Honeymooning in Tanzania at the Selous Serena Luxury Camp

Humour me, if you will, and avert your eyes to the top of this page. “Foreign Lands. Fine Food. London Landmarks and Married Life.” When I put these nine words up on the homepage last summer, it was not a mission statement as such. It was just an expression of the four under-currents that were to inspire my little blog.

The salt and pepper pot pairing between my love of travel and my love of Pumpkin has led to many a global adventure but there is an elephant in the room, which has failed to be blogged, one which encapsulates the very essence of this paired concept. It is something that in fact led us to see real elephants and which the French refer to as the Lune de Miel. Tanzania safari grey elephant

A safari honeymoon in Tanzania

Believe it or not, on a blog so heavily predominated by the travels of my married life, I’ve not posted a single post about our Tanzanian honeymoon. As we now approach two years of matrimony, we have parted from last year’s  1st anniversary indulgence in London and opted for dinner at a local pub and a pact of no gifts. (Except chocolate. Chocolate is allowed and hopefully Pumpkin reads this with enough time to facilitate this. Addendum – prior to publication of this post, it seems he read my mind and some Paul A Young treats appeared on the kitchen table!)paul a young chocolate boxThis year, my reflections of the most wonderful trip of my life will have to serve as an anniversary present for Pumpkin. Any rant that he can read rather than listen to will be gift enough for my man. 😀Selous game reserve Tanzania

Having discussed a safari and beach honeymoon, Pumpkin kindly took the reins from that point onward and I had no doubts that he would do a stellar job of arranging it. I wondered if my ears needed syringing when I heard the words, “backpack and tent” reverberating in the living room a few weeks before the wedding, thrust like a spearhead on my honeymoon pipe dreams. I’ve never been a backpacker. Budget traveller in my younger years, yes – but always with a suitcase. And a tent?? This was something I hadn’t done since my school years and even then, it wasn’t by choice.selous luxury camp safari lodge

Selous Serena Luxury Camp

Despite being larger than Belgium, Selous, a game reserve in Southern Tanzania, is most certainly off the beaten track with the majority of travellers migrating towards Serengeti. I want to head there myself one day but for the honeymoon, we were after somewhere more remote and when we read about Selous, we fell in love with the vision.view from plane TanzaniaAfter boarding a tiny aircraft from Dar-es-Salaam, we reached Selous and landed in a dusty patch of….well…dust. Surrounded by dry, yellow expanses of nothingness, I had never seen a plane land somewhere with no runways, no other aircraft, no visible machines. Just a field and a makeshift toilet.safari flight Tanzania We were met by the wonderful Ahmed, one of the guides from Selous Serena Camp (which at the time was called the Selous Luxury Camp), who provided us with an ice cold bottle of mineral water – sometimes it’s the smallest gestures that go the furthest.aerial view Selous from planeWe boarded our safari truck – the vehicle that was to become our legs for the next few days and I learned quickly that wearing black attracts Tsetse flies (the culprits behind sleeping sickness and creatures, who it seems can bite through denim). My exhaustion from the journey just diffused into the African atmosphere. I was mesmerised. We’d only been in the truck about ten minutes when we started seeing impalas, monitor lizards and tropical birds.colourful bird Tanzania safari

We reached the camp, where cold drinks, congratulatory wishes and the warmest-hearted smiles awaited us. And without further ado, they showed us to our “tent.”honeymoon luxury safari Selous Tent, my friends, is not even the word for it. The luxury exceeded that of many premium hotels I’ve stayed in. We walked inside to fluffy pillows, regal-coloured cushions, wine, power points, a hair dryer, twin sinks and aromatherapy bath salts.Selous Serena Luxury Camp Safari Lodge It was everything I had dreamed it would be and nothing like my memories of camping at school! The camp is friendly and intimate with just twelve luxury lodges, wooden walkways and beautiful blue infinity pool to cool off after a day of game drives.

bathroom ensuite Selous luxury safari lodge

With hot water, gourmet meals and the absence of any power cuts, it was hard to believe we were out in the bush. One evening, a small gecko managed to creep onto the ceiling of the tent  – my numerous childhood trips to India have taught me that they are usually harmless so I was hugely embarrassed for shrieking like a princess when I spotted it. My phobic yelps penetrated through the zip-up door because the staff spontaneously called out to offer help. The gecko, clearly mortified by my behaviour, made a dash for it.Selous accommodationWe went off-peak in early June, when the wet season had just come to an end and one other honeymoon couple were present for the first day of our trip. After they left, we had the entire camp, complete with chefs, waiting staff, cleaning staff and lodge manager all at our beck and call.Selous Serena camp restaurant We felt a little bashful that they should be bending over backwards to look after us but with obvious passion and pride for their work, they weren’t able to help themselves from providing attentive and caring service.

Breakfasts took place outdoors in the sunshine to the sound of birds, insects and the flowing river waters. Meals were a la carte with an ample range of both traditional Tanzanian specialties and European dishes. We were inquisitive about how they cook up such a storm, being hundreds of miles away from civilisation. They told us that fresh ingredients are shipped in by plane on a weekly basis and dry ingredients by truck on a monthly basis. We were stumped at the level of planning and organisation they must put in to get the orders right.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe sat in the dimly lit bar in the balmy evenings, where time lingered peacefully, a perfect antidote to the euphoric chaos of a wedding. There were no televisions or radios so the whistles and chirps of nature served as music to our ears.Selous impala safari With just the fabric of the tent shielding us from the canopy of stars, we fell into a humid slumber, stirring only once when awoken by the high-pitched, monophonic shrill of a hyena.  I have enjoyed most countries I have travelled to but a place must have had a deeper imprint on your heart when you write about it two years later and it still invokes the deepest sentiments of nostalgia, fondness and love.sunset Selous TanzniaThe price was all inclusive so included all safari activities, meals and drinks, including alcoholic beverages. The staff ensured we were bursting to the seams of fullness with their hospitality, reminding me of my mum and making us feel like part of their family.Selous honeymoon

On our final day, they surprised us not once but twice. We had been on the lookout (unsuccessfully) for lions. I’ll save the animal details for a separate post, as I have too many pictures to squeeze in! We were heading back to the lodge, when Ahmed turned a corner to take us to a spot where lions are often seen. Or so we thought.sunset TanzaniaBut then he parked and told us to step out – two members of lodge staff were waiting and a table had been set up with drinks and snacks to the backdrop of the setting sun.Kilimanjaro beer This was a surprise, honeymoon, sundown picnic. How special you can be made to feel by a group of strangers. They left us to enjoy this moment, one which belonged to us that we will always cherish and one they made possible with their kindness and their efforts.

safari truck Tanzania SelousAnd then we really did head back. That evening, after an enormous meal (they were all enormous and so delicious), the entire team at the camp came dancing into the restaurant, singing harmoniously to the melody of a famous Swahili celebration song that became the soundtrack to our honeymoon. We sang it for months after returning home. They brought with them a cake – not a small token cake but an entire cake, large enough to feed at least eight people with a colourful, iced border and our names on top. Our surnames to be precise, which made me giggle, as it highlighted how I hadn’t changed mine!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen we departed, we left a little piece of our early married life with them. I asked Pumpkin if we could come back one day and live out these memories once again – or create new ones. That’s the beauty of a safari experience. No two days will ever be quite the same. The desire to return is an emotion I often express when I leave a destination. Except here, it’s been two years and I still yearn for it every bit as longingly.

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34 thoughts on “Honeymooning in Tanzania at the Selous Serena Luxury Camp

  1. wow looks brilliant. thanks for sharing this! It looks like you were the only ones in the entire park!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2014 — 1:30 pm

      Thank you! Yes it was so un-touristy and huge that it really felt like there was hardly anyone else there so it was an amazing experience 🙂

  2. Looks like an incredible place to go on honeymoon!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2014 — 1:34 pm

      Thank you! It was so wonderful and all the more so because I’d never done safari or seen Africa so that added to the wow factor I think 🙂

  3. I loved reading this post! You described it so well, and I can totally feel how much the experience meant to you. Best honeymoon ever!! Going on a safari is at the top of my list… I really hope I can do it one day!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2014 — 1:38 pm

      Thank you for such a lovely comment Anna – I guess everyone’s honeymoons are special but because it was also my first time on safari and in Africa, it felt even more magical 🙂 I hope you get a chance to go one day – I was a bit nervous before I went but when I got there, it was just so amazing spotting the animals. I can see why people keep going back!

  4. It’s a fairy-tale honeymoon and I’m glad you enjoyed it a lot :)!! Absolutely stunning landscape and I’m in love with elephants!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2014 — 1:40 pm

      Thank you so much Agness 🙂 I love elephants too!! Always did, even as a child so it was lovely seeing them out in the wild! The scenery was beautiful and it was so unspoilt and quiet!

  5. Loved reading your experience of a safari and obviously an amazing honeymoon. Hope to read lots more posts of your holidays to come !!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2014 — 1:41 pm

      Thank you! It was incredible and writing about it brought back all those lovely memories – so glad you’ve enjoyed reading it 🙂

  6. What an absolutely wonderful idea for a honeymoon, beyond all those tried and tested cliche romance spots 🙂 Must have been beyond amazing, and your pictures are just WOW! 😀

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 6, 2014 — 2:44 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind words Surya 🙂 I’m delighted you like the photos as I never think I’m any good at pictures!! It was definitely a bit different as far as honymoons go (although we did enjoy a bit of beach time in Zanzibar after the safar, which I haven’t gotten round to writing about yet!) Thanks for reading!

  7. That sounds like the perfect honeymoon. Is it “glamping”? I CAN camp, but I much prefer the likes of Selous Serena Camp 😉 I’ll definitely stop back to check out the animal pics!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 6, 2014 — 2:46 pm

      Thanks so much Katie – I hope to have the animal photos up soon! I guess it is a bit like glamping – the lodges are like really enormous big tents but with a hair dryer, ceiling fan and a fancy bathroom – the power is all from a generator! It was lovely 🙂

  8. Shikha, It looks like a wonderful and romantic honeymoon. Lucky you to be the only ones there all by yourselves.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 6, 2014 — 2:48 pm

      Thanks so much for commenting 🙂 I think it very much was “luck” rather than planning it that way – we had no idea that we had booked in the off season period as we just booked to go after our wedding and it was so fortunate that it just happened to be that we had the whole place to ourselves!

  9. I don’t know you (I used to work with your husband and links to your blog pop up on Facebook posts) but you write beautifully and have a real talent for conveying the feel of places you’ve been.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 21, 2014 — 11:27 pm

      What a delightful comment to have worken up to yesterday morning! I can’t tell you how much that means to me since I’ve always loved writing but only plucked up the courage to give it a shot last year when I started the blog. Really grateful that you’ve had a chance to look at it & enjoyed some of it & thank you again for the kind words 🙂

  10. oooh my goodness. we are dying to go to africa and this looks UNREAL. though we’re looking to go as two besties and not two honeymooners, so we might need to tone down the romance… haha

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 21, 2014 — 11:33 pm

      Haha! Trust me, besties, honeymooners, families – I really can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t love it & would happily go back with my bestie 😀 Really hope you get to live out your African dreams soon – this was my only trip to Africa too and I would LOVE to return! Thanks so much for commenting!

  11. What a fantastic honeymoon! I would be in heaven going on photo safari and staying in the ‘tent’. Beautiful! I love the sundown picnic surprise! How romantic!! Inspiring post. Thank you!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 7, 2014 — 12:02 am

      Thank you so much for such a kind comment! We really did have such a wonderful time out there and it was so remote with a lot of natural beauty and wildlife so felt really magical! The sundown picnic was beautiful and really thoughtful of them – there were a few more clouds than ideal to see a great sunset but we were so touched by their efforts that it didn’t really matter! Really appreciate you reading and commenting 🙂

  12. What’s a heart touching honeymoon experience, I must your blog with my friends so that they can avail services like you, if they required any time. http://bit.ly/1AUKuIk

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) January 3, 2015 — 9:07 am

      Thanks very much Cameron. We had a wonderful honeymoon in Tanzania 🙂

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