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September 2013

Echo Beach

Posts Tagged ‘ Echo Beach

Barton Family, 2013 UK

 

We had a really marvellous time and the kids loved every minute of it.

 

Lake Manze Camp

We enjoyed our stay at Lake Manze hugely.  I have been on Safari a number of times, but seeing Elephants strolling through the middle of the camp on a daily basis is an experience I will never forget.

 

Lake Manze had the big advantage of the relative seclusion of Selous while still providing plenty of opportunities to see the game.  The camp holds a maximum of around 24 people, so it was intimate and friendly.  The staff are marvellous in the camp and knowledgeable and helpful on the drives/trips (thanks, Victor and Emanuel, you were stars).  We were able to choose our own itinerary each day from a number of options and took in drives, boat trips (including fishing) and a walking safari.  Having breakfast and lunch in the bush is a great experience and we did so whenever possible.

 

This was the first Safari I had been on with my entire family, which encompasses 10, 13, 19 and 23 year-olds.  I have never seen them all looking happy for so long, although it was a shame that the youngest could not go on the walking Safari.

 

Anyone looking for real 5 star accommodation will be disappointed by Lake Manze.  However, it is very comfortable and more than came up to our expectations.

 

Tim Barton and family

 

Echo Beach

Anyone looking for a relaxing time on a tropical beach will find Echo Beach ideal.  The big advantage from our perspective was the size.  There is only room for a maximum of around 20 guests, so it is intimate and easy to find somewhere to sit or lounge even when full, as it was towards the end of our stay.   The surroundings are not manicured lawns, but raked sand and shrubs, which I thought really made the place.  We had children with us and they were made to feel welcome at all times.

 

Andrew and Sue were perfect hosts, constantly checking that we did not have any problems and helping whenever we needed something.  However, the biggest surprise was the food.  I have stayed in many 5 star hotels and never had such excellent food on a consistent basis.  There was a decent choice, even when we were more or less the only people there, but whatever we chose was good.

 

The beach is almost a cliché, with white sand, blue sea and even a horizontal palm tree.  High tide gave great swimming in the Indian Ocean and low tide provided great walking opportunities out towards the reef.

 

Tim Barton and family

D & J Collis

Hi Edward,

We both agreed that we had to write to you and let you know just how great our trip was!

Echo Beach hotel was fantastic. The owners and all the staff made us feel very welcome and it was the perfect hotel for us. Small, quiet, on the beach, fantastic food, clean rooms and great service. They were extremely helpful in organising trips for us and in particular the diving was very good. We are both keen scuba divers and so having an instructor on-site was really helpful. We did dives from the hotel in their own dive boat as well as a trip to the other side of the island organised and led by the Echo Beach instructor and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.The hotel even managed to organise for me to watch England play in the world cup at a nearby bar!

Next came the Safari in the south (Ngorongoro Crater & Lake Manyara). This was our first safari and so both of these experiences were amazing to us (despite being warned that these areas are closer to zoos than Safaris). A private jeep was definitely worth-while so thanks for the advice with regard to that. Plantation Lodge was lovely too: beautiful rooms, more great food and very helpful staff.

The grand finale was of course the trip to the Northern Serengeti and to Alex Walker’s Serian camp. This was definitely one of if not the best wildlife experiences we’ve ever had on our travels (and having backpacked all over the world – including places such as the Amazon and the Galapagos, hopefully this is saying a lot). The camp is extremely well organised with fancy plumbed “tents”, great food and great service. However, the real reason this camp is so great is of course Alex himself. As well as making every evening meal memorable with his stories and general wildlife knowledge, he clearly cares a great deal about the experience that every one of his guests has. He works as hard as he can with your guides (who are also excellent) to get you to the right places at the right times and to make sure you are enjoying yourself. Consequently, we got to see all of the big five within about 10m from our car. An intimidating site when one of those big five is a massive Rhino.
Of course, ticking off the big five wasn’t even the biggest highlight wildlife-wise – that had to be being in the middle of The Great Migration – and again we have you to thank for convincing us that this was the best idea for us and the best use of our money. I think in fact, our only negative point for the entire trip would be that we wanted more time at this camp. It was that good and every
extra day is definitely worth it.

So, finally, we can fully recommend everything that you organised for us on the trip. Every hotel, trip and even connections were perfect.

And of course that means that we can fully recommend yourself also. Being backpackers and used to organising our own trips, we weren’t really sure what to expect. We are so used to having to sort out
transport and connections ourselves that we found it hard to believe it could all work so smoothly; which it definitely did. Our stay at the Serian camp convinced us we have to return to it when it moves
South and so we will no doubt be requiring your services again in the
future.

Many thanks for all your help and advice and for booking us a fantastic and memorable honeymoon.
J Collis 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:

Baboons
Blue wildebeest
Bush buck
Cape buffalo
Cheetah
Crocodiles
Duiker
Dykdyk
Elephants
Eland
Giraffe
Grant’s gazelle
Greater kudu
Ground squirrel
Hartebeest
Hippo
Hyena
Impala
Jackal
Leopard
Lions
Mongeese
Monitor lizard
Python
Rock hyrax
Slender mongoose
Velvet monkeys
Warthogs
Waterbuck
Water buffalo
Wild dogs
Wildebeest (common, and blue (the ‘gnu’)
Zebra

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
Bustard
Egret (Great white)
Egyptian geese
Heron (grey, and goliath)
Hoopoe
Hornbills
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)
Pelicans
Pied kingfisher
Starling (Greater blue-eared)
Swallows
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
Baobabs
Cassia, long pod
Crocodile tree
Ebony
Euphorbia (candlelabrum)
Fig
Ladywood tree
Mangrove
Milk berry tree
Tamarind
Terminalia spinosa

and many others

J Johnston 2011

R Rainey

Echo Beach was great, small and intimate and the staff was wonderful.  The Safara was also great.  The only thing that was a little bit of a hassel was the extra trip from, Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam, but that was not that bad.  On the whole everything was fantastic!!!
R  Rainey 2011

J Marshall Review

Ras Kutani

After a very long trip from the Midwest USA, we were tired but excited to finally be at our first destination.  We were greeted by friendly staff who knew exactly what we would feel like (tired) and you could tell the resort was set up to help us recover from the long trip.

This was our honeymoon, but we had no idea the degree that this resort would go to to make our first stay special.  The first night they had a special lagoon-side dinner set up complete with candle-lit walkway to the dock.

Even better was that my wife thought I had something to do with setting up our special meal, of course I couldn’t take the credit.  We had our own server, champagne and a special evening that we thoroughly enjoyed.  The only thing we didn’t anticipate was that we were up in the middle of the night due to the time change.  The suite we had, which was one of higher units with a view, was well worth the extra expense with our own plunge pool and a view unmatched by any of the other units.  To give you an idea of the degree of service, the staff just happened to find out during our stay that both my wife and I were having our birthdays one day a part.  Unprovoked, that evening a cake with candles along with staff to sing happy birthday were at our table side.  We had fun checking out the nature trail, did a tour into the local village (well worth the trip) and in general enjoyed getting acclimated to the time change and ready for our safari.  Everyone was friendly and don’t forget to make a donation to the school in the local village which was part of the village tour.

 

Kwihala Tented Camp

This was our first safari and of course “camping” trip as a married couple.

The pictures on the website did not do justice as portraying how luxurious the accommodations really were and the uniqueness of the camp site in relation to the reserve.  The caption for our picture of our tent was “roughing it, not really” as the staff ratio was about three people for every guest for that particular stay.  The bucket shower might test your limits as to how fast you can bath each evening, but it was a funny story we enjoy telling people when they ask about our trip.  We could hear the lions roar every night and the sounds alone are something you never forget.  Our days of safari were worth every minute, with a knowledgeable guide who was also enjoyable to spend many hours with.  As our guide shared, you never know if you will see something special or if you will time things and not see much.  Of course we saw several amazing wildlife and took pictures we will never forget.  We both uploaded our pictures from the safari to an electronic picture frame in our offices and probably look at them weekly, even two years later.  The meals, fireside some nights, along with the entire package were definitely worth the long trip to get to the camp.  This part of Tanzania had an entirely different flavor from Selous where we did our other three-day safari.  Both were unique in their own way.  If your bride, much like mine, is not a big camping type of person the time frame for the tented camp of three days is perfect in our opinion.

 

Beho Beho

It is hard to explain to someone who hasn’t been on a safari as to how nice the accommodations and service are when you go on a trip like this, especially when you live in the Midwest USA where most have and never will even visit Africa.  Beho Beho has to be one of the most luxurious and unique places we will ever stay.  The layout of the resort, the staff and the people we met that were also guests were enjoyable and each day had a unique set of events that made it special.  Our guide, Onesma, was fun to hang out with and we recommend the half-day hike if you have the athletic ability to walk ten miles or more.  You get an entirely different perspective hiking versus riding in a vehicle all day.  For the days we spent in our range rover, we viewed a leopard, several lions and came up on an impala that had just given birth.  One day when we visited where the crocodiles were they even had a nice breakfast set up right by the lake.  We were impressed with the creativity and the little things this resort did to make us feel special and our room was one of the neatest set-ups for a resort we could ever imagine.  The other thing we didn’t expect but was very helpful was that our guide was also the equivalent of a professional photographer.  He knew how to use our camera better than we did, so we got several amazing pictures that we turned into a slide show we posted on snapfish for our friends to see.  Our plan someday is to re-visit this camp and bring our children as we think the educational value alone for them would be worth the trip.  Our perspective on the world and the “animal kingdom” is forever changed after our honeymoon to Africa, but the Beho Beho resort was definitely our most enjoyable spot during our trip which was an already high benchmark to beat.

 

Ras Nungwi

We kept a few postcards that we got at this resort and use them as bookmarks for the current book we are usually reading.  They are just a few pictures of this resort, but every time I open my book I have a positive memory of our time at Ras Nungwi.  This was after a week of safari, so we were ready to relax and do our “beach time” for part of our honeymoon.  We went scuba diving, took a few trips into the local town and in general enjoyed hanging out and enjoying the clear waters and friendly staff/service.  If you are a scuba diver, we felt very comfortable with the guides located at the resort for our diving excursion and the only thing we would say is don’t forget bottled water (we did).  Last but not least, the resort set up a special beach side meal for us one evening which was yet another thing my wife thought I planned but didn’t!  We would recommend coupling this stop with a safari if you can make it work, it complimented the safari portion of our tour well.

 

J Marshall 2011

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