While it was hard to leave the Serengeti Safari camp, it was time to move on, and we boarded another small plane bound for our next destination: the Northern Serengeti. In the North we stayed at the jaw-droppingly gorgeous Lamai camp, another Nomad property. Unlike the Safari camp, Lamai is a permanent camp, that is literally built in the rocky hill face (or kopje). We got our own personal “hut” of sorts that blew my mind – from the gorgeous decor, to the incredible views (upon arriving in my room I spotted a pair of elephants in the distance from our balcony).
The game and the terrain in the North was very different than what we experienced in the South. We saw almost no herds of wildebeests and zebras, but we saw massive groups of elephants, crocodiles and hippos. Much of the ground was covered in rocks, making for a few slightly terrifying maneuvers in the 4×4. Finally, finding game was more difficult, as they could so easily hide in the long grasses. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t have a few surreal moments: most notably, the giant family of elephants we encountered right around sunset. There was an incredible moment when the elephants seemed panicked about our car obstructing their path and that we might be a threat and we watched as all the older female elephants created a protective wall around the babies. To see this incredible community of mothers protect their young in such a literal way was deeply touching. Oh and after a tiny reverse of the car, they realized we weren’t going to hurt them and passed us by – all documented below in photos.
The thing we learned the most in the North though was the value of a great guide. Our guide in the South was so much better than our guide in the North, and we struggled, without a great guide, to locate game. We felt burnt out and let down sooner. So my advice: make sure you request the most enthusiastic guide available.
After a couple days in the North, we boarded a plane for our final destination of the trip – Zanzibar. Zanzibar, while part of Tanzania, feels in many ways like it’s own country, and historically they consider themselves very much their own nation. The difference is tangible: the landscape (Zanzibar is an island, and so is entirely oriented towards the ocean), religion of it’s inhabitants (Zanzibar is predominantly devout Muslim), and the overall experience was extremely different from everywhere else we visited. We stayed at a gorgeous hotel/resort called Essque Zalu, with a beautiful pool and view of the ocean. The major drawback, however, was that it was almost impossible to swim in the ocean due to the sharp coral on the shore, and the powerful currents and waves.
We only had about 2 days in Zanzibar, and so our full day there was spent in the city, visiting Stone Town, the historic part. We enjoyed getting a taste of the winding streets and historical architecture of Stone Town, but we were disappointed to see that historical landmark buildings were literally falling apart they were in such disrepair. We were told multiple times not to go inside, or stand too close to various spots on our tour. The heat in Zanzibar is also oppressive, especially if you’re wearing long pants (which you really need to as it’s a relatively modest society). It was lovely to cool off on the gorgeous rooftop of the Emerson on Hurumzi hotel over passionfruit juice and kebabs. But my favourite part of Stone Town, and Zanzibar, was just the random beauty you stumble across: from mangoes being sold by the side of the road, to beautiful handmade jewelry boxes, and a man juicing sugar cane- it definitely had it’s moments.
So is Zanzibar a must-visit? I would personally say not. But if you’re in the region and looking for a place to unwind by the water or if you enjoy architecture, history, and taking in local culture – it can definitely fill a couple days at the end of a larger trip.