This year I decided to go to Tanzania for my winter break, unusual somebody told me since I often go for work but actually not really because I love the country and I never stop learning about it!
I left with a friend, she does not work in tourism, is not as used to roughing it in adventure travels as I am, loves Africa but has not such an extended experience of safaris … and besides the fun of being together it was also a great to be able to study the reactions of a “normal” guest for things and experiences I/we all in the trade may take for granted.
We flew with Swiss, a very very comfortable day flight directly connecting the heart of Europe with Tanzania, and we started in grand style: first night was at The Oyster Bay in Dar es Salaam! The plane landed with a slight delay – eh yes even the Swiss can do this!! – but both the immigration controls (we got visa upon arrival – 50 usd for EEC citizens) and the luggage delivery were fast and in slightly more than one hour since the time we landed we were already enjoying the summer heat (and humidity!) and sipping a cool glass of Sauvignon Blanc in the garden of this charming boutique hotel … which means that if you get it right with flight timings Dar traffic can be avoided and the transfer from the airport to the hotel can be 20-30 minutes only. We were welcomed by Dimitra – an old friend and the “new” GM who in fact is not new at all since she has lived and worked for the group for over 20 years and already for many years has been the acting GM at The Oyster Bay when the managers were off on holidays – and by Sebastian, her assistant, very nice and attentive. Then we were treated to an exquisite sea-food dinner on the patio, the other guests were already in their rooms since they had an early start the following day so we basically had the garden just to ourselves 🙂
Then we went to our rooms and well not much to say .. they are simply spectacular and with every possible comfort, it seems impossible to have this elegance, style, space and comfort in Dar! Two of the eight suites are with two twin beds while six of the suites have a large king size bed – so better to make sure to specify what guests preference is at the time of reservation.
The things I noticed since my last visit, a bit less than a year before: the new building to the left of the hotel (and hosting some deluxe apartments) were finished and the whole complex looked very nice and elegant, actually more complete than in the past when there was only the hotel. Some nice shops have opened and also a new restaurant will be opening soon, making the area very classy self-sufficient and guests do not need to go away from the area to do some last minute shopping whilst staying at the hotel.
Since last year it is no longer a requirement that guests sit together for hosted meals, they can dine in privacy should they wish to do so…. it seems to work very well since guests often have very different times of arrival and departures and … for my friend who does not speak fluent English it was actually very relaxing not to have to speak a foreign language and just enjoy her wine and food. I am sure many European guests think the same and welcome this novelty.
The following morning a nice breakfast with fresh tropical fruit (eh yes we are Mediterranean and not too keen on the “heavier” American/British breakfasts), juices, green tea and strong coffee and off to the Domestic airport accompanied by Chohan .. reliable, classy, knowledgeable and very patient with the traffic 🙂 And again we were very lucky because being Saturday morning the traffic was not bad at all and again in just 30 minutes we were at the Coastal counter checking in to fly to Beho Beho in the Selous!!!
Useful to know: in case you travel heavy as we were – we were going to dive in Mafia afterwards and had all our personal diving equipment along – be aware that you can leave a bag at the Coastal deposit free of charge! So we flew to the bush with much less than the 15 kg allowed, only a few clothes (laundry is included at Beho Beho), hiking boots and our cameras and binoculars.=