Tanzania: 19.12.2020-16.01.2021

Famous in the world of tourism for its large wildlife parks and Zanzibar island , Tanzania clearly lives up to this reputation. Nevertheless, outside the classic touristic circuits, there are pearls of reserves and national parks that are less mediatized but still hide a very high biodiversity. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic that was still striking at the end of 2020, we escaped for a month in this amazing country, both politically and in terms of its diversity of natural environments. We met up with our Ugandan guide and friend Emmy Gongo who organised the trip and Longibus Kiwai, an experienced and very friendly driver who drove us around the country.

Jean-Louis had already made a trip to Tanzania during which he had visited the Serengeti NP, the foot of Kilimanjaro, Lake Jipe (Kenyan border) and the Amani Forest. Maha had never been there!

Tanzania has been a stable country since its independence in 1961.

Despite its undeniable economic potential, Tanzania faces high poverty (80% of the population lives on less than 2 USD per day) and high population growth.

President Mugulfi, who passed away in March 2021, started a firm policy of fighting corruption and improving governance, particularly the economic one, as soon as he was elected in 2015. He focused on industrialising the country, mobilising taxes, reducing dependence on foreign aid, prioritising infrastructure development and job creation. This is what we can read in some of the descriptions; it is difficult to get an idea in just one month, but from the little that we have been able to see, large infrastructures are being built, card payments are being generalised in the administration in order to fight corruption, and a general dynamism is felt in the country. We were pleasantly surprised by a lot of locally produced food. For example, in many African countries, soluble coffee is produced by a large Swiss multinational that we will not name. In Tanzania, coffee roasting and tea packaging is done by a local company. This local production is probably the result of a socialist and nationalisation policy started by the first Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere at independence, even if since then the economy has been totally liberalised and privatisations are going well.

With its large savannahs, rainforests and unique mountains, Tanzania, along with its East African neighbours, can easily be a lifetime exploration.

A month may seem like a long time, but before any trip to Tanzania, one must plan the drives, which can be endless due to the size of the country and also because of the roads, which are not necessarily bad but very busy. It is very rare to drive at more than 80km/h.

On the naturalist side, we were able to observe 482 species of birds and 48 species of mammals. It was also a great pleasure to find many Amphibians and Reptiles, especially Chameleons. As far as snakes are concerned, it is generally very difficult to observe them in Africa but the surprise of Atheris ceratophorala, the Usambara bush viper, endemic to Tanzania, was enough to quench our thirst! Details in the following chapters!

 

The visited regions:

 

- Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater (savannah and large mammals)

- Mkomazi National Park (north-east, large wildlife and birds)

- Usambaras Mountains (Magamba reserve, Amani forest) and Uluguru Mountains

- Mikumi National Park (large mammals in an extraordianary park...)

-Udzungwas Mountains (tropical mountain forests and surprise viper)