The activities at Serengeti under Canvas concentrate on game drives with very experienced guides.
Serengeti under Canvas: Our full report
The Serengeti under Canvas camps are simple bush camps that aim to maintain a level of luxury. They are semi-permanent, moving from site to site through the year to keep close to the migrating wildebeest herds.
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.
We haven't yet stayed at Serengeti under Canvas but we know the areas around the sites and have had good feedback from clients who have stayed with them.
Two of the Serengeti under Canvas camps are usually located inside the Serengeti National Park: typically in the southern area (Ndutu) from sometime 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.
Our last visit, to Camp #2, was in November 2015, when it was located in the Seronera area. By then, Camp #1 was already based at their Ndutu site in southern Serengeti. The Seronera site is on a rather unshaded, gently sloping hillside of scrubby low trees. The slope takes a little adjusting in order to keep table tops level and beds comfortably aligned. The Seronera site gets frequent visits from elephants, buffalos and, in the dry season, lions, which visit in search of water.
There is usually a third camp to be found outside the national park, in the Loliondo Reserve in the northeast of the Serengeti ecosystem. This is in the Klein’s concession area, and is sometimes known as 'Klein's under Canvas'. It normally operates from June to around December.
The central area of each camp consists of a slightly formal dining tent, set with silver cutlery and crystal glasses, and crystal glasses and a large lounge and bar tent, furnished with rather uninspiring, mustard-coloured, 1950s-style sofas and armchairs.
Each camp has nine large guest tents, with very comfortable beds with high-thread-count bed sheets and soft pillows, a day bed, two deck chairs, two directors’ chairs and a cooler box containing ice and drinks. The dull yellow décor of the lounge tent runs through the guest rooms – a dreary colour scheme that feels in need of a rethink. Fishing stools are provided as foot rests while reclining on the ‘veranda’ of your tent. Large grass mats cover the tent floor, and are laid with Indian rugs.
The en-suite bathrooms are equipped with separate flush toilets with a reserve tank for water, and double safari showers operated on the bucket system, by which the staff bring your hot water on request and hoist it from behind the tent into the overhead tank above the bathroom. The showers are private but open-air. There’s also a vintage-style hand basin and a jug of hot washing water.
In keeping with the bush infrastructure, there is no running water or electricity supplied to the tents (for charging, you need to visit the camp office tent), but there are kerosene lamps dotted around the camp, and each tent has battery-operated lighting and a torch.
Each camp has five Land Cruisers (one 6-seater and four 4-seaters) and five driver-guides, known in &Beyond parlance as rangers. There are 220v, UK-style, 3-pin sockets in the camp vehicles, which can be used to charge batteries. As well as charging, the vehicles are equipped with bean bags and pitstop loo bags.
Looking at 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 guided walking and night drives. When based within easy reach of Seronera area, the team at the camp will usually assist in organizing a hot-air ballooning trip (at extra cost).
Guests at the camps are a very cosmopolitan crowd: keen photographers tend to make up a majority, with Americans, South Africans, Europeans from Brits and Dutch to Germans and Spaniards, plus Mexican honeymooners and the occasional Chinese group.
Our viewThese tented camps aim to provide a relatively traditional safari experience, under canvas, without losing out on the luxuries that &Beyond's lodges are known for. So you are camping – but probably not as you know it. We do feel, however, that relative to some of the other tented camps we know in the Serengeti region, the overall look and feel here needs some refreshment.
Ideal length of stay: 3 nights
Directions: Distances from the nearest airstrip vary with location: approximiately 45 minutes from Kogatende, 30 minutes from Seronera, 20 minutes from Ndutu and 1 hour from Grumeti (the camp's location in the Grumeti district is Kigeresh).
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Staff: The manager during our visit was Ben Athanas. There are roughly 28 staff in each camp.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: There is a good standard of food preparation and presentation at these camps. During our brief visit (we did not stay overnight) we had an excellent lunch of chicken curry, cole slaw, roasted vegetables, a salad of tomatoes, olives and feta cheese, and hot chapattis.
The kitchen bakes bread daily and has a large range of recipes to choose from.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Bottled water is supplied and also used to make ice in drinks. House drinks - soft drinks, beer, house wine - are all included. No other drinks are available unless you make a special advance order.
Further dining info: The outdoor barbecue area is often used for dinner.
Attitude towards children: No strict age limit, but under 5s are not encouraged.
Property’s age restrictions: None.
Special activities & services: Staff will organise bow and arrow games, marshmallow roasting and football.
Generally recommended for children: These are unfenced bush camps with an adult atmosphere, and not really suitable for young children.
Power supply: Generator
Power supply notes: The generator charges dry cell batteries. Charging of guests' camera batteries, mobile phones etc can be done in the office tent.
Communications: Depending on the camp's location during your visit, you will find better or weaker cell phone signal.
TV & radio: There is a TV in the staff lounge tent that guests can watch when for example major sporting events are taking place.
Water supply: Transported in
Water supply notes: Water is brought in to the camp by bowser.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: First aid kits are available. First-aid trainers visit regularly to updated staff.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There is no special security around the camp. 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.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included, hand-washed and sun-dried. Ladies underwear is included.
Money: There is a safe in the wooden chest in each tent.
Accepted payment on location: Any extras are normally settled in cash, with Tanzanian shilllings and major currencies accepted. When credit cards can be processed (subject to availability of cellphone signal) there is a 5% surcharge.