Lamai Serengeti Camp has some fantastic views to offer.
Lamai Serengeti: Our full report
Nomad Lamai Serengeti is one of the northern Serengeti’s newest permanent camps – having opened at the end of June 2011. It’s set high up in the beautiful Kogakuria Kopjies, with views out towards the Mara River Valley and Lamai Wedge – in the far north of the Serengeti National Park, just south of the border with Kenya. Between July and October the camp has a prime position to see the great wildebeest migration, and is close enough to the Mara River for guests to witness river crossings.
Lamai Serengeti is a high-quality operation promising some of the best guiding in Tanzania. It’s a sister camp to Nduara, Sand Rivers, Chada.
With 12 rooms in total, Lamai is split into two different, smaller camps; the Main Camp has eight rooms, while the smaller Private Camp has just four.
The communal areas of Lamai Serengeti’s Main Camp are incredibly spacious, and designed to take advantage of the fantastic views from all angles. Although constructed of wood and concrete, the buildings are painted and finished in such a way that from a distance they almost disappear into the surroundings.
The whole area has an incredibly relaxed, fresh and slightly quirky feel to it. Neutral creams and browns are offset by splashes of red and blue. All fabrics are sourced as locally as possible, and made up in Arusha, instead of being flown in from other countries as is sometimes the case.
The lounge area has plenty of comfortable sofas, placed to take advantage of the breeze that passes through, while in winter, a roaring fire is lit to ward off the cool of the evenings. You’ll meet your guide in this area before game drives and with a drink before dinner to discuss the next day’s activities.
Slightly below the lounge is a further, circular seating area with more sweeping views. To the left is a funky bar – look out for the aeroplane seats used as chairs, and the oil-cans used as lamp bases!
Across the decking in the dining area, you can continue to enjoy the views as you eat. There’s also a swimming pool with a few sunloungers, which can be a welcome addition during the hot months.
The eight spacious rooms at Lamai Serengeti’s Main Camp are nestled right between the kopjies. It’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into positioning them to maximise privacy, while allowing each a spectacular sunrise or sunset view. On our last trip, we didn’t even notice the room next to us until we were leaving, it was so well hidden!
From the outside, the rooms look fairly simple, but inside they’re impressive. Slightly reminiscent of a French country home, their scrubbed wooden floors, thick cream rugs and comfortable furnishings give a homely feel.
You enter through a stable door at the back of the room, which reveals a storage cupboard, stocked mini-fridge, and a small hatch in the wall. In the morning, the staff will wake you with a knock on your door, then leave your tea or coffee in this hatch, so you can rise at your leisure. On our last visit (2011), we thought the fridge was quite noisy, which some may find annoying.
Lamai Serengeti’s rooms are made mostly of plaster, but the front ‘wall’ is completely of mosquito gauze, allowing you to enjoy the views from the comfort of your bed. This also lets in a lot of light to the front, while at the back, glass bottles inset in the walls let in light but retain privacy.
A central king-size bed is swathed in a mosquito net; to one side there’s a simple white writing desk, and to the other, a day bed. A large wrap-around deck in front of the room is set with a couple of chairs and a small table.
The en-suite bathroom is also spacious, with two aged-metal sinks set in a stone base, with a mirror above, and some pretty beaded pots containing soap. The flush toilet is divided from the shower by a small wall. There’s space to hang clothes, as well as another stable door onto the decking at the front.
Two of the rooms are designed with families in mind; each has two bedrooms which share one bathroom.
The four-room Private Camp is designed in much the same style as the Main Camp, with its own dining room, lounge and swimming pool. The central areas are smaller and have a really cosy, homely feel to them. There is one family room here. As the name suggests, the Private Camp is usually only available for booking out exclusively by small groups.
Between July and October, when the Serengeti’s wildebeest migration is usually in this area around Lamai Serengeti, the game viewing should be phenomenal. However, even outside of this time, the permanent water in the Mara River means there is very good resident game too. Hence Lamai Serengeti is definitely worth visiting at other times of year, too. (Note though that it’s closed during the long rains, in April and May).
Activitiesat Lamai Serengeti Game revolve around drives led by experienced guides. A few travellers will arrive her as part of an extensive privately guided safari, in which case they’ll probably head out with their own guide in a closed 4WD.
However, given that the camp is so far to the north of the Serengeti, most travellers fly-in to the camp – and then use the game drives led by the camp’s own guides in open-topped 4WDs.
Of particular interest here, during the migration period (around July to October), is to try to observe one of the great ‘river crossings’. The Mara River in this area is deep, permanent and fast-flowing; so seeing hundreds, and often thousands, of animals swimming across – whilst trying not to get swept away or fall victim to the river’s huge crocodiles – is a truly spectacular sight. You’ll often need patience to see such an event, but it’s worth waiting for.
Lamai Serengeti has a superb location and very good pedigree, and we’ve no doubt that it is following in the footsteps of its high-quality sister camps. We visited in October 2011, shortly after it opened, when one or two issues needed ironing out (like the food), but overall it was excellent with plenty of character. It may not appeal to some purists who like more elemental bushcamps with campfires and simple rooms; it’s too substantial and smart. However, for great guiding and service, superb views and a touch of luxury, it’s a good choice. Interestingly, for such a new camp it’s already proving extremely popular!
Ideal length of stay: A stay of 3–4 nights here is probably ideal; to enjoy the resident game for most of the year, and to give a good chance of seeing a river crossing during the migration, between about July and October.
Directions: You can either fly to Kogatende airstrip, from where Lamai Serengeti camp is in easy reach, or alternatively drive here if you’ve stayed the previous night somewhere in the central Serengeti, Lobo or Loliondo.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: When we last visited in October 2011 we thought the food was good and plentiful, if not quite up to the standard of Nomad’s other camps. We gave this feedback to the lodge who told us that they’d since been training the chefs very hard, and so we’re confident that it will soon be up to standard.
For breakfast we had a selection of cereals and toasts, followed by a hot breakfast, cooked as we liked. This was washed down with fresh juice, tea and coffee.
Lunch is sometimes taken out in the bush, but if you choose to return to the lodge then it’s generally a buffet. This was our favourite meal: light and fresh, with salads, vegetable kebabs and beetroot hummus, followed by coconut pancakes for dessert. Both breakfast and lunch were eaten at individual tables.
Dinner was a slightly more formal affair where we all sat together around one long table in the dining room. We had tomato soup to start, followed by roast chicken with fresh vegetables, and a pannacotta for dessert. All were quite good, but didn’t wow us.
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Yes
Wildlife safaris: From July to October Lamai Serengeti will be in a great location for the wildebeest migration. Outside of these months, it still offers great game viewing, with the bonus of very few people!See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: Lamai Serengeti welcomes children over the age of 8.
Property’s age restrictions: Only children over the age of 8 are permitted in the camp.
Special activities & services: There are no special activities for children.
Generally recommended for children: The family rooms and the swimming pool at Lamai make it a good family-friendly option, but as there are no other activities for children, and evenings are fairly formal, we would recommend the camp only for mature children over the age of 12 with an interest in wildlife.
Notes: As with all safari camps, it’s important to note that Lamai Serengeti is in a wilderness area, and children must be under the supervision of a parent or guardian at all times.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: There are UK 3-square-pin plug sockets in each room and 24-hour power. There is WiFi in the central lounge/bar area. On our last visit in October 2011 they didn’t have any laptops for guests to use, but they were planning to change this.
TV & radio: There is no TV here.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: Lamai Serengeti has a first-aid kit in the office, and links with the flying-doctor service.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There are askaris on duty who will escort you to your room in the evening.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all the rooms.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry (including ladies’ underwear) is included in the cost. It is line dried.
Money: There are safes in each of the rooms, and a larger one in the reception for valuables.
Accepted payment on location: Lamai Serengeti accepts credit card payments for any extras, but there is a surcharge.