EcoBlog Tembo Kijani

EcoBlog about Beach, Safari, Nature and Life in the African Bush

Tag: Africa

Why Saadani is a Gem of a National Park…

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 has a big variety of wildlife to offer: giraffes, elephants, lions, hippos, crocodiles, hartebeests, waterbucks, reedbucks, buffaloes, wildebeests, bushbucks, yellow baboons, vervet monkeys, black- and white colobus monkeys and other more difficult to spot species such as eland, zebras, leopards, hyenas, the rare Roosevelt’s sable antelope, porcupines and aardvarks.
  • Saadani is one of the few places in Tanzania where you can do a boating safari on a river to see hippos and crocodiles really next to you (and not standing next to a smelly pool).
  • With more than 300 bird species spotted and identified in the park, ranging from water birds to eagles and vultures to tiny sunbirds, Saadani makes a good spot for bird lovers as well.
  • The landscapes are stunning – Saadani has about everything from candelabra trees to thick forests, acacias and savannas to mangrove systems, Marula trees, open savannas, high grass, flat salt pans and then the view to the Indian ocean on some hills.
  • This park is not on the standard itinerary, so you’ll meet very few visitors during your game drives – if you love to watch the animals all by yourself, you’ll love it.
  • Because of its mostly thick vegetation, there are hardly any open savannas where you’d need binoculars to see whether you just spotted a buffalo or an elephant. The animals will be really close to you and they’ll always check if you are not a danger to them. You’ll see animals behaving naturally and right next to you.
  • If you like to be active on your safari as well, then this is the right place: it’s not only sitting around in the car, but it’s an adventure to find the animals – track their footprints and droppings, check in which waterholes is still some water left, listen to the noises and smell the scents – sometimes the herd of buffalos is just behind the next scrubs.

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!

 

Honeymooners’ Paradise

 

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!

Long stretch of untouched beach - paradise for every (newly-wed) couple

Long stretch of untouched beach – paradise for every newly-wed couple

No. 1 Rule for Green Travel

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 impressionRaffia baskets 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.

Wildlife at the lodge–conservation or endangering?

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.

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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.

Three cars and no good fundi

Sometimes guests arrive and ask us if we still have rooms at all, because of all the cars in the parking, the lodge should be full already. Well – yes, we actually have still lots of rooms, because all three cars belong to us. I assume that this sounds a bit pretentious for most, but we have learned the hard way here in the bush that with less than that, it’s difficult to survive.

The first car is working the way it’s supposed to, the second car has some noises and needs some maintenance and the third car is not functioning altogether and is waiting for the fundi gari (car mechanic).  So, since the workshop of the fundi is around 120km away, he just doesn’t stop by, it usually takes him a week to decide to appear – sometimes we are faster and manage to bring the car to him.

But mostly here right on the coast the problems are the same – loose bolts, eaten bushes, rusted body parts. It’s nothing that anybody coming from a western country would ever have to think about repairing, and so just by living here in the African bush, we started to become mechanics ourselves and manage to fix the small things without the mechanic and at least see and understand the bigger problems when they appear.

Sometimes though we are still stunned – driving on the road and just seeing your back wheel pass by – oh well, the car is still driving, but you better stop and catch the wheel and put it back on. No worries, this happened only once, but it was definitely an experience that I never thought would happen.

Cooking with lobster and little tiny ants

Running a kitchen in Africa is really exciting, because you get really fresh and untreated products from the sea and the land; but also unknown products you will find, for which you have to first figure out what it’s good for at all. The big benefit of a family-run lodge here is, that if we have new unidentified products, we try them ourselves – until now everybody is still alive 🙂 and you get an honest feedback as the chef.

But there are also lots of difficulties that you have to face (in Germany certain things are working, but not here), like the humidity, which makes you bake some stuff just on time, but also the wildlife (little tiny ants), which force you to work extremely clean and fast.

Also good and exquisite products are possible to afford without going bankrupt, like lobster for example. On the other hand many products are not always available, so that as a chef you have to be very creative and organized with your stock – you don’t get the supplies delivered to your door (ok, besides the fish and the seafood coming right from the ocean). And you also have to be very careful with your resources like water and electricity since Tembo Kijani is a self-sufficient lodge and these are very limited resources and don’t just “come out of the tap or plug” like in Europe, but it definitely makes you appreciate them more.

All in all it’s great to cook in Africa if you know the basics in the kitchen, because you have to make everything by yourself – bread, gnocci, parfait, where in most other places you would take the shortcut and just order it, but I hope you’ll feel the difference when enjoying your next dinner at Tembo Kijani.