Travelife Magazine at The Retreat in Tanzania

The best safaris in Tanzania and a beach holiday in Zanzibar


Christine Cunanan for The Frequent Flier in Travelife Magazine

Today I woke up remembering a happy trip to Tanzania. It involved three unique safaris and one beach holiday in Zanzibar. We chose safaris in the Selous, the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti.


The best safaris in Tanzania and a beach holiday in Zanzibar

This holiday in Tanzania really began over a casual conversation over a champagne, mussels and steak dinner while we were in Cape Town late last year. We were at a restaurant called Catharina’s at The Steenberg in Constantia.

By the way, the Steenberg has some of the most beautiful villas I’ve seen near Cape Town. We loved our stay here.

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It was at the end of a very enjoyable two–week trip to South Africa, and right there and then we’d decided to do another trip somewhere in Africa because we’d had such a good time.

“Where shall we go?” We asked each other, and I’m sure all the champagne had an influencing effect on our conversations.

Out of all the countries in Africa we could choose from for another trip to Africa, we’d decided on Tanzania together and then blocked a date for going in our calendars.

Basically, we threw a psychological dart on a map of Africa and decided to go where it landed. On the shortlist were Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania and Kenya. Then we did a bit of bargaining and negotiating regarding the places to include.


When this was done, I set about choosing all the hotels and lodges in Tanzania, as I just love doing this. The Travel Companion was happy to leave this bit to me and focus on where to eat and where to go for sightseeing. This was just like what how we planned our visit to South Africa.

The best safaris in Tanzania and a beach holiday in Zanzibar
Planning for a safari holiday

Choosing luxury hotels is one of my ideas of bliss, by the way, aside from an afternoon at a spa, a very good meal with great conversation, and some shopping therapy. I just love checking out hotel and resort websites and booking the ones I like.

I wonder what this should be called? Hotel therapy? I’m pretty OC about hotels because I simply hate staying in lousy hotels.

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Meanwhile, his part of the planning was all the domestic logistics, including how to get from point A to point B to point C. This included booking all those tiny planes to go from one safari to another.

Plus all the sightseeing and the restaurant choices because he’s as anal about restaurants as I am about hotels. So between us, we have the best of the world covered.


The best safaris in Tanzania and a beach holiday in Zanzibar

Anyway, for Tanzania, I booked three absolutely amazing safari experiences for a trip focused on the very best of this country in different ways. Give or take a few, of course, because two weeks just wasn’t enough time to stay everywhere I wanted.

There are about two other safari places I would love to do, plus a beautiful resort or two in Zanzibar.


The best safaris in Tanzania and a beach holiday in Zanzibar

In Zanzibar, which was towards the last leg of our trip, I was planning to book a hotel in Stone Town but we had few luxury options. At that time, the Park Hyatt Zanzibar was just under construction. It’s now open, and this is the best hotel to stay in Zanzibar.

Meanwhile, the fantastic resorts in the beach areas are all very luxurious but these are quite a distance from Stone Town. But we wanted to stay by the beach. So we booked a beautiful resort with a perfect sunset view.

As for the safaris for this trip, lucky me. I got to pick all three safari places, although it was overall a pretty good compromise, as usual.


This safari is the best and most special safari experience in Tanzania, and certainly one of the top in the world. The lodge itself is like a Hollywood set. In fact, you almost expect Meryll Streep and Robert Redford to come walking in to do a scene from the movie Out of Africa.

Meanwhile, the safari viewing is amazing. It involves driving down into the crater of an extinct volcano to see all the animals at the bottom. We did this for several days and our rangers always capped the game drives with a picnic breakfast right at the bottom.

We both had this at the top of our respective bucket lists.

Every single discerning traveler to this part of the world stays here as it’s really world famous for its combination of glamour, luxury and incredible game viewing.


The other safari is something I really wanted to do, although my companion was not so keen because he read somewhere that the game viewing isn’t that great.

Plus, he thought I was more interested in the safari’s spa than in seeing more animals. The spa really was wonderful. I got massages every day while wild animals passed around me.

But this lodge is pretty far out, so he was a good sport about accompanying me here for three days. And it’s still one of the most special places I have ever stayed in in Africa. It’s Africa game viewing at its most pristine — and also at its most surreal luxurious.

The best safaris in Tanzania and a beach holiday in Zanzibar

There are no conservation rangers or conservation efforts here, so it’s really a free for all as far as the animals are concerned.

This is also why the game viewing here is slightly different compared to the more “civilized safari areas.” One day, you may get very lucky. The next day, you may not.

The best safaris in Tanzania and a beach holiday in Zanzibar

But that’s truly nature at work without human interference, as far as I’m concerned. And if you’re into safaris, you want to include one like this every now and then.


The best safaris in Tanzania and a beach holiday in Zanzibar

Besides, this is an ultra-luxury safari in one of the most remote places on earth. Talk about a completely surreal experience unlike any other.

It’s located is the Selous which has been called the last wilderness of Africa. Can you imagine what the last wilderness of a wilderness continent is like?

It’s also supposed to be one of the last remaining places on earth where you can go and escape manmade noises. This is still one of my favorite safari experiences ever.

The best safaris in Tanzania and a beach holiday in Zanzibar


Finally, the third safari was in a location of my companion’s choice because he wanted to see the Great Migration. And this is where I had to compromise, although not with too much difficulty.

It’s one of the most famous safari locations in the world, and the first choice of most people going on safari in Tanzania. And the safari lodge I’d chosen was possibly at the top of its class right now. It’s quite unlike any other in Africa.

The best safaris in Tanzania and a beach holiday in Zanzibar

All three safari experiences were best-of-breed and entirely different from each other.

So our trip definitely wasn’t just like one never-ending, and never-endingly eventful safari.

The best safaris in Tanzania and a beach holiday in Zanzibar


Finally, I’m posting a photo of a fish restaurant I really wanted to try while we were in Tanzania. It’s at one end of the island of Zanzibar, about one hour from Stone Town by car.

“That looks like a tourist trap,” the Travel Companion said, when I showed him this pretty famous photo. “But if you really want to go, I’ll take you there for your birthday.”

The best safaris in Tanzania and a beach holiday in Zanzibar

Yes, I was celebrating my birthday in Tanzania, on this holiday. It was wonderful, and Zanzibar was our last stop before flying out.

We ended up not going, though, because we found a really nice restaurant by the sea in Stone Town that served lobsters. Then suddenly, a one-hour drive for lunch at this fish restaurant seemed really far away.

So it’s still on my #Travelife bucket list, which of course never ends. This gives me something to look forward to on my next visit to Tanzania.

Read more articles about safaris in Africa in Travelife Magazine.

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