South Tanzania and Mahale in corona time

2 August 2021 | Ruud & Mirjam

Safari South Tanzania, August 2021

In 2019, with Marjolijn from Explore Tanzania, we put together a private safari in the south of Tanzania that should take place in August 2020.
Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in consultation with Marjolijn, we decided at the beginning of July 2020 to postpone this trip for a year.
Although Tanzania was still “on orange” we wanted to continue and make the trip this year. We both had the second vaccination at the end of June 2021 and the messages from other travelers to Tanzania on the Explore Tanzania website strengthened us in our decision.
So we had a PRC test done on Saturday 31 July, which fortunately was negative for both of us. And very early on Monday morning, August 2, filled in the health declaration on the website of the Tanzanian government, paid with Visa and then on the way to Schiphol. At the check-in desk, we were only asked “have you had a PCR test done?” (negative or positive result was apparently of less importance) and on our affirmative answer to this question we were checked in…..

We knew that we would have to do a rapid test at Dar es Salaam airport and we had already read stories that the organization of this could be improved. Nothing was further from the truth. About 15 hospital screens were set up behind which the rapid test was performed. Ten meters away was a waiting area and after about 15 minutes we received the printed proof that we had both tested negative.
We also received this proof by email.
Tip: pay at home with your credit card that $. 25,- after you have completed the health declaration, this really saves a lot of time.
We were quickly taken by taxi to the Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Dar.

The next morning to the Domestic terminal for the domestic flight to our first destination: Nyerere National Park (formerly Selous Game Reseve) where we would stay 3 nights in Lake Manze Tented Camp.
This lodge is beautifully situated on Lake Manze, you can hear the hippos grunting (day and night) and the elephants visit the camp several times a day.
A wonderful experience.

After 3 days we left Mtemere airstrip on our way to the second destination; Ruaha National Park.
We also stayed here for 3 nights in the sister camp of Lake Manze: Mdonya Old River Camp.
Ruaha is more rugged compared to Nyerere NP, a completely different landscape.
In Mdonya Old River Camp they do everything they can to leave the smallest possible “footprint” in nature with their presence.
A wonderfully enthusiastic manager (Miko) can tell you very interestingly about this.
After 3 nights we packed our bags again to fly very early in the morning from Msembe airstrip to the third destination; Katavi National Park.

Here Marjolijn had booked us in the Mbali Mbali Katavi lodge. What a beautiful lodge! Located right on the edge of the horizon reaching grassy plains for which Katavi is so famous.
Katavi is well worth a visit; Due to the Katuma River which has water all year round, there is a wealth of birds, hippos, crocodiles and huge herds of water buffalo.
A park where you can really experience the “Out of Africa feeling”.

Anyway, after 3 nights we (unfortunately) had to leave here for our last destination; Mahale Mountains National Park.
First by plane to the airstrip outside Mahale NP and then a beautiful boat trip of about one and a half hours to our lodge.
We stayed at Mbali Mbali Mahale lodge; there is only one description for this and that is brutal luxury. Located right on the beach of Lake Tangangyika with swaying palm trees, this camp looks like it has come straight out of the Bounty commercial of the past.
Here we would spend four days trying to find the chimpanzees that live there in the mountains.
Thanks to the excellent trackers, ranger and guide, we saw chimpanzees every day. For us the highlight of this safari.

How is traveling to and in Tanzania in Corona time?
We can be very brief about that; In our opinion, you run a greater risk of infection here while shopping at the Appie than on safari in Tanzania.
– you travel in your own Jeep that is ready for you every morning, completely spic and span cleaned.
– you have your private tent/house where you spend the night.
– you are out in nature all day long.
– it is, especially in the south, very quiet; in the last two lodges we were the only ones
– The staff is very happy to receive guests again in these difficult times and they show that clearly. Even when we were the only guests in the camp, everything was done to make us feel comfortable.

It remains for us to thank Marjolijn and her team for organizing this great safari.

Ruud and Mirjam

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