Nomad’s new Serengeti camp and our “Pride Rock”

19 August 2010

If you were to visit only one place in the Serengeti, it should be here.

This is no half-hearted boast; the iconic Kogakuria kopje in the northern Serengeti is the most commanding vantage point for miles around, with never-ending views beyond the Mara River valley across the whole Lamai area to the north.

It's the site where some of Nomads founders - Mark & Milly Houldsworth - ran their very first safari camp in 1993; where they sat amongst the rocks and planned their wedding and future adventures thereafter. As they headed off to the Selous to join Richard Bonham, another Nomad founder, Richard & Jules Knocker took on the running of this camp and went on to make it their own much-loved home.

Over many a star-lit evening these fine safari pioneers, soon to be joined by other like-minded souls, planned and dreamed as they sat on, and within, the rocks and thought 'if only'. During the years since, Nomad has been careful not to stray too far and has kept its feet planted firmly in the area with mobile and seasonal camps operating from this very spot to much acclaim.

Now many years later, with thanks to planetary alignment, or whatever you might want to call it, this most special place has been entrusted to Nomad with a long lease from Tanzania National Parks. So with a growing sense of 'returning home' we're developing, within these rocks, what will surely become one of the Serengeti's most iconic camps

Did we mention the views? And how you can spend an entire day sitting on a rock here, forgetting whatever it was that might have been important before you arrived. Because in this place there is only one thing that is relevent and that is that you're here.

There are just 12 tents in all, split between two entirely separate camps, the Main Camp and our smaller Private Camp. Each tent site has been carefully thought out. Firstly and most importantly, with the elements in mind, to take maximum advantage of the view, the sun, the wind and even the rain, welcome when it comes. This involved much sitting in quiet and careful contemplation, with binoculars, compass and sundowner in hand. But also, and perhaps of even greater importance, each site is designed such that to the casual eye you won't see that there is anything there.

The rooms - a clever blend of canvas, ferro and natural poles - have given our 'camp designers' much debate, thought, and - to be honest - a multitude of headaches. The brief was simple: to become the guardian of this kopje, we needed to preserve all the things about it that has made it iconic.

Nomad understands absolutely the responsibility that comes with this.

East Africa is full of creative and ingenious folk and it wasn't long before we'd harnessed the talents of the very best of them. We soon had them pouring over every inch of the kopje, scrutinizing each idea and debating every detail until they came up with a plan, and then a drawing and before we knew it an opening date of 27th June 2011!

Over the past weeks our little Cessna 182 has been flying north on a regular basis with fundis, carpenters, interior wizards and eco-warriors as Lamai Serengeti takes shape before our eyes. We have all become experts in sustainable timber, solar power & eco-flush loos, brainstormed clever plans for walkways across dizzy drops and learned how to appreciate that a rock planted right in the midst of where we were going to put a double bed can be a really good thing.

Recognising that most will want to do more than just sit and absorb the view, although that in itself can be enough, we'll be focusing on game drive adventures out into spectacular scenery, Mara river crossings from July through December, discovering an altogether quieter and less-crowded part of the Serengeti that comes replete with its own mass of year-round resident game from December through June.

Initially we'll be offering short Nomad guided walks within the immediate area, through nearby kopjes and along the myriad riverlines, before moving on to longer walking safaris with fly camping in the still pristine neighbouring wilderness areas - after all, who in Tanzania has more experience of this than all of us at Nomad?

In both camps you'll find a natural rock swimming pool to keep everyone cool on a steamy day, library and map room; fantasy bar area with cosy nooks hidden within the rocks; fabulous food; perfectly chilled wine; outdoor showers; roomy verandas with sofas to sink into - think Sand Rivers Selous meets the Serengeti, with a tweak of fresh genius amongst it, and you won't be far wrong.

As the perfect compliment to Lamai Serengeti, our small authentic tented Serengeti Safari Camp will continue to shadow the migrating wildebeest herds as they roam from one end of the Serengeti to the other and Nduara Loliondo will continue to rotate between the Ololosokwan & Piyaya village areas of Loliondo, offering unlimited walking, picnicking & night drives in the safe hands of its Maasai staff. Depending on season, interests and budget, there are numerous ways to combine any, either or all of these wonderfully diverse safari experiences.

For more information, contact us at [email protected]

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