Namiri Plains Camp: Our full report
Namiri Plains is located an hour and a half's drive due east from the game-rich core of the Serengeti – Seronera.The camp first opened in 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 other Expert Africa 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 cheetahs in East Africa. But it's not just cheetahs that guests can expect to see here. We have visited numerous times since the camp opened and have always been overwhelmed by how many lions 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 barely anyone else here. Namiri's nearest neighbours are 45 minutes’ 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. The camp is up there are as one of the most isolated and secluded camps in the central Serengeti region.
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 guarantee having sightings to yourself, especially later in the day when vehicles often drive over from the central Serengeti, this area is far less busy than Seronera.
It is worth noting that while 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.
The camp underwent a complete rebuild in 2019 and reopened as a contemporary, luxury safari camp – worlds away from its traditional tented beginnings. The camp is now made up of a series of futuristic tented structures, with a large main area and guest tents set along a small stream.
The camp is approached past the large staff camp and guests arrive to the expansive lounge and dining area. With a multitude of comfy seating options, an inviting bar, and large deck, this area is a lovely spot to drink, dine and enjoy the views – frequently featuring lion, buffalo, giraffe and other wildlife. A neutral, earthy colour palette, plus the use of lots of natural materials, and a mix of contemporary and traditional art, make for a very stylish, eye-catching space that is still harmonious with its environment.
The main areas are also include a curio shop, with rather smart offerings in comparison to many other camps, and an information and media area. Here you can learn about this part of the Serengeti, as well as some of the area’s famous individual cats. There are charging points and desks if you want to catch up on work or look at your safari photos. Just beyond these areas, there is the unheated swimming pool and outdoor lounge area. It’s possible to spot wildlife from the pool itself, although the chilly temperature would be described as ‘refreshing’ at best.
Namiri Plains has ten guests tents, including a family unit, spread either side of the main areas. With heavy stone walls and taut, multi-peaked cream canvas awnings, they are imposing structures and quite unlike any other tented camp we have seen in Tanzania.
The tents are reasonably private and don’t overlook each other, but some are a little too close together for our liking. As the distance between the main areas and furthest tents is a reasonable walk, there is an amusing solution: the so-called ‘Zebra Uber’. This flamboyantly-striped 4X4 shuttles guests who have trouble walking to their tents, and is sometimes used in the evenings after dinner when the presence of big cats in the area around camp makes a drive more sensible than a walk.
Once inside the tents, the contemporary décor is a continuation of the style in the main areas, with brown, grey, cream and splashes of mustard yellow. It’s simple but not dull. A key feature of each tent is the floor-to-ceiling window that forms one whole side, with safari-appropriate insect mesh covering the sliding doors. There’s a large deck with lounge cushions and, rather unexpectedly, a free-standing outdoor bath. The stylish en-suite bathroom is luxuriously fitted and there’s an indoor shower as well as the bath. The practicalities have been well thought-out, too, with nice toiletries, bathrobes, an electronic safe, flashlight, radio walkie-talkie, insect spray, umbrellas and boots all provided. It's the perfect balance of comfort, necessity and luxury.
Namiri Plains Camp is a special spot in the Serengeti. There's fantastic game viewing here but relatively few other visitors, which is very unusual in northern Tanzania. The tents, which are stylish and thoughtfully designed, really make an impact. Nothing distracts from the overwhelming feeling of wilderness, which is iconic Serengeti. However, Namiri is in high demand and comes with a top-end price tag, so it is worth planning and budgeting well in advance if you want to stay here.
- Serengeti Migration Area, Tanzania
- Ideal length of stay
- 3-4 nights
- 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
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- The food at Namiri Plains when we stayed in 2019 was excellent. We found the mealtime service – and service throughout the camp – to be friendly and attentive, which felt very natural, welcoming and was a highlight of our stay. The standard and presentation of dishes is consistently good here.
Breakfast is a buffet of cereals, fresh fruit and baked goods, followed by a cooked breakfast of your choice. If you’re doing an early game drive, a packed breakfast can be arranged. Out on the plains in 2019, we enjoyed bacon-and-egg sandwiches, sausages, French toast, fresh fruit, muffins and tea and coffee. Our guide obviously picked a popular spot, as a caracal had literally just dashed off when we stopped.
Lunch is a light selection of dishes served family-style to individual tables, eaten under the acacia trees or on the main deck. We had chicken and vegetable kebabs, with a selection of lovely salads and fresh bread. As an alternative to lunch in camp, you can also choose to take a picnic lunch with you on safari.
Dinner is three set courses, usually eaten as a group meal in the main camp area, joined by your guides and hosted by the manager. One night during our stay the chefs cooked a big BBQ out in the dining area, with a great selection of meat, salads and traditional Swahili dishes.
- Photography holidays
- There is a specialist photographic vehicle based at Namiri Plains with drop-down sides to allow photographers to lie down and get low-angle photographs and just the three swivel seats for full view and minimal disruption.
- See ideas for Photography holidays
- 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 ideas for Wildlife safaris
- It is possible to organise in-tent relaxation massages at Namiri Plains.
- See ideas for Wellbeing
- Namiri has recently undergone a full refurbishment and reopened as a contemporary, luxury safari camp – worlds away from its traditional tented beginnings. The camp is now made up of a series of futuristic tented structures.
- See ideas for Luxury
- 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.
- There are cots and chairs suitable for children.
- Generally recommended for children
- While the staff are very friendly and welcome children, we feel that the wild, remote nature of the camp and high-end design is best suited to more mature children who can enjoy the safari, but not become restless during the long breaks and not fear the camp's close proximity to big game.
- The camp is unfenced and quite spread out; elephant, buffalo and big cats are all found nearby so supervision is required at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Namiri Plains Camp
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Namiri Plains Camp have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- There is a back-up generator so power is available 24 hours a day.
- There is intermittent cellphone reception but there is a satellite phone and computer in camp for emergencies. WiFi is available in the guest tents.
- TV & radio
- There is a TV in the staff camp on which guests can watch major sporting fixtures.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- Water for showering and cooking is from a borehole north of the camp and bottled drinking water is trucked in from Arusha to decant to guests. The bathrooms are fully plumbed.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- 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 at Seronera 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 in the tents.
Hot air ballooning
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is included in the rates 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 you to do your own.
- 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.
Other lodges in Serengeti Migration Area
Alternative places to stay in this same area.