Many African new moons ago, Tanzania was my first experience of sub-Saharan Africa, and the one that changed me to the point that I was convinced I had to move continents. I remember the heat and the people and the feeling of being there almost more than I remember the wildlife encounters; once you’ve smelled the rain in Africa for the first time you will never forget it. And I clearly remember not realising just how much Africa had crept under my skin until I was back home in the UK, feeling totally disconnected from the natural world and planning my escape.
If you were ever to ask one of us (as guests often do) which country is ‘better’, or which one we prefer, be prepared for the long answer because you may as well ask which of our children we love more. Tanzania for me is special because it was the first (of many), and it’s always special to go back to a place that feels like home. It may not be the most opulent in terms of fine dining or other luxuries, but it has a warmth and a generosity all of its own.
On my most recent trip to Tanzania in October, I was visiting the ‘northern circuit’; the well-trodden safari trail between Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti, with the Ngorongoro Crater in the middle. As someone who likes to get off the beaten path as much as possible, it’s always more of a challenge to find the perfect balance when visiting iconic (and VERY popular) destinations like these, without feeling like one of the herd (little ‘migration pun’ there!). But that is exactly the kind of challenge we love, and if you know where to look, there are lots of incredible, authentic, magical experiences to be had, far from the madding crowds.
Amongst my favourite memories from this trip were: listening to herds of zebra reassuringly munching grass around my tent all night, as lions roared and hyenas whooped in the distance, at Nasikia’s Tarangire Ndovu Lodge; practicing yoga and drinking gin (not at the same time) with the wonderful Sally at Gibbs Farm (a place I would gladly have stayed for a month); hunting with the Hadzabe tribe and generally being spoilt rotten by the staff at the beautiful Ziwani Lodge; and wallowing luxuriously in the most spectacular copper bath under the stars, miles from anyone in my own private fly-camp in the middle of the Serengeti (HUGE thanks to the team at Alex Walker’s Serian Lamai.) Also, thanks to many enthusiastic and patient teachers (and more than a few G&Ts), my Swahili has now reached an almost borderline-impressive level of fluency.
Genuine hospitality can’t always be bought. More expensive is not always better. Luxury is not necessarily a guarantee of a great experience. Tanzania is not a cheap safari destination, but it will give you so much more than ‘just a safari’, and there are lots of ways that we can help you spend your hard-earned money wisely. If you go, you’ll know. And we have.
Hadi wakati mwingine – Until next time!