DESTINATIONS

Unique Museum at the Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti

March 19, 2014
Young visitor with Masai tribesman (Credit: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts)

The museum at the Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti welcomes learners of all ages.

When Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts took over management last year of a 77-room safari lodge in the center of the Serengeti National Park in East Africa, it wanted to revitalize the property with a sense of place befitting its extraordinary setting. As part of that effort, it opened the Discovery Centre in June 2013, a unique museum within a hotel.

In the Masai language, serengeti means endless plains. This is an apt description of the 5700-square mile Serengeti National Park, the oldest and most popular animal wildlife sanctuary in Tanzania. Home to two million wildebeests, hundreds of thousands of gazelles and zebras—as well as threatened species that include black rhinos, elephants, wild dogs and cheetahs—the Serengeti has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Each May, the park serves as the starting point for the massive annual Great Migration of wildebeest and other species of mammals that begin their long-distance trek north to Kenya.

This is the park that inspired the smash Broadway musical, The Lion King.

A peek inside

Housed in the great house (main building) of the Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti, the new Discovery Centre features permanent exhibits and a lecture hall, and serves as a base for local conservation research and education initiatives.

Interior of the Discovery Centre (Credit: Jerome Levine)

Interior of the Discovery Centre (Credit: Jerome Levine)

The displays are self-paced, designed to capture the interest and imagination of visitors of all ages. Scientific information, much of it gleaned from books and journals, has been digested so it is easily understood. For example, one interactive map has a large screen that allows visitors to track the migration month-by-month.

Handcrafted exhibitions differentiate the lifestyle of herbivores from carnivores; some explain the habitats of insects and wildlife and their valued contributions to the ecosystem of the Serengeti. (Although they often take a back seat to the Big Five, the Serengeti is home to more than 500 species of birds.)

Interactive map of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem (Credit: Jerome Levine)

Interactive map of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem (Credit: Jerome Levine)

Glass cases hold local artifacts showcasing African culture and the lifestyle of Masai tribesmen, including bows and arrows, handmade pottery and beaded jewelry. A large head and neck skeleton of a giraffe seems be peering at visitors from one side of the room.

“The new Discovery Centre is not only an educational tool, it is an exciting opportunity to show our guests what an incredibly special and fascinating place the Serengeti is,” says Olie Dreike, who curated the display.

Guests can contribute first-hand to ongoing research through the Serengeti Cheetah Project’s identification program, Cheetah Watch.

Lectures and tutorials by in-house and visiting experts round out the novel program. For example, U.K. wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas was in residence for two weeks in November 2013. He and his brother created the BeetleCam, a remote-control buggy with a camera mounted on top that captures close-up, ground level photographs of shy and often dangerous animals. The famed photographer, whose work is displayed at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., accompanied guests on game drives offering photo tips geared to their varied levels of experience.

A five-star hotel in the bush

The contemporary architecture, design and sustainable orientation of the Four Seasons Safari Lodge blend in seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. Elephants and baboons wander on to the watering holes on the grounds. An elevated boardwalk running through the property allows guests views of indigenous flora and fauna. Open-air sundecks on each room encourage “sofa safaris” while relaxing before dinner. It’s not unusual for a baboon to appear on a deck rail.

Elephants beside watering hole (Credit: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts)

Elephants beside watering hole (Credit: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts)

And yes, the green but elegant property offers every creature comfort as well: a fitness center, free-standing spa (with six treatment rooms), multiple restaurants and an infinity pool. Welcoming to children who are mature enough to appreciate the experience but understand the potential risks of the wild, the Lodge is a perfect choice for families, intergenerational groups, and any lifelong learner.

This post was previously published by FlightNetwork.com.


Previously on MoreTimeToTravel.com

  • Reply
    Mike
    March 19, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    I’m all in for a safari with a 5 star hotel waiting for me at the end of the day, Irene.

  • Reply
    Sand In My Suitcase
    March 20, 2014 at 10:45 am

    What a great and unique idea the Four Seasons came up with! Knowing their hotels and resorts, the museum is no doubt superb.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      March 20, 2014 at 10:49 am

      Yes, it’s obvious that a great deal of research went into establishing the museum. The setting is a knock-out too.

  • Reply
    Doreen Pendgracs
    March 25, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    This property, with its museum and wonderful amenities sounds like my kind of place! Trust Four Seasons to do it just right!

  • Reply
    Marilyn Jones
    March 25, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    The hotel covers all the bases: luxury in an authentic setting. The museum is a true asset.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      March 25, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      Because of all it offers, it makes a terrific base for families.

  • Reply
    noel
    March 25, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    I have yet to go on a safari, but it does keep getting pushed up the bucket list every time I see a plush trip like this – just maybe one of the days, it will happen.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      March 25, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      Observing the way you travel to far-flung places, I’m sure it won’t be long, Noel:-)

  • Reply
    Kay Dougherty
    March 25, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Oh dear – I better take my spare change to that coin counting machine at the supermarket so I can get the money together to go here! It sounds lovely. Four Seasons really knows how to do it right wherever they go. How cool that this was the inspiration for The Lion King.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      March 25, 2014 at 7:00 pm

      I do hope you have the opportunity to visit the Serengeti. My goal: I still want to see The Lion King:-)

  • Reply
    Michele Peterson
    March 25, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Wow, I’m out of the loop when it comes to Africa – I didn’t know that the Serengeti has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site or that it was the inspiration for the Lion King! I’m glad it’s being preserved and that its incredible diversity is being showcased in a brand new Discovery Centre.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      March 25, 2014 at 7:38 pm

      I hope you’ll have the opportunity to visit the Serengeti. You would love it!

  • Reply
    Patti Morrow
    March 25, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    The Serengeti by day and Four Seasons by night? Count me in!

  • Reply
    Travels with Tam
    March 25, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    I love safaris, and someday want to return to the Serengeti. Four Seasons? I could probably handle it!

  • Reply
    Josie
    March 26, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Hi Irene,
    I just want to see a baboon appear on my deck rail! Seriously though, your beautiful trip looks like a dream. Thanks for this lovely account.
    Josie

  • Reply
    Michelle
    March 26, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    I am so wanting to visit the Serengeti again and stay in this hotel. I visited Tanzania on a humanitarian trip and stayed in hostels and guest houses. I paid a lot for the trip because I was with a former lead National Geographic photographer. It was a very difficult experience for me!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      March 26, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      I’m sure it was a rich experience because it begs you to return~

  • Reply
    Marsha
    March 26, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    I’m starting to plan an African safari for next year and this sounds like a great place to stay in the middle of the Serengeti.

  • Reply
    Heather - the kiwi travel writer
    March 26, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    another place for my bucket list – thanks for letting us know

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