Just Back: Legendary Tanzania

Limor Decter of Embark Beyond created an epic journey for her colleagues late last year and is back with this detailed report.

It was one week into a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Tanzania before I finally plucked the courage to take an outside shower overlooking the grassy plains of the Serengeti, watching a herd of elephants parade by the pink clay rocks at Faru Faru Lodge. It was that shower, that lemongrass-infused shower, which rinsed away the pandemic blues. I have always believed that nature nurtures, and in this moment nature did her best.

In the early days of March 2020, my escape from reality was watching safaris on Instagram late at night. I found comfort just hearing the sound of the bush and seeing wildlife as the world was collapsing. I vowed to return to Africa to support the people, the communities, and the wildlife conservation efforts — all drastically affected by the pandemic.

With this yearning, and working closely with my trusted partners in Africa, I created a two-week educational trip for several colleagues at Embark Beyond. Our goal was to discover the natural and cultural beauty of Tanzania, and find out how we can best support the communities. I felt it was important to lead by example, to visit our partners and experience Tanzania first-hand. I worked with Legendary Expeditions, Singita, andBeyond and Delta Air Lines — and together we created an epic itinerary showcasing the best of Tanzania. Our partners embody conscious travel, protecting the people, culture, landscape and wildlife of Tanzania. Our Tanz ‘Fam’ (for "family" and for "familiarization") included Kari Angelo, Deborah Gellis, Cindy Salik and Hillel Spinner. Our experience was greatly enriched by each other’s presence and we shared unforgettable memories together.

Giraffe in Tanzania
At the Lake Manyara region, the group saw lots of wildlife,
including giraffes and cheetahs.
(Photo by Limor Decter)

We arrived in Kilimanjaro after a quick layover in Amsterdam, enjoying the Delta One and KLM business class product. I couldn’t believe I finally made my way back to Africa. I was giddy with excitement staring into the clear African sky chanting “thank you, thank you.” The trip began with a two-night stay at Legendary Lodge in Arusha surrounded by manicured gardens and purple jacarandas as we unwinded and acclimated for the big journey ahead. We visited Burka Coffee Estate and the Cultural Heritage Center showcasing the 120 tribes of Tanzania.

We then drove to Legendary’s Chem Chem camps, located two hours away between Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Park. We knew we were off to a great start when we spotted a male leopard nestled in the tree upon arrival—what a lucky omen. Little Chem Chem is located near the shores of Lake Burunge offering spectacular sunrises and sunsets. On my first morning when I woke up and unzipped my canvas tent, I thought to myself: “Hemingway is correct, ‘I never knew a morning when I woke up unhappy in Africa.’” We savored a candlelight dinner under the Baobab trees with a herd of elephants nearby. We saw lots of wildlife, especially elephants and giraffes. We were surprised with a most remarkable sundowner on the shores of Lake Burunge. The beauty of that African sunset with the reflection on the lake was purely magical.

After leaving the Lake Manyara region, we flew to the Grumeti Reserve, adjacent to the Serengeti National Park. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful natural wonders on planet Earth. Singita has been the custodian of this land since 2004, protecting the pristine wilderness. Luke Bailes, the founder of Singita, believes that conservation and sustainability includes complementary components protecting biodiversity within the ecosystem while also supporting local communities through education and employment. It has been his mission to protect communities, local culture and wildlife conservation for future generations. It was an honor and privilege to chat with Luke during our stay at Singita and share our perspectives—another trip highlight.

When our guide Eddie Ayao greeted us on the tarmac, we knew our visit would be amazing. We instantly bonded with Eddie and his gentle disposition. We visited the five Singita lodges divided throughout the reserve, each the epitome of uber luxury and comfort. Singita means “a place of miracles,” and we witnessed miracles daily. Personally, I felt my stay at Singita was truly a miracle on its own as was the whole trip.

I was blown away by the beauty of Sasakawa and the sweeping views of the Serengeti. The lavish Edwardian manor house and panorama vista of Serengeti left me speechless. I fell in love with the hotel and the staff. They were remarkable. We wanted to spend an extra night at Sasakwa and naturally, in pure Singita style, they made it happen. I felt like African royalty at Sasakawa enjoying the opulent décor featuring crystal chandeliers, Venetian mirrors, gilded frames and antiques combined with local artifacts and tribal décor. When the monkeys ambushed my ice coffee and scones, the entire lodge heard me scream.

Lion in Tanzania
Lion viewing was one of the top highlights of the group’s trip to
(Photo by Limor Decter)

Our game drives at Singita were truly miraculous. We enjoyed a daily gourmet breakfast in the bush, viewing an abundant concentration of wildlife. We were privileged to see herds of elephants, dazzle of zebras, tower of giraffes and pride of lions up close and personal. Our lion viewing was spectacular and another trip highlight. We cherished our intimate time observing prides of lions as they feasted, played, napped, nursed, growled, prowled, and jumped off trees. We could not get enough of the lions—we knew each lion viewing was unique and rare.

We also stayed at Sabora Tented Camp and Faru Faru, two outstanding camps that were special in their own way. The experience at each lodge was stellar. The friendly staff enriched our visit greatly during our five nights at Singita.

Our next stop was at Legendary’s Mwiba Lodge in the Southern Serengeti. Mwiba is a stunning lodge set among massive boulders overlooking a rocky gorge on the Arugusinyai River. Our Mwiba visit was especially memorable because we had great cultural interactions. The first was a bushman’s walk with the Hadza tribe, one of last hunter gatherer societies still in existence. It was a profound experience to walk with the tribe and see how they hunt, locate and harvest honey. We also visited the Datoga tribe, another nomadic herding tribe. We danced with the women welcoming the warriors back from hunting.

Zebras roam freely around andBeyond Crater Lodge.  (Limor Decter)

Our final weekend was spent at the andBeyond Crater Lodge with commanding hilltop views of the Ngorongoro Crater. It was fascinating to witness the dramatic beauty of the Crater, the different ecosystems, and the diversity of wildlife. The lodge is utterly romantic. The rose petal bath was a nice surprise upon our return from the game drive. Zebras roam freely around the lodge. I liked that the décor blended some Maasi with some Versailles.

I was astounded by each lodge’s ability to provide upscale fine dining and impeccable service in the middle of the bush. I was incredibly awed by the delicious and innovative vegetarian cuisine. On top of that, we were pampered with daily treatments at the spas and we relished our spa time. The level of service at each lodge was superlative and gracious, the finest of East African hospitality. Legendary Lodge, our DMC, was truly exceptional throughout our journey. They managed our trip flawlessly and provided unrivaled service. As a result, we did not encounter a single hiccup—a huge feat as our trip had so many moving pieces.

Decter says game drives at Singita were miraculous and she was privileged to see herds of elephants. (Limor Decter)

After a two-week trip discovering and learning about Tanzania with so many experiences cleansing my soul, the hot-air balloon ride at sunrise was an unforgettable memory I cherish. We soared over the vast Serengeti plains and embarked on an aerial safari watching wildlife beneath. I loved watching the zebras and giraffes running from the shadow of the hot-air balloon. We glided over the acacia trees billowing underneath the blue skies. I stared into the African sky feeling so grateful for another safari, the pinnacle of travel experiences. Nature really does nurture. 

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