East Africa, Tanzania and Zanzibar

by Sandra Barclay-Graham

KARIBU and JAMBO (Welcome & Hello)                                                       Click here to view Itinerary

Last month Sandra and her pearl's set off on a special Master Class Educational of World Journey’s to East Africa.  Travelling with 4 other NZ  agents,  Kirstine  our Escort from World Journeys  and Lucille from Sales & Marketing  of & Beyond  in South Africa

It certainly was my idea of tenting ... well Glamping...  and a real  WOW experience and adventure !

I have been to South Africa, Zimbabwe  and  Botswana  4 times before, however East Africa, Tanzania & Zanzibar  was just as exciting !  I certainly renewed my love for Africa...

Three of the girls left NZ earlier  and went trekking in Uganda  with the gorilla's ( they were then known as the Gorilla girls ) After hearing their stories it is now high on my bucket list  . I also had clients just return from doing this in Rwanda and they were the same saying  it was a huge highlight and  had real WOW, WOW  magic  moments ...in fact they were so lucky as to be able to buy another permit and go and do  another day  of trekking .

The lovely Palacina, The Residence & Suites  in Nairobi was our first  stay where we got to meet up with the " Gorilla girls" and Lucille  . The Suites are stunning and certainly capture the feel of Africa.  We were  also given our own Personal Travel Journey  of & Beyond to assist  in remembering everything of our Journey ...  Make sure you check out the boutique shop it is full of amazing interior  goodies that you can even have shipped home....

We left  from Nairobi 's Wilson Airport ( domestic)   on Air Kenya Airlines bound for Meru National Park. On arrival at  Meru  Airstrip  we were greeted with the real  & Beyond welcome  with  tea/coffee  and drinks  along with that much needed cold towels .Our first safari  was enroute to Elsa's Kopje Lodge , named after Elsa the lioness made famous by George & Joy Adamson's biographical book and film "Born free". It is the best upmarket location from which to view rhino in their natural habitat in Kenya.

Elsa's Kope lodge is almost invisible  to the eye as you approach its home on Mughwango Hill .It blends into the rocky crags of the "kopje" (small hill).Every cottage is the ultimate-'room- with- a- view  'uniquely designed and crafted ,incorporating the natural features of the rocky hillside. Each 
cottage is so different depending on the actual environment , as ours had a tree in which everything was built around... To me it was like Hobbitsville.

just so very quaint. There is an open bar area, lounge and dining room which has original artwork and photos of Joy & George with Elsa and her cubs. My favourite  place was the  inviting infinity pool overlooking  the Meru plains. We were so fortunate to spend 2 nights here  and I simply adored it.  

Being woken at 6am   by our butler with that lovely cup of tea or coffee with homemade biscuits  prior to  going on our game drive   became the norm.

Moving onto  Elephant Pepper Camp  meant flying back via Wilson Airport  to Mara North Airstrip ...It is situated  in the middle of the protected  Mara North . It is small and exclusive and the camp is located away from other lodges in the heart   of the African bush. The spacious canvas tents are 
wonderfully furnished with en suite bathrooms with eco -friendly flush toiletsand traditional safari showers. Nothing beats sitting around the camp fire sharing the days spotting and enjoying the sounds  of the African night.

The  next day we drove from Elephant Pepper Camp through  to & Beyond Bateleur Camp - a drive of approx 2 hours  with game viewing  en-route .The Masai Mara National reserve in Kenya  was named for the Masai people who inhibit  the area. At & Beyond Bateleur Camp you slip into a world of hardwood floors, polished silver and sparkling crystal.

This is the true "Out Of Africa " in fact we went and had sundowners  at the spot  of the closing scene in the movie  where Meryl Streep and Robert Redford pose on the cover of the actual DVD.  The reserve is oneof the few places where it is possible to see the 'Big Five ' The term " Big Five " refers to lion, elephant ,buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros and was coined by big -game hunters as the 5 most difficult animals in Africa  to hunt on foot. It is best known for its annual Great Migration of more than 2 million wildebeest and 1000's of Thomson's gazelle, zebra and impala, game viewing remains excellent throughout the year. For the bird enthusiast 500 species have been recorded.

One of my great highlights  staying at & Beyond Bateleur Camp was the opportunity to go  ballooning and this  was a real WOW  day for me. Being scared of heights  this was a biggie for me. However with the support of my sisters  and an amazing company called  " Sky Ship Balloon Safari's"  I managed to do this and thoroughly loved the whole experience... I even have a certificate to prove it. It really is an  incredible  way to see the wild life and the balloon  holds 17 ( along with our Captain). In fact they do not go as high as I thought they would .We even  saw 2 lions who had just made a kill and  were enjoying  their meal just beside  the airstrip. Next we were on a tour of  & Beyond Kichwa Tembo Lodge  & Camp  which they are just rebuilding .We transferred back to Kichwa  Airstrip  where we flew  again via Nairobi Wilson  and onto Kilmanjaro International Airport. Leaving  Kichwa  airstrip we were waved off by our lovely friend Milka  Kerubo ( the Operations Manager from & Beyond Bateleur )  and her team .

After clearing customs  we checked in again for our onward flight to Manyara Airstrip on Tanganyika Airlines a 50 min flight.Again on arrival  those lovely cold towels and a large G & T where waiting 
beside our  2  4 x wheel drive vehicles ( One was mainly  for our luggage) This is where we became 8 sisters as we had our first female  driver/guide Lucy  driving us  on the 2 hour  trip to  & Beyond Ngorongoro  Crater Lodge. This is where  we saw our very first East Africa's  BMW  ( Bullock Moving 
Wagon )  which is perched on the edge  the world- famous crater  which covers more than 8,000 km of pristine  African wilderness .Inspired in design by the Maasai mud and stick Manyatta ( homestead) Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is without  doubt one of the most architecturally spectacular safari 
lodges in Africa. Each stilted , the camps thatch handcrafted mud and thatch suite is adorned with graceful antiques and grand chandeliers. The bedroom, sitting room and en suite bathroom boast floor to ceiling glass windows , overlooking the magnificent crater below .En suite bathrooms feature huge showers and  chandelier -lit bathtubs. Personal butlers discreetly tend to your every need , bringing tea in bed, stoking the fireplaces and drawing luxurious baths . By the fireplace on a tray is set up with  a  sherry decanter and glasses , with a box of lovely fudge  and chocolate . I just 
loved  it as it’s described as "Maasai meets Versailles" each of the camps has its own guest sitting and dining areas and viewing decks .The domed dining room, with its grand fireplace , turns every meal into a special occasion. One of the other  guests  another NZ 'er  now living with his family 
in Hong Kong  was celebrating a milestone birthday so again  there was a wonderful night of singing and dancing . Luckily we had 2 nights here  I would  recommend 3 if you could  as there is so much to see and do.  Whilst sitting out on our balcony  it was lovely seeing zebra just wandering thru 
the property. At night you are not allowed  to walk from  your suite anywhere without a staff member escorting you to and from dinner.

It was a very , very early start the next morning as we needed to be down at the crater  by 6.30am and it takes over 30 -40 mins to get down there.

Fortunately we were the nearest lodge so we could beat all the other safari companies.The crater is truly something very, very special  and stopping for our breakfast beside the Lake  was just breath taking .. the animals  that are sheltered in the woodland, lake , river swamp and plain numbers around 20,000 !!

The next day was another early start and our flight back from Manyara Airstrip  to Lobo Airstrip where we met  our guide and driver of & Beyond Klein's Camp. This was approx. 90 minutes  by game drive. Klein's is set below the crest of the Kuka Hills it overlooks the vital corridor linking 
the Serengeti and the Masai Mara. The camps thatched cottages with whitewashed walls and rich wooden floors look down to the valley below. Just adored the stone interiors of the guest areas which open up to breath taking panoramas and deep leather armchairs invite you to sit and take it all in. In the evening the blazing fireplace comes alive and the bar area  is full  of guests to gather and share 
stories. Sadly  we only had the one night .We did however get to swim in the lovely pool before our afternoon of visiting  a local Maasi village , the local school and health care centre.

This is what I love about & Beyond they really do care and give back to the community .This is the opportunity to give any clothes  etc  to the children. We gave a bag of 100 balloons  to the school which they will use on sports day.

We transferred back to Lobo Airstrip early morning having breakfast on the way , for our flight to Kogatende Airstrip where again we were met by & Beyond and transferred to the & Beyond Serengeti Under Canvas which was another game drive enroute of approx. 45 mins.We all had our own Bedouin -Style Tent  each  and we stayed 2 nights .They have en suite bathroom with our outside bucket shower .We even had our own butler each . Just adored the comfy big bed with the lovely 
Egyptian cotton sheets . After an amazing lunch we actually had time to chill and write in our journals and have some quiet time.

What excitement the first night we had  3,000  Wildebeest  run thru the camp...  I never felt scared it was amazing ..Our final  sunset in the Serengeti  really made it for us all...there was an 
elephant passing by a tree .. What an amazing  memory and one I will never forget ....

Another early start  and back to Kogatende Airstrip for our flight to Arusha. From Arusha we flew onto Zanzibar !( known as the spice island) To end  your safaris with this is the perfect combination . Again we were transferred by  & Beyond representative and said goodbye to our lovely 4  x wheel drives that 
could hold 8 ...  Into  a minivan . The transfer to Stone Town took approx. 20 mins. We stayed at a prestigious Small Luxury of the World  , Zanzibar Serena Inn .The inn  was styled to represent the epitome of Swahili Style , ethnic elegance and Arabic opulence. The swimming pool is very inviting.

Stone Town is really worth the visit  and lots to  see and do  and of course to buy. The spice market was amazing...

It was on the road again  bound for Baraza Resort & Spa , it is Zanzibar's most exclusive  boutique resort .However en route we stopped at Pongwe Beach Hotel for a site inspection  and a stunning lunch. This is an ideal 4 star for families  and those wanting a cheaper option than Baraza.

Baraza  has just 30 villas , this stunning fully inclusive resort evokes the heritage of Zanzibar dating back to the era of the Sultans . A fusion of Arabic, Swahili and Indian design , with Swahili arches, intricate hand carved cement décor, beautiful antiques , handmade furniture and intricate brass lanterns.

We were very spoilt and upgraded to a 2 bedroomed, 2 bath roomed villa with our own swimming pool set in the lovely gardens .  Along with going to the Frangipani Spa &  Health oasis   for treatments. A gorgeous 2 nights was spent here !

After breakfast  the next morning it was off to see the sister properties along the beach from Baraza. The Palms and Breezes beach Club & Spa  both of excellent 5 star quality .

We then left for the most amazing  island where we were taken by a 30 min boat transfer to & Beyond Mnemba Island..... A private island off the northern eastern tip of Zanzibar.. It is the perfect destination  to get away from it all This IS HEAVEN ON EARTH  !!! Turquoise  clear, clear water with dolphins  swimming around... pure white soft  coral sand  beach and only 10 rustic palm -frond bandas on the entire island  . The rule here which I loved was no shoes allowed.

The next day was free at leisure until our late checkout  of 4pm .. The Water Club at Baraza had everything you could wish for from Kite surfing , Sailing , pedal boats, Kayaks , snorkelling , windsurfing .It was the perfect place to experience the very best of the Indian Ocean !!

 We arrived back in New Zealand all bursting with stories, loads of photos  and very happy memories of the sister's on tour !

My favourite saying now  is .... I AM WHERE I HAVE BEEN!  East Africa & Zanzibar I would certainly return to



 Visit one of my favourites  http://elsaskopje.com/

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East Africa

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