Wildlife watching around Lemala Kuria Hills provides endless rewards.
Lemala Kuria Hills: Our full report
The most recent addition to the Lemala portfolio, Lemala Kuria Hills, which opened in 2013, is their most luxurious camp. Located in the northern Serengeti, in the scenic Wogakuria Hills, it is about a 30 minutes drive from the Mara River. This part of the Serengeti is a great place to witness the great migration, roughly between July and October.
The camp is located on the brow of a hill in a small private concession, amid a landscape dominated by huge boulders and the rocky outcrops known as kopjes. There are lovely views of the Serengeti plains below.
After driving in on the camp's access road (past rather cramped and hot-looking staff housing), the main area consist of two permanent tented structures located on different levels and both raised clear of the hillside.
In the first "tent" is a spacious lounge with various seating areas, sofas and chairs in neutral colours and rugs scattered on polished wooden floors. The fireplaces at each end of the lounge are good spots to get together with other guests on chilly evenings. To one end of the lounge is the bar. Contemporary chandeliers hanging from the tented ceiling add to the modern décor.
Adjoining the lounge, and accessed by a wooden walkway is the dining area. Here you will find individual dining tables, high-back chairs and tables covered with white tablecloths. To one side of this area is another fireplace, decorated with artefacts. The décor is clean and modern with lots of dark wood and neutral cream colours.
Note that while the managers are always available, this is not a hosted camp and guest parties usually eat at their own tables.
Outside, a vast, faux-wood deck made from recycled plastic and set with tables and chairs, runs high above the hillside, linking the lounge and dining areas. Tucked away at the end of the deck, the sandy-floored fire-pit area, surrounded by canvas chairs, is a popular spot for early morning tea or coffee, or a pre-dinner drink.
Lemala Kuria Hills has a lovely spa area down a short path in front of the main central area of the camp. It offers massages, manicures and pedicures in a lovely, open-fronted room looking down into the bush where buffalos frequently wander. The big game in front makes the spa area very private. A glistening swimming pool is also available to guests and makes a cool break from the afternoon heat.
Sandy paths lead either side from the main areas to the 15 tented rooms, all of which can be set up as triples, and four of which can be quads. These are all spread fairly far apart, and each is completely private. Some are a fair walk from the main area, either up or down relatively steep hills. Guests with mobility issues should request a room close the heart of the camp. Tent #1 has a 260-degree view to the north, while tents #9, #10, #11, #13 and #15 have easterly views and the rest look out to the west. Tents #1, #12, #13 and #15 are usually considered the honeymoon tents and look east.
The spacious tents are entered from the back, into a small area with built-in clothes storage, and tea and coffee making facilities. Here you will also find a small fridge stocked with water and soft drinks. Other drinks are supplied on request. In front of this area is a large mosquito-netted double bed, or twin beds, facing outside towards the view. The canvas walls of the rooms are relatively solid (this is no traditional safari tent, to be sure) and hung with modern African prints. To one side of the bedroom is a lounge area with a sofa, chair and a coffee table. Stylish modern artworks are dotted around the room.
Sliding glass doors lead from the bedroom to the en-suite bathroom. Two square basins are set atop of a wooden plinth, with fluffy towels stored below. Above each basin is a large round mirror, and a deep, freestanding bath stands in front of the window. Within a tiled cubicle there's a funky, glass-enclosed shower and the flush toilet is located in a separate cubicle.
Sliding glass doors also open out from the tent to the front, onto a decent-sized deck, with a table and chairs and sun loungers and a private plunge pool. Tucked around the corner there's an outdoor shower.
A short walk from the camp's main area, there is a large shared swimming pool. It has an infinity edge to the front and is surrounded by decking on the other three sides. Here are a few sunloungers with umbrellas and there is also a changing room and toilet. A high rocky outcrop, attracting birds and rock hyraxes, overlooks this area.
Activities at Lemala Kuria Hills centre on 4WD game drives. These focus either on the resident game or, when the migration is passing through, on the predator interactions with the herds and the crossings along the Mara River.
Our viewLemala Kuria Hills offers a modern, luxurious, hotel-like option for travellers wanting to witness the migration, roughly from July to October. In its predominantly brown and dark-green colour scheme, it has something of the polished and hard-edged feel of a posh military base. This is far from being bush living, and as the camp is in the higher price bracket, it would suit honeymooners or first-time safari travellers prepared to pay a relatively high price for real comforts and a little separation from the natural world around them.
Ideal length of stay: During the migration you could easily spend 4 nights in this part of the Serengeti following the movements of the wildebeest and observing their movements. Out-of-season, about 3 nights here would provide a quiet and offbeat experience with some good resident game, but far fewer people. It can be combined with its sister camps Lemala Ngorongoro, the seasonal Lemala Mara and Ndutu camps, Lemala Ewanjan, and Lemala Manyara.
Directions: Lemala Kuria Hills is 45 minutes drive from Kogatende airstrip
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Lemala Camps
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Breakfast, served from 6am, is usually a buffet with fresh fruit, cereals, porridge, tea, coffee and fresh fruit juices. A cooked breakfast with a selection of eggs, bacon and sausage is also available. Lemala Kuria Hills can also offer picnic breakfasts.
Lunch and dinner are plated, with a soup starter, followed by a choice of three main courses with a large salad, usually meat or chicken, and always one vegetarian option. This is finished off with a choice of two desserts.
Lunch can be served from around 12 noon, and dinner from 7pm.
Afternoon tea, with freshly baked cakes, is served before heading off on an evening game drive.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Most drinks are included. Champagne and premium wines and spirits are extra.
Further dining info: Room service is available on request – Lemala has phones in the rooms.
Attitude towards children: Lemala Kuria Hills welcomes children six years and older.
Property’s age restrictions: Children must be six years and older.
Special activities & services: There are a few board games in the main area and the swimming pool will keep many kids happy. Lemala cubs is a programme designed for younger guests, offering a range of locally inspired activities around the camp.
Equipment: There are no cots or highchairs.
Generally recommended for children: Although Lemala Manyara welcomes children of six years and older we feel that this is more suitable for older mature children over the age of 10 years.
Notes: Parents need to be aware that the camp is not fenced and that game wanders around the camp day and night.
Power supply: Solar Power
Power supply notes: Lemala Kuria Hills powers mainly on solar but has a generator as back up just in case. Power is available in the rooms throughout the day and night.
Communications: Free WiFi is available in the communal areas but not in the rooms.
TV & radio: There are no TV’s or radio here
Water supply notes: Water for washing comes from the borehole and is solar heated. Drinking water is passes through the camp's reverse-osmosis water purification system and is excellent.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There is a first aid box in camp. The nearest clinic is at Migumu, 90 minutes drive away, just outside the park. More serious cases can be airlifted to Arusha which is a flight of about 2 hours.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Askaris (guards) are on duty 24 hours a day and there is also a TANAPA ranger based in the camp
Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are located at all the tents as well as in the main areas.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Laundry is available and included in the cost. It is done by machine and so the camp also washes underwear.
Money: There are safes in each room.
Accepted payment on location: US$ and Tanzanian Shillings are accepted. Visa and Mastercard are accepted at an additional 5% cost.