Off the Beaten Safari Track...

Adventure

...open plains, scattered with grazing wildebeest and elephants in the distance.

If you are looking for your own private wilderness, a place not littered with safari vehicles, it may be closer than you think…

There is no signpost leading to Manyara Ranch Conservancy. A small weathered house on a hill landmarks the unassuming dirt road leading down to the 35,000 acres of stunning animal studded landscapes.

At first, it’s hard to believe that such a place exists only an hour out of Arusha. Away from the common safaris itinerary and roadside curio shops, Manyara Ranch Conservancy opens up a fresh opportunity to experienceTanzanian’s amazing ecosystem on a completely exclusive basis.

So why come here when there are a smorgasbord of safari destinations within a short distance?

Exclusivity:

There is only one tented camp on the Conservancy - Manyara Ranch – meaning you have tens of thousands of acres of your own private wilderness area.

On a typical safari itinerary you are literally queuing to see a lion kill or elephants playing in the mud.

Here you are alone with the animals. You can go on walking safaris. You can do fly camping or watch animals from a hide. It is an exceptional safari experience and nothing like what is available elsewhere.

What is also great about Manyara Ranch is that its operators are environmentally conscious and community minded.

In a first for Tanzania, Manyara Ranch is operating in partnership with the Massai communities through the Tanzanian Land Conservation Trust (TLCT) and the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) after the area was acquired in response to the potential threat of privatisation in 1998.

Manyara Ranch is neither a National Park nor a Game Reserve. It is situated in a large conservation area in the middle of the crucial Kwakuchinja wildlife corridor. The corridor is an area connecting LakeNatron, Ngorongoro and Manyara wildlife areas to the Tarangire ecosystem and the Maasailands to the South.

Once an area devastated by excessive anti-poaching and destructive farming practices, ten years on and despite many challenges the TLCT has produced a number several positive results including: averting cultivation and fencing off of the Manyara Ranch area, extensive and progressive community consultation, improved security of the corridor and consequently an increase in wildlife numbers, improved services for communities services, which includes a new school and support to their livestock production activities. Lastly the TLCT provides a great interest in the new Manyara Ranch Conservancy tourism enterprise.

The object of the TLCT is to promote the nature preservation and conservation and economic activities compatible with conservation for the benefit and trust of present and future generations throughout Tanzania. The TLCT also aims to support local community development. A local steering committee, whose memberships include representatives of the local community, serves as an advisory board and effectively links the community with the ranch management.

The ranch currently offers a luxurious and private East African style tented accommodation. It has all the modern luxuries such as a comfortable double bed, ensuite bathroom, hot shower and a flushing toilet. Each tent also has a private viewing deck allowing guests to enjoy their morning cup of coffee with a panoramic view onto the surrounding plains.

At the end of our game drive we enjoy a romantic bush setting and some delectable bush cuisine. Dinner under the stars. It was perfect. Service was warm and hospitable.

What we also liked was the guest lounge. It is a spacious tent that has been designed for those lazy afternoon or pre-dinner drinks.

As our adventure comes to an end there is no doubt that Manyara Ranch Conservancy has delivered on its exclusivity. However what completes our safari is being able to experience the remarkable comeback of this area which today delivers on all levels, if not, more when compared to some of your most famous Tanzanian National Parks. 

Horses and Elephants running side by side (Credit: Lizzie Halloran)Horses and Elephants running side by side (Credit: Lizzie Halloran)A typical room at Manyara Ranch (Credit: Lizzie Halloran)A typical room at Manyara Ranch (Credit: Lizzie Halloran)

Driving through a diverse range of habitats including the calming open savannah, acacia woodland, the lush bush and riverine forest, we find a variety of wildlife now calling this area home or just popping in whilst on their migratory route. It’s a positive highlight of the safari, knowing just what the area has endured to where it has progressed to today.

Eland are today a common sighting, whilst lions have identified the area as a rewarding feeding ground. Elephants visit the ranch all year round and oryx are also regular visitors - just a glimpse of the ongoing and positive wildlife trends.

Our safari begins at the ecosystem of the ‘mini Serengeti’ made up of long golden grass and open plains, scattered with grazing wildebeest and elephants in the distance. Hidden among the trees are an abundant of giraffe and zebras accompanied by an unusual amount of  young. Our guide points out that the conservancy has become a popular area for wildlife to breed. With anti-poaching units operating on the ranch, the once desolated and feared area has become a haven amongst the wildlife community.

We soon reach a river lined with old fig trees purging their glorious long roots to its bed. We take the time to walk through the dried up river only to spot a few elephant footprints. With anticipation increasing for an up close and personal experience with these magical beasts we continue on. Fifteen minutes later the thrill begin as we sight at least five elephants lazily grazing among the acacia trees. Our professional walking guide briefs and prepares us for our walk. Patiently and quietly we approach the elephants constantly maintaining a safe distance.  What starts out as a somewhat of a nervous experience it quickly turns into one of the most exhilarating things I’ve done to date.

Retuning to the vehicle the adrenalin slowly subsides and we venture around the ranch continually sighting an assortment of wildlife. We visit an area where wild dogs are common residence however our luck is off with this very shy animal.

The infamous and cherished sundowners can be taken at a variety of stunning locations around the ranch. Our guide takes us to a stunning lake located on the edge of the park where we get to unwind from the long day and before returning back to camp.

(Credit: Lizzie Halloran)(Credit: Lizzie Halloran)Outside Tent (Credit: Lizzie Halloran)Outside Tent (Credit: Lizzie Halloran)

The ranch currently offers a luxurious and private East African style tented accommodation. It has all the modern luxuries such as a comfortable double bed, ensuite bathroom, hot shower and a flushing toilet. Each tent also has a private viewing deck allowing guests to enjoy their morning cup of coffee with a panoramic view onto the surrounding plains.

At the end of our game drive we enjoy a romantic bush setting and some delectable bush cuisine. Dinner under the stars. It was perfect. Service was warm and hospitable.

What we also liked was the guest lounge. It is a spacious tent that has been designed for those lazy afternoon or pre-dinner drinks.

As our adventure comes to an end there is no doubt that Manyara Ranch Conservancy has delivered on its exclusivity. However what completes our safari is being able to experience the remarkable comeback of this area which today delivers on all levels, if not, more when compared to some of your most famous Tanzanian National Parks. 

(Credit:Lizzie Halloran)(Credit:Lizzie Halloran)(Credit: Lizzie Halloran)(Credit: Lizzie Halloran)