The newly launched andBeyond Grumeti Serengeti River Lodge pairs a contemporary take on the classic safari aesthetic with an enhanced camp experience and immersion into the surrounding wilderness.
A lodge that was originally built in the early 90s, andBeyond Grumeti closed for a complete redesign and extensive rebuild after it was flooded when the banks of the Grumeti River burst in 2020.
Renamed andBeyond Grumeti Serengeti River Lodge, the remote camp reopened in summer 2022 with a completely new look and enhanced experience to go with this reimagined retreat. The South Africa based firm behind the original lodge’s design, Fox Browne Creative, returned to reinvent the property in partnership with the architect Jack Alexander.
Now, as soon as you enter the open-sided lodge, you’re met with views over the hippo-inhabited stretch of river this lodge faces onto. The central pavilion and its accompanying gym, pool and standalone suites, including a family suite, all follow the bow shape of the river.
A contemporary take on the classic safari aesthetic is seen throughout the new lodge, with modern design features, such as its printed fabrics and a contemporary chandelier hanging above the circular bar, all drawing inspiration from local cultures, from the circular forms of the nomadic Maasai Manyatta homesteads to the patterns seen in kanga and kitenge fabrics and Maasai necklaces.
Solar power ensures the lodge runs 80 percent on renewable energy and the redesign was undertaken with recyclable materials, including the banana fibre of the roof and glass baubles of the lodge’s hanging decorations. All of the fabric for these interiors was locally sourced and the designers worked with local artisans to create each space’s bespoke design features.
This luxury lodge lies within the 400-sq-km Grumeti Game Reserve. This wildlife-rich land of open plains, twisting waterways and pockets of dense woodland is in the western reaches of Serengeti National Park.
No one day in the Serengeti is the same. For my group, this often-told truth is epitomised on a day that we begin floating above the plains in a hot air balloon, crossing bends in a waterway and gliding above trails made by the wildebeest and zebra herds, and end sheltering from a breath-taking storm as the sun sets over tree-dotted plains now bathed in golden light.
Before the plains wildlife had retreated from this sudden downpour, in which forks of lightning cut through the blue-gray sky, a family of lions had been lounging in the grass just meters from our vehicle, one of the lionesses nursing her cubs as the sun began to lower.
Earlier that day, a champagne breakfast at the hot air balloon’s secluded landing spot was followed with land-based exploration of the plains we’d just floated above. We stumbled across a pod of hippos lounging on the riverbank, watched the migratory blue-cheeked bee-eaters flit between the trees and a nearby waterhole and marvelled at a long legged, flamboyantly feathered secretary bird as it looke for its mate.
The heavy rains of that night were then followed the next morning with a golden sunrise and dew on the grass, panoramas of zebra, wildebeest and impala, pairs of jackals and hyenas looking to scavenge their next meal, and a pride of lions revelling in the morning sun while feeding on their zebra kill as two tawny eagles waited in the treetop for their chance to swoop in.
While each stay is sure to be unique, days at the lodge are generally spent on twice-daily game drives, with the option to also set out on nature walks, take a seasonal hot air balloon ride with Serengeti Balloon Safaris and join community visits for insight into Africa Foundation’s local projects. At the lodge, time out can be enjoyed with an in-suite wellness treatment, time by the pool or a private yoga class. Dinners in the covered dining area or open-air riverside boma can then be followed with a stargazing session.
While wildlife abounds in this landscape year-round, chances to witness the Great Migration are at their best between May and July, then again in October and November. Hot air balloon safaris are most likely to run between June and October. At any time of year, you’re promised a one-of-a-kind experience.