Nimali Mara

Nimali Mara: Our full report

Rooms
10 safari tents
Children
Best for 8+
Open
All year

Opened in 2019, Nimali Mara is one of only a few permanent luxury lodges in the Serengeti. It is located in a quieter district of the park, a little further from the Mara River than several other camps, meaning you are likely to see fewer vehicles around the lodge. The wildebeest migration typically passes through the area roughly between July and October. Then from November to June you can discover the fantastic resident wildlife of the northern Serengeti without the crowds.

Nimali Mara is nestled amidst the rocky outcrops of the northern Serengeti, roughly a 45-minute drive from the Mara River. The lodge oozes style and sophistication and feels very luxurious. The designer has opted for quite a modern, almost industrial aesthetic, with charcoal greys, moss greens, exposed metal beams and copper furnishings and fittings. In the wrong hands this could feel quite cold and angular, however the look is softened with plenty of cushions and throws, billowing fabrics and natural materials such as reed matting and lightshades fashioned from porcupine quills. There is a high level of attention to detail and we found Nimali Mara a refreshing contrast to many of the more traditional safari lodges.

The eight very large tented rooms are set below the main area, and these are well spaced so that each feels private. They are a part canvas, part stone wall construction. A dark wood-panelled partition splits the room, with shelves and storage behind and a double king-sized bed, or twin beds, at the front. A comfy leather sofa sits to one side and a writing desk to the other, and monochrome wildlife photography adorns the walls. There is also a small minibar-fridge. Sliding glass doors open onto a verandah with a seating area and a suspended daybed – perfect for whiling away a lazy afternoon.

The en-suite bathroom is equally impressive, with a free-standing copper bathtub, open-plan shower and twin copper wash basins. Bathrobes, plenty of fluffy white towels and complimentary toiletries are also provided.

In addition to the eight standard tented rooms there are two family rooms. These are similar in style to the standard rooms, but are formed from two interconnected bedrooms joined by a central lounge area. They also have a private plunge pool and are often used as honeymoon suites when not booked by families.

The lounge and dining areas are built into the rocks, each raised up to give panoramic views over the Serengeti plains. They feel very light and breezy, with a rock wall to the back, floor to ceiling glass panels to the side and an open balcony at the front. The area is furnished with sofas and leather chairs, low coffee tables and a bar, while the dining area is set with individual tables. We really liked the little touches such as slate tableware and rose gold cutlery which brought the look together.

On top of one of the huge boulders in camp there’s a small swimming pool surrounded by beanbags and loungers, with a little waterfall at one end.

Activities focus on game drives in the northern Serengeti in one of Nimali Mara’s open-sided vehicles. When the wildebeest migration is in full force you’re likely to head towards the Mara River in search of river crossings. Many guests will choose to spend the best part of the day watching and waiting in the hope of witnessing this spectacle. However, safaris at Nimali Mara are about more than the migration. The resident wildlife in the northern Serengeti is excellent and big cats – not to mention the full panoply of browsers, grazers and other predators – can be seen here throughout the year.

Back at the lodge, at extra cost, you can indulge in a spa treatment in the comfort of your room, or enjoy a lavish sundowner experience on the boulders above the lodge complete with your own firepit (also extra cost). This is a wonderful way to end the day: the views are beautiful and the sweet and savory canapés and other treats are some of the best we’ve eaten in Tanzania.

Our view

We stayed at Nimali Mara shortly after it opened and were very impressed. We loved the modern aesthetic, stylish rooms, excellent food and great guiding. While it’s a little further to drive to the Mara River compared with one or two other camps, the area around camp is usually blissfully quiet, which is unusual for a lodge in the migration zone. If you are looking for a high-quality lodge in the northern Serengeti with good access to the wildebeest migration, then this could be a very good choice.

Geographics

Location: Serengeti Migration Area, Tanzania

Ideal length of stay: Spend at least three or four nights here to discover the wildlife of the northern Serengeti.

Directions: Nimali Mara is around a 45-minute drive from Kogatende Airstrip, although this could be longer depending on how much wildlife you stop to watch en route.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: The food at Nimali Mara was one of the highlights of our two day stay. Dishes here are inventive, beautifully presented and incredibly tasty – we’d return for the food alone.

Breakfast started with a buffet of tropical fruits, cheese board, bread rolls fresh from the oven and little muffins. A hot breakfast followed with eggs cooked to order. One morning we were also served a platter of divine mandaazi – sweet Tanzanian doughnuts topped with pistachios and candied fruit.

Lunch can be eaten at the lodge or taken with you on an all-day drive. When eating at Nimali we had a starter of roast butternut squash salad with rocket, cranberries, pine nuts, feta cheese and a balsamic drizzle. We then opted for a vegetarian main of courgette with a cous cous and vegetable stuffing, accompanied by honey-glazed carrots. Dessert was a rich pavlova topped with whipped cream, fruit compote and candied fruits.

For dinner the starter was a carrot and ginger soup with cheesy croutons. Roast chicken followed, served with creamy mashed potato, green vegetables and gravy. For dessert we tucked into a chocolate brownie with homemade vanilla ice cream.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Most drinks are included at Nimali Mara, with the exception of premium wines, spirits and Champagne.

Further dining info: There are phones in the rooms and room service is available on request.

Special interests

Luxury: Nimali Mara is easily one of the most luxurious lodges in the northern Serengeti. With panoramic views, stylish rooms, a beautiful swimming pool and excellent food, Nimali would make for an indulgent safari.

See more ideas for Luxury in Tanzania

Children

Attitude towards children: Nimali Mara accepts children of all ages.

Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions.

Special activities & services: There are no specific child activities, although the guides can take children on short walks around camp to discover animal tracks and signs.

Equipment: Cots and highchairs can be arranged if requested in advance.

Notes: Nimali is unfenced and wildlife regularly wonders through the camp. Children require supervision at all times, particularly around the swimming pool.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: There is a backup generator. Hairdryers can be used on request.

Communications: There is good Wi-Fi available throughout the lodge, both in the rooms and communal areas.

TV & radio: There is no TV at Nimali Mara.

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: Nimali Mara uses a reverse osmosis filtration system.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: Staff are first-aid-qualified and the lodge has links with a flying doctors service.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: There is discreet 24-hour security and guests are escorted to and from their rooms after dark.

Fire safety: There is a fire break around the lodge and fire extinguishers in the rooms and communal areas.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: All laundry is included with the exception of ladies underwear; washing powder is provided in the rooms.

Money: When we visited in 2019 Nimali Mara was only able to accept cash, however they have plans to bring in a card machine in the future.

Accepted payment on location: All major currencies are accepted, including US dollars, GB pounds and euros.

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