Olakira Camp is a semi-permanent tented camp in the Serengeti...
Olakira: Our full report
Olakira Camp is a semi-permanent tented camp that moves twice a year between two locations within Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, roughly matching the densest part of the wildebeest migration at that time. The camp is usually known as either Olakira Mara or Olakira Ndutu, depending on its current location.
Between June and November, Olakira Camp is located on the Mara River in the far north of the Serengeti, near the makutano wildebeest crossing point (‘makutano’ means ‘crossing’ in Swahili), where the Bologanja stream enters the Mara. This is a great base to witness the migration roughly from August to the end of October, but it’s also worth staying here either side of these months for the resident game in the area. Along with plenty of lions, relaxed leopards, regularly sighted cheetahs and a very healthy population of plains grazers, we have seen black rhinos in this area, and hippos often graze around the tents.
From mid-December to the end of March, Olakira relocates from the Mara River to the Ndutu area in the far south of the Serengeti ecosytem, which is the best area for witnessing the migration when it is spread out across the southern plains. Please study our moving map of the migration to see where the animals are at different times of the year – though do note that there can be considerable variation year on year and at any one time. For example on our last visit in December 2016, the herds were largely in the west as the rains had not yet arrived.
Olakira itself is a comfortable tented camp, the sister camp of four others in the migration area: Kimondo, Ubuntu, Dunia and Sayari. Its 9 safari tents are spacious, cool and quite stylish, yet also practical., if pitched relatively close together. In front of each is a shaded veranda, where you can sit in a director's chair and look out into the bush.
Inside, neutral colours and burnt orange accents give a rustic, understated style. The groundsheet floors are scattered with small rugs and grass mats, and comfortable twin or triple beds have subtly patterned bedspreads.
Bedside lamps (with 24hr power from solar panels), a writing desk, a day bed, and a seating area with a pair of leather-latticed chairs complete the picture. For families, one of the tents can sleep up to six, while in the north, honeymoon couples are generally given tent numbers 4 and 8 for the privacy and the views.
Large insect-proof windows with canvas flaps can be left open to catch the breeze, or closed for privacy. When we were last at Olakira, we left one of the canvas flaps down and were lucky enough to see a hyena stroll past our tent in the middle of the night.
A heavy curtain separates the bedroom from the en-suite bathroom, where you will find a brass basin set into a wooden plinth, a selection of toiletries and a canvas hanging wardrobe with a safe. More curtains enclose a flushing toilet and separate bucket shower, with plentiful hot water brought in on request. There is cold running water (mineral water is provided for drinking and brushing teeth) and a Thermos of hot water which is replenished regularly. Washing powder is provided for ladies to wash their underwear.
In Olakira’s lounge tent, natural browns, creams and stonewashed blue combine to create a rustic yet stylish effect. At night, this is enhanced by atmospheric storm lanterns; there are no electric lights here (although there are power sockets to charge batteries). Either side of a large drinks cabinet, two comfortable seating areas feature large sofas gathered around coffee tables, and lanterns suspended from wooden ‘trees’, with additional leather and wooden chairs and benches at the front of the tent. The staff will serve you drinks from the well-stocked bar, but guests may help themselves to coffee and tea at any time.
The dining tent, usually known as ‘the mess’, has canvas directors' chairs set around square wooden tables, although communal dining at one long table is the norm. In the evenings, guests tend to gather around a fireplace in front for a few convivial drinks in the company of other guests and the guides.
Activities from Olakira are all vehicle-based 4x4 game drives. Guests may either explore the Serengeti with their own private driver/guide or use the guides and vehicles based at the camp. Typically you'll make a plan with your guide the evening before, choosing either to head out for a full day with a packed lunch, or to do morning and afternoon game drives, returning to the camp during the heat of the day. Timings are very flexible.
Our viewOlakira is a comfortable, stylish and personal little camp. Its semi-permanent nature means that you really feel a part of the surrounding bush, without having to sacrifice comforts such as hot showers and flush toilets.
Ideal length of stay: Spend at least 3 or 4 nights here to explore the area properly – or longer if you have the time.
Directions: When the camp is in the south most guests will drive to Olakira with their vehicle and guide, and then drive away again when they move on. When it is in the more remote north you may choose to fly in; the camp is about 30 minutes from the airstrip.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food at Olakira Camp is not of an exceptionally high standard, but it is fresh and very tasty. When we last stayed, in December 2016, they were serving a variety of international dishes based on fresh ingredients.
Timings for breakfast or brunch were flexible, depending on what we wanted to do in the morning. For breakfast there was a variety of cereals, a cooked breakfast with eggs, plus fruit and yoghurt. Brunch was similar, but with the addition of robust options such as hot open sandwiches and quiches.
For lunch, we were served individual dishes of lasagne with a selection of salads, dressings and bread which was most enjoyable.
At around 7.00pm, guests start to gather around the campfire for a drink. The chef then announces dinner. This consisted of three set courses, with a lovely soup and fresh bread to start, a beef curry with rice and a selection of vegetables served at the table, and then a creamy lemon dessert.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Most drinks are included. Champagne and certain imported wines and spirits are extra.
Further dining info: Tea and coffee is brought to the tents.
Solo Travel: Olakira Camp can be an inspired choice for solo travel in Tanzania. You'll share your safaris – and perhaps the Serengeti's great migration – with other guests, and a top safari guide, and everyone dines communally so it's very friendly.See more ideas for Solo Travel in Tanzania
Wildlife safaris: Olakira Camp is a semi-permanent tented camp that moves twice a year, in order to optimise its location for the Serengeti’s wildebeest migration. With careful planning (talk to us about this), it can be the perfect base from which to witness one of nature's greatest spectacles.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome.
Property’s age restrictions: A 6-plus age restriction is sometimes applied at the Ndutu site.
Special activities & services: Olakira Camp will happily prepare special meals and arrange earlier meal times for children.
Equipment: No special equipment.
Generally recommended for children: Olakira is a fun and friendly camp whose team will go out of their way to make families feel welcome. Due to the wild nature of the camp, however, it is best suited to children over the age of 12.
Notes: Parents should be aware that children should not be allowed to wander around unescorted, and are their responsibility at all times.
Power supply: Solar Power
Power supply notes: Power is available 24 hours a day as there is a back-up generator. There are multiple UK-style 3-pin sockets in the lounge tent for charging batteries, but none in the individual tents.
Communications: The camp has a satellite phone that can be used in emergencies. There is also intermittent cellphone reception around the camp. The tents have two-way radios and there is a computer with online access in the office that guests may use in an emergency. There is WiFi in the main areas with a range of 100m so some tents will have a signal.
TV & radio: There is no TV or radio at the camp but there is a TV in the staff camp which guests can watch when major sporting events are taking place.
Water supply: Transported in
Water supply notes: The main water supply comes by bowser from a nearby borehole. Bottled drinking water is supplied to guests.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The senior staff are first-aid trained and there is first-aid equipment for minor injuries. The camp has links to a medical evacuation service, which may be used in a medical emergency.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There are guards from the local community and armed government guards on duty. Members of the team escort guests around the camp at night.
Fire safety: The camp has a firebreak, and each tent has a fire extinguisher, which all staff are trained to use.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included free of charge. It is hand-washed and line-dried and is returned with 24 hours depending on the weather. However, ladies' underwear cannot be washed: soap powder is provided in bathrooms.
Money: Each tent has a small safe. There are no currency-exchange facilities at Olakira Camp.
Accepted payment on location: Olakira Camp can accept cash in US dollars, Tanzania shillings and euros. When the camp is in the north, it may also be possible to use Visa and Mastercard, with a 5% commission, but this cannot be guaranteed. There are no card facilities in the south.