The following is a sponsored post in partnership with andBeyond. All opinions are 100% my own.
When it comes to international travel, &Beyond is one of the most lauded travel brands around the globe! Its unique blend of luxury accommodations and guided local experiences has drawn heaps of acclaim, but booking &Beyond’s services means so much more than embarking on an excursion or exploring new territory.
&Beyond represents the intersection of travel, philanthropy, and environmental activism in their core values and operates in 29 luxury safari camps and lodges across East Africa (Tanzania, Kenya), Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique, and also runs high-end, personalized tours throughout the African continent and in India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, and Peru.
Table of Contents
What Sets &Beyond Apart: 3C Impact Model
&Beyond is a luxury travel company that launched in 1991 with a focus on caring equally for land, wildlife, and people in Africa. Proceeds from each travel experience go toward &Beyond’s 3C Impact Model – Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, and Care of the People. The Impact Model was designed to create travel that makes the world a better place instead of misusing, wasting, and destroying natural resources. &Beyond is committed to the utmost high standards of sustainability, philanthropy, and conservation.
The company’s guiding ethos is its aforementioned, and groundbreaking, 3C Impact Model:
- Care of the Land means that &Beyond has a strategy of minimizing its impact on the environment in all of its locations, which comprise nine million hectares in Africa. &Beyond seeks to minimize its physical footprint and the impact of its business operations.
- Care of the Wildlife is a mission to preserve endangered species through conservation, translocations and breeding programs. The company has major conservation efforts underway for rhinos, cheetah, several species of African antelopes, lions, and turtles, among other animals. In addition, they work to protect endangered species by actively managing wildlife populations where it has full control of the land. The company also facilitates conservation education.
- Through its Care of the People, initiative &Beyond has partnered with the Africa Foundation to create programs that have a positive impact on community development in each of its locations. They aim to empower local people and ensure local communities benefit from the tourism and business in surrounding areas. As &Beyond says in its Impact Report, “By ensuring that benefits flow to local communities from our business, the success of which depends on conservation, we make these conservation initiatives relevant to the people.”
&Beyond has been bestowed with many accolades, including recognition from the Responsible Tourism Tanzania Awards, the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards, and Harper’s Bazaar’s The 100 Greatest Hotels in the World.
About the Africa Foundation
Africa Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization with offices in South Africa, the U.S. and the UK. It facilitates the socioeconomic development of rural communities living in or close to Africa’s conservation areas. The foundation’s overall goal is to give local people more of a voice, more autonomy, and more opportunity to reap the benefits of tourism. This breaks down to four focus areas: education, healthcare and clean water, small business development, and environment and conservation.
Africa Foundation works to identify the needs of rural communities. It then communicates those needs to potential donors, allocates and manages the secured funds, works with community leaders to enact projects, and reports the results of those projects back to the donors. With &Beyond, the two organizations work hand in hand.
&Beyond provides numerous resources for Africa Foundation’s communities, such as staff, vehicles, and project champions, in addition to funding. Community projects are situated in close proximity to &Beyond lodges to encourage visits from staff and maintain open communication between community leaders and &Beyond project champions.
About Lionscape Coalition
&Beyond is also a founding member of Lionscape Coalition, an initiative from the Lion Recovery Fund, created to ensure a secure future for Africa’s lions and the landscapes in which they live. In partnership with the Lion Recovery Fund and three other ecotourism operators, &Beyond has promised to donate money annually, plus educate guests, clients, and staff about the plight of lions, and to expand the conservation footprint in lion homelands in Africa.
The Ngorongoro Crater Lodge (one of the places I stayed in during my visit to Tanzania) is situated in one of the best places on Earth to see lions in their natural habitat, so this &Beyond property has a special commitment to the goals of The Lion Recovery Fund. The Lion Recovery Fund was created by the Wildlife Conservation Network in partnership with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, with a goal of doubling the number of lions in Africa by 2050.
This ambitious goal will be accomplished in three ways:
- Expansion of conservation coverage – Management of “lionscapes” will be improved for effectiveness and to cover a wider scope of responsibilities.
- The building of public, political, and philanthropic will – Lionscape Coalition will increase awareness of its cause through education.
- Scaling of funding – The initiative will boost funds raised for the conservation of lions and their landscapes.
This is of critical importance because the lion population in Africa has fallen by half in the last 25 years, and some sub-species are now considered critically endangered. The LRF sends 100% of donations directly to projects that conserve lions, investing in the best ideas for lion recovery, and Ngorongoro Crater Lodge’s parent company &Beyond has made a major commitment to this effort.
So why should you care about declining lions? Lions are what scientists call “umbrella” species, which means if we have a thriving lion population, the entire ecosystem around it will be functioning properly and effectively. If we concentrate on addressing the key issues to the declining lions, we have the opportunity to turn things around and sustain the lion population.
I was honoured and grateful to be able to sit down to meet with some the KOPELion team Ingela Jansson, William Oleseki and Adam Pekor to discuss the crisis of the dramatic decline of the Ngorongoro lions. Guests at the lodge have many opportunities to interact with KOPELion, a local organization that works to mitigate Ngorongoro’s human-lion conflict, including through implementation of the Lion Guardians model.
As outlined on their website, here are some important takeaways and information that you should know about the organization:
KOPELion’s Vision and Mission
Vision: Successful and locally driven human-lion coexistence in Ngorongoro.
Mission: Inspire and enable local action, using science and traditional knowledge, for managing and monitoring sustainable human-lion coexistence in a multi-use landscape.
How They Do It
- Protect lions: On-the-ground team prevents and stops lion killings.
- Increase lion tolerance: Reduce conflicts by finding and retrieving lost livestock, help reinforce bomas, warn herders of lions’ presence, and offer wound treatment on injured livestock.
- Study lions: Find lions and record observations for the long-term demography study. They recognize each lion and follow them throughout their lives. Study how they adapt to living among people, tracking their movements and activity, using GPS collars.
- Engage with the communities: The team are mainly locals – provides employment, embracing traditional practices, working directly with the communities.
- Study human-predator interactions: Survey where, when and why attacks on livestock happen and by what predator. Knowing livestock vulnerability to attack helps to design better mitigation strategies.
- Combine and build skills: Maximise the impact and understanding of this human-lion interaction by combining modern techniques, science, and traditional ecological knowledge.
- Share our knowledge: Compile, analyse and share expanding knowledge in reports to authorities, peer-reviewed publications, and public presentations.
Guests can actually accompany the Lion Guardians as they make their rounds in the bush, doing their job to protect lions from poachers and working with tribespeople to preserve the habitat of the big cats. This is one way the lodge fulfills the Care of the Wildlife part of &Beyond’s 3C model.
Before you embark on a once-in-a-lifetime journey to Tanzania, there are a few critical steps you should take to prepare. &Beyond will send you all the things you need to know before departing to your destination. Below is a list they sent with some excellent suggestions and recommendations, so I could be better prepared for my first trip to Tanzania!
- Invest in travel insurance – It may seem like a frivolous add-on, but it can help with everything from unexpected hospitalizations to lost baggage. Don’t leave your house without it!
- Take precautions against malaria and Yellow Fever – Tanzania requires all visitors to have a certificate of proof that shows vaccination against Yellow Fever (they will ask for this as soon as you land in the airport). Additionally, you should work with your physician to identify the best antimalarial drug for you.
- Visas and passports – Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your trip and keep at least two blank visa pages. You can apply for your Tanzanian visa beforehand or just get it upon landing at the airport. I found the visa process to be better at the airport (even though it was slightly hectic), than when I applied for my e-visa online. It took so much longer online and required so many more additional documentation than getting it upon landing at the airport. I ended up having to pay for my visa twice because I ended up getting it when I landed in Tanzania, since my online application didn’t approve in time for my travels!
- What to pack – In general, you want to bring lightweight clothing that’s comfortable (e.g. t-shirts, shorts, swimwear, waterproof jackets, etc.). But it’s also important to bring long sleeves (to protect from sun exposure, mosquitoes, and Tsetse flies) and to bring neutral colours. Also remember to pack comfortable walking shoes, sunblock, bug repellant, lip balm, moisturizer, hats, and other outdoor essentials.
- No plastic bags – Avoid the urge to wrap items in your suitcase in plastic bags, as these are illegal in Tanzania.
- Bring your own first aid kit – Your lodge or resort will likely have a first aid kit, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Load your kit with items like antiseptic cream, pain relief medication, eye drops, and any treatments for asthma, allergies, or insect stings.
- Money – You can use Visa and/or Mastercard, but it’s recommended that you also bring some cash and exchange it before you depart for your lodge. Most places do accept American currency. I used it to tip the staff (*TIP: in order to help the staff, either tip a larger amount at the end of your trip with a larger currency amount ie.$50, $100 dollars rather than say $5 at a time – it actually costs them more money to exchange the money into Tanzanian Shillings if the USD dollar amount is lower).
A luxury experience with meaning…
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and Serengeti Under Canvas offer two distinct luxurious ways to explore Tanzania, A Review
The &Beyond lodges do not skimp on luxury, and many of its activities are guided by local experts who are passionate about their native land and proud supporters of &Beyond’s 3C Impact Model.
One of the jewels in the crown of the andBeyond lodges is the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. Situated on the rim of the breathtaking Ngorongoro Crater in the highlands of Tanzania, this lodge features brocade sofas, Persian rugs, gilt mirrors, beaded chandeliers, panelled walls and a domed dining room. Guests have private butlers to attend to their every need.
Outside, there are the majestic views of the landscape and the Great Migration, the annual migration of thousands of animals through the crater. There are a variety of tours, safaris, and other activities guests can sign up for, including visits with the local Hadzabe Bushmen.
In everything that the company does, from its resorts to its game drives, three core principles take priority – care of the land, care of the wildlife, and care of the people. In Tanzania, at the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and Serengeti Under Canvas, &Beyond’s commitment to luxury and conservation collide in the most exciting ways!
The breathtaking Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
The Ngorongoro Crater Lodge sits on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, which is the world’s largest intact caldera and was formerly a gigantic volcano believed to rival Mount Kilimanjaro. Every room offers a magnificent view, which changes by the day with rising mists and different cloud formations. The lodge has the distinct feel of “old world” Africa and the aesthetic recalls the grandiose elegance of Versailles but still honours African culture through stilted thatch architecture and bold uses of colour.
The lodge is split into three camps, each with its own sitting and dining areas and private butlers who specialize in warm and personal top-notch service. Across the camps are 30 stilted suites with grass roofs and banana leaf ceilings, offering an elegant and intimate experience that’s still authentic.
What sets this lodge apart
Five-star service doesn’t begin to describe your stay at the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. A private butler draws a hot bubble bath for you and a fresh bouquet of flowers after a long day of safari activities. You have the option to sip sundowner cocktails while watching a drum performance, eat a picnic lunch on the floor of the Crater while zebras and giraffes roam freely around you. You’re simultaneously surrounded by elegance and nature!
In addition to its glamorous décor and decadent guest experience, the Ngorongoro Lodge is revered for its access to the local Maasai people and the cattle that live amongst the wildlife, the fresh springs, the soda lake, and seasonal sightings of flamingos. Below are photos of my visit!
Accommodations and amenities
This luxurious stay comes at a price – smaller suites cost upwards of $1,775 per night while family suites can run between $3,905 and $6,215 per night for up to four people. But every part of your stay justifies the money spent. You’ll have a private butler, an in-room fireplace, spectacular views from every window, in-room massage, and complimentary laundry service, as well as the peace and serenity that comes from the secluded camps. The premises also feature a library, a central dining area and lounge to enjoy you all-inclusive exquisite meals, and a craft and curio shop.
Game drives and activities
Daily game drives take place from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. From the Lodge, it takes roughly 20 minutes to reach the Crater. You will be assigned with a very knowledgeable ranger, who will be your private driver and provide in-depth information about the behaviour of animals during the drives. You will ride in an open-top 4×4 so you can see early morning kills up close and personal and get better access to take amazing photos of the wild animals! For the morning drives, you can pre-order your breakfast so that you can take it along with you into the Crater.
The Lodge also hosts a slew of other activities, like the KopeLion lion conservation experience in which you’ll spend a half day learning about local lion conservation efforts, or a cultural visit to see the traditional way of life of the Hadzabe bushmen, or even a full-day hike in the Empakai Crater, where you can catch a glimpse of Tanzania’s most active volcano, Ol Doinyo Lengai.
The 3C Impact Model in action
The Lodge provides accommodations for wildlife researchers as they study the species inhabiting the crater, which drives home &Beyond’s commitment to wildlife. And one of the butlers, an expert in local botany, has spearheaded a partnership with park authorities to help manage invasive plants and cultivate more than 55,000 trees.
This too is a testament to &Beyond’s care of the wildlife and the people. Staff like the aforementioned butler remain friendly and passionate, contributing to longevity that speaks to &Beyond’s effective work environment.
How to get there
To reach the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, you’ll need to fly to the Arusha airport. From there, you can take one of two daily flights to the Lake Manyara Airstrip. Lodge personnel will pick you up from the airstrip in closed game viewing vehicles. The drive takes roughly 1.5 hours.
Concerning reaching Arusha airport, your itinerary will depend on where you’re coming from (e.g. another country in Africa or from abroad). It’s best to work with your travel agent at &Beyond. They provide excellent service and the team from the ground to the staff at the lodge to the corporate head office all communicate together very well to ensure that your travel plans run smoothly!
The glamour of Serengeti Under Canvas
Staying in a lodge, even a luxurious one like the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is not the only option &Beyond offers its guests. A popular choice is , the ultimate in luxury camping, complete with a private butler service and comfortable beds with fluffy duvets.
This is a camping experience of a lifetime, where you stay in canvas tents positioned close to the Great Migration wildlife herds so that there are stunning views of the animals in their natural environment. Not to mention falling asleep and waking up to the sounds of the wild!
The camp moves five times a year, to anticipate the movements of the animals on their migrations. Each camp has only nine tents, to ensure a mix of indulgence and authenticity.
What sets this lodge apart
Serengeti Under Canvas is unique in that it brings the elegance of the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge to the outdoors. There are still private butlers, friendly and attentive safari rangers and staff, plush beds with fluffy duvets, and ensuites. It also includes boots and umbrellas in case it rains, insect repellants, and a mini-bar stocked with all your favourite drinks. The tents are the largest mobile walk-in tents in all of Tanzania. Plus, there’s a delicate balance of both colonial and Maasai traditions. But there’s a lot of rustic charm, too.
During evenings and nights, you can look up at magnificent stars in the skies, while enjoying dinner outdoors near a campfire in the middle of the Serengeti! During bedtime, the staff even leave two hot water pouches on your bed to keep you warm at night! They really do think of everything!
Accommodations and Amenities
These private campsites have his and her hot bucket showers and flush toilets, in-tent Wi-Fi, decadent bush dinners, and crystal glassware. The camps also feature dedicated sitting tents with deep sofas, custom Indian rugs, and polished brass samovars. You are given two types of water (one for washing and another for drinking) and each tent comes with a microphone and horn, in case of an emergency you have staff 24/7 on standby.
Individual tents run from $810-$1,240 per night while family tents fall between $2,835 and $4,340 per night.
Game drives and activities
The big draw at Serengeti Under Canvas is the Guided Great Migration experience, in which you can see big cats, game species, and unique seasonal species during one of two shorter daily drives or a full-day game drive. The advantage of the campsites is that you won’t have to travel far to see the Great Migration. However, since these drives take place in the Serengeti National Park, there are no night drives or off-roading expeditions.
The 3C Impact Model in action
The 3C Impact Model is at play here as well. For example, in Tanzania, rangers have taken groups of Maasai children on Serengeti game drives to teach them about nature, environmental awareness, and the ways ecotourism can impact their communities. These efforts are aided by &Beyond’s booming business.
How to get there
To reach Serengeti Under Canvas, you’ll take a charter flight to a Serengeti airstrip nearest the camp’s current position. From there, camp personnel will drive you to the camp. Again, how you reach the Serengeti airstrip will depend on where you’re departing from but also on where the camp is currently located.
Whether you want a resort stay or you want to spend your nights underneath the stars, both the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and Serengeti Under Canvas provide authentic experiences in the lap of luxury that also benefit local communities.
In this new era of ecotourism, &Beyond has made a name for itself as an organization that delivers excellent luxury service and unforgettable experiences in breathtaking locations, while at the same time doing its part to promote conservation of animals and habitat, to help local populations, and to educate its guests about the many environmental issues facing our planet.
It’s a formula that resonates with a new generation of environmentally aware tourists. Indeed, statistics show that “eco-conscious” consumers travel more than the average consumer. According to Fiscal Today, the CMIGreen Traveler Report 2010 found that 75.9% of environmentally aware individuals took at least two vacations away from home each year, and 22% of them took anywhere from five to eight vacations during that same time. The takeaway from surveys like that is travel and tourism companies that focus on sustainability can actually do more business than those who don’t.
The &Beyond business model definitely has a bright future — and that’s a good thing for our planet. For further information on &Beyond visit www.andbeyond.com.