How do I get to Serengeti Bushtops?

You can reach Serengeti Bushtops via several routes. A light aircraft flight from Kilimanjaro or Arusha, landing at the nearby Kogatende airstrip, is perhaps easiest. There is also a new service from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to Kogatende via Tarime, where Tanzanian custom clearing takes place most conveniently. The afternoon flight from Kogatende arrives back at JKIA at around 5.30 pm, which is ideal, since most international flights leave from 9.00 pm.

Alternatively, guests can take a one-way or return transfer from our sister camp, travelling from the Mara Bushtops airstrip at Siana Springs to Migori, being met at the Isabenia border from where you are driven the short distance to Tarime airstrip for a brief airborne hop to Kogatende. You arrive early in the afternoon in time for a game drive en route to camp. If you choose to combine both our Tanzanian camps, Roving Bushtops is less than an hour’s flight from Seronera.

Anyone preferring to come by road can do so from Ngorongoro, Nudutu and the southern Serengeti.

Either way, you will arrive to a warm welcome and a glorious backdrop to the ultimate Safari experience.

When should I come?

There is always something to see at Serengeti Bushtops. However, two factors are worth bearing in mind: there are short rains from around mid-November to mid-January and long rains in April/May – and the migration tends to be around the end of June to mid-October (depending on the whim of the wildebeest). However, risking the short rains and avoiding the migration have their advocates and benefits: there are fewer people around so you get the wildlife and the Serengeti to yourself.  End of year rain showers tend to last less than an hour in early mornings or late afternoons, and are more refreshing than disruptive. They revitalise our visitors, not just the land, so we’d love to see you at any time!

What is the climate like?

Temperatures at Serengeti Bushtops tend to be comfortable and between 20-30 degrees Centigrade for most of the year. Mornings and evenings can be cool, though rarely dropping below 10 degrees, whilst an unusually hot day might peak at 35 degrees. Naturally the cooler periods will coincide with rainy periods: the short rains fall from mid-November to mid-January and there is a longer rainy spell in April/May (and sometimes early June). Even in the rainy period, warmth and sunshine can be expected to break through, ensuring every day is a good day at Serengeti Bushtops.

What should I pack?

Here are a few things we think you should bring, to make the most of your safari experience:

  • Cool, light clothing (cotton is good) in neutral/earthy colours (dark colours – especially black and blue – attract flies and bugs)
  • Shorts or skirts and short-sleeve shirts, plus long trousers (dinners are smart/casual: formal clothing is not required)
  • A jacket or fleece for the cooler mornings and evenings and night time safaris
  • Comfortable walking shoes, trainers or boots – plus sandals for within the lodge area
  • Swimming costume • Sun block, sun hat, sunglasses and lip balm
  • Mosquito / insect repellent and malaria pills/treatment
  • As required, an extra pair of glasses/set of contact lenses (plus solution)
  • Camera (plus film/memory cards) and binoculars
  • Video camera and a spare battery (which can be recharged in your suite: voltage is 220V)

Each tent is equipped with bathrobes, hair dryer and amenities such as soap, shampoo/shower gel, conditioner and lotions.

How much luggage can I bring?

Assuming you fly in, the allowance is determined by the small plane transferring you into the airstrip: it is just 15 kgs, including hand luggage. This can be strictly enforced, so beware of exceeding the limit. You may be able to pay extra per kg but there are no guarantees. Remember, we can wash your clothes at the camp, so it is better to travel light. If you are keen to bring more, you could buy a child’s seat at 75% of the full flight cost – adding a further 50 kg weight allowance.

What medical preparations and precautions do I need?

We recommend you search online for up-to-date national guidance. You will need some form of malaria course, starting before you arrive, so do plan ahead. All tents are equipped with mosquito nets and your butler will use mosquito spray each evening when preparing your room, to minimise intrusion.

Yellow fever jabs are required for Tanzania if you enter the country via Kenya, so make sure you bring your proof of inoculation. You should not need any further vaccinations but please double check your national health authority’s updates. Also, ensure you have adequate health insurance. We recommend considering temporary membership of the Flying Doctors, who can airlift you to Nairobi in an emergency.

Who are the local people?

Serengeti Bushtops is located amongst the Kuria tribe, from whom we employ about a third of our team (mostly as security and wildlife spotters), providing a productive alternative to poaching. The Kurias are excellent spotters and we’re lucky to have a great team working with us.

Part of the Bantu speaking group, the Kuria range across Northern Tanzania, where some 435,000 work primarily as pastoralists, and the south west of Kenya, which is home to about 175,000 mainly agriculturalist Kuria. Maize, beans and cassava are grown for food and tobacco for trading.

It is believed that a Masai attack in the early C19th divided the Kuria from the Kisii people of Kenya, who resemble them in language and physique. The Kuria people are divided into about 16 clans. Common girls’ names include Robi, Gati and Boke while boys are often named Chacha, Marwa or Mwita.

What are the Big Five things I need to know about Tanzania?

English and Swahili are the official languages; the currency is Tanzanian Shillings but it is best to bring US dollars printed after 2000 (all camp extras are charged in US$); the time zone is GMT +3; the dialling code is +255; you can get an entry visa on arrival at the airport.

What should I tip?

We pay all our staff a service charge in addition to their salary. If you want to add a discretionary tip we provide an envelope in your tent, which you can hand to the manager on departure: this is shared among all the staff. If you wish to reward your ranger, spotter or butler direct, we would recommend between US$5 and US$10 per person per day, but stress that such tipping is entirely at your discretion.