Tuesday, 31 January 2012

OUT OF AFRICA: 10 Things NOT To Do While Traveling On Safari.

1.Cellphones, really?

The last thing you should be focused on when you're out on a safari is your Facebook feed or texting your friend—if you even get service. Virgina Haynes, of Montgomery Communications, a PR firm for safari outfits like Sabi Sabi, who has been on at least 10 safaris, said she was shocked by the number of travelers on their cell phones.

"I really feel that it is so rude," said Haynes. "You are in the bush, in the natural habitat with all of the wild animals and someone is sitting there tapping on their phone."

For most people, a safari is a once in a lifetime experience. You can check your phone later.

2.Don't be rude to the local people you visit.
McIntyre said the best piece of advice he can offer to travelers on a safari is to greet the locals in a polite manner. They will think you are very rude if you launch into a request or question without a proper greeting.

"That kind of greeting is really important especially if you learn to do it in the local language," said McIntyre.

"All you need to do, that translation of, 'Hello, how are you?' 'I'm fine, how are you?' Do it because people will think you are very rude if you don't."

Be sensitive to local customs and beliefs, and don't intrude on people's privacy.

3.Leave the animal print to the animals
"Don't go for a walk with your guide wearing zebra spandex, said Warren Green, who had a traveler actually go on a safari walk wearing zebra spandex. He thinks she might have been Russian. But really, leave the animal print to the animals.

McIntyre suggested that travelers bring comfortable clothes made out of natural fibers. They'll work better in the hot temperatures and will wear better since most camps do laundry by hand.

You should avoid bright colors or white and if you're going on a walking tour, clothing in khaki, green or brown will help you to blend in. But avoid the full safari regalia—it'll just look silly.

Allapat offered another useful tip: "When you go into Zanzibar, don't wear your tank tops and short skirts. It's a primarily Islamic culture."

4.Wilderness: "It's almost a spiritual playground"

"The wilderness means different things to different people," said Green. To guides it's often spiritual, so be respectful of the plant and animal life around you.

If you bring something in, make sure you bring it out with you. Your guide is not your trash collector. Carelessness of off-roading can lead to erosion and destruction of the habitat.

5.Don't be a New Yorker
If you're loud and obnoxious, you'll scare the animals and bother your guide and fellow tour members. You also might distract your guide, who needs to be mindful of his surroundings and the movement of the animals.

Also, if you're busy chatting, you might be missing something spectacular.

Read more: Business Insider

Oman: A Vast Geography of Former Exclaves

The Sultanate of Oman's geography is unique. Many geography blogs have already blogged before about its exclaves on the Musandam Peninsula. This exclave branches off the United Arab Emirance and serves as the Arab side to the entrance of the Strait of Hormuz. This exclave allowed Oman to monitor, and to a certain extent control, trade between Persian Gulf ports and the Indian Ocean port cities from the 1600s until European domination of Middle East trade in the 1800s.

Many people, however, do not know about the former exclaves of Oman which made the geography of the sultanate even more extended. The major one was Zanzibar, off the coast of present day Tanzania. In 1698 the Portuguese were forced off of Zanzibar by Oman. Oman used Zanzibar to act as its major spice, goods, and slave trade port for Africa. Sultan Said bin Sultan loved Zanzibar so much that in 1837 he made Zanzibar the capital of Oman! After his death his sons divided the empire with one brother getting Oman and a few other possessions while the other became the sultan of an independent Zanzibar.

Though the British made the sultanate a protector after the shortest war in the history of the world, the Arab descendants of Zanzibar ran the country until a revolution and ethnic cleansing led by Marxist Black Africans against the Arab rulers and Indian business class in 1964.

The other major exclave of Oman was Gwadar in present-day Pakistan. In the 1500s to 1800s Oman kept very close ties to the various Muslim states in the Indian subcontinent due to trade. This links survives with Oman's food being spicy like Indian food (unlike Arab food) and with many Indian/Pakistani Muslims and even some Hindus living in Oman today.

In 1783 the exiled former Sultan of Oman, Saiad Sultan, used his personal connections to become ruler of the small port city of Gwadar. He later retook control of Oman. Once Saiad moved back to Oman but he continued to rule Gwadar through a governor. Gwadar stayed under Oman's control until Pakistan bought the small port in 1958 for three million dollars.

Oman's African and subcontinent exclaves are no longer on the political map but their legacies still survives. As mentioned above there is a strong Indian presence in Oman and many shipping lanes and airplane routes continue to connect the subcontinent to Oman. The ties are even stronger between Oman and Zanzibar. Most Omani and Zanzibaris (and even some Pakistanis around Gwadar) are Ibadi Muslims, neither Sunni or Shia but a unique denomination which recognizes philosophy, use of a smaller and separate hadiths, and other beliefs. Oman is responsible for the survival of the Ibadi Muslim faith as the only Ibadi Muslims who cannot claim Omani descent or influence are a few remote Berber tribes in the Saharan Desert. These exclaves cannot be found on a map but their legacy lives on in the realm of human geography.

Geographic Travels

Monday, 30 January 2012

Tanzania’s Ambassador to the U.S., Announces Second Annual Vip Business/Leisure Safari To “Discover Tanzania”

Following the success of last year’s inaugural Discover Tanzania VIP Safari, H.E. Mwanaidi S. Maajar, Ambassador of the United Republic of Tanzania to the United States of America, will again lead a small group of business executives on the second annual VIP business and leisure safari to Discover Tanzania, scheduled for June 22-July 3, 2012.

Through this personal journey with Amb. Maajar, participants will be able to enjoy Tanzania’s natural and cultural attractions as well as explore Tanzania’s business and investment opportunities. The VIP Safari will also feature two exclusive dinners, one in Dar es Salaam with guest of honor, H.E Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania; and the second in Zanzibar with guest of honor, H.E Dr. Ali Mohamed Shein, President of Zanzibar.

According to the World Bank’s Tanzania: Country Briefs, “Tanzania is becoming one of the best performers in Sub Saharan Africa…in recent years growth in gross domestic product (GDP) averaged between 5 and 7 percent.” The potential for profitable foreign investment in the country is huge in such a diverse range of industries as tourism, energy, agriculture, infrastructure, transportation, and mining.

H.E. Maajar stated that “Tanzania is rich in natural resources and natural wonders, including world-renowned tourist attractions (Serengeti National Park, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater, and the spice islands of Zanzibar); prime geographical location (six landlocked countries depend on Tanzanian ports); abundant arable land; a skilled labor force; warm, friendly people; and assurance of safety.” On December 9, 2011, Tanzania celebrated its 50th anniversary as a peaceful and stable democracy.

Ken Flechler, Vice President, Pike Electric Corp, based in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, joined the first VIP Safari in 2011, together with Pike CEO, J. Eric Pike, his wife Belinda Pike and their two sons, Will and Ben. Pike Electric’s operation in Tanzania represents the Company’s first international venture. Flechler said, “Beyond the natural beauty throughout the countryside, the excitement of the safari and the diversity of culture, this VIP Safari led by Ambassador Maajar, afforded Pike the chance to strengthen existing relationships here in Tanzania as well as the opportunity to develop new friendships that will have a broader impact for the country and our operations around the world. This is an exciting time to be part of Tanzania’s development, growth and expansion, Pike looks forward to becoming an integral part of the country’s future and a key partner for helping develop a strong partnership with the United States.”

Details for the VIP 2012 Discover Tanzania Safari include:
· The trip begins in Arusha, a place which has traditionally been a springboard to Tanzania’s renowned national parks, with a brief city tour and meets with the city’s influential business community.
· A dinner with guest of honor, H.E Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania.
· A dinner in Zanzibar with guest of honor, H.E Dr. Ali Mohamed Shein, President of Zanzibar.
· Visit Lake Manyara, a concentrated park whose main attraction is the legendary tree-climbing lions.
· Experiencing the world-acclaimed Ngorongoro Crater, the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” home to over 30,000 animals that are supported within its ecologically rich environments.
· Flying to the Selous Game Reserve in Southern Tanzania, to explore the rugged wilderness and its inhabitants.
· Participating in VIP activities on the opening day of “Saba Saba,” Tanzania’s premier international trade fair, including an opportunity to network with the Tanzanian business community.
· Optional extensions to the spice islands of Zanzibar.
The number of people on the safari is limited in order to provide each participant with an individualized experience.


Sunday, 29 January 2012

African violets enjoy worldwide appeal

African violets have a fascinating background in African history. They come from Tanzania, a country whose name was derived by combining Tanganyika and Zanzibar. (I love saying those names.) Tanzania is surrounded by countries we have often heard of — Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique — and borders the Indian Ocean in eastern Africa.

Tourist trade and safaris take people there today, but life was quite different in the late 1800s. Imperial Germany conquered the region, ended the slave trade and made it a colony. In 1892 a colonial official, Baron Walter von Saint Paul-Illare, an amateur botanist, discovered a wonderful, “hairy” flowering plant. In his honor the violet’s botanical name is Saintpaulia. (Post World War I this area came under British rule.)

Saint Paul sent plants (or seeds, no one is quite clear on this) to his father in Germany, where they flourished in his care. Herman Wendland, director of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Herrenhausen, named the first flowering specimen S. Ionantha, which translates to “with violet-like flowers,” hence the emergence of their commonly known name, African violets.

More details just click here

Monday, 23 January 2012

The delights of a coastal town

Every city has its own characteristics that distinguish it from others. However, sometimes these characteristics leave you with a smile. If you are walking in the streets of an African city and you hear whistles behind you, then you know you are in Dar es Salaam, but don’t worry no one is after you, they are just drawing people’s attention to the cold water bottles they are selling. A much needed drink in the tropical weather of this coastal town that used to be the capital of Tanzania.

Many years after my initial visit to Dar, there seems to be little change in terms of infrastructure, a few new malls, some modern villas built along the coast line, but much more traffic than ever before.
If you happen to arrive in the city after a rain storm and on a working day, then you should prepare yourself to sit in a car that is “floating” in water, in a jam that does not seem to be moving anywhere any time soon! And it happened that just a few days before our visit, the worst flooding in 57 years hit the city, causing human causality and leaving thousands of people homeless.

Apart from a few new high-rise buildings, there are no skyscrapers shooting up on the scene, but what seems to have sky rocked is the prices of land and real estate.While here in Uganda people rush to sell their land as soon as an offer knocks the door, Tanzanians tend to favour long or short term leasing of their land which allows them keep the land title, get a rent and at the end of the day they are still land owners. How Ugandans have by now missed on this point, is now beyond repair!

Our hotel had an amazing view of the harbor where one could see ships, and cargo vessels docking. I was hoping to see more traffic here than on the roads, but that was not meant to be. Coming from a landlocked country like Uganda that depends totally on its neighbours Kenya and Tanzania in terms of sea cargo, I wished there was more activity in that port to take away some of the pressure from long queues in Mombasa port causing the late arrival of cargo in Uganda, but that seems to be a long term project, or a far-fetched one for now.

One of the best attractions for most tourists seems to be taking the ferry from Dar to Zanzibar, the legendary island of spices and white sand beaches. Just hop into one of the most prominent carriers- Azam marine and costal fast ferries- and two hours later you arrive in this magical island mentioned in tales that kept us mesmerised in our chairs. When adults were telling us stories, hoping to keep us busy and away from mischief, little they knew that as soon as the story came to an end, we had already created our own version of the adventures. Buckets of water were our ocean and broom sticks our swords, there was no wall too high to climb and our ultimate treasure hunt was to find the sweets meant for visitors that our parents hid away from us.

Back to life in Dar es Salaam, I think the historical background of the country seems to influence its present, it is still living in a sort of cocoon. While they are kind and welcoming to visitors, encouraging new investors seems not to be a priority.

A large tax payer told us that the constant increments of taxes and the ‘little flexibility’ of the Revenue authorities is pushing new investors to think twice before making a move.
I hope the future brings better news, having new blood in the economy has its advantages. In our world today there is no more room for vacillation.

The Monitor

Sunday, 22 January 2012

From the archive, 21 January 1964: A last moment of glory for the Sultan?

"Originally published in the Guardian on 21 January 1964"

Sultan Seyyid of Zanzibar arrived at St Pancras Station, London, from Manchester yesterday afternoon for what was perhaps a last moment of glory in his public career. The photographers were there with lights and cameras, the reporters with their notebooks, the police with their strong arms, the stationmaster with his top hat, and the Duke of Devonshire with a welcoming handshake on behalf of the Commonwealth Relations Office.

But there also were familiar attendants of disaster – the Red Cross ladies with bundles of old clothes for "kitting out" cold, impoverished refugees, and the Zanzibar Ambassador to Egypt, who had flown to London especially to meet the Sultan and was distributing copies of a petition he had sent to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights asking for "immediate interference to stop the widespread massacres in Zanzibar" and "nonrecognition of this new anarchist regime" there.

The Sultan, his wife, his mother, his five children and 52 other refugees of all ages, stepped from two reserved carriages with no more luggage than a few brown paper parcels, and were driven to the St James's Court Hotel, round the corner from Buckingham Palace. It was barely a week since they had left the sunshine of Zanzibar.

A CRO spokesman said that there were no plans at the moment for the Sultan to meet any British Ministers, but no doubt there would have to be talks soon with the Sultan's representatives on how best to wind up the British Government's obligations to the Sultan – with a word on the final bill for the chartered aircraft from Dar-es-Salaam, the train from Manchester to London, and the accommodation at the hotel, all being paid so far by the British Government.

Before leaving Manchester, where his aircraft had been forced to land because of fog at London Airport on Sunday, the Sultan said he was sorry to hear of the trouble in Tanganyika and hoped the reports were not true. He emphasised his appreciation of British hospitality and said he hoped to stay in Britain for the time being.

Mr A S Kharusi, private secretary to the Sultan, denied that the Sultan had come to England for financial aid. He wanted only British hospitality; friendship from old friends.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Butterfly Farmers Help Protect Threatened Forests

Farmers in Tanzania are helping to conserve threatened forests by cultivating an unlikely crop: butterflies.
The Amani Butterly Project is one of the schemes using butterfly farming to help locals supplement their incomes and protect the environment at the same time.

The brainchild of American biologist Theron Morgan-Brown, it's based in Tanzania's East Usambara Mountains -- a region known for its biodiversity, but where forests are being cleared to produce charcoal and to open up farmland.

"The main objective was to find an alternative income for the local community in the surrounding village and forest, and also relieve the pressure on the forest of people cutting timber," says project manager Amiri Saidi.
The butterfly rearing process starts with farmers catching a few female butterflies and transferring them to an enclosure where they can lay eggs on host plants.

The farmers then collect the eggs and when they hatch, the caterpillars that emerge are placed on new plants, which must be regularly replaced to satisfy their voracious appetites. The caterpillars continue to feed until they pupate, and are ready to be transported.

The Amani project has been selling pupae to live butterfly exhibits in the United States and Europe for between $1 and $2.50 each. Of that sum, 65 percent goes directly to the farmers, while another 7 percent goes to a community development fund that contributes to projects such as building schools and hospitals.

Because most tropical butterflies don't live for long, exhibits usually order new pupae every two to three weeks.
Farmers keep some pupae from each generation, so they rarely need to catch more female butterflies from the wild, although they sometimes catch new male butterflies to maintain genetic diversity in their farms.

The project now uses 250 butterfly farmers, more than half of them women, says Saidi.
He says the project's own studies show that because butterfly farmers rely on forests near their communities to provide host plants for their butterfly farms, many farmers now support forest conservation.

"Because butterfly farmers get tangible benefits, they get money, people involved in butterfly farming conserve the area," says Saidi. "They have their own forest area and use the money they are getting for replanting and other activities."

As well as training its own farmers the Amani project has helped train farmers for a butterfly project on the Tanzanian archipelago of Zanzibar.

The Zanzibar Butterfly Centre consists of a netted tropical garden that's home to hundreds of butterflies, all bred by local farmers. It was created as a tourist attraction, funded by admission fees, and like the Amani project the aim is to help protect the environment.

"A lot of forest is being destroyed in Zanzibar," says project manager Rosa Santilli. "Local people cut down trees to make charcoal to sell. People need it for fuel because gas and electricity is very expensive, so people cook with charcoal.

"The center was set up to stop local people cutting the forest down, and to provide an alternative for them to earn money from."

Santili says the center has trained 17 local farmers to rear the pupae that provide all the center's butterflies.
It's not a solution to deforestation, but it is helping, says Santili. "The butterfly farmers don't make charcoal anymore, so it has stopped that small sector of the community cutting down trees," she says.
Like the Amani project, the Zanzibar center funds a village development association, which is improving the local water supply. It is also trying to get local people to produce crafts and honey to be sold as souvenirs at the center.

But there is a cloud on the horizon. Both the Amani and Zanzibar schemes rely on couriers to transport their pupae to overseas buyers, and they say they have been hit by courier DHL's decision to stop transporting their pupae.
Saidi says Amani has been hit especially badly. It now has to transport pupae by air cargo, which dramatically increases their cost to buyers.

He says that until the end of 2010 the Amani project was selling a total of 50,000 pupae a year to 13 buyers, but now the project has lost all but one buyer. But DHL says it will be now discussing transport options with both projects, and hopes to find a solution that will let it resume pupae deliveries.

The Zanzibar center sees exporting pupae as key to getting more locals trained as butterfly farmers.
Santilli says: "We are hoping to expand to get more farmers involved. We need butterflies for our garden and also to export. If the farmers can export to Europe then the sky's the limit."

Denver News