ActiveTravels | get up & go!  
 subscribe to ActiveTravels
 Subscribe by RSS By RSS Feed or Email
 
Follow ActiveTravels on Twitter Like ActiveTravels on Facebook View the ActiveTravels YouTube channel
 
ActiveTravels - Travel Agents You Can Trust
   
     
 

Tanzania

Friday, March 13, 2015

ActiveTravels March Newsletter Now Available

Tuscany is a destination often found on people’s bucket lists. Dreams of the unspoiled, authentic Italy where medieval hill towns, vineyards, olive oil and truffles abound. We’ve paired up with a wonderful Italian tour operator who can offer accommodations in farm houses, villas, apartments, or B&Bs in the region with activities that range from taking cooking classes to guided bike rides on the rolling hills past vineyards, Medieval homesteads, and Etruscan tombs. Also in this month’s newsletter, we disclose our 5 favorite off-the-beaten-path National Parks, lodging clients have enjoyed in Jackson Hole, why you should download the app, Yonder, and a gem of a renovated inn that we came across on a recent trip to Stowe. Enjoy!

 
I’m off to Tanzania tonight for an epic trip with Epic Private Journeys to check out Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. We’ll also be visiting more remote parts of the country like the Grumeti Reserves, home to two lavish lodges, a tented camp, and a mobile camp under the design and management of South Africa’s pioneering Singita tourism group. Another private wildlife reserve, Mwiba, is where you’ll find the latest upscale lodging in the country, the Mwiba Lodge, which opened last June and is already gaining acclaim for its 8 canvas-sided suites. I’ll be checking it all out and sending photos on my Twitter account @ActiveTravels. When I’ll return on March 23rd, you’ll be hearing all about it on this page. So stay tuned and stay active! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/13/15 at 06:00 AM
Announcements • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Monday, March 30, 2015

Be Wary of Circuit Routes and Name-Brand Hotels When Choosing a Safari

The last two weeks I had the privilege of traveling with Rob Barbour around northern Tanzania, with stops in Arusha and Arusha National Park, the southern Amboseli plains, Mwiba Wildlife Reserve, Ngorongoro Crater, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Kusini Camp in the southern Serengeti, the Grumeti Wildlife Reserve, and the Lamai section of the northern Serengeti, where the legendary wildebeest migration takes place across the Mara River. Rob not only serves as director of African operations for the safari operator, Epic Private Journeys, but he’s a native Tanzanian who formerly owned his own lodges in Lamai and Ruaha National Park in southern Tanzania. It seems like every restaurant, hotel, and airport stop we made, he ran into an old friend. What was invaluable to me was the wealth of information he shared on taking a safari in Africa, knowledge accumulated over a lifetime. This week, I’ll be sharing some of his tips to ensure that your next safari is indeed a once in a lifetime opportunity. 

 
Throughout the trip, Rob emphasized that you can’t pick a safari based on hotel name. You design a safari itinerary on where the wildlife will be that time of year and than combine 3 or 4 properties near the wildlife that will best suit your needs, whether an upscale boutique hotel or a mobile tent deep in the African bush. Actually, to get the true African flavor, it’s best to have a combination of both, like 3 nights at Alex Walker's Serian camps in Serengeti, combined with an exclusive stay at one of the private wildlife reserves say Singita Grumeti or the relatively new Mwiba Lodge
 
The most important thing is not to be seduced by name. Outfitters like Abercrombie & Kent or andBeyond will design a circuit solely based on their properties. That’s wonderful when staying at A&K’s Olonana Sanctuary on Kenya’s Mara River, where you wake up to breakfast with views of the hippos swimming. Not so great if you’re staying at A&K’s outpost near the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, where tents were lined up practically on top of each other. andBeyond’s Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and it’s over-the-top “Out of Africa” style is easily the best property in the region. But in Grumeti, andBeyond will put you in their own tents, which doesn’t offer the same privileges of staying at Singita Grumeti, like night drives and off-road driving to get closer to the wildlife. So it’s best to mix and match with a company like Epic Private Journeys who simply want the best experience and don’t have loyalty to one name. Also be wary of the big name hotelier. For example, Four Seasons Serengeti is located in central Serengeti in a locale far away from the both the wildebeest migration in summer and winter. It’s actually best in late February and March.
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/30/15 at 06:00 AM
Travel Advice • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Pros of Hiring a Private Guide on Safari

On safari, you have the choice of booking a lodge and going out on game drives with their respective guides or hiring a company like Epic Private Journeys where former lodge owner and Tanzanian native Rob Barbour will act as a private guide. Obviously, there’s an extra cost involved, but if you’re splurging for this amazing opportunity, it’s important to do it right. The lodge guides we had the past two weeks were hit or miss. Laser-eyed Lazarus at Lamai Serengeti was brilliant, spotting a leopard high up in a tree after a kill and a male lion hidden in the tall grass. We watched as other Land Rovers simply drove past, not seeing the amazing sights we were witnessing. At other lodges, however, I could barely understand the guide’s English, and some couldn’t get the right position for getting the best photo, like a cheetah resting under a tree at sunset. 

 
Rob works with the driver and guide, telling him when to stop, spotting lions others had missed, and giving us a well-rounded description of each animal, including probable age. Just as important, he was with us practically the entire trip, helping with travel logistics. Don’t take this for granted. There are no airports in the Serengeti, Grumeti, or Mwiba, simply strips of pavement for small airplanes to land. So you better double-check to see exactly when your plane is arriving the next day or you won’t be leaving. Most of all you develop a relationship with a private guide that lasts far beyond one trip. Rob travels all around east and southern Africa, from Uganda to Botswana, with clients who request his services year after year. Travel with Rob and you have a genuine friend for life, one who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the African bush. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/31/15 at 06:00 AM
Travel Advice • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Wednesday, April 01, 2015

When to Go on Safari in East Africa

June through September has always been prime time for going on safari in Tanzania, especially if you want to catch the wildebeest migration across the Mara River. I’ve caught the migration from the Kenya side of the river one September as the wildebeests were making their way back south to the Serengeti. Yes, it was exciting seeing hundreds of wildebeests trampling across the river, but it wasn’t as nearly as exciting as seeing that one leopard bringing his kill up a tree. You have to realize that June, July, and August are by far the most crowded months to be on safari in Tanzania and Kenya. Crowds and land rovers lessen once September hits. Indeed, September and October are a special time of year to be on safari in the Mara, Serengeti, or Grumeti. Though I have to admit that I enjoyed being in Tanzania these past two weeks of March. The big rains of March and April were nowhere to be seen and we had the often congested roads of Ngorongoro Crater practically to ourselves. Travel to the Kusini Camp in the southern Serengeti in December, January, and February, and not only will you see an incredible amount of game, but North Americans and Europeans can escape the cold of winter and hit Zanzibar and the other coastal islands for a beach vacation. That sounds like the right move for this Boston boy. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/01/15 at 06:00 AM
Travel Advice • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Thursday, April 02, 2015

Beach, Kilimanjaro Climb, and Gorilla Add-On to Tanzanian Safari

Realize that you have options when booking a safari in Tanzania. You can combine a safari with a climb up Kilimanjaro, a beach vacation on the coast, or continuing on to Rwanda or Uganda to see the gorillas. Guides will take you up Kilimanjaro in six days, but it’s best to give yourself at least 7 nights to acclimate to the altitude. Recommended ways up the impressive snowcapped peak include both the Machame or Lemosho Routes. I wouldn’t call a week on safari a relaxing vacation. You’re waking up as early as 5:30 am to catch the morning game drive and then spending a good portion of the day bouncing around on the back of a jeep on rutted roads to get those close-up shots of wildlife. Lying on the beach is an ideal way to end your trip. Also, going to Zanzibar at the end of the trip will greatly reduce price of a safari package since lodging averages $250 a night, not $1300 a night or much more on safari. A good alternative to the hustle and bustle of Zanzibar is Mafia Island Lodge, on the southernmost Tanzanian island, close to the wildlife at Selous National Park. Another real find for a beach vacation is Chole Mjini, an eco-resort on a private island across from Mafia Island that Tanzanians I met raved about. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/02/15 at 06:00 AM
Travel Advice • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Friday, April 03, 2015

Other Tanzanian Locales to Put on Your Radar

Spending the past two weeks in Tanzania, it gave me a great opportunity to talk to locals and see which national parks and coastal destinations they love. First time travelers would be wise to do the renowned northern circuit route, which includes the slopes of Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater, and the Serengeti. But Tanzania is vast and there are many wildlife corridors to choose from. Many guides I talked to mentioned Selous National Park in southern Tanzania and the boat rides along the Rufiji River to see the hippos close-up. The Rufiji flows into the Indian Ocean opposite Mafia Island, an excellent beach destination which I discussed in yesterday’s post. Nick, lodge manager at Lamai Serengeti, loved two other national parks in remote southeastern Tanzania, Katavi and Mahale. Katavi houses a vast amount of hippos, elephants, giraffes, lions, and hyenas, without the car traffic. It’s best during the end of the dry season, in September and October. On the shores of Lake Tanganyika, Mahale is home to some 900 wild chimpanzees. South of Gombe, it’s much larger and not nearly as crowded as Gombe since it’s not the residence of Jane Goodall. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/03/15 at 06:00 AM
Travel Advice • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Monday, April 06, 2015

My 5 Favorite Tanzanian Properties: Hatari Lodge, Arusha National Park

Less than a 45-minute drive from Kilimanjaro International Airport, you reach Hatari Lodge on the northern edge of Arusha National Park. While other properties, like Legendary Lodge, nestled in the coffee plantations of Arusha, might be more luxurious, Hatari is the perfect welcome mat to Tanzania because it immediately gives you the feel of being in the African bush. Rooms are spacious and you wake up to monkeys jumping on your roof, families of warthogs running across the property and magnificent views of the sun rising above Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru. At breakfast on the outdoor patio, you’ll spot your first giraffes and buffalos, then go on a game drive into the park to get close-up shots of elephants, hippos, and countless flamingoes. The lodge gives you the opportunity to canoe past the hippos, but a better option is to drive up the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro for a day hike and picnic. Hatari offers 9 rooms and is adding 3 new family suites this summer. It’s the ideal spot to start your tour of Tanzania, rest after the long flight, be immersed in the wildlife, and see mighty Kilimanjaro.

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/06/15 at 06:00 AM
Lodging • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Tuesday, April 07, 2015

My 5 Favorite Tanzanian Properties: Mwiba Lodge

Fly 40 minutes from the domestic airport in Arusha over the Ngorongoro Crater and you reach Mwiba Lodge, the latest upscale property from Legendary Expeditions. All 9 rooms and main lodge are filled with modern African art to give it a contemporary flair. There’s a small infinity pool, wine cellar filled with South African selections, two dining areas, and a small library, all looking over a watering hole where I spotted more than 20 elephants strolling leisurely down to the spot. Rooms are spacious and a bath filled with warm water, bubbles and salts is waiting after your afternoon game drive. Mwiba is located in a vast game reserve, not a national park, so you have the option to take night drives and veer off-road straight to the wildlife. Ideal for honeymooners or couples celebrating an anniversary, I would probably recommend staying at Mwiba after first staying at a mobile tent in the Serengeti bush. It offers a great dose of comfort before leaving Africa.

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/07/15 at 06:00 AM
Lodging • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

My 5 Favorite Tanzanian Properties: Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

A 90-minute drive from Lake Manyara Airport or a morning drive from Arusha through the sylvan farmland around Lake Manyara is the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. This over the top “Out of Africa” style resort is perched on the rim of the crater. It’s a spectacular spot and the perfect place to rest after an afternoon game drive in the crater or before the next morning’s game drive. Ngorongoro Crater is best done in the beginning of your trip since the caldera floor is crowded with land rovers, yet the animals, familiar with traffic, reward visitors with fabulous close-ups. Realize, however, that this popular locale might feel too commercial after visiting the vast Serengeti or the exclusive Grumeti.

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/08/15 at 06:00 AM
Lodging • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Thursday, April 09, 2015

My 5 Favorite Tanzanian Properties: Alex Walker’s Serian Kusini Camp

There’s something magical about being lost in the African bush for at least 3 nights in a mobile tent. You’re surrounded by wildlife, drink sundowners at sunset around a raging campfire, view the twinkling stars of the incredible African night sky, and then sleep peacefully with a breeze. One of the best mobile tent locales in the winter months is Kusini just past Ndutu Safari Lodge (where Mary Leakey stayed, along with numerous BBC documentarians) in the southern Serengeti. Alex Walker’s Serian is a master of glamping, offering six spacious tents with bucket showers and flush toilets that move close to the Mara River in the summer months for prime wildebeest crossing viewings. Not surprisingly, these camps are often booked well in advance, with the same clientele returning year after year. So plan accordingly. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/09/15 at 06:00 AM
Lodging • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Friday, April 10, 2015

My 5 Favorite Tanzanian Properties: Singita Grumeti

The best part of my recent trip to Tanzania was the two nights we spent at Singita in the 140,000 hectare Grumeti Game Reserves that borders the north-central part of the Serengeti. The place feels exactly like the Serengeti with its swaying grasses and low-lying ridges, but without the traffic. We passed, on average, 2 other land rovers on each 3-hour game drive. It felt incredibly exclusive. The wildlife was phenomenal even in March, but the general manager noted that his favorite time of year is September. 

 
We spent one night in the very contemporary rooms of Singita Faru Faru, perfect for families because of its two pools to unwind after lunch. The spacious rooms overlook a watering hole with good wildlife viewing from the outdoor shower (opt for Room 2 or 3). The next night we moved to Singita Explore, 6 mobile tents that move around the property, depending on the season. This was glamping at its best, with sundowners around the campfire and S. African braai for dinner. You could easily spend 3 nights at Explore and 3 nights at Faru Faru or Singita’s private 4-bedroom house, the Serengeti House, and call it a safari. Better yet, go on a horseback riding safari between the Singita properties, arguably the best place in Africa to ride. 
Going on safari is one of the most magical and memorable trips you can take. Yet, we realize the complexity of travel and the often exorbitant cost involved. ActiveTravels is here to answer all questions to ensure that your African escapades are authentic and special. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/10/15 at 06:00 AM
Lodging • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Friday, April 17, 2015

Tanzania, Greek Isles, Canada, Morocco and More in Our April Newsletter

I was fortunate to visit Tanzania for two weeks in March and I report on my experience in this month’s newsletter. With the weather finally warming up, we also turn our attention to favorite hotels on the Greek islands, a reputable tour operator we love in Morocco, and the upcoming Daffodil and Food and Wine festivals on Nantucket. Finally, with the dollar strong once again around the globe, it’s a good time to not only consider Europe, but Canada. $10 US dollars is now worth $12.22 Canadian as of yesterday. So this is the summer to travel! Talking about Canada, I’ll be with all my buddies at Canada Media Marketplace next week in New York to hear what’s happening across the country. I’ll return the week of May 3rd with my 5 Favorite Places to Go In Canada This Summer. Stay tuned and keep active! 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/17/15 at 06:00 AM
Travel Advice • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Monday, January 04, 2016

Top 5 Travel Days of 2015, On Safari at Singita Grumeti

With trips to Tanzania, Turkey, Nova Scotia, the Colorado Rockies, Acadia National Park, and much more, 2015 was another banner year for travel. It’s hard to distill it all down to five days, but these are the memories I cherish most. In March, I traveled all around northern Tanzania with Rob Barbour, director of African travel at Epic Private Journeys. We would make stops in Arusha National Park, the southern Amboseli plains, Mwiba Wildlife Reserve, Ngorongoro Crater, Kusini Camp in the southern Serengeti, the Grumeti Wildlife Reserve, and the Lamai section of the northern Serengeti, where the legendary wildebeest migration takes place across the Mara River. Watching 50 elephants coming to a watering hole outside my room at Mwiba was an experience I’ll never forget. But my favorite part of the trip was the two nights we spent at Singita in the 140,000 hectare Grumeti Game Reserves. The place feels exactly like the Serengeti with its swaying grasses and low-lying ridges, but without the traffic. We passed, on average, 2 other land rovers on each 3-hour game drive. It felt incredibly exclusive. The wildlife was phenomenal, even in March before the big rains, watching lions on a wildebeest kill or giraffes nibbling on the acacias at sunset. 

 
We spent one night in the very contemporary rooms of Singita Faru Faru, perfect for families because of its two pools to unwind after lunch. The spacious rooms overlook a watering hole with good wildlife viewing from the outdoor shower (opt for Room 2 or 3). The next night we moved to Singita Explore, 6 mobile tents that move around the property, depending on the season. This was glamping at its best, with sundowners around the campfire and S. African braai for dinner. You could easily spend 3 nights at Explore and 3 nights at Faru Faru or Singita’s private 4-bedroom house, the Serengeti House, and be extremely happy. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/04/16 at 06:00 AM
Travel Advice • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Friday, March 11, 2016

Best Wildlife Viewing, Amalfi Hotels, Nola, and More in March Newsletter

As I write this, I can't help thinking of one client who is currently in the middle of the Australian Outback and another client in remote Khajuraho, India. They know nothing of presidential primary results and probably don't care. That's the beauty of travel; we can choose to escape current events or reality, living off the grid if we so desire far away from headlines. I'm in the midst of working on a Power Point presentation for a talk I'm doing in Maine this month on the subject of adventure travel. I discuss why I've devoted so much of my career to the outdoors and the reasons for its allure. For me, it's the rare chance to be in the present thinking of nothing other than climbing that mountain, finishing a long bike ride, or paddling to the next campsite or backcountry lodge. It's a gift, really, and I don't take it for granted during these often dizzying times. 

 
There's no doubt that the opportunity to see wildlife is one of the best reasons to get on a plane and travel. In March's ActiveTravels newsletter, we pinpoint five of our favorite places to see wildlife and the best form of outdoor recreation to get you there. All of these adventures come from firsthand experience. Lisa divulges her favorite lodgings on the glorious Amalfi Coast and talks about our best tips for getting oriented upon your arrival in a new locale. We also introduce you to a Tanzanian safari outfitter who can work with more moderate budgets, and discuss why March is a great time to visit New Orleans. We plan on doing exactly that with the kids later this month. 
 
 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/11/16 at 06:00 AM
Travel Advice • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Page 1 of 1 pages

 

 
 
 

about us
photo of Steve Jermanok
Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

ActiveTravels.com is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

Adventure Travel Trade Association

 

tags