Parks & reserves: Masai Mara National Reserve
Lodges and camps have proliferated in group ranches around the Masai Mara reserve, to such an extent that now the region hosts over one hundred choices for accommodation. Only some of them are listed here, but if you are a lodge owner and want your place included (it's free), just drop us a line.
Besides, some safari companies arrange private camps outside the reserve for small groups seeking an exclusive, old safari-style experience.
Some tented camps include two or three daily game drives in the full board rates. These places are targeted to guests arriving to the Mara by air, so they are not the most suitable option if you are driving a rented vehicle.
Inside the reserve:
Keekorok, the most classical of Masai Mara lodges, now belonging to Wilderness Lodges, is the main reference point inside the reserve, since it is located at the crossroads of the E176 (Keekorok-Oloololo Gate), C12 (Sekenani Gate-Sand River Gate), E177 (Keekorok-Talek Gate) and E301 (Keekorok-Ololamutiek Gate). It is placed on a large plain and has 158 beds distributed among rooms that vary in style and dimensions. It offers a swimming pool, restaurant and bar. There are balloon safaris daily at 6 AM and night game drives, in addition to the diurnal ones. Next to the lodge there is a hippo pool.
Mara Serena Lodge:
The Serena lodge lies on a quiet area, near the E176 at the western sector, on top of a hill with splendid views over the Mara river and the adjacent plains. From the distance it is difficult to discover its location, since the architecture here is fully integrated in the surrounding landscape. The 74 rooms, refurbished in 2000, are inspired on the style of the Maasai enkang, with a very original and attractive ethnic decoration. There is a swimming pool, restaurant and bar, besides offering daily balloon flights. Rock hyraxes have their dwellings in the gaps of the hill's rocky slopes and are usually found in the garden sharing space with the resident birds.
Mara Simba Lodge:
The Mara Simba is located by the reserve's north boundary, at the banks of Talek river. It hosts 84 rooms which are distributed in clusters of 6, in wood and stone two-storey bandas. It is the only lodge in Kenya which has installed a waste water treatment plant, which treats all the sewage generated at the lodge and produces crystal clear water which is then used for irrigation.
This luxury and expensive tented camp was the first of what is now the Governor's Camp Collection. In the old days, the place hosted a hunters' camp for colonial governors and their guests. It is specifically conceived for guests arriving by air, since the rates include game drives. Its 38 tents are sheltered by a riverine forest close to the eastern bank of the Mara, next to Musiara Swamps. Elephants are usual visitors and the restaurant is excellent.
Little Governor's Camp:
The Little Governor's, also belonging to the Governor's Camp Collection, is conceived as a more intimate place than the base camp, with only 17 tents. Located at the opposite bank, access is achieved first along a 2 km track, then boarding a skiff to cross the Mara and finally covering the last stretch on foot through the woods with an armed escort. Tents are set around a waterhole with plenty of wildlife. Same as at the main camp, the rates include game drives. Balloon trips organised by the group depart from here.
Governor's Ilmoran Camp:
One more turn of the screw in luxury, the Ilmoran, of the Governor's Camp Collection, with only 10 tents in the forest by the Mara, offers top comfort, but at a high price. Furniture is fully handcrafted and services fulfill the highest requirements.
Governor's Private Camp:
The crown jewel of the Governor's Camp Collection. This camp must be booked each time on an exclusive basis for a single group or family. It offers luxury galore for up to 16 persons who will have the privilege of enjoying, all for themselves, a bend of the Mara river and the most exquisite services.
Sarova Mara Camp:
The camp of the Sarova chain is possibly the most accessible in the reserve, since it is located by Sekenani Main Gate, on the C12 road. It has 75 tents.
The Intrepids, belonging to Heritage Hotels, is a luxury and costly tented camp placed above the Talek river banks. The full board price includes game drives. Night drives are available with infrared goggles. There is a swimming pool and a feeding point for leopards, which frequently drop by attracted to the bait that is laid each evening.
At the outer limits:
Masai Mara Sopa Lodge:
The lodge of the Sopa group is located outside the limit, 2 km off Ololamutiek Gate, with magnificent views over the valley. Very pleasant, with 90 cottage-style rooms. Swimming pool, restaurant, bar and a platform for watching animals that roam around a feeding point. The location is convenient for observing the migrations. Balloon flights available.
Olkurruk Mara Lodge:
Now closed. It had 38 beds and belonged to African Tours & Hotels. It used to be one of the smallest and most intimate in the area. Placed over the Soit Ololol Escarpment, quite close to Oloololo Gate, its location provided splendid vistas over the Mara Triangle, the reserve's sector bordered by the mountains at west and the Mara river at east. Each cottage was divided in two double rooms.
Mara Fig Tree Camp:
This tented camp belongs to Mada Hotels. It is located close to Talek Gate, at the Talek river banks. The location is convenient and the place has both tents and cottages. There is a swimming pool and night drives are available, as well as balloon flights.
Kichwa Tembo Camp:
The Kichwa Tembo ("elephant's head"), now belonging to the &Beyond group, was Abercrombie & Kent's reply to Governor's Camp. It is one of the most classical camps in the reserve, placed at the foot of the Soit Ololol Escarpment close to Oloololo Gate, right at the outer limit. The place became even more famous when Robert Redford and Meryl Streep stayed here during the making of 'Out of Africa'. It has 40 luxury tents and 2 cottages, a swimming pool and a quality restaurant. Next to the main camp there is a smaller and more exclusive one called Bateleur Camp, placed right below the spot from where the picture for the movie poster was shot.
Sekenani is located close to the limit, 6 km southeast of the gate of the same name. It is a small and exclusive camp with only 10 large tents.
Around the reserve:
Enkewa Mara Camp:
After a first try with Impiripiri Camp, Spaniard José Serrano has finally found his ultimate bush hideaway in the shape of Enkewa, an old-safari-style exclusive camp located in the Sand River area, southeast of Masai Mara. The camp is placed on a 36-hectare private concession in the maasai community of Olderkesi. Its location, in a valley backed by a small ridge, is possibly the most remote and solitary in the region, which grants an undisturbed enjoyment of a beautiful piece of Africa that includes Masai Mara's Sand River area, bordering the Tanzanian Serengeti. The specially designed 4WD vehicles allow for the exploration of bush areas that are out of range for other safaris, while the maasai guides' expertise is almost a guarantee of spotting all relevant wildlife species, including the Big Five. Day and night game drives are included in the price, as are full board and all non-alcoholic beverages. The huge rustic luxury tents, with full bathroom, bucket showers and solar energy, host up to families of four. Due to its remote location, the camp's owner has implemented ecological solutions to minimise environmental impact, such as waste and sewage treatment and clean energy production without generators. Last, the Mediterranean style is present in the camp's cooking. Serrano is a constantly dedicated personal host willing to satisfy every guest's particular needs and wishes, and even you will be able to practice your Spanish skills, which is almost unheard of in the bush.
Mpata is a luxurious and exclusive lodge placed some 25 km off Mara bridge north of the reserve, above Soit Ololol Escarpment. It offers 20 cottages, including 12 suites. Each room has an outdoor jacuzzi with views of the sunset. The restaurant serves french cuisine and the swimming pool is magnificent. Obviously, prices are very high.
Cottar's 1920s Safari Camp:
This property belongs to the Cheli & Peacock group, which in Masai Mara also has Elephant Pepper Camp and Saruni, the latter featuring both a lodge and an exclusive 3-tent camp. Cottar's itself lies on Koyiaki Group Ranch, adjacent to Masai Mara, north of the Mara bridge. It is a semi-permanent camp, which is disassembled at the end of the season, when the long rains come. Hence, its 6 tents are more austere than other camps, for instance water for the showers is heated with log fire. But for the same reason it resembles more effectively the old safaris' atmosphere. It is very appreciated by photographers and naturalists. The price includes day and night game drives. Abundant wildlife around, including elephants.
Mara River Camp:
The Mara River Camp, property of Savannah Camps & Lodges, is located northwest of the reserve by the Mara river, in Koyaike Conservation Area. It has 16 luxury permanent tents plus 1 specially enlarged family & honeymoon suite.
David Livingstone Safari Resort:
Formerly called Paradise Mara Lodge, it is located at the banks of Mara river north of the reserve, between Mara Buffalo Camp and Mara Safari Club. The area is well supplied with wildlife, albeit few elephants and big cats.
Mara Safari Club:
Now belonging to Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, The Mara Safari Club is a luxury tented camp located at the Ol-Choro Oiroua Conservation Area, neighbouring Masai Mara, at the foot of Aitong Hills. The camp is surrounded by a loop of the Mara river with plenty of hippos. Each of the 50 tents has a private verandah on the riverfront. The camp has a swimming pool and arranges balloon trips. Game drives are included in the price.
Siana Springs Camp:
Siana Springs lies on the former site of Cottar's Camp, which still appears in some outdated maps and guidebooks. It is located in a quiet place 10 km off the east limit, amongst a fever tree forest, surrounded by marshes and at the foot of Ngama Hills. Its 38 tents provide every comfort. The camp has a splendid swimming pool, as well as elevated platforms for watching elephants and leopards. Day and night game drives available, not included.
Mara Gypsy Camp:
Formerly Oseur Camp, it is placed inside a riverine forest, surrounded by a hill range east of the reserve. Tents are distributed in clusters, each cluster having its own kitchen, bar and dining tent.