Serengeti under Canvas: Our full report
Serengeti under Canvas is made up of three semi-permanent camps, which move from site to site in Tanzania ...... to keep close to the migrating wildebeest herds. All are simple bushcamps that aim to maintain a level of luxury.
The Serengeti under Canvas camps are run by &Beyond, who also run Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and two permanent camps in the Serengeti region outside the national park: Grumeti River Camp and Klein's Camp.
Two of the Serengeti under Canvas camps, numbered simply 1 and 2, are usually located inside the Serengeti National Park: typically in the southern area (Ndutu) from some time before Christmas to early April; in the central area (Seronera) from early April to the end of May and again from early November to mid-December; in the western area (Grumeti) from June to mid-July; and in the northern area (Kogatende) from mid-July to early November. Serengeti under Canvas’s primary focus is to follow the wildebeest migration and the camps will move on a fairly regular basis in order to be in the prime position to witness the action.
Our last visit, to Camp No 2, was in October 2019, when it was located in the Kogatende area. By then, Camp No 1 was already based at their Seronera site in central Serengeti. The sites of the camps can vary slightly year on year as they are allocated by the park authorities. In 2019, the Kogatende camp was located on a small hill set on the edge of an area of acacia woodland, which we noted felt quite windy and exposed. Depending on the exact site location of the camp, it can be suitable for those with mobility issues as there are no steps and some tents are relatively close to the main areas. No matter where they are, the camps gets frequent visits from elephant, buffalo and, in the dry season, lion, which visit in search of water. On a previous visit we had some nighttime visits from buffalo, grazing around the tent!
There is usually a third camp outside the park, in the Loliondo Reserve in the north-east of the Serengeti ecosystem. Sometimes known as 'Klein's under Canvas', this is in the Klein's concession area, and normally operates from June to around December.
In the central area of each camp, a slightly formal dining tent is set with silver cutlery and crystal glasses, although dinner is often eaten outside around the campfire: with the area lit by storm lanterns and the glow from the firelight, it makes for a beautiful setting. The camp is decked out in antique gold and mustard yellow, accented by brass details and wooden carvings. The large lounge and bar tent is furnished with 1950s-style sofas and armchairs, perked up by a selection of striped and batik cushions – prints that run throughout the camp. The chairs are clustered in two groups around a heavy wooden coffee table and wooden chests, separated by a very well-stocked bar. Glass storm lanterns, leather-bound books and other items of interest scatter the surfaces and add to the old colonial style.
Each camp at Serengeti Under Canvas has nine large identical guest tents, whose very comfortable beds feature high-quality bed sheets, soft pillows and woolen cream throws. There's also a day bed, two deckchairs, and two heavy wooden chests housing a safe and a minibar, complete with cooler box. Large grass mats cover the tent floor, overlaid with Indian rugs. While cushions add splashes of colour, the yellow décor of the lounge area that runs through the guest tents feels a little tired and in need of a refresh. Tents can be arranged as either a double or a twin. There is no family unit at present, however there are plans to introduce a family tent for June 2019 – ask us for the latest information.
Outside each tent directors' chairs are set up on your 'veranda'. There is also a vintage-style brass hand basin for freshening up before entering the tent.
The en-suite bathrooms are equipped with separate flush toilets with a reserve tank for water, and open-air double bucket showers, which the staff fill with hot water on request. There's another hand basin, a jug of hot water for washing, and a variety of toiletries and insect repellents.
In keeping with the bush infrastructure, there is no running water or electricity supplied to the tents (batteries can be charged in the office tent and in the vehicles), but there are kerosene lamps dotted around the camp, and each tent has battery-operated lighting and a torch. It does not get especially cold in the evenings but the hot-water bottles placed in the beds are a welcome addition. Each tent is assigned a personal butler, who will will bring you your choice of hot drink in the morning with your wake-up call, and will be more than happy to help with any requests.
Each camp has five Land Cruiser 4WD vehicles (one six-seater and four four-seaters) and five driver-guides, known in &Beyond parlance as rangers. The vehicles are equipped with bean bags, pit-stop toilet bags and 220v, UK-style, three-pin sockets, which can be used to charge batteries.
In terms of activities, the Serengeti Under Canvas camps within the Serengeti National Park concentrate on daytime game drives, while the camp in the Klein's area of Loliondo also offers night drives and guided walks. When the camp is based within easy reach of the Seronera area, the team can usually assist in organising a hot-air ballooning trip (at extra cost).
Guests at Serengeti Under Canvas tend to be a very cosmopolitan crowd. Keen photographers typically make up a majority, whp on our visits have incorporated Americans, South Africans, Europeans from Britons and Dutch to Germans and Spaniards, plus Mexican honeymooners and the occasional Chinese group.
Serengeti Under Canvas provides a relatively traditional safari experience, under canvas, without losing out on the luxuries for which &Beyond lodges are known. So you are camping – but probably not as you know it. The food and service are fantastic but we do feel, however, that relative to some of the other tented camps we know in the Serengeti region, the overall look here needs some refreshment.
Country manager: Tanzania
- Serengeti Migration Area, Tanzania
- Ideal length of stay
- 3 nights
- Distances from the nearest airstrip vary with location: approximately 45 minutes from Kogatende, 45 minutes from Seronera, 20 minutes from Ndutu and 45 minutes from Grumeti (the camp's location in the Grumeti district is Kigeresh).
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- We have found a good standard of food preparation and presentation at these camps. There is a seven-day set menu, meaning that if you are splitting your time between Serengeti under Canvas and its sister properties you are unlikely to eat the same meal twice. Meals are served by your butler and the service strikes a perfect balance of discreet yet attentive.
We did not have the chance to eat here on our most recent visit in October 2018, however when we stayed in December 2016 a selection of bread, condiments, cereal, fruit and yoghurt was served to the table for breakfast and a range of cooked items could be requested from the chefs in the open-air breakfast kitchen. We enjoyed poached eggs and crispy bacon on toast.
We had a really delicious lunch of beef and peppers in a tasty sauce, with cucumber and olive salad, tomato and feta salad and hot chapattis.
Our three-course set dinner, which was served around the campfire, was beautifully presented. We had tomato soup with fresh bread to start, then tilapia with roasted vegetables and grilled banana with a chocolate sauce to finish.
- Dining style
- Individual Tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- The outdoor barbecue area is often used for dinner. Room service is possible both inside and outside your tent.
- Drinks included
- Bottled water is supplied and is used to make ice in drinks. All drinks are included here, with the exception of fine wines which, with advance notice, can be ordered in special; this is for an additional cost.
- Attitude towards children
- There is no strict age limit, but under 5s are not encouraged.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Children under the age of 11 need approval from the reservation manager or regional manager prior to booking.
- Special activities & services
- Staff will organise bow and arrow games, marshmallow roasting and football on request and children are provided with an activity book filled with safari activities.
- Generally recommended for children
- These are unfenced bush camps with an adult atmosphere, and not really suitable for young children.
- Due to the possible proximity of dangerous wildlife, children require parental supervision at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Serengeti under Canvas
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Serengeti under Canvas 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
- The generator charges dry cell batteries. Guests' camera batteries, mobile phones etc can be charged in the communal area, office tent or in the vehicles.
- The cellphone signal depends on the camp's location, but WiFi is available throughout all the camps.
- TV & radio
- There is a TV in the staff lounge tent that guests can watch for major sporting events etc.
- Water supply
- Transported in
- Water supply notes
- Water is brought in to the camp by bowser.
Protecting the environment for the great migration
Serengeti under Canvas works closely with the Tanzanian National Parks (TANAPA) to provide guests with the once-in-a-lifetime experience of watching the Great Wildebeest Migration.
The camp’s semi-permanent structure minimises environmental impacts on the natural surroundings. Guests are located in the middle of the Serengeti surrounded by the sounds of nature and vast variety of wildlife.
The Serengeti team work with the TANAPA to educate and collaborate with local communities to ensure the natural beauty of the Serengeti is conserved. The Serengeti camp’s knowledge of the park has enabled a responsible management of the entire Serengeti Park, as well as control over invasive vegetative species. Moreover, the team at Serengeti under Canvas participate in environmental clean-up activities with both TANAPA and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA). Since 2017, staff have been teaching local schools about conservation both indoors and out in the National Park.
See more great sustainability projects in Tanzania
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- First-aid kits are available in every camp, and first-aid trainers visit regularly to update staff. The camp has links to a flying-doctor service for use in case of medical emergency.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- A guard is on duty throughout the night. Butlers escort guests to and from their tents after dark.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers around the camp and all staff are trained in fire safety.
Hot air ballooning
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is included, hand-washed and sun-dried. Ladies underwear is accepted.
- There is a safe in the wooden chest in each tent.
- Accepted payment on location
- Any extras are normally settled in cash, with Tanzanian shillings and major currencies accepted. When credit cards can be processed without a surcharge (subject to availability of cellphone signal). Visa and master card are accepted however American Express is not.
Other lodges in Serengeti Migration Area
Alternative places to stay in this same area.
Comfortable, friendly and relaxed, Olakira Camp moves between the Mara River and the southern Ndutu area, in line with the wildebeest migration.
In the northern Serengeti, near the Mara River, luxurious Sayari Camp offers excellent wildife all year – boosted further by the wildebeest migration.
Nomad Serengeti Camp
Serengeti Safari Camp is a well-appointed tented camp that moves several times a year to follow the predicted path of the migration.
Dunia Camp is well located for the migration from December to March, and has excellent game viewing for the rest of the year.
Namiri Plains Camp
Namiri Plains is one of the best camps in the Serengeti and its remoteness ensures a fantastic wildlife experience away from the crowds.
Set high in the kopjes with fantastic views, Lamai Serengeti offers top service and guiding and good migration sightings from Jul-Oct.
Ubuntu Camp has several locations in the Serengeti, following the wildebeest migration, so it is often in a great location to see the herds.
Kati Kati Camp
Kati Kati is a small, very simple bushcamp, which is well-positioned to explore the wildlife-rich Seronera area.
Ndutu Safari Lodge
Large and economical, but not luxurious, Ndutu Safari Lodge is well located in the southern Serengeti, so book early to get space.
Serian Serengeti is a mobile tented operation run by Alex Walker which moves between two locations following the wildebeest migration.
Kimondo Camp is based in the remote Lamai Wedge in the northern Serengeti from Jul–Oct, and on the southern Kusini plains from Nov–Mar.
Klein's Camp, in a private area of the northern Serengeti, sets high standards. Activities include walks, nights drives and Maasai village visits.
Grumeti River Camp
Grumeti River Camp offers a laid-back atmosphere combined with top service, first-rate food, expert guiding and an excellent location.
Lemala Mara-Ndutu is a semi-permanent camp that moves between the north and south of the Serengeti to witness the wildebeest migration.
Lemala Nanyukie is a comfortable and stylish tented camp that opened in 2018 in the central Serengeti.
Lemala Kuria Hills
Lemala Kuria Hills is a luxury permanent camp that is ideally located for wildlife all year around, but especially during the wildebeest migration.
Lemala Ewanjan is a comfortable and stylish tented camp in the Seronera area of the central Serengeti National Park.
Lobo Wildlife Lodge
The large Lobo Wildlife Lodge has simple, functional rooms in a stunning location. It's a good base for exploring the north-eastern Serengeti.
Kubu Kubu is a contemporary, tented lodge, well located in the central Seronera area of the Serengeti National Park.
Kusini Camp is permanent, luxury camp located on a beautiful kopje in a quiet, wildlife-rich corner of the south-west Serengeti.
Mbalageti is a well-run lodge in a quiet part of the Serengeti's western corridor – an ideal location during the Apr-Jun migration.
The Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge is a large, hotel-style lodge and a good family-friendly base from which to explore the central Serengeti.
Singita Mara River
Singita Mara River Tented Camp is a luxurious camp in the isolated and rewarding Lamai wedge region of the northern Serengeti.
Serengeti Walking Mobile
This fairly simple camp offers only walking activities, but it's very well done and combines well with more conventional camps or lodges.
Serengeti Sopa Lodge
Serengeti Sopa Lodge is an international-style hotel offering good-value accommodation in the central Serengeti, with lovely views of the plains.
Serengeti Green Camp
Serengeti Green Camp is a comfortable camping experience, in your own private safari camp and at the heart of a great wildlife area.
Serengeti Migration Camp is a smart tented camp, good for the wildebeest migration from Jul–Aug, or to explore the Lobo Kopjes any time.
Faru Faru Lodge
On the north bank of the Grumeti River, Faru Faru is a small, chic hideaway in this exclusive corner of the Serengeti.
Sabora Tented Camp
Sabora Tented Camp is a smart tented camp – one of the most luxurious, professional and stylish properties to be found in Tanzania.
Kirurumu Migration Camp
Kirurumu is a rustic tented camp which moves around the Serengeti twice a year to follow the wildebeest migration.
Mkombe's House Lamai
Mkombe's House Lamai is a fully staffed private house in the Wogakuria Kopjes district of Serengeti National Park.
On a hill looking over the Serengeti plains, Sasakwa Lodge is grand, luxurious safari camp, one of the most opulent properties in Tanzania.
Serengeti Bushtops is a permanent luxury camp in the northern Serengeti, with spacious and private tents with their own hot tubs.
Ndutu Kati Kati
Ndutu Kati Kati is a seasonal tented camp, based in the southern Serenget from Dec-Mar, ideal for the migration as it passes through.
Olduvai Camp lies between Ngorongoro and the southern Serengeti plains. It's a good base for the southern plains during the rainy season.
Mwiba Lodge is a luxurious property located on a private concession on the edge of the southern Serengeti.
Four Seasons Serengeti
The Four Seasons Safari Lodge is the only hotel in the Serengeti offering international facilities such as a gym, spa and children’s club.
Lake Masek Tented Camp
Ideally located for the wildebeest migration from Dec–Apr, Lake Masek Tented Camp is a good, mid-market safari camp.
Seronera Wildlife Lodge
Seronera Wildlife Lodge is large hotel-style safari lodge in the heart of the Serengeti, offering good value and a great location.
Mara Kati Kati
Mara Kati Kati is a simple bush camp in the northern Serengeti, based from Jul-Oct near the Mara River for the wildebeest migration.
Set high on a hill, in the Serengeti's western corridor, Kirawira is a relatively large tented camp in the Serena group.
Nimali Mara is a luxurious safari lodge in a quiet region of the northern Serengeti with good access to the wildebeest migration.
Mara Mara is a smart tented camp in the northern Serengeti, situated on a small hill close to the Mara River.
Mbuze Mawe is a comfortable tented camp in a convenient, central-north location when driving through the Serengeti.
Serengeti Pioneer Camp
Serengeti Pioneer Camp is a luxurious tented camp in the central Serengeti, styled on African explorers' camps of the early 20th century.
Taasa Lodge is a slightly quirky option offering guided walks and night game drives, which are not permitted in Serengeti National Park.
Opened in July 2017, Nimali Serengeti is a smart, permanent tented camp located in the Seronera area of the central Serengeti.