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Fort Ikoma, which used to be German army’s stronghold during the First World War, is back, making use of its colonial history, to initiate ‘time travel’ type of tourism, supplementing the real time safaris in the adjacent Serengeti National Park.
The Germans during their reign in East Africa, built the Fort at Ikoma in 1905 to initially defend themselves against what they described to be the ‘rebellious’ people of Ikoma. Later, during the First World War, the Stronghold served as a heliograph station which was used to telegraphically warn off British forces using sun-reflecting apparatus.
A century later, the derelicts were deserted, turning into a rather ugly sight. The buildings’ walls cracking, parts crumbling and history withering to the ground. Except for a few visitors that showed interest in the abandoned premises.
But now, authorities have decided to revive Fort Ikoma’s history transforming their current liabilities into future tourism focused, asset.
The management of Serengeti is renovating the old German Fort intending to include the property among the National Park’s tourism diversification.
Senior Assistant Conservation Commissioner for Tanzania National Parks, Massana Mwishawa, had revealed earlier on that the German Fort was listed in the future plans to diversify tourism products at the country’s oldest Park.
Fort Ikoma tourism complements the already popular attractions in Serengeti such as the annual wildebeests’ migration, spectacular ungulates’ calving season; gravity defying balloon safaris; bird watching and soon to be introduced sky-diving.
Built some two kilometers away from the Grumeti River, the Fort Ikoma structures were an important army base for the German East African troops. Perched on top of a series of low hills in the Serengeti region, the Germans chose this unique location for its tactical vantage over the enemy which now helps the visitors enjoy iconic landscapes below.
The Tanzanian government had previously converted the Fort into a military training institute before moving the said facility to the now known Tanzania Military Academy (TMA), in Monduli District of Arusha circa 1979.
Located nearly 22 kilometers from the main Ikoma Gate entry to Serengeti National Park, the former German army stronghold is one of the historical sites in Tanzania with ancient foreign architectural design. It is also being frequented by various wildlife species thus offering double benefits.
The nearby town is also the largest residential settlement near the headquarters of the park, which sometimes provide lodging facilities to visitors touring Serengeti who wish to stay outside the National Park.
Serengeti, which is among the country’s seven UNESCO Heritage Sites with a special biosphere reserve status since 1981, also features other cultural tourism sites such as the Moru Rock paintings, Gong Rock and Kopje dotted vast landscapes.