Implications of tourism in Tanzania

My study abroad experience was wonderful.There is no way I will be able to fully express it through writing.The full extent of my experience and feelings will remain with me in memory. During my journey I kept a detailed personal journal where I documented my experience. I may not include all the details in this particular essay. However, I will try to express somethings.

I first visited Kenya before going to Tanzania for my study abroad. I boarded the plane headed to Kenya my home country about a week before my study abroad. Kenya was absolutely wonderful. I reconnect with family that I had not seen in eight to ten years. I visited my grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Although it was many years since I have been to Kenya, I instantly reconnected with family. Talking and interacting with family was as if resuming a conversation that had just been put on pause for a while, as if no time had passed between then and the time we last met. They were all ecstatic to see me. I travelled from Nairobi to Nyandarua to Mombasa, to Kapsabet. Kenya has changed and grown a lot, it’s wonderful! I truly cannot express the joy and experience I had in Kenya. These memories and feelings will remain with me.

After my week in Kenya, I boarded a bus headed to Arusha, Tanzania. The traveling time was about four hours. The view was wonderful, hills,plains and wild animals spread out. A student who was part of the study abroad group had also decided to visit Kenya. So we took the bus to Tanzania together. Four hours later we arrived and got picked up and driven to where we were to stay.

During the first four days, we were hosted by a small college. During this time, we explored the environment to get a feel of Tanzania. The rest of the students got a small crash course in Swahili, since I already knew Swahili, I helped them out a bit.
After that week, we started to travel to different parts of Tanzania. Most of our time in Tanzania was spent exploring and discussing the discourse surround ecotourism. We were not in a formal classroom. We learned about the positive and the negative aspects of ecotourism. We started in Maji ya Chai we traveled to Arusha National park to Lake Natron Conservation to Serengeti National Park to Ngorongoro Conservation Area and to Loliondo.

The positives aspects of ecotourism is that wild animals are conserved and not invaded upon by humans and people get an opportunity to visit and view the wild life. However, there is a down side to ecotourism. First, animals are glorified more that people. When tourists go to Africa, the majority only go on Safari to see animals, yet they never take the time to actually interact and know the people of Africa. When tourists visit Europe, they go and see human creation, human architecture, when tourist visit Africa, they only go to see wild life. Negative stereotypes concerning African people emerge due a lack of interaction and understanding on part of the tourist. Second, tourism lodges are so expensive that only rich people, mostly from Europe and America, can afford. Third, the conservation areas were designated and made by European nations, it’s not the Tanzanian government who made the conservation areas. This shown the colonialist connotation that the conservation areas have. Who said that European nations are the only ones who know how to conserve and take care of animals? Animals are designated such as huge area of land by the guidelines of European counties, while the Maasai people’s land is getting snatched away from them by conservation workers and investors. That is ridiculous. No one tells Europe and America what to do with their land. As we were speaking with the Maasai people of Tanzania, we leaned that the Maasai have their own mechanics on how they protect and conserve the animals. Each clan looks out to conserve a particular animal, this is their way to be stewards of the land that they acknowledge was given to them by God. I strongly agree with them.

My favorite part of my study abroad experience was meeting the people of Tanzania. I truly do miss the people. I miss the people I met when I went to church. They were so welcoming. Church service was wonderful, just like in Kenya, just like in the U.S. I ate lunch with them, joined their choir practice in the afternoon and was invited to visit by two ladies. I had a wonderful time, I miss them. The members of the Pastoral Woman’s Council (PWC) were great. They are a strong organization that empowers their community. There is so much I can say about them, but I need to summarize. The experience I had with them I will never forget. They educate the community regarding money, they educate the community by running a high school, they also fight against injustice regarding land by education the community about their rights.

The students that we met were also wonderful. They reminded me of my experience when I went to school in Kenya. They were very friendly, I made friends with them. We played, laughed and talked together. The people that hosted us were also so wonderful. I had a great time with them. They directed me on how to get African Style clothing tailored. We spoke about the differences between Tanzania and Kenya. We laughed and made jokes. I really connected with them well. It was great to be with my fellow Africans. There is just something wonderful about being with people like you, people who really understand you.

One of my goals is to travel to as many African counties as possible and interact with the wonderful people and see the wonderful treasure that lay in my home continent. After the study abroad ended, my adventure continued. I went back to Kenya to visit more family members. Before the study abroad, I had visited family in Nairobi and Nyandarua, after the study abroad, I visited family in Mombasa and Kapsabet. The experience was wonderful. I was there for about a week. Time flew by so fast and soon I boarded the plane heading back to the USA. It was great to come back to my mom, dad and sister although I missed my relatives. I will never forget this wonderful experiences. I thank God for giving me this opportunity. Although I am no longer there, the memories will remain.

Leaving for Cocha Cashu – August 29th and 30th

Day Three: Travel by Boat

Me and my tent-mate were woken up around 4:00AM by the sound of biblical rain. And I mean BIBLICAL. I’ve heard stories about heavy rain, but this exceeded even those. It sounded as if the Blue Angels were somehow hovering over our heads for an hour and a half. At one point, I thought the world might be ending. At another, I was sure that we were in danger. But everything turned out fine – in fact, you might say things turned out better than they otherwise would have, since the height of the river rose nearly a meter! When we all (officially) got up, we boarded a boat on this river and were thankful that our chances of having to push the boat over shallows was decreased.

The boats, which were large, covered canoes with motors, carried all of us in two groups deep into Manu National Park. As we pushed on, civilization became sparser and vegetation denser. Eventually, no other boats or houses were able to be seen – only thick, dark forest. We made a few bathroom stops on beaches (not much privacy throughout this trip…) and looked for animal tracks in the sand and mud. At one point, we found fresh ocelot tracks.

One of our stops was at a very remote town called Boca Manu. Here, we were supposed to present our vaccination cards to a doctor and get approved to go deeper into the park. We waited for hours for the doctor to show. During these hours, we became well-acquainted with the gnats of Peru, which are not at all like the ones here at home. These ones bite…and itch. They’re also everywhere; nearly impossible to escape. When they bite you, they take out of a visible chunk of skin and leave behind a congealed spot of blood. The group impatiently waited for the doctor, swatting and grunting at the gnats the whole time. Once the doctor finally came, we were disappointed to find out that he had no interest in seeing proof of the vaccinations we paid a lot to get. He was much more concerned about us wearing sunscreen. To be clear, though, DO make sure that you get your vaccines when traveling to Peru and other surrounding countries! Not only for your own safety, but for the sake of the indigenous people that you have very real chances of running into.

We left Boca Manu and practically cheered to have the gnats gone from the surrounding air. We did, however, take dozens of bites with us. My feet and ankles had somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty bites.

After a full day of travel, we stopped at our lodging for the night. This place, called Limonal, was a station off the bank of the river. Unfortunately for the group – which was composed of new adventurers, at this point – we arrived after nightfall. We started setting up our tents by the light of our headlamps and quickly realized that the long grass we were setting up in was swarming with insects. And I mean SWARMING. You could shine your light at any given spots and see a blur of hopping, flying, and sprinting creatures. We got our tents up quickly, ate our dinner with an air of paranoia, and dove into our tents for sleep. My tent-mate and I spent a number of minutes checking the nooks and crannies of the tent for any critters. Alas, there were a handful of grasshoppers, but we let them stay, since they were the least of our concern. We slept pretty hard that night, though we practically fell asleep itching gnat bites.


Day Four: Travel by Boat…again!

We got up at the break of dawn and set out for our final destination: Cocha Cashu Biological Research Station. We ate our breakfast of eggs and rice, packed up our tents, and were on the boat once more. This time around on the boat, we were to take a wildlife survey for the whole ride. Over the course of the eight or nine hours we spent on that ride, I learned how to identify a large number of bird species, even from a distance. Horned Screamers, Yellow-billed Terns, Large-billed Terns, Roadside Hawks, Black Vultures, Greater Yellow-headed Vultures, Turkey Vultures, Muscovy Ducks, four kinds of parrot, five kinds of macaw, Orinoco Geese, and many more. That was my absolute favorite part of this section of the trip: learning that I had a knack for bird identification. I can see myself getting into bird-watching later in life.

Along the way, we also got to spot a White Caiman, Wooly Monkeys, and Spider Monkeys. It was a beautiful day. You hardly notice that you’ve been sitting for nine hours on those boats. There’s so much to look at, and you’re acutely aware that you could spot something amazing at any given moment.

In the early evening, we made it to Cocha Cashu. We had to hike our things about half a kilometer from the beach to the station. It’s a beautiful area – the

kitchen is spacious and clean, the bathhouse has plenty of room

for storage, the showers are clean and modern, and the library makes for a nice quiet area. After everything was brought in, we were assigned to tent platforms. K

ellen, Haley and I set up our stuff on our platform quickly and made it back to the common area with time to spare. The light was amazing – you would look up through the trees and see shimmering leaves, puffy clouds, and a Squirrel Monkey or two. The lake was calm and quiet.

We all went on a short hike to get introduced to the vegetation surrounding the station. We talked about plant species and the history of the land. The floodplains used to be under water a little over 100 years ago, but once the river broke off and formed the lake, the floodplains burst to life with tons of interesting species. We talked for hours about the plants’ adaptations to the environment. Tim, the other professor, caught a couple butterflies and let us look at them closely. The hike was an adventure in and of itself.

That night, we were welcomed by a few researchers at the station. They told us that we were incredibly privileged to be there – a statement that I know understand the weight of. In the 40 years that Cocha Cashu has existed, fewer than 5,000 people have been there. It is truly one of the most remote and untouched places on the planet.

We went to bed feeling blessed…and acutely aware of how isolated we all were.


Returning from The Imperial City…

I just returned this morning from a month in Peru and, boy, what a month it was.

My time in Peru was nothing short of life-changing. I feel so privileged to have spent a month with brilliant, passionate people who cared so much for learning and so much for the health of the environment and its residents. Everything was educational: the places, the locals, the group members, the professors, and the activities. Despite having only slept about 8 hours in the last three days, my heart feels so full and my mind feels so enriched by this experience.

Over the next week, I’ll be posting about my trip in chunks of two days. It was impossible to blog while in Peru; we rarely had a strong connection, and we were quite busy nearly every day. But now that I’m home, I’m so excited to share my travel stories with you readers! I hope that my stories – the good and the bad, the beautiful and the stressful, the hilarious and the emotional – will inspire others to explore this amazing blue and green gem we call home.

Stay tuned!