Trip advise: visit the historical city of Bagamoyo before it falls apart

IPP Media’s Sunday Observer reported yesterday on the the historical city of Bagamoyo falling apart:

Conservator of Antiquities, Archaelogist Reinfrida Justine Kapela has sounded a warning to international community and Tanzania in particular on the vandalism going on in Bagamoyo’s historical sites.

She warns that if it continues unchecked, the historical town’s rich history would to a greater extent be tempered with. Staff Writer Lucas Lukumbo who visited the historical town reports…

Bagamoyo stands to lose its tourism credentials very soon if rampant vandalism on the historical sites is left to continue, a tourist who had cancelled his visit in Kenya following the unrest and opted Tanzania as his tourism destination told this reporter.

James Lucas Rothing, was one of a group of tourists who had come to admire the Bagamoyo historical town lying 70 kilometres, North of Dar es Salaam along the splendid sandy beach of the Indian Ocean.

Bagamoyo boasts one of East Africa’s largest assembly of 18th century architecture. It played a pivotal role in the East African slave trade. It is a place of memory for human suffering and humiliation caused by slavery and the slave trade and the imposition of colonialism.

JOBLESS YOUTHS VANDALIZING BAGAMOYO

According to the conservator at the Caravan Serai in Bagamoyo, a historical loading station, storage and accommodation for slave caravans to and from the interior, Archaelogist Reinfrida Justine Kapela, historical buildings are being shorn of their doors and windows.
She says the vandalism is being done by jobless youths, mostly from outside Bagamoyo who sell the items to tourists and even some of the hotel owners in the area.

“Hotel owners are the main buyers of these stolen historical items from the dilapidated historical sites. They usually put them in their hotels as an attraction to tourists. Even some of the doors find their way into Bagamoyo hotels” she says.
She says some of the historical doors are sold to the tune of Sh 3 million and the hotel owners are ready to buy such items.

To discourage the practice, the archeologist says her department has been educating the youths on the importance of the historical sites and ways of protecting the sites from more vandalism.
“We have educated more than 50 youths the importance of the historical sites to the nation” she says adding that even the taxi-drivers have been educated. “It is these taxi-drivers who send the tourists to the historical sites. Teaching them on the protection of such sites would to a great extend reduce theft” she says.

GERMAN BOMA

She says the most vandalized building is the German Boma. The two-storey impressive building topped by crenellations, constructed in a U shape was constructed in 1897. It was built by the Germans as the colonial administration headquarters of the first capital of the German East Africa and the Governors’ residence.

The building which exhibits strong tangible evidence of colonialism in Tanzania is a great monument typical of German architecture.

According to local authorities the district commissioner’s office was located in the Boma, but had to relocate in 1997, when heavy rain fell, causing the balcony joists to collapse under the heavy load of water. This was after a long period of poor maintenance.

Near it is a plaque marking the first expedition undertaken by the British explorers Richard Burton and John Speke, who set off from here to the interior on June 27, 1857.

“I am not very sure of the extent of the damage in terms of its worth, but it must be in millions of shillings” she said.

KAOLE RUINS TARGETTED

Other historical sites which she said were being threatened for vandalism are the Kaole Ruins and Roman Catholic Mission.

Kaole ruins, located about five kilometers south of Bagamoyo, date back to the thirteenth century. The ruins comprise remnants of two mosques and several tombs, showing the importance of Islam in early Bagamoyo. All of the structures were built with coral stones. There is a small museum at Kaole Ruins.

The Roman Catholic Mission is a picturesque mission, and the oldest Roman Catholic Church in East and Central Africa. The first Catholic church was built in 1868.

In 1874, Dr. Livingstone’s body stayed at the Catholic mission before being sent to England for burial. In the 1800s, Christian missionaries established a “Freedom Village” at the mission to protect freed slaves.

There is also the first stone building- the old fort. The building is located in the north-west of the town. In 1870 it was expanded to become the residence of Sultan`s representatives together with his office and the Arab colonial prison.

The building commands a strong history in terms of architecture. In fact Islamic architecture can be best seen from this building. The old fort has associations with slave trade.

Initially its function was to hold slaves before being shipped to Zanzibar. It has underground passages through which slaves were herded to dhows on the shore.

It was later taken over by Sewa Haji, an influential Indian businessman, who presented it to the Germans in 1894.

EIGHTH WOLRD HERITAGE SITE

These structures must be preserved. Bagamoyo, one of the oldest towns in Tanzania has been designated the country`s eighth World Heritage Site.

The Department of Antiquities under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism trying its best is working to revitalize the town and maintain the dozens of ruins in and around Bagamoyo.

American Ambassador to Tanzania, Mark Green, recently handed over 10,900 US dollars (about 12.8m/- as the first installment of a total of 20,900 US dollars towards the restoration of Kaole Ruins near Bagamoyo.

The Government through the Ministries of Education and Culture and Natural Resources and Tourism, has launched an ambitious drive to promote historical sites as part of a strategy to have more World Heritage Sites in the country.

Before Bagamoyo was designated a World Heritage Site recently, Tanzania was home to seven World Heritage Sites namely, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Serengeti and Kilimanjaro National Parks, the Selous Game Reserve, the historical sites of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara, Zanzibar Stone Town and Kondoa Rock Art Sites.

The Antiquities Division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism is in the process of finalizing the National Antiquities Policy in an effort to protect historical and cultural monuments in Tanzania.

Bagamoyo can be visited either on the way from Tanga or Pangani to Dar or as a detour on the road from Arusha to Dar; an ideal trip advise for guests who go from Onsea House Arusha by road to either the mainland Indian Ocean or to Zanzibar.

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Safari Tourism in Tanzania promoted in New York

Two American organisations will stage a three day tourism promotion campaign targeting destination Tanzania.
The New York Times is collaborating with Freeman Co to run the New York Times Travel Show whose specific aim is to improve Tanzania`s tourist image to the American travelers.

Earlier campaigns last year included advertisement on CNN- America and the Travel Agents Training Programme.

Amant Macha, Director of Marketing at the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) told The Guardian this week that the three day event would be held at Jacob K. Javits Convention Centre in New York from February 29th to March 2 2008.

“Right now, thirteen companies including tour operators, hotels, and public institutions from Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Kilimanjaro regions have confirmed would attend the fair”, he said.

It is estimated that a total of 90,000 visitors will be in attendance, and these would include travel professionals from USA, Canada, and Mexico.

The Embassies of Tanzania in Washington DC and New York have been requested to provide logistical support.

The delegation would also use the occasion to publicise the 33rd New York based Africa Travel Association (ATA) Annual Travel Congress and Tourism show that will take place in Arusha later this year.

ATA’s main objective is to encourage American tourists to visit Africa by promoting the continent image.

Latest report Tourism Market Research Study for Tanzania shows that the US accounts for nine per cent of all tourists coming to Tanzania while the UK contributes about eleven per cent.

Kenya tops countries which bring tourists to Tanzania, who mainly come for leisure.

Onsea House in Arusha has several partner tour operators including Awaken to Africa (booth 119) and Deeper Africa (booth 124) participating to this event. Do not hesitate to pay them a visit to get more information on our boutique hotel accommodation in Arusha. Deeper Africa Show Special deal:  $200 off any of our group departures.  Visit Deeper Africa booth for New York Times Travel Show coupon.

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US President George Bush visits Arusha: a welcome that will help to market Tanzania as single safari destination

During their 6 day visit to Africa, starting today Saturday 16 February, President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush will spend 2 days in Tanzania, of which 1 full day will be spend in Arusha, on Monday 18 February 2008. 

Bush will arrive tonight in Dar es Salaam and spend Sunday meeting Tanzanian President Kikwete, a joint news conference, a visit to Amana District Hospital and a social dinner with the Tanzanian president.

On Monday, they will spend a full day in Arusha, Tanzania’s ‘safari capital’.

Next to the visit to the Meru District Hospital, they will visit Emusoi Centre, a project of the Maryknoll Sisters in Arusha, Tanzania. Emusoi (or place of discovery and awareness in Maa, the Maasai language) is an ongoing educational project that prepares school-age girls from nomadic tribes for entrance into secondary and tertiary schools.

Another stop is the A to Z textile mills in Arusha.
The CEO of A to Z, Mr. Anuj Shah will probably demonstrate the Olyset nets which are guaranteed for five years and are the only ones recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). They were first manufactured in September 2003 and production since then has risen dramatically. In 2005 the area occupied by the new factory was just a bare field. Now, of the company’s 5,000 employees, 3,200 produce the nets.

US Ambassador to Tanzania Mark Green said President Bush’s visit to Tanzania would promote investments among Americans. Under Tanzania’s new economic diplomacy, tourism is on top priority investment sector.

Although Bush’s visit to Tanzania and other four African states doesn’t include a tourism agenda, Ambassador Green said the visit would add a value to Americans who will take their president’s visit to explore more on African investment opportunities. Tourism is on top in African business opportunities, reaping from the continent’s rich natural tourist attractions.

Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) has been organizing various tourism promotional tours in the US to market Tanzania among Americans, and now Tanzania is advertising its attractions through CNN America in the campaign to attract more Americans.

With the ongoing volatile political situation in Kenya, Tanzania tourism stakeholders are taking Bush’s visit a welcome that will help to market Tanzania as a single destination rather than a package destination comprising Kenya.

They take the Bush visit as a kick-start to have Tanzanian tourism getting known in US through thousands of media outlets following the President’s itinerary. Other countries in his six-day African tour are Rwanda, Ghana, Benin and Liberia.

Tanzania is the host of two crucial conferences with tourism agenda in May and June this year with most participants coming from United States. The Eighth Leon Sullivan Summit will be held in Tanzania’s northern tourist city of Arusha early in June with expectations to attract about 4,000 participants from the US and Africa.

The 33rd Africa Travel Association (ATA) Congress is scheduled to take place from May 19th to 23rd with its key participants drawn from the African Diaspora in the US among other Americans.

Tanzania is mostly known by its rich and spectacular attractions made up of wildlife famous African parks of Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Selous and Tarangire with additional attractive Mount Kilimanjaro – Africa’s highest peak.

Contact Onsea House in Arusha if you are looking for intimate hotel accommodation in the area and/or would like include the projects which will be visited by President Bush in your safari in Tanzania.

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The Hadzabe bushmen, sons of the Stone Age, on safari in Tanzania

Britain’s No.1 quality newspaper, Telegraph, reports from Northern Tanzania today on the Hadzabe bushmen – thought to be the origin of our species – who are still living the life depicted by their ancestors in rock paintings 5,000 years ago: hunting, making fire, barbecuing bushbabies.

According to the Genographic Project, a global investigation into the origins and dispersal of human DNA, these Hadzabe bushmen of northern Tanzania have perhaps the oldest genetic lineage of any people on earth, and are directly descended from the first modern humans – the first group of homo sapiens to have all our mental capabilities.

The rest of humanity branched off into different genetic lines as people migrated away from east Africa and adapted to new environments, but the Hadzabe have come straight down the original line with hardly any mutations in their DNA. They also speak the oldest form of human language, a click language similar to that of the Kalahari Bushmen, and they are one of the last surviving tribes who still hunt and gather their food.

Read more about it in the entire article in the Telegraph and contact your preferred Tour Operator or Onsea House in Arusha directly if you want this special experience in the Lake Eyasi area included in your safari in Tanzania.

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Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro named top ‘Exotic Adventure’ for 2008 by USA Today

USA Today, the national newspaper with a circulation of over 3,000,000, released its prestigious list of the Hottest Travel Trends for 2008 on January 11, 2008. Tanzania’s famed Mt. Kilimanjaro sweeps the newspaper’s “Exotic Adventures” category. This highly competitive list was compiled with extensive input from travel experts.“I’m hearing more people say ‘I want to climb (Tanzania’s) Mt. Kilimanjaro now, while it still has glaciers,Marian Marbury, owner of the woman-only” Adventures in Good Company” is quoted as explaining one reason why the mythic mountain is considered a particularly desirable Exotic Adventure this year.

“There’s a sense that many places and wildlife we’ve taken for granted are disappearing,” she continues. “And the changes are happening now, within our lifetime.”

Happily, though, at the moment Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain on the African Continent at 19,336 feet, remains ice-capped, snow-spread and majestic in glacial splendor. When that may change is a matter of scientific dissension.

The New York Times of Sunday, January 20 featured a first person account of a climb up the majestic mountain’s summit titled, “On Africa’s Roof, Still Crowned With Snow.” Writer Neil Modie quotes experts who say that the mountain’s glaciers are disappearing due to climate change, but also describes his own observation and experience of snow, ice, and diverse “spectacular” ecological zones throughout the mountain.

Steeped in legend, capturing the compelling beauty of Tanzania, Mt. Kilimanjaro holds a special place as one of Tanzania’s famed tourist sites. For many tourists to the East African country, a climb up Kilimanjaro is the highlight of their lives. These climbers contribute to the booming tourism economy.

According to Gerald Bigurube, Director General of the Tanzania National Parks, “at the moment, between 30-35,000 people climb Mt. Kilimanjaro annually.” The trek may be rigorous or accessible, depending on which of six different paths are selected.
“The best time of year for the climb,” notes Mr. Bigurube “is January through February and mid-June through mid-October.”

Climbers may choose a variety of different camping arrangements on their way to the top of the mountain, ranging from simple to elaborate, the latter providing guides, porters and overnight camping sites with dining facilities.

These climbers contribute to the booming tourism economy in Tanzania. According to Hon. Prof. Jumanne Maghembe, Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, it is expected that “the tourism sector, which currently contributes 17.2% to the economy of the United Republic of Tanzania, will reach even higher levels quickly.” The Minister notes that the country’s main markets are Britain, the U.S., Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Scandinavia. The U.S. market is extremely strong, and is predicted to outreach the others in the next few years.

Managing Director of the Tanzania Tourist Board, Peter Mwenguo, adds, “about $ 1 billion USD is expected from tourism activities this year, an increase of $862 million last year.”

Onsea House is a great base in Arusha to prepare before and relax after your climb and offers both B&B as Full board Hotel accommodation.

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A safari makers dream: the discovery of a new species of mammal

This must every safari-makers dream: to discover a new species of mammal, as has been discovered in the mountains of Tanzania. BBC news reported yesterday:

The bizarre-looking creature, dubbed Rhynochocyon udzungwensis, is a type of giant elephant shrew, or sengi.

The cat-sized animal, which is reported in the Journal of Zoology, looks like a cross between a miniature antelope and a small anteater.

It has a grey face, a long, flexible snout, a bulky, amber body, a jet-black rump and it stands on spindly legs.

“This is one of the most exciting discoveries of my career,” said Galen Rathbun, from the California Academy of Sciences, who helped to confirm the animal was new to science along with an international team of colleagues.

Galen Rathbun with the new elephant shrew species (David Ribble)
They are so bizarre-looking and a lot of their behavioural ecology is so unique and interesting, you kind of get wrapped up with them
Galen Rathbun

Despite its name, the creature, along with the 15 other known species of elephant shrew, is not actually related to shrews.

Dr Rathbun told the BBC News website: “Elephant shrews are only found in Africa. They were originally described as shrews because they superficially resembled shrews in Europe and in America.”

In fact, the creature is more closely related to a group of African mammals, which includes elephants, sea cows, aardvarks and hyraxes, having shared a common ancestor with them about 100 million years ago.

“This is why they are also known as sengis,” explained Dr Rathbun.

The new species was first caught on film in 2005 in Ndundulu Forest in Tanzania’s Udzungwa Mountains by a camera trap set by Francesco Rovero, from the Trento Museum of Natural Sciences in Italy.

Dr Rathbun said: “I got these images, and said to myself: ‘Boy, these look strange’. But you can’t describe something new based just on photographs, so in March 2006, we went back in and collected some specimens.”

Flashy creatures

He told the BBC that it quickly became apparent that the creatures were new to science.

He said: “Elephant shrews are almost all distinguished by distinctive colour patterns, and this is especially true of the forest-dwelling giant sengis.

New species of elephant shrew (Francesco Rovero)  

The animal uses its long snout for scooping up insects

“They are all quite flashy – one species has a bright golden rump, another checkers along the rump – so when you have a colour pattern that just isn’t similar to what is out there, you know it is fairly obvious that you have got something new.

“And this one, with its grey face and black rump, was pretty different.”

As well as its distinctive colouring, the new species is also larger than other species of giant elephant shrew, weighing 700g (25oz) and measuring about 30cm (12in) in length.

It uses its long, flexible nose and tongue to flick up insects, such as termites, and it is most active in daylight.

Dr Rathbun added: “They are behaviourally fairly simple – they are not like a dog or cat you can interact with – but they are so bizarre-looking and a lot of their behavioural ecology is so unique and interesting, you kind of get wrapped up with them.”

The scientists say there is still much to learn about the Rhynochocyon udzungwensis, but they hope further research will help to answer questions about how many of the animals exist, their range and how closely the animals live together.

Tanzania’s Udzungwa Mountains are biodiverse-rich. In addition to this new species, a number of other new animals have been found there, including the Udzungwa partridge, the Phillips’ Congo shrew, and a new genus of monkey known as Kipunji as well as several reptiles and amphibians.

Dr Rathbun said it was vital the area and its inhabitants in this biodiversity “hotspot” were protected.

Source: BBC News

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The Adventure Travel Ratings: The World’s First Authoritative Rating of Adventure Tour Operators

“When planning the adventure trip of a lifetime, the most important decision isn’t where to go, but who to go with. To help you pick the right outfitter, we have conducted the world’s first authoritative rating of adventure travel tour operators. Each of the 158 companies presented here qualifies as “best,” it’s up to you to select which one is best for you”.

The rating published by National Geographic Adventure Magazine includes 2 companies in the top 3 who are operating mainly in Tanzania: Mark Thornton Safaris and Abercrombie & Kent. Those and many of the other 65 companies including Wildland Adventures, CC Africa and Deeper Africa use Onsea House in Arusha as a start and/or end for their safaris.

Next to the full list of 158 rated Adventure Travel outfitters, you can find a listing of the 100 greatest adventure books in the National Geographic special and website.

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“Tanzania: Safari individüell geplannt – Zu empfelen als Ausgangspunkt für Safaris in Arusha”

“Als Ausgangspunkt für Safaris in Arusha is das von Belgiern geführte Onsea House zu empfelen, es verfügt über fünf Zimmer und Pool in ruhiger Lage”.

This quote is thé highlight of the Leserforum of the February/March/April 2008 “Fernreise spezial” of German bestelling travel magazine Reise & Preise “Anspruchsvol Reisen – Perfect Planen”. Next to positive reviews on the internet, guests also send an increasing number positive reviews to tradtitional media.

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