A visit to the Serengeti is high on any traveller’s bucket list in Africa. Offering some of the greatest wildlife viewing in the world, its endless plains are roamed by the Big Five and many more of the continent’s most iconic animals. On our Overland Safaris, we offer the chance to spend a night in this incredible landscape. And after returning from his recent trip to Tanzania, our very own Sam Webster-Bell reveals more about what you can expect when camping in the Serengeti.
It’s a team effort
On arrival at our camp, we pulled the tents out of our truck and set to work putting them up. They had simple, cross-pole frames which you clip to the inner tent, before pegging down a fly sheet over the top. The crew helped out those who were having trouble, but once people had finished with their own they’d soon be helping others too.
Surprisingly, there were people on our trip who had never camped before – and they absolutely loved it! When it comes to meals, it’s also a team effort. And whilst some of us helped chop up vegetables and prepare the food, others were on cleaning duty.
The food is delicious
Speaking of meals, dinner was the best by far. Our cook was absolutely incredible, with several people even recommending that he open his own restaurant! Throughout our trip, we’d had curries, stews and barbequed meats, as well as rice and pasta dishes with loads of vegetables.
After a long day driving and game driving, then putting up our tents, it was this kind of filling and hearty meal that we needed. There was a choice between a meat and vegetarian dish, as well as bread. And as a vegetarian myself, I certainly did not feel hungry after.
We ate our dinner around the campfire, before enjoying a few evening drinks. Fortunately, there was a cool-box on board the truck where we could store a few beers!
Facilities are basic
When camping in the Serengeti, expect the facilities to be very limited. What facilities there are might also not be kept to the same standards of cleanliness that you are used to at home.
Our camp had simple toilets and showers, which was all that we needed. And whilst the lack of luxuries didn’t seem to bother anyone in our group, wet wipes and hand sanitizer are definitely a must.
You’ll see some wildlife
Whilst we’d been having dinner, we’d heard the sounds of lions roaring in the distance and hyenas laughing. The campfire tends to keep most animals away and once it started to go out, it was time for bed. Everyone was slightly nervous about what we might encounter in the night, being in an unfenced camp, but our crew were quick to reassure us and taught us how to spot a predator.
During the night we had both zebras and hyenas walk through the camp. I poked my head out of my tent and saw a group of five hyenas just 10 metres away! It was an incredible experience, and if it was up to me I would have bush-camped every night of the trip.
It gets cold at night
The Serengeti gets cold in the early morning and evenings, so be prepared! You’ll need to pack both summer and winter clothing, such as a woolly hat, gloves and thick socks.
You’ll also want plenty of warm clothing for sleeping in. I brought a small travel blanket to put around me by the campfire – and it was a great extra layer to my sleeping bag.
Traveller tips for camping in the Serengeti:
- Don’t pack too many clothes, everything gets dusty and dirty very quickly. So you’ll end up wearing the same thing most days anyway.
- Use something to cover your face, like a light scarf or bandanna. This helps keep the dust away from your nose and mouth.
- Bring a pillow! Whilst the camping equipment includes a roll mat, a pillow is a godsend.
- Pack a good head torch. When you’re camping in the middle of nowhere and need to go to the toilet in the middle of the night, a phone torch is simply not enough.
- Be open-minded. Overland camping isn’t for everyone, the facilities are basic and you’ll travel through some very poor and undeveloped areas. However, if you come across as polite, happy to get rough and ready, show compassion and use the knowledge of your crew to navigate the local customs, you’ll have the time of your life!