the blue waters of the Indian Ocean or Lake Tanganyika,  the highest peak in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and much more.

There is just so much to love on an African Safari. Thank you for letting us share our love.
Cheers to 2017. We welcome you.

Serengeti, Tanzania

Gift Guide for the Safari Goer.

It's that time of year when you when you want to get yourself or your loved one some thoughtful gifts. If you are going on a Safari or a Safari aficionado, here are some ideas that I can personally vouch for. 

Seeking Information - my personal favorites:

  • Beat About The Bush - This field guide tells you a story about the wildlife and birds. Things like 'do elephants have good memories?' to 'why do lions have manes?'. Fun Facts. 
  • Lion Share - David Bygott is one of the most recognized Safari guides. He and his wife wrote this book about the lion prides' saga in Serengeti giving them a human-like voice. 
  • The Birds of East Africa - give birds a chance. Once you start paying attention to birds, you will be hooked. Coo Coo. 
safari photography

Photography:
My favorite hobby.  I have moved on from being a hobbyist to amateur, ahem, and one of my favorite gifts to myself has been my camera.

If you or your partner are looking into buying a DSLR and are new to the camera game, I would recommend:

  • a Canon T7i, a good starter DSLR camera. 
  • If you know you are going to use your camera often, get my current crop body Canon 70D or full body Canon 6D
  • Want the mother-load camera? Then go all out for the Canon 5DMarkIII

And don't forget camera lens. There are so many options out there, but if you can get a zoom lens with at least 300 mm, you will be happy with your photographs.  For my next Tanzania with Mefi Safari, I plan on getting the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L lens. 

If you want to do a good point and shoot, my client Natalie got the Canon Powershot. She had some great photographs and videos with this compact camera.

The other option is renting camera body and lens. Photo Rental Source is my go to place in Houston and they ship nationwide.

Binoculars:
After a day or two on a game drive, everyone gets into the searching-mode for wildlife and birds with hawk-eyed Safari guides. A professional guide / guide trainer recommended these Vortex binoculars to me. The key to good binoculars he said, to simplify the complicated science behind the machine, is 10x42 and good prism glass. 

Children of Rift Valley Children's Home. 

Children of Rift Valley Children's Home. 

Organizations we Trust:
These are my personal favorites because I can vouch that your gift will be put to good use. If you are going on Safari, we can arrange a visit or meeting. If you have been to these places or met our contacts on your Safari, hope you agree. 

  • David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust - they are amazing. From anti-poaching to caring for young elephants; you can donate or foster one or more elephants. My elephant is Ndoto. 
  • Carbon Tanzania - if you go on a Safari with us, you are already contributing to this great organization because all of our partners on the ground [a requirement for us to use them] offset carbon footprint with them. We can always do more. 
  • Rift Valley Children's Home - we stop every time we go to Ngorongoro and continue to be impressed with how happy, loved and smart the kids are here. Kudos to a great team lead by Mama India and Baba Peter. 
  • Honeyguide Foundation - we know Damian Bell and have seen him in action with ranger training. They protect the precious wildlife from human-wildlife conflict - a big issue - to poaching related matter. Wildlife is threatened from all sides - we must do all we can to help save so many species from extinction. 
Gift Guide for Safari

Ethical Shopping:
If you are into sustainable fashion, you will love that when you purchase items from these selected sellers, you are supporting females, like the Maasai ladies in the remote village of Mkuru in Northern Tanzania. 

  • My friend Tati who works with the Maasai ladies above sends beautiful jewelry to her Canadian business partner, Lotusland. I have a few of Tanzania Maasai Women Art pieces and always get complimented as they are so different. Want to buy the jewelry in Tanzania? Save your dollars and we will take you to Tati's store. 
  • Sidai Designs is another company helping the Maasai ladies. You can find their jewelry in beautiful Plantation Lodge, one of our favorite Safari Lodge. 
safari gift guide

Children's Book that my Kids love:

  • Mama Panya's Pancake - we love this book, as you can see, about how sharing takes you much further in friendship. And it's the mother who learns this lesson from her warm son. 
  • Greedy Zebra - Mwenye Hadith, the author has so many great children's books but this one is my favorite. This solves the age old mystery of the zebra stripes. 
  • I am Jane Goodall - A true hero for all wildlife. She started research with chimps on Mahale Mountains and my November 2017 Tanzania with Mefi Safari takes me to her stomping grounds. 

Enjoy your gifts or giving them. If you give to any of the organizations above, Asante Sana! Together, we take care of our wildlife, community and planet.