Altogether, this is a fabulous little camp, perfectly positioned as a base for exploring Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire!
ACCESS & LOCATION:
Its setting is a concession amid the savanna bush of Esilalei, granted by the Maasai people. The camp is owned and run by Chris Pilley and Ingrid Vaes, who have an enormous amount of experience in the tourism industry and a great relationship with the local Maasai.
ACCOMMODATION & FACILITIES:
Chris designed the camp himself and helped to construct it with a small but dedicated team. The word ‘Isoitok’ translates from the Maasai language as ‘many stones’ – this is very apt as stones feature in abundance here, from the piles flanking the wooden entrance gate to the rows aligning the paths to the structures erected throughout the grounds! Further heaps adorn the outskirts of the mess tent, which is used for dining – there is a long table and upright chairs for communal meals, in addition to side tables for tea/coffee and alcoholic beverages. The mess tent is open fronted, affording superb views over the savanna towards the Great Rift Valley and, below, Lake Manyara!
The guest accommodation at Isoitok comprises six tents – four deluxe and two rustic units. These are connected to the mess tent via walkways through the grounds. Chris likes to work with wood too – each tent has its own characterful wooden door. Every tent contains either a double bed or twin beds, though the deluxe option is sufficiently spacious to include a third bed for a triple room if required. The area outside the entrance makes for a pleasant veranda, with a small table and two director’s chairs. Handwoven mkeka mats cover the floors and there is solar lighting. Both options include a luggage rack and a wardrobe. For seating, the rustic tents have throwdown cushions, whereas the deluxe units have a lounge chair in addition to a writing desk and chair. Both types of tent have en-suite facilities of flush toilet and a shower system described as ‘hangman’ (with hot water to order). The rustics have a basic washbasin arrangement, whereas the deluxes have a custom-made version. There are no power sockets in the tents, but it is possible to recharge equipment in the mess tent.
Isoitok’s activities are many and varied! It is possible to explore the concession via a game drive or a nature walk, while Lake Manyara National Park is just 12km away. This park may be the smallest in Tanzania, but it boasts a fine assortment of wildlife and bird highlights such as the vast flocks of flamingo. The spectacular Ngorongoro Crater is also accessible from camp, with its plentiful prides of lion and leopard, plus loads of other species! And Tarangire is worth a visit too, home to the elephant migration and chock-full of herbivores. Birding is brilliant in all three parks, so do not forget to pack your binoculars! Cultural experiences are also available from camp – Maasai medicine walk, Maasai boma visit, traditional Maasai song and dance, traditional goat sacrifice. These are perfect for travellers who take an interest in the Maasai lifestyle!
However guests choose to spend their time at Isoitok, they are well looked after by a friendly and welcoming team. Guiding standards are very high and most walks take place in the company of the camp host and a very knowledgeable Maasai scout.