Scanning the expanse of the Tarangire National Park in Tanzania, it was clear I was officially in “wild” Africa. Here, there were no signs of civilisation. No telephone poles, no cellphone towers and certainly no other vehicles. Trundling past elephants, scouting for cheetah and watching a shy black-backed jackal sneak past our Land Cruiser became our everything.
Pulling into the sandy drive towards Oliver’s Camp, relief came in a flood as we tumbled out of the vehicle that had provided us with bumpy passage. I didn’t quite know it yet, but we had found home in the middle of nowhere.
Camp managers Jackie and Justin were waiting for us with big smiles and cool drinks. The open common area, where we checked in, is a shrine to the founder of the camp and a great pioneer, John Oliver.
Skulls bleached by weeks in the sun were piled atop dusty encyclopedias detailing the animals that have always owned this land. A large, communal dining table sits to the side, calling hungry travellers to feast on what would be some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten on safari.
Settling into my room, the mosquito nets were all that separated me from the bush outside. There aren’t any fences at Oliver’s Camp and after an overnight flight and a delay in Dar es Salaam, I slept like the dead, missing the pride of lions that skulked right past my door, leaving only their paw prints as a reminder of their visit.
The people at Oliver’s felt like friends in a matter of minutes and their nonchalant stories of wildlife encounters made the place even more appealing. The camp is considered basic, but with an outdoor and indoor shower, king-sized bed and three meals a day to satisfy even the most epicurean, I believe it’s time for them to revise this description.
Oliver’s Camp is situated in the southern region of Tarangire National Park in Tanzania. For more information, visit: AsiliaAfrica.com