From July 1994 to July 1998 our General Manager, Jim, lived in Arusha, Tanzania while working for Thomson. He loved his time in the country and still thinks about it, quite fondly, today. He put together a list of his 12 favorite reasons that made him love Tanzania. The best part about his list is that you don’t need to live there to experience them— just visit! If you take a Tanzania family vacation we’re sure that you’ll run into a few of the things that makes Jim love Tanzania.
Living at 4,500 feet where the daily highs were in the low 90s and the evening lows were in 60s just can’t be beat. I got to wear shorts and Birkenstocks every day, something that was easy to get used to. When I would come back home to Boston for vacations each April, with cloudy skies and cooler temperatures, didn’t always feel great!
The African Sky
I spent many nights sitting outside stargazing. The sky was so rich and full of stars, the galaxy looking like you could reach out and touch it, I would have to go outside early enough to make heads or tails of the constellations. Keep an eye out for the Southern Cross during night safaris on your family vacation, it was my favorite.
The Arusha Rhinos was the local rugby team and they were willing to let this old man (42 at the time) play on their rugby team for a year. I wasn’t much good but learned to love the sport.
I am a sucker for beautiful roses. There are so many rose plantations in Tanzania that I was always able to pick up a bucket (4 or 5 dozen) of roses for a few dollars. Luckily my wife, Kim, loves them as well so our house was always adorned with the latest harvest of reds or champagnes. To this day when someone does something great in our office I need to get out and buy them a dozen roses. It’s just too bad they aren’t still a few dollars!
Africa Stays with You
I didn’t have a clue what this meant before I left the States but after spending four years in Tanzania, I understand and know it is true. I have an attachment to Tanzanians, to the country, the wildlife and to the landscape that I will never lose.
There’s a greeting and exchange in Swahili that takes place between young people and any elder that they meet. The young person would say Shikamo and the elder would reply Marahaba.
There is no direct translation, but in essence, the younger person is showing respect to someone who is older and wiser than they are, and the elder responds with a thank you. Here in the states if you are older and struggling with something like technology you may get an eye roll at best and a “man are you dumb” at worst. In Tanzania, that just won’t happen.
Family and Community
I worked with a very successful and smart tour guide who was constantly short of cash. I finally got up the guts to ask him why. He explained to me that every time he came back from work with his pay there was a line of people from his village outside his door. They needed cash for school fees, medicines, food and other necessities. Saying no was not an option for him. He always put others first and wanted to help. Put me to shame.
My first son was born in Tanzania in March 1997 and got to go on safari with me three or four times before we moved back to the U.S. He was given the name Msafiri mdogo mdogo by my co-workers which translates to the junior junior (little little) journeyer. He’s now 19 and in college. While this won’t happen to you on your family safari, there are plenty of memories that your family will make on a vacation in Tanzania.
In addition to the wonderful Tanzanians my family met, we crossed paths with people from all over the world. We now have friends from Australia, England, Canada, South Africa and much more. We will always share that wonderful time in Tanzania.
Amazing Scenery is Never Far
Where else in the world can you drive two hours and be at Tarangire National Park or Gibbs Farm. Getting to spend weekends at a safari lodge in Tarangire, where alternating between swims in the pool and watching for game drink at the Tarangire River was the daily regimen, was incredible. One weekend we watched a group of young lions practice their hunting skills with zebras at the river for drink. They weren’t successful.
It was right in my own backyard. Our little 3 room ranch on 2 acres of land came with bananas, oranges, avocados (boy did our shepherds love these), passion fruit, papaya and custard apple. There is nothing better for one’s weight and cholesterol level than snacking on these rather than chips and cookies. You’ll be able to see and taste all of the fresh fruit you can while on safari.
Going on safari in June 1998 with my family and my brother was amazing. Finding ourselves in the middle of the migration in the Southern Serengeti was a once in a life time experience. Words cannot describe wildebeest and zebras as far as we could see in every direction. Having a 15 month old barking at a sleeping lion who turned and growled at him will be a story told for years to come and of course exaggerated. I’m pretty sure in the last telling of it he walked right up and gave the lion a kiss on the nose!