Today we’ve invited Gunjan Murarka, Founder of Travoge to tell us more about an African safari. Gunjan is an African safari expert, and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to pick his brain, find out a little about him, and learn more about planning a safari trip. So, without further ado, we’ll let Gunjan do the talking.
Thanks for having me, Sandeep. I am glad to be able to share a bit about myself, Travoge and African safaris. I have been traveling a lot since I was a child, and I should thank my parents upfront for inculcating this love in me. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to live across three continents and have traveled to more than 25 countries. My wife is an even greater lover of travel than I am and our daughter, who is six years old, has already been to 10+ countries. So, as you can see, traveling is a pretty big part of my life and my family, so it only seemed natural for me to get into this business.
Yeah, though I wish that I could be a great adventurer like you, Sandeep :). Travoge is an online marketplace for East African Safari tours. By marketplace, what I mean is that it’s a place where local Tour operators list their trips and travelers worldwide can shop, choose and book what works for them. I started Travoge last fall, and we are based out of Seattle, WA.
The idea for Travoge came to me while I was travelling in Tanzania and saw the potential to promote appreciation for this magnificent part of our world. The natural beauty, rich culture, and friendly people amazed me beyond description. It truly is an extraordinary place, and not enough people are aware of its beauty. So, I wanted to change that.
I decided to establish a platform that will make safari accessible to everyone who has ever dreamed of seeing the beauty that Africa has to offer. Travoge aims to create an experience that is beneficial for everyone involved – travelers, tour operators, and the communities that generously share their homeland. Here, at Travoge, we provide a direct connection between the travelers and the local operators who have the best ground knowledge.
I’m glad you asked that question, because I am with you on that, Sandeep. I come across so many people who are interested in going on a safari but don’t know where or how to start. If you’ve never been before in one, it can be difficult to figure out the details. That’s why we, at Travoge, aim to be the “one-stop shop” for all travelers’ needs for safari. We want to make it easier for as many people as possible to follow their life-long dream of experiencing an African safari. Some resources I will suggest are (you can access all from Travoge’s homepage under the category of safari resources):
This is a tough one. There are just too many exquisite places. But if you ask me for one place, it has to be Ngorongoro Crater. Someone once told me that Ngorongoro is the mythical “Garden of Eden”- I don’t know if this is an accurate piece of information, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. It has that allure of Paradise; it certainly looks like a divine being created it. So, I would definitely say it should be on anyone’s bucket list.
“Just treat others as you will like to be treated” It’s the Golden rule for any travel. Specifically I would say:
- Respect local traditions and culture: Large population of Tanzania is Muslim especially if you are in Zanzibar. So dressing appropriately and respecting those values
- Be Polite: People are more outgoing compared to Western societies. Also there is curiosity factor around westerners. So expect some natural tendency to contact. Don’t be alarmed by it and if you are comfortable just politely thanks them and move on
- Enjoy: Tourism is a big part of TZ economy and locals value that. So enjoy what you see and who you meet. Trust me – there is no place like Africa.
Agree about thrill of discovery as one of greatest joy of travel. And there is significant population who travel un-arranged to experience that. However, there is also significant population who travel for other motives like “Learning”, “Relaxation”, etc. There is thrill of discovery in learning a new culture, meeting new people, seeing new sites and experiencing new environments. So I would not say that pre-arranged adventures are detracting from spirit of discovery. It all depends on what a traveler is looking for.
Great question. Travel industry contributed $2.5 trillion to Global GDP (per WTTC and yes it’s Trillion), so you can imagine how big it is. In the travel industry, there are several verticals that provide a service depending on needs of travelers. Lonely Planet provide travel guides while Trip advisor is more a referral site. Travoge is very niche service for Safari lovers who will like to search different options and book. Large sites like Trip Advisor or Expedia tend to focus more on large volume travel areas. Whereas people who are taking safari or climbing Kilimanjaro are looking for more unique niche experience and service.
I will say two things and both of them are nothing new. First, travel with locals. They have the best sense of local conditions and ideas on what to look for or where the usual water holes are. You will not go wrong with the help of locals, but without them, you may end up missing some great stuff.
Secondly, go out and meet people. Africans are amazing, warm people with an immensely rich history and culture. You will significantly enhance your travel experience if you just venture out and see where the day takes you. I guarantee you will not regret the people you meet and the things you experience. Don’t be afraid to take some risks while you’re in Africa, because this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, so take advantage of it!
That’s it for our chat with Gunjan today, folks. You can follow Travoge on Facebook or Twitter to get the latest on African safaris. Let us know if you have any questions on safari trips and we’ll have Gunjan answer them – so if there are things you’ve always wanted to know, now is your chance to ask.