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Zara Tours wins Tanapa tourism awards 2019
With over 32 years of experience, Zara Tours has proven expertise with Kilimanjaro and Safari Adventures Expeditions, guiding visitors successfully to various destinations in Tanzania, from the roof of Africa the legendary Mt. Kilimanjaro, to the endless plains of Serengeti, over to the spice island of Zanzibar. Literally, thousands of travelers have experienced their best adventure with us.
Our clients have included celebrities, photographers, filmmakers, exhibitors, senators, ambassadors, presidents, travel writers, and journalists.
Annually, we guide around 5,000 climbers on Kilimanjaro with a 98% success rate and guide 3,000 safaris with our unique, unrivaled access to Tanzania’s parks.
Zara Tours offers the optimal value for African Adventures and Charity Tours in Tanzania. We do not cut corners, nor do we focus on luxury, rather we provide what most visitors want; a safe and successful journey. Lodging and vehicles are owned by Zara Tours, and our guides are employees, not contractors.
Flexibility is a major feature when building your tour with Zara Tours, putting your money where you want it to count.
1st prize : Best tour operator (overall Winner) 2017/2018
1st prize : Best tour operator (Mountain Climbing) including Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru 2017/2018
1st Prize : Best seasonal/special camp in the Serengeti national park 2017/2018
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Zainab Ansell: Entrepreneur who conquered Kilimanjaro
Zainab Ansell is the founder and managing director of the Moshi-based Zara Tours, which also markets itself as Zara Tanzania Adventures.
Ansell takes pride in operating the largest ground tourist handling company for Mount Kilimanjaro climbing expeditions, and operating a chain of tourist hotels and lodges.
She did not set out to be a tour operator. Her childhood dream was to work as cabin crew for Tanzania’s national airline, Air Tanzania Corporation.
“I had a sense of adventure and wanted to explore the world, to learn and share about the world’s diversity,” Ansell says, adding, “My dream came true when I was recruited by ATC. My father was not happy with my career choice but was impressed when later I was promoted to reservations and sales officer, a job I did for eight years.”
She was born in Hedaru in Kilimanjaro region in a family of 12 siblings. She moved to Moshi for work and still lives there.
In 1985, she decided to quit her job and set up a travel agency. With her experience in the hospitality and travel industry from ATC, it was not a big career leap and she knew what it takes to sell tickets for various airlines flying to northern Tanzania.
“It was a hard in the beginning because the Moshi business scene was male-dominated,” she says.
It immediately dawned on her how hard it was to start a business when she struggled to get a licence and accreditation from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Even when she eventually got the licence, she got no clients and made no money from the business for more than a year.
She recalls: “Getting the operating licence and registration was not easy but operating in the industry was even harder. It was aggressive and male-dominated.
“With the IATA registration, I started booking and selling tickets for international airlines such as KLM and Lufthansa. Unfortunately, three years later, the industry suffered a downturn and I could barely break even.
“One day as I was having my morning cup of coffee, I glanced up and saw the shining snowy cap of Mount Kilimanjaro. I had a epiphany moment and the idea to establish a tour company selling safaris and expeditions to Mount Kilimanjaro was born. That is how Zara Tanzania Adventures came to be,” she says.
With her savings and only three tour vans, she set off on an adventure.
“Of course, back then, we didn’t have all this technology, so I relied on word of mouth to market my business. I would even go to the bus terminus to tout for clients. The few clients I got were very impressed with my service and referred others to me. It is that drive to go the extra mile for my clients that earned me my reputation,” Ansell says.
“I am humbled and excited every time I shape people’s adventures and enrich their life experiences. I am contributing to global diversity by selling memorable experiences,” she says.
Zara Tours has grown into one of the largest safari operators in northern Tanzania, the epicentre of the safari in Tanzania.
The company is currently managing various tourist hotels and tented camps on the northern Tanzania tourist circuit; High View Hotel Karatu, High View Coffee Lodge, Serengeti Wild Camp, Ngorongoro Wild Camp, Serengeti- Ikoma Wild Camp, Serengeti Safari Lodge, Serengeti Wildebeest Camp and Ngorongoro Safari Lodge.
Zara Tours is known for its VIP safaris and honeymoon holidays. But it also offers regular tours, airport transfers, city-to-city transfers and ground handling services for individuals, groups and corporates.
“Being a woman has never stopped me from pursuing a career in tourism. I am very strong willed, always ready to work hard and I was determined to break the glass ceiling to realise my dream,” she says.
In 2000, Zara opened the Springlands Hotel, a true “home away from home” in Moshi, with 80 rooms and that which also serves as the company’s headquarters.
Ansell started with three tour vans and today the company has a fleet of over 70 four-wheel luxury safari vehicles.
Because it focuses on expeditions to and around Mt Kilimanjaro, Zara Tanzania Adventures has over 70 mountain guides and around 300 freelance porters.
As a way of giving back to the community, Zara encourages the guides and porters to join relevant professional organisations through which they are supported to buy health insurance, operate bank accounts and get skills training to serve international tourists.
On the proposed cable car project on Mt Kilimanjaro, Ansell says it is still a concept that could have both negative and potentially lucrative effects.
Like any other idea being introduced to a community for the first time, Ansell thinks it may unlock a niche for Kilimanjaro.
However, a cost-benefit analysis needs to be done to preserve Kilimanjaro’s glory as the rooftop of Africa and its significance to the host community and destination Tanzania at large.
In 2009, Ansell launched Zara Charity to help in the provision of free education to a marginalised communities. Currently it supports the education of 90 children in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Last year, Ansell was among top 100 women in Africa honoured for their excellence in tourism development on the continent during the Akwaaba African Travel Market in Nigeria.
She received an award in the category for Leaders, Pioneers, and Innovators in Africa category.