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Kirawira Camp
Kirawira Camp

Kirawira Camp: Our full report

Open since 1998, Kirawira Camp is part of the East African chain of Serena Hotels.

It is the smartest and smallest of their properties in northern Tanzania and is designed to be a high-end, colonial-style tented camp.

The most noticeable thing about Kirawira Camp is its location. Atop a high hill, Kirawira looks down over the plains of Serengeti National Park's Western Corridor. On a clear day, the views are spectacular, and a Swarovski spotting scope in the lounge area makes game viewing possible without leaving the lodge!

Kirawira Camp faces west, and relaxing by the lodge's swimming pool, watching the sun set over the Serengeti plains, is one of the highlights of staying here.

In the main areas of Kirawira Camp a colonial-Victorian style predominates: you will find polished wooden floors, Persian rugs and leather-bound travelling cases. The floral-patterned furniture and stud-backed leather smoking chairs look as if they come straight out of an English country home and give a sense of style that is fairly unusual in a safari destination (even if the chairs are a little worn).

The main lounge is a cool, spacious room, dotted with antique-style sofas and chairs clustered round coffee tables. Old hat stands, leather trunks and antique record players add character and a style reminiscent of the Victorian era. You will also find a games cabinet here, with Scrabble, chess, backgammon and other classic games. During the day guests might want to sit out on the shaded veranda, which looks out over the plains below; there is a Swarovski spotting scope here for game viewing.

The dining room at Kirawira Camp is split between two different tented rooms, which gives the impression that the camp is smaller than it really is. White cotton tablecloths hang over solid wood tables set with silver cutlery and starched white napkins. It's simple, yet what is there is high quality. You can expect to be served tasty food by formal waiters who are well-trained in silver service. The silver cutlery is polished to a high shine, and the tablecloths are white and spotlessly clean. We found the service during meals to be friendly and of a high standard – although it did feel strange, almost 'staged', to be in a tented safari camp surrounded by attentive waiters wearing starched white uniforms.

Kirawira also has a well-stocked gift shop selling a variety of curios and gifts – like wooden carvings, jewellery and fabrics. There are also some lovely coffee table books as well as wildlife and bird books. If you have forgotten any toiletries there is also a small selection on sale here.

Down a flight of steps, on a lower level from the lounge and dining room, is Kirawira's cool and inviting swimming pool. A small waterfall from a higher plunge pool adds style to the pool area and gives it a natural-spring feel. Sunloungers sit under shades and look out across the Serengeti plains. The swimming pool is a popular place for sundowners in the evenings, when staff come down to make cocktails.

The 25 bedrooms at Kirawira are tented en-suite rooms raised on wooden platforms, each with a private veranda. The rooms are well spaced apart, and so are peaceful and quiet. Click here to read more about the tented rooms at Kirawira Tented Camp

The activities at Kirawira Camp focus on 4WD safari drives, and most travellers visit here with their own private guide and 4WD. Then you'll either head out for a full day's safari to explore deep into the park, taking a packed lunch with you; or you’ll go on a morning game drive, returning for lunch at the lodge, before going out on another drive in the late afternoon.

From May to July this camp is perfectly located for the great wildebeest migration. The plains around the camp fill with animals heading north as they prepare to cross the dry Grumeti River. For an idea of where the migration is and when, look at our moving map of the Serengeti migration.

You can also arrange to visit Lake Victoria, which is only 45km away. This day trip costs about US$100 per person. Whilst there you can also visit a local fishing village, and you’ll need to pay a small fee direct to the village to do this.


Our view

Kirawira Camp is reminiscent of the early colonial days of the explorers, with an antique style and standards of service which are very good. However as well as having 'old-world' décor by design, it was looking a little old and tired when we visited in April 2015, and we felt that Kirawira had missed the 'classic safari' look that other camps have achieved so well. Although Kirawira is a relatively small tented property, it hasn't managed to shake off the hotel nature of the 'Serena' chain – and this showed itself in the atmosphere which was quite stiff and formal at times even though the staff were friendly.

Richard Trillo

Richard Trillo

Tanzania expert

Geographics

Location
Serengeti Migration Area, Tanzania
Ideal length of stay
Stay here for three or four nights, exploring the surrounding area with your driver and guide.
Directions
The lodge is approximately 14km from Grumeti airstrip. Alternatively, you may access it on a longer guided safari driving from Arusha and visiting wildlife areas such as the Ngorongoro Crater along the way.
Accessible by
Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis
Full Board
Food quality
The food at Kirawira Camp was good when we were last there. The menu was varied and imaginative and there were plenty of options to suit different tastes.

Breakfast is a variety of continental choices such as cereals, fruit, yoghurt and fresh baked bread. There is also a full English breakfast and toast on offer.

Lunch is quite formal, with a four course meal and silver service. There is a menu card for lunch with a number of options for each course. Start your meal with a fresh salad, then for the second course there is a choice between two soups (cream of carrot soup or mutton broth soup when we last visited in 2015).

The main course has four options; red meat, chicken, vegetarian and fish. The options where all very differently cooked, the red meat was grilled beef steak, the vegetarian option was a curry, the fish was poached snapper and the chicken was roasted. There was something to suit most palettes.

Desert has three options, ranging in heaviness – when we were there we could choose between fresh fruit salad, chocolate brownies or malva pudding.

There is the option of a lighter midday meal for those not hungry enough to face all these courses!

Dinner follows the same pattern as lunch – with silver service and a four course meal, with a variety of choices for each course.
Dining style
Individual Tables
Dining locations
Indoor Dining
Further dining info, including room service
Kirawira Camp offer room service, and with some advance notice can usually do private meals on the terrace of your tent.
Drinks included
Drinks are not included in the price of the accommodation. These will be added to your bill for you to settle before you depart. The cost of a mineral water or a soda is about US$3, a beer is about US$5 and a glass of wine is about US$7.

Special interests

Wildlife safaris
Between May and July, the Western Corridor teems with the great wildebeest migration that is heading north across the Serengeti plains and the Grumeti River; Kirawira Camp is then a good base for exploring. At other times of year, there is some resident game in the area.
See ideas for Wildlife safaris

Children

Attitude towards children
Kirawira Camp welcomes older children.
Property’s age restrictions
Kirawira Camp has a minimum age of 7 years.
Special activities & services
Kirawira Camp offers child-minding is from their housekeeping team; there is no charge for this but it is customary to leave a tip. It is important to note that the 'baby sitters' are usually one of the camp staff members and not trained child minders.
Generally recommended for children
The camp has a selection of activities to keep children occupied when they are not out on safari activities. There is a swimming pool and a few board games. Meal times are flexible for families with young children and there is a children's menu to choose from.
Notes
The camp is not fenced in and so wild animals can, and sometimes do, pass through the grounds. Children must be under their parent's supervision at all times.

Communications

Power supply notes
There is 24-hour power supply, with British style three-pin plugs, in all of the rooms which can be used for charging batteries.
Communications
There is free Wi-fi in the main area and by the swimming pool.
TV & radio
There is no TV or radio here.
Water supply
Borehole
Water supply notes
Bottled water is supplied in the rooms which should be used for drinking and brushing teeth.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended
Yes
Medical care
There is usually a doctor on site, as well as a small clinic. For more serious cases Kirawira Camp has links to the flying doctors.
Dangerous animals
High Risk
Security measures
There is a central safe for valuables – just hand your valuables to the manager on arrival. At night you will be escorted between your tent and the main areas, incase of wild animals in camp.
Fire safety
There are fire extinguishers in rooms and main areas.

Activities

  • 4WD Safari

    4WD Safari

  • Birdwatching

    Birdwatching

  • Hot air ballooning

    Hot air ballooning

Extras

Disabled access
Not Possible
Laundry facilities
A full laundry service is available at an additional charge of US$1-2 per item. The lodge uses washing machines so a quick turnaround service is available on request but more usually takes about 12 hours.
Money
Kirawira Camp can exchange small amounts of money - USD, GBP, EUR, ZAR and Kenyan shillings can all be exchanged.
Accepted payment on location
Kirawira Camp accepts cash in GBP, EUR, USD and Tanzanian shillings. They also accept Visa, MasterCard and Amex credit cards; there is no additional fee for using a credit card.

Room types at Kirawira Camp

1 of

Kirawira Tent

Each of the 25 tented rooms at Kirawira are set on raised on wooden platforms. A number of stairs climb up to the platform and shaded veranda where there is a pair of director's chairs.

Inside the tent is a large four-poster bed, draped in mosquito netting. Each room has a hairdryer, 24-hour electricity and a standing fan for hot nights. There is also antique style writing desk, and hanging space for clothes. The rooms have an antique style, though they do also feel a little dated. Since our visit in April 2015, we understand that most tents have been fully refurbished.

At the back of the tent is the en-suite bathroom, which is relatively small yet quite smart. Dark polished wood and marble effect make up the surfaces of the bathroom. The newer bathrooms have twin basins whilst the original bathrooms each have a single basin. White bathrobes are provided for each guest and toiletries are included. Behind one door is a flush toilet, and then behind a curtain is a white-and-navy-tiled shower with running hot-and-cold water.

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