The best mobile camps in the Serengeti


The Serengeti epitomises the image of safari. With rolling plains dotted with acacia trees and the kopjes where sleeping lions laze in the morning sun, add the year-round wildebeest migration and you have a recipe for arguably the best place in the world to experience the wild of Africa.

When choosing where to stay in the Serengeti, things are not always simple. There is a minefield of options to choose from and knowing what is best can be tricky. In plain terms, there is one main distinction to be made: do you choose a mobile camp or a permanent lodge?

The main difference between the two is that permanent lodges do not move throughout the year, they stay in the same location which consequently allows them to have a wider range of facilities like swimming pools and dedicated spa treatment rooms. They do however cost far more and do not always offer the chance to be in the best position for the migration. This is why staying in a mobile camp is a must in the Serengeti and if time and budget permits, combining it with a permanent camp will give you a brilliant all-round experience.

The draw of the mobile tent is its simplicity. Sleeping under canvas on the plains of the Serengeti is truly something everyone dreams about, limited Wi-Fi helps you to immerse and reconnect with nature and the evenings around the flickering camp fires provide the perfect seat to engage, learn and share. Through years of monitoring the wildebeest movements, mobile camps have secured the best possible positions, be it on the short grassy plains of Ndutu or on the banks of the Mara River, it is a guarantee that you will have front row seats to the world’s most encapsulating wildlife spectacle.

Serengeti Under Canvas

This is the most luxurious mobile camp in the Serengeti. Operated by &Beyond, Serengeti Under Canvas offers an opulent and luxurious stay, it is the definition of glamping. There are two camps, both identical, that move throughout the year. One moves North from the Ndutu Plains, to the Seronera region before heading to Kogatende. The second camp follows the same route but deviates slightly during May and June as it moves West to the Grumeti region of the National Park when a portion of the wildebeest branch off.

Comprising of nine Meru-style tents, each is lavishly furnished and equipped with a beautiful king-sized bed where the roars of lions are often heard as you fall asleep. With heated bucket showers and flushing toilets, your stay certainly does not feel like camping! Out on game drive the guides at &Beyond are trained to the highest standard and ensure you have the best possible experience. There are some great deals to be had, from honeymoon offers to long-stay discounts, staying at Serengeti Under Canvas is perfect for a luxurious Northern Tanzania circuit.

Chaka Camp

Arguably the best value luxury camp in the Serengeti, Chaka unlike Serengeti Under Canvas, is a no-frills migration camp. With two distinct movements throughout the year, from Ndutu to Kogatende, Chaka combines great value with excellent game viewing. Closed for the during April to mid-May and again during November, its sister permanent camp, Kiota, offers the same great value but in the Seronera region all year round, including when Chaka is closed.

Chaka is reminiscent of a rustic bush camp which gives it a warm and cosy feel, and the great service and friendly staff make it feel like a home from home. The flexibility of the guides allows for full days to be spent out on safari with picnic lunches and scenic drinks stops or if you prefer a leisurely morning drive followed by some down time at camp, this is also possible.

Serengeti Safari Camp

Nomad Tanzania have a very distinct style that runs through all their properties, from Entamanu in the Ngorongoro region, through to Greystoke Camp in Mahale, and their mobile camp, Serengeti Safari Camp, is no different. The rustic style with luxurious simplicity makes a combination that is both appealing to the eye and extremely comfortable to be part of.

There are two Serengeti Safari Camps, and they leap-frog each other throughout the year, this allows them to stay ahead of the herds and ensures guests are spoiled with sightings, even when it isn’t peak tourist season. The camps each comprise of six Meru style tents and an additional interconnecting family tent, guaranteeing an intimate and private stay.  Additionally, the communal dining and living area included a small library and a well-stocked bar allowing you to enjoy down time in between game drives. The fire pit is home to the bush television in the evenings.

On game drive, Nomad’s guides come equipped with brilliant knowledge of the area and the fauna and flora that inhabits the national park. You can be sure of an informative and fun filled safari!

Ubuntu

Asilia have a plethora of camps throughout the Serengeti, yet only two are mobile. Ubuntu is one and it is a great luxury option that moves three times in the year. Unlike most camps on the Ndutu plains, Ubuntu is located further South ensuring a more intimate and private experience whilst out on game drive. It then follows the herds to the Grumeti region before heading North to Kogatende.

For keen photographers, Asilia’s specialised photography vehicle is definitely worth booking. With customised fold-down doors and swivel chairs, you can be sure of getting the perfect photograph when the action happens! Asilia’s guides are some of the best in the business with a great knowledge of the wildlife and anticipating what may happen next, you can be sure a safari will never be dull!

The camp itself is made up of eight tents, including a family tent that comes equipped with an en-suite, warm bucket showers and flushing toilets. The main dining and communal lounge area are the perfect places to relax throughout the day and enjoy some exquisite cuisine.

Kirurumu Tented Camp

Competing with Chaka for the best value luxury mobile camp in the Serengeti is Kirurumu Tented Camp. Comprising of two camps, Kirurumu uses one camp solely for the peak season in the Kogatende region between June and October, whilst the second camp moves from Ndutu, to Seronera and up to Kogatende with the herds.

The camps are made up of seven tents each and all are furnished in the old ‘Out of Africa’ style, reminiscent of traditional safaris. Local artwork makes a brilliant addition to the tents and the communal area. The fire pit is a great place to swap stories, share photos and learn about the Masai culture after an enthralling day on the plains. With no Wi-Fi and limited phone service, immersing and reconnecting its guests with nature is what Kirurumu is all about.

Marc Harris is Managing Director of Tanzania Odyssey. Tanzania Odyssey is a leading tour operator that has specialised in Tanzania since 1998.

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Comments (12)

  1. Roger says:

    I think the key point here is the immense local knowledge that the camp owners and the guides have built up over the decades.

    When we turn-up on safari we tend to take for granted the years of experience behind the camp. Those mobile camps are situated in the optimum place for game watching.

    Nor do you suddenly become a safari guide over night, it’s a long and arduous apprenticeship made up of hundreds of hours of watching the terrain and getting to understand animal behaviour. It’s not just luck as to how much you et to see on safari.

    • Marc Harris says:

      Hi Roger,

      Yes you have hit the nail on the head. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes and throughout the years, these camps and their guides have the ultimate understanding of everything. we are so lucky to be able to benefit from this and hopefully once the pandemic has passed, tourism will again support these wonderful lodges!

  2. Karen Morris says:

    These fabulous camps have levels of luxury way beyond what we normally associate with the word ‘camp’. I’m afraid that for me hot showers and flushable loos are a non-negotiable starting point. There are some nasty camping memories from my days as a girl guide lurking at the back of my mind.

    Once I’ve got over those hurdles then these places look so romantic and magical. I’ve done some fixed safaris and absolutely loved them. This piece has got me thinking that maybe it is time to investigate a mobile safari camp.

    • Marc Harris says:

      Hi Karen,

      Yes camping is a very big understatement when describing these lodges. Thankfully they all have hot showers and en-suites – you will also be treated like royalty!

      A mobile camp is an experience you will never forget and if you would like to explore a mobile safari, please contact us at info@africaodyssey.com

      I hope to hear from you soon.

  3. Cara L. says:

    I guess camps have come a long way than just pitching tents in the middle of nowhere, bug bites, and creepy crawlies. I realized clean toilets and beds are my thing when I went on a class camping trip. I don’t even mind cramped spaces and sharing a tent. These mobile camps are a super upgrade from what I remember in my camping, youth days. It seems that getting there would be the hardest bit of the journey (I can just imagine the many transfers) and maybe even getting all the papers necessary pre-trip.

    • Marc Harris says:

      Hi Cara,

      Yes these camps are extremely luxurious and you certainly do not need to worry about pitching tents!

      Getting there is actually relatively easy. After your internal flight into the Serengeti, it is normally a 30 minute transfer (which is a game drive in itself) to the camp. In terms of papers – a simple visa that can be purchased before travel or upon arrival into Tanzania is all it takes! It really is as easy as that.

    • Frank says:

      Ha ha, that’s pretty cool. I honestly didn’t even know that was possible. I’ve heard some rough stories about traveling to Africa. So this is nice to know about if I ever want to visit … that doesn’t mean I have to rough it too much if I don’t want to.

    • Marc Harris says:

      Hi Frank,

      You certainly do not have to rough it!
      There are some fabulous options to choose from, and a style to suit everyone – if you want to discuss some different options, let me know!

  4. Vicky Matthews says:

    I hadn’t thought of there being movable and permanent camps but it makes sense that both would be offered for different reasons. Part of me would want to get the best of the season and to know the camp will go ‘where the action is’, so to speak, while saving some money, but the other part of me probably prefers the extra convenience and luxury of more amenities there like a pool. Considering these you’ve listed are all mobile, they’re far bigger and more cosy looking than I’d imagined. I think that’s what I often think with safaris and the Serengeti, that you’ll be trading comfort for the landscape but that doesn’t have to be the case as all of these look pretty nice to stay in.

    • Marc Harris says:

      Hi Vicky,

      As you have pointed out, both mobile and permanent lodges have their different advantages. A mixture of the two is certainly the best way to get the most out of a safari in the Serengeti!

  5. Greg says:

    This is really great. Looks like such an adventure. Those first few pictures are really amazing. One of my favorite things about traveling is being able to see the sunsets/different kinds of light in various places. That looks like something I have to see sometime in my life.

    • Marc Harris says:

      Hi Greg,

      Yes, the Serengeti is one of the best places for photography – the landscape and of course the wildlife are fantastic!

      I would definitely recommend adding it to the bucket list!

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