Overview

When most people think of East Africa, they visualise safari.

The region is home to many large and exotic animals which parade through the national parks

Mejah runs Afriroots, a tour company which focuses on experiences that are off the beaten track

We discuss the different customer types they have, how he started his company with $200 and what to do if you ever become confronted by a lion.

We were also next to where an aerobics class was taking place, and so if you hear some throbbing beats in the background, it’s just that.

Either way, it’s a really interesting discussion about the tourism market in Tanzania and so I hope you enjoy.

Here are some of the key quotes:

 

“We’re an adventure and eco-tourism company”

There are bicycle tours, hiking and game drives. We always look to minimise the amount of time that someone is sat in a car.

“Bicycle safari is our big new thing”

We recently got permission to run bicycle tours through a National Park in Tanzania. We’re the first people doing this.

“It was a new idea”

At the beginning we were sent around to many government agencies as they couldn’t decide if we were a sports company, or a tourism company…

“We started with $200”

To start a normal safari company is expensive (buying 4x4s etc.). We didn’t have that.

“The expat/ volunteer market was underserved”

These are people who are here for a while. They want to do something at the weekend, but don’t have tons of money to spend. We started hiking trips at the weekend.

“We’re in every embassay”

Our posters are in each building where tourists go to. We’re also in the guidebooks like Lonely Planet.

“We stopped publicising tour details”

There were other (rogue) tour companies who would just copy our tour schedule when it was on our website. We are now more discrete…

“Attitude is the most important”

When it comes to hiring guides. As well as speaking English. Typically we go for people who have just finished school, rather than getting experienced people.

“The Afriroots vision is…”

Environmentally friendly. Socially concious. Thinking outside of the box.

“Business has been slow this year”

It’s been due to the introduction of VAT. It became an unexpected cost to the tour providers and so some of them had to cancel.

“Patience pays”

I’ve learnt that things need to start small. It doesn’t need a huge input of money, but instead it needs an input of ideas.

“Buying a bicycle”

This was what we spent our first $200 on. Because we were doing something we loved we didn’t mind doing everything and starting small.

“I’m excited about National Park bicycle tours”

We’re looking to do mapping in all of the National Parks so that we can find routes which are safe for people to cycle through.

“Play it cool with lions”

With lions, don’t run and don’t make eye contact. Elephants, make noise at them.

“… but I’m scared of buffalo”

They’re always angry. They will look to trample on humans were as other animals will leave people alone.

“We want to leave a legacy”

We’re not focusing too much on wealth creation, but instead on making jobs and bringing tourists to new sites across Tanzania.

 

Social Media Follows etc.

Uwaba: Promoting bicycles in Dar es Salaam

Graffiti: interview

Website: www.afriroots.co.tz

Facebook: Afriroots Adventures

Most Popular Tour: Dar Reality Tour