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On a quest to re-live the wild Tanzania she first visited 40 years ago, Lucia van der Post finds off-radar boutique camps in less-explored reserves. Let yourself be dazzled by these Exclusive Destinations: Tanzania’s Luxury Intimate Safari Camps!
As populations continue to swell, it’s becoming harder and harder to find the old, wild, empty safari camps in Africa. And the small, simple camps run by passionate lovers of wildlife rather than remote corporations are becoming ever more precious.
If you look hard enough, though, there are still a few safari camps whose real USP isn’t co-ordinated cushions or fancy grub but the sense of being deeply immersed in Africa’s natural environment, where the tales told around the campfire will linger long in the memory and where what you get is the owners’ profound personal commitment to sharing the world they love with their visitors.
Geoff and Vicky Fox, for instance, have been in Tanzania since the 1960s, when Geoff came to work on Brooke Bond’s tea plantations. Today the Fox family is deeply embedded in Tanzanian life. Three of their sons own a series of safari camps in the country, as well as an airline. Meanwhile, Geoff is long retired from the tea business and he and Vicky now live at Mufindi Highlands Lodge, high up in the East Arc Rift Valley, surrounded by tea plantations and rainforest with absolutely stunning views.
Mufindi is a proper working farm, run by Geoff and Vicky, who is always there, sitting around the table sharing their ample, straight-from-the-farm food, along with their stories of the past and how they’re coping with the ever-changing present. All around are the schools and clinics their trust supports; there are lakes to fish or kayak in, horses to ride, a tennis court, great birdlife, picnics to be had. But most of all, it is worth visiting for its old-fashioned charm.
The Ruaha – little known, little explored, wilder and more vast than Serengeti, with 20,226sq km compared to Serengeti’s 14,750, but in all that space are just 120 beds (compared to Serengeti’s 3,000). At its heart lies the mighty Ruaha river, and the landscape is strewn with forests of baobab trees. Palms line the river banks, acacia trees dot the savannah and rolling hills form the horizon, while black eagles nest in rocky escarpments.
Also, you can find Kichaka, one of the most enchanting camps in all of Africa, and Ikuka, a highly sophisticated and delightful camp set high on the edge of the Mwagusi escarpment. Ikuka is owned by a small group of family investors and run by two of them, Mark and Chloe Sheridan Johnson.
Way over on the other side of the park, where he alone presides, is Andrew Molinaro’s Kichaka camp. Moli, as he is known, is a charismatic guide who was born in the UK but taken to Kenya as a young child.
you can take you walking through the bush, fly‑camping by the side of the river or driving a 4×4.