Mbalageti Lodge: Our full report
Mbalageti Lodge (also known as Mbalageti Serengeti Tented Camp, or simply Mbalageti Serengeti) stands on ...... Mwamyeni Hill, overlooking the vast Dutwa Plain, in a quiet part of the Western Corridor of the Serengeti National Park. It has uninterrupted views of the Serengeti plains towards the Mbalageti River and is a lovely spot to be located in the Serengeti, and ideal if the wildebeest migration is in this area.
(See our moving map of the migration – which shows the Serengeti's wildebeest migration as it moves, month-by-month, throughout the year.)
Mbalageti has a total of 43 rooms, all of which have electric fans, electronic safes, hairdryers and en-suite bathrooms. However, all are very different:
- The 14 standard lodge rooms are all built together, and relatively small, but are ideal for travellers trying to keep to a modest budget. (Read more about these standard rooms.)
- The 24 luxury tented chalets are all individually built – partially from stone and partially canvas. They're relatively large, stylish and very lovely – albeit considerably more costly than the standard rooms. (Read more about these luxury tented chalets.)
- The five executive suites each have two separate bedrooms, each with a separate en-suite bathroom, and their own lounge/dining room and a huge outside deck with great views. These suites are the most costly room category at Mbalageti and they are also the only rooms that have TV’s and minibars.
Mbalageti Lodge has a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere and the staff here are all very friendly and attentive. It is tastefully decorated with various artworks and wood carvings giving it a contemporary African feel.
The Welcome Centre is a large thatched open-sided building and houses the main reception area as well as the lodge office. This is where you will be met on arrival with a cool towel and welcome glass of fruit juice and asked to take a comfortable seat whilst completing arrival formalities. There are books and magazines to browse through, as well as some artwork and wood carvings on the walls. There is self-service tea and coffee available here which can be enjoyed inside, or outside on the lawn whilst taking in the amazing views. This is also the only place where it is possible to connect onto the free Wi-Fi.
The restaurant, bar and pool are situated in a separate building, on the edge of the hill, with 360-degree panoramic views of the Serengeti. The large swimming pool, surrounded by a large wooden deck, is made out of local stone and is the ideal place to cool down after a hot and dusty game drive.
There are a number of wooden decks around and below the pool, on different levels, with cream-coloured sunloungers and umbrellas, offering quiet areas to relax and unwind.
In a quiet area below the pool, in a private and tranquil setting, is the small spa area with two massage beds and a small plunge pool. The cost of massages, at the time of our visit in April 2015, was US$30 for half an hour and US$50 for an hour.
The restaurant is on two open-sided levels offering uninterrupted views; the deck that forms the lower of the two tiers was extended in 2011 doubling in size. The tables are made out of local wood and the legs are naturally-shaped tree trunks. All the chairs are good quality leather directors' chairs.
There is a large shady bar inside which curves outside onto the huge swimming pool deck. It is decorated with blue mosaic chips forming a wave pattern on the front of the bar.
Mbalageti also has a gift shop selling locally made arts and crafts – some of which are displayed around the lodge – as well as postcards, kikois and a small supply of toiletries.
Activities from Mbalageti concentrate mainly on game drives out on the Serengeti plains – and most of our travellers arrive here with their own vehicle and safari guide. The migration is usually here between about May and July, although the riverine forest areas of the Western Corridor have some good permanent game – and so can be visited at any time of year.
It is possible to do a morning or afternoon walking safari from Mbalageti Serengeti, guided by an experienced guide with an armed game ranger. These last about two hours, cost US$60 per person (at the time of writing - April 2015), and follow pre-arranged routes through the bush without deviating substantially.
Mbalageti is smaller than the large 'Serena' and 'Sopa'-type hotels which are found in many of northern Tanzania's safari areas – and yet it is slightly larger than many of the smaller safari camps. The latter typically take 16-20 guests and, we admit, tend to often be our favourites.
However, despite its slightly large size ... we really like Mbalageti! It's well run, tastefully constructed and decorated, and it has great views over the Serengeti.
What's more – there's a genuine feeling that it gives good value for money: the standard rooms are relatively cheap, and the tented chalets, whilst more costly, are lovely and spacious.
- Serengeti Migration Area, Tanzania
- Ideal length of stay
- 2 - 3 nights
- Nearest airstrip is at Grumeti which is 45 minutes' drive away, or Seronera which is 1.5 hours' drive away. Mbalageti camp is about half an hours' drive from the main road through the Western Corridor.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board
- Food quality
- The food that was served to us at Mbalageti on our last visit was of a good standard.
Due to the size of the lodge, buffet-style meals are usually served during the high season (June to Aug). During this period themed dinners are served between 19:00 and 21:00, for example on the evening we stayed, it was a Thai evening. There was a vast selection to choose from – Thai vegetable curry, red chicken curry, lamb in oyster sauce plus more, all served with a selection of rice or noodles. There were a couple of live cooking stations where the food is cooked in front of you – so you know its fresh. There were also spring rolls with various dipping sauces. This was all followed by a selection of deserts and tea or coffee.
On other evenings there may be a barbecue or other different international themes to add a bit of variety to your stay.
For the rest of the year, when the lodge is a little quieter, dinner is usually a 4-course meal, served to the table, and lunch is a 3-course set menu.
Breakfast is usually buffet style served from 06:30 – 09:30. Again there is a wide range to choose from – a selection of fresh fruit or cereals, fresh bread or pastries with homemade jams, a selection of cold meats and cheeses and also a cooked breakfast which is freshly cooked in front of you.
- Wildlife safaris
- Mbalageti is great place to stay between May and July, when the great wildebeest and zebra migration is passing through this area of the Serengeti. It's then a short drive to see the game crossing the often-dry Mbalagati and Grumeti rivers.
- See ideas for Wildlife safaris
- Mbalageti is one of the few lodges in the Serengeti which has a small spa area offering massages – which was being renovated when we last visited. This has two massage tables with a dedicated plunge pool – and a dedicated massage professional is employed.
- See ideas for Wellbeing
- Attitude towards children
- Mbalageti welcomes children of all ages.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Special activities & services
- There are children's board games available and the staff can play children’s films in the reception area. Cots and highchairs are also available on request.
- Generally recommended for children
- Child minders are available free of charge. Please note that these are members of staff and not professionally trained child minders.
- Power supply notes
- There are plugs in all of the rooms which can be used to charge batteries when the generator is turned on (between 05:30-09:30 and 17:00-23:00)
- There is free Wifi in reception.
- TV & radio
- There is satellite TV in the suites.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- The running water is fine to wash with and to use to brush your teeth – however it is advisable to use the bottled water that is provided to drink.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- There is a first aid box in reception and the nearest doctor is at Kirawira Camp –which is about an hours' drive away.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- Local Maasai guards (askaris) are there to walk you to and from your room at night. Travellers should not walk on their own, as there is always game wandering through the camp after dark.
- Fire safety
- Fire extinguishers are available in all the rooms and the main areas.
Hot air ballooning
- Disabled access
- In Place
- Laundry facilities
- Available but at an extra charge
- Mbalageti is able to exchange cash in US dollars, pounds sterling and euros – depending on how much cash they have available.
- Accepted payment on location
- US dollars, pounds sterling and euros cash are accepted. Visa and Mastercard can also be used – however there will be a 5% surcharge levied on these.
Room types at Mbalageti Lodge
Luxury Tented chalet
These very comfortable, individual chalets are made of local wood and stone as well as a canvas wall at the front. Each chalet is raised up on a wooden deck with a spacious wooden decked veranda at the front – which allows uninterrupted views of the Serengeti plains below.
There are eight twin and 16 double chalets, each tastefully decorated in dark brown and cream earthy shades.
The large wooden four-poster beds are draped with mosquito nets and are covered with crisp white linen, soft down pillows and duvets and also have traditional fabric throws at the foot of the beds. All the linen and towels are embossed with the Mbalageti logo giving at a very professional, high-quality feel.
To the one side of the room is a small seating area with a contemporary red leather sofa adding a splash of colour to the room. There is also a small table with grass mats on the floor as well as a wardrobe and a luggage rack.
In another corner of the room is a wooden dressing table with mirror and padded stool.
An electric fan is provided on the bedside table next to the bed.
Each chalet has a large spacious stone-clad en-suite bathroom, with a freestanding 'slipper bath' in front of a large window. There is also a spacious shower cubicle with a rustic wooden door.
The floor is red painted concrete with stone detail inset. A lot of raw wood and stone has been used giving it a very natural feel.
Complimentary toiletries and a wall-mounted hair dryer are provided.
Standard lodge room
The standard rooms at Mbalageti Lodge are small and functional, and are really aimed at travellers who are traveling with a resstricted budget. There are 14 adjoining rooms located in one block – two rows of seven back-to-back rooms. Seven facing one way, with views of the surrounding Serengeti; seven face in the opposite direction, towards the hill.
Each room has either twin or double beds with crisp white linen, soft down pillows and duvets. All the linen and towels are embossed with the Mbalageti logo – and all are high quality. Beside each bed is a bedside table with lamp, a torch and emergency lamp for use during the night when the generator is off.
There is also a small wardrobe with an electronic safe inside it, a writing desk and a luggage rack.
Outside your room is a small veranda with two chairs and a table. A slatted wooden screen separates you from your neighbour's veranda.
There are mosquito nets over the beds as well as mesh screens on the windows.
Note that these lodge rooms at Mbalageti are quite far from the main area – a walk of about 500m.
Each room has a small en-suite bathroom with hot and cold shower, single basin and flush toilet. Complimentary toiletries are provided as well as a wall-mounted hair-dryer.
Other lodges in Serengeti Migration Area
Alternative places to stay in this same area.