Sunday, December 11, 2016

Rudisha Foundation 2016 Updates & Safari Adventure

You may or may not know that besides being a professional travel consultant and travelling the world, I have also created (along with the help of my husband, Moses, and mother-in-law, Martha) the Rudisha Foundation School Sponsorship program. This program has grown to provide 17 children the chance to attend school in and around Moshi, Tanzania - thanks to donations and sponsors from our church, families and friends.

The children have finished school for another year and the holiday break has started.  The new school year will start the second week of January. It was a great year for all of the children in the Rudisha Foundation and Martha has been getting lots of visits these past few weeks as we prepare for the 2017 school year. The children are stopping by to see bibi (grandmother) and have been bringing their reports - which have been excellent marks. They are very thankful for the opportunity to attend school and it definitely shows, congratulations to many who placed top of their class.

Gidion 14 out of 40   Noel 11 out of 57 Julieth 5 out of 36  Abida 3 out of 24 
Hasasni 11 out of 84
  Naomi 5 out of 101 
Lucas 4 out of 64 
great work to all the children!! 
Athumani at class

Elizabeth's super neat printing! 

Julieth's math work
There is always a lot of running around to do, keeping Martha busy with the foundation. Going to this school and that school, paying the following years fees, going with the parents to get the school supplies and new uniforms, to the dusty market for shoes and school bags. She travels up and down the bumpy roads to drop off parents and children, makes cake and tea for their visits and sends me daily emails to keep me in the loop with updates and photos. The parents also express their gratitude over and over for the generosity and the support we and sponsors graciously give to their families.

Sarah & Abida with their teacher, Liberia, at end of school year
"The thank-you's are pouring into my text messages on my phone...from the parents/guardians for the school sweaters, the shoes and the bags that we went and bought.  The uniforms which are at the fundi's for sewing" - Martha

 "I've been asked by Liberia to make sure I come for the graduation at Abida and Sarah's school.  Help to decorate at, then home till 1pm.  She asked me to be rasmin guest (official guest)" - Martha

Thank you note from Gisella, Naomi's mother. 
Translation of above letter  - I am so grateful to you, to enable Naomi to get education, to learn to read, write, math and so many other things. I have a feeling of happiness and so many thanks. Let god bless you more. Thank you very much. 

At the end of November, I went to Moshi and had the pleasure to have eight of the children visit. We had snacks (apples, popcorn and mandazis) and Martha explained how to put together a puzzle while I dumped the bag of puzzle pieces on the table for them - a Map of Canada! They had a lot of fun putting it together.


All of the children in the program have newly updated profiles - check out Rudisha Foundation website and click through each child's photo gallery to witness their growth over the last few years. We have added two new children to the program for the 2017 school year; Loveness and Violet. Welcome to Rudisha Foundation -  we thank your sponsors for their kindness.

The last part of this blog I to want talk about something that I have had on my mind for the last four years, since we started the foundation. For each new school year we have been hosting a celebration of thanks, normally around January or February - a gathering with all of the children, usually at Martha's house. The costs for these parties have been covered from my savings of my birthday and Christmas money and donations from my parents. 

Being a travel consultant, I love helping others explore and see other parts of the world. While I can't really afford to take the children on a "BIG" trip, or to another country, I have had it in my mind that I would like to somehow give them a chance to at least see the their own wildlife, in their own country. A trip outside of Moshi is a big deal for these children!

Arusha National Park is a short drive from Moshi and I have a contact who is able to help me out with the rental of a bus to accommodate all 17 children, a few parents/guardians along with Martha and I. Taking the children to Arusha National Park for a game drive, to see their own wildlife for their first time and a picnic lunch is something I hope we can achieve.  

All of this is a great idea, however, as we all know, not too much in life is free. As all of the donations and sponsorships go directly towards the cost to cover school fees and supplies, uniforms, etc - we are not in a position to dip into the school fund for this Safari Adventure.  My goal is to raise $500 USD, (separately from the school fees fund) to cover the costs for the Rudisha Foundation Safari Adventure for 2017. If this story touches your heart and you find yourself with even $2 dollars to donate towards this cause then we thank you in advance for your help. 

You can help by clicking the below "Donate"  button, or you can send an e-transfer to me, or mail a cheque to my parents (who are in Nova Scotia), they will then deposit the funds to the Rudisha Foundation account - contact Amanda for further details.

I thought I would share this cute video of Sarah. During my recent visit to Martha's I had asked her what she had learned in school that week, and what English does she know? 

Thanks again to ALL who support the Rudisha Foundation. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

True Primate Special August 2017-Group Travel = Savings

Have you always wanted to see the gorillas but your friends or family aren't really keen to join you on the trip - that leaves you wondering who to travel with? There are others just like you AND I have the perfect solution! 

True Primate Special - 'Solo Travellers' Adventure - August 2017. 

Sharing the costs with like minded travellers with similar interests is one way to avoid single supplements and higher fees you often incur as a solo traveller. Double rooms (sharing with another trekker of same sex) is the best way to keep within budget. Should you prefer to have your own room that can also be arranged.

Trip Highlights - Offered by Matoke Tours 
Intimate group size - maximum of eight trekkers
Explore two countries 
Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda
Gorilla trekking in Uganda & Rwanda National Parks 
Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park 
Lake Mutanda rest and relaxation 
Genocide Museum in Kigali, Rwanda

The cost of the safari includes breakfasts, most lunches and dinners. Please have a look at the program for the details. 

Accommodation is based on standard double/twin or single rooms in mid-range to Semi-luxury lodges. All lodges have nice self-contained rooms and are selected by their location and service standards.


Day 1 - Arrive at Entebbe international airport, pick up by Boma Guesthouse driver and transfer to Entebbe Town for overnight at Boma GuestHouse.

Day 2 - Meet with your guide at 8am and depart for Kibale Forest. Afternoon will be spent with time for Bigodi swam walk. Overnight at Primate Lodge - Forest Cottage. (B,L,D)

Day 3 - Today you will enjoy your first trekking day - chimpanzee habituation experience. Return to Primate Lodge for meals and overnight. (B,L,D)

Day 4 - Depart for Queen Elizabeth National Park with lunch at Mweya Safari Lodge (inclusive). Afternoon boat safari on the Kazinga Channel. Dinner and overnight at Ihamba Safari Lodge. (B,L,D)

Day 5 - Breakfast and depart for Lake Mutanda, lunch on the way. Arrive at Mutanda Lake Resort to enjoy the lodge and rest before your first day of gorilla tracking. Overnight at Mutanda Lake resort. (B,L,D)

Day 6 - Early morning breakfast and depart for your Gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Return to Mutanda Lake Resort following your trek, reflect on your days adventure, dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Day 7 - Today you will cross the border to Rwanda and arrive at Volcanoes National Park. Relaxing or optional activities at the lodge can be arranged. Meals and overnight at Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge. (B,L,D)

Day 8 - Another early morning for your second gorilla trekking experience, this time in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. Return to lodge following the trek for dinner and overnight.

Day 9 - Breakfast at your lodge and depart for Kigali (about 2 hour drive). Visit the Genocide Memorial and stop for lunch should you have time before you are dropped off at the Kigali airport. (B)

Contact Amanda to learn more about this great adventure!

Pricing Details - prices are based on a group of 8
Double room sharing - $5280 USD per person
Single room - $5280 USD + single supplement of $380USD

Price includes all taxes and fees which are outlined below. Speak with Amanda for more information on how to book. See below for package inclusions & exclusions.

Accommodation upgrade options....

Kibale Forest National Park
Primate Lodge - Luxury Cottage on full board meal plan
Shared room $130 USD, per person, per night
Single room $180 USD, per person, per night 

Lake Mutanda 
Chameleon Hill - Luxury Cottage of full board meal plan 
Shared room $60 USD, per person, per night
Single room $100 USD, per person, per night 

Volcanoes National Park
Mountain Gorilla View - full board meal plan
Shared room $60 USD, per person, per night
Single room $90 USD, per person, per night 

Transport in a 4x4 extended landcruiser with pop up roof. Of course all car costs like park fees, driver/guide, washing, fuel, etc. are included in the rate of your tour.

Please note...

It is not possible to ‘reserve’ gorilla permits. Therefore we can only buy them after your booking and down-payment has been confirmed. 

Exact dates will be determined based on the availability of the permits. Once a group size of 8 has been created then we can determine the best dates for the adventure. 

The bookings with the lodges/camps mentioned in the program depend on availability. Reservations will only be made after your booking. In case the mentioned accommodations are not available during the requested period, we will do our utmost best to book one for you in the same class for you (of course we will only do this after consulting you).

We retain the right to substitute the accommodations shown above with suitable accommodations if there is no availability, and we retain the right to run aspects of the itinerary in a reverse direction if necessary.

Booking conditions....

A non-refundable deposit of 30% of the land arrangements cost, the full amount for the gorilla permits, the chimpanzee permits, and air tickets if needed, for each person, is required when booking.

The final balance is to be paid no less than forty two days (6 weeks) before the date upon which your event is due to start. If you do not make your deposit payments by the due dates given then you shall be deemed to have cancelled the event. We only buy permits and flights when deposit is received. Matoke Tours Ltd will not be held responsible for price changes or over bookings in the time between booking and receiving the deposit.

Looking to combine this trip with a visit to Tanzania or Kenya? 

Experience the "Great Migration" in both countries for the Ultimate East Africa Safari. 

Unwind along the shores of the Indian Ocean with a retreat in Zanzibar. 

I can arrange all of these options for you! Connect with me today to learn more about the True Primate Special.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Zanzibar Accommodations

A visit to the Zanzibar Archipelago is quite popular after a dusty safari adventure. It is a great place to unwind and enjoy the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. 

Depending on your needs and budget there are many favourites from the south to the north coast which I typically recommend. While working on a booking today, I was inspired by the beauty of the island to write this short blog about a few "hot" (pun intended) Zanzibar accommodation options.

Stone Town & Area

Kisiwa House - boutique hotel located in central Stone Town.

Park Hyatt Zanzibar - Spacious rooms with elegant guest rooms and authentic cuisine. A hotel for those looking for a "westernized" option. 

Zenji Hotel - Zanzibar 
Zenji Hotel - budget option for those looking to be close to the pier and for exploring Stone Town 

Mbweni Ruins -  a mid-range hotel, conveniently located on a private beach only 6kms from Stone Town. 

North Coast 

Sunshine Hotel -  Small eco-friendly and cozy hotel, lined with palm trees and turquoise waters. 

Ras Nungwi - on the northern most peninsula of Zanzibar, this is the place to relax on unspoilt beaches with unhurried luxury.

Matemwe Lodge - an excellent location for those looking for secluded atmosphere and tropical relaxation - great for snorkelling and diving! 
Matemwe Lodge - Zanzibar 

Matemwe Lodge 

South East & East Coast 

Pongwe Beach Hotel - a laid-back resort with an intimate feeling, great for honeymooners looking for the not so typical "resort".

Eco Beach Hotel Zanzibar - explore white sandy beaches on foot at low-tide, located on a private beach this small Eco-resort offers a family-run vibe. 

Baraza Resort & Spa - an exclusive luxury boutique resort in Bwejuu, located along the beach that was named one of the top 30 island beaches in the world by Conde Nast Traveler magazine.

Mwezi Boutique Resort 
Mwezi Boutique Resort 

Mwezi Resort Mwezi means "moon" in the Swahili language - your home on the beach with your beach bungalow, a unique beach boutique resort. 

Private Islands

Chumbe Island 
Chumbe Island Coral Park - a private island hosting a maximum of 14 guests per night. A coral reef sanctuary and nature reserve with magical beauty waiting to be discovered. 

Mnemba Island - located in the Northeast Coast of Zanzibar this private luxury hideaway island offers barefoot luxury and romance. Mnemba Island offers amazing scuba-diving experiences. 
Mnemba Island
Mnemba Island 
Mnemba Island 
Contact East Africa Specialist, Amanda Strowbridge-Msuya to start planning your Indian Ocean Escape! 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Updated Website for

I am so excited to introduce the new website for A VERY special thanks to my web-designer and husband, Moses Msuya, who has been dedicating so much time and creativity to design this fantastic and informative site for my East African clients.

Check out our brand new PHOTO Gallery - keep checking back for even more galleries and videos - coming soon! 

Interested in Gorilla Trekking - learn more about the trekking experience and view sample itineraries in Rwanda and sample itineraries in Uganda 

Safaris - learn about National Parks and Game Reserves in East Africa - check out activities to add to your itinerary! Browse the many safari itinerary combinations and options available in Tanzania & Kenya

Looking to help children who are less fortunate - read all about "Rudisha Foundation" and learn how you can help those in need. 

Mountain Climbing - Kenya or Tanzania 

Keep following our site for more updates and new pages - "Indian Ocean Coast" and "Accommodation" Pages will be added in the coming months. 

Fill out an Inquiry Form to connect with East Africa Specialist, Amanda Strowbridge-Msuya and start planning your dream trip to Africa. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Changes in Tanzania - how will VAT impact your safari holiday

The Tanzania government has decided to charge the value added tax of 18% to most tourist services. This unexpected change was announced with very little notice and became effective on the 1st of July, 2016.  Wouter Vergeer of SafariBookings wrote a great article outlining how it will impact tourists planning a trip or those who have already booked and paid for a safari package in Tanzania. I would like to share this important information with you. 

The Tanzanian government has thrown the safari industry into a state of confusion by introducing a value-added tax (VAT) of 18% to many tourist services previously exempt from VAT. The changes became applicable as at 1 July 2016.

The major problem is that tour operators were given only a few short weeks to implement the changes. This small window of time has created a multitude of issues – for example, most camping and Kilimanjaro operators are not even VAT-registered because their services were previously VAT exempt. They are therefore unable to issue VAT receipts to their clients.

Tourists who have booked and paid for their safaris (usually done months in advance) are being asked by operators to pay extra.

Many tourist services (although not accommodation) were previously exempt from VAT, but this has now changed, and as a result, tours with accommodation are 5% to 10% more expensive and most camping and Kilimanjaro tours are 18% more expensive.

This change in VAT laws could potentially damage an industry which Tanzania relies heavily on for generating foreign exchange. Tourism is one of the main revenue sources for the country and a substantial part of the country’s gross domestic product. Neighbouring Kenya offers substantially cheaper safaris and many great safari destinations, so a real fear is the long-term damage this could do to the industry in Tanzania.

The Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) has said that due to an assortment of taxes, the country already charges 7% more than other safari countries in the region. The new VAT would mean a 25% difference in Tanzanian safaris compared with safari countries that have exempted these tourist services from VAT.

What is VAT?
VAT is a form of taxation paid by the end consumer. Essentially businesses collect VAT by adding it on top of their rates, but also pay VAT on products and services they purchase. If a business collects more VAT than it has paid, then it has to pay the difference to the government. And, if a business has paid more VAT than it has collected, it can reclaim the difference from the government.

Tour operators in Tanzania should be able to reclaim VAT from the government (if they pay more than they collect) but they have expressed serious doubts as to whether they will ever see a refund come their way. For example Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority has not been issuing VAT receipts, while the Tanzania National Parks Authority is issuing receipts, but they’re missing the VAT registration numbers, which allow operators to reclaim the VAT.

Advice to Safari-Goers
Our general advice to safari tourists is the following:

  • if you have already paid for a safari in Tanzania, it is likely that your tour operator will ask for an additional payment, due to recently introduced changes to Tanzania’s VAT laws. This isn’t the fault of your tour operator – these changes were imposed by the Tanzanian government.
  • the 18% VAT is now added to ground transportation, guiding fees, park fees, and camping fees (if applicable). Besides road transfers, water-based safaris and hot-air balloon landing fees also fall under ‘ground transportation’. Birdwatching falls under ‘guiding fees’, and ‘camping fees’ include both the normal camping fees and special camping fees that apply to tented camps. VAT also now applies to wildlife viewing packages offered by accommodations.
  • VAT is already charged on accommodation (hotels/lodges/camps), which normally make up a big part of your trip (meaning that it should have already been included in your original payment for your safari)
  • the VAT changes should not mean that you are going to be charged an additional 18% on your full trip price, unless you are going on a camping or Kilimanjaro tour
  • if you are asked to pay extra be sure and request a full breakdown on where and what you are paying. The additional cost may include the 18% VAT on park fees, transportations, guiding service and camping fees. It should not include other safari services.
  • please note that simultaneous to the introduction of new VAT charges, the Ngorongoro park fee was also increased $10 per person and an additional $50 per vehicle. Government imposed park fee increases are generally not included in the price that you’ve paid for your safari.
The short notice the Tanzanian government gave to the safari industry of its intended changes to VAT has shocked hundreds of tour operators. Thousands of clients have been hit with unexpected charges and park authorities haven’t had enough time to implement these changes and provide proper VAT receipts.

The main issue is not the introduction of new VAT charges, but the short notice the Tanzanian government gave ahead of the changes. If tour operators had been given 6 to 12 months’ notice that the government intended to make changes to the VAT, then the industry would have had sufficient time to adapt and increase their rates accordingly. This in turn would have given clients the opportunity to understand the full cost of their safari before booking.

Thanks to Wouter Vergeer for writing an informative article. To start planning your safari in East Africa, contact Amanda Strowbridge-Msuya today. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Best times to visit?!

The question I get asked the most when it comes to planning safaris in Kenya and Tanzania....

 "When is the best time to visit?"

In my opinion, there is no cut and dry answer. I feel that it really depends on what your goals are for the trip. What are your "must sees & must dos"? Are you looking to only capture wildlife or perhaps you also want to experience the culture, learn the way of local tribes, climb a mountain, visit a local school or orphanage.

Aside from what you want to experience there is also the point of how you want to experience it. When are the "busy" times? When can you avoid the crowds? When is wet or dry season? Sensitive to heat - what months are cooler? Looking for more heat - what months are the warmest? When you speak with a specialist, like me, you will receive the personalized experience you deserve.  I take the time to learn what is important for your holiday and I am there to support you through your decisions and help make your dreams a reality. AND I will help you keep within your budget. 

A trip to Africa is a special yet costly investment, you want to be sure you are working with someone who has your best interest in mind, not their pocketbook. I go above and beyond to make sure the booking process is as smooth as possible and only work with reputable and professional suppliers, making sure you have fantastic African holiday. 

Here's a short run down for the "best times" to visit the national parks and reserves in Kenya and Tanzania. 

Tanzania Country Highlights
  • Tanzania is considered by many as one of the two top wildlife countries on the continent
  • Front row seats to the spectacle known as Great Migration of Wildebeest across the majestic Serengeti plains. 
  • World class, luxury mobile camping in Tarangire, the Grumeti Reserves and the Serengeti
  • Descend into the Ngorongoro Crater, the largest caldera in the world where you will have an opportunity to see the “Big 5” 
  • Mt. Kilimanjaro – the highest peak in Africa
  • Trek chimpanzees at Mahale or Gombe
  • Finish your safari adventure with a beach holiday on Zanzibar Island or one of the charming outer islands offering barefoot luxury such as Pemba, Mafia, or private islands such as Chumble Island
A few fun facts

  • Set between the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean and two arms of the Great Rift Valley, Tanzania is one of Africa’s most beautiful countries and provides some of the most extensive protected areas including the fabled Serengeti
  • The landscape rises from sea level to 19,000 feet at the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro 
  • 365,000 square miles, this is about the same size as Texas and Oklahoma combined
  • Population is 36 million and growing
  • Currency is Tanzanian Shilling
  • Kiswahili is the official language – English spoken commonly 

Kenya Country Highlights
  • See the Great Serengeti Migration and game view at Kenya’s most popular game reserve – the Masai Mara
  • Sunrise Balloon Safari over the Masai Mara
  • Opportunity to view the “Big 5” 
  • Amboseli with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background
  • Nature walks with Maasai or Samburu guides
  • Get up close and personal with a baby elephant at Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage
  • Indian Ocean beach holiday along Kenya’s pristine coastline

A few fun facts
  • The word “safari” is Kiswahili for journey and Kenya is where it all began. 
  • Desert and arid savannah prevails in the northern frontier and southeast while remnant forests extend over the high country and wetter west
  • 225,000 square miles, this is the same size as Texas or France
  • The population of Kenya is 33 million with 2.5 million in city of Nairobi
  • Kiswahili and English are the official languages 
  • Kenya Shilling is the local currency. 

Get in touch with me today to start learning how easy it can be to plan a trip to Africa, when you are speaking with a specialist. Visit my East Africa website to see all the amazing opportunities that are waiting for you! 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Rudisha Foundation Gathering 2016

Each year Martha, Moses and I host a gathering in Moshi for the children in the Rudisha Foundation Sponsorship Program. This year the party was held at Martha's house in Majengo, Moshi and the theme was "relay games". 

We started with annual photos in the garden which we send to the sponsors and update the Rudisha Foundation website - where you can learn how to help this fine group of children. Laughs are always had trying to get everyone to look one way...

The children in the neighbourhood gathered around to watch what these crazy "games' were.  With 14 children in total we did three heats for each game, to make it fair for the little ones. I hope you enjoy my photos, the children had a blast as you can tell - with games they had never experienced before!

 "egg on the spoon"


"water balloons"

all smiles after being soaked...

After the relay games the children washed up and enjoyed a tasty meal of Pilau, veggies and cabbage salad. Thanks to Mama Baraka and Josephine for cooking while we were having fun playing games. 

Before the children left for home we made sure their tummies were really full with cake and ice cream and we distributed the books and toys that my parents bought for the children - thanks Mom & Dad! 

Thank you to those who sponsor and donate funds for school fees for the Rudisha Foundation sponsorship children. 

To learn more about how you can help sponsor children in Tanzania contact Amanda