A Travellerspoint blog

Day 16 - Heading home

Zanzibar to Nairobi and home

sunny 93 °F

The Breezes Beach Club is so pleasant, we hated to leave. However, we definitely wanted to check out Stonetown and do some shopping before flying home.

Stonetown is about 1 hour from Breezes. There are so many shops to choose from in Stonetown, it is pretty easy to spend your money quickly. After getting our last minute gifts, we enjoyed a nice lunch on the beach at the Tembo House Hotel before driving the 15 minutes to the airport.

The Zanzibar Airport has to be one of the worst airports I have ever flown through -- even on a good day. But this was not a good day :-) The computers were down, and how we ended up with boarding passed and getting our luggage checked is still a little vague to me.

It's about 1-1/2 hours from Zanzibar to Nairobi. Kenya Airways was quite nice and even served a snack on this short flight.

In Nairobi, we had to go through customs and get our luggage, and we were happy to see that it made it!

There is only one evening flight from Zanzibar to Nairobi, and unfortunately it was sold out. Therefore, we got to spend 6 hours in the Nairobi Airport. We found a pleasant coffee shop to pass the time where the televisions highlighted all the rioting in the Nairobi area. Hard to believe from the safe confines of the airport....

The nice thing about the Northwest/KLM flight home is that you leave at night, so you can get a lot of sleep on that 8+ hour flight to Amsterdam. The Boeing 747's only have one movie screen to watch, but if you get on a 777 or an Airbus 330, you will have a private movie screen with games.

Thanks to our tour operator, Adventures Within Reach, for a great family trip to Africa!

Posted by bolderwork 04.02.2008 11:47 Archived in Tanzania Tagged transportation Comments (0)

Day 15 - Zanzibar

Jozani Forest and Breezes Beach Club

sunny 95 °F

Today, we headed down to the southern end of the island to spend the night at Breezes Beach Club.

On the way, we stopped at the Jozani Forest to see the red colobus monkeys. This is the only place in the world where you can see these monkeys. It was raining when we arrived, and I was afraid that we would see the monkeys, but there they were, sitting in the trees under the biggest leaves they could find. Our guide actually says that you are almost guaranteed to see the monkeys on any day of the year. Now that they are protected, they are not easily frightened.

There are actually three parts to the Jozani tour -- monkeys, forest walk, and mangrove trees. All three were very enjoyable. In the forest, our son found interesting frogs, bugs, and even a baby forest cobra. In the mangrove area, you can climb right on the roots.

Our next stop was the Breezes Beach Club. Now, there was nothing wrong with our last hotel, but there is something about finishing off your trip with a nice 5-star hotel.

At Breezes, they have a lovely large pool, which feels like bathwater. Even though you are right on the beach, it is nice having a pool to relax at.

The beach activities depend on the tides. At high tide, you can enjoy activities like sailing and swimming. At low tide, you do things like biking on the beach and walking out to the reef. With the coral and sea urchins, you definitely need reef shoes to protect your feet.

Our 6-year-old walked the almost half mile out to the reef and snorkeled back in amazed at the gorgeous sea life. You can also do scuba diving from here, but it is too far to get to Mnemba Island.

The other very popular activity in this area of the island is diving with the dolphins. You need at least a half day for this, and there is no guarantee that the dolphins will show up.

Posted by bolderwork 03.02.2008 11:37 Archived in Tanzania Tagged luxury_travel Comments (0)

Day 14 - Zanzibar

Diving, beaches, and dhow cruising

sunny 95 °F

We headed out this morning to go scuba diving at Mnemba Island, Zanzibar's premier diving spot. This little island is off the northeast coast of Zanzibar. The hotels at Matemwe are the closest to this dive spot, and there is a very expensive lodge right on Mnemba, but you can access the dive area by boat from the north end of the island or the upper east end of the island.

From Nungwi, it is a 1-1/2 hour boat ride to Mnemba. We used Spanish Dancer Diving and found them very professional. It was $100/person. You can find diving for as little as $85/person, but I couldn't be sure of the quality of personnel or equipment.

We found the diving to be absolutely spectacular -- countless amazing tropical fish, moray eels, sting rays, and cozy warm water.

In the evening, we did a dhow cruise for $15/person for 2-1/2 hours. What a wonderful way to watch the sunset from these gorgeous boats cruising up and down the coastline.

Posted by bolderwork 02.02.2008 11:31 Archived in Tanzania Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Day 12 - Serengeti/Ndutu

Migration, rhino observation office, Maasai painting

sunny 90 °F

Today we headed to the southwestern area of the Serengeti looking for the migration. And find it, we did! Sometimes, the animals are urgently searching for water, and they are running, running, running, and you just have to try to stay out of their way. Today, however, they were not in such a big hurry. Hundreds or even thousands of wildebeest and zebras just out for their daily walk.

Every year, 1-2 million wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebras migrate in a big circle clockwise between the Serengeti, the Masai Mara, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area following the rains. In February, the wildebeest give birth to their young all in about a three week period. From there, they head west and then north until they reach the northern area in July-August. By November, they start to head back south and do it all over again.

Of course, the migration depends on the rains and is not predictable. If the rains do not come in the spring, they may skip the Western Corridor altogether. Typically in January, the migration is southeast of the Serengeti, but we found it in the southwest region of the Serengeti and in Ndutu.

In this area of the Serengeti, you can visit the rhino observation office, and there is some old Maasai rock painting.

In the afternoon, we head to Ndutu, which is outside the Serengeti in the northwestern area of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This area gets far fewer visitors than the more famous areas surrounding it. Ndutu is nice for getting away from the crowds and also you can drive off road here and get closer to the animals.

There is only one lodge in the area -- the Ndutu Safari Lodge, which is very nice with amazing views. Other than that, you will only find mobile tented camps, which are in this area when the animals are here.

We stayed at the Ahsanti mobile tented camp. It was a little rough around the edges, but I just love the mobile tented camp experience. Yes, we heard the lions at night, and it sounds like they are right outside your door!

Posted by bolderwork 01.02.2008 13:50 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Day 13 - Zanzibar

Flying from Ndutu to Zanzibar

sunny 90 °F

Regional Air is one of the few airlines where you can fly all the way from the Serengeti to Zanzibar. The exact route of the flight depends on where the clients are flying that day. They will stop at Klein, Grumeti, Seronera, Ndutu, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro, and/or Kilimanjaro before finally landing in Arusha and then on to Zanzibar.

Especially with kids, it's nice to not have to drive all the way back. Besides -- it's a fun trip with lots of great views of the landscape and countless Maasai villages.

Landing in Zanzibar is often a bit of a shock after spending time on the mainland. It's hot, tropical, and has strong Muslim influence. Even the Maasai wear purple robes instead of red.

Our first stop is to get a coconut for the 6-year-old. We stop on the side of the road where they open up a fresh coconut with a machete. Fresh coconuts are just not the same as the grated, sweetened coconut we are used to :-)

It's 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to get to any hotel on the beach. We stayed at the Amaan Bungalows in the Nungwi area on the north end of the island. Typically, I recommend that people do a spice tour en route to their beach hotel, but we are eager to get to the beach!

The village of Nungwi looks very poor and uninviting, but it is does offer some services and is fairly safe for walking. The hotel area up here is pretty big and offers a large, safe area for walking, swimming, dining, and shopping.

There are about 20 hotels hotels right in Nungwi, and another half dozen in Kendwa just to the west. Ras Nungwi and a couple of others are east of Nungwi and are set off by themselves. Amaan Bungalows is tucked in with the long line of hotels in the area. There are 2 restaurants at the hotel and many more in the area.

The beach in Nungwi is beautiful, soft, white sand. There are many little beaches separated by coral outcroppings. At high tide, some of the beaches disappear.

Kendwa has a longer, wider beach, so there is plenty of beach even at low tide.

Posted by bolderwork 01.02.2008 11:07 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Day 10 - Ngorongoro Crater

Tanzania safari with rhinos

sunny 80 °F

The Ngorongoro Crater is basically a self-contained ecosystem, so the wildlife here is dense all year round. Because of the steep walls of the crater, you won't find any giraffes here, but this is one place where you are likely to see the rhino.

You have to pay national park fees every time you enter the crater, so everybody takes a box lunch to enjoy the day inside the crater. There are two lunch spots inside: one has monkeys that steal your food, and the other has kites (birds) that steal your food. We like the one with kites the best because it is an open area right by the hippo pool. On a windy day, it's fun to pull out our own kite to fly!

I have been to the Ngorongoro Crater twice before, and we have seen a rhino every time, but unluckily for us, they have always been a speck far in the distance. Today, we were luckier, and a mama rhino with her baby walked very near the road. We were the first car to see them, and it was amazing to watch how quickly the other safari vehicles piled up around us.

We were on a busy schedule, so we left the crater mid-afternoon. It's about a one-hour drive to the Olduvai Gorge, and I always enjoy the museum there. They also provide a talk, but I have never found it very interesting.

It's another half hour to the Serengeti park entrance, and another half hour or so to the Seronera Wildlife Lodge (depending on how many stops you make to see animals).

Posted by bolderwork 30.01.2008 13:18 Archived in Tanzania Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

Day 9 - E Unoto Retreat Luxury Lodge and Shalom Orphanage

There's more to a safari than watching the animals!

sunny 80 °F

E UNOTO RETREAT LUXURY LODGE

There are a number of activities at the E Unoto Retreat Luxury Lodge to make for a nice break from watching animals all day on your safari.

The hike to the beautiful waterfalls takes about 2 hours round-trip and is a great way to stretch your legs.

There are a number of Maasai villages surrounding E Unoto, none of them touristy like you find in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. It is best to get up early and visit the village when they are moving the cattle out to the "fields". They will show you inside a house, talk about their lifestyle, do a little song and dance, and yes, sell you some jewelry. This is a great opportunity for pictures!

E Unoto has a few bicycles, and it is safe to bike around the roads surrounding the lodge.

The afternoon can be spent relaxing by the swimming pool with a good book.

The rooms are large and absolutely gorgeous. Much nicer than the Lake Manyara Serena Lodge, which is one of my favorite hotels. The service was also great, but the food was not quite what it used to be. Hopefully, they will improve on this to make the lodge really top notch.

More Details >>

SHALOM ORPHANAGE

The Shalom Orphanage is located in Karatu, a town between Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro. It is about 1 mile off the main road, and Karatu is a relatively small town, so the orphanage does not get as much attention or help as some others.

It houses about 40 kids between 1 and 13 years old. They were evicted from their last home, but luckily were able to move into their new facility, which they built and own. The new orphanage is not quite complete, and they can use a lot of help to complete the construction, and of course, with the daily care of the children.

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NGORONGORO SOPA LODGE

This was my first visit to the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, and I must say that I do in fact like it better that the Ngorongoro Serena for a few reasons: the gorgeous sunsets, the large rooms with enclosed viewing porch, and the only swimming pool at the Crater. I am sure the pool is quite chilly, but kids don't care, do they?!

I had heard that the food was not so good at the Sopa, but I thought it was absolutely fantastic. The Internet is painfully slow -- just like at every other hotel at the Crater. The only thing I miss from the Serena Lodge is the morning mimosas!

Posted by bolderwork 29.01.2008 08:21 Archived in Tanzania Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

Day 8 - Lake Manyara

Starting our Tanzania safari!

sunny 95 °F

Moshi and Arusha may not be big cities, but this is where you find business services that you won't find once you are off on safari: ATM, currency exchange, food markets, and Internet cafes. If you haven't done it already, the morning you head off on safari is the time to "take care of business".

It's about 3-4 hours driving from Moshi to Lake Manyara depending on traffic. We stopped at the Snake Park en route, which was a highlight for the 6-year-old boy! For $10/adult and $5/child, they have lots of poisonous snakes and pythons to enjoy. Additionally, they have crocodiles -- babies, mid-sized, and really big -- and turtles. There is even a rufus snake you can hold.

Included in the fee is entrance to the Maasai Cultural Museum next door. A guide takes you through and talks about the Maasai culture. It's a nice introduction without feeling the intense pressure to buy, buy, buy.

On to the village of Mto Wa Mbo (Mosquito River), which also has a few business services, but everything seems to get more expensive the farther you get from Arusha/Moshi.

Some people are not crazy about Lake Manyara, but I have been there 4 times now and loved every visit. I think it is a great first park and well worth at least half a day. The conditions vary from season to season and year to year, but there always seem to be elephants, giraffes, gazelles, dik diks, hippos, baboons, and amazing bird life. If the water is high enough, you can even go canoing.

Posted by bolderwork 28.01.2008 08:04 Archived in Tanzania Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Day 7 - Moshi

Things to see and do in Moshi, Tanzania

sunny 95 °F

There are a few day tours you can do from Moshi that are quite nice -- besides just walking around town, shopping, and relaxing by the pool, of course!

A real highlight in the area is skydiving. With Kilimanjaro as the backdrop, what an amazing and fantastic experience! It's safe and professional and just a short drive to the Moshi Airport.

One nice tour is to the local waterfalls. It's about a 45-minute drive to the area, and another 45 minutes of walking one-way. The walk takes you through small villages and has some great views of Kilimanjaro. Take a lunch, and it's a lovely way to spend half a day.

An excursion of a lifetime is skydiving from the Moshi Airport. It's about $300 for the dive and another $200 for the photos and videos, but very well worth it!

Believe it or not, there are two golf courses in the area. The Moshi Club is a bargain at $8 for 9 holes, but be prepared for a very "rough" course. The golf course in the PTC area is further out, but much nicer.

If you aren't doing a safari, a day trip to the Arusha National Park is the perfect option. Besides seeing some great animals, you can also drive through a giant fig tree, do some hiking, and even try canoing on Momela Lake.

Posted by bolderwork 27.01.2008 05:55 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Day 6 - Moshi

Where to stay and where to eat in Moshi

sunny 90 °F

HOTELS
There are a number of hotels in the center of Moshi, but they are all lower quality, crowded, and noisy. There are a couple of hotels on the edge of town, and then most other hotels are in an area called "shanty town". This is a misnomer because shanty town is where the nicest houses are located.

Keys Hotel
The Keys Hotel is a 3-star hotel about 1km from the center of town. It is clean, has a swimming pool, and a nice outdoor patio, but otherwise, it's best quality is it's location to town.

Park View Hotel
The Park View Hotel is also a 3-star hotel close to town. It is also the closest thing I have found to a Holiday Inn Express -- very new and clean, but a bit sterile. Phase 2 of this hotel is still under construction, but is should be worth a visit by June 2008.

Impala Hotel
One hotel in shanty town is the Impala Hotel. It is a 3-star hotel with 10 rooms and a swimming pool. Although farther out of town, it is nicer than the others in town.

Sal Salinero
Another is the Sal Salinero. This is a beautiful 4-star hotel with large comfortable rooms, nice pool, and beautifully decorated.

Ameg Hotel
There is also the 4-star Ameg Hotel with comfortable modern rooms on a wide open grassy area with swimming pool and great views of Kilimanjaro. The best part, however, is the fantastic fitness center and wireless Internet! This is the only hotel in Moshi with these amenities.

Hostels
For the budget-minded, shanty town has two hostel, which are clean and comfortable but no swimming pool.

RESTAURANTS
For dinner restaurants in town, visitors enjoy the IndoItaliano, El Centro, and the Salzberg. For lunch, there's the Coffee Shop, the Coffee Lounge, and a variety of hotel restaurants.

Out in shanty town, there's the Panda Chinese Restaurant and Glacier for dinner. Glacier is particularly interesting because it only has (really good!) chicken and french fries on the menu, live music, large outside grass area, swings (that even adults will like), and a tree house.

Posted by bolderwork 26.01.2008 05:32 Archived in Tanzania Tagged lodging Comments (0)

Day 5 - Moshi

Tanzania with kids

sunny 90 °F

Moshi is a very walkable town. There are particular "tourist attractions", but I can easily entertain myself in the area for a few days. I love the tailors with his/her sewing machines right on the sidewalks, the produce market with oranges stacked on top of each other in precarious towers, and the outdoor market that sells everything from Kilimanjaro t-shirts to tupperware to dried fish.

Our son mostly liked the mini-market that sold peanut butter, jelly, and bread. Mix the PB&J with ice cream, and you have a winner with the kids!

Posted by bolderwork 25.01.2008 05:27 Archived in Tanzania Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Day 4 - Amboseli to Moshi

Transferring from Kenya to Tanzani via Namanga

sunny 87 °F

After two days of elephants and other incredible wildlife, the highlight on this morning was the giraffe-necked gazelle, which I have never seen before.

The drive to Moshi - even from Amboseli - is not a short one. However, even if you fly from Amboseli (via Nairobi), you spend nearly the same amount of time traveling and three times the money....

It is an interesting drive -- the first time. Now on my fourth time, it's just a long drive -- even with the beautiful views of the countryside, Mt. Meru, and Arusha.

We stopped at the Arusha Game Lodge, which is very nice for lunch or an overnight. The monkeys clamber loudly over the metal roofs to the trees right above your lunch table. There are also zebras, waterbuck, ostriches, and large birds just past the lodge rooms.

Posted by bolderwork 23.01.2008 05:16 Archived in Kenya Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

Day 3 - Amboseli

Loving life on safari in Kenya!

sunny 85 °F

Safari in Amboseli is similar to other parks in Kenya -- morning game drive from 6:30-9:00am, breakfast, relax at the pool, lunch, afternoon massage, evening game drive 4:00-6:30pm. Not a bad life!

With the jet lag, our son would get grumpy about 4:30pm and fall asleep on the back seat of the safari van about 5:00pm.

All the more elephants for us! The herds are in the hundreds, and when they cross the road right in front of you, pull out the wide angle camera lens if you want to get anything more than the elephant's eyeball.

Posted by bolderwork 22.01.2008 04:30 Archived in Kenya Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Day 11 - Serengeti

Seronera Wildlife Lodge, hot air balloon, and Serengeti Visitor's Center

sunny 90 °F

The Seronera Wildlife Lodge is located in the heart of the southern Serengeti surrounded by amazing wildlife. The hotel itself is rather unremarkable except for the fact that is literally built right into the rock. I think it has possibly the most uncomfortable chairs in its dining room, but it has a nice outside bar area for watching the amazing Serengeti sunsets. Keep your doors and windows closed as the monkeys like to see what they can steal from your room!

The Serengeti hot air balloon company operates from the lobby, and all guests return here mid-morning after this amazing adventure. It costs $480/person, and you have be 7 or over to participate.

Nearby is the Serengeti Visitor's Center, which is very well done and worth a good hour and maybe even lunch.

Posted by bolderwork 21.01.2008 13:42 Archived in Tanzania Tagged lodging Comments (0)

Day 2 - Drive to Amboseli

Start of Kenya safari, first glimpses of Kilimanjaro

sunny 85 °F

We are heading to Amboseli National Park today! There are three main reasons to go to Amboseli: large herds of elephants, amazing views of Kilimanjaro, and an easy stop on the way to Tanzania. Indeed after Amboseli, the elephants in other parks pale by comparison!

It is a good 3 hours drive to Namanga, the border town of Kenya and Tanzania. Then it's about another 1-1/2 hours to any hotel in Amboseli.

We stayed at Ol Tukai Lodge. The rooms are divided into two parts: mountain view and elephant view, and they both deliver as advertised!

From the gorgeous blue swimming pool, you view out on elephants, ostriches, and buffaloes grazing peacefully at the base of Kilimanjaro.

Posted by bolderwork 21.01.2008 04:24 Archived in Kenya Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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