Where to stay in Tanzania
Tanzania has well-developed tourist industry which offers a fantastic range of accommodation varying from luxurious safari camps and child-friendly lodges, often with that all-important swimming pool, to simple hotels and public campsites.
Lodges usually feature individual cottages with private verandahs so that you can enjoy some privacy over a nightcap whilst the younger ones enjoy their sleep. Communal areas often include an outdoor bar or boma (a place for people to gather – sometimes around a fire) and landscaped gardens or terraces.
If the thought of camping fills you with dread then think again. Tented camping in Tanzania is in a different league to miserable nights spent in a wet field back home. Spacious tents come with proper beds and linen, colourful traditional decor and the essential en suite facilities. Some of the more luxurious camps cater for just a handful of guests lending them a sense of exclusivity. In general we find that all ages enjoy falling asleep under canvas to the sounds of the wild after an evening beneath the stars around the campfire.
A family holiday to Tanzania is never going to be cheap but for the more budget-conscious there is also the option of using public campsites. These are well-maintained and offer good access to the various national parks. We provide all the necessary equipment (sleeping-bags can be hired locally) along with a cook and you will of course have a guide with you at all times.
We usually try to vary the accommodation during a family holiday to Tanzania so that nights spent under canvas can be followed by the more standard creature comforts of a hotel. It also depends on your child’s age – younger ones will appreciate a lodge with a pool and extensive gardens to run around in and older ones will enjoy tracking animals and learning how to use a bow and arrow from the Masai staff at a tented camp. We will always build itineraries around places that will suit your family, bearing in mind the ages and interests of your children.
What is a typical Tanzanian lodge like?
One of our favourite places to stay in Tanzania without doubt is the Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge. Set in tropical gardens in a forest reserve on the slopes of Mount Meru (at 4,566 metres, Tanzania’s second highest peak), this charming colonial farmhouse is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the surrounding nature. Natural springs feed a crystal-clear lake, home to a variety of frogs, fish and birds, colobus and Sykes monkeys rampage through the forest and the beautiful gardens are full of colourful and exotic flowers.
Hike through the reserve, go horse riding or mountain biking or enjoy a genteel game of croquet on the well-manicured lawn. Children will love splashing around in the generous pool whilst parents enjoy sundowners looking out onto the slopes of mighty Mount Kilimanjaro.
Perfectly located for the northern safari circuit, the lodge is a mere 30 minutes from Kilimanjaro International Airport and Arusha and is so much nicer than staying in the town itself. A day spent recovering from your flight, enjoying organic home-cooked food on the verandah and relaxing amidst the tranquil gardens on a sun lounger, is the perfect way to recharge the batteries before heading on to Lake Manyara, Tarangire, Ngorongoro or the Serengeti.
How do high-end and mid-range tented camps compare?
We recommend that all families spend at least a couple of nights in a tented camp – whatever your view of camping is… The ideal place to do this is in the Serengeti where there are a huge variety of camps to choose from.
Families on a smaller budget might enjoy Kati Kati Tented Camp. Meaning ‘centre’ in Swahili, this mobile camp is based in a fantastic location in the central Seronera region of the park, allowing access to the vast Serengeti plains. Each of the ten tents have proper beds and en suite facilities – showers and flushing toilets! Meals are served in the cosy mess tent and sundowner cocktails and appetisers can be enjoyed around the fire. The camp is only two to three hours from the Olduvai Gorge and Ngorongoro Crater which keeps driving to a minimum – although any drive through the Serengeti should be seen as an extra safari and thus a bonus.
If you have a higher budget, the Serengeti Pioneer Camp is a wonderful option. Set on its own kopje (rocky outcrop) in the south central region of the park, it offers superb views over the endless plains and Lake Magadi. A dozen tents, including a family tent, offer queen-size beds, antique colonial furnishings, hot showers and canvas-covered awnings from where to enjoy sundowners – or the odd game of Top Trumps. Game drives from this location will give you the best chance of spotting the big five and between January and July it also offers excellent access to the famous annual migration.
If you really draw the line at camping then a good lodge option is the Serengeti Simba, sitting high on a hill overlooking the vast plains of the Serengeti. The annual migration passes by in June/July and then again in October but of course the area is also permanently home to lion, buffalo, cheetah, elephant, giraffe, leopard and zebra to name a few. Family rooms are available in the Stone House, beautifully decorated with local fabrics with superb views. The dining and bar area is built around the rocky kopje so guests can enjoy spectacular sunsets and sunrises – as well as the regular performances by the entertaining Simba dance troupe.
A major attraction is the infinity pool which all ages will enjoy dipping into after a dusty day on safari. And for those feeling hard done by missing out on the camping, there is still a fire to sit around at night (bring your own marshmallows!). The lodge is located to the north, just outside the Serengeti, in the Ikona Wildlife Management Area which allows guests to enjoy night safaris in the dry season (these are not permitted in the national park itself). Please note the lodge only accepts children aged six or over.
These are just a few examples of places to stay in Tanzania that past travellers have loved. All our holidays are tailor-made, so once we have found out a bit more about you and your family, we will suggest a range of properties that we think will suit you best.
Call us and we will be happy to provide you with a free-of-charge no obligation itinerary and quotation designed for you.
Tanzania in pictures
Talk with our friendly team about your family travel needs.