Part museum exhibit, part lecture theatre, the Discovery Centre is the first lodge-based conservation research and education platform in the Serengeti.
The aim of the Discovery Centre is to educate guests about the ecology of the Serengeti and encourage them to learn more about the work that researchers and conservation organisations do within the Park. For example, guests are able to contribute first-hand to on-going research through the Serengeti Cheetah Project's identification program – the 'Cheetah Watch Campaign', and take part in the Serengeti Lion Project's camera trapping project – 'Snapshot Serengeti' – using the latest photographic technology to track and identify animals.
The Discovery Centre's focal point is a 3D, interactive, scale map of the Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem, which visually explains to guests the movements of the Serengeti's Great Migration. Visitors are guided through the Serengeti's key attributes via a series of displays, exhibition boards and interactive presentations, complemented by daily wildlife documentary screenings, the Lodge's specially trained staff and periodic expert talks in its state of the art lecture space. It also boasts an extensive reference and DVD library and fully equipped photographic exhibition space (featuring winning images from the 'guest photo of the month' competition) as well as a 27-inch iMac, with image processing software, for guests to review and edit their photos.
Oli Dreike, the Discovery Centre Manager adds, "The new Discovery Centre is not only an education tool, it is an exciting opportunity to show our guests what an incredibly special and fascinating place the Serengeti is. By getting guests involved in current research projects like Snapshot Serengeti and Cheetah Watch, we hope that they will gain a deeper understanding of the park's wildlife, while also being able to carry on their safari experience once they are back at home."
From the Discovery Centre guests can sign up to one of the Lodge's walking safaris, providing the opportunity to learn about the 'small five', traditional plant-use and Maasai culture – all in the safety and expert company of a naturalist guide, armed park Ranger and local Maasai warriors. The Centre's concept is founded on the successful Marine Discovery Centre at Four Seasons Resorts Maldives.
The 77-room Four Seasons Safari Lodge, Serengeti opened in December 2012 and is particularly well-suited for first-time safari travellers, extended families and groups. It includes 12 suites with plunge pools, five free-standing villas with private swimming pools, a spa with six treatment pavilions, three restaurants, a Kijana Klub for kids and teens and small conference facilities. Two active watering holes on the property allow for magnificent animal viewing at peak times of day and every room has an elevated open-air terrace providing direct views over the Serengeti.
The Lodge is the first of three Four Seasons' projects to open in Tanzania, with the future development of a luxury tented safari camp in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and an exclusive beach resort on the island of Zanzibar to follow.