Serengeti Bushtops: Our full report
Serengeti Bushtops is a stylish, permanent tented camp, situated in the Wogakuria area of the northern Serengeti, ...... not far from the Mara River. Between June and November this is usually one of the best areas to stay to try and catch a glimpse of a dramatic wildebeest river crossing. The camp is set over a large area – it’s a 1km walk from the first tent to the last tent – and with only 13 tents, they are significantly more private, and isolated, than other camps in the area.
There are a few communal areas at Serengeti Bushtops. First up are the reception and curio shop, which stock quite a wide range of African ornaments, jewellery and artwork. The main focus, however, is the large lounge/dining tent. This is raised up on wooden decking facing towards the west – a perfect spot to sit and watch the sun go down after a long day on safari. At the centre of the tent is a vast circular bar – very well stocked, and bizarrely cover in cow-print. If you can’t find something to drink here, the very impressive ’wine shelf‘ behind the bar should have something to everyone’s tastes!
To one side of the bar, tables and chairs are set out for dinner, although guests are free to dine in their room if they prefer a bit more privacy. To the other is the lounge, where several sofas are placed facing a square fireplace. There’s also a library and a flat-screen TV here. The décor is very natural in style, with lots of wood and earthy colours (which we thought made the TV feel a little out of place).
The 13 tented rooms at Serengeti Bushtops, all named after various African animals, are essentially identical in style and design. All are raised on vast wooden decks with a veranda wrapping round two sides. Each deck is furnished with a table (where you can eat meals if you wish) and a sunken seating area with plenty of cushioned benches, and kitted out with a hot tub.
Inside the tent you’ll find a large bed covered by a mosquito net, and flanked by bedside tables. There’s a phone in each room which allows you to call between tents or to reception, a writing desk with various guidebooks and interesting fact sheets, a large wooden closet with plenty of hanging space, and an electronic safe.
Set to one side is the bathroom area, with a large ceramic sink and mirror, a hairdryer and toiletries provided. A canvas curtain separates the flush toilet from the rest of the facilities, and a huge rain-shower is open to the decking overlooking the hot tub.
Three ’honeymoon’ tents are so called simply because they’re set slightly further away, affording even more privacy, and have a king-size double bed. The ’family’ tent is essentially two standard tents joined by a wooden walkway.
A private butler service operates in all rooms. We’re told that this is a discreet service, whereby a specific member of staff is allocated to your room, and is on call should you require any drinks or service. We only popped in to Serengeti Bushtops on our last visit in 2011, so we didn’t get a chance to experience this service ourselves!
We noted on our last visit that the staff were uniformed, wore name badges, and were perhaps more formal than most camps. This combined with a feeling we had that the Bushtops feels less personal, and more like a hotel than a camp in many ways.
Overall we thought the rooms were incredibly spacious – some of the largest we’ve seen, and certainly some of the most private. As in the main area, the predominance of natural tones and wood gives them a really natural and fresh feel.
Many people will arrive here with their own driver-guide, but Serengeti Bushtops has six guides of its own, and six vehicles (two of them closed; four open-sided). We understand that on game drives they take a spotter, who is usually someone from a nearby village who is said to know the area and animals well.
Other activities at Serengeti Bushtops include a massage service, which is included in the rates for all guests. They tell us they have three resident masseuses who are all local Tanzanians, who will bring a massage bed to your room and carry out the massage on the decking. They can also offer walking safaris, although these are at an extra cost of US$50 per person and are taken by a TANAPA park ranger – not one of their own guides.
Serengeti Bushtops is remarkably stylish, and the rooms very spacious and private. The service seemed friendly and efficient. It lacks the communal ‘bushcamp’ feel of some of the smaller, more intimate camps in the area – and is a little more ‘hotel-like’ and formal – but for those wanting privacy and luxury this could be a good choice.
- Serengeti Migration Area, Tanzania
- Ideal length of stay
- Stay for at least 3 nights between June and November when the wildebeest migration is likely to be within the area.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board
- Food quality
- On our last visit (June 2011) we didn't get a chance to sample the food at Serengeti Bushtops, but we'd expect the food to be of a good quality, with international style cuisine. Dining takes place either in the main restaurant area, or on the decking of your tent.
- Attitude towards children
- Serengeti Bushtops generally welcomes children, but young children are considered on a case-by-case basis.
- Property’s age restrictions
- There are no specific age restrictions, but the manager suggested three years plus.
- Special activities & services
- Serengeti Bushtops has archery, board games and a TV for children.
- There is no special equipment.
- Generally recommended for children
- The family tent at Serengeti Bushtops is well set out for families with older children travelling together. They also told us that up to two children can fit in the same tent as their parents. However, the camp has quite a mature feel to it, and is really in the middle of the bush, so we'd recommend it only for children from the age of 8 who have an interest in wildlife.
- This camp is not fenced, and wild animals can roam through so parents should be aware children are always their responsibility.
- Serengeti Bushtops has free WiFi in the central areas and a laptop which guests can use at no extra charge.
- TV & radio
- There is TV in the main area.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- Serengeti Bushtops has a basic first-aid kit. They also have links to the flying doctor service. They are only 2km from Kogatende airstrip and we understand that helicopters can land on the site, too.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- The lodge has security guards patrolling day and night, and guests are escort to their tents after dark.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers dotted around Serengeti Bushtops.
Hot air ballooning
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is included; it is hand washed and line dried.
- There are safes in all the rooms.
- Accepted payment on location
- Serengeti Bushtop can accept cash payments, but they prefer payment by credit card. They can take Visa, MasterCard and Amex with no surcharge.
Other lodges in Serengeti Migration Area
Alternative places to stay in this same area.