Reviews of Olakira Mara - Ndutu Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Olakira Camp review
Very friendly and attentive staff who made a real effort to make us welcome and meet our needs. We were suprise to learn however that two of the company owners were present at the camp for our first night but made no attempt at communication with us and the rest of the guests to welcome us. We had assumed they were other guests keeping themsleves to themselves
Food of good quality but not as good as we have experienced elsewhere for example with freshly baked bread and pastries.
Good accomodation in terms of size and facilities in tent. Could have been a few more rugs in tent.
Our only real complaint was in relation to the camp's vehicle. in contrast to the vehicles supplied to all other guests individually by their tour companies this was open sided with overhead shelter only. This led on two occasions to us gettign extremely wet and cold with only "ponchos" as shelter which we thought was inadequate.
We were told there was no alternative available; it was implied that part of the reason was additional cost of bringing in another vehicle, which bearing in mind the cost of the stay was not an appropriate response. It would have been unsuitable for any serious photographer needing to rest lenses on doors/roof bars as we saw with others. Any guest needing that facility should be warned to make their own arrangements
Expert Africa comments
We are glad to hear that over all these travellers enjoyed their stay at Olakira, but sorry that a few things were not exactly right.
We spoke to the camp about the elusiveness of the ‘owners’ and were told that the guys in camp were actually the field operations manager, and a Sokwe founder. They were there to give guidance to some of the ops team, rather than to work in a managerial way. Olakira have said that they find it best if people working in behind the scenes situations don’t interferer with the managing of the camp and the general team. This allows the team who are looking after guests to so their jobs more efficiently. They are sorry if it came across that these individuals were not interested in communicating with guests as this was not their intention.
In regards to the type of vehicles available on safari – in Northern Tanzania there are two options:
a) Closed 4x4 vehicles, with pop-top roofs (for standing to view game) are generally best when trips include drives between parks covering long distances. They offer protection from dust, which hugely improves comfort when you are drive from Arusha to the Serengeti – as there are some busy, dusty roads on that route. We usually use these vehicles for longer driving itineraries.
b) Open 4x4 vehicles, like the ones used for these travellers – are the traditional safari vehicles used across Africa. These are usually the best vehicles for exploring the bush and viewing wildlife because they give passengers open and unobstructed views. You can see more, smell and feel more, and they’re much easier for taking photographs. (These are, for example, the only vehicles used for game-viewing in Botswana and Zambia!) We will usually use these vehicles when travellers are flying into a camp, and the drives are mostly game-drives.
These travellers flew straight into the Serengeti, and so had an open vehicle for their game viewing which, under most normal circumstances, is definitely the preferred option.
However, in this case it’s clear that it was wet and cold ... and they were unhappy to be in a more open vehicle. Whilst the vehicle did carry water-proof ponchos for its travellers, it seems these didn’t completely solve the cold or rain issue. We passed this feedback onto the camp who has said that they are working on constructing canvas flaps, with clear plastic windows that can be dropped down in bad weather. Hopefully this will resolve the problem for future travellers – whilst retaining the open nature of the vehicles which is so valued for the vast majority of the year.
The closed vehicles that these travellers saw with other guests would have been used for visitors who had driven out to the Serengeti from Arusha with their guides – as part of a much longer itinerary incorporating much more driving.
We have also noted the comments about photographers – and recommend that a gorilla or mono-pod would be a handy bit of kit to take with you. We will make this clearer in our literature for future travellers.
Excellent base to explore central Serengeti
Overall a very good camp. Staff were without exception very friendly and helpful, especially Pascal and service was very good. Tents were excellent - though campsite area not especially scenic, as fairly flat. The food was generally very good, although breakfasts were a bit more limited compared to the other meals which were lovely. Evenings were quite sociable, although due to rain, we were only able to have one camp fire.
However lots of excitement, caused by torrential rain causing flooding in the approach area and rendering the nearby river crossing almost impassable on our return one afternoon and also a kill only 50 metres away from the tents one evening as we were sitting chatting with our 'sundowners' before dinner. We didn't hear anything (too busy laughing and talking) but the staff told us a lion had just killed a zebra, so we had to take extra care not to go anywhere without an escort. The rain did make the camp area a bit of a quagmire, but it dried up relatively quickly when the sun came out.
Sleeping in a tent out in the bush was fantastic; being able to hear the various noises and trying to imagine what animals were making them from the warmth of a huge comfy bed - made more cosy by a most welcome hot water bottle - was an experience not to be missed.
The camp was a good base for game drives. We saw a great variety of animals in profusion, although at times there was a large number of other vehicles around, but we were aware that this was the price of staying in a popular area of the Serengeti. As we did see so much, it seemed a price worth paying as this was our first safari.
Olakira Camp review
The location of Olakira was very near to the centre of the Serengeti. There is only 6 tents so not very crowded and was very intimate from that perspective. They had a nice surprise for us as well in our tent.
The tent itself is quiet large you had a patio area in the front with sun chairs and a lounger. Inside you had a big double bed, a proper bed not the blow up version. In the back then you had a bathroom with Shower, sink and a wardrobe for your clothes. Shower needed to be filled by staff who were more than willing to fill it when requested with hot water, which was more than adequate for your shower. It felt quiet safe inside the tent as well. Lights are run on Solar power and are more than adequate for what was needed.
The guys in the camp were excellent and very geniuenly helpful & friendly. They were always there if you needed anything from stepping off the jeep with a towel, to welcoming you to the camp fire at night and bringing you back to the tent at night. Drinks were included in this.
The food in general was good, considering that it was a camp site, Lunch and Dinner were good. Breakfast was less than adequate though, not too much there to choose from for the long day ahead. One point of concern which should be highlighted to the camp was in regard to the breakfast food which was left uncovered on the the main breakfast buffet table, we noted that some of the food was attracting flies who were walking all over it, hence we didn't have much of that breakfast. Would suggest using plastic covers on the plates whilst unattended by staff.
Overall really liked Olakira had a nice experience there and would definetly recommend it for anyone.
staff really good and it certainly give us a camping experience that we were looking for.
Expert Africa comments
Our experiences of food at Olakira have always been good – and when we passed these comments to Olakira’s ‘base’ team in Arusha, they too were concerned. Breakfast at Olakira Camp should consist of three different types of cereal, plus fresh fruit, fresh toast and whatever cooked breakfast people would like (always cooked to order).
In the light of these comments, they are checking with the camp’s team to ensure that this is always what’s provided, and also making sure that any food on the table is always covered with netting – as is their normal practice.
They thanked us for this useful feedback.
Magical game drives at Olakira
Olakira was lovely. The food and service were really good, as were the drinks, including the 'house' wine. We especially liked sitting around the camp-fire sipping our drinks before and after dinner, and the pre-dinner snacks were good too.
We were a bit apprehensive about the bucket showers, but we needn't have been. We just said when we wanted them filling and the water arrived on the dot. There was plenty of water for a reasonable shower too. At night we said what time we wanted our morning tea and hot water and that too arrived on time.
We had some excellent game drives from Olakira. When we arrived at Seronera and met our guide/driver we told him that although we had done three safaris before in Kenya and Tanzania we had never seen cheetah and had only seen leopard from a great distance. On the drive to Olakira we saw two leopards and a cheetah. The next day we saw 16 cheetahs in all, including a mum with 6 small cubs who all gradually ventured away from mum and under our vehicle - magical!
We also saw a Serval which we were told was fairly rare, a black wild cat with orange eyes - again a rarity, and an ardvakk, which our driver siad he had never seen in 20 years of guiding as they are usually nocturnal.
We only stayed a night to break up the drive between the Crater & the far north of the Serengeti.
If you're driving up there it definitely makes sense to break the journey somewhere like this