The first thing you see as you approach Seronera Airstrip, one of the main gateways to Serengeti, are the antelope, hopping across the runway, avoiding the bush plane that’s dropping you off to Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti. A few minutes later, you disembark from the 13-person plane, luggage in hand, and you’re greeted by a kindly Four Seasons staff member who offers a cool towel. That’s when you know: You’re in good hands.
It’s a short 45-minute ride in a sturdy land cruiser across the Serengeti to the Four Seasons. But with sightings of (more) antelope, elephants, giraffe, zebra and maybe even lions, along the way, the time flies. Soon enough, the plains give way to kopjes — rock formations that jut out of the plains — and before you know it, the entrance appears and you pull up to the main doors and are greeted by Maasai warriors in traditional garb and staff offer you hibiscus tea as you settle in. But don’t get too comfortable — you don’t want to miss the Tanzania hotel’s best offerings:
1. The service. With 77 rooms, including 12 suites and five private villas, Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti offers one of the most luxurious safari experiences in the Serengeti National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is roughly the size of Holland. While the draw to the area is the Serengeti’s 70 species of large mammals and 500 kinds of birds, this safari lodge is certainly a destination in its own right and delivers the same exceptional level of hospitality you can expect from Four Seasons.
2. The watering hole. For an unforgettable moment, spend an afternoon at the watering hole at the Four Seasons Serengeti. Imagine relaxing in an infinity pool, looking out onto the Serengeti plains and spying a family of elephants quietly lumbering towards you to get a drink from the watering hole, just 50 to 65 feet away from where you’re perched. You’ll be speechless as you watch them drink, interact and graze.
3. The culture. In the region, once known as Maasailand for its fierce warriors, the Maasai, the culture continues to thrive and is integrated seamlessly into the lodge experience. Located in an open-air wooden pavilion with a fire pit in the middle, Boma Grill serves customary nyama choma (grilled chicken or lamb kebabs) while the Maasai share in song and traditional adumu dance. Additionally, the lodge’s Discovery Center is a space where you can learn about local wildlife, environment and Maasai culture.
4. The spa. Raised on a walkway above ground, the Four Seasons Serengeti’s luxury spa is made up of six separate, private treatment pavilions, each with its own outdoor bathtub, changing room and steam shower. The don’t-miss experience is the Kifaa Massage, which incorporates a traditional Maasai rungu, a wooden baton that is slowly worked over sore muscles with warm baobab oil that nourishes and soothes the skin.
5. The Photographer in Residence. Photographing the stunning wildlife-filled landscape is a must, but to really capture the best shots, enroll in the resort’s Photographer in Residence program. Through January 29, 2015, professional photographer Rick Collins, who specializes in animal photography, will take you on a “photo safari” for up to a full day. Collins will give tips, help you snap frame-worthy photos of your Serengeti experience and even assist with the editing and post-production process.
6. The wine. While the incredible wildlife steals the spotlight during the trip, be sure to indulge in the wine. Carefully curated by resident sommelier Adrien Harel, the cellar features more than 100 labels with a focus on South African winemakers as well as international labels. Tastings on special vintages can be arranged as well as private Wine Cellar Dinners with customized menus that include dishes like ugali (a cornmeal supplement), chapati (flatbread) as well as modern ones like lamb bobotie or spiced-rubbed chicken.