'Can't wait to plan round two."

When Talia emailed us via our form Start your Journey, she mentioned she heard about us "Through a friend, who had posted recent pictures and tagged Journey to Africa".  I asked which friend? Aarthi and Prabath B. I love the #JourneyToAfricaSafariCommunity we have created. Referrals and repeats are our jam - I am grateful.

Talia and Vernon were heading to South Africa and wanted to add Tanzania as well. We spent a lot of time planning their first-anniversary Safari. We found the right dates of May/June so we could still enjoy all the luxury lodges but take advantage of some of the low season rates May offers. Mission accomplished. They stayed on the rim in beautiful Entamanu Ngorongoro and lovely Serengeti Safari Camp.  

Talia and Vernon shared their amazing Safari Stories and photographs with me over coffee in Houston.  Here are some - had a hard time narrowing them down - for you to enjoy.

couple

A cerval cat - not a very common sighting on Safari. 

cerval_cat copy.jpg
giraffe and mama

An older baby hyena still feeding from it's mother. Another not so common sighting.

hyena

A baby elephant with other elephants in mourning.
They said they were driving when they heard elephants trumpeting. They thought it was a gathering but on getting closer, they realized there was a dead elephant on the ground and the other elephants were actually mourning. Sad sight to see. 

mourning baby elephant

Still one of my favorite birds and so glad they got to see this on Safari.

lilac breasted roller

Some amazing big cat photographs.
For the curious, before they went on Safari, we talked about photography. They wanted to buy a camera and lens so I suggested they buy a Canon T6i as it is a good camera to have but borrow my favorite lens, the Canon 70-300 mm L.  They got some amazing shots. 

young lion
mama and lion cub

Part of the migration crew. They never take a bad picture. 

And this ... the majestic African sunset with one of the most beautiful animal. 

elephant sunset

"Going on safari exceeded all expectations we had. From the camps to the amazing staff, our fantastic guides, the food, the wonderful people we met, and of course, being able to see all the stunning animals in their natural habit was simply amazing. We had always wanted this “once in a lifetime experience”, but we already can’t wait to start planning round two!

We can’t thank you enough, Mefi!"

cheers

Cheers Talia and Vernon.
You can call yourselves pro-photographers. 

Swahili.

When you landing in Tanzania or Kenya, the first thing you will hear is Jambo!
Jambo means hello in Swahili.  Don’t worry, the customs official, your Safari 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.

Safari

Want to know a few more words so you can really flex your Swahili.

– Habari gani? – How are you?
– Asante – Thank you.
- Asante sana - Thank you very much.
- Tafadhali - Please.
– Karibu – Welcome.
- Sawa - okay.
– Lala Salama – Sleep well.
– Habari za asubuhi? – Good morning.
– Chai – Tea.
– Kahawa – Coffee.
- Ndiyo - Yes.
- Hapana - No.

To really impresss a local.
– Shagala Bagala – ‘this is messed up’ in a fun sense.
– Poa – I am chilling.
- Twende - Let's go.

Want to know any specific word? Email or call me and we can chat in Swahili. Now let's get you on Safari so you can practice your Swahili. 

Father's Day.

Dear Father, 
We know Mother's Day seems to have more buzz, but you are loved just as much. 

Here's why we think you should be given a gift of an amazing Safari. 

  • Making memories on your Safari. 
    Our father's always come back and say, the experience of being in stunning nature, seeing a range of wildlife in some of the world's most amazing settings, spending time with the people you love equals Safari stories to last a lifetime. We make sure we create this experience for each of our fathers using our personal knowledge.
     
  • Deeper connection. 
    One of the best things you can give the father in your family is the gift of quality time. The hours relaxing during your drives in search of the wildlife, the calm evenings by the campfire under the African skies to the lovely ambiance created by your lodges and tented camps - you will be given the gift of slowing down and more time to have a deeper connection with yourself, your family and friends. We are happy to create this magic for you on your Journey To Africa Safari.  
     
  • Shoot with a camera. 
    For the father who likes to tinker with his camera or is a pro photographer, being on Safari is pure bliss. From the range of wildlife and birds to the stunning landscapes and warm people, there is never a dull day on Safari. 
Father's Day Safari

From my client Carlos Mata who took his son Jeff on a Safari.
" Probably my best memory with Jeff was breakfast in the Serengeti. We rarely ate in camp, but had them pack a breakfast which we ate in the bush. Our guide would set up our breakfast table overlooking a wide expanse of grazing wildebeests and zebra, and we would sit there sipping that rich Tanzania coffee at sunrise. We would wonder if a big lion would come out of nowhere and spook the heard. "

Go ahead. Let's put together a great Safari itinerary and surprise the beloved father in your life.

Birds on Safari.

On Safari, most people are so excited to see the Big 5 or the larger walking wildlife. But I am going to add, keep a look out for birds. There are so many lovely birds you will get to spot on Safari. From the common but oh so beautiful lilac breasted roller to the lifers. You know what I am talking about if you are a birder?

Into birding, do let us know before you head out on Safari. We will let our guide know so he can bring all the birding books for you and him to pour into on your game drive. 
If not, just enjoy them with your binoculars.

You will find hundreds of resident birds and many that fly all the way from Europe and Americas. Those birds that have flown from other places come here to Tanzania and other East and Southern African countries at the risk of being netted. A lot of countries on their route will poach and illegally trap them. 

But there is hope.

Organizations around the world who love birds are spreading the word to people like you and me who were not aware of such activities. Paul Oliver was the one who opened my eyes when we were birding in Lake Natron. He told me about the plight of the wadders, who are being netted by the thousands when flying over the Mediterranean countries.

I leave you with some lovely birds captured on my Safaris. Every time I go on Safari, I learn to love them more and more. Your turn? Come shoot them, with your camera.  

birds on safari
birds on safari
red billed hornbill ruaha
red and yellow barbet
hoopoe on safari

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.

africansafari

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.