November 2012

Posts Tagged ‘ Beyt al Chai

J. Ritzema, 2012, UK

We had an amazing time and thanks so much for all your help and advice in planning it. Your advice to upgrade to Selous Safari Camp was spot on and we were impressed as to how you took on board what we wanted from our stay at the beach when recommending the Ras Nungwi. We had the time of our lives wandering up and down the near deserted beach.
We were overwhelmed by the kind nature and generosity of everyone that we met. The combination of safari, beach and city was perfect, 3 holidays in one. Flying back next to the pilot from Zanzibar to the mainland was awesome! Everything went to plan.

Selous Safari Camp
If you are planning a trip to Selous and think this camp is outside your budget please push the boat out and stay there, you will not be disappointed. The camp is truly excellent. The accomodation is superb, to describe them as tents does not do them justice. The beds are huge. To shower outdoors whilst being watched by a baboon was quite an experience and to sit on your verandah watching giraffes a stones throw away was quite special. Elephants round the swimming pool was the icing on the cake. A word of warning – you will now get much sleep as the animals pass by under darkness but what a special thing to lie in bed listening. Food was excellent, I am a vegetarian and the chef was wonderful in making creations just for me. Pietro and Ricus run a superb ship, to be met by at least one of them with cold towels or a drink after every trip to make sure it was just so was a very personal touch and their company around the fire in the evenings was much welcomed. The guiding was superb, our guides surpassed all our expectations. It felt like whatever we wanted to see they managed to find! A safari in Selous is special, the small number of camps make you really feel like you have the place to yourselves. Go on the walking safari, you might not see big animals but it was fascinating to learn about animal life in the bush and to walk past a bush from which a hyena ran out was superb. All I would say is ignore the tip guide in your guidebook and bring double – you will want to thank everybody for making your stay so special.

Beyt al Chai
This is a great hotel if you are after somewhere with character right in the heart of Stone Town. Our room was lovely, with lots of windows. The Serena Hotel is right in front of you so you don’t get an open aspect. Room was spacious with a quirky way of locking the door (I ended up locking my husband in so he couldn’t meet me as arranged which could have been difficult!). Only downside with the room is there was no shower just a bath attachment and the bathroom is part of the bedroom which might put some people off from a privacy point of view. Small friendly bar downstairs. The service was very slow when we had lunch in the restaurant and for breakfast but food was good. Upside for us was its location, you could walk into the town and gardens at night without having to negotiate the narrow back streets that some of the other hotels were located on which meant we felt safe at all times. Well insulated we thought we’d be woken by the prayer calls all night as there is a mosque a few feet away but we managed to sleep through it. Worth upgrading to a sultan room.

J. Ritzema, 2012, UK

D. McKee USA 2012

Edward and Julian

thank you for the most amazing trip to Tanzania the past 10 days. Edward – you were spot on with the itinerary!

We had an absolute ball – saw the Big 5 including a cheetah kill happen in front of our eyes – and the Small 5000 other animals and birds. Thanks to our guide Habib from Roy safaris – he really made it special. And the diving was wonderful too.

All arrangements were great – were met and guided and cared for with gracious hospitality by everyone. Tanzanians are wonderful people – made us feel like we were their personal guests.

Accommodation was exactly what we were looking for. From the lodge at Ngorongoro to the Beyt in Stone Town – all met and exceeded what we hoped for.

We are definitely planning to go back – this time for longer!

Once again thanks for putting it all together for us, especially at such short notice.

D. McKee, USA, 2012

K Lord-Brennan

We’re back from getting married in Zanzibar and our honeymoon safari in the Selous and had a truly amazing, incredible experience. When we first spoke about our itinerary, I told you we wanted a holiday of a lifetime, and it truly was. We spoke to a lot of other couples during our trip and we seemed to have the best itinerary each time- the perfect balance between exciting safari and relaxing. We stayed at Shooting Star, Beyt-Al-Chai, Impala Camp and Ras Kutani and loved every minute. The safari was mind blowing and we loved Impala Camp – great people and facilities, that’s the way to do safari in style. The team at Shooting Star put together a beautiful beach wedding ceremony for us. We had a local band, went out in a Dhow, had a beach BBQ for our wedding meal, then sat by a campfire on the beach guarded by masaii, it was amazingly romantic.

All the travel connections were great and it was brilliant not having to worry about a thing.

A huge thank you for a truly out of this world experience, and for guiding us to such excellent accommodation choices. It is hard to put into words how wonderful it was.

We would not hesitate to recommend Africa Odyssey and Tanzania, and we will be returning someday!

K and J Brennan, Isle of Man

Mr & Mrs S Gannon

Hi Edward,

We’re home and just can’t believe all our planning has come and gone!!! We have to say a huge thank you to you, it turned out to be absolutely fantastic from start to finish!!!!

Firstly, it was marvelous to be met at every stop and escorted to the next each time. The first camp in Selous, Lake Manze was lovely, very casual, very romantic by candle light and a great start. It was a good start to a first timer going on safari as it’s all so overwhelming to see all the animals, it was better to see them so active in the second lodge we went too. The food was very good and Sarah and Phil run a good camp there, and very nice and friendly themselves, the other staff was really nice and friendly too. It was as described in all the reviews, don’t expect something you won’t get. Our very first evening at dinner an elephant came to the edge of the tent, elephants were walking through the camp daily. The park its self was “quiet” because it was warmer there the animals slept more but it was wonderful to watch and see them. We went on a full day safari the very first day and up to the hot springs, beautiful. Then early mornings, 6am starts after that where we saw the animals move much more and small cubs playing with their mother.

The second camp, Kwihala was even nicer, the decor made it very homely and the game drives here were even better. The food was excellent too. Our very first evening here we almost saw a “kill”. We saw the stalking and chase however, the lioness couldn’t make the jump to the giraffe and help came too late to her from the others. We were then on watch every day with them cause we knew they were hungry but in 4 days that we were there they never ate. Because it was cooler in this park the animals were much more active and we saw loads of different animals playing with each other.

Our guides in both camps were excellent and would highly recommend both places to anyone looking for a safari trip. We couldn’t fault the camps themselves or the game, which is the reason for going!!!

Then off to Zanzibar for our final few days, this was just stunning. It took us an hour to get their from the airport and this wasn’t the best of drives cause the country is so poor but once inside the gates you wouldn’t even realise that’s outside. Our room was overlooking the beach and on our arrival their was a bottle of champagne waiting in our room. The staff were really nice and helpful, the food was also beautiful here. The pool is lovely and it was a wonderful way to end our holiday.

Thank you again for putting together such a great honeymoon for us. We were delighted with everything you recommended and have taken so many good memories with us (as well as thousands of photo’s by the way)…….!!!!!!!

Kind regards,
Mr. & Mrs S Gannon, Ireland, 2011

J Johnston

TANZANIA – September 2011

Going on safari has been a dream of mine for some time, and it was with great excitement that my friend Laura and I set off for Tanzania in September 2011 for a safari trip, with three days on the romantic-sounding island of Zanzibar afterwards to recover.

We had chosen two adventure camps, both in the south of Tanzania, and the first was at Lake Manze in the Selous area. We got there in a small aeroplane from Dar-es-Salaam and it was exciting to look at the countryside from the air, knowing that we would be enjoying being in the bush very shortly.

We arrived at 9.30 am and set out straight away on a game drive on our way to the camp. We immediately saw impala, giraffe and elephants. We marvelled at the many birds and animals which seemed so plentiful. The beautiful spinosa terminalia trees decorated the bush with bright green foliage spreading out in a flattish form like so many umbrellas.

Arriving at the camp we were greeted by Sally and the other staff, and taken to our tent, which although basic and without electricity, had the luxury of a flush toilet and shower (with water heated by solar power) in open air underneath the sky – wonderful!

Lake Manze camp is near Lake Zerrakerra, so we saw a lot of hippos on our boat trips on the lake and nearby channel. At night they came out of the water and we could hear them chomping away on the grass very close to our tent, which was very exciting.

Having breakfast the next morning in the open sided covered area, we were thrilled to see an elephant amble by just a few yards away. There were no fences round the camp and when we walked between our tent and the main covered area we were always escorted by a Maasai guard, who made sure we came to no harm, especially when it was dark – lots of animals about!

We saw so many animals and birds that I have made a list of these at the end of this little account.

One morning early in our visit we went on a nature walk. This was really interesting – we learnt a lot about animal tracks, and especially the dung that was lying about, which could tell the experienced guides what had been about, and how long ago. Various trees were pointed out to us for example the ‘toothbrush tree’ which had flowers which looked just like red toothbrushes, and apparently the fresh light branches could be chewed to use as a toothbrush. The fruit of a desert date tree (an acacia) could be used to cure intestinal worms. The long pod cassia trees had beautiful yellow blossoms, and pods that were about 20 cm long. The greater kudu eat the leaves and flowers, and the roots and bark were boiled and used to cure malaria. Weaver bird nests abounded – built on the downwind side for shelter; different weaver birds using different kinds of architecture, so again the experienced guides could say which variety was nesting in which tree.

We learnt that the ‘big five’ of game animals have their counterpart in the ’small five’: elephant shrew, lion ant, leopard tortoise, red billed buffalo weaver and rhino beetle.

Our trips on the water were very special – we saw so many crocodiles and hippo that it was tempting to become blase, but it was wonderful to see all the animals in their natural habitat, just going about their ordinary business.

On our first trip on the lake we quickly saw a malachite kingfisher, a beautiful bird with bright blue plumage and a red beak. Soon afterwards we were joined by three pied kingfishers which followed our boat for several minutes. As a brilliant finish, we also saw a giant kingfisher sitting on a branch in a tree with a monitor lizard close by.

Another day we were driving past a large baobab tree with a hole in the trunk – the guide excitedly pointed out a porcupine in the hole. Laura and I looked and looked but could see nothing. In the end we got out of the truck and approached to just a few feet away, and in the end conceded that we could see a few white stripes moving in the darkness of the hole. To say we saw a porcupine is perhaps stretching the facts a bit!

One of the highlights of the trip for me was when we were parked up near the lake for one of our ‘bush breakfasts’ when two hippos were squaring up for a fight. Their massive jaws were wide open and they were each trying to overcome the other. We were too far away to take a photo on our somewhat limited equipment, but it was super just to watch through the binoculars. It went on for some 20 minutes, which our guide assured us meant a serious fight.

We wanted to make the most of our trip, so we were up every morning before 6 am – in the dark – and usually went out for a long morning drive, and then an afternoon drive, but the best days were when we went for a full day, involving bush breakfasts, and bush lunches, when wonderful hot food was produced like magic by our guide and driver. The ability to drive far away from anywhere, and just soak up the isolation, the heat, and the silence, especially in the heat of the day, was thrilling.

After four nights at Lake Manze, we took the short flight to Mdonya Camp in the Ruaha area. A similar camp, but perhaps even more basic as even the main areas for eating were just tented canopies. Each night we would all sit round a big camp fire, enjoying our drinks and swapping stories of the day with the other guests before gathering round a big table underneath the stars, to eat the delicious food that was provided.

There had hardly been any mosquitos or flies at Lake Manze, although there were tiny little midges which had a vicious bite, to which Laura can attest. Although there were no mosquitos at Mdonya either, there were many flies, including the notorious tse-tse fly. All these flies could bite. To try and keep them away from the truck when we were out in the bush, the guides had an old tin can on the back of the truck, in which they burnt elephant dung. I have to say it was a most aromatic smell, which the guides said was because the elephant eat acacia trees and other trees used for medicinal purposes by the Africans, and as the elephants only digest 44% of the food they eat, the end result was far more pleasant than we would have imagined.

The Ruaha region was much more arid than the Selous, but that meant that all the game collected round the waterholes. We were able each evening, at sunset, to watch baboons, impala and elephants enjoying themselves in the water, except for the one night when three thirsty lionesses gathered to drink, and all the other animals were extremely wary. Sitting there with our ‘sundowner’ drinks, and nibbling at the popcorn which appeared as if by magic, somebody remarked that it was just like being at the movies!!

We had the excitement of being shown a python which had swallowed an impala three months ago, and had been sleeping up a tree ever since to digest the enormous meal.

We saw many lion, mostly asleep under the trees in the middle of the day, but on one occasion when the evening was approaching, there were four lionesses prowling about, with a prey obviously in mind, but after spending a little while somewhat desultorily wandering around, they gave it up and turned in the opposite direction.

Among the many giraffe we saw, once there was a mother giraffe suckling a very young foal, and also a zebra which was really close to giving birth – we stayed a while but nothing happened.

One day just as the light was getting stronger, we saw five
carmine bee-eaters sitting on a branch, taking turns to fly off to catch insects. The low sunlight caught the reddish-bronze of their plumage. The guide said it was unusual to see these birds in the dry season.

There were so many birds we saw, some exceptionally beautiful. My own favourite was the lilac crested roller, which when flying was a flash of bright turquoise. We saw it fairly often but not so much that it ever failed to be an excitement. I also liked the starlings, so much more attractive than the British variety. These were also bright blue and were especially attractive in flight.

On one of our long days out we had just seen a pride of lion asleep, and then another single lion watching the world from a rock, when our truck developed a puncture, which was slightly alarming. Our driver limped down the road until we were out of sight, and we three in the back of the truck had to get out while they jacked the truck up. Fortunately there was another truck from our camp fairly near, and they came to help and we watched from the safety of the other truck while the wheel was changed in double quick time, and we were off again.

Naturally we were particularly keen to see leopard and cheetah, which are much more difficult to find, but we were lucky enough to see both: a leopard sleeping up a tree, and another one just disappearing into the bush, and the cheetah we came across was walking across a clearing and we got a very good and close view of that.

When our magical time came to an end we flew off to Zanzibar, where we stayed in a comfortable but laid-back hotel right on the beach. The safari viewing is exciting, and we made the very most of our time, but we were tired after seven very full days, and were glad to relax on the beach before the long flight home.

Ed and the team at Tanzanian Odyssey created a wonderful trip for us that lived up to all the expectations, and we can’t thank them enough for their attention to detail and for their friendly and knowledgeable help which was so invaluable at the planning stage.

Animals we saw:

Blue wildebeest
Bush buck
Cape buffalo
Grant’s gazelle
Greater kudu
Ground squirrel
Monitor lizard
Rock hyrax
Slender mongoose
Velvet monkeys
Water buffalo
Wild dogs
Wildebeest (common, and blue (the ‘gnu’)

A selection of Birds we saw (so many, and some which were indistinguishable or unidentifiable. We were told by birding visitors to the camp that they had seen over 60 different birds, including four they had never spotted before – great excitement!)

African harrier hawk
African sea eagle (fish eagle)
African spoonbill
American black crake
Eagle (Bateleur, Brown snake)
Bee-eater (carmine)
Blacksmith lapwing
Black winged stilt
Brown necked parrot
Egret (Great white)
Egyptian geese
Heron (grey, and goliath)
Ibis (Haddad)
Jacana (often known as Jesus birds, as they appear to walk on water!)
Kingfishers (Malachite, Pied and Giant)
Lapwing (spur winged)
Mariqua sunbirds
Marsh sandpipers
Namaqua Dove
Owls (eagle) (Verreaux)
Oxpeckers (who take the fleas off the buffalo)
Pied kingfisher
Starling (Greater blue-eared)
Weaver birds, (white, sparrow, red billed buffalo,Africa golden)
Woodpeckers, cardinal
Vultures (White backed, palm nut, hooded
Stork (Yellow billed, open-billed, maribou)

And to finish the lists, the Trees:

Acacia (including desert date tree, whistling white, and many others)
Balanite tree
Cassia, long pod
Crocodile tree
Euphorbia (candlelabrum)
Ladywood tree
Milk berry tree
Terminalia spinosa

and many others

J Johnston 2011

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