You Can’t Judge a Camp by its Canvas

3 min Read March 22, 2024

You Can’t Judge a Camp by its Canvas

Accommodations come in a wide variety and the names of lodges and camps can be confusing or misleading. Even when it comes to “tented camps” there are several variations: Some mobile camps are pitched for arrival on a specific day and dismantled upon departure. These are quite basic considering the logistics, and particularly in the Serengeti, they have made way for seasonal tented camps that move around anywhere from two to five times a year, as the wildebeest and zebra migrate between the Masai Mara and Serengeti. Being “moveable”, these don’t offer all the amenities and luxuries of permanent tented camps, but there is a lot to be said for this option. Here are some observations from Laura Allen on the last few days of a safari spent at one such seasonal mobile camp:

If we were ever to return to Africa, this mobile tented camp would be at the top of our list! I was teary when we left! We felt so taken care of and experienced such amazing hospitality and game drives! It could not have been better! When we arrived, I wanted to cry for the luxury we had left behind! I immediately started thinking, “How can I get out of here after our hot air balloon flight tomorrow morning?” Perhaps, we can go to the Crater or fly to Zanzibar early”. Sadly, my husband was elated that we were staying at a mobile tented camp!

Then we took our afternoon game drive with our guide Alpha (yes, that is really is his given name), and it was exceptional! Within minutes of leaving the camp, we saw 3 lion cubs feasting on a wildebeest with their Mama. Then we stumbled upon 4 female lions and then a solitary male! But the icing on the cake was 3 young male cheetahs keeping each other warm after a brief rain!   Still, I was thinking….. who do I talk to about leaving early? And then Our SUPER butler, Christian, had the water heated for our bucket shower by the time we returned from the afternoon game drive. The shower is attached to the tent but open on top so he can pour hot water into canvas bags! It was awesome!

It was Valentine’s Day, and the dinner was off the charts! I don’t even like red meat, but the beef tenderloin was delicious, and the zucchini soup was even better. We don’t eat dessert, but they were so kind to serve us a small plate of cheese with our red wine. The bed with hot water bottles and super soft comforter kept us warm and we heard lions ROARING all night! By now I’m plotting how I can get Mike to wash my hair in the outdoor sink like Robert Redford did in Out of Africa!

I still thought 4 nights might be too much, but the staff kept surprising us! Alpha suggested we stop to watch the sunset last night, but we had had some VERY late sundowners on the Masai Mara and we dreaded the 30 minute bumpy drives back to the camp in the dark. So, we declined his offer and said we’d prefer to sit around the campfire with other guests to hear about their experiences. He stayed silent until we pulled into the road to take us to our camp. Other staff members had prepared a bar nearby the camp so we could enjoy the sunset. They were so engaging – we were having a great time with them and then 4 other guests joined us! So it was perfect! A sundowner over the plains within walking distance of our camp AND we had the opportunity to mingle with other travelers.

We just finished our last morning game drive as we leave tomorrow. I don’t know where to start! This morning, we saw TWO kills (one by a hyena and the other by 3 cheetahs). We saw 4 wildebeest give BIRTH! We saw 2 male lions FAIL to catch a day-old wildebeest. And then very sadly, we saw the aftermath of a lion attack on a leopard with her two cubs. One cub died at the attack. The mama dragged her other cub to a tree where it then died. She was injured and hiding in a bush, so we let her alone. I thought we should skip the afternoon game drive, but Mike looked at me like I was crazy. I just couldn’t see how it could get better! WRONG! First thing we saw were lions mating! And then we found the mother leopard who lost her two cubs to the lions. She was injured and resting in a tree, licking her wounds, literally and figuratively.

I am not ashamed to say my first Impression was so WRONG! This mobile camp has exceeded EVERY expectation. They cannot do enough to make us comfortable . The food is so good and actually very healthy. The chef is so accommodating. Our butler is simply the best. And the game drives have been out of this world. The manager, Donald, is so on top of everything. As gorgeous and luxurious as our permanent tented camps were, I can now say that I actually prefer Under Canvas. Dinners under the stars, a simple but wonderful, unexpected sundowner, heavenly bed, and delicious dinners – I’ve never slept better!

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