There's no denying an African safari is the ultimate bucket list trip, however if you're struggling to convince your more beach-enthusiast other half, then we have the solution for you: Tanzania.
The less touristy East-African country is beautifully unspoiled, and can offer you tropical beaches and animal adventures all in one place. Scroll on to find out why this is the only holiday destination you'll need in 2019.
Zanzibar island holiday
How to get to Zanzibar
There are no direct flights to Zanzibar from London, so you'll usually have to stopover at Nairobi on the way there, and fly back via Nairobi and Amsterdam (usually two stopovers on the way back).
How many days in Zanzibar
As we were doing a dual-destination trip, we stayed in Zanzibar for three days, and whilst you could easily stay there for a week, we didn't feel like we missed out. We had plenty of beach time, and we also managed to visit the Stone Town and go on a sea safari - scroll down for more info on that.
Where to stay in Zanzibar?
We stayed in the Melia Zanzibar, an all-inclusive luxury resort on the East side of the island, overlooking the Indian Ocean. Now first off, let us tell you that this isn't your average all-inclusive. For starters, there are five restaurants and four bars to choose from, and whilst there is some western cuisine available, it really was all about the local delights for us. Spices Restaurant in particular, modelled after the traditional spice market found in Stone Town, offered tasty dishes such as 'Zanzibar pizza', which are crispy pancakes with meats, sweets, or vegetables, coconut curries and rice dishes. We were also a little obsessed with the nutty biscuits and fresh fruit. Also, we can't not mention the fresh seafood. Head to Gabi Beach, or for a more romantic vibe, the Jetty Lounge and Aqua restaurant, where you can feast on giant lobsters, calamari and pretty much any fish under the sun.
Next up: the rooms. There are different levels of accommodation at the resort, though they're all stunning so you can't really go wrong. However, we stayed in private ocean view bungalows and you'd be hard pressed to beat those views. The wood-panelled room offers a cliffside terrace with its own private swing where you can enjoy a Mojito (or two) at sunset. If you find it hard leaving the four-poster king-size bed in the morning, then the bathroom, with its semi-outdoor shower with a 'Makuti' cover of dried coconut leaves, might make things slightly easier.
If you don't fancy it, there really is no need to leave the resort. Acres of beautiful gardens, two swimming pools as well as a private beach mean that you can switch things up every day without getting bored.
Before you leave the resort, make sure you book yourself into the spa, which is built around an 'Out Of Africa journey full of 1920s decadence and refinement'. Try the signature massage, which includes a floral foot ritual, Meridian line massage and a refreshment, bliss.
Booking info: Rooms from £310/night, book here.
What to do in Zanzibar?
If you do fancy exploring Zanzibar, there is lots to do, and the hotel will advise you and book anything you like. We went on a Blue Safari, which included a boat ride to a nearby island, where we were treated to a local dance performance and picnic. We also did some snorkeling, and, the icing on the cake, spotted some dolphins.
We'd also highly recommend you visit the Stone Town, which is the old part of Zanzibar city and therefore steeped in history (do make sure you cover up for this, out of respect for the local people). Walk around the streets and gaze up at the architecture which really shows the impact of various cultures along the centuries: Africa, the Arab region, India, and Europe. Shop for spices and woven baskets in the market, and visit the Anglican Cathedral of Christ Church, a unique monument marrying gothic and islamic cultures. It's also host to a thought-provoking slave monument.
Serengeti safari holiday
How many days to stay in Serengeti
We also stayed in the Serengeti National Park for three days, and again, it felt like enough time, not least because you see so much wildlife every minute of the day. We naively thought it might be hard to spot animals, and then we saw three lions just chilling next to the airport.
Serengeti - how to get there
We flew to Serorena airport by charter plane, which takes around 2h40 minutes, with a few stops along the way, including Mount Kilimanjaro, which is a nice way to tick it off the list without actually having to climb it!
Where to stay in the Serengeti
We stayed in on the the newest members of the Melia family, the Melia Serengeti Lodge. It was pretty much the safari lodge experience we dreamed of, and then some - and we especially loved its sustainable ethos. First off, it's surrounded by pure nature, otherwise known as of the 15,000km2 of Serengeti National Park, overlooking the River Mbalageti valley. Try beating that view every morning, especially as each one of the rooms and suites face that way, which is also where the sun sets.
The rooms themselves are inspired by local Masai traditions with colonial details and terraces, but the real highlight were all the little personal touches, like beaded decorations handcrafted by local villagers, which you can also buy in the hotel's shop.
The hotel is very much built around nature rather than the other way round, and its big communal open spaces are testament to it. The two restaurants, Savannah and Boma, as well as the bars, are all interconnected and decked in wooden furniture and African art. The cuisine varies each night, from local dishes to Mediterranean cuisine.
Booking info: Rooms from £333/night. Book here.
We weren't really sure what to expect for a first visit to the Serengeti, but to say we weren't disappointed doesn't even cover it. Five minutes from the airport, we saw lions having a nap, and every few minutes along the car journey, we would point and shout 'oh look a [insert animal name here]' - a more exciting game of 'I spy' if you will. We saw warthogs, zebras, giraffes, elephants, hippos, hyenas, antilopes, and lots of other species we can't even remember the name of, that's how many there were. We went of several game drives organised by the hotel, and the experienced drivers helped us spot animals that were hiding away.
If you can fit it in, then do book a hot air balloon rise, it's 100% worth it. We did one at sunrise and it was the most peaceful experience ever, as we floated along the park, spotting wildlife along the way (we even saw hyenas kill a baby antilope!). The journey ends after an hour, where you then enjoy a champagne breakfast in the bush, ideal.
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