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Saturday, 11 January 2020 11:54

My Tanzanian Odyssey

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Happy new year travel lovers. It's a new year with new opportunities and I thought I would share with you my travel experiences to Tanzania over the last few months of 2019 to inspire your 2020 adventures. It is a country that we have been back to again and again, and I have been lucky to have spent a number of weeks there last year for work and family-time. Around the country, I experienced different types of accommodation ranging from five-star resorts, luxury camps & boutique hotels to beach shacks and tree houses (which were my favourite). The best part for me however were the generous people welcoming me into their shops and restaurants, sharing with me an amazing, warm and vibrant culture. If you get the chance, I would absolutely recommend coming out of the big hotels to visit local shops, restaurants and markets or better yet, stay in the smaller boutique hotels to really get an immersive experience of the country.

Archer & Gaher Adventures | Tanzania | Serengeti | Safari Holidays
Archer & Gaher Adventures | Tanzania | Zanzibar | Beach Holidays
Archer & Gaher Adventures | Tanzania | Kilimanjaro | Trekking Holidays
I was based mainly in the northern circuit which is the most popular part of the country. My home from home in Arusha was a great little city alive with culture and tradition. The rains came a month early this year but it mainly meant that I slept to the sound of tapping on the roof and woke to sunshine and the gorgeous lush smell of nature. The northern circuit is packed with world famous destinations such as the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro and Ngorongoro Crater (a 600m deep collapsed volcano which is now home to wild animals (except giraffes in case you were looking for them) that have been living there for over 2 million years). Kilimanjaro International Airport welcomes visitors from all over the world with flights through popular airlines such as Qatar, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and many more.

Top Tip: I recommend sorting out your e-Visa in advance as I did this and it helped me beat the queue after a long flight.

I took the time to really explore Arusha whereas most people only use it as a stopover for their safari adventures when they first arrive. It’s a great little city and I loved the cafes, markets and restaurants and the people that really made me feel welcome. Accommodation in the city and across the Northern Circuit ranged from the functional to the decadent and regularly overlooked the most jaw-dropping scenery imaginable. Often it paid to have a little extra knowledge in order to avoid paying over the odds, especially in the prime wildlife locations. I had the opportunity to explore a whole range of room types and to get to know the boutique hotel owners to ensure our clients get the best deals.
Archer & Gaher Adventures | Tanzania | Ngorongoro Crater | Safari Holidays
Archer & Gaher Adventures | Tanzania | Zanzibar | Beach Holidays
From the Northern Circuit, there was a short flight from Kilimanjaro International or the lesser known but really convenient Arusha Airport to Zanzibar which is the most popular island in the country. This holiday destination is ringed with world-class beaches and filled with an atmosphere of cultural history and stories of the east African slave market, with the scents of spices shipped around the world and sights of old buildings owned by the Sultan of Oman who used to rule the region. The majority of residents are Muslim and there is an abundance of Halal food and Mosques across the island making this an ideal beach destination for Muslim travellers. Indeed, I couldn’t get over how welcoming and generous the people were, opening the tall elaborately decorated doors during lunchtime prayers; inviting me to come in to pray and eat with them.
The island oozed with history and the narrow passages of tightly packed Stone Town houses were juxtaposed with the sprawling beach resorts around the coast, reaching lazily towards the warm Indian Ocean. I’m not much of a swimmer but have seen some of the pictures that my husband took when diving just off the coast and that is all the motivation that I’ve needed to give the local pool another try. Facilities at the beach resorts cater for all diets and preferences with water sports always on the menu and transport links around the island are great and weave through the forests and villages en route to your destination. For those looking for something a little more exclusive than Zanzibar the islands of Pemba and Mafia offer a more secluded approach without the tourist trappings of Stone Town and if they aren’t private enough, go even further beyond the iconic to enjoy Fanjove island with the entire thing to yourself.

Back on the Mainland and in the south of Tanzania, I got the chance to see the “big 5” in the unfenced wilderness. Ruaha National Park and the Selous Game Reserve are some of the largest wildlife refuges in Africa and I travelled for miles surrounded by animals with no other people in sight. It’s a perfect self-drive destination to follow big cats and even bigger game off the beaten track (though I recommend going with a guide if you have small children or if it is your first time on safari). Out there glamping was the only way to stay and spending a little extra time there really allowed me to pick out the best from the rest, enjoying a private plunge pool after a long day’s game drive.

Archer & Gaher Adventures | Tanzania | Self Drive Safari Holidays
Finally, in the west of the country, I enjoyed the seclusion of an exclusive boutique camp on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Out on the lake, the waters are so clear that when the hippos were swimming it looked more like they were moonwalking. The west of the country is also ideal for trekking to see chimpanzees as unlike in neighbouring Uganda or Rwanda, in Tanzania you don’t need to pay extra for licences to see them in the remote wilderness. There are fewer options of places to stay but the lack of choice is more than compensated by the quality of what is there. The shores of the lake are teeming with wildlife and are only just beginning to be explored with local flights increasing in number from one to two per week. Even though there are still few flights, I would definitely recommend flying over driving as the infrastructure there does not match the rest of the country and you could be in for a long and bumpy drive if you choose to get behind the wheel.
Tanzania has been mentioned to be one of the top destinations for 2020 with so much to offer for true adventure and safari holidays. Get ahead of the game and start to plan your next adventure in this truly astounding country. Contact me and I will put together your perfect getaway for a 2020 holiday. Whether you are scaling the heights of Kilimanjaro or diving the depths off the coast of Zanzibar, there are so many bucket list activities that can be ticked off in the country. My advice though is to look beyond the list to truly experience a country just starting to sense its potential as a travel destination and to connect with a people that make Tanzania one of the greatest holiday destinations in the world.

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