A Charming British Inn In One Of Tanzania's Most Remote Parks

beho beho

Photo: Courtesy of Beho Beho

The Selous Game Reserve in southern Tanzania is nearly four times the size of Serengeti National Park, but is relatively unknown on the safari circuit, especially to tourists visiting from the U.S. who tend to hit the more popular game-viewing parks in the north.It’s a shame, because The Selous turned out to be one of my favourite destinations on a recent press trip to Tanzania. I saw a lion nearly take down a wildebeest and boated on Lake Tagalala, reputed to have the densest crocodile population in the world.

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Perhaps the best part was that our camp, called Beho Beho, was so remote that we didn’t see a single other safari vehicle during our two-day stay in the park. It was like we had the entire 21,000-square-mile reserve to ourselves.

Beho Beho was a unique and stunning property. The British owners overhauled it from a private camp to a grade “A” lodge a little more than a decade ago, and have managed to create what they call a “house party” atmosphere in the middle of the bush.

The camp is centered around a massive stone “banda” — a three-sided building with an open front looking out onto a man-made watering hole and the plains beyond. Meals are communal, and guests rotate among the safari guides for their daily game-viewing drives.

The rooms — 10 smaller bandas on either side of the main building — are huge, with canopied beds, sitting areas, and outdoor showers. The rate, including accommodations, meals, drinks, laundry, and safari activities, is $920 per person per night, and there’s a three-night minimum.

There are also options for guests who prefer more privacy. Beho Beho recently opened a “treehouse” lodge a half-hour walk from camp, where couples can sleep in a tent hoisted onto a large platform. Another option is Bailey’s Banda, a two-bedroom house that comes with a pool and private chef, available for a $1,000-a-night surcharge.

For travellers looking for something off the beaten path, there’s no better place to stay.

Disclosure: Our trip to Tanzania, including travel and lodging expenses, was sponsored by the Tanzania Tourist Board, Africa Adventure Company, Singita Grumeti Group, Coastal Aviation, Qatar Airways, Tanzania National Parks, Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority and Wildlife Division.

Beho Beho has its own airstrip, just a five-minute drive from camp.

I could tell from the moment I arrived that the place had a sense of humour.

Until about 14 years ago, the camp was used as a vacation home by its owners. After a major overhaul, it's a high-end resort in the middle of nowhere.

This is the main banda, an enormous building that's completely open on one side. Guests gather here to read, play games, and have pre-dinner cocktails.

It looks out on a man-made watering hole that's popular with the local game. This elephant stopped by for a drink while I was eating lunch one day, and I took this picture from my seat.

Beho Beho got an interior design makeover last year, and it's got a sunny feel with just enough trinkets and photos to make it feel like a house.

There are dozens of framed photos of the owners' family around the camp, adding to the home-y feel.

The billiards table seemed especially popular with the staff, who hail mostly from Tanzania and South Africa.

I was thrilled to find that the camp had a small pool, especially when the thermometer topped 100°.

Let's check out the accommodations. There are 10 cottages on the property, spread out on either side of the main banda.

The rooms aren't far from each other, but they're arranged so that when guests are inside, they feel totally secluded.

Inside, the decor is bright and cheery. There are a couple of seating areas, all looking directly out into the park.

The canopy around the bed doubles as mosquito netting at night.

There's electrical wire around the base of the open wall to keep out critters. But I could still hear them at night, loud and clear.

For visitors with a child, the day bed can be made into a real bed.

I loved the decor. The rooms were filled with local art and more old photos of the owner's family.

The obligatory basket of bug spray.

The doorways were really funky, giving the rooms the feel of a treehouse.

His-and-her sinks in the bathroom. Laundry is included in the hotel rate, and done by hand daily.

The outdoor shower was awesome, although it did get chilly at night.

My room even had an outdoor bath.

The cosmetics are a Cape Town brand.

We got to tour Bailey's Banda, the newly opened owners' cottage on the property. It's a $1,000-a-night supplement over the standard rate.

The two-bedroom suite is completely private, and comes with a chef.

Perhaps the best part is the plunge pool overlooking the park.

Some great bar stools.

The other private option is the Treehouse, where guests can spend a night in seclusion.

It's lovely, with a full bathroom and private chef.

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