Activities/Game drives: Ours was done privately with our guide Titus. Although the initial drive in from the airport was supposed to be approximately 2 hours it rapidly evolved into a four hour affair of sighting many of the big five. At every turn was a stop to view giraffes, elephants, monkeys, flamingos, lions, zebra, buffalo, and impala. The crud de ta was watching a young leopard breakfast in a tree on an impala carcass within15 ft of the game vehicle the following morning. Hippos soaking in mud the following afternoon and watching more birds than most people have seen in their lifetime ascend from the lake were a religious experience. It wasn’t just about spotting the animals though – many times Titus would stop and explain the calls of the various animals, discuss various aspects of botany and the use of the local plants and would enrich the understanding of the place by placing it into a historical and political context. Ask for him by name – he is that good.
Accommodations/The tree house: Remember when you were five and you would listen to the sounds of nature? You know - the gentle sound of crickets and the occasional owl. This is nature on red bull with vodka. Our tree house was in the very back (number 10). Elephants wander around, monkeys jump on your balcony, bush babies howl, lions roar in the distance, and bats flutter above the mosquito netting of your bed (yes they may even startle you as you make a run for the commode). However, the place is charming and romantic with a soaker tub, outdoor shower, tons of space and a wonderful deck. Did I mention it was romantic? No electricity from midnight to 5 am…you will have to survive on candle light and/or a flashlight. You will never sleep better though in the soft linen and comfy king size bed open to the cool night breeze.
Spoiler alert: They do a lot of little things that will surprise you: meet you at the front gate and sing, pack a surprise breakfast for you and serve it to you in an amazing natural setting, set up a “bush bar” with champagne with a Masai warrior standing by to protect you, serve you frozen gin and tonics on return for a game drive and the list goes on. These folks will sincerely try to do anything in their power to make you happy.
Cuisine: The chef stops by the table to meet everyone and presents the menu for the evening. If you are fussy and need a bunch of choices this is probably not going to work for you. The food is excellent quality especially considering how far it has to come. One evening they did a tandori chicken that was outstanding with excellent flavor and without being dry. The only suggestion I would make is that I would have loved to try more cuisine reflective of Africa. This is a comment for almost all of the lodges/camps that we visited. I suspect with just a bit more time and evolution of tourism in Africa, there will be more focus on their local cuisine and I would love to see this happen.
If you need a TV and multiple activities to amuse yourself with (billiards, bowling alley etc.), please do your homework and don’t go. If you want to return to being a “kid” again and being enthralled by nature, there is no doubt this place is five stars.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The only one in Lake Manyara National Park, andBeyond Lake Manyara Tree Lodge is renowned for its romantic stilted treehouse suites that are shaded by a mahogany forest. After an exhilarating game drive, guests stop for sundowners on the lakeshore below the Great Rift Valley wall. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Lake Manyara Tree Hotel Lake Manyara National Park