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“Serian South Serengeti - sensational”

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Alex Walker's Serian
Certificate of Excellence
Australia
Level 3 Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Serian South Serengeti - sensational”
Reviewed January 24, 2012

I don't always write lodge reviews because travelling on a budget means staying in the bigger lodges which have so many reviews already. However, on each trip I do try to save some money to stay at one special place and on this recent safari I chose Serian's Serengeti South camp.

I often think that people are confused when trying to compare camps and lodges based on price as often the premium dollar is paid for an exclusive area, ability to off road and the chance to get out and walk, rather than excess bells and whistles in camp. I found the Serian camp to have a wonderfully authentic olde world feel about it, but with some of the amenities we've come to expect such as electricity to the tent and flush en suite toilets. I perhaps wouldn't expect a first time safari tourist to choose this camp for several reasons. First, the isolation and solitude can be daunting for a first timer, second the game isn't served on a plate unless you take a drive to Ndutu (which you can easily do) where you share sightings with all the many other tourists and third, to make the most of this camp really requires a stay of at least 5 nights (I stayed 7).

When we arrived from the Crater, migration herds dotted the plains in front of our tent and that night wildebeest surrounded us whilst in the distance we could hear lions roaring. Several nights later I was woken up by the sound of a herd of zebras galloping through the camp.

Things we really enjoyed were walking part of the way to the lookout point over Lake Eyasi, which was an amazing sight; having sundowners perched on top of some large boulders overlooking beautiful valleys; driving around the highlands where ancient acacia thrived and visiting the gully where the fly camp is located if you should choose to take that option. Dotted around these areas are dramatic kopjes and zebra, gazelle and eland graze peacefully (well, the eland run away at the first indication that people are about!).

The game around camp, on the vast plains which easily dwarf those of the Mara, are plentiful as they play host to the migration in its hundreds of thousands of animals. It is also a veritable hotspot for cheetah, and our final tally was around 20, perhaps 21 because with so many it is hard to count. Our best lion sightings came on drives to Lake Masek and the Ndutu area although with these easier predator sightings came many more safari trucks. The cheetah sightings we had all to ourselves for the majority of the time.

Meals are taken together in the large mess tent which I found rather fun, a little like a dinner party, but all outings are taken with your own private driver and guide. The vehicles aren't ideal for the serious photographer (in my opinion) but are designed this way as they apparently negotiate the sometimes slippery conditions better than heavier ones. Just as well, as we had some heavy rain which took some excellent driving skills to negotiate. Despite my opinion on the vehicles, our photography didn’t appear to suffer because we still were able to photograph from windows, through the open top and amazingly (apart from lions!!!) by getting out of the vehicle and standing, kneeling or lying on the ground. Thank goodness laundry is free!

I’m not particularly fussed by food and drinks whilst I’m in the bush, but the food was plentiful, varied, well cooked and presented and the drinks were free and also plentiful. Give me a gin and tonic under the acacia tree in a comfortable seat overlooking the plains and I’m happy, who wouldn’t be? Karen was managing the camp whilst I was there and did a great job being unobtrusive, friendly and organised. Things ran smoothly and she went out of her way to help us with some of the photographic projects we had organised.

All in all, I really enjoyed Serian, South Serengeti but I think anyone planning a visit there should realise and expect that this isn't mass marketed safari living.

Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
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4 Thank twaffle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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  • English first
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English first
London, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed January 22, 2012

Quite possibly the highlight of our honeymoon, and certainly has left with many treasured memories.
Having been picked up outside the Ngorogoro Crater and handed over to our new guides Michael and Baracka, we were in good hands for the next 4 days. These guys were so knowledgeable and patient, and extremely courteous, whether it be pointing out the abundant animals and birds, or helping us settle in.
We were lucky enough to meet Alex Walker and his partner too on our stay who could not have been more hospitable and welcoming. Within an hour we felt a home away from home, bizarre considering the alien and remote surroundings. They spent every evening with us imparting their knowledge and swapping great stories.
The tents were simple, stylish and comfortable and always kept spotless. The bucket showers were fun and piping hot. The staff were exemplary and they couldn't have done enough, and even waved us off at the end. There were some Masai warriors employed too who would escort us from the campfire back to the tent should we require it. And kept watch 24 hours.
The food was delicious and plentiful, some fabulous SA wine, and a special mention for the incredible cheeseboard. Unexpected.
On a personal level, I had the misfortune to drop an SD card while on a walking safari. It had 700 honeymoon snaps on it. Realising our distress, the camp could not have done enough to help us. They sent out scout parties to retrace our steps, 4 men across, it reminded me of an episode of Crimewatch. They could not have done more to help, and we were both very touched. Sadly still to be found though.
As for the animals we saw Cheetah, and Lions, right next to the jeep, huge amounts of giraffe, Zebra, tons of birds, hyenas, and of course a gazillion wildebeest. But the surprise was a pack of 23 Wild Dogs which are apperently very rare.
This was one of the most amazing experiences ever for us, and took us at times to the edge of our comfort zone, which was very exciting. Having said that, it is of course not for everyone as the camp is very remote, and whilst posh, it is after all camping to an extent. There is little phone signal if any, huge open views of Serengeti, with nobody bar the Masai around for miles. To some paradise, to others less so. But I defy anybody not to enjoy a hot copper bath by candlelight, wine in hand, looking out across the plains! If this kind of adventure is your thing, then I wouldnt hesitate to recommend this company and this camp. We had the experience of a lifetime.

Room Tip: They all have a pretty good view form what I could see!
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank adamcd19
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed October 18, 2011

We had high expectations spending 4 nights at Alex walkers Serian (north) camp as part of our honeymoon, we were not disappointed! we were picked up by our guides (Barrack and Michael) from the airstrip and they were to be with us for the rest of our stay. One of the selling points of staying there was to have the possibility of our own car to have the flexibility to do as we wished and this was the case for the 4 days.
The camp itself was 8 tents (i think) with 2 communal tents for drinks and meal time. The furnishings in our tent were excellent and bed exceptionally comfortable. Flushing toilet and bucket shower that filtered through to a proper shower head. You simply had to ask for water when you needed it and the porters gave you as much as you needed. Our experience was not as 'jacqhk' implied. Our showers were hot, always ready when we wanted it and you could ask for more water if you needed it. Bear in mind the countries water problems and that will serve you well.
We loved the experience in the evenings of sitting around a big table and sharing your daily stories, that was unqiue here compared to other camps. Many times we were pigeon-holed as honeymooners and sat at a table for two. When you've been in the car all day together, as much as you love one another, it's nice to interact with others!!! Its as good way of working out what to do as well. Food was great, different meals every night. And lots of it! We opted to have breakfast on the go every morning on our game drives so everything is pre-cooked. From reading other complaints on the food, I think you have to remember that this place is in the wilderness, there kitchens are not what you would find in a restaurant, and really what your having is a damn sight more than the majority of Tanzanian people get to eat on a daily basis. Beer, wine and spirits are freely available.
The staff were great, not only our driver/spotter combo, but also the porters in the camp who brought you coffee for those early game drives but also the chefs and waiters too. If you make an effort with these guys it will come back to you in spades....try learning some swahili beyond the basic jambo (hello) and asante sana (thankyou), they are only too happy to teach you about their language.
We were lucky to have Alex Walker in the camp during our stay, he really is a compelling fellow! When he talks, you listen, and has an anecdote or story for everything - he really is a great bloke! We did do a walk from the camp one morning (about 3 hrs). It was fascinating seeing him follow the different animal tracks and hear about the flora and fauna.
As it was our honeymoon, the camp made our last night extra special. They have a large copper bath tub in the camp. They filled this with piping hot water, lit a camp fire and several oil lamps and left is with a bottle of red to enjoy a bath under the stars!
We were lucky enough to see most animals and an excellent wildebeast crossing of the Mara river, the only animal that eluded us was the Rhino, but that now gives us an excuse to go back!
If your idea of a real safari experience is having animals around your tent at night, getting away from the mod-cons of modern life, and feeling like you never want to go back to work this is the place. If we go back to Africa we would definately aim to stay at one of Alex walkers camps again.

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank rossmcneill
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
hong kong
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed October 14, 2011

We just came back from nights in Tanzania and stayed at the Oliver's Camp at Tarangire, Alex Walker Serian at Serengeti and the Plantation Lodge at the Crater.

Alex Walker is the worst experience amongst all three.

1. Inadequate service standard: Unlike Olivers where services staff seem professional at what they do, Alex Walker is run by a young lady (who is a very lovely individual) with not much experience in hospitality and fairly new to the camp. Another manager also didn't seem to know much about hospitality management. The shower was never ready when we are, and when they do come, it's A). muddy B). Luke warm / semi cold freezing; C), drizzells off a showerhead that long should be cleaned: D). runs out before you even had the chance to put shampoo on.

For the 4 nights we were there, our towels were not changed once - despite that it was a little rainy during the days and the towels were never dried properly. By the last day, they started to smell so bad that we decided that just to skip the crappy shower altogether.

Food was a nightmare - same dry sausages for breakfast, pancake that so dry you can choke on. We heard the chef is a new one - maybe that's why.

They are known for their guiding, but we didn't get the 1 driver 1 guide as AW marketed themselves for. At the end of the trip when we asked why, we were told they didn't have enough staff. So we ended up with a guide who had only 2 years of experience working with AW. His English is limited as well. Seems staff turnover is a huge issue with AW. Comparing to Oliver's (run by Ashilia Group), our guide graduated from the Wild Life College.

Vehicle is old and small.

Not to mention that they gave us the crappest tent of the whole camp, despite that they only had 4 couples during the entire stay we had there (many are booked by the same agent we used). We still struggle to understand why when we

Unlike at Olivers where we were asked about whether we would be interested in night safaris, at AW, the wallking safari was never offered on the table till we inquired on how to confirm we can do it. This is after we were assured by our agent that we can do this with AW once we get there. We were told that they didn't know if it's possible as the rangers are not around. Then they just decided yes they can do it because we were lucky that they found the ranger. However, when we wanted to do it at the 3rd morning instead of the 2nd, we were told that morning had already been offered to others.

If you expect professional managed safari experience, do not choose AW.
At close to USD1700 per night, it simply is not worth it!

We really wish we had stayed with Sayari which is about the same charge.

Room Tip: Go with Ashilia Group operation instead!
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  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
10 Thank goynsomwerh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Level 4 Contributor
33 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed October 7, 2011

This bush camp was without a doubt the highlight of our safari. The tents were very comfortable and the bucket showers were a great experience. After a long, dusty day of incredible game drives coming back and taking an outdoor bath in an old copper tub, with a glass of wine, watching the sun set in the Serengeti was fantastic. Alex and Gerard were great hosts and along with fun fellow guests from different countrys made sitting around the nightly fire great times! Our guide, Tuma, was an expert at showing us the widebeast crossings as well as all the other animals. The service was amazing, the staff took care of our every need as if we were back in colonial days.

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank BMWTravel1952
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
cleveland
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed October 5, 2011

Loved this bush camp. Great tents and wonderful people running the camp. Karen and Gerard were fantastic hosts. The food was tasty and very well prepared. On one game drive, our driver made a salad that was delicious. Every night after a long day, we would sit in a circle by the campfire and have some tasty treat (popcorn seasoned with cayenne pepper, onion rings) and drinks. It was great catching up on everyone's day and talking about our experiences. Dinner was again at a round table so everyone could see each other and talk.

We spent five days at Serian in Kenya prior to traveling to Tanzania. The wildebeest migration in Tanzania was unbelievable. Our driver estimated that there were 250,000 wildebeest waiting to cross. It's so hard to describe the experience -- it was awesome.

Our driver, Baracka, and spotter, Pius, were great. We truly enjoyed every minute with them. They were funny and persistent about finding the game we wanted to see. We saw a black rhino with her calf (great experience) - they are extremely elusive and we were lucky to photograph them.

Serian Serengeti is a great mobile camp. I highly recommend it.

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank mjl202
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed September 29, 2011

Where to start with this amazing camp?? Firstly i am glad that we had our last 3 nights there as had we been at the begining of our trip nothing else would have been able to compare, this place is the way to do safari. So lets start with the basics. The camp is pure luxuary, where else would you see a dining table in a tent with a chandelier over it or 2 of the most comfortable sofas I have ever sat on. Also as they only have a maximum of 12 guests at any time it gives the place and exclusive and intimate feel. The tents are of a similar standard with acres of space, great views and fantastic fittings. Hot water is avalible whenever you want it for a shower (and as much as you want rather than a standard 20l). The food and the service are also second to none.

The camp is located in a remote spot of the mara triangle and you are surrounded by game. Each group gets their own car with a driver and spotter. Ours (Madebe and Sadala) were fantastic finding us all the game we asked for and putting us in prime position for 5 river cossings. The crossings cannot be described they are a true wonder of the natural world (even when you have spent 9 hours doing nothing but waiting for the very stupid wildebeast to decide to cross!). You are able to take both a breakfast and lunch out as a picnic (which i recomend) to get the most from your day. Having lunch under a tree looking at the mara river is wonderful!

Evenings at the camp are also very special with pre dinner drinks around the campfire followed by a fantastic dinner around the communal table. Chatting with the other guests and Alex and Gerard was great, even if we did clear out slightly more of the alcohol than we meant to.

All in all a wonderful way to end our honeymoon, now I just have to save up to go again!!

Room Tip: Bring ear plugs, the wildlife is noisey and very close to the tents (an added bonus!)
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  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank JoJo088
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Alex Walker's Serian

Property: Alex Walker's Serian
Address: Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Serengeti National Park
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #26 of 118 Specialty Lodging in Serengeti National Park
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A seasonal camp located close to the "great migration" best suited to those with an adventurous spirit who seek out raw and real experience.Alex Walker’s Serian - Serengeti flaunts a sense of spirited style. An authentic and intimate East African bush camp; that allows you to flee the bustle of contemporary life & experience a blend of untamed Africa in traditional tented splendour! Tanzania’s celebrated Serengeti hosts the last great concentration of mixed wildlife in Africa, best known for its migration of nearly two million Wildebeest. "Simply put, the very best game viewing in the world today." ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Alex Walker`s Serian - Serengeti Hotel Serengeti National Park

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