Africa – Tanzania & Zanzibar by Karin Henry

I was very lucky to be given the opportunity to visit Tanzania and Zanzibar in June 2016. We departed from Birmingham airport with our group of 10 on Turkish Airlines to Istanbul for an overnight stay before travelling on to Dar Es Salaam. I was very impressed with Turkish Airlines. The seats were comfortable and the extra legroom exit seats were a bonus. The in flight service was also very good. I will not hesitate to recommend their flights to my clients.

We had an interesting morning visiting Turkish Airlines training facility and I found it really interesting to see behind the scenes and understand more about the training of the crew and what it entails. We also visited their in-flight catering facility and it was great to see how the meals are prepared by hand. I now appreciate the work that goes into providing us with our meal on the plane!

After a pleasant afternoon in the Turkish Airlines lounge at Istanbul Airport we took our onward flight to Tanzania where we arrived in Dar es Salaam and spent a few hours at The Serena Hotel before taking the short flight to Selous Game Reserve. As we arrived at the dusty Mtemere Airstrip I really felt like I was in a scene from ‘Out of Africa’!

SELOUS RIVERSIDE CAMP:
An amazing location! The accommodation was in luxury tents with a thatched roof over and a sundeck with a plunge pool overlooking the river, very different to anything I had experienced before and a little more basic than I expected, but in keeping with its surroundings, so I felt very at one with nature, especially at night when I could hear the animals and birds clearly.

I had to get to grips with lukewarm /cold showers and the very low lighting, but I accept this as part of the safari experience. The food in the restaurant was excellent and had a nice ambience with views over the river. We had a sunset river safari which I loved, so peaceful watching the sunset from a small boat surrounded by hippopotami. Guys from the Masai tribe walked us to our rooms from the bar/restaurant after dark as who knows what animals were lurking in the bushes!

SELOUS SAFARI:
An amazing experience and such fun! A very comfortable vehicle (much better than many others we saw en route) and a great ranger/driver. I loved seeing the wildlife in its natural habitat and the changing scenery was fantastic. We saw lions, Giraffes, baboons, zebras, wildebeest and impala among others. The bush toilet took some getting used!
After 2 nights in this wonderful place we set off on a full day safari which would end at Serena Mivumo Safari Camp.  Another great day seeing lots of wildlife and also got to see an elephant today as well as lots of lions with their cubs! I was amazed how close we could get to the lions.

SERENA MIVUMO SAFARI CAMP:
This place has a wow factor and I loved it. Amazing location with a great view of the river from our room, how lovely to wake up to Hippos wallowing outside your window. Loved the room, beautifully furnished and the bathroom was huge. The outside shower on the balcony was also a nice touch, loved showering under the stars! The food in the restaurant was very good and again beautifully set with views over the river. Another beautiful river safari which ended on a sand bank beside the river drinking sundowners as the sun set over the river, unforgettable!

After a night here it was time to head for the beaches of Zanzibar and we took a small aircraft flight from Stiegler’s Gorge Airstrip back to Dar Es Salaam with an onward flight on another small aircraft to Zanzibar. I must mention the ‘luggage anxiety’ I suffered prior to leaving for this trip (a well known condition for those going on safari) as I had to pack everything into a soft bag without wheels weighing no more than 15k! This is due to the very small hold on these aircraft which carry only 12-14 passengers.

We arrived at the Zanzibar Serena Hotel, Stone Town. This hotel had a nice feel to it and the room was very comfortable with a sea view. The seafood dinner was excellent. It is in a good location for exploring Stone Town on foot, which I feel is a ‘must do’ before heading for your beach hotel.

After breakfast the next day we checked out and commenced a 3 hour walking tour of Stone Town. This guided tour took us to the colourful market place, historic buildings with elaborately carved wooden doors, shaded by balconies loggias and verandas lining the narrow winding streets. The tour included a visit to the slave market and slave chambers, the National Museum of Zanzibar, the High Court building, Africa House, Kelele Square, Old British Consulate, Orphanage Home, Old Fort, Forodhani Gardens and The Sultan Palace. I thoroughly enjoyed this interesting insight into the history of the island and its people.

We then drove to Breezes Beach Club and Spa where we were to spend the next night. I had a lovely room with high quality furnishings. I loved the beachfront dining for two at the Tides and felt this hotel offered a good choice of bars and restaurants, something for everyone, on a beautiful beach.

I would recommend this hotel especially to couples. We visited the following 2 hotels:-

THE PALMS, ZANZIBAR:
Beautifully furnished villas and I liked the romantic, intimate feel to this hotel and attention to detail. Ideal for honeymooners and weddings.

ZAWADI, ZANZIBAR:
I absolutely loved this small hotel. The decor is beautiful and the views from all the rooms are to die for. I loved the bath with a sea view. I also liked the relaxed ambience of the hotel. A great place to kick back with family and friends. A lovely place for young honeymooners and weddings also.

We then spent the next night at Baraza Resort & Spa

BARAZA, ZANZIBAR:
This is my favourite out of the larger hotels visited. The villas are beautiful and so spacious!! The bathroom is huge! The villa had 2 bedrooms as well as a living room and snug with a patio and garden including a private pool. It has a lovely ambience and the food was also of a high standard. Good for all, including families.

We then spent the next 2 nights at Bluebay Beach Resort and Spa

BLUEBAY, ZANZIBAR:
The best welcome of all at this hotel. I loved the Masai greeting! A very good standard hotel on another beautiful beach and a great option for those on a more limited budget. Food was of a very good standard. The room was very comfortable with a huge bed!

Thank you to Visions of Africa, Turkish Airlines and the hotels for giving me this fantastic opportunity and memories that will last a lifetime.