Tanzania

April 7, 2012

Art in Adventure

You can do better, right?

Does the fresh smell of spring and the renewed warmth of the sun ever make you think of poetry?

Did you know Billy Collins (two time Poet Laureate) is Smithsonian’s poetry consultant? In a recent posting in the Arts and Culture section of their online magazine, Billy Collins wrote a wonderful poem (below) describing a traveler’s anguish with a camera.

But on our Smithsonian Family Adventure in Photography you’ll have help! With a professional photographer and all kinds of support traveling with you, every one of you can be sure to take home photos like you’ve never done before, along with a lifetime of memories from your family safari.

Meanwhile, for more Billy Collins to lighten and brighten your day, you’ll find it all here.

The Unfortunate Traveler by Billy Collins

Because I was off to France, I packed
my camera along with my shaving kit,
some colorful boxer shorts, and a sweater with a zipper,

but every time I tried to take a picture
of a bridge, a famous plaza,
or the bronze equestrian statue of a general,

there was a woman standing in front of me
taking a picture of the very same thing,
or the odd pedestrian blocked my view,

someone or something always getting between me
and the flying buttress, the river boat,
a bright café awning, an unexpected pillar.

So into the little door of the lens
came not the kiosk or the altarpiece.
No fresco or baptistry slipped by the quick shutter.

Instead, my memories of that glorious summer
of my youth are awakened now,
like an ember fanned into brightness,

by a shoulder, the back of a raincoat,
a wide hat or towering hairdo—
lost time miraculously recovered

by the buttons on a gendarme’s coat
and my favorite,
the palm of that vigilant guard at the Louvre.



February 12, 2012

Family Travel: Not Just for Kids

Traveling with the Graduates

With my third and last child up and off to college I find myself rethinking the definition of “Family Travel”. Of course we’re still a family even if we don’t have dinner together every night, if we don’t all live under the same roof, and even if my kids are more grown up than I ‘m ready for them to be. And we still love to travel together – none of us are too grown up to discover new places, thank goodness.

But when we call it Family Travel – it might seem too young for what you are really after. How about: Graduate Adventures.

Your children graduate from high school, or from college. Maybe even from graduate school. And you are graduating from a full house of responsibilities to spare time for thinking about what comes next. Just like dinnertime used to be the time to catch up on the day, now your Graduate Adventure can be the place to reconnect with your busy kids. A time to continue to grow together.

When your kids graduate from high school, college or graduate school you don’t stop wanting to travel together – you just want more sophisticated opportunities. Welcome to our Graduate Adventures. Full of history, mystery, and discovery. Great activities to challenge yourself AND your ‘kids’ (won’t we call them that forever??)

It makes sense that we began with 6 year olds 15 years ago, and now have families with 20-someting year old kids traveling with us. So give us a call and see what opportunities there might be for your graduated family. Turkey, Thailand, Tanzania, Peru, Costa Rica – we have older groups going almost everywhere!



January 30, 2012

Top 5 Misconceptions About Tanzania

Every zebra has its own unique stripes

Anyone who has been raised with any access to the media and popular entertainment undoubtedly harbors some misconceptions about the vast continent of Africa. Did you even know this continent is made up of 47 different countries? It’s not our fault; these misconceptions are innocent reactions to countless influences – both subtle and overt – that we have all been exposed to throughout our upbringings. If you follow world news, which doesn’t tend to report much about the day-to-day affairs of a typical African neighborhood, you probably have a general image of Africa that applies far more accurately to certain areas than others. And if you’ve ever watched Blood Diamond or The Lion King, you may subconsciously view Africa as a place full of violence, corrupt governments, and animals with very big teeth on the loose .

Tanzania has not escaped the broad generalizations thrust upon the continent as a whole, and we present here 5 myths this unique land often falls victim to:

1.) It is sweltering hot. Nope! Africa is an enormous continent with a huge range of climates. Some areas do tend to record some very high temperatures, but Tanzania is generally a pretty comfortable tropical country; it is temperate and spring-like on the interior, hotter and more humid near the coast and extremely cold at high altitudes (do NOT wear a t-shirt and shorts to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro!)

2.) It is unstable. There are definitely some unsafe countries in Africa plagued by political strife and unstable governments. Tanzania is not one of them. Travelers to Tanzania have a very low risk of encountering any violence or danger – the 120+ ethnic groups in the country maintain cordial relationships with one another, and Tanzania has earned the unofficial title “Switzerland of Africa” for its use as a neutral international meeting ground.

3.) It is full of animals looking to eat me. You are not going to get eaten. The places we’ll take you to view the incredible wildlife Tanzania has to offer are national parks created to protect the natural habitat of these animals. Because this is where these animals live and roam freely, you are never allowed to wander outside of your custom-designed safari vehicle. And you will always be accompanied by expert guides who know these regions intimately and value safety first. Besides, you probably don’t even taste that good.

4.) Sleeping conditions will be uncomfortable. Will you be staying in the Four Seasons? No. Families go on safari to witness wildlife and nature in its remote beauty, not for hotel amenities. That being said, you won’t exactly be roughing it by safari standards. Your family will be retreating each night to comfortable lodges and our exclusive nyumba campsites with en-suite toilet tents, gourmet cuisine, hot showers, and real beds with 400 thread count sheets. Who says pampering isn’t possible in the wild?

5.) The place is crawling with disease-ridden insects. Not the case. The places we’ll be traveling to do not carry a high risk of contracting diseases from insects. You should consult a doctor or travel clinic for advice on which shots to get beforehand, but with the appropriate yellow fever and anti-malarial vaccinations, you’ll be perfectly fine.

So, as you consider a family trip to Tanzania, remember that you probably encounter more danger on your drive to work or a stroll around the nearest major American city than you will in the “Switzerland of Africa,” and that drive to work definitely doesn’t offer as many opportunities to see lions, wildebeest, zebra and majestic gazelle.

Thanks to our colleague Joe O’Riordan for this contrubution to the blog!



June 22, 2011

Haiku and Kilimanjaro

A view of Mt Kilimanjaro

A View of Mt. Kilimanjaro

Last week we invited our friends to submit a haiku in return for a $200 credit toward climbing the great mountain this summer. With 5 syllables, Kilimanjaro simply *invites* haiku, (you know, 5/7/5) and we had gotten a bit silly around the office thinking about it ourselves (more on that later).

We started with my colleague Bryan’s version: Going back to school? // Need one more adventure first? // Kilimanjaro!

Frankly I was downright astounded at the fabulous response we received – even from those with apparently no interest in the summit! Allow me to share…

These 3 are from Jessica in CA, who traveled on Thomson adventure to China with her family a few years ago when she was but a child.

Stark, soaring majesty
above vast, wild savannah
Kilimanjaro
***
Imposing mount
rising above the wildlife
alone, together
***
The trail winds higher
breathlessly ascending
to vistas of Eden

Then, from April Dunn:

Kilimanjaro
Now my Haiku is complete
That is a long word!

And an awesome submission from Michael Katz:

Geez, it’s so damn high
But still, I’d like to see it
Time to pack my bags

Feel inspired? Send us your own Haiku, and thanks for playing!



June 20, 2011

What a Ten Year Old Remembers Forever

Grandmother and grandson on a Tanzanian safari

Robert and his grandmother Gayle in Tanzania

Dear Moo, I wanted to write and tell you what I liked most about my trip to Africa with my grandmother and Thomson Family Adventures. The guides were really nice and they knew a lot. We saw so many animals. I really liked seeing the chases – they were really exciting. I really wanted to see the Big Five and was so excited that we did! My favorite animal to see was the leopard, but the baby monkeys were really cute. It is really hard to tell you about my favorite things because there were so many awesome things to see. I thought it was interesting to meet my pen pal and tour his village. I had so much fun and learned so much. It was a great trip. I hope I get a chance to go again.

Robert



February 3, 2011

Meet Katie from Tennessee

New friends in Tanzania

Katie is an extraordinary child (like all of our kids!) who was so enamored of her family’s safari last March that in her French class she accidentally answered in Swahili. When I heard this I knew I wanted to know more. Wait until you hear about her favorite hobby in this interview:

How old are you / what grade in school? 12 years old, and in the 7th grade

What is your favorite travel moment? Passing out playground equipment to orphans & school children in Tanzania.

What have you learned from traveling? That not everybody lives the way we do in America. You have to be flexible about things like food, showers, schedules, transportation and other amenities we take for granted. When you travel, some experiences are good & some are not, but from them all, you learn something new about the people with whom we share our world.

What is your favorite hobby and why? In my room, I have constructed a town made from lunchbags. The people are made from popsickle sticks and milk lids and have names that are common to a particular country. My neighborhoods are culturally diverse and the shops and other buildings reflect what you might find in a particular geographic region. I get inspired to add new neighborhoods from books, movies, or meeting new people, This is a fun hobby because it doesn’t require batteries, allows you to be creative, and you have total control of the whole town. I don’t have any leftover space on my floor anymore, so I just have to build up; that’s how I came to add “Mount Olympus” to the town. I also like building houses on Google Sketch-Up.

What do you want to be/do when you grow up?? A missionary

Anything else you want us to know about you? In my lifetime, I want to travel to all 7 continents. I have 4 to go.

For some great scenes of Katie and her visits to the orphanage and Ayalabe School:



January 30, 2011

Wonder about a Family Safari?



November 12, 2010

Great Migrations – now see this rare species!

Every one is different , even with thousands to see

Are you watching National Geographic’s Great Migrations series? Beautifully done it will inspire your family to conversation and maybe new adventures.

My children and I were in awe of the wildebeest and zebra thundering over the Serengeti in Tanzania, and this show will give you a sense of how breathtaking it is to be there.

If you are inspired to the trip of a lifetime, a family adventure safari designed just for kids, teens, and adults of all ages call us now at 800-262-6255

Learn more at http://bit.ly/95iCvp

Now, don’t miss this rare breed that National Geographic might have missed in their series! http://bit.ly/aKxBRd




March 26, 2010

Zanzibar: The perfect finish to an amazing adventure in Tanzania!

Kirsten in Stonetown

After two and a half amazing weeks in Northern Tanzania my next stop before heading back to Boston was the island of Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania. I only had 3 days on the island but I wish I’d had 3 weeks! My adventures in Zanzibar included a walking tour of Stone Town (which is a UNESCO World Heritage site) where I learned about the history of the island and toured the charming winding streets through town. Stone Town has a diverse flavor as it was inhabited by people from Portugal, the Middle East, and India, and architectural influences from these cultures and more can be seen throughout the city.

After Stone Town, I headed up to Nungwi on the Northern Coast for a sunset cruise on a dhow, a traditional Arabic sailing boat. We spent two hours cruising the turquoise waters of the Indian ocean, and from the boat we could see some of the reefs and quite a few fish as well. Zanzibar is a great spot for snorkeling and diving.

The morning I was to leave, I was able to fit in a spice tour, as no trip to Zanzibar is complete without seeing a spice plantation! It was amazing to see how cinnamon, vanilla, lemongrass, pepper and other herbs and spices grow. The most surprising spice to me was the nutmeg seed which is black with red stripes — the same colors as a ladybug — who knew?! Zanzibar was truly the perfect accompaniment to the safari in Tanzania and I cannot wait to go back!

Dhow sailing



March 14, 2010

Kirsten and Mt Meru

Kirsten at Mirikamba

Hello from the foot of Mt. Meru near Arusha! I had an exciting morning heading to Mt. Meru and setting off on a hike with one of the park’s rangers. We visited the Mirikamba huts (anyone interested in the Family Safari for Teens call me and I’ll tell you all about them!). The weather was warm and clear and we had a great view of Kilimanjaro. On the hike we found some elephant bones, and got a good look at the Ash Cone which formed in the crater of the former volcano. I would have loved to have climbed to the top of Meru but it takes 3 full days – including one day starting at 1AM! Maybe next time :)

I’m now at Mt. Meru Game Lodge awaiting the rest of the family safari group. There are some beautiful animals in the game reserve here – including a number of zebras! There are also monkeys swinging in the trees on the grounds, and they sometimes jump onto the roof of the buildings!

I’ll try and check in again but I may be out of touch in the parks for a few days.