Angela Hughes of Trips and Ships Luxury Travel, just returned from an 11-day safari experience in Tanzania, Africa with a stop at the breathtaking beaches of Zanzibar
While most people take months if not a year to plan a luxury safari, we knew we had to jump across the pond and get to the the Serengeti while the national parks were empty of tourist and the borders were open without covid testing as a requirement.
Two weeks later, we were on Qatar Airways out of a desolate JFK airport connecting in Qatar, Doha and touching down in Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro airport.
Qatar Airways did a great job of keeping all of their fliers covid ready and safe providing plastic shields to guests and empty seats among them. Planes were flying at half the passenger capacity giving us plenty of room to stretch out and relax on the long over the water flight. Reaching Qatar was eye opening as many planes were coming and going from all of the world and people traveling as business as usual.
We arrived in Arusha to be met by Bernard Munyanziza of the luxury DMC, Nziza Hospitality. We were quickly transported to the Legendary Lodge in Arusha. Set on the lush tropical gardens of a working coffee farm just outside Arusha, the Legendary Lodge dazzles with their beautiful garden cottages with private verandas. We relaxed, rode bikes through the farm and enjoyed the food and spa massages on site.
A quick one hour air flight from Arusha to the dirt airstrip of Kogatende landed us in the Northern Serengeti with jeeps waiting and spare tires white labeled with my brand Trips & Ships Luxury Travel.
Many describe Tanzania as Africa’s visual masterpiece known for the “Big 5” made up of the lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and African buffalo.
One of our main goals of the trip was to witness the wildebeest crossing on the Mara River which is described as the great migration. The best times to see the migration are between December and March or between May and November. Our expert guide, Cloude, recognized the animal movement pattern and immediately took us over to crossing point on the Mara River where we we were able to observe what is called “The greatest show on earth’, the drama of the mass-movement of wildebeest and zebras making their way to the Ndutu Plains.
For two nights, we checked into the gorgeous Nimali Mara Camp, a small, intimate safari camp with only 10 tents. I soaked in a beautiful, copper tub with windows open, overlooking the savannah. The camp fits naturally into its surroundings amongst the trees and boulders over looking the Serengti with an infinity pool set within a natural cave. I woke up to giraffes and zebras roaming in front of my room. I appreciated the energy-efficient lighting and solar power that the hotel used as well as the sustainable materials keeping the environment eco-friendly.
Next, we moved to the Nyumbani Camp, a luxury camp in the central Serengeti where we searched for big lions and cats for two days. We tracked lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo who share the the park with cheetah, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle, topi, eland, waterbuck, hyena, baboon, impala, African wild dog and giraffe to name a few.
On the fringe of the park is the Ngorongoro Crater where searched unsuccessfully for the near extinct Rhino. We stayed on the outer slopes of the crater at the luscious, tropical Gibb’s Farm founded in the 1920s as a coffee plantation.
Our next two days were spent at the Sanctuary Swala located in a secluded area of Tarangire National Park where we continued to view elephants and birds in flight.
My takeaways- 1. Don’t overthink traveling abroad! The economic impact that even one group of tourists can bring to an area is significant for families around the world who are in dire need. 2. Now is the perfect time to travel with cleaner than ever planes & accommodations. 3. Getting outside of our “own bubble” helps restore our vision of humanity and why tourism matters!