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Serengeti: Klein's Camp Review

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Website www.ccafrica.com/destinations/tanzania/kleins)

Villas: The villas were lovely, with a large deck overlooking the private concession. There was a small table and two chairs for viewing. Inside, there was a 4-poster bed with mosquito netting (for effect), the first bureau (chest of drawers) that we saw on our trip, two side chairs (one with a little table next to it and an art box with pencils, pastels, and watercolors). There were 3 mason jars filled with snacks (e.g., nuts, candy), as well as the sherry/brandy bottle and two glasses. There was an electronic safe, and the rooms could also be locked with a key. Umbrellas were provided, as were robes but NO slippers (we had gotten used to them). We were provided with bug spray here, but didn’t need it. We had room number 8, which was midway between the last room and the dining area (rooms 4 and 3 would be the closest, with 10 the farthest). Massages are available in your room ($40 for a 1/2 hour, or $60 for an hour).

Electricity and Water: The power turned off from 1 hour after the last guest went to bed (probably around 11:00 pm) until 4:00 am. This was the longest time without power, but two battery-operated lanterns were provided, and my Petzl headlamp again came in handy. There is NOT 24-hour hot water here. The water is heated using a wood fire beneath a metal reservoir twice daily: once in the early morning before your game drive, and again in the afternoon before your game drive. You could ask for additional heating, which took about 15 minutes. Still, if that’s “roughing it”, then count me in!

Laundry: Laundry is included, but everything is hand-washed and line dried, so allow 24-hours for turnaround.

Common Areas: The lobby/lounge/bar area was in a separate rondaval (open on the sides) with an awesome view over the concession. There are many comfy chairs and couches to spend some time, and there’s a beautiful fireplace in the center. There’s a nice, formal bar here for drinks. The dining room is in a separate rondaval (open sides, but flaps are rolled down at night) that has a fire pit type thing in the center at dinner for warmth. The pool is quite nice, but we didn’t have time to use it (we had the least amount of free time at Klein’s, where we would have valued it the most). There is a curio shop, and we also heard of a TV lounge, though whether that was for staff or guests, we do not know (but it was located within the guest area, not the staff area).

Game Drives: Because it is located on a private concession, Klein’s Camp offers night drives, which is an important reason to stay here. We departed around 4:30 and returned about 9:15, so you start off in daylight but end in complete darkness. It’s a good contrast to daytime drives, so definitely participate if you can. The morning drives were about 7:30 to 1:30, followed by that 2-hour lunch, a short break to freshen up, and then the night drive. In addition to the private concession (where they can drive off-road), you can also visit the Serengeti (driving on-road, except in rare circumstances when large cats are spotted). A tracker/spotter can be used in the private concession, but not in the Serengeti (be sure to take some pictures of yourselves in the spotter’s chair attached to the hood of the vehicle). The night drives and the spotter add a different element than other camps. Roads in the Serengeti are fairly good, but the access road to Klein’s is very bumpy.

Food: We liked the food here, for it seemed a bit lighter than at the other camps--there were only 3 courses instead of 4 (the soup course (again, no repeats), the entree, and the dessert, accompanied by drinks and bread. Breakfast was a cold buffet (cereal, juice, meats/cheeses, pastry), followed by a hot entree, (if desired). There is an afternoon tea, which consisted of iced coffee and iced tea and some type of loaf bread--just enough to take the edge off, but not a formal British tea as I had envisioned. The usual linens, china, crystal, and silver flatware were used to complete the picture.

Staff: Sombe was our spotter. He’s a Masaai with those earlobes that you read about. Rabin was our driver/guide--he was very friendly and good at his job, even finding us a cheetah! I don’t know if he or we were more excited by his find! I can’t recall our butlers name, which is unfortunate because he did a great job, particularly in serving at our private sundowner and then making it back to camp in time to serve our dinner. The relief managers, Sarah and Mike, really make the guests feel welcome (they are relieving Alistair and his wife Petro, who is pregnant and will be going back to South Africa to have the baby).

Surprises at Klein’s Camp: DON’T READ ANY FARTHER IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SPOIL THE SURPRISES!
Welcome greeting: When you arrive at the top of the bumpy hill to finally reach Klein’s Camp (about 40 minutes from the airport), the entire staff is waiting for you at the top and waving a greeting. They also did this when we making our final departure. A really nice touch!

Special Events: If you are celebrating a special event (I was celebrating the last birthday of my 30s), the staff will set up a private sundowner for you (or I guess for your group if you have another couple or two on your afternoon game drive). We decided to go to the Masaai village on our last night (the night of my birthday), and on our return, we pulled off road to allegedly look for animals, when we entered a clearing where a little bonfire was built, surrounded by some chairs as well as that futon couch that is shown in the brochures, and lit by lanterns. There was a table set up with drinks (including champagne) and snacks (fruit kabobs and roasted cashews). We just chilled out for a while and watched the sun set. This was a really special ending to my day. There were about four staff members there to serve just my husband and I! Even our butler was there, and somehow, he still managed to make it back to camp on time (it had to have been an hour drive) to serve us dinner. Almost like being in two places at once.

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