A Honeymoon Safari in Tanzania

We cannot thank you enough for planning the most incredible trip of our lives. We were continually blown away by the spectacular wildlife, landscape, accommodations, service, and most importantly, the people. On our way over, multiple people commented "TEN days on safari? Okay that's enough!!" and we were a bit nervous about what we had signed up for. Well they clearly have never been on a Kusini safari before, because we adored every second of our ten days! 

Chem Chem was simply outstanding. At first we thought it was a bit strange that we rarely saw other guests despite the camp being at full capacity. But soon came to realize that was part of the draw and it took a lot of behind-the-scenes work from the staff to make it this way. The private concession "slow game drives" were spectacular - we never expected to see so many animals and get so close with no one else around. The views were unbelievable - that lake with the mountains and flamingos...we felt like we were in a dream (Lake Manyara)

We loved dining in a different private enclave for each spectacular meal. Much to our butler's dismay, our monkey friends always seemed to find us (we were easy targets and had plenty of bread to share with them). Our room was lovely though we didn't spend much time there because Chris kept us very busy! I randomly asked Chris during sundowners on our second day if he knew a safari planner named Paul... a complete shot in the dark and honestly a strange question that I wouldn't have asked later on in the trip once I understood more about the way things work. What a small world and so special to learn that Paul was his teacher and helped him secure his first guide job! He is incredibly intelligent, professional, kind, fun and genuine. We absolutely adored him and have kept in touch via Instagram. Other highlights from Chem Chem include: 

  • Sunrise hill climb with a local guide followed by spectacular game drive that ended at the watering hole with an UNREAL variety of animals enjoying all together. We felt like we were living in the Lion King.
  • Bush walk with Masai guide learning about all the plants, poops, trails followed by a superb hot breakfast under the Baobab tree (fancy set up!)
  • Visiting a Masai Chief's home where he and his wife/kids welcomed us inside and were so kind to us. The chief did a  "vow renewal" ceremony for us and gave us these cute rings that we haven't taken off. 
  • I had the most amazing massage that they offered complimentary for honeymooners. My husband doesn't like massages and I wish I had asked if I could have his!
  • Special sundowners by the lake with 1,000 rose petals! We loved their signature "pink flamingo" cocktails and that the Masai guide taught James how to make a fire with the sticks and poop

After a brief freak out about how much to tip the incredible staff, we headed out to the Serengeti! We had a wonderful pilot who taught us about Ngorongoro Crater and flew a little off the flight path so we could see it. Chris had prepared us for the different vibe we would experience in a national park versus a private concession and we understood right away when our guide Ali picked us up from Kogatende. He has been a guide for over 30 years and has his own enclosed vehicle which was cool to experience the variety (freelance guide-wise and car-wise). He was loud, hilarious, and very experienced. He would "drive like Shumacker,” if he heard about a crossing or rhino spotting on his radio and had the best stories from over the years. 

Lamai Camp had such a cool vibe. We loved that it was a little more social after our romantic solo time and we got to know a lot of the staff and a few other guests. Our room had a fabulous view and was so bright and breezy. The food was so tasty and healthy and we learned so much about safari food programs from the Nomad culinary director Holly. I ended up getting quite sick the first night we were there and we think it was side effects from the anti-malaria medicine, so I stopped taking it. The staff checked on me in our room regularly and took such good care of me. We liked that there was only wifi in the rooms and not in common areas to encourage interaction! We saw so many animals on our game drives and the other cars didn't bother us as much as we thought they might after Chem Chem. Ali pulled off an incredible crossing viewing experience that I missed because I was sick but my husband got so many pictures and videos and it looked unbelievable. We just couldn't believe that there were SO MANY WILDEBEESTS - "they're like ants" our guide Ali would say. On our last morning we did the hot air balloon with Miracle Experience and while we weren't expecting it to be so expensive, it was totally worth it. 

Onto Grumeti! Our first impression was wow this place is very swanky and very hot! We got over the heat thanks to an extra fan they brought to our room and learned the air flow was best at the main lodge during the heat of the day. We had our guide Joseph to ourselves for the first day - he was a third year guide, so quite a contrast from Ali and Chris but very knowledgeable, energetic, professional, and eager to please. We were already pals with him by the second day when two other couples joined our group, so he was definitely playing favorites and basing the game drives off of what we wanted to see! The group game drives were a fun experience - especially for our last camp. James was definitely ready for some "bro" time, and it was nice to chat with the girls. We had a blast with fellow honeymooners from Mexico and stayed up way too late with them on their last night.

The AndBeyond food was spectacular and probably my favorite of all the camps since they let you order multiple "sharing" dishes to try it all. The buffet dinners at night were also such a treat. My husband loved their pizza and requested it with every meal. They also have this phenomenal cold breakfast board that I need to attempt to recreate. I had a massage and facial in our room that was so relaxing and reasonably priced. Our room was amazing and we loved the plunge pool. It was very nice to have a real gym with AC and the entire camp had very fast wifi! Everything was truly over-the-top. For example, we realized the binoculars they have in the car for guests are some crazy expensive brand - Swarovski I think? Way better than the binoculars I brought! On our last day, Joseph arranged for a day trip to Lake Victoria to visit the Mwaburugu fishing village. A local villager taught us all about the Lake and took us out to fish on a rowboat. We didn't catch any fish but it was a fun experience. He then walked us through his town, which was crazy to see and very humbling. A group of ladies did a fun song and dance for us before we left - it was all very special. We were silent on the hour drive back to camp reflecting on how incredible the trip had been and we both teared up because we were so sad it was coming to an end.

We were so sad to leave each camp and loved how different each experience was. The transportation was all seamless and we never had to worry about anything. James actually left his backpack (with all our cash!) on the bush plane from Kogatende to Grumeti and it was found and delivered to our room by the next morning! 

We were blown away and made memories that we will tell our grandkids about. 

A huge thank you to our honeymooners for sharing their safari 

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