A SOUTHERN SECRET
The name Tanzania conjures up images of wildebeest stampeding across vast savannah, rain forests teeming with monkeys and birdlife, and great plains brimming with legions of game. All of these natural wonders and more are on offer in this exceptionally diverse African nation. Visitors typically visit Tanzania to partake in at least one of the four well known Tanzanian tourist experiences: a relaxing seaside vacation on the picturesque island paradise of Zanzibar, an underwater tour of some of the world’s most renowned dive sites around the gorgeous Spice Islands, a safari adventure in some of Africa’s most impressive game reserves, or a hiking excursion around Mount Kilimanjaro National Park. Whichever of these incredible holidays you choose, you will undoubtedly be welcomed by some fabulously friendly and peaceful inhabitants who, despite being divided into 120 different ethnic groups and cultures, live in harmony with one another and provide some of the most wonderfully exotic local cuisine you could imagine. With all of this diversity on offer, the most difficult part of your Tanzanian holiday experience is likely to be deciding where to go!
BANKING AND CURRENCY
In Tanzania, the unit of currency is the Tanzanian Shilling, which is divided into 100 Cents. Notes are issued in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, and 10000 Shillings. Coins are issued in denominations of 50, 100 and 200 Shillings.
Banks are open from 9:00am to 3:00pm Monday to Friday. Many banks are equipped with 24 hour ATM machines.
Credit cards and travellers checks are not widely accepted in Tanzania. Where they are accepted can high service fees and poor exchange rates be expected. Major foreign currencies - particularly US $ - are accepted in Tanzania and are convertible at banks and bureau de changes in the main towns and tourist areas. If bringing cash in US $, please make sure bank notes are in good condition, with no cuts or damage and are not older than 2006. Most banks offer higher exchange rates for US $ 100 / US $ 50 bank notes compared to US $ 20 / US $ 10 or US $ 5 bank notes.
If you are visiting a number of parks and reserves in Tanzania, you can either drive or fly between them. Roads in most of the wilderness areas are in poor condition and unmarked, and self-driving is not recommended. Operators will supply you with a driver who doubles as an informal guide; alternatively, you can arrange to fly to your destination and utilize a car and driver supplied by the lodgings. Elsewhere in Tanzania, towns and cities are linked by a steady stream of buses and dala-dalas (minibuses), and in the cities, there is public transport in the way of buses, dala-dalas, taxis, and, in some places, bicycles or tuk-tuks.
Precision Air run regular services, mostly via Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro or Zanzibar, to all main towns and other destinations in East Africa and beyond. All national parks and some of the top-end luxury lodges have airstrips and Coastal Air operates between these and the main airports on the mainland and the islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia. ZanAir has frequent connections between Zanzibar, Pemba and the mainland.
Driving is on the left hand side of the road
Most camps, lodges or hotels cater specifically to tourists and serve Western-style food, ranging in standard, but generally are excellent. Game lodges tend to offer a daily set menu with a limited selection, so it is advisable to have your tour operator specify in advance if you are a vegetarian or have other specific dietary requirements. First-time visitors to Africa might take note that most game lodges in and around the national parks have isolated locations, and driving within the parks is neither permitted nor advisable after dark, so that there is no realistic alternative to eating at your lodge.
Tap water in Tanzania is generally not safe to drink, and most travellers try to stick to mineral water. Filtered and bottled water can be difficult to find you are travelling outside of main town and so it is advisable to stock up. Most camps, lodges and hotels have bottled water readily available.
Please note that, as of 2016, Tanzania has banned the use of plastic bags in a bid to tackle pollution and protect the environment. Travellers' to Tanzania will no longer be allowed to bring plastic carrier bags into the country. This ban targets all plastic bags that are imported, exported, manufactured, sold, stored, supplied and used.
Just south of the equator, Tanzania is huge and its sheer size means that the climate varies considerably within it. However, generally the main rainy season, or the 'long rains', lasts during about March, April and May. Afternoon tropical downpours are the norm – which are heavier and more predictable beside the coast and on the islands. The humidity is high and daily temperatures reach the low-mid 30°s.
The long dry season lasts throughout June, July, August, September and October is when rainfall is unusual, even on the islands. Temperatures vary hugely with altitude and location, but it's usually a fine, clear sky and sunny weather – it's a great time to visit Tanzania. During November and December there's another rainy season: the 'short rains'. These are much lighter than the main rains and less reliable.
If it has rained during the short rains, then it normally dries up for a few months, January and February, which is Tanzania's 'short dry season', before starting to rain again in earnest in March.
It never gets really cold in Tanzania so lightweight clothing, preferably cotton or linen, is recommended. While on a game viewing safari, avoid brightly coloured clothing, stick to whites, beiges, khakis and browns. There may be long days sitting in safari vehicles, so it is advisable to wear light comfortable clothing such as short sleeved shirts and cotton/linen trousers or shorts. Denim will become too hot and extremely uncomfortable. Walking shoes and socks will be required.
The evenings will be chilly, so long sleeved shirts and trousers should be worn. A sweater may be needed. These will also prevent you being bitten by insects. A hat should be worn at all times outside. The sun may sometimes not feel hot, but it can still easily burn, especially if it is cloudy and overcast.
If visiting Zanzibar or any coastal town don't forget to take a swimsuit, as it is invariably warm. Ladies are recommended to take cotton skirts, blouses and dresses. Sandals are a must for this environment! On the beaches and within the confines of hotels, normal swimwear is acceptable but nudity is not.
As over a third of the population in Tanzania is Muslim, it is therefore not etiquette for ladies to walk around in public displaying their legs and shoulders. Remember to dress modestly as short shorts, miniskirts, vests and tank tops will be frowned upon.
Electrical sockets in Tanzania are one of three: Type G (BS-1363) and Type C (CEE 7/16 Europlug) and Type D (BS-546) electrical socket types: If your appliance's plug doesn't match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance's plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into. If it's crucial to be able to plug in no matter what, bring an adapter for all types.
Electrical sockets in Tanzania usually supply electricity at 230 volts AC / 50 Hz frequency. If you're plugging in an appliance that was built for 230 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need. If your appliance isn’t compatible with 230 volts, a voltage converter will be necessary.
Explore Ruaha National Park, one of Africa’s premier birding destinations and home to the rarer, less-seen creatures including wild dog, sable and Roan
In the heart of Ruaha National Park, Kigelia Ruaha offers a traditional and elegant camp with exceptional game viewing. A rustic bush retreat, the camps’ tented rooms all have outdoor showers and open out onto the Ruaha plains.
Enjoy three days of game viewing activities and guided bush walks.
DAYS 4 - 6 : SELOUS GAME RESERVE
|Charter flight||Julius Nyerere International Airport [DAR]||Kigelia Ruaha|
|Charter flight||Kigelia Ruaha||Sand Rivers Selous|
|Charter flight||Sand Rivers Selous||Julius Nyerere International Airport [DAR]|
RUAHA NATIONAL PARK
Kigelia Ruaha - National park
Kigelia Ruaha is where you go when your soul seeks the humbling solitude of giant baobabs, the exhiliration of encountering Africa's big cats or great herds of elephant; where the focus is on experiencing nature and not the gold taps, and where you can feel at home while simultaneously enjoying the care of a dedicated team.
The camp itself has just six airy tents set beneath the boughs of the Sausage Tree (Kigelia Africana) after which it was named. It has a charm and simplicity which means that it highlights the surrounding landscape rather than detracts from it. Falling asleep under canvas to the calls of leopard, and waking in the dappled light of the sun as it peers through the bush is simply magic..
Nº rooms: 6 Rooms,
Spoken languages: English, Swahili
Special Interests: Adventure, Birding, Flora, Nature, Wildlife
There is one unit designed specifically for families at Kigelia. With two full size en suite rooms under one thatch rood this is ideal for families with young children. Your own space, but close together to enjoy being on safari as a family.
24-hour Security, Battery Charging Facilities, Communal Dining, Laundry Service (Complimentary), Library, Private Vehicle Available.
En-Suite, Laundry Service (Complimentary), Outside Shower, Pure Cotton Linen, Verandah.
Game Drives in open 4wd vehicles: comfy custom-built open game drive vehicles are perfect for traversing the beautiful and varied habitats of the park. Game drives are the best way to get up close to the multitude of wildlife that calls Ruaha home; big-maned lions, great herds of elephant, the handsome greater kudu or statuesque sable.
Walking safari: between drives, you can also get out on foot. Being on your own two pegs gives you a totally different experience. You can stand beneath the towering baobab trees, feeling the smooth warm texture of it's mighty trunk beneath your fingers, or crouch to examine the antics of an ant lion as it hunts from a sandy cone in the dust. Walking gives you an appreciation of the tranquility, complexity and vastness of the African wilderness and we think it's one of the best things you can do on safari. Being in the company of a trained and experienced guide both ensures your safety and opens the door onto the wonders of our natural surroundings.
Night drives: Getting out after dark allows you to see nocturnal critters who are otherwise hiding out during the day. Whether it's the smaller but fascinating genets, civets and porcupines, or the big game like lion and leopard it's a thrilling encounter and a totally different perspective. Night drives need to be pre-booked.
SELOUS GAME RESERVE
The remote and little-visited Selous Game Reserve covers more than 5% of Tanzania’s total area and is the largest of its kind in Africa. At an unbelievable 55,000 sq km it is almost twice the size of Belgium and four times larger than the famous Serengeti in the North. The landscape here has remained almost as it was before tourism began and the massive park has only a few accommodation options.
The Great Rufiji River and its tributaries are the lifeblood of the reserve, creating a network of forests and woodlands around the lagoons, sandbanks and lakes with tall palm trees adding to the scenic splendour. Because of its size and remoteness, the reserve has over 2,100 species of plants, 350 species of birds, 60,000 elephant, 108,000 buffalos and an estimated 1,300 of the worlds’ roughly 4,000 remaining rare wild dogs, giving guests an opportunity to glimpse all of these exotic animals in true unspoilt wilderness. Boating, walking safaris and fly camping are all available in the Selous.
Sand River Selous - Selous game reserve
Sand Rivers is situated in the northern part of the Selous Game Reserve which is the second largest protected wilderness area in the world. Sand Rivers offers stylish, luxurious safari accommodation on the banks of the Rufiji River. This comfortable and stylish lodge features an outdoor pool, an open-air dining room, bar and lounge which have been beautifully constructed on a sweeping curve of the great Rufiji River, offering stunning views across the water.
Sand Rivers Selous has just 8 stone and thatched cottages, all are open-fronted and raised on decks overlooking the river. There are 5 Riverside rooms - with en-suite bathrooms, hot and cold running water, flush toilets and powerful showers - and 3 Hillside Suites. The Suites all have the same amenities as the Riverside rooms, but with the added extra of a large living space and a small plunge pool.
Activities at River Sands are tailored to suit each guest, whether its game drives, walking safaris, fishing or boating. Sand rivers can also organise fly camping under mosquito nets on dry river beds with in the reserve - however it is highly recommend that this is booked in advance.
Nº rooms: 8 Rooms,
Spoken languages: English, Swahili
Special Interests: Adventure, Birding, Fishing, Flora, History & Culture, Nature, Star Gazing, Wildlife
Sand Rivers has five rooms that perch on the edge of the Rufiji River, all open-fronted and en-suite. The rooms are built of stone, wood and thatch. The open nature of the rooms means that you can really feel part of nature, hear, see and smell it. You might get the odd visitor...a squirrel or a monkey or the odd insect. There are spacious, canopied mosquito nets over the beds.
The en-suite bathrooms have hot and cold running water and flush toilets.
Hillside suites: Sand Rivers has three great big suites that are set up on the hillside, but still with views towards the Rufiji River. The rooms have an extra sitting area, private plunge pool and all the romance of the bush, with the comfort of a luxury lodge. The rooms are all open-fronted but with canopied mosquito nets over the beds.
24-hour Security, Bar, Library, Pool
En-Suite, Fan, Shower
Walking wild: we like to retain spontaneity wherever we can. Often the best way to see things, to avoid scattering animals from the lakeshore, or spooking a herd of elephant as they feed their way through a stretch of lush grassland, is to hop down and quietly work our way into a good position on foot. Walking in the bush takes safari down to a slower pace, and is a chance to learn, touch and feel Africa, to get a glimpse at the incredible flora and little critters that call it home.
Boat safari: being on the river - never mind the game - is a fantastic contrast to time spent in a vehicle. Drifting silently down stream, gently spiraling in the current, watching the river banks unfold is hard to beat. But here again we like to take time to stop. Creep carefully through paths in the thick riverine bush and you'll emerge - unseen - in magical secluded flood plains. More often than not there are treats in store; vast flocks of great white pelicans fishing in dwindling pools, wallowing families of elephant socialising, prides of lion sleeping off a meal.
Fly camping: flycamping is a wonderful surpise, best left unexplained. If you ask us it's simple, you have to try it. This is a peculiarly East African passion and the way things were done in the old days; with the minimum of fuss, but not scrimping on any of the comforts. As is so often the way, when you limit the frills, it allows you to really see what's special and what's going on around you.
Watching elephant as they pass by your camp in the moonlight, silent feet in the warm sand, or simply gazing through the mosquito net roof of your tent from the comfort of your bedroll. We've been doing this now for close to 20 years. People's reactions vary, some find it quite emotional, others feel a child-like sense of freedom and release (one man ran round in small circles crying like a 5 year old) and of course quite a few admit to feeling a little scared. But it's simply no exaggeration to say that in all those years, virtually nobody regrets trying this most special of experiences.