Help! Best Operators in Tanzania

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Sep 5th, 2005, 12:06 PM
  #1
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Help! Best Operators in Tanzania

We are considering booking a safari through Africa Travel Resources (ATR). We understand they use an operator called Mount Kilimanjaro Safari Club, or also known as Tawisa. We've heard some mixed reviews about this operator. Do any of you have any experience with or information about this operator or with ATR in general.
During our time with this operator we will be camping one night and at Oldavai and Gibbs Farm.

Thanks for any thoughts you may have..
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Sep 5th, 2005, 04:41 PM
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Tawisa? I thought Mt. Kilimanjaro Safari Club was aka Tanganyika?

I'm also booking with ATR. Lots of people on this board have trips with them planned, and now I can't remember if I've ever read a report by someone who had actually completed a safari using ATR/MKSC.
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Sep 5th, 2005, 05:32 PM
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Thanks, Leely. I believe they also go by Tanganyika. Any info from former ATR customers would be great. Feel free to contact me at [email protected] if you would like to communicate directly. We are planning our trip for Feb.2005.
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Sep 5th, 2005, 07:04 PM
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susan, is that feb 2006? if not, they went without you!
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Sep 6th, 2005, 04:17 AM
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Yes, sorry! How time does fly....
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Sep 6th, 2005, 05:08 AM
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TAWISA = Tanganyika Wildlife Safari Expeditions
 
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Sep 6th, 2005, 05:30 AM
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Hi Susanm
We are also booked with ATR for a trip in January 2006 and like Leely are eagerly awaiting feedback from a Fodorite that has actually done the tour. However, I received excellent feedback from past clients of ATR. What clinched the deal for me was that two testimonials were from people who had done safaris previously and rated ATR highly in comparison.
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Sep 7th, 2005, 11:13 AM
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bat
 
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susanm:

I asked the same question (about ATR) in May (05)and did not receive a response from anyone who had traveled with them. In searching this site, I found that Marius1 took a trip with them in the fall of 2004. I could not find a trip report but did find his opinions about Mawe Ninga and Olduvai. [Mawe Ninga was new and in his opinion not as well run as Olduvai but he thought it might be something they would work out with time. He liked the Masaii contact staying at those camps afforded.] If you search his name you should be able to find his comments.

Like Sarvowinner, I contacted references ATR provided to me. [BTW Sarvowinner--your January trip may be the first ATR trip--at least from folks who have posted so far.]

Susan, when you say that you have heard some mixed reviews about MKSC/Tawisa--what have you heard?

Thanks.
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Sep 8th, 2005, 11:16 PM
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After a recommendation from a member of this forum I have booked a safari through Duma Explorers which is jointly owned by an American (Stacy Readal who is based in the U.S.A but has spent a lot of time in East Africa) and a Tanzanian who is based in Arusha.Stacy has been magic to deal with and has gone out of her way to book all my requirements.
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Sep 9th, 2005, 04:09 AM
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50something, I came across Duma Explorer in my research. It is a bit confusing as there is another company in Moshi called Duma Expeditions.

Anyway, a discussion on the Lonely Planet board revealed that Duma Explorer is not a licensed outfitter. They are not a member of TATO and don't appear in the latest list of licensed outfitters from the Tourism Authority.

This may just be an oversight, but since you could be denied access to the parks it is something you should investigate.
Janet
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Sep 12th, 2005, 12:27 AM
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If you go to www.tatotz.org you will find that both Duma Explorers and Duma Expeditions are members of the Tanzanian Tourist Association.
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Sep 12th, 2005, 01:49 AM
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As a further precaution I checked with TATO who confirmed that Duma Explorers are definitely registered. Not sure where the info on Lonely Planet came from but it is wrong.
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Sep 12th, 2005, 02:02 AM
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I have just found this posting on the Lonely Planet forum which confirms the great treatment I have had so far:
I also volunteered in Arusha last summer and I used Duma for a Kilimanjaro climb, and they are AMAZING! The climb was competitively priced, and I couldn't imagine trekking with any other company. The equipment (automobiles, tents, sleeping bags) is almost entirely of top brands. The tents we used (North Face) could be found in an American outdoors store (like REI), and so quality/dependability of equipment is never an issue. More importantly, the folks that work for Duma are top-notch. Our guide was not only good at what he did, but well respected among the other guides, and so if there was ever anything we needed that our immediate group did not have, he was able to get it. The biggest reason I went with them was their socially responsible nature (they make meaningful contributions to local organizations, they pay and treat their staff very well -- even their t-shirts are manufactured by American Apparel!).

As for whether you should book now or later ~ I paid for my Kili climb via personal check to their American address in advance so that I wouldn't have to worry about anything when I got to Tanzania. All companies will ask that you pay in dollars, which isn't difficult to do, but you may as well avoid the hassle of going to the ATM and then exchanging money later. It's rare to find a company that would actually let you pay by credit card (I believe Duma will let you use a credit card to pay via paypal), so I wouldn't count on that either.

The company is both American- and Tanzanian-owned, which I think is the best of both worlds. The American owner (who we met in TZ before and after our climb) actually worked for NGOs in Arusha before opening the business with her TZ partner ~ so she's really well-versed in both cultures. She understands American expectations and the realities of safaris/treks in TZ. She was very easy to get in touch with and was very open and honest about what our trek would be like. I'd recommend getting in touch with her before you go to ask any questions you have. Her TZ counterpart has a wealth of experience in the travel industry in East Africa, and has hired guides that meet his very high expectations.

Again, I can't recommend Duma Explorers highly enough. You're welcome to email me directly if you have any questions: dadaki[email protected].
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Sep 12th, 2005, 09:27 AM
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bwanamitch
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One question remains:
Why aren't Duma Explorers listed in the most current (30 June 05) 'Licensed Tourist Agents' document published by the Tourism Division of Ministry of Natural Resources & Tourism?

As it reads in the header of this document: "Tourist Agents who are not listed here are carrying on Tourist
Agents business without valid license contrary to the Tourist Agents Licensing Act of 1969. The Ministry wish to inform them that this is an offence under section 3(1) of
the above Act and are therefore directed to stop forthwith the operations of those businesses."

Mitch
 
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Sep 13th, 2005, 01:19 AM
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I am not sure what the difference is between being "registered" and being a member of Tato, which Duma Explorers most certainly is. Surely they must be "registered" to be acceptable to Tato? How do you access this list of "registered" operators?
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Sep 13th, 2005, 01:35 AM
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bwanamitch
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Registration at the Tourism Division is required to do any travel business in Tanzania. TATO is a private association, the membership is voluntarily (and their website isn't always up-to-date).

Here is the official document:
http://www.tourismtanzania.go.tz/Doc...t%20Agents.pdf

Mitch
 
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Sep 13th, 2005, 03:15 AM
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Thanks Mitch. I am following up on this and will post Dumas response.
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Sep 13th, 2005, 05:23 AM
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Just received a reply - it seems that you cannot be a member of TATO unless you have paid the license fee to TALA (Tourist Agents Licensing Authority) . Duma paid their license fee in March so therefore the TALA list is not up to date.
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Sep 13th, 2005, 05:58 AM
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50something

Thanks for the update. Not that I really care, but how were they operating since their start in year 2000 until March 2005?

Based on the Lonely Planet link, I downloaded a 2004 list of licensed outfitters and they are certainly not on that list either!

I think you should consider that there are many small local companies who diligently pay their $2000 annual safari and $2000 Kilimanjaro licenses.

Such companies deserve our support more than those who may be bending the rules?
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Oct 18th, 2005, 05:20 PM
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I recently confirmed that Duma Explorers was licensed and a member of TATO. TATO requires their members to have current licenses from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.

So far, Duma Explorers has been great to work with planning a 12-day Northern Circuit safari and Crater Highlands trek!
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