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Safari adventures in Tanzania

Safari adventures in Tanzania

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“Dr Livingstone I presume?”

These famous words were uttered at Ujiji, (six kilometres from Kigoma in Western Tanzania) which is on the shores of the vast and beautiful Lake Tanganyika. My son Alex lives there so last August, vaccinated to the eyeballs and with necessities under control, it was time to travel again and visit him.

Kigoma, with its spectacular tropical sunsets and its interesting and often confronting history, is a poor, rural part of the country. 

Alex and a colleague from his UWA days have established and run a honey factory there – Pure Joy Honey – which is the largest employer in the area. It’s a social enterprise that works with local beekeepers to produce sustainable, organic honey. I wasn’t fully aware of its scope so had plenty to learn. They buy honey from about 3,000 small scale beekeepers, employ 90-100 people and produce around 20 tons of honey every two days, most of which is trucked 1,000 kilometres to Dar Es Salaam and exported in bulk to Europe and North America. 

While in Kigoma, I had the opportunity to help at a local school. My role was to listen to older students read aloud to me in English and to correct their pronunciation. Swahili is their first language but they were pretty good English speakers. Many of them were aiming for university. This was a Christian school so at the end of the tuition time, they gathered together for bible reading and prayers and then sang in unselfconscious harmony – really lovely to listen to. 

I very much enjoyed that experience but the rather terrifying highlight of the visit was a 350km trip to Katavi National Park. The drive there became hilarious as we were increasingly covered in dust thanks to the dry season, lots of unsealed roads and no air-conditioning in the car (unless you count some holes in the floor as air-conditioning). I was soon the ‘full Donald Trump’: bright orange to the roots of my hair as the dust stuck to my carefully applied sunscreen. It was decidedly risky overtaking vehicles in all that dust, and the quickly banished, but sobering thought flashed through my mind that there was no RAC helicopter out there. 

We stayed outside the park at Riverside Camp which as its name suggests is on a river – the Katuma River – famous for being home to hippos and crocodiles. Having survived the drive, I had pretty much abandoned being over-anxious and was relatively blasé about close proximity to these dangerous creatures. 

A quiet beer in the afternoon while watching the hippos which were snorting and lolling around was interrupted by the unexpected arrival of three very large elephants. They passed just a few metres outside our accommodation to which we had quickly retreated once it become obvious that the elephants were heading our way. They walked right next to the car while we fervently willed them not to lean on it. Fabulous but frightening. We were very pleased to be housed in brick bungalows and not camping. 

The next day in the park we saw many birds and counted 14 different sorts of animals. The highlight was being in amazingly close proximity to a pride of lions who were resting calmly under a tree, apparently very well fed. Two males, five lionesses and six cubs – very, very lucky to see them. They ignored us which was fortunate as we were only metres away and in an old, open-sided jeep. 

And there was more to the holiday including after leaving Tanzania going on to walk in Spain but that’s another story. Was it a rich experience? Absolutely! My advice? Do It Now – whatever it is!

Thank you to our client Jean, for sharing her wonderful story. We love hearing your Rich Life stories. If you have one you would like to share, get in touch with us here.

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