Category Archives: Africa

Hotel Profile: Gibb’s Farm in Tanzania

African safari Maasai mara-3

In our Hotel Profile Series, we take a closer look at some of the properties that have charmed, bedazzled and delighted our clients for years without end.

In line with our ongoing theme on East Africa, today’s hotel profile we’re glimpsing into the private rooms of Gibb’s Farm, an incredible place in Tanzania for some post-safari R&R time. WIT Founders Christina and John often stay at the Gibb’s Farm on their biannual trip to Africa, in which they escort clients through the wonders of the Maasai Mara, Serengheti and beyond.

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 7.38.25 PM

Gibb’s Farm

This luxury lodge is located in the Karatu area of Northern Tanzania, between the Ngorongoro Crater and Arusha. Just 30 minutes away from both animal-watching areas: Ngorongoro and Lake Manyara, it’s the perfect spot to unwind after a long day’s drive through the plains. You can go on walks, visit the local town, and pamper yourself in the onsite spa.

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 7.38.34 PM

Winner of multiple awards from Condé Nast Traveler, Tripadvisor and Travel + Leisure, the property has been likened to “Eden”—and we agree.

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 7.46.33 PM

Built in the early 20th century by German settlers as a coffee farm, in 1948 Gibb’s Farm was bought by a British war veteran, who restored the farm after its years of neglect, small vegetable and a flower garden that are still there. The 80-year-old farmstead now houses 20 luxurious cottages and a working coffee farm.

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 7.38.20 PM

The ambiance is rustic African with a dash of English countryside playfulness. Spend the night in one of these farm cottages, surrounded by flowers, lush foliage and views of the estate from the veranda.

Christina and John often book Gibb’s Farm for their clients at the end of the multi-day safari in Kenya and Tanzania as a perfect conclusion to an African adventure.

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 7.38.15 PM

Cuisine

With organic produce and farm-fresh dairy just outside the kitchen door, it’s no wonder the cuisine at Gibb’s Farm is outstanding. With organic veggies, creamy milk, local meats, and, of course, organic Arabica coffee, guests always leave a meal satisfied and satiated. Candlelit dinners are the norm around the farm, with creative, English- and Tanzanian-inspired dishes.

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 7.45.29 PM

Activities

Your guide will take you out for a drive around farmlands in Northern Tanzania, or pay a visit to a local Maasai medicine man. Visit nearby villages Tloma to learn about the Iraqw culture and traditional pottery, and swing by the Karatu market for a glimpse of daily life.

Indulge at the spa to soothe your aches, with traditional remedies like Olkaria clay paint, Arabica coffee scrub, Oljingai Heat Revival, Olorien Hot Wood Treatment, and Engorno Milk Massage.

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 7.45.36 PM

Gibbs’s Farm also hosts an artists-in-resident program, where East African artists stay at the farm and create commissioned artwork.

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 7.45.58 PM

Get involved and contribute a few of your extra hours in down-time with local communities:

  • working alongside carpenters to construct furniture for the area’s schools.
  • planting trees to help control erosion and reforest the region
  • visiting a primary school in Tloma and learn about the successes and challenges in a rural Tanzanian classroom

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 7.47.21 PM

Looking forward to your next African adventure? Call Christina to discuss your trip to Africa for a once-in-a-lifetime Safari expedition! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa

African Safari: Elephants at Tsavo East National Park

African safari Maasai mara-2

If you’re just tuning in, today we’ll be covering the last leg of WIT Founders Christina and John’s intrepid adventure into East Africa. This is part of our ongoing series on WIT Founders Christina and John’s 2017 African Safari this September. Together with Origins Safaris Christina and John are escorting a group of enthusiastic and safari-loving clients to natural reserves and wildlife conservancies. 

Today: Ithumba Camp Extension, The Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and Tsavo East National Park

As part of an extra 4 nights in East Africa, Willamette Intl Travel included an optional extension at the Ithumba Camp in Tsavo East National Park.

Tsavo East National Park

One of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya, Tsavo East National Park was established in 1948. Tsavo is an incredible natural area 200 km southeast of Nairobi, just a 60-minute charter flight away. Spanning an area of 8036 mi² (20813.14 km²), it’s an ideal safari wilderness, with glimpses of giraffe, gazelle, lions, dik dik and buffalo.

The best part is how remote it is—so remote that the only way to get cellphone reception is to climb a huge boulder and stick out your arm!

Ithumba Camp & Ithumba Hills Camp

There are two camps called Ithumba, one is the more compact Ithumba Camp and the other is the 5-star, luxury Ithumba Hills Camp. Both camps are just minutes away from each other. We have featured the Ithumba Camp in a previous post, but it’s worth taking a second look at this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage

Every seven years, Tsavo suffers from droughts, causing thirst and friction as elephants roam onto small farmlands and destroy them looking for water. Fortunately Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage does an amazing job taking care of the animals.

In 2016, the Sheldrick foundation shared the story of Malkia, a young orphaned calf. When her mother died from thirst, Malkia was found at her side. It was necessary to rescue her young milk dependent calf, about six months old and undernourished.

She was fed greens throughout the night, then in the morning keepers landed a Cessna Caravan aircraft. The baby was prepared for the flight, laid on a mattress, placed on a canvas stretcher so she could be ably lifted into the back of the plane, which had already had the seats removed allowing for ample space for her to lie recumbent throughout the 1 hour flight with a Keeper by her side.  She was hydrated with a drip for the duration of the flight and arrived safely at the Nursery by 1.30pm in the afternoon.  She immediately fed on milk for the first time since being rescued, which was a relief, but she did look exceptionally tired and was ready to lie down on the soft hay of her stable to sleep.

11282016833-pic4

Malkia has thrived in the Nursery, aided by her forceful nature.  She is a very determined and mischievous little girl, whose presence here has certainly been felt. Despite being so young when rescued, and under such sad circumstances, she has settled fast; loving and affectionate to her Keepers from the outset.  Malkia and her little friend Esampu have become extremely greedy and vociferous at meal times, with every feeding time accompanied by noise and barging! Despite being so small they can be extremely disruptive giving the Keepers quite the run around.  We are happy to report that Malkia has assimilated into Nursery life seamlessly and appears extremely happy and content amongst the other orphans and her now much loved human family.

The story and images of his rescue can be viewed by clicking this link: http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/asp/orphan_profile.asp?N=361

To Foster Malkia please click on this link: https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/asp/foster.asp

To make a general donation please click on this link: https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/is/donate_now.asp

Handcrafted chocolate to help elephants!
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s friends at L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates are supporting the DSWT’s work with their delectable selection of elephant chocolates.  Through an 8-step/3-day process, each elephant chocolate is hand-piped and hand-dipped by the artisans at L.A. Burdick. These beautifully handcrafted chocolate elephants are available for a limited time in stores and online.  (QUICK! This ends Friday!)

Origins Safaris will be joining Willamette Intl Travel at the 40th Birthday Bash in December! Hope to see you there!

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Europe, Kenya

African Safari: Maasai Mara National Reserve

This is part of our ongoing series on WIT Founders Christina and John’s 2017 African Safari this September. Together with Origins Safaris Christina and John are escorting a group of enthusiastic and safari-loving clients to natural reserves and wildlife conservancies. 

African safari Maasai mara.png

In case you missed them, catch up with our earlier posts on the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Samburu Game Reserve

Christina and John’s next stop escorting their guests on their Kenya/Tanzania tour was the Maasai Mara National Reserve. They’ll spend a few days game-viewing in some of Africa’s most stunning plains capes.

7.Masai_Mara_map

About the Maasai Mara National Reserve

The Maasai Mara is a huge savannah wilderness covering 583 square miles (1,510 square km) in southwestern Kenya, bordering on the Serengeti in Tanzania. First established in 1961, the reserve is one of the richest spots on Earth to admire nature and wildlife in their element. It’s the photographer’s and naturalist’s paradise—with hundreds of species, nowhere in Africa is wildlife found more abundant. Year-round, you may see your fair share of lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras, and hippos, with excellent chance to glimpse warthogs, baboons, crocodiles, jackals, impala, waterbuck, foxes and hyena.

cheetah-1083274_640

During the Great Wildebeest Migration, which occurs between July and November for three months each year, you’ll have the opportunity to marvel at 2 million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle following the rains and grazing fields.

wildebeest-322089_640

Last week, Christina and John shared a few full days of game-viewing in the Maasai Mara. Visitors can also enjoy night game drives, camping, cultural visits to manyattas (Masai villages), ballooning and dining in the bush. They spent 3 nights in the Mara Intrepids Camp, before moving for 2 nights in Kichwa for a fresh perspective of the reserve.

About the Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp

The elegant camp is known for its open-air, romantic ambiance. Combining bush practicality with refined simplicity, it’s an ideal base to catch the awe-inspiring Great Migration. Enjoy day and night game drives, bush walks along the Mara River or Oloololo Escarpment, hot air ballooning, and breathtaking views of the savannah from your tent bedroom window.

About the Mara Intrepids Camp

This rustic camp rests near the Talek River at the confluence of the Mara’s four game-viewing areas. Each of the 30 luxury tents is furnished in classical safari style, with large four-poster beds, ensuite bathrooms and handsome furniture.

Tune in Wednesday to see where Christina and John headed next on their Safari Expedition!

Origins Safaris will be joining us at the 40th Birthday Bash in December! Hope to see you there!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Kenya

African Safari: Samburu Game Reserve & Elephant Bedroom Camp

conscientious traveler lewa safari Kenya-3

WIT Founders Christina and John Cooper are currently in Africa leading a Safari Expedition through Kenya with Origins Safaris. So today we’re holding a very special “Close Look” on Kenya, particularly Samburu Game Reserve and the Elephant Bedroom Camp.

Just a short 2-3-hour drive from the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, the semi-arid Samburu Game Reserve is probably Christina’s favorite spot in all of East Africa for scenery and large herds of elephants.

zebra-2668655_640

About Samburu Game Reserve

Samburu National Reserve is a rugged, semi-desert park in the Rift Valley province of Kenya. The area is approximately 65 square miles (104 sq km), and though smaller than its neighboring cousins Tsavo or Masai Mara, it’s relative remoteness makes for a naturally serene ambiance. Notable landmarks include the Ewaso Nyiro River, doum palm groves, riverine forests, acacia trees, and open savannah.

It’s famous for its plentiful wildlife, including cheetahs, warthogs, lions, elephants, buffalo, crocodiles, baboons and hippos, as well as the rarer long-necked gerenuk, Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe and Beisa onyx. Lucky safari troopers may even spot the Kenya leopard. It’s a birdwatcher’s paradise, home to 350 different species of birds including vultures, kingfishers, battlers, guinea fowl, marabous and Somali ostriches.

hippo-661982_640

In 2015, Christina and John saw a wild dog in Samburu—the first time they’ve been spotted in the region in 25 years! “Our guides were more excited than [even] we were,” Christina recalls. “It was almost dusk and we had to be back in camp but managed to watch them for about an hour. Next morning we got up very early went back to the area where we had sighted them, took about an hour to track them, but sighted them again, even saw a kill. Wild dog have an incredible range…as I know they have been sighted in the Serengeti.”

An African Safari Adventure is a lifetime experience like no other. Call Willamette Intl Travel to learn how we can arrange an Africa expedition that you’ll remember for years to come. Phone 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

giraffe-163036_640

About Elephant Bedroom Camp

Elephant Bedroom Camp is one of our favorite lodgings in Africa. Nestled in the shade of doum palms beside the Ewaso Nyiro River, it accommodates 12 spacious, rustic tents with private plunge pool, hot and cold running water and electricity. The camp also has a spacious lounge and dining tent with large veranda, 240V charging facilities, lectures on Samburu culture by resident naturalist, and entertainment by local Samburu warriors. Breakfast and lunch are served ‘al fresco’ on the banks of the river and dinner in the dining area. But we think the video says it best:

Tune in next Monday to see where Christina and John are headed next on their Safari Expedition!

Origins Safaris will be joining us at the 40th Birthday Bash in December! Hope to see you there!

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Kenya

Conscientious Traveler: Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Lewa Safari Camp

conscientious traveler lewa safari Kenya

Today we’re featuring a very special Conscientious Traveler, due to WIT Founders Christina and John Cooper being in Africa on their annual (often twice annual) Safari Expedition!

Together with Origins Safaris Christina and John are escorting a group of enthusiastic and safari-loving clients to Nairobi, Kenya. They’ll fly up over the shoulder of Mount Kenya to Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Africa’s most progressive nature conservancy, where they’ll have a full day of game viewing, with chances to see the Black Rhino and Grevy’s Zebra.

(All photos are from Christina’s emails we’re receiving in real-time!)

 

6A248857-7CE8-4BF4-A168-5BD1A6B63C0B

About the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

The Conservancy is an award-winning model for community conservation, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Green List of successful protected areas. Lewa is home to 13% of Kenya’s rhino population and is a key habitat for more than 6,500 migrating elephants in northern Kenya. It’s the most successful private conservancy in the world.

The conservancy also supports local communities by sponsoring healthcare, school programs, women’s micro-credit loans, water improvement, and conservation education.

Lewa Safari Camp has open game-drive vehicles that are specially fitted, 4×4 Toyota Landcruises. The vehicles are enhanced specially for comfort and photography, open-sided with 3 rows of seats, photographic equipment stands and charging sockets.
IMG_0088

About the Lewa Safari Camp

The Lewa Safari Camp based in this 62,000-acre wildlife conservancy features incredible managers and staff. Most of their fantastic guides are all from neighboring communities and have been trained directly from the Conservancy to the “Lewa Standard.” The camp is owned by the conservancy, and the profits generated from tourism go back into its major programs, to protect the animals and aid the local communities.

Accommodation includes 12 ensuite safari tents–fitted out as doubles or twins. Each thatch-covered tent consists of a main bedroom, en-suite bathroom and spacious verandah.

 

A948B2FD-E832-44F3-9F0E-EA3AFC84170A

 

They also have two new Family Tents that are specially designed for families with children. Each spacious tent comprises of an en-suite master bedroom and ensuite twin room, which are joined together by a private verandah with stunning views of Lewa plains. Family of Five? No problem, they’ll set up an extra bed for your third child under 16 years.

Fresh ingredients are brought in from the mountain highlands and prepared by a team of skilled cooks. You can choose to eat separately or join other guests. Lewa is happy to cater for special diets like vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc., just notify your WIT agent in advance.

 

2F14ACC0-BB22-40B0-88F6-643769839F6E

The Kenya one has a lot of diversity –   Samburu you will get to see the large herds of elephant. Lewa you are guaranteed to see Rhino (not true in Tanzania) scenery always very diverse – Samburu is probably for scenery my favorite spot in all of  East Africa, truly amazing.  Lewa is just a 3 hour drive from Samburu good paved roads, is higher up so weather patterns so different.  As they are both in the Northern part of Kenya you will see different species of Giraffe, zebra, gazelles, birds, ostrich, we even saw wild dog in 2015 in Samburu first time they have been spotted in 25 years. Our guides were more excited than we were!

– WIT Founder Christina

Tune in Wednesday to see where Christina and John are headed next on their Safari Expedition!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Conscientious Traveler, Kenya, Kenya

Responsible Tourism: Tips for a Responsible Traveler

elephant responsible tourism

Over-Tourism has been getting a lot of attention in the news lately, with recent developments in Barcelona and Italy designed to curb the impact of tourism on the local economy and geography.

So what is Responsible Tourism?

A responsible tourist is simply someone aware of local customs, laws and behavior. Travelers are essentially guests in another country. By treating the host country with respect, you can have a more authentic, culturally immersive, and ultimately ethical trip.

Read More: Last-Chance Tourism

Responsible tourism doesn’t have to be as drastic as never flying a jumbo jet because of carbon emissions. While admirable, that’s just not realistic for most travelers. It can be as simple as staying mindful of another country’s culture and society before you arrive.

Here are some tips from us on how to be a Responsible Traveler:

Travel Tips

Educate yourself

Before you even book your trip, educate yourself. Read all about the country’s particular customs, so you can avoid a faux pas. Book your trip with an environmentally or socially conscientious tour organization. Willamette Intl Travel runs a monthly blog called the Conscientious Traveler where we highlight ethical tour organizations whom we work with. Responsible tour operators support humanitarian and/or environment work in the countries they arrange trips in, and sometimes even involve the traveler in these endeavors. 

spices-2233670_640

Keep it Local

As a traveler, where you spend your money can have a huge impact on the local economy. Eat at a local restaurant instead of a national or international chain, stay in a family-run guesthouse instead of a multinational hotel, and purchase a little handmade item from a street vendor, not something mass-produced from those nickel-and-dime souvenir shops. If you hire a socially conscious tour operator, they will, in turn, hire local guides and staff, use local transportation and accommodation, and recommend local eateries.

Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 6.11.41 PM

Wildlife Activities

Wildlife tourism is big business, and exploitation that leads to a lifetime of distress is depressingly widespread. We often book clients for one-of-a-kind activities in Africa or Asia, where travelers encounter wild, incredible and exotic animals—and we work with responsible and sustainable tour operators who treat the animals fairly and kindly.

monkey-2195107_640

Respect the local culture

You’re right – that’s not how they do it at home. But as a responsible traveler, you’re there to learn and experience—not to pass judgment. Know what’s polite and what’s rude—be mindful of your clothes and your behavior. Take the time to learn a bit of the language, even if it’s just “hello” and “thank you.” Ask before you take a photograph of a person or their belongings—not only is it common courtesy, you might just make a deeper connection. 

Find out more about customs for individual countries in the Culture Crossing Guide.

Have questions about Travel? You’ve come to the right place! Call our travel agency in Portland to learn more: 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Asia, Conscientious Traveler, Europe

Conscientious Traveler: Origins Safari

It’s time for our favorite episode on responsible travel, Conscientious Traveler! CT is our monthly series in which we showcase a fantastic travel organization that supports humanitarian and/or environmental work. 

The month of August is all about Origins Safari!

Origins Safari organizes unforgettable trips to East and Central Africa. We’ve partnered up with them for years, providing invaluable experiences to travelers with a passion for wildlife and safari adventures. Most of their programs run in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, though they also touch on natural conservation areas in the South Sudan, Central African Republic, Chad, and Benin.

Many of the trips that WIT Founders Christina and John escort on their annual African trip are courtesy of Origins.

Green Africa

Origins Safari is dedicated to promoting responsible tourism and cultural heritage. They are members of several sustainable organizations, including:

AMREF Flying Doctors: In 1956, three doctors established groundbreaking medical efforts in remote and rural regions of East Africa. Their vision has spread all over the continent, treating the combined effects of poverty, tropical disease and minimal health services and facilities in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Senegal, South Sudan and South Africa. http://amnew.amref.org/

Ecotourism Kenya: This non-profit promotes responsible tourism practices, working with local communities and managing waste, maintaining the natural environment and livelihood of the local people. http://www.ecotourismkenya.org/

The East African Wild Life Society: A membership-based public benefit organization that seeks to promote conservation and the use of natural resources in East Africa. https://www.eawildlife.org/index.php

We Are Africa Travel: An organization dedicated to rethinking old tropes and stereotypes of Africans, and enhance a more modern image of the continent. http://www.weareafricatravel.com/

Just Imagine…

Imagine yourself trekking through Subsaharan Africa with certified guides and drivers, who have grown up in the region and are intimately familiar with the game and people who live there.

  • Spend a day mingling with the tribes of the Omo Delta
  • Photograph Mountain Gorillas in the Virunga Volcanoes
  • Chase the migration herds from the crow’s viewpoint in a helicopter
  • Rest up from a day’s safari in your private tented camp

Steve Turner of Origins Safaris, ground operator with whom we’ve worked closely for over 30 years, is our go-to guy and an expert on migration.

Wherever your spirit of wild adventure leads you, Origins can help you get there!

When to Go?

Steve recommends November to March as primary game viewing in Tanzania. Rain tends to the cusp months, so perfect timing is January and February, with an added bonus of birthing seas in the crater in February. From August to October, head to Kenya as the migration should be thick on the Mara.

Two Sample Itineraries

Click on the Tanzania itinerary below for a larger, legible picture: 

Origins comes to Portland in December

Origins Safari will join us on our 40th birthday celebration this December! One of our favorite guides, Stanley, will return to share with you all about Africa and the programs with Origins Safari. He’ll be our official “storyteller”—stories that will have you in stitches before long!

The date is Sunday, December 3 — see our newsletter for more details.

Call Willamette Intl Travel for more ideas and opportunities to travel in Africa! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Kenya, tanzania