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Review: Serengeti Serena Lodge

This place is just weird. Uber-high quality and posh, but weird.

The ‘bungalows’ for lack of a better word, are supposed to be, I think, like Disney-fied Masai huts, but the end result is you feel like you’re in homes for Hobbits from Lord of the Rings.

Despite this, there isn’t too much to complain about. The accomodations are very nice, the food (buffet style, all meals) is very good, they have evening entertainment, and it has a very nice view (if not the same feel as Tarangire Tented Camp). There were dik-dik all around the camp and apparently zebras and buffalo were known to come quite close, but I never saw signs of them. My night escort (even though there were lighted paths, they still had people escort you to your bunaglow at night) showed me a bright snake. I went to look near it and he got alarmed. Apparently it was very poisonous and I think he was regretting having shown it to me.

The evening entertainment, which unfortunately I never saw, included drummers on night, native dancers another, and acrobats the third. I’m told they were very good.

The buffet food was always good with a wide selection of choices.

The showers were hot and the rooms spotless. The bathrooms included a hair dryer (a luxury!) and little bottles of shampoo and stuff which are not a given here the way they are in the US. There was cleaning service both to clean your rooms and turn down your rooms at night. If I offer any complaints it is these: 1) the beds were rock hard, 2) the toilets only flush mysteriously sometime around the 5th to 8th attempt, if you say the correct prayer to the toilet gods in between, and 3) there is only one key to room and you need it to lock both from inside and out.

OK, #1, you just gotta deal with.
#2. Let me talk a bit about toilets. When I was in Australia last year, a country harangued by drought, they had a very smart invention that should be made mandatory in southern california, which is a 2-tier flush system. The user has a choice of using “1/2 water” or “full water” depending on one’s biological needs. Very clever. However, in Tanzania the way they apparently deal with water shortages is to just not have the toilet flush at all. Except sometimes. At random. I”m not kidding. We asked 2 housekeeping staff how to make the toilet flush and they looked perplexed. This was the case at BOTH the Serengeti Serena and the Ngorongoro Crater Serena, so either is normal here, or something Serena-specific.
#3. The one-key thing, locking inside and out more bothered me as both an inconvenience and a danger. If the two occupants of a room didn’t do everything together, as we didn’t, we were often left with one person taking the key, and having to leave the door unlocked so the other person could get in. Or, since teh door needed to be locked manually with the key on the inside, ir there were ever a fire, there’s a good risk you won’t get out so easily.

Now, that said, this is Africa, so one must be flexible with expectations, but that’s my review, nonetheless.

Oh, and Internet connection was $5 for 15 minutes. BIG boo on that front!

Scale of 1-10: 7.5

Serengeti Serena Lodge photos (again, no time for captions)

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