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.
- 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.