Chem Chem

Chem Chem: Our full report

8 tented rooms
Best for 12+
June to March

Chem Chem, meaning 'spring' in Swahili, was opened in June 2011 by Swiss/French couple Fabia Bausch and Nicolas Negre. It stands between Tarangire National Park and Lake Manyara National Park in its own 40km2 wildlife concession – the Bungi Wildlife Management Area – with beautiful views of the Rift Valley's western escarpment. This luxury tented lodge aims to be a stylish spot for travellers to enjoy the nature around the lodge, or use as a base to visit its two nearby parks.

Fabia has a business background, Nicolas was formerly a professional safari guide and hunter in the Selous – and between them they are certainly one of the most stylish couples in Africa’s safari business.

Chem Chem has been tastefully designed in what they call 'contemporary vintage' style. The central area consists of a spacious open-plan structure of wood, stone and thatch that looks over the plains to the escarpment beyond. It's a peaceful spot to sit and read, with half an eye out for passing game in the distance. Expect chunky tree-trunk tables (made by Nicolas himself), leather sofas, sumptuous armchairs, telescopes, coffee-table books, and some beautiful black-and-white wildlife photos on the walls. The main lounge area looks over a sunken campfire surrounded by cushioned benches, where guests can enjoy a pre-dinner drink. The focal point of the open-sided dining area is a beautiful long table carved from a tree trunk, flanked by several smaller tables.

Situated a few minutes walk away from the main area, a number of sunloungers, some shaded under billowing fabrics, surround the pool, where there's always someone on hand to take any drink orders. There is a gym as well with a good variety of equipment.

There is also an excellent spa at Chem Chem which is run by a full-time therapist, and provides a range of treatments including massages, body scrubs, manicures and pedicures. It is possible for these to take place in the guest tents as well.

Chem Chem's eight tented rooms (one of which is a family tent) are identical in size and design. Positioned to try and maximise privacy, all enjoy similar views over the plains. Each tent is raised on a stone base, which helps to keep it cool and has two private outside areas: a stone veranda at the front with a table, chairs and sunlouger, and a wooden decked area to the side, where you'll find a low cushioned daybed which is a great place to unwind.

Inside, each tent is very comfortable, with the same natural and earthy feel as the main area. The spacious bedroom area has either a double or twin beds, skirted by wooden bedside tables, with lights. There's a large chest at the foot of the bed, a writing desk, and – behind the bed – an area to store luggage. Steps lead down to a stone en-suite bathroom which incorporates a wardrobe as well as twin sinks, a toilet, and a stand-alone bath, with a glass door leading to an outdoor shower. Soft towels, bathrobes and Molton Brown toiletries are added luxury touches.

Most guests stay at Chem Chem with their own private driver guide, who will conduct their safari activities in the national parks. Activities within the concession, which is not subject to national parks' rules, include walking, night drives and off-road driving. These are led by Nicolas or a freelance guide, and are at an extra charge. Within the concession you'll find good numbers of giraffe, impala and zebra, as well as lesser kudu, cheetah, leopard, and over 200 species of birds. The occasional elephant and lion are also spotted here. During our last visit in November 2017 we were also surprised to see a lot of game in and around the walkways of the camp, from a leopard tortoise to zebra and warthog.

However if you're looking to do lots of safari activities focussing on the wildlife then you may be better off staying at Chem Chem's sibling - Little Chem Chem. It's a luxurious and intimate tented camp with a greater emphasis on game drives and bush walks. Although Chem Chem offers the same activities as Little Chem Chem the primary focus here is relaxation. It offers a more sedate safari experience more suited for those who have longer on safari and want to enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings with very few other people.

On our last visit to Chem Chem in November 2017 we did not get a chance to do any activities however slightly earlier in the year in June 2017, we enjoyed a lovely afternoon bush walk out to the shores of Lake Manyara, and a night drive too. Other activities include a Maasai-guided sunrise run, and walks to learn about the use of local medicinal and herbal plants. The walking here is gentle and fun, with a chance to learn some local Maasai skills, as well as keeping an eye out for passing game. It is also possible to book Chem Chem as part of a 'game package' where all of these activities are included in the price.

Our view

Chem Chem is a peaceful, laid-back and decidedly stylish lodge, with very friendly service and great food. It’s not a lodge for hardcore safari enthusiasts, who are likely to prefer to somewhere inside Tarangire or Lake Manyara, or those looking for a budget offering. However, it is very well suited to those who want to relax and enjoy the lodge's natural surroundings, and take advantage of the activities on the private concession.


Location: Tarangire National Park, Tanzania

Ideal length of stay: Stay two nights here as a base to explore Tarangire and Lake Manyara or more to take advantage of the activities on the concession too.

Directions: Chem Chem is about 130km from Arusha: about 2 hours' drive. It is located between Tarangire and Lake Manyara national parks. It’s about 40 minutes’ drive to Tarangire’s main gate; 90 minutes’ drive to Lake Manyara’s north gate two hours’ drive to Lake Manyara’s south gate.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Fabia Bausch

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: Dining times at Chem Chem are very flexible, so guests can have lunch and dinner to fit in with their activities. The lodge takes a lot of pride in its food and regularly invites well-known and experienced chefs to work with and train their staff. In fact, the food was one of the highlights of our stay: fresh, light and healthy, imaginatively produced, and with portions of a perfect size.

Breakfast was the simplest meal, with a small buffet selection of cereal, fruit, meat and cheese, home made pastries, smoothies and the option of freshly cooked eggs and bacon.

Lunch was a light three-course meal – with a Tanzanian salad to start, followed by a choice of two quiches (either vegetable or Lorraine) and a mango sorbet to finish.

Dinner is served at individual tables in a variety of locations around the lodge, so is quite a private experience. The three-course menu incorporates two choices of both starters and mains. We could choose between iced cucumber soup or tomato carpaccio with avocado to start, followed by a chicken with leek and cream dish, or a vegetable curry, rounded off by spiced apple samosa with vanilla cream.

It was all delicious.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Most drinks are included at Chem Chem apart from premium wines, champagne and spirits.

Further dining info: Yes – there are phones in the rooms so light snacks and drinks can be ordered to the room.

Special interests

Luxury: Providing a wealth of comfort and style, Chem Chem strikes a balance between a wilderness escape and a luxurious African sanctuary. Enjoy private picnics in the middle of the bush and delicious candle-lit dinners serving gourmet fusion cuisine.

See more ideas for Luxury in Tanzania


Attitude towards children: The camp welcomes mature children over the age of 8.

Property’s age restrictions: Age 8 and over.

Special activities & services: The staff are happy to teach children how to track animals, make fire, bows and arrows and throw spears.

Equipment: None

Notes: Chem Chem is in the middle of the bush and wild animals do stroll through the camp so children need to be kept under supervision at all times.


Power supply: Generator

Power supply notes: There is power 24 hours a day and it is possible to charge batteries in the rooms from 06:00-08:00 and 18:30-22:00.

Communications: WiFi is available in the central areas at Chem Chem, and there is good cellphone reception here.

TV & radio: No

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: There is running hot and cold water for washing with and bottled water is provided for drinking.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: Chem Chem has a basic first-aid kit on site and the staff are trained in first-. For more serious matters the hospital in Arusha is about 1½ hours' drive away.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: A team of 20 askaris patrols the grounds of Chem Chem 24/7.

Fire safety: Chem Chem has a fire evacuation procedure, and there are fire extinguishers in each room.


Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Included

Money: There are safes in each of the rooms. The lodge doesn't have the facilities to change large amounts of money.

Accepted payment on location: Visa and MasterCard are accepted without a surcharge. You can also pay in British pounds, US dollars, euros and Tanzanian shillings.

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