We have often heard it said, that once you have visited the African continent, you fall in love with it. We now understand why. The Safari was one of the most amazing experiences in our lives, but it was our travelling though and between villages and cities, seeing the landscape and meeting people, that made us truly fall in love with Tanzania.
The landscape is undeniably one of the most beautiful in the world, as you travel through the country you are treated to the varied geology, flora and fauna. When you first see the reddness of the soil, you almost can’t believe it, it is so beautiful, and when juxtaposed with the green crops, dry grasslands and plentiful pastural land dotted with people herding their livestock, it is breathtaking. Without seeing a single animal on our Safari, the driving through the country would have been enough of a trip in itself to create a lifetime of memories.
Throughout this landscape, we came across many towns and villages and were fortunate enough to see how the people lived, to meet people and engage in many meaningful conversations. Initially everything we were seeing was hard to process, amongst all this beauty, there is so much poverty it can become overwhelming. Overflowing with empathy and struggling to comprehend a great deal of what you’re seeing can be paralyzing. We see things one T.V, I have worked with many NGO’s and knew a lot about the issues around the country of Tanzania along with other areas of Africa and the world. But to be there beside it, to see it, was something that changes you.
Amongst some of the most heart wrenching and perspective changing experiences – (which there are to many to write about and to difficult to write about in a post) – was a conversation we had with a young man. He was working at one of the tented lodges we were staying at. We talked with him for over an hour – it was one of the most educated and perspective changing conversations I have ever had. He spoke so eloquently about the issues the people of Tanzania face, about political issues, poverty and what life was like. He also spoke passionately about how much his country had to offer and how he believed that with greater education and less corruption Tanzania would be unmatched in beauty and lifestyle. So, after he shared this, I looked at him and I said that he sounded very proud, he must love living here. He looked me and paused for a minute, then he said something that has stuck with me. He said “to be honest, no.” I asked why? He told me “because if you have a dream, it will never come true”.
I think my heart broke in that second. As a teacher I spend my days telling children that they can do whatever they want, to dream big, that they can achieve anything they set their minds to. So to hear a young man, with such a sharp mind, so passionate about issues, say that to you, it changes something in you. He then asked me what it was like in Canada, I think my eyes started to well up, I have always been a proud Canadian, I love my country, but in that moment, it just reaffirmed what an amazing country Canada is, and how lucky we are.
It is moments like this that it becomes almost blinding, but the more people you meet the more your are overwhelmed by their spirit, positivity, friendliness and kindness.
Everyone we meet and spoke to throughout our travels were amongst the most welcoming and friendly people we have ever meet. Everyone was always quick to smile and say hello. Everyone went out of our way to make us feel comfortable and welcome, on more than one occasion we were greeted and told to think of their home as ours. We also found the people we spoke to, to be fiercely proud of their country, on numerous occasions we were told to direct our gaze in a direction and asked the question “have you ever seen anything more beautiful?”
There are also people doing amazing things to help overcome the poverty within the country. I was fortunate enough to visit a children’s home in Rhotia Valley. We chose to stay at the Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge because we knew that the lodge was created to fund a children’s home on the same property. The children’s home was more than remarkable – it was home to orphans (children that have lost their parents to AIDS or other unfortunate events), or kids in the community that needed a place to live for various circumstances. The property is a model for Sustainability. All the employees are from the local community as are the children. They grow there own food, have their own livestock, they produce their own biofuel, build their own furniture, fund the children’s education and are co-supervisors of the local schools. There is so much more to share but I would be writing forever. Check out their website, www.rhotiavalley.com
We have included a slideshow of pictures we have taken as we traversed the country below.