Friday, October 13, 2017

Uncover the Lake Natron Mystery that Turns Animals to Stone

One of Africa’s most serene lakes has become the source of perhaps the most phantasmagorical photographs ever captured—images that depict living animals instantly turned to stone. What is responsible for this is the alkaline water in Lake Natron, whose PH is as high as 10.5 and is so caustic it can burn the skin and eyes of animals that aren't adapted to it. This article will look at one of the two alkaline lakes in East Africa—Lake Natron; the other is Lake Bahi. Both these lakes are fed by hot springs and small rivers, and do not drain out to any river or sea. They are basically shallow lakes in a very hot climate, with water temperatures as high as 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius).

The alkalinity of the water comes from the sodium carbonate and other minerals that flow into the lake from the surrounding hills. You’re going to be surprised to discover that deposits of sodium carbonate, once used in Egyptian mummification, are what act as a preservative for those animals unlucky enough to die in the waters of Lake Natron.

Some misleading media reports suggest that the animals die after coming into contact with the lake's water. This is untrue, however. The fact is Lake Natron's alkaline waters support a thriving ecosystem comprising freshwater wetlands, salt marshes, flamingos and other wetland birds, tilapia and the algae on which large flocks of flamingos feed. Haunting images of the lake and its dead have been captured by photographer Nick Brandt, and published in a book titled "Across the Ravaged Land."
Brandt discovered the remains of flamingos and other animals with chalky sodium carbonate deposits outlining their bodies in sharp relief. "I unexpectedly found the creatures — all manner of birds and bats — washed up along the shoreline of Lake Natron," Brandt wrote in his book. "No one knows for certain exactly how they die, but … the water has an extremely high soda and salt content, so high that it would strip the ink off my Kodak film boxes within a few seconds."

"I took these creatures as I found them on the shoreline, and then placed them in 'living' positions, bringing them back to 'life,' as it were," Brandt wrote, referring to how he repositioned the animals, to bring them back to life again in death.

If you want to enjoy the beauty of Lake Natron, the breeding season, where more than 2 million flamingos use the shallow lake as their primary breeding ground, would be an ideal time to visit. You’ll also get to see the flamingos' nests, which are built on small islands that form in the lake during the dry season. The view is breathtaking, and photography opportunities are simply magnificent.

About the Author: Anthony J. Namata is a creative travel writer who blogs at, and writes exclusively for tour operators on safari destination Tanzania. For more information on booking a safari to the mysterious Lake Natron in Tanzania, visit:

Hunting Expeditions: World’s Last Remaining Hunter Gatherer Tribe

If you have wondered what hunting with the Hadzabe hunter-gatherer tribe in Tanzania was like, then this article will not only take you through the penultimate experience into the cradle of humanity itself, it will show you on one level, how our relationship with food—or more accurately, with our ancestors and what might be the oldest food story in the world—that began in the large woodlands Savannahs east and south of the impressive Lake Eyasi… a beautiful soda lake that’s part of the Great Rift Valley of East Africa, where a small group of hunter gatherers live and exist today in exactly the same way they did over forty thousand years ago.

The Hadza are a population of just over a thousand people who survive on berry fruit, baobab tree fruit, honey, porcupine and other wild animals. They do not grow anything; don’t farm; and don’t keep poultry, or animals of any kind for subsistence. But what makes this tribe particularly interesting, is the revolutionary idea that this small group of people could be so crucial to the future of the whole human race. Professor of genetics, Tim Specter, believes the gut microbiome found in the Hadza population hold the key to the nutritional equivalent of the missing link.

The more you look at 40,000 to 50,000 years before obesity and diabetes, the more you’ll appreciate the absence of 21st century diseases in the Hadza population being directly linked to their diet and way of life that has existed and continues to exist for over fifty thousand years. A safari adventure into the footsteps of our ancestors, therefore, is perhaps the most fascinating experience you’ll ever have.

On a Hadza hunting expedition, expect an early morning rise when it is still dark, followed by a short Land Rover drive to the Hadza’s overnight camp. You’ll arrive at the crack of dawn to perhaps find a circle of men and boys sitting around a fire; most of whom would be silently gazing into the fire as they hand around a pipe, taking long, deep drags from it. They’ll be preparing arrows, checking their quills and placing them into quivers. A morning snack-hunt would involve hunting small animals. Don’t expect to go out on a big animal hunt with them, because it can be dangerous. The wounds you’ll likely sustain from an injured buffalo or baboon can be serious for the slow and uninitiated hunter.

That being said, you’re going to be surprised to find how exhilarating the thrill of the chase can be for you, even when you’ll likely find it rather impossible to keep up with the Hadza who seem to move like phantoms in the bush. If you’re the kind of person that wants to discover the thrill of the hunt with one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer tribes in the world, then a hunting safari with the Hadzabe is exactly what you’re looking for. So get ready to run through the scrub land; and to dodge low-hanging branches, thorny bushes and jump ditches, in an effort to keep up with the Hadza.

About the Author: Anthony J. Namata is a creative travel writer who blogs at, and writes exclusively for tour operators on safari destination Tanzania. For more information on booking a Hadzabe hunting safari in Tanzania, visit:

A Closer Look at What Inspired Serengeti Hot Air Balloon Safaris

On the 19th of September 1783, a scientist by the name Pilatre De Rozier launched the very first hot air balloon christened 'Aerostat Reveillon'. For obvious reasons, the passengers on this particular voyage were a sheep, a duck and a rooster. The balloon managed 15 minutes in the air before plummeting back to earth with a resounding crash. The first manned attempt came about two months later, on November 21st, with a balloon built by two French brothers, Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier. Launched from the center of Paris, the balloon flew for twenty minutes. And that was the birth of hot air ballooning! If you’ve ever desired a trip on the balloon over the natural habitat and beauty of African game, this article will help you explore what to expect on a Serengeti balloon safari centuries after the first flight.

What’s rather fascinating about the hot air balloon is that centuries after it was first invented, it is still flying and luring in more and more enthusiasts. It makes you wonder: there’s got to be something incredibly special about it. Novelist Jules Verne, generally considered a major literary author in France and most of Europe in the 1800s, dreamed of flying in a balloon, but it wasn’t until 1962 when his dream became a reality with a few balloon safari organizations springing up in East Africa, all of whom expressing plans to review their balloon safari offers to accommodate more enthusiasts.
Considered a breathtaking experience, flying in a balloon serves as a great opportunity to see wildlife, awe-inspiring landscapes, and cascading mountains and rivers from an aerial view. Since its birth in East Africa in the 1960s, millions have engaged in the adventure over the years.  According to historians, balloon safaris all began some 100 years after Jules Verne wrote his book “Five weeks in a Balloon”.

Antony Smith, a hot air balloonist; and Sir Alan Root, a photographer cum movie director, successfully flew in a hot air balloon from Zanzibar to inner Tanzania and later, through the Serengeti and the Great Rift Valley. That expedition had inspired Sir Alan Root to produce the film “Safari by Balloon,” which was watched by an estimated 98 million people in 28 countries.

Their desires, however, didn’t end there. In January 1976, Smith felt that people visiting the Maasai Mara could enjoy picturesque views from a hot air balloon. After the first flight took off that year from Keekorok Lodge in the Mara, thousands have since taken notes on the wildlife they saw from the skies, right across the region, including the breathtaking wonders of the Great Serengeti.

About the Author: Anthony J. Namata is a creative travel writer who blogs at, and writes exclusively for tour operators on safari destination Tanzania. For more information on booking a hot air balloon safari in Tanzania’s Serengeti, visit:

What to Expect on a Picturesque Serengeti Balloon Safari

If you’ve been wondering what to expect on a Serengeti balloon safari, it doesn’t surprise me. Well, you’ve probably read or heard a lot about this fascinating excursion through the skies of famous African terrain, but I can assure you there’s no need to mull over it anymore. This article will aim to take you through the actual experience, so that you know exactly what to expect on a picturesque Serengeti balloon safari.

Your Serengeti balloon safari begins in the wee hours of the morning on the day of departure. As a valued guest of the excursion, you will receive a wake-up call in your tented camp or lodge. You will then get stuck in with a hearty breakfast, with local teas and bites on the menu. As your curiosity and expectations for the trip reach fever pitch, you will be whisked to the site of departure of the grand hot air balloon.

You can expect around 12 to 14 people to enter the balloon’s basket. Typically, those are the numbers per balloon safari. You will be advised to wear warm clothing and to bring along a camera and perhaps a notebook to take notes of the animals and the vast expanse of safari attractions below as you fly overhead.

Once on board, the pilot will light up the banners and as the flames flare, the balloon will begin to inflate and eventually rise to the skies. What with the basket suspended beneath the balloon, you’ll get to enjoy an unobstructed view of the wildlife, landscape, and the rivers and lakes beneath. It is an experience like none other.

What is truly amazing and magical about the balloon safari, is the tranquility, stillness and silence as it glides through the skies. Occasionally, you’ll hear sounds from below: from elephants bustling through the bush, baboons screeching from trees; and you’ll even hear lions roar. After being in flight for an hour, the balloon will return to base and you disembark to an awaiting celebration with champagne and delicious bites. And for having had the opportunity to fly in a hot air Serengeti balloon safari expedition, you will be awarded a certificate. What a splendid way to end an unforgettable voyage that has been around for literally centuries. Its intrinsic historical value alone is worth the experience. So, if you’ve been contemplating a trip on a hot air balloon, now you know what to expect.

About the Author: Anthony J. Namata is a creative travel writer who blogs at, and writes exclusively for tour operators on safari destination Tanzania. For more information on booking a Serengeti balloon safari in Tanzania, visit:

Thursday, October 12, 2017

How to Draw Inspiration From an African Safari to Create a Hollywood Blockbuster

This may sound a little farfetched, I know, but if you were to let your imagination run wild while watching animals during an exotic vacation, who knows, you may came up with an outline for a blockbuster film or book. Well, are you a writer looking for the perfect setting around which to weave a compelling plot? So what are you going to do about it? This article will help ignite that fire within you to overcome writers block or whatever it is that’s holding you back, to use the enchanting African tapestry of wildlife, flora and fauna to come up with a plot befitting a Hollywood blockbuster.

There are no guarantees, but if you put your mind to it, who knows what you can come up with. The Lion King, inspired by the Serengeti in Tanzania, is one example of how one can draw inspiration from an African wilderness setting. Bestselling author Wilber Smith writes his novels in an African setting. He has sold millions of books. So let’s take a look at how to create a compelling plot around a setting that is, presumably, unfamiliar territory to you. I’d say don’t think too hard. If you can afford it, travel to an African destination and take a safari excursion. Soak in everything you see around you and let your imagination run wild.

Many years ago, when I’d completed my first creative writing course, I embarked on penning my very first novel with an intricate plot woven around the Seychelles islands. I wasn’t a great writer back then, so my manuscript has, over the years, undergone several revisions. To come up with a plot, the fastest way is to imagine yourself in the plot by drawing on your surroundings for backdrop, and begin developing a story around that. It flows more naturally when you work from yourself outward, even when you write in the third person. Let’s say you travel to Tanzania to find that inspiration, the key thing is to soak up anything and everything you see on the trip. From the minute you step off the plane, begin a search for likely characters and settings for your story. Take down the names of streets you find interesting; make a note of how you would describe these locations in your literary work; talk to people, try to find out something about their personal lives. It may trigger something.

Tanzanians, especially, are very friendly people. It would be very easy to start up a conversation with anyone. If you need a translator, get one! Remember, you are looking for a story with an interesting backdrop; a compelling plot; and most importantly, characters that will breathe life into your story. A leaf dropping off a tree; a lion sprawled lazily over a tree trunk; an exotic bird tweeting from a nearby nest, can all help trigger an idea for your book and bring sizzling ingredients to your plot…but only when you listen and allow your creative flow to run its full course.

About the Author: Anthony J. Namata is a creative travel writer who blogs at, and writes exclusively for tour operators on safari destination Tanzania.

Grannies on Safari Explore the Spice Island of Zanzibar

Marilyn Miglin, a cosmetic icon, traveled with Grannies on Safari best friends and co-hosts Pat Johnson and Regina Fraser to Zanzibar back in May 2009, to fulfill her quest to find ingredients for a new fragrance. The new scent, Zanzi, is infused with mysterious spices from Zanzibar Island. Their televised journey was tremendous fun and its excitement is seemingly captured in the fragrance. After a trip to South Africa, the famous duo made another trip to Zanzibar this year. What is it about Zanzibar that has visitors from far and wide returning to this fabulous Indian Ocean Island in Tanzania? This article will explore Zanzibar’s exoticness and how you too, drawing inspiration from the two globetrotting grannies, can seize the day and see the world.

Both cancer survivors, Fraser and Johnson, who sold their fur coats to raise seed money for their travel project, wanted to inspire folks of all ages to seize the day and see the world. Exclusively sponsored by AARP, their TV series airs on PBS stations nationwide across the USA and in 117 countries via UK Travel Channel. When they arrived in Egypt with a group, the day civil unrest erupted, they ended up reporting for news channels back in the States. In the third season of their Grannies on Safari, their itinerary includes travels to India, Peru, South Africa (Western Cape) and the Island of Zanzibar in Tanzania.

Like Fraser, who worked as marketing executive for Chicago-based United Airlines, I too worked as marketing executive for a travel agency in Dar es salaam for ten years. In so far as travel goes, those were my best years. I can’t honestly say anything out there can ever compare to travel. It’s fun, educational, relaxing…and to see other cultures and peoples is perhaps the most amazing experience I’ve ever had. If you haven’t traveled, for whatever reason, draw some inspiration from the Grannies on Safari and plan your own trip sometime soon.

"We are role models because we are women, we are role models because we are women of color, and role models because we are women of color who are articulate and who are not pulling each others' hair out," says Fraser. And what’s interesting is that their viewership includes a large number of 55-year-old white men. The two women have been contacted by viewers who wanted to know where they were going next because they (viewers) wanted to join them. And they did!

The capital of Zanzibar, located on the island of Unguja, is Zanzibar City, and its historic center, known as Stone Town, is a World Heritage Site. Spices, raffia, and tourism are its main industries... particularly, production of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper. Sun, sand and sea are a huge tourist attraction with crystal clear waters, and fascinating underwater life ideal for diving and snorkeling. And mainland Tanzania, only fifteen minutes away from Zanzibar by plane, with all its wonderful flora, fauna and wildlife in the Selous, Serengeti, Manyara, Ngorongoro and Mount Kilimanjaro, is the perfect add-on destination to combine a spice island experience with the more rugged safari. The Grannies on Safari may have inspired a whole new generation of travelers from all walks of life, but I’m almost certain, if you put your mind to it, you too can get to see the world on YOUR terms.

About the Author: Anthony J. Namata is a creative travel writer who blogs at, and writes exclusively for tour operators on safari destination Tanzania.

Ngorongoro Crater: Experience the Garden of Eden

What really fascinates me about the Ngorongoro crater is how it was formed about three million years ago. To imagine that it was once a mountain as high as the Kilimanjaro and that it blew up to cover the Serengeti in ash and then the crater floor sank leaving the rim to form a natural enclosure 2,285 metres high, is in itself mind boggling. It’s an amazing kaleidoscope into the formation of one of our planet’s most incredible wonders. This article will look at Ngorongoro as the best self-contained safari destination in the world; how it came into being and what you can expect to see.

The stalking ground of anywhere from twenty to thirty thousand wild animals, the Ngorongoro  has an ecological environment that includes grasslands, swamps, forests and central soda lake Makat – filled by Munge river – is an idyllic location for wildlife to drink, wallow, graze, hide or climb. The crater rim is over two thousand meters high and what makes it all the more majestic and imposing is it touches swathes of clouds for most days of the year.

Your choice of accommodation ranges from the luxurious top end hotel on the rim of the crater, like the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge; to the more crowded type of set up at the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge; to the best tented camp in the area – the Lemala Ngorongoro – much more atmospheric than the Serena. And there’s Gibbs Farm in an absolutely great setting and boasts a famous reputation to boot. Plantation Lodge, located in the highlands, is away from the action on the rim of the crater but offers superb value and atmosphere. At the top end of the scale is The Manor, a fairly new and extremely luxurious hotel whose staff -- as it happens, have a genuine passion for hospitality. All things considered, the Ngorongoro, has a breathtaking landscape, incredible game viewing opportunities and a history of its creation still as vivid as it may have been 3 million years ago -- after its dramatic irruption.

Summary: The wondrous mysteries of our beautiful planet and how some of the wonders of the world like the Ngorongoro came to being is fascinating. The Ngorongoro, formerly as high as the Kilimanjaro 3 million years ago, blew up to form the crater we know today, home to thousands of wild animals AND the endangered Black Rhino who continue to breed in the wild. With a rim that’s over 2,000 meters high and swathing the clouds most days of the year, it offers the animals a vast self-contained enclave with an ecological environment that includes grasslands, swamps, forests and a lake in which to drink, wallow, graze, hide or climb. There is limited accommodation to be found in the area. However, the choice of staying in a hotel, lodge, or tented camp to suit your budget is available to the holidaymaker. Just make sure you plan your Ngorongoro safari ahead of time. Your tour operator will be able to help you sort out your travel plans according to your budget and interest, so that you will get to experience the best this Garden of Eden has to offer.

About the Author: Anthony J. Namata is a creative travel writer who blogs at, and writes exclusively for tour operators on safari destination Tanzania.