I first visited Tanzania 13 years ago and it's fair to say the country has upped its luxury safari lodge game in the intervening years. While the term 'luxury' can be defined in myriad ways, whether you have a penchant for opulent gold taps and marble bathrooms or go batty for small, thoughtful touches and impeccable service, the array of luxury lodges in Tanzania means there's very much something for everyone. So, without further ado, here are our top five luxury safari lodges in Tanzania.
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge would definitely fit into the 'opulence' school of luxury thought. Perched on the crater rim, the lodge boasts an enviable location - but that's not all. We're talking chandeliers, gilt mirrors and panelled walls - at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge bigger is absolutely better and more is very much, well, more. Far from being soul-less though, this beautiful lodge seamlessly manages to feel lavish and intimate at the same time, with touches like fireplaces in every suite.
Chem Chem consists of Chem Chem Lodge and Little Chem Chem, both relatively new to the safari scene in northern Tanzania. Make no mistake, being located outside the well-known parks like the Serengeti is not a draw back. The conservancy in which these camps is located stretches across an impressive 55,000 acres and lies between the lesser known (and lesser populated) Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks. This is the perfect place to start a safari, unwind from the flight and gently ease your way into your holiday - enjoying private bush picnics, game drives, guided walks and village visits. Or, of course, simply relax by the pool. Heaven.
Lamai is a beautiful lodge located right up in the northern Serengeti, occupying a desirable location with views across the plains, which with any luck should be teeming with wildebeest between July and October. The decor is fresh, light and natural which is very easy on the eye. Game drives are in abundance here but equally the pool is incredibly inviting - wait for the game to come to you! The guides here are brilliant and the food is hard to beat too.
Serian Serengeti is a seasonal luxury safari camp that follows the Great Migration, meaning the entire structure is broken down and moved depending on where the beasties are. While this is very much the aim, it cannot be guaranteed because the migration movements depend entirely on the rains which, as most British people can appreciate, always have an air of unpredictability about them! Emphasis is very much placed on flexibility here and with guests enjoying private guiding throughout their stay, Serian Serengeti always ensure you get the most out of your safari - you could stay out all day if you wanted to (constantly amazed by your guide's Hawk-like eyesight), head out slightly later than the 6am gang, or return early knowing the food at lunch is going to be to die for.
Sand Rivers Selous
Sand Rivers Selous, down in the Selous Game Reserve, is another hot contender for the prize of best luxury safari lodge. The Selous, while the size of Switzerland, is home to only a handful of camps so say goodbye to other tourists and hello to having the game all to yourself. Quite greedy, really. The camp has beautiful rooms on the edge of the river and lots of game viewing activities to keep you busy - drives, walking, boat safaris and fishing too. Sand Rivers Selous also offers guests the chance to sleep out under the stars away from the camp - you'll eat under the huge African sky and go to sleep listening to the sounds of the bush under the soft glow of the moon. Having done this myself, I can tell you it was one of the most special nights I have ever spent in Africa and one I will never forget.