Great Migration Without Crowds? That’s the Promise of This Refurbished Safari Camp in Tanzania

African design, sustainable operations, and front-row seats to the Great Migration give Singita Mara River Tented Camp the edge in Tanzania’s Lamai Wedge.

Accommodations at Singita Mara River Tented Camp in Tanzania feature canvas walls and large king-size beds with gauze netting.

Accommodations at Singita Mara River Tented Camp in Tanzania

Courtesy of Singita Mara River Tented Camp


The vibe: An intimate Serengeti experience under canvas—minus the crowds

Location: Serengeti National Park, Tanzania | View on Google Maps

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The AFAR take

In Tanzania, Singita is best known for its six sustainably run luxury camps, lodges, and villas in the 350,000-acre Grumeti Reserve, adjacent to the sprawling Serengeti National Park. The privately run reserve protects a key wildlife corridor for the annual migration and provides a buffer between the western reaches of the national park and the communities living on the periphery. A short bush flight away in the northernmost part of Serengeti National Park lies the six-tent Singita Mara River Tented Camp, in the 98,000-acre, wildlife-rich Lamai Wedge, which sits next to the Mara River.

A major refurbishment has elevated the camp’s already impressive eco-credentials (more on those later) to ensure it treads as lightly as possible on the land. Sustainability informs the camp’s architecture and design, which incorporates repurposed wood and other materials from the original footprint and showcases the creativity of more than 20 African designers and makers. Expect interiors in organic shapes and earthy tones with refreshing pops of primary colors inspired by local Maasai culture. Intricately woven and beaded wall hangings by Sidai Designs, an Arusha, Tanzania–based female-empowerment project, riff beautifully on the traditional craft of decorative Maasai beading.

The dinner table at Singita Mara River Tented Camp is set on a wooden platform outdoors and has wooden chairs.

Setting the dinner table at Singita Mara River Tented Camp in Tanzania

Courtesy of Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Who’s it for?

Singita Mara River Tented Camp is ideal for those yearning to reconnect with nature by sleeping in a remote, unfenced camp on the Mara River, with only a wisp of canvas separating them from the savanna. Wholeness, rather than wellness, is Singita’s intention for all guests. Between action-packed game drives and long, leisurely meals, in-tent massages and guided yoga and meditation sessions shape your days as much as wine tastings from the well-stocked cellar or a nightcap around the fire with newfound friends. During the annual migration season for the area’s animals, when mobile tented camps following the big herds pop up all over the Serengeti National Park, intrepid travelers can escape the crowds but remain in the thick of the action.

Honeymooners will love the privacy of these tents with their outdoor bathtubs and showers. Parents traveling with older children (no children under the age of 10 are permitted, for safety reasons) are accommodated in double-family tents, positioned at the heart of the camp. Each family suite consists of two tents separated by an outdoor deck overlooking the river. The intimacy of this six-tent camp makes it ideal to book for exclusive use. Note that Singita Mara River Tented Camp closes for the rainy season between mid-January and mid-May.

The location

The Lamai Wedge is a prime wildlife viewing spot on the Mara River. The triangle-shaped area occupies the northernmost part of the Serengeti National Park and is formed by a bend in the river and the unfenced border with Kenya’s Maasai Mara. Enormous herds of wildebeest, zebra, eland, topi, and Thompson’s gazelle are typical sights throughout the year. I’m a seasoned safari goer from South Africa, and the thrill of seeing a 200-plus eland herd close to camp here is among my most memorable wildlife encounters.

The well-documented river crossings of wildebeest and other ungulates usually occur in the northern Serengeti between July and October, part of a perpetual cycle of movement around the Serengeti in Tanzania and in the Maasai Mara in Kenya. The impetus is always the animals’ continual search for fresh grasses for grazing, which is dictated by the rain.

The Lamai Wedge is a wildlife-rich area in the northern reaches of Serengeti National Park. Left: Wildebeest next to a cheetah. Right: An outdoor bathtub in one of the six tented accommodations.

The Lamai Wedge is a wildlife-rich area in the northern reaches of Serengeti National Park.

Courtesy of Singita Mara River Tented Camp

The proximity between the camp and the Mara River means easy access to those famed crossings at the height of the migration season, a first-in, last-out advantage, as there are few permanent camps on the Lamai side of the river. Away from the river, the Lamai is characterized by seemingly endless landscapes of savanna, fig tree groves, and granite hills known as koppies.

The camp sits above what is known as crossing point zero, one of several crossing points along the Mara River established by generations of migrating wildebeest instinctively sniffing out fresh grazing. During peak migration season, be prepared for brutal predator action as crocs and lions ambush their prey.

Singita Mara River Tented Camp is ideal for those yearning to reconnect with nature by sleeping in a remote, unfenced camp on the Mara River, with only a wisp of canvas separating them from the savanna.

The rooms

Six guest tents extend outdoors onto shaded decks with river views, spread out with plenty of privacy on either side of the main area’s lounge, dining room, library, self-service deli bar, fire pit, and pool deck. Rooms don’t have AC, but on hotter days, they’re cooled by breezes drifting up from the river as well as large fans inside the tents. Inside, a king-size bed is festooned with designer Coral Stephens’ handmade textiles and draped in billowing mosquito netting.

From the en suite bathroom, tent flaps unzip to reveal an outdoor shower and bathtub, a decadent touch in such a remote location. Every square inch of the interiors has been cleverly utilized with practical design solutions like mobile, modular wardrobes and hanging storage pockets. You’ll find everything you didn’t even know you needed at your fingertips: There is even a portable minibar and a cooler box stocked with local craft beers, wine, mixers, and homemade cordials for making your own cocktails.

Fresh leafy salads at Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Much of the produce for meals at Singita Mara River Tented Camp is sourced from nearby farms.

Courtesy of Singita Mara River Tented Camp

The food and drink

The food is unfussy, fresh, and in tune with the seasons. As many seasonal ingredients as possible are bought locally to reduce food miles and support area producers. The company provides seed funding for small-scale organic farming businesses on the outskirts of the national park, and camp kitchens purchase fruit and vegetables, grass-fed meat, eggs, and honey from them. Tropical fruits, homemade pastries, and eggs fried in spicy oil make for hearty breakfasts, while lunches are often small plates designed to share, or a chilled soup followed by a selection of crunchy salads. The best dinner is always the spicy Swahili feast drawing on African, Indian, and Arab influences: think beef skewers, slow-cooked beans, salads, and ugali, a savory sorghum porridge.

Staff and service

The entire team is Tanzanian, and almost all the staff have worked at the camp since it originally opened in 2012. Team members are well versed in the smooth running of a remote camp yet still a little shy to speak to guests—all the more reason to memorize a few Swahili words and phrases to encourage greater interaction.

Singita Mara River Tented Camp features large outdoor decks ideal for wildlife viewing.

A tent deck at Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Courtesy of Singita Mara River Tented Camp


While the tents are all on one level, the split-level design in the main areas and the exertion of getting in and out of charter flights and on and off safari vehicles make this camp more difficult to visit for those with mobility challenges.

Going above and beyond

The camp has been redesigned for minimal energy consumption and the lightest possible environmental impact. Sustainable, zero-carbon, zero-waste solutions abound, revealing Singita’s responsible design and camp operations.

Solar power runs everything from energy-saving refrigerators and freezers free of chlorofluorocarbons to the swimming pool pump and energy-efficient fans in the tents. Solar energy is used to pump a 330-foot-deep borehole for clean, pH-balanced water drawn for drinking (available still or sparkling and served in recycled glass bottles). Guests pay a carbon emission offset levy of $10 per metric tonne to help fund verified credits from Carbon Tanzania’s Yaeda Valley Forest project, which allows a traditional community to earn income from the protection of its forests. From $2,045 per person per night, inclusive of accommodation, all meals and beverages, and twice-daily game drives

Jane Broughton is a freelance travel writer, contributing to print media and online publications in South Africa and the USA. Most of her assignments involve destinations in southern Africa, East Africa, and Indian Ocean islands. But she enjoys exploring urban landscapes, especially cities known for their food culture.
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