As amazing as a safari is, it can also be quite a tiring experience, particularly with the early morning wake-ups to make sure you have the best chance of spotting wildlife in the cooler hours when animals are more active. That, along with the typically long days of a safari, often leaves people requiring a holiday to recover from their holiday – and this is where the beach part of a safari-and-beach trip comes in!
There are a good number of safari-and-beach holidays that people can enjoy. However, making the selection can be more of a challenge for families – they want to keep the kids entertained, so care really does have to be taken when picking the place to go!
Northern Tanzania and Zanzibar
Tanzania offers a wide array of options for families looking to go on safari – from adventurous tented-style safari camps to luxurious all-inclusive lodges, there really is something for everyone. For families visiting Northern Tanzania, a combination of Lake Manyara National Park, the Ngorongoro and the Serengeti provides a tremendous safari experience!
In the Manyara/Crater area, staying at Plantation Lodge for two nights whilst visiting these parks makes for an excellent start to any safari. Combining these two parks with the Serengeti just brings a bit of diversity to a safari, whilst Plantation Lodge has wonderful family rooms and a swimming pool for relaxing and cooling off!
From here it is a short flight into the Serengeti, where Lemala have a number of five-star camps and lodges across the budget range in various areas of the park. This company, with their Lemala Cubs programme, caters superbly for young families – and children can partake in a number of specialised activities, from short walking safaris around camp to learning how to throw a (blunted) traditional Maasai spear!
Besides Lemala, families could look at Nomad Tanzania’s Mkombe’s House in the Northern Serengeti for a more private family experience. Accommodating up to eight people, Mkombe’s House epitomises the spirit of an authentic safari whilst making it possible for people staying here to arrange their game-viewing activities in a manner that suits them best. In this way, it is ideal for younger families who are perhaps not looking to take the youngsters on a full-day game drive. The fact that Nomad offer child rates for anyone under the age of 21 makes them a very appealing proposition!
For those in search of a more luxury option, Singita is hard to beat, particularly for their Faru Faru lodge in Grumeti. As with Lemala, Singita offer a wide variety of activities for children, such as short nature walks or learning how to use a traditional bow-and-arrow on the shooting range.
Following five or six days on safari, it is then time for a bit of rest and relaxation on Zanzibar. Zanzibar can be a nightmare to book in that there are so many hotels, lodges and resorts on offer – but not many provide the overall quality of experience that many families seek!
Pongwe Beach Hotel is one of the best-value properties on Zanzibar – combine that with the fact that it has its own private beach and excellent standards of food and service, and it suddenly becomes a very attractive option indeed! A stay here is typically on a bed-and-breakfast basis or on half board. That way, families can still go out and take advantage of many of the activities that Zanzibar has to offer without having to miss out on anything that has been paid for.
Matlai Boutique Hotel would work fantastically well in combination with Mkombe’s House! Currently it has only four rooms, with another four-room house being built so that families can book the entire property for their stay there, once again ensuring both privacy and flexibility in what they do and when.
For a more up-market experience, Baraza Resort and Spa is the place to go. With huge villas, a large swimming pool and a thrilling watersports centre, a stay at Baraza will never be boring, especially not for kids wanting to be active!
Southern Tanzania, Mafia and Pemba
Southern Tanzania offers a vastly different experience to the north of the country. The two main parks here – the Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park – are both vast areas that are much less frequently visited than the more famous parks in Northern Tanzania. As such, visitors can appreciate a much quieter, calmer safari experience. The Selous is also famous for its brilliant boating safaris, which make for a satisfying change of pace from the standard game drives. For people visiting this part of the country, a combination of these two parks makes for an amazing adventure!
The Selous offers a wide variety of accommodation, and at entry level Lake Manze Tented Camp is an excellent choice. The boating safaris are consistently superb here, whilst those aged 12 years or older can also partake in walking safaris.
As in the Serengeti, Nomad Tanzania have a private house here – Kiba Point, where families have much more flexibility in decisions about game viewing. Its location on the banks of the mighty Rufiji River also makes it a perfect place for those who enjoy fishing, whilst the camp’s boat safaris are fantastically varied – from a standard 2-hour boat safari to a whole afternoon out on the water when boating down to the rather stunning Stiegler’s Gorge!
For those looking for a slightly more up-market experience, Beho Beho is a great choice. With its large open-fronted rooms and a spectacular view over the forest and plains below, Beho Beho is really somewhat unique in the Selous in that it is not situated along the water. Walking safaris are truly first rate here – and in Bailey’s Banda they also have a private house that caters for younger families.
From the Selous it is a short flight into Ruaha, where, as with the Selous, there are a good number of options across the budget spectrum. Mdonya Old River Camp, sister property of Lake Manze, is an exceptional entry-level option – and combining these two properties also provides the opportunity to utilise a long-stay special!
Whilst Ruaha doesn’t typically have any private houses such as we find in the Serengeti and the Selous, there are still super smaller camps that ensure a similarly private and, most importantly, authentic safari experience. Kigelia Ruaha, with only five tents and a family unit, falls into this category perfectly and works particularly well in combination with Kiba Point.
Finally, for those looking for something more of an up-market experience, Jongomero Camp is well worth considering. With its stunning rooms set along the banks of the seasonal Jongomero River, this camp provides luxury and adventure in one.
From Ruaha, there are a number of options available for the beach part of the holiday – with of course Zanzibar being one! However, a lot of people don’t often look at Mafia and Pemba, which make up a part of the Zanzibar Archipelago. Both islands offer something different to Zanzibar in that they are not as busy as their bigger brother – as such, a quieter and more private experience can be savoured here.
Mafia Island is most famous for its superb Marine Park and the scuba diving and snorkelling on offer. There are a number of properties on Mafia, but the standout lodge is Pole Pole, due to its incredible standards of food and service. Pole Pole stands head and shoulders above most of the other options – with the exception of Chole Mjini! This is certainly not a lodge for everyone and there really has to be some careful consideration before booking this property. Primarily an eco-lodge, it caters best for families with a healthy sense of adventure. A stay here would be memorable to say the least!
Alternatively, families hoping for some time on the beach following their safari can also look towards Pemba. This is a wonderfully sleepy little island that is best known for its production of cloves, as well as a couple of rather fabulous lodges. Fundu Lagoon is one of the two top properties here – and with a wide variety of activities, it makes for an excellent beach getaway! Alternatively, travellers can also look at The Manta Resort, which is just as great an option to complete a safari-and-beach holiday.
Julian Carter-Manning is a Co-founder and MD at Yellow Zebra Safaris.