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5 Things to Know About Katavi National Park

Located in beautiful western Tanzania, the Katavi National Park is a remote, virtually untouched area that offers an incredible and unique experience of the raw, natural African environment. The reserve is situated around large grassland and is said to have the largest bio density of any African park. It provides year-round support to a huge variety of indigenous wild life, including several endangered species. Visitors here can experience incredible game watching, natural wonders and the African landscape at its purest.

Here are five interesting things about the Katavi National Park.

Amazing wildlife

The unique terrain of the Katavi, which goes from lush, marshy swampland during the rainy season to a valuable source of water reserves during the dry season. This balance of resources provides the perfect environment for a large number of different animals, including:

• Zebras
• Buffalo
• Impala
• Topis
• Giraffe
• Warhogs
• Roan
• Bohor
• Southern reedbuck
• Hartebeest
• Waterbuck
• Eland
• Duikers
• Antelopes
• Sable
• Greater kudus
• Lion
• Leopard
• Spotted hyena
• Cheetah
• Wild dog
• Crocodiles
• Wild cat varieties

In addition to this extensive list, Katavi is also home to a large population of elephants and hippos, which travel in herds and converge on the rich landscape and ample resources of the area. The lakes and swamps that swell during the rainy season also attract a good variety of water birds. In all, the park is home to some 50 species of mammals. If you’re going to experience the wildlife of Africa, Katavi’s the place to do it.

Diverse landscape

Katavi is one of the most bio-diverse areas in the world, hosting grassy hills and plains, marshy swamps, hot springs and even waterfalls. Beautifully colorful vegetation and flora, from a variety of herbs and flowers to shrubs and some 226 different tree species, make the landscapes nothing short of spectacular to experience. In addition, the differing types of water sources, such as seasonal lakes and swamps provide a unique environment for vegetation and breathe ample life into the surrounding plains.

Third largest yet least visited
Covering nearly 4,500 square kilometers, Katavi is Tanzania’s third largest national park. It encompasses the seasonal Lakes Chada and Katavi as well as the Katum River. Despite its size, however, the area remains incredibly untouched by humans. In fact, we’re told that the Katavi receives the same number of visitors in a year as the Serengeti does in one day! There is little human habitation on the grounds of the park, with only a few permanent camps, each with the limited capacity of about a dozen people each. In terms of size versus human population, the contrast is amazing. It provides the unique opportunity to experience the true African bush like no other area can.

Long, rich history
There is evidence throughout the Katavi area that suggests a history dating back to the stone and iron ages. In fact, just north of Sitalike stands an ancient iron kiln. Tribes that inhabit the park’s surrounding areas are known to have lived there as early as the 19th century, including the people of the Konongo, Gongwe, Bende, Fipa and Pimbwe tribes. To this day places of worship and sacred sites still exist within the park. It’s a fascinating testament to the rich, ancient history of the area and an incredible encounter for those lucky enough to experience it.

It’s much more accessible now

One of the reasons that Katavi has remained so infrequently visited by humans is its incredibly remote location. Just look at a map of the area and you’ll be struck by how rural and natural the landscape truly is. In years past the park was only accessible by long, difficult road travel, or by expensive air charter. The good news is, with increased and less expensive access options, the park is no longer as difficult to reach. Visitors can now easily include this amazing location in their travel itineraries and experience the very best of the true, raw nature that Tanzania has to offer.

If untouched wilderness is what you seek, then the Katavi National Park is something not to be missed. From breathtaking and diverse landscapes to fascinating indigenous wildlife, flourishing in its own natural environment, a trip to Katavi offers a rare opportunity to explore Tanzania like never before and is certain to leave visitors with amazing memories to last a lifetime.

5 Reasons to Climb Kilimanjaro

Located in northeast Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro has become one of the most popular destinations for adventure travelers. It’s the highest peak in all of Africa, towering over the countryside at 5,895 meters. The mountain itself is composed of three volcanoes, one of which is dormant but could erupt again. Climbing Kilimanjaro has become a challenge for many people, and it’s certainly no easy feat. The climb itself may not be technical but factors like the high altitude, low temperatures and high winds can make it quite difficult. It’s something that should only be attempted by those who are well equipped and in good physical shape.

That said, here are 5 reasons to add climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to your “to-do” list:

It’s an Ecological Goldmine
Most people think of mountains as somewhat barren terrain. Maybe some trees scattered about, and of course, the snow covered peak. But Mt. Kilimanjaro is so much more. Just about every kind of ecological system can be found somewhere on the mountain. The range includes cultivated land, heather, moorland, rainforest, alpine desert and an arctic summit. Not too many places you travel to can offer you a hike through the tropics of a rainforest and then have you staring at arctic glaciers a short time later. It’s simply fascinating.

Conquering One of the Seven Summits
For most serious mountain climbers, getting to the summit is a huge personal triumph. Mt. Kilimanjaro is no exception. Each year, approximately 25,000 people attempt it and nearly two-thirds of them are successful. But those who accomplish the impressive feat have the opportunity to memorialize it by recording their thoughts in a book that is stored in a box at the top of Uhuru Peak. Who wouldn’t want to place their name on that list? After all, it’s the highest freestanding and 4th most prominent mountain in the world! Now that is an accomplishment!

The Amazing Porters

Many of the local people make their income as porters, or guides, who accompany visitors during their climb. Not only do these folks know the mountain like the backs of their hands, but they also know how to get to the top safely. They will undoubtedly amaze you with their stealth and agility in maneuvering up the steep mountain terrain, seemingly without effort. A little known fact is that many of them will also entertain you. What’s better than making it to the top of a challenging mountain climb than being greeted with cheers and songs from the local porters? It’s an unforgettable experience.

The Incredible Surroundings
The varying terrain on Mt. Kilimanjaro is breathtaking enough. But the views throughout the climb are nothing short of spectacular. Explore the different flora and fauna landscapes that change throughout your climb, and observe the interesting craters and rock pinnacles on the way up. Watch the sun rise over Africa as it casts its brilliant light across the panoramic views. Seeing the sights from atop a mountain is simply awe-inspiring. You’ll also likely encounter a variety of indigenous wild life along the way. The surroundings you’ll experience on the way up are almost as amazing as reaching the summit.

The Glaciers/Ice Caps
Sadly, Mt. Kilimanjaro’s world famous ice caps and the variety of glacial formations located on the mountain are slowly disappearing. Since as recent as 1912, the mountain’s snow caps are said to have lost over 80% of their mass. Even more disheartening is the fact that scientists are predicting that Kilimanjaro will be completely free of ice by the year 2020. If you want to experience these incredible feats of nature, time is running out.

The world offers plenty of destinations for adventure travelers. Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro is perhaps one of the very best. With breathtaking and unique natural landscapes, challenging terrain and interesting local culture, a climb up Mt. Kili is a once in a lifetime experience, one not soon to be forgotten.

5 Facts about the Hadzabe Bushman

Scattered along the banks of the Lake Eyasi in Central Tanzania are small groups of indigenous people called Hadzabes. For the past 10,000 years, this simple tribe has called this area home, moving from camp to camp throughout the area and speaking to one another in their native tongue, a unique language filled with “clicks” and “pops” and unlike any other spoken today. Their entire population only numbers about a thousand, yet they continue to live and thrive as their ancestors did generations ago. A visit to a Hadzabe camp is like an intriguing step back in time to when civilization and modern conveniences were still yet unknown. And while their lifestyle is ancient and simple, the fact that it has survived virtually untouched is fascinating. Here are 5 interesting facts about the Hadzabe Bushman to consider.

They are very friendly
Unlike some of the other ethnic tribes in Tanzania and surrounding areas who view foreigners as a serious threat, the Hadzabe people are a welcoming group. They love to share their bush homes with visitors and are eager to invite curious strangers into their day to day lives. It’s not uncommon for a male visitor to be asked to join the tribesmen on a hunting trip, or for the women to eagerly try to teach their distinct dialect to a guest.

They live entirely off the bush
The Hadzabe tribe is among the last existing full-time hunter-gatherers on earth. They do not grow crops, nor do they raise livestock. Instead, they rely entirely on the bush for their existence. The women gather berries and pick baobab fruit while the men collect honey and hunt the ample local wildlife. The Hadzabe will eat just about anything they can bring down with their poisonous arrows, including birds, giraffes, wildebeest, zebras and buffalo. They particularly enjoy baboon, which is hunted at night in groups. They see no point in putting in the effort and time required to produce their own food, when they are surrounded by lush land that already offers them more than enough to survive.

They don’t use calendars or clocks
For the past 10,000 years, the Hadzabe people have existed in the same small area, living in the same conditions and speaking the same language with little to no change. It’s as if they are trapped in time, completely unaware of the changing world around them. One of the reasons their lifestyle has managed to remain so eerily untouched is the fact that the Hadzabes do not measure time. They do not use calendars or clocks, therefore they do not measure months, weeks, days or hours. In fact, their language doesn’t even have words for numbers past four. If they need to time something, they simply note the stages of the moon. It’s a fascinating concept – time literally doesn’t pass for the Hadzabes because they simply do not acknowledge it.

They have almost no possessions
Truly living the life of a nomad means not owning a lot of stuff. The Hadzabes change camps frequently in order to get the most out of the land from which they live. Having to pack up huge camps every time would be cumbersome. But that’s not the main reason the Hadzabe people don’t own much of anything. It’s simpler than that. They just don’t feel that they need to. They only own things that they truly need – cooking pots, containers for drinking water, a few tools, and a blanket to carry them in. Anything more would be a waste.

They don’t have leaders
There aren’t too many social groups that don’t have some sort of hierarchy. Even most native tribes adopt and adhere to some type of level of command. But the Hadzabe people believe instead in individual autonomy. They have no official leaders, and no one within the group has authority over any other. And although tradition holds that camps are named after an older male, the honor has nothing to do with power. Everyone in the Hadzabe tribe is equal.

What can be learned from a primitive tribe like the Hadzabe? They’ve spent decade after decade carrying on simple traditions and basic ways of life, yet they have somehow managed to achieve a level of peace that the civilized cultures around them can’t seem to grasp. The Hadzabe people live in a world where time and wealth hold no value, where waste does not exist and where everyone is viewed with the same level of respect. It is a culture that is simple yet fascinating at the same time.

Conservation News from The Selous Game Reserve

Located in southern Tanzania, the Selous Game Reserve is a protected area covering some 54,000 km of natural land. It is home to a wide variety of indigenous wildlife including elephants, buffalo, hippos, antelope, leopards, crocodiles and wild dogs, just to name a few. The reserve, protected since 1896, remains a popular tourist attraction for its beautiful, natural environment, fascinating walking safaris and the game hunting allowed there. It can be accessed by small plane, train and a few challenging roadways. In 1982, UNESCO designated the Selous a World Heritage Site because of its undisturbed and diverse wildlife.

The Selous is an area dedicated to conservation efforts. Under strict control of the Wildlife Division of the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, permanent structures and human inhabitation are prohibited within the reserve. In fact, even entry and exit of the reserve by humans is closely monitored and controlled in an ongoing effort to protect the land and its animal inhabitants.

One of the current issues the region is facing today is that of human/elephant conflict. Elephants cause extensive damage to local Tanzanian farms and pose a general danger to the people who live in rural areas also shared by the giant animals. With elephants occupying an estimated half of the total land in Tanzania, the issue is significant. Previous efforts to control the interactions between humans and elephants have involved dangerous means, including killing the offending animals.

Today various government and wildlife organizations are combining their efforts in an attempt to improve conservation efforts and effectively reduce the human/elephant conflict in safe, non-violent ways. Cyprian Malima, the Worldwide Fund for Nature coordinator for the Conservation and Management of the Selous Game Reserve Ecosystems has talked about the various alternative methods they are employing to safely address the problem in a way that won’t cause harm to people or the elephants. Since the project began in 2005, results show that the efforts have successfully reduced both human and elephant deaths.

The Tanzanian government, in collaboration with several wildlife organizations, has also addressed the issue of ivory poaching, which had significantly reduced the populations of both elephants and rhinos throughout Africa. The conservation efforts were quite effective, with the population of elephants nearly doubling on the Selous Reserve and evidence showing an increase in rhinos as well.

Aside from amazing conservation efforts, the reserve is an incredible place to visit and explore. It is four times the size of the Serengeti and possesses a diverse landscape from hot volcanic springs to sporadic lakes and channels flowing from the Great Ruaha and Rufiji rivers. Bush walks with armed rangers and scouts are permitted throughout the Selous to discover the over 400 species of bird and 2,000 species of plants. Guests can relax at the hot springs, visit the grave of Frederick Courteney Selous – the Englishman after whom game reserve is named – as well as explore the scenic Stiegler’s Gorge, where the Great Ruaha River flows into the Rufiji. Within a short drive is the Lake District, a completely different eco-system that provides its own bio-diversity and exhilarating wildlife experience. The entire region offers a fascinating and unforgettable experience for visitors.

The Selous Game Reserve is the largest protected wildlife sanctuary in Africa and represents one of the last great wilderness areas. Over the years it has played a tremendous role in protecting Tanzania’s natural heritage.

From the local animal life to the unique ecosystem, ongoing conservation efforts in Selous will continue to make a difference in the changing world around us and help to prevent the earth’s precious resources from disappearing before our eyes.