Safari Activity

Sundowners on Safari.

The word sundowner is making me excited about heading back on Safari.
If you have experienced this glorious time on Safari, let’s exchange our Safari stories. If not, I will try to explain this but words will not do justice. You have to go.

What is a sundowner? Via British dictionary; “an alcoholic drink taken after completing the day's work, usually at sunset.” In the US, we’d say happy hour.

My definition:
It’s that magic time of day you and your family/ friends and maybe new friends you have made while on Safari celebrate the end of the day. It’s the time where your guide and possibly the Safari Lodge crew will set up ‘an outdoor bar’, make your drink of your choice [does not have to be alcoholic], while you are enjoying the magic of the landscape.

katavi

A great time to reflect on what you have seen, what more you will see, the serenity of being on Safari in Africa, what is important in life ++ whilst having a nice cocktail watching the golden hour /sunset - I can’t think of a better way to end my day.

sundowner.jpg

You owe it to yourself to experience an African sundowner, at least once in your life, if not more. My experienced sundowners, where to next for your sundowner drink?

Let’s chat.
Cheers!

Night Game Drives.

When on Safari, you spend a lot of time out searching for game during the day time. The best times are usually early in the morning when the temperatures are still cool and the animals are active… searching for breakfast. As the weather warms up from late morning to early afternoon time the animals, and maybe you too can enjoy some good siesta time. If siesta is not for you, go out and you will still find animals grazing or ‘lazing around’ – still enjoyable to witness. Of course there are some animals who can not rest – never a dull moment. They will get active again late afternoon when the weather cools down.

With most national parks in Tanzania and Kenya, the parks close around 6:30 pm. It is for everyone’s safety. Private conservation areas like Ngaroi, east of Serengeti National Park do not have those restrictions.

Some lodges located within a national park have special permission to offer night game drives. Oliver's Camp, one of my favorite camps in Tarangire National Park, was one of the pioneers in starting night game drives. 

tarangire night game

My first night game ride was in dark, stormy night of November 2011.

Covered in our rain coats, armed with a ranger and a brave wind-bearing spotter in our vehicle driven by Alex the camp manager at that time, we drove out looking for animals. We had night vision goggles to aid in our viewing. We saw three male lion brothers who were later heard roaring around the camp, vultures feasting on an elephant carcass, jackals and more. If it was not pouring, we would have had a two-hour ride heading towards the Silale swamp. Ours was cut short because of the rains. Oh, what a thrill! 

I have had many more night game drives since then. It is not so much about the wildlife that is easier to see during the day, but the anticipation of spotting the wildlife and the sounds that accompany it in the night. And the rewards can be pretty spookily beautiful.

owl_ruaha

Take a spin with us at night.
There will be a few surprising things to stare at on your night game Safari. 

Capture the Golden Hour.

On every Safari we plan with you, we know you can't wait to experience the amazing wildlife, the people, and much more on your Safari to Tanzania. 

I am going to share another experience on Safari that you will come to love. Natalie and Sheree, two Houston Bloggers who joined me on Safari, and I have some great memories of this epic time. 

The Golden Hour.
What is this hour? If you are a photographer, you know. For those who are curious, it is an hour after sunrise and before sunset.  The light around this time is just amazing. If you are not a morning person, it will make you a morning person on Safari. In the evening, you will eagerly anticipate this time.

 In Tarangire.

In Tarangire.

My two Safari stories, where I got to capture Natalie and Sheree with the golden light are:

One. In Tarangire,  we were driving back to Oliver's Camp from our late afternoon game-drive when Julie, the camp manager flagged us down. She had a nice spread of drinks and yummy banana chips with salsa for us to enjoy while we captured this enchanting moment. A family with 5 children from Tennessee where also there with us who entertained us with some cheerleading and football. Not to be outdone, we also danced to Toto's, The Rain's Down in Africa under Sheree's dancing instruction - we have videos to prove. 

Two. After a siesta at Dunia Camp in Serengeti, we set out around 4:30 pm from camp armed with champagne as it was our last night in Serengeti. Our guide found us the perfect spot beside Lake Magadi to capture the magical time while we sipped our champagne. We were all feeling rather emotional at this time. This was our last night together on an amazing Safari in Tanzania. 

 In Serengeti.

In Serengeti.

The evenings are all about those minutes where the light just fires up the Earth. Everything looks amazing. The day is saying good-bye, wishing a good night and promising a glorious day on Safari the following day. 

For me, this time always reminds me to feel lucky I get to be on Safari, my absolute favorite place, surrounded by the precious and ever endangered animals in our fragile eco-system. I never want to take these memories for granted.

So happy I got to share this experience with two amazing travel partners who enjoyed it equally and know they too felt the magic power of the golden hour. 

You absolutely must experience this for yourself.  You will never forget this light. 

Maasai Village stop on Safari

A journalist with Travel Weekly recently asked me the following questions on why I am including Women Empowering Projects in my clients Safaris to Tanzania. 

 Our clients Judy and Kathy with our friend Margaret at the Maasai village. 

Our clients Judy and Kathy with our friend Margaret at the Maasai village. 

Why do you think your clients are interested specifically in these women empowering projects ?

I find that most of the clients who have and are booking this activity are strong women. Women who are paying for the Safari or women who are leading the Safari planning process. They want to enjoy the amazing wildlife Tanzania has to offer but they want to know more about Tanzania and maybe make a difference when they leave. We also hope they continue to support these projects.

The projects we take our clients are not charity projects. They are projects where women are hired to work - hence earning their own money - by making jewelry, art, etc. for the customer both in Tanzania, the traveler in Tanzania as well as international buyer. 

When I tell them they will be visiting these women who are benefitting from being given work skill hence gaining financial empowerment, they want to go more. It helps when I say these are not tourist destinations and you will have a local friend of Journey To Africa guide you. They will get to see how these women are improving their lives, their children's and family in general. Women are making money so they are sending their children to school with some making these decision against their husband's wish but they are the breadwinners now. Water pumps, gas burner instead of charcoal [though some have no interest in changing and we should be open to their decision even though it may not make sense to us], solar lights, etc. these are the improvements our clients can help towards when they purchase commodities made by our Maasai women. 

Why are there more opportunities for them now in the developing world? 

Foreign interest is high. You see designers like Valentino using Maasai huts as background for the clothing ad. US companies focused on women are going on photo shots with Tanzanian landscape, people, art and crafts like Net-a-Porter or JCrew. Fabric, jewelry inspired by African art used in our western world. With direct reference to the Journey To Africa project, the jewelry created by our Maasai ladies is worn by royalty [Princess Caroline of Monaco] and is used in NY Fashion shows. 

I am quite certain this is creating an interest with my clients to go to the source and learn more. Also, there are operators like me who want clients to see more of Tanzania than just wildlife. We are taking them to off-the-beaten path villages, asking them to stop by local schools and charities -- and if they are women run, even better as we women should support each other.  We want to show them as much of Tanzania as we can. And in some case, we want to show them these projects so they can support them once they get back home. 

How much can the travel industry and the revenue it brings make a difference in these women’s lives? 

For the most part, the income generated from travelers visiting makes a big impact. The more the people go to Tanzania, the more buying happens because there is more appreciation and awareness, the more dollars go back to the village. 

For my Maasai project, basic amenities we take for granted like water, electricity are making daily life manageable for the members in the villages. For example, with time saved from doing chores like fetching water, children are instead going to school and women are able to generate income rather then spend time collecting firewood. Eye sight is saved by bring in gas burners instead of charcoal. Note - some women still resist this change but information is given. Doctor visits are becoming affordable. 

 Listening to the ladies.

Listening to the ladies.

We hope this inspires you to add a day to see the Maasai ladies [we will be happy to suggest other stops should you not have a full day] on your Tanzanian Safari. 

Travel deep on Safari to Tanzania. 

Our Safari Guides know Photography.

When on Safari, the most important element that can make or break your Safari is your guide. Our guides make your Safari! It is the reason our clients come back.

Our guides have credentials from wildlife colleges but every season, they go through intensive training about everything from psychology to how to make you feel comfortable when on Safari and so much more.

Another thing they learn – Photography.

Photography on Safari is vital for our guides to know. We have a range of clients from hobbyists, amateur photographers to professional photographers whose work is well-recognized world-wide.

Lighting is crucial. Early morning before the sunrise to capture the first light of day break. How to avoid shadows in the hot mid-day sun. Positioning the vehicle in the right angle to capture the golden hour in the evening. Sunset shots are amazing and when you have a wildlife silhouette, dreamy. These little tricks of the trade are taught. Some of our guides are great photographers themselves.

If we know in advance what you need, our guides will equip our vehicle with supplies like bean bags for stability. We always carry a few in our vehicles anyway. Any specific need you have, we can work with you.

Need to do filming in Tanzania? Our guides will drive special vehicles built for filming. They are open on one side and the gear can be placed on the ground of the vehicle for a lower angle view. Our partner companies in Tanzania have taken professionals like Nick Brandt on Safari, the National Geographic team to Anthony Bourdain for Parts Unknown.

 My Safari guide Reuben with my camera clicking the Wildebeest arriving into Northern Serengeti.

My Safari guide Reuben with my camera clicking the Wildebeest arriving into Northern Serengeti.

For a hobbyist like me, I let my guides help.  They would help me with lighting, shutter speed, angle, etc.  They got me some good shots while I got to enjoy the experience. The picture above is in Northern Serengeti on our early morning game drive and the Wildebeest and Zebra migration was grunting its way into this beautiful region.

I brought home some great pictures and some shots, I can not take credit for. You decide if you want to do that on your Safari.

Twende Safari – let’s go Safari. We can help you Safari Plan.

Take a Break from Game Driving ... go Walking.

A memorable experience to add to your game driving Safari / wildlife viewing adventure, is to do a walking Safari in the wild. The feeling of being out in the wildlife's own territory brings about many emotions.

You have your hair raising experiences from healthy fear to pure joy to what you are witnessing.

Sally and I were walking in Selous when we spotted a pair of lions about 20 ft. away, you read right - breath and stay calm, a herd of elephants, a lone hippo waddling outside the pond and so much more. In wild Ruaha, the tall grass always kept us on our toes. Healthy fear. There was a moment when we all experienced rainbows in the sky. A moment that I couldn't capture on camera but will always remember.

Why go on a walking Safari?
Introduction to details.

  • Holding the plant and flowers and getting a lesson on its many uses by both humans and animals.
  • The little bugs, we are talking ants and dung beetles, that have a huge impact to the large environment. Watch out for siafu.
  • The animal and bird footprints that you get to identify and maybe follow.
  • The carcasses that leave behind a story.
  • Topography of the land! You get to walk on the ancient rocks or splash in the water dating hundreds of thousands years old.

There are two types of walking Safari in Tanzania awaiting you.

A few hours of walking.
There are lodges + tented camps where you can go out for a few hours in the morning or afternoon. You will have a ranger and the walking guide, who may also be your main guide depending on their weapon skills. When on your walks, depending on the weather and the lodge + tented camp, you may come back to the lodge for breakfast or get surprised and find breakfast in the middle of nowhere.

 Our breakfast set-up after about 5 hours of walking thanks to Sand River Selous. 

Our breakfast set-up after about 5 hours of walking thanks to Sand River Selous. 

It does feel good to stretch your legs after spending time in the Safari vehicle. And who know, there may be a few hair raising moments on your walk.

Two to three days.
Time to get away from the main areas. There are a few places where we can accommodate this adventure. I have done a walking Safari inside Serengeti and truly enjoyed my time with Richard, my fantastic guide. Our partners on the ground have a special walking area designated for this adventure. You will not see a vehicle.

Tarangire and Selous have the fly camping option within the national park. Then we have areas around the parks, in our private concession areas. Our Alamana Camp in Loliondo area offers this great opportunity of truly being private, in both game driving as well as walking.

You start out from your main lodge and head out with a small crew who will cater to all your needs. From your delicious meals and snacks, setting up your light wilderness tents with a cot, pillows and blankets, setting up shower tents close-by, bring your drink of choice while you are around the campfire, stoke your roaring fire ... you know, basics.

The advantage of doing this. It's Just You.  
Come on a walking Safari with us and immerse yourself with the wild in their own habitat.

Early Morning Game Drives

One of my many favorite experiences on Safari is an early morning game drive. Your guide will usually ask you if you are up for a 6:00 - 6:30 am start. Say yes most of the time! That means, early morning wake-up call.

What is a wake-up call on Safari?
The time your lodge staff cheerfully wakes you up with a 'habari za asubuhi - good morning' but they also bring you coffee/tea and cookies. Ah, the little things in life.

I usually ask for a 5:00 am wake-up call. The reason is that besides them coming outside your tent and waking you up cheerfully, it is a pleasure to sit outside your tent and enjoy your hot coffee/tea listening to the early morning bird calls. Sometimes you have other animals joining the wake-up call. The hyenas, roaring lion or the wildebeest grunting.

Totally makes getting up early on your holiday worth it!

And then you head out with your guide who should be waiting for you at the lounge area. You will be in an open vehicle or closed depending on where you are on your Safari journey.

As you are bumping along the wilderness in semi-darkness, tada, you see the sun creeping up, about to light up the amazing land. Oh that glorious moment that awakens your senses. You see things clearly. The wildebeests, the hidden elephant, the birds, the flowers, all ready to be captured in your soul. For photographers both professional and amateur, that sun flare.

These are the moments that will become your memory makers. The luxury of experience. And it's just the beginning of your day. You must stop and enjoy more coffee/tea with breakfast in silence and in awe. You are on Safari!

These moments await you.
Get in touch. We can help you with your Safari Planning

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.

                                                        Richard on alert after the buffalos.

                                                       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.

                                                      Walking through the lovely kopjes.

                                                     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.

                                                            Chef grilling the delicious lunch

                                                           Chef grilling the delicious lunch

                                        Under the tree for a good shade and lovely breeze.

                                       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.

                                                    Two topis towering atop the terrace.

                                                   Two topis towering atop the terrace.

                                                                         Eland Family.

                                                                        Eland Family.

                                      Walking through the tall grass with my ranger, Deo.

                                     Walking through the tall grass with my ranger, Deo.

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.

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

                          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.

                                                              Stunning rock formations.

                                                             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. 

                                          Richard with his gun, ready to fire if necessary.

                                         Richard with his gun, ready to fire if necessary.

We make it to our Wilderness Camp.

This is comfortable basic camping with a sleeping cot but still good food in a closed dining tent. The dome shaped tent has a 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 and efficient. The shower is a bucket shower which was comfortable and the 5 gallons was enough water. Soap and shampoo in pump bottles was included.

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

                                  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.

                                                      Magnificent colors of the sunset.

                                                     Magnificent colors of the sunset.

                                          Richard enjoying the sunset by the roaring fire.

                                         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.

Life worth Exploring! ™
Make memories on your Serengeti Walking Safari.

These Safari experiences await you.
Get in touch. We can help you with your Safari Planning