African Safaris: Two Ways to Go
Published: July 2011
By Shivani Vora
T+L compares two African safaris—in two very different locations.
Manyara Ranch Conservancy, Tanzania
Doubles from $1,000, all-inclusive.
The Setting: The six-tent Manyara, which began accepting guests last fall, sits amid broad savannas and acacia forests on a private, 35,000-acre former cattle ranch in northern Tanzania.
The Appeal: Conservation is key here. The restored ranch is a critical habitat corridor connecting Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Park. It also serves as a pilot program for educating the local Masai on wildlife management.
The Camp: Plush, extra-large tents come with private decks, leather armchairs, polished wenge-wood beds, and en suite bathrooms. A kitchen tent turns out picnic lunches and evening meals, served alfresco.
The Activities: The camp operates choose-your-own-adventure style: guests pick between day and night drives, horseback rides, walking safaris, afternoons shadowing conservationists, and visits to the neighboring Masai villages.
The Animals: The conservancy has two lion prides and hundreds of elephants. Honey badgers, aardvarks, and aardwolves are staples of night drives.
The Ideal Guest: Conservation-minded travelers who want to see a habitat-restoration project at work—without sacrificing creature comforts.
Sanctuary Zebra Plains, Zambia
Doubles from $1,100, all-inclusive.
The Setting: This two-month-old, four-tent retreat in Zambia’s up-and-coming South Luangwa National Park overlooks a wide sandbank at the confluence of two rivers.
The Appeal: Don’t expect any game drives. South Luangwa is the original home of the walking safari, and the Sanctuary camp keeps adventure at the forefront with days spent exploring the park exclusively on foot.
The Camp: Canvas tents are decorated with handmade Zambian furniture and rugs—and requisite mosquito netting. (You’re beside a river, after all.) Breakfast and lunch are served at camp overlooking the water, which is home to a hippo pod. Dinner takes place around a bonfire in a different location each night.
The Activities: Expect twice-daily walks of up to four hours each with a guide, armed guard, and “tea bearer” who serves steaming cups of chai or coffee mid-safari. Guests visit rivers, savannas, and even an island accessed via a canoe.
The Animals: Nearby Changwa Channel has one of the highest concentrations of hippos in the world. Lions, leopards, and the rare sable antelope are common in the area. Indigenous species include the Thornicroft’s giraffe, known for its ragged star- and leaf-shaped spots.
The Ideal Guest: Safari regulars and active types who aren’t afraid to rub elbows—quite literally—with wildlife.