On a hillside near the Oloolaimutia Gate, this budget lodge (sopa means welcome in the Maasai language) is one of the most popular in the reserve. Even though they're always busy, the delightfully friendly and experienced staff will make you feel special. You'll sleep in a rondavel (small, round, thatch-roof hut) that has a tiny veranda and is simply but pleasantly furnished in traditional African style with lots of earth-color soft furnishings. The brightly
decorated public areas are nestled among flowering plants and trees; notices telling you about mealtimes, balloon booking times, how to book a picnic, and other information are pasted throughout the main area. Don't expect all the bells and whistles of the luxury lodges—hot water is available only mornings and evenings—but the setting and the feeling of Africa on your doorstep more than compensate. Plus, there's a great pool to cool off in after a hot dusty game drive, where events such as Maasai dancing or African food are held. There's also a quaintly named "Wild Animals Viewing Deck" in camp. Because you're more than 6,000 feet above sea level, you'll be cool in summer and will definitely need a jacket or sweater in winter.
Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya