For those wanting a twin centre break to combine a safari and the beach, Tanzania and Zanzibar are the ideal combination. The length of time of your break is entirely up to you but even if you only have a week to spare, the trip is still worthwhile. From London, the overnight flight on Kenya Airways will take you down to Dar-es-Salaam with a short stop in Nairobi. A quick tip is on the flight from Nairobi to Dar, try to sit on the right of the aircraft and if the weather is clear, you’ll get an excellent view of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. From Dar, an internal flight with Zanair while take you off to the Selous in the south of Tanzania.
Hanging out at Selous
Selous Game Reserve takes its name from the Fredrick Courtney Selous DSO, a British explorer of the late 19th and early 20th century. Selous was the inspiration for H.Riger Haggard’s novel “King Solomon’s Mines” and the character Allan Quatermain. Serving as a Captain in the British army, he was killed by a German sniper in 1917 and is buried in the game reserve that bears his name near Beho Beho hills. Selous Game Reserve covers a huge area more than twice the size of Belgium and four times the size of the more famous Serengeti.
The Rufiji river is East Africa’s largest river. It winds its way through Selous and it is along its banks that you will find a number of the safari camps. Some are also located near to the lakes within the Selous. Safaris in Selous tend to be a bit more wild than some other destinations. Most of the camps offer guests luxury tents which are comfortable but don’t expect air conditioning and electricity is only available at certain times from the camps generator. Most of the games have Masai patrolling the camps to ensure guests don’t have encounters with the wildlife. However, the hospitality, service and food is very good.
Out on Safari
Typically, guests will spend 3 nights in Selous before moving on. There are a number of airstrips within the game reserve so after the overnight flight from London, guests can be sitting down to lunch in the African wilderness just a few hours later. Around 4pm, a sunset cruise is a relaxing way to be introduced to the wilderness. Hippo, crocodiles and wide range of birdlife can be seen in abundance as the African sun starts to slip below the horizon.
The following day, visitors get to go out on safari. The open vehicles are driven by an experienced guide who will point out various things. The value the guides add is incredible as they spot wildlife that would otherwise pass you by. It is possible to spot the Big 5 (Elephant, Rhino, Leopard, Lion, Buffalo) in same parts of the reserve but this is wild Africa and there are no guarantees which makes sightings even more special. Sometimes the wildlife will bolt as soon as you appear, other times they will stand and watch as intensely as visitors watch them. Some of the time, it will seem that there is no wildlife but without warning you can have “Wow” moment as your vehicle can pull up along side a pair of resting lions just yards away.
Another option available to the visitor is a walking safari. Following an armed ranger really brings you close to nature. You get to experience Africa in a way that you can’t from a safari vehicle and allows you to gain a better understanding of how nature interacts. These walking safaris vary from just an hour to overnight camps.
All too quickly, the time in Selous will be over and its back to the airstrip to head off to the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar. If time permits, you can wander around the airstrip and see tracks from the various animals such as monkey, impala and hyena. All too soon, the Zanair flight is climbing out of the Selous and heading towards the spice island of Zanzibar which is less than 1 hour away. As you fly over Dar, Zanzibar is clearly visible in the distance with the blue waters of the Indian Ocean below. One of the big advantages of combining Selous and Zanzibar is that they are both part of the same country so this is an internal flight. It doesn’t take long to collect your luggage and the transfer to the resorts one the east of the island takes around 45 minutes.
The resorts of Breezes, Baraza and Palms are located on Bwejuu Beach, voted one of the Top 30 best island beaches in the world by Conde Naste. At low tide, the reef is exposed and you can hire reef shoes to protect your feet against the numerous sea urchins. At high tide, a variety of water sports are on offer and Rising Sun Dive centre services all three properties. The diving in Zanzibar is superb and Rising Sun Dive centre are very well run, making sure divers are very well looked after. Breezes Beach Club and Spa is an excellent resort, ideal of families and couples. The rooms are spacious and decorated with brass and wood carvings. A number of dining options are available in the hotel. Breakers lunch restaurant overlooks the beach and has a sandy floor. In the evenings, the Sultan’s Table is available for a small number of guests to enjoy their meal in a stunning setting. For the romantic couple, Tides is the ultimate in intimate dining. Set for just two people, Tides is located right on the beach and is the perfect setting for any couple. Not surprisingly, it is very popular and reservations need to be made as soon as possible.
A short stroll up Bwejuu Beach is the relatively new Baraza Resort and Spa. There is a much more Arabic feel than you would find in Breezes and Baraza is designed for the higher end of the market. Even the smallest rooms are luxurious and spacious (148sq metres). The kids club has a wide range of things to keep the children quiet and the pool pipes music so you can hear it while you are underwater. Dining facilities are superb and the food is as good as you will find in many top London restaurants.
For couples seeking a private holiday, The Palms Zanzibar is just the place. There are just six private villas on the property and along the beach front, each villa is allocated it’s own private banda where you can relax. Alternatively, you may prefer the private plunge pool on your villa’s veranda. Meals can be taken anywhere you want and the staff can’t do enough for you. Its no wonder people like Michael Schumacher and Marcel Desailly have chosen to stay here in the past.
Three nights in either Breezes, Baraza and Palms will complete your week in Tanzania before you return back to the UK. Alternatively, you may want to stay a bit longer and visit Zanzibar’s capital, Stone Town. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a fascinated, busy place. Hotels are full of character and are a great base to have while exploring the maze of streets of this historic town. 19th century explorer, Dr David Livingstone used Zanzibar as a base and the house he used before embarking on his last expedition is one of the many places to visit. Other places to see include the Arab Fort, Peace Memorial Museum and the Anglican Cathedral which is built on the site of a former slave market. Stone Town is also the birthplace of former Queen front man, Freddie Mercury.
All in all, Selous Game Reserve and Zanzibar make for an excellent twin centre holiday.