Four of recently stayed here. First, I have to say that the food here is great. Even though it's generally served buffet style it is just excellent. Some friends of ours stayed here last year and weren't impressed with the food so maybe there's been a change of chefs since then.
This camp is different from many camps in that the camp is not fenced in, meaning that the animals can wander through the grounds if they decide to do so. While you're free to walk the paths during the day, at night a Masai has to accompany you to your cabin. The cabins are located on stilts and generally seem to have a very nice view. The cabins have a thatched roof but the interior is canvas. There are no electrical outlets in the cabins but there is a "charging station" up by reception where you're free to leave things charging. Electric lights are available in the cabins at night starting around dark; supposedly the power goes off sometimes during the night but we never had a problem with this, probably because we were fast asleep.
The staff seemed interested in their work and their guests. Dinners are served in the dining area which is open air but has a thatched roof. Sometimes the tables are moved out onto the patio/fire pit area for meals, which is really very nice.
We generally really enjoyed our time here. While here we really felt that we were "on safari". However, there are some things you need to know about the camp:
One thing is that the hot water is supplied to the cabins by someone going to the back of each cabin twice a day and building a small fire in the contraption they have. It heats the water up and it seems to stay hot all day. We never ran out of hot water (there were two of us in the cabin). However, sometimes when the wind was right, some of the smoke from the fire would blow into the cabin for periods of time. It certainly wasn't strong but if smoke bothers you then you need to be aware of it.
Secondly, some of the cabins have a problem with birds and bats living in the area between the thatched and canvas roofs. Our cabin seemed to have a lot of them; our friends next door said that, at most, they might have had a few bats. Let me be clear, they are not in the cabin at all but between the thatched and canvas ceiling; we were able to hear them moving around and making noises during the night and sometimes during the day. Danny, the manager, said that they are in the process of addressing this and already have a plan.
We had planned on a night game drive but this was cancelled because their vehicle was broken. My understanding is that for the night drives they have to have a vehicle with a seat mounted on the front bumper for a spotter. We were told they have three of these but two were out for servicing and the third one developed a problem.
This isn't too big a deal but for those of us who use a safety razor to shave, there is no hot water at the lavatories; cold only. You can shave in the shower but there is no mirror.
The drive from the camp to one of the park entrances is about 20 minutes, depending on how your guide drives. The area between the camp and the park is an area that is used for legal hunting so the game there isn't particularly plentiful though we saw some.
At the time we were there there was no internet access which also meant that they could not take credit cards for anything (i.e. drinks with dinner, special activities). Danny told us an elephant had taken out their satellite dish. So, be prepared with extra cash just in case. There are optional activities (such as the night drive) that may or may not be included in your package stay.
They do offer laundry service but it is hand washed and sun dried. Do take note if you're planning on throwing away some clothes that it's probably best to do it as you're leaving. One of our number threw away some things only to find them washed, dried and folded the next day.
There is a bar in the dining area. Wine tends to be expensive here; the "house red" was $10/glass.
As with all the camps, if you are there in the dry season, be prepared for lots of dust when you're out on the game drives.
Note to other gay travelers: During our time in Africa we stayed at three camps and two hotel or hotel-type places. It was always interesting at check-in orientation as to how the manager would handle the fact that the reservation for two men had requested one bed. Now keeping in mind that we were traveling with a sister and brother-in-law, at orientation Danny, the manager, simply announced that one of our reserved cabins had one bed and one had two beds. Before I could suggest that this wasn't going to work the couple we were traveling with said that they wanted the cabin with the twin beds, so it all worked out. This was the only place we stayed where we weren't asked if we really wanted just one bed in our cabin. At the time we were there the camp was mostly empty.
Bottom line: taking note of the things I've mention above, I would certainly recommend this camp . It's an interesting experience and is rather unique. Again, we found the food to be great, the staff to be welcoming and the accommodations to be rustic in an interesting way.
- Also Known As:
- Kikoti Tented Camp Hotel Tarangire National Park