Category Archives: Africa

Travel News: Snakes on a Plane?

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TSA Finds Python Hidden In Hard Drive

ABC News reports airport security agents stopped a woman from boarding a plane with a python wrapped in a nylon stocking concealed in a computer hard drive Sunday. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said its agents stopped a real-life version of “Snakes on a Plane” from happening after an agent noticed the ball python. “A traveler on her way to the Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) in Barbados attempted to smuggle the snakelet inside of an external hard drive packed in her checked bag. If you think airplane seats can feel constricting, imagine how this little guy felt! Talk about bad memories!” the TSA continued. “While the python itself posed no danger to anyone on the aircraft, an organic item concealed inside electronics raises security concerns, which is why our officers took a closer look. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service was notified. They responded and took possession of the snake and cited the traveler. Both the traveler and the snake missed their flight,” the TSA added. “Conversationally, this python had not gone full monty. It was wearing a nylon stocking.”

If You Owe The IRS It Could Cost You Your Passport

EtN reports if you have a seriously delinquent tax debt, the IRS can certify that debt to the State Department for action, and that department generally will not issue a US passport to a potential traveler after receiving certification from the IRS. This is all in plain print at the IRS website: “Upon receiving certification, the State Department shall deny your passport application and/or may revoke your current passport. If your passport application is denied or your passport revoked, and you are overseas, the State Department may issue you a limited validity passport good only for direct return to the United States. Seriously delinquent tax debt is an individual’s unpaid, legally enforceable federal tax debt totaling more than $51,000 (including interest and penalties) for which a Notice of federal tax lien has been filed and all administrative remedies under IRC § 6320 have lapsed or been exhausted, or seriously delinquent tax debt is limited to liabilities incurred under Title 26 of the United States Code and does not include debts collected by the IRS such as the FBAR Penalty and Child Support.

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Anguilla Retains Best Caribbean Island Ranking

Travel + Leisure reports the Anguilla Tourist Board (ATB) is pleased to announce that for an unprecedented second year in a row, Anguilla has been ranked #1 island in the Caribbean, Bermuda and Bahamas in the 2018 Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards, honoring the top travel destinations and companies around the globe as rated by its readers. Frangipani Beach Resort has been ranked #1 in the Top 25 Caribbean Resort Hotels category and #3 in the Top Hotels Overall category. The Four Seasons Resort & Private Residences Anguilla has been ranked #12 in the Top Caribbean Resort Hotels category; Zemi Beach House was ranked #15; and Malliouhana, An Auberge Resort was ranked #18 in the Top Caribbean Resort Hotels category. The World’s Best Awards appear in the August 2018 issue of Travel + Leisure, on sale July 27, and online: travelandleisure.com/worlds-best.

Singapore Airlines To Launch Non-Stop Flights From LAX To Singapore

By Christmastime, Singapore Airlines will be flying ten times a week between LAX and Singapore. If you don’t mind sitting on a plane for 17 and a half hours, getting from the West Coast to Singapore will be a whole lot easier and faster, thanks to the elimination of a layover in Seoul. Starting November 2, Singapore Airlines will bring back its nonstop route from Los Angeles International to Singapore Changi. The airline will will fly the route three times a week (Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) until November 9; service will go daily after that. From December 7, three more flights a week will be added for ten total non-stop flights between Los Angeles and Singapore per week. The fall kickoff date is notable for many reasons: It’s two weeks after Singapore restarts its longest-flight-in-the-world Newark-Singapore route (clocking in at nearly 19 hours), and just a week after Star Alliance member United ends its LAX-Singapore route. 
 

Airlines Load Factor Hits All-Time High

Forbes reports that if you think that airline flights are much more crowded than they used to be, you’re not wrong. The passenger load factor of commercial airlines has risen significantly over the past decade. In 2005, airlines had an average load factor of 75.2%, so on average, just three out of every four seats were sold. The recession of 2007-2010 stopped load factor growth. But by 2018, the average airline load factor hit 81.7% worldwide. In the US load factor has increased on domestic flights from 67.88% in 2002 to 86.08% in 2018, while the number of domestic flights has stayed almost constant, from 8,085,083 in 2002 to 8,176,610 in 2017. The US airline industry has clearly gotten better in filling seats as revenue passenger miles rose from 471,652,206 in 2002 to 684,221,393 in 2017. The days of having a whole row to stretch out in coach, or even an empty middle seat separating you from your neighbor, increasingly seem like a distant memory. The airlines are busy shrinking seats and cramming in additional rows into smaller, more fuel-efficient jets.

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Amtrak Service Declines As It Becomes An Airline On Rails

Travellers United reports Amtrak service is becoming more airline-like with a former airline executive in charge, former Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson. His Amtrak service changes bring the railroad closer to service practices in the airline industry. Some of the changes: – Hot dining car meals prepared on-board, included in the fare for first-class sleeping car passengers, are being replaced with cold pre-prepared meals served in-room on the Chicago-New York and Chicago-Washington routes starting June 1.

– Amtrak no longer offers discounts to veterans, students and AAA members, and the minimum age of eligibility for the senior discount (which is now 10% rather than 15% was raised to 65 from 62.

– The railroad’s cancellation policy is now more airline-like. There is now a 25% penalty for most reservations canceled more than 24 hours after booking, even if the value is credited to the passenger as an eVoucher (redeemable for future ticket purchases) rather than as a cash refund. Luckily, Amtrak still does not charge change fees.

– First Class amenities like a lounge car for sleeping car passengers have been removed from several routes, and two routes have lost Business Class seating.

– A number of stations have lost their Amtrak Customer Service Representative(s), employees who do everything from selling tickets to handling baggage and assisting passengers with special needs.

– Amtrak has stopped operating charter and special trains in partnership with rail museums and preservation nonprofits, tour groups, sports teams and others, jettisoning a source of revenue and public goodwill in the name of operational convenience.

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Ethiopia Launches New E-Visa Services

Ethiopia, a treasure trove of history and culture, has become easier to get to with an all in one new e-visa service launched by the Ethiopian Immigration and Nationality Affairs Main Department in collaboration with Ethiopian Airlines. The new service brings the travelers closer to authentic travel experiences and enables them to travel to Ethiopia. All the visitors have to do is process their visa online on a single webpage where they apply, pay and secure their entry visa online. Give it a try and you will get authorized via email to secure your passport stamped with visa upon arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Call Willamette Intl Travel to discuss a unique holiday in Ethiopia – you’ll be sure to love this beautiful country and the warm-hearted hospitality of its people.  

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Filed under Africa, Europe, News, Travel by Rail, USA

France’s Elephant Sanctuary and the World’s First Airport ER

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Europe’s First-Ever Elephant Sanctuary To Open In France
World Animal Protection has teamed with Elephant Haven to help fund Europe’s very first elephant sanctuary in France for former circus elephants. The collaboration between the two charities came after successful lobbying by World Animal Protection to the Danish Parliament, which recently announced its commitment to ban the use of wild animals in circuses. The charity mobilized more than 50,000 Danish supporters calling for the government to take action to end the cruelty inflicted on elephants used for entertainment in circuses. The tide is now turning as 14 other European countries have recently implemented similar bans, many of which come into force this year. Until now, there has been no safe place where they can retire. More than 100 elephants are still forced to entertain in circuses across Europe. The sanctuary will be a retirement home for elephants that suffered at circuses, and its first barn will be completed by the end of summer. World Animal Protection is urging any elephant owners to release traumatized animals as soon as the sanctuary is able to welcome them. Elephant Haven has plans to expand further and build another barn to house five more elephants by 2020. The safety of elephants is paramount, and cameras will be placed inside and outside the barn with permanent security on site. Once the elephants are safely housed, a platform will also be built for visitors to safely watch elephants roaming freely and behaving as they would in the wild.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Just Opened The World’s First Airport ER

CNTraveler reports medical care is about a minute from the terminals. Last Friday, the Texas airport opened what is the world’s first free-standing emergency room on an airport’s grounds, serving passengers, crew members, airport staff, as well as the general public near the airport’s south entrance. With 24/7/365 service, the 8,160-square-foot facility operated by Code 3 Emergency Partners occupies 1.5 of DFW’s staggering 17,207 acres. It’s fully equipped with a CT scanner, ultrasound machine, X-ray machine, lab, and a pharmacy. All physicians are also board-certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine, which means they have extensive training in both disaster management and emergency medical systems. The facility also employs physicians trained in travel medicine, who have experience in infectious disease and travel-related illnesses.
Gatwick Celebrates Historic Anniversary
Gatwick has celebrated its historic 60 year anniversary since it was officially opened in its current form. Opened by Queen Elizabeth II on June 9th, 1958, Gatwick Airport became the first airport in the world to combine air, road and train travel in one close-knit single unit. The £7.8 million construction project in 1958 transformed Gatwick into a global travel hub. Taking over two-and-a-half years to complete and marking a new beginning for air travel in the UK, it became the first airport in the world to have a direct railway link, allowing passengers to enjoy a seamless journey from the moment their travels started. Increased passenger demand and the modern age of air travel, with the introduction of aircraft like the Jumbo Boeing 747-400, required three runway extensions in 1964, 1970 and 1973 – the latter enabled non-stop flights from the US West Coast to begin. With an ever-increasing number of passenger planes arriving daily, Gatwick opened its new control tower in 1984, which at the time of completion was the tallest in the UK. In the same year the Gatwick Express was launched, further cementing Gatwick’s position as an accessible and leading destination for global travel. 
 
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Cage Diving To See Sharks
Cage Diving has seen a boom in recent decades and is now one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry. The chance to go diving and safely see some of the world’s most spectacular and bloodthirsty predators up close in their own environment is regarded as the opportunity of a lifetime for many tourists. Great white sharks are altering their behavior, diverting them from hunting, and making them needlessly waste energy, all because of the interaction with tourists. Australia, South Africa, the US, Mexico and New Zealand are all offering cage diving. A study published in the journal Conservation Physiology reveals that great white shark (also known as white sharks) activity increases dramatically during cage diving sessions, compared to when tour operators are absent, raising questions about the behavioral changes this form of tourism may be causing in some species. The researchers tracked ten white sharks at South Australia’s Neptune Islands with devices for nine days. They found the increased movement when sharks are interacting with cage divers results in overall dynamic body acceleration 61% higher than at times when sharks are present in the area but cage divers are not. The sharks’ interactions with the cage divers are likely to cost them a lot more energy than standard white shark behaviors. The mere presence of the cage diving operators in the general vicinity of the sharks was not sufficient to elicit such behavioral changes. These only occurred when white sharks were close to the cage diving vessels. The research notes that licensed commercial white shark cage diving operators use approved and regulated attractants to entice sharks within close proximity of the cages and provide good viewing opportunities for divers. However, operators are not allowed to feed white sharks. The interaction with cage diving tourists is, therefore, not rewarded by more food. Great white sharks are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as a vulnerable species. They are protected by governments in the US, New Zealand and Australia.
 
Cruise Lines Announce Efforts to Eliminate Plastic Waste
Two major cruise companies are stepping up efforts to eliminate a modern-day scourge of the oceans: plastic. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has announced that its fleet will eliminate plastic straws as of 2019. That applies to all 50 ships under the Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, TUI Cruises, and Pullmantur Cruceros brands. A “straws upon request” policy has already been in place across the RCL fleet. Beginning in 2019, guests requesting a straw will receive a paper straw rather than plastic. Additionally, the ships will incorporate Forrest Stewardship Council-certified wood coffee stirrers and bamboo garnish picks. All are part of RCL’s plastic reduction strategy. “Healthy oceans are vital to the success of our company,” said Richard Fain, RCL chairman and CEO. “For over 25 years, our Save the Waves program has guided us to reduce, reuse, and recycle everything we can. Eliminating single-use plastics is another step in that program.” The company is doing a full plastics audit, with an overall plan set for completion by 2020. Implemented in 1992, RCL’s Save the Waves program has focused on sustainability practices. Those practices include state-of-the-art recycling centers on board ships. Equipped with shredders, balers, compactors, and crushers, their goal is “zero landfill.” Additionally, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has joined Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Alliance. The announcement comes in celebration of World Oceans Day. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. operates Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands. Founded in 2012, the Trash Free Seas Alliance is a collaboration between leaders of industry, academia and the conservation world. Their focus is on the measurable reduction of ocean trash. ” Nothing connects people to the ocean more than time spent on the water, and with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings offering that experience to more than 2.5 million guests each year, we believe this is a tremendous opportunity to foster greater stewardship of our oceans,” said Janis Searles Jones, chief executive officer at Ocean Conservancy.
State Dept. Updates Nicaragua Travel Advisory,
Reconsider travel to Nicaragua due to crime, civil unrest and limited healthcare availability. On April 23, 2018, the U.S. government ordered the departure of U.S. government family members and authorized the voluntary departure of U.S. government personnel. Rallies and demonstrations are widespread and occur daily with little notice. In many instances the government responds using tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and live ammunition, leading to significant numbers of deaths and injuries. Looting, vandalism, and acts of arson often occur during unrest, including in tourist areas. The perpetrators are often government-controlled thugs in civilian clothing, sometimes using vehicles without license plates. Government authorities detain protesters, and some people have disappeared. Human rights groups have documented credible claims of torture of detainees. 

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Filed under Africa, Conscientious Traveler, Europe, France, UK

Photos from Africa: Continued

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WIT Founders Christina and John are on their annual trip to Africa this month — this time in Cape Town and Namibia — escorting clients on safari. Every day, we open our email to a brand-new photo from them! Check out these cool pics from their trip!

All captions by Christina

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Our client Hilary singing Ibo with accompaniment on drums!

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Himba ladies. We made a 4-hour trip to meet a Himba group. We took plenty of gifts of food, really fascinating – they are not dressed up for tourists, this is everyday wear.

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Their hair is matted into braids with mixture of Ochra and cows belly fat and at the ends they braid cows hair which is fluffed out. 
They then cover their entire body with the mixture no age wrinkles with this group

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This is where we are staying. Amazing scenery. Our unit is the one on the left of the walkway. Quitea. hike down and up, not sure how the knee will hold up, but only doing the hike twice daily.

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Had a beautiful morning out on the Wallis Bay Lagoon where seals come and go at will on the catamaran along with amazing pelicans

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Pelicans – so different to our brown pelicans.

 

They visited Laura of Laura’s Township Tours in Cape Town, one of our favorite tour guides. Laura organized a birthday party for a young 4-year-old.

The girl is being raised by her great-grandmother, and she has been at the school for two years. She’s the only kid whose family cannot afford to provide a cake for her birthday, plus no one knows her real birthdate.

Laura also bought Lorna a doll as a birthday gift. Lorna wouldn’t take the doll out of the box as she didn’t want to get it dirty! So at nap time, she took the whole box with her to her mattress.

Christina and the crew also took socks for all the kids, and lunch was homemade sausage rolls, juice and cake.

 

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Birthday Party!

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No cake until after nap time

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Dance time Laura in charge

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Eyeing the cakes

 

 

COMING UP: More Willamette Intl Travel ESCORTED TOURS in 2019!

Call us for Details on:

  • Tanzania – February 2019.
  • Kenya – September 2019.
  • Namibia – August 2019.

CALL 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.net

Do you get that we adore photos from Africa? Here are more links in case you do too!

On our Instagram: instagram.com/wittravel

Our Client Brian Allen’s album of Tanzania

On others’ Instagrams: 8 Awesome Africa Accounts you should be following on Instagram

AND Africa Geographic 2018’s Winners for Photographer of the Year!

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Filed under Africa, Namibia, South Africa

8 Awesome Africa Accounts you should be following on Instagram

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We at Willamette Intl Travel love any photo of Africa we can get our hands on! Thank goodness for Instagram! We’ve stumbled upon some great wildlife and cultural photos of Africa, that we’d love to share with you. 

WIT Owners/Founders Christina and John go practically every year to Africa. In Portland, Oregon? Call Christina today to arrange your trip to Africa, or to simply find out more: 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com.

1. Gboxcreative

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Moving Shadows II, IV. #StreetsofAddis

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Get colorful with G Box Creative – freezing life on the everyday streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

2. South_Africa_through_my_eyes

Take a walk on the wild side of beautiful South_Africa_through_my_eyes, founded by Nina Zimolong, a photographer based in Cape Town.

Did you know: Willamette Intl Travel has a brand-new Instagram account! Follow us over at @Wittravel.

3. Originsafaris

Of course we couldn’t help but mention the awesome cultural and natural photographs by our friends over at Origins Safaris.

4. DSWT (David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust)

Who can help but “oo” and “aa” over the touching photos of the elephants and rhinos by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

5. Davidlloyd

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At Home in the Jungle

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The breathtaking photos of big cats and other African nobles, courtesy of David Lloyd, an NZ wildlife photographer.

6. Stevenchikosi

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A3 (Harare – Mutare Rd)

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We love the storytelling lens of Steven Chikosi’s account!

7. Wildlifeplanet

The feed of wildlife planet looks like something out of a fairytale picture book.

8. Margotraggettphotography

Conservationist and photographer Margot Raggett captures snapshots of animals at play, and in peaceful and quiet moments.

Follow us on Instagram for more glimpses of Africa – coming soon!

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Filed under Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Travel By

In Memoriam of Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick

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Last Thursday, Willamette Intl Travel received the saddening news of the passing of Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, founder of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. As a longtime partner of Origins Safaris, Willamette Intl Travel has organized numerous trips to Kenya over the past few years, which often included a visit to the elephant orphanage program of this heart-warming and inspiring Wildlife Trust. Christina and John have also taken small groups out to Ithumba Camp, located in a remote area of Tsavo East National Park where the orphans are gradually released back into the Wild. All who have gone with them have said that this was a life-changing experience.

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Born in Kenya in 1934, Dr. Dame Sheldrick devoted her life to African wildlife. Together with her husband David, the founder warden of Tsavo East, she transformed Kenya’s largest national park into a safe haven for wild species, including the largest elephant population in the country. Upon David’s passing in 1977, Daphne founded The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which for the past 40 years has been dedicated to the protection of elephants and rhinoceroses. During one of Christina’s very first visits to Sheldrick, she was thrilled to meet both Dame Daphne and her daughter Angela, who will carry on her mother’s amazing work. 

In memoriam, Angela has delivered the following words: 

What an example Daphne was to us all, and I feel blessed to have been able to call her my Mum because she was quite simply ‘one of a kind’. She was a national treasure and a conservation icon. Her legacy is immeasurable and her passing will reverberate far and wide because the difference she has made for conservation in Kenya is unparalleled.

She will be sorely missed, but never forgotten, and this is what Daphne drew the most comfort from in her final weeks; knowing that her memory and work would continue with the tiny steps of baby elephants for generations to come and that the work that she pioneered has been able to achieve so much for wildlife and wild places throughout Kenya. She died knowing that she will continue to make a difference each and every day upon a land that she held so dear to her heart through the work of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, thanks to a dedicated team she leaves behind. Daphne was fortunate to live long enough to preside over mud baths at Ithumba with well over 100 orphans, ex-orphans and wild friends frolicking, and be able to say to herself, ‘but for I’. What a gift she leaves us all with, as she really is a shining example of the finest of humanity. Thank you all for your love and passion and support.

If you wish to make a donation to commemorate Daphne’s life and help The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust continue to protect the wild lives she loved so much, the Trust has created the following link: 

DONATE 

Every dollar donated to the DSWT is put to good use, saving wild lives and keeping families together. Case in point: Last month, the DSWT/KWS Amboseli Mobile Veterinary Unit freed this tiny calf from a water hole. Racing nightfall they put the baby in their truck (with the pint-sized passenger trumpeting as loudly as he could) and set out to find his mum. The two were successfully reunited and walked off into the sunset together.

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For those who attended WIT’s 40th birthday last December, you may remember the beautiful painting of wild elephants at Ithumba Camp, a silent auction presented by Kenyan artist Edwin Selempo.  WIT collected and donated the proceedings of that sale to the David Sheldrick

Read more on our blog about the Wildlife Trust, Tsavo East National Park and the Ithumba Safari Camp (where Christina and John have stayed with many clients during their visit to Tsavo and the elephants): 

African Safari Elephants at Tsavo East National Park

A Closer Look: Ithumba Safari Camp in Kenya

An important note: To stay at either of the Ithumba Camps, you need to take over the entire camp, four tents at each of two camps. Guests must also arrange their own food and drinks and safari driver-guide. Click on the link above to learn more about Ithumba.

All Photos included in this post are courtesy of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

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Filed under Africa, Kenya

Happy 2018 All!

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January 10, 2018 · 7:47 am

Hotel Profile: Gibb’s Farm in Tanzania

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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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. 

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