*As seen in The Logbook
It may have taken six years to build Lights on Africa Destinations and Safaris to the enterprise that it is now, but for managing director and owner Peniel Vello Laizer it represents something greater than merely a touring business. Coming from an underprivileged background his business has put him in a position to help keep local children in school.
“Northern Tanzania, where I am from,” he says, “Is known as the crown jewel of tourism in the country. It provides a bountiful collection of the country’s most desired tourist attractions and by keeping children in school and properly educating them, it will safeguard and develop ways to protect our most important natural heritage.”
FOUNDING HIS COMPANY
Peniel is an example of what education can do to change the course of a person’s life. Before founding Lights on Africa, he studied hotel management in Arusha, and then at the Institute of Commercial Management in the UK he studied travel and tourism marketing and customer services.
Afterwards, he spent years working for several hotels, lodges and travel companies in Tanzania. Once fully equipped with the fundamental knowledge and know-how as well as his childhood experiences, he launched a business that revolved around his status as one of the best tour planners in the country.
“My childhood was many things, including an adventure,” he says, “I witnessed many things in Tanzania that can only be experienced when properly guided. I count myself fortunate because my business has grown around me being able to lead others to witness these unique scenes of wildlife.”
With an extensive network within the travel industry his business has crossed the borders into neighboring Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa where he is able to arrange the most engaging tours in these amazing locations. He also possesses extensive knowledge about Mount Kilimanjaro and Lights on Africa are among the few travel companies that have a 99% success rate of reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
“Ascending Kilimanjaro is more than merely climbing a mountain,” he explains, “It takes experience to guide a group up and to be able to estimate when the weather conditions will be favorable. We take many things into consideration before agreeing to take a group up, including safety, group fitness factors, timeframes and flexibility.”
Their commitment to deliver the upmost excellence of service is founded on the belief that honesty and professionalism are the keystones of any true joint venture. Believing that it is imagination and attention to detail that create a mutually rewarding experience for everyone involved.
Working with a small but engaged team of five, Peniel explains that his safari guides have over ten years of experience in wildlife and nature safaris. Each are able to approach the tours with engaging charisma and confidence.
“Two things are very important for safari guides,” he says, “One is that they need to be able to communicate openly and fluently with the guests. All of my guides speak fluent English and we are able to offer Spanish, French and Italian on request, this allows the tours to be engaging and communicative and the guides to answer questions fully. Secondly, it is being able to be flexible with the approach and innovative when unexpected things happen on tour. Nature can be unpredictable, and our guides need to be savvy enough to make the best of this.”
The safaris themselves can either have set itineraries, which is common for first timers to Tanzania who don’t know what to expect and therefore cannot be expected to know all of what they want to see. Or they can be created around the client’s interests and budgets.
Depending entirely on what the client is looking for, the safaris can last anywhere from 1-28 days and Lights on Africa provides all the necessary services to make the trip as smooth as possible. These includes logistic handling such as the arrangement of domestic flights and bus/shuttle bookings, hotel bookings, airport pick up and transfers and arranging safaris to historical and cultural sites. There are also many mountains to climb including Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Kenya, Mt. Meru, Oldoinyo Lengai, and Usambara Mountains.
Peniel describes Tanzania as Africa’s finest destination and the statistics really speak for themselves. An incredible one quarter of the country has been set aside for conservation purposes and this includes the world-renowned Serengeti National Park and the mind bogglingly vast Selous Game Reserve.
This rich collection of protected areas collectively harbours an estimated 20 percent of Africa’s large mammal population. You have the magical island of Zanzibar which is the highlight of the vast Indian Ocean coastline, studded with reefs swirling with brightly colorful fish. You have the two of the largest lakes, Lake Tanganyika and Victoria. You also have natural highlights such as Ngorongoro Crater the largest caldera in the world, Olduvai Gorge the birth place of man, and The Great Rift Valley.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
A valid passport is required. Visas can be obtained on arrival at all points of entry and are required for all visitors who are not on the list of exempted countries. Citizens of some specified countries of Europe and North America may get visas at their port of entry in Tanzania.
It is strongly recommended by Lights on Africa Destinations and Safaris that visitors take out fully comprehensive insurance including death, medical expenses, injury, delays, loss and damage of property.
Essentials for the bag:
Sun Block and after sun or sun screen lotion, skin cream, Insect repellent, anti-malaria medication, non-water/antibacterial soap which can be very handy in the Land rover. Any medication needed. General Binoculars, battery charger. And neutral clothing like khaki, light brown or green tan. Bright colours should be avoided.
Peniel goes on to suggest that visitors wear comfortable non-synthetic short- and long-sleeved safari shirts, and non-synthetic shorts and long trousers. Sweaters/jumpers should be worn for early morning game drives and for the evenings when the temperature can drop. Mountain wear and accessories includes an anorak, fleece, pants, short and long sleeves t-shirt, gloves, thermal underwear, hat, balaclava or woolen hat, walking boots, woolen socks, gaiters, crampons, sun glasses or snow goggles, thermal water bottle, head lamps, walking pole, toiletries, chronographic wrist watch, sunscreen lotion, lip salve, Swiss army knife, hand towel, four- season sleeping bag, day pack, first aid kit and back pack cover. For more information he suggests visiting the website for a complete breakdown or speaking to one of his staff.
“Yellow fever vaccination is required for all persons from yellow fever endemic countries,” he says, “We request that proof of a guest’s vaccination is brought in the form of a stamped health card from your health center in your country of origin. It is advisable to bring anti-malaria pills or better still, to start taking the pills two weeks before arrival, during your stay, and after departure.”
It is forbidden to import or export Tanzanian currency. Any amount of foreign currency may be brought into the country. Foreign currency may be exchanged at any of the many authorized bureau de change located at major airports, border points, cities, towns and quality hotels in major towns. Demand and preserve your receipt for the transaction until departure. American dollar bills tend to fetch the most competitive exchange rates, although all major European and North American currencies can be exchanged. For security reasons, it is advisable to bring a sensible mix of traveler’s cheques and cash.
ADDRESS: 16232- Arusha-Tanzania
TELEPHONE NUMBER: +255789762924