Safari in Kiswahili, the language of East Africa, simply means a journey. Today it is synonymous in English with a wildlife viewing adventure in the African Bush. If your primary reason for traveling to Africa is to experience an abundance of African wildlife in unspoiled wilderness, then Tanzania should be your destination of choice. Tanzania protects over 25% of its land through national parks and reserves, more than any other country on the continent. You simply cannot beat the wildlife concentrations found in Tanzania. The parks and wildlife reserves of Tanzania are inhabited by vast herds of wildebeest spread across the Serengeti savanna, huge populations of elephant and buffalo, as well as plains game and their predators. All these animals interact and roam freely, as they have for thousands of years. Here you'll witness an incredible diversity of ecology and will find the vegetation and bird life as fascinating as the big game. This is the home to 90% of the film series produced on African animals. Tanzania also boasts a remarkable number of World Heritage Sites including Serengeti National Park, Kilimanjaro National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Selous Game Reserve (this reserve alone is the size of Denmark), Kilwa Kisiwani and the Songo Mnara Ruins. See the photo gallery for some examples!
Anytime other than during the long rains (April & May) is a wonderful time to be on safari. At M.E.M, we adjust our safari itineraries to take advantage of the best possible game viewing in accordance with the seasonal concentrations of wildlife.
You simply can't beat northern Tanzania for wildlife concentrations. Most people have heard of the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater and the wide array of wildlife dwelling on the crater floor. Most have heard of the vast Serengeti savanna, which hosts the annual migration of wildebeest and the predators that follow in its wake. Examples await in the gallery. This is only the beginning of the natural phenomena awaiting your discovery on a safari to Tanzania. Guests of M.E.M consistently tell us the wildlife they experienced far surpassed their most optimistic expectations.
Tanzania is home to over 35 species of large four-legged mammals and has over 1000 species of birds. On a typical safari in northern Tanzania you can expect to see elephant, buffalo, giraffe, hippo, baboon, monkeys and a variety of plains game such as wildebeest, hartebeest, zebra, impala and gazelle. Most people see lion and hyena, and possibly cheetah or leopard. In Ngorongoro Crater you may see one of the few remaining black rhino to be found in Tanzania. You'll undoubtedly see several different species of mongoose and some hyrax and other small mammals. If you're lucky you'll see one or more of the smaller cats, foxes, wild dog or the more reticent antelope like lesser kudu, bushbuck, oryx or eland. Again, consult the gallery for recent photos!
Every year, over one million wildebeest move through the Serengeti plains in search of food and water. The phenomenon of these animals moving en mass through the African savanna is known as the Migration. Their movement is driven by the seasonal rains that water their grazing pastures. It is impossible to predict in advance exactly how or when this progression will take place, but there is a pattern. Generally from mid-December through May the herds feed in the southern Serengeti. During February thousands of calves appear on the plains. Between June and July, the wildebeest begin their annual migration north reaching the Mara River that marks the Kenyan border sometime between the end of July and beginning of August. After the first short rains, usually in the beginning of November, the herds move back into Tanzania's Serengeti and make their way to the southern pastures where they rest and feed through the rains until their search for better grazing leads them to begin their annual migration once again. Even when the "migration" moves into Kenya for the summer months, there are many resident herds in the Serengeti and there is always an incredible array of wildlife to experience there. Also, in the summer months, which are the height of the dry season, thousands of elephant congregate around the Tarangire River. This park is at its prime during these months and we adjust our itineraries to take advantage of the prime wildlife viewing there. Each time of year offers the visitor to Tanzania a special opportunity for wildlife viewing.
The vast majority of Tanzanians still live a lifestyle very close to their traditional lifestyles. Most people are subsistence farmers. The Masai people, favored by photographers for their strikingly colorful decor, live a pastoral existence following their herds of cattle to better grazing areas, still adhering to the traditions and ceremonies of their ancestors. Their villages are located throughout northern Tanzania. Other small tribes of hunter-gatherers, living according to their ancient customs and traditions can also be found in this area.
At M.E.M, we consider the cultural component of any safari to be subtle yet essential. All of our guides are Tanzanian born. They are an excellent resource to help you gain greater insight into the local culture. We don't promote specially staged dances and tourist oriented presentations. Instead, on most of our trips, we begin with a visit to a traditional village where you are welcomed as friends of M.E.M Tours and Safaris into their lives and invited to get to know them as they get to know you. As we drive between parks, we pass many villages and Masai Bomas giving you further glimpses into the lives of the Tanzanian people. We also offer a special trip in which our guests travel well off the beaten path to spend time among the Wahadza people and observe their ancient hunter-gatherer ways.
We would be delighted to work with you to help you and your family, friends or organization plan the best possible safari to match your interests and budget. We organize custom safaris for individuals, professional photographers, honeymooning couples, and families.
YES! M.E.M Tours and Safaris has a personal understanding and deep commitment to meeting the special needs of families. We have designed our unique family safari programs to allow you and your children to experience the wonders of Africa together. Special options for children ages 6 - 16 include pen pals with whom kids will correspond and then meet in Tanzania, Young Adventurers Serengeti Workshop, 40 page Safari Logbook including a journal, bird lists, mammal lists, games, sketchpads, and address lists of safari guides who enjoy and relate to children. You'll have a chance to deepen your understanding of cultural diversity, discover the many miracles of nature, and at the same time play, laugh, and enjoy the pleasure of one another's company. Our trips are well suited for children six years and older.
Our safaris offer a wide array of safari styles to suit your interests and budget. Please see our Lodging page for a description of the different types of accommodations we use on our trips.
Our scheduled safaris vary in size depending on the nature of the safari. We typically keep our groups small to allow a more intimate connection with the African bush.
If you have some experience hiking, then you probably have most of the gear you need. However, conditions at Kilimanjaro can be quite extreme. To make sure you have the proper gear for this trip, we have a list of minimum equipment you should bring.
Special note on footwear - Do not make the mistake of hiking in a new or borrowed pair of boots. There is nothing worse than severe blisters or hotspots to derail your trip. It is imperative that you break in a new pair of boots before you hit the mountain. It is ok to wear low trail shoes on the first few days, however you should have a solid pair of waterproof over the ankle, hiking boots for most of the hike.
By far the biggest challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro is the altitude. There is virtually nothing you can do to prepare for that except be at altitude. However since most of us don’t live near Tanzania, you should do your best to get yourself into the best physical shape you can before arriving in Moshi.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is an extended trek rather than a technical mountaineering experience. The gradient is usually shallow, but an uphill walk that will last 7 or 8 days. The summit day is the steepest and much more difficult because of the extreme altitude.
Aerobic training helps you build your ability to process oxygen to feed your muscles efficiently. Don’t confuse being able to run 10 miles on the weekend with being ready for this climb. It is advisable to train by walking long distances (5 to 8 miles) on six consecutive days. Do it in the same boots you will be using on Kilimanjaro so they are properly broken in. This preparation not only increases your chances of making it to the summit, it also will increase your comfort level in the process. If you live near any mountains or hills, even a minor elevation gain will help you prepare. If you belong to a fitness club, then the stair master, elliptical, or stationary bike is always good along with the treadmill. Weight training is not important. Unless it’s already part of your training regimen, there is no special requirement to start.
It is customary to tip the porters, cooks, and guides at the end of the trip. Many times this can cause confusion about how much. First, a tip is for receiving good service during the trip. If you are not receiving good service, you should be talking with the Head Guide.
The best method for tipping is to discuss with your group after your summit day how much you are going to tip each person. You should tip based on a percentage of the cost of the trip - a general guideline is 7 - 10% depending on the service you received.
Moshi Expeditions prides itself by taking an active interest in the well being of our porters by providing the necessary clothing, shelter, and food. Most of their porters have a long-term relationship with the company and go on multiple trips each month.
Visitors coming to Tanzania may purchase a visa upon arrival at the airport or in advance. Cost is $100 for a US citizen, payable in US dollars if done in country. If you're coming to Tanzania via Nairobi Airport, you will get a transit visa for $20 for Kenya, which allows you seven days before you need to cross into Tanzania. You then buy a visa for entry into Tanzania at the highway crossing from Nairobi.
On any trip, you must have medical insurance to cover medical emergencies or trip interruptions. There are insurance policies that will cover you on Mt. Kilimanjaro and safari. While this is not a technical climb, the possibility of an emergency, cancellation or loss makes this essential. As always, before you buy any policy, read through the fine details and make sure it’s the exact coverage you are looking for. Here is outline of a typical policy.
1. Medical Emergencies & Evacuation - This is the most important reason to buy travel insurance. Hospital costs are thousands of dollars per day, while medical evacuation can easily exceed $100,000. Definitely take the time to read this part of the policy in detail, especially the areas of cover for emergency evacuation, limits on medical expenses and cover for emergency dental work. Also make careful note of the policy exclusions.
2. Trip Cancellation or Curtailment - This covers you for costs if you suddenly find you can't go on your trip for some unforeseen reason such as illness or a death of a close relative. The important thing to remember is you have to buy the policy when you start booking tickets and not the week before you leave. If you cancel a trip close to departure date for any reason, you could lose all that the safari was going to cost you. Should you have to leave the safari or trek early, we cannot refund you the portion you do not complete.
3. Personal Belongings - It is advisable to take out baggage and money insurance, especially if you are carrying a large amount of cash or expensive and valuable equipment. You should always carry camera equipment as "carry-on" luggage. Do not put anything of value in your checked baggage! However, airlines do strange things with bags, so this is a good feature to have in your policy.
If you anticipate an insurance claim upon your return, be sure to document as accurately as possible any accident, injury, or loss. Doctor’s notes and police reports will aid any claim. Travel insurance usually ends the minute you arrive home, so if you have bought a policy for 16 days and come home after 13, you aren't entitled to a refund on the 'unused' portion.
Dollars, Euros and the Tanzanian Shilling are the currencies of choice. Carrying around loads of cash is a personal choice, however there are ATM’s in Moshi. You can use your bank ATM or get cash advances on Credit Cards. There is a Barclays Bank branch downtown. The downside of relying on ATMs is they can be broken (for a short period) or out of money. So, it’s good to have some cash available. It is easier to shop locally with Tanzanian shillings. You can exchange to them at a number of local exchange bureaus.
In Tanzania, there are no armed factions, guerrilla groups, or wars with bordering countries. The policemen tend to leave tourists alone. Moshi has the normal street hustlers trying to sell you a safari, jewelry, or artwork, but overall there isn't really much to worry about. They have a friendly approach, speak good English, and will attempt to engage you in conversation about your trip. You can politely tell them that you are not interested and just keep on walking. For the ladies, like any place, dress appropriately and travel in pairs. Also, there is a religious mix of Christian and Islam faiths in Moshi.
The most popular languages are Swahili and English. You don’t really need to know any Swahili but a few phrases always help.
Yes = Ndiyo No = Hapana
How are you? = Habari?
Good = Nzuri
Thank you = Asante
Hello = Jambo
I am fine = Sijambo
Please = Tafadhali (the dh is pronounced like a th)
Goodbye = Kwaheri
Karibu - welcome
Poa - Cool (as in ok not the weather)
We want to make sure you have the correct gear you may need on the mountain. Cold temperatures can cause problem ranging from minor discomfort to deadly hypothermia. Preparation is always the solution. You should dress in layers so that proper ventilation can be achieved. It's easy to become overheated while climbing, which produces large amount of perspiration and wet clothes. Then when you stop for a break it can be a "chilling" experience. Also with the temperature change between sunlight and shade and day and night, it's best to have extra warm clothes available.
will have gauze, tape, aspirin, medicated soap, antibiotic ointment, antacid tablets, some antibiotics, pain killers, eye treatments, and anaphylaxis kit, Imodium, Compazine and Diamox. Because of liability problems, prescription drugs will only be dispensed in emergencies. We suggest you bring the following medical items. Please discuss this with your physician prior to coming on this expedition.
• Intestinal disorders: Compazine. 25mg rectal suppositories, for severe nausea, vomiting. Imodium to decrease diarrhea and cramping. Tetracycline, Cipro or Bactrin antibiotics for initial treatment of severe diarrhea. Activated charcoal has proven to be an effective first stage treatment.
• Cuts and scrapes: It is wise to bring a supply of "Band-Aids" to treat abrasions that sometimes occur.
• Infections: Antibiotic ointment for cuts and abrasions. Erythromycin or amoxicillin tablets for skin or soft tissue infections.
• Blisters: It is wise to bring your own small supply of blister treatment items to insure that you avoid letting any blister get out of hand.
• Headaches: Tylenol and Tylenol with codeine to help relieve possible altitude headaches. Nothing stronger than codeine should be taken for fear of masking potential severe altitude problems while on the mountain.