Marjolijn travels to Tanzania, juli 2020

23 July 2020

Since this month, KLM has been flying to Dar es Salaam. Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, this has not been possible for a long time. The first tourists are now on safari in Tanzania. In short, it is high time to take a look there yourself. There are few cases of infection, the population is on average very young (18 years), eats healthy (no lifestyle diseases) and in Tanzania and Zanzibar each accommodation has its own corona coordinator. But are government regulations to prevent the spread of corona being properly followed? is sufficient distance kept? do you use mouth masks? is there frequent cleaning? We will see …. Read below Marjolijn’s (live) blog.

July 22, 2020
Drove by car to Schiphol this morning and parked at CentralParking. Great location and well priced with transfer (private) to the airport. Within 7 minutes I was at the departure hall at Schiphol.

At the check-in , the KLM employee at Schiphol wanted to know the necessity of my trip to Tanzania. And she said that a corona test is required in advance to travel to Tanzania. (See also our current advice on this.) In this case, the test consists of a health certificate. On the plane you have to fill in the health declaration and on arrival in Tanzania you will be screened (temperature). After my explanation of why I wanted to travel to Tanzania, I was allowed to check in my luggage and continue.

It was quiet at Schiphol itself and everything went smoothly and relaxed. Boarding at KLM went smoothly. The device is almost empty. It is very nice that two customers also fly with me today. They are going to climb Kilimanjaro and make a beautiful safari! They camp and stay in attractive small-scale lodges, all in the middle of nature. Delicious! In the coming week I will experience it myself, so that you can go there with peace of mind.

July 23, 2020
Today I get up early and depart from my hotel in Dar es Salaam to the airport for a domestic flight to Zanzibar. My check-in here is also pleasant and smooth.

July 23, day 1 in Zanzibar
Had time in the car in the morning to chat with guide Patrick about the situation now. Patrick hasn’t been working since March. Corona has completely shut down tourism here, and with it a lot of employment.

But how are things here now? Dar es Salaam is just as busy as usual. It took us an hour to get to the airport. Life goes on, people are on the street. Are all there, they chat and laugh. Sell their wares. Or walking / driving to work they still have.
Patrick, the driver, talks about the Covid-19 training he has had. About the measures he should take to keep his car tidy, the guests safe and himself. He deals with it seriously and consistently. We keep our distance in the car and chat. About the fact that many have lost their jobs … run out of money. Then look for something to earn money. He’s serious. But as soon as I ask him about safaris in Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park, he starts to shine. There is sparkle and his eyes again and he tells the most beautiful stories about the nature reserves, the animals, what he has experienced. I hope for him that he will be able to go out with guests again soon!

At the airport I come back to the reality that “something” is going on in the world. Cleaning hands, measure my temperature, put on a mouth mask. Oh yes, the mouth mask on.
I chat with the employees, order a cup of cappuccino and board the 20-minute flight to Zanzibar.

I also receive a warm welcome on Zanzibar. Health check and temperature measurement. Everyone wears a mouth mask. It is neat, there is space. And the customs officers are very helpful and friendly. To be honest, that has been different;) Maybe for Covid-19 tourism was a matter of course, but now we all realize how dependent a very large group of people is on this service.

I arrive at Jambiani Villa and throw my suitcase in the room. Now I am going out with Haji, our guide to Zanzibar. He is also happy to be able to take a trip again. I go to my colleague Helen and I spend the rest of the day on the road with her. We visit several lodges, through the village of Makunduchi where we organize nice bike rides and on to Kizimkazi. Here in this lovely fishing village in the south of the island, time seems to stand still. Boats are in the water, fishermen chat with each other. And Helen takes care of her dhow “Mimi”. With this you can make beautiful trips. Sail to a sandbar, bring snacks and drinks. Snorkel, enjoy sunset.

And we walk to Karamba Resort. A nice place on the rugged south coast. It is still closed because there are no reservations yet. They are busy freshening up the weather, getting ready for when tourism does get going again. A beautiful family home is also being built! 2 floors with a large living space and upstairs 2 bedrooms with the best sea views! The men are busy.

We continue to Michamvi on the east coast. Here is a headland so you can still see the sunset. And a secret spot … shhhh, don’t tell anyone! We park the car and walk through the grass and palm trees to the most beautiful stretch of beach you have ever seen! Isolated, small and there is a bar. A small bar with great music and comfortable sofas where we sit down to enjoy the sunset. And there is no one! Helen and I with our cocktail. We chat about all the great things we can offer. About these kinds of unique and small places that we have all viewed today. Where this bartender has some income. Oh yes, on the way we bought some bags of chips from a few ladies along the street. That way everyone benefits a little. And this is, as far as I’m concerned, how travel should be.

It is now 7 pm and in the 28 hours of my journey I slept for 3 hours. We drive to Baladin, a beautiful lodge with a great Italian restaurant where we have a bite to eat. And then I fall into my bed, what a! A private cottage on Jambiani beach. Large lounge and downstairs bedroom. Above a huge loft and open bathroom with sea views. I don’t have the time to really enjoy this great house. Tomorrow is another well-planned day ahead.
So I set my alarm for 6 a.m. to see sunrise and fall asleep like a log.

July 24, day 2 in Zanzibar
I had not stayed at Jambiani Villas yet, but what a nice place! Spacious private villas, right on the beach with a pool and small restaurant / bar where they play relaxing music.
It is located in the fishing village of Jambiani, south of busy Paje. Paje is known for its parties, many accommodations and kite surfing. Jambiani is quieter, has a relaxed atmosphere and a lot to offer. Here you can also kite surf, snorkel and dive. In our opinion, a much nicer place for your Zanzibar holiday.
The beach is extensive, the sea is clear blue and there are a few nice beach bars to eat something. In this part of Zanzibar you can also do everything. For example, you can go to the nearby village of Makunduchi (20 minutes drive) to immerse yourself in the local life. This is not a tourist trip. You are part of life here for a while. Where people are happy that you come and receive you with the most cordiality. A young man we know here will accompany you. Buy a coke from the local entrepreneur and a bag of chips from the other. Or drink from a fresh coconut taste the tropical fruit. It is recommended to explore the village by bicycle…. take the dhow ‘Mimi’ from Kizimkazi, known for the dolphins … or a BBQ at Michamvi at a small beach and you are here with your own company … (PS look at our Zanzibar page for more info about activities on Zanzibar to taste and really experience the atmosphere of this wonderful island).

I leave in the morning with driver Haji to the northeast coast of Zanzibar, near the village of Matemwe. Another nice place in Zanzibar and very different from Jambiani. It is quiet here. Along the coast, quiet fishing villages, swaying palm trees and a kilometer-long sandy beach. I visit a number of accommodations that we like to work with. Such as Zanzibar Pearl, where work is underway on six new rooms and the renovation of the entire resort. Theresah and her husband tell me with great enthusiasm what they are going to do, the site looks neat, and especially when the building is completely finished in a few weeks.

My favorite place here has to be Hodi Hodi. No guests here either, but Julia is busy making everything fresh and tidy again. The garden, new linen in the rooms, licks of paint here and there … In recent months she has been able to pay her staff a little and has them do jobs on the site in shifts. There are 7 rooms in 3 cottages. In the neighborhood a number of other accommodations where you can grab a bite to eat. But I guess once you get here, you don’t really want to go anywhere else. A nice place where you can grab your own drinks, the most delicious meals are prepared and you can enjoy the peace and the beach.

Julia tells us that The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC ) has declared Tanzania safe to travel , and Tanzania the ‘Safe Travel designation’ (Safe Travels Stamp ).

Jambiani and Matemwe, two great places on Zanzibar that, in combination, offer a beautiful varied Zanzibar experience.

From Matemwe I drive to Fumba Beach Lodge where I have an appointment with the Dutch owner Edwin. He is originally a chef and has lived here for about 20 years. He designed and built this lodge into what it is today and many satisfied guests have come here for many years.
There are no other lodges in this area. Fumba is secluded on its own stretch of beach about a kilometer long. You don’t have to meet anyone here. In a detached suite you have plenty of space, peace and privacy. The ideal place to get away from everything and everyone in the world!

We have a lot to catch up with and in the meantime Edwin prepares 3 different shrimp dishes, homemade sauces and a salad. I am amazed at how this chef works and puts this on the table in no time. Asante sana Edwin!

July 25, Zanzibar – Arusha
Early this morning I fly with my colleague Helen from Zanzibar to Arusha. Upon arrival, I will watch a game of football at Future Stars Academy. A great initiative from friend Alfred that offers children a better future through football. Exercise, perseverance, work together and learn social skills. He also teaches a group of coaches at 10 schools in the area. A solid project with a good organization and income through subsidies and donations. We want to enter into a partnership with Explore Tanzania in order to support this organization financially. But also offering the opportunity for our guests to share knowledge (that goes both ways) and children can also participate, for example, and thus get to know the local life in a natural way and make contact with the people here.

His wife, Kim, is founder of Jobortunity. An organization that focuses on vocational education through the Hi5 concept. In the meantime, there are many ex-students who, with a nice diploma, got a good job in various lodges. Future Stars Academy and Jobortunity have joined forces during the corona period to provide a safe and inspiring environment for children without a good home situation. Thanks to donations from Rafiki Tanzania Foundation they have made this happen and also distribute food parcels where necessary.
An inspiring day that we will do more with in the future.

July 26, Arusha
Today is a special day for me. Because I’ve agreed with seven of the guides we work with. Joseph, James, George, Leonard, Imma, Aloyce and Zeph. Prim could unfortunately not be there due to other obligations. We haven’t seen each other for months and it’s really nice to spend time with them. These are uncertain times for them and it is nice to share our experiences of the past months and to look ahead together.

Of course we all hope that we can restart our beautiful safaris.
As guide Leonard says: karibu sana, you are very welcome!

Then I drive to Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge. An oasis between the city of Arusha and the Kilimanjaro airport, on the slope of Mount Meru. It is a paradise surrounded by water, forests, black and white Colobus monkeys and 200 different bird species. When you arrive in Tanzania, this is a wonderful place to land. A number of spacious rooms in a gigantic garden. It is also a beautiful place to walk; short or a few hours around the lodge through the woods, villages and along the water. There is a swimming pool, you can go horse riding, play croquet, take a tour to the nearby village or to the Arusha National Park. In short, the nicest place in this area to spend a few days.
I meet with owner Timmy, a good friend from my time when I lived in Tanzania. At this height it cools down here in the evening, so it is very nice to chat with him by the fireplace.

July 27, Tarangire
George picks us up at 8.30am this morning. For the next few days I will travel with him and my colleague Helen from Zanzibar for a short safari. I want to know what it is like in those areas, what it is like to be on safari and what measures are being taken to go on safari safely. George was waiting for us with his mouth mask, had the car completely cleaned and disinfected. Good to be how he takes these matters seriously. Our hands were disinfected and then we were on our way! When you go on safari, the guide will wear a mouth mask and it is advisable to do this yourself when you drive with the windows closed. In practice, the windows are always nice and open and the roof will also open during the safari. Fresh air. In the car, but outside .. wonderful, freedom!
Guide George is willing to explain why you should see Tarangire National Park.

We enjoy a beautiful safari in the Tarangire National Park in the afternoon. There are very few cars and a lot of animals. We see elephants, hundreds. And also a few who walk very close to our car!

We also see giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, a gigantic black python, a lioness, boars, impalas and pelicans.
In the afternoon we will be at Tarangire Safari Lodge and have a drink with the best view you can have in the park!

July 28, Karatu
At 6 a.m. I get up and make sure to sit on the large terrace at the lodge to fully enjoy this place. In the valley I see an enormous group of buffalo.
A little later I am called because there are six elephants at my tent. They walk quietly between the tents, rub their bottoms on the trees. I sit quietly on the terrace of my tent to watch them. There are other guys who are so excited they can’t shut up. Understandable, but you can only be part of such a thing in peace and quiet. Our guide George explains that elephants show their natural behavior if we respect their environment and also keep quiet. Fortunately they do that a little later. We do a short safari and see many more animals as we drive out of the park.

The next destination is Mto wa Mbu, a village near the Lake Manyara National Park. I really want to support the local community, replenish my own crockery, and buy a few bowls from the ladies. The Maasai make this from clay. I buy two large and two small bowls for 14,000 shillings (about € 7). They are over the moon with some income.

Tonight we sleep at Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge, one of our favorite spots between Lake Manyara National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater. A unique location on the border of the Ngorongoro forest where the profits go to the orphanage and other projects of this lodge. It’s pretty chilly, so we settle down by the fireplace to get some work done.

I am happy with a new reservation for two ladies who will go on a safari next week on August 4 and conclude their trip with a beach holiday on Zanzibar. Traveling is slowly starting up again, and that gives me hope. Hopeful for the hardworking colleagues in Tanzania, our guides, all the staff of the different lodges, the income for the National Parks, actually the country as a whole.

July 29, going home again
I drive back to Arusha from Karatu in 2.5 hours and fly to Dar es Salaam. On arrival I will spend a few hours at a hotel before flying back home with KLM tonight. Now I’m still on the plane from Arusha to Dar es Salaam, looking out the window as I fly over my beloved Tanzania. And take the time to evaluate this trip.
I am glad I took this trip. Beforehand I had the feeling that it is fine to be in Tanzania. I had based that feeling on reliable information from my colleagues, friends and acquaintances in the country. Even better to experience it with your own eyes and feelings.
Yes, corona is rampant all over the world. Also here. But the tourism industry is handling the situation well. At airports they use all measures; check your temperature, wear a face mask, wash and disinfect your hands several times, and keep your distance. That is possible, because most small airports are open / airy buildings. The lodges where you will then stay have been carefully selected by us. In the middle of nature, outside a city, with grounds the size of a few football fields and a dozen rooms. Being outside, eating outside, your own spacious room.
During a safari you travel with one of our guides. They are healthy, keep their distance, wear a face mask and disinfect the car daily. The windows in the car can be opened, and the roof also opens during the safari. So there is always enough fresh outside air. During a safari you will sleep in small-scale tent camps or lodges where all guidelines are neatly met and you don’t actually have to spend any time indoors; except in your own room or tent.

After a week it is clear to me, traveling during corona in Tanzania is doable. The rules are clear, comparable to those in the Netherlands and if you stick to them you can enjoy a great safari. (See also our advice on our corona page). There is a check upon entry into the country. And the precautions imposed by the Tanzanian government are well observed here. Corona has not disappeared, but infections are, just like in the Netherlands, avoidable. After all, on safari you are mainly outside, you have plenty of space, you travel with your own company, you stay in small-scale lodges and you see a lot of animals and few other people. In short, Tanzania is a great place to be on holiday during this time!