Welcome to Tanzania! You will arrive to Dar Es Salaam to begin your journey.
This Critical Issues Program is an incredible opportunity for the most passionate of environmentalists and aspiring biologists. Partner with the global nonprofit Jane Goodall Institute and their youth-led community action program, Roots & Shoots as you sample vegetation, plant trees in a local nursery, and learn Swahili from your Tanzanian peers. Later on, travel into the heart of Gombe National Park and re-trace Jane Goodall’s legendary footsteps. After your program, you’ll understand how the local challenges of conservation in Tanzania relate to global wildlife conservation and you’ll be ready to dive into global wildlife preservation.
Components of a Critical Issues Program
Your adventure in Africa begins as soon as you board the flight to Tanzania. All of Rustic Pathways’ scheduled group flights to Tanzania depart from New York and are escorted by a flight leader. After boarding the flight in the evening, you’ll have plenty of time to relax, get to know your fellow travelers, and sleep in preparation for your arrival in to Africa. Your trip leaders will be ready and waiting to take you on the adventure of a lifetime when you arrive at the airport.
Welcome to Tanzania! You will arrive into Arusha in the evening and transfer to a guesthouse. This first night in Africa will offer the chance to get to know the other students on your program, your staff members, and your new host country. Your guides will give you a quick orientation that will introduce you to the local culture and prepare you for an exciting adventure ahead.
Wake up to your first morning in Tanzania! Your journey continues on a quick flight to Dar es Salaam, the financial center of Tanzania. There you will learn about the Jane Goodall Institute, a global nonprofit founded by the pioneering primatologist Jane Goodall that “empowers people to make a difference for all living things,” and its youth-led community action program, Roots & Shoots. The founders and staff of Roots and Shoots will provide a broad introduction to wildlife conservation in Africa, and its many components – deforestation, soil science, data collection, community education, and community development. On this program you will learn that effective conservation entails a addressing an ecosystem of related causes!
Get your hands dirty with mangrove restoration, and time permitting, learn how a local cooperative makes soap and salt via sustainable processes. Close with some beach games with local students, before returning to the hotel to get ready for your early morning flight.
Arrive in the western town of Kigoma in the early afternoon. After checking into your campsite and home for the next several days, you will meet your service partners for the week – a group of local Roots & Shoots volunteers of similar age, who will work side-by-side with you as learn about community-centered conservation, participate in a practical capacity-building project, and visit Gombe National Park.
After lunch head to the Kitwe Forest Sanctuary – an early reforestation effort of JGI Tanzania – and currently a teaching tool for conservationists from all over. You’ll discuss how you’ve noticed some of the themes you learned about in preparing for this program are playing out on the program itself. Don’t worry, it won’t be all discussion time. Hike, swim, and relax to round out your day.
Visit a long-standing partner village of JGI, which supports 52 villages surrounding Gombe National Park. Support the foundation building and purchase of two water tanks to coax the seedlings of a village tree nursery through the long dry season. While some of you help mix and lay cement, others will aid the school’s conservation club get a jump on planting their nursery for the year. Today, you’ll see another way that environmental conservation and community development go hand in hand.
Visit the church of the JGI coordinator in the morning, as religion is an important part of daily life and a respectful way to show deference to Tanzanian culture. Follow that up with a visit to the local markets, where goods of all kinds (from clothes to food to household items) can be bought, sold, or traded. Purchase kitenges, traditional local cloth, from which you can have t-shirts or skirts custom-made. Finish your day with a visit to the beach and a late afternoon swim, followed by a discussion of some of the ways that conservation and tourism relate to one another.
As you will learn from JGI, one of the most important aspects of environmental and wildlife conservation is combining sustainable community development with community-led conservation. JGI’s goal is to plant 100,000 trees this year in the 52 villages surrounding Gombe National Park, but also provide means of income and livelihood to those communities. Help engage a project that supports those twin goals by establishing a tree nursery in an important partner community in the region. Those seedlings can be planted by the community as well as sold for income. Mix soil, pot plants, build fencing, all alongside your peer Roots & Shoots volunteers. Engage in friendly soccer games against the school team, with the winning group to get a prize of two chickens.
In the morning, charter a boat down Lake Tanganyika to the edges of the famous Gombe National Park, where Jane Goodall conducted her groundbreaking work on chimpanzees and made her name as a pioneer of conservation. Arrive to Mwangongo village, just outside the park, where a group of active community members has formed an ecotourism initiative to support their own development as well as the protection of wildlife corridors. You will collect firewood, prepare fish, fetch water, see sardines drying, and help make a traditional meal, which will also be your dinner. In the evening, sit around a campfire with Mwangongo elders as you learn about the history and traditions of their community. This is your chance to ask some of the questions you’ve been pondering and see how local experience connect to the broader themes of conservation on a global level.
To this point, your conservation efforts have focused on environmental science, forest protection and regeneration, and community development. Today you will see the reason that all of this matters! You will split into small groups, to minimize your impact on the environment, and one group at a time will hike with a staff member and park ranger into the heart of Gombe National Park in search of chimps. Like any experience with animals, we cannot know for sure if you will find chimps or how many you will see, or how long the hike will take, until we try – the discovery is part of the adventure!
While one group is walking with the park ranger, the rest of the students will enjoy the pristine waters of Lake Tanganyika through swimming, beach activities, and conversations. In the evening, have a beachside bonfire and conversation with a biologist from the Gombe Stream Research Center. The Center has continued the work Jane Goodall began, and the researcher will speak to you about the research they do and help explain how all of the various activities of JGI and Roots & Shoots contribute to the preservation of wildlife populations in Africa. Who knows, maybe this chance to sit down with an expert will inspire your future conservation endeavors.
Take a ferry back to Kigoma for a shower and a farewell ceremony. Say goodbye to your friends from Roots & Shoots, and to Gombe, and promise to keep in touch as you go your separate ways! Have a final dinner in town and pack as you prepare for the last bit of your adventure.
Today is a day for travel and reflection. Sleep or journal as you fly from Kigoma to Dar es Salaam, and from Dar to Kilimanjaro. Drive to the small but bustling city of Moshi and get a good night’s rest in a comfortable guesthouse.
You’ve participated in community projects, ecotourism, and chimp tracking – now add environmental science to the mix to round out your understanding of conservation. Alongside a new group of Roots & Shoots volunteers, dive deeply into conservation issues around Mt. Kilimanjaro, as you learn about the history of soils and landscapes in an ancient and important forest for both wildlife and people. Try not to be distracted by the birds and monkeys as you learn to sample vegetation and discuss what this can tell you about the health of the African wildlife population in the area. By the end of the day you will feel like a real biologist!
Wake up early and head to a rural village on the slopes of the mighty Kili, where you will learn about the culture of the community and partner with them on a development initiative, alongside your Roots & Shoots friends. Possible projects you might participate in include building fuel-efficient stoves, building trashcans, planting trees, or cleaning the litter scattered throughout the area. Participate in traditional cooking and harvesting, and end with a rousing song-and-dance routine! This will close out the program for your Roots & Shoots partners, so say goodbye as you head to your guesthouse for your own final night in Tanzania.
Today will be your last day in this wonderful country. Have one final reflection to wrap up your experience, and then do some souvenir shopping and walking around town after a delicious lunch. If you are departing to your home country tonight, you will head to the airport in the early evening and bid Tanzania farewell, as your peers from other programs will meet you there. If you are continuing on to another Rustic Pathways adventure, your staff members will help you connect to your next program!
Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity.
The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.
“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.
“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare, but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.
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Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Follow these tips to pack like a pro:
Travel light. Pack only the essentials. You’ll need less than you think!
Bring the right clothes. Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate for your destination and acceptable for service projects. This means bringing long shorts (think Bermuda and basketball shorts), t-shirts with sleeves to cover shoulders, and appropriate footwear.
Leave your valuables behind. While traveling, it’s easier for things to get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep any prized possessions safe at home.
Check with TSA. Make sure your luggage complies with TSA regulations, especially your carry-on. Useful tip: Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.
Extra paperwork? If you need additional forms filled out to get credit for your service hours, no problem! Bring these forms with you so they can be completed in-country.
A school backpack is ideal as it will be used for day trips.
A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal. A wheeled bag is only suitable if it can be carried like a duffel over rough terrain.
(Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)
Welcome to Tanzania! You will arrive to Dar Es Salaam to begin your journey.
Transfer to Kigoma, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.
Learn about the true work of wildlife conservation, and engage with communities on the fringes of protected areas.
Venture into the park and track chimpanzees with park rangers.
Gain a deeper understanding of the work of the Jane Goodall Institute in communities on the slopes of Kilimanjaro.
Meet other Rustic Pathways groups for a final lunch and souvenir shopping.