Serengeti Pioneer Camp

Serengeti Pioneer Camp: Our full report

Rooms
10 Tents
Children
Best for 12+
Open
All year

Opened December 2012, and located in south central Serengeti National Park, Serengeti Pioneer Camp is a smart tented camp with a touch of the early explorer about it. Built on a slope below a picturesque kopje, the camp setting retains a feeling of seclusion yet is well placed as a base for game drives across southern Serengeti’s vast open plains.

One of the nicest spots in the camp is it’s lounge. The makuti thatched building sits atop a rocky outcrop and offers commanding views across acacia woodland, open plains, and the Moru Kopjes. Canvas and mesh sides usually remain rolled up allowing a cool breeze and natural light in. A selection of seating areas created from soft couches, wooden chairs, director’s chairs and sun loungers offer guests the opportunity to relax and watch gregarious hyrax and colourful agama lizards scuttle over the surrounding rocks, or to enjoy the views beyond.

In a small natural valley between the rocky outcrop and the main kopje lies the dining tent. Wooden poles hold up the ceiling canvas which is covered by a roof of shade cloth to help keep the interior cool. Canvas wall panels with large windows are rolled up to maximise the views or left down to keep out the weather. For breakfast and dinner guests are hosted at individual tables covered in white table cloths; at night these are lit by paraffin lanterns. If guests choose to have lunch at the camp, instead of a picnic as part of their game drive, then this meal is often served outdoors in a bush setting.

Built over a gradual incline the Serengeti Pioneer Camp’s ten tented rooms each have a view, and the staggered layout allows for privacy. Suspended below a canvas ceiling and cooling shade cloth layer, the tent’s front canvas panels can be rolled up during the day and closed at night. White material covers the ceiling and matches the full-length curtains, lightening the interior and balancing out the intensity of the dark coloured furniture. Soft neutral rugs, throws and cushions round out the effect. A tall shelving unit with curtained doorways at each end divides the bedroom from the en suite. The bedroom is furnished with a king-size or two queen-size beds, a small writing desk, storage trunks, chairs and a coffee table set with a sherry decanter. The bathroom has a flush toilet, shower and basin.

The design idea behind Serengeti Pioneer Camp reflects the early explorer’s mobile camps of the 1930’s. This romantic theme has been creatively used in fun ways such as copper basin sinks with water-pump tap fittings, shelving made of recycled wooden crates and travelling trunks used as benches. Some guests may find that hat stands hung with pith helmets, and bedside tables set with sepia images of natives bearing exploration equipment, a design step too far.

Most travellers arrive at Serengeti Pioneer Camp with their own private safari guide and vehicle. It is also possible to fly into the Serengeti National Park and then join the camp’s own scheduled game drive activities, led by the resident guides.

Our view

Southern and central Serengeti has traditionally offered travellers the choice of simple to very good mid-range tented camps and large multi-roomed hotels. The relatively new Serengeti Pioneer Camp joins a very short list of high-quality, fairly luxurious permanent camps now found in this area. If guests aren’t put off by some of the brazen colonial décor touches, then this tented camp is a great option for those seeking a little luxury. It’s well-positioned on the quieter outskirts of a popular and very productive wildlife area.

Geographics

Location: Serengeti Migration Area, Tanzania

Ideal length of stay: We recommend a stay of 2 to 3 nights at Serengeti Pioneer Camp, allowing you to explore the southern plains including the Moru, Simba and Maasai kopjies areas.

Directions: It is approximately a 1 hour drive from Seronera Airstrip to the camp for fly-in guests. However, the drive is usually conducted as a longer game drive.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Elewana Collection

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: We visited this camp in October 2012, just before it opened for business, and so didn’t get the chance to sample the fare. We were told that guests could expect their day to begin with tea or coffee served with the wake up call.

Breakfast would then usually take the form of a buffet including a selection of fruit, cereals, pastries and cheeses. Creative hot dish choices including local red beans and green banana stewed in coconut would be served to order, and replace the standard baked beans and pancakes offered by most other camps.

When served in camp, lunch is a 3 course affair. The main course is a plated choice between a vegetarian, red meat, and white meat dish. Dinner is a 4 course meal including a soup, starter, main and desert. The main dish is usually a choice of 3 plated dishes (similar to lunch), but may occasionally be served as a buffet.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: All drinks excluding French champagne and top-shelf whiskies are included in the price.

Children

Attitude towards children: Serengeti Pioneer Camp accepts families with older children, but the setup and lack of in-house activity options make it an accommodation more conducive to adults.

Property’s age restrictions: The minimum age allowed at the camp is 7 years.

Equipment: Triple tents are available on request, but only for a family with a child younger than 10 years as some furniture has to be removed from the tent to fit in a third bed, and it would still be a tight squeeze.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: Solar power operates both the camp’s electricity and the hot water system. There are no plug points in the tents. Guests with items to charge can do so in the camp’s internet and charging tent, or with the camp management. The charging tent also has a hairdryer available for guests use.

Communications: Cell phone reception is available from the lodge although guests are requested no to use their phones in communal areas or whilst on safari activities. The camp has a small tent with a desk and internet port for guests who travel with their own laptops to use. The internet connection here is of a good speed and Skype calls are even possible. Wifi in main areas is planned for the future.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The camp manager and guides are first aid trained and carry a relatively comprehensive first aid kit. The nearest doctor is located at Sopa Lodge, also in the Serengeti’s southern plains. For serious ailments and emergencies, guests would be evacuated to Arusha.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: In case of wildlife passing through camp, guests are escorted to their rooms after dark. A whistle is provided in each room with which the alarm can be raised in the case of an emergency. Each room has a fixed safe for guests to store their valuables.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers for each room and in the communal areas. Fire evacuation instructions are set out in each room.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included at Serengeti Pioneer Camp. Laundry is collected in the morning, machine washed at the nearby Sopa Lodge and returned to guests in the evening.

Accepted payment on location: For any extras, the camp accepts cash payment in Tanzanian shillings, US dollars, pounds sterling and euro. The camp plans to be able to accept credit card payments in the future, but we suggest you don’t rely on this service yet.