Tanzania Travel Guide
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There are many reasons why we’d recommend a trip to Tanzania: the scenery, the wildlife, the outdoor showers, we could go on. And if a trip in your eyes is only complete if it includes some beach time, then the island of Zanzibar (technically an archipelago) is only a short flight away.
From early next year, you can stay at the new Park Hyatt Zanzibar, right on the beach in Stone Town, the historic centre of Zanzibar City. Above a rendering of the 67-room hotel, but you can spy a real-life snap on the hotel’s Facebook page.
If Lord Grantham were ever to take a trip to Africa, this is where he and other denizens Downton Abbey would lay their heads for the night. But today, even heads of state, royals and celebrities head to Sasakwa to soak up the authentic African ambiance and the expansive view of the vast Serengeti plains below.
The elegant, turn of the century manor house is counterbalanced with a carefully collected and well-curated mix of evocative African artifacts. It gives the posh property an African savvy meets boho chic appeal.
Africa has many amazing safari lodges out in its vast, beautiful wilderness, with a specific subset being semi-mobile camps: having only temporary permission to set up in a particular location, a semi-mobile camp must be able to pack up and move on within a matter of days, leaving not even a hint of environmental impact behind.
This obviously protects the fragile ecosystem the camp passes through, but also allows for freedom to move with the seasons, and in the case of Dunia Camp in Tanzania, with the flow of the Great Migration through Serengeti National Park.
Semi-mobile means no plumbing, but that doesn’t mean you’ll lack any amenities: there are flush toilets in each luxurious tent, and one of the more charming bush experiences is only a butler’s call and brief wait away: the bucket shower, courtesy of old-fashioned boiled water and gravity.
The opening of the behemoth 77-room Four Seasons Serengeti dominated the African safari headlines yesterday, with much of the talk surrounding its three restaurants, wine bar, spa, fitness center, and outdoor infinity pool overlooking the wilderness.
The price? Expedia shows rooms for two starting at about $1,200 a night. When you add in the cost of the food and a few select African wines, you're probably looking at around $1,500 a night.
Albeit more quietly, the smaller six-tent Singita Mara River Tent Camp also recently opened for business in the Lamai Triangle, a six-tent East African safari camp run entirely on solar power. The cost of a night there? $1,200 per person. The rate is all-inclusive, but that still leaves a couple paying $2,400 a night. Now that's a lot of cash.
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For all the Four Seasons Hotels loyalists out there (you know who you are, especially you Josh Flagg) in search of a Four Seasons in the wild, you'll be thrilled to know that the posh hotel brand now has a hotel in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
Four Seasons has just signed a management agreement with the owners of the existing Bilila Lodge (previously a Kempinski.) The resort will be upgraded and rebranded the Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti in fall 2012. This marks the first Four Seasons in Sub-Saharan Africa, although the brand is planning a luxury tented safari camp in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and a beach resort on the island of Zanzibar.
This particular Four Seasons will borrow heavily from the popular Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle in Thailand by allowing guests to spy on wildlife (mainly elephants) in a safe and "ecologically responsible" environment yet while still having all the luxury amenities and necessities they can't travel without.
Today we have not one, but two killer views for you, which happen to be from two properties belonging to the same group: Serena Hotels. If the name doesn't ring a bell, this might be because you'll have to make your way to East Africa or Southeast Asia (Pakistan, Afghanistan) to find one.
Last week we tempted you with the outdoor shower at Selous Safari Camp in Tanzania; today we'll take you on a little tour of one of the luxurious tents (if you can still call them that) these showers are part of, as well as some of the things we saw while out and about in the reserve.
Selous Game Reserve lies about 200km southwest of Dar Es Salaam, the commercial capital of Tanzania (the state capital is Dodoma). Much less known than the famous Serengeti or Ngorongoro Crater, it's nearly twice the size of Belgium and actually four times as large as the Serengeti. We spent some time here following a journey through the northern part of Tanzania, and would highly recommend fitting Selous into your itinerary if you can.
Its landscape and vegetation is different from the drier plains in the north, with East Africa's largest river - the Rufiji - making it the home and migration stop for countless bird species. You'll find plenty of larger animals as well, as you can see in the gallery, but more on that later. First, a few words on the camp itself.
If you've always wanted to go on an African safari, but aren't really that into roughing it, the Bilila Lodge Kempinski in Tanzania can help you out with a three-night glamping package that will let you see the animals in the Serengeti and get pampered at the same time.
As part of the Beauty and the Beast package, you get to stay in a room—no tents here—overlooking the plains of the national park, giving you a chance to observe the wildlife from your sun deck. Your days will be spent out in the bush, alongside veteran guides on game drives in search of the elusive Big Five—lions, leopards, rhinos, buffaloes and elephants—or floating overhead in a hot air balloon.
All this week, HotelChatter contributor Eric Rosen will be taking us on a guided tour of the globe’s most exclusive, luxurious, over-the-top vacation retreats in our new Private Islands Series. We’ll venture from the Bahamas to Fiji, from Africa’s crystalline Lake Tanganyika to the emerald waters of Cambodia, and everywhere in between. That is, everywhere you can be ruler of your own little island.
While Prince Wills and Princess-to-be Kate Middleton are rumored to be spending their honeymoon in Isles of Scilly, we can't help thinking the royal couple should maybe pull a switcheroo and shack up at the newly opened Star of the East on Zanzibar.
The Tanzania hotel would provide a paparazzi-free zone. It only offers 11 villas, and each has its own private plunge pool, Jacuzzi, personal butler, ginormous furnished terrace and lush garden full vegetation, from which the newlyweds will be able to watch the sunset and get all romantic.
We've had a sudden and inexplicable fascination with the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar which led us to the Fairmont Zanzibar in Unguja City. We quite like Fairmont, we're fascinated by Zanzibar, what could be better?
Well, according to the TripAdvisor reviews, nothing. But then again, no hotel is worse either, because the Fairmont is basically the only place to stay in Unguja City.
It all comes down to who you believe more: the recent guest who reckons they were "spoiled rotten" (they had the Asali Suite with private chefs) or others who complain of an unmanned pool bar and unfriendly service in the restaurant.
To give Fairmont Zanzibar the benefit of the doubt, they have just done $10 million worth of renovations, so perhaps even those who complained might find it better now. If we do get there we'll be signing up for their Breakfast & Dinner Package (we love our food) which includes accommodation and, as you'd expect, breakfast and dinner daily, starting at $489 a night.
If you want exotic, exclusive, beachy, private island bliss, then get yourself to the coast of Tanzania, where you can catch a ride over to Mnemba Island Lodge.
A twenty-minute speedboat ride from the town of Matemwe, off the Northeast coast of Zanzibar, will get you to this little coral atoll. And what will you see when you get there?
A whole lot of beach, and a whole lot of nobody. This island's best feature is its intimacy and privacy - roughly translated, it's you and the sand. And that's all.