Monthly Archives: September 2014

World Tourism Day 2014

Best wishes for WTD 2014

“Each time we travel, use local transport at a destination or buy products from a local market we are contributing to a long value chain that creates jobs, provides livelihoods, empowers local communities, and ultimately brings in new opportunities for a better future”.
Taleb Rifai – Secretary General of World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

Today we are celebrating the World Tourism Day (WTD), a recurring event established by UNTWO (United Nations World Tourism Organization) since 1980. Its aim is to raise awareness about the importance of tourism within the society, on an economical and cultural point of view.

Main theme of this year is “Tourism and Community Development” with a particular focus on the ability of tourism to empower people and to be the agent of a sustainable development.

This is important for developing countries like Tanzania, that can find in tourism a drawing power for the economic and social growth. In the last years, in fact, more and more programs about sustainable tourism have been developed in the country with the aim to protect the environment, to involve the local community in the mainstream tourism and to promote the local cultural heritage.

Savannah Tours pays a special attention in organizing safaris as sustainable as possible, promoting the professionalism of the local staff and cultural programs that are respectful of the local costumes and can bring benefits to the Tanzanian community.

Our best wishes to all the people who are traveling in Tanzania today, and to all the local workers in the sector of tourism!

Zanzibar Archipelago. Funny animals you can find around…

Tanzanian mainland is full of great places for game drive… but also the islands are home for a number of animal species – definitely not common ones!

While visiting the Zanzibar Archipelago, besides the enjoyable beach life this location is famous for, it is possible to spot many creatures that you won’t see in many other places of the World. We give you the hint for seven “island game drives”. Take note, and choose yours!

Red Colobus & Zanzibar Bushbaby
(Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park – Unguja)

Jozani Chwaka Bay is the only national park in Zanzibar, and the only place where you can see the Red Colobus Monkey. It is home for other monkey species as well, such as Sykes Monkey and the cute bushbabies. Here you will also see the nocturnal tree hyrax, which is said to be the first hyrax species that has acclimatized to the forest.

Bottlenose & Humpback Dolphins
(Menai Bay Conservation Area – Unguja)

Menai Bay is the Zanzibar’s largest marine protected area, with over 470 square kilometres of tropical marine environment including coral reefs, tropical fish, sea grasses, and mangroves. Here you can find bottlenose and humpback dolphins, well known because of their ability to interact with the humans. A participatory project with community of 19 villages made a huge difference in the conservation of this species. Kizimkazi village, on the southern coast of Zanzibar, has become a major tourist attraction because of this reason.

Green Turtles
(Mnarani Turtle Sanctuary – Unguja)

Sea turtle nestling sites are quite common along the coast of Zanzibar and Tanzania, and you will find several spots where it is possible to see baby turtles running to the sea. An amazing project for the conservation of sea turtles is located in Nungwi: the Mnarani Turtle Sanctuary. A natural pool just a few meters away from the sea, originally set up to rehabilitate and study turtles that had been caught in fishing nets, is at present an aquarium that hosts also many baby turtles, protecting them before they take their way to the Ocean.

Red-knobbed starfish
(All the Archipelago)

Diving, snorkeling or even just walking along the beach during low tide, you will probably see some red-knobbed starfish – starfish par excellence. You can hold them for a while, if you want… just remember to be respectful, and leave them back in their habitat after your marine photo session!

(Zanzibar Butterflies Center – Unguja)

This is a unique collaboration between Zanzibaris and Europeans, in promoting a sustainable use of natural resources and providing extra income for local farmers. Here Butterflies are raised, exhibited and exported, and the center is today a popular tourist attraction. Revenue generated by tourist admissions provides funds for local projects in the form of alternative livelihoods, conservation and poverty alleviation.

Pemba Flying Fox
(Kidike Root Site & Ngezi Forest Reserve – Pemba)

In the wide nature areas of Pemba, which are covered by a dense tropical forest, you can find the endangered Pemba Flying Fox, considered the largest bat species in the World: it has a wingspan of 1.6 metres and a fox-like face, tawny fur, orange underparts and black ears, nose and wings. Almost extinct in recent years, its population has now grown to an estimate of 20,000 individuals, thanks to an effective protection programme.

Whale Shark
(Mafia Island)

In Mafia, between October and March, it is possible to swim with the peaceful Whale Sharks. They are the largest fish in the sea, measuring up to 20m. The whale sharks have no teeth, and because of this reason they are absolutely harmless. The majority of the time they are very shy, although on occasion they can be inquisitive making your encounter much more spectacular.

Natron. Wildlife around the red lake.

Some time ago, a few pictures taken nearby the shores of the Lake Natron (not far from the active volcano Oldoinyo Lengai in the deep north of Tanzania, bordering with Kenya) had a sudden worldwide exposure.

They were showing some petrified animals, stuck nearby the water. Many people started to believe that this was the immediate effect of touching the caustic water of the lake, something deadly for many unlucky creatures.

Actually the reality is a bit different, but the Lake Natron is still one of the most fascinating corners of the World, even though well off the beaten tracks. Its water can reach temperatures up to 60 °C and has an alkalinity between pH 9 and pH 10.5, which of course make the environment not suitable for most of the species.

The chemical composition and the geological setting of this place, on the other hand, are the cause of some phenomena that you can see walking nearby the lake.

It is a fact that most of predators cannot survive there, but this is the reason why other species settled in this area – such as flamingos returning yearly for the breeding season. The hot and salty water doesn’t harm them, but it keeps their enemies away.

Even the hot and salty water can be home for something alive. A huge concentration of cyanobacteria is typical here, and this is the reason why the lake looks red. Other flora growing here is Spirulina, an algae which is food for flamingos.

This is how life works in the remote area of the Lake Natron. Just one question hasn’t been replied yet: what happened to the animals in the pictures? Not so obvious, but science can provide an explanation. In this caustic environment dead animals don’t rot, but mummify. And this is what came across the photographer’s way that time!

Personalized tour with excellent guide, informative, welcoming and experienced.

By Ann Mari (United States)

“We planned a 12 day safari and were extremely pleased with the services Savannah Tours provided. They were there to pick us up at the airport and stayed with us every step of the way until we headed back on to our flight for home. Our tour consisted off visits to Tarangire Park, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti and Lake Eyasi before heading over to Zanzibar and Stone town. The lodgings they recommended met or exceeded our expectations, and the pace of the tour with some lodges between our tented camps worked out very well. The staff at the camps were very attentive and helpful (we always felt safe even with elephants in the back yard), the food was excellent and the beds comfortable. Our photo safari was wonderful, we saw the big five plus so very much more. Our guide, Omari, seemed to have inside information about when that rhino would be in the neighborhood and when to wait and give the lions time to get up from their nap and hunt. How he could drive on those bumpy roads and still spot the animals is amazing (and shows how having an experienced guide makes all the difference). He had a bird book handy so was able to identify every bird our group spotted and was willing to stop for all of them. And when we excitedly pointed out “sightings”, which frequently were only brush or such, he never made us feel silly. The visit to Stone Town helped us begin the return to an urban setting; and when flight changes gave us a long layover in Dar es Salaam the folks at Savannah Tours (at their own expense) reserved a day room at a lovely hotel so we could have a place to spend the time while waiting for our departure flight. It was an expensive vacation but we felt the money was well spent and will never forget this once in a lifetime experience and the folks who helped make it a success, Savannah Tours Limited.”