Reviews of Olakira Mara - Ndutu Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
A great safari experience
Pascal clearly runs a very efficient and customer service orientated operation. Nothing was too much trouble for him and his staff. Attention to detail was remarkable given the temporary tented environment.
The tents were first class and hot water always available when we wanted it. The food was and the ambience were excellent.
Our driver/guide Fazzo provided excellent serivce and we enjoyed all our time on safari.
One of many camps in Ndutu area
We were disappointed by the busy location with many safari vehicles surrounding the animlas, notably in the marsh area.
Another concern was the filtered rather than bottled water we were given to drink which we believe caused tummy upsets; when we raised this with camp management we were given bottled water. We also found the alkaline water for washing unpleasant.
The food was excellent with good variety and we enjoyed dining together with the other guests. The service was very friendly and responsive to any requests.
Although we queried the camps location outside the Serengeti NP we were assured before we left this would not impact on our wildlife experience; in the event apart from one trip to Seronera, vehicles always kept outside the Park boundaries.
The standard of vehicles at the camp was very poor in our experience; both vehicles we used had mechanical problems. Most seriously we were driven to Seronera in an open vehicle suitable only for local game drives - there were no seat belts, a malfunctioning fuel pump and no protection from flying stones when passed by vehicles travelling at speed. As it happened we had a puncture on the return journey and it became apparent there was only the one spare tyre - again inappropriate for this type of journey.
However we were impressed by the skills of our driver guide; he had tried to get the vehicle changed but use of that vehicle had been decided by the Operations Manager (Julie) who happened to be visiting. The second vehicle allocated after Seronera had a faulty battery with the result the engine had to be kept running at all times.
Expert Africa comments
We sent this travellers’ feedback to the owners of Olakira Camp for their comments. They replied saying that they greatly appreciate any feedback as it helps them to put right any issues that may arise in camp.
Olakira are aware that the area around Ndutu can sometimes get busy during the migration season. Unfortunately this is one of the drawbacks of the Southern Serengeti and Ngorongoro Area, which is very accessible and can therefore feel crowded in the height of the peak season. However comments such as these do have an affect as to where exactly Olakira is placed each year.
The drinking water at Olakira is bottled and not filtered water, however they fill smaller aluminium bottles from larger plastic bottles. This is done to avoid too much plastic waste, and to reduce carbon miles transporting drinking water in and out of the Serengeti.
Olakira Camp is located within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area between the months of December to March. The advantage of this location is that the game is abundant here during the migration, and vehicles are allowed off-road. That said, travellers can also easily access the Serengeti which is an extension of the same eco-system. Olakira is sorry that it appeared they didn’t want to go onto the Serengeti. They just believe that at this time of the year, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area offers a better wildlife viewing experience. However they will happily visit the Serengeti if requested - as with these travellers, who visited the Seronera area during their stay.
The owners of Olakira are very sorry about the problems that these travellers encountered with the faulty vehicles during their time there. Their vehicles usually have two spare tyres as well as seat belts, but there is one particular type of vehicle that doesn’t allow for this. Olakira are looking into whether they will still offer drives as far as Seronera in these types of vehicles at all. Generally we find the vehicles at Olakira in good repair, but this was not the case on this occassion. Olakira have apologised for this.
Olakira Camp review
A superlative experience that could not be surpassed.Read more about the whole safari
Olakira Camp review
This was our first trip to Africa, and our first safari camp. What a delightful introduction to our trip! We were met at the airstrip by our guide Fadhil and immediately began our first game drive through thousands of wildebeest. Arriving at camp in time for lunch, we sat in the open-sided tent and watched elephants grazing nearby.
The tents were lovely and spacious with a luxurious bed. The lights were adequate for evenings, but not strong enough to read by. The bathroom was large and we were delighted to have a flush toilet. They filled the bucket shower with plenty of hot water for both of us. We loved the nights there, even though we were awakened on our first night by a loud noise just ourside our tent. We could have used our walkie-talkie to call for help, but we decided to be brave and trust that there was nothing to be afraid of. We learned in the morning that it was a hippo passing through camp. What a first night's experience! We soon loved to hear the sounds of the night and missed those beautiful bird and animal sounds when we left Olakira.
We enjoyed having the open Land Rover to ourselves for the drives with Fadhil each day. We quickly learned to trust that he would find the most interesting things for us to see on each drive -- cheetahs, a large pride of lions, and even one of the elusive rhinos. The landscape is beautiful and varied, as is the wildlife. We saw amazing things, including two wildebeest river crossings and also watched a lioness kill one of those wildebeests as he emerged from the river. The camp staff was always there to greet us with a hot towel and wanted to hear the details of our drives.
We were happy to experience the evening campfires and communal dining at Olakira. We met interesting people each night to share stories with. We rated the food as excellent -- for a tented camp setting. It wasn't quite the same gourmet level as the food at the other permanent camps we visited, but we felt that they did a wonderful job preparing good food in a tent setting. Breakfast was varied, with a cold buffet each morning and hot food to order.
Olakira camp exceeded our expectations and is the camp that we will always remember.
Olakira Camp review
A splendid location with varied animals and terrain>Read more about the whole safari
Fantastic safari thanks to Olakira Camp
What a delightful surprise - to be dropped by baby silver bird into the Serengetti to this wonderful camp.
The tents were luxurious, and enormous. (personal flushing toilet a dream). Staff were very very helpful. Safari guide excellent and of course the camp was positioned right in the middle of the Wilderbeast migration with all attendant animals around (eg lion).
The camp stays on this location for 4 months and then moves back up North to new location.
Great safari at Olakira Camp
Emmanuel our guide was very professional and great resource for the wildlife including our birding interests.
The camp was far more than we expected and wished we could have stayed longer. Mark and his staff were very helpful and always checking on us. Tents were unbelievable, very comfortable with solid ensuite toilet and hot showers. Felt guilty when we wanted to have hot shower, but was a wonderful pleasure after being out in the bush all day. Would recommend longer stay to anyone and wondered if other camps were as opulent.
Our open sided vehicle was a treat during our game drives. Two full days of game drives gave us all we could possibly see, Africa's big five and more; large male leopard, honey badger, Eland, Marsh Owls, Secretary Bird, Lake Masek and its vistas of migration and entrance to gorge.
Fabulous sunrises with breakfast (box meal to go were very good and the coffee was even better away from camp) out on the Serengeti, storms at night, visits to tent at night by Hyennas, and those scary Zebras. Noises at 2:00 am seem loud enough to be in your tent and are not the scary animals you think. Will miss early morning coffee and vistas of migration and late night campfires with a blanket of stars above.
A dream come true.
Olakira Camp review
Expensive but a fabulous location and wonderful experience.
Go there if you can.
Olakira Camp review
Very friendly and attentive staff who made a real effort to make us welcome and meet our needs. We were suprise to learn however that two of the company owners were present at the camp for our first night but made no attempt at communication with us and the rest of the guests to welcome us. We had assumed they were other guests keeping themsleves to themselves
Food of good quality but not as good as we have experienced elsewhere for example with freshly baked bread and pastries.
Good accomodation in terms of size and facilities in tent. Could have been a few more rugs in tent.
Our only real complaint was in relation to the camp's vehicle. in contrast to the vehicles supplied to all other guests individually by their tour companies this was open sided with overhead shelter only. This led on two occasions to us gettign extremely wet and cold with only "ponchos" as shelter which we thought was inadequate.
We were told there was no alternative available; it was implied that part of the reason was additional cost of bringing in another vehicle, which bearing in mind the cost of the stay was not an appropriate response. It would have been unsuitable for any serious photographer needing to rest lenses on doors/roof bars as we saw with others. Any guest needing that facility should be warned to make their own arrangements
Expert Africa comments
We are glad to hear that over all these travellers enjoyed their stay at Olakira, but sorry that a few things were not exactly right.
We spoke to the camp about the elusiveness of the ‘owners’ and were told that the guys in camp were actually the field operations manager, and a Sokwe founder. They were there to give guidance to some of the ops team, rather than to work in a managerial way. Olakira have said that they find it best if people working in behind the scenes situations don’t interferer with the managing of the camp and the general team. This allows the team who are looking after guests to so their jobs more efficiently. They are sorry if it came across that these individuals were not interested in communicating with guests as this was not their intention.
In regards to the type of vehicles available on safari – in Northern Tanzania there are two options:
a) Closed 4x4 vehicles, with pop-top roofs (for standing to view game) are generally best when trips include drives between parks covering long distances. They offer protection from dust, which hugely improves comfort when you are drive from Arusha to the Serengeti – as there are some busy, dusty roads on that route. We usually use these vehicles for longer driving itineraries.
b) Open 4x4 vehicles, like the ones used for these travellers – are the traditional safari vehicles used across Africa. These are usually the best vehicles for exploring the bush and viewing wildlife because they give passengers open and unobstructed views. You can see more, smell and feel more, and they’re much easier for taking photographs. (These are, for example, the only vehicles used for game-viewing in Botswana and Zambia!) We will usually use these vehicles when travellers are flying into a camp, and the drives are mostly game-drives.
These travellers flew straight into the Serengeti, and so had an open vehicle for their game viewing which, under most normal circumstances, is definitely the preferred option.
However, in this case it’s clear that it was wet and cold ... and they were unhappy to be in a more open vehicle. Whilst the vehicle did carry water-proof ponchos for its travellers, it seems these didn’t completely solve the cold or rain issue. We passed this feedback onto the camp who has said that they are working on constructing canvas flaps, with clear plastic windows that can be dropped down in bad weather. Hopefully this will resolve the problem for future travellers – whilst retaining the open nature of the vehicles which is so valued for the vast majority of the year.
The closed vehicles that these travellers saw with other guests would have been used for visitors who had driven out to the Serengeti from Arusha with their guides – as part of a much longer itinerary incorporating much more driving.
We have also noted the comments about photographers – and recommend that a gorilla or mono-pod would be a handy bit of kit to take with you. We will make this clearer in our literature for future travellers.
Excellent base to explore central Serengeti
Overall a very good camp. Staff were without exception very friendly and helpful, especially Pascal and service was very good. Tents were excellent - though campsite area not especially scenic, as fairly flat. The food was generally very good, although breakfasts were a bit more limited compared to the other meals which were lovely. Evenings were quite sociable, although due to rain, we were only able to have one camp fire.
However lots of excitement, caused by torrential rain causing flooding in the approach area and rendering the nearby river crossing almost impassable on our return one afternoon and also a kill only 50 metres away from the tents one evening as we were sitting chatting with our 'sundowners' before dinner. We didn't hear anything (too busy laughing and talking) but the staff told us a lion had just killed a zebra, so we had to take extra care not to go anywhere without an escort. The rain did make the camp area a bit of a quagmire, but it dried up relatively quickly when the sun came out.
Sleeping in a tent out in the bush was fantastic; being able to hear the various noises and trying to imagine what animals were making them from the warmth of a huge comfy bed - made more cosy by a most welcome hot water bottle - was an experience not to be missed.
The camp was a good base for game drives. We saw a great variety of animals in profusion, although at times there was a large number of other vehicles around, but we were aware that this was the price of staying in a popular area of the Serengeti. As we did see so much, it seemed a price worth paying as this was our first safari.