Our first fam trip with Nimali Africa so we both HAD to go along… we loved it, great camp locations, fab food, exceptional staff and a warm welcome, wise guiding and bush treats to surprise and delight.
After a long haul with KLM, we arrived into Kilimanjaro, later than planned but the new e’visa system meant a quick transition through the airport and out to smiles, a lovely warm welcome, cold, fresh flannels and a quick transfer to the Gran Melia in Arusha.
The Gran Melia only opened a few weeks ago and whilst it is a business hotel, the landscape and pool would certainly be a welcome place to while away some time whilst transitting in Arusha. The service, food and rooms were all excellent.
We met up with team Nimali at Butter & Scotch, a funky little cafe in Sable Square and then on to Nimali Tarangire for our first stop on safari. It is an easy drive through to the lodge with some lovely viewing spots along the way.
Reuben and the team welcomed us together with a few elephant at the waterhole, which became the main feature of our stay. The waterhole is only a few metres from the pool and it was wonderful to be able to sit and watch them interact so close to us. Sundowners, a surprise bush breakfast, walking, a short massage on the deck, a night drive and a visit to Tarangire NP meant our time was busy but the highlights were definitely the elephant at the waterhole in front of the pool as well as the bush breakfast in the river bed whilst a large herd passed close by.
Nimali Central Serengeti
On to Nimali Central Serengeti, by flight from Lake Manyara and wonderful to see the flamingoes from above and of course the Crater looked stunning. Ndutu was still so brown but due to recent rains, central looked green and lush. As we drove to camp, glimpses of large herds of wildebeest had everyone’s attention, the migration was here! Seronera is certainly a busy area, even the airport is now so much more than just an airstrip, and the safari vehicles were vying for who could offer the best snacks and drinks table on arrival….. BUT the wildlife exceeded everyone’s expectations, with multiple and excellent lion sightings, wildebeest running in straight lines with zebra in tow, cheetah, giraffe, elephant and leopards too.
We had many sightings to ourselves but with others, primarily the cats of course, there was a crowd so we just had a quick look and then moved on. There is really no reason to follow the crowd as demonstrated by our guide, Daniel, who maintained radio silence throughout which was brilliant. He let the wildlife and birdlife show itself in its own good time.
The sundowner site at Nimali Central Serengeti is possibly one of the most beautiful spots, overlooking a remote valley and escarpment with no sign of the crowds we had left behind and it is that location that makes Nimali Central so special. We raised a G&T around the fire, drinking in the vast beauty of the Serengeti.
We were up early the next day for ballooning, certainly one that was on our bucket list, and what a morning we had. We were all over excited, especially when we had to climb into the basket whilst it was on its side before the balloon filled, the basket tipped up and we gently drifted off. With the migration all around us, we had the most glorious sunrise and finished the flight with an excellent tale by the pilot of the origins of celebrating ballooning with champagne. We could not have asked for more.
After such an auspicious start, we made our own way to an open and quieter part of the Park and had a glorious day with the cats and wildebeest. The day ended with a downpour of monumental proportions but we were dry with our ponchos on and snug with the plastic roll down sides as we took the landcruiser through its paces back to Camp.
Our final stop was at Nimali Mara up in the Kogatende area of the Serengeti. We had planned to drive the scenic route through Lobo but due to the rains and state of the roads, we had to drive out of the Park, through the villages and towns and then back in to the Park. It was an interesting drive but such a shame as game viewing all the way through the Park would have made a wonderful day and certainly one to recommend.
Nimali Mara only opened this summer and sits in a beautiful location with truly breathtaking, far reaching views from every corner. The camp is more modern in style with warm hues and the most stunning and private pool perched atop a natural kopje. The bar incorporates a wine cellar that is made from a natural cave where the wines share their space with tiny bats hanging from the ceiling. Only in Africa.
We drove to the Mara River in the morning where we saw the migration massing but they just couldn’t muster enough bravery to cross in front of us although we were willing them to do so. We kept ourselves entertained with some hippos claiming their territory, plentiful birdlife and the odd lion and leopard of course….and then Harjot and Premo, the owners of Nimali, surprised us with a surprise wine and lunch pitstop, called Rosé Junction. Heaven.
Baths, freestanding and made of copper, were order of the afternoon. We had got cold and wet and it just had to be done with a glass in one hand and a homemade chocolate in the other. Sadly, with the wet afternoons, the swing seat did not get much use and we had to abandon the sundowners due to rain and high winds which was such a shame, especially when the team had gone to so much effort on our last night so we all snuggled into the enormous sofas instead – very cosy!
The Serengeti never fails to provide exceptional wildlife and bird watching. The week showcased that the Nimali name is a brand to be trusted; the camp locations, the food, the exceptional staff and welcome everywhere, some very wise and exceptional guiding and bush treats to surprise and delight….we had an incredible week and are very proud to be associated and marketing the Nimali brand.