Featured Lodge: Oliver’s Camp

Olives-Camp-guest-accommodation-Tracey-Van-Wijk-HROliver’s Camp is a 10-tent luxury camp set in the grasslands of Tarangire National Park, Tanzania, just a quick drive from the park’s Boundary Gate. It offers a secluded, intimate experience of the wilds, letting travelers experience the untarnished beauty of this part of the world.

The camp has a relaxed feel, and visitors can get to know one another and the camp managers over family-style meals or during sundowners around the camp’s main stone fireplace, which offers superb views of the surrounding plains. Oliver’s staff are some of the friendliest people you will meet anywhere and always welcome you with a smile and open-hearted hospitality. In addition to daytime game drives, Oliver’s Camp offers walking safaris and night game drives, where some of the best guides in the business lead you through a corner of Africa that offers everything from herds of buffalo to forests of baobabs.

Tents are well-spaced, offering plenty of privacy, and decor is traditional English safari with a modern flair—lots of canvas and gorgeous natural woods. The tents have excellent views of the savanna. There are few things better than enjoying morning refreshments while watching the wind (and perhaps a few antelopes) tousle the tall grasses. Private outdoor showers attached to the tents are a fun way to enjoy nature, and each room has its own safe.

New Ujuzi Video Added to YouTube

Enjoy this music video of  highlights from my recent trip to Tanzania! It was tough narrowing hours of video down to just a couple of minutes, but somehow we managed to get dozens of animals and five national parks in there. I think my favorite capture is the cheetah stalking and chasing its prey in the Serengeti. What’s your favorite footage?

Travel to Tanzania in 5-Star Style

On my recent tour of Tanzania, I visited dozens of lodges and tented camps in order to bring you the best of the best. This firsthand expertise allows me to create unforgettable safaris that truly match your travel goals.

While each traveler has unique needs, I’ve outlined a possible 11-day adventure safari with five-star accommodations below to give you an idea of what Tanzania has to offer. As an adventure safari, this sample itinerary hits northern Tanzania’s most famous wildlife areas and features overnights at some of the area’s finest tented camps – offering unprecedented intimacy with the East African landscape with all the comforts of five-star hospitality.

  • Day 1: Arrive Tanzania. Overnight at Lake Duluti Lodge.
    Lake Duluti Lodge is located on a 30-acre coffee farm next to a scenic crater lake on the outskirts of Arusha. Each of the 18 spacious chalets has a private deck with an amazing view of the ancient indigenous trees that provide shade to the farm’s coffee bushes.  Lake Duluti Lodge prides itself on its fine cuisine, five-star service, top-class amenities and eco-friendly architecture and operations.
  • Day 2: Arusha National Park. Overnight at Lake Duluti Lodge.
  • Day 2–4: Tarangire National Park & Manyara Ranch. Overnight at Manyara Ranch Conservancy.
    Manyara Ranch Conservancy is much more than a place to sleep; it’s a destination in and of itself. Guests have the unique opportunity to ride horseback among giraffes and zebras, go on morning safari walks, or enjoy night game drives on conservancy land. Zebras and other herd animals often wander through the camp during sundowners (cocktail hour). The six exquisitely furnished guest tents have electric lights available at all hours, and the en suite bathroom includes flush toilet and shower with hot water on demand.
  • Day 5: Lake Manyara National Park. Overnight at Lemala Ngorongoro.
    Lemala Ngorongoro is an intimate seasonal camp set in an ancient acacia forest near the rim of the crater, just a 15-minute drive from the crater floor. A small camp with nine luxury tents, the camp guarantees seclusion in a pristine forest environment. Each of the spacious standard tents has a king bed or two queen beds with duvets; gas heater; a leather couch; wood floors with rugs; 24-hour solar lighting; and an en suite bathroom with dressing area, flush toilet and a large safari shower. A family room is also available.
  • Day 6: Ngorongoro Crater. Overnight at Lemala Ngorongoro.
  • Day 7–10: Ngorongoro Conservation Area & Serengeti National Park. Overnight at Pioneer Camp.
    Located in the hill-dotted Moru Kopjes area of Tanzania’s south central Serengeti, Pioneer Camp offers superlative access to the annual migration and Big Five game. A large elevated lounge has sweeping views overlooking knobby granite outcroppings and the endless plains. Each of the 10 private tents pays homage to the mobile camps of the 1930s with solid wooden furniture and trunks, classic canvas chairs, throw rugs and gleaming copper wash basins.
  • Day 11: Fly back to Arusha for departure flight to U.S. or extension to Zanzibar.
Lake Duluti Lodge
Lake Duluti Lodge room
Pioneer Camp

Pioneer Camp lounge

Lemala Ngorongoro Camp

Lemala Ngorongoro Camp tented room

Manyara Ranch

Manyara Ranch tented room

Travel to Tanzania in 4-Star Style!

I recently took a whirlwind tour of Tanzania, visiting five national parks and Zanzibar to find the best accommodations for safari travelers. At each place, I visited an average of half a dozen lodges and camps. All in all, I inspected 39 properties in 9 days.

It was a lot of work, but it’s important to me that I see the properties I’m recommending to my clients in person. It’s rare in the travel business for agents to visit each country and property they work with, and that’s the difference I strive to offer: firsthand expertise that allows me to create unforgettable safaris that truly match each client’s needs.

For a short adventure safari with 4-star accommodations that hits northern Tanzania’s most famous wildlife areas, I would recommend:

  • Day 1: Arrive in Tanzania. Overnight at Arumeru River Lodge.
    Arumeru River Lodge is on 12 acres of an old coffee plantation near Arusha National Park. The property has 23 standard rooms and 6 junior suites in cottages that border an exquisitely kept garden populated by a resident family of dik-diks. Family rooms and triples are available. Arumeru River Lodge offers half-day guided hikes in the nearby rainforest for a nominal fee and free guided garden walks through its grounds.
  • Day 2/3: Tarangire National Park. Overnight at Tarangire River Camp.
    Tarangire River Camp, a 21-tent camp that includes four roomy family tents and a spacious swimming pool for refreshing dips after a long day of safari. The camp overlooks the winding Tarangire River, which attracts a variety of animals even in the dry season when little water is visible. Electricity is available 24 hours.
  • Day 4: Lake Manyara National Park. Overnight at Ngorongoro Exploreans Lodge.
    Exploreans Lodge is a 20-cabin luxury resort close to Ngorongoro Crater. The grounds are astounding, with vast well-kept vegetable, flower and herb gardens. Cabins have a living room, bedroom, en suite bathroom, and a balcony that overlooks a wildlife reserve and coffee plantation, with the Ngorongoro mountains off in the distance. On-site amenities include massage and spa services, a swimming pool, sauna and whirlpool spa. Exploreans is known for its small touches that make a stay truly great, such as a pillow menu that allows guests to choose from several different options to ensure a good night’s sleep.
  • Day 5: Ngorongoro Crater. Overnight at Ngorongoro Exploreans Lodge.
  • Day 6/7/8: Ngorongoro Conservation Area & Serengeti National Park. Overnight at Lake Masek Tented Camp.
    Masek Luxury Tented Camp has 20 well-appointed tents with en suite bathrooms that include a large tub, enclosed outdoor shower, two vanity sinks and a hair dryer. Each tent has a furnished veranda that overlooks Lake Masek, where hippos and Big 5 game abound all year. Electricity and hot water are available 24 hours a day.
  • Day 9: Fly back to Arusha and depart for home or extension to Zanzibar.

Keep an eye out for next week’s posting on 5-star accommodations!

Arumeru Lodge

Arumeru River Lodge

Arumeru Lodge

Arumeru River Lodge

Tarangire River Camp

Tarangire River Camp


Ngorongoro Exploreans Lodge

Lake Masek Tented Camp

Lake Masek Tented Camp

Lake Masek Tented Camp

Lake Masek Tented Camp

Tanzania Day 3: Tarangire to Lake Manyara

Drinking freshly-brewed coffee on the veranda outside my tent while admiring the landscape of Tarangire National Park and Lokisale Reserve — simply put, it was the perfect start to my third full day in Tanzania. The view from Maisha Kikoti Safari Camp is quite breathtaking, as the camp is located on a peak east of Tarangire on land managed by the African Nature Conservation Trust. The camp is named for Kikoti Rock, an impressively large boulder on the hill’s peak that is easily seven stories high.

Herd of zebra

Herd of zebra near Kikoti Rock.

After breakfast, we headed out for a game drive through the reserve and park. Our first sight was a herd of about 250 zebras at a watering hole in Lokasale Reserve. It was truly breathtaking to see so many of these gentle creatures in one place. The birthing season for zebras is in early December, so we spotted many pregnant females.


A herd of elephants gathers around a newborn to protect it from human onlookers.

Tarangire Park was also lush with wildlife. We saw herds of elands, impala, wildebeest, zebra, and elephants — including a one-month-old baby! Other notable animals a reedbuck, a steenbok (an antelope the size of a cocker spaniel), a klipspringer (an even smaller antelope adapted to climbing rocks), a pair of crowned eagles, a rock hyrax and some bush hyraxes (rabbit-sized cousins of the elephant) and several ostriches.

Zebras at Manyara Ranch

A great way to spend the day is viewing animals – such as these zebras – at Manyara Ranch

Next we headed toward Lake Manyara, stopping on the way to visit Manyara Ranch. The ranch is a 6-tent luxury camp on 45,000 acres of conservation area managed by the African Wildlife Fund. The camp is much more than a place to sleep; it’s a destination in and of itself. Zebras and other herd animals often wander through the site during sundowners (cocktail hour) and dinner. On-site activities include morning walks, night drives, and half-day horseback safaris. The camp can be accessed by road, or camp representatives can pick travelers up at the nearby Manyara airstrip.

We then embarked for a fun adventure — visiting Mungere Secondary School in a rural Maasai community outside of Manyara. One of my clients sponsors a student there and plans to visit the school on her next trip to Tanzania.

Mungere Secondary School

Classroom at Mungere Secondary School

The two-room schoolhouse was started in an area that badly needed it. Illiteracy is high in this community, and before the school was built there, the closest secondary school was many miles away. Since most people in the area get around by foot, that meant that few of the children who attended elementary school continued on into secondary school.

None of the main roads reach Mungere Secondary School. To get there, one must leave the main road and follow the cattle trail (an unmarked trail made by cattle hooves that occasionally becomes obscured by dust that blows over it). Turn left at the baobab tree, and continue down the trail toward the palm grove until you see the white brick building. That is the school.

Road to/from Mungere Secondary School

The main motor vehicle road near Mungere Secondary School in E’unoto, Tanzania. To get to the school, we turned on to the cattle trail.

We lost track of the cattle trail a few times, but the local Maasai were very friendly. Although not all of them spoke Swahili (the Maasai speak their own language at home and study Swahili as a second language at school), those who did were happy to point us on our way. They were clearly very proud of the presence of the school in their community.

Although the school was closed for holiday, we were able to meet one of the students and the groundskeeper (a graduate of the school), both of whom shared the name Emmanuel. The education offered at the school is clearly quite good, as they both spoke excellent Swahili and very good English.

Escarpment Luxury Lodge

Escarpment Luxury Lodge, Lake Manyara

We then headed on to Lake Manyara for a late lunch at Escarpment Luxury Lodge. The 16-cabin lodge is on a peak with excellent views of the large alkaline lake, and has an onsite pool and children’s wading pool. Each cabin has both an indoor and private outdoor shower, air-conditioning, and a large private veranda with a lake view. A private butler is assigned to the cabin for the length of the guests’ stay, so you are always interacting with the same staff — a lovely touch. Decor is modern European and South African design with local influences; the sculpture-like chandeliers, for example, feature blue faceted glass that resemble tanzanite. Our lunch was excellent, incorporating French techniques with a contemporary flair and artistic presentation.

Our final site visit of the day was at Kirumuru Manyara, a large 30-tent permanent camp that also overlooks Lake Manyara. The camp has two tents for families. Decor features kente-cloth bedspreads and upholstery, and activities offered by the camp include a nature walk and a three-hour hike to the nearby waterfall.


Exploreans Luxury Lodge spa area


Exploreans bedroom

After a long day of adventure, we were happy to arrive at Exploreans Lodge, a 20-cabin luxury resort close to Ngorongoro Crater. The grounds are astounding, with vast well-kept vegetable, flower and herb gardens. Cabins have a living room and bedroom and overlook a reserve and coffee plantation, with Ngorongoro Mountain off in the distance. Onsite amenities include massage and spa services, a swimming pool, sauna and jacuzzi. Individuals who want to take a break from safari can go on a guided plantation walk. The staff is very attentive and service is excellent, with most drinks and room service included in the package. The lodge even offers an extensive pillow selection; guests can order from about eight different pillow styles (such as buckwheat hull pillows) to ensure optimal comfort and a great night’s sleep. However, I found the standard pillow already provided in the room to be plenty comfortable, and fell right asleep as soon as my head touched it.

Tanzania Day 2: Tarangire National Park

It’s our second full day in Tanzania. We awoke this morning at the Kibo Palace Hotel to a huge breakfast buffet featuring European, Indian, American and Tanzanian foods. If you ever stay here, be sure to try the African yam and fried cassava root. They were delicious bite of local flavor.

The Kibo Palace Hotel is a 77-room luxury hotel near downtown Arusha. Guests may enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi, a health club, swimming pool, and steam and sauna rooms. Named after Mount Kilimanjaro’s highest peak, the Kibo Palace Hotel strives to deliver the highest quality of service to its guests from near and far.

Kibo Palace Hotel, Arusha

We then left for Tarangire, one of Tanzania’s most beloved national parks. Before arriving at the main gate, we stopped at Kirurumu Under Canvas, a permanent 10-tent camp in the bush. As in most of Tarangire, elephants are common in this area and residents can often watch them from their tents’ verandas.

Kirurumu Under Canvas

We also visited Tarangire River Camp, a 21-tent camp that includes four roomy family tents and a beautiful, roomy swimming pool for refreshing dips after a long day of safari. The Tarangire River is dry for about 9 months of the year, but even when there’s no water the river bed is quite stunning. The Tarangire River Camp is on a peak that overlooks the winding river. Guests can look down to watch elephants and other animals come to the river to drink. When the river is dry, animals dig in the bed to bring water that lies just below the ground up to the surface.

Tarangire River Camp

On to Tarangire National Park! We stopped at the visitor’s center at the main gate, which had many informative signs about the local flora and fauna, some stunning stained glass pieces portraying scenes from the park, and a high platform where visitors can oversee most of the park.

Tarangire National Park: Can you spot the elephants?

Inside the park we had a delectable Indian buffet for lunch at Tarangire Safari Lodge, a camp with 35 tents and 5 bungalows, many with views of the Tarangire River. Rooms feature beautiful linens from Tribal Textiles, a women’s cooperative in Zambia. Special activities include morning walking safaris and nighttime game drives.

Tarangire Safari Lodge

Our next stop was the exclusive Oliver’s Camp, near the park’s Boundary Gate (about 30 kilometers from the main gate). We had a wonderful game drive on our way, stopping to watch a cheetah and two of her cubs shortly after a kill. They were very much enjoying their impala dinner.

Toward the center of the park is a large swamp, offering a shocking and welcome swathe of green amidst the arid savannah. The swamp was a popular spot for elephants, reedbucks, open-billed storks, egrets, Egyptian geese; in its vicinity we also saw zebras, Eastern race wildebeest, ostriches (including several babies!), waterbucks, warthogs and a multitude of other animals.

Impalas at Tarangire National Park

Oliver’s Camp is a 10-tent luxury camp on the eastern edge of the park, south of the swamp. Tents are well-spaced, offering plenty of privacy, and decor is a combination of traditional English safari with a modern flair. Private outdoor showers attached to the tents are a fun way to enjoy nature. The camp has an intimate feel, and visitors can get to know one another and the camp managers over family-style meals or request private meals. The camp offers walking safaris and night game drives. Each room has its own private safe.

Oliver’s Camp

We then headed off to Maisha Kikoti Safari Camp for dinner and overnight. The 18-cabin camp is on a reserve just outside the park and is named after Kikoti Rock, a stunning geographical landmark at the top of the hill. Our dinner was a delicious barbecue under the stars. An attractive fire pit at the center of the dining area brought light and warmth to the area.

Maisha Kikoti Safari Camp main lounge
Maisha Kikoti Safari Camp main lounge

We loved our cabins — spacious, and incorporating natural features such as tree branches and stone into the architecture. Large screen windows and wood-framed screen doors surrounded three sides of the cabin, allowing plenty of fresh air in. We awoke to a morning wake up call of fresh coffee, which we sipped while enjoying the view from our high veranda overlooking the valley and park.

Kikoti Rock