Tanzania - West Kilimanjaro & Sinya update

Nov 24th, 2008, 04:56 AM
  #1  
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Tanzania - West Kilimanjaro & Sinya update

I recently spent a week in the area to do research for a new safari book (to be published in 2009)

While I cannot say more about the book, I can promise it will be ACCURATE – I am a bit fed up with big name book publishers that flood the market with Africa guide books that are out-of-date, incomplete and not edited by field experts.

I’ve been talking about the West Kilimanjaro area for years.

Fortunately, the good has gotten better, but the bad has gotten worse and the area is still extremely fragile with Northern Hunting and other hunting outfits trying hard to invade the elephant migration routes to/from Amboseli.

But the locals are fighting back and at least one hunting camp near “Little Serengeti” has been asked to move. I hope the pressure continues.

Poaching is another problem but I do not have time to dwell on the negative here.

Map is here:
http://www.go-safari.com/Westkiliman...ilimanjaro.htm

There are 4 camps of note in the area and I stayed at Hemingway’s, Kambi ya Tembo and Ndarakwai Ranch. Unfortunately Shu’mata Camp was not open yet.

Patterns are changing. The most wildlife (and best scenery) is further north to the west of Hemmingway’s and along the Kenyan border. The area near Hemingways is beautiful with much less dust and even fewer people than Kambi ya Tembo for example.

Hemmingway’s Camp is the place to be if you want an intimate camp with just 7 tents with stunning views and it is closest to the best wildlife concentrations. From the nearby hills you can even see the some of the Amboseli Camps in Kenya!

http://www.go-safari.com/Westkiliman...rurumuWest.htm

I am visiting Shu’mata again soon to focus on the wildlife nearby. I cannot say more about the camp at this time but I think it is very promising especially because of the work they are doing with Maasai women’s groups. The bedding and art seen in my pictures are all done by hand nearby.

http://www.go-safari.com/Westkilimanjaro/Shumata.htm

Ndarakwai Ranch is further south and game drives are mostly on the ranch and to Arusha National Park. Owner Peter Jones is a close friend so I am biased but several of his guides are top-notch. I love the walks and scenery on the ranch and it is where I take fashion photographers for modeling assignments (Kilimanjaro as a backdrop also helps!).

http://www.go-safari.com/Westkilimanjaro/Ndarakwai.htm

Kambi ya Tembo has changed and it is no longer on my list of favorite camps. The owners are focused on large groups (OAT, etc) and Kambi now has 20 tents and I wonder if it will get even bigger.

I am certainly disappointed with their new direction because over the years I have been very supportive of this company but sadly their camps no longer offer the intimate experiences I am looking for.

Unfortunately the Kambi location is not the best either. It is a bumpy and very dusty drive away from the best wildlife areas in the area. There was so much dust it permanently messed up one of my cameras (a $400 fix is required).

http://www.go-safari.com/Westkilimanjaro/Kambi.htm

I must add that all these camps offer cultural experiences with local Maasai villages. Pick your camps & cultural visits carefully as the Maasai is smart when it comes to tourism! Visiting a village as part of a tour group takes a lot away from the experience.
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Nov 24th, 2008, 07:08 AM
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Thanks for the update! Looking forward to the book.
Patty is offline  
Nov 24th, 2008, 11:11 AM
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Thanks for the new West Kili map, Eben. I'm glad you got up to Hemingways. We stayed there in July this year and it was a fabulous camp experience - intimate, with fun, attentive staff. The views are incredible, and the region very quiet and peaceful with few tourists. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

We saw Lesser Kudu and lots of bull elephants, but didn't see any Gerenuk...maybe next time.

Thanks for your valuable report. Your book will be a refreshing addition to what's currently available, Eben.
Calo is offline  
Nov 24th, 2008, 11:43 AM
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Thank you for this informative report, another destination to add to my growing list. I had hoped to visit Hemmingways this year, but just ran out of time in Tanzania. Not to worry, its a good reason to return.

Good luck with the book,

Pol
Treepol is offline  
Nov 24th, 2008, 12:13 PM
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I just wanted to jump in and say that I will be the first in line to buy your book, there is truly no one more qualified than you, Eben to give us up to date and accurate information!
LyndaS is offline  
Nov 24th, 2008, 04:11 PM
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I was just wondering about West Kilimanjaro. Perfect timing. Thanks.

Can you comment on cultural activities in the area?

How likely is it to see Lesser Kudu? Are some places within the area better or worse for this species.
atravelynn is offline  
Nov 24th, 2008, 04:13 PM
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I know you commented on the cultural activities. I should have asked for any additional insights or suggestions.
atravelynn is offline  
Nov 24th, 2008, 07:53 PM
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Hey Eben, care to share what each camp costs? Also, tell us more about the planned book when you can.
ShayTay is offline  
Nov 29th, 2008, 08:31 AM
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Excellent post, Eben. I didn't know that you are buddies with Peter Jones. I just read up on Ndarakwai. Looks like a fantastic place!!!
andybiggs is offline  
Nov 30th, 2008, 11:59 AM
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I have to keep my posts short as usual because I am still in Africa with shaky internet.

Sharon, I have the 2009 rates and will update go-safari shortly with lodge rates for west kilimanjaro.

Andy, in January HDNet is showing a special about Kilimanjaro. I outfitted the film crew and many scenes were filmed at Ndarakwai where we prepared for the climb.

I hope the film will show the ranch and Peter because of his work in the communities. He was interviewed.
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
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