“We knew we were excited for this trip, but to walk away from it with so much love in our hearts for Tanzania is a blessing beyond what we expected. There was not a single moment from the moment we started planning, to the time we arrived back home, that we felt anything but pure joy from the people we worked with and met along the way.”
Rothschild Safaris’ mission was to make Cameron and Corrie Smith’s bucket-list adventure exceed all expectations … because it was also their honeymoon.
They shared a childhood dream of seeing the annual Great Migration spectacle across the Serengeti in Northern Tanzania. Now as a married couple, they put their faith in our Travel Designer Kimberly Killick to accept the task and ensure that dream came true to the Nth degree!
Kimberly’s expert planning ability, advice and local knowledge allowed them to prepare an itinerary that, not only overcame all obstacles that come with traveling during a global pandemic, but also fulfilled their childhood fantasies scattered with plenty of opportunity for romance.
And the honeymooners soon realized any trepidation they may have had before the trip proved to be ill-founded on arrival in Africa.
“We were shocked at how few tourists there were in Tanzania,” Cameron said, “All the in-country flights, camps and national parks were empty. We are sure our honeymoon experience was infinitely more special because of that. This felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience Tanzania without crowds.”
“Traveling during a pandemic can be a scary thing, but each accommodation showed the highest level of cleanliness, attention to detail and desire to make us as happy and comfortable as possible,” wrote Corrie.
The Smiths’ 10-night African honeymoon began with an overnight stay at Rivertrees Country Inn, just outside the bustling safari town of Arusha, in sight of mighty Mt Kilimanjaro. The romantic setting takes place in a well-loved homestead on a charming country estate – once a coffee plantation – that captures all the nostalgia of a bygone era.
A charter flight the next day heralded the start of all the Smiths’ Serengeti dreams coming true with their first stop at Lamai Serengeti Camp.
Tucked in among the rocks of Kogakuria Kopje in northern Serengeti, with magical views over the Mara River valley and Lamai Wedge, its prime position brings the animal world to guests with minimal effort, allowing them to view resident wildlife year-round and presenting a front-row seat as the wildebeest cross the Mara River during the Great Migration.
Cameron had no hesitation in naming this part of the trip as a highlight – from the Mara River crossings and sheer number of animals in the Serengeti to the Lamai staff and lodge itself.
“Our guide at Lemai, Anafi, always went above and beyond to make sure we got to see the crossings and predators we dreamt of seeing,” Cameron enthused, “We learned so much from him and felt so blessed to have met him through this experience. He was so knowledgeable and kind.”
“The camp manager Lawrence and our dedicated waiter, Jonathan, took such great care of us,” continued Cameron, “not only in camp, but with them truly celebrating and recognizing our special occasion with many different surprises throughout our time there. A real highlight was when a full-spread lunch appeared in the middle of the Serengeti on the day we decided to stay out all day to watch river crossings.
Serengeti National Park remains one of the most famous parks in all of Africa and exploring the vast and rich environment always uncovers wildlife dramas, including lionesses stalking their prey, plus tranquil scenes at waterholes to stir the soul.
After their time in the wildlife-packed Serengeti, the Smiths hopped on a charter flight to Selous Game Reserve in Southern Tanzania. Their three-night accommodation at Sand River Selous put them at the center of diverse habitats – from gorges to open plains, woodland, and lakes – on the banks of the Rufiji River.
Rothschild Safaris recommends making the most of this expansive yet relatively unknown reserve by doing activities not on offer in other parts of the country. Walking safaris, quietly observing the wildlife and learning all the ins and outs of your surrounding ecosystem; river cruises up the gorge whilst trying your hand at catching an elusive tigerfish or spending the afternoon unwinding in the nearby natural hot springs.
“The river safari and hot springs in Selous were magical, as was the walking safari,” Cameron said. “Had we known how much we were going to enjoy the walking safari we would have definitely done more.”
Corrie agreed, “We had Hamza [guide] during our time in Selous and he filled us with a sense of adventure. His sense of humor and true admiration for the Selous and his job came through at every moment. During our time fishing on the Rufiji, it felt like he was just as proud of our accomplishments as we were. And during the walking safari he provided us knowledge on parts of the bush that we didn’t even know we were interested in but left being spellbound by.”
After almost a week on safari, the final hurrah of Cameron and Corrie’s honeymoon was three nights at Matemwe Retreat in Zanzibar. Perched on an outcrop overlooking a shallow, coral-fringed lagoon on the quiet northeastern coast of Zanzibar Island the Smiths had the best of both worlds: vibrant yet also laid-back.
The Zanzibar Archipelago lies between 15 and 30 miles off the mainland of Tanzania and this particular area is one of the best places for snorkeling and diving off Zanzibar Island, with an abundance of turtles and wild dolphins in addition to the diverse and colorful coral reef fish.
Cameron said he and Corrie had taken advantage of the wonderful snorkeling off the beautiful island but spent most of their time just enjoying their villa and surroundings.
Guests can choose to do as much or as little as they like on this serene spice island: go barefoot and beachcomb the sands beside the diamond-speckled Indian Ocean; take part in the myriad water activities on offer; explore the Zanzibari culture on a walk through Stone Town – the UNESCO World Heritage Listed historic center; pay a visit to Mercury House (where Queen’s flamboyant front man the late Freddie Mercury was born and raised before becoming a music legend); or simply sip cocktails poolside and soak up the rejuvenating sun’s rays.
The Smiths were suitably impressed with this final farewell to their African holiday. Letting the sun, surf and sand work their magic whilst throwing in some pampering amid the luxurious surrounds, sunset cocktails with a view and dinner by lantern or candlelight at the water’s edge – that’s what romantic sojourns are made of.
“The manager of Matemwe, Ross, spoiled us beyond our wildest dreams with accommodation upgrades, complimentary massages and more,” Cameron revealed.
And Cameron had nothing but admiration for our own Kimberly for being “always on top of things, super responsive and working behind the scenes to make sure our honeymoon went smoothly the whole time”.
Corrie wrote, “Kim understood exactly what we were looking for with this trip. She was patient with our revisions to the itinerary and when the trip came back initially a little out of our budget comfort zone, she worked to get the overall cost down without sacrificing beyond what we told her we could. She answered each and every question with great attention and made us feel like she truly cared about us and our trip.”
“During our pre-trip call she gave us great advice and left us feeling even more excited for the trip. And the during the post-trip call, she really made us feel like she was excited for each experience we had taking what very little feedback we had and responded thoughtfully and with appreciation.”
“Meggan [Woody] was also fantastic to work with after we booked our trip. She was timely in her response and always patient with our questions. Between Meggan and Kim, we felt we had the best team and were taken care of every step of the way!”
And that is what we do. All our Rothschild Safaris Travel Designers and staff are with you every step of the way to not only ensure the “T”s are crossed and the “I”s are dotted but also to troubleshoot or iron out any problems if necessary … with a few little surprises along the way to make every personalized trip memorable.
Corrie added on her return questionnaire: “We would just like to thank Rothschild, all of the managers and every member of the lodges staff from the bottom of our hearts.
“We knew we were excited for this trip, but to walk away from it with so much love in our hearts for Tanzania is a blessing beyond what we expected. There was not a single moment from the moment we started planning to the time we arrived back home that we felt anything but pure joy from the people we worked with and met along the way. We have been singing your praises, and will continue to do so, to anyone and everyone that will listen. Our truest hope is that travel begins to pick back up again quickly because nothing would make us happier than to see those lodges full every day of the week and for Rothschild to see continued success.”
Cameron and Corrie still have some places remaining on their bucket lists, including Central and South America (Costa Rica, Argentina and Chile), Asia (Nepal, Vietnam and Cambodia), the South Pacific (Australia and New Zealand) and more of Africa (especially Rwanda and Zambia). And with all these destinations in our Rothschild Safaris portfolio, we hope we’ll be seeing more of this lovely couple in the future.