Adventures in Africa

One cold winter’s night earlier this year, I sat down with the lovely Margie and Lynn and a bottle of red wine to hear all about their trip to Africa last fall. A mutual dream and Fernie’s “slow season” had brought the two an opportunity to travel to Tanzania with a desire to see as much of the famous wildlife as possible. I asked if they hiked Mount Kilimanjaro, the continent’s highest peak but as Lynn explained, it wasn’t a priority. “We have so many wonderful mountains to climb right here at home – we went to Africa to see something completely new.”

Scanning through their photos I was amazed by the beautiful lighting and how green the country was at that time of year. The women chose to travel in November, part of the rainy season in Tanzania’s early spring, which means cheaper flights. This can reduce the chance of seeing as much wildlife; however, the women found this wasn’t an issue and saw an incredible number of wild animals, including lions, elephants, wildebeest, giraffes, zebras, and much more. I was impressed to hear that they camped out while on safari – but I guess when you’re from grizzly bear country, a few lions are nothing to worry about! While the roaring at night was enough to keep anyone awake, it turned out that zebras were more of a concern as Margie found out one night when she had a close encounter of the stripe-y kind. Needless to say, she didn’t forget her flashlight again after that!

Tanzania is a large country, and one month isn’t enough to cover it all, but by selecting a different arrival and departure city, Margie and Lynn were able to cover a lot of ground. They flew in to Kilimanjaro, and headed west to Arusha to begin a five-day camping safari. Through a Fernie contact, they had booked with local guide Godson David and couldn’t sing his praises highly enough – his small guiding outfit meant that the tour was personal and relaxed. Travelling in a solo vehicle was also a benefit as the larger tour bus convoys can scare away animals.

The end of the trip took the two to Zanzibar, the mystical Spice Island off the East coast. The island stay offered a beautiful contrast to the continental interior. Rented bikes offered an easy way to get around, and they enjoyed staying in Jambiani and visiting historic Stonetown. An essential part of a trip to Zanzibar is a spice tour to see the source of so many of the exotic ingredients we take for granted in the west including cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla – I can only imagine how good that would smell!

Margie and Lynn’s travel tips:
• Travel off season. It’s quieter, cheaper and friendlier!
• Travel light. A good camera is essential, and in this case binoculars were too.
• Be polite, but firm. Learn the local language and culture.
Margie and Lynn’s Tanzania highlights:
• The wildlife, of course!
• Godson. A good guide can make or break a holiday.
• The culture. Being somewhere different is an education and an inspiration.

Travel in Tanzania is easy and cheap. An express bus from Moshi to Dar Es Salam was just $20 for a nine-hour trip. Expect to pay around $25 for rooms, and $10 for meals. Margie and Lynn chose to travel on a tight budget, and were able to enjoy almost a month for around $4000 each including safaris, accommodation, meals and all travel. Flights from Calgary in November start from just $1736 with two stops, or from $2242 with one stop in Amsterdam. Contact Amy Hare for a custom quote: amy.hare@flightcentreassociates.com.

I’d love to share your travel story! Email me at hall.rebecca.j@gmail.com

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