How to avoid crowds in the Ngorongoro Crater

How to avoid crowds in the Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro without the crowds…

 

Its wealth of natural attractions make the Ngorongoro Crater a particularly sought-after spot for wildlife enthusiasts coming on safari in northern Tanzania. As a consequence it can get very busy – but there are ways to avoid the crowds!

“Its wealth of natural attractions…”

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a Unesco world heritage site in northern Tanzania. The focus is the outstanding Ngorongoro Crater which, at 16kms diameter, is the world’s largest caldera (the remains of an extinct volcano).

As well as savannah grasslands and acacia forest there is a freshwater lake and a soda lake. The ancient landscape is dramatic and very photogenic, and within the walls of the crater live a diverse range of species including hippos, elephants, zebras, antelopes, hyenas, lions, cheetahs and even black rhinos. The birdlife here is also excellent.

In my opinion the Crater is still worth visiting even with the large number of visitors that you’ll be sharing the sights with.

However much you pay for your safari you should always expect people and other vehicles to be around, but there are ways to give yourself the best chance of keeping away from the crowds.

 

 

Consider travelling in the low season

Low generally means rainy, so that’s from about mid-March to the end of May when the long rains are due. Certainly the rain puts a lot of travellers off coming, and of course game viewing is never quite as wonderful in the rain, but it doesn’t always rain and the hotels and lodges that stay open at this time also tend to offer some very good deals on prices. Grab yourself a bargain and hope for the best.

Stay overnight close to the Crater

There are two entrance roads to get into the crater. More people use the one in the west, and it tends to take longer to get down from that side. If you stay in a lodge on the east side, you can use what is generally known as the Sopa road and you’ll be one of the first into the Crater if you set off early. This might give you at least an hour (or more) before the main crowds arrive as many come from much further away.

Choose a guide/driver who is not lazy! 

Some drivers simply look out for other vehicles stopping and then head towards them assuming that they’ve seen something good (or they radio to them to ask). This way of game driving inevitably leads to bunches of vehicles around sightings – not good for the animal and not good for most true wildlife enthusiasts. Whilst you won’t be able to avoid some of this, and will have to share viewing experiences, we tend to advise our drivers not to head for masses of vehicles, but rather head away from them. There is always something else to see, and you might see it by yourself if you allow for that chance to happen.

Book a private picnic

The Crater has a few (very few) private picnic spots. These are a really wonderful way to enjoy the Crater without other people around. They can only be booked in advance and all drivers know that they are not allowed there if they have not reserved the spot. How perfect to sit in a beautiful area of the Crater enjoying a gorgeous brunch or lunch with just you, your party/family and your guides. Certainly this is added expense, but we highly recommend this as a special treat!

CAN WE HELP YOU AVOID THE CROWDS?

We’d love to help you take in the Ngorongoro Crater but leave out the crowds.

Our Tanzania experts can tailor-make a holiday for you or you might like to consider one of these itineraries:

A Taste of Tanzania

On this eight-day holiday you’ll have your own driver/guide, stay in good quality camps and lodges and visit three key areas for wildlife – Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Manyara or Tarangire.

Tanzania Family Safari and Beach

 This 11-day holiday is a real family-pleaser, combining safaris in Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire with five nights on the spice island of Zanzibar. 

Tackling my fears on my first safari

Tackling my fears on my first safari

Tackling my fears on my first safari

When you’ve always been a beach holiday type of traveller, and you are faced with something completely outside of your comfort zone, you know it is going to be a love it or hate it experience. And that was me…

I grew up camping, so that didn’t worry me in the least, it’s something I am very comfortable with. But in Scotland, and not Africa. I was heading to Nairobi in Kenya for a travel trade show, and this was the ideal time for me to experience a safari. Although right up until I arrived in the country, I still wasn’t too convinced.

My itinerary included one night at Loldia House on Lake Naivasha and three nights at Governors Main Camp in the Masai Mara, home of the BBC series, Big Cat Diaries and the Discovery series Big Cat Tales. We were travelling by road to Loldia House, a journey of about 2 hours from Nairobi, then by light aircraft to Governors Camp and back to Nairobi. I learnt that Safari literally means a journey in Swahili. And this was a journey I will not forget.

Driving to Lake Navaisha wasn’t as bad as I expected, the road was good until we turned off for Loldia House, but the traffic wasn’t great. Fridays in Nairobi are like no other city I can remember in so far as the roads are gridlocked. But once out of the city, we stopped, and it was our first opportunity to look out at some of the vast vistas you will see in Kenya. Even a wet and misty morning couldn’t detract from the sheer size and variety of terrain the Rift Valley had to show us from our high vantage point.

From here we descended into the valley, stopping at Ubuntu Life, a non-profit business set up to help local women and children with life-changing therapies and medical care for those who needed it, suffering from neurological issues and stigmatised in the local community. Once the special needs of the children had been met, the mothers were looking for a productive outlet for their time and energies, and Ubuntu gave them this.

These maker mums now have their products sold throughout Kenya as well as the world empowering them through the employment opportunities they now have. And did I mention…great handmade espadrilles, bags, bracelets and other fabric and leather goods!

Image: Loldia House

It was half an hour from here to Loldia House. A single storey property which houses the lounge, bar, dining room and a couple of rooms, overlooking a lush green lawn that sweeps down to the waters edge, although this is fenced off to protect the guests from the hippos.

Lunch was taken on the lawns, and particularly good! And then we were taken to our rooms. The guest houses are in three pairs of two in the gardens, with a further house located up the hill, a pool and a spa room. They are large and airy and offer great facilities. Although not a tremendous amount of game, the lodge is close to the Eburru forest and there is an opportunity to go out on a night drive.

This is a great place to stay for a night or two, to relax after your long journey. The food is good, and you certainly do not want for anything.

The following morning after a hearty breakfast, we were taken to the airstrip, just a short 10 minutes’ drive away. The flight was a little late, but as it was operated by Governors Air, it didn’t really affect us. After just a quick 45 minutes in the air we landed at the airstrip, 10 minutes from Governors Camp and right in the Masai Mara! Until this point, I was still not convinced…. And then we drove into camp! Past herds of zebra and Blue Jean antelope, baboons, buffalo and wart hogs. And I started to get it.

We dropped our bags into our tents and headed for lunch overlooking the Mara river, but none of our minds were on lunch, as below us we had 15 hippos just basking in the sun while mainly submerged in the water. For three days this was our home.

I had thought that I wouldn’t want to be up at 5.45am to go out on a game drive, but when asked at dinner if we wanted a wake-up call, and if we wanted tea or coffee, I immediately said yes.

I never go to bed early at home, but by 9pm I was tucked up so that I knew I would get up.

The sun rising over the Masai Mara is simply stunning as are the sunsets, and no matter what time of day the array of animals is incredible.

I really do not have the words to describe how seeing a herd of elephants crossing in front of your 4×4 makes you feel and, with the sky on fire at sunset, your breath is simply taken away.

My highlight was the sheer number of cats we saw. The Marsh and Rhino Ridge prides of lion, the cheetah and the leopard, just hanging in a tree, occasionally opening her eyes to see if we were still there, before dropping her head as if there wasn’t anything to be worried about!

The male lions are a little harder to find often, but we saw two, just half a mile from each other. One quite alert, and the other, lying on his back, legs in the air without a care, before rolling over, looking at his audience and flopping back to sleep.

Yes, your first thought is “take a picture”. But after a while, you put the camera down and just allow yourself to experience the moment. Giraffe with their babies, and wart hogs… not the prettiest but when seeing a mum with her piglets, they are strangely endearing.

My biggest fear was seeing a kill. I hate watching TV shows where the animals are injured or killed, and I thought that this would be upsetting for me.

We sat in the back of our 4X4 one afternoon and watched two lionesses try and take down an injured buffalo. They didn’t manage it as the buffalo herd closed ranks and the cats decided that perhaps it was safer to abandon the chase.

But the next morning, in the clear red glow of dawn, the Marsh pride caught their breakfast, a sizeable zebra. We watched the pride eat their fill to be followed by the jackals and the hyenas who finished off the remnants. And it was now I truly took onboard that this is all part of the rich patterns of life that are part and parcel of life in the Mara!

After Loldia House, I stayed at Governors Main Camp which was an amazing experience with 37 en-suite tents for double, or twin occupancy and family tents. For a little more luxury there is Little Governors with 17 tents and upgraded soft furnishings, while Il Moran has yet further luxuries on offer in its 10 tents. All have superb wildlife on their doorsteps, and all accessed by Governors Air, making it so easy to visit them.

Image: Little Governors Camp

Would I go back? Absolutely! I have now a completely different view of a safari, my expectations were met and exceeded. The sheer volume of wildlife on view in its natural habitat is phenomenal. I admit it, I am converted. I only wish that I have let go of my preconceived ideas many years ago.

If Jo’s experiences have inspired you to want to enjoy a Kenya safari, you’ll find plenty to inspire you in our Kenya pages:

And, of course, our friendly, expert Africa consultants are always delighted to talk safari with you and help you plan your dream trip. Or, like Jo, to tackle your safari fears!

All images other than Loldia House and Governor’s Camp © Jo Colman-Bown.

Curious Elephants and a Taste of Honey

Curious Elephants and a Taste of Honey

Curious Elephants and a Taste of Honey

Christine MacDougall

Africa Travel Consultant for Tribes Travel.

Last November, I was a very fortunate lady and travelled to Botswana. Like everyone who visits new and exciting destinations, there were favourite moments. The slight catch is that there were so many I can’t list them all, but I can give you a small insight.

“‘A very close encounter with a large bull elephant while on a foot safari”

CHRIS MACDOUGALL

  • A helicopter flight with the doors removed flying over the Linyanti Marsh.
  • A very close encounter with a large bull elephant while on a foot safari.
  • A long overdue sighting of not one but two honey badgers closely followed by an all-singing, all-dancing (literally) candle-lit bush dinner.

From the small plane I travelled in from Johannesburg to Maun, the land below constantly changed and only from the air did I grasp the enormity of what lay below me. I just loved the fact that a land so large has so few people in it.

I lost myself in Bots this time, mainly emotionally. Why you might ask? Well, I am not one for spending endless hours sat on my bum in a vehicle, I was itching to get out on foot. It’s not often I am stumped for words, and at times I was completely unable to string a sentence together. No human nonsense to be seen, at one in the wild, and I could be there, just me, nobody else around (except of course for my trusty tracker and guide). I loved the smells, the small things, the sounds of chattering birds – even the essence of carcass or poo has a sense of authenticity and truth. I felt alive. Botswana is stunningly beautiful, with heart stopping experiences to be had. There is an astonishingly high number of predators and prey, birdlife is superb, and the guiding outstanding. I was hooked by the guides’ enthusiastic and genuine love of nature.

“The ele was a long way off but was quickly making his way across the plain towards the river. It was clear he was coming our way.”

CHRIS MACDOUGALL

A 3.5km walk at a slow speed (due to the heat) delivered a hyena den complete with three sleeping females. We got incredibly close before they woke up. We detoured around a large herd of buffalo, saw countless raptors and lots of browsing giraffe. My walk was completed with I have to say a heart in the mouth experience: a close and personal meeting with an incredibly relaxed bull elephant. Dutch, a very experienced bush guide, and I spotted the ele almost at the same time. The ele was a long way off but was quickly making his way across the plain towards the river. It was clear he was coming our way. Dutch had to make a quick decision and after a very short discussion (something along the lines of ‘do exactly as I say when I say, do not move, don’t take photos as the clicking camera might spook him and DON’T run’) we positioned ourselves behind the only bit of cover there was on the parched landscape – a dead tree which had fallen over. The elephant knew exactly where we were and in the most incredible way, came right up to the tree, put his trunk over the bough and sniffed us. Had I stretched my arm out, I would have touched the end of his truck. But my hand was actually over my mouth in an attempt not to squeak. Meanwhile Dutch was making very gentle clicking sounds to alert our ele that we were there. He kicked a little bit of dust and then moved slowly and gently away towards the river. It was a very precious moment shared with the largest and most gentle land mammal in Africa. I was completely overcome with emotion.

Botswana is home to the largest number of elephants left on the African continent a phenomenal testament to conservation. It is impossible not to see these mighty and majestic creatures on a holiday in Botswana. My trip was not all about wildlife but knowing that these huge yet gentle animals are still here gave me great comfort.

My trip as rounded off with what I thought was just a drive back to camp at dusk. I had pestered Dutch a lot about seeing a honey badger, and suddenly, when we rounded a corner, there in the road was not one but two of them scurrying along the middle of the road. We were able to follow them for about 3 minutes.

Thinking nothing could top this fabulous visit, I spotted a few very subtle lights in the distance and was trying to work out what they were. As we got closer it dawned on me what was happening. The entire camp crew, guides, kitchen staff, waiters and managers had set up the perfect bush dinner with candles placed in sand-filled paper bags. Dutch switched the engine off and we were welcomed by the entire crew singing a few traditional African songs. The perfect end!

“I was completely overcome with emotion.”

CHRIS MACDOUGALL

Jambo Zanzibar!

Jambo Zanzibar!

Jambo Zanzibar!

Beach image © Shutterstock – Kjersti Joergensen

Market image  © Shutterstock – Magdalena Paluchowska

 

It’s been 27 years since I last set foot on the island of Zanzibar and it has changed a lot. I think there was one hotel when I was originally there, and now there are closer to 500! I started off in Stone Town and, with an amazing driver, headed around the island, staying at hotels of different styles and sizes over 10 nights.

Here are my top ten highlights, in no particular order.

Image: Swahili House, Zanzibar

© Shutterstock – pearl_diver

“The Stone Town tour – one of my top ten.”

Best Bed

Everybody needs a comfortable bed! After 15 hours of travel all I wanted was a shower and to sleep. Thankfully The Swahili House in Stone Town was very welcoming. The staff were great, and the bed the most comfortable I slept in for the ten nights.

Stone Town tour

Seeing the Slave Market and the position of the Anglican Cathedral gave me food for thought. Don’t miss this in Stone Town; it’s a chilling reminder of the slave trade. My guide Mohamed was excellent at explaining the history and the impact this slave market had. We also saw the Old Fort, The Palace Museum and the House of Wonders (which was unfortunately closed for refurbishment).

A little monkeying around

The island is home to Black Tail monkeys and Red Colobus monkeys. The Red Colobus monkeys are quite shy. As you drive through or around Jozani forest you get a chance to see them, but in the hotels it’s the Black Tails that cause mischief! Don’t put your drink down as they will try and steal your fruit, don’t leave your rooms open as they will play with the contents of your suitcase and run off with them, and don’t stand under a tree wearing a baseball cap  where they are playing as you may just lose it off your head… as I nearly did!

 

Red Colobus monkeys, Jozani Forest. © Shutterstock – Ralf Liebhold

A true beach paradise

There are some really beautiful beaches on Zanzibar. The west side of the island is less tidal than the east. On the east, the tide goes so far out you can walk to the pink coral reef and look in the rock pools at sea anemone, star fish and octopus waiting patiently for the tide to return. In the south of the island the waters can be a little rough. But in the north, Kendwa has a beautiful beach. The tide doesn’t go too far out so it’s perfect to go to take a swim. Gold Beach House & Spa sits right on this pristine beach, a perfect place to relax and recharge.

A Taste of Zanzibar

All the hotels use local produce to support the farmers and fisherman of the island. At Tulia Zanzibar, there is always a catch of the day on the menu, and the chef certainly does it justice. Beautifully prepared and served, I had barracuda for the first time. While at Fumba Beach Lodge, lobster was on the menu. It’s an additional cost to their half board menu, but be prepared… the biggest lobster I have ever seen arrived on my plate. It would have fed two… but I wouldn’t let it defeat me!

 

 

 

Image: Gold Beach House & Spa, Zanzibar

Image: Tulia Zanzibar

© Shutterstock – Magdalena Paluchowska

 

Image – Tulia Zanzibar

“For a relaxing massage the spa at Tulia Zanzibar came out tops.”

Shop like a local

The main market in Stone Town is Darajani market and close by there is the fabric market. In Darajani everything is for sale. Watch as the locals barter for chickens or fish and vegetables, all sat alongside household good and electronics. Just a five-minute walk away is the fabric market. Head here to buy the traditional Kangas worn by the woman of the island, at a fraction of the cost of those you will see in the resorts. The sounds, smells, colours and choice in these markets will astound you!

Spa time

All the hotels I visited had spas, some small, some large, so of course, in the name of research I had to try out some treatments. For a relaxing massage the spa at Tulia Zanzibar came out tops, for a deep tissue massage I had to award tops marks to Essque Zalu. They found knots on knots that I didn’t know I had. They also offer a unique Masai ritual that is about 2.5 hours long.

Be as active as you want

Or in my case, as inactive as you wish! This island makes you want to forget about TV and being hooked up to technology. There are plenty of places to stroll to. Most hotels offer the opportunity to visit the local villages that they help support through various initiatives, and some offer the opportunity to take a bicycle and head to the village. My favourite for this is The Residence, a stunning luxury hotel in the south of the island, which assigns bikes to every suite. And they have all sizes, for ladies, men and children.

 

© shutterstock – SAPhoto

Feeding the Bush Babies

I knew nothing of these strange tiny creatures with bushy tails, big eyes and big ears, until staying at Matemwe Beach Lodge and wondered what was jumping around in the bushes while I ate dinner. These are shy nocturnal animals but can be persuaded to come and say hello with the offering of a banana or two and at Matemwe Lodge there is the opportunity to see them up close in the evenings. They also like playing in the rafters of the rooms here in the evenings, so don’t be alarmed!

Get away from it all

Across the island there are some stunning properties. At the top of the list is Elewana Kilindi on the north western side of the island and The Residence at the southern end. Gold Zanzibar is beautiful and offers something for everyone, and Tulia Zanzibar is intimate and a fabulous location for couples. But is you want something traditional, that’s a more authentic Zanzibari experience, then Unguja Lodge is the place! Makuti roofs on large airy open bandas that open to the sea or the surrounding forest… No TVs, no local shows, limited wi-fi, this is the place to relax. There’s beach access, diving from an onsite dive shop, a small pool, restaurant and bar and local food. With only six guests when I was there, the menu was put away and the chef cooked to order.

 

Unguja Lodge

My only thought now is where to stay next time I go! This is a great destination for after a safari and highly recommended, but with its location in the Indian Ocean this is a standalone destination, with friendly islanders who just want to please. Until next time Zanzibar, asante sana!

_______________________________________________________________

Let us whisk you away to Zanzibar!

Tribes and our sister company Tanzania Specialists have some amazing Zanzibari itineraries for you to choose from, including a classic, six-day Zanzibar beach holiday

Combining a beach holiday on Zanzibar with a safari adventure on the mainland makes for a fantastic vacation, with the beach element the perfect way to recharge your batteries after the excitement of safari. After all, if you’ve flown to Tanzania, why wouldn’t you make the most of it?!

Safari and beach itineraries include:

And, of coure, we can always tailor-made the perfect itinerary just for you, whether that’s a total chillax-fest on Zanzibar or something a little more active – with or without safari!

 

Gluten-free in Zanzibar

Gluten-free in Zanzibar

Gluten-free in Zanzibar

 

With Coeliac Disease a gluten-free diet is a necessity not a choice. So a trip to Zanzibar – though enticing in so many ways – did fill me with some trepidation…

…wondering if I was going to be able to eat for 12 nights.

I am always nervous when travelling, not for the sake of travelling, but when you are travelling with a specific dietary requirement it can be pretty much hit or miss. It can be tricky trying to explain your needs to a waiter than knows only a few words of English, whether you are vegan, gluten-free or kosher. In my case, its gluten-free; not from choice or any desire to diet, but because a gluten-free diet is the only way to manage Coeliac Disease.

Whereas once a gluten-free diet was unheard of, now it has become a celebrity diet. I will not complain because it has meant more products available for us than ever before, but the result is also that many places think of it as a fad, an allergy or an intolerance. It can be all those things, but to me its much more! Eating a strict diet is my only way of staying well.

So, there I was, bound for Zanzibar wondering if I was going to be able to eat for 12 nights. I always take some supplies. My hand luggage always contains some basics that I can eat on the flight such as bread rolls and cheese, biscuits or chocolate. Do check that the country you are flying to has no restrictions on food as some are very strict and you may only be able to take enough for that flight, or certain products.

My first hotel was a small hotel in Zanzibar, in Stone Town. As expected, the waiting staff were not very knowledgeable on gluten-free and looked at me slightly confused. I explained as best I could, and they very kindly said they would get the chef for me so that we could discuss what I could have and be safe.

In fact, every hotel I stayed in from then on, I explained to the staff that I had this issue and maybe it would be best to speak to the chef. The result was some amazing meals throughout my stay on the island.

Fresh food cooked to order -what’s not to like?

As most hotels have limited set menus that are changed daily based on available produce, you know what you are getting is fresh. And in the smaller hotels, everything is made to order so nothing is wasted. Results were a lobster dinner big enough for 2 people, and amazing steak with a specially made brandy and peppercorn sauce, and a beautiful piece of barracuda, which I had never eaten before, in a saffron sauce. I always had options of rice and fresh vegetables, and the desserts… well! These ranged from pannacottas with fresh berries and sauces to flambé bananas with caramel sauce and ice cream. The bread wasn’t great, but then, it often isn’t and when you have such beautiful meals it’s not needed. At breakfast there was always choices of fruits and cooked options. Eggs whichever way you wanted them, bacon, and one hotel went out of its way to get gluten-free flour to do pancakes for breakfast and make bread so that I didn’t feel left out. That’s service!

So, would I recommend a stay on the island to anyone with particular dietary needs? Absolutely. My thanks to The Swahili House, Matemwe Lodge, Tulia Zanzibar, Breezes Beach Resort & Spa, Unguja Lodge and Fumba Beach Lodge for keeping me safe and healthy. Fresh food cooked to order and plenty of it. What’s not to like?

Off to market

Off to market

Off to market

There is something fascinating about a market. And when that market is in a foreign country, the attraction is even stronger…

Most of us like to include one or two shopping opportunities on our holiday, whether that’s exploring high-end shops in elegant galleria or perusing home-made wares spread out on a tablecloth on the ground in a Maasai village. But you don’t have to be intent on a major shopping expedition to enjoy visiting a market – it’s a fabulous way to see what daily life is like for the locals as they shop for essential supplies or sell their artisan crafts. It doesn’t have to be a ‘general’ market either – fish markets are fascinating places to visit for example, with the added bonus that there will usually be some excellent fish restaurants close by!

A  market can be colourful in more ways than one. Whether it’s table-upon-table piled high with pyramids of vibrant spices or fruits and vegetables, racks of brilliantly-coloured woven goods or simply the local colour provided by such a bustling environment as you’re surrounded by the indigenous languages and customs, a trip to a market is bound to be memorable. Just don’t forget to take your camera!

 

Images above – header image © Shutterstock – Curioso, inset image © Shutterstock – Dendenal

The vibrancy of Latin American markets

The markets in Latin America are every bit as vivid as one would expect. The Plaza de los Ponchos (Otalvo Market) in Otalvo, Ecuador, sells everything from weaving tools to fresh fruit, while the Flower Market in Lima, Peru, is a gorgeous explosion of colour and scent. Unmissable!

The Bolivian city of La Paz has a range of markets, from the Mercado Lanza food market (a great place to try a salteña – a Bolivian empanada), the Ayni artisan crafts market and Comart Tukuypaj, where you’ll find beautifully-made alpaca and llama goods, to the intriguingly-named Witches’ Market (see photo below). This latter sells herbs and traditional medicines, and fortune tellers will happily read your palm, but it also sells lovely leather goods and woven items. Haggling is fine in Bolivia, so you may get a bargain!

Ferias (farmers’ markets) about in Costa Rica. In addition to farm products such as cheeses many sell honey, wine, clothing and crafts. But even if you’re not in the market (so to speak) for plantains, eggs or balls of string cheese, if you get the chance to visit a feria while in Costa Rica, do go. You’ll find ferias in many towns, with particularly good ones in or just outside Tamarindo, Quepos and San Jose. The Tamarindo Feria (Saturday mornings) sells a lot of organic products and chocolates, cheeses, flowers etc.  and there are often live music performances. The Feria Verde de Aranjuez in San Jose is a large, organic gourmet market and the perfect place to spend a Saturday morning.

 

© Shutterstock – Saiko3p

“The markets in Latin America are as vivid as one might expect.”

While in Chile, look out for local fruits and vegetables such as lúcuma and chirimoya, as well as leather, silver, lapis lazuli, alpaca and wood crafts. Angelmo, the coastal bay just outside Puerto Montt, has a superb seafood market – you couldn’t get fresher fish! It is THE place to try curanto, the South Chilean delicacy of seafood, vegetables and meat cooked over hot stones.

Santiago has plenty of markets, the most famous being Mercado Central, which specialises in fish. Don’t miss trying a traditional fish stew in one of the local restaurants! A short walk from Avenida O’Higgins you’ll find the Santa Lucia market, with a wealth of gifts and crafts on offer. You’ll also find excellent local hand-made goods in Pucon’s Mercado Artesanal, while Valparaiso’s Mercado El Cardonal features great piles of fruit and vegetables, all housed in a historic market hall. Make sure you also visit the fish market in Valparaiso; check out the pelicans, seagulls and sea  lions hovering around hoping for scraps as the fishermen unload their catches.

“You’re surrounded by the indigenous language and customs.”

Local colour in Peru

The town of Pisac in Peru’s Sacred Valley is famed for being the Valley’s highest settlement, for the Inca ruins above the town and for its bustling Sunday market, when traditionally-dressed members of the Cusco region’s indigenous Quechua communities gather to buy and sell produce and supplies. However, there is also a daily artisan market in Pisac, so whichever day you visit the town you be able to buy crafts and gifts and capture all that local colour in some great photos.

In addition to the afore-mentioned Flower Market, Lima has a number of markets to explore, ranging from the Feria Artesanal craft market to Terminal Pesquero, the daily fish market and Mercado de Surquillo, a superb food market. Peru has some 4,000 varieties of potatoes, so the potato displays alone are incredible in Peruvian markets! And if the idea of the Witches’ Market in La Paz appealed, you could well find Mercado Modelo in the Peruvian town of Chiclayo equally fascinating, with its stalls selling essential ingredients for potions and spells.

Cusco and Chinchero have ecellent markets and, for something absolutely exotic, there’s the market adjacent to the floating shantytown of Belén, Iquitos, where jungle village residents sell their wares. If you have a hankering to taste fried leafcutter ants or Amazon worms, this outdoor market in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon is the place for you…

Coast to winelands

There are some great markets to be found in Africa too, from the sophisticated establishments in Cape Town and the Cape winelands to Maasai markets in Tanzania.

The Cape Winelands have some terrific markets in stunning locations, such as the Friday evening market at the Boschendal wine estate in Franschhoek. There’s great food and drink and incredible mountain views. And you get some  amazing views of the South Peninsula at the weekly Cape Point Vineyards Market. Sit here at sunset, marvel at the views, and chow down on wood-fired pizza as you sip a glass of the CPV’s own award-winning wine before browsing for jewellery and crafts.

In cosmopolitan Cape Town you will find a host of markets with a lovely relaxed atmosphere, and you can usually enjoy some fabulous food there.  Oranjezicht City Farm Market on the V&A Waterfront is operated by the innovative team behind the urban farms project. You can buy wonderful breads, honey, fruit, herbs and vegetables here and find specialist stalls selling chocolates, vegan food etc. The market has gorgeous views of the ocean, and is a great place to wander around, enjoy a pastry or crepe etc. The Waterfront’s Old Power Station now houses the V&A Food Market, with more than 40 food and drink stalls, including one with 23 varieties of South African gin!

Cape Town’s Good Company Market (Sunday), based in the Company’s Garden and near to the Art Gallery is fantastic for all the family, with food and craft stalls and plenty of family activities such as pony rides,

Don’t miss Elgin’s Railway market, an Art Deco delight in a converted apple warehouse.  Live music plays as you explore the clothing, jewellery, food and ceramics stalls, and there are some great cafes and restaurant. If you visit on a Saturday you can even travel to Elgin from Cape Town on board a historic stream train, then ride it back to Cape Town after a day at the market.

If you head out to Hout Bay you’ll find more than 100 stalls inside an old fish factory next to the ocean at the Bay Harbour Market. Musicians and street performers do their thing, the air is fragrant with the enticing aromas of freshly-baked bread and, in the distance, Chapman’s Peak presides over it all like a benevolent market manager.

From Maasai crafts to curios within earshot of the Victoria Falls…

Every Thursday afternoon hundreds of Maasai converge on Mto Wa Mbu village, close to Tarangire National Park and Lake Manyara in Tanzania, for the vibrant weekly Maasai Central Market, with an even bigger market held there on the 22nd of each month. It’s a really interesting break in your safari itinerary as you taste Maasai food, shop for their crafts etc. There’s also a Maasai market selling crafts and curious in Arusha, and the lively Kariakoo market in Dar es Salaam, which is hot chaotic and fascinating. It is very crowded though, so perhaps think of it more as an experience than a shopping opportunity!

Malawi’s roadside Lizulu Market is aimed firmly at the drivers and passengers in the passing cars and buses, giving it quite a different feel to many other markets. With its piles of fruit and veggies, it’s a definitely a place to get some memorable holiday snaps. There’s also a market in Dedza township. It’s not aimed at tourists, but among the essential items for everyday life here you will also find stalls selling straw hats, clay cooking pots and lovely woven and printed cloth. If you’re in Dedza you’ll probably also want to take a trip to the pottery, which has its own shop selling beautiful items – which can be personalised.

If you can tear your eyes away from the majestic Falls themselves, head to the Big Curio Open Market in Victoria Falls town (on the Zimbabwe side of the falls) where you will find crafts of all kinds, includig Shona sculpture.

Spicing it up in Dehli

As for India, well, there’s not enough room in this blog to do justice to the wealth of markets in the sub-continent! However, if you are in Dehli, pick up your camera and head to Khari Baoli, the largest spice market in Asia. You’ll find it near the historic Red Fort, and the market itself – which takes up the whole street after which it’s named – is a historic institution, heaving with endless shops and stalls selling spices, herbs, dried fruit, rice, tea and nuts. It’s colourful, incredibly highly scented and unique. Fabulous!

Let Tribes take you to market!

Many of our trips include the opportunity to visit a local market or two, and if we tailor-make a trip for you then we can craft an itinerary that takes in just exactly what you require in the market department.

Our Golden Triangle trip, with its tour of Old and New Dehli, is a great way to experience the scents, sights and sounds of the Khari Baoli spice market, while many of our Peruvian itinerarys, such as Classic Peru will include a visit to the famous market at Pisac. Peru for Foodies is a market-lover’s delight, featuring market shopping in Lima –  where you sample the local produce and buy the ingredients you’ll be taught to prepare for lunch – in Pisac and in Cusco, where you will be stunned by the huge variety of potatoes and other produce on offer in San Pedro Market.

Itineraries such as Costa Rica Coast to Coast include free time in San Jose, where you could fit in a market visit, while our Costa Rica Self-Drive Holiday takes you to Tamarindo, and its farmer’s market.

If you’re intrigued by the concept of the Witches’ Market in La Paz, our Bolivia Authentic Experience will do the trick for you, and our Trekking and Culture in Otalvo holiday puts you right in the heart of this Ecuadorian market town.

Those planning to take in the glaciers, deserts and cities of Chile will find visits to Santiago and Valparaiso markets possible on our Chile, Deserts and Glaciers trip, while no visit to Cape Town and the Winelands is complete without at least one (but probably rather more!) market explorations. Try our Cape Town and Winelands holiday or Cape Town, Coast and Mountains.

Our Maasai Culture and Wilderness holiday takes you to the Maasai market at Mto Wa Mbu and finally, if you’re drawn to the idea of market shopping to the thunderous audio accompaniment of the Victoria Falls, our Victoria Falls in a Nutshell Zimbabwe trip will deliver exactly what’s required!