This month we’re shining the spotlight on Tanzania - a country whose varied and plentiful National Parks, award-winning safari lodges and tropical Indian Ocean islands make it one of our favourite destinations for an all encompassing holiday or honeymoon. But rather than having us wax lyrical about why you should go there, we’ve decided instead to use the feedback and photos our very own safari-daring beach-faring clients have sent us from Tanzania over the last year. One such lovely client recently described their experience to us: “We fell under the magical spell of Africa, and are so happy you encouraged us to select Tanzania. We would not have known to go there, and are thrilled we did, as it is such an unspoiled place…with the Maasai herding cattle in their red robes, seeing the pre-dawn cart runs for water at the well, and the natural beauty of the Serengeti…. it felt like the true essence of Africa. We got all of the Big 5 (our photos are incredible!) and daily safari-ing is quite addictive…what will we see next?! Or hear, at night?!”
Read on for the Sally and Alice Travel Co. guests’ guide to Tanzania – all compiled from our own clients’ feedback and gorgeous holiday snaps!
Overview: Northern Tanzania is home to some of Africa’s most famed destinations – the Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire, Kilimanjaro – and the combination of awesome volcanic scenery, spectacular wildlife and colourful local tribes makes for a hugely varied and fascinating safari. Better still, because these parks are so close together, safari here is still generally carried out in the old fashioned way, by road, travelling with a private driver/guide in a 4×4.
Gibbs Farm, Ngorongoro: A small lodge on a working coffee farm on the slopes of the Ngorongoro Crater. You told us: “Their walks are brilliant – waterfalls, elephant caves. Stories told around the fire brought the history of the coffee plantation, Maasai tribes and the owner of Gibbs all together.”
Chem Chem Lodge, Tarangire. A place to unwind and enjoy ’slow’ safari, walking with giraffe and having sundowners on Lake Manyara. You told us: ”Chem Chem is a sophisticated haven in almost ethereal surroundings – it was great to return to after a busy big game safari in the Tarangire.”
Singita Grumeti, Serengeti: An epic safari experience – privacy, pristine wilderness and impeccable service. You told us: ”Our stay here was truly a once in a lifetime experience. The staff were all amazing and welcomed us with open arms into their spectacular home.”
Serengeti Safari Camp: An authentic mobile tented camp which moves seasonally to be as close as possible to where the wildebeest migration. You told us: “They surprised us with a home baked cake and champagne for our anniversary – at camp in the middle of the Serengeti!”
Lamai, northern Serengeti: A beautiful permanent lodge in the most fantastic location perched atop a rock kopje, close to the Mara River. You told us: ”Lamai was an amazing camp! We were so well looked after, it was fantastic – baboons outside of our room, lions roaring at night … stunning views … it was incredible! “
Mwiba, Serengeti: Located in a wild and remote private concession, the lodge is stealth-like in it’s design and blends in perfectly with its surroundings. Highlights include incredible cultural interaction (no commercialisation at all) with the Da’toga tribe as well as Hadzabe, Masai. You told us: “The style of the property is just seamlessly beautiful and luxurious (sorry, hate that word but it is good in this instance!)”
Overview: Whilst famed for the northern parks, Tanzania also offers a host of other areas where one can still feel something of a pioneer, and the west of the country in particular is a surprisingly remote region that is seldom visited. The main draw here is the chimpanzee reserve in the Mahale Mountains which offers one of the best animal interaction experiences in Africa. From Mahale it is a couple of hours flight to Katavi National Park, home to one of the best and most remote camps in East Africa – Chada Katavi.
ACCOMMODATION IN WESTERN TANZANIA
Greystoke Mahale, Mahale Mountains: A lodge on a remote, quiet stretch of white sand beach on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Spend days trekking into the Mahale Mountains in search of the chimps (made famous by Jane Goodall), swimming in the lake, sailing on their dhow and simply soaking up the serenity of this far-flung corner of Africa. You told us: ”Mahale is paradise, it feels like you’ve found a secret ‘Lost World’; utterly beautiful, remote and removed. Highlights from our stay included tracking the chimps in the Mahale Mountains and learning about them from the resident experts, falling asleep to the sound of the waves on Lake Tanganyika, collecting giant mussels from the lakebed (and eating them for supper) and dinner on the beach under the unpolluted African sky.”
Chada Katavi, Katavi: Spectacular game-viewing, set against a unique landscape of burnt colours and charcoal earth – this place is wild and unspoilt. You told us: “As promised, Chada Katavi delivered a very special and wild safari experience, we saw loads of wildlife (and no people!), huddled around the Katuma River – the animals were fighting for space…”
Overview: The south of Tanzania is one of a handful of areas in Africa which has an almost untapped potential for safari. Here we recommend the superb reserves of Ruaha and Selous, both of which are enormous tracts of pristine wilderness of the highest quality and are linked together by light aircraft out of Dar es Salaam.
ACCOMMODATION IN SOUTHERN TANZANIA
Sand Rivers, Selous: Located on the banks of the Rufiji River, open-fronted to incredible vistas – 4×4 drives, guided walks, boat trips, fishing and fly-camping under the stars all on offer. You told us: “I was blown away by the lodge – the most wonderful place you’ve sent us to so far. We loved the feeling of sleeping ‘outside’ in the open-fronted rooms and had great game sightings, we pretty much saw everything…
Beho Beho, Selous: Set away from the Rufiji River this stylish lodge is set up on a hill overlooking the game-filled plains below. You told us: “The Selous is a beautiful and unspoiled reserve just as you said it was. Beho Beho certainly has ‘wow factor’ – the views from the lodge were stunning, and the guiding was amazing (as was the food!)”
Selous Impala, Selous: A traditional tented camp overlooking the Rufiji River with an emphasis on great guiding. You told us: “The safari was spot on. Everyone at Selous Impala treated us fantastically well and we saw amazing game, including wild dogs and an incredible lion hunt…”
Kigelia, Ruaha: A rustic tented camp in Ruaha famous for its huge elephant population, lions and giant baobabs. You told us: “Ruaha is an amazing place, and we were so lucky to stay at Kigelia. The staff at the camp were so friendly – especially our guid. I was impressed with the hot water bottles in the safari car at 5am for our sunrise safari!”
Overview: Tanzania is blessed with a long stretch of tropical coastline abounding in palm trees, historic Swahili ports, white-sand beaches and magnificent marine life. Zanzibar attracts its fair share of tourist traffic but is still a wonderfully atmospheric place if you choose your accommodation carefully, whilst the lesser known islands of Mafia and Pemba remain relatively unspoilt and offer some superb diving.
Ras Kutani, south coast: Rustic beach lodge with a barefoot vibe on the mainland (just a short hop from Dar es Salaam) that combines brilliantly with safari in the Selous. You told us: “It was the perfect place to unwind and kick start our honeymoon – unpretentious and incredibly peaceful.”
Baraza, Zanzibar: Free standing villa accommodation set in beautiful gardens along a long stretch of white-sand beach on the east coast. You told us: ”I want to live there! It was perfect in every way – food, style, management. Relaxed vibe and very child friendly – everything you could possibly want. I’m a perfectionist and found myself looking around trying to find fault from an interiors perspective but couldn’t, as the attention to detail is impeccable…
Unguja Lodge, Zanzibar: Intimate owner-run lodge tucked down in a quieter corner of the island, perfect for post-safari chill-out. You told us: “Gorgeous, ideal for people looking for atmosphere over luxury. The food was great and the staff could not have done more for us. The dive manager who looked after us during our stay was excellent and went out of his way for our son.”
Fundu Lagoon, Pemba: Laid-back beach lodge with Robinson-crusoe style thatched bandas. You told us: “Fundu Lagoon is definitely a barefoot paradise – having to take a boat to get there only added to the special aspect of the location. The infinity pool proved to be a great place to pass time reading and soaking up the sun – we would go back there in a minute.”
Chole Mjini, Mafia: Unique tree-house lodge with a focus on responsible tourism. You told us: “It was absolutely awesome, so much so that James and I are now considering sacking in our jobs and moving to Mafia Island…”
WHEN TO TRAVEL
We know that having read the glowing testimonials above you will already be mid-way through packing your bags and heading to the airport, but before you do, take a minute to read our quick breakdown of Tanzania’s seasons…
JAN – MARCH : We love this time of the year – between the short rains in November and the long rains in April/May, it’s the warmest time of the year with beautiful days. A major highlight is the calving of the wildebeest on the Serengeti plains.
APR – JUNE: A lovely time to travel for those who are not afraid of some wet weather! Many camps are closed in April and May but the ones that are open offer great value and fantastic deals. June is the start of the dry season, the main highlight being the migration movement in the Serengeti.
JULY – SEPT: The dry season is by now well underway, which means there should be lots of sunshine and very little rainfall. Gameviewing in virtually all areas should be at its peak as the long grass dies back and animals settle in around the permanent water sources. This time of year fits in with many annual holidays, especially for families with school children, so best to make your bookings well in advance.
OCT – DEC: One of the best seasons to visit Tanzania and the perfect time for travellers who are not bound by school holidays. The weather is increasingly hot and dry before the November shorts rains, with the game viewing in October particularly good across the country.
Many thanks to all of our intrepid travellers who have trusted our judgement and visited Tanzania over the last year. A special mention to one incredibly talented client who goes under the name of Blondie Photography who provided many of the photos – see more from his trip to the Serengeti and Zanzibar.
You told us: “We’re desperate to get away on holiday…”
We told you: Contact Sally and Alice Travel Co.!