Our trip to Tanzania

Aug 14th, 2009, 11:39 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2006
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Our trip to Tanzania

Hi everyone,

At last I’ve got a chance to reflect on and write about my trip to Tanzania in June/July.
We were having such a great time over there that we extended our stay by 1 week. We could change our flights quite cheaply through our travel agent and ended up having a night in Dubai on the way home as well.

It was such a fantastic and relaxing trip. There were many highlights, but I will tell you about some of them.

Our Guides:
We were particularly interested in looking at and photographing birds. We booked our trip with EASTCO (East African Safari and Touring Company) because we had used them before in 2003 and were very satisfied with them and also they were strongly recommended by our travel agent who has had many dealings with them. We were very fortunate with our guides. We had two for different segments of our trip, Mohammed and Bernard. They were both fantastic!!! They really made our trip memorable in terms of the birds we saw and the animals. Their knowledge of everything (and particularly birds) was outstanding. They were also patient and flexible and allowed us freedom to sit in one place for as long as we liked and to retrace our steps.

Tarangire National Park and Boundary Hill Lodge:
I’ve put these two together because they are so intertwined with each other. One of the main things I wanted to see during this visit to Tanzania was elephants as I felt that in the past I hadn’t seen them enough. Well!! I wasn’t disappointed!! Tarangire NP exceeded all expectations. During the nearly three days we spent in Tarangire we saw so many elephants it was amazing...and each time it was different. We saw lots of animals but the highlight was the elephants. There were hundreds.

We saw elephants in the sand river getting water and a baby playing in the sand. We saw elephants washing and rolling in the mud and then spraying sand on themselves to dry themselves.

We sat and watched elephants for ages.....we watched them eating using their feet to help get the grass, knocking branches off trees. It was the first time I had had a chance to just sit and observe them for as long as I liked and just watch the interaction between the family groups and the mothers and babies. As I said earlier...our guide was very patient!!! As you can see, I was thrilled by this experience!

There were lots of different birds...our guide at this stage was Mohammed who was very knowledgeable about birds. He used to be a ranger in Ngorongoro Conservation Area before he became a guide.

We stayed two nights at Boundary Hill Lodge. Boundary Hill Lodge is amazing with fantastic views of the National Park and Conservation area. The rooms have unique decorations. Our room had framed newspaper articles from the 1800s with drawings about the slave trade and Stanley’s expedition to Lake Victoria. As I’m interested in history, I found this fascinating reading.

The view from the room was unbelievable. We watched Maasai herdsmen and elephants roam the conservation area. The staff were very obliging. We had a Maasai escort to and from our room each night.

I’m putting this as a separate heading because on my previous visits to Tanzania I hadn’t seen any leopards but this time in the Serengeti we saw three....two in a tree and one in a tree surrounded by baboons. It eventually climbed down the tree to get away from the baboons. We ended up buying a Tinga Tinga painting of a leopard to bring home with us!!! We camped at a special camp site in the Serengeti. Although we were camping, the accommodation and food were quite luxurious with ensuite toilet and shower. Returning to the camp one night we saw a large hippo walking through the forest nearby. This was one of those memorable experiences I will remember forever.

Lake Babati:
This wasn't far from Tarangire and well worth a visit. It was a good break between visiting the National Parks and provided a couple of relaxing days in the middle of viewing animals. Lake Babati is in a very pretty area surrounded by mountains. It is also a hippo reserve. We stayed at a guest house there. It was basic but comfortable beds, good surroundings and good food. The two highlights of Babati for me were visiting the “Bee ladies” and going in a dugout canoe on the lake.

The “Bee ladies” are a group of women who have set up bee hives in the forest. There are two bees (large and small). The large ones are quite dangerous and by having them in the forest, it discourages people coming in to cut down trees. The small bees are so valuable that they are in a locked hive (really a room with small holes). After visiting the bees, we went back to the house of one of the women and had tea and bread with the honey from the bees....delicious!!

The trip on the lake (actually I went twice!!!) was excellent for bird watching and exhilarating for hippo watching!!! We went in a dugout canoe with a local fisherman around the edges of the lake. There were lots of different species of birds there. As it was late afternoon the hippos were just waking up. On my second trip we went to a swampy area and saw many hippos in the water. It’s quite unnerving being on the water with hippos nearby!! The man who took us was very cautious about the hippos and made sure we didn’t get too close!!! When we left the hippos and were on the way back to shore, he told us many stories about hippos and boats.

Another highlight!! I had visited Zanzibar many years ago and although it was quite different this time, it was still fantastic!!

Because we hadn’t finalized our accommodation, we got EASTCO to book us a place. Our hotel, the Clove Hotel, was in the middle of Stone Town, overlooking the beach and not too expensive!! We wandered around Stone Town, ate each night at the food stalls on the waterfront, went on a Spice Tour, went on a sunset cruise on a dhow and visited the Red Colubus monkeys in the forest. I really loved going there again!!

Well, this trip didn’t get Tanzania out of my system!! I’m already planning my next trip and want to go to the south of Tanzania. I’ve previously visited Ruaha NP and Iringa but would like to revisit them and look around other places in southern Tanzania!!! and still want to try and get to the Swahili Coast south of Tanga, which was on the original plans for this trip but there was never enough time!

We found EASTCO very good to travel with. We were able to change some of our itinerary whilst we were there and even whilst we were on safari. It was good knowing we had some flexibility! And as I said, our two guides were great!!!
Malpa is offline  
Aug 15th, 2009, 04:20 AM
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Sounds like you had a wonderful time. I've never heard of Lake Babati. It sounds fascinating.
Any photos?
Lillipets is offline  
Aug 15th, 2009, 04:31 PM
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The Bee ladies sound interesting.
Femi is offline  
Aug 16th, 2009, 02:31 AM
Original Poster
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Hi Lillipets and Femi,

We did have a fascinating time.

Lake Babati was great!!

I have some photos...I'll post them in the next day or so.
Malpa is offline  
Aug 16th, 2009, 10:14 AM
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Hi Malpa, I am glad to read you had a good time; I haven't seen EASTCO mentioned on the board in a while. It's good to know they're still around and that they were so flexible! You got lucky with leopards, didn't you?

I look forward to your photos. In the meantime I'm going to look up Lake Babati.
Leely2 is offline  
Aug 18th, 2009, 08:30 PM
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Hi everyone,

I've just realized that I can't put my photos here (I've never tried to do it before!!)

Has anyone any suggestions about how I can share my photos of Lake Babati?
Malpa is offline  
Aug 19th, 2009, 01:22 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 152
Hi Malpa,
Glad you had a great time, would love to see all your photo's they sound like they will give a different picture....
with the Bee ladies and Lake Babati neither of these have I seen before If you upload them to Kodak Gallery, Smugbug or Snapfish ( there are many photo websites) they are then easy to share.
Hope to see them soon, if you get stuck shout.
keah05 is offline  
Aug 19th, 2009, 03:12 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 40
Hi keah05,

Thanks. I'm going away tomorrow for 4 days but when I return I'll upload them on one of the sites you mentioned. Don't worry, if I need help I'll shout!!!
Malpa is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2009, 02:18 AM
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Hi Malpa
Sounds like a great trip! Thanks for sharing!
Kavey is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2009, 08:41 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Lake Babati seems like a fascinating spot for hippos. What a treat to extend a week.

There are lots of photo sharing programs.

Kodak Easy Share Gallery is free and one of the easiest that lets you create albums.

Here's how to get the Kodak gallery link to the album(s) into a Fodor's post.

Email a link to the photo album to yourself.

At the bottom of the email message that you sent to yourself is a line that reads something like:

"if the link above does not work, copy and paste the line below into your address line."

That line has a long address. It is what you copy and paste into your Fodors post.

The Fodor's preview screen will make the link look extra long and maybe even distort the width of the frame. But that is only how it previews. Once you post, it wraps around and fits in the normal screen width.
atravelynn is offline  
Aug 27th, 2009, 10:18 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2006
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Hi everyone,

I've finally worked out sharing the photos. I followed your advice atravelynn.

Here they are:


These photos are of the lake and one of the town. I know I took some photos of the Bee ladies, but all I can find at the moment is some of bees on flowers...not very interesting.

Hope you like the photos!
Malpa is offline  
Aug 31st, 2009, 09:21 PM
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 8,661
Your photos are great and I would love to see more!
Leely2 is offline  
Nov 10th, 2009, 01:22 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 40
Hi everyone,

I've finally found my photos of the bee ladies that some of you were interested in.

I'll post them in the next few days
Malpa is offline  
Nov 10th, 2009, 03:23 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Nice relaxing time on the lake. Glad you got the canoe out of the water. Quite the vessel.
atravelynn is offline  
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