Acacia Farm Lodge is a special hotel in Karatu, Tanzania near the Ngorongoro crater. We say it’s a special place, because the passion of the people who work there.
Karatu is a small town in the heart of the Tanzania National Park area. It’s the perfect place to explore the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater to the North West, Lake Manyara and Tarangire to the South East.
Acacia Farm Lodge is a new hotel which has been open for just one year. However in that one year it has already shot to the top of lists of places to stay in Karatu and has already won the ‘Luxury Lodge of the Year’ award.
How has this small, new hotel become the best place to stay in Karatu and Ngorongoro? Because the hotel goes the extra mile for every guest.
Most importantly – Does the hotel and room do what it’s supposed to do?
Emphatically yes. As a slight spoiler this hotel is the best hotel we’ve ever stayed at. Not only does it feature luxurious rooms, excellent food and the customary Four Seasons customer service, the hotel also has a watering hole next to it’s infinity pool that constantly draws elephants, zebras, buffalo, Impala and other game animals to the hotel. You can go on safari, but at the Four Seasons Serengeti you can sit back and let the safari come to you.
I knew I’d love the Four Seasons Serengeti because it’s just like another thing I love: disaster movies.
I’m talking about a certain type of movie, like ‘The Martian’ or ‘Pitch Black’ where our heroes are trapped in a dangerous environment and they have to use their wits and skills to survive and prevail. Why is the Four Seasons Serengeti like The Martian? Because like Mark Watney, the Four Seasons Serengeti is a hotel trying to do something exceptional in a place which is far removed from the modern world, in an area filled with things which are trying to hunt you.
When the Four Seasons took over the management of this special hotel they were faced with two very different challenges: one obvious and one surprising.
I struggled to keep my eyes awake as the tiny plane passed over the Great Rift Valley. It was only 3pm but thanks to a pack of hyenas, a hot air balloon, an even hotter pack of lions, 2 planes, a black market, and the world’s smallest duty free shop… It had been a long day already. My eyes were almost closed and my head was dropping when my shoulder was poked by a passenger sitting behind me. The finer pointed out of the cockpit window towards a giant dust swirl ahead of us. However, what worried me wasn’t so much the dust whirl as what was happening right next to me inside the plane.
The no-man’s land between Kenya and Tanzania is a mysterious place for many reasons. The biggest mystery of all might be why there is a border in the first place.
Kenya and Tanzania are not naturally separate countries but repercussions from the British and Germanic empires dividing their holdings in East Africa. The two empires drew a straight line from the Indian Ocean to Lake Victoria bisecting tribes such as the Masai and natural parks such as the Serengeti and the Masai Mara.
Whilst naturally so similar, it’s interesting to see how seemingly small decisions led to massive changes in the fates of the two countries decades later.
Being woken at 2:30am is always disorientating. Being woken by a Masai warrior doesn’t help the situation. Climbing into a giant wicker basket under an enormous balloon on top of the biggest flame-thrower you’ve ever seen almost blew all our senses.
At first the heat was almost unbearable but it was soon forgotten. The morning air was still but the ground staff were a constant flurry of activity around us. The crowd waited in silent anticipation.
As the light spread over the horizon transforming the sky from a velvety black to a deep sapphire blue we started to rise. Slowly at first and surprisingly smoothly we ascended towards the clouds. Ahead of us two other silk balloons had already risen from the Governor’s Balloon Safaris launch site and disappeared beyond the trees.
Most importantly – Does Julia’s River Camp and tent do what it’s supposed to do?
Yes – Julia’s River Camp is a glamping camp in Kenya’s Masai Mara, which offers simple but very comfortable accommodation, good food and friendly hospitality. They also pride themselves on excellent game drives with experienced drivers allowing you to see the diverse and beautiful wildlife living in this special corner of the world.
If you want evidence, you can read about our adventures with Julia’s River Camp exploring The Great Migration here, our lion encounters here and watching families of lions, cheetahs, elephants and warthogs here.
Kenya Safari Adventures with Julia’s River Camp: Part 3
We were slowly bumping our way down a dirt road in Kenya’s Masai Mara ‘enjoying’ what locals call “The African Massage”. Another Safari Jeep was coming the other way. As customary, our driver Eric slowed to a stop as we crossed and had a quick conversation in Swahili, exchanging information about where the animals were today. Usually these are fruitless but this time Eric seemed animated. The conversation was short. Eric pressed the pedal to the floor.
As we reached crested a hill, we could see hundreds of wildebeest and zebras scattered all the way to the horizon. Curiously, there was a strangely empty patch in the middle of the migration. We hurtled towards it.
As we drew closer other safari vehicles appeared out of nowhere, almost racing us to our target.
Kenya Safari Adventures with Julia’s River Camp: Part 2
I’m sitting at a picnic table. Behind me are the sprawling and beautiful plains of Kenya’s Masai Mara. In front of me is a horseshoe bend of the great Mara River. I can see hippos and crocodiles uneasily sharing the water. The tall and steep banks of the river offer me protection and a safe panoramic viewpoint. The heat of the morning sun radiates a silence across the river as it discourages the wildlife to move and hunt until the evening cool.
It had been 20 minutes since we’d our twin propeller passed over the great rifts that separates modern Kenya and the timeless Masai Mara. Since then a carpet of cloud had prevented us from seeing the plains below. We had hoped to see the great migration from the sky but so far had been denied. The pilot announced over the PA shouted back to us that we were beginning our descent to Ol Kiombo airstrip. The nose went down and we slowly began to cut through the cloud.
As we descended the small black dots sprawled across the plains grew into creatures with horns, long necks and stripes. As the propellers slowed and the flaps started to fight the wind we could start to make out wildebeest, giraffe and zebra. From the air it looked like a battle scene from Braveheart or Lord of the Rings with a thousand creatures sprawled across the metaphorical battlefield.