Oliver’s Camp – The more things change the more they stay the same
By Sarah Hermitage
Oliver’s Camp is a truly delightful tented camp situated in a tranquil and remote area of the Tarangeri National Park’s unspoilt Wilderness Zone in Northern Tanzania. To those in search of a real African adventure, Oliver’s Camp will not disappoint in providing a unique and truly memorable experience.
The Camp was incepted with the vision of Paul Oliver who, in 1985, fell in love with this remote and unspoilt area of Tanzania. Paul had a desire to help stop the terrible Elephant poaching taking place at this time and improve the lives of those living in the local community. Through his vision, compassion, and commitment to conservation, Oliver’s Camp developed into a unique combination of top end tourism carefully combined with the structures of conservation and the needs of the communities outside of the National Park. Paul’s vision was cherished and carried forward by the existing owners Asilia Africa who took over the camp in 2004. Asilia are a responsible eco-tourism company operating on a carbon-neutral basis delivering inspiration Safari’s in some of the world’s most beautiful natural areas. http://www.asiliaafrica.com/
Oliver’s Camp offers the discerning traveller an African experience increasingly difficult to find in today’s climate of frenetic tourism adopted by many tour operators in the national parks of east Africa. It is a breath of fresh air offering its guests a holistic bush experience consisting of a sensitive contact with the wildlife of the area and a knowledgeable introduction to the ethics of conservation in the twenty first century.
The accommodation consists of ten, spacious, luxury tented units discreetly situated to afford clients optimum privacy and views of the surrounding grasslands. Each tent has a double or twin beds, hanging racks for clothes and a writing desk for those afternoon postcards! A delightful ‘al fresco’ en suite bathroom offers hot showers and fresh towels at any time of the day on request. Furnished with solid, classic wooden furniture, the tents offer a high level of comfort on a par with most high end tented camps in east Africa and are very much in keeping with the aesthetics of the area.
The tents are situated very much `in the bush’ and animals do wander through the camp from time to time. Askaris are discreetly on hand at all times of the day and night to escort clients to and from their tents should they wish adding a comforting dimension to camp client contact.
Making you feel comfortable is what Olivers Camp is all about. The staff have years of experience and live in Camp. They are experienced, efficient, accommodating and friendly. Importantly, they all have an empathy with and knowledge of the environmental importance of the National Park and are delighted to share their specialist knowledge with guests. The food is varied and excellent in presentation and quality. Meals are enjoyed in a covered (sometimes open) dining area where the dress code is casual. Evening aperitifs are enjoyed around a splendid campfire where guests exchange their stories of the day and enjoy the colours of each sunset with the rising of the evening star.
Sited on slightly raised ground the camp affords delightful views of the surrounding bush and all that it contains. From any part of the camp the animals of each season can be observed as they wander in an out of view. Kongoni heads are commonly seen bobbing up and down in the tall spring grasses and the elegant shapes of strolling Giraffe are a pleasure to watch as they feed on the tips of the abundant African Acacia tress. Ostrich are often seen playing in the red soils and Grants and Thompsons Gazelle graze peacefully from dawn until dusk.
Game can be viewed on foot or from an open vehicle depending on your preference and an experienced guide leads each walking safari together with an armed Park Ranger. Walking Safaris can be tailored to suit individual preferences and can be from one to five days in duration. The longer Safaris are generally led through animal migration routes and accommodation is provided by way of fly camps. Whilst fly camping by necessity offer less sophisticated accommodation than the main camp, standards of comfort and cleanliness are not compromised and a shower at the end of the day is always available. Fly camping camp is exclusive to a private group of guests and is very much a tailor made experience. Food remains of excellent quality; breakfast is fresh fruit, juice, cereal, eggs, bacon and sausage, lunch a light buffet and dinner a substantial meal cooked on an open fire. Fly camping is a wonderful experience bringing you even closer to the real thing, Africa.
Clients can experience the thrill of night time game viewing with the help of the most up to date commercially available night vision equipment. Conventional spotlights are used with red filter technology to provide the most sensitive way to observe nocturnal animals without disturbance. At the time of writing no other east African camp offers this equipment which is presently being trialled for general use at Oliver’s Camp. Night viewing gives the opportunity to view wildlife not normally active during daytime hours and can be a mesmerizing experience. Carried out responsibly, it has no negative impact on the animals or the environment.
There are exciting and unusual species of game in the area and the remoteness of the camp provides good opportunities to view them with more privacy than in other areas of the park where the animals are becoming increasingly habituated by tourist pressure. Together with the resident Lion, leopard and Cheetah that frequent the ridges and plains beyond the camp in the early mornings, there are species such as Fringe Eared Orix, African Wild Cat and Civet Cat to search for in the cooler hours of the afternoon sun. Elephant are plentiful at all times of the year and, as a result of less hunting pressure are a common sight feeding peacefully together with large herds of Cape Buffalo in the Silale and Lormakau Swamps a few minutes drive from the camp.
The Camp is open from June through to March. Some game, though abundant, may be seasonal so depending on your particular game viewing passions it is advisable to check the timing of your visit with the Camp before booking. Generally high concentrations of game can be viewed from July through to October but for the remaining months, migratory animals move into the Rift Valley and the grazing lands of the Masai Steppe. This however is no reason not to visit the Camp given the resident populations of Elephant, Lion, Leopard and Buffalo and the charms of this camp in a very special and unique part of Africa.
All in all, Oliver’s Camp offers its clients the privilege of viewing the wildlife of Africa in a calm and respectful manner perhaps more mindful of the needs of the animals than of the clients. This is a truly rare achievement given the seemingly insatiable desire of many modern tourists to view the Big Five and the willingness of tour operators to oblige by endlessly streaming their clients through the surrounding areas of the Serengeti National Park and Ngorogoro Crater.
If you think you’ve done it all before, think again! Oliver’s Camp is guaranteed to add an unforgettable experience to your lifetime portfolio of memories. If you visit the camp with an open mind you will be rewarded with a vision of hope for the future of African wildlife and the means by which its protection can be sustained.
Some claim Oliver’s Camp is the best bush camp in east Africa. Well we reserve judgment on that one but, we at the The London Evening Post say, you’d have to go a long way to beat it!
Sarah Hermitage is a lawyer and anti corruption activist living in the UK and one of the British investors in the Silverdale farm case Tanzania. Sarah is a correspondent for the London Evening Post. Twitter contact @chomachomp
London Evening Post
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