In 2002, the billionaire commodities trader Paul Tudor Jones embarked upon one of the most ambitious conservation projects in Africa when he leased 340,000 acres of Tanzania’s western Serengeti—along with every wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle within its borders. Since then, two lavish lodges and a tented camp, under the design and management of South Africa’s pioneering Singita tourism group, have opened in the eco-reserve, offering 54 guests 21st-century service in a sumptuous bush-chic setting. Beginning late 2007, a mobile wilderness safari experience will also be offered on the grounds. Here, T+L takes a closer look at Grumeti’s accommodations.
Six-tent Sabora, on the edge of a game-rich plain, is a classic early 20th-century–style safari camp, accessorized with antique mahogany chests, windup gramophones, worn leather folding chairs, and thick Persian rugs. You almost expect to see Teddy Roosevelt behind the wheel of one of the two vintage Chevrolets parked at the entrance.
The more contemporary Faru Faru, set to open December 15 with six chalets overlooking the Grumeti River, channels the barefoot luxury of a Swahili Coast beach resort. A swimming pool ringed by white river sand curves in front of an open-air lounge, where guests sip sunset cocktails as elephants gather at the watering hole below.
The reserve’s flagship is Sasakwa, an East African ranch house set on a plateau with panoramic views of the plains. Its wood-paneled libraries, labyrinthine corridors, and European cuisine might feel too English country club for some, but over-the-top rooms and activities more than compensate. There are eight cottage residences, each with a garden and plunge pool. Tennis courts, a spa, and a yoga center occupy guests between twice-daily game drives. And on the property’s western edge, there’s an equestrian center; experienced riders can even do horseback safaris.
Singita Grumeti Reserves; 770/947-7049; www.grumetireserves.com. All-inclusive rates per person begin at $850 for Sabora and Faru Faru, $1,500 for Sasakwa.
DESTINATION Grumeti Reserves, Tanzania WHEN TO GO The reserve is closed during April and May; plan to visit between late June and early October for prime game-viewing GETTING THERE The best route from the United States is to Nairobi via Europe, then to Kilimanjaro (KLM flies this route daily through Amsterdam). From Kilimanjaro, local companies such as Regional Air do the short hop to the lodges