Mkombe's House Lamai: Our full report
Mkombe’s House Lamai is a newly built private house that opened in July 2015.Set in Tanzania’s northern Serengeti, in the scenic Wogakuria Kopjes district, it has dramatic views looking east across the plains. The house is designed for up to ten guests, and is aimed at groups of friends as well as families. It is entirely self-contained and offers great flexibility.
The house is named after the late guide Mkombe Mniko, one of the founders of Nomad Tanzania, the high-quality camp operator that owns the property. The recommended occupancy of ten guests is ideally suited to four adults and six children, however groups of 6-8 adults can also be accommodated here. For guests with limited mobility, the house is a much easier prospect than the main camp, Lamai Serengeti, which lies 1.6km away on the south side of the kopje.
The deceptively modest entrance behind Mkombe’s House opens into a little lobby, with a large dining room off to one side. The adjacent lounge is furnished with chunky sofas, three armchairs and a big fireplace. Green-painted floorboards and soft rugs create a slightly bohemian feel; the house may be new but it doesn't feel modern. The rustic mood is accentuated by roofs draped with fito cane-thatch. This camouflages reliably waterproof steel panels while ensuring the clattering rain doesn't wake the guests.
Up a short flight of steps behind the dining room is a projection home-cinema room with a big comfy bunk and space for up to ten people to watch a DVD. The WiFi hub is in here too, along with some books and board games.
Mkombe’s House Lamai has four en-suite bedrooms, comprising two open-fronted double rooms and two enclosed bedrooms (ideal for children) that can be configured as either twins or doubles. One of the enclosed bedrooms is next to the master bedroom on the south side of the house and faces east. The other, behind the master bedroom on the north side of the house, doesn't have a view but is perfectly fine otherwise. The master bedrooms have outside showers and star-beds that can be wheeled onto the deck to sleep under the night sky. Extra beds can be added to any of the rooms in advance, if required.
As well-appointed, stylish and comfortable as the inside areas are at Mkombe's, we thought on our most recent visit in November 2017 that it is outside space which really set this place apart. Outside you will find an extensive deck built around the rocks jutting up from the kopje underneath that overlooks this beautiful area of the Serengeti. As well as shaded dining areas there are numerous seating options forming very pleasant chill-out areas. There are also two glistening and inviting pools set amid the decks, on different levels. At the higher level there is a small plunge pool perfect for children staying at the house and on the lower deck is a larger swimming pool. All benefit from beautiful eastward views across the Serengeti plains.
During your stay here you will be well-looked-after by the staff. The house comes with a private driver/guide (two if you're a large group), a butler, a chef and a housekeeper. A groundsman, who also acts as an askari (security man), is often quite busy during the migration season ensuring the local megafauna don't invade the premises. If you're doing a privately guided safari, accompanied by your own driver/guide, you can drive up to the house; there's also accommodation here for drivers.
The kopje landscape around the house is entrancing, but there are plenty of activities at Mkombe's House Lamai, too, with the main focus on private game drives. Resident wildlife that can be spotted all year round, both on game drives or from the decks of the house itself, includes lion, cheetah, leopard, elephant, buffalo and other plains grazers. Crocodile and hippo may also be sighted in the Mara River. One of the biggest attractions, however, is the wildebeest migration that passes through this region on an annual cycle, roughly between July and October. Parts of the ‘mega-herd’ periodically mass on the banks of the Mara River and make perilous crossings. Seeing one of these events can't be guaranteed; you have to be lucky and in the right place at the right time. But they do take place on enough occasions throughout the season to give you a reasonable chance of witnessing this natural spectacle.
Other activities include guided walks (minimum age 12), bush picnics and, of course, sundowners. Guests may also be driven up to Lamai Serengeti’s main camp to visit its curio shop if they wish.
Mkombe's House Lamai is a unique base for a safari in the northern part of Serengeti National Park, surrounded by superb landscapes and wildlife and close enough to the Mara River to witness the wildebeest migration. We are delighted that Nomad Tanzania is behind such a special place: it offers the best private-stay arrangements anywhere in the northern Serengeti.
- Serengeti Migration Area, Tanzania
- Ideal length of stay
- 3-4 nights
- The house is 1.6km from the main camp, Lamai Serengeti. It can be reached by daily plane from Arusha, Dar es Salaam and other locations in northern Tanzania, taking 2-3 hours. Alternatively, you can drive in from other camps in the northern Serengeti.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- The menu at Mkombe’s House is based on that at the main Lamai Serengeti. Judging by our experience at the main lodge next door, you can expect fresh produce, home-baking and some delicious flavours.
The chefs can accommodate dietary requirements and special requests in advance, and are more than happy to tailor the menus based on guests’ preferences and what’s in the kitchen. Meals times are flexible and the chefs welcome guests’ input into the menu choices.
- Family holidays
- Mkombe's House Lamai is the perfect solution to a family safari in Tanzania. There is superb wildlife in the area and, with its memorable views and two swimming pools, this fully serviced private house caters well for both adults and children.
- See ideas for Family holidays
- Mkombe’s House Lamai is perfect for families or groups. Striving to maintain the highest standards of service, in a homely yet luxurious setting, whilst offering privately guided safaris with total flexibility. This is what an exclusive safari is all about.
- See ideas for Luxury
- Attitude towards children
- Children of all ages are welcome.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Although there is no minimum age, some activities are restricted (the minimum age for walks is 12).
- Special activities & services
- A babysitter can be provided from housekeeping staff.
- Cots, high chairs and car seats are available.
- Generally recommended for children
- As a private house let on an exclusive basis, Mkombe’s House is a very family-friendly option.
- As game can be found in the vicinity of the property, children should be supervised at all times.
- Power supply notes
- The house has electricity available at all times.
- There is WiFi in the main areas and an intermittent cellphone signal.
- TV & radio
- There is a TV/projection room with a collection of DVDs. You can also download movies fairly easily.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- The borehole water is exceptionally high-quality, but bottled drinking water is provided.
There are flush toilets and plumbed in showers.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- There are first aid kits in the vehicles and also in office at Lamai, and links with the flying-doctor service. All staff are trained in first-aid.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- An askari is at hand to look after the premises.
- Fire safety
- Fire extinguishers are installed.
Guided walking safari
Hot air ballooning
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is included and done in the main Lamai Serengeti lodge. It is handwashed and line dried, and ladies' underwear is not accepted.
- There are safes in all the bedrooms in the house.
- Accepted payment on location
- Payment is accepted in US dollars, Euros, pounds and Tanzanian shillings cash. The main lodge also accepts credit card payments for any extras, but there is a 7% surcharge.
Other lodges in Serengeti Migration Area
Alternative places to stay in this same area.