‘It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.’ Henry David Thoreau
I have been fortunate enough to travel to many parts of the globe but I’ve never been on safari in East Africa. So, I couldn’t wait to discover the Serengeti in Tanzania, the place where the land goes on forever and which is home to the largest concentration of wildlife on earth. To experience this I would be staying at one of the most luxurious lodges in the area, the Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti.
I arrived to Kilimanjaro airport after a 13 hour flight from Gatwick airport. As soon as I got off the plane I was overwhelmed by that ‘wet earth’ smell that is so characteristic of Africa, oh how I have been missing it…
The transfer from Arusha to the Serengeti airstrip was incredible, flying over the picturesque plains, spotting animals from the air was a real highlight.
The Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti
When we landed the friendly Four Seasons team were waiting for us with cold drinks and some lovely dips to eat. En-route to the lodge we saw several animals, elephants, giraffes, zebras and buffalos to mention just a few – and the safari hadn’t even begun! I was already in my happy place and had not even reached the camp.
40 minutes later we arrived at the stunning Four Seasons Lodge Serengeti. A man wearing Masaai clothes escorted me to my suite and made sure I was told everything about the room facilities. I stayed in a suite with plunge pools on the terrace, the suite itself was incredibly spacious featuring an African chic decor inspired living room, a king size bed, 2 bathrooms, a stand-alone bath tub and a huge dressing room area. I was so impressed by the whole place, I could not stop smiling and thought that I should make the most of the facilities on offer.
This luxurious lodge is simply stunning. The infinity pool by the waterhole is undoubtedly the lodge’s biggest draw, and just opposite is a water hole where the animals come often to drink, which allows game viewing without even leaving the lodge. As there is a live stream webcam of the main watering hole, you can also fall asleep watching the animals from your room.
Elevated wooden walkways weave throughout the property connecting the facilities. As the lodge is in the heart of the bush I was very conscious about wild animals lurking in the darkness, luckily, every night on my way to the suite I was always accompanied by a Maasai to make sure I got to my room safely. However, because of the wild surroundings I needed to ensure all windows and doors were locked to stop animals getting in, the baboons in particular are extremely curious.
The staff are friendly and are always there to help you, and as you pass by you may hear ‘Jambo’, which is the most common greeting expression in Swahili.
In terms of facilities there is an impressive spa with eight treatment pavilions, featuring many special signature African treatments. After the game drives you can spoil yourself with the hotel’s signature Kifaa massage, with all treatments using the Africology signature products (the best I’ve ever tried!).
With African inspired cuisine, the three restaurants are an excellent addition, I even took part in a traditional Maasai dancing performance at the Boma Grill restaurant. I have to mention the bush dinner as an experience that really stood out as we were eating outside, in the bush itself. The guides took us to the area at around 6pm to see the sunset, drinking champagne we enjoyed delicious food and the most beautiful scenery Africa has to offer.
The Game Drives and the Big Five
The Serengeti national park is renowned for its unparalleled game and truly stunning landscapes. It is an absolutely phenomenal big game viewing destination. We had two and a half days of game drives during our stay, and we began our game drives every day very early to make sure we could capture the golden light during the magical hours near sunrise, this is the ideal moment to take the best pictures. My camera was always out to take pictures of the beautiful Tanzanian scenery and animals.
During those two days I was fortunate enough to see leopards, a huge number of lions, gazelles, elephants charging at one another, cheetahs sprinting through the grasslands as well as zebras and hippos, and there were also some wildebeest roaming in the area.
On the first day the guide drove us to a waterhole where we saw a group of hippos taking a bath, he turned off the engine so we could hear the sounds they used to communicate with each other which was truly fascinating.
I was really looking forward to my first walking safari later on that afternoon. We met the English guide Oli Dreike, the Discovery Centre General Manager, a Maasai guide and two qualified armed rangers, who accompanied us during a 1 hour walk. My heart was racing without the protection of the vehicle, but it made the experience more intense as you become part of the environment and the wilderness becomes more real. Your senses awaken, you follow the tracks of the elephants and other wildlife, you feel the wind through you hair, hear a lion roar in the distance and smell the bush and its wildlife.
On the second day, just when we thought we’d seen it all, we departed for another half day game drive and drove to see a whole family of females and their cubs. We got extremely close to a male lion, however he paid absolutely no attention to us and seemed quite content as we snapped away. When in the moment it is important to get plenty of shots, but I had to remind myself that it was also nice to put my camera down and experience the moment.
Serengeti also offers an incredible array of smaller, fascinating creatures such as dikdik, crocodile, hyena, jackals, warthog, gazelle and topi. There are also a variety of birds too, which can be great for birdwatching.
Every day our exceptional guides seemed to know exactly where the big animals were because we tended to find them before anyone else, however its important to remember that nothing is guaranteed in this wild environment.
The bottom line:
A Tanzanian Serengeti Safari is one of the best I’ve ever experienced. The Serengeti is the perfect place to see the beauty of wildlife in its natural habitat and surroundings as there is an abundance of different animals. Here at Africa Travel we offer a wide range of accommodation options at this destination with ideal features to suit a variety of tastes. Four Seasons Safari Lodge is an example of a perfect option for travellers who wish to experience the wonders of the Serengeti with all the modern conveniences. I would definitely recommend this property to families and honeymooners and to those who don’t like the idea of staying in tented camps. It is not just about the accommodation that is of a high standard either; our guides were also friendly and extremely helpful, all the staff at this lodge went out of their way to make our stay as perfect as you would expect from a Four Seasons property. Thanks to the Four Seasons I was able to experience the very best of the Serengeti and create memories that will stay with me forever.
- If you travel to Tanzania, don’t forget to have your yellow fever jabs up to date,
- Take some malaria tablets with you,
- Keep spraying ‘mosquito repellant’ over and over again,
- To avoid sunburn, make sure you wear a high factor sunscreen and drink lots of water,
- Don’t forget to pack kaki and green clothes,
- Long sleeves shirts and trousers are recommended. A good pair of sturdy shoes and a hat is also advised,
- To spot the big animals from long distances, remember to take you binoculars with you,
- If you own a British passport you can take care of your visa on arrival or apply directly to the Tanzania High Commission in London.
Useful Swahili Words: Welcome – Karibu; Goodbye – Kwaheri; Help me, please – Nisaidie, tafadhali; Please – Tafadhali; Thank you – Asante; Thank you very much – Asante sana.
Written by Marisa, our Marketing Executive. She is truly passionate about Africa as her father was born in Angola she spent the majority of her holidays there as well as living in Cape Verde for two month doing a voluntary programme with primary schools.