Tanzania never fails to disappoint. No matter how well the path is trodden around the northern circuit, it still has the power to completely overwhelm us in terms of size, beauty and grandeur and leaves us wanting more.
We took some key UK agents to Tanzania recently on a fam trip with Nimali. Helen and I both went because we had not seen the new Nimali Serengeti camp since the original camp was taken down, moved and completely rebuilt. The Nimali team were exceptional, we were made to feel so welcome and were very well looked after. A huge thank you from all of us.
We gathered as a group at Butter & Scotch in Sable Square to meet the Nimali team before heading off on the two hour journey from Arusha to Tarangire. It’s a good hour on tarmac road and then an hour on off-road, but the road is still pretty good.
Nimali Tarangire – On arrival at The Wildlife Management Area (WMA) gate, we were able to stretch our legs and walk up to the viewpoint which offers views over the WMA, into Tarangire NP and beyond, wild savannah for miles in all directions. From there, it was just a 20 minute game drive to camp. Tarangire is truly the land of the giants. The whole area is full of ancient baobabs that really make this landscape strikingly different and very picturesque. Reuben was there with his team to greet us, such a warm welcome and lovely to see him again. He has been at Nimali Tarangire for over seven years now.
The tents have been refurbished since we were there last, quite dramatic colours in the fabrics and lots of lovely little touches. All rooms now include a fridge and tea and coffee making facilities which were not available before. The guest areas have also had a refurb. The dining and lounge areas are all connected and there is a striking display of figurines on one wall of the lounge which are all lit up individually at night. It looks stunning at night from the raised firrepit.
There are 08 tents at the camp, two of which are family tents with a plunge pool. All of the tents are ensuite with huge walk-in showers and the family tents have a bedroom and bathroom each and are separated by a cosy, shared lounge. The tents are airy and spacious with views over the dry riverbed to the bank beyond. None of the Nimali camps are fenced and guests have to be escorted to their rooms at night. The exciting news is that there are four more tents being added to the camp, one of which will have its own star bed which is really exciting. The plan is that these will open in time for the next peak season and we will be sending out details nearer the time.
Another addition since we last visited was the hide which has a safe walkway so guests can get to it at any time of the day unescorted. When you are inside, the chairs, which are height adjustable, look out at head height directly at the waterhole so that you are but a meter away from the visiting wildlife, it’s just fantastic. We spent lots of time in the new, really effective, raised fire pit. If you walk to the other side of the pool and up a few steps, a walkway takes you to a round fire pit overlooking the waterhole. It’s different, it’s fun and we loved it.
Walking is one of the key activities at Nimali Tarangire in the wide, open spaces as well as game drives, a full day in the National Park with a picnic and of course night drives which are possible with the walking safaris as it is a private concession. There are spa treatments available at all the camps and also it is possible to do hot air ballooning in Tarangire as well as from both the Nimali Serengeti camps. Our private concession is very close to the park boundary so we did see a couple of cars out on their afternoon game drive but we were the lucky ones because as they drove past, we continued our walk and came within a safe distance of a large pride of lion. They were totally relaxed as they were some distance away, but it was the perfect first activity for our first day and everyone was amazed to see them. Walking is of course designed to focus on the little things but this was a real treat. On our second day, we took a picnic into the National Park. The game was amazing: lion, a rock cobra, buffalo, elephant, hyena, buffalo, monitor lizards, plentiful plains game and a huge variety of birds. All the vehicles that we use are open sided for all game activities, it makes a huge difference and we were all delighted to be in open vehicles at each of the Camps.
Nimali Serengeti – We drove to Manyara, which took about an hour and a half, and took the short flight to Seronera. Landing earlier than expected, we decided to have a game drive on the way to camp and ended up only a couple of metres away from a female cheatah on the hunt and a lazy leopard chilling out in the shade of a sausage tree. Being low season, it was not as busy as we know this area can be and we had some incredible lion and hyena sightings with no one around.
The new Nimali Serengeti camp absolutely has the wow factor. Parking slightly above camp, guests walk down to enormous wooden doors and into the lounge with commanding views across the valley. It really does have that wow factor on arrival and blew everyone away. As you walk into camp, there’s a lovely deck in front with a good size pool to the left and the dining room on the right all of which benefit from these magnificent views. The tents were a very good size with a corridor along to the bathroom with a stand alone tub and an outside shower. Helen and I stayed in the family room, and although the tents are not connected, they are quite close together with a shared walkway. There are 12 tents in total and every room has a swing seat outside to take in those amazing views.
It is mainly game drives from the camp being in the centre of the Park and despite being late season, the game was plentiful and we had some amazing cat sightings. On the second morning, we were up early and picked up by Serengeti Balloon Safaris for an early morning flight across the valley. It was a bit touch and go whether we would make it or not, as the wind was strong, but thankfully it abated, and we had an amazing experience. Serengeti Balloon Safaris always finish the flight with a beautiful story and the reason they celebrate with a bottle of champagne, such a lovely touch and then a delicious choice of breakfast served back at a central point.
Most guests would fly up to the northern part of Serengeti, if they were staying with us, but in fact, it is a relatively short and interesting drive. It takes around three hours heading north, going outside of the park for a while and driving through different villages and then back inside the Park in order to reach our most northern camp, Nimali Mara.
Nimali Mara – This camp never fails to delight. The entrance is up a walkway and then down some steps to get into the camp and the view that greets you is simply breathtaking. There are views as far as the eye can see over the National park towards the hills beyond and into Kenya. Behind the lounge and sofas, there is a bar area that has been built within the rocks. There is a natural cave behind the bar and that is where the wines are stored because it is naturally chilled. Clever and imaginative.
There are incredible views from all of the rooms in camp, including the dining area. We love the attention to detail as most camps would have a wooden post and rail for safety but at Nimali Mara, the safety barriers are made of toughened glass so that guests can enjoy uninterrupted views when they are sitting down to eat. The infinity pool is also built within the kopjes yet again, showcasing the breathtaking views and a small waterfall just provides that magical backdrop sound.
All of the Nimali camps are canvas and are designed to make the most of the views, no exception at Mara where the tents are glass fronted. There are 10 tents in total and the two honeymoon rooms have their own plunge pool. The rooms are beautifully decorated and very spacious and designed to have a foot and a half mesh around the tops of each tent to allow a cooling airflow during the hotter months. The rather open bathrooms have a stunning copper bath and there is a window placed just so, so that if you get too hot, you can open the window without having to get out!
Because the camp is in the national park, the main activities are game drives but we have also introduced recently walking in this area which is great. The migration generally can be seen around July to October and it is just a 35 minute game drive down to the Mara river to see the crossings. We saw phenomenal game in this area when we were there and only 2 other vehicles during our entire stay. In addition to having picnic lunches or doing sundowners, it is also possible to have spa treatments in the camp and do hot air ballooning in this area.
Nimali House – We are very excited to announce this new private house which will be officially opening in June 2024. The house is based in 10,000 acres of unfenced land overlooking the Maasai Steppe. There will be 5 suites which will accommodate 10-12 guests. 3 of the rooms will face the sunset and the other 2 the sunrise. The house will overlook a waterhole with incredible wildlife sightings and guests will be able to do walking, game drives on the private concession and in Tarangire National Park, and see some of the projects there, including the sustainable honey project and the antipoaching patrols. The house is taken as a whole and is a 20 minute charter flight from Arusha. There will be more information to follow and we will keep you posted.
So all in all, a quick trip to Tanzania, but one that was hugely successful. All of the agents loved the camps without exception. What we all took away from this was not only the beautiful camps, but more importantly, how welcome we were made to feel, how well looked after and well fed we were, with different and creative dishes, and what a joy it was to have such extraordinary game experiences, potentially better wildlife in November and with it so much quieter, being out of peak season.
Nimali Webinar – When we got back, we ran a webinar, together with ATTA, and here is a link in case it is of interest: Nimali Webinar by H&S. Do reach out if you would like further information.
Asante Nimali. We very much look forward to the return visit when we can see for ourselves the new tents at Tarangire, the Star Bed and what Nimali Howse has to offer.