A walking mobile camp...
Serengeti Walking Mobile Camp: Our full report
The Serengeti National Park is one of the best wildlife destinations in Africa – attracting so many visitors that some roads become congested. However, only a small portion of this vast park is accessed by road by the majority of safari operators. Thus with a little know-how, it is possible to explore the Serengeti on an almost 'private' basis. Sizeable sections of the Serengeti National Park have been designated wilderness areas where only walking safaris are allowed. Three nights or more in one of these wildernesses can be an amazing part of a safari to northern Tanzania.
From about December to May the conditions in Kilimafeza, a wilderness area north- east of Seronera, become perfect for a walking mobile safari. By late May, and depending on the weather patterns and wildlife movements, this area becomes dry and hot, so the focus changes to Kogatende, a wilderness area south of Lamai, bordering the Mara River in northern Serengeti. This is best visited between about June to November. Speak to us at Expert Africa for a recommendation on the best wilderness area to visit during your safari dates and for suggestions on how to build a walking safari into your itinerary.
If, before you travel, the weather patterns and wildlife movements mean that these recommendations change, then we will suggest that your itinerary is altered to get for you the best wildlife experience. So we ask that you retain a sense of adventure and flexibility when booking these walking safari mobile camps.
The Kilimafeza wilderness walking area, east of Seronera, is made up of rolling hills covered by acacia woodland. There are two possible mobile camp sites here, one in a valley near an ephemeral river, and the other set amongst kopjies (rocky outcrops). During a stay of three or more nights here you may move sites: walking the 8km distance from one to another whilst the camp team moves your accommodation.
Strictly speaking, these areas are not 'private. That said, at time of writing, only three safari operators have the authority to offer walking safaris in the 1,500km2 wilderness area east of Seronera so your time here is almost guaranteed to be exclusive. It's a remote and wild area, perfect for exploring on foot. Note that, within the area, these mobile walking camps are private; once booked, your trip is guaranteed to be exclusive and we will not ask you to mix with other travellers.
The Kogatende walking area, in northern Serengeti, also has two possible sites: one on the banks of the Mara River and shaded by fig and acacia trees, and the other a little away from the river, set between kopjies and surrounded by terminalia woodland. The area as a whole is perfectly situated to view the wildebeest migration as it crosses from the Serengeti to the Maasai Mara and back. Walking safaris take you through woodland or along flat riverside plains where it's possible to position yourselves, waiting to watch a migration crossing. Kogatende is only a short drive from the game-drive area of northern Serengeti, so a game drive during your time here is also available on request.
Each mobile camp is made up of canvas dome tents furnished with comfortable mattresses, a central mess tent and campfire, a bathroom tent and a bush kitchen. (Read more about a Serengeti Walking Mobile Camp…)
Two camp assistants take on all the camp chores. Meanwhile the camp chef prepares excellent meals over the fire. All you need do is enjoy exploring the area with your excellent guide and choose what to drink for sundowners!
Each walking safari is led by an armed guide and accompanied by an armed national park ranger. Led by this knowledgeable and informative pair, you'll appreciate the change from being a casual observer in a game-drive vehicle to becoming part of the environment – it's a heady experience. The game viewing can be very good, but you will also learn about the smaller things too – the eco-system, animal behaviour, insects, birds and plants.
Our viewAs part of a longer trip to northern Tanzania, we can highly recommend a walking mobile safari of at least three-nights for those who enjoy the outdoors, and don't mind relatively simple camping. These camps are private and exclusive, but not particularly costly.
A trip like this is easily combined with time visiting the region's more conventional fixed camps and lodges. These mobile camps and walking safaris are a great way to experience the Serengeti National Park in a more adventurous and intimate way than is possible by vehicle; you get very close to nature whilst still enjoying a good level of comfort.
Ideal length of stay: A three-night stay in a Serengeti Walking Mobile Camp is ideal. Combine your time here with stays in lodges and/or a stay in a Serengeti Private Mobile Camp.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: We found the meals served at the Serengeti Walking Mobile Camps wholesome and satisfying. All the dishes are prepared from scratch using fresh ingredients – quite a feat considering the remote locations and that everything is cooked over coals. Meat, vegetables and stews are usually cooked over an open fire whilst bread and cakes are baked in a specially crafted oven heated by coals placed both on top and underneath it. The chef welcomes guests to take a look around his bush kitchen.
Days often begin with a quick breakfast of fresh Tanzanian filter coffee or tea, hot porridge or muesli, toast with spreads and fruit. Part way through the morning walking safari you'll stop at a vantage point or under the shade of a tree for bacon and egg on a freshly made roll, home-made biscuits and fruit juice. If you don't head out for a morning walk on your last day, there's usually time for a hot breakfast of bacon and eggs.
You'll typically return to camp for lunch under a shady tree. During our stay in 2011 we enjoyed pizza with a freshly made base on one day and minced-meat pie the next. On our last day we had chicken and chips – simple but really delicious! Each was served with two salads: these included green salad, potato salad and coleslaw.
More home-made biscuits are laid out for afternoon tea and before you set off on your afternoon walk. Then at the end of each active day, you'll be served a three-course dinner. During our stay we had a curry night with tasty vegetable and chicken curries, rice, chapatis and condiments including finely chopped red onion, cucumber, tomatoes and capsicums. Pumpkin soup started off our next evening meal of marinated steak served with crunchy potatoes, mixed vegetables and a green salad. These meals were rounded off with a delicious apple fritter and a 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 camp, tea, filtered or instant coffee, water, wine, beer and soft drinks are included, along with the ingredients for a G&T. Other spirits can be requested in advance but may incur an extra charge if they are 'top shelf' brands.
Walking: A walking safari is a great way to explore the amazing Serengeti National Park. This comfortable tented camp is private for your group, and stands in a wilderness area within the park. Led by a professional, informative and engaging guide you'll explore parts of the Serengeti which are largely free from vehicles.See more ideas for Walking in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: Walking camps can take children over the age of 6 years.
Generally recommended for children: We would only recommend walking camps for families with children over the age of 12 years. This is both for safety reasons and because there is little to keep youngsters entertained between walking activities. If you have children under the age of 12 and would like to consider a Serengeti walking mobile, please speak to us at Expert Africa.
Notes: If you are travelling with children of any age please note that these camps are unfenced and animals do pass through them. Children must be under your constant supervision.
Communications: There is cellphone reception throughout almost all of the Serengeti and each of the camp teams carries a cellphone in case of emergency. If you travel with your phone you must have it switched off or on silent during any walking safaris.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: All the walking guides who lead these safaris have the highest level of first- aid training available and will always carry a first-aid kit with them. The flying doctors service out of Arusha is also just a phone call away.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Each walking guide carries a rifle and a GPS system. Each walk is accompanied by an armed national park ranger.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A simple laundry service is available on request. Clothes are hand washed and hung to dry – there is no iron available. However, as you're likely to be combining a stay at a private mobile camp in the Serengeti with time at hotels and lodges, it is best to wait until then to do your washing.