Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Great Tanzania Migration Safari 2014

Feb 24 - Off to Tanzania for an incredible 15 day Great Migration Safari and Zanzibar Adventure. Smooth flights on United and Turkish Air from San Francisco via Houston and Istanbul.  Flew business class on Turkish Air's new Boeing 777 with lay flat seats and a personal chef onboard - as usual, the staff was superb and the food was excellent. This is one of the best value mileage awards on the Star Alliance system so save up your miles so you can join me next time!  

Feb 25 - A perfect 2 hour layover in Istanbul at the amazing Turkish Airlines Business Lounge. Went straight to the vibrating massage table, then took a shower, and later received a 15 minute chair massage - this is the way to travel.  

Feb 26 - Arrived in Kilimanjaro at 3:00 and transferred to the modern Mt Meru Hotel on the outskirts of Arusha which is about 45 minutes away from the airport.  Woke up to gorgeous tropical views over the garden and golf course - you gotta love the rich diversity of trees and flowering plants - simply paradise.  Caught a glimpse of lush Mt Meru which is Mt. kilimanjaro's little brother at about 12,000 - a very steep climb if you are up for it!  Met with Richard Beatty who owns African Environments which is one of the leading safari and Kilimanjaro trekking pioneers.

Richard showed me around the extensive ground operations where I inspected his vehicles, tents, commissary, and met his friendly staff.  He told me about his new walking safari in the Serengeti - the first company to be granted this privilege due to their outstanding track record of conservation and community support.  We designed a new program for Blue Odyssey guests that will be offered in March 2015 so if you are interested please let me know as space is limited and this is a very rare opportunity to combine game drives and walking in the park.  Later I transferred to the new Legendary Lodge for an inspection and overnight stay.  This property is set amidst the lush Selian coffee plantation and features an historic main house with 8 luxury villas spread out among the extensive grounds.  This lodge will certainly set the new standard for exclusive luxury and stellar cuisine. After checking in I had a refreshing swim in the pool as monkeys climbed around the tree tops above - the property has some amazing old growth trees and is impeccably manicured with flowering plants of yellow and red in every direction.  Later I met with the manager, Natalie, who brings 16 years experience working at some of the top lodges in South Africa including Lion Sands (one of my favorite's in Sabi Sabi private reserve) and Sinigita Lodges.  She brings her background as a massage therapist to the job and they feature one of the only spas in Tanzania.  I was so happy to see that the lodge offers Africology products to their guests - this is one of the finest producers of lotions, shampoos, and conditioners in the world.  When I smell the lotion is just takes me back to South Africa where these products originate.
My villa was stunning with a huge king bed, full living room, luxury bath room with a classic claw footed tub ( yes, I am a sucker for baths).  They even had satellite TV so I could catch the Turkish team Galatasary play Chelsea in the Champions League. Dinner was exquisite with a nice South African Sauvignon Blanca to pair with my caesar salad, a creamy mushroom soup followed by a beautifully prepared steak.  I retired to my villa a happy man...

Feb 27 - My group arrives today - most are coming from Rwanda where they spent two days tracking the great mountain gorillas - one of life's great experiences.  I have now transferred over to the lovely Arusha Coffee Lodge where I am enjoying a masala tea as I write this.  tomorrow we fly to Lake Manyara to start our safari - I can't wait.  It has been almost 15 years since I was last here with my mom, my brother, and my wife Jale on a walking safari.  I am curious to see how things have changed...


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