On the eastern edge of Serengeti National Park, Namiri Plains opened in July 2014 as the first permanent camp set up within a 2,000-square-mile former lion and cheetah research area closed to tourism for two decades. Today, a maximum of 12 guests share the camp’s three safari vehicles and have prime lion, cheetah, and hyena territory to themselves. Resident hoofed game—hartebeest, topi, impala, buffalo—are not as habituated to safari vehicles as animals in other parts of the Serengeti, but the vicinity hence feels wilder. The area is so secluded that guests can watch the sunrise from a high rock outcropping and spot no other people or vehicles on the horizon. Year-round sightings of big cats are assured; however, the action peaks in November through April when herds of migrating wildebeest boost game numbers and predator activity. The delicious feeling of solitude in nature is enhanced by the solar-powered camp’s comfortable, eco-friendly amenities. Each tent has a flush toilet, but staff bring hot water for bucket showers. Tent luxuries include real beds, stuffed chairs, and couches.
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Naturalist George Schaller studied the immediate camp vicinity in the 1960s before writing his classic The Serengeti Lion. Current predator research led by University of Minnesota professor Craig Packer has identified 200 individual lions in 12 resident prides. The nearby Ngare Nanyuki river is a general wildlife magnet.
Need to Know
Rooms: Six tents; from $660 per person, inclusive of meals and safari activities. Check-in: Coordinated with arrival by light plane or 4WD; check-out: no specific time. Dining options: Simple but gourmet meals consist of light lunches of salads and a formal three-course dinner taken in a large dining and lounge tent. Breakfast and lunch can also be a picnic during game drives. Spa and gym: No gym or pool. Guided nature walks are being developed.
Who’s it for: Guests tend to be travelers who have already been on a Big Five safari and want a more private, deeper immersion in nature. With the nearest permanent camp more than 45 miles away, the location offers guests the rare luxury of having their own private Africa. Our favorite rooms: The “honeymoon tent” has sweeping Serengeti views, a secluded position at the edge of camp, and an outdoor double shower under the stars; there’s also a private mini platform with bean bags for sundowners. For shutterbugs: Apart from game, the landscape of grass plains dotted with lonely acacias, stands of yellow-barked fever trees, and sculptural giant boulders will satisfy photographers.