I have just returned home from a “mobile” tented camp safari in Tanzania. This type of safari is unique in that the safari company hauls all of the camping gear, including tents, to the campsites at the national parks and game reserves listed on your desert safari deals itinerary. By the time you arrive, everything is set up and the camp looks like it has been there forever! The tents, each with enough space between them to be private, are spread around a large mess tent and a fire pit for evening campfires. The staff and cooking tents are in the back of the campsite.

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Most tented camps in Africa are permanent. Their tents, or “permatents” as they are sometimes called, are placed over slabs of concrete or wood, and usually have a deck out front. They also have built-in showers, toilets, and sinks. A mobile tented camp, however, is constructed on little plots of land, temporarily, at a campsite selected by the safari company. In our case, Kibo Guides. The big difference between mobile tents and permanent tents is the shower setup. The showers in permanent tents have hot and cold running water and are usually surrounded by tile. The showers in mobile tents (bucket showers) have canvas walls and an overhead bucket or bag on top. A camp staff member heats the water outside, pours it into the container above your shower, and then lets you know when you can pull the chord. At the beginning of our camp experience, I needed two buckets of water. It took more time than I thought to get all the soap off. By the time our safari ended, I had it down to one bucket. Also standard in most mobile tents are portable flush toilets, which look like regular toilets. We also had a sink with a mirror in the bathroom area, real beds with linen sheets and warm blankets, colorful rugs, and a desk with a mirror and a chair. It was great, after a long day, to fall asleep in our comfortable beds with the sounds of Africa all around us.

Tanzania is one of East Africa’s top travel destinations. It is also the largest country in East Africa. What sets Tanzania apart, however, is that it has some of the largest wildlife herds anywhere in Africa. The annual “Great Migration” of wildebeest and other grazing herbivores is one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth. From the breathtaking beauty of Ngorongoro Crater and Mt. Kilimanjaro, to the wild savannahs of the Serengeti, Tanzania’s beauty is unparalleled. I was happy to be visiting this incredible country again. My group consisted of 11 people who had never been to Africa. Most had never stayed in tents before. One day, while at our campsite in the Serengeti, a small herd of zebra ran through our camp while we were having lunch!

My safari group arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, the day before we were scheduled to drive to Tanzania. I had arrived in Kenya a few days earlier. The plan was to spend our first night in Nairobi and then leave for Tanzania the following morning. After a restful night and a delicious breakfast, we boarded our 4 x 4 safari vehicles and began our drive to the East African country of Tanzania. Our first safari destination was Kambi ya Tembo, a permanent tented camp located in Sinya, a private concession of more than 600 sq. km. bordering Kenya at Amboseli National Park. Sinya is one of the few areas in Africa where huge elephant bulls, more than 50 years old, are regularly seen. Another great feature of Sinya is that approximately 2,000 Maasai live in the area. It is the Maasai people, more than any other tribe, who have become the definitive symbol of “tribal” East Africa. The camp itself has incredible views of Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru. After we arrived and had lunch, we visited a Massai school house and village, and then took a long game drive back to camp. Right before dusk, we took a bush walk to a mountain peak close to camp that had incredible views of the valley below. And when it came time for sundowners, drinks served when the sun sets, the local Maasai danced for us as we sat around the campfire. It was a day we will never forget!

The next morning we headed to Tarangire National Park. This park is famous for its large population of elephants, baobab trees, and tree-climbing lions. As we headed to our first ready-made campsite, we passed zebra, wildebeest, and buffalo. By lunchtime, we were at our camp, where we would be spending the next two nights. Two camp staff members greeted us with cold fruit drinks. The camp manager took us to our designated tents. After unpacking and getting used to our new surroundings, we all gathered in the mess tent for homemade spaghetti and meatballs, salad, and garlic bread. What a surprise! Here we were, in the middle of the African bush, and we were served a hot, delicious lunch! After a short rest, we got ready for the evening game drive. What I remember most about that day was the lioness we saw sitting on top of a large termite mound. The day had begun to cool and dusk was approaching. The silhouette of the lion against the pink and crimson sky was stunning. What a lovely way to begin our stay in Tarangire!