view of Mwiba Lodge from above, with lodge appearing on ledge surrounded by trees
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Mwiba Lodge

Our review of Mwiba Lodge in Tanzania, where the pleasures of glamping have been taken to a whole new level with excellent service.

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safari lodge aerial view with two-story building surrounded by trees
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Singita Faru Faru Lodge

Our review of Singita Faru Faru Lodge, with modern glass houses for rooms and an infinity pool over a watering hole in Tanzania's Grumeti Reserve.
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Singita Sabora tented deck
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Singita Sabora Tented Camp

The Singita Sabora Tented Camp is one of those special properties that seems to effortlessly excel in every category. Situated in a secluded spot on 350,000 reserved acres of the grassy savannah plains that make up the Serengeti region of East Africa, the camp is composed of ten tented suites that are seamlessly integrated into the wilds that surround them.

From their base at the Sabora Camp, guests embark on daily morning and afternoon game drives—including sundowners and spot-lit evening returns—as well as walking safaris, mountain biking tours and community visits with local tribes. On these excursions, visitors can expect to see the safari animals they've always dreamed of: lions, leopards, cheetahs, Maasai giraffes, zebras, elephants, gazelles, bat-eared foxes, buffalo, wildebeest and Colobus monkeys. This wide variety of game-viewing opportunities is largely due to the diverse ecosystems of the Serengeti: in addition to grassy plains, there is also riverine forests and thorny scrubland. Those who visit from June to October will also witness these animals during their migration season. (For those who intend to travel throughout Tanzania with the animals, the Sabora Camp is in proximity to other favorite lodges via light aircraft.)

The property underwent an extensive renovation in 2019, reopening with a brand new modern-chic take on the glamping experience. Sabora's new interiors most closely resemble the aesthetic of its sister property, Singita Faru Faru Lodge. The khaki tents at Sabora may not look special from the outside but having been jazzed up by the design wizards behind Singita, they are extraordinary within. While it is a tented experience, each accommodation comes equipped with modern amenities such as an indoor and outdoor shower, a deep soaking bathtub, and an expansive deck overlooking the plains where herds of giraffes, zebras, buffalo and impala frequent. The canvas walls allow guests to fall asleep to the distant sounds of wildlife passing by, the effect of which is most impressive during the Great Migration. Sabora’s rooms and common areas are topped off with decor like jewelry, pottery and art from local artists, giving the property a delicate sense of place that perfectly matches the understated design and color scheme.

The stunning impact of a bygone world brought back to life in such painstaking detail and yet backed up by every modern comfort takes some getting used to. To focus on the view outside from a reclining position on an antique daybed decked out with pillows and Maasai blankets or to thumb through the historic photo albums of legendary white hunters that rest on a leather-topped coffee table? To write a letter with one of the porcupine quills that sits next to an ink well on the campaign desk, to tap into the wireless internet on your laptop or to pick up a pair of antique brass binoculars and scan the horizon from a teak lounger by the pool?

Decorators from around the world should flock here for an appreciation of layered details. The tent poles are wrapped in hand-sewn leather. The bar at the main tent is adapted from an antique wicker basket from a hot-air balloon with brass and leather details still intact. The bath tent (or powder tent) by the pool has hand-blocked curtains and antique commodes refitted with modern plumbing. Hurricane lamps hung in a tree create the perfect spot for a dinner under the stars served with white linens, crystal and silver. Waiters will provide Champagne on ice and lap blankets. Of course, all of the standard Singita Grumeti activities are on offer, such as twice-daily game drives, horseback riding, a tented gym and tennis (though guests may need to share court space with zebra from time to time).

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contemporary design in a lounge area of a safari lodge suite
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Singita Sasakwa Lodge

Our review of Singita Sasakwa, an East African manor house built by an American conservationist, outfitted with every comfort and luxury imaginable.
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infinity pool set in a patio in the African bush

andBeyond Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp

andBeyond Grumeti Serengeti River Lodge sets itself apart with its spectacular location in the remote Western Corridor of the Serengeti.

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Suite at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, Tanzania

andBeyond Lake Manyara Tree Lodge

A small lodge with only nine stilted tree houses in the bush near Lake Manyara with great game viewing.

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Beach at Mnemba Island, Tanzania

andBeyond Mnemba Island

The waters ringing Zanzibar appear as a spectrum of blues, running from pale ice to indigo. Mnemba Island rises out of them, a sandbar of dazzling white that is fringed with palm trees. After a ninety-minute drive from Stone Town to the northeast edge of Zanzibar, past miles of clove and cinnamon plantations, you arrive at a small beach where fishermen set off on their dhows, or sailboats, to prowl the Indian Ocean, as they have for centuries. The sight of their muscled bodies pulling sails and hauling nets is mesmerizing. “Take off your shoes,” said the boat captain who ferried us to Mnemba, which sits less than three miles off of the mainland. “You won’t need them here.” We hopped off the boat and waded in the warm Indian Ocean up to the beach and walked in bare feet to our room, one of ten cottages, orbanda, made entirely of woven palm leaves.

Named one of the three most romantic islands in the world by Condé Nast Traveler, Mnemba has developed a cult following among choosy travelers. The private island draws celebrities and the mega-wealthy like Naomi Campbell and Bill Gates and yet there is nothing flashy or fancy about it. In fact, “Pretension Protected” could be its motto. The ten beach bandasresemble Robinson Crusoe refuges, and rarely will you see guests dressed in more than a bathing suit and t-shirt. A straw beach bag, with straw hats and kikois, African sarongs, come with each room and make up the island’s unofficial uniform. Most guests (men and women) wear these simple striped wraps tied around their waists to dinner. Built almost entirely of island materials, the banda has floors, walls and ceilings woven from leaves. By leaving a gap between the walls and the roof, ocean breezes flow through the bandasfor natural cooling. There’s solar generated power only and no locks on any doors, but a lock box in each room. The bathrooms are reached via a covered walkway from the banda and feel only slightly more protected than an outdoor shower. In front of each banda is a thatched shelter with a day bed. The epiphany: how little one needs if you are in a truly beautiful place with caring people. The breezes, the views, the warm water, the fresh fruit, fish and lobsters that arrive daily by boat conspire to remind you that less really can be much more.

At low tide, you can walk all the way around Mnemba, which is not quite three miles in circumference. Most people find they are so relaxed here that a beach walk counts as an activity, though twice daily dives are offered as is kayaking, fishing, windsurfing and massages. (For those who do not already possess a diving license, courses are available.) The island and its surrounding coral reefs have been declared a marine reserve and more than 430 species of fish have been documented in these waters. One day my husband did get up early to fish but he was back by breakfast with multiple wahoo, one that we had grilled for our dinner. (Dinners are served at private tables on the beach by torchlight.) Turtle season runs from April to August so on your way to breakfast you may come across tracks from a turtle nester or even tiny hatchlings. Humpback whales pass through between July and September and dolphins and whale sharks are often sighted.

This is where Bill Gates reportedly spent his honeymoon. It may be one of the only places he can truly do nothing. During our stay, we met a woman from Paris who comes twice a year for two weeks to read. “Once you’ve found paradise,” she said. “You have to return.”

Indagare Info: &Beyond’s funds for community sustainability has provided windmill supplies to area villages, supported marine conservation and built classrooms for two schools. A local orphanage is supported through sales of photographs in the gift shop and community visits can be arranged for guests.

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andBeyond Serengeti Under Canvas

This understated yet well-appointed and elegant tented camp moves locations every three months to track the annual wildebeest migration.

Garden at Arusha Coffee Lodge, Tanzania

Arusha Coffee Lodge

Located a 10-minute drive from the Arusha Airport in one of Tanzania’s oldest coffee plantations, the Arusha Coffee Lodge is a beloved pit-stop en route to or from safari. The freestanding, log cabin–style bungalows that house the 30 suites are scattered throughout this serene garden setting, surrounded by large trees, native bushes and coffee plants.

The generously sized, split-level suites come with a king-size bed draped in mosquito netting, a sitting area that looks into the garden, and a sizeable bathroom with rain showers. Nice touches include the homegrown coffee and South African wines in the mini bar and a log-burning fireplace, which is cozy during the winter months.

The main building, which looks like a homestead, with lots of dark wood and plush leather furniture, houses a restaurant and casual bar. There’s also a small pool on the property and two lovely gift shops, including Shanga, a socially conscious shop that employs people with disabilities. Look for handmade jewelry and home goods made from recycled materials.

Would that all layover hotels were as charming, authentic and well-run as the Arusha Coffee Lodge — even the welcome amenity, a perfectly brewed shot of iced coffee, is perfection.

Breakfast Deck at  Asilia Highlands, Tanzania

Asilia Highlands

Asilia takes pride in positioning their African safari camps in remote, very special locations. The latest, this property in the Tanzania Highlands, is no exception. Set within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area but approximately one hour north by car to the gates of the Ngorongoro Crater, the region was so named for its similarities in look to the Scottish Highlands, an area of undulating hills, mountains and valleys. (The Maasai penchant for wearing tartan-printed fabrics, which were originally shipped from Scotland, adds to this correlation.) Utterly within nature and extremely removed from any modern-day concept of civilization, the camp is nevertheless extremely luxurious, and the views of the Gol Mountains, Serengeti, Empakaii volcano and Olmoti Crater are spectacular.

The property consists of eleven modern, canvas sided yurts, including eight rooms, a lounge, a bar and a dining area. With a circular banquette surrounding an oversized, wood-burning stove (to keep warm in chilly mornings and cool nights), the lounge is the communal meeting place and is a comfortable spot to relax with fellow guests amidst loads of purple, gray and green tartan printed cushions. The eight domed, round tents inspired by round Maasai homes feature king-sized beds, wood-burning stoves, huge windows out onto the vista, wrap-around decks and oversized bathrooms. The Scottish hunting lodge décor scheme pervades here, too, with plenty of cow hide rugs covering the floors, sheepskin throws draped on the back of chairs and faux fur blankets at the foot of the bed.

It is recommended to spend at least two full days at the property to allow for a proper excursion to the Ngorongoro Crater in a camp Land Rover and with one of Asilia’s excellent guides. Another day should be set aside to get to know members of the local Maasai tribe, including an early-morning visit to a boma to meet the men, women and children before they go off to school and to herd their cattle and goats. Led by a Maasai-born Asilia guide, these excursions are enlightening, allowing guests to begin to understand the day-to-day life of an ancient culture. Other activities, such as a beading workshop held back at the camp, can be arranged with Maasai women. Another favorite excursion is a day-long hike around the Olmoti volcano and down into the Empakaai Crater, home to thousands of flamingos.

A tented suite at Chem Chem. Photo by Scott Ramsay courtesy Classic Portfolio

Chem Chem Lodge

Chem Chem’s northern Tanzanian lodge is modern and design-conscious, yet intrinsically African. The eight tented suites are comfortable and luxurious, as is the main house, outfitted with a gourmet restaurant and chic bar. Just beyond lies a viewing deck with Lake Manyara in the distance, a pool tucked into the greenery and cozy firepit—ideal for unwinding after safari.

For real relaxation, the Chem Chem Amani Spa offers an array of treatments, any of which can be taken outside under the African sky. Daytime activities thrust guests into a real African experience: with the option to track animals on foot or go for a jog with a Maasai warrior, guests can make their stay as adventurous as they want.

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infinity pool with a dining table on a platform in the middle at sunset

Four Seasons Serengeti

From afar, the idea of sleeping in the Tanzanian wild is incredibly appealing, not to mention romantic, but for some travelers, the reality of the true remoteness, with its proximity to large wildlife and the occasional bugs in the bedrooms, is ultimately not right. Enter the Four Seasons Serengeti, a safari lodge resort that the luxury company opened in 2013.

The 77-room property, located in a choice location in the middle of the Serengeti, offers many of the brand’s standard perks—a kids’ club, a spa, state-of-the-art gym, two- and three-bedroom units for families and multiple dining venues—which have not been standard options in Tanzania. Elevated walkways connect the main building with two wings of accommodations, making it perfectly safe to walk around, especially during the day (at night a Maasai guide accompanies guests back to the room).

The two-story main lodge encompasses two restaurants/bars, an excellent “Discovery Centre” with exhibitions about the Serengeti’s ecosystem and an elephant de-snaring program, the kids’ club and the gym, as well as lots of indoor and outdoor places for lounging. The Four Seasons took over an existing hotel and one wishes the architecture would allow for more breezy openness (at times it can feel a bit dark inside). But the South African interior designer did a terrific job adding touches of Tanzania that are elegant and understated. Banish all thoughts of animals skins or carefully orchestrated Colonial tableaux: the Four Seasons Serengeti is all about neutral colors and materials (thatch, wood and stone) with the occasional brightly woven textile and beautiful black-and-white wildlife photography thrown into the mix.

This sense of uncluttered comfort continues in the extremely spacious 77 rooms, twelve of which are suites. All come with large bathrooms with double vanities, freestanding bathtubs and rain showers, as well as spacious bedrooms with white-dressed king-size beds. The curtains around the beds are purely decorative: rooms are very well insulated, so even finding a single mosquito inside is rare. None of the creature comforts from home need be sacrificed here, including a flat-screen television and massive walk-in closet.

Whether you’re on the ground or on the first floor, all of the rooms have wooden decks that look straight across the expanding plains of the Serengeti. The most desirable ones also have a prime view of the watering hole, which is located directly below the main pool. Another spot that has gorgeous views of the surrounding landscapes is the lovely spa, also built on stilts. It is not uncommon to see elephants roaming in the distance before you start one of the terrific treatments.

There are three restaurants to choose from, including the excellent Boma, built like a traditional Maasai hut built in the round. Dinner each night comes with a performance by the staff’s Maasai. A special bush dinner can also be organized, and this is highly recommended because the one thing that is lacking at the Four Seasons is a great spot to watch the sunset (unless you rent one of the five spacious villas, clustered together on the western side of the property). Experiencing the sun set in the bush is one of the most magical experiences of eastern Africa: watching the light change, the cloud and sky moving from crimson to purple, and then how quickly night descends. But most guests of the Four Seasons do not seem to mind: they are content to sit on the main terrace, cocktail in hand, sharing stories about their game drives or listening to their children describe what they learned at the kids’ club that day.

Ultimately, choosing the Four Seasons as part of a Tanzania itinerary comes down to personal expectations. Those who long to feel remote and in the wild, with a cacophony of sounds, a tangible proximity to wildlife and touches of ruggedness might be disappointed. But anyone who appreciates resort amenities, and a sense of space where you can move around freely, will love it. Many combine a stay here with tented camps or smaller lodges, which is a good choice, especially if you end a trip at the Four Seasons. Some guests do not even opt to go on game drives every day, preferring instead to book a spa appointment, catch up on some much-needed exercise at the gym or just lie by the pool watching the wildlife in the distance.

Nearly every day, a herd of elephants visits the watering hole, one of the highlights that gets everyone on their feet. Watching these gentle giants interact with each other is a truly magical experience and even the lovely staff, who have seen this many times, still appear moved and enthusiastic when the elephants appear. A few choice rooms are located right along one of the paths that snakes up to the pool, and when the herd passes by, they are so close guests in those rooms can practically touch them.

That is the true privilege of staying here: those expansive views, the possibility of seeing elephants, giraffes, zebra and wildebeest up close, and all along with the promise of some poolside relaxation, a spa treatment and a high-pressure, hot shower at the end of a dusty day of game drive.

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Gibb's Farm

Located in the town of Koratu, about forty minutes from the Ngorongoro Crater, family-owned Gibb’s Farm is a tranquil, intimate countryside retreat.
Aerial View - Greystoke Mahale, Tanzania

Greystoke Mahale

Inspiration hit in 1988, when Roland Purcell first came across this pristine stretch of beach along Lake Tangankiya, the world’s second-largest freshwater lake that sits on the border of western Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Overwhelmed by the spot’s natural beauty, with the 8,000-foot Mahale Mountains looming just beyond, Purcell developed Greystoke Mahale, a sustainable eco-lodge that has now been open for more than 20 years.

The main hall is the only visible structure from the beach. Made from entirely sustainable materials and reclaimed wood, the building hardly interrupts the tropical forest line. Six lodgings are set back into the lush greenery, steps from the beach but shrouded by the jungle canopy. Abundant activities take advantage of the unspoiled locale: chimpanzee hikes are a must-do, but guests can also swim in the mountain’s many waterfalls, kayak along the lake, sail an indigenous wooden dhowat sunset or simply relax at the romantic, dimly lit bar.

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Dinning Area at Klein's Camp, Tanzania

Klein’s Camp

A former German hunting camp on the northern edge of the Serengeti, Klein’s Camp was taken over by the visionary wilderness company CCAfrica (now &Beyond) in 1995. Its ten guest cottages are tucked on the edge of the Kuka Hills overlooking a stunning valley that teems with zebra and wildebeest during the annual migration. In the main house, a larger thatched rondavel style building similar to the guest cottages, you can sit on cushy couches or deep leather club chairs and gaze over a land barely tread upon for centuries. Stacks of guest albums with notes and photos documenting adventures in the area rest on a massive leather ottoman adorned with Maasai beading. The houseman proffers tea or a cool drink and at night a central fire is lit and guests gravitate here to trade the day’s game stories. The camp leases close to 25,000 acres from the Ololosokwan Maasai community, which graze their cattle in the grasslands that are also home to resident herds of buffalo, giraffe, zebra and elephant. And the young male warriors in their bright red robes and beaded Maasai jewelry are as majestic a sight to come upon on a game drive as the lion prides that they carry spears against.

As Klein’s is on a private reserve, it is possible to do guided safari walks as well as night drives, during which the nocturnal animals like hyena, jackals and leopard come out to hunt. Among our evening highlights: we spotted bush babies, which look like small bouncy bears, leaping from tree to tree, and a caracal, a small lynx like feline. An entrance to the Serengeti National Park sits only a few miles from camp, so you can also make forays into the world’s ultimate animal preserve, and in one of its least trafficked areas. When we did, we saw only one other vehicle the entire day but hundreds of wildebeest and zebra along with lion, ostrich, elephant and many more. Next to the main house, with the bar and lounge area, there is a dining pavilion. During the day, the canvas sides of the dining area are rolled up for maximum view value, but at night they are dropped and large candelabra illuminate the mirrors and colonial style furnishings to create a magical oasis of formality. The neatly dressed waiters serve wonderfully light yet sophisticated food such as tomato basil soup, sea bass with pine nuts and leek and chocolate soufflé. (Many of the vegetables and fruit are grown in the camp’s organic garden.) One afternoon we visited the Maasai village where the chef was born. We toured a new clinic and classrooms, which &Beyond funded, and then visited a family in their home, a shelter made of cow dung bricks and twigs. Judging from the food he prepared, I would have guessed the chef had been raised in Lyon or Paris but on the night that other Maasai came to the camp to perform their traditional dances, it was clear from the way that he jumped and sang with them, that, wherever he learned to cook, he had not forgotten how to celebrate like a Maasai.

Klein’s does have a pool, internet service (in the office) and a small but attractive gift shop, but it is one of the less lavish of &Beyond’s Tanzania camps. There’s a rustic simplicity to the rooms, which have mosquito nets over the deep, soft beds and thoughtful touches like a plate of fresh biscuits in the afternoon and a watercolor set in case you get inspired to paint. But you still feel in the wild; the hot water in the shower takes a while to warm up; the generator is turned off at night (there are hurricane lamp-like reading lights in case you want to read late), and the only phone is in the office, so you need to set a time for the askari (guard) to escort you to dinner. The mosquito nets aren’t just for effect; I spotted the occasional spider. There were more lizards sunbathing on the rocks around the pool than guests, and some spiders swam in it. But frankly, that natural quality didn’t bother me. The birds that landed on my breakfast tray and pecked at my ginger biscuits if I left it outside more than a few minutes after the askari knocked in the morning only reminded me that I was living in their world. By not being so sealed off from nature, you feel more connected to it—and what a privilege that is. Staying at Klein’s is certainly not as rustic as living in a tented camp. After all, I had solid walls and wood floors, but I still had to watch where I stepped. I found a slug had slimed its way under the door one day. Erasto, our wonderful guide, was as knowledgeable about birds and small lizards, even plants by the side of the road and how the Maasai used them for medicinal purposes, as he was about lion social behavior and cheetah hunting routines.

Another tenet of &Beyond is giving back to the local communities, and to date the company has invested more than $100,000 in community projects, including building a clinic and three classrooms. If you sign up for a Maasai village visit, which I recommend highly, especially if you are traveling with children, you can tour the school and clinic as well as visit a Maasai home. At the medical clinic, our guide explained how the most common illness affecting the villagers was diarrhea. My son, who was nine years old at the time, was confused. “Why would someone have to come to a hospital for that?” He asked. “Because children can die from dehydration and malnutrition if they have diarrhea,” our guide explained. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, diarrhea causes one-fifth of child deaths worldwide. That was a fact that would stick with all of us.

Lounge at Legendary Lodge, Tanzania

Legendary Lodge

Most international flights arrive into Kilimanjaro airport in Arusha late at night so an overnight is required before heading out into the bush. Our preferred spot for this is Legendary Lodge. A working coffee plantation on the outskirts of Arusha with guest cottages, tropical gardens and a swimming pool, the lodge allows for a nice soft landing and modern comforts, including excellent food. The guest cottages all have views of Mount Meru and verandas from which to enjoy them. The interiors are simple with oversized king beds with mosquito netting, tile floors and homey touches, but it is the staff that adds warmth to the stay. They will fix you tea, a snack or a meal upon arrival and arrange for sitters or laundry or tours of the coffee plantation. They want you to feel at home and you will by the time you leave.

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Little Chem Chem

Little Chem Chem is a stylish tented safari lodge near Tarangire National Park in Tanzania with big game viewing and local community interactions.

lounge space in a tent with beige tones and a patterned cushioned coffee table

Mila Tented Camp

In the game-rich western corridor of the Serengeti, the intimate Mila Tented Camp has six tents—and a maximum of just three parties in-house. It makes an ideal takeover for families, but also works for couples seeking an escape into the wild.

Suite at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Tanzania

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

Safari means “voyage” or “journey” in Swahili but it was also the name of my butler when I stayed at the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. On my first morning, Safari arrived at my sumptuous rondavel suite set on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. He was bearing a tray with a silver coffeepot and a plate of fresh ginger biscuits. While I remained in the enormous wooden four-poster bed that had been hand-carved in Dar es Saleem, he laid logs in the fireplace. I have stayed in some extravagant palaces in France and Italy, but even though this suite had a thatch roof and log stilts, it definitely ranks as one of the most sumptuous I’ve seen. From the ceiling lined in banana leaves hung a dazzling crystal chandelier. In the vast bathroom, under another chandelier, a huge porcelain tub sat on polished wood floors, and next to it was an urn that was refilled with dozens of red roses daily. The design scheme has been called Maasai Versailles, Rococo Ethnic and Bush Baroque for the way that the lavish is accentuated by the raw to astonishing effect. Imagine gilt mirrors artfully hung to reflect your porch with tree-branch railings and a view into one of the natural wonders of the world, the Ngorongoro Crater. Or awaking under a deep purple suede bedspread to see zebras out the window. The fact that within one hour I opened my door to greet my butler and to see a Cape buffalo only yards away sums up the dichotomy of the experience.

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge was the first major splash that the South African based company &Beyond made outside of their native country. Set on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, one of the natural wonders of the world, three separate camps (two with 12 suites each and one with 6 suites) now occupy the grounds of a former British governor’s hunting retreat. The 30 suites resemble Maasai mud huts from the outside but their interiors proclaim that 21st century comforts can be dished up with flair in the wild. Silk curtains, velvet upholstery and damask tablecloths in the dining room emphasize luxury. The libraries at each camp have stately stone fireplaces, gorgeous wood paneling crafted by carvers from nearby Zanzibar and massive sofas that, with their Mulberry fabrics and tasseled pillows, look plucked from an estate in England. Despite the decadent touches, though, whimsy wins out, with fertility statues grinning from mantelpieces and Calderesque mobiles made of horns and found objects hanging in a bathroom draped with psychedelic purple curtains. The house spirit seems to be an eccentric landowner who is as rich in heirlooms as he is in humor. Because each lodge runs along a different level of the crater, they feel intimate. You may spend your day on game drives into the Crater, around the protected Ngorongoro concession or up to the Olduvai Gorge and only meet fellow guests at cocktail time. (Except, of course, in the Crater, where it’s hard to avoid game vehicles by noon.) In the public areas of the lodges, the leather backgammon sets, crystal decanters filled with brandy and well-thumbed guest books scattered around help to break the ice between strangers if the managers happen to be occupied. **

Additional activities on offer include private meals on the Crater floor, Maasai dancing and drumming evenings, walks in the Empaki Crater, private wine tastings, and visits to the Olduvai Gorge, one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world, home to some of the first human remains. As &Beyond supports a variety of community and conservation projects in the area, it is sometimes possible to partake in philanthropic tours.

**Tip:**There are four family suites in the camp available to children 15 and under, but they get reserved quickly so be sure to request one as soon as possible.

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Nomads Entamanu

With just six tents, Nomads Entamanu offers a boutique, contemporary experience in Ngorongoro Crater with sweepings views.
luxury tented dining area with outdoor chairs set up around a fire pit

Nyasi Migrational Camp (North)

This luxury mobile tented camp is open in four-month increments, relocating around the Serengeti to follow the Great Migration. From July until November, it is located in the northern Serengeti.

Bar Lounge at Oyster Bay Hotel, Tanzania

Oyster Bay Hotel

Dar Es Salaam has few options for high-end accommodations, but the contemporary African chic, oceanfront Oyster Bay Hotel is a stunning refuge for weary nomads. While the hotel’s splendid setting beset with breezy balconies, serene gardens, covered verandahs and poolside sundecks are certainly all worthy appointments for a long-term stay, the hotel is also upfront about its goal to fill a much-needed niche for short-term guests. This is because Dar Es Salaam is Tanzania’s main hub, and many who have long layovers are in need of a luxurious place to spend the day before a long flight. To that end, Oyster Bay makes a point of accommodating all lengths of stay in its eight contemporary white-and-wood suites. It’s the best place to have an amazing meal, nap in the sun or take a refreshing dip in the 50-foot lap pool. The friendly, efficient staff operates a fleet of chauffeur-driven vehicles, which ferry guests at all hours between the hotel, port and airport. (It’s thirty minutes from domestic and international airports.)

Rates helpfully include all transfers, meals and drinks. A member who recently stayed there with her family at the tail end of her Tanzanian safari raved about the “day room” experience that her family had dining, lounging, and peacefully regrouping there: “It’s a truly amazing spot, an oasis.” **

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Suite at Sand Rivers Selous, Tanzania

Sand Rivers Selous

The Selous Game Reserve, which is 55,000 square kilometers, is the largest single wildlife area in Africa, roughly the same size as Switzerland. Set on a bend of the Rufiji River, Sand Rivers Selous was established in 1984 by the legendary safari guide, Richard Bonham, who owns Ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya. The main house, or mess, and eight guest cottages blend into the landscape with their thatched roofs, stone walls and tree trunk stilts. The Rhino House, or honeymoon cottage, is a new one-bedroom with a private lounge and dining area that also comes with a private vehicle and guide.

All of the structures were made of local materials and feature open sides facing the river so if it weren’t for a tree-branch railing you could step right off the polished wood floors and drop into the bush or the river where the hippos wallow below. Peter Matthiessen declared this reserve the last great wilderness in his book Sand Rivers: The Ultimate Safari into the Last Wilderness, and the extraordinary isolation that he described can still be experienced, even though a number of new camps have opened in recent years and Sand Rivers has been spiffed up by Nomad Camps, which now runs it.

Though when I visited, we did do a few game drives to see rare wild dog (the species is almost extinct, with only about 5,000 left in Africa), the great advantage here is that you are rarely in a vehicle. We set out often on walking safaris or on boats along the Rufiji. One of the most popular options for guests is to include a night or more of fly-camping, during which you do a portered safari and spend a night or more in tents on the river bank. Exploring the bush by boat and on foot, you feel much closer to the animals than you do in a Rover—and you are much closer. Bonham declared long ago that the best kinds of safaris are the ones that require you to carry a rifle, and that philosophy is what draws many of the best guides on the continent here. Once we had an encounter with a hippo that inspired our guide to drop to his knees and ready his Winchester, all the while motioning for us to start backing away slowly. Another time, we wished that he hadn’t left his gun on the dock when the motor stalled on our flimsy metal motorboat and a hippo charged us. Thankfully, the motor caught before he reached us.**

Aerial View -  Serengeti Tented Camp, Tanzania

Seasonal Mobile Camps: Serengeti National Park

The Serengeti National Park, founded in 1951, encompasses 5,758 square miles and thousands of roads. At a mobile tented camp, you learn that until you have slept under canvas, you haven’t really been on safari. As author Ernest Hemingway wrote of his safaris in the 1930s, “Now, being in Africa, I was hungry for more of it, the changes of the seasons…the discomforts that you paid to make it real…” There is a hyper-aware, extra-alive feeling, like a sixth sense that plugs you into the world of the wild when you live close to the earth and among the animals in their kingdom. You awake with the sun and the sound of the birds. You watch every step you make (yes, there are deadly snakes and scorpions). You spend your day learning from your guides how to track animals. You’ll be alert to movements in the distance and scanning the horizon will be a constant pastime. You may pause for a picnic under a canopy of a tree alive with vultures, or vervet monkeys or with a backdrop of migrating zebras. We picnicked one day on top of a kopje, one of the massive rock outcroppings, from which we could take in the plains and their endlessness from a new vantage point. One night our camp was set under a trio of ancient acacia trees, where the tall grass plains spread for hundreds of miles in every direction with no sign of man. Night may be the time when the awesome aloneness feels most magical. So many stars can be seen strewn across the night sky that you won’t recognize it from any other you have been under. Maybe it’s because no man-made light exists for hundreds of miles or because of the angle of the earth this close to the equator, but you cannot fail to feel that you are seeing the heavens for the first time.

Tented accommodations range from simple tarp structures with cots and bucket showers to semi-permanent camps with platform tents filled with antiques and hotel-quality beds. Of course, prices range widely as well but one common misperception is that tented camps, because they include the word camping, should be less expensive than staying in a lodge. In fact, when you are mobile, you have an entire crew who travels with you as does their kitchen and the accommodations. The privacy, flexibility and often the caliber of the guides are unrivalled but prices will be reflective of quality.

Many of the mobile camps follow the migratory pattern of the wildebeest, so they stick to the southern Serengeti from December until March and then move north toward Grumeti for the summer months. Contact our bookings team to discuss the best tented, mobile option for you.

Some of our favorite mobile tented camps include &Beyond Serengeti Under Canvas, Legendary Serengeti Expedition Camp and Singita Explore.

Lounge at Singita Explore, Tanzania

Singita Explore

The most back-to-basics of Singita’s offerings at Grumeti Reserves is this tented mobile camp, which offers an incredible way to connect with nature and wildlife up close. As with any of the conservation-minded brand’s lodgings within their untouched private concession, the surrounding landscape is home to terrific game, including cheetah, lion, elephant, giraffe, leopard and wildebeest. But what separates Explore from its sister properties nearby—such as the lavish manor house at Sasakwa and the sumptuous tents at Sabora—is the rustic, subdued aesthetic of the camp, which lets the endless Serengeti grasslands speak for themselves.

Both functional and comfortable, the camp features pole- and canvas-built tents, each outfitted with hot water bottles and thermal blankets to stay cozy, en-suite bathrooms with a hot bucket-shower setup and a veranda with director chairs from which to take in those memorable East African sunsets. In keeping with the at-one-with-nature theme, all furnishings have been rendered in the classic safari color palette: khaki, olive, chocolate and so on. Meals are taken under the stars around the campfire, or in case of bad weather, in the dining and lounge tent (which, in typical Singita style, features gorgeous African art books laid about on vintage-style leather trunks).

As Explore was configured to be booked by only one group at a time, it can be set up with anywhere from two to six double tents, and can accommodate up to 12 guests at once. The entire operation moves seasonally in order to give patrons the best possible wildlife experience for the time of year. Those wanting to play tennis, enjoy a spa treatment, connect to WiFi or swim in a pool will benefit from the easy access to Singita’s permanent lodges nearby.

Private guides are on hand to ferry guests through the animal-rich reserve in open-air vehicles, and other activities include walking safaris, community visits, archery, hot-air balloon rides and more.

elegant dining room and living area with safari sculpture and paintings

Singita Serengeti House

Nestled five minutes down the hill from Sasakwa, Serengeti House provides its guests with a totally privatized, pampered, full-service stay.

Indagare Plus
tropical style thatched villa with big glass windows opening to sandy path

Thanda Island

Dan and Christine Oluffson, Swedish billionaire philanthropists who made their fortune in telecommunications, founded Thanda Safari in South Africa in the early 2000s. The property is devoted to conservation of its land and animals—among them rhinos and elephants. As soon as the South Africa camp got off the ground, the couple decided to expand their holdings with a second Thanda property that would also emphasize their prioritization of ecological protection, but this time working to help save creatures of the sea.

After ten years of development and construction, Thanda Island (also known by its original name of Shungi Mbili), set within its own protected marine reserve, opened in 2016. Located between Mafia Island and mainland southern Tanzania (18 miles out into the Indian Ocean), the previously uninhabited island is 20 acres in total and has a circumference of three-quarters of a mile. Available only for full take-overs, with a five-night minimum and a steep rate, the property might not be for everyone, but for large families or a group of friends traveling together, it will be the perfect way to end an action-packed Tanzanian safari trip.

Each of the five guest rooms in the beachfront main villa open onto a wide, shared deck from which the glass-rimmed infinity pool and sea beyond are accessible. Interiors are decorated in whites, beiges and occasional pops of color and driftwood-style floorboards in the bedrooms and bathrooms are topped with local, braided palm rugs. The king-sized, four-poster beds boast fluffy white linens and mosquito netting (though the rooms all have air conditioning for those who prefer to sleep with the accordion-style French doors closed). Ceilings are lofted and rooms are spacious, so when children are visiting, there is plenty of room for additional bunkbeds. The villa sleeps ten adults and up to nine children comfortably, and together with traditional bandas and safari tents set up on the beach upon request, the island is available to house 18 people in total.

The beautiful common spaces seamlessly run from indoors to outdoors, and consist of a large living and dining area with plentiful seating and a music corner, complete with a Steinway piano and various other instruments. A colorful second-story sitting room houses a bookcase with a full collection of Ernest Hemingway’s works, board games and a flat-screen TV. Cozy couches and bean bag chairs create the ideal hang out for kids and teenagers.

Relaxed but delicious, meals are served in various spots around the island, including on an open-air yoga platform, on board the island’s luxurious launch or as a picnic on a neighboring island, and all feature exceptional food and service. Guests, however, are welcome in whatever state they are in, and can frequently be found barefoot, enjoying Champagne and Lobster Thermidor at dinner. Breakfasts are a casual affair and include freshly baked muffins, fresh fruit and homemade granola, along with anything a guest could desire from the kitchen. Sundowners are treated with reverence and can typically consist of freshly plucked oysters and charcuterie and parmesan from the Italian GM’s personal stash. Needless to say, in the land where the pineapple is so sweet that locals eat the fruit with lemon juice, every ingredient is of a quality beyond anything most supermarket-shoppers can dream of.

The calm, warm water surrounding Thanda ranges in color from so perfectly clear that it appears almost green, to a deep royal blue, and guests can snorkel to see colorful fish and coral reefs just off the shore in front of the villa. There is a dedicated boatman on staff who manages the property’s assortment of kayaks, jet skis, stand-up paddleboards, snorkeling equipment and can take guests out waterskiing and wakeboarding (outside the protected reserve area so as not to disturb the ecosystems). The area is famous for harboring such endangered species as green and hawksbill turtles and whale sharks, and their populations are growing, thanks to the efforts of Thanda Island and the NGO it partners with, Sea Sense. Between October and March, guests can even snorkel and dive with whale sharks, and the property also offers dive-certification.

Full- and half-day trips include sails on a traditional wooden dhow, fishing, excursions with resident marine biologists and visits to the Muslim Chole Island, a tiny community off the coast of Mafia Island that is home to a traditional village, primary school and 12th-century Arabic ruins. Also nearby, underwater ruins have been spotted and are believed to be the remnants of Rhapta Island, a marine trading port from 50 AD referred to as a lost city. Local scientists are working on confirming the allegations that it is indeed this ancient island town, but the walls remains and debris like shards of pottery all point to the likelihood that this site is in fact an important archaeological discovery.

While there are seemingly limitless activities and adventures, there are also tons of shady nooks for reading or staring at the horizon, plus spa treatments, a tennis court, a gym and yoga lessons. Thanda accommodates guests who want to be as active or relaxed as they choose, and combined with its tropical sand and sea offerings, is the ultimate end to a world-class safari.

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