Editors' Picks

Four Seasons Serengeti

Familiar comforts in the bush

Central Serengeti, Serengeti National Park, ARUSHA

(255) 768-981-981

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At a Glance

This resort-like property gives families and groups of friends familiar comforts and amenities, like a spa and gym, in the wilderness.

Indagare Loves

  • The Kids’ Club, which delivers fun for all ages as well as lessons in conservation principles
  • The spa and fitness center, a rarity in the wild
  • The connecting family suites and raised walkways for safety
  • The plush one- to three-bedroom villas with expansive views and private pools
  • The terrific Discovery Centre with exhibitions about the Serengeti’s ecosystem
  • Seeing the Big Five on daily game drives into the surrounding Serengeti National Park

Review

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.

Who Should Stay

Families; the Four Seasons accepts kids of all ages and has connecting family suites and raised walkways for safety from animals. Couples who might not be totally comfortable with staying in the bush and/or who do not want to partake in game drives every day. Groups of friends traveling together. Anyone who wants to add a couple more days of pampering and relaxation to a busy safari itinerary. For a more intimate and immersive wilderness experience, two of our favorite safari camps are Mwiba in the Southern Serengeti and Singita Sabora, a tented camp in Grumeti Reserve.

Ideal Length of Stay

2-4 nights (depending on the rest of your itinerary).

Getting There

Guests of the Four Seasons fly from Arusha to the Seronera Airstrip (about 45 minutes), then are picked up in a lodge Jeep and taken on a one-hour transfer, which often transforms into a longer game drive (the resort is located in the middle of the park). Since many international flights arrive quite late in Arusha, most travelers will need to spend a night at one of two Indagare-recommended hotels in the city.

Written by Simone Girner

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