Wednesday 28 February 2018

TANZANIA: Serengeti Like Nowhere On Earth, With Highest Concentration Of Large Mammals On This Planet

Serengeti National Park is a large conservation area located in the north of Tanzania. The park flows over into neighboring Kenya where it's known as the Masai Mara.

The Serengeti National Park is a Tanzanian national park in the Serengeti ecosystem in the Mara and Simiyu regions.

It is famous for its annual migration of over 1.5 million white-bearded or brindled wildebeest and 250,000 zebra and for its numerous Nile crocodile and honey badger.

The park is but one of several conservation areas within the Serengeti region of East Africa, though a vitally important one.

s well as conserving wildlife, flora and iconic landscapes, Serengeti National Park has emerged as a major traveller and tourist destination, many making the journey there to engage in safari.

The name Serengeti comes from the Maasai language, meaning endless plains.

Serengeti National Park is most famous for its migration. 1.3 million wildebeest and 200,000 zebras move from the northern hills to the south every October and November during the short rains.

They then move toward the west and north from April to June when the long rains progress. The instinct to migrate is strong. Hence, no drought, gorge, or river infested with crocodiles can prove to be a deterrent.

The Serengeti ecosystem is a geographical region in Africa. It is located mainly in northern Tanzania and extends into south-western Kenya between 1 and 3 degrees south latitudes and between 34 and 36 degrees east longitudes.

It spans approximately 30,000 km2 (12,000 sq mi). The Kenyan part of the Serengeti is known as Maasai Mara.

The Serengeti hosts the largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world, which helps secure it as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, and as one of the ten natural travel wonders of the world.

The Serengeti is also renowned for its large lion population and is one of the best places to observe prides in their natural environment.
The region contains the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and several game reserves.

Approximately 70 large mammal and 500 bird species are found there. This high diversity is a function of diverse habitats, including riverine forests, swamps, kopjes, grasslands, and woodlands.

Blue wildebeests, gazelles, zebras, and buffalos are some of the commonly found large mammals in the region.

Much of the Serengeti was known to outsiders as Maasailand. The Maasai are known as fierce warriors and live alongside most wild animals with an aversion to eating game and birds, subsisting exclusively on their cattle.

Historically, their strength and reputation kept the newly arrived Europeans from exploiting the animals and resources of most of their land.

A rinderpest epidemic and drought during the 1890s greatly reduced the numbers of both Maasai and animal populations.

The Tanzanian government later in the 20th century re-settled the Maasai around the Ngorongoro Crater.

Poaching and the absence of fires, which had been the result of human activity, set the stage for the development of dense woodlands and thickets over the next 30–50 years.

Tsetse fly populations now prevented any significant human settlement in the area.

By the mid-1970s, wildebeest and the Cape buffalo populations had recovered and were increasingly cropping the grass, reducing the amount of fuel available for fires.

The reduced intensity of fires has allowed acacia to once again become established.

In the 21st century, mass rabies vaccination programmes for domestic dogs in the Serengeti have not only indirectly prevented hundreds of human deaths, but also protected wildlife species such as the endangered African wild dog.

The Maasai people had been grazing their livestock in the open plains of eastern Mara Region, which they named endless plains, for around 200 years when the first European explorer, Austrian Oscar Baumann, visited the area in 1892.

The name Serengeti is an approximation of the word used by the Maasai to describe the area, siringet, which means the place where the land runs on forever.

Because the hunting of lions made them scarce, the British colonial administration made a partial game reserve of 800 acres (3.2 km2) in the area in 1921 and a full one in 1929.

These actions were the basis for Serengeti National Park, which was established in 1951.

The Serengeti gained more fame after the initial work of Bernhard Grzimek and his son Michael in the 1950s.

Together, they produced the book and film Serengeti Shall Not Die, widely recognized as one of the most important early pieces of nature conservation documentary.

To preserve wildlife, the British evicted the resident Maasai from the park in 1959 and moved them to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

Two World Heritage Sites and two Biosphere Reserves have been established within the 30,000 km² region.

Its unique ecosystem has inspired writers from Ernest Hemingway to Peter Mattheissen, filmmakers like Hugo von Lawick and Alan Root as well as numerous photographers and scientists.

The Serengeti ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth. The essential features of climate, vegetation and fauna have barely changed in the past million years.

Early man himself made an appearance in Olduvai Gorge about two million years ago. Some patterns of life, death, adaptation and migration are as old as the hills themselves.

It is the migration for which Serengeti is perhaps most famous.

Over a million wildebeest and about 200,000 zebras flow south from the northern hills to the southern plains for the short rains every October and November, and then swirl west and north after the long rains in April, May and June.

So strong is the ancient instinct to move that no drought, gorge or crocodile infested river can hold them back.

Over 90,000 tourists visit the Park each year.

Wildlife viewing in the Serengeti Ecosystem with its Great Migration is tremendous. Nowhere on earth is there a sight rivalling the spectacle of 1.5 million hoofed animals on the march.

Serengeti has the highest concentration of large mammals on this planet and is famous for its 2,500 lions, the highest concentration found anywhere.

Unlike in Kenya and with the exception of the Ngorongoro Crater, you rarely see other tourists or vehicles on a game drive in the Serengeti National Park.

Wild animals can be dangerous and you should not wander off on your own, especially at night, while on safari in Swahili simply means journey.

However most animals are rather frightened by humans and will flee instead of attacking unless cornered or provoked. Keep a sensible distance and treat them with respect.

Early and late daylight hours are usually the best times to observe the more than 518 species of birds which have been identified in the Serengeti.

Some of them are Eurasian migrants who are present in the European winter months from October to April.

Each year around the same time, the circular great wildebeest migration begins in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of the southern Serengeti in Tanzania and loops in a clockwise direction through the Serengeti National Park and north towards the Masai Mara reserve in Kenya.

This migration is a natural phenomenon determined by the availability of grazing. The initial phase lasts from approximately January to March.

When the calving season begins a time when there is plenty of rain-ripened grass available for the 260,000 zebra that precede 1.7 million wildebeest and the following hundreds of thousands of other plains game, including around 470,000 gazelles.

During February, the wildebeest spend their time on the short grass plains of the southeastern part of the ecosystem, grazing and giving birth to approximately 500,000 calves within a 2 to 3-week period.

Few calves are born ahead of time and of these, hardly any survive. The main reason is that very young calves are more noticeable to predators when mixed with older calves from the previous year.

As the rains end in May, the animals start moving northwest into the areas around the Grumeti River, where they typically remain until late June.

The crossings of the Grumeti and Mara rivers beginning in July are a popular safari attraction because crocodiles are lying in wait.

The herds arrive in Kenya in late July / August, where they stay for the remainder of the dry season, except that the Thomson's and Grant's gazelles move only east/west.

In early November, with the start of the short rains the migration starts moving south again, to the short grass plains of the southeast, usually arriving in December in plenty of time for calving in February.

About 250,000 wildebeest die during the journey from Tanzania to the Maasai Mara National Reserve in southwestern Kenya, a total of 800 kilometres (500 mi). Death is usually from thirst, hunger, exhaustion, or predation.

The Serengeti has some of East Africa's finest game areas. Besides being known for the great migration, the Serengeti is also famous for its abundant large predators.

The ecosystem is home to over 3,000 lions (Panthera leo), 1,000 leopards (Panthera pardus), and 7,700 to 8,700 spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta).[

It is interesting to note that wild dogs are relatively scarce in much of the Serengeti.

This is particularly true in places such as Serengeti National Park where wild dogs became extinct in 1992.

In which lions and spotted hyenas, predators that steal wild dog kills and are a direct cause of wild dog mortality, are abundant.

The Serengeti is also home to a diversity of grazers, including African buffalo, warthogs, Grant's gazelle, eland, waterbuck, and topi.

The Serengeti can support this remarkable variety of grazers only because each species, even those that are closely related, has a different diet.

For example, wildebeests prefer to consume shorter grasses, while zebras prefer taller ones.

Similarly, dik-diks eat the lowest leaves of a tree, impalas eat the leaves that are higher up, and giraffes eat leaves that are even higher.

The governments of Tanzania and Kenya maintain a number of protected areas, including national parks, conservation areas, and game reserves, that give legal protection to over 80 percent of the Serengeti.

The southeastern area lies in the rain shadow of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area's highlands and is composed of shortgrass treeless plains with abundant small dicots.

Soils are high in nutrients, overlying a shallow calcareous hardpan due to natrocarbonatite eruptions from Ol Doinyo Lengai.

A gradient of soil depth northwestward across the plains results in changes in the herbaceous community and taller grass.

About 70 kilometres (43 mi) west, acacia woodlands appear suddenly and stretch west to Lake Victoria and north to the Loita Plains, north of the Maasai Mara National Reserve.

The sixteen acacia species vary over this range, their distribution determined by edaphic conditions and soil depth. Near Lake Victoria, flood plains have developed from ancient lakebeds.

In the far northwest, acacia woodlands are replaced by broadleaved Terminalia-Combretum woodlands, caused by a change in geology.

This area has the highest rainfall in the system and forms a refuge for the migrating ungulates at the end of the dry season.

Altitudes in the Serengeti range from 920 to 1,850 metres (3,020 to 6,070 ft) with mean temperatures varying from 15 to 25 °C (59 to 77 °F).

Although the climate is usually warm and dry, rainfall occurs in two rainy seasons: March to May, and a shorter season in October and November.

Rainfall amounts vary from a low of 508 millimetres (20 in) in the lee of the Ngorongoro highlands to a high of 1,200 millimetres (47 in) on the shores of Lake Victoria.

The highlands, which are considerably cooler than the plains and are covered by montane forest, mark the eastern border of the basin in which the Serengeti lies.

The Serengeti plain is punctuated by granite and gneiss outcroppings known as kopjes. These outcroppings are the result of volcanic activity. Kopjes provide a microhabitat for non-plains wildlife.

One kopje likely to be seen by visitors to the Serengeti is the Simba Kopje or Lion Kopje. The Serengeti was used as inspiration for the animated Disney feature film The Lion King and subsequent theatrical production.

The area is also home to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which contains Ngorongoro Crater and the Olduvai Gorge, where some of the oldest hominin fossils have been found.

There is still considerable controversy surrounding this move, with claims made of coercion and deceit on the part of the colonial authorities.

The park is Tanzania's oldest national park and remains the flagship of the country's tourism industry.

It providing a major draw to the Northern Safari Circuit encompassing Lake Manyara National Park, Tarangire National Park, Arusha National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

It has over 2,500 lions and more than 1 million wildebeest.

The park covers 14,750 square kilometres (5,700 sq mi) of grassland plains, savanna, riverine forest, and woodlands.

The park lies in northwestern Tanzania, bordered to the north by the Kenyan border, where it is continuous with the Maasai Mara National Reserve.

To the southeast of the park is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, to the southwest lies Maswa Game Reserve, to the west are the Ikorongo and Grumeti Game Reserves, and to the northeast and east lies the Loliondo Game Control Area. Together, these areas form the larger Serengeti ecosystem.

The park is usually described as divided into three regions-

Serengeti plains: the almost treeless grassland of the south is the most emblematic scenery of the park. This is where the wildebeest breed, as they remain in the plains from December to May.

Other hoofed animals zebra, gazelle, impala, hartebeest, topi, buffalo, waterbuck also occur in huge numbers during the wet season.

Kopjes are granite florations that are very common in the region, and they are great observation posts for predators, as well as a refuge for hyrax and pythons.

Western corridor: the black clay soil covers the savannah of this region. The Grumeti River and its gallery forests is home to Nile crocodiles, patas monkeys, hippopotamus, and martial eagles.

The migration passes through from May to July.

Northern Serengeti: the landscape is dominated by open woodlands predominantly Commiphora and hills, ranging from Seronera in the south to the Mara River on the Kenyan border.

Apart from the migratory wildebeest and zebra which occur from July to August, and in November, this is the best place to find elephant, giraffe, and dik dik.

Human habitation is forbidden in the park with the exception of staff for the Tanzania National Parks Authority, researchers and staff of the Frankfurt Zoological Society, and staff of the various lodges, campsites and hotels.

The main settlement is Seronera, which houses the majority of research staff and the park's main headquarters, including its primary airstrip.

The park is worldwide known for its abundance of wildlife and high biodiversity.

The migratory and some resident wildebeest, which number over a million individuals, constitute the largest population of big mammals that still roam the planet.

They are joined in their journey through the Serengeti Mara ecosystem by 200,000 zebra, half a million Thomson's and Grant's gazelle, and tens of thousands of topi and Coke's hartebeest.

Masai giraffe, waterbuck, impala, warthog and hippo are also aboundant. Some rarely seen species of antelope are also present in Serengeti National Park, such as common eland, klipspringer, roan antelope, bushbuck, lesser kudu, fringe-eared oryx and dik dik

Perhaps the most popular animals among tourists are the Big Five, which include:

East African lion, the Serengeti is believed to hold the largest population of lions in Africa due in part to the abundance of prey species. More than 3,000 lions live in this ecosystem.

African leopard, these reclusive predators are commonly seen in the Seronera region but are present throughout the national park with the population at around 1,000.

African bush elephant: the herds have recovered successfully from population lows in the 1980s caused by poaching, numbering over 5,000 individuals, and are particularly numerous in the northern region of the park.

Eastern black rhinoceros:, mainly found around the kopjes in the centre of the park, very few individuals remain due to rampant poaching.

Individuals from the Masai Mara Reserve cross the park border and enter Serengeti from the northern section at times.

African buffalo, the most numerous of the Big Five, with around 53,000 individuals inside the park.

Carnivores, aside from the Big Five include the cheetah which is widely seen due to the abundance of gazelle, about 4,000 spotted hyena, two species of jackals.

African golden wolf, honey badger, striped hyena, serval, seven species of mongooses, two species of otters and the recently reintroduced East African wild dog which was locally extinct since 1991.

Apart from the safari staples, primates such as yellow and olive baboons and vervet monkey, patas monkey, black-and-white colobus are also seen in the gallery forests of the Grumeti River.

Other mammals are include aardvark, aardwolf, bat-eared fox, ground pangolin, crested porcupine, three species of hyraxes, cape hare.

Serengeti National Park has also great ornithological interest, boasting about 500 bird species, including Masai ostrich, secretarybird, kori bustards, helmeted guineafowls, southern ground hornbill, crowned cranes, marabou storks, yellow-billed stork, lesser flamingo, martial eagles, lovebirds, oxpeckers, and many species of vultures.

Reptiles in Serengeti National Park are include Nile crocodile, leopard tortoise, serrated hinged terrapin, rainbow agama, Nile monitor, chameleons, African python, black mamba, black-necked spitting cobra, puff adder.

Because of its biodiversity and ecological significance, the park has been listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a World Heritage Site.

As a national park, it is designated as a Category II protected area under the system developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which means that it should be managed, through either a legal instrument or another effective means, to protect the ecosystem or ecological processes as a whole.

The administrative body for all parks in Tanzania is the Tanzania National Parks Authority. Myles Turner was one of the park's first game wardens and is credited with bringing its rampant poaching under control.

His autobiography, My Serengeti Years: The Memoirs of an African Game Warden, provides a detailed history of the park's early years.

Snapshot Serengeti is a science project by the University of Minnesota Lion Project, which seeks to classify over 30 species of animals within the park using 225 camera traps to better understand how they interact with each other and lions.

In July 2010, President Jakaya Kikwete renewed his support for an upgraded road through the northern portion of the park to link Mto wa Mbu, southeast of Ngorongoro Crater, and Musoma on Lake Victoria.

While he said that the road would lead to much-needed development in poor communities, others, including conservation groups and foreign governments like Kenya, argued that the road could irreparably damage the great migration and the park's ecosystem.

The African Network for Animal Welfare sued the Tanzanian government in December 2010 at the East African Court of Justice in Arusha to prevent the road project.

The court ruled in June 2014 that the plan to build the road was unlawful because it would infringe the East African Community Treaty under which member countries must respect protocols on conservation, protection, and management of natural resources.

The court, therefore, restrained the government from going ahead with the project.

Government officials have proposed expanding the Serengeti National Park to reach Lake Victoria because increasingly intense droughts are threatening the survival of millions of animals.

- The park was the location of filming for The Grassland Landscape Of Planet Serengeti along with Masai Mara

- The Fictional Gigantogiraffa was based on the Giraffe of the Serengeti National Park

The Serengeti falls into the classic bimodal rain pattern of East Africa. The short rains are concentrated in November/December, the long and heavier rains in March - May.

Mean monthly maximum temperatures are relatively uniform throughout the year being constant around 27 to 28 degrees centigrade or 75 - 80 degrees Fahrenheit at Seronera.

At Ngorongoro Crater the nights can be very chilly due to altitude.

Any time other than during the long rains in April and May is a perfect time to be on Safari in Northern Tanzania.

Game viewing and the number of other tourists varies widely according to the seasonal concentrations of wildlife . Most Safari operators will adjust their itineraries accordingly

The nearest international airport to the Serengeti is Kilimanjaro Airport near Arusha. KLM and Qatar Airways offer flights directly into Arusha daily from Amsterdam and Doha.

Other airlines such as Swissair will fly into Nairobi, Kenya, from Zurich or Dar es Salaam, from where you can get a connecting flight to Arusha.

The main access road into the Serengeti from Arusha passes the gate of Lake Manyara National Park, mounts the Rift Valley Escarpment, goes on through communal farming lands to the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, drops down onto the plains past Olduvai Gorge to the east, and enters the Serengeti through Naabi Hill Gate.

The distance is 325 km and the drive takes around eight hours. At Seronera and Lobo, garage facilities are available to refuel cars. Breakdown facilities, however, are virtually non-existent.

Internal flights by small aircrafts from Arusha to the Seronera Airstrip in the heart of Serengeti or to Kirawira Airstrip in the Western Corridor cost 135 US$ per person one way.

The cost of charter flights varies widely. Limit your baggage to 10 - 15 kg (25 - 30 pounds) per person.

It is advisable to carry your luggage in soft bags rather than hard sided suitcases. Auric Air operates daily flights between Arusha and Serengeti, Serengeti and Zanzibar.

Park fees can be very expensive in Tanzania. If you book your trip through a travel agent they are generally included in the overall trip cost.

In Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation area the park fee is US$ 50 per person per day, for camping US$30 per tent per day and US$ 30 per vehicle per day.

There is a number of definite don'ts in the Serengeti.

These include approaching too close and disturbing animals, making an unacceptable noise, picking flowers or destroying vegetation, discarding litter, exceeding 50km/h speed limit, bringing pets or firearms into the Park, and going off the roads within 16km of Seronera.

From December to May, depending on the rains, the large herds are concentrated on the low lying grass steppe between Olduvai, Gol, Naabi and Lagarja.

A base on Lake Masak or Lake Lagarja is then ideal because one can travel from there in all directions.

Day excursions take one into areas that are little known so that you can enjoy in peace an animal paradise: for example Hidden Valley, the Soito Ngum Kopjes or the Kakesio Plains.

You will enjoy the freedom of travelling cross country in order to be able to find the best places and thus have the chance to see rarer animals such as honey-badgers, wild cats, porcupines. In the right season, Southern Serengeti is not to be surpassed.

Here the savanna animals are joined by species that have adapted to living in the rocky cliffs.

From here, or whilst in transit, you visit Seronera in the centre of the park searching for rare leopards and cheetahs. You can also enjoy the ever changing landscape with gallery forests, kopjes and water holes.

The North Serengeti is very different from the grassy plains in the South. As there is always water present the big herds retreat there in the dry season.

In addition there are many species that live here permanently and you will also fairly regularly see elephants. A world for itself are the Bologonja Springs on the border to Kenya. The Corridor, West Serengeti

This is a special area which is seldom offered on safari tours. Long distances, poor communications,few vehicles are equipped with a radio and the frequently difficult road conditions still keep away most visitors from this part of the Serengeti which stretches almost as far as Lake Victoria.

An important aspect of the Serengeti is therefore lost to them. This area is very different from the other main zones of the park.

In the dry season large stretches of the route westward can be practically empty of animals. The last quarter of the route is however ideally suited to be the home for thousands of animals the whole year round.

Gnus and zebras who are resident here do not join their migratory relatives who pass through every year on their way northwards.

Big herds of giraffes, buffalo, eland, topis, kongonis, impalas, waterbuck and Thompson's gazelles live here together with them.

All the big cats and hyenas are present in a good number as well. The end of May through August is the time to view the annual migration of zebra and wildebeest in Western Serengeti.

This is also the rut season for wildebeest and the plains are noisy with male wildebeest defending their temporary territories.

A special attraction, that has become quite famous, is the crocodile population of the Grumeti River.

This is particularly large at Kirawira, where the river does not dry up. The time spent at this life-giving water source can be among the most interesting.

Here there are not only crocodiles and hippos to observe but also a large number of varieties of birds.

Those tourists with a lot of time or luck will be able to discover the Black and White Colobus monkey in the crowns of the trees.

On the wooded savannahs of the Ndabaka plains there is always something to see. You will always feel at peace at the calm pools and mysterious korongos.

During your excursions in this least visited part of Serengeti, you can stay at the most luxurious and exclusive camp near Kirawira, the Kirawira Serena Camp, at Conservation Corporation's Grumeti River Camp.

Also very exclusive or at the cheaper, but good and charming new Speke Bay Lodge right on the shore of Lake Victoria 4 km outside the park, an hour's drive from Kirawira.

Mbalageti Serengeti is also in the Western corridor and offers an unparalleled view over the vast plains due to its stellar location.

Meru Wellness Retreat, Arusha. A responsible, eco and fair pay company for safaris ranging from budget camping to luxury lodging.

Take photographs. A good zoom and a large memory card make the results so good you'll be looking at the photos months and months later.

Save them on high quality image and you can do amazing things with your photo program when you get home.
Take a balloon safari which will give you best views.

Shopping in the Serengeti naturally is extremely limited due to the absence of human settlements.

In Arusha, however, and other major towns you will find curio markets where you can buy all sorts of carvings, masks, Maasai spears, textiles, drums, tinga-tinga paintings, batik work, silk shawls, locally made jewelry, coffee, etc.

The Arusha Heritage Centre offers a large variety of souvenirs and crafts. Also, The Sayari Camp had arrangements with locals to supply a little gift shop and the money goes right back into local programs.

Tipping at restaurants is at your discretion is 10%. We recommend tipping US$5 for each traveller per day at lodge based safaris; US$ 20 per person per day for your driver guide.

Most of them are not paid well with their employer so they depend on your tip for their survival and US$10 each per day for the camp staff when camping on mobile

Eat fresh roasted cashews, drink watermelon juice, try the tiny sweet bananas.

Most visitors are surprised by the quality and the variety of the food available on safari.

No matter whether you are staying in a lodge, a tented camp or a mobile safari camp, you will be served freshly prepared food according to international tastes and standards.

Bottled water can be purchased at all the lodges and camps and is provided by all Safari Operators. Non alcoholic drinks are often included in the all inclusive rates. It is wise to stick with bottled drinks.

Drink Coffee, bungo juice, Tusker lager, Amarula.

If you go on an organised Safari with a tour operator you will mostly sleep in mobile camps. Here facilities are more limited.

The tents usually have simple beds with lining and duvets, camping toilets and showers depending on the Safari Operator.

Many lodges and tented camps operate their own generators or solar lighting systems providing intermittent electricity.

The term and the concept of the Safari Lodge are of Tanzanian origin. Here you will find buildings of exciting design, specially build to fit in with the wild landscape of the parks, yet with all the amenities of a luxury hotel, such as swimming pools and fine food.

As you eat, drink, laze by the pool or sit on your private veranda, you will be able to observe game, often at only a few yards distance.

Seronera Wildlife Lodge, Serengeti. One of the oldest lodges, located on a cliff with panoramic view over Serengeti plains.

The are a few Luxury Tented Camps in the Serengeti offering an absolutely unique Safari experience.

The tents usually offer fully equipped en-suite bathrooms, private verandas and elegant furniture. At night you can listen to the wild sounds of the Serengeti cuddled up in a warm and comfortable bed!

Mapito Tented Camp, Serengeti. Mapito Tented Camp provides its guests with the most authentic Africa experience due to its colonial, old days hunter’s camp ambience.

Sitting snugly in a clearing surrounded by Acacia trees its 13 spacious walk-in tents create an intimate atmosphere for only 30 guests while indulging them with the amenities of a big lodge, as all tents are equipped with running water, flush toilets, hot and cold water showers, electric lights and mosquito nettings.

Mwanga Moto Mobile Luxury Camp, Serengeti. Mwanga Moto Mobile Luxury Camp is repositioned several times each season to track the Great Migration.

The luxury East African-styled tents in the camp provide king-sized beds, fine linens, and en-suite bathrooms with flush toilets and hot showers. Screened doors and windows look out onto breathtaking natural landscapes.

Serengeti Migration Camp. Hidden among the rocky outcrops or kopjes of the vast, internationally renowned Serengeti plains is a camp that exudes a decadence reminiscent of old Africa.

The Serengeti, is synonymous with low impact high action game viewing in a landscape untouched since the dawn of time.

Richly furnished throughout, the camp provides a haven of sumptuous indulgence among the raw splendor of the surrounding bush.

It’s spacious tents have been carefully placed to provide privacy and blend into nature’s architecture, overlooking the Grumeti River and its resident hippos.

Surrounded by a 360 degree verandah deck and with a capacious, 45 square metre, internal floor space, each guest pavillion is a private sanctuary.

The split level lounge, cigar bar, restaurant, sundecks and swimming pool are perched among the outcrops and overlook the vast and rugged landscapes that are home to the world’s greatest mammal migration.

Kensington Camps. Kensington Tented Camps bring together the breathtaking beauty, teeming wildlife and cultural splendor of Africa in an intimate and elegant setting.

Echoing with the sounds of the herds, rustling grasslands and crackling campfires, these exclusive camps offer the privacy of only 8 tents.

Each camp is strategically located to host guests as they discover and follow the wildlife migration and clients can transfer conveniently between camps as part of a day’s game drive.

Mbalageti Serengeti. Tented Camps Located off the beaten track in the Western Corridor. The Lodge enjoys breath taking panoroma view of the Serengeti Plains.

Mbalageti offers 24 Safari Style Tented Chalets, 5 Family Excutive Rooms and 14 Standard Rooms with a budget option.

The Swimming Pool Deck, Bar, and Restaurant Located on the tip of the Hill, perfect venue for relaxing after a day of game viewing.

A much cheaper alternative is to stay on one of the Serengeti's nine campsites. If you wish to stay at them you must obtain permission from TANAPA or the nearest park warden.

Health care is limited in the region, but if you have a problem seek help with your lodge. For more serious emergencies, you may end up in Nairobi, or being evacuated to your home country.

Enjoy Serengeti

Tourism Observer

Sunday 18 February 2018

GHANA: Citi FM Is Tourism Oriented Radio

The Ghana Tourism Authority has adjudged Citi FM as Greater Accra’s Tourism-oriented Radio Station of the Year for 2017.

The award was presented to the station during the Greater Accra Regional Tourism Awards held last night [Friday], February 16, 2018 in Accra.

According to the Ghana Tourism Authority, Citi FM was awarded because of its efforts towards the growth of the tourism sector through its flagship road trip, the Heritage Caravan.

The Heritage Caravan is a 7-day trip that gives participants the opportunity to tour the ten regions of Ghana, combining the exciting journey with the unforgettable experience of visiting scenic locations in Ghana.

The Head of Events at Citi FM, Ranstina Lee Yankey told Citi News that the award is a recognition of the impact the Heritage Caravan is making in the country.

Heritage Caravan set for third edition

The 3rd edition of Heritage Caravan, will come off from 4th to 10th March 2018.

In 2017, patrons had a wonderful experience visiting places such as the Mole National Park, the Military Museum in Kumasi, the Slave Memorial at Assin Manso and the crocodile pond at Paga, among others.

A number of activities were also organized to spice up the trip which created an opportunity for patrons to bond and interact with other people.

This year’s trip promises to be even more exciting, as Citi FM has vowed to give patrons nothing but an unforgettable experience.

Other awards for Citi FM

This award is the latest in a series of accolades garnered by the station in recent months.

Citi FM was last weekend adjudged as the best media house in tax information dissemination for the year 2017.

The award, presented to the station by the Ghana Revenue Authority [GRA], was in recognition of its consistent discussions on tax issues which affected revenue mobilization for the year under review.

Citi FM picks two awards at CIMG Awards

Last September, the station also picked up two awards at the Chartered Institute of Marketing Ghana (CIMG) for the year 2016.

The Citi Breakfast Show was adjudged the Radio Programme of the Year, was named as the Emerging Digital Media Organization.

The awards handed to the station, according to CIMG, were in “recognition of your excellence in strategic marketing in the year 2016.”

That was the third time in four years the Citi Breakfast Show was adjudged the Radio Programme of the Year, a demonstration of the show’s consistency in delivery quality radio service to discerning listeners in the country.

6 GJA awards; anti-galamsey campaign recognized

The station in December 2017, also strengthened its position as one of Ghana’s leading radio brands as it bagged six awards at the Ghana Journalists Association [GJA] Awards at the Banquet Hall in Accra.

The station’s anti-galamsey campaign, ‘Stop Galamsey Now’, which was launched in 2017, came up for special mention at the ceremony, with the station picking up an award for its unrelenting fight against the menace.

Citi FM’s flagship programme, the Citi Breakfast Show, was named the best talkshow on radio, adding to the award it won at the Chartered Institute of Marketing Ghana (CIMG) awards in September this year.

Citi FM also picked up honours for Best Political Reporting as well as an Anti-Corruption Award for the station.

Host of the station’s news analysis programme, The Big Issue, Umaru Sanda Amadu, also picked up an award for his work in development journalism, which is contributing towards the attainments of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Another of the station’s reporters, Kojo Agyeman, who emerged first runner-up in the 2017 edition of the Ghana Mining Industry Awards, was also given a special award for his reports.

Tourism Observer

Saturday 17 February 2018

PREPARE: Pan Seared Steaks With Red Wine Sauce

Technique is the secret to perfectly cooked steaks. Season them liberally, let them sear, baste them with butter and let them rest.

These easy steps will result in perfectly cooked meat every time. And, you can make a delicious sauce in the same pan while the meat is resting.



- Two 8- to 10-ounce sirloin steaks, about 3/4- to 1-inch thick

- Kosher salt

- Freshly ground black pepper

- Canola oil

- Olive oil

- 4 cloves garlic, roughly smashed

- 2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme

- 1 to 2 sprigs fresh rosemary

- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cubed


- 2 shallots, finely chopped

- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

- 1 cup red wine, such as Cabernet or Malbec

- 1/3 cup beef stock

- 3 tablespoons butter


For the steak:

1. Remove steaks from the refrigerator and let rest to come to room temperature. Pat them dry with paper towels.

2. Season the steaks liberally with kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper on all sides and press into meat. Let seasoned meat rest for approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Place a skillet (large enough to fit both steaks comfortably) over high heat.

4. When pan is extremely hot, pour in approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons of canola oil and shake pan to make sure entire bottom of skillet is coated.

5. When oil begins to smoke slightly, using tongs, carefully lay the steaks into the pan, laying them down away from you (this will avoid oil spatters).

6. Press down slightly on meat. Let steak sear, without moving it, for roughly 2 minutes until a golden brown crust develops, then drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil into the pan.

The crust will form and then detach from the bottom of the pan.

7. Using tongs, carefully flip steak and let cook for another two minutes. Drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil on and around the meat.

8. After the crust has formed, set both of the steaks on the fat strip that runs along the side of the sirloin.

You can set them side-by-side against the edge of the pan if it has a high enough edge, or hold them on their ends using the tongs. Render off this fat for roughly 60-90 seconds.

Tilt the pan towards the steaks so the oil and hot fat will continue to baste and cook the meat. Then set steaks down flat, side by side in pan.

9. Add the smashed garlic cloves and approximately 1½-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Tilt pan to make sure the oil touches all of the meat. Add rosemary and thyme. You can again add an additional drizzle of olive oil.

10. Add butter to the pan, a few chunks at a time, placing them on either side of the steaks, above them, between them and below.

As the butter begins to melt, bubble and brown, give the pan a swirl, tilting slightly towards you so that all of the melted butter and juice collects towards you in the skillet.

11. Using a spoon, thoroughly baste the steak with the butter and juices at the bottom of the pan. Carefully flip the steaks and repeat, basting frequently.

12. While basting, using tongs, periodically brush the steaks with the herbs and garlic from the pan. The steaks can then be basted with the herbs and garlic on top.

Flip the steaks and repeat, brushing the surface with garlic and herbs and basting over them during the basting process, continually check the surface tension of the meat to check the doneness.

Use the palm of your hand as a gauge: soft part of the thumb is rare, moving towards the finger is medium-rare and well done is down by your wrist.

13. When a crust has formed, and you have a soft texture with a little bit of resistance, ideally medium-rare, turn off the heat, and remove the steaks from the skillet, placing them on a cutting board.

14. Place fried herbs and garlic on top of steak, drizzle steaks with pan drippings and cover loosely with foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes. (A good estimate for how long to rest your steaks is half the time you spent cooking.)

For the pan sauce:

1. Using the pan in which the steaks were cooked earlier, pour off all but 2 teaspoons of fat and the flavorful browned bits adhering to the bottom, and place over medium-high heat.

2. Using a wooden spatula, scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and, stirring constantly, add finely chopped shallots and garlic.

3. Add 1 cup of red wine and keep stirring and reducing the sauce.

4. Continuing to stir, add beef stock (you can also use a quarter cup of beef stock and add whatever reserved steak juices you have).

5. Add the butter, reduce heat to medium and keep stirring so the butter does not break.

To serve:

Slice the steaks against the grain and serve with pan sauce drizzled over the meat or on the side.

Tourism Observer

PREPARE; Sweet And Sour Fried Chicken With Mashed Potatoes

Koreans know and enjoy their fried chicken.

Including the three major "S's" of taste in all my dishes: sweet, sour and savory. This crispy chicken has them all.

For a thicker mash, add cold butter into the hot mash off the heat and keep stirring until the cold butter is fully emulsified with the mash.

Instead of cornstarch, you can use potato starch or rice starch.


- Mashed Potatoes

- 10 cups salted water

- 2 russet potatoes

- 1/2 cup milk, warmed

- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

- Salt, to taste

- Ground white pepper, to taste


- Vegetable oil, frying oil

- 1 cup cornstarch

- 1/2 teaspoon salt

- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

- 2 teaspoon finely minced ginger

- 2 pounds chicken wings, legs and thighs


- 2-3 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili paste)

- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

- 1/4 cup honey

- 2 tablespoons soy sauce

- 2 tablespoons minced garlic

- 3 dried red chile peppers, seeds only


- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds

- 1 teaspoon chopped green onion


For the mashed potatoes:

1. Place twater in a large pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes to the pot, reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for about 1 hour (to check if the potatoes are done, pierce through the potato with a knife. If it goes through smoothly the potato is done).

2. Wearing heatproof gloves, peel the skin off the potatoes with the edge of a spoon. Place the peeled potatoes in a bowl and smash them with a masher or ricer.

3. Pour in the warm milk and stir to combine. Season with salt and white pepper to taste and stir until smooth.

4. Stir in the cubes of butter and keep stirring until all the butter is melted and incorporated. Keep warm until ready to serve.

For the chicken:

1. In a heavy-bottomed pan, over medium heat, warm about an inch of oil to 350 F.

2. In a shallow bowl add the cornstarch, salt, black pepper and ginger. Whisk to combine.

3. Dredge the chicken pieces in the cornstarch mixture to coat well.

4. Place chicken in the hot oil and fry for around 8 minutes, turning once. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Let the fried chicken rest, until warm, then return to the pan and fry again for another 3 minutes.

For the sweet and sour sauce:

In a small sauce pot combine all the ingredients and cook over medium heat until bubbling. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook until the sauce is thick like glue.

Dip the fried chicken pieces in the sauce to coat.

To serve:

Sprinkle the chicken with sesame seeds and green onions and serve with mashed potatoes on the side.

Tourism Observer

PREPARE: Yuctan Pork Then Enjoy It

This juicy shredded pork is flavored with delicious Mexican spices. It's the perfect filling for everything from tacos to burritos.

Fresh chiles can be roasted over a gas flame or under the broiler.

Keep turning so skin is evenly charred, without burning the flesh.

Transfer charred chiles to a closed plastic bag and steam 10 to 15 minutes.

Pull off charred skin by hand and dip briefly in water to remove blackened bits.

Once peeled, cut away stems, seeds, and veins.


- 1/2 cup achiote paste

- 10 cloves garlic, chopped

- 1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

- Juice of 2 limes

- 8 bay leaves, crumbled

- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds

- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

- 2 teaspoons dried thyme

- 1 teaspoon dried oregano

- 1 teaspoon sea salt

- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

- 4 pounds pork butt, cut in 3-inch cubes

- 2 white onions, sliced 1/2-inch thick

- 5 Roma tomatoes, sliced 1/2-inch thick

- 1 pound banana leaves, softened over low flame, or aluminum foil

- 4 Anaheim chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded (see note below), and sliced into strips


In a medium bowl, mash together the achiote paste, garlic, orange juice, lime juice, bay leaves, cumin, cinnamon, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper with a fork.

Add the pork, toss to evenly coat, and marinate, at room temperature, at least 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Heat a large, dry cast-iron skillet over high heat.

Char the onion until blackened on both sides. Then char the tomatoes on both sides. Reserve.

Line a large baking dish with one layer of the banana leaves or foil.

Arrange the pork in an even layer and top with the onions, tomatoes, chiles, and all the marinade.

Cover with more banana leaves and wrap the dish tightly in foil.

Bake 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the pork is tender and moist.

Remove from oven, let sit 10 minutes, and then unwrap.

Using two forks, shred pork into bite-sized pieces.

Tourism Observer

MEXICO: Visit Cozumel Enjoy Great Beaches, Hospitable And Nice Locals

Cozumel is a Caribbean island just off the Yucatan Peninsula in southeastern Mexico. It has great beaches, nice people, and safe streets, with prices comparable to other Mexican tourist destinations.

It was badly battered in 2005 by Hurricane Wilma, but, with few exceptions, has been completely repaired.

Cozumel is an island and municipality in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, opposite Playa del Carmen, and close to the Yucatan Channel. The municipality is part of the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.

The economy of Cozumel is based on tourism. There are a number of visitors to the island's balnearios, scuba diving, and snorkeling. The main town on the island is San Miguel de Cozumel.

The name Cozumel was derived from the Mayan Cuzamil or Ah Cuzamil Peten in full, which means the island of swallows.

The island is located in the Caribbean Sea along the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula about 82 km (51 mi) south of Cancún and 19 km (12 mi) from the mainland.

The island is about 48 km (30 mi) long and 16 km (9.9 mi) wide. With a total area of 477.961 km2 (184.542 sq mi), it is Mexico's largest Caribbean island, largest permanently inhabited island, and Mexico's third-largest island, following Tiburon Island and Isla Angel de la Guarda.

The majority of the island's population lives in the town of San Miguel (pop. 77,236 in 2010), which is on the island's western shore.

The municipality, which includes two small areas on the mainland enclaved within the Municipality of Solidaridad with a land area of 10.423 km2 (4.024 sq mi), has a total land area of 647.33 km2 (249.93 sq mi).

The Maya are believed to have first settled Cozumel by the early part of the 1st millennium AD, and older Preclassic Olmec artifacts have been found on the island as well.

The island was sacred to Ix Chel, the Maya Moon Goddess, and the temples here were a place of pilgrimage, especially by women desiring fertility.

There are a number of ruins on the island, most from the Post-Classic period. The largest Maya ruins on the island were near the downtown area and have now been destroyed.

Today, the largest remaining ruins are at San Gervasio, located approximately at the center of the island.

Although the original airport was a World War II relic and was able to handle jet aircraft and international flights, a much larger airport was built in the late 1970s.

Scuba diving is still one of Cozumel's primary attractions, mainly due to the healthy coral reef marine communities. These coral reefs are protected from the open ocean by the island's natural geography.

In 1996, the government of Mexico also established the Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park, forbidding anyone from touching or removing any marine life within the park boundaries.

Despite the importance of healthy reefs to Cozumel's tourist trade, a deepwater pier was built in the 1990s for cruise ships to dock, causing damage to the reefs, and it is now a regular stop on cruises in the Caribbean.

The island was struck directly by two Category 4 hurricanes during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. In July, Hurricane Emily passed just south of Cozumel, exposing the island to the storm's intense inner core.

Despite Emily being a powerful storm, it was the larger, stronger, slower-moving Hurricane Wilma that caused the most destruction when it hit the island in October. Wilma's eye passed directly over Cozumel.

There was some damage to the underwater marine habitat. This included the coral reefs, which suffered particularly at the shallower dive sites, and the fish that inhabit the reefs.

Tourism, diving and charter fishing comprise the majority of the island’s economy.

There are more than 300 restaurants on the island and many hotels, some of which run dive operations, have swimming pools, private docks, and multiple dining facilities.

Other water activities include para-sailing, kitesurfing, and a tourist submarine. There are also two dolphinariums.

At the cruise ship docks there are several square blocks of stores selling Cuban cigars, jewellery, T-shirts, tequila, and a large variety of inexpensive souvenirs.

San Miguel is home to many restaurants with a huge variety of different cuisines, along with several discotheques, bars, cinemas, and outdoor stages.

The main plaza is surrounded by shops; in the middle of the plaza is a fixed stage where Cozumelenos and tourists celebrate every Sunday evening with music and dancing.

All food and manufactured supplies are shipped to the island. Water is provided by three different desalination facilities located on the island.

The Festival of Santa Cruz and El Cedral Fair is a historical tradition held in the town of El Cedral, in the south of Cozumel Island at the end of April.

This annual event is said to have been started over 150 years ago by Casimiro Cardenas.

Cardenas was one of a group that fled to the island from the village of Saban, on the mainland, after an attack during the Caste War of Yucatanin 1848.

The attackers killed other villagers, but Cardenas survived whilst clutching a small wooden cross.

Legend has it that Cardenas vowed to start an annual festival wherever he settled, to honor the religious power of this crucifix.

Today, the original Holy Cross or Santa Cruz Festival forms part of the wider Festival of El Cedral, which includes fairs, traditional feasts, rodeos, bullfights, music and competitions.

The celebrations last about 5 days in all and are held every year at the end of April or beginning of May.

The Cozumel Carnival or Carnaval de Cozumel is one of the most important carnaval festivities in Mexico. It has been celebrated as a tradition beginning from the late nineteenth century and fills Cozumel’s streets with parades.

It begins the week before Mardi-Gras in February. Cozumel's Carnaval is a tradition which has been passed down through many generations that celebrates a mixture of cultures that escaped to the warm embrace of Cozumel.

Dating back to the mid 1800s, Cozumel Carnaval was started by young people dressed in vibrantly colorful costumes known as Estudiantinas or Comparsas, who expressed themselves in the streets of Cozumel through the artforms of dance, song, and fantasy.

Cozumel Municipality is one of eleven municipalities of Quintana Roo. The municipal seat is located in San Miguel de Cozumel, the largest city in the municipality.

The island is covered with mangrove forest which has many endemic animal species. Cozumel is a flat island based on limestone, resulting in a karst topography.

The highest natural point on the island is less than 15 m (49 ft) above sea level. The cenotes are deep water filled sinkholes formed by water percolating through the soft limestone soil for thousands of years.

Cozumel's cenotes are restricted to qualified cave divers with appropriate credentials.

Cozumel has a number of endemic species and subspecies of bird including:

- Cozumel emerald

- Cozumel great curassow, which is vulnerable

- Cozumel thrasher, which is nearly, if not already, extinct

- Cozumel vireo

- Cozumel wren

Endemic dwarf mammals are found on the island:

- Cozumel fox, which is nearly, if not already, extinct.

- Cozumel Island coati, which is endangered.

- Cozumel Island raccoon, which is critically endangered.

There are three rodents that are larger than their mainland counterpart: Oryzomys couesi, Peromyscus leucopus, and critically endangered Reithrodontomys spectabilis, the latter of which is also endemic to the island.

Endemic marine life:

- Splendid toadfish

Other native wildlife includes:

- American crocodile

- Black spiny-tailed iguana

-Blue land crab (Cardisoma guanhumi)

Cozumel has an international airport its Airport Code is CZM which receives direct flights from Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Halifax, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, Montreal, and Toronto as well regional flights from Mexico City.

However, most of the travelers fly into Cancun its Airport Code: CUN which generally has more flights, then take a bus or van south to Playa del Carmen and take the ferry across to Cozumel.

A shared van from Cancun airport to Playa Del Carmen will cost around 300 pesos per person one-way, where a bus will be around 130 pesos or $12 USD if you do not have pesos handy per person one-way.

Also you can take a small plane to Cozumel from Cancun airport's domestic terminal. It takes just 15 minutes and the trip is an amazing experience for about $75 USD per person one way.

There are nearly hourly rides to and from Playa del Carmen and it will take you about 35-40min on the ferry.

There are two companies in service. They are called Ultramar and Mexico Waterjets.

Ultramar is 150 pesos per person one direction and Mexico Waterjets was as low as 45 pesos. Mexico waterjets depart from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel every full hour at 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 21 o'clock.

To get from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen you can go at 07:30 and at the full hour at 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18 and 20 o'clock.

There are two companies, so buy a single ticket because you may need to use the other ferry company coming back and the tickets aren't transferable, two one-way tickets cost the same as a return anyhow.

A car ferry leaves from Calica, a few kilometers south of Playa del Carmen or pass Xcaret. The car ferry from Puerto Morelos no longer exists.

There are 4 ferries each day, but the first at 04:00 AM and the second at 08:00 AM are specially for supply and logistics of the locals and islander. So take the ferry at 12:15 PM and 06:00 PM.

From Cozumel back to the mainland you can take all ferries: 06:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 04:00 PM and 08:00 PM. As of October 31 2015, rental cars are allowed and cost 400 pesos for the car and driver.

You purchase your tickets in the wait line at the dock. Recommend you get in line at least one hours before the scheduled departure time.

But parking in Cozumel city is a nightmare and you will be ticketed and they will remove your rear license plate that can only be retrieved at the policia station on Quintana Roo Ave about 300 feet beyond the intersection with Ave Rafael E melgar, the main road that runs along the waterfront at a cost of 300 pesos if you pay within 24 hours,600 pesos after 24 hours.

Cruise ships often visit the island. A few can dock virtually downtown. A larger pair of piers lies about two miles south of downtown San Miguel, and primarily serves Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ships.

If many ships arrive the same day occasionally in high season, some may moor offshore and tender passengers to docks virtually downtown.

Walk, rent a car, or take a taxi; there is no public traffic out of town. The docks are saturated by pushy agencies trying to lure you into car rentals and activities.

The younger travelers or anyone who has free time may want to take them up on their offer. Always check first so you are not getting scammed but it is usually just a timeshare offer.

You pay about $20 for a jeep rental or a moped for the entire day and you get free breakfast at a five star resort.

A regular day car rental is around $55, but speaking Spanish will get you a discount 95% of the places if you ask.

For example, the posted price for a VW Pointer at Less-Pay next to Hotel Barracuda was $40, without insurance and taxes.

As an American who speaks Spanish, you can get that same car for 350 pesos, with insurance and taxes. Even if prices are posted, they can be bargained.

Scooters half that 25 dollars. Be aware that the rental insurance usually does not include thievery if any part of the rented vehicle will get stolen you will have to pay for it from your own pocket.

There are options of additional insurance options though, paid on top of the rental price.

Alternatively, taxis are always available and will take you to the west-shore beaches for $20 onwards, depending on distance and number of people.

Taxis cost between $2 and $3 (30 to 60 pesos) for intra-town destinations. Like the rest of Cozumel, they accept US Dollars at the current exchange rate.

Bicycle rentals are also available. The Cozumel rent-a-bike offers several different types of bicycles. The rates vary depending on how many days you want to rent the bicycle.

One day is 20 USD. Two or three days is 15 dollars a day. 4 or more days is 15 dollars a day.

It should be mentioned that the majority of traffic accidents that befall tourists involve scooters known locally as motos.

Accidents seem to be due to a few factors:

- Some inexperienced riders expect that if they can drive a car, then they can drive a scooter.

- Some riders are unfamiliar with driving practices and conditions in Mexico.

- Roads are not always in the best condition, and potholes are generally unmarked.

- Scooters offer substantially less protection from accidents than anything with four wheels.

Many accidents are also caused by tourists having too many alcoholic drinks and then driving motos.

Scooters can be a great way to explore the island, but should only be driven by experienced riders. If you are not experienced, please do not rent them.

Cars and Jeeps are available for rent at multiple locations, including airport and cruise terminals.

At Cruise terminals, one day rental costs roughly between US$45-$80 for most of models without insurance. The paved road is in very good condition from mid-part of the island to the southernmost part.

Jeep would be a better choice if you plan to drive on unpaved road in some parks. The cars tend to be with relatively higher mileages comparing to those in US and Europe.

Wide spread scams at all three PEMEX gas stations on Cozumel island have been frequently reported for many years by tourists online.

Some scams may occur even with tourist watching. PEMEX stations are individually owned and operated. So, each gas station has its own office handling complaints.

Some car rental agencies at cruise terminals offer $25 flat fuel charge without refill at the time of return.

Use credit card, rather than cash, to pay for the gasoline may offer potential chance for charge dispute and settlement later.

Carretera costera sur km4 Right Across from Park Royal hotel. 08:00 AM - 06:00 PM. Scooter and Jeep rentals.

Scooters 15/20 USD for 12/24h; Jeep Wranglers for 45 USD for 24h, unlimited milage and liability insurance included.

Most visitors travel to Cozumel to dive and see its wonderful underwater life.

While there are quite a few beach clubs that offer snorkeling, the main attractions are the reefs offshore and the multiple dive shops and operations are always ready to take you there.

The main town, San Miguel, and dive operations are on the west side of the island, but if you rent a car or scooter then the east side of the island is the place to go.

The east side of the island is mostly undeveloped, but there are beautiful beaches, big waves, and rocky outcrops over the ocean. If the waves are sufficient you can find a few small blow holes.

Be aware that the waves and attendant undertows can make swimming on the east side very dangerous, however. You will also find a restaurant on the beach every few kilometers.

Cozumel also offers several Mayan archaeological sites. The most extensive vestiges are those at San Gervasio admission fee is 77 pesos, an inland site a few miles north of the Carretera Transversal highway.

Another site is located near the village of El Cedral, inland from the Carretera Costera Sur highway.

In Punta Sur Park, at the southern tip of the island, there is the El Caracol temple, believed to have been used as a lighthouse by the Mayans.

Cozumel is one of the premier scuba diving destinations in the western hemisphere. The island abounds with dive shops, most willing to give you a scuba class or resort course and take you out if you are not yet certified.

A boat dive for certified divers with two tanks will cost around $90, plus any equipment rental, note that all Cozumel dive shops include only tank and weight belt in their prices so expect to pay another $20-25 for BCD, reg, mask, fins and wetsuit and Marine Park Fee.

Most dive sites are located well south of the city proper, as are a number of dive shops if you want a short boat ride.

Most diving in Cozumel is drift diving, where you are dropped off by the boat at the beginning of the dive, are carried along the reef by the current, and picked up at the end of your dive by the boat.

There is some shore diving, but it is limited compared with what you can enjoy further out and places like Palancar Reef and the walls.

Along with other marine life Divers are able to see Seahorses and Eagle Rays and Turtles, especially during Turtle Nesting season, sees large numbers of Turtles on Cozumel's beaches during nesting seasons.

Aquaworld, Cozumel is ranked among the world´s top scuba diving destinations. 7 am to 7 pm. Cozumel diving is second to none, you can’t visit Cozumel without diving.

They offer more than six options for certified divers that will ensure you witness the best dive sites in the area as well as providing quality service and safety.

Aldora Divers — training, certification and fast 6 person boats with high capacity steel tanks and long surface intervals, usually at Palancar Beach Club. Rental equipment. Night Dives. Nitrox available. Villa Aldora room and suite rentals.

Always Diving — Diving lessons and professional certified dive instructors in the best dive spots in Cancun, Cenote dives, Cozumel dives. 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, 365 days a year.

Aqua Safari — training, certification and two types of daily dive trips on fast or large boat. Good company but they tend to pack more people on a dive trip, up to 16 on the big boats.

When the wind is blowing and the small boats cannot go out, their seaworthy boats often still can provide service. They also have a 8 person fast boat available. 1 tank afternoon dives are a very good deal.

Night dives Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. Nitrox Available. Hotel packages with Safari Inn, Cozumel Palace and several other hotels.

Blue XT~Sea Diving — training, certification, equipment rental, and nitrox are available from this dive op.

Personalized service, max 6 divers per fast boat. They'll keep and clean your dive gear except wetsuit, if you wish and have it on the boat the next morning.

Night and Afternoon dives based on demand, and hotel packages with decent savings are offered.

Bottom Time Divers — training, certification and 6 pack diver fast boat are available from this very popular family run dive op.

Owner/instructor with excellent local knowledge, beach SI's and dive gear overnight wash and rinse etc. Private groups accepted.

Buena Ventura Diving, is a small, personable dive outfit dedicated to the specialized needs of its diving clients.

Cozumel Dive School, A full service, five star PADI dive resort offering recreational and professional certifications, divemaster internships, specialty courses, TecRec courses, multiple daily boat dives, private shuttle to/from the harbor, equipment and accommodations included.

Courteous and friendly multilingual staff and students from all over the world offer the opportunity to meet a diverse group of like-minded divers looking to learn, gain experience, pursue the professional realm, and have a great time doing it in one of the World’s Top Dive Destinations.

Deep Blue — training, certification, nitrox, technical and known for fast boats. At most 8 divers with 2 divemaster or as few as 4 divers with 1 dive master. Rental equipment. Night Dives.

Hotel and dive package is available through numerous hotels. Dive shop is located in town across the street from La Choza. Divers are usually called the day before diving to arrange dive location and possible divemaster.

Dive Paradise — training, certification and two types of daily dive trips,fast or slow boat. Night dives. Numerous dive / hotel packages. Several dive shops. Rental equipment. In Cozumel since 1984.

Find & Dive — is an online tool for planning and booking your next dive trip to Cozumel.

Living Underwater — small, personalized service offering steel 120s super-long dives. Best for advanced divers.

Mestizo Divers — Small groups of divers on a modern fast boat. Custom trips to the dive sites of your choice. When not diving they also offer fishing charters.

Ocean Tours Scuba and Water Sports , At Cozumeleno Beach Resort & Hotel, North Hotel Zone. 7 am to 7 pm. Since 1986, Laura and Jose De la Fuente have been hosting and diving with Cozumel´s visitors.

PADI scuba dive operation, fully equiped with top of the line gear available. Dive Trips for certified divers, scuba school all levels, equipment rental, repair and retal. Deep sea fishing charters.

Sand to Sea Adventures — AM or PM Departures, Most often has small groups with personalized dives to fit your needs. Snorkel charters, Fishing charters and SCUBA GROUPS with special large (10+) group pricing.

Pickup from many hotel piers and arrangements for cruise ship passengers. Discover Scuba, SCUBA refresher, PADI certification, equipment rental, nitrox rental (EAN Cert Required) and night dives.

ScubaLuis, PADI certified Instructors and 2nd Generation Cozumel Divemaster. PADI scuba certification, Discover Scuba and private dive trips available, too.

Small boats with maximum of 6 divers, concierge diving and overnight gear handling.

Scuba Mau — Training, Discover Scuba, Hotel/Dive packages, Dive trips. Utilizes small boats of six people with a well-trained but personality filled dive staff. Located next to the Villablanca Hotel. $60 per day for two tanks, $10 per day for full equipment rental.

If diving or tours are not what you're looking for, there are still plenty of other things to do:

Snorkeling, logically enough, the second most popular activity after diving. Many beach-side dive shops rent equipment for $7-10.

Even though all beaches in Mexico are public some require fees to enter and use the facilities.

Beaches with a rocky limestone shoreline on the west coast are the best for snorkeling or shore dives since less sand is disturbed so visibility and coral growth are better.

Catamaran Sail and Snorkel Excursion, a great excursion operated by Cozumel Water Sports taking you snorkeling to 2 reefs with music, open bar, snacks of fresh fruit and guacamole, 2 daily departures.

Glass Bottom Boat Tour, a twist to snorkeling. You visit about two or three reefs, which are small parts of the second largest coral reef in the world.

It costs at the most about $40 a couple but you can get it a little cheaper depending on where you buy your tickets.

While heading to the snorkeling sites you have the privilege of looking through the glass bottom of the boat to see all the sea-life you pass on your way. Very fun to do as a couple or a family.

Mini Submarine Tour, a new way of exploring the underwater world. This new activity by Cozumel Water Sports offers all non divers and non snorkelers to explore the reefs and sea life of Cozumel.

Riding your underwater scooter with your head dry in the air filled helmet, you can drive around the reefs. Especially great for people who wear glasses as you can have them on under water.

Beach lounging, most of the calm western side of Cozumel has rough rocky beaches not suitable for swimming or sun bathing. The areas that are suitable have been turned into small parks.

Some charge entrance fees which includes a beach chair and umbrella as well as access to the washroom and shower facilities, others are free to use, and offer many of the same amenities, while relying on visitors to purchase food or drinks.

Playa San Francisco is located 20 minutes by taxi south of town and has a restaurant on site.

The Other Side, the beaches on the east windward side of the island. Sandy surf and large waves alternating with rocky limestone coastlines on the east side of the island are beautiful but can be dangerous for swimmers.

The roaring surf creates strong breakers and undertows in many areas. Never enter the water alone. There are now many areas where flags are displayed showing the level of safety for a particular area.

Despite the potentially dangerous swimming conditions, these beaches are stunning and serene for enjoying sunbathing, long walks or playing in the water very close to shore.

These beaches are popular with surfers and kite surfers, and with locals on the weekends.

Chankanaab National Park, About 9km south of town. 7am - 5pm daily. The park includes a beach, restaurant, bar, changing rooms, walking trails, and a lagoon with a large iguana population.

Activities include snorkeling & diving, swimming with the dolphins, snuba, and Seatrek. $2 coupon and packages available at their website. approx. $19 for adults.

Deep Sea Fishing, Puerto Abrigo Marina. Cozumel is rated as one of the top ten sport fishing hotspots in the world. Fishing is enhanced by the deep-water channel between the Yucatan Coast and the Cozumel Island.

The channel squeezes the Gulf Stream as it passes by Cozumel on its journey northward. This funnel effect causes an upwelling and an abundance of fish.

The nutrient rich Caribbean waters around Cozumel support a vast array of sport fish with exceptional fishing opportunities all year long.

Paradise Beach, Carretera Sur Km 14.5, Cozumel, Q.Roo 5 miles South of Int.Cruise Ship Pier, 7 miles South of downtown. 9am-5pm daily. Free admission, beach chairs $2.

Beautiful sandy beach, one of Cozumel´s largest swimming pools, a $18 FunPass is available for unlimited access to over 14 land and ocean activities, including snorkel equipment, kayaks, paddleboards, waterslides, water trampolines, bungee trampoline, coconut tree climb, a 14-ft. climbing iceberg, and more.

Fabulous food and drinks served right on the beach or at the restaurant. Clean bathrooms, showers, change rooms and lockers. Beachwear boutique, parasailing, waverunners, massage, etc. also available.

Located 9 miles south of San Miguel Downtown, Cozumel, 5 miles south of the International Cruise Ship Pier. Sometimes they do insist to buy $10 per person worth of food or drinks. Free Entrance.

Playa Palancar. 10AM - 5PM. This west-side park features a quiet white-sand beach, lounge chairs and hammocks under shady palm trees, and a well-stocked bar and restaurant.

It's about a $20 taxi ride south of San Miguel, but you'll be free to spend the day with the purchase of food.

Equipment for shore-based snorkeling can be rented for $10, and it's not difficult to find schools of colorful fish even in the shallow waters.

ATV Jungle Adventure Tour, An ideal activity for people looking for adventure and excitement through the jungle and the beach. Amaze with the landscapes and beautiful natural sceneries.

Ride through lush green forests and explore ancient Mayan ruins and caves on your ATV. From $95

Silver is cheaper here than in the U.S. but be sure to look for the .925 stamp as some places do sell fake silver jewelry.

Sergio's Silver and More. Two locations on the island. Very low key approach to sales. Selection is good and prices more than fair. Service is the best. Can size rings and very patient with novice buyers of silver.

Between Avenidas 10 and 15 past Palmira's and The Square.

Local restaurants, most fairly good and fairly similar to each other, are plentiful in and around the city's downtown main square.

Alberto's Beach Bar, Carretera Costera Sur km 18, Cozumel 77600, Mexico a few km north of Playa Palancar. This isolated beach-side bar and restaurant distinguishes itself by catching its own seafood daily.

The grilled Mahi-mahi filet is a definitely a worthy experience. Tables are literally setup on the beach, so it's also a great place to watch the sunset. Atmosphere is very informal, with a live DJ most nights.

Although not officially recommended, it's possible to walk the 1-1.5 miles up the beach from Playa Palancar if you're not afraid of a small hike.

Located between the Occidental Grand and Iberostar resorts and walkable along the beach from both, though a small flashlight may come in handy after dark.

Casa Denis, Near San Miguel main square. This self-declared oldest restaurant in Cozumel has very good, reasonably priced entrees featuring some Mayan and Yucatan specialties, along with more conventional Mexican fare like tacos and enchiladas.

The Mayan Pork is an interesting take on conventional barbecue, tender with a slightly sweet marinade, and no sauce needed and margaritas are freshly made and strong. Dinner comes with a free Tequila shot at the end. $10-$20.

Casa Mission, 55 Avenida entre Avenida Juarez y calle 1 Sur, Cozumel 77600, Mexico one block before fire station. 8 am - 10 pm Daily.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner breakfast, Casa Mission offers superb food, however the real attraction here is not the food, but the setting. Located off the beaten path, the restaurant is the veranda area of a large hacienda style Mexican home.

It is surrounded on all sides by an extensive garden that combines perfectly with the colonial hacienda ambiance.

There are no longer any lions or monkeys, but there still are a number of beautiful caged birds. One of the most romantic spots on the island for cocktails or dinner. One margarita is sufficient.

La Cocay. Off the beaten path but worth the finding. La Cocay is Mayan for the Firefly. The food is delicious and presented extremely well.

La Choza, Calle Adolfo Rosado Salas #198, at Avenue 10. Great homestyle, local Mexican food served in a relaxed atmosphere. Fish is excellent, tasty fajitas and guacamole. Only one Margarita needed here.

Kinta, Ave 5 between Calle 2 and Calle 4.. Tues.-Sun. 5:30pm to 11pm. This restaurant takes a contemporary look at some traditional Mexican dishes, applying a French/Latin fusion style.

The Chile Relleno includes ratatouille in the filling and is topped with a delicate cream sauce. Atmosphere is relaxed but sophisticated. $20-30.

El Morrito III, 6th Street North between Rafael E. Melgar Avenue and 5a North Avenue. This tiny restaurant is located in a Mexican home off the beaten path.

If offers cheap, cheap for Cozumel, although expensive compared to the rest of Mexico authentic Mexican food. Tacos are okay but not as good as other places in Mexico, and cost about $1.25 apiece. The atmosphere is unbeatable though.

Pepe's Grill, At the corner of Avenida Megler and C Salas, Steak and Seafood.

Prima Trattoria, Adolfo Rosado Salas between Avenidas 5 and 10. Northern Italian style cuisine offered along with wonderful salads, try the blue cheese salad.

Excellent pasta and seafood, they know how to prepare it properly and it’s super super fresh. Try the surf and turf for a mix or the seafood linguine combo, both will suit you.

Rolandi's, Melgar & 11 Past the Mega, right next to Margaritaville. 11am-Midnight Daily. Italian finer dining eatery directly on the water. Good service. $12-$20 USD for most entrees and $6-$8 USD for desserts.

Senor Frogs, Located right above Carlos 'n Charlies, Senor Frogs is a hotspot for young people and tourists. A very laid back atmosphere with very few rules. There is a bar incorporated with tire swings; just to have fun while you drink.

They have a dance floor and a stage for the live music they sometimes provide. If there is not a band, there is always a DJ to keep the party going. Prices vary depending on the drink.

Kondesa, 5ta Av. between 5 y 7 Sur #456. A sister restaurant to Kinta; run by the brother of Kinta's owner. Wonderful modern Mexican food in a great setting.

A charming outdoor courtyard of seating, good service. It's a little outside the main tourist area of town, but is worth a visit.

Guido's, Ave. Rafael E. Melgar #23 between Calle 6 & 8 North. European restaurant run by a sweet family of expats. Guido's has a beautiful courtyard, a romantic ambiance, and delicious food.

Downtown, bottled liquor prices seldom vary, though you'll find some drop-off the farther you get from the center of the city.

Don Julio Tequila runs $45-50 at the tourist shops, but if you have time find a local grocery and get it at half price. Kahlua runs $10.

Bars seldom monitor customers for age or drunkenness, so take care driving or walking as the evening wears on.

1.5 Tequila Bar and Lounge, Av. Rafael Melgar at Calle 11 Sur. Club atmosphere with dancing and a view. Nice mix of locals and tourists. Thankfully, no cruisers. Can get crowded on weekends.

No Name Bar, Avenida Rafael Melgar next to Hotel Barracuda. Quiet place, friendly atmosphere, sometimes air conditioned. A traditional expat hangout with an excellent selection of semi-pricey tequilas.

Loud dance music during the day. Have recently established a $100 peso minimum per person.

Reef Bar, Rafael E Melgar across from Mega, near Hotel Barracuda, just a block north. Laid back atmosphere. Great place to have a few beers once you are finished diving for the day.

The bartenders are friendly and will take excellent care of you. $1.50 beers.

Kondesa, Ave 5 between 5th & 7th. Sister restaurant to Kinta. Mexican food with a modern twist.

Wet Wendy's, #53 Avenida 5, Entre Calle 2 y Juarez. All American staff is very friendly, laid back. They have their own house-brand of tequila that is astonishingly good for the price. Excellent margaritas the size of Mt. Everest.

Pancho's Backyard, Rafael Meglar 27. monday to saturday, 10a-11p sun 6p11p. Pancho’s Backyard provides a gastronomical experience that comforts all of the senses.

In the peaceful and romantic environment of Pancho’s actual backyard, among the murmur of fountains and the soft Mexican music, your soul will be renewed by the cool caribbean breeze.

You will be swept away into a tropical paradise, while enjoying the colorful personalities and full flavor of our Mexican delicacies.

Pescador San Carlos, 50 ave and bet calle calle2 and 3. 9 am-6 pm. a Family owned restaurant, the fisherman catches and prepares whatever you like from his catch of the day.

Off the tourist strip, this place is a real taste of Cozumel and worth the trip. A five dollar cab ride from the docks will get you a great meal, at a very reasonable price. cheap.

Hotel Villas Las Anclas, 325 south 5th Avenue. checkin: 132:00; checkout: 12:00. Offers spacious suites in a serene tropical garden. 80-120 USD.

Beachouse Hostel Cozumel, Lote 36, Cozumel Country Club Estate, Zone North. The Beach House Cozumel is mixed in a warm, traditional Mexican style with European quality and a few personal touches.

You can also enjoy our private swimming pool and the beautiful garden. Just a few steps away is our fantastic white sand beach, which offers some of the best kite boarding conditions in Mexico.

The Beachouse organize Diving-,Snorkel- and Fishing Tours. 25 - 55 USD.

El Cid La Ceiba Beach Hotel, Carretera A Chankanaab Km 4.5. A member of El Cid Resorts, this beachfront hotel on the southern shores of Cozumel Island features private balconies, all inclusive plans, ocean view swimming pools, an oceanfront restaurant,and snorkel and shore diving.

Casa del Mar Hotel & Aquatics, Carretera a Chankanaab Km 4. 2 reasonably priced and convenient hotels and dive shops located near all of the major dive locations, The Casa Del Mar is Generally less expensive than La Ceiba

Hotel Flamingo, Calle 6 Norte. Simple but comfortable rooms, available for very affordable package rates through many common travel booking sites. The daily included breakfast is high-quality and a welcome bonus.

This is a small business so some minor imperfections may need to be tolerated e.g., sometimes the water heater needs to be restarted, but the staff is quick to help whenever possible.

Occidental Allegro Resort, Kilómetro 17.5, Carretera Sur. A five star resort located on the beach offering all-inclusive packages.

3 on-site restaurants, still included in your stay, a snack bar equipped with a buffet for lunch and late-night snacks. They also have a swim-up bar, direct access to the beach and docks for any snorkeling or scuba diving. From $68 p.p.

The Summer Place Inn, Av. 10 between 17 and 19. Private units and a condo which can be booked nightly, weekly or monthly, run by a Canadian family.

Villa Anna Maria, 65 bis Av. 171 between 1 y Rosado Salas. Bed and breakfast place run by a Scotsman and a Mexican.

Villas El Encanto, Calle 21 sur No.44 entre Av.Rafael E Melgar y Av 5, Col. Andres Quintana. This hotel offers cozy and well-appointed rooms, all of which have air-conditioning, cable TV, and Internet access.

Some of its amenities include swimming pool, spa services, and assistance for yoga sessions, scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing trips, sea treks, golf, shopping. rates start at USD 50.

Villablanca Garden Beach Hotel, Costera Sur Km 3, 3km south of town. Located outside of town, this hotel is adjacent to three SCUBA shops Dive Paradise, Scuba Mau, Papa Hogs, making it a good option for divers.

Hotel amenities include a pool, tennis courts, restaurant, free albeit slow wireless internet in the lobby, air-conditioning, and an appointment-only spa/gym. $50-$150 per night.

Villas Deja Blue, Calle 21 Sur esq. 5av #101. Villas Deja Blue provides twin, queen, king, double, deluxe and villa deja blue villas with central air-conditioning, cable TV and wireless DSL internet access.

Its facilities and services include salt-water pool, pool deck, scuba driving arrangements and housekeeping services.

Casa Colonial with Mexican Colonial Architecture, Ave. 35 Entre 8 Y 10. Casa Colonial; Cozumel vacation rentals in the heart of San Miguel, Cozumel Mexico. These vacation villas represent Luxury without the price tag.

El Cid La Ceiba Beach, Carretera a Chankanaab KM 4.5. A Cozumel resort on the beach located on the southern shoreline. This oceanfront hotel features newly renovated accommodations, El Cocay Spa, a brand-new eco-park and a private dive center. ADR: $81.

Coral Princess, 2.5 Kilometer Zonal Hotelera Norte. An older resort on the North end of the island. There is a hotel side and a side rented to travel club members.

Many of the same people have been visiting this hotel for years and years, and the people who work here are wonderful. Direct access to snorkeling and an on-site dive shop.

Big Fish Cozumel Dive Hostel, Ave 10a Nte #498 esquina Calle 10 Norte. checkin: 1pm; checkout: 11am.

Big Fish is the ultimate brand new dive hostel and dive school in downtown Cozumel, carefully designed for scuba divers and dive students, managed by experienced instructors and are great fun to dive with.

Perfectly located in downtown, only 2 blocks from the ocean and the main street. Everything is within walking distance, main square, restaurants, bars, clubs, 24 hrs supermarkets and pharmacies etc. 12-45 USD.

Amigos Hostel Cozumel, Calle 7 sur # 571 x Ave 25 & 30 col. centro walk south from pier to calle 7 make left walk 5.5 city blocks to gate. checkin: 2pm; checkout: 11am.

Two mixed 8 bed each dorms one private room set in large tropical garden with swimming pool.

Large full kitchen, communal area pool table darts,board games, DVD movies, free WIFI, many electrical outlets, reading lamps, AC 10p-8a may-oct in dorms, 3 hot water showers for 16 dorm clients, lockers, book exchange.

Private with 3 single beds, AC, kitchenette, private bath. Lots of hammocks .smoking areas. BBQ grill for client use. Rental of snorkel gear on site. bike, moped, car rentals, snorkel and dive trips arranged.

Extensive welcome briefing by 25+yr island resident offered upon arrival with detailed map for your keeping! 12 US/bed.

El Cantil Condominums, Av.Rafael E Melgar, calle 15 y 17. Condominium rentals for a few days or a week. Oceanfront with spectacular water views.

Air-Conditioning, cable TV with US stations, free Wi-Fi, free VOIP phone calls to US. Walking distance to downtown. On site pier for scuba pick up.

While in Cozumel, visit:

- Playa del Carmen

- Cancun

Tourism Observer

SOUTH AFRICA: Cyril Ramaphosa, Who And What Is He

Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa was born 17 November 1952.

Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa is a South African politician. He is the fifth and current President of South Africa, as a result of the resignation of Jacob Zuma, having taken office following a vote of the National Assembly on 15 February 2018.

Previously an anti-apartheid activist, trade union leader and businessman, he served as the Deputy President of South Africa from 2014 to 2018.

He was elected President of the African National Congress (ANC) at the ANC National Conference in Nasrec, South of Johannesburg in December 2017.

He is also the Chairman of the National Planning Commission, which is responsible for strategic planning for the future of South Africa, with the goal of rallying the nation around a common set of objectives and priorities to drive development over the longer term.

He has been called a skillful negotiator and strategist who acted as the ANC's Chief Negotiator during South Africa's transition to democracy.

Ramaphosa built up the biggest and most powerful trade union in South Africa—the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

He played a crucial role, with Roelf Meyer of the National Party, during the negotiations to bring about a peaceful end to apartheid and steer the country towards its first fully democratic elections in April 1994.

Ramaphosa was Nelson Mandela’s choice for future president.

Today, Ramaphosa is well known as a businessman and has an estimated net worth of over $450 million with 31 properties and previously held notable ownership in companies such as McDonald's South Africa, chair of the board for MTN and member of the board for Lonmin.

Despite his credentials as an important proponent of South Africa's peaceful transition to democracy, he has also been widely criticised for the conduct of his business interests although he has never been indicted for illegal activity in any of these controversies.

Controversial business dealings include acting as Chairperson for the MTN Group during the MTN Irancell scandal when a disgruntled former employee, Mr Chris Kilowan, alleged that the organisation had bribed officials in Iran.

However the Hoffmann Commission's finding concluded: The committee exonerated MTN and found that Mr Kilowan who had given two statements in arbitration proceedings brought by Turkcell against the Islamic Republic of Iran and a deposition in the United States proceedings against MTN was in the words of the committee shown to be a fantasist and a conspiracy theorist.

His joint venture with Glencore and allegations of benefitting illegally from coal deals with Eskom which he has staunchly denied, during which Glencore was in the public spotlight for its tendentious business activities involving Tony Blair in the Middle East.

His employment on the board of directors of Lonmin while taking an active stance when the Marikana Massacre took place on Lonmin's Marikana premises.

On 15 August 2012 he called for action against the Marikana miners' strike, which he called dastardly criminal conduct.

He later admitted and regretted his involvement in the act and said that it could have been avoided if contingency plans had been made prior to the labour strike. He is a member of the Venda ethnic group.

Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa was born in Soweto, Johannesburg, on 17 November 1952.

He is the second of the three children of Erdmuth and Samuel Ramaphosa, a retired policeman. He grew up in Soweto, attending Tshilidzi Primary School and Sekano Ntoane High School there.

In 1971, he matriculated from Mphaphuli High School in Sibasa, Venda. He subsequently registered to study law at the University of the North (Turfloop) in 1972.

While at university, Ramaphosa became involved in student politics and joined the South African Students Organisation (SASO) and the Black People's Convention (BPC).

This resulted in him being detained in solitary confinement for eleven months in 1974 under Section 6 of the Terrorism Act, for organising pro-Frelimo rallies.

In 1976 he was detained again, following the unrest in Soweto, and held for six months at John Vorster Square under the Terrorism Act.

After his release, he became a law clerk for a Johannesburg firm of attorneys and continued with his legal studies through correspondence with the University of South Africa (UNISA), where he obtained his B. Proc. Degree in 1981.

After completing his legal qualifications and obtaining his degree, Ramaphosa joined the Council of Unions of South Africa (CUSA) as an advisor in the legal department.

In 1982, CUSA requested that Ramaphosa start a union for mineworkers; this new union was launched in the same year and was named the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Ramaphosa was arrested in Lebowa, on the charge of organising or planning to take part in a meeting in Namakgale which had been banned by the local magistrate.

In August 1982, CUSA resolved to form the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), and in December Ramaphosa became its first secretary.

Ramaphosa was the conference organiser in the preparations leading to the formations of the Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU). He delivered a keynote address at Cosatu’s launch rally in Durban in December 1985.

In March 1986 he was part of COSATU’s delegation which met the African National Congress in Lusaka, Zambia.

Ramaphosa was elected as the first General Secretary of the union, a position he held until he resigned in June 1991, following his election as Secretary General of the African National Congress (ANC).

Under his leadership, union membership grew from 6,000 in 1982 to 300,000 in 1992, giving it control of nearly half of the total black workforce in the South African mining industry.

As General Secretary, he, James Motlatsi (President of NUM), and Elijah Barayi (Vice President of NUM) also led the mineworkers in one of the biggest strikes ever in South African history.

In December 1988, Ramaphosa and other prominent members of the Soweto community met Soweto’s Mayor to discuss the rent boycott crisis.

In January 1990, Ramaphosa accompanied released ANC political prisoners to Lusaka, Zambia.

Ramaphosa served as chairman of the National Reception committee, which co-ordinated arrangements for the release of Nelson Mandela and subsequent welcome rallies within South Africa, and also became a member of the international Mandela Reception Committee.

He was elected General-Secretary of the ANC in a conference held in Durban in July 1991. Ramaphosa was a visiting Professor of Law at Stanford University in the United States in October 1991.

In 1985, the NUM broke away from CUSA and helped to establish the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).

When COSATU joined forces with the United Democratic Front (UDF) political movement against the National Party government of P. W. Botha, Ramaphosa took a leading role in what became known as the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM).

When Nelson Mandela was released from prison, Ramaphosa was on the National Reception Committee.

Subsequent to his election as Secretary General of the African National Congress in 1991, he became head of the negotiation team of the ANC in negotiating the end of apartheid with the National Party government.

Following the first fully democratic elections in 1994, Ramaphosa became a member of parliament; he was elected the chairperson of its Constitutional Assembly on 24 May 1994 and played a central role in the government of national unity.

After he lost the race to become President of South Africa to Thabo Mbeki, he resigned from his political positions in January 1997 and moved to the private sector, where he became a director of New Africa Investments Limited.

He came in first place in the 1997 election to the ANC's National Executive Committee.

While not a member of the South African Communist Party (SACP), Ramaphosa has claimed that he is a committed socialist.

The media continually speculated on Ramaphosa joining the race for the presidency of the ANC in 2007, before the 2009 South African presidential election.

However, he stated that he is not interested in the presidency.

In December 2007, he was again elected to the ANC National Executive Committee, this time in 30th place with 1,910 votes.

On 20 May 2012, prominent Afrikaner ANC member Derek Hanekom asked Ramaphosa to run for President of the ANC, stating that We need leaders of comrade Cyril's calibre. I know Cyril is very good at business, but I really wish he would put all his money in a trust and step up for a higher and more senior position.

Although it was unknown whether or not Ramaphosa will run for President of the ANC, he attempted to quieten the speculation by responding to Hanekom's comment by stating You can't read anything into what he said. He was joking.

He officially became a candidate for the Deputy Presidency on 17 December 2012 and entered the race with the strong backing of the Zuma camp. On 18 December 2012, he was elected as Deputy President of the ANC.

Cyril Ramaphosa received 3,018 votes, while Mathews Phosa received 470 votes and Tokyo Sexwale received 463 votes.

Ramaphosa was appointed Deputy President by Jacob Zuma on 25 May 2014, and sworn into office by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng the following day.

Following his appointment, Ramaphosa was made Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly in terms of section 91(4) of the Constitution.

His responsibilities included: The affairs of the national executive in Parliament; the programming of parliamentary business initiated by the national executive, within the time allocated for that purpose and ensuring that Cabinet members attend to their parliamentary responsibilities.

On 3 June 2014, President Jacob Zuma announced that Ramaphosa would be appointed as Chairman of the National Planning Commission, with Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Jeff Radebe serving as the Commission's deputy Chairman.

In July 2014, Ramaphosa called for unity in the country, following calls by Julius Malema to scrap the singing of the Afrikaans portion of the national anthem.

Ramaphosa said: We are about building a nation and we must extend a hand of friendship, a hand of continued reconciliation to those who feel that the national anthem does not represent them any longer, and it can happen on both sides.

Ramaphosa has long been considered a potential presidential candidate and ran in the 1997 ANC Presidential election, losing to Thabo Mbeki.

Ramaphosa announced that he would seek the ANC Presidency in 2017, with his second run for President. Ramaphosa launched his campaign slogan as #CR17 Siyavuma.

By August 2017, Ramaphosa had received the endorsement of the trade union COSATU, the National Union of Mineworkers as well as the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and Gauteng provincial ANC leadership.

Individuals who also stepped forward to support Ramaphosa include education minister Angie Motshekga, Cosatu’s president Sdumo Dlamini, former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and former KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu.

On 18 December 2017, Ramaphosa was elected the president of the ANC at the party's 54th Elective Conference, defeating his rival Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, ex-wife of President Zuma, by 2440 votes to 2261.

In 2015 Ramaphosa arrived in Beijing on an official state visit to China. Ramaphosa led a delegation of Government, state-owned enterprise, and business people.

Ramaphosa held bilateral and economic discussions with Vice-President Li Yuanchao and met with Li Qiang, the Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China.

The bilateral discussions between Ramaphosa and his Chinese counterpart Li Yuanchao were focused on trade, investment, cooperation, financial cooperation including the BRICS New Development Bank, infrastructure development and energy issues.

The bilateral discussions took place within the framework of a five-to-ten year programme that President Jacob Zuma discussed during his state visit to China in 2014.

Ramaphosa went on a two-day working visit to both the Vietnam and Singapore. Ramaphosa said that South Africa and Vietnam needed to expand trade. The two countries have also agreed to cooperate further on education.

Both working visits were undertaken to consolidate existing bilateral political, economic and trade relations between South Africa and the two countries.

The visit to Singapore provided the South African delegation, led by Ramaphosa with an opportunity to learn from the Singapore model of economic success and the role of state-owned enterprises and economic growth and national developmental objectives of the country.

Bilateral trade has grown significantly with Singapore being South Africa's second largest trading partner in the Asian Region. By 2014 bilateral trade amounted to R28.9 billion compared to R23.5 billion in 2015.

Ramaphosa paid a visit to Lesotho in 2016 as the South African Development Community, (SADC) facilitator.

Ramaposa paid a courtesy visit to His Majesty King Letsie III and Prime Minister, Phakalitha Mosisili and his coalition leaders.

Ramaphosa went to Lesotho to consolidate peace and security ahead of the SADC Summit of Heads of States and Governments.

Ramaphosa was among the mandate at the SADC Double Troika held in June 2016 in Gaborone, Botswana, to facilitate the return of opposition political party leaders to Lesotho from South Africa.

On August 2016 Ramaphosa appointed a seven-person panel to advise on the appropriate level at which national minimum wage could be set.

Ramaphosa did this in his capacity as the chair of the Committee of National Principles of the National Economic Development Council (NEDLAC).

The committee comprises representatives of government, labour, business and the community. It was charged with determining that national minimum wage.

In November 2016 while speaking at the Limpopo Provincial Summit, Ramaphosa said that corruption was the root to the country's ailing economy.

Ramaphosa said that the South African Government and the South African business community had to find a way to combat corruption, although he didn't mention it by name.

Ramaphosa said that the summit should look at addressing quality and depth of leaders within the public and private sectors by adhering to the National Development Plan.

In the lead up to the 53rd ANC National Conference he spoke of the need to remove corruption from the ANC. In his first speech to the Conference as ANC leader he pledged to stamp out corruption.

Following Zuma's resignation, Ramaphosa was elected unopposed as President of South Africa by the National Assembly on 15 February 2018.

Among other positions, he is executive chairman of Shanduka Group, a company he founded. Shanduka Group has investments in the Resources Sector, Energy Sector, Real Estate, Banking, Insurance, and Telecoms (SEACOM).

He is also chairman of The Bidvest Group Limited, and MTN. His other non-executive directorships include Macsteel Holdings, Alexander Forbes and Standard Bank.

In March 2007 he was appointed Non-Executive joint Chairman of Mondi, a leading international paper and packaging group, when the company demerged from Anglo American plc.

In July 2013 he retired from the board of SABMiller plc.

He is one of South Africa’s richest men, with Forbes estimating his wealth at $675 million.

In 2011 Ramaphosa paid for a 20-year master franchise agreement to run 145 McDonald's restaurants in South Africa.

Shortly after the 2012 general election Ramaphosa announced that he was going to disinvest from Shanduka to fulfill his new responsibilities as Deputy President without the possibility of conflict of interest.

McDonald's South Africa announced that there would be a process underway to replace Ramaphosa as the current development licensee of the fast food chain operation in South Africa.

In 2014 after becoming Deputy President of South Africa the Register of Members' interests, tabled at parliament, revealed Ramaphosa's wealth.

Over and above the more than R76 million Ramaphosa accumulated in company shares, the documents showed that the former trade unionist and businessman owned 30 properties in Johannesburg and two apartments in Cape Town.

The register also confirmed Ramaphosa's resignation from Lonmin, a directorship for which he was criticised during the Marikana Massacre in 2012.

During a visit to Uganda in 2004 Ramaphosa became interested in the Ankole cattle breed.

Because of inadequate disease control measures in Uganda, the South African government denied him permission to import any of the breed.

Instead Ramaphosa purchased 43 cows from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and shipped them to Kenya. There the cows were artificially inseminated, the embryos removed and shipped to South Africa, there transferred to cows and then quarantined for two months.

As of August 2017 Ramaphosa had 100 Ankole breeding cows at his Ntaba Nyoni farm in Mpumalanga.

In 2017 Ramaphosa co-wrote a book on the breed, Cattle of the Ages, Stories and Portraits of the Ankole Cattle of Southern Africa.

The Marikana massacre, as referred to in the media, occurred when police broke up an occupation by striking Lonmin workers of a koppie or hilltop) near Nkaneng shack settlement in Marikana on 16 August 2012.

As a result of the police shootings, 34 miners died and an additional 78 miners were injured causing anger and outcry against the police and South African government.

Further controversy emerged after it was discovered that most of the victims were shot in the back and many victims were shot far from police lines.

The violence on 16 August 2012 was the single most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since the end of the apartheid era.

During the Marikana Commission, it also emerged that Lonmin management solicited Ramaphosa, as Lonmin shareholder and ANC heavyweight, to coordinate concomitant action against criminal protesters and therefore is seen by many as being responsible for the massacre.

Under the investigation of Farlam committee, Ramaphosa said that Lonmin lobbied government and the SAPS firstly to secure a massive police presence at Lonmin and secondly to characterise what was taking place as a criminal rather than an industrial relations event.

The Marikana Commission of Inquiry ultimately found that given the deaths that had already occurred, his intervention did not cause the increase in police on site, nor did he know the operation would take place on 16 August.

In August 2017, Ramaphosa was involved in a scandal which alleged he had been in several extramarital affairs and was involved in paying money to individuals while maintaining the affairs.

Ramaphosa later denied the allegations claiming they were politically motivated in order to derail his presidential campaign.

Among others, Ramaphosa has received honorary doctorates from the University of Natal, the University of Port Elizabeth, the University of Cape Town, the University of the North, the National University of Lesotho, the University of Massachusetts Boston and the University of Pennsylvania.

Ramaphosa received the Olof Palme prize in Stockholm in October 1987.

He was awarded Honorary Actuary by the Actuarial Society of South Africa for his role in developing Actuarial professionals from historically disadvantaged communities in South Africa.

In 2004, he was voted 34th in the Top 100 Great South Africans.

Ramaphosa was included in the 2007 Time 100, an annual list of 100 men and women whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world.

In his role as a businessman, Ramaphosa is a member of the Coca-Cola Company International Advisory Board as well as the Unilever Africa Advisory Council. He was also the first deputy chairman of the Commonwealth Business Council.

Along with the ex-president of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari, he was appointed an inspector of the Irish Republican Army weapon dumps in Northern Ireland.

Ramaphosa is the Honorary Consul General for Iceland in Johannesburg, South Africa.

In the 2007–2008 Kenyan crisis, which followed the disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibaki in December 2007, Ramaphosa was unanimously chosen by the mediation team headed by Kofi Annan to be the chief mediator in charge of leading long-term talks.

However, Kibaki's government expressed dissatisfaction with the choice of Ramaphosa, saying that he had business links with Kibaki's opponent Raila Odinga, and on 4 February Annan accepted Ramaphosa's withdrawal from the role of chief mediator.

According to Ramaphosa, Odinga visited him in 2007, but he did not have any special interest that would lead him to favor one side or the other.

However, he said that he could not be an effective mediator without the trust and confidence of all parties and that he therefore felt it would be best for him to return to South Africa to avoid becoming an obstacle in the negotiation.

Ramaphosa is a very private person and not much is known about his personal life.

Ramaphosa had previously been married to businesswoman Nomazizi Mtshotshisa, but the couple divorced.

He later married Tshepo Motsepe, the sister of South African mining billionaire Patrice Motsepe.

Ramaphosa has four children. He owns a R30,000,000 luxury mansion at the foot of Lion's Head in Cape Town.

Ramaphosa is known to be one of the richest people in South Africa, with an estimated net worth of more than $450,000,000 and has appeared in financial magazines such as Forbes Africa and Bloomberg.

Ramaphosa is also the founder of the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation.

Good luck Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, as President of the Republic of South Africa.

Tourism Observer