After a 3 week trip to Africa, our stay at Serengeti Bushtops was easily the highlight. I've never been on Safari before, and it was only our second trip to Africa, so perhaps all camps in the Serengeti offer similar services. The only problem here is, I'm not sure what more one could possibly ask for than what Serengeti Bushtops provide? I mean, I'm sure you could come up with some strange requests like "we'd like to be woken up with Giraffe noises", or "please ensure my coffee is Fair-er trade than other camps", and I'm pretty sure they'd find a way to make it work. So perhaps other camps are offering other, crazier stuff, but as far as I'm concerned, Bushtops satisfied pretty much everything we could have ever thought of.
This was our honeymoon, and admittedly, we spent a lot to stay with the Serengeti Bushtops. They're not cheap, and so I felt like it was going to be difficult to live up to the expectations of spending the old 80/20 rule (where 80% of your honeymoon budget goes to 20% of your time there). I can say with upmost certainty that we got our money's worth and then some. Hopefully the following can help you with your decision on Bushtops, which is obviously a big move for any budget. I should say also that our stay at the Bushtops was entirely made using TripAdvisor reviews and my discussions with their manager, Claudia Stewart. None of my friends had ever been there, and deciding to book there was a big leap of faith. Turns out the internet notched a big win with this one, we were SO glad that we did this, and we have the inter-webs to thank for it alone.
They picked us up from the airstrip and offered us coffee, booze, and cookies in a nice little spread by the side of the runway as our guide got our applications processed at the game ranger office. This type of spread would follow us wherever we went in the camp/on the drives. The drive back to the camp took about an hour, but we stopped and saw hippos on the way and just as we were pulling into camp we spotted a herd of elephants blocking our path. Said welcome committee delayed our arrival by about 20 minutes, but I can think of no better a reason to enjoy a delay. Watching them ripping down branches and meandering through the grassland next to the camp in the dusk light was borderline spiritual, and it set a high bar for the rest of the trip. A bar, I might add, that was raised with each day of our subsequent game drives.
The camp itself is a set of residence platform-raised tents for guests (you get your own tent). Each tent is immaculate, spacious, far away from everyone else, and allows you all the comforts of home without sacrificing just how close you are to the untamed wild of the Serengeti. It's entirely safe, though, and the camp takes precautions to make sure you feel even safer, like having local tribesman roam around the camp looking for animals to intimidate. In addition to the tents for sleeping/washing/hot-tubbing, there is a communal dining tent, (Think a 5 star restaurant with a great dining room with the best view on the planet), a reception tent, a fire pit, and a great, small but perfect pool overlooking the Serengeti.
The Game Drives: You're coming to the Serengeti, and while you are probably here for the luxurious experiences, I can hopefully assume you've come to see the animals, of which there are so, so many. We did three consecutive full day game drives (up at 6, back by 5), and don't understand why everyone doesn't do that. The more you're out there with those awesome rangers and spotters, the higher the probability that you'll see truly exceptional stuff. For us, there were two standout stories that we came away with: A cheetah hanging out on the hood of our jeep for a few minutes, and watching a massive pride of lions (with 9 cubs) feast on a Buffalo kill and then enter into what can best be described as post lion thanksgiving food comas. The guides were awesome, able to answer our 10,000 questions about this or that with enthusiasm and great detail. Oh yeah, and they can see animals about 10 minutes before you can, so tip them well for making your drives that much better!
The Service: Ever wondered what it would be like to be Teddy Roosevelt on Safari with a staff of 60 looking after your every possible inclination? That's how I felt, and I gradually learned that they wouldn't balk at any request I threw their way. My adventurousness in requests gradually increased in complexity as I learned that they didn't know how to say no to anything. Example of a request, Day 1: Can I have a glass of Rose please? Day 2: Can I have a bottle of rose in my tent? Day 3: Can I have two bottles of Rose prepared for my return from the game drive waiting for me in my tent? Day 4: Can I please have 2 bottles of Rose in my tent, the hot tub prepared, and masseuses ready to help us iron out the knots in our shoulders attained after a long day of watching animals kill/have sex with each other? I like Rose wine while on Safari, what can I say? Their manager, Pantaleo has possibly the best trained staff I've ever experienced anywhere, let alone the MIDDLE OF THE WILDERNESS. One final thing on the service, tell them it's your honeymoon, and prepare to be freaking wow'ed even beyond their already high standards of exceeding expectations.
The Food: You're in the middle of the Serengeti, but you wouldn't know that by the food. We loved it all, no complaints whatsoever. Everything tasted fresh, the courses plentiful, and our stomachs repeatedly were pressed to find more room to accommodate such great food.
Overall: It's a ton of money, but it delivered above and beyond our wildest expectations. I don't know what other camps do, and frankly, as long as Bushtops is in existence, I never wll. We're already trying to figure out how to sell non-essential organs to fund a trip back there. Don't dawdle, this place fills up fast and we booked months and months in advance. Trust in the internet...we did, and we were so so glad we did.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A Tanzanian haven for serious safari seekers, Serengeti Bushtops is an oasis of 5-star luxury within one of the world's most magical settings. Picture yourself gazing out over the stunning scenery of the Serengeti. Imagine returning from safari and watching the sun set from the comfort of your tent's private hot tub. Consider the thrill of watching the annual migration thunder across the mighty Mara river. Or simply revel in the thought of being pampered by your butler and our friendly staff, before enjoying our fabulous cooking and fine wines in the comfort of our restaurant and shared spaces. This combination of safari adventure, first class facilities and blissful relaxation has delivered Serengeti Bushtops' unwavering promise of Wild Luxury ever since we opened in June 2010. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Serengeti Bushtops Camp Hotel Serengeti National Park