As we reminisce about our Tanzania adventure, we wish every place we visited had such good treatments and striking Serengeti view.

Overall Impression It was marvelous to be in the Grumeti Reserves in the famous Serengeti, miles from anywhere, and enjoy a new and handsome, well appointed world class spa offering on site and in suite treatment options at the Sasakwa Lodge and nearby Sabora Plains Tented Camp. We enjoyed excellent deep tissue massages, a facial and a couple’s treatment that left us walking on air.

Two weeks of twice daily game viewing drives, several international flights, and multiple bush plane flights had left our muscles stiff and sore. Due to tight scheduling and bush travel, the spa at Sabora was the first opportunity we had for spa treatments in 10 days of travel. The first order of business as soon as we arrived at Sabora and discovered we could book spa treatments was to schedule massages for each of us.

Anne, our masseuse, drove from the Sasakwa Lodge to the Sabora two room tented spa where she performed the massages in the early afternoon. They did us a world of good. Anne’s strong hands bore deep into our muscles kneading out aches and pains, helping us relax so we could continue enjoying our daily game viewing excursions which required hours of driving in the plains spotting for game. The tented spa, two steps from our tent, was filled with the background whisperings of the bush. It was clean and well equipped with massage tables and spa products a plenty.

Once we arrived at Sasakwa Lodge we scheduled one more deep tissue massage. Although I longed to spend a whole day at the spa indulging in another massage, as well as manicure, pedicure, and hydrotherapy treatments, my face was crying for attention and TLC so I requested a facial. Tansy Glanz, the spa manager and therapist who did my facial, obviously enjoys facial work. She was professional, polite, helpful and knowledgeable. I appreciate that she explained every step of the customized Dermalogica facial.

The afternoon before our departure, we had a couple’s scalp massage and reflexology combo, recommended by Tansy, in the comfort of our suite verandah. What a vacation topper! In addition to simultaneous 90-minute professional quality treatments in the privacy of our suite we basked in the Serengeti Plains view reaching onto the horizon.

We liked the Sasakwa spa’s stylish and immaculately clean facilities and treatment options as well as the massages at Sabora’s tented spa. Comfortable and well equipped treatment rooms, quality products and treatments by skilled therapist made the spas appealing. We look forward to a return visit to Sasakwa and Sabora and during that time plan to take advantage of the spa treatments. As we reminisce about our Tanzania adventure, we wish every place we visited had such good treatments and striking Serengeti view.

Handicapped Access Many treatments were available in the guest rooms. Although Sabora was not handicapped friendly, one of the suites at Sasakwa could accommodate wheelchairs.

Location The main spa was at Sasakwa Lodge. Sabora Tented Camp had a smaller two room tented facility offering most of the treatment options except hydrotherapy and hot stone massages.

Number Of Staff There were five therapists, two management staff members and three Tanzanian therapists shared by the two spa facilities.

Owned and managed When we visited the spas were owned by Singita Grumeti Reserves

Size The 3,000 square foot spa at Sasakwa had three treatment rooms. The Sabora spa occupied two tents.

Spa Manager Tansy Glanz studied at the Durban Technical Institute in South Africa. Relief spa manager Michelle Hutt studied at the Stellenbosch based Isa Carstens Academy also in South Africa.

Special Training Senior spa staff conducted extensive training with the local therapists in areas of massage therapies, manicures, pedicures, spa body treatments and skin care.  Staff therapists completed Dermalogica training provided by an international trainer. Yearly training is undertaken by an international trainer on site.

Treatment Rooms Sasakwa had a facial therapy room, a body therapy room with adjoining hydrotherapy tub and a relaxation room with steam. This suite was also available for couple’s treatments. Each treatment room was about 4 meters x 3 meters in size.

Sabora had two treatment rooms, one for facial therapy and one for body treatments with an outdoor shower facility. Most treatments, except hydrotherapy and hot stone massages, were available in the comfort of the guest’s cottage, suite or tent at each location.

Year Opened-Renovated The spa was opened in 2005.

Common Areas The Sasakwa Spa was furnished with French inspired, country style and formal, antiques. Windows were draped in hand embroidered “crewel” work stylized floral pattern in yellow blue and rust. Lounge and wingback chairs, slip covered in thick white cotton, sat on silk Persian rugs. Decorative touches included Venetian mirrors and simple chandeliers designed to emulate an “elegant, cool, pale homely” ambiance.

The Sabora Spa was designed to remind visitors of a 1920’s African safari tent. Emphasis was on the sounds and sights of the African bush, penetrating and surrounding the tent. Campaign antique furniture dressed the rooms, while the floors were lined in overlapping Persian rugs in rich reds, Bedouin style. Decorative touches included brass chandeliers, candle light lanterns and cool white damask linen. Tribal accessories were included for contrast and to add local character.

Amenities Guests were invited to use linen bath robes in the spa (identical to the ones in the guest cottages). All spa amenities were Dermalogica including Body Conditioning Wash, Body Hydrating Cream, Shine Therapy Shampoo and Silk Finish Conditioner (these were different to the Penhaligon products provided in the guest cottages).

Facilities There was a steam room in the couple’s treatment room, full size swimming pool (1.7 meters deep and heated to 22 degrees Celsius), Jacuzzi plunge pool (heated to 34 degrees Celsius) and a fitness center at Sasakwa Lodge. The fitness center was outfitted with Life Fitness equipment (two treadmills, two elliptical machines, and two bicycles), a full set of weights and stretch mats and a large plasma screen television. These facilities were available for Sabora guests when Sasakwa was not booked exclusively.

Lockers And Bathrooms The Sasakwa Spa had two lock up change room facilities with shower and toilet. The Sabora Spa had one.

Other All treatments were charged at $100 per hour or part thereof (i.e. 30 minutes for $50 and each 15 minute increment cost $25). This allowed guests to decide which treatments to request and for how long instead of paying a set price per treatment. It was also possible to request two treatments during the same time, as we did with the couple’s treatment, if the therapists were available.

Mornings were the best time to book treatments because most of the guests were out on game drives and the spa was quiet.

Cleanliness Excellent

Date Of Review February 2007

Number Of Treatments We enjoyed four treatments at Sasakwa Lodge and two treatments at Sabora Tented Camp

Reviewers Article by Elena del Valle

Photos by Gary Cox

Would You Return? Yes

Treatments Experienced We each had hour long Deep Tissue massages during our stay at Sabora. These were performed by Anne in the Sabora Spa tent, a stone’s throw away from our tent. At Sasakwa we had a one Deep Tissue massage and a 90-minute Dermalogica Facial at the spa. We also had a 90-minute couple’s Reflexology and Sedating Scalp Treatment on our cottage terrace. Darlene Paschal and Anne Catherine Mburu were the therapists for the massages and Spa Manager Tansy Glanz performed the late afternoon facial.

The first step in the reflexology was a Foot Filing to remove rough dry skin from the heels and balls of the feet. Anne and Darlene rubbed Hydro Active Mineral Salts, a Dermalogica product that contains mineral salts and seaweed to gently exfoliate surface dead skin cells, over the feet. Papain (Papaya) and Bromelain (Pineapple) enzymes were included to dissolve away dulling debris and leave the skin feeling soft and smooth. Sandalwood, lavender, orange and clary sage essential oils were meant to “condition, purify and revitalize the skin.”

The therapists used Toxin Relief Oil from the Dermalogica Essential Relief Oils during the massage sessions.  The reflexology treatment was performed with deep finger and thumb pressure over the entire foot. The idea was to relieve discomfort in areas of imbalance or toxin build up. As with deep tissue treatments, we often find the best ones are rough riding during the treatment but with blissful after effects. 

The Sedating Scalp Massage was a gentle and soothing pressure point massage of the scalp and face, designed to relax, drain toxins through the use of lymph drainage movements, and increase micro-circulation. It was recommended for the relief of sinusitis and headaches.  As part of the massage the therapists used Dermalogica products, to cleanse and exfoliate the face and neck, removing debris, sebum and dead skin cells.

The therapists applied a blend of essential oils (lavender, sandalwood, eucalyptus, and cypress) in a blend of carrier oils (hazelnut, avocado and wheatgerm) to act as a massage medium, and promote additional essential oil benefits.

The facial began, after I filled out a lengthy Dermalogica questionnaire, with a PreCleansing to  gently liquefy sebum (oil) and oil based debris from the skin’s surface in preparation for the deep cleanser that followed. The pre-cleanser contained kukui nut, borage seed, rice bran, light weight olive and apricot kernel oils.

Next, Tansy applied a Special Cleansing Gel mixed with Purifying Botanical Mixer to customize the treatment, for a thorough purifying deep cleanse. She followed with a Dermalogica Face Mapping Skin Analysis, a skin analysis method that divides the face into 14 zones, “to locate, recognize and determine the skin’s needs.” She recorded her findings on a consultation card and Face Mapping Sheet which she shared with me at the conclusion of the facial. After that she used a Daily Microfoliant with a “skin brightening complex of botanical ingredients to lighten and brighten the skin,” and enzymes, rice and rice bran extracts to dissolve and remove dead skins cells and smooth skin. She applied it in conjunction with a facial steamer.

Then there was the extraction, removal of comedones (blackheads) and milia (whiteheads), under a magnifying lamp. After two weeks of twice daily game viewing drives my face was grateful for the cleansing.  She then wiped my faced with a Post Extraction gel to disinfect and calm the irritated skin.

Next she gave me a Galvanic Treatment – O2 Uptake Serum and a Skin Hydrating Masque. The idea was for the galvanic current to stimulate my skin to absorb the serum into the deep layers. The use of this particular serum was meant to increase oxygen levels in the skin, increase the micro-circulation and boost hydration levels.

Tansy did a pressure point massage with Clearing Additive, a blend of essential oils (ylang ylang, lemongrass, juniper, rosewood and sandalwood) in hazelnut, avocado and wheatgerm carrier oils to detoxify, purify, decongest and brighten the skin. She used Massage Cream on the décolleté and neck during a Swedish massage to relax.

She spread a Refining Skin Masque on my face and Skin Hydrating Masque around my eyes to refine the pores, absorb and balance excess oil, calm, soothe and hydrate. Next there was a Multi Active Toner spritz, a second application of O2 Uptake Serum, followed by an application of Multi Vitamin Power Firm for Eyes and Lips. She completed the facial with Skin Smoothing Cream.

Before I left Tansy handed me a copy of my Face Mapping Skin Analysis Sheet, product samples, information leaflets on exfoliation, pigmentation and premature aging, and an information booklet on the Dermalogica line. At the end of the treatment my skin felt supple and looked bright and clean.

Contact Information

  • Address:
    • Sasakwa Lodge
    • Singita Grumeti Reserves
    • P.O. Box 65
    • Mugumu
    • Tanzania
  • Phone:
    • +255 282622074 or
    • +1 770 947 7049
  • Fax:
    • +255 282622075
  • Website:
  • Email: