Kirawira Camp

Kirawira Camp: Our full report

Rooms
25 tented rooms
Open
All year

Open since 1998, Kirawira Camp is part of the East African chain of Serena Hotels. It is the smartest and smallest of their properties in northern Tanzania and is designed to be a high-end, colonial-style tented camp.The most noticeable thing about Kirawira Camp is its location. Atop a high hill, Kirawira looks down over the plains of Serengeti National Park's Western Corridor. On a clear day, the views are spectacular, and a Swarovski spotting scope in the lounge area makes game viewing possible without leaving the lodge!

Kirawira Camp faces west, and relaxing by the lodge's swimming pool, watching the sun set over the Serengeti plains, is one of the highlights of staying here.

In the main areas of Kirawira Camp a colonial-Victorian style predominates: you will find polished wooden floors, Persian rugs and leather-bound travelling cases. The floral-patterned furniture and stud-backed leather smoking chairs look as if they come straight out of an English country home and give a sense of style that is fairly unusual in a safari destination (even if the chairs are a little worn).

The main lounge is a cool, spacious room, dotted with antique-style sofas and chairs clustered round coffee tables. Old hat stands, leather trunks and antique record players add character and a style reminiscent of the Victorian era. You will also find a games cabinet here, with Scrabble, chess, backgammon and other classic games. During the day guests might want to sit out on the shaded veranda which looks out over the plains below; there is a Swarovski spotting scope here for game viewing.

The dining room at Kirawira Camp is split between two different tented rooms, to give the impression that the camp is smaller than it really is. White cotton tablecloths hang over solid wood tables set with solid silver cutlery and starched white napkins. It's simple, yet what is there is high quality. You can expect to be served tasty food by waiters well-trained in silver service. The solid silver cutlery is polished to a high shine, and the tablecloths are white and spotlessly clean. We found the service during meals to be friendly and of a high standard – although it felt strange, almost 'staged', to be in a tented safari camp surrounded by waiters in starched white uniforms.

Kirawira also has a well-stocked gift shop that sells a variety of curios such as wooden carvings, jewellery and fabrics. There are also some lovely coffee table books as well as wildlife and bird books. If you have forgotten any toiletries, there is a small selection on sale here, as well as camera batteries and film.

Down a flight of steps, on a lower level to the lounge and dining room, is Kirawira Camp's swimming pool. The pool is chlorinated, and looks cool and inviting. A small waterfall from a higher plunge pool adds style to the pool area and gives it a 'natural spring' feel. Sunloungers sit under shades and look out across the Serengeti plains. The swimming pool is a popular place for sundowners in the evenings, when staff come down to make a variety of cocktails.

The 25 bedrooms at Kirawira are tented rooms raised on wooden platforms, each with a private veranda and an en-suite toilet. The rooms are well spaced apart, and so are peaceful and quiet. Click here to read more about the tented rooms at Kirawira Tented Camp

The activities at Kirawira Camp focus mainly of 4WD safari drives, and most travellers visit here with their own private guide and 4WD. Then you'll either head out for a full day's safari to explore deep into the park, taking a packed lunch with you; or have a morning game drive, and then return for lunch at the lodge, before another drive in the late afternoon.

During the months of May through to July this camp is perfectly located for the great wildebeest migration. The plains around the camp fill up with animals heading north and preparing to cross the dry Grumeti River. For an idea of where the migration is and when, look at our moving map of the Serengeti migration.

You can also arrange to visit the nearby Lake Victoria, which is only 45km away. This day trip costs about US$100 per person. Whilst here you can also visit a local fishing village, though you will need to pay a small additional charge direct to the village.

Our view

Kirawira Camp is reminiscent of the early colonial days of the explorers, with an antique style and standards of service which are very good. However as well as having 'old-world' décor by design, it also looks a little old and tired; visiting in June 2008, we felt that Kirawira had missed the 'classic safari' look that other camps have achieved so well. When we visited again in May 2011 we noted that renovations and improvements were underway, but these were being done bit by bit and that much of the antique style furniture remained the same.

Although Kirawira is a relatively small tented property, it hasn't managed to shake off the hotel nature of the 'Serena' chain – and this showed itself in the atmosphere which was quite stiff and formal even though the staff were friendly.

Geographics

Location: Serengeti Migration Area, Tanzania

Ideal length of stay: Stay here for three or four nights, exploring the surrounding area with your driver and guide.

Directions: The lodge is approximately 14km from Grumeti airstrip. Alternatively, you may access it on a longer guided safari driving from Arusha and visiting wildlife areas such as the Ngorongoro Crater along the way.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: The food at Kirawira Camp was good when we were last there. The menu was varied and imaginative and there were plenty of options to suit different tastes.

Breakfast is a variety of continental choices such as cereals, fruit, yoghurt and fresh baked bread. There is also a full English breakfast and toast on offer.

Lunch is quite formal, with a four course meal and silver service. There is a menu card for lunch with a number of options for each course. Start your meal with a fresh salad, then for the second course there is a choice between two soups (cold cucumber soup and hot red pepper soup when we last visited).

The main course has four options; red meat, chicken, vegetarian and fish. The options where all very differently cooked, the red meat was Moroccan lamb, the vegetarian option was a curry, the fish was grilled and served with a light cream sauce and the chicken was roasted. There was something to suit most palettes.

Desert has three options, ranging in heaviness – when we were there we could choose between home-made ice cream, chocolate mousse and fresh fruit salad.

There is the option of a lighter midday meal for those not hungry enough to face three courses.

Dinner follows the same pattern as lunch – with silver service and a four course meal, with a number of options for each course.

A selection of coffees and teas are available throughout the day.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Drinks are not included in the price of the accommodation. These will be added to your bill for you to settle before you depart. The cost of a mineral water or a soda is about US$3, a beer is about US$5 and a glass of wine is about US$7.

Further dining info: Kirawira Camp offer room service, and with some advance notice can usually do private meals on the terrace of your tent.

Special interests

Wildlife safaris: Between May and July, the Western Corridor teems with the great wildebeest migration that is heading north across the Serengeti plains and the Grumeti River; Kirawira Camp is then a good base for exploring this area. At other times of year, there is some resident game in the area, but you'll have to look quite hard for it.

See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Tanzania

Children

Attitude towards children: Kirawira Camp welcomes older children.

Property’s age restrictions: Kirawira Camp has a minimum age of 7 years.

Special activities & services: Kirawira Camp offers child-minding is from their housekeeping team; there is no charge for this but it is customary to leave a tip. It is important to note that the 'baby sitters' are usually one of the camp staff members and not trained child minders.

Notes: The camp is not fenced in and so wild animals can, and sometimes do, pass through the grounds. Children must be under their parent's supervision at all times.

Infrastructure

Communications: There is intermittent mobile phone reception around the lodge. Guests can call internationally from their room (via reception), there is a charge of about US$6 per minute for this service There is also internet available for a charge of around US$8 for 30 minutes. Guests with their own laptops can also make use of the wireless internet connection in the main lounge. A voucher noting the pass code is purchased from reception and costs approximately US$ 5 for an hour or US$20 for 24 hours.

TV & radio: There is no TV or radio here.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There is usually a doctor on site, as well as a small clinic. For more serious cases Kirawira Camp has links to the flying doctors.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: There is a central safe for valuables – just hand your valuables to the manager on arrival. At night you will be escorted between your tent and the main areas, incase of wild animals in camp.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in rooms and main areas.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is available at an additional charge of US$1-2 per item. The lodge uses washing machines so a quick turnaround service is available on request but more usually takes about 12 hours.

Money: There are no exchange facilities here.

Accepted payment on location: Kirawira Camp accepts cash in GB pounds, Euros, US dollars and Tanzanian shillings. They also accept Visa, MasterCard and Amex credit cards; there is no additional fee for using a credit card.