Eat and sleep like a Princess on African Safari – Glamping our way around Tanzania

On Sunday July 3, 2016, my friend and I arrived in Arusha to begin our 10 day safari of Tanzania including Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park. Our accommodation and safari were organised by Africa Resource Travel based in the U.K. and we travelled with Mount Kilimanjaro Safari Club. Below are all the amazing places we stayed.

Rivertrees Country Inn, Arusha

This was the perfect place to feel like Princesses before the start of our safari. We spent the first two nights here, with one full day to rest and recover from our international flights. Set on 10 acres of riverine vegetation, our garden cottage was set amongst lush green grounds to wander around,  relax by the pool, and watch the blue monkeys in the trees.  The service was impeccable, the staff very friendly, the food delicious and our “Princess beds” totally relaxing. Let the safari begin!

Maweninga Camp, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania

Our first tented camp on safari, and we were blown away at just how beautiful Maweninga is. Remote, luxurious and  built on top of a massive kopje (granite rocks), our tented twin room offered superb views of the park, and Lake Burungi from the balcony.  We’re officially safari glamping!

The staff are incredibly hospitable and friendly, the view of the sun setting from the main terrace breathtaking, the food is so fresh, and the stars above at night are amazing!  We quickly got accustomed to having armed Maasai walk us to and from our rooms at night. 

Ngorongoro Farmhouse

The landscape changed considerably once we left Tarangire and we entered the Rift Valley where the land looked more like farms. With no idea what to expect, we arrived at the Farmhouse with gardens full of colourful flowers and it’s own organic coffee growing plantation. I recommend you buy their organic coffee. It’s well priced and makes some great gifts.  Our room, Mbogo, which means buffalo in Swahili was luxurious with an enormous wooden door, a shower big enough for five people, and more “Princess” beds. There was a pool to relax by with prehistoric looking birds and another four course dining affair but buffet style. But not before an audience invited session of traditional dancing.

Olduvai Camp

As our jeep carried us along a bumpy, gravel dirt road, the flat plains stretched out before us with Makarot mountain in the distance. We had no idea where a camp could possibly exist on such flat lands. But as we approached a large kopje (mound of rocks), we could make out tented lodges built around and into the rocks. This was one of the most memorable places we stayed. We spent a lot of time with the Maasai in our 2 night stay, including a sunset walk to view a stunning African sunset on the first evening, to walking  across the plains to the Maasai village with giraffes eating acacia trees, and our hike through Olduvai Gorge. I highly recommend two nights here to experience the local Maasai  culture. Stay tuned for a separate blog piece on Olduvai.

 Ronjo Camp

By this point on our safari, we decided to stop viewing our next accommodation online in order to feel more excited and in awe of wherever we ended up next. Ronjo Camp didn’t disappoint and it’s the closest we’ve come to “camping” so far. With no wifi available (a welcome relief), our tented lodge required hot water to be filled into a shower bag for showering by the staff. The camp offered relaxing views around one of two campfires, and more delicious food with hospitable staff. And at night you could hear hyenas as they wandered through and around the camp.   

Grumeti Hills

As we entered the protected Grumeti Game Reserve, our guide Mr Jackson pointed out the 16 tented lodges dotted across the southern side of the hill. Our canvas tent had four large windows that offered wonderful views of the Serengeti plains that could be enjoyed whilst sitting in bed or from our private terrace. You could stand under the shower and gaze out to stare at the trees, and from the pool you could watch the zebras and wildebeest on the plains. There are some great additional activities that you can do here including the sunrise safari walk with breakfast in the bush and a night safari, both of which I recommend. More about these events in a separate blog. 

Bashay Rift Lodge

This was the perfect place to stay to end the safari. After spending the last few nights in the parks where everything felt like it was constantly layered with dust, including our face and hands, (thank goodness for those wet wipes!), arriving at Bashay was like a congratulatory handshake, and a wine glass toast to an amazing safari experience. This place was pimp! The size of the bathroom and shower was like having our own personal spa centre, and the fire place was perfect to sit and reflect on the safari days gone by. The main house had terraces to view the sun setting over the Rift Valley with Ngorongoro Crater in the distance. There is also a pool with another fine view, and the food and service were top class.

Our safari trip has been unforgettable, especially with all the wonderful places we lodged at with superb views, beautiful decor, and amazing hospitality and food. Sometimes you just need to eat and sleep like a Princess, especially on a milestone birthday trip! 

“Lions and leopards and cheetahs, oh my!”

In a joint milestone birthday treat to ourselves, my friend and I fulfilled another bucket list event with 10 days on African Safari in Tanzania from July 5 to 14, 2016. We saw an incredible amount of animals whilst touring around Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park. Here are my top five animal safari moments;

Elephants in Tarangire National Park

My friend ran to the look out point at the picnic spot yelling “look elephants!”. These amazing animals with tusks in tact were amazing to see, especially so close to the vehicle and so large in size. Elephants are in their hundreds in Tarangire and we never grew tired of watching them as they rubbed themselves against trees, or flapped their huge ears at us. On our second day, we went to view elephants in their masses down by Silale Swamp. More elephants dotting the landscape with the green swamp as a backdrop and Mount Lokasali in the distance. Phenomenal!  I definitely recommend two nights in Tarangire.

Lion and lioness eating prey in Tarangire National Park

The first sighting of a lion was on our first day in Tarangire National Park as it was eating its prey. We couldn’t see what it was eating due to the high grass, just legs sticking up as the lion got up and moved around its kill. Later that night, we went on our first night safari trip. We saw hyenas and jackels for the first time, but it was the  lioness feeding that became the evening highlight. I can still hear the sound of her tearing the skin  off her prey, and the sound of bones and cartilage crunching as she devoured her kill.

Lions and lionesses at the Simba kopjes in Serengeti National Park

Not long after we entered Serengeti, we encountered our first of three lions, and the first of two lionesses for the day. The first lion sat hidden in the grass, facing the lioness who was sitting on a rock some 200 metres away. The size of its head really struck me as it sat with its eyes closed. It was easily as big as my entire torso.  Our second lion viewing was  a few hundred metres down the road. It was perfectly positioned, sitting high on a grassy mound. It’s mane was so beautiful, and it looked at us with a face that said, “This is why I’m the King of these lands!”. It was a totally awesome moment. If only my SLR with its telephoto lens hadn’t broken the day before!

Leopards eating prey in Serengeti National Park

On the second day in Serengeti, we went on a game drive around the central part of the park called the Seronera. It was here we saw two leopards in the tree, with a recently killed gazelle hanging from the branches. One of the leopards was devouring the gazelle while the second leopard rested on a branch below. The torn skin off the stomach of the gazelle was clearly visible as it hung from the branches.  At another location,  there was lone leopard eating a diyk diyk. Another perfect photo opportunity for the broken SLR.  Some things in life just need to be remembered in the moment. 

Hippo pool in Serengeti National Park

We had seen a few  hippos in the western part of Serengeti, numbering in their two’s or three’s. So when our guide Mr Jackson took us to the hippo pool near the Seronera area, we were blown away by not only the vast quantity of hippos present in one place, but also their sounds, smells and behaviour. No words to describe this,  you just need to experience it for yourself.

 We saw so many animals whilst on safari including the big 5 (lion, elephant, black rhino, buffalo and leopard). Although the above are my some of my most memorable safari animal moments, so many other animals were equally memorable. From the zebras that rest their heads on each other, the tall and graceful giraffes that seem so shy, the baby hyena cubs around their mother, to my personal favourite the Ganet cat, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to view animals in a zoo again!