Southern Tanzania Safari

Written by Andrew Muigai


Tanzania is one of Africa's top wildlife safari destinations. Wildlife lovers have a choice of two very different safari routes- referred to asrepparttar northern and southern circuits. The contrast is most obvious inrepparttar 146510 topography, habitat and climate. Onrepparttar 146511 northern Tanzania safari circuit, which I have talked about in another article, you visit such renowned wildlife havens as Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire and Lake Manyara. The southern safari route is anchored on Dar es Salaam, and covers Ruaha, Mikumi, Udzungwa Mountains National Parks andrepparttar 146512 Selous Game Reserve.

The southern circuit is more discreet, less accessible and has fewer visitors. Adventure lovers and those who seek closer contact with some of Africa's most complex ecosystems will be rewarded. Here you can view game in a variety of new ways- walking, riding and boating. If you have not hadrepparttar 146513 privilege of getting up close to wild animals in their natural habitat, it is an exciting and refreshing experience. For this encounter,repparttar 146514 park authorities require that an armed ranger escort you. It is therefore not as dangerous as it may first appear.

Mikumi National Park isrepparttar 146515 most accessible ofrepparttar 146516 southern game sanctuaries.It is 283 km torepparttar 146517 west of Dar es Salaam - Tanzania's coastal commercial capital. Occupying 3,230 sq km, it carries a variety of wildlife including elephants, lion, giraffe, impala, warthog, zebra, buffalo, wildebeest, hartebeest and eland. Wild dogs- considered an endangered carnivore species -are found here in good numbers. Other resident animals are crocodiles, hippos, and monitor lizards. Birds are most plentiful inrepparttar 146518 wet season when up to 300 species gathers here. Many of these are Eurasian migrants, exercising torepparttar 146519 full,repparttar 146520 freedom that comes with wings.

The Mikumi flood plain isrepparttar 146521 dominant feature ofrepparttar 146522 park, which is bordered on one side byrepparttar 146523 Uluguru Mountains and on another byrepparttar 146524 Lumango range. Mikumi formsrepparttar 146525 northern border ofrepparttar 146526 Selous Game Reserve and is part of a vast wilderness ecosystem covering 75,000 sq km. Open grasslands stretch onrepparttar 146527 plains, whilerepparttar 146528 miombo woodlands cover higher ground.

The park is accessible year round- unlike some ofrepparttar 146529 sanctuaries inrepparttar 146530 southern circuit. To get to Mikuni from Dar, you spend 4 hours on road or 1 hour by air. Budget travelers take a bus ride to park gate, from where game drives are organised. There is limited accommodation at a few luxury lodges and tented camps and at 3 campsites. If you find yourself in Dar on a weekend, this is where you head to see wildlife.

The 1,990 sq km Udzungwa Mountains National Park is 348 km west of Dar and 65 km southwest of Mikumi. The mountains are part ofrepparttar 146531 Eastern Arc Mountains that fall southeast of Kilimanjaro. The park is unique in Tanzania, having been created primarily to conserve plant life. The pristine mountain forest habitat hosts numerous rare plants. There are six primate species, out of which two species are endemic -repparttar 146532 Iringa red colobus monkey andrepparttar 146533 Sanje Crested Mangabey.

Atrepparttar 146534 plateau area, you find elephants, lions, hunting dogs and buffalos, though not in as large numbers as in some ofrepparttar 146535 other Tanzania parks. Birds also do well here, and indeedrepparttar 146536 park ranks as one of Africa's most important bird conservation areas. Scientists have in recent times come across at least four previously unknown bird species. The best time to visit is overrepparttar 146537 dry season between June and October. The hiking trails overrepparttar 146538 wet season are slippery, which can be quite a nuisance.

The Ruaha National Park is rightly named after its lifeblood-repparttar 146539 Great Ruaha River. Occupying 12,950 sq km, it is Tanzania's second largest national park and its biggest elephant sanctuary. Home to numerous crocodiles and hippo,repparttar 146540 Great Ruaha draws many thirsty waterbuck, leopard, buffalo, reedbuck, wild dogs, lion and hyena to its banks. Plain animals such as zebra, greater and lesser kudu, sable and roan antelope, impala and giraffe are found onrepparttar 146541 plains stretching fromrepparttar 146542 rivers edge.

The topography is agreeable to hiking and walking safaris are allowed. In wet season months of March to April and October to Novemberrepparttar 146543 bird population peaks andrepparttar 146544 park has over 370 bird species, including some Eurasian migrants. The flora is very diverse and over 1650 plant species flourish here. The Ruaha hasrepparttar 146545 unique distinction of having plant and animal life found in both eastern and southern Africa. The climate here is hot and dry and temperatures can reach 40C in October.

Ethiopia Tour

Written by Andrew Muigai


Ethiopia is an enchanting country whose delights are unknown to most travelers. And yet this is a truly unique destination with such attractions as can be found nowhere else inrepparttar world. The biggest draw isrepparttar 146509 rich Orthodox Christian heritage. Ethiopia was one ofrepparttar 146510 very first nations to embrace Christianity, way back inrepparttar 146511 4th century AD. The wonderful churches, monasteries, icons and relics to be found here is a reminder ofrepparttar 146512 central rolerepparttar 146513 Church has played inrepparttar 146514 history ofrepparttar 146515 country. The painstaking effort summoned to produce some of these tokens of mans faith in God is very impressive, especially for non-believers.

Ethiopia is a very worthy destination and many connoisseurs consider it to be Africa's best-kept secret. Since so few outsiders come here,repparttar 146516 tourist infrastructure is not well developed. But onrepparttar 146517 plus side, there are no crowds of visitors, unlike at other historical destinations such as Egypt. The Christian heritage aside, Ethiopia is blessed with an astonishing contrast of nature's gifts. This ranges fromrepparttar 146518 heights ofrepparttar 146519 jagged peaks ofrepparttar 146520 Simien mountains- a UNESCO World Heritage Site,repparttar 146521 bird filled rift valley lakes, torepparttar 146522 under sea level lunarscape ofrepparttar 146523 Danakil Depression.

Travelers have plenty of opportunities to enjoy mountain treks, caving, camping, sailing and white water rafting adventures. Though not as abundant as elsewhere in east Africa, there is plenty of wildlife, and 31 rare species are only found in Ethiopia. This is also one of Africa's great birding destinations and 861 species have been recorded of which 16 are endemic. Due torepparttar 146524 relatively undeveloped tourist infrastructure,repparttar 146525 best way to seerepparttar 146526 country is by buying a packaged Ethiopia tour.

Most overseas visitors will start off from Addis Ababa. Addis, asrepparttar 146527 city is popularly known isrepparttar 146528 capital city and home to Bole International Airport. The city rests atrepparttar 146529 foot ofrepparttar 146530 Entoto Mountains. By Ethiopian standards, it is a new settlement and came into being in 1887. Addis Ababa means New Flower and its foundation is credited to Queen Taitu - consort to Menelik II. In Addis, make sure to visitrepparttar 146531 Ethnographic Museum andrepparttar 146532 National Museum. The Giorgis Cathedral, which was built in 1896 to commemorate victory over Italian invaders, is also worth a visit.

The Simien Mountains National Park is much favored by trekkers. The park has some ofrepparttar 146533 scenic sights inrepparttar 146534 country. The mastiff reaches to 4620m,repparttar 146535 highest point inrepparttar 146536 country. The park was created to protectrepparttar 146537 Walia Ibex, which is found only in Ethiopia. Other endemic animal species inrepparttar 146538 park are Gelada Baboon and Simen Fox. Bale Mountains inrepparttar 146539 southeast, though less accessible, has trekking opportunities and some wildlife including a few endemic species.

Awash National park is one ofrepparttar 146540 finest and most accessible reserves inrepparttar 146541 country. The Awash River stridesrepparttar 146542 park before heading torepparttar 146543 Dankil depression where it vanishes, never to reachrepparttar 146544 sea. Some special attractions inrepparttar 146545 park includerepparttar 146546 Awash Falls,repparttar 146547 dormant Fantale volcano and some thermal springs. Forty-six species of wildlife have been identified here andrepparttar 146548 bird life is prolific. The park is located just 211 km torepparttar 146549 east of Addis.

You will obtain best value for your Ethiopia trip if you have at least an interest inrepparttar 146550 unique history ofrepparttar 146551 country. The country claims a history going back 5,000 years, and there are Bible episodes mentioning Ethiopia that are dated at least 3,000 years ago. The colorful history is a blend of fact, legend, and tradition. Some incidents dearest to Ethiopians and which they use to affirm unique their place inrepparttar 146552 world, on close examination appear to be apocryphal. The legend thatrepparttar 146553 Ark ofrepparttar 146554 Covenant is housed in Axum is certainly controversial. But most ofrepparttar 146555 history is almost certainly correct and remains unchallenged.

Despite earlier contact withrepparttar 146556 outside world, Ethiopia developed in relative isolation and was actually once known asrepparttar 146557 "Hidden Empire". As a result, some ofrepparttar 146558 living culture is unique torepparttar 146559 country and has origins dating back hundreds of years. The Ge'ez language used in most modern day church services derives fromrepparttar 146560 Kingdom of Axum. Ge'ez alphabet has an amazing 231 letters. The country still usesrepparttar 146561 Julian calendar, which has 12 months of 30 days each and an additional month of 5 days, with 6 days in a leap year. Relative torepparttar 146562 Gregorian calendar used inrepparttar 146563 west, Ethiopia is 7 years behind between 11th September and 8th January and 8 years forrepparttar 146564 rest ofrepparttar 146565 year.

Festivals ofrepparttar 146566 Orthodox Church are an ingrained part of popular culture. Timket, feast of Epiphany, is a colorful 3-day festival commemoratingrepparttar 146567 baptism of Jesus by Johnrepparttar 146568 Baptist inrepparttar 146569 Jordan River. Meskal, celebratesrepparttar 146570 "finding ofrepparttar 146571 true cross" upon which Jesus was crucified, by Empress Helana -mother to Constantinerepparttar 146572 Great. It is believed that a fragment ofrepparttar 146573 True Cross is to be found in a monastery in Gishen Mariam. Meskal has been celebrated inrepparttar 146574 country for over 1600 years. Other Orthodox festivals includerepparttar 146575 Ethiopian New Year (Enkutatash) and Christmas (Lidet).

Though a friendly people, Ethiopians are fiercely independent and even today appear to distrust outsiders a little bit. This may appear justified when you consider that foreigners such asrepparttar 146576 British and Italians are guilty of looting historical relics. The Italians carried off to Rome a 150-tonne granite obelisk from Axum, when they occupiedrepparttar 146577 country between 1936-41. Mussolini had sought a rematch ofrepparttar 146578 1896 defeat by Ethiopia that had greatly humiliated Italian patriots. The British had earlier in 1868 stolen priceless illuminated manuscripts, crowns, crosses, and other treasure. Ethiopia has been waging a campaign to haverepparttar 146579 artifacts returned.

Most ofrepparttar 146580 historical treasures date from time King Azena of Axum converted to Christianity inrepparttar 146581 4th century AD. The highlights ofrepparttar 146582 "Historic Route" are Debre Libanos, Debre Markos, Bahar Dar, Gondar, Axum, Lalibela and Harar. You can reach these sites by air or car, or a combination of both. The route starts at Debre Libanos, 110 km from Addis Ababa. Here inrepparttar 146583 13th century, Saint Tekle Haymanot performed a fantastic feat- he stood on one leg for 7 years! A cathedral marksrepparttar 146584 spot where this happened.

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