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  1. #1
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    Default Info on special campsites in Serengeti.

    One of the most confusing exercises of our East African trip in 2015 was trying to sort out special campsites in Serengeti (www.slowdonkey.com). If others have anything to add to this thread in order to diminish this confusion I would be most grateful as we definitely plan a return self-drive visit. Once again we do not want to book in advance for flexibility purposes and will book at TANAPA in Arusha. Other contributions from forum members would also be welcomed by many I am sure.


    To help us find our way we had the Veronica Roodt Map and a digital copy of Giovani Tombazzi's hand drawn map, as well as the Tracks4Africa GPS program. These show only some of the special campsites but many have undergone name changes and new sites are being opened and closed all the time so are not easy to find. There are signposts in the park to some but not to all of the special campsites and many are rather vague. At the TANAPA HQ booking offices in Arusha they have a booking book with all the special campsites listed manually. They have time periods blocked off according to bookings which are also filled in manually. There appeared to be at least 30 special campsites and many are booked by tour operators with their mobile camps, for months at a time. Specific sites are particularly heavily booked in advance, over the periods in areas where the migration is expected to be present in a normal season. We had not wanted to book in advance due to a flexible travel schedule and also because the movement of the migration can vary by up to a month or more each year. If you want to book in advance it can apparently be done with some difficulty via TANAPA, but most advise using a reputable private agency in Arusha. A problem is that this inefficient booking system allows for confusion over bookings and it is not unusual for you to arrive at your allocated site to find that a semi-permanent operator's camp has been there for some time. The only option then is to return to the nearest ranger post and be re-allocated to a nearby site, often not an official one. This is not a problem as the sites have no facilities at all, often chosen because of shade trees and a view. Another factor appears to be that they should not be within clear sight of game viewing tracks in order not to spoil the wilderness experience for others.


    The TANAPA office booking staff in Arusha seemed to have little information as to the exact placement of many of the special campsites or even which general areas they were in. If you take along the Veronica Roodt and Giovani Tombazzi maps you might have more of an idea than the staff and even if not marked on those maps, the special campsite names should give you a good idea of their general locality. The HQ staff had very little idea of the locality of the migratory herds when we booked. Try to obtain this info in advance from professional tour guides or fellow travelers you might encounter. The website https://www.discoverafrica.com/herdtracker/ may be of assistance.


    Again little information concerning these special campsites was available either at the Ndabi Hill Entrance Gate in the south, or at the park HQ at Seronera. They were not able to give detailed directions to them or comment on their merits. Certainly they had no GPS points available. Their emphasis seems to be on tour operators and not independent self-drivers. Some of the special campsites have roadside signposts but even these were rather vague.


    For instance at Ngare Nanyuki No 1 special campsite north-east of Seronera I am still not completely sure if we camped at precisely the correct site. We settled for a site under an Acacia torticollis tree that showed signs of a fairly recent campfire. We stopped at the semi-permanent campsite at Ngare Nanyuki 2 but they were unable to indicate our specific site, merely indicating a tree line a couple of km away. We were later stopped by rangers who had our vehicle registration plate, claiming that we had been reported for illegal camping, perhaps by the semi-permanent camp at no 2. They initially threatened us with a heavy fine. I think the issue is that some transgress by paying for the cheaper public campsites but then squat on a special campsite. We sorted this out by showing them our booking vouchers but they were unable/unwilling to escort us to where our exact site should be. They were happy with our description of our chosen campsite but I suspect that they themselves were unsure of the exact location.


    At our next special campsite Kira Wira no 1, we tried to avoid this problem and we pulled in at the range's outpost nearby to obtain exact directions. We had seen a signpost pointing vaguely off the game driving track into the bush, but there were no vehicle tracks to follow. The ranger was initially not keen to take us to the exact site but eventually allowed us take his teenage son in our vehicle. Here, where we were supposed to camp, the tree line was occupied by a pride of lions lying in the shade. After some negotiation it was agreed that we camp about 200m away under a shade tree but where we at least had an open field of view. It seems if there is some flexibility about the exact site.


    From others forums and travel sites it appears that locating the special campsites is a common problem and that there is no reliable map showing them all. It would be most helpful if this forum could build up a detailed list of the exact GPS points of most of the Serengeti special campsites and some description of the merits of each site. As a beginning let me list the two we used.


    Kira Wira No 1 special campsite is in the central Western Corridor area, towards the western Ndabaka Gate. It is located a few hundred meters south of the Grumeti River and is a wonderful, very wild campsite with a large resident pride of lions when we were there. There was very little tourist traffic and one would expect the migratory wildebeest to be in that vicinity in about June/early July when crossings of the Grumeti River should take place. We camped at S 02 10,132 E 34 98,102 but suspect that normally one would be expected to move a couple of 100m further south into the treeline. Kira Wira No 2 special campsite is also near the river but further east. These special campsites have no facilities at all but it is their isolation and privacy that attract.


    We also recommend Ngare Nanyuki No 1 special campsite in the central area of Serengeti, north-east of busy Seronera and the Turner Springs and Sera special campsites (which also appeared good if not a little busy and usually booked out). No 2 also appeared good but I suspect is usually taken by mobile camp operators. This area has very high game densities even if the migration is elsewhere and is far enough from the concentration of lodges around Seronera to be quiet. The GPS points of where we camped were S 02 29,316 E 35 00,286. The small Ngare Nanyuki stream is nearby.


    We also stayed at the Lobo Hills public campsite further north, having been told that this campsite would be quiet and that the increased price for the various Lobo special campsites in the region would not be worth the extra money. The campsite was in fact quite busy and the ablution facilities were overwhelmed. Next time I would choose a private campsite, anything prefixed by Lobo. At that time (mid-July) the migration was beginning to cross the Mara River some distance further north (about a 3 hour drive) and we felt we should have booked special campsites in and around the Kogatende or Bolongonja River in the north-west nearer to the Mara River to better view the river crossings. I can find no information on the names of these campsites.
    Stanley Weakley.
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    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-6-SLOW-DONKEY
    OR
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Info on special campsites in Serengeti.

    My 2 cents worth on this topic:

    Sero 6 SCS:

    We asked about the directions to this special campsite at Seronera Information Center, but they have given us a totally wrong information. They have sent us back south on the main road past Seronera airstrip and shortly after the airstrip there indeed was a sign to the left that read "Sero 1-5". No mention on Sero 6 on that sign. When we arrived to one of those Sero 1-5 campsites, they have given us the right info about Sero 6: it is located around 15 km north of other Sero special campsites! We turn around, followed the track back to the main road, drove past Seronera center and took the road to the North toward Lobo. When you cross the Seronera River for the second time (there are two parallel bridges there - the old one which is not in use any more was replaced by another one right next to it; coordinates of the bridge: S2° 23' 06.1" E34° 49' 07.6"), after about a hundred meters there is a sign to the left which spells "Sero 6". You follow the dirt track for about 4 kilometers to the NW. Campsite itself is not marked, but we fund a nice clearing under one of the trees where it was evident that others were camping there before. We proclaimed that to be Sero 6 SCS. Coordinates of the camp: S2° 22' 05.8" E34° 48' 23.9"

    The campsite itself is nothing special in term of panoramic views or animal activity (at least not during our two nights stay there), but it is in the middle of wilderness. Of course, absolutely no facilities there.

    Moru 6 SCS:

    Again, we only new that this SCS should be somewhere around Moru Kopjes, but again, there were no signs pointing to this campsite on the road there. Only Moru 4 was signed, some 4 kilometers south of lake Magadi. We passed it and continued for another 6 kilometers to the "Michael Grzimek memorial ranger post" in Moru Kopjes. There, ranger gave as exact instructions how to reach our campsite. We needed to backtrack for about 1 km to where there is a left turn on the main road near a very large and tree. There is dirt track that deviates there from the main road to the right (direction NE). Coordinates of the turnoff: S2° 44' 55.2" E34° 46' 56.1".

    You follow that dirt track for about 500m to the campsite, which has a wonderfull view over the plains. Coordinates of the camp: S2° 44' 51.7" E34° 47' 08.3"
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    Default Re: Info on special campsites in Serengeti.

    Thanks Ortelius, I am hoping we can build up a decent collection of the Serengeti special campsites here with GPS co-ordinates, directions and descriptions.
    Stanley Weakley.
    Toyota Landcruiser 76SW 4,2L diesel.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-6-SLOW-DONKEY
    OR
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

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    Default Re: Info on special campsites in Serengeti.

    Great initiative. Thank you very much. Will be happy to contribute.

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    Default Re: Info on special campsites in Serengeti.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carol28 View Post
    Great initiative. Thank you very much. Will be happy to contribute.
    Please do so Carol.
    Stanley Weakley.
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    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-6-SLOW-DONKEY
    OR
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

  8. #6
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    Default Re: Info on special campsites in Serengeti.

    This is a great initiative indeed (as always Stan), although campsite locations seem to vary. However an approximate location is kept. For our visit in October 2016 we booked the special campsites in December 15/ January 16, and still, in the Mara, we could only get Woga 7 (towards Tabora gate) which we definitely skipped as the distance to the Mara was considerable. The nearest campsites were already taken by Tour operators (maybe never available for the self-driven). The company that has rented us the vehicle dealt with the bookings, and although they have tried hard we could not get closer.

    We managed to stay for JUST ONE night next to the Kogatende RP on a site arranged and indicated by the rangers (S1° 33.679' E34° 53.030'). The site itself is situated on the banks of the Mara on a clearing, with some shades provided by some mature Acacia spp. There were a few paths (50-100m away) that seemed to be used by hippos and some other wildlife. We had a fantastic and "sound full" night. In the early morning we spotted a few hippos returning to the river.
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    In the southern part of the park we stayed at Moru 4 - S2º 41´47.14'' E34º 46'29.39''- (turn off from lake Makadi Rd S2° 41.857' E34° 46.791'). The site itself has a very nice view over the plains, but the clearing is quite small with a few bushes around which can be quite stressful. From 4 AM onwards we were entertained by the sound of two lionesses (we found out later!) and we had to dismantle (very carefully!!!) camp at dawn without a clue of what was happening! As we moved out, there they were at the top of some boulders getting the early sunshine rays! The site is clearly marked on T4A.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    In the Western part of the park we stayed at Kirawira SC1 (S2° 10.082' E34° 08.091') which was nicely pointed out by a ranger. There were several places we could choose from, provided we used places that were already being used before (old fire pits etc.. - there were at least two or three). This SC is situated on a very large clearing with ample 360º vision.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    While planning the trip we found that the hand drawn GT Map has the most information on SC´s and is quite accurate. We backed crossed the information with T4A Maps and Google imagery. Vr´s maps are excellent, but unfortunately outdated.

    Hope this helps. Thanks everyone.

    AP
    Last edited by apfac; 2017/06/25 at 12:51 PM.

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  10. #7
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    Default Re: Info on special campsites in Serengeti.

    Quote Originally Posted by apfac View Post

    We managed to stay for JUST ONE night next to the Kogatende RP on a site arranged and indicated by the rangers (S1° 33.679' E34° 53.030'). The site itself is situated on the banks of the Mara on a clearing, with some shades provided by some mature Acacia spp. There were a few paths (50-100m away) that seemed to be used by hippos and some other wildlife. We had a fantastic and "sound full" night. In the early morning we spotted a few hippos returning to the river. AP
    Thanks so much apfac. To camp at Kogatende did you swop your nights at Woga 7 ? How else does one get permission from the rangers to use this informal campsite?

    I am hopeful that with patience we can slowly build up a Serengeti Special Campsite data base here.
    Stanley Weakley.
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    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-6-SLOW-DONKEY
    OR
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

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    Default Re: Info on special campsites in Serengeti.

    Hi Stan,

    It is always a pleasure to give it back.

    We did not intentionally swop the nights, but if we did not have those booked for Woga 7 they would probably not arrange us the site. We actually had an ignition problem with the car in the morning we left Lobo, and were afraid that might happen again, and thus would not like to be so far from help, just in case. So, as we moved up to the Mara, first thing was to go and sort it out with the rangers at Kogatende. Our second night we used it at Lobo Public Campsite. Actually there are some companies that use the Lobo PC as a base for day trips to the Mara, through the Bolongonja Road.

    AP

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    Default Re: Info on special campsites in Serengeti.

    Hi this is a great idea, will be quite helpful for future trips. Here is some photos of Lobo 1 special campsite. Sorry, I don't have the coords right now but it is really easy to find, about 3km from the Lobo public campsite - just follow the signs. The public campsite was quite crowded, small and no shade, so we opted for the special. Lions were roaring from three directions at night and hyenas came quite close to the tent. Bushbabys were seen jumping around in the trees and two black backed jackals came out in the evenings. Click image for larger version. 

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    Land Cruiser 79 DC 4.2
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    Default Re: Info on special campsites in Serengeti.

    Thanks, I remember seeing the signs and I guess one can ask for exact directions at the nearby Lobo ranger post. Camping all alone amongst the animals like that is a special privilege.
    Stanley Weakley.
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    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-6-SLOW-DONKEY
    OR
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

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    Default Re: Info on special campsites in Serengeti.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Weakley View Post
    Camping all alone amongst the animals like that is a special privilege.
    Very much indeed.

    AP

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    Default Re: Info on special campsites in Serengeti.

    We were able to get Lobo 1, Woga 7 and Kira Wira 2. Thank you very much for the info above. Will add what I can.

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    Default Re: Info on special campsites in Serengeti.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carol28 View Post
    We were able to get Lobo 1, Woga 7 and Kira Wira 2. Thank you very much for the info above. Will add what I can.

    Enjoy IT!

    AP

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    Default Re: Info on special campsites in Serengeti.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carol28 View Post
    We were able to get Lobo 1, Woga 7 and Kira Wira 2. Thank you very much for the info above. Will add what I can.

    Specially keen to know the whereabouts of Woga 7!

    Enjoy it !

    AP

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    Default Re: Info on special campsites in Serengeti.

    I wonder if, having seen the savannahs of East Africa, whether you will find the busy campsites in southern Africa quite the same. Yes, there are no ablutions or facilitites in the Serengeti - and the tracks are rough and remote - but it is as close as many get to "old Africa". Those of us who saw it in its untamed state are enormously privileged (as I now appreciate having thought it was just "normal" as a child).

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    Default Re: Info on special campsites in Serengeti.

    Yes, I often feel that I was born in Africa a century too early. In the isolated private camps in Serengeti one can indeed get away from the crowds and feel as if in a time warp.

    Next time you venture down south I will need to share some of the untouched places here.
    Stanley Weakley.
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    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-6-SLOW-DONKEY
    OR
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

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    Default Re: Info on special campsites in Serengeti.

    Absolutely, even after Tarangire and Manyara. Waking up to a flight show from many 100s of flamingos at Lakeshore campsite leaves one breathless.

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    Default Re: Info on special campsites in Serengeti.

    Subscribed

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    Default Re: Info on special campsites in Serengeti.

    Stan, once again thank you!

    Its looks like we will be starting our own "africa" thread.

    To others who post here and on other threads, please dont stop posting. It is truly both inspiring and motivating.

    The plans are in motion. 2020
    Last edited by Slowones; 2017/08/30 at 07:57 AM. Reason: spelling

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    Default Re: Info on special campsites in Serengeti.

    I think one of the reasons it is so difficult to find the special campsites is that they get changed every year or so. This is likely so as to let the African bush reclaim where people have been camping, and to stop habituation of the wildlife (as has become a huge problem in southern Africa).

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