Reviews of Olakira Mara - Ndutu Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
All the big five and much more
We included Olakira in our itinerary specifically to try to catch the migration crossing the Mara. There can be few better locations although one still needs good fortune to see an actual crossing as the wildebeest insist on being amusingly indecisive - albeit understandably in the face of the considerable dangers involved in the crossing.
We did see literally tens of thousands of wildebeest, including a small group crossing the Mara. But arguably as big a selling point for Olakira is that, expertly guided by Jeremiah, we also saw all the "big five" in the four days we were there - a rare treat in our experience of safari. Add to this cheetah, side-stripped jackal, hyaena and around 20 other mammal species and one can only conclude that this is a top safari spot by any standards.
The camp itself is comfortable and well run - indeed we were impressed generally by our dealings with Asilia (the parent company of Olakira and Oliver's where we had stayed immediately prior) and its staff.
Outback camping in comfort
We visited Olakira Camp at the time of the migration and the camp is wonderfully situated on a hill overlooking part of the Mara River, so we could see the wildebeest congregating at the river's edge trying to pluck up the courage to cross.
We flew from the Serenera airstrip to Kogatende and were met by our guide Chagamba, who served us coffee and tea before going to deal with the never ending National Park paperwork (new rules seem to have made this process even slower and more complicated for entry into the parks). We game watched on our way to the camp and were lucky enough on that first drive to see wildebeest crossing the river.
Future game drives with Chagamba (treated here as "Activities from this camp") were wonderful. He was a man of few words, but certainly knew where the game was to be found. We had very close sightings of lion, leopard and cheetah, but the rhino, though she had been seen several days previously, was elusive.
The camp was as comfortable as Dunia, with the added sophistication of washbasin water coming out of taps instead of a jug. The shower water arrived promptly as before at Dunia.
Great people , great camp.
The mobile camp in the Ndutu area of Ngorongoro Conservation area is a class act. From the welcome to departure , nothing was too much for camp manger Pascal and his team. Considering that every drop of water for use in the tents is man handled, the standard of service was excellent. The timing of breakfast was flexible to the individual needs and the food at the communal diner area was good and plentiful.
The camp was ideal to see the vast herds of wilderbeest and zebra stretching across the horizon during the migration . Olakira is situated close to quite a number of other camps and consequently at predator sightings there were always a large number of vehicles . The bush telegraph cackled into operation and although there were good sightings of lion , leopard and cheetah, we were never the only vehicle at the sighting. One big plus is that in the conservation area you are allowed off road and consequently this enhanced the sightings . Just up the road in the Serengeti national park, there is a strict on road rule
A great safari experience
Pascal clearly runs a very efficient and customer service orientated operation. Nothing was too much trouble for him and his staff. Attention to detail was remarkable given the temporary tented environment.
The tents were first class and hot water always available when we wanted it. The food was and the ambience were excellent.
Our driver/guide Fazzo provided excellent serivce and we enjoyed all our time on safari.
One of many camps in Ndutu area
We were disappointed by the busy location with many safari vehicles surrounding the animlas, notably in the marsh area.
Another concern was the filtered rather than bottled water we were given to drink which we believe caused tummy upsets; when we raised this with camp management we were given bottled water. We also found the alkaline water for washing unpleasant.
The food was excellent with good variety and we enjoyed dining together with the other guests. The service was very friendly and responsive to any requests.
Although we queried the camps location outside the Serengeti NP we were assured before we left this would not impact on our wildlife experience; in the event apart from one trip to Seronera, vehicles always kept outside the Park boundaries.
The standard of vehicles at the camp was very poor in our experience; both vehicles we used had mechanical problems. Most seriously we were driven to Seronera in an open vehicle suitable only for local game drives - there were no seat belts, a malfunctioning fuel pump and no protection from flying stones when passed by vehicles travelling at speed. As it happened we had a puncture on the return journey and it became apparent there was only the one spare tyre - again inappropriate for this type of journey.
However we were impressed by the skills of our driver guide; he had tried to get the vehicle changed but use of that vehicle had been decided by the Operations Manager (Julie) who happened to be visiting. The second vehicle allocated after Seronera had a faulty battery with the result the engine had to be kept running at all times.
Expert Africa comments
We sent this travellers’ feedback to the owners of Olakira Camp for their comments. They replied saying that they greatly appreciate any feedback as it helps them to put right any issues that may arise in camp.
Olakira are aware that the area around Ndutu can sometimes get busy during the migration season. Unfortunately this is one of the drawbacks of the Southern Serengeti and Ngorongoro Area, which is very accessible and can therefore feel crowded in the height of the peak season. However comments such as these do have an affect as to where exactly Olakira is placed each year.
The drinking water at Olakira is bottled and not filtered water, however they fill smaller aluminium bottles from larger plastic bottles. This is done to avoid too much plastic waste, and to reduce carbon miles transporting drinking water in and out of the Serengeti.
Olakira Camp is located within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area between the months of December to March. The advantage of this location is that the game is abundant here during the migration, and vehicles are allowed off-road. That said, travellers can also easily access the Serengeti which is an extension of the same eco-system. Olakira is sorry that it appeared they didn’t want to go onto the Serengeti. They just believe that at this time of the year, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area offers a better wildlife viewing experience. However they will happily visit the Serengeti if requested - as with these travellers, who visited the Seronera area during their stay.
The owners of Olakira are very sorry about the problems that these travellers encountered with the faulty vehicles during their time there. Their vehicles usually have two spare tyres as well as seat belts, but there is one particular type of vehicle that doesn’t allow for this. Olakira are looking into whether they will still offer drives as far as Seronera in these types of vehicles at all. Generally we find the vehicles at Olakira in good repair, but this was not the case on this occassion. Olakira have apologised for this.
Olakira Camp review
A superlative experience that could not be surpassed.Read more about the whole safari
Olakira Camp review
This was our first trip to Africa, and our first safari camp. What a delightful introduction to our trip! We were met at the airstrip by our guide Fadhil and immediately began our first game drive through thousands of wildebeest. Arriving at camp in time for lunch, we sat in the open-sided tent and watched elephants grazing nearby.
The tents were lovely and spacious with a luxurious bed. The lights were adequate for evenings, but not strong enough to read by. The bathroom was large and we were delighted to have a flush toilet. They filled the bucket shower with plenty of hot water for both of us. We loved the nights there, even though we were awakened on our first night by a loud noise just ourside our tent. We could have used our walkie-talkie to call for help, but we decided to be brave and trust that there was nothing to be afraid of. We learned in the morning that it was a hippo passing through camp. What a first night's experience! We soon loved to hear the sounds of the night and missed those beautiful bird and animal sounds when we left Olakira.
We enjoyed having the open Land Rover to ourselves for the drives with Fadhil each day. We quickly learned to trust that he would find the most interesting things for us to see on each drive -- cheetahs, a large pride of lions, and even one of the elusive rhinos. The landscape is beautiful and varied, as is the wildlife. We saw amazing things, including two wildebeest river crossings and also watched a lioness kill one of those wildebeests as he emerged from the river. The camp staff was always there to greet us with a hot towel and wanted to hear the details of our drives.
We were happy to experience the evening campfires and communal dining at Olakira. We met interesting people each night to share stories with. We rated the food as excellent -- for a tented camp setting. It wasn't quite the same gourmet level as the food at the other permanent camps we visited, but we felt that they did a wonderful job preparing good food in a tent setting. Breakfast was varied, with a cold buffet each morning and hot food to order.
Olakira camp exceeded our expectations and is the camp that we will always remember.
Olakira Camp review
A splendid location with varied animals and terrain>Read more about the whole safari
Fantastic safari thanks to Olakira Camp
What a delightful surprise - to be dropped by baby silver bird into the Serengetti to this wonderful camp.
The tents were luxurious, and enormous. (personal flushing toilet a dream). Staff were very very helpful. Safari guide excellent and of course the camp was positioned right in the middle of the Wilderbeast migration with all attendant animals around (eg lion).
The camp stays on this location for 4 months and then moves back up North to new location.
Great safari at Olakira Camp
Emmanuel our guide was very professional and great resource for the wildlife including our birding interests.
The camp was far more than we expected and wished we could have stayed longer. Mark and his staff were very helpful and always checking on us. Tents were unbelievable, very comfortable with solid ensuite toilet and hot showers. Felt guilty when we wanted to have hot shower, but was a wonderful pleasure after being out in the bush all day. Would recommend longer stay to anyone and wondered if other camps were as opulent.
Our open sided vehicle was a treat during our game drives. Two full days of game drives gave us all we could possibly see, Africa's big five and more; large male leopard, honey badger, Eland, Marsh Owls, Secretary Bird, Lake Masek and its vistas of migration and entrance to gorge.
Fabulous sunrises with breakfast (box meal to go were very good and the coffee was even better away from camp) out on the Serengeti, storms at night, visits to tent at night by Hyennas, and those scary Zebras. Noises at 2:00 am seem loud enough to be in your tent and are not the scary animals you think. Will miss early morning coffee and vistas of migration and late night campfires with a blanket of stars above.
A dream come true.