Reviews of Olakira Mara - Ndutu Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Olakira Camp review
A wonderful tented camp with a great location. The rooms, service and food were first rate. The staff attended to every request with great efficiency.
Would recommend this camp to anyone wishing to visit northern Tanzania.
A fabulous location and excellent guiding
The camp was in an amazing location - the view from the tent down the river was wonderful, and it was relatively quick to get to areas where there were lots of animals. We were very fortunate to see two wildebeest river crossings - one of the most amazing things we have ever witnessed. We were right in the middle of the action - the noise and dust surrounded us and it was extremely exciting, although sad when we realised that not all of them were going to get out of the river - the banks were too steep and they were just piling in on top of each other. The fact that we saw so much was in no small part due to the excellence of our guide, Victor. He was really good at finding animals for us and had a good knack of sensing when things were going to happen. On our last day we had almost given up waiting for the big herd of wildebeest to cross the river but he turned back just in time and found us excellent viewpoints to watch it all.
We did find that taking breakfast and lunch boxes with us and going out all day was the best way to do it - it meant that you didn't have to go back to camp for lunch and you could see more. We had flown to the camp specifically because we wanted to use the camp vehicles and guides and were really glad we did. It meant that we were in an open-sided vehicle (a Toyota Landcruiser which had been specially adapted) which had a shade over the top. There was space for 6 people so everyone got a 'window' seat, but we only shared with one other couple on one of the days - apart from that we were on our own with the guide. This was the same as our experience at Oliver's.
One thing to note - we would have liked to do a walk here but you can only do it if you arrange it in advance as they have to get a ranger over from the sister camp (and I think you have to pay extra for that). Not sure if I had just misunderstood about this as I thought we could arrange it once we were there.
The camp was very comfortable - the tents were not quite as plush as those at Oliver's but still very good, and we did appreciate the en-suite bathroom. The bucket shower worked well - you just told them when you wanted a shower and the tent attendants would bring the water for you and tell you it was ready. Food was good - fairly standard but amazing really when you consider how far you are from anywhere. One night there were only 4 of us staying and so they set up individual tables for us near the campfire. The other two nights there were more people so we all ate sitting round a big table in the dining tent.
Olakira Camp review
Jeremea the guide was very knowledgeable about the animals. He could have responded better to our requests to stop and see/photograph the birds-second guessing that all we wanted to see were cats. While we appreciated getting to see the crossing on short notice, he was somewhat cavalier in his driving and took what seemed to be unnecessary risks re speed and rough terrain-throwing us about in the jeep.
The food here was exceptionally good-compliments to the chef.
Pascal the manager and Future, the tent manager, were well organized and most attentive to our every need.
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.