Olakira Camp

Serengeti, Northern Circuit, Tanzania Book from Book from £1084 per night

A simple camp in the Serengeti, perfectly located for wildebeest and zebra migrations
In true nomad fashion, Olakira Camp changes location according to the time of year. Between December and March, 9 safari tents are located in the southern Serengeti at Ndutu, amidst calving wildebeest and zebra on their migration journey south. The spectacle of thousands of animals giving birth to their young is fantastic to witness, and this camp allows you to remain close to the action when other visitors have had to leave to get back to their lodges. And the proximity of Lake Macek and Lake Ndutu, which normally have water all year round, further enhances the likelihood of seeing a huge amount of game.

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

December to March, when the camp is located in the southerly Ndutu area, is ideal for seeing wildebeest and zebra giving birth to their young, and lion and cheetah hunting among open grasslands. The precise location of the migrating herds varies from year to year, but the rangers will know which way to head.

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

At night the camp looks simply magical, with paraffin lamps lit along the pathways threading out from the dining tent to the tents. We chose to sleep with our window flaps open: awakening to the sound of birdsong with the sun rising over the Serengeti was an experience that no words could ever describe.

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.

Great for...

Eco
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Room:

Lodging

There are only 9 tents in the camp, so the atmosphere is remote, intimate and utterly tranquil. Heavy duty canvas, mozzie-netted drop-down window flaps and simple director-style chairs impart an authentically safari feel, whilst inside every effort has been made to make your bush experience as comfortable as can be. Twin beds are joined (unless you specify) to make huge kingsize doubles; there are attractive carved bedside tables, bright durries on the groundsheets and eye-catching African fabric bedspreads and pillows. Lighting is from low wattage eco-bulbs powered by a 12V battery which is brought along to your tent at nightfall; during the day it is recharged by solar power.

A small dressing room sits behind a canvas partition, with a tin sink set into a simple wooden vanity unit, a wooden rack with white towels and a hanging space for clothes. Partitioned off behind a second flap are the toilet and shower. Hot water is supplied by a large canvas bucket, which is hoisted up for you first thing in the morning; ask if you would like extra hot water delivered for your pre-dinner ablutions.

Meals are usually taken in a communal dining tent which, in its simplicity, felt utterly in sync with the bush setting: dark wooden table, 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 3-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.

Activities

  • There are 2 game drives a day included in your tariff - either 1 in the morning and 1 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 the 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

  • Walking safaris can also be arranged (at the Ndutu / southern site only)

  • 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

Activities include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Hiking
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Safaris
  • Wildlife
Activity:
Kid Friendly:

With Kids

Children under 5 are not allowed unless the camp is booked exclusively. Children aged 5+ are welcome and 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 2 adults. Extra beds can be provided.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available

Transport

The game drives and most camp-to-camp transfers are in comfy 4WD Toyota Landcruisers, with either 5 or 7 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.

Transport:

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