Alluring Arusha: A Gateway for the Free Spirited!

Arusha

Arusha, the fourth biggest town in Tanzania offers more than a conducive, almost predictable climate; it is the safari capital of northern Tanzania, and acts as the gateway to Mt Meru and Kilimambogo, expeditions to Arusha and Tarangire National Parks, wild safaris in Serengeti as well as experiencing Lake Manyara and the enchanting Maasai culture. The town, originally built in the 1900s as a German garrison has since grown to catch up with other popular Tanzanian cities, and now hosts the East Africa Community Headquarters as well as the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Jovago’s Top 3

Apart from serving as a gateway to most of northern Tanzania’s tourism circuit, Arusha in itself is a multi-faceted city with every contradiction that comes with a rising urban center. The architecture depicts a somehow balanced mélange of colonial, western and local that seem to have long reached a non-written consensus on co-existence. The people are warm and friendly, and whatever the town lacks in infrastructure, it does compensate in its camaraderie and welcoming weather.

Hiking Mount Meru

Mt MeruMount Meru is Africa’s fifth highest mountain at 4,565 meters and renown for charming views and postcard photography for those bold enough to scale the volcanic rocks to the summit. Geography explains the mystique of the intriguing horseshoe shape as stemming from a massive eruption thousands of years ago, leaving a crater in the middle of the once Kilimanjaro-sized giant. This hike can take 3-4 days depending on one’s fitness and ability to acclimatize.

Arusha National Park

Arusha NPArusha National Park is one of the smaller parks in Tanzania, good or bad thing? I’d say it’s an advantage for the Safari enthusiast with limited time and big heart for game! The one-day trip makes for a hustle-free rendezvous with buffaloes, elephants, primates, and many more. Bird watchers will be entertained as well. The topography is just as rewarding with a thick tropical forest, ice-cold turquoise lakes and the popular Ngurdoto crater, all making beautiful picnic sites.

Shanga Shangaa – Africa House

Shanga ShangaaThis is the ultimate, stop, shop and snack hot spot in Arusha. The name is a fair translation to mean ‘amazing necklace’ an item no shopper will leave Shanga Shangaa without. This fantastic place was set up to help people with special abilities earn a living as well as morally support each other. Every product is made of recycled materials, glass, beads and stones giving birth to an authentic and exquisite collection. There’s a café that serves delicious local and Swahili cuisine, you can also wine and dine on the lovely lawns forming a perfect way for a leisurely spent afternoon.

Restaurants

From Chinese dumplings to Swahili mahamri and Italian Pizzas, Arusha does not disappoint. Most of the restaurants are centrally located in the business district with just a few locations in the residential. Njiro road as well as Moshono area are popular for night clubs, but as an experienced club hopper, the locals know best; make friends, and test the cues!

Shopping

The Tanzanite Experience is a must-go zone for best cut stones and some extensive crash-course on the precious pebble. The shop by Maasai Women Development Organization (MWEDO) is great for high quality beadwork. Kase on Boma road has good maps and books on National Parks and Heritage, for the self-caterer, Soko Kuu will do great favors to your kitchen!

Hotels

Whether on a budget-conscious trip, or seeking luxury on the slopes of Mighty Mount Kilimanjaro, Arusha has great considerations for your ledger books! Log on to Jovago-Arusha-Hotels for all your accommodation needs.

Fun Fact

Arusha Clock TowerArusha’s clock tower is believed to mark the midpoint between Cairo and Cape Town-there is a huge deal of disputing bar talk as well as Geographical evidence. Not to worry though, this vibe keeps the locals going, and the region happy to take directions from one of Africa’s most popular clock tower!

Safety: Whether in London, Libreville, Amsterdam or Arusha, being street smart is critical for every newbie. Walk confidently, avoid unnecessary crowds, negotiate like a native and don’t display expensive jewelry, cameras and accessories downtown. You’ll be fine.

Money: Tanzanian Shilling, All International Credit Card (Visa, MasterCard) are accepted in the ATM.

Exchange Rate:  http://www.xe.com/currency/tzs-tanzanian-shilling

Country Code: +255

Main Airport: Arusha is served by two main airports; Kilimanjaro International Airport and Arusha Municipal Airport. The former has a good number of international flights, while the latter is mostly domestic.

Visa Requirement:

http://tanzaniaembassy-us.org/?page_id=76

Jovago.com is an online hotel booking service with offices in Nairobi (Kenya), Lagos (Nigeria), Dakar (Senegal), Doula (Cameroon) and Abidjan (Ivory Coast). The company is founded by Africa Internet Holding and has MTN as one of the investors. Jovago.com, Africa’s No.1 booking portal, facilitates the booking process for its users to provide them with the best hotel booking experience with fast, transparent and easy-to-use services. Jovago.com has over 25,000 local hotel listings across Africa and over 200,000 hotels around the world.
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Seven Useful Online Hotel Booking Tips for Every Traveler

Typing on laptop computer --- Image by © Laughing Stock/Corbis

Just like any retail consumer, the best offer takes the buyer’s attention before other factors are considered. The trick is to get the most value at the least cost possible. This concept can be a direct dealing all quoted in the buying price, or go deeper into or get more intricate with transport costs, storage, packaging costs included amongst others. It’s not any different when buying accommodation online; as travel experts from Jovago.com explain, a wise traveler leverages on seasons, times and the experience of his or her predecessors!

Your Options; Create Price Alerts

Like any other savvy online shopper, you must actively seek and give in to the luring temptations of the Best Offer! This, you can only get if and when you are ready to do the extra search. The best part of the deal is that you do not necessarily have to click on every possible link for the best price; simply create alerts with different hotel price compare sites and key in daily or weekly results for the period you are most likely to travel.

Ignore Reviews at Own Peril!

In this volatile market, where every stay, dinner and ride must be instagrammable to qualify for likes and shares, every traveler must appreciate the role of online reviews. This goes to say that you must tread cautiously where a previous guest has left non-palatable comments/reviews for a particular hotel, and which seem to have received unbiased support. Reviews also come in handy when choosing tour guides, potters and other service providers that you may need during our stay. Check out sites such as Trust Pilot, Trip Advisor among others before you click on “pay”

Bang on the Magic Hour!

The trouble with last minute bookings is that, you will and have to settle for what is available. Elizabeth Mbugua, Head of Customer Service at Jovago.com recommends booking hotels in the early a.m hours. This, she explains is based on the likelihood that there will be more available rooms, at lower rates (remember the law of demand and supply) hence better options for your preference.

Look for Value-adds

At first you may not feel the impact of value-adds on your travel budget, until you add one to one and realize just how hefty the billings in fine print can add up to. Be keen on any given catalogue on hotel’s website, and if anything is unclear contact the hotel or the OTA for clarification. For instance, does the hotel provide airport pick-ups? Is the Wi-Fi connection reliable or do you need to come up with own data plan, what about laundry? Pressing and ironing? Phone bills?  Seek to find out what costs the hotel is bearing, and what will be squeezed through your pigeon hole! You might be surprised to find that the cheapest deal, is actually not that cheap.

Time is Money…Book Low Season for High Tides

While travelling in summer time, holiday season, school vacations and long weekends seems to be the trend, you are not the only one who have picked on the cue. Hotel owners as well as OTAs will most definitely respond to the demand by hiking the once attractive offer to an exclusive and simply unattainable dream! Act a bit sly, and place and pay your high season bookings when the tides are low and celebrate it like The Star during the all-star high season.

Dodge, Hide, And Run Away From Cancellation Fees!

They say all is well, that ends well. So imagine you are all set for your weekend-long snorkeling, sun and sand spell in the charms of Watamu, only for your favorite brother to announce the birth of your first niece and a much needed nanny/sitter thereby. The first person you need to call as the cute news settle in is your OTA or hotel with a very genuine “change of plans, book me in for the coming weekend” this much covers you from incurring hefty cancellation fees, if you had paid before check in. Always state the need to move forward your check-in dates as opposed to indefinitely cancelling booking, where possible.

Military Precision, with Check ins and Check out Date

Simply means that you must have your flight itinerary on your fingertips, and especially where the hours run into a different time zone. This will help you avoid circumstances where you pay for a first night only to check-in two hours into the second day!

Jovago.com is an online hotel booking service with offices in Nairobi (Kenya), Lagos (Nigeria), Dakar (Senegal). The company is founded by Africa Internet Holding and has MTN as one of the investors. Jovago.com, Africa’s No.1 booking portal, facilitates the booking process for its users to provide them with the best hotel booking experience with fast, transparent and easy-to-use services. Jovago.com has over 25,000 local hotel listings across Africa and over 200,000 hotels around the world.
Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JovagoTravel @jovagotravel
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Beach Crazy? This Five Sandy Townships of Mozambique Will Spoil You!

Whatever your origin, landing in Maputo-the capital town of Mozambique awakens a feeling that you may not be able to explain. The surreal feeling illuminated by age-old lighthouses, homogenous architecture embracing Mediterranean-style, sands stretching beyond horizons and the promise of endless coastline. With a continental coastline that rivals any other in Africa, Mozambique offers a variety of beach destination for every traveler. Here is a low-down of what to expect in the five top, as explained by Jovago.com.

Quirimbas Archipelago

Quirimbas

Located in the far north, the Quirimbas Archipelago are a beautiful string of islands consisting of thirty four islands; both desolate and inhabited, private and public. The archipelago presents a timeless escape into the world of Portuguese trade which took place in the 18th Century. Most of these islands are connected to the mainland by coral reef cropping, sand bars and swampy mangroves. The islands are home to the spectacular jewel, Quirimbas National Park which protects most of the rare habitats found here. Quirimbas is a fairly a new destination, with most resorts still new, thus offering a chance to walk the virgin path and leave your footprints where no man has been!

Inhambane

InhambaneIf you are a poetic fairy or knight, then you might have heard of Craveirinha’s Tasty Tangerines of Inhambane, the poem that wishes Inhambane –popular for the fruit- a long life, before going ahead to raise curiosity on the secretive whispers in the queues. Inhambane exists as it did in the 10th Century; a long palm fringed border that never seems to get enough of the ocean’s kisses. There is enough modern accommodation, and the beach town, seems to attract new visitors every season, some keen on spotting the dudong schools before they go extinct while others chase after the mantra ray’s evil reflection on the whales.

Vilankulos

Vilankulos

A spell-binding, hakuna matata kind of scenery, Vilankulos is the perfect destination for visitors looking for time off the urban rut race, and sea food worth Food Network! This Mozambican capital of watersports is popular with enthusiasts as it offers great tides for surfing, diving, snorkeling and dhow tours for a sight of the vibrant fishing villages. Horse riding along the beach as well as barefoot walks is another indulgence here, take it all! One thing you must note and prep before your trip is that Vilankulos or Vilankulo moves at her own pace, so, slow down, smell the calamari and calm down to the local pace!

Bazaruto Archipelago

Bazaruto

With five stunning islands within one of the largest protected marine areas in the Indian Ocean, it’s no doubt a great destination for marine exploration. Bazaruto, is composed of five palm-fringed, unspoilt islands, making a valid claim to the title Jewels of the Indian Ocean. It’s an ideal destination for honeymooners, water-sporting, fishing as well as an idyllic location for all-inclusive tropical island vacations. Each Island has something unique to offer; Benguerra is adored for her clean, white sandy beach, Santa Carolina-the smallest of the five- is fondly referred to as Paradise Island, with the remnants of a fort serving as a nostalgic reminder of its history. Magarugue is home to the rare Marlin and Sail fish, while Bangue is the most solitude, with close to no life apart from backpacking campers and crawling oysters. Bazaruto offers the life-size marine park.

Mozambican Pemba

Mozambican Pemba

This might be confused for the clove legend island of Tanzania, hence the emphasis. Mozambican Pemba lies to the north, acting as the main gateway to the Quirimbas Archipelago. The island is most popular as home to the world’s largest natural harbor, Pemba Bay- formerly named Porto Amélia, in honor of the queen of Portugal. Pemba is popular for watersports, and diving and is also the capital town of Cabo Delgalo province.

BRITAM brands Nyayo National Stadium

Diversified financial services group, British-American Investments Company Limited (Britam) has been granted exclusive rights to brand the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi for the next two years.

Under the KSh100 million deal with Sports Kenya, Britam has been granted the rights to brand the 32 year old facility. This includes: the main stadium, indoor arena, handball and volleyball courts, basketball court, VIP room, and the stadium’s aquatic area.

Britam will be allowed to advertise and display its products and services within the stadium and its premises; in addition to getting sales and marketing opportunities during local and International games and other events taking place in the stadium.

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Speaking at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi today during a media briefing to unveil the deal, the Cabinet Secretary for Sports Culture and the Arts Dr. Hassan Wario said that he was pleased to preside over the launch of the Branding and refurbishment of the Nyayo National Stadium – dubbed the Arena of Champions.

“This event is to unveil a collaborative achievement to improve sports and sports facilities in this country. Development of sports and the associated infrastructure is one of the key pillars of my ministry as envisaged in its mandate,” he added.

Dr. Wario said that his ministry had put in place policy guidelines that would facilitate and encourage all stakeholders from both   the public and the private sector to work together for the betterment of sports in the country.

Britam Director for Marketing and Corporate Affairs Muthoga Ngera noted that the strategic partnership with Sports Kenya would significantly support the development of sports in the country.

“We are very excited about this new opportunity. We are proud to be associated with Nyayo National Stadium, which remains an iconic facility in the country and the natural venue of choice for local and international sports tournaments as well as national celebrations and other high profile events,” he said.

He noted that Britam had identified sports marketing as one of its key strategic focus areas to grow and enhance the group’s brand visibility.

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On his part, Mr. Gabriel Komora, the acting Director General of Sports Kenya said:

“We are happy to welcome Britam on board. Corporate Kenya has a critical role to play in developing and enhancing sports facilities in the country. We are encouraged that Britam has taken up this challenge. It is through such strategic partnerships that Kenya will be able to inch closer to upgrading her sports facilities to international standards”.

Nyayo National Stadium, which will retain its name, remains under the maintenance and management of Sports Kenya.

Britam was awarded the sole branding rights after a competitive bidding process

About British-American Investments Company (Kenya) Limited

Britam is a leading diversified financial services group, listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange. The group has interests across the Eastern Africa region. The company offers a wide range of financial products and services in Insurance, Asset management, Banking and Property. The product range includes: life, health and general insurance, pensions, unit trusts, investment planning, wealth management, off-shore investments, retirement planning, discretionary portfolio management, property development and private equity.

For more information please contact: Muthoga Ngera, Director, Marketing and Corporate Affairs on email mngera@britam.co.ke or visit http://www.britam.co.ke.

63rd KCB Rally: Bringing Rally to the people

The 63rd KCB Safari Rally dubbed “Bringing Rally to the People” is here with us again and the interesting facet is that it has reverted back to its former identity that elicited immense excitement amongst its followers, on the Easter weekend.

What’s more, the event has made a sharp about-turn as after being identified as sprint event in the recent years, it’s now more of an endurance run-a rally akin to that of the 70’s when drivers tackled lengthy route courses.

This year’s event is not any different from the long distance aspect as crews have the enviable task of covering a mind-boggling 1000 Kilometres in an event that will traverse five counties including Nairobi, Kiambu, Laikipia, Meru and Machakos.

With the impending battle of man and machine, there has been an introduction of several road side services ostensibly because the mileage is bigger.

The rally in which Meru Forest will be in use will have Loldaiga as the longest stage at 54.77 kilometres while Meru ASK showground will be the shortest at 2.7 kilometres.

There will be five spectator stages of which three (Ngare Ndare, Lisa Ranch and Nkunga) will be park and walk alongside Meru ASK Showground and another at Machakos People’s Park which are expected to attract crowds in their hordes. Ngare Ndare is located after the turn-off of Timau, with Nkunga on Meru-Isiolo Road and Lisa Ranch in Konza, some 9 kilometres off Mombasa Road.

At the Meru ASK Showground spectators will be privileged to enjoy the KCB Cashless village where different games and food will be on offer and fans will be using alternative channels to pay for the games in the village.

“This is an opportunity for KCB customers to experience banking alternatives through our spectrum of cash less offering currently in the market.” said KCB Group Director Marketing and Communications Angela Mwirigi.

As Mount Kenya region which is rich in flora and fauna prepares to host what is easily the toughest event in the Kenya National Rally Championships (KNRC) calendar, the Safari Rally will play a significant role in promoting sports tourism.

The rally will be flagged off at traditional landmark Kenyatta International Conference Centre on Easter Friday 3rd April 2015 where the first driver will roll off the ramp at the KICC at 9.00 a.m.

Drivers will then tackle a 69.50 Kilometres of liaison distance through to Konza Service where they will have a privilege of 10 minutes given to service their vehicles. They will then head back to the refuel zone at Konza before tackling their first stage of 39.55 Kilometres stage at Lisa Ranch. They will return to Konza refuel stage for the third time after which they will tackle a 5.90 Kilometres stage at Machakos People’s Park then head to refuel zone before repeating the Lisa Ranch section with a 45 minute service after the Lisa Ranch stage will be given to drivers before heading back to Nairobi where they will assemble at KICC for overnight perce ferme.

Day two on April 4 which will be a Saturday will see the combatants restart at 5.30 pm and then head for refuel first at Shell Petrol Station on Thika Road and Shell Petrol Station in Karatina. The next destination is a road side service just before the Legetia start and they will do five stages including Lengetia, Loldaiga, Ngare Ndare, Nkunga and ASK Meru Spectator Stage, covering the day’s total of 420.92 kilometres of which 125.92 kilometres will be competitive.

Day three which will be the last will literally be a test of nerves and skills for drivers as they will cover 10 stages, which is not for the faint-hearted. At ASK showground, they will make two repeats then make a second run of Loldaiga, once each in Kisima and Kibirichia stage make a second run of Nkunga before proceeding to Meru Forest.

Crews will be covering a mammoth cumulative total of 1042.66 kilometres. From the total mileage, 364 kilometres will be competitive while 678 kilometres will be liaison distance. With drivers rubbing their hands with glee ahead of the rally, former British and Finn champion Tapio Laukkanen is certainly one of those to watch. Laukkanen leads the KNRC series and is expected to bring a touch of class albeit with stiff challenge from Safari Rally defending champion Baldev Chager, Ian Duncan, Rajbir Rai and four-times champion Carl Tundo.

Chager has two Safari titles under his belt, which is three shy of the ones collected by legendary Shekhar Mehta, but clinching the third one is not too much to ask given his alluring form lately.

It will also be interesting to observe what’s up the sleeves of Duncan who will be unveiling a new car, a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 10. A protracted battle looms in other categories including 2WD, S Class, SPV, Division 1, 2 and 3.

Further afield, there is a blood rivalry among the family of Frank Tundo and his children Carl and Tash. The older Tundo has seen rally technology morph through different guises and is tipped to give the young turks a run for their money. There is also a sibling partnership between Khan brothers Aslam and Arshad who have a combined cockpit age of over 110 years.

The prize giving will be held at the Meru ASK showground on 5th March 2015.