In a country as large as Tanzania, you’d expect there to be a good number of places to stay on safari – and that there are! From luxury abodes bigger than your apartment to rustic and wonderfully-comfortable tents, Tanzania has it all. It has so much in fact, that it might be hard to know where to start when looking for your dream lodge… Well, this list of the best lodges in Tanzania might just go some way to helping you out. It’s by no means exhaustive (and we struggled to narrow it down to just 10!), but with some of our favourites, a few at the high-end of the spectrum and a couple at the lower, we hope there’s something for everyone.
Lamai Serengeti Camp
If the Serengeti is Tanzania’s superstar, then Nomad’s Lamai Camp is our superstar of the Serengeti! Undoubtedly one of the best lodges in Tanzania, it’s an elegant gem tucked away amongst the boulders of a peaceful area in the northern part of the park known as Lamai. The camp is permanent (it stays in the same place year-round) making it a good option for migration-watching from June to September, but also phenomenal game viewing for the rest of the year. And when you’re not watching cats stalk across the plains or elephant ambling amongst the trees on your game drives, you’ll enjoy starlit dinners, afternoons lazing in the pool and top-notch views straight from your bed.
Kigelia Ruaha Camp
If you’re looking for a safari of old, where paraffin lanterns twinkle and wildlife encounters are exhilarating and genuine, we’ve got just the ticket. Kigelia Ruaha is a tiny bush camp located amid the giants of Ruaha in southern Tanzania. The camp’s six tents are a lesson in artfully-mastered simplicity – soothing colour palettes, perfectly-placed safari chairs and handcrafted furniture – and nothing detracts from the beautiful surroundings. And then there’s the guides. Masters of their trade, they will take you on game drives, walking safaris and night drives, making each come alive with their knowledge, passion and bellyfuls of laughs. All the ingredients then to make this one of our best lodges in Tanzania…
Tanzania is one of the continent’s easiest ‘bush and beach’ destinations and with Zanzibar only a short flight away from Dar es Salaam, it would be criminal not to visit. And that’s where Zuri Zanzibar comes in. Another of our best lodges in Tanzania, it’s the country’s first official Design Hotel – and with good reason. Jungle-clad paths wind their way through gardens of bougainvillea to each of the 55 bungalows and villas, each a clever blend of sleek, highly-curated style and exotic Zanzibari influences. Some have Jacuzzis, some have willowy hammocks and hanging chairs, but all have dreamy views of the silky sand beach. And there’s the main area – sophisticated restaurants, ice-cool bars and the bluest of blue swimming pools.
It probably wouldn’t be fair for us to say Gibb’s Farm is right at the top of the list of our best lodges in Tanzania – but it really is! It’s probably also a disservice to call it a lodge, for the collection of pretty tin-roofed cottages, the impeccable service and the delightful, organic veggies picked straight from the garden all combine to make you feel as if you’re staying with a very lovely friend. When you’re not munching light-as-air pastries or indulging in the spa with an Olorien Hot Wood Treatment, what else can you do? Well, that’s where Gibb’s comes into its own. The activities are spectacular and include wanderings around the garden, coffee-tasting, bread-making and afternoon tea-munching, meetings with the East African artists-in-residence, cycling tours of Karatu and of, course, the all-important Ngorongoro visit.
Kati Kati Tented Camp
It may be fuss-and-frill-free, but Kati Kati’s incredible location in the very heart of the Serengeti is what makes this little tented camp one of our best lodges in Tanzania. The area is the Seronera Valley, a landscape of open savannah peppered with roaming elephant and enormous boulders festooned by leopard and lion. In May, add wildebeest to the list when the Great Migration thunders through the region – and sometimes through the camp. Back at base, the 10 simple tents are arranged in a long row, all with camera-bending views over the plains and unfolding action. And when there’s nowhere to charge your phone and the campfire beckons every evening, you can guarantee an authentic and all-round excellent experience.
Sanctuary Swala Camp
If you’re in the market for an iconic trip around the parks of northern Tanzania, you’ll probably be making a stop in baobab-filled Tarangire and might we suggest laying your head at the stunning Sanctuary Swala Camp? In the quiet (of tourists, not animals!) southwestern corner of the park, you’re surrounded by lush scenery and some of the best wildlife sightings on offer, but the camp is also a charming place to take a break from the safari routine and just, well, relax. Choose to sit down on your private deck and listen to the soundtrack of the birds, pull up a pew in the treehouse library, or enjoy a lazy siesta in your safari-chic bedroom.
The lodge that tops many a bucket list, Greystoke Mahale is the kind of place that defines magic. It might be the location – the camp sits on the silky shores of Lake Tanganyika, surrounded by ice-blue water and the forests of the Mahale Mountains – or it might be the endangered chimps that call the mountains home. This is the largest known group of chimpanzees in the world and every day, guests can venture into the trees to watch them groom, wrestle and forage, and the ensuing soap opera that is bound to unfold! And it doesn’t end there: how about sundowners accompanied by fresh ceviche and hibiscus cocktails aboard the dhow? A moonlit, toes-in-the-sand dinner on the beach? Or an afternoon snorkelling, swimming or kayaking on the lake? Greystoke’s got it all.
The Highlands Camp
It opened in 2016 to a buzz of excitement in the safari world and three years later, the Highlands Camp is still one of the best lodges in Tanzania. Futuristic and fascinating from the outside, the hi-tech domes (the guest tents in other words) are cosy, handsome and possess a distinct, apres-ski like atmosphere thanks to fur throws and cosy, log-burning stoves. The theme is continued in the wood-panelled bar where steaming hot toddies are served next to the fire, and in the dining room with its menu of soul-warming dishes. Location-wise, the camp is near the northerly Lemala Gate and up here, you couldn’t be further from the madding crowds clamouring to get to Ngorongoro. Instead, enjoy leisurely drives into the crater to spot rhino and lion, hike through the rolling hills and hang out with the Maasai in the local villages.
Wayo Lake Manyara Green Camp
We’ve become rather taken with Wayo’s selection of rustic and uber-chilled camps and lodges across Tanzania recently and the Lake Manyara offering is one of our favourites. On the banks of the Endabash River, you can hear the splash of the nearby waterfalls from the tents and the views of the river and undulating bush ahead are spot on. Eco-friendly credentials include low flush loos and bucket showers (no water waste here), and all the camps in the portfolio are virtually plastic free. The green policy also extends to activities and whilst game drives to see the tree-climbing lions are definitely on offer, there’s a lovely emphasis on ‘clean and green’ activities including walking, mountain biking, swimming and cultural experiences. That’s what we like to hear.
Olakira Migration Camp
The Serengeti is famous for its distinct breed of mobile camps. Tented constructions that follow the wildebeest from the north to the south, the west and (sometimes!) the east, each is different in style and comfort but up there with the best lodges in Tanzania is Olakira Migration Camp. From December to March, the nine tents are in the south of the park, on the shores of Lake Masek to be precise, and ideally located to watch the drama of the calving season. In the north (June to November), the tents traverse the plains and relocate in the north where the infamous river crossings can be watched straight from the lounge. Then, at the end of the day, slip your bed underneath the meshed section of the bedrooms tents and fall asleep watching the stars twinkling overhead. The perfect end to a pretty perfect day.