Why is Malagarasi in Tanzania an Eden for 'Sustainable Tourism?

Nicola Shepherd By Nicola Shepherd
17 Feb 2017
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I recently spent a month in Tanzania where I had the luxury and privilege of experiencing Malagarasi – Tanzania’s perfect Eden, where the owners have been conserving wildlife and working with locals using sustainable travel, in a labour of love.

This is a relatively new region, consisting of over 2 million acres, over which you, the traveller, have exclusive use. Nowhere else in Africa offers that degree of exclusivity! For the traveller seeking out the perfect, pristine magical experience – exclusively to yourself – then this is it!

But what truly sets it apart is what the owners have done for conservation and what your visit does to contribute to sustainable travel.

Essentially it costs the owners around $60,000 a year on anti-poaching measure alone, trying to keep this region as natural as possible, conserving wildlife, whilst working with the local communities. With no other camps in the region, this is never going to be a profit making concern – but a labour of love.

They take previous hunting-only areas and turn them into photographic jewels and conserve these precious wildlife strongholds, contributing more than any other privately owned company in Tanzania, making it probably the most respected conservation led company, leading the way in sustainable tourism.

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Access is by private charter flight only. This seems quite fitting for such a remote area. Fly low over green, lush vegetation and palm trees. When driving through to the camp, one is instantly reminded of what a unique and special area this really is. From the rare and unique species such as the Coke’s hartebeest, the eland, plentiful reedbuck (uncommon in other parts of Africa), sable and roan antelope – as well as the rare, beautiful and elusive sitatunga – one immediately understands what a privilege it is to be part this sacred region. 

Then, arriving at the camp, the picture is completed as it complements the area in every way. A simple bush camp, it offers all the luxuries one requires. There is the main dining and sitting room area under one tent which is completely open sided, affording magnificent views over the Malagarasi River– and then five separate double tents which are en suite.

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The best experiences take place on the Malagarasi River – plying the main waterway. Here one can do a myriad of activities. In fact, I say spend a week there, because this is what it will take to exhaust all on offer and in any event, it is such a special area that nobody will want to leave within that time!

Fly fishing for tiger fish is a fantastic past time and the sunsets are unbeatable! The birdlife is simply phenomenal – floating past heronries and other trees filled with open billed storks, black storks and a number of other birds. This is a region which feels like Africa perhaps eighty years ago – when it was rugged and filled with large herds of antelope.

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But don’t be fooled – the predators are there too and we spent a magical hour from our boat with a large pride of lion on one of the river bank - such a wonderful sight! We also saw elephant on the same boat ride. There is a healthy fish eagle population and one can watch them emit their haunting cry, throwing their heads back before diving down, talons extended to grasp the fish.

See the palm nut vultures flying to the Borassus palms for their nightly roost, and the fish eagles and crowned eagles of various descriptions. Walk in the marshes one day – a fabulous experience – searching for the elusive sitatunga antelope with its specially splayed hooves adapted to walking on papyrus and the extraordinary shoebill stork – a notable bird on anyone’s calendar!

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One day, go fly camping. Assume the task of pioneer and take a canoe through the narrow, papyrus lined channels to a private island – where your fly camp is erected. Spend the night here and wake to the cacophony of bird calls in the forest and go for a bird walk in the morning. Later, take the boat back along the channels, birds rising just in front of you – and perhaps see sitatunga along the way. See the local Burundi people – the Wahutu – who are farming their large herds of cattle on the land. Perhaps go for another game drive one afternoon.

There is simply so much to do – that one simply doesn’t want to leave!

Images courtesy of Legendary Expeditions

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Posted by: Nicola Shepherd

Posted on: 6th January 2017

Read more: Posts about Africa

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