Sabora Tented Camp, in the Grumeti Reserve, is a very stylish Serengeti safari camp.
Sabora Tented Camp: Our full report
Just to the north-west of the Serengeti National Park, the old Grumeti Game Reserve was a privately run wildlife area which covered about 1,500km². In 2006, the management of this (together with the larger, neighboring Ikorongo Game Reserve and Fort Ikoma Open Area) was taken over by a team from the highly-respected company, 'Singita', who run a handful of top private lodges in South Africa.
This area is now known as Singita Grumeti Reserves, and all the profits from it are ploughed back into conservation, education and health initiatives for the local community. Within this reserve there are currently just three safari camps: Faru Faru, Sasakwa and Sabora Tented Camp – all are very smart, and amongst the most opulent of Tanzania's camps.
Sabora Tented Camp has a 1920s' theme, complete with antique leather trunks, Persian rugs and two old Chevrolets parked in front of the camp. It uses dark, Georgian-style 'campaign' furniture throughout, which was originally designed so that it can be disassembled and carried, or ingeniously packed up. These furnishings evoke the days of the traders and explorers, with a mix of Arab and Indian, brass and silk. The resulting 'old world' atmosphere is very evocative. There is even a red clay tennis court, made with clay from termite mounds!
The main lounge and dining area at Sabora Plains are divided between two large luxurious tents, with an additional outside lounge positioned on the deck between them. All are lavishly furnished with wooden campaign furniture, Persian rugs and pieces of African art. Yet Sabora's tented construction helps to retain a natural feel; visitors are not completely divorced from their surroundings by the luxury here.
The inside lounge is stylish, spacious and with large gauze windows it is also bright and cool. Cream carpets are dotted with Persian rugs, and silk curtains billow at the sides. The sofas have wooden claw feet and cream upholstery - they look like they have come from a stately home in the English countryside. Two old Zanzibar chests act as coffee tables, brass Arab ornaments decorate the side tables and beautiful black-and-white photographs hang from the canvas walls. The mix is antique colonial and very stylish.
The dining area is simply decorated, with a number of tables covered in starched white table clothes and dark-wood chairs. The floors are covered with a soft cream carpet and from the ceiling hangs a chandelier.
Our favourite spot at Sabora Tented Camp was the outside lounge, where you could relax in soft comfortable sofas and look out over the plains. For breakfast and lunch you will also find tables set out for dining. Down a few stairs, at the front of the outside lounge are a pair of lounge chairs set either side of a 'Swarovski' spotting-scope.
Sabora Tented Camp also has a small spa which is run in conjunction with Sasakwa Lodge. On request, a therapist can come down from Sasakwa and you can have a variety of massages and beauty treatments in the small massage room.
Sabora Tented Camp has six spacious tented rooms each of which is raised slightly off the ground, on a wooden deck. Once inside, it is like stepping back in time – the rooms are a continuation of the antique theme. Only the odd modern touch, like the presence of an internet phone, reminds you that this is a very top-quality operation. (Click here for more on the tented rooms at Sabora…)
As you'd expect here, Sabora Camp's food is excellent; see below for more detailed comments.
Aside from all of the luxuries, the key reason to visit Sabora Tented Camp is for the safari activities. Though you can sit on the veranda of your tent and see plenty of wildlife on the flat, grassy Sabora Plains, it would be willful not to head out and explore the reserve.
The safari guides here are fantastic; they're certainly amongst the best in Tanzania. You can head out in 4x4 safari vehicles, with open tops and sides, and night drives are possible here (they're not possible inside the national park). Similarly, walking safaris are encouraged here (they're not usually offered in the national park), and so are horseback safaris – which run out of the superbly-equipped equestrian center at the nearby Sasakwa Lodge. Guests can also try their hand at tennis and archery, or simply relax in the large, oval swimming pool, set into a wide wooden deck, with sunloungers laid out beneath white parasols.
As an example of the sheer quality of the camp and its operations, every guest is offered the loan of one of the camp's pairs of (top-quality) Swarovski binoculars whilst they are out on game drives.
For something a little different, take a two-hour tour of the nearby village, led by the head of the “Community Development Department" to see local projects – and realise how much work is being done with the local communities.
Background conservation info: In conservation terms, this Grumeti area has improved vastly sin
Ideal length of stay: Spend at least three nights here to explore the surrounding area and make the most of the various activities on offer. You can also combine your stay at Sabora Tented Camp, with one of the other properties in the Grumeti Reserve – Sasakwa Lodge or (more likely) Faru Faru, and explore even deeper into this extensive private concession.
Directions: Sabora Tented Camp is approximately 16km from the Saskawa Airstrip, this is a 45-minute drive. If you wanted to drive to Sabora Plains Tented Camp from the Ngrongoroo Crater, you would need to break your journey by staying somewhere in southern Serengeti. It would be around a 6-7 hour straight drive, which is best done over two days.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food at Sabora is excellent and of the quality you would expect in a Michelin starred restaurant in Europe. When we were last there in September 2007, the menu was tasty, imaginative and varied. The silver-service is faultless – and the silverware itself is beautiful.
Breakfast timings are flexible, and can be based around what activities you have planned for the day. However, it generally consisted of fresh fruit, cereals, a variety of fresh home-baked goods and a cooked breakfast. The cooked breakfast on offer usually includes a full English, though there is often the option of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, eggs benedict and other tasty choices.
If you wanted to have breakfast after a very early game drive, then Sabora Tented Camp will usually offer you a muffin or something similar to nibble on in the meantime.
Lunch is then served between 12.30 - 2.30pm – and can vary between a buffet lunch and a set menu. When we were last there, there was a buffet of fresh salads, cold curries, a variety of little tartlets made with roasted vegetables, goats cheese, artichokes and other tasty ingredients. There was also a platter of seafood and smoked fish. It was delicious.
At 3.30pm Sabora Tented Camp serves tea and cake, and you can then head out on an afternoon game drive afterwards. There is tea, coffee and a wide selection of herbal teas on offer. Then there are a number of different sweet and savory snacks to sample. When we were last there included cakes, scones, muffins or cheese and spinach in puff pastry, mini quiches and spring rolls.
Then dinner is served 8pm and is a slightly more formal affair. There are three courses on offer, with a choice for the main and for the starter. The starter we had when we were there was jumbo tiger prawns, the main course was a perfectly cooked and succulent steak. The desert was then a delicious chocolate fondant.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Most drinks are included, except for champagne and some premium imported wines and spirits.
Honeymoons: Sabora Tented Camp is a very opulent and romantic lodge; guests staying here will feel very pampered and spoiled. It is the perfect place for a special occasion. It is remote and peaceful, whilst remaining very slick and stylish.See more ideas for Honeymoons in Tanzania
Wildlife safaris: Sabora Tented Camp sits within Singita Grumeti Reserve, a private concession to the west of the Serengeti. This safari area is quiet and remote so you won't see many other vehicles here, even from July to August – when it throngs with wildebeest as the migration passes through.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: The camp welcomes children who are over the age of 12 years.
Generally recommended for children: This is a very smart tented camp – it is not really suited to families.
Communications: Sabora Plains Camp has internet phones in the rooms – these are complimentary for the guests to use and call internationally on. There is also complimentary internet access at the lodge for all guests.
TV & radio: In the main lounge there is DSTV or satellite television. The television is kept discretely within a cabinet, and only brought out on request.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: Members of the team are first aid trained and there is basic first aid equipment on site, for more serious cases the camp has links to the flying doctors in Nairobi.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There are askaris, or guards to escort guests between the tents and the main areas at night – just in case there is some wildlife around the camp. There are safes in tents for valuables.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included
Money: Sabora Tented Camp can exchange small amount of pounds sterling, US dollars and Tanzanian shillings with a little bit of warning.