Tanzania Safari Honeymoon Guide

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During the midst of wedding planning, my husband pitched the idea of a safari for our honeymoon.  I will admit — I was a little apprehensive, but I quickly got on board after doing some research.  Everyone says you have to conquer your fears, right?  Well, an open air, window-less, door-less jeep — sitting adjacent to lions — was going to be my idea of “fears conquered.”   Turns out, waking up to pink-sky sunrises with a cup of tea, swimming a stone’s throw away from zebras at a watering hole, and enjoying 5-star food is an easy way to conquer one’s fears!  It was hard to narrow down which country and safari experience we wanted to embark on, but in the end picked Tanzania in order to  maximize our chances of seeing “the Big 5,” and the Mara River crossing of the Wildebeest.  It was the trip of a lifetime that I still dream about today!  This ultimate Tanzania safari guide includes everything you need to know for planning your own honeymoon safari trip. 

tanzania honeymoon safari guide
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    Safari Pre-Planning Notes and Reminders

    Planning for a honeymoon safari doesn’t follow the normal “trip planning” protocols.  You don't simply pick a country, book your tickets, google some hotels, and go.  There are some essential questions to consider beforehand to help ensure you'll experience the vacation you envision.  Additionally, there are some steps that require advance planning.  This Tanzania honeymoon safari guide will walk you through some points you'll want to first consider.  

    • Choose a tour operator that knows what you’re looking for:  There are countless tour operators offering advice and itineraries for a safari, but I loved Epic Road, and think their instincts, accommodation choices, and general vibe were spot on.  This is not some random 1-800 number; instead, your trip planners are the founders of the organization, and they know what they’re talking about.


    • Determine your accommodation preference:  If you've landed on my blog, chances are you fancy luxury travel.  However, even within luxury safari travel, there are different types of lodge aesthetics and amenities to consider.  High send safari properties are all well known for their  quality service, but differ when it comes to other features.  Some offer in room showers, heated water, even AC!  Others do not.  Are those features must -haves for you, or are you okay sacrificing them for a few days?  How about the “look” you’re going for.  Are you looking for a luxury canvas tent or, are you hoping to have something a bit more…sturdy…for your sleeping arrangement?  These are considerations you’ll want to communicate to your tour operator.


    • Which types of animals are you hoping to see?  What's on your bucket list? The Big 5?  Gorillas?  River cruises to see some hippos?  If there's something particular on your wish-list, that will greatly influence the country you pick, and the time of year, for safari. For example, the Mara River Crossing only happens in the summer months in Tanzania and Kenya.


    • Book well in advance:  A luxury safari experience requires at least 8-12 months advance notice.  As reference, I booked an August trip the previous December and luckily snagged the last rooms! 


    • Reset your itinerary expectations:  As a travel blogger, I am used to hours upon hours of planning before heading off to a new spot.  Hotels, restaurants, excursions — you name it — are all mapped out before I hit the road.  However, a safari is not a typical destination experience. There are no restaurants to visit (your lodge is your restaurant), and there’s no getting ready for a night out.  It was not uncommon to roll right from safari covered in dirt into dinner. The planning and hotel/flight/transfer details  all happened pre-departure. 


    • Make appointments for your shots:  You will need to present proof of vaccine for Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and B.  Make sure to communicate with your doctor ahead of time so that you get your shots in a timely manner. 
    Tanzania landscape - tanzania honeymoon safari guide
    woman next to safari car- Tanzania safari honeymoon guide

    For your Planning Purposes

    Getting there:  You will be responsible for arranging international flights into the country.  You can fly into Julius Nyerere International Airport, Mount Kilimanjaro International Airport, or Zanzibar Abeid Amani Karume Airport. 

    Getting around:  Your tour operator will arrange all transfers via car and regional planes. 

    When to visit:  The time of year you visit Tanzania greatly depends on what you’d like to see.  Here’s what you should consider: 

    • If you want to see the Great Migration/Mara River Crossing, then travel in June/July/August. 
    • The dry season is April-October (with highest tourism in June, July, August)
    • The wet season is November-May (with tourism at a low in April and May).

    What to do on a Tanzanian Safari

    Highlights if you're in a hurry!

    Tanzania mara river crossing - tanzania honeymoon safari guide
    alligator mara river crossing - tanzania honeymoon safari guide
    • The Mara River Crossing:  Holy moly, this event alone makes the trip worth it!  What is the crossing, you ask?  Every year, hundreds of thousands of wildebeest slowly migrate north, over a period of a few months.  Not only do they have to worry about the run-of-the-mill predators along the way, but they end their migration by crossing a crocodile infested river. The wildebeest have been doing this migration for about a bazillion years (fact check?) and they haven’t found a new route.  To increase their chances of survival at this last stage of the migration, they gather in the thousands, and then storm the river all at once, banking on a “strength in numbers” strategy.  If you're lucky enough to be nearby in your jeep, get your camera ready and be prepared for your adrenaline to spike.

    • Arrange for a night safari:  Instead of heading out for a late afternoon drive one day, ask your hotel to arrange a night drive instead.  You’ll be able to catch the sunset across the Serengeti -- and let me tell you, Serengeti sunsets will stop you in your tracks.  When night does settle in, it’ll be time for the nocturnal critters to come out.  Touring the land and looking for animals at night is a completely different experience, and is worth the extra effort. 


    • Picnic on the Serengeti:   Ask your lodge to arrange for a private lunch picnic during a game drive.   Our guide found an area where we had the views all to ourself.  It was one of our favorite honeymoon memories.


    • Visit the local town, school, and homes:  After a few days of “safari-ing,” I suggest changing up the scenery by asking your lodge about visiting a local village.  Singita Faru Faru made arrangements for us to tour a school and village compound.  The kids were ecstatic about showing off their home turf, and we got to participate in some traditional tribe dances.


    picnc on serengeti
    lion on the hunt - tanzania honeymoon safari guide
    zebra watering hole
    Tanzania Villagers

    Don't Miss These Related Compass Roam Articles

    Ready to start your safari?  Check out these articles to help plan your trip:

    Luxury Accomodations in Tanzania

    ​​When we were dating, I knew Niall was the right guy for me when I realized that, while we both love the outdoors, we also appreciate our create comforts of a soft mattress, working electricity, and indoor plumbing.  So “glamping” was right up our alley!  


    A luxury safari experience takes glamping to a whole new level.  You can literally sleep under the stars, and then wake up the next day to a cup of tea delivered straight to your room while you watch elephants cross the plains.  Admittingly, there are some amenities that will be harder to find – constant hot water, voltage to run a hairdryer, a fitness center – but this is Tanzania!   So if you’re okay having some flexibility on your regular 5-star standards, then check out these recommendations for your luxury safari hotel. 


    My Picks

    • Onsea House - When you're planning a safari, you’ll increasingly become so excited to go, that you think you’ll hit the ground running upon arrival.  Well, that’s half true — when you land, you will hit the actual ground. You will be so, so tired. You will be dirty, and all you will want to do is lay down.  Therefore, your first afternoon at Onsea House will be your recovery day.  This property was the perfect liaison between airport travel and safari game drives.  We had a comfortable bed to sleep in, ate delicious food, and  felt the warm hospitality of the Tanzanian people. 


    • Lamai Serengeti - This is where you’ll want to start your safari.  You’ll be welcomed in a beautiful, open air lobby that overlooks the Serengeti plains below.  Every interior element has been hand-crafted by East African artists.  You’ll eat at communal tables, allowing you to meet people from all over the world.  Then, at night you’ll retire to a 4 poster canopied bed.  When it’s bright and early, you’re off to explore the Serengeti National Park!


    • Singita Faru Faru - As part of the world renown Singita Grumeti collection of hotels, Faru Faru is located within a private reserve.  There are some clear advantages to staying on a private reserve -- you’ll feel like you know everyone by the end of your trip!  This lodge is a bit more intimate, but also more lavish than the first -- there’s running hot water, indoor and outdoor showers, and lobster rolls for dinner! 
    Lamai Serengeti - tanzania honeymoon safari guide

    Don't Miss These Related Compass Roam Articles

    Would you like to learn more about the lodges I visited and safari experience?  Here are some additional articles you may find helpful:

    Faru Faru bedroom - tanzania safari honeymoon guide
    Faru Faru bathroom
    Faru Faru pool - tanzania honeymoon safari guide

    Eating on Safari in Tanzania

    You aren’t going to find restaurants and cafes to grab a bite to eat.  All of your food will happen at your lodge, and will be arranged by your lodge.  If you’d like to learn more about what this experience is like, and how they differ across accommodations, then read Safari Cuisine: What Can a Foodie Expect to Experience? 

    Faru Faru lunch

    Tips For Taking an African Safari

    Be patient:   If you’ve traveled half way across the world to see the Great Migration, you may have to recalibrate that it’s not a movie – you won’t be able to press “play” and see all the action at once.  If you’re set on seeing this monumental event, then be prepared to sit and hang near the riverbanks.  


    Not all safari experiences are the same:  This is purely my opinion, and I’m sharing it here in case other travelers would like to know the differences I observed, and consequently the type of experience you may have visiting each type of safari park. 

    • National parks:  Example: Serengeti National Park —  This is a public park, so expect to see many other jeeps; however, these parks are massive, and the large size does help mitigate overcrowding.  There is also more variety of wildlife to see, compared to a private reserve.  Roads are not usually paved and are very bumpy.  


    • Private game reserves:  Example: Singita Grumeti — A private reserve is a special experience as there are very few cars, compared to a national park.  Think of it this way: if there’s a leopard, everyone gets to see it because the drivers constantly communicate with one another, and the park is small enough that your driver has time to venture over to the sighting.  In a large, national park, this may not be the case.  As an additional advantage, your driver can easily take you off road, and the main roads are paved --  a nice luxury to have when spending hours in the car.


    • National do-it-yourself parks:  Example Nairobi National Park — I personally would avoid any park where it's an option to drive through on your own.  Although they are more affordable compared to the other two options,  I strongly believe that a safari should not be a DIY activity.  You may have the option of hiring a guide, but be prepared to see a lot of cars, and traffic…and the city skyline in the background.
    Tanzania elephant family
    giraffe on serengeti - tanzania honeymoon safari guide
    cheetah in tanzania
    Tanzania wildebeast

    Mix up your safari-ing times: Animals are most active in the morning, and late afternoon. They get hot during the day and avoid the sun, so take a cue from mother nature.  We tried safari-ing a few different times of day. If you depart in the early morning, I suggest requesting a picnic breakfast.  Sipping tea early in the morning while listening to the waking animals, was one of my favorite trip memories! If you leave later in the morning, expect to ride for a few hours, then head back to camp for lunch -- then it's back out again before dinner.  Your lodge may also offer you the option of a night ride. This was an awesome experience!


    Stay in the vehicle:  This warning may sound obvious, and when our guide told us that under no circumstances may we ever exit the car, I thought, “Right, of course.”  Well, when the wildebeest started crossing the Mara River, I got VERY excited, lost my brain for a few seconds -- I jumped out of the car to snap a picture!  I'm pretty much a rule follower so everyone was surprised, including me.  Not surprisingly, I got in a fair amount of trouble.  So, this is a friendly reminder to stay in the car!  No picture or selfie is worth a dangerous situation.


    Tanzania tour guides are legitimate pros:  It's not easy to become a safari tour guide; not only does a guide need to know their stuff about wildlife, but they also need to be very well trained for just about any circumstance.  One night when we were out (yes, night), our jeep got a flat tire. It was like the start to a bad horror movie. The tour guide jumped out, removed it, installed a new one, and was back in the car in less than 6 minutes. That’s impressive in any situation, but especially in one where there’s an added threat of a lion lurking nearby.  


    When nature calls:  If you have to pee (or more) you will do it as the animals do -- kind of.  You will jump out of the car, pop a squat, and “contribute” to the Serengeti. There are no outhouses, nor rest stops.  My advice is to avoid the coffee or tea before leaving the lodge.  


    Check Out My Guest Blog Post!

    Interested in learning some more tips about taking an African Safari?  I wrote this article for Epic Road: 

    Tanzania sunset- tanzania honeymoon safari guide

    I Wish I Had Time To See...

    • The Ngorongoro Crater:  This is the largest caldera in the world and is 3 million years old!  Once a volcano, the crater is now the home of over 30,000 species of animals.  You’ll have opportunities to view some of the most breathtaking wildlife, including endangered black rhino, families of elephants, and thousands of flamingos. 


    • Tarangire National Park: This park is known for having excellent game viewing opportunities, and far less tourists than Serengeti National Park.  There is only one main watering hole, which allows for more chances of wildlife spottings.  It’s also where you can find the beautiful baobab trees. 

    That's a Wrap

    I would return to Tanzania for another safari In a heartbeat. A safari vacation will make you feel as if you traveled to another planet. It may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but if you have the chance to go, GO!

    I hope this article has inspired your own safari to Tanzania.  If you have any questions, or your own travel tips, please leave them in the comments below.  Also, don't forget to sign up for the monthly newsletter, packed with travel tips, upcoming news, and access to FREE destination itineraries.

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