Tanzania’s Camp David? Get real!


(eTN) – Last Saturday finally saw the formal launch of the latest kid on the aviation block, Safari Plus in Dar es Salaam – a company associated with Kempinski Hotels in Tanzania, belonging to the same holding company, ASB Developments, as the hotels which are managed by Kempinski.

The airline has acquired two Beechcraft King Air twin-engined turboprop aircraft, which offer a pressurized cabin for greater inflight comfort, allowing for a higher flight ceiling and thus avoiding much of the turbulences otherwise experienced in lower flying unpressurized aircraft.

At the launch, however, the airline’s business development manager got carried away by the occasion when in an outburst of uncontrolled rambling he compared the Kempinski Bilila Lodge in the Serengeti to the American president’s retreat in Camp David, calling the lodge the “unofficial Camp David of Tanzania.” Little did the man know that he only served to intensify speculation over the true ownership of this very large lodge in the heart of the Serengeti, built at the time against objections of conservationists in a sensitive part of the park.

The park was opened by President Kikwete who in his speech said no other such developments in the park would henceforth be permitted, though conveniently omitting his plans to build a highway across the park. Suggestions that President Kikwete, now that the airline was finally operational, would as a result be able to visit Bilila more often, was also greeted with derision by observers, as the president would hardly fly on a privately-operated aircraft when having a fleet of Tanzania air force aircraft at his disposal which meet the requirements of presidential safety and security demands.

Camp David, located in the forested mountains of Virginia not far from Washington DC, is an exclusive setting restricted to the US President and his guests and not open to the public, while the Bilila Lodge is regularly booked by tourists on long pre-arranged safari itineraries who would react sharply, and probably take legal action against, should they find themselves bumped on weekends for the purpose suggested by the airline’s official.

These utterances, however, notwithstanding, happy landings to the new airline and success on the routes between Dar es Salaam, Arusha, and the Serengeti, and also to Zanzibar, where Kempinski only recently lost the management contract for the Zamani Resort.