Take a walk in Stone Town

We follow our tour guide, Elvis, through a maze of narrow alleyways of small businesses, hotels and residential spaces with locals, tourists (and vespas!) in what used to be the capital of Zanzibar. You’ll see how these African streets embrace cultures from the Arabs, Indians and Europeans through design. It is no surprise that Stone Town is an UNESCO World Heritage site. The buildings, made from Zanzibar’s coral stone, are ornately decorated with beautiful carved timber doors. You’ll find two styles of doors, Arab (square tops) and Indian (arched tops), both a symbol of protection and security but also a door into Zanzibar’s history.

Arab and Indian merchants, through the spice and slave trade, constructed Stone Town in the 19th century. Before then the Portuguese came and built a fort to protect their settlements in the 16th century. During the tour you will see the slave chambers in the former slave market site – now a museum recording the slave trade with a poignant sculpture outside the building by the artist Clara Sornos titled ‘memory of the slave’.

The old fort is now a centre for arts and culture showcasing events and performances. Look for the post on the International Film Festival. Near the fort you’ll pass Forodhani Gardens, which holds an evening food market all year round – here you should try the Zanzibar pizza and see it made right in front of you. You will also pass the House of Wonders – wonders because it was the first building in Africa to have an elevator! It is now closed due to building repair. The building used to be taller but it got destroyed in the world’s shortest war that lasted less than an hour, between two brothers…you might want to ask your tour guide about that one.

Along the tour you’ll see local markets selling all sorts including fruits, vegetables, spices. Look for the post on the spice tour.

One little known fact of Zanzibar is that it’s the birthplace of Freddie Mercury; you can look for Mercury House to find out more.

The narrow streets of Stone Town fall dark come nightfall, so walk in groups if you decide to stay out late. Be carful and vigilant, it is a very busy environment, especially around sunset, if you are female, you may attract unwanted attention.

Stone Town is the perfect place to buy gifts for family and friends, eat lunch – try 6 degrees for a seaview (a sit down restaurant at tourist prices with one hour free wifi) or Lukmaans near the former slave market (a budget buffet at local prices) and ask for Salim for a great service. If you want to see the sun set go grab a juice at Sunset bar, be sure to go a little early before the best seats are taken, or go to the Floating Restaurant and watch it from the pier.

Safari!

One thing I had to do during my time in Tanzania was go on a Safari. I wanted to see with my own eyes what I’d seen on television and in books so many times before. I had booked a three day trip that would show me a local Maasai village, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Lake Manyara.

My trip started with a four hour car ride from the volunteer house to the Maasai village. Here I met some of the local people, saw their homes, learned about their way of life and how they’re adapting to modern times. We met people from all over the village, from the chief with thirty wives to all the children, many of whom were working with the goats and cows. It was amazing to see such a different way of life with my own eyes, a personal highlight for me was seeing some Baobab trees with their vast water storing trunks swelling to hold enough water to get through the dry season.

From the village we continued in the car for a short while until we reached the camp site, our base for the next two nights. At the camp site we were provided with brilliant food, a swimming pool and hot showers, making it the perfect place for us to recover from the days of game driving.

The next morning saw a relatively early start as we set off to reach the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This was the place I was most excited to see on my trip as it is somewhere I studied extensively at school back in the UK. Having read about the area before visiting I had high expectations, these were instantly met as soon as we entered the large crater. The animals were everywhere meaning that my guide Ben was constantly having to stop the car to let me observe and take photos of my stunning surroundings. By the time we stopped for lunch I’d already seen four of the most famous animals in the park, the buffalo, lion, rhino and elephant. From the lunch spot we drove back through the conservation area, getting up close and personal with more animals until we reached the view point on the crater rim. Here we could see the entire crater in all its glory, it was certainly worth all the driving!

On the way home we stopped off at some local shops, this allowed me to see regional products and even meet the people who were making them, see their tools and the processes that all the crafted items go through.

The final day started with a very short drive to the Lake Manyara national park. Here I was hoping to see giraffes and some elephants. Once again I wasn’t disappointed, soon after entering the park we saw two male elephants fighting in the forest. Just around the corner from them we were greeted by a herd of giraffes and shortly after that we saw a family of elephants, including a young calf walking through the forest. Along with these animal sightings we were treated to striking views of the lake and saw many of the local water birds. After this it was back to the campsite for our final hot lunch, and then the drive back to Moshi.

I would strongly encourage anybody visiting Tanzania to visit some of the safari spots and really appreciate the animals in their natural habitats. A special thanks to my driver and guide Ben, without his experienced eye I wouldn’t have even spotted half of the animals I managed see!

Kilimanjaro climb!

One of the biggest draws to Tanzania was the opportunity to climb Africa’s highest mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro!

On the 23rd of July my six day adventure along the Machame route began. The three of us started on a fairly easy trail through the picturesque rainforest for about 4.5hours until we reached the first camp. Here we were met by our porters and chef who had already set up the tents and prepared a hot meal for us. This quickly became the routine for us over the next three days as we climbed up the mountain passing steep rocky ascents and alpine deserts along the way. Throughout the hike we were treated to fantastic views including the arrow glacier and lava tower, plenty of great food and brilliant service from all of the climb team.

Eventually we made it to the Barafu camp which stands at 4673m, this would act as our base camp for the summit attempt later that night. Then at about 11pm we set off into the dark towards the peak with only our head torches lighting the path in front of us. The steepness, dark and cold made this by far the most difficult part of the climb. It seemed to take forever but we finally reached Stella point, from here we knew that there was only an hour of relatively easy climbing to go. Sure enough, just under an hour later we made it to the summit and all of our hard work was rewarded as we watched the sunrise above the mountain. For a short while we weren’t tired or cold, just elated at what we had achieved.

However, reality soon kicked in and so after about 10 minutes at the top we started to make our way back down. The loose gravel surface made the first part of the descent very tough, but we stuck at it and finally made it back to base where we could truly reflect on what we’d just achieved. Then after a short period of rest we went down for another two hours where we made camp for the final time. Here we had a brilliant view of the summit which really put what we had achieved into perspective.

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After our final night on the mountain the only thing left was an easy descent through the rainforest. Here we saw various species of monkey who distracted us from our tired legs and made the last few hours that little bit easier.

When we finally made it to the bottom all three of us were given our golden certificates for making it all the way to the Uhuru peak at 5895m above sea level, the feeling of achievement I had at that moment is one that’ll I’ll never forget. I cannot recommend climbing Kilimanjaro enough to anyone, if you think you’re up to the challenge then give it ago, it might be one of the best things you ever do!

The climb itself would not have been possible without the help of our expert guides, cook and porters, what they all did for us throughout the climb was honestly amazing. From carrying incredible amounts of kit all the way up to the mountain, preparing us fantastic food and putting up with our complaining all the way up, I cannot praise them enough!

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Matt Jones

Weekend Safari trip organized by Art in Tanzania

Going on safari in Tanzania if you visit Africa is almost as compulsory required as a trip to Zanzibar. So a group of three already well settled in interns decided to go on a weekend safari provided by the organization. The preparation and arrangement of the trip was well organized. One week before we were registered by a Team leader for the journey. The payment was due to three days before we were leaving on Friday. The short briefing two day before we left hold by our actual safari guide was pretty informative and helpful in terms of what to pack or activity related questions. On Friday after the breakfast we left in our safari jeep to our first stop our accommodation for the first night. On the way to the place we passed the park entrance next to several animals and hers of impalas, monkeys, giraffes and elephants. After the first night we started early at half past seven to our game drive at the Mikumi National Park where we had the chance to spot buffaloes, zebras, hippos and a variety of many more species. In the evening we drove to the second station in the rainforest, to the Udzungwa Mountains National Park. At this park we had the chance to see numerous primates and a big amount of other plants and animals during our hike to the waterfalls as the park has also been dubbed the African Galapagos for its vast variety of endemic species. In the afternoon we went on the way back to Madale at Wazo hill. Summing up for all of us it was a quite pleasant weekend trip organized and conducted by Art in Tanzania.

 

Volunteering for the ’International Day of the African Child’ event

 

At Thursday the 16thJune a bus full of volunteers headed out at five o’clock in the morning to do some volunteering work for the International Day of the African Child at ’The Jakaya M. Kikwete Youth Park’. This is one of the biggest youth parks in Dar Es Salaam opened in October 2015 by the president of the United Republic of Tanzania. Which is compared to other sport venues quite developed as they had artificial football fields for example which is not that common for Tanzanian standards.

The event was apparently created for children which means a lot of colours, laughter and fun. But these colorful balloons weren’t blowing up them self from alone. Decorating was one of our tasks at the event next to judging and conducting of the reading and drawing challenges, taking pictures and collecting video footage, face painting, acting as a mascot or participating at one of the numerous sport challenges like football games or basketball matches. Supporting all these activities, helping to arrange the challenges and cleaning up is concluding our day at the event quite well.

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But next to the hard work (for some it was a tough day especially for our athletes and our mascot volunteers) there was a lot of joy for everyone as the kids who were participating organized several performances from traditional Tanzanian dances to singing performances. Also reputable sponsors like unicef or the Tanzanian government by itself were providing us for all these efforts with a lunch break and refreshing drinks. Next to the events it also had several stalls about nutrition elucidation or little healthy checks as well as technology companies presenting their electronic devices.

All in all, this day was quite a diversification as it was a pretty long and exhausting day for everyone who participated comparable to working at an exhibition day.Even more thankful was everyone for the already prepared food of mama Neema in the evening at home.

For more Information, you can have a look at the Wikipedia entry.

If you want to see more pictures of that day visit the Facebook page of Atte Leskinen Photography

 

EVOLVET project

Participation of Art in Tanzania at the first transnational training for facilitators of EVOLVET

Art in Tanzania is always showing efforts of creating new collaborations with other organizations, whether local or international. This month from June 19th to June 25th the first transnational training for facilitators of EVOLVET which stands for European Volunteer Coordinators Vocation Education and Training is taking place in Vienna, Austria. Art in Tanzania is now part of the EVOLVET project which is co‐funded by the European Commission through IMG_20160520_092342771_HDRthe Erasmus+ programme. Kari Kohonen, the head of Art in Tanzania, is participating at the first training in Vienna. EVOLVET is a two-year long partnership of the Erasmus+ programme that was organized by CONGDCA. This is an organization from Spain and is additionally supported by several institutions, namely LVIA from Italy (www.lvia.it), Fund for Intercultural Education from Poland (www.miedzykulturowa.org.pl), Pista Mágica – Associação from Portugal (www.pista‐magica.pt) , Platforma dobrovolnickych centier a organizacii from Slovakia (www.dobrovolnickecentra.sk), Südwind Agentur from Austria (www.suedwind‐agentur.at) and of course Art in Tanzania Ry. Art in Tanzania was founded in Finland, but is mainly active in Tanzania. The emphasis of this training will be on the first meeting, which will involve exchanges of different experiences and will elaborate on materials prepared during previous months. As one of the main aims will be on the process of the implementation of the next phases of this project. This is made possible through the staff conducting workshops that mix formal and non-formal methodologies as a method of bringing together different perspectives and creating interesting discussions and exchanges between the numerous organizations.

If you want to support the project, feel free to leave a like:

EVOLVET on Facebook

For more information about the project check out the website:

Official website of the EVOLVET project

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Immerse yourself in the African wildlife

This 2-day trip has taken us to two of the most famous safari destinations in Tanzania: The Tarangire National Park and The Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Both of them are not too far from Moshi which is at the northeast of Tanzania and is located at the foot of Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. The first safari day was dedicated to Tarangire, the sixth largest national park in Tanzania after Ruaha, Serengeti, Mikumi, Katavi and Mkomazi.

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The Tarangire River!!

Departing at 7am from the Moshi volunteer house, we arrived Tarangire at around 11am. Right at the entrance of the park, we already spot the Vervet Monkeys jumping around the trees. They seemed not so afraid of human, which made it a great chance to get close to them and take pictures. But please do remember not to feed them as the disruption of their diets might result in illness, and close the doors and windows of your safari car or they might jump in.

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The male Vervet Monkey, with the special blue scrotum as the signature.

And then, the real game started!! Because it was the beginning of rain season at the time we went, we saw very rich vegetation in the area with lots of its signature baobab trees. At the lunch site, we also got a chance to overlook the Tarangire River which is running through the park and is always doing its job to nourish the habitat. Although dry season (from June to October) is always advised as the best time for game watching and the abundant vegetation this time makes it less suitable for spotting wildlife, still, we were able to see lots of animals, including lions, elephants, giraffes, ostrich, hyena and some other small animals.

Our safari guide Godlove was doing a great job spotting animals even from far away, and all the guides were communicating among each other to share the locations of the animals. One impressive moment in Tarangire was when we saw a bunch of elephants walking pass us. They were so gentle and so close to us, and some of them even stopped at a pond in front of us for a mud shower. Throughout the whole trip here, we have seen at least four groups of elephants, no wonder Tarangire is also called the ‘home to elephants’. The number of elephants in the park can even go up to 3,000 during peak season!

After spending a night at the hostel in Karatu, we continued our adventure next day to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA). NCA is a conservation site and is named after Ngorongoro crater, a large volcanic caldera within the area. The area is with multiple land uses with wildlife coexisting with Massai pastoralists practicing traditional livestock grazing and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 with both its natural and cultural values.

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Overlooking the Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro gives a completely different feeling compared with Tarangire while the open view of the savanna allowed us to spot animals easily and get extremely close to them: lions, elephants, zebras, wildebeests, gazelles, buffaloes, flamingos, warthogs, hyenas…you name it. We even spotted black rhinos which are very rare with no more than 30 in the area. Apart from the dense animal population, the landscape of Ngorongoro is also stunning with short grass plains, highland catchment forest, high open moorlands and savanna woodland. We also saw the Massai people grazing their livestock not far from where the animals are, even lions! It was amazing to see how the area harmonizes natural wildlife and human habitation.

This 2 day safari trip gave us a glimpse at the African wildlife, it was a shame that we could not see all the big five this time, but then we will have another reason to come back again, right?

Free day trips in Dar es Salaam

During weekends and free days you can do some exploring and check out the surroundings. Here is two possible options.

Mbudya Island

The first option is Mbudya Island. First you have to get to the White Sand hotel and from there you can get a boat. Return ticket costs Tsh 10000 and Island fee is Tsh 20000.kala

The Island itself is nearly a paradise. White sand and warm turquoise water. You can pay for the sundeck, but I did not even consider this, because for me the whole point going to the beach is to get your tan on the sandy surface. You can also do some nice snorkeling in the clear waters.

Food on the Island is great. You can get a good size plate of fish or calamari and chips for Tsh 15000. Soda will cost Tsh 2000 and beer Tsh 4000.  If you leave after the tide has started to go out, prepare to walk in water and mud as the boat is not able to come to the shore. 

 

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Bagamoyo

The other option is to go to Bagamoyo.  To get there from Madale, you have to go to Tegeta first and take a local bus. This daladala will cost Tsh 2000. Drive takes usually about 45 minutes, but can last hour and half if the traffic is bad.

Bagamoyo is an old town, where slave trade was taking place. In the 18th century and 19th century Arab slave traders took huge numbers of slaves from Tanzania to European colonies in the Indian Ocean. Mainland Tanzania was under German rule from 1890 till the First World War. Then Tanzania was handed over to British rule. You can still see old ruins from German and British colonial periods.

There is also an art market where you can buy ebony sculptures, paintings, jewelry etc. Many people also visit the crocodile farm to see baby crocodiles and other reptiles.635731577187389894

In national holidays it will be packed with local people. Food wise there is lot of fish food available.

If you are planning to go to Bagamoyo you should reserve the whole day just in case.  Visiting museums and ruins in Bagamoyo will require you to pay entrance fees and hire a tourist guide. You can make these trips independently, but Art in Tanzania can also arrange hassle-free trips for you with a car and a driver.

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Tia Maria

The island that disappears

By Emilia Sten & Anna Kevin Photos by Holly Carter (Originally published on May 17, 2014)

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We took the “Positive” boat from Stone Town and started our bumpy ride towards Changuu Island, or more commonly known as Prison Island. The island of the giant tortoises and the prison from the 1860’s, which actually was used only as a quarantine hospital. Our captain threw the anchor into the white sand through the turquoise water. We jumped out of the boat and headed towards the place where the giant tortoises were held.

You could walk around with the slow moving IMG_4547
dinosaur like reptiles, touch them and even hold the 20 year old “babies”. The number on the back of the tortoises shows their age, and the oldest one is 189 years old. We wondered around and discovered the other things of the island, from sea stars to the prison. We continued our “Positive” ride towards the hidden island. Rising up from nowhere the beautiful sandbank showed itself. It was time for snorkelling! By the sandbank there was a small coral reef, with lots of colourful fish.

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After the snorkelling we had a walk to the point where the waves meet and slowly swallow the whole island. While we were enjoying the waves and collecting some sea shells, our captain turned himself into a chef. He made a delicious barbeque on the boat, and all we had to do was sit down and eat. By the time our bellies were full, half of the island had already disappeared.

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Safari Time!

By Anna Kevin and Emilia Sten

DSCN6872We had chosen a three day volunteer’s safari, containing of a visit to the Masai village, N’gorongoro crater and Lake Manyara. On friday five excited people climbed into the 4×4 driven Land Rover. We were heading to the west, through Arusha aiming for our first stop, the Masai village.

When we arrived, they were already expecting us. The Masai children took our hands and led us into the mystery of their world. Our driver/guide told us how to greet the Masai chief, so we headed towards him with great interest. He is a very powerful man, with 30 wives and 124 children. He was sitting by his cattle, watching over the whole village. The tour took us around the village, and even into their houses. We heard the story of the evil tree and why the Masai are missing a front tooth. We felt free to ask anything. Art in Tanzania is using the safari income to support education in Masai land and volunteers have assisted to build up a nirsery and primary school to the village.

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We then spent the night in Karatu volunteer house. The second day it was time to meet the animals in N’gorongoro. The ride was very bumpy, but the view of the huge crater was amazing. The drive was exciting, because you never knew which animals you were going to meet. Our driver/guide did his best to find all the hiding animals, and he could spot them from a long distance. It was incredible to see the lions sunbathing next to the zebras and gnus. We even got a look at the black rhinos, which are really rare.

DSCN7109The third day was also filled with game watching. This day with a different terrain, because we were heading to Lake Manyara and the jungle. It almost felt like we were in the movie “Planet of the Apes”, since baboons and monkeys were everywhere. Here we could also see the giraffes, which are not living in the crater.

On our way back to Moshi, Kilimanjaro, we visited the optional snake park. Snakes are very hard to spot in the nature, and we wanted to be face to face with the Black Mamba. We also had the chance to try our courage by holding a snake and a baby crocodile. Back in Moshi we washed away all the dust from the safari, but the memories will stay forever.

(Originally published on May 15, 2014)