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ANNULAR ECLIPSE OF THE SUN IN TANZANIA NATIONAL PARKS

ANNULAR ECLIPSE OF THE SUN IN TANZANIA NATIONAL PARKS

eclipse ANNULAR ECLIPSE OF THE SUN IN TANZANIA NATIONAL PARKS

1st of September of 2016 tourists will be lucky to witness one of the rarest astronomical phenomenon,Annular solar Eclipse in Tanzania.

The most rewarding thing is the fact that, this year the eclipse viewers will have an opportunity to experience this in the middle of African Savanna of Tanzania National Parks!

Seeing a solar eclipse is sometimes described as a-once-in-a lifetime experience and this become even more entertaining when observers get a unique opportunity to experience the eclipse alongside stunning nature and wildlife in the Parks.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun thereby totally or partially blocking the image of the sun for viewers on the earth.

An annular solar eclipse happens when the moon covers the Sun’s center, leaving the Sun’s visible outer edges to form a ‘’ring of fire’’ or annulus around the moon.

At an annular solar eclipse the moon is too small to completely cover the Sun’s disk and this is due to its average distance from the earth. With over 97% of the Sun’s diameter covered by the moon only a very thin ring of the Sun will be visible to an observer in the middle of the eclipse’s path.

An annular solar eclipse is quite stunning to view, and requires one to be within the path of annularity to see the main effect of a ‘’ring of fire’’. Solar filters must be used for viewing throughout- even during (eclipse) annularity.

The path of eclipse (annularity) for this year as can be seen from the NASA map starts in the South Atlantic Ocean, crossing central Africa countries of Gabon, Congo then Tanzania and Mozambique before passing to Madagascar and Islands of Reunion, ending in Indian Ocean.

map1 ANNULAR ECLIPSE OF THE SUN IN TANZANIA NATIONAL PARKS

According to NASA interactive map extracted from their website (eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov), the best viewing site is the point of Greatest Eclipse located southern Tanzania, giving annularity duration (eclipse) of 3 minutes and 6 seconds.

Famous Katavi and Mahale National Parks in Tanzania are positioned nicely for viewing the eclipse on 1st,September 2016 !

map2 ANNULAR ECLIPSE OF THE SUN IN TANZANIA NATIONAL PARKS

Some companies and agencies have organized the eclipse- viewing tour to Katavi and Mahale National Parks and other areas of Tanzania where eclipse will be best observed this September!

You are not late, plan early ,plan now for the solar eclipse viewing tour to Katavi and Mahale in September 2016. Don’t miss this opportunity-a once in a life time chance in the middle of Africa’s best wildlife parks.

In Katavi National Park it is predicted that annular eclipse will start at 6.50 a.m. and reaches its maximum at 8.38 a.m.

This experience will be the best, as the viewers will experience it amidst nature and wildlife in this pristine park. Having watched and probably photographed the annular eclipse, tourists will have chance to continue with the game drives which can add to their experience.

Katavi National Park that is located in the western Part of the country is one of the most untouched areas of Tanzania. It is the third largest National Park, which offers among the best wildlife viewing opportunities.

Mahale National Park, located also on the western part of Tanzania along the shore of the lake Tanganyika is a best refuge for the largest populations of Chimpanzee in the world. This September’s annular eclipsepath will be over the lake Tanganyika so viewers will get a chance to witness it while in the park.

Clear skies and amazing wildlife-rich parks during an excellent month of September will offer best annular solar eclipse viewing in Tanzania.

giraffe ANNULAR ECLIPSE OF THE SUN IN TANZANIA NATIONAL PARKS

Arusha National Park

monkey ANNULAR ECLIPSE OF THE SUN IN TANZANIA NATIONAL PARKS

Mahale National Park

Become an Ecotourist and learn 5 easy steps to planning your trip!

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Become an Ecotourist and learn 5 easy steps to planning your trip
enkewa mara camp2 Become an Ecotourist and learn 5 easy steps to planning your trip!

Eco Lodges & Hotels

Making informed choices before and during your trip is the single most important thing you can do to become a responsible traveler. With a little planning, you can improve the quality of your trip, while making a real difference to the people and places you visit. When choosing destinations, accommodations, and tour operators, consider which ones work to protect the environment and benefit local cultures and communities.

1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Search the web and consult guidebooks to start your pre-trip homework. Look for information and resources on responsible travel, ecotourism, or sustainable tourism. Ecotourism Explorer, TIES’ interactive online directory, makes searching for your perfect eco-holiday easy! Choose guidebooks with information on your destination’s environmental, social and political issues, and read before booking. Guidebooks vary in quality, even within a series, but Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, and Moon are among the best.

2. ASK QUESTIONS

Call or email tour operators that have firsthand knowledge of the place you are considering visiting. Check the websites of all accommodations. Let tour operators/hotels know that you are a responsible consumer. Before you book, ask about their social and environmental policies. For instance – What is your environmental policy? What percentage of your employees are local citizens? Do you support any projects to benefit the local community?

3. SEEK QUALITY ASSURANCE

Are the businesses you’re considering certified? Do they have eco-label ratings, or have they won eco-awards? Have you heard of the AAA or 5-star rating systems? These long-standing labels judge hotel quality and services. Many certification programs have also been created in travel and tourism to rate the environmental and social impacts of tourism businesses. Using independent auditors, these programs are important tools for distinguishing genuine ecotourism or sustainable tourism companies, products or services from those that are merely using “eco-” as a marketing tool to attract consumers. Certification programs can help travelers to make responsible choices. A growing number of companies have earned eco-labels, and we encourage you to purchase from these businesses. TIES, together with industry partners around the world, promotes sustainable tourism certification as one of the most effective ways to mainstream sustainability in tourism.

4. OPT TO GIVE BACK

A growing number of tourism businesses are helping to financial and material support community projects and offering travelers the opportunity to get involved. Many of TIES members around the globe are leading the efforts to give back to local communities and enhance the livelihoods of local people through ecotourism. We encourage you to contribute to and participate in these projects, and support those companies that are making positive impacts on the lives of local hosts.

5. READ BETWEEN THE LINES

Don’t Be Fooled by green-washing. “Eco” is a fashionable label used widely in the tourism industry. It sounds appealing, but much of what is marketed as “eco” is simply conventional tourism with superficial changes. So it’s important to check behind the labels.

Africa’s Last Warrior Tribe

Africa’s Last Warrior Tribe

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If you are planning a visit to Africa it is useful and practical to have a little knowledge about the local people you will be meeting.  A visit to Kenya and Tanzania means you will have the privilege of meeting the Masai (aka Maasai) people, who are the most famous and easily recognized indigenous tribe in these two countries.  Most people have heard of the Masai – their rich culture and particularly distinctive clothes make them stand out on the Continent, and they are known for their exceptional courage as warriors.

A Little History

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The Masai are one of the many tribes (125 altogether!) found in Southern Kenya and the Northern part of Tanzania.  They are thought to have originated in the Sudan, and their own oral history relates how they migrated through the Nile River into Kenya and then Tanzania, around the 15th century, either forcibly displacing the previous inhabitants and raiding their cattle, or assimilating some of them into their own culture.  The Masai have always been a pastoral people – they practice cattle rearing and are always on the move to newer greener pastures.   The size of their territory was at its largest in the 19th century, however a huge percentage of the tribe was wiped out in the 1890’s by the effects of three cataclysmic events – a Smallpox epidemic ravaged the people, a Rinderpest epidemic killed over 90% of their herds and the final blow came when the rains failed completely for more than two years, resulting in thousands of deaths from starvation.

Unfortunately, this was not the end of their problems!  The recovering tribe were faced with more hardship in the decades to come – two treaties in 1904 and 1911 saw them forced to give up over 60% of their land to the British to make room for settler ranches.  Later, in the 1940’s, even more land was confiscated by the Kenyan government to create the many Wildlife Reserves and National Parks that Kenya and Tanzania are famous for today. Amboseli, Nairobi, the Masai Mara Reserve, Samburu, Lake Nakuru and Tsavo National Parks in Kenya and Manyara, Ngorongoro, Tarangire and Serengeti National Parks in Tanzania all stand on land that was once Masai territory.

The Masai Today

Masai Today Africa’s Last Warrior Tribe

Despite the influences of education and western culture, the Masai people have largely resisted change and most of them remain nomadic pastoralists, albeit in a greatly reduced area.  They principally live along the borders of the aforementioned National Parks in the Kajiado and Narok districts and in several areas their territory overlaps the National Parks and they still graze their cattle inside the protected areas – in some instances this has led to episodes of human/wildlife conflict when cattle are attacked by Lion and other predators.

Many members of the tribe have been absorbed into the Safari industry (“Safari” is a Swahili word meaning journey) where they showcase their extensive knowledge and impress the tourists with their remarkable talents as wilderness guides. The tourism industry creates many employment opportunities and has been directly or indirectly responsible for several co-operative schemes which have benefited the local communities and helped provide schooling for the children.  In addition, there are educational programs aimed at educating the tribes about the importance of conservation of natural resources and all wildlife, including Lions, which were often hunted and killed in retaliation for cattle losses, or to demonstrate a young Warrior’s courage.

The Masai Culture – Who Does What

The Masai are probably the last of the world’s great warrior cultures and the bravery of the Masai warriors is still a source of pride to the tribe.  Young boys are given the responsibility of herding and guarding the cattle from a very young age, while the girls learn to clean and milk the cows.  Rites of Passage are very important and all young boys learn about the responsibilities they will require as men.  Eunoto is an elaborate ceremony when boys and girls come of age and graduate to be warriors and wives.  Young warriors must face painful circumcision without flinching if they wish to emerge as full-blown warriors with the respect of their elders and tribe.

Girls still have very few choices and no voice – no place here for Woman’s Lib!   They will be married off by their elders into traditionally polygamous marriages and are responsible for all household chores including the building of their temporary houses, using mud, grass, wood and cow dung as well as cooking, beading and child care.  The warriors, of course, build fences and bomas to protect the cattle and fearlessly defend them from attack by wild animals.

Dress and Ornamentation

Masai colour full dresscord Africa’s Last Warrior Tribe

Most Masai people dress in the well-known red “shuka”- a sheet of red fabric which is wrapped around the body and adorned by elaborate beadwork around the neck, arms and ears.  Both sexes dress alike and both sexes practice ear piercing and stretching of the earlobes – greatly stretched earlobes are regarded as very beautiful.  Masai beadwork is very intricate and beautiful and is a very sought-after souvenir for many tourists.

Cattle in the Masai Culture

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The importance of cattle to the Masai cannot be over-emphasized and borders on a sacred relationship, where they believe that they have a God-given role as the custodians of all cattle.  They measure their wealth by the number of cattle they own and the number of children they have produced – you need to have many of each to be considered wealthy!  Cattle and other livestock (they also raise some sheep and goats) provide almost all their food, in the form of meat, milk and even blood, while the skins and hides are used for bedding and the dung is used as a type of plaster to water-proof their houses.  If you have no cattle you have no food, no shelter and no standing, which is why the warriors are so fiercely protective of their herds.  One of the most common Masai greetings translates as “I hope your cattle are well”!

Song and Dance

masai dance Africa’s Last Warrior Tribe

A distinctive feature of Masai music is the lack of instruments and the amazing harmony of their vocals.  Most songs consist of a responsive pattern, where the women sing one part and the men respond with the second part, while the only musical accompaniment to the singing is the jingling sound of all the beads worn by both the singers and the dancers.   Head and neck movements are an important part of singing and form a kind of rhythmical “bobbing”.

Although the Masai jumping dances “adumu” are the most popularly performed, there are also other types of very structured dances for various special occasions.  In the jumping dances the men all stand in a circle and each has a chance to jump as high as he can while the others encourage him in song – as the voices get higher the jumping increases – this is a sight you should not miss!

The Importance of Respectful Greetings

African culture is composed of many myths, legends and taboos that have been passed down from one generation to the next – having at least an inkling of how to interact in a respectful and dignified manner is just good manners, and will go a long way towards establishing a good relationship with your hosts. As the adage goes, when in Rome, do like the Romans!   Many practices that most visitors take for granted back home could be regarded as the height of bad manners in Africa…for instance, you should never just walk up to a local and ask for directions or a service without at least a few sentences in greeting and general “small talk”.  Knowing when and with whom you should shake hands is also important (see below) and memorizing a few phrases of greeting and thanks in the local language will win you a large measure of respect.

Handshaking is a very popular form of greeting, practiced by just about everyone. As a sign of respect, most Masai shake hands with their right hand while holding their right elbow with the left hand. Sometimes the right hand is covered by the left hand in a form of double handshake, but you need not worry about getting it right – a normal one-handed shake will do the job!   You should never try to shake hands with your left hand if your right hand is otherwise occupied – this is considered very rude – rather do not shake at all!  Men should not attempt to shake hands with female Masai, unless the lady makes the first move; usually she will just nod in greeting.  If a young Masai child leans their head towards you while greeting then you should tap them lightly on the head – this is considered the polite greeting for children.

Experiencing Masai Culture at First Hand

experience masai culture Africa’s Last Warrior Tribe

One of the very best ways to experience some of the mystery and legend that is interwoven into the Masai culture is to go on a Walking Safari with one of the excellent Masai guides, who will be only too happy to share his extensive knowledge of his country with you.  You can also arrange to visit real Masai homes on a Cultural Excursion and be entertained with a traditional song and dance show.  Cultural visits are offered by most of the Camps and Lodges in the National Parks.

How to locate a lost travelling companion

How to locate a lost travelling companion

Mount Kenya How to locate a lost travelling companion

If you find yourself alone in a foreign country or a strange place instead of surrounded by the friends and family you set off with, don’t panic – these tips will have you reunited in no time

When you’re on holiday, getting lost is half the fun. Wandering around a strange city and stumbling upon a picturesque little street or charming courtyard is the kind of thing that tempts us out of our cosy homes in the first place.

But if you’re part of a group, and especially if you’re part of a smallish group, getting unexpectedly separated from the rest of your gang can be an unsettling experience.

It’s especially worrying when you’re travelling with children, who may not be carrying mobile phones and can’t therefore call you to explain that they’ve just found an interesting little shop selling salty caramel waffles or something.

Good preparation can cater for most eventualities, but fate always has a way of catching you out. Here are a few tips to reunite you with your travelling companions.

Get on up

If you’re in a crowded place, a busy shopping centre or theme park, you need to get as high up as possible. Not only will you be more visible to your lost pal, but you have more chance of catching sight of them.

No handy fountain, chair or ornamental wall to stand on? Seek out the tallest person you can see and ask them for their help. Describe your lost friend or …

A picture is worth a thousand words.

You’re on holiday. Chances are your phone or digital camera has a recent picture of the person you’re looking for. Show it to your new tall friend.

If your companion has been missing for a while, or if they’re very young, then you’ll want to speak to the local police; taking along a recent picture of the person wearing the clothes they had on when they went missing would be very helpful, especially if there’s a language barrier.

Find the centre

If there’s a major landmark, some sort of Eiffel Tower for example, or a Taj Mahal perhaps, head for it. Is there a sign pointing to the Tourist Information Office?

While it might be tempting to stand still and let the person come back to you, you might be in for a long wait if they’ve had the same idea. Heading for an easily recognisable landmark is not only likely to bring you back to your pal, it will also put you near police and other sources of aid if you’re still having no luck.

Go with the flow

Young children, dogs, and easily distracted adults always follow the path of least resistance. If you’re somewhere without obvious landmarks to seek out, there’s a better-than-average chance that the wanderer went in the direction that the wind’s blowing.

As in any crisis situation, it’s hard to resist the natural temptation to panic. But keep a cool head, think about the psychology of your quarry, and you should be enjoying those salty caramel waffles together in no time.

10 Things We Bet You Didn’t Know About Kenya

10 Things We Bet You Didn’t Know About Kenya

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For those who are not entirely familiar with their Atlas, Kenya is a gorgeous little country in the Eastern side of Africa. she is home to the second highest mountain in the continent (Mt. Kenya), home to the Maasai Mara and her breathtaking annual wildebeest migration, home to a majority of the world athletics champions and home to an insanely gorgeous coastal line that just so happens to include Mombasa and Lamu.

Although Kenya is synonymous with quite a few wonderful things, Ski holidays, winter sports and being snowed in are all things she is NOT known for. We are in the tropics, and on this side of the sun we have breathtakingly beautiful weather.

Kenya is a touristic mammoth. That’s how beautiful this country is. But as world famous as she may be in some circuits, there are still some facts about this country that even Kenyans are not too familiar with. That being said, here are 10 things we bet you didn’t know about Kenya

Kenya has 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

UNESCO World Heritage Sites are places that are recognized as being of great physical or cultural significance. It is a privilege that only some of the most exclusive locations in the world hold; these are places worth preserving, and Kenya has 6 of them!

  • Fort Jesus, Mombasa
  • Lamu Old Town
  • Mount Kenya Forest
  • The Sacred Kaya Forest, South Coast
  • Lake System in the Great Rift Valley
  • Lake Turkana

Kenya has a ‘cheese tasting’ culture

Almost no one would associate Kenya with cheese. But wouldn’t you know it; the country has a rich cheese tasting culture that is the preserve of a few enthusiasts who know where to look. In Limuru, there is a farm called ‘Brown’s Cheese’ that has a cheese factory which offers tasting tours to those interested. You get to see and learn how the cheese is made, eat quite a bit of it and drink some wine. Visit: Brown’s Cheese

You Can Go Snake Hunting

You have probably heard of pythons, mambas, cobras and puff adders. Most of us prefer to keep our distance from these slithery vials of poison. But for the dare-devils, a chance to act out scenes from Anaconda and go hunting for pythons in the wild is simply too tempting to pass up. Kenya has well over 100 documented snake species, most of which are illusive, poisonous and not the kind of creepy-crawlies you want keeping you company by the way side. In Watamu, there is an outfit called ‘Bio-Ken’ which has taken it upon itself to show you all Kenya has to offer in terms of snakes. You can book tours that will take you through some of the most dense forests, rugged rocky cliffs and watery riverbeds (all this in the name of finding these illusive creatures).

Kenya Values Conservation

With all that is going in the world today, from impossibly high levels of environmental pollution and encroachment into lands meant for wildlife, Kenya is one of the countries that are leading the fight against the kind of damage that we can do to our world as humans. We have 65 protected areas specifically meant for wildlife. These are beautiful National Parks such as Meru National Park, amazing Marine Parks, national reserves and sanctuaries. Aside from that, the very first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize was Prof. Wangari Maathai; an environmentalist from Kenya.

Kenyans are highly religious people

About 70% of the people in Kenya can be classified as Christians (Catholic and Protestant); roughly 25% still adhere to indigenous religions and the remaining 5% comprise of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Baha’is and Parsees. The deeply rooted religious culture within the country can be witnessed by simply reading the words of our National Anthem (it is a heartfelt prayer for the nation that was adapted from the Pokomo tribe).

Elizabeth became Queen while in Kenya

Princess Elizabeth was staying at the ‘The Treetops Hotel’ with her husband, now Prince Philip, when she got the news that her father, King George VI, had passed away. Of course, she had to go back home and get coronated, but technically, she became Queen of England while in Kenya.

Kenya is perfect for big blockbuster film locations

You may not know this, but every now and again, big movie production houses in Hollywood do tour the world to produce all those wonderful silver screen pictures that we simply cannot get enough of. Kenya, being an annoyingly gorgeous country, has been host to some of the most renowned on-location film shoots. Here are some of the most famous movies shot on-location in Kenya.

  • Out Of Africa (Perhaps the one movie that shows Kenya’s beauty in its full splendour)
  • King Solomon’s Mines
  • Nowhere in Africa
  • The Constant Gardener
  • To Walk With Lions
  • Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
  • The Ghost and the Darkness
  • Mississippi Masala

Kenya is the ‘Strong Silent’ type

Although there have been a few skirmishes within the country, Kenya is known as one of the most peaceful Nations in Africa. With no civil war, no internal strife and a reputation for undertaking ‘Peace Keeping’ missions within Africa, Kenya is not only a pretty nation, but a peace loving one as well. But just because Kenya isn’t known for her violence and invasions does not mean the country does not have an army to speak of. KDF (Kenya Defense Forces) is ranked as the 46th strongest standing army in the world and the 6th in Africa.

Kenya is OLD and has the scars to show it

There have been discoveries of Paleolithic remains in Turkana that have led scientists to believe that Kenya might just have been the birth place of humanity. If that does not impress you, then try this, the Great Rift Valley, which runs across the face of the country and can be seen from space, is well over 20 million years old. It is said that it was formed when the Earth’s crust started that tedious splitting business that formed all the continents.

You can swim with Dolphins in Kenya

Okay, this is not an exclusively Kenyan thing, but it is still pretty cool. From having dinner on floating restaurants, to feeding crocodiles and having breakfast with Giraffes, the number of weird, yet thrilling things you can do in Kenya is simply mind boggling. Did you know you could ride and eat an Ostrich? But we digress. Back to the dolphins. Yes, you can swim with dolphins in Wasini. These are dolphins in the wild, so you can’t quite get them to stand still long enough to hold a conversation or pet them, but they do swim up real close.

With well over 40 million people and some of the most fascinating wild life on the face of the planet, Kenya is not only beautiful, eclectic and insanely sunny, but she is also strong and peaceful.

If you haven’t toured this country, you should make a point to do so before you are all out of touring days. For those who have, let us know some of the lesser known facts about this beautiful country from your point of view.

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