Jaw-Dropping Stay in the Heart of the Serengeti

It’s like watching a huge panoramic IMAX movie, except this is no film. This is the Serengeti.

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The Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti sits right in the heart of the world famous national park with stunning wildlife just off the deck as entertainment. It’s truly incredible.

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Four Seasons Serengeti puts the “glamour” in glamping. In fact, let’s be honest, you’re not camping at all. This is pure luxury in the heart of Africa.

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Our first night, we sit outside at dinner at the main restaurant and hear a roar from a herd of elephants not far in the distance. Since it’s pitch black out (no city light pollution anywhere here), we can’t see them, but the sounds are incredible and just add to the magic of this place.

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After dinner, I head to my room—a huge suite designed with local materials of wood and natural stone tile. With a rustic yet luxuriously modern feel, it has a large sitting room and closet, a table area, a huge bathroom with soaking tub offering views right out the window of the animals and a large balcony with sofas. I’m sure to lock my screen door as I’m told the baboons are known to open them and fall asleep to the sounds of the savanna. Oh, and although the watering hole is within view from my window, there is even a live animal cam 24/7 tuned to a channel on the TV in my room, so I can see who’s coming and going.

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The property has been open for just four years, and just the last two years under the Four Seasons name. This is no small “campground.” There are 77 rooms, 12 suites, and five villas including an enormous presidential villa with its own watering hole. Of course, the hotel has a fitness center, a spa with six separate pavilions for private treatments and a new yoga room, a kids’ playroom, a comfy den-like TV room, and even a discovery center with information about the landscape and wildlife.

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Nearly everything is centered around the outdoor deck and pool where you’ll just want to sit and take in the view of the watering hole. It’s so nice to get out of a dusty, jostling safari vehicle for a day (or three!) and sit here while the animals come to you. The water attracts elephants, zebra, wildebeest, antelopes, baboon, lions, and giraffes.


The hotel also offers:

  • Honeymoon packages
  • VIP baskets
  • Packages for safaris including a balloon safari over the Serengeti
  • Bush dinner by candlelight

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    There are three different restaurants to choose from, Maji, overlooking the watering hole with outdoor dining where you can hear lions roaring in the darkness; Boma Grill, the traditional African restaurant and Kula’s with international and African-inspired fare. My first night I enjoyed the grilled octopus and a fillet of beef with truffled mashed potatoes.

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    In the morning, I awake and head straight to my balcony. A baboon is eyeing me from the adjacent balcony while six giraffes and a family of five elephants saunter by on their way to the watering hole. Every time I try to leave my room to head to breakfast, another group of animals catches my eye and I head back out to the balcony with a huge grin plastered on my face. I think I try to leave a half a dozen times.

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    Just down a few steps from the main indoor/outdoor restaurant is an infinity pool literally overlooking the watering hole. You feel like you’re right there with the elephants. Although there is a drop in height between you and them, the wonderful thing is, there are no fences, no boundaries, no limits. This is not Disney World. It’s open land for all.

    Lisa Lubin is an established travel/food writer, three-time Emmy®-award winning TV producer, and travel industry expert. After a decade in broadcast television she took a sabbatical, which turned into three years traveling around the world. She documents her (mis)adventures on her blog, LLworldtour.com. You can follow her adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

    How Do You Go Beach Glamping? I’ll Take Mine with a Thatched Roof

    I’m a sucker for thatched roofs. What summertime concert experience beats hanging out at a Parrothead’s thatched roof trailer bar while tailgating at a Jimmy Buffett concert? And there’s nothing more adventurous than a thatched roof villa in the middle of the jungle. The best place to enjoy a thatched roof villa, cabina, cabana, casita or palapa is on beach, accompanied a book or beverage of your choice. Here is a worldwide sampling of some fantastic thatched-roof-glamping-beach-book-and-beverage locations to consider for your next experiential journey.

    Asia

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    When a resort refers to itself as a “beach camp,” you instantly know you’ve found a place that understands beach glamping. Beach Camp Yala in Sri Lanka emphasizes a “passion for two things – wildlife camping and hospitality,” which is glamping, simply stated. A stay at Yala combines a great beach vacation with the option of a guided safari to view elephants, sloth bears, and the largest leopard population on the island.

    Central America

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    All of the luxury villas at El Secreto in Ambergris Caye, Belize have thatched roofs, and the name of the game is snorkeling and diving- with the Belize Barrier Reef right on the doorstep. El Secreto, or “the secret,” may be named for the fact that it has a “privileged and secluded location on North Ambergris Caye,” a prized aspect of glamping done right.

    South America

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    If kite surfing is your game, or you just want to try it, the thatched roof cabanas of Pueblo Barrancas in Uruguay are the answer. The luxury glamping dwellings are nestled into the hillside in plain view of the beach, and yurts are offered as well.

    Europe

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    You’d be right to guess Spain as a European country with thatched roof huts near the beach. At Casas Karen, they are referred to as “chozas de paja,” or “straw huts.“ Glamping.com previously highlighted a report from The Guardian that named Casas Karen number 7 on the Top Ten Luxury Campsites in the world. It’s said to be on “one of the last wild coasts in Southern Spain.”

    Africa

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    As I stated before, placing the word “beach” in the name of the resort saves a whole lot of trouble, and another prime location has embraced this wisdom. Dugong Beach Lodge in Mozambique has 12 luxuriously appointed, air-conditioned (thatched roof!) chalets inside the Vilanculos Coastal Wildlife Sanctuary, all of which are exquisitely ensconced on a beautiful beach.

    Oceania

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    Located on a former cocoanut plantation on a fabulous beach on the Island of Fiji are 25 thatched roof “bures” and a luxury villa all exquisitely appointed by the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort. It’s Fiji- need I say more? If so, check out Jen Bianco’s entertaining blog entry here.

    The definition of glamping can vary widely. If glamping is your goal but you’re not sure, then adopt this simple rule of thumb- when in doubt, thatched roof=glamping. Now go hit the sand!

    Extreme Outdoors

    Sitting on a beach. Walking tours. Visiting Museums.

    Did simply reading that first line nearly put you to sleep? I nearly feel asleep writing it. Let’s try this again.

    Helicopter rides. White water rafting. Off-roading.

    If reading that line spiked your heart rate, I’d reckon you’re longing for a good old fashioned outdoor adventure. But not just any romp in the wilderness, you fancy something a little more extreme. Well my thrill-seeking friend, you are far from alone.

    In fact, more travelers than ever before are ditching their Mai Tais, walking shoes and audio guides for water bottles, hiking boots and helmets as they seek out the thrills of adventure travel. This thirst for heart-pounding activities has turned adventure travel into a $263 billion a year industry (that doesn’t include the $82 billion spent on related adventure gear, apparel and accessories) and the fastest growing segment of the leisure travel industry according to a 2013 study conducted by George Washington University.

    While extreme outdoor adventure can, in some cases, be found near traditional hotels, why would you just dip your toe into the great outdoors when you could jump all the way in? Why drive into nature for only a few hours when you could stay, eat, sleep, and play in nature 24-hours a day?

    That’s where glamping comes in. With glamping, you can experience the comforts of a hotel, all while being within the epicenter of the outdoor adventures you’re seeking. And the sounds of crickets, babbling brooks and crackling campfires, those won’t be coming from a sound machine.

    So to get you thinking about your wild escape, here are just a few epic outdoor activities and a sampling of properties that’ll let you release your inner adrenaline junky like never before.

    Helicopter Adventures

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    For the ultimate in helicopter adventures, look no further than Nimmo Bay, a tiny, family-owned wilderness resort located in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest. Here, you can heli fly fish, heli kayak, heli stand up paddle board, heli hike or just heli picnic. What exactly does that mean? It means you and your provided gear will be picked up by a chopper and flown to remote and pristine locations to fly fish, kayak, paddle board, hike or dine. Now that’s extreme!

    Rappelling

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    Picture this: you’re standing on the edge of a 170 foot cliff, the Blackfoot River tumbles by below and beyond that, a picture perfect Montana valley-scape. This is the scene for your rappelling adventure at The Resort at Paws Up. With harness and ropes secure, you turn around, back facing the 170 drop below, and take your first step off and down the cliff. A few leaps and bounds later, you’ll be at the bottom smiling from ear to ear ready to do it again.

    Hot Air Ballooning

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    The views on the ground at Sir Richard Branson’s safari camp, Mahali Mzuri, in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve are legendary (from the comfort of your tent’s balcony you’ll see giraffes, zebras, wildebeests and more). But gently and quietly float hundreds of feet above the ground in a hot air balloon at sunrise, and this landscape, one of the world’s most awe-inspiring, will truly get your heart racing like never before.

    Hunting

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    If your idea of a extreme outdoor adventure calls for a little more firepower, then hunting at Wyoming’s The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch is for you. Amidst massages and fine dining, you can head out into the 30,000 acre property with expert guides to hunt for ducks, deer, antelope, elk and more. The trill of the hunt never felt this good.

    River & Ocean Kayaking

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    While Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, located on west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, has it all (from heli adventures, to rock climbing, to fishing and horseback riding), don’t pass up the opportunity to hone your kayaking skills under the supervision of expert guides. Whether you want to learn to navigate small rapids or paddle in search of bears, whales and eagles, you’ll end your day feeling even more confident for tomorrow’s extreme adventures.

    Trevor Morrow is a Los Angeles based travel who runs the experiential, adventure and luxury travel blog TrevorMorrowTravel.com. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @trevormorrow.

    Main Image Credit:“ Brush Creek Ranch Website”