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Gombe Chimpanzee Safari, Mount Kilimanjaro Hike & Tanzania Cultural Tour Review

by AfricanMecca Customer / Saturday, 06 June 2015 / Published in AfricanMecca Reviews For Safaris, Beach & Tours

Gombe Chimpanzee Safari, Mount Kilimanjaro Hike & Tanzania Cultural Tour Review

lharwood

If you want a safari company with whom you’ll feel truly cared for, then you won’t do better than AfricanMecca Safaris. I was going to Tanzania and contacted AfricanMecca Safaris to help me with arranging some great activities, paramount was a chimp safari at Gombe Stream National Park. They also arranged a tour of Mwanza, a visit to a museum on the history of the Sukuma tribe, a day-hike on Mount Kilimanjaro, and a visit to an agricultural cooperative on Mount Meru. All of that called for guides, hotels, drivers and more. With that many locations and having to work around the other part of my visit, Raza had many details to deal with. He was very patient with me as we worked through those details and options day in and day out. And when I got there, it all went great…exactly as he’d described it. And while we were communicating, he helped me practice Kiswahili before I got there.

Visiting Gombe Park had been a dream since I was a kid and watched the National Geographic specials with Jane Goodall. Well, it was all that I imagined it would be. I was met at the airport in Kigoma by Rama, who stayed with me for the rest of the safari. As we drove to the Hilltop Hotel complex, he told me about the details of the upcoming 3 days. I had a great lunch at the Kigoma Hilltop and we then went by boat to the camp in Gombe Park. During the trip, they told me about the villages around the park. We saw the fishing boats and the water taxis, as well. The Gombe Camp definitely fit the description of “luxury tent camp”. My tent had running water, a hot shower, flush toilet, and a queen-size bed (the best bed I had on the entire trip). Coffee, tea, and other beverages (soda, beer, wine) were available at all times in the mess tent. The food was super. “Papa”, the cook, really kept me happy in the food department. Each morning Frank brought really good coffee to my tent. The first morning was the chimp safari. We went to the park entrance by boat. After meeting our guide from the park, we headed to the tracker that was already in the forest with the chimps. On the way to his location we saw “Jane’s Peak” across the valley”. After a bit the guide pointed to the side of the trail and there were chimps moving through the bush! We followed and then saw more and more chimps. Some were in the trees, some were on the ground, some came by us on the trail. We saw two mothers with babies in their arms. We saw a very famous chimp named Frodo. I had the present alpha-male chimp pass by me within a foot! At one point we were on the edge of a clearing with over 25 chimps!! FANTASTIC!! After a great lunch, I went snorkeling in Lake Tanganyika. That night we were invited to the New Year’s Eve party for the Gombe Stream Park staff. I was an honored guest and asked to open the first bottle of champagne at midnight. Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime event…wow! The next day we did a short hike to Kakombe water fall. We also stopped by Jane Goodall’s home, but she wasn’t home. In the afternoon, we went to the nearest fishing village to meet the people and see the village. Rama was with me through all these activities. He is a great guy and did a great job.

One the way to and from Gombe, I spent the night in Mwanza. I chose to do this to expand my experience of Tanzania. On the way, I got a tour of Mwanza. The main market in the center of town was quite busy. On the way back, Raza had arranged for me to visit a cultural museum. This museum was about the Sukuma people which, at 16% of the population, is the largest tribe in Tanzania. There was quite a bit to see. The highlight of the museum visit was a performance of several dances, including one where they used a live snake (!). Raza had arranged for me to get to do a day-hike on Kilimanjaro. This fit my schedule perfectly. I had a nice hike, ate lunch, and then was taken to my next adventure. The Mulala Agricultural Coop was great. The day started with a guided hike around the area and the lower slopes of Mount Meru. My guide explained how some of the plants were used for medicinal purposes. He also identified a number of the birds and trees. While in the eucalyptus forest, we found some fabulous wild strawberries. Yum! At the Mulala compound we enjoyed some very nice coffee that had been grown by the cooperative and then had lunch. I really enjoyed the lunch as it was very flavorful. The ladies at Mulala were great. They shared some songs that their tribal songs and dance. I then got a demonstration of coffee preparation…from beans to grounds…when it’s done by hand. They even let me help! I highly recommend visiting the great folks at Mulala coop

Dr Leigh Harwood
Virginia, United States

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