Turner's Spring Summary
Turner's Spring is our pick for the best dry season camping destination in the Serengeti National Park. This recommendation is not based upon Turner's spectacular natural setting. There are no views from this private campsite as it is situated in a heavily wooded area of acacia trees. Rather, Turner's Spring is at the top of our list because of the abundance of resident wildlife including large prides of lions, which regularly can be seen and heard from the campsite. Camping at Turner's Spring will provide for the ultimate action packed adventure. Expect to fall asleep to the sounds of lions roaring, hyenas screeching and hippos grunting. This is certainly not the campsite location for the faint of heart but will appeal greatly for those seeking a memorable night camping in 'the bush'.
The location of Turner's Spring is wonderfully remote and isolated from the many visitors that flock to the Central Serengeti. The area is home to two of the Serengeti's finest dry season campsites, which are situated on either side of a massive and heavily vegetated kopje. Wildlife viewing for various species of animals is great around the Turner's area but it's the resident lion prides that steal the show. With cat-like disdain, these golden felines rule the entire surrounding area with regal confidence. There are three resident lion prides within a 10-mile radius, and each of these prides is studied by the Serengeti Lion Project. These notorious lions are frequently encountered by enthralled visitors during the day and their spine-tingling roars are regularly heard during the night.
Turner's Spring is indeed the 'park place' of lion territories in the Serengeti due to the permanent sources of water and high biomass of resident prey. Be ready for a thrill when camping at Turner's Spring because you will certainly hear their powerful roars at night, especially during the dry season when resident prey densities are at their highest. Craig Packer, director of the Serengeti Lion Project, writes on the subject of lions,
"Lions roar most during seasons of plentiful prey, when nomad lions or neighbors might be tempted to pilfer from their larder. Roaring tells the strangers how many lions occupy a given territory and where they are at the moment. Roaring also tells companions what is happening within the pride. Each sex is fiercely territorial...Males are on the constant lookout to keep other males away from "their" pride, and females are intolerant of any strange female that wanders into their territory."
A Private Luxury Camp at Turner's Spring is only recommended during the dry season (July to November). The late dry season months of August, September and October are the very best time to camp at Turners as the springs increasingly becomes a magnet for wildlife. During the green season, Turner's Spring is not recommended as wildlife will be less concentrated in the area and the other campsites in the Serengeti are recommended for your Private Luxury Camp.
Turner's Spring is located at the heart of the Central Serengeti in a thicket of bushes and acacia trees. The springs themselves are difficult to see but are a magnet for wildlife during the dry season including lion, giraffe, buffalo, leopard, impala and hyena. Turner's Spring is named after Myles Turner, who was chief game warden of the Serengeti National Park from 1956 to 1972. Myles Turner took on his post just after the inception of the park. These early years were among the darkest and most uncertain days in the Serengeti's history. Poaching was widespread, unchecked and threatened the survival of the entire ecosystem. Due to Myles Turner's untiring and dedicated conservation and anti-poaching efforts, the great herds of Africa's finest wildlife sanctuary still roam free today. Norman Myers eloquently writes, "Myles Turner epitomized the Serengeti. Others visited it, he was part of it; others observed it, he knew it; others analyzed it, he comprehended it; others enjoyed it, he loved it."
The game track into Turner's Spring is approximately 5-miles long and heads directly east from Seronera. The Turner's game track offers superb wildlife viewing opportunities as it cuts across thick acacia woodlands punctuated with small open areas where many animals congregate. This is a great area to see large groups of giraffes and buffalo. The giraffe in this area are especially habituated to vehicles and will often come to within a few feet of your vehicle. The game track also offers excellent leopard viewing as these elusive cats are often seen discretely peering from the acacia trees that line the road, given away by the white tip of their flicking tail that hangs just a little too low. One time, during a single game drive into Turner's Spring, three separate leopards were spotted only a few feet from the road!
Lions are quite social in nature - hunting, eating, sleeping, and even playing together in tightly knit communities. The lionesses form strong bonds within a pride, and work together as a team to rear their cubs. Pride territories are fiercely guarded by whichever male lions are the most confident and physically powerful. Displaying the noble air of royalty one minute and the playfulness of a kitten the next, these big cats are quite entertaining to watch as they interact.
Male and female lions roar similarly except that the calls of the male are somewhat deeper in tone. A roar can be detected from as far as 5-miles away. Roaring by one group member often stimulates others to join, and the ensuing concert is surely one of the most powerful and impressive animal sounds in nature. George Schaller notes during his four-year study in the Serengeti,
"Lions call mostly at night and generally roars are rare before 5.00pm and after 8.00am. Roaring advertises the lion's presence and in essence denotes 'Here I Am' and in this capacity has several functions as a long-distance signal. First, it helps lions find each other, although their propensity to ignore calls makes this somewhat difficult. Once, for example a male lost sight of a lioness he was following. He roared but received no response and finally tracked her by scent. Second, roaring enables lions to avoid contact, by, for instance, delineating the pride territory. Third, roaring enhances the physical presence of an animal by making it more conspicuous. During antagonistic encounters roaring may help to intimidate the opponent. Fourth, communal roaring, like most social endeavors may help to strengthen the bond of the group."
Though the lion's roar may be legendary, the spotted hyena of the Serengeti is actually the most vocal animal in the park. Hans Kruuk, who lived in the Serengeti between 1964 and 1968 studying spotted hyenas, writes:
"The loud melancholy 'who-oop' call of the hyena is one of the most characteristic sounds of Africa, and the maniacal laughter of this species is also very well known. But hyenas produce many other sounds besides; they are very vocal, and during my study I was able to distinguish between a number of different calls: whoop; fast whoop; grunt; groan; giggle; yell; growl; soft grunt laugh; whine; soft squeal...The giggles, yells and growls which accompany the attacks over food around a kill may attract hyenas from a great distance. In Ngorongoro, where lions often steal hyena kills, I sometimes found myself watching the hyenas over a kill and wishing for their own sakes that they would be quiet, because their deafening noises attracted lions from miles away!"
Myles Turner's book entitled My Serengeti Years is arguable the best book ever written about the Serengeti and is highly recommended. This is wonderful first hand account of the Serengeti from the unique perspective of an ex big game hunter turned stern conservationist. Myles's account of his 16 year tenure as chief game warden of the Serengeti is packed full of fascinating wildlife stories including close encounters with infuriated rhinos, fearless honey badgers and deadly poachers. It's hard to resist the pull of the Serengeti once you've finished My Serengeti Years and you will undoubtedly be planning your Serengeti safari or returning for another one shortly thereafter.
Serengeti Home is another must read before, during or after your safari and is a great companion book to Myles Turner's My Serengeti Years . Kay Turner lived in the Serengeti with her husband, Myles Turner, who was chief game warden for 16 years. Kay Turner's book details her adventures including raising her family in the Serengeti (this chapter is charmingly titled "Bush Babies"), humorous stories about her wild pets including 'Chuta' the bat-eared fox, 'Gussie' the Grant's gazelle and 'Prince and 'Pixie' the serval cats. Kay shares many wonderful adventures both living and going on safari in the Serengeti.
The chapter in Kay's book about camping in the Serengeti will undoubtedly have you excited to camp at Turner's Spring:
"After a long day out in the sun amongst the game, we would return to camp...then, stretching our feet towards the campfire with drinks in hand, we enjoyed seeing the sun sink slowly towards the horizon and the stars appear in the thousands, until it seemed there was no space in the sky for more. The sky at night felt close on those treeless plains, and it glowed with a soft and enveloping radiance that inspired a feeling of harmony with the universe. We were alone in that immense open country, and it seemed the stars displayed their brilliance solely for us. After an early supper, we would be lulled to sleep by the rhythmic sound of the wildebeest bleating, interspersed by the off-key moan of a hyena or the plaintive cry of a stone curlew."
There are three private campsites at Turner's Spring (elevation of 5,017 feet) including Turner A, B and C. Turner A and B are in the best position and each is tucked on opposite sides of Turner's Kopje. Turner C is all by itself about 2 miles to the West of Turner A and B. Approaching Turner's from Seronera (driving west to east), Turner C is first encountered followed by Turner A and B. Turner C is 5.2 miles northeast of the Seronera Airstrip while Turner A & B are both 7.2 miles northeast of the Seronera Airstrip. The Seronera Airstrip is roughly located in the center of the Seronera River Valley. We find Turner A and B to have the better location though Turner C still makes a great choice.
Turner's Spring is located at the heart of Central Serengeti in a thicket of bushes and acacia trees. The location is wonderfully remote and isolated from the many visitors that flock to the Central Serengeti. Expect to see few other vehicles for several miles in the vicinity of the camp. The campsite may be isolated but it is just a 30-minute drive to main game circuits of the Central Serengeti including the famous Seronera River Valley.
To the south of Turner's are the beautiful Maasai Kopjes and the long grass plains of the Serengeti. To the north, west and east are the acacia woodlands of the Serengeti. Tuner's Spring is located just inside the woodlands directly north of the Serengeti plains.
Private Luxury Camp Summary
Do you crave seclusion, adventure, and the unspoiled beauty of nature? Do you appreciate comfort, exceptional food and first rate service? Do you want to have the ultimate "once in a lifetime" safari experience? If you said YES to any of these questions - PRIVATE LUXURY CAMPING IS FOR YOU! Private Luxury Camping is the most unique and rewarding way to experience that intangible "something" that makes the Serengeti so special. Imagine total privacy in the middle of the remote African savanna, where you can embrace the peace of this pristine wilderness completely uninterrupted by other tourists or the lights and sounds of a commercial lodge.
Think you'll miss the service or comforts of a commercial lodge? Think again! The beautiful irony of the experience is that you sacrifice little comfort by choosing to camp in this way - let's just say you won't be "roughing it!" In fact, at the Private Luxury Camp, you'll have a dedicated staff of courteous attendants catering to YOU and YOU ALONE with the same level of service you would expect at a high-class luxury resort! Immediately upon your arrival, you'll be graciously welcomed by the staff with warm Swahili greetings, a hot towel and a chilled beverage. From that moment on, the only distance between any wish and reality is simply a request to make it so. Even laundry service is included - one of the many little perks you'll find integrated into your stay. And did we mention the front row seats to spectacular wildlife viewing? You are, after all, spending the best parts of the day in the middle of the remote wilderness! Look for elephants and giraffe drifting among the Acacia trees, or if the migration is thundering through be prepared for an even more dramatic show! Okay, so you've got the spell-binding ambience of the Serengeti savanna, you've got the personalized service of a 5-star luxury resort, NOW throw in all those familiar creature comforts (only better!) like hot showers (by starlight!), un-limited beer or wine (by a bonfire!) and gourmet meals served on fine china (cooked to order- just for you !) The result of this combination is an overall experience that's almost too good to be true!
Let's face it, no commercial lodge can compete with the raw, authentic ambience that accompanies camping underneath the exposed African sky. In complete solitude you will be able to just soak in the peace and beauty of your surroundings, unrushed by the schedules of others. Watch an ocean of sun-drenched grasses ripple in the breeze as far as the eye can see (with no walls to block the view!) and piles of shifting clouds roll through brilliant blue skies (in lieu of hotel ceilings!) Smooth islands of granite kopjes rise from this vast sea of grass just as they have for millions of years, adorned by ornate candelabra trees that stretch their lofty arms to the heavens. Primitive, wild and beautiful, THIS is where you will really GET the Serengeti. The buildings, traffic and crowds of civilization are but distant memories of the past.
Don't feel like leaving yet? Good! You don't have to! As evening descends over the camp, sit outside your tent and watch the dying light of sunset shimmer through the long, frayed grasses of golden savanna. Indulge in a traditional bush dinner by candlelight or campfire, featuring 4 course gourmet meals that are cooked to order (just for you) and graciously served by the dedicated staff (just to you.) Don't be surprised if the cooks and waiters burst into a spontaneous performance of traditional song and dance as they serve dessert! Choose your favorite beverage from the fully stocked bar (soda, beer, wine and spirits are all included with your stay!) and huddle by the dancing lights of the roaring bonfire as night cloaks the rest of the camp. Gaze at the sparkling blanket of stars that beam overhead, larger and lower and more brilliant than you've ever remembered seeing them before - there are no commercial lights around for miles to dilute this magical view!
When you are ready for a good night's sleep, retreat to your private tent and stretch out in a real, comfortable bed draped in a cozy duvet and fine linens. A hot water bottle, already placed snugly under the covers by one of the staff, nips any rogue chill that tries to sneak in. Since you are miles from civilization, expect the night to be full of life and nocturnal voices. Warm, comfortable and safe under your canvas shelter, you are coaxed to dreams by the symphony of the Serengeti - the soft throbbing of crickets, the distant whoops of hyenas and maybe even the roar of a lion!
Awake before sunrise to prepare for your early morning game drive and drench your body with steaming hot water from the open-air shower - you look up to the sky and all you see are stars! Toast the Serengeti with a delicious champagne breakfast by bonfire as you watch the sun rise and cast its ethereal glow over the surrounding land and cloudscapes. Inhale the smell of earth and dew and grass. Embrace the raw power of a wilderness still completely untouched by man. Each glorious moment is a celebration of the senses, and an incredible way to start the next day's adventure!
So if you really want the opportunity to connect with the nature of the Serengeti in a very intimate way, without sacrificing comfort, this is your chance to do it. Private Luxury Camping allows you to invest quality time in the Serengeti, especially during those magical hours like sunrise and sunset where the sights and sounds of your surroundings naturally intensify. Bask in the golden light of the setting sun, gaze up at a brilliant canopy of stars, listen for lions roaring in the night and then roll out of bed to a champagne toast at sunrise without ever climbing into the land rover. You are continually immersed in the magic of nature without interruption.
As mentioned above, the gracious staff at your Private Luxury Camp are there to serve YOU and YOU ONLY! So expect to be pampered like royalty. Expect gourmet meals and fine linens. Expect to be inspired. But don't just let us just talk about it - come experience it for yourself!
'The Private Luxury Camp in the Serengeti was the showstopper! A private Tent (as big as our Family Room) so clean you could eat off the floor. A separate Dining Tent. Superb food (including the popcorn at the Fire Pit and Trout for lunch). A staff of five, to take care of the two of us, headed by Anthony. Anthony could make anyone feel welcome, he is a sophisticated, caring professional who sees to the smallest detail. It was hard to believe we were in the "Bush".'
- Bill & Maryann K.
'The whole experience at the private luxury camp was great. The service was akin to a 5-star hotel, the bed was very comfortable.'
- Paula and Ray M.
'Next we were off to the Central Serengeti region where we stayed at a 'mobile' Private Luxury Camp site, right out on the open plains among the animals, an absolutely incredible experience. Here you really get the feeling you are on an African Safari versus staying just at hotel like lodges.'
- Tom and Peg W.
'You don't offer the same canned tours as everyone else. We saw Tanzania the way we wanted to. We opted to camp almost every night. It was so exciting. The private camping was exhilarating.'
- Barry T. Family
'The lions roaring all night and the African dinner the last night at the Private Luxury Camp were particularly memorable.'
- Carl S.
'You may recall that we were somewhat reluctant, to say the least, about the private luxury camp. You will probably not be surprised to hear that it stands out as one of our most memorable safari experiences. The thrill of camping at the very site of the migration, the magnificent starry African night sky, being awakened by the sounds of roaring lions and hysterical zebras, and the extraordinary, warm personal care we received from the staff made our time spent there sensational. We thank you for insisting on it.'
- Martha and Monty D.
'We actually heard a pride of lions right outside our campsite in the middle of the night!! That was why we did it and it was worth it! Plus, it put us right in the thick of the animals. The food at the camp was great and the cake and song at the end was the perfect end to our camping experience.'
- Susie and Phillip C.
The Private Luxury Camp is a completely mobile camp and will be set up at the campsite of your choice (subject to availability) for the dates of your choice. The completely private camp is set up exclusively for just your group and can accommodate from 1 to 16 people. The camp consists of one dining tent and one or more sleeping tents depending upon the number of people in your group. Each sleeping tent is spacious and comfortable, and can be arranged as a single, double, twin or triple. The single will sleep one person in a queen size bed. Similarly, the double can be set up to accommodate a couple or two people with one queen size bed. Twin tents have two smaller beds and can accommodate two people in separate beds. A triple can also be arranged for a family with a small child. In the triple tents there is a queen size bed and a single bed suitable for two adults and 1 child.
A blend of comfort and practicality, each canvas sleeping tent is spacious, secure and well appointed with the fundamental necessities. In each roomy tent, there is a comfortable hardwood bed with a cozy duvet, comfy pillows, smooth sheets and plenty of blankets. Hot water bottles are thoughtfully embedded in your sheets each night although this is usually completely unnecessary. Next to each bed is a handy nightstand with bottled water, solar powered lamp and flashlight for your convenience. Towards the back of each tent is a table with a hand basin with soap and water to wash your hands.
Each sleeping tent is conveniently equipped with an en-suite toilet and bladder shower in two separate compartments. These compartments are accessed from inside you own tent and are separated with a zipper from the main tent (you do not need to walk outside your tent to use the facilities). The toilet is a simple and clean chemical, manual flush toilet. The toilet is cleaned and sterilized every day while you are out on game drives. The bladder shower is quite charming, with a ceiling open to the sky, and is filled with plenty of hot water upon demand. At the front of each tent are traditional safari chairs to relax in while enjoying the setting and additional wash basins and towels so you may freshen up for those early morning game drives.
Although electricity is not supplied to each separate sleeping tent (the space is lit by solar powered lanterns as required), there is a generator at each camp used to run the refrigerator and can be used to charge any camera or camcorder batteries. If you need any batteries charged, just leave them with the staff during the day and they will charge them by the time you get back from your game drive. Please do make sure you have the proper 3-pin UK plug adapter - see our useful information section for the specifics.
Food and Drink
Overall, the food and beverages offered at the Private Luxury Camp are among the finest in all of Tanzania. Dinners are especially delicious and the roaring campfires, full bar and attentive service makes for especially memorable bush evenings. A stay at the Private Luxury Camp is inclusive of 3 mouth-watering meals a day and all drinks (soft drinks, beer, wine, spirits, champagne, etc.) You won't have to compete with other tourists for attention because the dedicated staff caters to YOU, and you alone!
Wake up call times are taken the night before and then steaming hot coffee or tea is delivered to your tent at a predetermined time. A full breakfast can be enjoyed in the main dining tent at the time of your choosing, or you may have the cooks prepare a delightful breakfast box (to go) if you wish to have an early morning game drive. Just let your guide know the night before of your choice but we strongly advise to try the early morning game drive with breakfast box at least once during your stay. If you choose to dine in for breakfast, a large spread will be prepared in the dining tent including cereal, fruit, breads and juices. Orders are taken for eggs, omelets, pancakes, bacon, sausage, hot potatoes, etc. On the last morning of your stay, you may choose to sit outside by the warmth of a bonfire and watch the sun rise over the golden plains with a delicious champagne breakfast served al fresco.
Similarly to breakfast, you have the choice of either having a scrumptious lunch at camp in the main dining tent or rather a box lunch, packed with care, so you may enjoy a bush picnic. As with breakfast, we recommend a lunch box in the bush at least once during your stay.
The evenings at the Private Luxury Camp are simply heaven! Upon arrival from your afternoon game drive you are greeted with warm towels and escorted back to your tent for a hot shower to prepare for the evening's festivities. You will then be escorted back to the main dining area where a roaring campfire awaits with a full bar of soda, beer, wine, champagne and spirits (all included in your stay.) Popcorn, roasted cashews and drinks are served by a blazing campfire under a mesmerizing blanket of stars. At your convenience, dinner is served in the main dining tent by the light of flickering candles. Dinner is quite a serious production and consists of 4 amazing courses including tasty appetizers, hearty soup, flavorful salad, delectable entrees of beef or chicken, potatoes, rice, several selections of freshly prepared vegetables and luscious dessert (vegetarian meals are available on request). On your last night at the Private Luxury Camp, a traditional African dinner is served under the stars with a bottle of sparkling champagne. The thrill of the Serengeti night and all its wild wonder surrounds you. There is no lodge with an atmosphere to compete with this!
Activities and Highlights
- Private game drives
- Walk next to the hippos at Retina Hippo Pool
- Balloon safaris
- Picnic breakfasts and lunches if desired
- Bush dinners and evening campfires
- Early morning (before sunrise) game drives to witness the predators in action
- Full day game drives to the GOL Kopjes
- Private safari bush camp set up special for just you and your group accommodating from 1 to 16 guests
- Location selected for seclusion and prime game viewing in the Seronera River Valley, Turner's Springs, Makoma Hill, Moru Kopjes or Naabi Hill depending upon the season
- Camp consists of guest sleeping tent(s) and dining tent
- Spacious sleeping tent(s) furnished with a comfortable hardwood bed, linens, washbasin, deck chairs, etc.
- Each tent contains an ensuite chemical toilet and bladder shower filled with hot water on demand - these facilities are in every tent towards the back in separate compartments
- Portable solar lanterns to carry with you at night and to light the interior of your sleeping tent
- Separate dining tent with refrigerator and full bar (all drinks are included)
- Approximately 6 camp staff including cooks, camp crew and waiters accompany each Private Luxury Camp
- Inclusive of 3 superb meals a day including 4 course dinners with appetizers, soup, salad, beef or chicken, potatoes, rice, several selections of vegetables and dessert (vegetarian meals available on request)
- Champagne dinner under the stars with traditional African food on your last night
- All drinks (soft drinks, beer, wine, spirits, champagne, etc.) are included
- Laundry service is included
- Roaring campfire, popcorn and drinks under the African sky each evening
- Breakfast boxes can be prepared for early morning game drives and lunch boxes can be prepared for full day adventure game drives
- Generator at each camp - you may charge your camera or camcorder batteries during the day
- Hot towel greetings upon arrival
- Hot water bottles embedded in your sheets each night
- Unparalleled Service!!
Some Additional Thoughts on Private Luxury Camping
There are several ingredients that if met always create a truly incredible property and ultimately the most rewarding safari experience. These components include location with regards to wildlife viewing, lodge/camp size, authenticity, closeness with nature, comfort, service and food. We think the Private Luxury Camp meets and exceeds each of these items and will undoubtedly prove to be one of your safari highlights. This is a tall order to fill but it really is this good. There is no where else in Tanzania where one could have complete privacy under traditional canvas with roaring campfires, lively nocturnal sounds, great food, friendly service plus the most intimate bush setting and the all the creature comforts (massive tent with en suite toilet and shower and all proper bedroom furnishings). Of course, there is always a downside and unfortunately the very high price tag for a private and luxurious bush property can be a deal breaker for many. However, for some it may be worth it to pull off a few nights at the Private Luxury Camp by downgrading the rest of your accommodations if what you're looking for is the ultimate bush adventure without compromising any comfort.
The Private Luxury Camp is commonly used in the Seronera River Valley of the Central Serengeti. The Central Serengeti is a must see on every safari (regardless of your month of travel) due its abundance of resident wildlife. The only problem with the Central Serengeti is the lack of small bush lodges and tented lodges that are found throughout the other areas of the park. There are three lodges in the Central Serengeti including the Serengeti Serena Lodge, Serengeti Sopa Lodge and Seronera Wildlife Lodge but all of these are large hotel style lodges with hordes of tourists. The main idea behind the private luxury camp is to provide a superb alternative to these large lodges for those of us looking for something a little more special then a large buffet line.
We highly recommend adding two nights at the Private Luxury Camp to every well-balanced safari itinerary as budget allows. The immediate area around the camp offers superb year round game viewing so this is a good fit regardless of your month of travel. However, the Private Luxury Camp is best combined with traditional lodges and tented lodges throughout the parks and conservation areas of Northern Tanzania. When used in conjunction with other lodges and tented lodges, a diversified and truly rewarding experience is obtained.