Honeymoon Review: Safari and sustainability in Tanzania

Lizzie Pook searches for lions, leopards and luxury in off-the-beaten-track Tanzania

When it comes to adventure-moons, Tanzania has it all – from vast national parks filled with amazing wildlife, to a whole host of adrenaline-filled activities.   

We’re here to experience some of the more sustainable, wildlife-friendly ways that you can honeymoon in Africa, but that doesn’t mean we will be compromising on an ounce of luxury during the trip…

The adventure begins in the breathtaking Ngorogoro Highlands, a stunning collection of mountain forests and undulating hills that teeter above the world-famous Ngorogoro Crater in northern Tanzania. The landscape here really is beautiful – the silhouettes of the flat-topped acacia trees stand out against the falling sun.

I’m staying at the sci-fi-looking Highlands Camp, a collection of unique bubble lodges – the only of their kind on the African continent – dotted around the forest, with sweeping views across the crater. Each eco-friendly bubble is designed to minimally impact the environment but inside they are so luxurious – with strokeable furs, roaring fires (at this altitude it can get chilly at night) and ridiculously comfy beds. Nature-lovers will be in their element here as you can often see blue monkeys and baboons clambering in the trees around camp, or enjoy the orchestra of birdsong out on your private balcony.

WHAT TYPE OF SAFARI IS PERFECT FOR YOU?

Take a dip in your infinity pool – Jabali Ridge
Take a dip in your infinity pool – Jabali Ridge

By day, we descend into the crater – the 300km square caldera was formed when a huge mountain collapsed in on itself 2.5 million years ago – and it is teeming with wildlife. We see gaggles of hyenas, a pride of 15 lions, pelicans fishing in formation like synchronised swimmers, and in the distance, a rare black rhino taking a messy mud-bath. Absolutely incredible!      

Next, we take a tiny bush plane to the remote Ruaha National Park in south Tanzania. This place is home to 10% of the world’s remaining population of lions, but receives only half the visitors of the popular Serengeti in the north (so you’re unlikely to spot any other safari vehicles while you’re out and about). The recently-opened Jabali Ridge – the only truly luxury lodge in Ruaha, has a focus on recycling, solar power and sustainable water sources. Built around a collection of huge granite boulders and flanked by bulbous baobab trees, it looks like it’s been carved out of the land itself. Rooms are wonderfully luxurious – with colossal dark mahogany beds, huge rainforest showers, private sunken sun terraces and uninterrupted views across the wildflower-filled landscape.

A bed with a view – Highland Camp
A bed with a view – Highland Camp

The camp is an Instagram heaven – the infinity pool is the perfect place to pose while sipping on a gin and tonic (and keep your eyes peeled for passing elephants!). The single-room spa is peaceful and airy – opt for the African Rungu, or ‘stick’ massage and you’ll leave feeling lighter than air.

But the real draw here, is the wildlife. So, we made it our mission to be out on safari as often as possible. It pays off. As well as a pride of 12 lions, and a lioness with two teeny tiny squeaking cubs, we also spot two adolescent cheetahs, slinking off into the distance just as the amber sun sets in the sky. 

Back at camp, we’re treated to a romantic private poolside dinner of tender beef, roasted butternut squash and lashings of south African chardonnay, as shooting stars streak across the vast glittering night sky. Heavenly.

Our final stop, another bush plane away, is the Selous Game Reserve. There are a lot of hippos and crocs here, and the air is constantly ringing with the ghostly whistle of fish eagles on the hunt. From our base at Roho ya Selous – a beautiful tented eco-camp clustered around a putty-coloured lake – we head out on boating safaris, nature walks and breakfasts of bacon and eggs in the bush.

On our final night we leave the camp entirely and trek to our very own private fly-camping site – a tiny mobile camp on the banks of a hippo-filled river, just for us. We drink cold Serengeti beer around the roaring campfire and tuck into a dinner of delicious tilapia with tomato relish. As night falls we take to our deck chairs and marvel at the milky way, before retiring to our comfy mobile beds to sleep under the stars. I don’t think you can get more wild than this, and it feels incredible.

EPIC HONEYMOON ADVENTURES 

Timbuktu gives safari travellers total control to design their dream trip online. This 10-night trip to Tanzania can be arranged from £7,810 per person. Including all internal flights and logistics, accommodation, all meals, drinks and activities unless otherwise stated, and all park fees; timbuktutravel.com (0207 193 1326)  

    

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