Namiri Plains Camp

Namiri Plains Camp: Our full report

Rooms
8 luxury safari tents
Traveller's rating
Excellent (97%) From 29 reviews
Children
Best for 12+
Open
Year round

Namiri Plains is located an hour and a half's drive due east from the game-rich core of the Serengeti – Seronera. The camp opened in July 2014 in an area that for more than 20 years had been closed to the public. Previously this region had exclusively been used for cheetah conservation and the number of big cats found here – especially lion prides and cheetahs – is astonishing.

Namiri Plains is part of Asilia's ever-growing and impressive portfolio of properties, which includes others of our favourites such as Dunia, Olivers, The Highlands and Sayari . We've been working very closely with this safari company for many years, and there are certain standards that we have come to expect from them. Typically, Asilia build their safari properties in unique locations that ensure access to superb game-viewing areas; and they maintain a strong ethic towards conservation, sustainability and community enrichment. Namiri Plains is no different.

The area of Soit Le Motonyi (where Namiri Plains is located) was closed to tourists between 1985 and 2014. Soit Le Motonyi is a very important breeding site for cheetahs and is now said to have the highest density of cheetah in East Africa. But it's not just cheetah that guests can expect to see here. When we visited in November 2015 and December 2016 we were overwhelmed by how many lion we saw in such a short space of time. Leopard sightings are also surprisingly common. Namiri means 'big cat' in Swahili and it's a name that is particularly apt for this camp – this really is big-cat country!

The landscape surrounding Namiri Plains is quintessentially Serengeti. Grassy plains stretch as far as the eye can see, interspersed by the occasional fever tree, acacia tree and rocky outcrop – and the best thing is that there's no-one else here! Namiri's nearest neighbour is more than an hour's drive away, and it's possible to stay here for a few nights and not see anyone other than those sharing the camp with you. This probably makes it the most isolated and secluded camp in the Serengeti.

Although the Seronera area is accessible from Namiri, game drives tend to be done in the surrounding Soit Le Motonyi area. This makes for a relatively remote and exclusive safari experience, something that is often hard to come by in the Serengeti. Although you can't gurantee having sightings to yourself, especially later in the day when vehicles often drive over from the central Serengeti, this area is very much less busy than Seronera.

It is worth noting that whilst the game viewing can be exceptional, there are currently very few game-drive routes around Namiri Plains and drivers are not permitted to go off road. So although the camp has the use of a vast, game-rich area, much of it cannot be accessed. We are hopeful that Asilia and TANAPA (Tanzanian National Parks Authority) will come to an agreement soon to build a slightly increased road network that has minimal impact on the ecosystem.

Walking safaris are also an option, either in the early morning or afternoon; these are led by one of the walking guides from the camp, who are all certified by TANAPA. For groups of over eight people, two guides are required for safety reasons.

Namiri Plains Camp itself has eight spacious tents, all spread out in rows either side of the main mess tent. For privacy, the two tents furthest from the main area, numbers 1 and 8, are reserved for honeymooners. One of the tents, with two single beds divided by a canvas partition from the main double room, can also be used as a family tent.

All the canvas tents have high ceilings and are shaped as elongated octagons, which makes them feel much larger than those in most semi-permanent tented camps. Inside – aside from black-and-white silhouette photographs of the Serengeti, cream curtains, zigzag patterned rugs and matching scatter cushions – there is very little decoration. However, this is clearly deliberate and we love the tasteful, minimalist design, which extends to the plain, but attractive, furniture. The practicalities have been well thought-out, too: bathrobes, an electronic safe, flashlight, radio walkie-talkie, insect spray, waterproofs, umbrellas and boots are all provided. It's the perfect balance between comfort, necessity and luxury.

Through the back of each tent is an en-suite bathroom separated by a canvas door, which can be zipped closed. As well as a white ceramic basin and a modern-looking mirror, there is a wooden cubicle with a flush toilet, and both an indoor or a double outdoor bucket shower. The showers contain up to 75 litres of water, which is enough for a very long shower, and are heated by solar power so water does not need to be requested from camp staff.

The main mess tent at Namiri Plains has a number of extremely comfortable contemporary sofas, stylishly constructed from chopped wood, and four big circular lounge chairs to sink into at the end of a long safari day. There are a few maps of the Serengeti, a couple of bookcases and a charging station for batteries. At one end, a large wooden bureau serves as a bar. On top, the drinks are clearly divided into two – on one side are the house beers, wines and sprits that are included in the cost of staying at Namiri Plains; on the other are the top-shelf spirits, for which there is a supplement.

Once again there is very little in the way of décor in the dining tent, just a few striking pieces of sculpture; instead the food and service takes centre stage. It's a very sociable camp, with communal meals, and the evenings often feel like a big dinner party hosted by the managers and the guides.

In front of the mess and dining tents the huge acacia tree is decorated with lanterns. Nearby there is an open campfire which guests sit around in the evening before dinner, trading stories and having a cold drink. There is a very real feeling of being out in the bush. Wildlife is all around and when we were there in December 2016, there were buffalo very close indeed and many lions roaring through the night nearby.

Our view

Namiri Plains Camp is a breath of fresh air in the Serengeti. There's fantastic game viewing but relatively few other visitors, which is very unusual in northern Tanzania. The tents are well-designed and tastefully decorated – here, less definitely means more. There is an overwhelming feeling of wilderness and nothing distracts from the setting, which is iconic Serengeti. However, as Namiri is in high demand and has only eight tents, you will have to book a long time in advance to have any chance of getting space here.

Geographics

Location: Serengeti Migration Area, Tanzania

Directions: Namiri Plains is located in Soit Le Motonyi in the eastern Serengeti, about a 1.5-hour drive east of the Seronera airstrip.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Asilia

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: The food at Namiri Plains when we stayed in December 2016 was excellent. We found the mealtime service – and service throughout camp as a whole – to be friendly and attentive, which felt very natural and welcoming.

Breakfast is a buffet of cereals, fresh fruit and baked goods, followed by a cooked breakfast of your choice. If an early game drive is required, a packed breakfast can be arranged. Out on the plains in December 2016, we enjoyed bacon-and-egg sandwiches, french toast, fresh fruit, muffins and tea and coffee.

Lunch is a light buffet of lots of fresh ingredients and is often eaten under the acacia trees. We had delicious pork chops with a selection of lovely salads, and fresh bread. As an alternative to lunch in camp, many guests choose to take a picnic lunch with them on safari.

Dinner is three set courses, and is usually eaten as a group meal in the main camp area, hosted by the manager. The dishes are served to each guest individually for them to help themselves. One night we had spiced carrot soup to start and another a tower of roasted vegetables, followed by curry with rice and vegetables and tilapia with a selection of side dishes. Desserts were sweet cakes and tarts.

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Drinks are included, apart from high end and specially imported wines and spirits, and champagne. Bottled drinking water is transported in.

Special interests

Wildlife safaris: Namiri Plains is in a remote part of the central-eastern Serengeti, and is an excellent camp from which to see great numbers of big cats, specifically cheetah and lion.

See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Tanzania

Children

Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Namiri Plains.

Property’s age restrictions: There is a minimum age of 6.

Special activities & services: Children are their parents’ responsibility but when possible, members of staff can look out for them and keep them entertained.

Equipment: There are cots and chairs suitable for children.

Notes: The camp is unfenced and quite spread out; elephant, buffalo and big cats are all found nearby so supervision is required at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: There is a back-up generator (which hasn’t been needed in two years!) so power is available 24 hours a day.

Communications: There is intermittent cellphone reception but there is a satellite phone and computer in camp for emergencies. WiFi is available in the main areas but tents furthest away can’t always pick up a signal.

TV & radio: There is a TV in the staff camp on which guests can watch major sporting fixtures.

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: Water for showering and cooking is from a borehole in Seronera and bottled drinking water is trucked in from Arusha. There are flushing toilets and solar-heated bucket showers with sophisticated plumbing.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There is a first-aid kit in camp and some members of staff are first-aid trained. A hotel about an hour’s drive away has a dispensary. For serious cases, the camp has links to the SATIB medical evacuation service.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: The camp is unfenced but is guarded 24 hours a day. Guests are escorted to their rooms by askaris during the hours of darkness.

Fire safety: There is a fire break around the camp and fire extinguishers and blankets in the tents.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Laundry is included and is handwashed and line dried, so is weather dependent. Ladies’ underwear is excluded for cultural reasons but washing powder is provided in the tents for this.

Money: There are safes in the tents and a large safe in the office. The camp can exchange small amounts of US dollars, euros, pounds and Tanzanian shillings.

Accepted payment on location: Visa and Mastercard are accepted forms of payment, with no surcharge.

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