A simple camp in the Serengeti, complete with nine stargazing tents and perfectly located for wildebeest and zebra migrations”
From June to November the camp shifts north to the Bologonja, close to the Mara River. This spot is famous not only for its glorious landscapes, but also for its perilous river crossing, which wildebeest attempt to ford while avoiding the snapping crocodiles. And there are big cats aplenty: lion and leopard are frequently spotted.
We loved the authentically ‘bush’ feel of Olakira Camp which seems to get you closer to the vast, open wilderness of the Serengeti and to its ineffable beauty.
Why we chose this partner
- An authentic and remote camp, far from other lodges, in a quiet part of the Serengeti
- Highly knowledgeable guides and exceptionally friendly staff: we relished eating dinner with our guide, and learning more about the Serengeti, Maasai culture and all things Tanzanian
- Top eco-credentials: the camp leaves no trace when it moves site; it aims to be carbon-neutral by offsetting emissions through local reforestation; and it supports Asilia's conservation fund
- Most packages from December-March include a private driver, so you can decide when and how long your game drives are (especially handy if travelling with kids)
- The flight out (included in the packages) is a highlight in itself
Please be aware
- The remoteness and superb service mean prices are high (typically USD 800-1000 pp per day) - but they include all meals, drinks, game drives, private transfers, internal flights and hefty park fees ... pretty much everything, in fact
- There is only a short distance between the tents, which detracts from the just-you-and-the-bush feel; but this is imposed by Park authorities
- Off-road game drives - once a highlight - are no longer allowed at any time of year
- It's hard to get to, but that's what makes it so special
Best time to go
June to November, when it's at the northerly Mara river, is perfect for watching the migrating wildebeest cross the perilous river, as hungry crocodiles snap at their legs. It is also the best site for viewing elephants, gazelle and (with luck) rhino. Being remote, this site is usually reached by light aircraft; it is also relatively devoid of tourists, making it perhaps the best kept secret of the Serengeti.”
Our top tips
Equally memorable - if you can rise (!) to the extra cost - is a balloon safari over the plains at sunrise: watch the animals waking up and coming to life, as you do the same.”
There are only nine tents in the camp, so the atmosphere is remote, intimate and utterly tranquil. Most tents sleep two people, but there's one Family Tent that sleeps four.
Heavy-duty canvas and mozzie-netted drop-down window flaps impart an authentic ‘safari’ guise, but inside you get a proper glamping experience. Beds are kingsize doubles (twins are also available), wooden floors are decorated with woven rugs, and seating areas offer plenty of space for relaxing. But the standout feature is the dazzling stargazing platform, which offers a 270-degree view of the surrounding wilderness.
Behind a canvas partition is the ensuite bathroom, complete with a flushing toilet and fully plumbed solar-powered shower. Lighting is recharged by solar power. At night it all looks simply magical when paraffin lamps are lit along the pathways threading out from the dining tent to the tents. We chose to sleep with our window flaps open, and awakening to the sound of birdsong with the sun rising over the Serengeti was an experience that no words could ever describe.
Meals are usually taken in a communal dining tent which, in its simplicity, felt utterly in sync with the bush setting: dark wooden tables, canvas chairs and side flaps raised high to bring in the views of the surrounding bush. Sometimes tables are moved to a small clearing just beyond the tent and you dine out beneath the stars. Either way, dinner steals the show. It begins with drinks round the boma, followed by a familiar but winning three-course formula: homemade soup with freshly baked bread (we had delicious green banana soup), a hearty stew or roast meat with veg, rounded off with perhaps a kashata (candied coconut tart) or rice pudding. A house red or white is always included, although wine lovers might prefer to choose amongst a small selection of cellar wines or even Champagne.
Breakfast generally gets going at 7am though it can be earlier if you’re keen to head off on a game drive at first light. When we stayed things were a little slow to amble into action but this was hardly a problem: the animal world was waking up and the dining tent was a perfect place from which to watch the action.
The chances are that you’ll be out of camp at midday so lunches tend to be of the boxed variety; ours was just fine, with excellent homemade quiche, chicken rolls, carrot and cucumber sticks, cold juice from our jeep’s fridge, fruit and yummy chocolate cake.
- There are two game drives a day included in your tariff - either one in the morning and one in the late afternoon (with lunch at camp in between), or a 'double drive' from after breakfast through to early afternoon (with a boxed lunch)
- Depending on when you visit, you'll see vast numbers of zebras and wildebeest as part of the Great Migration, not to mention crocs, gazelle, elephant, giraffe, hyenas, vultures, Maribou storks, plus (hopefully) cheetahs, leopards, lion, maybe even a rhino
- Balloon trips are available (at extra cost): watch the animals waking up and coming to life, as you do the same
- Ask to visit one of the local villages to learn more about the culture of the Kuria people (at the Mara / northern site only)
- Back at camp, relax with some story-telling, board games or star gazing
- Hot air ballooning
- Plantlife / flora
Children under 5 are not allowed unless the camp is booked exclusively. Children aged 5+ are welcome and there's a dedicated Family Tent with two ensuite bedrooms (one double, one twin). Staff are happy to prepare special meals and arrange earlier meal times for children. Kids aged 5-18 years are charged 50% of the adult rate when sharing with two adults. Extra beds can be provided.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
Extra Beds Available
The game drives and most camp-to-camp transfers are in comfy 4WD Toyota Landcruisers, with either five or seven seats. All seats are by the window, with extra-large windows for photography and driving comfort. They also have a pop-up roof for enhanced game-viewing in the parks, as well as a coolbox stocked with soft drinks, wildlife- and bird reference books, Maasai blankets, and a camera/phone charging point (with UK adapter).
The transfer back to Kilimanjaro Airport is normally in a light aircraft - typically a 12-seater Cessna caravan.
Olakira is in the Serengeti area of NW Tanzania. From mid December to March it is located in the southern Serengeti, near Ndutu airstrip (20 mins drive); from June to November it is located near the northerly Mara river (Kogatende airstrip is 45 mins away).
Because of the complexity of getting there, the camp can only be booked as part of a safari package. Our featured safaris generally feature two-three nights at Olakira Camp, or you can request a tailor-made trip to suit your timing and interests.
Safaris start and end at Kilimanjaro International Airport near Arusha - served by some international flights as well as frequent hopper flights from Dar es Salaam - or in Arusha itself if you prefer.
Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.
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