WOW ... or as many of my American friends would say, AWESOME ...
I flew from Arusha's municipal airport with Auric Air to the Grumeti airstrip where a Serena 4x4 custom build safari vehicle picked me up. While the Grumeti River was swollen the previous day was a crossing possible when I arrived but river levels fluctuated wildly during my three day stay at Kirawira Serena.
As we got nearer to the camp did the driver point out the hill on which the camp is located and thanks to the binoculars available in the vehicle (besides a bird and game book selection) was it possible to make out the tents, which were spread under tall shade trees around that part of the hill which allows for views over the savannah below. The camp is well concealed from the distance and blends in perfectly into the surroundings.
When we reached the parking were staff immediately at hand to take care of luggage and my carryall, leaving me to stroll alongside the guide towards the reception. A large lounge under canvas awaited me, as did iced towels, a cool drink and my registration form, completed by the camp reception apart from my signature. My request for a cup of tea resulted in a pot of tea being served in the space of a few minutes, probably as long as it took to brew it and put it on a tray.
After a short brief, quintessential when coming to such remote locations with wild game close up, was I shown to my tent, which in fact was a suite under canvas. I first took in the view over the plains below and imagined what it must be like when the great migration comes through the Grumeti Sector of the Serengeti in their constant search for pastures. Make no mistake, I saw plenty of game while at Kirawira, predators and prey alike, elephants, buffalo, giraffes and myriads of birds including several flocks of open billed storks numbering in their hundreds each.
The tent was stylishly furnished and the bathroom topped it all with its copper sinks, gold plated taps, a wide shower cabin with an extra large shower head, hot water aplenty and the pressure from the taps like in a city hotel. Fluffy towels and bathrobes completed the picture.
Let me now pay tribute to the chefs at Kirawira. While one night I and other guests enjoyed a BBQ at the pool side, the distant horizon constantly illuminated by lightning, that was the only occasion food was not served by the stewards as per one's order though they did take the loaded dinner plates and set it on the tables.
It was a la carte for breakfast and a table d'hote menu for lunch and dinner with several choices of starters, main courses and desserts. I made it a point to order my meals in advance, like I made my choice of lunch at the end of breakfast and my choice of dinner at the end of my lunch before agreeing on a time with the chefs when I would come to eat.
Whenever I entered the restaurant tent and sat down at my table, was my selection of dishes promptly served by immaculately dressed waiting staff, wearing white gloves like it was in the olden days. The food was delicious, portions large enough to avoid a second helping and the food presentation on the plates was truly 5 star. An extensive wine list is available as is a wide range of premium spirits, though after having a look at it all I settled for my usual water and ended the meal with a pot of tea.
The bread was freshly baked and still hot when served, the soups on one occasion made me ask for a second, not so full bowl, and both main courses and desserts were fit to be served in a top city restaurant.
While Kirawira's best season is when the huge herds of wildebeest and zebras cross the plains below the hill, did I find plenty of game during my game drives while enjoying the sights on my own, not another car in sight for most of the time.
It is possible to leave the park for a day tour to Lake Victoria at the town of Lamadi and take a boat excursion, something I did out of interest to see what is happening outside the park boundaries.
I found a small library of nature books and guide books at the lounge, which was comfortable with sofa and easy chair sets and a never ending supply of freshly brewed tea.
I was not keen to leave but had to in the end, to meet the park warden at Seronera for an interview and then reach my next destination in the Serengeti, due to be reviewed next.
For consistent quality, of food, service and accommodation, Serena it is and with three properties in the Serengeti, they cover this superb park like no other hotel group!