Picture this: After a long journey, you’ve arrived at your first camp deep in the savanna. You toss your bag in your tent and step outside when you notice your safari guide beckoning your group beyond the campfire–and out into the wild.
“Out there?” you think. You follow anyway, and soon you discover why you’ve come. Hundreds of giraffes graze across acacia-studded plains. The earth smells like a smoky bonfire. A symphony of birdsong welcomes you into the bush. After months and months of anticipation, finally, you’re on safari!
If the Serengeti and Ngorongoro are the headliners of your vacation, then this spot, the Eastern Serengeti Nature Refuge, is the opening act. Some of Tanzania’s most restricted activities–including walking safaris and night wildlife drives–are available here year-round. It’s an awesome inauguration to your adventure!
Here are 5 reasons your safari should begin in the Eastern Serengeti.
1. Walking Safaris
In the Eastern Serengeti, Thomson guests take the road less traveled…literally! Walking safaris are heavily restricted in Tanzania’s national parks, and the Eastern Serengeti is one of the only places where you can feel the grass beneath your feet as you spot giraffes, zebras and 550+ bird species.
Starting your safari here sets the perfect tone for things to come. For the rest of your trip, you’ll observe nature from a vehicle, but here, you’re part of it. You’ll catch the curious gaze of zebras and wildebeest as they embrace you as part of their world.
Going on a walking safari is like stepping back in time and exploring the planet just like our ancestors did.
2. The Waterhole
The Eastern Serengeti waterhole is no ordinary oasis. It’s a bustling hotspot where wildlife congregates in impressive numbers. It’s a great place to get acquainted with some of the stars of safari: giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, impalas, hartebeests, elands, Grant’s gazelles, bat-eared foxes, jackals and warthogs, plus plenty of feathered friends, too.
You could be sitting at your tent’s private veranda when a mongoose pops by for a quick sip. Or maybe you’ll unwind in the lounge tent when a family of dik-diks decide to join the party.
If we had to water it down, we would say the waterhole is your front-row seat to nature’s coolest hangout!
3. Exclusive Service
Your arrival at Thomson’s Nyumba camp, whether it’s in the Eastern Serengeti, Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro or Tarangire, is scored by the staff’s warm greeting of “Jambo, jambooooo!” (Hello, hellooooo!). From the very first moment, they’re completely committed to making sure you get the full VIP treatment. Exceptional meals and speedy service are par for the course, and they’re always quick with a joke or conversation if you want to learn more about life in Tanzania.
Their brimming hearts and all-around enthusiasm are two big reasons why camp life in the Eastern Serengeti is just so memorable. You don’t have to take our word for it. Six-time Thomson guest Rick Genter put it best:
“The Thomson staff’s attention to detail and quality have earned our loyalty for life.”
Or take it from first-time safarigoer Brian Kindelberger:
“Our Nyumba was a little jewel in the middle of the Serengeti. The staff was fantastic, the tent was cozy and clean, and best of all, we heard wildlife right outside of camp when we went to bed.”
Or solo female traveler, Janine Young:
“The Eastern Serengeti Nyumba was my favorite! =) Obsessed with all the giraffes there!”
4. Night Wildlife Drives
When dinner’s done and the night sky shines, the real party begins–at least for jackals, porcupines and other crepuscular critters!
You can join the fun on a night wildlife drive, an extremely rare experience that, like walking safaris, is heavily restricted in Tanzania’s national parks.
Thomson guests have trailed bat-eared foxes hunting for insects in the bush. Others have seen aardvarks sticking their long tongues into termite mounds to feed on the colonies within. We’ve even heard of guests spotting bush babies leaping between acacia branches after sunset, hunting for insects and nectar!
Night wildlife drives are rare and rewarding–they unlock a whole new half of sightings that most travelers simply can’t access.
5. Meaningful Cultural Interactions
Just a stone’s throw from the refuge is a real Maasai community (not a tourist boma) where the residents are eager to show you their home. Your cultural exchange includes a visit to the colorful market run by the Enjipai Women’s Group and some downtime with a storyteller who will recount generations-old folktales.
This experience leaves a lasting, positive impact on everyone, thanks to Thomson’s sister nonprofit, Focus on Tanzanian Communities (FOTZC). When you visit Maasai communities in the Eastern Serengeti, you’re directly supporting FOTZC-backed community initiatives for clean water, schools, medicine and women’s empowerment.
Your adventure in the Eastern Serengeti makes you more than just a visitor. You’re a catalyst for positive change in communities that need it.