There is no shortage of safari operators in Tanzania, so those planning a trip to this region might find themselves at a loss. When you are planning a trip from overseas, it’s sometimes impossible to sort through the options and find an operator that’s right for you.
For us, an ideal safari operator was one that placed a lot of focus on preserving the environment, participated in conservation projects, and gave us an opportunity to experience Tanzania’s beautiful parks in a way that benefited the community and the environment.
Through research, we soon found out that many of the safari operators talk about responsible travel on their website, but for us, the question remained:
How many of these operators are truly making a positive impact on the destinations and how many of them are simply using “sustainable travel” as a marketing buzzword
Our research eventually lead us to &Beyond, an award-winning responsible luxury travel company renowned for their exclusive tailor-made exclusive in Africa. Their list of accomplishments and accolades was impressive and their lodges looked unbelievable, so we jumped on the opportunity to experience their safari in Tanzania first hand.
If you have never heard of &Beyond before, let us share a few basic facts. The company has been running African safaris for more than a quarter of a century and while over the last 10 years, they have expanded their operations to Asia and recently to South America, Africa remains their specialty.
&Beyond owns 29 luxury lodges and camps in Africa’s most iconic safari and island destinations, ranging from South Africa to Tanzania. Each lodge has its own style and character and blends into their respective surroundings.
The company also owns over 200 safari vehicles and employs close to 200 guides, whose training and knowledge of the regions is unsurpassed. The additional 2000 staff that work at the &Beyond lodges and in their main offices work tirelessly to make sure that guests’ experience on a safari in Tanzania (or elsewhere in Africa) always exceeds expectations.
Let’s make things clear right off the bat – traveling with &Beyond is not cheap. With rates starting at $500-600/person/night, it’s not within an average traveler’s budget but hear us out.
There is a reason to indulge in a safari trip with &Beyond, even if it’s just for a few nights, or for that once-in-a-lifetime special honeymoon/anniversary/birthday getaway!
Why Travel with &Beyond
Going Above and Beyond from Start to Finish
When we traveled with &Beyond, our experience started well before we even arrived at their lodges. Most guests arrive at their lodges by a chartered plane and are met by the &Beyond transfer car at the airstrip.
We choose to forego the charter plane in favour of more sustainable overland transfer, but the transfer car still met us at the airstrip with goodies in hand.
A full picnic with drinks and snacks, and a detailed introduction to &Beyond awaited us upon arrival.
We learned all about the &Beyond lodges, their staff and their core ethic of Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, and Care of the People. It was a memorable start to our safari!
And that was just the beginning.
Each &Beyond lodge is unique in their own way. During our safari in Tanzania, we stayed at two completely different lodges: a rustic tree house lodge inside Lake Manyara National Park and an elegant baroque chateau at the Ngorongoro Crater.
The Tree House at Lake Manyara
Set in the heart of the forest, &Beyond Lake Manyara Tree Lodge featured ten stilted treehouse suites, crafted from local timber offering a sophisticated feel of romance and simple luxury.
Each treehouse suite had spacious decks ideal for enjoying a cup of tea or breakfast before the game drive. The bedrooms were outfitted with contemporary furnishing with large windows, overhead fans, and luxurious mosquito nets. The bathrooms had freestanding baths and an outdoor shower.
The outdoor dining and common area, built entirely out of wood, was an inviting space where other travelers gathered to exchange stories and relax after a long day on a safari. The space was beautifully decorated with local artwork and textiles.
At night, the dining area transformed into a romantic space enhanced with candlelight, white linens, and elegant yet simple place settings.
&Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
Located on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, &Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge offered a completely different experience. The lodge had 3 different camps with a total of 30 stilted suites. The suites made out of mud with a thatch roof looked pretty basic on the outside. But on the inside, the decor was anything but basic.
The suites were decorated in old baroque style, filled with Persian carpets, beautiful antiques, grand chandeliers and elegant African works of art. Each suite had a fireplace complete with a cozy sitting area.
The common area consisted of a sitting room and a dining room that offered awe-inspiring views from every table.
Every meal during our safari in Tanzania with &Beyond was a feast for the senses. The meals made with locally sourced ingredients and featured African and European flavours.
Every diet, every odd little preference was catered for with great ease and pleasure. The menus at each lodge changed daily and although there was usually only 3-4 choices of mains per meal, we never felt limited by the options.
And even when we took our meals out on a safari with us, our picnic lunches never consisted of apples and sandwiches. Just because we choose to dine outside didn’t mean that the quality of our meals was sacrificed.
One of the biggest selling points of any &Beyond property is their unique locations. The ability to stay inside National Parks, overlook craters and be able to sleep, eat, and relax in the heart of the action is what made our stay at &Beyond lodges so special.
In Lake Manyara National Park, the &Beyond Lake Manyara Tree Lodge is the only lodge located inside the park. That means that &Beyond guests are the only ones able to catch sunrise and sunset in the park (the other companies are only allowed inside during daylight hours).
Our safari vehicle was the first one on the trail, tracking footprints, spotting lions, and watching following baboons on their early morning routines.
And even when we were back at the lodge, the wildlife came to us! Elephants, monkeys, and even buffalo were often spotted visiting the lodge.
We had a similar experience at the Ngorongoro Crater. We observed wildlife at our doorstep and were spoilt by the unbeatable views of the crater floor right from our balcony!
Unlike the usual safari guides who work across multiple parks in Tanzania, &Beyond guides spend most of their time working in only one particular destination. That means that they learn that destination inside and out. They are out on a safari in the same National Park practically every single day, learning the park like the back of their hand.
When we traveled with &Beyond, our guides at both &Beyond Lake Manyara Tree Lodge and &Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge knew exactly where to go to spot animals at any time of the day, they knew the animals’ behaviour and have seen them growing up over the years.
We often started our days by announcing our daily wishes (“I want to see lion cubs”, or “how about a herd of elephants?”, “Giraffes! Giraffes!”) and our incredible guides would take us on a journey to try and see what the day had in store for us.
“This isn’t a zoo, you know”, they would tell us jokingly. And then proceed to take us to the exact area of the park where the particular animal(s) are known to hang out.
“Just be patient. Let’s sit and wait and see what happens”, they would say.
And then as if on their command, a giant herd of elephants would cross the road right in front of our vehicle.
Having these incredibly knowledgeable guides with us throughout our visit to the parks, made a huge difference in our experience on a safari in Tanzania.
And it’s not just the &Beyond guides that blew us away with their commitment and level of expertise. The level of service we experienced at &Beyond was really above and beyond. It was an unpretentious luxury with incredible attention to detail.
Our stays at both lodges included a private butler service, but aside from them, there was a staff of 3-4 that looked after our needs during our stay.
Whether it was morning tea delivery to our cabins, specialized dietary requests for our meals, or a simple gesture of lighting our fireplace in the evenings, every little detail of our stay was looked after with great care.
We will never forget that day at the Ngorongoro Crater when an afternoon shower left us wet and cut our game drive short. We came back to our suite at the &Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge to find our bath drawn and a note on the rose from the customer service team urging us to “enjoy a soak after a long game drive”.
Baths aren’t usually our thing, but we couldn’t help but indulge.
Conservation & Sustainability
Even with all the over the top luxuries, we knew that our stay at the &Beyond lodges was making a positive impact not only on the environment but also on the communities surrounding these lodges.
For &Beyond, conservation and sustainability efforts are at the heart of day to day operations. Each lodge looks for ways to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, to implement recycling initiatives, eliminate pollution, and participate in activities that provide care of the land, care of the wildlife, and care of the people.
Whether it’s re-creating pockets of indigenous forest around the Ngorongoro Crater lodge, establishing the Mnemba Island Marine Conservation Area (MIMCA) to protest the Mnemba coral reef in Zanzibar, participating in the reintroduction of the black rhino in Botswana, or improving the local learning environment by supplying desks to a local school, each &Beyond lodge does their part to make positive contributions in the communities where they operate.
And recently, &Beyond has made it even easier to combine community projects with a safari in Tanzania and other parts of Africa.
The introduction of Travel with a Purpose Tours available in Tanzania, Kenya, and South Africa allows you to pick an itinerary that already combines the best of safari experience with conservation and community participation.
How to Travel With &Beyond for Less
We recognize that a personalized luxury safari with &Beyond is not going to fit within everyone’s travel budget, but there are a few things you can do to make this experience a bit more affordable and attainable to those with smaller budgets.
Travel in low season
As with most tour operators, prices at &Beyond during the low season can drop dramatically, making their tours and accommodations significantly more affordable. And if you are thinking that traveling to Africa during the rainy season is a bad idea, think again. One of our guides actually told us that rainy season is his favourite time for wildlife spotting!
Arrange your own transport
Chartered flights can add a lot to the total cost of your &Beyond tour, so consider hiring local ground transport instead. You can arrange a driver to pick you up and drop you off at &Beyond lodges/park entrances for a fraction of what it would cost to travel by air.
Shorten your stay
We are usually the ones advocating for a longer stay in each destination, but we realize that when you are paying $600-800/night, staying for 3-4 nights may simply not be an option for all. If you can only afford to do 1-2 nights at each lodge, do it!
It will feel rushed and you will spend a lot of time in the car, but the beauty is that even in one day you can have the most amazing safari experience, plus all the drives to and from the lodge take you through the National Park and they too are filled with opportunities to see wildlife.
Consider the park fees
The parks fees are usually not included in the &Beyond nightly rates, so keep in mind that these can add up to additional $70-80/pp/day. Spend longer in the parks with low fees and stay just 1-2 nights in the parks where fees are higher. Looking to save more on fees?
Consider traveling to a lesser-known destination
Safari in Tanzania or South Africa is on every traveler’s bucket list, but when it comes to Namibia or Botswana, demand and prices end up being a low lower.
Read Next: Best Safari Destinations In The World
For a better sense of what it would be like to enjoy a safari in Tanzania with &Beyond, check out our video below!
Have questions about traveling with &Beyond, leave a comment below and we’d be happy to help!