Humble beginnings and perseverance paved the road for the Tanzanian owned tourism operation that is today known as Mbali Mbali Lodges and Camps. Motivated by his entrepreneurial spirit and the need to invest in his hometown, the company’s founder built his first property, Kigoma Hilltop Hotel, which opened in 1996.
Kigoma Hilltop Hotel took four years to build and was opened by President Mkapa. It housed the first of many facilities to the region: a swimming pool, a conference room, a restaurant with a trained chef and a private beach on Lake Tanganyika. The hotel opened access for tourism in Kigoma, allowing visitors to gain insight into local life at the Katonga Fishing Village; visit the Dr. Livingstone memorial at the site of his former house; and visit the port where the historic century old German warship, the M.V Liemba, operates as a passenger and cargo ferry.
Kigoma Hilltop Hotel was just the beginning, giving the founder his first step into the hospitality industry. Today, the tourism operation has grown to six properties offering a range of diverse experiences from chimpanzee trekking to game viewing across Tanzania. The company has continued in the pioneering fashion of the first hotel; creating experiences for tourists to raise awareness and bring investment to the region to support communities and conservation efforts in some of the more remote regions of Tanzania.
Each lodge aspires to offer an experience like no other in its region. Gombe Forest Lodge is the only lodge in Gombe Stream National Park where you can observe chimpanzee communities made famous by Dr. Jane Goodall’s research. Kungwe Beach Lodge provides another opportunity for chimpanzee safaris in the Mahale Mountains. Katuma Bush Lodge houses the only swimming pool in Katavi National Park and the lodge will be opening its new Presidential Villa in 2015. Soroi Serengeti Lodge offers panoramic views of the Musabi Plains from the balconies of each room. Tarangire River Camp offers beautiful views of the elephants digging away at the dry riverbed.
More importantly, Mbali Mbali’s goal has always been to become sustainable and minimize the environmental impact of the properties. The company has invested in solar solutions to operate lodges in these remote regions. It is close to reaching its goal of installing hot water geysers powered by solar energy at all its properties. Furthermore, Soroi Serengeti Lodge’s entire store, with fridges and freezers, is powered by solar power. Plans are to convert the entire property into a green lodge. Mbali Mbali hopes to pave the road for sustainable tourism in Tanzania by eventually becoming a truly green chain of safari lodges in the country.
As a Tanzanian company, the reason for growth is synonymous to the need to invest in the country. Mbali Mbali Lodges and Camps takes pride in the impact it has made in local communities. It has created job opportunities, engaged with local villages to invest in community development, and founded and funded schools to educate children, an education that includes teaching the value of conservation. The company’s belief is that sustainable tourism is the only way forward.