Review: Peter Tours & Mountaineering (Moshi, Tanzania)

Sitting in Moshi and staring at prices for multi-day Safari tours, our heads began to spin. We’d researched several options on line and walking around town most of what we found seemed much too high in price for our taste. We wanted to go with a local company, but we also wanted to know that we were going to be safe, and not ripped off. Sitting with one safari guide, watching as his “arithmetic” defied the laws of probability, continuing to raise the price higher and higher, I politely excused myself and walked across the street to buy a soda. 4476133962 bb9f80afe7 Review: Peter Tours & Mountaineering (Moshi, Tanzania)
As I did, a man named Peter asked me if I would come into his office when I was done where I was. As my body and mind were still quite weak, having only returned from our Mt. Kilimanjaro hike the day prior, I reluctantly agreed. I did not regret that decision.

We found Peter to be a pleasure to work with from the start. He provided us quickly with a variety of options so that we could design our own safari. He willingly confirmed several safari concerns that I’d had, that the Serengeti was too far from the Crater and to pay to do them both would have been a waste as we’d spend most of our 3 days in the car. His price was better than a 25% off discount from most of the quotes we received and he beat the next best price by 10% as well. Then he started to throw in extras and those extras just kept coming.  His advice was spot on and everything he told us turned out to be factual and 100% true.  That may not sound like much to you, but trust me, in this part of the world, that means a lot.
4476068890 fec7ae824a Review: Peter Tours & Mountaineering (Moshi, Tanzania)
The Land Cruiser was about par for the course, as was our camping accommodation. The nicest thing about the Land Cruiser was that the roof popped up allowing us to stand inside the vehicle with our heads and bodies sticking out the top. This was particularly nice when the lions decided to rest in the shade of our vehicle and we could sit on the roof with our beers in hand and just look at their beautiful faces. When the rains came the top came down and our tents did not leak either.

Our safari itself went according to plan. We had no problems, no surprises, and most importantly, excellent food. Our three day safari not only included two nights camping accommodation near the parks but Peter also put us up in a nice hotel with air conditioning (a big step up from where we’d put ourselves before the safari began) and kept the food coming, paying for dinner on the 3rd day and breakfast the next day as well. When I left something behind in the safari vehicle, he even arranged for it to be brought back to Moshi for me at no additional charge. Like I said, Peter was a pleasure to do business with and  we wish him great success.

Although we only found Peter in Moshi after we’d completed our Mt. Kilimanjaro hike, we did learn that he also arranged treks up the mountain as well for, what we felt to be, an extremely low price. If you are looking to climb Kilimanjaro and then take a rewarding safari after the climb, I think Peter can probably arrange an amazing combination tour for you. He started on Kilimanjaro as a porter, later a guide, and recently started his own touring company.

Peter Tours & Mountaineering
www.ptmtours.com

P.O. Box 419.
Moshi, Tanzania. East Africa.
Email:
info@ptmtours.com

We received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Foodie Friday: Jackfruit

The first time we saw jackfruit in a market we looked at the lumpy enormous “fruit” with suspicion. Fibrous and exotic looking, I wasn’t so sure about trying it, especially after some South African friends of ours that we’re traveling with told us the flavor was “interesting.”Usually about 10 inches in diameter, and weighing up to 30 kilograms, the greenish, bumpy exterior doesn’t exactly invite a taste like the outside of a mango.

4477941253 611e06d849 m Foodie Friday: JackfruitNikki and Danny prevailed upon me that it was essential we try it, if only for the blog. In the name of research, Nikki and I searched both Moshi and Arusha for the fruit, unable to find it. Finally walking down the street in Uganda we found it and interrogated a very nice young man for its wear abouts. Handing a huge chunk of jackfruit to Nikki, Godfrey, as with later found out, took us to his “jackfruit”man in an alley. Purchasing it for us so we didn’t have to pay the “mzungu” mark up of at least triple, we sat down with the rest of the crowd to sample. Watching us navigate the pits & flesh the locals laughed at us when Nikki proclaimed “I love it!”. The fruit was sweet and yet bland… not juicy at all, in fact rather rubbery in texture and very starchy. The flavor was good, but as my friends warned me it was “interesting.” I would eat it again, but its not exactly something I’m going to crave.

Jackfruit is indigenous to Southern Asia, so its no wonder that we haven’t come across it before. Native to India, jackfruit has been cultivated for thousands of years across southeast Asia, spreading like most things, through the trade routes. It can be eaten raw, boiled, grilled, well you get the picture.

Although we never came across it, invasive jackfruit plants have become a significant problem in Brazil. Destructive to endemic plants, the Brazilian government has started a jackfruit eradication program. Maybe we should just send Nikki.

Hakuna Matatah: Learn some Swahili

I’d hoped to learn some Swahili while here but it turns out I already know a fair bit…you do too actually, mostly thanks to Disney.Timon disney Hakuna Matatah: Learn some Swahili

Shortly after the African continent became covered in Bantu speaking peoples, several thousand years ago, Arab traders began to appear on the coasts (the word Swahili is actually rooted in the word for ‘coast’ and ‘coastal dwellers’) from the Red Sea and present day Somalia as far south as Mozambique and Zimbabwe. These traders served as the link between the great Bantu civilizations, such as that at Great Zimbabwe, and those civilizations farther afield in Persia and Asia. Those languages, Bantu and early Arabic, combined to create Swahili, a language that even today shares 35% of its vocabulary with Arabic. It wasn’t until European colonizers arrived several hundred years ago that Swahili switched from the Arabic script to the more friendly Greek/Latin alphabet.

Greetings:

Generally we use the word Jambo to say hello. Although this is correct, our understanding is that by using the word Jambo you’re saying hello but that you need to continue in English. It is the Mzugu (African word for Gringo) way of saying hello and locals will use different variations, like Siambo, amongst themselves for example. Really impress people by asking them how they are with a habarei thrown in for good measure.

Often times when we walk into a store or restaurant we’re also greeted with a Karibu, which means “welcome.” The slightly confusing part of this is that Karibu is also used for “you’re welcome” the response after saying “thank you.” Many locals when trying to address us in English often begin with the words “your welcome” which seems to us more of an ending than a beginning. Thank you is Asante or Asante Sana….remember that Lion King song? Asante Sana squashed banana…

On Mt. Kilimanjaro

You’d be surprised just how far you can go with someone with only a handful of words. Zuri, good. Pole Pole, slow or slower. Supu means “soup” and chai, Indian influence there, means “tea.” Anything beyond that and pointing and hand signals can pretty much carry you through. Pole also means sorry and put together with a Sana means I’m very sorry.

On Safari

The word Safari is actually the Swahili word for a journey of exploration. Its meaning has no actual relation to the traditional animal safari. The most important word while on Safari….Simba, which rather unsurprisingly means lion. I now find it ironic that Simba in the movie had to be educated on what the Swahili words Hakuna Matatah meant when his own name was in Swahili as well.

Safari njema!

And yes, Hakuna Matatah is a wonderful phrase. It really does mean ‘no worries’ although Disney, putting it to song, made it into the ‘problem free, philosophy, for the rest of your days’ that we’re all most familiar with.

Oh, I Just Can’t Wait To Be King

When one thinks of Africa often the first thing that comes to mind is Disney Classic, The Lion King. So when Danny and Jill asked me what I wanted to do during my visit, without hesitation my response was, “See every animal from The Lion King!”

4476042480 f82650dd72 m Oh, I Just Can’t Wait To Be KingOne two hour flight, one (EDITOR’S NOTE: Two for Danny, he came all the way to Kenya to pick me up) seven hour shuttle, and one hour long jam packed bus ride later I was in Moshi, Tanzania eagerly awaiting my safari for the next morning. I gladly woke everyone at the crack of dawn screaming “Safari Day!” Soon after we were off to our three day, open roofed land cruiser safari…

Singing songs (EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, we actually did this) from the Lion King on the drive to our first park reminded me of the famous talk between Mufassa and Simba (Fun Fact: Simba means Lion in Swahili) about the circle of life. His version of the circle of life largely encompasses the relationship between the pred4477941257 ef600b7992 m Oh, I Just Can’t Wait To Be Kingator and the prey and how everything returns to the earth in one big circle. Almost immediately I discovered he forgot to mention one key detail: reproduction! It seems everywhere we went that is what we saw the trip soon came to be known as THE SEX SAFARI!

We saw this aspect of the circle of life occur in most animals from zebras to elephants (An elephant penis can weigh up to 25 KG wow!) to Baboons on more than once occasion. We gave our best efforts to capture these magical moments on film. Who doesn’t everyone need a picture of Zebra fornication in their living room?

4476133962 bb9f80afe7 m Oh, I Just Can’t Wait To Be KingThe safari turned into a real life Lion King experience and so much more! Ngorogoro Crater was by far my favorite park, we saw what seemed like millions of animals just hanging out in this huge hole. We had lions come up and sit in the shade of our Land Cruiser, one crazy [French] woman started screaming (EDITOR’S NOTE: Actually screamed ooohhhh lala) because she thought we were going to run over the lion’s tail. When we first drove up to these lions Jill’s motherly instincts came out when she hurried me off the roof of the car where I was sitting and made me keep my arms in the vehicle. This would not be the last of Jill attempting to save my life. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Just wait until we get to Uganda.) A few times we became part of the elephant herd, where our car was literally in the middle of over fifty elephants. The elephant even mock charged us, clearly an experience one cannot live without.

I do believe my Lion King experience was a success,4476068890 fec7ae824a m Oh, I Just Can’t Wait To Be King but I believe Danny and Jill felt my Africa experience would not be complete until an over-night 14 hour bus ride on an unpaved road could be checked off their mental list. To make it even better we had local music videos blaring through the speakers the whole time all the way from Tanzania to Uganda. We were even lucky enough to do it again for 30 hours from Uganda to Lamu (Island off coast of Kenya) but with Kenny Rogers and Nigerian soap operas. I don’t know how these guys do it!!!! Once was enough and twice was more than I could ever need in my life time, and they are ready to do it again. I truly felt like a backpacker when I got to step off my “luxury” bus ride to walk two miles in the scorching heat with a 40 pound pack on my back.

Many thanks to Nikki Biller, Danny’s cousin and author of this post, who joined us for a few weeks in East Africa.

Welcome to East Africa

4476133962 bb9f80afe7 Welcome to East AfricaBefore rushing to begin our Mt. Kilimanjaro trek, we first had to enter East Africa. We’d become quite accustomed to the tribal , Bantu, rhythms of Southern Africa, its culture and speed. Then we crossed into Tanzania and everything became a bit different. We were now in the land of the Swahili traders.

Tanzania itself is a complete mixture of these two cultures, Bantu, or indigenous African groups, and the Swahili tradesmen who came down the coast around 2,000 years ago. When the colonial powers finally left Tanzania there were actually two nations here: Tanganyika on the mainland and Zanzibar at sea, which were quickly united in one new African democracy- Tanzania.

4499587368 7f1025f595 Welcome to East AfricaI personally wasn’t quite ready to Dar Es Salaam, which literally means “Haven of Peace”. Gone was the culture I’d gotten used to and instead there was Mosque after Mosque after Mosque. The city was a huge mess, about what we expected there, but it was clear from the start that Swahili was the language and not English (even though both are official languages) and we were far more foreign than we’d been at any point in our trip thus far.

All this change didn’t come without its benefits though. Every restaurant we’ve been to has hand washing stations, thanks to the Muslim influence. Occasionally this is even provided at the table by the waiter or waitress, holding a pitcher of hot, soapy water over a bowl…you don’t even need to get up to wash. There is good quality street food again, much of it prepared according to Hallal directives making it cheap, tasty, and very safe. And of course, we can see the ocean again for the first time since leaving South Africa.