Our Africa specialist, Gemma Wilson-Dines, took an 8-night trip to Tanzania. We ask about her standout moments from stargazing with a specialist guide to watching the Great Migration from a hot air balloon…
Give me the lowdown: where, when and how long for?
An 8-night sweep in March through Tanzania reviewing Lemala’s portfolio of tented camps and lodges.
Why should I go?
Why Lemala – what gives it the edge?
Modest luxury – traditional tents yet white tablecloths and sparkling silver and glassware.
I loved Lemala Ndutu for its prime location in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area on the cusp of the Southern Serengeti border, and of course its front-row seats to the Great Migration. This mobile tented camp changes location every six months specifically to follow the migration route which I think is incredible and shows such a commitment to giving our clients the best experience possible.
My all-time favourite though was Lemala Nanyuki, further north in the Serengeti, also for its outstanding location. This camp is completely immersed in the grassy savannah and is one of the most visited in the area by local wildlife. While I was there, we even had a lion visit camp. A member of staff showed me a photo of the paw prints – five hours fresh and just where they serve breakfast!
Any surprises? Any preconceived notions challenged?
Travelling off season is still a fab time to visit Tanzania. Yes, it’s slightly cooler first thing in the morning and there was a spot of rain during the week BUT there were noticeably less people and with no vehicles around for miles, countless game sightings. It felt magical.
Don’t leave without…
Visiting Mto wa Mbu, a cultural project run by Lemala! It was great riding in a tuk tuk experiencing rural Tanzanian life – rice farms, workshops, markets, a banana plantation and meeting talented people from farmers to skilled woodworkers.
Best lunch spot?
The food at all the Lemala properties was wonderful – there was always so much choice! I particularly enjoyed starting my day with an omelette and ALL the toppings. The best lunch spot though was at Mpingo Ridge Lodge with a looming unhindered view of Tarangire National Park as far as the eye could see.
The story you’ll be telling for the rest of your life:
A hot air balloon ride gliding over the Serengeti and watching the migration from above. Words cannot describe just how vast the plains are. It felt very humbling to watch the throngs of wildebeest and zebra migrate in unbelievable numbers in utter silence save for the calls of the wild – a real ‘once in a lifetime’ experience.
The sustainability factor:
Lemala has a strong sense of social consciousness and supporting women’s health is just one of the many ways in which the company endeavors to uplift the local communities. One example of this is the Lemala sanitary pads initiative, a fantastic program that makes and donates sanitary pads to young village women who would otherwise be absent from school every month.
You don’t need as much luggage as you think! I travelled the whole two weeks with an 11kg hand-luggage sized bag. Lemala offer free of charge laundry service which is very, very useful, so do make the most of it. It’s not a trip where you need to dress up or feel the need to change outfit every day – you’re looking at the wildlife not what other people are wearing!
And the Alfred& difference?
The PEOPLE! Lemala encourages their guides to explore their passions and on safari it makes all the difference. MJ, our brilliant guide specialised in birds and stargazing (on top of the vast wildlife of course) which meant he was able to point out different and remarkable things not only during the day but at night too. One of my favourite memories is sitting around the fire pit with a G&T while MJ used his laser pen to point out the constellations. The skies were pitch black and with no light pollution whatsoever we saw Scorpio, Orion and Taurus constellations … even Mars!
Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Malcolm, who's travelled extensively in your chosen destination. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - guides who can give you genuine insights into local life and culture, chefs who can teach you how to rustle up the local cuisine and safari rangers who'll ensure you'll spot the best wildlife.
Freephone an expert 01306 744 656