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“Simply the Best!”

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Isoitok Camp - Manyara
Certificate of Excellence
Maastricht
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Simply the Best!”
Reviewed 22 July 2013

Living here for just two days was like stepping into someone’s dream and then making it our own. That does not happen very often.

My husband and I were on Safari for our 25th anniversary. We booked this camp through Bush2Beach with Ingrid Vaes to have a permanent tent experience while trekking in Tanzania for 11 days in June. Isoitk means “rocky place” and, as you pull off the main road, that becomes very apparent. The surrounding area is dry and rocky, at first glance, a bit desolate. But, indeed, it is full of life, very different than many of us would ever experience if we didn’t seize this opportunity.

Isoitok Camp was designed, built and managed day-to-day by Chris Pilley who is a most interesting man. He is from Jersey (for fellow yanks, that is England, not USA) and has lived “down under” (New Zealand & Tazmania). He has climbed mountains and sampled a variety of occupations and cultures. All of his life experiences have come together in developing this creatively beautiful, eco-friendly, permanent tent camp that has a close relationship with the Massai community. Chris is a superb carpenter and the camp is a sensitive showcase for his work and approach to life. The camp has all the comforts one would want with regard

to beds, showers, toilets, and privacy, along with a magical African atmosphere. We enjoyed well planned landscaping and nightly campfires.

The service was personal, low key and excellent. Isoitok staff planned and prepared some very nice romantic touches for us. One evening, we had champagne and snacks on the hillside, timed just right for an African sunset. Another night, we had a romantic dinner for two, surrounded by lanterns hanging in the trees. We voted the food, cooked by Mohammed, as the most delicious of our entire 11 days (this is compared to several upscale lodges) and appreciated the well stocked bar.

I was unsure that we would appreciate the time spent with the Massai community of Esilalei. I first thought of it as an interesting side trip, a break from just trekking. Instead. We met with a guide who introduced us to his village, visited a Boma, and went for a medicine walk up the hillside (see the Isoitok website).
I would say that this was an awakening in terms of awareness and insight to the Massai people. I am so glad we had this experience.

Thank you, Isoitok, for sharing your dream with us!

  • Stayed June 2013, travelled as a couple
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1 Thank Tommy1123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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104 reviews from our community

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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (11)
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English first
Boston, Massachusetts
2 reviews
Reviewed 15 July 2013

After a full day of safari game drives in Lake Manyara National Park, it was wonderful to stay at Isoitok Camp. Chris (one of the camp's owners) greeted my girlfriend and me on our arrival with warm hand towels and cocktail drinks. He introduced us to the staff and then informed us -- to my surprise -- that we were the only guests that evening. He then offered to take us on a short walk to a lookout point to see the sun set over the Great Rift Valley. The sunset was stunning and one of the highlights of our time in Tanzania.

Chris was a great host. Drinks around the campfire followed by a delicious dinner. It was amazing to have Chris all to ourselves throughout drinks and dinner. He was gracious in answering all of our questions and sharing stories from his adventurous life.

Our Isoitok Deluxe tent was pure luxury. We slept very well. Saying that my girlfriend was impressed would be a huge understatement. She was blown away by our accommodation and the high level of service that we received. At the time of my writing this review, TripAdvisor does not list the website for Isoitok Camp -- isoitok.com. The photos are very accurate to how the camp feels. I should also add that the boxed lunch that Isoitok Camp prepared for us the following day was delicious.

I would definitely stay at Isoitok again. In fact, if I could change one thing about our 8-day safari, I would arrange to stay two nights at Isoitok Camp. We stayed one night in Arusha before departing for Lake Manyara the following day. Having experienced Isoitok Camp, I would have preferred to have driven directly to Isoitok Camp from the Arusha airport instead of spending an evening at the Arusha Hotel. This might not make sense for everyone, particularly if you're arriving in Arusha after a long plane flight from Europe or late in the day. But we arrived in the early afternoon on a short flight from Dar es Salaam and the two-hour drive to Isoitok Camp would have given us the chance to start our game drive earlier the following day (when more animals are active) and would have given us another sunset in the beautiful Great Rift Valley.

Room Tip: We stayed in Tent 1.
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  • Stayed June 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Andrew L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Jarrahdale, W.A.
Level 5 Contributor
57 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 July 2013 via mobile

One word to describe Isoitok camp? Outstanding.

My wife and I are just back from spending two nights at Isoitok camp and we simply loved the place. Chris and his staff are wonderful. The chief, Mohamed is a master. Each meal was a work of art. The waiters, Ephatha and Mbise treated us so well and made us feel at home. Chris is a great host with a store house of knowledge, which he is willing to share.

The tent we were in (No. 1) was wonderful - filled with unique features that are a testament to Chris's design skills. The bed was very comfortable and the bathroom was execlent. We really loved the "bush" shower. It was so peaceful there.

We are coming to the end of our 3 year stay in Tanzania and an elderly friend recently told us that life was like a book and we go though different things in our lives, we go through chapters. Isoitok camp is a wonderful way to end our chapter in Tanznaia.

Thank you Chis and the team!

Highly recommended!

Stayed July 2013, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank KeithMac
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney, Australia
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 May 2013

My family stayed in this amazing camp on the 27 April, 2013 for 1 night. We arrived late as our plane was delayed leaving Uganda, so we arrived in the dark. We were warmly greeted by Chris and shown our luxurious tents. The beds were so comfortable. We had the most amazing 5 star meal. Chris joined us for dinner and it was great getting to know Chris and the amazing life he has experienced. It was wonderful learning about the Masai people and how the Camp supports the local people. Great work Chris and Ingrid. It is great to give back to people who are generous in opening their country to us.

The next morning, after a great sleep and breakfast we visited the local Masai Bomber just a short distance walk from the camp. It was great seeing how they live and learning about their customs. Very simple lives. We bought some jewellery off them which is a great way to support them, knowing that the money goes straight to the people.

We had to leave straight after to start our Bush 2 Beach Safari, which was also the most amazing experience. Please see my comments under Bush2Beach Tripadvisor as I thoroughly recommend using Ingrid and Chris for your stay in Tanzania. Prompt responses to emails, great local knowledge and just lovely people to deal with, They put together a great Tanzanian experience. Our driver Edwin was so lovely too.

What are you waiting for. Contact Chris and Ingrid today, you will not regret it. Amazing.

Kathy

Tip. There is also a community centre up the road which is run by the local Masai where you can buy directly from them. Beautiful jewellery, and great to support the local people.

  • Stayed April 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank KathyCollaroy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Usa River
Level 5 Contributor
53 reviews
34 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 May 2013

Wonderful tented accommodation within walking distance of Maasai bomas. Isoitok has a relationship with the nearby community so you can visit and photograph life in the boma and with the cows, goats and donkeys.

The camp is situated in the hills away from the road and is incredibly peaceful with the sound only broken by birds, cowbells and mooing.

The tents are extremely comfortable with lots of space and a big bathroom. If you take the outside shower you can look up into the acacia trees and sky - a great experience.

We had a lot of long discussions over dinner - the food is excellent and the service always available. If you are doing a safari and discovering the animals of Tanzania and Africa, this is a wonderful way of learning about Maasai life and culture.

Recommended accommodation for an authentic experience.

  • Stayed May 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Hman877
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
St. Catharines, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 March 2013

By far the most beautiful tented accommodations we stayed in during our 12 day Northern Tanzanian safari! The wood work, the luxurious bedding, and the attention to detail made it hard to believe that you were in a tent! The owners, Chris and Ingrid, have worked hard to create a gorgeous, natural camp, incorporating local materials and building techniques. The experience with the Maasai from the nearby boma is the most authentic you are likely to find in Tanzania. Superb food, great entertainment, and all the comforts of home made this one of the most enjoyable camping experiences I've ever had. My three children, ages 9, 12, and 13 didn't want to leave!

Meals are taken in the common dining room so you can meet the other guests but there are only 4 tents of guests at any one time, so you will not have to contend with crowds. Breakfasts tended to be taken alone since every group went out at different times, depending on their plan for the day. Delicious food - local and international cuisine.

Lovely outdoor shower, or shower in your tent. Rest and enjoy a drink on your private patio, or join the others round the campfire.

Definitely do NOT miss this experience if you like camping but also being pampered.

  • Stayed February 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank billaholic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Isoitok Camp - Manyara

Property: Isoitok Camp - Manyara
Address: Makyuni - Mto Wa Mbu Highway, Lake Manyara National Park PO box 11914, Tanzania
Region: Tanzania > Arusha Region > Lake Manyara National Park
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Restaurant Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 42 Speciality Lodging in Lake Manyara National Park
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Isoitok Camp – Manyara is not just another tented camp, it’s an experience you wished you had longer for! The camp is surrounded by the Maasai community of Esilalei offering draw dropping views overlooking Lake Manyara and the Rift Valley basin. Private, surreal bush experiences await those who visit. 8 deluxe en-suite tents sculptured into the natural surroundings with a night chorus out of "Born Free." ... more   less 

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