Lake Masek is a fairly stylish tented camp bordering southern Serengeti National Park.
Lake Masek Tented Camp: Our full report
Named for the lake it overlooks, the relatively new Lake Masek Tented Camp is located just south of the border of southern Serengeti National Park and northwest Ngorongoro Conservation area. More commonly known as Ndutu, after a second lake nearby, this area sees the wildebeest migration pass through in the earlier part of the year (typically December to April). There is also a good population of resident wildlife found here, especially cheetah, which are regularly spotted, and the more diminutive and rarely seen bat-eared fox.
Open since 2010, Lake Masek Tented Camp has 20 spacious tents – five doubles, eight twins and seven triples – each specially designed and set up on wooden platforms about a metre off the ground. Linked by gravel paths and staggered for privacy, the tents overlook acacia and terminalia woodland characteristic of this part of the Serengeti.
Each tent has three parts: a large bedroom area, a bathroom which is divided off by a wooden partition, and a private veranda, which can be completely enclosed by zipping up the door into the bedroom and rolling down the outer tent flaps.
Inside, dark-wood four-poster bed/s are hung with mosquito nets and flanked by matching bedside tables. A wardrobe, dresser and writing desk complete the set. White curtains, white linen and stylish cane furniture with white cushions balance well against the dark wood, whilst red-stained floorboards and soft furnishings in burnt oranges and natural browns lighten the effect.
In the bathroom, twin sinks held up by wrought-iron frames sit below mirrors in carved frames. There’s a stand-alone bath flanked by metal palm sculptures stands nearby and a separate out-door, open-air shower. Unfortunately, the fairly luxurious feel of these spacious bathrooms is somewhat ruined by the location of the toilet which seems squeezed in almost as an afterthought. The set-up is not ideal for guests who are not couples or who prefer their toilets to be in an enclosed room.
The tents are covered by an additional layer of shade cloth to help keep them cool during the heat of the day, and large netted windows are fitted with canvas flaps that can be rolled up for views over the surrounding bush.
Each is fitted with a phone to contact reception, a safe, a hairdryer and plug points for charging batteries. Outside, solar panels generate power to heat the water for readily available hot showers.
The main thatched building at Lake Masek Tented Camp has a good view over Lake Masek, broken by the occasional flat-topped acacia. The majority of the building is taken up by a large lounge and dining area which opens out onto a sizeable wooden deck. It also houses a small gift shop, mostly stocked with Maasai jewellery, an internet room with three computers, the camp office and the kitchen.
The entire camp is simply but cleverly designed. There are no showy luxuries here but the tent layouts are well thought out, the tasteful décor is well coordinated and the living areas are spacious and uncluttered. Stylish cane chairs with comfortable white cushions are dotted with burnt-orange and natural brown-coloured throw cushions; tall-backed iron chairs sit around long wooden dining tables; leather directors’ chairs offer seating in select viewing points; a spotting scope is available on the deck; and natural wood is used for railings throughout.
Most visitors to Lake Masek Tented Camp are on a wildlife safari as part of a group tour or with their own private guide and vehicle. However, it is possible to arrange a walk around the lake led by a camp guide and armed ranger for an additional US$30 or so. This activity lasts approximately one hour and should be arranged in advance to ensure a park ranger is available. Massages are also available without notice on request, costing from about US$35 for 30 minutes.
Lake Masek is a relatively well-priced tented camp with a good balance of design and rustic safari ambience. Although often utilised by safari groups, it is run by a team that is adept at looking after individuals, and is spacious enough that there’s no feeling of being side-lined or tucked away in a corner.
Technically located within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, although considered part of the Serengeti, means that this is one of the few areas in northern Tanzania’s wildlife parks where vehicles can go off-road and get closer to animal sightings – making it a particularly good spot for photographers. Thus, even out of season, it should be considered by wildlife, birding and photography enthusiasts en route to or from the central and northern Serengeti.
Ideal length of stay: Between about December and April, when the wildebeest migration is usually found in the southern Serengeti, we recommend a two-night stay at Lake Masek Tented Camp. For the remainder of the year, it makes an interesting and scenic one-night stopover between Ngorongoro Crater and central/north Serengeti.
Directions: Lake Masek Tented Camp is approximately 40–45 minutes from the main southern Serengeti National Park Gate and a further 40 minutes to the productive Seronera region of central Serengeti.
Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: When we visited Lake Masek Tented Camp in May 2011 we didn’t stay to sample the food. However, the manageress informed us that breakfast and lunch are usually set out as a buffet. The dinner style varies and could be a buffet, a barbecue or stir-fries cooked to order on a central hot plate.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Whilst at Lake Masek, beer, house wine, soft drinks and mineral water are included in the accommodation price. All other beverages are extra.
Further dining info: On request. Private meals can be arranged on private verandas.
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome at the Lake Masek Tented Camp.
Equipment: There are cots and highchairs available for young children on request.
Notes: Lake Masek Tented Camp is situated in a wildlife area and is not fenced so animals can, and do occasionally, walk through the camp. In addition, the Serengeti National Park is a malaria area. For these reasons Expert Africa only recommends the camp to families with older children. Children must be under their parents’ supervision at all times.
Power supply: Combination of power
Power supply notes: The camp has a generator which runs 6.00–9.00am and 6.00–10.00pm. The generator stores power in a battery to operate lights and kitchen appliances at other times.
Communications: Each tent has a phone from which to contact the camp’s reception area. The camp itself is in telephone contact with their head office in Arusha. There is also cellphone reception in this area and internet available for guests’ use (although the connection can be quite slow).
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: The camp has a guard (askari) on 24-hour duty although this is mostly to keep an eye on wildlife movements. After nightfall, guests are escorted to and from their tents.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the camp’s main area. A water truck is stationed at the camp which can quickly be maneuvered into position if pumped water is required.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: There is no laundry service available. The alkaline water pumped from Lake Masek is unsuitable for washing clothes.
Accepted payment on location: Lake Masek Tented Camp accepts payment for extras in US dollars, British pounds, euro and Tanzanian shillings. Credit card payments are not currently accepted although this service is planned for the future.