The Animals and People of Africa

The tree climbing lions were an amazing highlight of our safari, four lazy ladies lying in the same tree. Very cool because apparently you don't always see them, even my guide hadn't seen any in about 2 years.

Lazy lionesses in a tree

Table of Contents
Safari Operator Performance
Typical Day
Tips, Advice and Rating

Where did you stay and what was it like?
  • Lake Manyara hotel - a beautiful hotel overlooking the rift valley. The grounds were gorgeous.
  • Serengeti Seronera Lodge - what could be more perfect than a lodge overlooking the Serengeti. The baboons and vervet monkeys loved it too. You often shared the walking path with them. There were also rock hyrax everywhere and one even let me pet it.
  • Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge - This was a beautiful lodge on the rim, overlooking the crater. What a spectacular view!
  • Tarangire Tented Camp - Well, it was a canvas room so you could call it a tent but it had running water and a flush toilet. It was lovely to hear the sounds of nature that closely.
  • Red colobus monkey in Zanzibar
  • Pup tent in the Barabaig village - Well, this was roughing it at its best. This was not a "tented camp" but just some small tents pitched in the village of the African tribe. We had a bucket of water every second day for "showering". We were "guarded" at night by villagers and so forth. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. The only way it could have been more authentic is if I had slept in one of the huts with the people of Africa. Maybe next time!
  • Tembo House Hotel in Stone Town, Zanzibar - beautiful! More like a resort especially after staying in the pup tent. There was a gorgeous canopy bed and luxurious bathtub. The hotel was right on the beach of the Indian Ocean. The weather was so wonderful so I ate outside near the beach for every meal. Beware if you like a glass of wine with dinner though. This was a non-alcoholic establishment.

What did a typical breakfast and dinner consist of? Did you eat similar food than the people of Africa?

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In the lodges/hotels, there were buffet-style breakfasts and dinners. There was always a good variety of food (which is necessary for a vegetarian like me). I love to eat and never went hungry. I loved the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Many of the places even offered to make something special if I couldn't find enough vegetarian food at the buffet.

How did you pick your African safari company... did they know about the animals and people of Africa, and how did they perform?

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I did a lot of reading and research into different companies beforehand. Many companies sent me literature or websites to peruse but Another Land was the only company that made personal contact with me.

They asked me right off the top what my interests were so they could prepare an appropriate information package for me. They kept in constant contact with me and I knew early on that they were the company for me. I booked everything through them.

Another Land is an amazing company. I am travelling with them again in the summer of 2007 when I go to Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. I should then see some new animal species and meet a different people of Africa.

The thing I like the most about them is that they are accessible. They keep in close contact and answer questions in a timely manner (and trust me, I always have LOTS of questions). They really want to know what your expectations are and where your passion lies. They tailor-made the trip based on the information I provided about myself and what I wanted from this trip, for instance visiting people of Africa in a traditional village.

It was a special trip for me because it was the 1 year anniversary of losing my husband to cancer. It needed to be perfect and it was. I was also a woman travelling alone so they insured that everything was safe amongst the animals and people of Africa, and methodical.

Also, Another Land provides high quality cultural programs in East Africa. The programs are participatory which was exactly what I wanted. I was all set to spend a couple of days in a village as part of their regular programming but instead, something incredible happened during the booking of this trip.

Another Land had just secured a contract with National Geographic to film a video documentary on the Barabaig people of Africa. Be it fate, good timing, good karma or just the fact that they had really gotten to know me through all of the personal contacts, the president of Another Land, Nichole Smaglick, invited me to come along for part of the video shoot of these people of Africa.

I spent an incredible week with Nichole, the National Geographic film crew and the Barabaig people of Africa. I got to experience even more than on a normal village stay because Nat Geo was invited to film some of the Barabaig's most intimate ceremonies (wedding, funeral, rainmaking, gathering honey, etc). It was powerful, emotional and one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I felt very privileged to be welcomed by Another Land and the Barabaig tribe.

Was there anything you didn't you like about them?

Not a thing.

How was the guide?

Wonderful…all of the guides were people of Africa.

Safari - I had a private safari guide in the northern parks (Godfrey). Because I was on my own, I was able to do whatever I wanted on the game drives. If I felt like watching the same lion for 3 hours, he would have done it. He really went out of his way to get me the best photo opportunities (including always turning off his engine so there wasn't any camera shake).

He shared much about the people of Africa's culture and wanted to learn about mine. We compared notes about many different things during our hours and hours of game drives. He kept in radio contact with other guides so he always knew when something exciting was happening (a leopard in a tree, tree climbing lions, a cheetah stalking some zebra, etc).

Village stay - there were a few people of Africa who looked after things at the village. There were 2 translators, a cook and his helper, and a couple of drivers (who also doubled as film crew), etc. In fact, I was also able to act as a crew member at times as well.

Zanzibar - the guide was also great. Once again, I was on my own so it was really personalized (red colobus monkeys, snorkelling, etc). I did small half-day trips only while in Zanzibar because I wanted lots of personal time.

Would you recommend somebody else use them for their safari?

I would recommend Another Land to EVERYONE. They are the best!

Please describe a typical day from start to finish.

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Some mornings were very early but that was all my choice (sunrise hot air balloon ride and the offer of sunrise game drives). My guide and I would venture out in the vehicle in the cool mornings (I was wrapped in my guide's "Maasai blanket" for warmth).

We took our time exploring the various parks in the early morning. It was a great time to see lazy lions who didn't even bother getting off the road to let us pass. The sound of the waking monkeys and birds was awesome.

One morning we saw the most amazing sunrise over Tarangire. Sunrises seem so different in Africa! We never saw another vehicle on our sunrise drives. It was lovely to be alone in the wild.

After a couple of hours on a very peaceful game drive, we would return to the lodge for breakfast. This was a great time to catch up on journaling, meeting new friends among the travellers and people of Africa.

A couple of hours later, we would venture out on another game drive. Once again, my guide let me dictate how long we would stay in any given place. After many animal sightings, we would return to the lodge for lunch, swimming, siesta, etc.

Then, if I wanted, we would go out for one more game drive in the afternoon. Once again, we would seek out animals, landscapes and all the sounds and sights of the various parks.

Then it was back for supper, lodge entertainment, meeting more new friends and much needed rest.

Did you have good weather?

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I was there during the dry season. It was warm and sunny but not too hot. In the northern parks, the evenings were also lovely.

In the Barabaig village, the temperature dropped quite low at night and you really had to bundle up for sleeping. The people of Africa are tough! It was glorious during the day though.

We had a bit of rain in Zanzibar but it was mostly sunny and hot.

I didn't have any complaints about the weather.

What wildlife did you spot?

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The list is long - baboon, blue monkey, vervet monkey, mongoose, elephant, bush buck, monitor lizard, giraffe, hippo (in and out of the water), lion (including tree climbing lion), buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, birds of all sizes and colours, impala, gazelle, hyena, hartebeest, ostrich, warthog, bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal, golden jackal, topi, crocodile, leopard, cheetah, rock hyrax, dik dik, rhinoceros, red colobus monkey.

What would you say was your wildlife spotting highlight?

A "wildlife highlight" is a very difficult thing to answer because it was all so amazing. I honestly felt like I could have gone home happy after the first game drive.

Some special moments were as follows:

  • We were chased by an enormous bull elephant in Ngorongoro crater. Although this could have been dangerous, it was also wonderfully exciting. I got a great picture of him coming at us!
  • While walking at the Serengeti lodge, I was confronted by not people of Africa, but 3 adult baboons who were running up the same narrow path that I was coming down. The showed me their teeth and made a lot of noise but I just stepped to the side (while fumbling for my camera) and the ran right past.
  • Red colobus monkeys while on a walking tour in Zanzibar - they ran right past my legs.
  • Watching a mother baboon play (like a human) with her very tiny baby.
  • At one point, I could have just reached outside of the vehicle and I would have touched an adult elephant as he walked right by our vehicle.
  • Observing wildlife from above the Serengeti while floating through the air in a hot air balloon.
  • Seeing 3 male lions in a "Mexican stand-off" as the sun was rising in the Serengeti.
  • Holding a baby crocodile at a snake park.

Were you satisfied with the amount of wildlife you saw?

I was amazed at how much wildlife I saw on a daily basis. It was overwhelming. Not one game drive was disappointing.

I was also amazed at how close we were. To be only a number of feet away from a pride of lions, to have elephants walk by your vehicle, to sit in a rest area with a vervet monkey right beside you. I never dreamed I would be that close to the animals. I always figured that I'd need an amazing telephoto lens to take close-ups like they do in wildlife magazines. Nope.

Learn more about photographing wildlife »

What other highlights did you experience on your safari?

Back to the Questions

There are so many highlights that it's difficult to choose.

  • Being chosen as the 4th wife of Mangi, a Barabaig elder (it was all in fun but it was still a great experience).
  • Sitting around the campfire in the Barabaig village and having a conversation with some Barabaig men (through Nichole's translation). We talked about many cultural differences between the people of Africa and elsewhere. Their honesty and good humour was wonderful. I learned a lot that night.
  • The fact that I am still in e-mail contact with the people of Africa I met on this trip (locals from Zanzibar, my safari guide, one of the translators, etc).
  • The peaceful hot air balloon ride.
  • Every single animal encounter!
  • Every single people of Africa encounter!

Was there anything that didn't meet your expectations on the trip; any disappointments or regrets?

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My only disappointment was that the trip wasn't longer. I didn't want to leave the continent, animals and people of Africa.

Everything else exceeded my expectations.

Can you offer any tips and advice to others planning a visit to the wildlife and people of Africa?

Do your research (recommended Africa reading). Know what you want to see, where you want to visit, how you want your time divided (cultural/people of Africa versus animals), etc.

Ask lots of questions and try to establish a rapport with the company representatives. Make sure they know you as a "real person" and not just another no-name traveller.

Close up of plains zebraBuild the trip together with the company so that you are getting exactly what you want. Because of my wonderful experience travelling with Another Land and having met all of my expectations, I have built another custom-made trip with them for next summer. Custom-made trips can be more expensive but, in the end, you will get everything you want out of your trip, and more.

Oh, Another Land has set trips too! It doesn't have to be tailor-made.

What was the most useful item in your luggage?

My eyes, my ears and my heart. I opened them all fully. Who cares what clothes you have on or whether your hair is done. Just enjoy the moments as they come.

Oh, and a camera with lots of memory cards!!

How would you rate your safari, on a scale of 1 to 10?

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K.C. returned to Africa in July 2007 to visit Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. Not surprisingly, she used Another Land again... K.C.'s safari in East Africa »

Safari Location: Tanzania Africa: Lake Manyara, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge, Tarangire, village stay near Katesh and Zanzibar
Safari Company Used: Another Land
Duration: 17 June - 3 July
Traveller Details: K.C. Rautiainen, Canada - travelled alone on a tailor-made safari
Rates & Availability: Plan your own safari. Make a people of Africa safari enquiry

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