Tanzania : Serengeti
The Serengeti, which covers 14,763 square kilometres, is Tanzania's largest National Park and indisputably one of the finest wildlife areas anywhere in Africa. It has a huge variety of mammals and nearly 500 species of birds. It is here on the seemingly endless and almost treeless plains (Serengeti means ‘endless plain’) that you get a glimpse of what East Africa must have looked like in the days before the great white hunters. There are literally millions of hoofed animals, constantly on the move in search of grass, watched and pursued by the predators which feed off them. The Serengeti is most famous for its spectacular annual migration of the great wildebeest and zebra herds. This is a trek of many hazards, not least of which is the crossing of large rivers, when hundreds of animals can drown, providing a feast for the crocodiles and scavengers. Even when the migration is not passing through the Serengeti, there is a multitude of resident game. There are a number of lodges and camps in the Serengeti, from the simple and rustic to the luxury and the quirky. The best way to get the feel of the Serengeti is staying in a mobile camp, classic safari camps which move with the wildlife, exploring the different areas with your own personal guide.
The best way to get the real feeling of Africa and the magic of the bush is to go on a mobile camping safari, where you stay in small, luxury tented camps in areas where the game is at its most dense. The camps move every few weeks to follow the game as it moves on in search of fresh grass, and are equipped with all the comforts (en-suite bucket shower, hot water in the mornings, a sit-down short drop or chemical loo, and three-course dinners) so while enjoying the experience of sleeping under canvas, you don’t feel you are roughing it.
Nomads are one of the best mobile safaris in Northern Tanzania, selecting sites off the beaten track where you can enjoy the beauty of some truly wild and beautiful places. The spacious eight-foot high tents have full-size beds complete with high-density mattresses, linen sheets and blankets, dressing tables, a wardrobe, luggage racks and safari chairs. There are rechargeable lights and an en-suite bathroom with a private short drop loo and bucket shower. The food is very good and there is a fully stocked complimentary bar with plenty of ice for cold drinks. Three course candle lit dinners are served in the dining tent or under the stars with fine wine and liqueurs.
Nomad’s guiding is excellent and you will learn about the flora and fauna of the area and the animals and their habitats, as well as seeing wildlife up close. If you are in a small group of 4-8, you can take an exclusive safari for yourselves but there is also the option of staying in Nomad’s camps with your own driver and guide and joining other guests.
Kirurumu is a classic tented camp which moves to different parts of the Serengeti as the wildlife moves with the migration, so you are always in the best game-viewing area. The mobile safari is the ultimate way to enjoy a safari in the style of the 'old days', giving you the pleasure and excitement of camping with the comforts of an en-suite shower and being well looked after. Each of the specially-designed tents has comfortable full-size mosquito-netted beds, leather-backed safari chairs, luggage rack and writing desk. There is an en-suite bucket shower, sink and dressing area, and each morning hot water will be brought to your tent for washing. With only seven tents, it is an intimate camp and the camp staff are very friendly and professional. There is a mess tent for dining or relaxing with a book, and the camp fire is strategically placed to enjoy the views and the huge African starry skies.
Always selecting particularly beautiful areas off the beaten track, the safari guides will take you to explore some truly wild places where you will learn about the flora and fauna of the area and the animals and their habitats. You have your own private driver-guide, returning each evening to your tented camp to swap sightings and share stories around the camp fire with the other guests.
Built on a kopje amongst granite rocks in the midst of the Serengeti's northern grass plains, Migration Camp overlooks the Grumeti River. Space and freedom, an essential part of the Serengeti experience, has been created by siting the 14 luxury tents on secluded vantage points on surrounding hillocks and next to the river. Elevations, bridges and cantilevered timber decks link the tents with the dining area and bar. Lit up at night with shimmering hurricane lamps you really feel the vastness of the African night sky. Both the balconies at your tent and the bar and dining area face west to catch the spectacular Serengeti sunsets. Next to the open dining tent is a swimming pool and a library, well stocked with books on Africa's flora and fauna. Game drives venture to the southern plains of Seronera and north to the rolling grasslands of the Mara. Closer to camp, there are walks along the Grumeti River and visits to a hide for viewing the abundant wildlife.
In a remote valley of the western corridor of the Serengeti, the Grumeti River camp overlooks a tributary of the Grumeti River, with crocs and hippos wallowing in pools carpeted in water lilies. Surrounded by trees and the vast expanse of the Serengeti savannah and woodlands, the camp has 10 luxury tented rooms, pitched under thatched roofs, with en suite bathrooms and an open air shower, with views of the hippos pools. Game drives take place both by day and night into the savannah woodlands and the open Serengeti plains and bush walks with expert guides will introduce you to the local flora and fauna. In the heat of the day you can relax in pool.
Kirawira Camp is a luxury tented camp set in the hillside above the western corridor of the Serengeti and looking out over the plains towards Lake Victoria. Each tent is pitched on an elevated platform, facing the sunset and is furnished in traditional but elegant Victorian style, creating an atmosphere of a bygone colonial era. The sitting area is set with safari tables and period antiques. Nearby there is a cascading swimming pool. With commanding views of the Grumeti River, the area is famous for its giant crocodiles, tree climbing lions and the annual migration of the wildebeest. Game watching by vehicle or on foot takes you out into the vast expanse of the Serengeti. Kirawira's speciality is a morning's walking safari followed by a hearty bush breakfast. The camp's aim is to attend to your every need and with individual tent valets and gourmet cooking, it certainly provides a luxury bush holiday.
Ndutu Safari Lodge is a simple, comfortable lodge in the southern Serengeti Plains, where you can enjoy the benefits of being outside the Serengeti National Park, including off road game viewing and fewer people. It is also ideally situated, still in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, to visit both the Ngorongoro Crater (80 kilometres away) and the Serengeti. Part-owned by Margaret Gibb, who set up the very popular Gibb’s Farm on the other side of the Crater, the 34-cottage lodge is very well managed, has a friendly, informal ambience and great food. Being just next to Lake Ndutu, the game viewing in this area is excellent, particularly during the short rains between December and April when the migration is in the southern plains. There are no enclosing barriers, allowing game to move freely through the camp. Ndutu is lovely lodge, it's simple with very friendly staff, and clients come back year after year for the excellent game viewing.
Suyan Camp is a small seasonal six-tent camp, which moves between two locations over the year to make the most of the game movement. Suyan is less about luxury and more about being in the wilderness and enjoying the geography and history of the area. That said, the tents are huge and comfortable, with their own sitting area, en suite bathrooms with flushing toilets and bucket safari showers. The mess tent has leather chairs as well as director chairs dotted about, and the campfire in front of it is great to sit around sharing stories or enjoying a pre-dinner drink. As well as game drives, walking and cultural tours, you can fly camp from both Suyan camps, which is a fantastic way to explore the stunning wild Serengeti and sleep under the African skies.
Sayari Camp is a lovely permanent tented camp in the northern part of the Serengeti, just south of the Mara River. There is a good population of permanent game here, drawn by the river and the variety of vegetation around it, and between about August and November, Sayari can be a wonderful base from which to watch the great wildebeest migration as it comes down from the Masai Mara in Kenya. There are 15 tents separated into two separate wings, each with their own lounge, dining tent and library to ensure it still feels small and private. The large raised tents have beautiful furniture and finishings, and each en-suite bathroom has running hot and cold water. Sayari now runs walking safaris, offering the rare opportunity to get up close to big game and birds inside the Serengeti, as well as learning about the trees and shrubs. Walking safaris must be booked at time of booking your holiday.
"The tent was fantastic and we loved the nibbles with our sundowners. And we saw five river crossings!"
Alex and David, Perth