The tented suites at Mwiba Lodge are tucked among boulders overlooking a river gorge.

Tanzania | Rift Valley Lake, Slow Safari & Serengeti | 7 Nights Burunge Wildlife Management Area & Maswa Game Reserve

This luxury Tanzania safari combines time spent on the shores of two shimmering lakes with immersion in the sea of grass that is the Serengeti. Changes in pace and landscape throughout this itinerary ensure that it offers relaxation and stimulation in equal measure – the perfect safari experience.

Two nights at Chem Chem Lodge

Our light-aircraft flight from Arusha had given us great aerial views of the two Rift Valley Lakes we’d get to know during our luxury Tanzania safari. We’d come to the exclusive Chem Chem Concession looking to relax in beautiful surroundings, and to enjoy the ‘slow safari’ the area is known for. For our first evening we went no further than the short grass flats of Lake Manyara’s shore, a languid drive ending in sundowners by a flickering fire in the company of Maasai warriors. The colours of the setting sun picked out the flocks of white pelican and pink flamingo on the sandbars.We woke to see zebra and giraffe strolling by, and took our coffee onto our private deck to watch them. We were certainly getting into the spirit of the slow safari, using all our senses to appreciate every moment. Driving along the edge of Lake Manyara saw us spending time with eland and wonderfully patterned giraffe, before a divergence in our speeds for the afternoon. My partner enjoyed a complimentary massage in the spa; I took a jog around the property with a Maasai as my pacemaker. I suspect that even in his car-tyre sandals he could easily have gone faster than my sneakers would let me!

Our light-aircraft flight from Arusha had given us great aerial views of the two Rift Valley Lakes we’d get to know during our luxury Tanzania safari. We’d come to the exclusive Chem Chem Concession looking to relax in beautiful surroundings, and to enjoy the ‘slow safari’ the area is known for. For our first evening we went no further than the short grass flats of Lake Manyara’s shore, a languid drive ending in sundowners by a flickering fire in the company of Maasai warriors. The colours of the setting sun picked out the flocks of white pelican and pink flamingo on the sandbars.

We woke to see zebra and giraffe strolling by, and took our coffee onto our private deck to watch them. We were certainly getting into the spirit of the slow safari, using all our senses to appreciate every moment. Driving along the edge of Lake Manyara saw us spending time with eland and wonderfully patterned giraffe, before a divergence in our speeds for the afternoon. My partner enjoyed a complimentary massage in the spa; I took a jog around the property with a Maasai as my pacemaker. I suspect that even in his car-tyre sandals he could easily have gone faster than my sneakers would let me!

Two nights at Little Chem Chem

It was just a 40-minute drive to Little Chem Chem, around the northern end of Lake Burungi to the very edge of Tarangire National Park. A journey of giraffe led the way, as if to point out this important migration corridor. We happily whiled away our siesta time watching elephant feeding on fallen seed pods in the shade of nearby acacia trees, before a leisurely afternoon drive that became a night drive… Joseph, our guide, had a surprise in store for us as his spotlight picked out the pale shape of Omo, the famous Little Chem Chem white giraffe. As it was a full moon, we scanned the plains alongside Lake Burungi for cheetah, who sometimes hunt there when the lunar light is at its brightest. With one last lingering glance we returned to camp for an early dinner, as we had important early-morning plans. The rising sun caused each baobab to glow at the edges. I took some of my best pictures of the whole trip in these magical moments, with the sun eclipsed by their bulbous trunks. Joseph revealed that he also had a plan – and it was a great one: a bush breakfast on a sand spur jutting out into the lake. He pointed out the tracks of a small crocodile, and the swoosh its tail had made in the damp sand. Standing at the water’s edge, we slowly rotated, taking in the view of the Babati mountains, the Tarangire hills, and a herd of elephant walking a little further along the shore.  

It was just a 40-minute drive to Little Chem Chem, around the northern end of Lake Burungi to the very edge of Tarangire National Park. A journey of giraffe led the way, as if to point out this important migration corridor.

We happily whiled away our siesta time watching elephant feeding on fallen seed pods in the shade of nearby acacia trees, before a leisurely afternoon drive that became a night drive… Joseph, our guide, had a surprise in store for us as his spotlight picked out the pale shape of Omo, the famous Little Chem Chem white giraffe. As it was a full moon, we scanned the plains alongside Lake Burungi for cheetah, who sometimes hunt there when the lunar light is at its brightest. With one last lingering glance we returned to camp for an early dinner, as we had important early-morning plans.

The rising sun caused each baobab to glow at the edges. I took some of my best pictures of the whole trip in these magical moments, with the sun eclipsed by their bulbous trunks. Joseph revealed that he also had a plan – and it was a great one: a bush breakfast on a sand spur jutting out into the lake. He pointed out the tracks of a small crocodile, and the swoosh its tail had made in the damp sand. Standing at the water’s edge, we slowly rotated, taking in the view of the Babati mountains, the Tarangire hills, and a herd of elephant walking a little further along the shore.

 

Three nights at Mwiba Lodge

We left a little piece of our hearts somewhere between the two Rift Valley Lakes as our next flight headed back over them, bound for the short grass plains of the Serengeti. Viewed from above, the savannah was still a vivid green with the rains having ended only a few weeks earlier.Enoch’s smile contained all the welcoming warmth of Tanzania, as we climbed up into his game viewer and began the drive to Mwiba Lodge. We were thrilled that the wildebeest calving season was in full swing, and indeed it took us quite a while to reach the lodge, with several stops to watch young calves take their first faltering steps. Almost all the wildebeest give birth in this same few weeks, to take advantage of the green flush after the rains and to bamboozle the many predators with numbers. Just like the newborn calves, we could feel we had a real spring in our step as we began to explore Mwiba.Keen to improve our birding skills, we readily agreed to a morning walk around the lodge. I loved how the geometric shapes of the guest rooms and main area contrasted with the smooth, massive shapes of the surrounding boulders. The sounds of the Arugusinyai River tumbling between the rocks were incredibly restful, and the views out over the Serengeti plains seemed to go on forever. The dark patches against the green were not the shadows of the few fluffy clouds, but clusters of wildebeest – each group no doubt containing several new calves.Taking a picnic with us meant that we could spend the whole day with the herds, and while the time passed peacefully enough during the morning, there was high drama just after our lunch when a hyena tried to snatch a new calf. The mother’s courage was remarkable – she was so tenacious in her defence that eventually the grizzled old scavenger gave up and went to look for an easier meal. We wondered if the calf knew how lucky it had been in its first few minutes of life, and decided that this boded well for its long journey to the Masai Mara that was still to come.

We left a little piece of our hearts somewhere between the two Rift Valley Lakes as our next flight headed back over them, bound for the short grass plains of the Serengeti. Viewed from above, the savannah was still a vivid green with the rains having ended only a few weeks earlier.

Enoch’s smile contained all the welcoming warmth of Tanzania, as we climbed up into his game viewer and began the drive to Mwiba Lodge. We were thrilled that the wildebeest calving season was in full swing, and indeed it took us quite a while to reach the lodge, with several stops to watch young calves take their first faltering steps. Almost all the wildebeest give birth in this same few weeks, to take advantage of the green flush after the rains and to bamboozle the many predators with numbers. Just like the newborn calves, we could feel we had a real spring in our step as we began to explore Mwiba.

Keen to improve our birding skills, we readily agreed to a morning walk around the lodge. I loved how the geometric shapes of the guest rooms and main area contrasted with the smooth, massive shapes of the surrounding boulders. The sounds of the Arugusinyai River tumbling between the rocks were incredibly restful, and the views out over the Serengeti plains seemed to go on forever. The dark patches against the green were not the shadows of the few fluffy clouds, but clusters of wildebeest – each group no doubt containing several new calves.

Taking a picnic with us meant that we could spend the whole day with the herds, and while the time passed peacefully enough during the morning, there was high drama just after our lunch when a hyena tried to snatch a new calf. The mother’s courage was remarkable – she was so tenacious in her defence that eventually the grizzled old scavenger gave up and went to look for an easier meal. We wondered if the calf knew how lucky it had been in its first few minutes of life, and decided that this boded well for its long journey to the Masai Mara that was still to come.

What sets it apart

On previous safari holidays we’d spent almost every moment out in the bush, looking for game. Of course we’d had some remarkable wildlife experiences, but sometimes we felt that we’d tried to cram perhaps a little too much into each day. Spending time in the home of slow safari was exactly what we’d been looking for – the opportunity to not just watch, but also to touch, taste and smell. We got to use all our senses to appreciate the landscapes and the wildlife that graced them, and to enjoy the simple pleasures of safari: dining al fresco, evening cocktails and the delightful company of people who shared our passion for Africa’s wild places.Of course we’d never lost our appetite for the thrill of heading out early on safari, catching up on the happenings of the previous night and being close to wild animals as they went about their business, unconcerned by our presence. It’s the thrill of the unknown – the feeling that around each bend in the road could be a moment of dazzling beauty, heart-in-mouth drama, or even humour.This itinerary enabled us to enjoy both aspects of the safari experience – a more relaxed rhythm in the Chem Chem Concession and the nonstop action of the wildebeest calving season in the Serengeti. It was the contrast between the different paces that made this such a memorable and perfectly balanced luxury Tanzanian safari – and we still left a few activities for our next safari, such as a hot-air balloon flight over the savannah.

On previous safari holidays we’d spent almost every moment out in the bush, looking for game. Of course we’d had some remarkable wildlife experiences, but sometimes we felt that we’d tried to cram perhaps a little too much into each day. Spending time in the home of slow safari was exactly what we’d been looking for – the opportunity to not just watch, but also to touch, taste and smell. We got to use all our senses to appreciate the landscapes and the wildlife that graced them, and to enjoy the simple pleasures of safari: dining al fresco, evening cocktails and the delightful company of people who shared our passion for Africa’s wild places.

Of course we’d never lost our appetite for the thrill of heading out early on safari, catching up on the happenings of the previous night and being close to wild animals as they went about their business, unconcerned by our presence. It’s the thrill of the unknown – the feeling that around each bend in the road could be a moment of dazzling beauty, heart-in-mouth drama, or even humour.

This itinerary enabled us to enjoy both aspects of the safari experience – a more relaxed rhythm in the Chem Chem Concession and the nonstop action of the wildebeest calving season in the Serengeti. It was the contrast between the different paces that made this such a memorable and perfectly balanced luxury Tanzanian safari – and we still left a few activities for our next safari, such as a hot-air balloon flight over the savannah.

Day 1–2

You should definitely go see the Lake Manyara flamingo when staying at Chem Chem Lodge. © Chem Chem Safaris Tanzania

You’ll be met as you disembark from your international flight at Kilimanjaro International Airport in Arusha, and assisted through customs and immigration. You’ll then take a scheduled light aircraft flight to Tarangire, followed by a transfer to Chem Chem Lodge near Lake Manyara, where you’ll spend two nights.

Day 3–4

Stop for refreshments next to Lake Burungi while on game drives from Little Chem Chem. © Chem Chem Safaris Tanzania

A transfer will take you from Chem Chem Lodge to Little Chem Chem in Tarangire, where you’ll spend two nights.

Day 5–7

The tented suites at Mwiba Lodge have private decks overlooking the river. © Legendary Expeditions

Following a transfer from Little Chem Chem to the airstrip, you’ll take a scheduled light aircraft flight to the Serengeti. You’ll then take a transfer to Mwiba Lodge, where you’ll spend three nights.

Day 8

Tanzania is the perfect stage for both epic natural events and intimate shared moments.

After a transfer from Mwiba Lodge to the airstrip, you’ll take a scheduled light aircraft flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport in Arusha. After disembarking, you’ll be assisted through check-in for your international flight.

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