On arrival at Mbalageti you will be shown to the Welcome Centre.
Mbalageti Lodge: Our full report
Mbalageti Lodge (also known as Mbalageti Serengeti Tented Camp, or simply Mbalageti Serengeti) stands on Mwamyeni Hill, overlooking the vast Dutwa Plain, in a quiet part of the Western Corridor of the Serengeti National Park. It has uninterrupted views of the Serengeti plains towards the Mbalageti River and is a lovely spot to be located in the Serengeti, and ideal if the wildebeest migration is in this area.(See our moving map of the migration – which shows the Serengeti's wildebeest migration as it moves, month-by-month, throughout the year.)
Mbalageti has a total of 40 rooms, all of which have electric fans, electronic safes, hairdryers and en-suite bathrooms. However, all are very different:
- The 14 standard lodge rooms are all built together, and relatively small, but are ideal for travellers trying to keep to a modest budget. (Read more about these standard rooms.)
- The 24 luxury tented chalets are all individually built – partially from stone and partially canvas. They're relatively large, stylish and very lovely – albeit considerably more costly than the standard rooms. (Read more about these luxury tented chalets.)
- The two executive suites each have two separate bedrooms, each with a separate en-suite bathroom, and their own lounge/dining room and a huge outside deck with great views.
Mbalageti Lodge has a friendly and relaxed atmosphere and the staff here are all very friendly and attentive. It is tastefully decorated with various artworks and wood carvings giving it a contemporary African feel.
The Welcome Centre is a large thatched open-sided building and houses the main reception area as well as the lodge office. This is where you will be met on arrival with a cool towel and welcome glass of fruit juice and asked to take a comfortable seat whilst completing arrival formalities. There are books and magazines to browse through, as well as some artwork and wood carvings on the walls. There is self-service tea and coffee available here which can be enjoyed inside, or outside on the lawn whilst taking in the amazing views.
The restaurant, bar and pool are situated in a separate building, on the edge of the hill, with 360-degree views of the Serengeti. The large swimming pool, surrounded by a large wooden deck, is made out of local stone and is the ideal place to cool down after a hot and dusty game drive.
There are a number of wooden decks around and below the pool, on different levels, with cream-coloured sunloungers and umbrellas, offering quiet areas to relax and unwind.
In a quiet area below the pool, in a private and tranquil setting, is the small spa area with two massage beds and a small plunge pool. The cost of massages, at the time of our visit in July 2008, was US$30 for half an hour and US$50 for an hour.
The restaurant is on two levels and is open-sided, offering uninterrupted views. The tables are made out of local wood with the legs being naturally-shaped tree trunks. All the chairs are good quality leather directors’ chairs.
There is a large bar inside which curves outside onto the pool deck. It is decorated with blue mosaic chips forming a wave pattern on the front of the bar.
Mbalageti also has a gift shop selling locally made arts and crafts – some of which are displayed around the lodge – as well as postcards, kikois, camera film and a small supply of toiletries.
Activities from Mbalageti concentrate mainly on game drives out on the Serengeti plains – and most of our travellers arrive here with their own vehicle and safari guide. The migration is usually here between about May and July, although the riverine forest areas of the Western Corridor have some good permanent game – and so can be visited at any time of year.
It is possible to do a morning or afternoon walking safari from Mbalageti Serengeti, guided by an experienced guide with an armed game ranger. These last about two hours, cost about US$50 per person (in July 2008 – at the time of writing), and follow pre-arranged routes through the bush without deviating substantially.
Our viewMbalageti is much smaller than the large 'Serena' and 'Sopa'-type hotels which are found in many of northern Tanzania's safari areas – and yet it is slightly larger than many of the smaller safari camps. The latter typically take 16-20 guests and, we admit, tend to often be our favourites.
However, despite its slightly large size ... we really like Mbalageti! It's well run, tastefully constructed and decorated, and it has great views over the Serengeti.
What's more – there's a genuine feeling that it gives good value for money: the standard rooms which are relatively cheap, and the tented chalets, whilst more costly, are lovely and spacious.
Ideal length of stay: 2 - 3 nights
Directions: Nearest airstrip is at Grumeti which is 45 minutes' drive away, or Seronera which is 1.5 hours' drive away. Mbalageti camp is about half an hours' drive from the main road through the Western Corridor.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Independently owned by the Sandhu family who also own the Tilapia Hotel in Mwanza.
Staff: Camp/Lodge Manager: Shamez Nizar Assistant Manager – Shani-Ann
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food that was served to us at Mbalageti on our last visit was of a good standard.
Due to the size of the lodge, buffet-style meals are usually served during the high season (June to Aug). During this period themed dinners are served, for example on the evening we stayed, it was a Thai evening. There was a vast selection to choose from – Thai vegetable curry, red chicken curry, lamb in oyster sauce plus more, all served with a selection of rice or noodles. There were a couple of live cooking stations where the food is cooked in front of you – so you know its fresh and hasn't been standing for hours. There were also spring rolls with various dipping sauces. This was all followed by a selection of deserts and tea or coffee.
On other evenings there may be a barbecue or other different international themes to add a bit of variety to your stay.
For the rest of the year, when the lodge is a little quieter, dinner is usually a 4-course meal, served to the table, and lunch is a 3-course set menu.
Breakfast is usually buffet style. Again there is a wide range to choose from – a selection of fresh fruit or cereals, fresh bread or pastries with homemade jams, a selection of cold meats and cheeses and also a cooked breakfast which is freshly cooked in front of you.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Drinks are included in the suites, but extra if staying in the other rooms. Beers are approximately US$3 each and a bottle of wine will vary between US$20 to US$40.
Further dining info: There is room service available, but only in the suites and chalets; not for the standard rooms. If you choose to dine in your chalets for the evening meal, then there's usually an additional charge of US$15 per person. There is no additional charge for dining in the suites.
Wildlife safaris: Mbalageti is great place to stay between May and July, when the great wildebeest and zebra migration is passing through this area of the Serengeti. It's then a short drive to see the game crossing the often-dry Mbalagati and Grumeti rivers. There is also some good resident game here for the rest of the year.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Tanzania
Wellbeing: Mbalageti is one of the few lodges in the Serengeti which has a small spa area offering massages – which was being renovated when we last visited. This has two massage tables with a dedicated plunge pool – and a dedicated massage professional is employed.See more ideas for Wellbeing in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: Mbalageti welcomes children over the age of 6 years.
Property’s age restrictions: 6 years
Special activities & services: There are children's board games available as well as the swimming pool.
Generally recommended for children: Yes – over the age of 6 years.
Notes: Child minders are available free of charge. Please note that these are members of staff and not professionally trained child minders.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: The lodge does have a central phone – international calls cost US$7 per minute. Free internet access is available in the 'Welcome Centre'.
TV & radio: No
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The nearest doctor is at Grumeti River Camp – about half an hours' drive away. Medical air rescue would be called in an emergency.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Local Maasai guards (askaris) are there to walk you to and from your room at night. Travellers should not walk on their own, as there is always game wandering through the camp after dark.
Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are available in all the rooms and the main areas.
Disabled access: In Place
Laundry facilities: Extra Charge
Money: Mbalageti is able to exchange cash in US dollars, pounds sterling and euros – depending on how much cash they have available.
Accepted payment on location: US dollars, pounds sterling and euros cash are accepted. Visa, Mastercard and travelers cheques can also be used – however there will be a 5% charge levied on these.