A Travellerspoint blog

January 2008

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 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.

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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 04:24 Archived in Kenya Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Day 1 - Nairobi

What to see and do in Nairobi with kids

sunny 80 °F

Nairobi gets a lot of bad press, but there are a few interesting things to see and do there that even kids will like.

Adventures Within Reach started the day at the elephant orphanage at the Nairobi National Park. It is only open from 11am-12pm every day, so it's important to plan your day around this.

The rest of the day we spent in the Karen region, a quiet area just outside Nairobi. We had a nice lunch at the Karen Coffee Gardens, which has beautiful grounds with a large grassy area to stretch your legs.

Next we headed to the Giraffe Centre, which is a great place to visit for both kids and adults. Here you can see the rare Rothchild giraffes and a whole bunch of warthogs. However, the highlight is feeding the giraffes by hand from the second story deck. Face to face with their long, gooey, sticky tongues makes for some incredible stories and photographs!

The last stop of the day was the Karen Blixen Museum. If you are a fan of Karen Blixen and the movie Out of Africa, this will be a treat. The museum is located in her house, which you will recognize from the movie. Out front is a large grass yard on which our son chased butterflies and dragonflies for a good hour!

If you have a second day in Nairobi, you can easily spend the day at the butterfly park, the Nairobi Museum (reopening in February 2008), and an afternoon at the cultural dance center.

If you are coming from the U.S., be sure to allow some afternoon downtime because of jet lag.

For hotels, I would recommend the Giraffe Manor or Karen Blixen Coffee Gardens in Karen (both quite expensive). In the city center, there is the Silversprings Hotel (unimpressive 3-star, but centrally located and has a great workout facility and spa), the Panafric Hotel (a slightly nicer 3-star), or the Norfolk Hotel (upscale).

Posted by bolderwork 04:14 Archived in Kenya Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Status of Nairobi

semi-overcast 70 °F

Things are very quiet in Nairobi at the moment. With the holiday, the roads are very quiet and there are very people walking around. There was a demonstration planned for January 3, but the government has shut this down, and is taking steps to keep things quiet. Hotels and restaurants are open, and the Riverside Shuttle is running as normal.

Posted by bolderwork 17:55 Archived in Kenya Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (0)

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