Tanzania: combining safari and tropical beaches.

We reach for binoculars and sun lotion.


By Judith Baker, May 5, 2011
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Zanzibar’s brilliant white beaches are lapped by the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean

Zanzibar’s brilliant white beaches are lapped by the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean

Serengeti, and Zanzibar in the east African country of Tanzania conjure images of explorers, traders and old civilizations. These days Tanzania is a destination for a different kind of explorer - those looking for a different holiday experience. With its good year-round climate and the opening of luxury lodges, a two centre visit can combine sun and safari: a few days of lion and elephant spotting in the Serengeti can be followed by relaxation on the palm-fringed beaches of Zanzibar.

Serengeti

The Bilila Lodge Kempinski, nestling in the heart of the untamed Savannah, is a new luxury lodge in the Seronera area.

The region is mainly wide open grassy plains and rocks, patched together within a network of rivers that ensure year-round water supplies that keep this region incredibly rich in wildlife throughout the year.

Getting there

BA has return flights from London Heathrow to Dar es Salaam
● Internal flights from Dar es salaam to Arusha, Seronera and Zanzibar are operated by Coastal Aviation
Kuoni offer seven nights on a half board basis at the Zamani Zanzibar Kempinski in a garden room, with flights from Heathrow. Transfers are from £1,686 per person based on two sharing. 01306 747008

Guests have a viewing deck with a telescope and families of elephants turn up at the watering hole just steps from the hotel.

The on-site spa offers a welcome jet-lag massage after the long trip, or an après-game drive spot of relaxation before enjoying cocktails overlooking the savannah. Other highlights are a Champagne breakfast in the bush as the sun rises and an African barbeque in the Boma, a round room built in the style of a Maasai house.

The Maasai people have grazed their cattle on the vast grassy plains here for millennia. These tall, handsome people with their red blankets and huge spears act as hotel guards.

The Serengeti wildlife reserves was created to preserve the path of the world's largest migration circuit, covers nearly 15,000 square kilometres.

The name Serengeti comes from the Maasai word for 'endless plains', and these rolling distances of short grass plains provide an exceptional landscape for wildlife viewing.

This land is famous for its concentrations of wildlife such as lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras. Hippos can be spotted bathing in their muddy pools. Most visitors see them on a jeep, but a balloon ride over the Serengeti proved the perfect way to get a bird's eye view of the wildlife below.

The Great Migration takes place here. A staggering 1.5 million wildebeest, 200,000 zebras and 350,000 gazelles run 1,200 miles in an annual race to find enough water and green grass for their survival.

Zanzibar

The magical archipelago comprises around 50 islands in the Indian Ocean. The major inhabited islands are Unguja (Zanzibar) Pemba and Tumbatu.

Zanzibar's main town, Stonetown, is a UNESCO world heritage site. The ancient maze of narrow streets is a romantic hotchpotch of historic old stone buildings built close for cool respite from the tropical island sun; shaded by elegantly carved balconies, loggias and verandas that cling precipitously overhead.

The coastline proffers mile upon mile of blue sea and white sand, with waters loved by divers.

Hand-sewn sails of traditional wooden fishing dhows sail those seas and ocean explorers can find themselves alongside thriving coral reefs, beautiful tropical fish, turtles and dolphins.

The Zamani Kempinski is the newest of the large five-star resorts on Zanzibar. Located on the East Coast about 45 minutes from Stonetown, the hotel has seven private villas, each with a private 20 metre infinity pool.

Three restaurants, a jetty bar and beach club grill and bar offer freshly caught fish such as mahi mahi, Dorado and snapper and some excellent vegetarian dishes made from locally grown produce.

Nearby, Prison Island, a former prison for slaves and a quarantine station is home to giant tortoises that were imported from the Seychelles in the late 19th century.

Stonetown gives a glimpse of the essence of Zanzibar, the sights, sounds and smells of the market, harbour and a sense of crumbling glory.

A day trip allows time to see the Sultan's Palaces, museums and experience the sights and sounds of this idiosyncratic centre. Some of the fine buildings, such as the House of Wonders and the Old Fort, have been restored to create areas for coffee and relaxation.

The best way to explore Stonetown is to meander the streets, window shopping and absorbing the atmosphere and admiring elaborately carved doors with delicately executed patterns of lotus flowers, fish and vines or dates.

Head for the balcony bar at Africa House, the former English Club in colonial times, which is the place to be seen for sundowners.

As the sun sets, a crowd gathers along the harbour front and in Forodhani Gardens, smoke rises from barbecues at the assorted food stalls and the curio markets assembling by gaslight.

Alternatively, a sunset dhow cruise is the perfect romantic end to the day.

Last updated: 11:57am, May 5 2011