Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Tanzanian Safari

The future hubby and I took a practice honeymoon with my in laws to Tanzania to experience a four night African safari.

For our first night we stayed in Lake Manyara at the luxury tented campsite Kirurumu Manyara Lodge. After a fantastic game drive through the area (Lake Manyara reminded me of a very large safari park, it is all contained in a small area so it did almost feel like you were in a purpose built park) we arrived at the lodge to a very friendly welcome. The rooms were really cool, I had never experienced a luxury tent before and they had large veranda's with insane views over the area. All of the tents and facilities were connected via lit pathways, which was exciting and romantic. The tents were huge, we had a double bed as well as a single in the corner and still room for more. The bathrooms had a shower, toilet and sink but be warned there are no bathroom doors so you will get cosy with your loved one! It was very strange sleeping in a tent but the staff turn everything down and you sleep under nets and you soon get used to the idea of only canvas separating you from potential lions roaming around!!!! The food here was OK, there were a couple of options at dinner, we all went for lamb and breakfast was more of a buffet affair.

Lake Manyara as described is quite small but it does maximize your chances of spotting the wildlife you are seeking out! From here we drove to the very different Serengeti. The Serengeti is huge, dusty and hot and every evening you will feel filthy and in desperate need of a shower, the dirt literally gets everywhere! Everything is spread out in the Serengeti and is a massive contrast to Lake Manyara. You cannot go off road here so sometimes you do have to watch the animals from quite a distance, which I hear is different from the Masai Mara experience. However, the game drivers are all in contact via walkie talkie so you will at times buckle up and speed to whatever has been noted elsewhere in the area.

As the Serengeti is so large and there is so much to explore we chose to spend two nights here staying at Serengeti Bushtops. Now this place really is luxurious! The boy and I checked into our tent called Hippo! The bathroom was beautiful with fluffy towels and gowns, the shower could be zipped open so you could shower whilst watching the sunset over the Savannah; could you imagine anything more surreal? There was also a huge bath on the terrace that the staff would prepare with bubbles and canapes for your post game drive relaxation. The beds were huge and every night were turned down with hot water bottles for your comfort (it does get cold at night). There was a large sofa for relaxing and a table for private dining in the room. This isn't a gated camp so you must phone the staff to be escorted around the site at night time.

Every morning we were woken with a choice of hot beverage and then on one day we took a bush breakfast, which was out of this world. A table and chairs were set up for our group of five people along with a full cooked breakfast, sausages and all to watch the sunrise with some Hippo's frolicking in the water in the distance. This really is what dreams are made of and would be an incredible experience for a Honeymoon. Lunches were either packed whilst on game drives or eaten A La Carte in the restaurant where three courses were included. Massages are also included and we had a one hour full body massage in our own tent out in the open with the incredible views each afternoon to help ease our muscles from bouncing about in a truck! Dinner began each evening with a sun-downer by the camp fire where we chose from a menu and shared stories with other guests before retiring to the restaurant or your own tent to eat. We tried the beef wellington for two and it really was a treat! The food here is very good, especially when you consider how far away from civilization you really are.

After our time in the Serengeti we took another drive to Ngorongoro Crater. This place is crazy, you drive down into the crater to spot the wildlife. It was here we were lucky enough to spot a Rhino. You are almost guaranteed to see the big five here as animals can't leave the crater. This was so different to both Lake Manyara and the Serengeti and I would thoroughly recommend doing all three areas during your time in Tanzania to see the contrasts available. Entering the crater in the early morning is like a scene from Jurassic Park with jungle wildlife and lots of mist around and leaving is a little like a white knuckle roller coaster at Disneyland where you grip on for dear life and try not to look at the drops!

For our time here we chose to stay at The Manor, which is accessed via a scenic drive through the coffee plantations. The manor is beautiful and very colonial with large libraries and lounges with fireplaces and snooker tables to relax in. The bedrooms are all in little houses with large terraces over looking the plantations and an outdoor fire pit. Inside is a lounge area, which is separated from the bedroom area by an open fire that is lit each evening so you can fall asleep to the crackle of the flames. The bathroom has a large rain forest shower as well as a gorgeous roll top bath, which is perfect for relaxing and wiping away the dirt.

Dinner here was served in a lovely restaurant by friendly staff. It was an A La Carte menu and the quality was very, very good. The wine list was also great and it felt lovely sipping luxurious wine on a full stomach by one of the open fireplaces. Breakfast was also just as delicious and again had A La Carte cooked options available. The Manor felt like a home away from home and it was so nice to have so much quiet time and privacy in our little mini manor house. Everything can be catered for you here from spa treatments to bike rides and picnics in and around the estate as well as horse riding or just relaxing on a lounger in the gorgeous gardens.

If I could ever go back I would stay one night in Lake Manyara as you will be fresh at the beginning of your trip and will not need longer in this area. I would have stayed a third night at Bushtops to make more use of the facilities here and also to experience a walking safari or night time safari, which we couldn't fit into our schedule. I would then take two nights at the manor house to experience a picnic or horse riding or something different to game drives and again make the most of the relaxing time available here. I think with the added nights a six night trip would be ideal and coupled with a week on the beach this could provide the ultimate African Honeymoon.