A private mobile safari camp in the Serengeti offers an exclusive safari experience.
Serengeti Private Mobile Camp: Our full report
Most of the Serengeti's camps are substantial; they are semi-permanent and stand for much longer than your visit! A Serengeti Private Mobile Camp is different: it is smaller, simpler and put up just for your visit. With much more modest tents than most operations, and usually just one or two staff for the camp, it's also a very affordable way to visit the Serengeti, without compromising the quality of your guiding or game-viewing experience.
These private tented camps can be set up in several different areas in the Serengeti National Park, allowing some flexibility for it to be as close to the action as possible. In fact, if a private mobile camp is arranged in advance, and the wildlife movements change significantly, then we may even be able to switch the position of your camp before you travel!
Various locations work well for a private mobile camp in the Serengeti, and these depend purely on the time of year – but if you're aiming to catch the wildebeest migration, then:
- Between December and February, the Moru Kopjies in southern Serengeti is generally the best location.
- Between April and May, the Seronera area is usually best for wildlife and so where a private camp could be located.
- In June, Mbalageti, just south of the Grumeti River, is typically at its most productive.
- From about July to October, the Lamai area, bordering the Mara River, is usually fantastic.
- In November, either the Kogatende area of the northern Serengeti or the Lobo area to the northeast are normally best.
Each mobile camp is set up on a campsite within the Serengeti National Park which is booked exclusively; however, sometimes two of these exclusive camps may share the same campsite. These campsites have no facilities of their own at all.
Your accommodation is in canvas dome tents furnished with thick mattresses and proper bedding – when we stayed in one, we found them comfortable and got a good night's sleep. At the heart of each little camp is a dining tent, which provides shade and sometimes shelter. A welcoming campfire is lit each evening, a great spot to enjoy a pre-dinner drink and relive the day's experiences with your guide. (Read more about the private mobile camp itself ….)
Game drives are in enclosed Land Cruisers which have pop-top roofs or roof hatches for maximised game viewing. A normal one of these takes four passengers, each with a seat next to a large window. For larger groups, larger vehicles (up to seven passengers) are available; these give every passenger a window seat, but are a little more cramped. Safaris for larger groups are also generally cheaper per person than the smaller groups. Each vehicle is fitted with a fridge or coolbox, canvas pockets to store binoculars and guidebooks, and sockets suitable for UK-style plugs. Photographers can also request the inclusion of bean bags in advance. Occasionally, an open-sided safari vehicle may be available at the camps located near the Mara River, in northern Serengeti – but we can't predict this, or guarantee it in advance. This would probably be fitted with three rows of tiered seats and a covered canvas canopy.
A private safari – led by a very knowledgeable guide and coupled with relatively comfortable camping – is hard to beat! Some will say that this is how a safari in Africa should really be experienced, and book one of these by choice; other may opt for some time in a mobile camp to reduce the costs of their trip without compromising on the activities.
Ideal length of stay: A three-night stay in a Serengeti Private Mobile Camp is ideal. Combine your time here with stays in lodges and/or a stay in a Serengeti Walking Mobile Camp.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: All the ingredients are brought in fresh and meals are produced from scratch. Food is cooked over an open fire or in a specially crafted oven covered in coals. From humble beginnings comes simple, hearty and very appetising fare.
Each day usually begins with a fairly light breakfast as the aim is to head out early while the wildlife is at its most active. The selection typically includes hot porridge, muesli, toasted fresh-baked bread with spreads and a selection of fresh tropical fruit – accompanied by aromatic filter coffee from beans produced in nearby Arusha, tea or hot chocolate.
Lunch is usually made up of a hot dish with a couple of salads. During our last stay here we enjoyed freshly made pizza, a flavoursome meat pie and roast chicken with chips. Salads varied between garden salads, creamy potato salad, coleslaw and capsicum salad. Home-made chocolate-chip cookies kept us going in the afternoons.
The day normally ends with a three-course dinner before time to relax around the campfire. Starters are often a simple good soup. This is followed by a main course served to the table, allowing you to help yourselves. During our stay we sampled well-balanced curries served with rice and condiments on one night, and marinated steak served with vegetables and crunchy potatoes the next. Our dinners were finished off with a light apple fritter and a jam-filled chocolate Swiss roll respectively.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Whilst in your mobile camp, tea/coffee, water, wine, beer and soft drinks are included along with the ingredients for a refreshing G&T. Other spirits can be requested in advance but may incur an extra charge if they are 'top-shelf' brands. Game-drive vehicles include a cool box or fridge stocked with a selection of complimentary drinks and the option of tea or coffee.
Attitude towards children: The team who run our Serengeti Private Mobiles will accept children of any age, as each safari is private.
Generally recommended for children: Expert Africa only feel really comfortable recommending mobile safaris like this for families with older children, over the age of about 12 years old. This is partially for safety reasons, and partly because there is little to keep youngsters entertained between activities. If you have children under this age, and these comments don't deter you, please speak to us!
Notes: If you are travelling with children of any age, note that these camps are unfenced and animals pass through them often. Children must be under constant and very close supervision.
Communications: There is cellphone reception in almost all of the Serengeti, and each of the camp team carries a cellphone in case of an emergency. If you travel with your phone you must have it switched off or on silent during any game drives.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: Each safari guide is trained in basic first aid and carries a first-aid kit. The flying doctors service, based in Arusha, is a phone call and a short flight away.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A basic laundry service is available on request. Clothes are hand washed and there is no ironing service. As you'll most likely visit a private mobile camp in combination with hotels or lodges in the Serengeti, it may be best to wait until then to do your washing.