Luxury safaris in Tanzania

“When you’re paying for luxury, it’s natural to expect a very good guide,” says Simon Mills from our partner Native Escapes. “You’ll often travel with a tracker too. Their eyes are just ridiculous – they can see things way off in the distance.”

Rebecca Blakey from our partner Wayfairer Travel agrees. “A key aspect of luxury safaris in Tanzania is the increased quality of the guiding. All safari guides are well-trained, of course, but a really good one can take you 10 steps further.”

“The experience is so different once you get out of the jeep, such as on a horseback or camel trek. The guides can really help you appreciate the sounds and smells of a safari, and the hardships that people living in these environments experience.”

One such hardship faced by Tanzania’s Maasai people is the threat of eviction from ancestral lands around Ngorongoro (a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site), supposedly because their presence is in conflict with conservation aims. And around Loliondo, close to the Kenyan border, thousands more Maasai could be uprooted to make way for a luxury safari and hunting business owned by the United Arab Emirates.

The rights of indigenous people to use the land as they have for centuries are often trampled under the more profitable needs of tourism, which is why responsible travel here is vital. Our partners use safari lodges and camps in Tanzania that work hand-in-hand with their local communities to ensure people can find good employment, and that everyone benefits from conservation rather than just a select few.

Escaping the well-worn tourist trail

Tourism in Tanzania may be less-established than in neighbouring Kenya, but when it comes to outright opulence, you can certainly find it here. Some Tanzania safari lodges rank among the most expensive hotels in the world.

However, while grand pianos on the veranda, chandeliers in the dining room and the softest pillows known to man might appeal to some, such accoutrements don’t bring you any closer to the wildlife. No, what really makes Tanzania luxury safaris feel special is stepping off the main tourism trail to find a greater sense of wilderness. Accommodations promise all the finer touches but do so in ways that feel authentic rather than flashy. Thrilling, often innovative, experiences go beyond the standard game drive.

Legendary safari spots, including the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti (which borders Kenya’s Maasai Mara), get very busy in peak season. But Tanzania is big enough that luxury safaris never find it hard to escape the tourist trail. They also have a raft of opportunities to show off Tanzania’s spectacular wildlife in innovative ways, from bush walks and mountain biking to hot air balloon flights and helicopter sightseeing above the Great Migration.

Those able to pay more for their safari can reach lesser-known areas such as Lake Manyara National Park and the Selous Game Reserve, known for their tree-climbing lions and packs of painted wolves respectively.

Ruaha National Park, the largest in Tanzania, is almost 50 percent bigger than the Serengeti and yet attracts a tenth of the visitors. Safaris here provide vital tourism income to an often overlooked park which helps conservation initiatives, but also provides you with a seriously wild experience. Vast herds of elephants wander the park’s lonely plains and swathes of woodland, while the crocodiles in the park’s lifeblood, the Ruaha River, maintain a watchful eye for careless animals that get too close.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Luxury safaris or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Why take a Tanzania luxury safari?

Most luxury safari holidays in Tanzania are tailor made trips that give you the freedom to customise your itinerary. This means that you can spend as much time as you want in each location, perhaps with a dedicated driver or guide for a truly personal experience, and upgrade your accommodation in line with your preferences.

A big advantage of spending a bit more on safari is that you’re buying time. Luxury safaris make use of internal flights and private airstrips to reach some of the most remote, and therefore exclusive, destinations in Tanzania, such as Ruaha National Park. These are places where you’ll rarely hear the sound of another jeep, let alone encounter one, and the animals seem genuinely surprised to see you.

Luxury means comfier jeeps, but it also means activities that go far beyond the traditional game drive. There are walking safaris led by expert trackers, nights spent fly camping in the bush, hot air balloon flights over the Serengeti, and opportunities to explore parks by bike or on horseback.

What do luxury safaris in Tanzania involve?

Tailor made safaris

Most of our Tanzania luxury safaris are tailor made holidays. That gives you greater flexibility on your travel dates and allows you to shape an itinerary according to your interests. Want a few extra days exploring the Ngorongoro Crater, a tented camp rather than a lodge in Selous Game Reserve, or a day of mountain biking in Arusha National Park? Our luxury safari partners are skilled in fine-tuning their trips to meet their travellers’ preferences.

Luxury lodges

Our partners actively seek out luxury lodges and camps in Tanzania that take a responsible approach to the way they operate. Properties that fund conservation or community projects around them.

The Selous Riverside Camp, for instance, has drilled a borehole for a neighbouring village and funded repairs to the community mosque. It has also supplied farmers with seeds and buys their produce for camp dinners. Non-intrusive village tours, guided by local residents, can also be arranged.

Other Tanzania safari camps use renewable energy throughout, conserve water, and have been built using materials from the surrounding area. They also frequently get involved with conservation initiatives nearby, whether through financial support or by helping their guests to get involved.

While there are some luxury properties in Tanzania that have clearly made significant investments on their decor, with lots of little touches that constantly remind you of how far you’ve upgraded, do you really need a jeep with its own Wi-Fi or a chandelier in your bedroom? The biggest luxuries when it comes to your accommodation in Tanzania are a sense of wilderness and a focus on ‘campfire hospitality’. As well as knowing that your hosts choose to invest profits in protecting wildlife and enhancing their local communities. Be sure to look for accommodations that suit your idea of what constitutes luxury, as well as your budget.

Add Kenya or beach time

Tanzania safaris are often combined with neighbouring Kenya, which is an old hand when it comes to tourism and offers an interesting contrast as you cross the border. If you don’t mind a few long, bumpy drives – all part of the safari experience – then it’s possible to make a loop encompassing the Big Five, the Great Migration, Maasai community encounters and the vast Lake Victoria without once getting on a plane.

A few days on the beach afterwards is the other natural accompaniment to a luxury Tanzania safari – ideal for smoothing out the kinks from full-day game drives. Bush ‘n’ beach combination trips usually involve a stay on Zanzibar, Mafia or Chole Island, where you can bask on beaches, snorkel and swim in turquoise seas, and stay in elegant hotels.

Getting around in style

Even the most expensive holiday in Tanzania can’t do anything about the bumpy, dusty roads that any overland journey bounces you along. But the ‘safari massage’ is all part of the experience, and you’ll have very comfortable accommodation to return to every afternoon.

A typical Tanzania safari begins in the city of Arusha and continues to the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti, usually by road. Luxury safari holidays in Tanzania, however, may look to less-visited destinations, where it feels a lot wilder – like Ruaha National Park or Selous Game Reserve.

“I’d say Ruaha’s distance from Dar es Salaam and the very limited number of camps makes this park particularly relevant in luxury itineraries,” says Amanda Marks from our partner Tribes Travel.

Domestic flights are a regular feature of luxury safaris in Tanzania because they ensure you make the most of your time without long days of travelling. And they’re more than a way of getting from A to B. Small planes can fly much lower, affording some incredible views as you sweep over the Tanzania landscapes. You’re never seated far from a window, either.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Hu Chen] [Intro: Jenn] [Why take a Tanzania luxury safari?: Ellena McGuinness] [Luxury lodges: Native escapes]