I really don’t know where to start and the last blog is very long ago, sorry!! But not having time to write a new blog post is actually a good thing, because I’m doing so many amazing things here! As I said, I am here to do 2 things: working on the tourism business and supporting young entrepreneurs. For both activities I’ve been busy last three weeks, but it’s so nice and makes me so happy!
The great thing about being here is that I can now talk face-to-face with Christopher and his son Warren instead of just using Whatsapp and Google Docs. So now we can brainstorm about new ideas, accommodations, routes and activities to implement in new trips. And the best part is yet to come: we also have to test all these new things ourselves! Love this job already. One of the expertise of Christopher is the camping safari. We sold this many times last summer, but I had not experienced it myself yet. So time to change this and set up the camp in Arusha National Park! A beautiful national park, just 20 minutes outside Arusha on the bottom of Mount Meru where the giraffes and zebras will come and say hello when you drive around. The campsite was also in the middle of nature and because camping inside the park is not offered by many companies, we were the only ones there. I’m so happy I got the chance to experience the camping myself, it was absolutely great. Everything was taken care off; Japhet the cook prepared the most delicious food and it’s just amazing to be woken up by the noise of the monkeys in the trees…
After a delicious bush breakfast, we packed all our stuff and continued our journey to discover another new place: a traditional Maasai lodge. This lodge is 100% local community owned and is another great experience (seems I just love everything, but I would be honest if something isn’t that nice). To get to the lodge you drive for about 30 minutes through the middle-of-nowhere while having the feeling that you’re going the wrong way. But when you arrive, all your doubts will disappear. The enthusiasm and happiness of the Maasai will definitely make you smile and you feel more than welcome to stay at their place. The lodge itself just opened and everything you need is there: very comfortable beds looking over the Kilimanjaro (I will personally test them next weekend), a swimming pool and even a sauna… a real experience and something I would love to share with other people!
Since I really believe in community-based tourism, I am busy investigating the opportunities to either work together with existing initiatives or starting new projects. The first evening in Tanzania, we met a woman who shared to idea of community-based tourism and she thought of developing this in the village where she grew up. We stayed in touch and decided to visit her again last week. Together we went to her village, located in West-Kilimanjaro area. A beautiful place, and because of the altitude very fertile. They have lots of coffee, bananas and all other kinds of fruits and vegetables. We visited her 90-year old mother who still lives on a farm together with her 82-year old sister. It was so nice to be in an area where tourism is not developed at all. The reason we went to the village was to get a better idea and understanding of the community and opportunities to develop community-based tourism there. We looked if there would be a place where we could offer a homestay and what kind of activities people could be involved in. We see many opportunities there, but we also realize that it will take a long time before the community will be ready to welcome tourists. Another problem with the location is that it is impossible to go there when it rains. We did, but it was very dangerous. The roads get so slippery and we ended up in a trench after the car decided to go its own way… luckily we were all fine and no one got injured, but this is definitely not something you can offer to tourists… This will be a longer term project, but very nice to have an idea of what’s possible and to learn more of how to set up such a project.
This week, I will visit more lodges and at the same time work with some entrepreneurs to see how I can support them. I promise I won’t wait that long anymore with a new blog!