Mbuzi Mawe: Our full report
Mbuzi Mawe Tented Camp is set amid the bush and rocky outcrops of the central Serengeti.It belongs to the large Serena group of hotel-style lodges, owned by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, and is one of the group's smaller and more intimate properties.
Mbuzi Mawe Tented Camp is tucked away, off the main road between Seronera and the northern Serengeti. The name mbuzi mawe is Swahili for "rock goat" otherwise known as klipspringer, which in turn is Afrikaans for "rock jumper". The camp is a convenient stop-over point for anyone travelling north or south, and is far from most other properties. That said, there are relatively few game-driving roads in this region, and not many options for wildlife-viewing, apart from heading north or south along the main gravel road through the park.
Mbuzi Mawe has 16 large, en-suite tents. The accommodation here is simple, but being under canvas adds to the wilderness feel of the place. Crazy paving paths lead to the tents which are rather closely set under the shade of acacias. The tents are surrounded by towering rocky outcrops, inhabited by inquisitive rock hyraxes, occasionally along with larger and more dangerous wildlife. Some tents have lovely sweeping views from their outside decks, and the layout of Mbuzi Mawe means that you also get some good views from some of the camp's public areas.
The main reception area is a large, airy tented structure which also houses a curio shop and a bar. The furnishings are heavy dhow-wood tables, chairs and sofas, complemented by terracotta floor tiles and matching cushions.
Mbuzi Mawe's small but well-stocked bar is tucked into a corner of the tent, adjacent to the restaurant, and is open all day and evening until the last person leaves. The bar and reception area flow into one, so you sit at the bar's wooden chairs to drink, sprawl on the lounge sofas, or take your drink out onto the wooden deck. There is a small curio shop in the reception area.
There are plans to build a swimming pool just below the reception area. Permissions have been granted, and the building process is due to take place in the next few months. We think this will be a welcome addition to the lodge and will make the property even more family friendly.
The cosy dining tent is supported by stone pillars and wooden beams. The tables in here are set rather close together which make it feel intimate, or rather intrusive, depending on your mood. You can also eat outside on the shaded stone deck.
For groups of five people or more, Mbuze Mawe will organize a barbecue dinner on a stone deck below reception and for honeymooners a bush dinner can be arranged. On warm evenings, sundowners are usually arranged around the fire pit.
Mbuzi Mawe Tented Camp is particularly popular when the Serengeti wildebeest migration passes through this area. Typically this is during March and April, when the herds are on their way north, and then again around November to January, when the migration is heading back south.
Like most camps in the Serengeti, it's best to book Mbuze Mawe. Note also that the camp doesn't have any guides of its own – it's a place to visit with your own driver/guide, and cannot be visited on a fly-in trip unless you are arranging to meet your guide and vehicle here.
Mbuze Mawe is well located for exploring the central Serengeti it you're transiting between the north and south of the park. It is also has a spectacular physical location, with its views and giant boulders and outcrops. Although run by a hotel chain, it's small enough to have a much friendlier and personal feel than many of the Serengeti's larger camps, however it's fair to say that the camp itself is a relatively modest set-up.
- Serengeti Migration Area, Tanzania
- Ideal length of stay
- The usual stay here is 2 or 3 nights, although during the migration people tend to stay for longer.
- Mbuzi Mawe is 43km from Seronera Airstrip (about an hour’s drive) and roughly a two and a half hours' drive from Naabi Hill Gate.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board
- Food quality
- Breakfast is served from 6:30 – 9:30 and is both a cold buffet – cereals, fruits, juices etc and a cooked breakfast served to order.
Lunch is served from 12:30 – 2:30. This meal is plated and served to your table.
Dinner is served from 7:30 – 9:30. Dinner is a hot, plated meal served to your table; however there is also a salad buffet for you to choose from.
Mbuzi Mawe caters for vegetarians and children on request, but this must arranged in advance.
The lodge is happy to arrange a packed lunch for clients going on full-day / long game drives. This can either be as a boxed lunch or in a hamper for a bush lunch.
- Dining style
- Individual Tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Room service is available from 6am – 10pm.
- Drinks included
- Drinks are not included. You can expect to pay around $4 for a beer, $3 for a soda, $25–30 for a bottle of wine.
- Attitude towards children
- Children are welcome at Mbuzi Mawe.
- Property’s age restrictions
- There are no age restrictions at Mbuzi Mawe.
- Special activities & services
- The lodge can arrange babysitting at extra cost with housekeeping staff.
If requested, they can arrange children's meals and are happy to serve them dinner at an earlier time.
- The lodge has baby cots but no high chairs.
- Generally recommended for children
- Yes, but they must be aware of the dangers of being in the bush and of the close proximity to wild animals. Children are their parents' responsibility at all times.
- Power supply notes
- Charging points in tents.
- There is cell phone reception at Mbuze Mawe, and all tents have an internal phone for contacting reception and security. Free WiFi is available all around the lodge. A laptop and printer are available for use, free of charge.
- TV & radio
- There is no guest radio or TV at Mbuze Mawe, but the staff TV would be available to enthusiastic guests to watch for major sporting events.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- Plumbed in showers and flushing toilets.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- Some of the staff are first-aid trained, and they have a first aid box at the lodge. There is also a small basic clinic and a trained clinician on site who can offer enhanced medical care.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- Askaris are on guard 24-hours a day. Guests are escorted around the property after dark.
- Fire safety
- The lodge has fire extinguishers on site, and the staff have fire-training every six months. There is a hose pipe on site.
Hot air ballooning
- Disabled access
- In Place
- Laundry facilities
- Mbuzi Mawe has a laundry service, and charge roughly US$1-4 per item. The laundry is all air-dried, so the state in which it is returned is dependant on the weather.
- Currency exchange is possible at Mbuze Mawe in small amounts.
There are no safes in the tents, but you can leave valuables in the individual safe boxes at reception.
- Accepted payment on location
- Mbuze Mawe accepts the following in cash: US$, Euros, South African Rand, Kenyan Shillings, and Pounds Sterling. It also accepts Visa, Mastercard and American Express. The lodge charges credit card bills in US$ with an 8% surcharge.
Room types at Mbuzi Mawe
All the 16 tents at Mbuzi Mawe Tented Camp are substantial canvas rooms, measuring approximately 5m wide by 6.5m long (about 16ft x 21ft). They are positioned rather close together and close to the paths that run between them, so you can sometimes hear other guests moving around nearby. All the tents are similarly set up, with two mosquito-netted, queen-size beds in each. Tents #7 or #16 at the far ends of the camp are usually used for honeymooners.
Each tent has its own outside deck area, looking out into the bush. Like the main lodge, much of the tents' furniture has been constructed from dhow-wood, including the dressing table, chairs and beds. The décor won't win any style awards, but the interiors are bright enough, with soft furnishings that include cheerful animal print cushions, and rugs on the terracotta-tiled floors.
The tents at Mbuzi Mawe are en-suite, each with a bathroom at the back, separated from the bedroom by a canvas curtain. Each bathroom has a large wood-framed mirror, a double basin, flush toilet, towels and bath robes, and complimentary toiletries. The shower’s water is heated by Solahart water heaters, so expect it to be piping hot in sunny weather.
The electricity is normally on 24 hours a day and all the tents have power points for charging cameras and other gadgets, a ceiling fan and tea/coffee making facilities. Torches are provided for the evenings. When walking to and from your tent after dark, you will be accompanied by an askari – typically an experienced Maasai guide armed with a spear. The askaris are also adept at scaring off the local baboons – a necessary skill as the baboons have learnt how to open tents.
Other lodges in Serengeti Migration Area
Alternative places to stay in this same area.