Even though we live inside the game reserve, it is important we take the time to get out with our children and go camping inside the protected area. At four and two years of age, camping is one of Charlie and Ollie’s favourite things to do. We have the option of a rustic tented camp called Bangwezi in Ikorongo – a beautifully remote part of the concession – as well as a couple of great wild campsites on the banks of the Grumeti River.
Wild camping on a sandy beach next to the Grumeti is everyone’s absolute best. We typically drive out mid-afternoon, arriving at the river in time to go swimming on a shallow sandbar before lighting a fire and setting up our tents. After an active afternoon of swimming and playing in the river, a braai really hits the spot with the grand finale being cooking marshmallows over the fire. It doesn’t take long for the boys to collapse into bed in the tent, leaving the adults to sit around the fire chatting and enjoying a civilized beer. It is at this time of night that the Serengeti really comes to life. And it isn’t uncommon to hear hyena, lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo in and around the camp at night!
It is not just the western Serengeti that we endeavour to make a point of exploring, whenever we get a rare opportunity in amongst the busy Singita Grumeti Fund (www.singitagrumetifund.org) conservation projects, we try to take a gap and escape for a few days to recharge the batteries. The opportunity to return to Chem Chem in June. Situated between Tarangire and Manyara, Chem Chem is a special place and conservation project on the up. I had some meetings and discussions scheduled with the enthusiastic local conservation manager, and the Chem Chem folks generously invited Katherine and me to bring our boys along to test out the new exclusive-use Chem Chem Forest Camp (www.chemchemsafari.com/article/announcing-forest-chem-chem) as part of their soft opening. My mom joined us to take care of the kids during our meetings and it proved a winning formula for everyone involved!
Nestled in a pocket of fever trees next to the Tarangire River with two vintage tents and one four-person family tent, the beautifully appointed camp sleeps up to six adults and two children. Inspired by fever trees in blossom, the design and feel of Forest Chem Chem is resplendent with hues of soft yellow, gentle grey and rich black. Designed to bring people together whether sitting around a giant outdoor wooden table or crackling campfire, exclusive Forest Chem Chem provides is a luxurious bush camp in the heart of Tanzania. With its understated luxury, delicious food and privacy, this is the ideal place for families and friends to reconnect with the nature, with each other and with themselves.
Leaving the giant tuskers of Chem Chem behind, we flew across to Pongwe Beach (http://pongwe.com) on the east coast of Zanzibar. The beachfront rooms of Pongwe Beach Hotel are situated on a picture-perfect private beach with white powdery sands, turquoise waters and shady palm trees. In stark contrast to the rest of the frenetic island, Pongwe Beach is one of Zanzibar’s most relaxing hotels with a stress-free environment in a stunning location. A beautiful infinity pool means swimming sessions can alternate between the azure Indian Ocean waters and the wave-free swimming pool. The food is also outstanding and the menu child-friendly. All in all, the place is great.
It is very seldom that I return somewhere I have travelled before… The world seems too big and has too much new to offer for me to be revisiting places I have already seen and experienced. There is also that nagging suspicion in the back of my mind saying ‘what if the place doesn’t live up to my last visit or meet my expectations?’
So perhaps the greatest accolade I can pay the friendly, laid back Pongwe Beach Hotel is that we enjoyed our second stay here even more than our Christmas visit 18 months ago!