Blog archive

Entries from June 1, 2011 - June 30, 2011


Open body - Open mind - Open heart



Three days to unwind, rediscover yourself and detox with healthy food and Yoga Asanas.

We will do lots and lots of Yoga, Meditation and Pranayama but also go for meditative bush walks and canoeing all in the enchanting surroundings of Sadaani by the Wami River just over a couple of hours drive from Dar-es-Salaam.

In the morning we will focus on the Asanas part of the practice going through the Ashtanga sequence with specific adjustments and groundings, while the afternoon will see a much softer practice concentrating on Meditation and specific Pranayama exercises. 


Certified instructor Oriane Torode


The start of our second season at Serengeti Mara Camp brings in the lions...

"You know you are truly alive when you’re living among lions."   Karen Blixen

Last week I had the pleasure of spending time at our camp in the Lamai. This remarkable piece of the northern Serengeti is truly heaven!  Nestled amongst the vast plains of long grass only weeks before the arrival of this years wildebeest migration – our camp looks out onto the majestic Mara ecosystem.

The start to the season found me surrounded by lions. My first encounter of the week was an old male laying in the shade scratching his wounds….probably no too much of life left.  Not far from him all squashed under a small shade patch were 8 lionesses with their 6 cubs and also, one young male snoozing the day away. From time to time, an eye is opened and scans for trouble. Later in the afternoon a playful cub under a large tree and his nearby sibling resting in a cub-by-size line up to say farewell as I drive back towards Arusha and home. 

And just as you think its all over…. you look up to find an ever so mysterious lion looking at you from a tree! I think our best season ever is about to begin.


Into Africa - KLM inflight magazine "Holland Herald" article

Two exhilarating hours away in a six-seat plane, and a million miles away scenically, is the Ruaha Game Reserve. There is nothing on the airstrip apart from a lone giraffe. No sleepy official, no hut, no customs check, no tarmac, no lights, no billboards, telegraph poles, signs or advertising. Driving along small dirt tracks to the reserve, there are stately, ancient baobabs everywhere, with their bark stripped back around the trunks.

 “It’s the elephants,” explains Mollel, the guide. “They eat the bark for moisture in the dry season.” This is a bleak, harsh, unforgiving landscape with occasional dashes of colour from ‘toothbrush trees’. Their bright red pods taste like pistachio nuts. It is hard to imagine this exploding rudely into colour after the rains. The baobabs are the oldest tree, many thousand years old, testimony to slow growing and prehistoric life. The first mention of the baobab is by Ibn Battuta, a Moroccan trader and historian, who wrote in 1353, “The trees are of a great age and size, a caravan can shelter under a single one of them, some have no branches or leaves, but the trunk gives enough shade to shelter many men; some have rotted inside, and rainwater has collected, as if it were a well.” I expect to see a dinosaur gently wandering amongst the branches.

 In reality, Ruaha is teeming with impala, duiker, and giant kudu with their huge ears. Giraffes and zebras work in coalition (zebras have an excellent sense of smell, giraffes excellent eyesight) as do baboons and impala: baboons shake the leaves of the high trees, impala stay below (again, good eyesight and smell). It’s all about survival and working together. I almost feel sorry for these animals: life is a neurotically tense experience.

No wildlife documentary can prepare you for the thud of your own heart as a matriarch elephant purposefully eyes you across open savannah. She is 20 metres away, her one-year-old baby snuggling up under chest and trunk, peeping out. The jeep wheels make unhelpful groaning sounds, as the tyres embed deeper and deeper into the sand of a completely dry river bed. “It’s fine, watch her ears” says Mollel. “She’s not angry, just curious.” Still, seven tonnes of mammal defending her offspring is something to be taken seriously.

For full article


Marine lady turns bush baby

When Rob Barbour asked me whether I wanted to spend a week at our camp in Ruaha there wasn’t a doubt in my mind – I had to go – I had heard so many wonderful stories about this untamed piece of Tanzania and even the name conjured up mystical wilderness with a whisper of danger.  So I left my island paradise of Chole Mjini and headed via Dar es Salaam to Msembe Airstrip.    The flight in itself was an absolute delight – after leaving the urban sites of Dar, vast green plains spread out below us, uncultivated and undisturbed, followed by rugged mountain ranges and finally the sight of the Great Ruaha River flowing across sand bars.  We dropped passengers off at Jongomero first and then the 10 minute flight to Msembe, following this great river, was a true Robert Redford / Dennis Finch-Hatton experience – seeing Africa from the sky – grazing treetops while scattering game from their shaded slumber - it was magical and a heavenly start to my week at the National Park.

My time at Kigelia camp was wonderful – I could wax lyrical about the atmosphere, the delightful simplicity of being a visitor in nature, the changing colours of the landscape but I feel I might lose you as readers so I’ll just tell you two of my highlights.  The first one came Day Two – it was mid-afternoon and I was in my tent when trumpeting and crashing shrubs sounded around me – I edged forward on the bed and peered through the canvas onto the sand river below and there were 3 adult elephants and the tiniest of babies grazing and digging for water in the sand.  Merely 30ft from my bed and I could have watched them for hours, especially the little one who was cavorting on the ground, playing with his trunk and obviously embarrassing his Mum…It was amazing to see these phenomenal creatures up close – a pure delight.

The other highlight I want to touch on and will always stay with me was a dawn game drive with our experienced guides, Raffa and Amos.  On my last day we woke up at 5.30am and filled the car with warm blankets and hot coffee, because by jove, in comparison to Chole it was freezing – I thought I was back in the UK again!  We saw so much during this solitary drive (we did not pass one other vehicle) - I could reel off a list of animals which would make any zoologist jealous; giraffes, including a large group of over forty with several babies, kudu, jackel, rollers, rock hyrax, giant buffalo, impala, huge herds of elephant, zebra, eagles, mongoose and two very sleepy lions who were merely 4ft away from the vehicle and I will never forget the gold of that lady’s eyes watching me.  But even through all those fantastic experiences, the one that will stick in my mind is when we stopped at the brow of the hill just as the sun, a ball of fire, rose in the tinted sky – wow – deep red – flooding light over this phenomenal vista – picture perfect with rolling hills, majestic baobabs, wispy grasses and tagalala trees with dikdiks scampering, giraffes nodding for leaves and me with a cup of coffee, under a blanket wondering how did life get this good.

Lyndsey Fair, Chole Mjini Lodge Manager


Volunteers at Kisampa

Early this June Kisampa was graced by the visit of three young Canadian volunteers: Amy Warm, Sam McDermott and Sammy Godfriedson.  There stay with us included volunteer sessions with pre- primary and primary kids in Matipwili and Kisampa. The three young ladies arrived here on Sunday 5th June with the intention to volunteer their skills as early learning professionals to the under six year olds in our community. Hannes and Bori introduced the ladies to the village elders and together they discussed the opportunities. The ladies then spent the next few days in the village with the 4 to 6 year olds at the primary school in Matipwili. As the primary school would close for the holidays on Friday 10th June, the ladies were invited to help honour the children from the primary school that had scored highest in the end of year school tests.

Amy, Sam and Sammy had brought with them an enormous amount of teaching supplies. Some of these items were offered to the best students of each class as an incentive to continue to do their best and study hard. The children were delighted to receive special gifts of pens and pencils, colouring books, crayons and much more.  The three volunteers will end their time at Kisampa by visiting Gongo village and the Gongo school and community, as well as visit the Mingogi settlement and more visits to Matipwili to sit with the children to play, learn and enjoy each other's company.


A tranquil start to the season at Chole Mjini Lodge

Chole Mjini Lodge in my mind is always the epicentre of calm and serenity – no cars, traffic, sirens, phones, electricity, radios, tvs; just you, a treehouse, blue skies and long sunny days…but for the last four days Chole has become even more harmonious.  We’ve been delighted to host Jo Fox’s Yoga Retreat.  During sunrise and sunset you can hear Jo’s dulcet tones whisper “now breathe in…and out” – it has been wonderful.  The sessions have taken place all over the Lodge – in the fig-lined ruins, on the balcony of the Red Herring facing the sunset and under a tamarind tree looking over the harbour.  Not only have the people of Chole been fascinated with these exercises (especially when they passed the Red Herring to see ten pairs of feet up in the air with no heads!) but our staff have also entered into the spirit of the retreat – to the extent where Jo offered Hassani, a waiter at the Lodge to join them.  Here is a photo of Hassani in his first ever yoga session – I am expecting him to be all zen-like for work tomorrow!

The group have also had time between sessions to sample some of the many activities we offer including one of the first turtle hatchings of the season on Juani; a walk through the village which was made even more special by the Kindergarten, funded by the Chole Mjini Trust Fund, singing them a song; scuba diving and snorkelling in Chole Bay and lazing on the sandbar.  It’s been a wonderful beginning of the season and I hope Jo’s guests got as much out of their experience as Hassani!

Photos by: Francesca McKenna