We’ve been to some of the national parks in the so-called northern circuit of Tanzania in the last month, and honestly? We prefer Saadani. We went to Ngorongoro crater with the expectation of hundreds of other cars, but it was quite empty, so this was not something that disturbed us. Still, it has the touch of a zoo with the crater walls as the fence. It felt as if the animals were presented on a silver platter to you, no searching for the wildlife in hide, and the animals were really too used to the cars driving around the roads; sometimes we’d even had to honk to get the zebras out of our way, they wouldn’t care to move until the car would be less than half a meter from their behind. The lions were just laying under a tree and wouldn’t even bother to look up to check who stopped. We found it a very unnatural behavior and just not really wild anymore.
With this said, I think that Saadani has really a lot to offer, especially for those who do not just want to make marks on their checklist of wildlife seen, but to really get an African experience. Let me give you some points – and I will not mention the typical slogan of “where bush meets beach”:
Saadani is definitely not a “zoo” experience, but rather a reminder of safari 50 years ago. If you love adventure, seclusion and totally wild nature, this place is for you.
Here is why what we loved especially about last year – Enjoy!
Now you are married and you finally have some time to be away from the hustle and stress of planning, running around, getting ready and at the same time keeping your families and friends happy. Now it’s the time that you should enjoy – only the two of you! Here are some reasons why Tembo Kijani is the honeymooners’ paradise and you should spend this unforgettable time in our ecolodge.
You want to have lots of time for yourself, just the two of you, without seeing anybody, enjoying long strolls and romantic dinners? – Nobody else here around, the rooms are totally separated from each other, and the only noise you’ll hear are the waves of the ocean.
You want to be at this remote stretch of beach with coconut palms, where you can look right and left and see no one for miles and miles? White sand, blue sea and just for yourself without annoying beach boys bothering? – This is the place – white sand beach, no reefs, no rocks, no sea urchins, two fisherboats per day, low tide is still close so you don’t have to walk kilometers to get to the sea.
You want to enjoy great meals, sweet and individual rooms, and great service? – I’m sure we can spoil you with this and more – our German chef preparing beautiful meals every evening, all the rooms are individually designed and built in a green way and we are always around to make your stay perfect.
You want to experience Africa and go on safari? – Come and discover with us Saadani National Park, a really unique experience; it will be only the two of you and the driver/guide in the car. Tell him to stop whenever you find a romantic spot to just enjoy the scenery or let him explain to you about the nature and wildlife in this park.
Just sit back, enjoy a beautiful start into your life as a married couple and let us spoil you!
If you are travelling in third world countries, like Tanzania for example, then there are many ways of travelling green – as many as there are different aspects and focuses of sustainable travel. Not all of them are always possible and not all of them apply to every place on earth, so it all depends on where you go and how you travel, but in my opinion there is one thing that everybody can and should take to heart everywhere: Avoid plastic!
Besides the obvious reasons that we always hear in the western hemisphere, like high pollution in the production process, lots of toxins, mostly one-time use and hence lots of waste, there are quite a few more that especially apply to third world countries.
The basic problem in these countries is, that people are used to using materials for packaging, food etc. that they’d just throw away afterwards and it would compost by itself – banana leafs, paper, raffia bags, peel from fruits, etc. And people continue doing it, but nowadays they throw plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic covers and so on after using them. And well… in most of these places there is no such thing as garbage collection of any kind (reasons for this range from missing infrastructure to just the point that it’s not worth to invest in something like this), so the only option would actually be to collect the garbage yourself and burn it in the end. But the mindset for this is still missing.
In the big cities garbage became such a big problem that people themselves started to burn it – and that’s how it smells; it stinks horribly, it’s dirty and the air is even more polluted than just with old cars, simply because there is no garbage collection system. When the rains start and the cities are flooded, and especially Dar es Salaam being located on the Indian Ocean, the water takes all the garbage out to the sea and the current will spread it even further up and down the coastline. This is also true to other places being located close to a river or the sea – a lot of the garbage ends up eventually in the ocean and then right on your beach holiday in the good case or in the stomachs of turtles and birds in the bad case.
And whereas three years ago here in Tanzania you could only buy Coca Cola in glass bottles (which you’d have to drink right away in order to give it back to the shop – deposit wouldn’t work), nowadays you can only get plastic bottles – it’s easier: less transport, lighter and of course more comfortable, just take it and throw it away afterwards.
So as a tourist, it of course won’t make a huge difference on the whole if you buy plastic or not, but it will make an impression on the people who sell it to you, if you refuse plastic bags in stores or ask for your drinks in a glass bottle, especially if you explain a bit about the reason behind it. It will also help if at home you will avoid plastic, because it will reduce demand and make the
industry reduce its plastic production – and this will not only affect you in the western hemisphere, but every other place as well.
Here in Tembo Kijani we have quite a lot of different animals, which call this place their home – dik-diks, red duikers, vervet monkeys, syke’s monkeys, nile monitors, genet cat, civet cat, sometimes a serval cat, mongoose, squirrels, rabbits, yellow baboons, bush babies, lots of birds, amongst them palm-nut vultures and fish eagles, sun birds and more. We love watching them and seeing that they are feeling at home here at the premises, but of course it’s not always easy to spot them; those who have been here already, know what I am talking about. But of course we would love to show also our guests the wildlife in Tembo Kijani, because it is quite amazing to experience them live and enjoy the monkeys right next to you.
Not every guest is lucky to see them, some of them have a close encounter with the bush babies at night, some see a grey kestrel sitting in front of their mirror in the morning, some find hermit crabs in their foot bath and some have a few small sun birds flying through their rooms. Not every guest is happy with this, but that’s part of nature and being on vacation in an ecolodge. Well, of course that’s not usually the case and we are really tempted to do everything to get wildlife and guests closer to each other. In many cases people do the mistake and are tempted into feeding wildlife, not from bad intentions, but good ones. And surely this “temptation” also exists here, just wandering around with a banana, seeing the monkey and wanting to throw a piece for him to get more used to us. But that’s not the way one should behave, especially we, as a lodge that is concerned about wildlife and conservation. From this feeding, the animals develop a sense that humans are harmless, which probably in most cases is true. But one shouldn’t forget that a lot of the wildlife here is still hunted, either for meat or simply because they are ruining the crops of the farmers. So the harmless intention of simply seeing wildlife and feeding it, can endanger them more than conserving them.
So, being eco, being environmentally responsible, is not only not to destroy the environment, but also not to interfere or disturb – this also applies to the behavior of wildlife that is encountered. So here at Tembo Kijani wildlife is still wild and with a bit of luck and patience, you will manage to see some of the animals here anyway.
Many times you’ll see eco hotels, eco lodges, eco vacation etc. and you are wondering what is it that makes this place eco? Since there is no real universal rating like stars in a regular hotel (or Michelin stars for restaurants), where you’d know what to expect, but more different ratings from different organizations, you’ll mostly see only on your vacation, how and why the hotel you booked, is actually eco. For Tembo Kijani we try on our website to give a bit of first information of our green efforts (See Our Dream), but of course in the matter of time, there are more aspects and more ideas also from our side, how to improve our sustainability. So for this I wrote this blog and will tell you a bit more about five details, that you won’t see when you are here, because sometimes it’s the little features behind the scenes that make a difference.
We are happy to live here in Tanzania in the bush where we have the challenges to be eco, waver all the options available and actually be creative to find the best one fitting to this place.
A few weeks back Eyal came back home from grocery shopping in Pangani and as usual with the newest gossip – news around here really go by bush drums and not newspaper as you’d think. But this time the story was actually about Tembo Kijani – good to hear what’s going on in our own lodge.
So the story went that “Tembo Kijani”, meaning we, are going to a witchdoctor (you have to know that the Swahili Coast here is quite famous for that, and the next witchdoctor is located in a village around 40km away from here) for him to do voodoo on the lodge, so that we are getting more business and the lodges around less. According to the story it worked – and I have to admit, yes, the end of last year was quite busy. But we really had a good laugh about it and told that the only “witchdoctor” we go to, is God himself, and that yes, He really blesses us with work.
A few weeks later just before the start of the rain season, one of our employees came in the morning to work with the story that there was a baby, just born, in a village around 80km from here, and that he had verses of the Quran written all over his body, and he talked already and prophesied that there will heavy rain coming next Monday; but not clear rain, rather dark orange that no one will be able to drink. He was really confused and a bit panicked. To him it seemed totally normal that something like this would happen. In the end, there was no rain (although by now the rain season has started) and most probably also no Quran-tattooed baby talking right after birth.
Even though these stories are pretty funny, it shows quite a lot about the way people here on the coast in Tanzania think: most things are a mystery, rain doesn’t come according to the weather, and neither success doesn’t come from hard work.
Let’s hope that at least for our employees we can make a difference and prove them that success comes from hard work and not cheating; and if we can teach them a bit about the connection between deforestation and rain, then it’s even better.
If you are walking through Pangani or Saadani and its surrounding villages, and will ask someone if they know Mr. Tembo Kijani – yes, of course… And what’s his real name? – That information will be a bit more difficult to get probably. And probably it’s quite the same that you know the ecolodge Tembo Kijani and can find some information on it, but who are the people behind it? Well, here we’d like to introduce ourselves at least a bit
We are “family” Tembo Kijani, or with the name that you’ll find in our passports – family Peled. This is Eyal (dad), Sarah (mom) and Timna. We came to Tanzania around four years ago with the dream to build something ecological, which will have an impact on our surrounding and our guests.
Originally Eyal is from Israel, Sarah is from Germany and Timna – well … both. When we arrived here in the first place, we got to a really untouched place with only a well and a small hut that we had built for ourselves. We brought a solar panel to be able to charge our phones and after a while also a stove on gas. And slowly slowly (pole pole as you say in Kiswahili) we brought more and more civilization to Tembo Kijani – each of us had his/her own favorite part, that we missed most. Eyal enjoyed the day, when he could finally shower with boiling hot water (we got our first solar water heating system), Timna drew on her walls, once she had her own playing room (don’t worry – we simply didn’t paint it in the first place), Sarah spent the entire day doing laundry once the washing machine had arrived, but probably all of us were really excited about having fresh milk and keeping it that way with a fridge. Coffee in the morning (– before only chai) keeping vegetables fresh and having the option of storing meat and fish. WOW! Life is good!
Since then we really became part of the place and probably Tembo Kijani reflects our character and what we love – lots of nature, simplicity, but also the luxury that we missed when we arrived (so, hot shower for everyone, clean sheets and laundry service and cold milk for the coffee in the morning, but please no painting in the rooms )
And I know – a picture is missing, but we only take pictures of the wildlife in Saadani But if any of you have a good picture of all of us together, feel free to send it and I’ll add it to the post.
Although we do a lot of safaris in Saadani National Park (of course we would always love to do more – we are not getting tired of it), it seems that each time we go, we see something new. Yesterday we went only for a half-day game drive with our guests and saw the five zebras again – they are apparently still around since February, still only 5 of them, still together with giraffes and still extremely fat to be honest.
Around a month ago we just went for a few hours in the northern part of Saadani (Genda Genda), which is great for spotting Sable Antelopes, and just on our way out, three porcupines crossed the road and headed off into the thick grass – really funny the way they run with their short legs and their quills swaying from side to side.
But the most encouraging and surprising encounter we had on September 23 just when we were coming back from Dar es Salaam and only crossed through Saadani National Park to get back home. Shortly after the Wami Gate (in the south of the park, the closest entrance to Bagamoyo and Dar es Salaam), we spotted around 15 elands, including at least one small one and one that looked pregnant. So not only that we finally saw them for the first time in Saadani, but also with encouraging news that there will be more in the future.
I am very much looking forward to our next safari – excited to see which other animal is hiding in Saadani and is only waiting to be discovered!
We love wildlife – and we enjoy to see it again and again, discover new animals and watching their behavior. Luckily we don’t always have to go to safari in Saadani National Park for this, but just being at Tembo Kijani, we really see a lot.
It’s not only the crabs at the beach or the birds and butterflies whirling around, but also with a bit open eyes and ears that you can spot monkeys and gazelles. Usually we have some vervet monkeys playing around between the Bandas and a pack of Sykes monkeys jumping from tree to tree next to a big Cashewnut tree. Walking a bit outside the lodge you will encounter yellow baboons.
In the afternoons an African Fish Eagle couple passes by and rests on one of the dead coconut trees; also a Palmnut Vulture flies by quite frequently and lands on the beach to annoy the crabs.
Of course all sorts of other birds can be seen as well – usually you hear them very clear, but spotting them in the green of the trees can be a bit difficult.
But most of all it’s fun when you walk through the lodge, hear some noises in the bush, wait a little bit and then see a dik-dik or a red duiker coming out. If you stand really still, they won’t really notice you and just go about their business as usual.
We are in the middle of adding some small waterholes on the plot in the middle of the bush, so that for the next dry season there will be plenty of water and maybe then we’ll have some new four-legged visitors as well.