Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Love Africa: take a mini-overland tour with Mark Smith and find out more about the 13-day Kenya and Tanzania Adventure

Why would you recommend the tour?

I thought that the best part of the trip would have been the wildlife, but in the end it was really the people I travelled with – they made the tour. It was a real mix, there were adventurers from all over the world, of differing ages, from different backgrounds, all with different stories to tell. We all shared a passion for adventure, wildlife and having a good time and that really brought us together. The wildlife viewing was excellent, we saw everything, but it was sharing the experience with so many people that made it such an amazing trip.

I thought that the long journeys spent in the overland truck would be the worst part, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Everyone made the most of the music system and tables for card games etc. We kept ourselves busy and the changing scenery kept people engaged with the countries we were travelling in. The truck journeys are obviously an important part of the trip and it was a great experience.

Was this the first time you have taken an overland trip?

Yes. I have always wanted to see the Masai Mara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. This trip gave me the opportunity to do just that at a price that I could afford, and within a duration that my work holiday entitlement would allow for. Overlanding had the ideal adventure/travel element that I felt I needed having worked hard in London for the past 2 years.

After this experience I will definitely opt for another overland trip.

1. for the people you meet
2. for the distant and beautiful places you get to visit
3. it meets my budget and holiday allowances

What about value for money?

I found the cost/prices were very similar to those advertised in the brochure. This allowed me to devise a budget that worked. As I had no unforeseen costs I was able to treat myself with the cash I had available for contingency. Price accuracy in the brochure is key to people enjoying their holiday without annoying hidden costs. Here’s a tip - always barter for curios! Zanzibar was the most expensive destination and I found the restaurants at the beach to be a little on the pricey side in comparison with the rest of the places I visited.

Did anything really take your breath away?

The hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti was an extra optional activity and very expensive, but one that I simply had to do. Watching the sun coming over the horizon with the wildebeest migration below was an experience that would stir the soul of most people.

The accommodation at Kendwa Rocks, Zanzibar was in an amazing location. The beach was 20m from my bungalow, turquoise water, blue skies and white sand. Amazing!

Any humourous moments?

I had my 26th birthday on the trip – everyone made an effort to dress up in Masai blankets. We then proceeded to have a huge party with BBQ food, drink, music, singing & dancing. The following day’s six hour dive was a tough one.

Any good places for a nosh up?

The fish market in Stone Town was brilliant. Loads of people, loads of stalls, and all the food was caught fresh that day.

Any fascinating cultural experiences?

Walking around the Maasai village in Arusha wasn’t the greatest and it felt very artificial. But when all of the kids that lived in the village ran over and used our arms as swings and wanted us to play with them and pick them up, it became a very emotional and close experience. I’m a bloke and usually wouldn’t be bothered with that kind of thing, but even I felt good when the kids asked me to swing them around. Pretty cool…

What about the long drives – any advice for adventurers thinking of heading overland?

Driving past Kilimanjaro was evocative, as was the approach to Dar es Salaam. On Long trips bring your Ipod, books, a deck of cards and a magnetic games board for Chess, Draughts,etc.

Are you thinking of coming back to Africa?

I have a couple of things still to do in Africa: Climbing Kili is one of them. I’m also hoping to check out Gorillas and see Namibia.

Anything else you'd like to add?...

Invest in a few pumps and air valve/pins to inflate the rugby, soccer and volleyballs.

Love Africa: next Tuesday 25 August you can go Go Crazy About Kenya and the eight stringed Obokano – a traditional instrument played by talented artist Grandmaster Masese

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