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Untouched Tanzania – Too Good To Be True?
At DNTM we’re always on the lookout for off-tourist-track activities and destinations.
Sometimes those authentic experiences can be had just an arm’s throw from touristy hotspots, if you know how to get off the beaten path. In our Vietnam edition of the magazine you can read about a quiet part of Ninh Binh near the more famous Tam Coc… and here you can read about a Tanzania less traveled.
When we asked what makes the Northern coast of Tanzania so special, the friendly folks at Tembo Kijani ecolodge revealed all:
Tanzania, land of dreams – open savannas, roaring lions, herds of elephants, mount Kilimanjaro in the background with its snow-covered (or rather cloud-covered?) peaks, turquoise ocean and white endless beaches with palm trees. Who cannot imagine enjoying a dream vacation like this?
Isn’t this all a bit too good to be true? Are there still places left in Africa where you can discover the pride of lions just all by yourself – without other safari jeeps and the clicking of cameras – just you and the lions? Are there still beaches, where you can walk for miles without meeting a single soul? Are there still villages, where people stare at you, because you are white? Are there still tribes, that only know their tribal language and have never seen running water in their life? Yes, but mostly these are not the places found advertised in catalogues.
This experience starts where the tarmac roads end, where there is no public electricity grid nor a public water line, where history is still the present.
On the coast in the north of Tanzania, unknown, little visited and still undiscovered, the only place in East Africa, where elephants, lions, buffaloes, hippos and giraffes are calling a place on the ocean their home, exactly there, where the safari already starts at the beach, a small ecolodge is located.
The lodge is called Tembo Kijani and is quite unique and very individual. The owners and hosts, Sarah, Eyal and their daughter Timna, are always around and at the end of a stay, most guests leave as friends. The small family arrived in Tanzania four years ago to build a sustainable hotel; concept, design and also construction was entirely in their hands and you can see the love for details everywhere.
With the idea to disturb nature and surroundings as little as possible – or better not at all - the seven bandas and bungalows are merged individually into the nature of the premises, and hence all of them are a bit different from each other. The sustainability of the lodge can be seen not only in the way of building, but also in the sole use of renewable energy, food from local and thus organic sources, support of the community through employment and vocational training, and active conservation in the close-by Saadani National Park. But most of all Tembo Kijani is a small paradise to relax and simply forget about everything else.
The constant sound of the waves, the rustling of the coconut leaves, the happy chirruping of the different birds and the chirping of the crickets will be with you throughout the day. At night the bushbabies take the place of the birds and crickets, but the ocean will lull you to sleep. The rooms are spread on the premises and separated from each other by thick bush, so that seclusion and lots of privacy are guaranteed for all our guests; the only noisy neighbor you might have are either monkeys or squirrels, that scurry through the bush.
The nature on the plot and its inhabitants you can also discover yourself – just walk through the lodge with open eyes and ears – with a bit of luck you won’t only see a great variety of birds, but also dik-diks, vervet monkeys, Syke’s monkeys, red duikers, nile monitors and more. The hosts would also love to take you on a walking safari through the surrounding eco system. There you will see different type of mangroves, acacias and other coastal vegetation, but you will also visit the “local” salt making in a salt lake, try freshly brewed coconut beer if you like, and encounter the big herds of cattle of the Mangati tribe on their way home.
One of the highlights of a stay in Tembo Kijani though is a safari to Saadani National Park; you are not just the only car in the park most of the time, but the wildlife, which you see, you will see from up close (so the binoculars can stay at home). The vegetation in Saadani is so different than in the other parks in the north of Tanzania, lots of thick bush, acacia forests, few open savannas and so it is no wonder that you drive around the corner and suddenly you have a giraffe standing in front of you.
Also on the boat safari on the Wami River (one of the two places in Tanzania where you can actually do a boating safari) you get so close to the hippos and crocodiles, that you automatically move a bit more to the middle of the boat. All in all you can see four of the big 5 in Saadani, namely lion, buffalo, elephant and leopard; waterbucks, reedbucks, wildebeest, bushbucks, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, warthogs, baboons, Roosevelt sable antelopes and a huge amount of giraffes are calling Saadani their home.
Because the park is still quite young and undiscovered, you will actually enjoy a totally private safari with the feeling of 50 years ago, when you’d still have to search for wildlife and wouldn’t hear anything besides the cracking of branches and the snorting in the bush. The gin tonic for the safari you get back at the lodge as a sundowner in front of the Indian Ocean.
Although Tembo Kijani puts a big emphasis on nature and affinity to nature, western comfort is not to be missed. So the rooms at Tembo Kijani are equipped with German textiles, the beds are made to provide comfortable sleep to tall guests as well with a length of 7 foot, hot water and electricity are always available, because the rooms are each self-sufficient with a solar-island-system and a solar water heating system. But what probably stays with most of our guests is the food of the lodge, which merges local produces with European cuisine and so new creations that enchant the guests every evening anew.
In order to truly discover a piece of Tanzania and not only to visit as a tourist, Tembo Kijani and the northern coast of the country provide the ideal starting point.
We are not compensated for posting about Tembo Kijani. When we found out about this unique region we wanted to find out more. It really fits with our yearning for unique, so we wanted to share it with our like-minded readers.