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Our East African Itinerary – Two Weeks in the Motherland

May 28, 2016

East Africa – I don’t think it would be over-reaching to suggest this could just be the dream destination for every animal lover!

If you’re considering a getaway to Africa this post will (hopefully) help you decide how you might split your time between Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.

Happy planning (and stay tuned for more detailed posts regarding the following)…



Zanzibar, Tanzania – 3 days/3 nights.  Flying through the night from Dubai, UAE (via Muscat, Oman), we touched down in Dar es Salaam before quickly taking off again for Zanzibar in Tanzania.

 

Nairobi and Masai Mara, Kenya – 5 days/4 nights.  Morning flight from Zanzibar to Nairobi

Kampala, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kibale Forest and Murchison Falls, Uganda – 7 days/8 nights.  Late afternoon flight from Nairobi to Entebbe, then pre-arranged transfer to Kampala

  • Kampala – 1 night
    • Accommodation:  Red Chilli Hideaway in a 4 person shared dorm (one night free of charge when a safari is booked through them)
  • Uganda Tour – 4 days/3 nights.  Tour:  Wild Whispers Africa. Pick up/drop off from Kampala and the following was all included in the tour:
    • Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – 2 days/2 nights
      • Accommodation: Trekkers Tavern
      • Activities:  Visit to the equator, gorilla tracking, community tour
    • Kabale Forest – 2 days/1 night
      • Accommodation: Chimpanzee Forest Guest House
      • Activities:  Chimp tracking
  • Kampala – 1 night
    • Accommodation:  Red Chilli Hideaway, this time in a private double room (shared facilities)
  • Murchison Falls – 3 days/2 nights (organised through Red Chilli Hideaway)
    • Tour: Red Chilli Hideaway: Big Five Tour – the following was included in the tour:
    • Accommodation:  Red Chilli Rest Camp in a double tent
    • Activities:  Guided walk to Murchison Falls, morning game drive, afternoon river cruise/game drive on the Nile, visit to the Rino Sanctuary
  • Kampala – 1 night
    • Accommodation:  Red Chilli Hideaway, again in a private double room (shared facilities).

Flight out that morning back to Dubai.

There you have it!  Within two weeks we managed to get a good feel for Eastern Africa; of course it was only an introduction to these gorgeous countries but as someone who grew up dreaming of going on safari, it was a mind-blowing trip.

If you’d like to read more about our thoughts comparing the Masai Mara and Murchison Falls safaris, you can read on here.

Please let us know if you find some of the information included above helpful in planning your next African experience!


2 weeks in East Africa - Explore Kenya and Uganda.  An amazing highlight itinerary including safaris, game drives, chimp and gorilla tracking and more! 2 weeks in East Africa - Explore Kenya and Uganda.  An amazing highlight itinerary including safaris, game drives, chimp and gorilla tracking and more!

 

Activities Africa Eco Tourism Zanzibar

Diving off the Eastern Coast of Zanzibar

April 30, 2016

One of our favourite things to do when travelling is to check out the local wildlife, so when I heard there was the opportunity to see seahorses in the wild during our time on Zanzibar, there was very little doubt that we’d be donning our togs (a swimming costume for you non-Kiwis) and jumping in the ocean!

After a little research we decided upon diving with Buccaneers – it was an easy decision (check out their reviews!) and as it turned out, the right one.

The dive shops sits right on the beautiful beach of Paje, where you’ll board the boat by wading into the water.  Though the Eastern side of the island isn’t as well known as the Northern shores, it was close to our accommodation and our best bet at seeing seahorses, so was the best choice for us.

Wading out to our dive boat

Lauren and the team of dive masters were incredibly friendly and professional.  We only tend to dive whilst we’re on holiday and because different parts of the world use different units to measure the amount of air left in your tank, we always benefit from a little refresher, something our dive masters were more than happy to do.

The shore briefing was comprehensive and we were excited to hear about the variety of sealife that we would potentially see.  We opted to join the boat staying inside the reef as our main hope was to spot the local seahorses (something we’d never seen in the wild before) and, fortunately for us, we were in luck!

Throughout our two dives we managed to spot a number of seahorses, pipefish, trumpetfish, needlefish, cuttlefish, harlequin shrimp, sea snakes, starfish, moray eels, a small octopus, beautifully camouflaged white flounder and the most varied coral formations we’ve ever seen.  It was odd to see lionfish again after our last diving experience in Mexico (where they’re considered a pest, due to overpopulation as so many escaped from aquariums during the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina) but nice all the same to spot a couple.


In between dives, we were offered a variety of fruit and biscuits, along with bottled water, whilst the team very kindly prepared our gear for our next dive.

We really enjoyed our time diving with the team at Buccaneers in Zanzibar and would 100% recommend them to anyone looking for a safe and professional dive company, in an area where you’ll be sure to spot all sorts of little sea oddities (and I mean that in the very best way!)

A stunning end to our afternoon on the water

If you too would like to venture into the deep blue off the coast of Zanzibar, a two tank dive will set you back USD130 per person (+ a small credit card fee should you wish to pay using one) and if you ask nicely, you may even be able to grab a ride back to your accommodation after your dive.

Apologies for the blue hint on the photos/videos – though I bought a red-filter for the GoPro, I managed to leave it behind at our accommodation!

Accommodation Activities Africa Eco Tourism Tanzania Zanzibar

Finding Paradise on Zanzibar’s Southern Coast

April 12, 2016

We’d heard mixed things about Zanzibar, a small island off the coast of Tanzania, in Eastern Africa – some of the people we know that had visited previously loved it (and their pictures certainly made it look gorgeous!) but we’d heard from other people that it wasn’t particularly safe or didn’t tick the boxes they were looking for as part of their African experience.

Though we were torn, a beach break before we hit mainland Africa appealed so we decided to give Zanzibar a go and we ended up being pleased we did!  Beautiful and varied beaches, a relaxed coastal atmosphere, friendly people and a wide variety of animals certainly made Zanzibar feel like the right choice for us.

The clincher, however, for me was the draw of the wild bottlenose dolphins.  No matter what else I do, dolphins seem to be one of those animals that never loose their allure, so when we decided to head to Zanzibar I was pretty excited to find out that we could swim with them… I was even more excited when we arrived to find the Southern side of Zanzibar is relatively untouched by tourists and that swimming with dolphins would only cost us USD20 each!  Stretching our travelling money is one of the only things I love more than the actual travelling itself (because, woohoo, more holidays!)

We booked to stay at Promised Land Lodge (USD50 a night) which proved a beautifully relaxed backdrop for us to unwind in.  The team at the resort were welcoming from the get-go and we enjoyed many conversations with the charismatic owner, Shebi, about life in Tanzania.  Nothing was a problem (hakuna matata) and we were felt at ease instantly.

Ahead of time, we’d read some reviews complaining about ‘salt water showers’ but found the salty water to be due to the bores that the water is taken from – it’s far from sea water.  Yes, you’ll feel a little salty whilst you’re there, but this isn’t uncommon for accommodation in Zanzibar and it’s absolutely worth it for views like these (especially considering the price we paid)…

This part of the island is sheltered and is the perfect spot for sunset watching, as you can see.

Our days were spent relaxing, munching on delicious food (with menus changing each day in response to the available ingredients) and of course, swimming with dolphins and at the beach.  The beach is beautiful and best accessed off a set of steps at high tide (which when we were there was early in the morning and then again around 3-6pm) and the addition of a swimming pool (as of April, in the end stages of construction) will significantly add to the resort.  Zanzibar itself was hotter than we experienced elsewhere in Eastern Africa so having the water nearby to cool off was definitely appreciated.

The morning of our dolphin trip, we were collected from the jetty at 6am and spent approx. 20 minutes motoring to our swimming site (with two other guests).

Before long, we were instructed to throw our flippers and mask/snorkel on and quickly dive into the water. How fortunate were we to be greeted with this…

(click to watch video)

Wow! Worth getting up at 5.40am on our first day of holiday for… #Zanzibar #Tanzania #dolphins

A video posted by Sarah & Nathan Chant ✈️? (@exploringkiwis) on

 

Our swims lasted anywhere from about 45 seconds to 3 minutes, before the dolphins continued on their way; at which point we piled back into the boat and followed behind them.  All in all, we managed seven or so swims of varying length before calling it a day and heading back to our accommodation.

If you do elect to spend time with these gorgeous creatures, be sure to get the earliest boat possible – we were the second boat out and definitely had better swimming opportunities than the other boats that arrived a little later.

We travel with our rash tops whenever we’re expecting to swim in the ocean and we’re glad we did – the water was filled with countless tiny fluroscent blue jellyfish and some slightly bigger translucent ones. I’m not a fan of jellies and by the end of the swim had a number of stings on my legs – the rash shirts protected our upper bodies from the stings and ensured my bikini top stayed on when we were flinging ourselves into the water! If you have on, be sure to pack it.

 

Zanzibar ended up being the perfect start to our East African taster and although it wasn’t 100% reflective of what we went on to see whilst visiting the mainland, Africa itself is so diverse that you wouldn’t find that anywhere.

A Tanzanian favourite – Stoney Tangawizy (ginger soda)

Nathan relaxing, soaking up the free wifi!

What a spot!

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 5.10.07 AM

Have you visited Zanzibar?  If so, what was your experience like?

Stay tuned for details of our time visiting the Eastern coast before heading to Kenya and Uganda!

To get to Promised Land Lodge, the taxi drivers will try to charge you USD60 (we got it down to USD50), but we found out afterwards that Shebi could have booked our transfer for USD40.  The resort itself is pretty remote, so it’s best to take a few good books and enough cash to spend on taxis if you’re wanting to go further afield.

Africa Itineraries Kenya planning Tanzania Uganda

We’re off to Africa!

January 23, 2016

Since moving to the UAE, we’ve already been fortunate to travel to a new continent (Europe, we’re talking to you!) and I’m excited to say we’ll soon be venturing to another… the wild vastness of Africa!

We’ve pencilled together an itinerary that looks something like this:

  • Tanzania – Zanzibar for some beach time (snorkelling, diving etc)
  • Kenya – leaving from Nairobi for a three day safari to Maasi Mara (and possibly Lake Nakuru?)
  • Uganda – Murchison Falls for a three day safari (inc. a rino sanctuary) and then either a 3 day trip to trek with the gorillas or 4 days with the gorillas and chimps.

Our flights into Zanzibar and out of Entebbe have been booked and though I’ve got information on the other things we’re looking at, we are flexible there.

Have you been to any of these spots?  What did you love?  Is there anything you’d avoid?  It’s our first time in Africa and we’d very much like any guidance you can offer!

xx Sarah

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