On Reconnaissance in Tanzania

4th September 2016
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As Andante Travellers know, plenty of work goes into perfecting our tours — regardless of how intimately we know the landscape...

Last month, our guide lecturer John McNabb — Mac to his friends — went on a reconnaissance trip with Harriet, one of our in-house team. Together they explored the beautiful country of Tanzania, one of our new 2017 destinations, in search of incredible rock art, ancient sites and local tribes happy to share their traditions. They enjoyed some unforgettable experiences — all, of course, in the name of polishing the Andante itinerary before you join us.

Tanzania is, of course, an explorer's dream — and Mac made sure to keep us all updated (and jealous) with postcards and photos. Check out his first postcard below...



Postcard #1


I am in beautiful Tanzania once again. This time it is with Harriet and Annie, and we are doing a recce for a heritage tour on aspects of Tanzanian archaeology and history. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that a lot of the archaeology will be Earlier Stone Age, but we also want to add other aspects of this country’s fascinating history.

After flying into Dar es Salaam our first full day started with a drive up to Bagamoyo. I have always wanted to see this place and learn something of its sorrowful history. The town is intimately associated with one of the greatest human iniquities – slavery. There were three main routes by which slaves were brought to the coast. The middle one of these three caravan roads ended at Bagamoyo. Here those slaves too ill or weak to continue on to the slave market in Dar were sold off cheap to work on the plantations up and down the East African Coast.

It's chilling to walk the narrow streets, tour the fort, and peep into the museum rooms at the caravanserai, and know the terrible truth of their history. Legend had it that this caravanserai was the place were slaves were kept before transport across the straits to Dar, but excavations there by archaeologists proved that it was a place where the slavers themselves stayed, this on the basis of the quality of material goods found within its walls by the excavators.

There is an intensity about Bagamoyo, as if its history weighs heavily on it. But as Noel Lasway, the Conservator of Antiquities pointed out, the people of Bagamoyo are proud of the mix of freed slaves, Arabs and black Africans that has gone into forming todays diverse and lively culture. Tourism is on the increase and heritage is now high on the agenda. They certainly have an impressive heritage trail. One visitor who only stayed the night was David Livingstone. His body rested overnight in the Catholic church, the first church in East Africa.

We also visited the ruins at Kaole, a thirteenth and fifteenth century settlement just down the coast from Bagamoyo. Here, Elias our guide, showed us the remains of the mosque which are all that stand now. Next to it is a small graveyard where many of the leading figures in this long lived community were buried. Both mosque and graves are still a focus of the local people’s aspirations. Offerings and prayers are often said there.



The next day it was a short flight in a Cessna Caravan  across the straits to Zanzibar. The slaves would have been packed into dhows for the last part of that safari (safari in Swahili just means journey). There is a fascinating-looking slavery exhibition in the newly built museum next to the cathedral, the former site of the main slave market on Zanzibar.

Sadly there was not enough time to look around, but that is top of my list for next time. Stone Town is a feast for the senses; a blizzard of sights, sounds and smells. My guide here was Anjam, born and bred in these teeming streets and very proud of his heritage. You step back in time and walk the same alleyways as Burton, Speake, Grant and Livingstone. Livingstone’s body spent another night here too, in the old British consulate, which still stands. The sheer exuberance of the people who live and work in Stone Town banishes the gloom of its dark roots, leaving you with an unforgettable multicultural experience. Anjam and I drank a herbal tea listening to the muezzin call the faithful to prayer.

All too soon, it's time to leave. Tomorrow we fly back to Dar, and from there the flight to Iringa. So until then, jambo, and as always, wishing you were here. 

More postcards to follow!



Interested in reading more about Mac's incredible recce experience? You can check out his other postcards and photos on the CAHO scrapbook here...



Tanzania Reconnaissance Mission: Success!

The mission was a success - Mac and Harriet have improved the locations of our safaris, and day-long drives have been replaced with short, relaxed flights. We have also added a visit to the Ngorongoro Crater, an incredible ancient crater in the Olduvai Gorge.

Of course, there's much of the original itinerary to enjoy. Meeting the tribes of Lake Eyasi, trekking upriver in pursuit of rock art and driving out in search of encountering elephants and big game like bison — we're looking forward to it already! We also receive a privileged insight into the Stone Age site of Isimila, where Mac has been working and excavating.

We all know that adventure can be thirsty work — so naturally, we'll be washing it all down with cocktails in Stone Town on the island of Zanzibar... However, as this is a small group tour, we have a very limited number of spaces remaining. Will you join us?

15 days | Mon 11th Sep — Mon 25th Sep 2017
£5,995 inc. flights | SS: £500


Click here to find out more...

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