A lot of very positive reviews have already been written about Chem Chem so the lodge’s excellent food, service, accommodations and wildlife are already well documented. We spent 2.5 weeks in the northeast section of Tanzania staying in many first rate places (we chose our lodges after much careful research) but Chem Chem was far and away the nicest place we stayed. Our first reaction after arriving was to say to ourselves, “Why don’t we just live here? Permanently.” Remembering that everything is absolutely excellent, I want to comment on less tangible things.
One of the distinguishing features of this lodge is that it remains owner occupied. That is absolutely key if you are looking for a place where no detail goes untended to, where everything is (really) perfect. The owners, Fabia and Nicolas, are personally, emotionally and financially invested in the success not just of Chem Chem but of the surrounding wildlife, its people and the landscape. They are “all in” as we say in the United States, one hundred percent committed to Tanzania and the area they have chosen to build. Their commitment shows in every aspect of the lodge and the experience you will have there, becoming apparent to us even before we’d arrived at the camp. We self drove through Tanzania and got a little (and sometimes a lot) lost trying to find our lodges. When we didn’t show up at the appointed time to Chem Chem we received a text message from Fabia who, after receiving acknowledgment from us that we were indeed lost, proceeded to guide us to the lodge with detailed navigational instructions. No other lodge even noticed when we showed up hours late. Upon arrival we were greeted by Fabia and Lizzie and others who seemed genuinely delighted to see us, followed by one of the most memorable (sophisticated food and service, spectacular setting) meals we had on our entire trip.
Next is the shear beauty of Chem Chem. After checking in, guests arrive at a spacious open hall framing a spectacular African landscape. At its center (and very close to the lodge) is a large watering hole that attracts an array of wildlife including zebra, giraffe, dik dik and large troops of baboons. The permanent tents (built on masonry foundations) are well spaced out and seem to disappear into the landscape. Once inside it is like stepping into a room at a fine hotel, only better. The tents (and you immediately forget you are in a tent once inside) are very large with lovely setting-appropriate (African-inspired) furniture, immaculate crisp clean high quality sheets (always a plus for me), an indoor and outdoor shower and two outdoor seating areas. The zebras were just feet from our screened in porches.
Something else that felt special to us about Chem Chem was the warmth and enthusiasm of the people that worked there. We found Tanzanians everywhere friendly and nice but at Chem Chem it felt like a family (albeit a well behaved one). We were traveling with our 15-year-old son who quickly made friends with many of the young men at the hotel. We were all made to feel welcome in a very personal and individual way.
If you can only stay in one first class lodge in Tanzania make it Chem Chem.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Chem Chem Safaris consists of two leading luxury eco-properties: Chem Chem Lodge and Little Chem Chem. 20,000Ha of private land within the Burunge Wildlife Management Area between the Tarangire National Park in the east and lake Manyara in the west. Privately owned and managed by Fabia Bausch & Nicholas Nerge who hosts thier guests personally. The Concept "Slow Safari" was born at Chem Chem Lodge. The ethos of a safari being a tabgible, sensual experience beyond the confines of a vehicle. The camps combine perfectly together creating an in-depth understanding of this diverse area, both with in their own reserve and the surrounding National Parks underpinned with genuine Maasai experiences. More on Chem Chem Lodge: Chem Chem Lodge is situated within a privileged Wildlife Management Area between Tarangire National Park and Lake Manyara known as the Burunge Wildlife Management Area. The Lodge itself can be found nestled on the picturesque western side of the wildlife concession and consists of eight secluded tent-style suites with an opulent main lodge, all evoking the spirit of a vintage safari lodge. The permanent structure of the lodge reflects the form of a flamingo with its wings spread wide for landing. One wing holds the full service gourmet restaurant and an outside fire place, the other wing offers a bar, lounge, fire place and fully stocked library. The lodge also boasts a viewing deck with awe-inspiring views over Lake Manyara. Outside, a pool is hidden in the trees to cool off in and escape from the afternoon heat and the Chem Chem Amani Spa offers a new meaning to utter relaxation. Eight stylish, secluded tent-style suites have been exquisitely decorated to offer 5-star accommodation, each with spectacular, private lake views. Each suite (100m²) has been created from a combination of canvas, lava-stones and wood, and are set a minimum of 80 meters apart to ensure complete privacy. Every tent boasts a luxury bathroom with indoor and outdoor showers, a reading corner, dressing room, dressing gown and slippers, yoga mats and private patios complete with a luxurious day-bed. The family suite consists of a full suite connected to a vintage-style tented room (50m²) with two single beds, a rocking chair, small desk, with its own bathroom (indoor shower) and dressing room. The two rooms are built on the same platform and are connected via a small wooden bridge. It can sleep up to four children or two adults. ... more less