Mbuzi Mawe Tented Camp is shaded by acacia woodlands, beside a kopjie in the Serengeti
Mbuzi Mawe: Our full report
Mbuzi Mawe Tented Camp – which means 'klipspringer' in English – is set amidst the bush and rocky outcrops of central Serengeti. It belongs to the large Serena group of hotels/lodges, although this camp is one of the group's smaller and more intimate lodges; it's much more personal than many of the large hotels in the Serena chain.
Mbuzi Mawe Tented Camp is tucked away, off the main road leading from Seronera to the northern Serengeti. It is a convenient stop-over point for anyone traveling north or south, and is far from most other properties. That said, there are few game-drive roads in this area, and so few options for drives apart from to head north or south on the main road.
Mbuzi Mawe currently has16 big, en-suite tents, although the last time we visited, in September 2007, plans for expansion were also in the pipeline. (They are hoping to add a further 9 tents and a swimming pool!)
The accommodation here is simple, but being under canvas adds to the wilderness feel of the place. Long, stone ramps lead up to the tents which are all well spaced out in a woodland glade. These are surrounded by towering rocky outcrops – which are inhabited by inquisitive rock dassies, along with larger and more dangerous wildlife! Some tents have lovely sweeping views from their outside decks, and the layout of Mbuzi Mawe means that you can also admire these from some of the camp's public areas.
The main reception area is a large, airy tented structure which also houses a curio shop and a bar. The furnishings are heavy dhow-wood tables, chairs and sofas, complemented by rust-coloured floor tiles and matching cushions.
Mbuzi Mawe's tiny but well-stocked bar is tucked into a corner of the tent, adjacent to the restaurant, and is open all day and evening until the last person leaves! The bar and reception area flow into one, so you sit at the bar's wooden chairs to drink, sprawl on the lounge sofas, or wander outside with your G&T onto the wooden deck.
The cosy dining tent is supported by stone pillars and wooden beams. In here, the tables are set quite close together which lends it quite an intimate feel. You can also eat outside on the shaded stone deck. When we last visited – in September 2007 – the camp was planning to expand the dining tent, which would be essential if they add more rooms.
For groups of five people or more, Mbuze Mawe will organize a barbecue dinner on a stone deck below reception. This has lovely views of the bush and makes for a magical evening!
Due to its central location, Mbuze Mawe is not only a great location to stop over, it's also a practical base for game-viewing in the Western Corridor, the north side of the Seronera area, and especially in the area around Lobo Kopjies.
Mbuzi Mawe Tented Camp is particularly popular when the Serengeti wildebeest migration passes through this area. Typically this is during March and April, when it's on its way north, and then again around November to January, when the migration is heading south through the east side of the park.
Like most good camps in the Serengeti, it's best to book Mbuze Mawe early to ensure that you get a room. Note also that the camp doesn't have any guides of its own – it's a place to visit with your own driver/guide, and cannot be visited on a fly-in trip unless you are arranging to meet your guide and vehicle here.
Ideal length of stay: The usual stay here is 2 nights, although during the migration people tend to stay for longer.
Directions: Mbuzi Mawe is 43km from Seronera Airstrip and roughly a two and a half hours' drive from Naabi Hill Gate.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Breakfast is served from 6:30 – 9:30 and is both a cold buffet – cereals, fruits, juices etc and a cooked breakfast as you like it.
Lunch is served from 12:30 – 2:30. This meal is plated and served to your table.
Dinner is served from 7:30 – 9:30. Dinner is a hot, plated meal served to your table; however there is also a salad buffet for you to choose from.
Mbuzi Mawe caters for vegetarians and children on request. They can also provide a late lunch for those who arrive late from a game drive, but again this must be requested in advance.
The lodge is happy to arrange a packed lunch for clients going on full-day / long game drives.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: All drinks cost extra; a small bottle of water costs roughly US$3.
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Mbuzi Mawe.
Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions at Mbuzi Mawe.
Special activities & services: The lodge can arrange baby sitting at extra cost. If requested, they arrange children's meals and can seat the children earlier.
Equipment: The lodge has baby cots but no high chairs.
Generally recommended for children: Yes, but they must be aware of the dangers of being in the bush and of the close proximity to wild animals. Children are their parents responsibility at all times.
Communications: There is cell phone reception at Mbuze Mawe. There is one computer in the reception area which has a slow and erratic internet connection; the cost for this when we last visited was $5 per 15 minutes.
TV & radio: There is no radio or TV at Mbuze Mawe.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: Some of the staff are first-aid trained, and they have a first aid box at the lodge.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: We are told that the lodge has an TANAPA ranger on guard 24-hours a day.
Fire safety: The lodge has fire extinguishers on site, and some of the staff have done limited fire-fighting training.
Disabled access: In Place
Laundry facilities: Mbuzi Mawe has a laundry service, and charge roughly US$1-4 per item. The laundry is all air-dried, so the state in which it is returned is dependant on the weather.
Money: Currency exchange is possible at Mbuze Mawe in small amounts. Travellers cheques are accepted at the lodge, and there is no commission charged but the exchange rate isn't great. As there are no safes in the tents, but you can leave small valuables in the safe at reception at your own risk.
Accepted payment on location: Mbuze Mawe accepts the following in cash: US$, Euros, South African Rand, Kenyan Shillings, and Pounds Sterling. It also accepts Visa, Mastercard, Eurocard and American Express. The lodge charges credit card bills in US$.