Holiday review by Lynn Emery
Name: Lynn Emery
Date of trip: 01/08/2013
Number of people: 2
After a long and very successful game drive in Manyara we were slowly heading back to the exit. The weather had been on our side, no bright sunshine to make the animals hide away from the heat. It had been our first game drive of the safari and we had been so close to many more animals and birds than we had ever expected. If this was how it was going to be it was perfect. Then our ever watchful guide Albert suddenly stops the land rover and reverses. Up a tree only 10 yards from us was a leopard sleeping, how he had spotted this beautiful creature camouflaged so well was beyond us. It is extremely rare to spot a leopard, so to have one so close to us was a very special moment. We watched and waited for about 10 minutes before it stretched and stared back. Without making a sound it slowly stood up and without making a sound gracefully descended the tree. AS it disappeared into the undergrowth we could track it's movement by the warning cries the birds were giving each other as the leopard moved amongst them. A perfect end to a perfect first day.
Our second day in Tarangire had our guide taking us further into the park to Silale swamp. We headed for the remote picnic site which we shared with very few other people and ate lunch overlooking the swamp stretching from left to right and the baobab trees stretching into the distance. This was special enough, however after lunch we took the short drive to get a closer look at the swamp just as a herd of about 100 elephant came across our path and headed for the swamp for their daily drink and wallow. In fact if you looked into the distance you could see other herds making their way down too. With the swamp only 100 yards away the viewing of elephant family life was spectacular. Albert - our guide - explained some of the behaviour we were watching which made it all the more interesting. During our time there we watched them drink, play, and wallow in the water, mud and dust. The matriarchs ever watchful and the young being kept in the centre of them to protect them. The youngest we guessed to be about 6 months old made us smile as he struggled to keep his trunk under control as he drank and played. As they walked off into the distance talking to each other in a low drone we left to. Another one for the diary, a truly special experience.
To visit Africa was a long time dream of ours and both Tanzania and Zanzibar exceeded our expectations from start to finish. The quality of our experiences though out were second to none with the people organising us never faltering. In a country where so many things could go wrong nothing was too much trouble; our guide made our enjoyment his priority. Never did we expect to get so close to both the wild life or the Massai people in such a safe environment created by our guide in Tanzania and hotel management in Zanzibar. Truly memorable experience.
The reason we chose to travel with Tribes was because of the e.mail we received from Tracy following our initial enquiries. We were treated like individuals with guidance and recommendations given freely with no pressure put on us. If there was something - and there were many things - we didn\'t understand Tracy gave her time and shared her knowledge freely. All our documents arrived on time and we found joining details especially useful. Thank you Tracy and Tribes you treat your clients as unique people with unique holiday needs. You are a class act.
Albert was amazing from start to finish. He made it his job to make sure we gained everything possible from our time with him. His knowledge during the game drives was fantastic. On our first day we realised we had a shared interest in the birds as well as the animals and he went out of his way to make each game drive different so we could find a wider variety. His selection of bird identification books had us all sharing the task of identifying the correct species. He found us the most magical picnic sites, we sat by hot springs in Manyara without another soul in sight watching the hippos in the distance, in Ngorogoro we got closer still to hippos wallowing in the water with black kites flying overhead, and in Tarangire we left early to drive to Silale swamps where the views were like nothing we had ever seen before. His knowledge of the way local people lived and the Massai was given freely and he arranged walking tours at the lodges and visits to bomas and local workshops for us. This gave us a chance to talk to and learn directly from the Massai people which added a greater depth to our experience. A local Massai guide complete with spear walked with us to Empakai- all arranged by Albert - this made a day I had been looking forward to for such a long time extra special.
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
Difficult to answer this as we have nothing to measure anything against. However the game parks treated the animals and the environment with respect with the animals coming first and the tourist second. There seemed to be no chasing of the big spectacles we were expecting, if you were lucky enough to find something amazing other people just came along and shared quietly. The local people were largely left to carry on with their daily lives. The Massai people only became involved in what you were doing through choice but seemed to be perfectly happy with the tourists sharing their communities and trying to understand their culture. The lodges had all been given a eco rating by yourselves and it was interesting to see how they were using solar power or had situated their tents to have minimal impact on the environment. It was also unexpected to find young Massai boys employed by the lodges who were using the extra money they earned to access further education - some stories were quite inspirational.