Help choosing Mara camp for family holiday

Old Mar 17th, 2023, 10:15 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 303
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Help choosing Mara camp for family holiday

We are looking at planning a short family safari (travelling with a 14 and 16 year old) in Kenya this September and considering Porini Mara camp vs Saruni camps. We are hoping to stay 3 nights in Mara.

Does anyone have experience with Saruni Mara and Saruni Wild? I have read many comments that Saruni Mara is quite a bit away from the animals and that you have to drive about 30 mins through the villages before getting to the wildlife areas but that Saruni Wild is located much better, bordering the Mara North conservancy.
However, I am unable to find any recent reviews for Saruni Wild and is concerned of the comfort level/ safety as it is a very small camp, although we are keen to be closer to the animals.

Our other option is Porini Mara. Porini camps are known to have great safari guides and have many safari options/ night drives etc. Is Saruni comparable in this regard. Saruni seem to have more kids activities to entertain the teens we are travelling with.
Any help to choose between the two will be appreciated!
nikidi is offline  
Old Mar 17th, 2023, 01:21 PM
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 303
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you visited Porini Mara with teens ,would love to hear your thoughts on the camp.
nikidi is offline  
Old Mar 17th, 2023, 03:11 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,974
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
No camp in the Mara is “far from the animals”. You’re staying in their natural habitat. The animals are literally everywhere. Saruni Mara is located further north in the conservancy, which would be a pain if you drive to the Reserve, but I’d suggest unless you’re going for the great migration, just stay in the conservancy, the game viewing is far better, more relaxed and stress free. A bonus of Saruni Mara is being able to also game drive in Lemek Conservancy nearby, which is less traveled and populated by camps so an even less trafficked safari experience!

Saruni is very well respected. Saruni Mara is in the Mara North Conservancy, which is private land where only those who are staying in camps there can do game drives. The conservancies all abutt the main reserve, which is public. The biggest benefit to you staying in conservancies is the lack of vehicle traffic and insanity at some sightings. A leopard sighting in the Reserve may draw upwards of 50 vehicles; in the conservancies that is limited to 4 or 5. I have not stayed at any Saruni camp, but was considering Saruni Rhino in the north for my last safari; I abandoned the idea when I learned they no longer track rhinos on foot with guests. Otherwise I still would have gone.

Saruni Wild is in Lemek Conservancy, and it has game drive rights in Lemek, Mara North and Ol Choro conservancies, so you have a very wide swath of land to explore on game drives. As a veteran safari goer, this would be hugely attractive to me. Anywhere there aren’t a million other vehicles is a bonus!

The same benefits you list for Porini you will get at either Saruni. Walks, night drives, etc. are allowed in those two conservancies.

I have stayed at Porini Mara on my first Kenyan safari and didn’t choose to return. I had issues with them in terms of guiding and vehicle problems (broke down twice with them). I chose to take my business elsewhere going forward and have been better served for that.

If you are interested in Mara North, I can highly recommend both Offbeat Mara and Offbeat Ndotto, where I have been twice. The guiding is outstanding and the accommodations are wonderful. The price point is similar to Saruni and you may get a long stay discount 4 nights for the price of 3 or 6 for 5. I’ve seen their guides with kids and they really know how to keep them engaged. A family I met on my last safari were taking their 10 year old son on his second visit to Offbeat Mara. I can share her Trip Advisor review with you if you’d like it.

I can also recommend the Kicheche camps. I’ve just returned from Kicheche Valley and Kicheche Bush, both of which had excellent guiding and even better accommodations than most other camps I’ve been to. Kicheche Valley is in Naboisho conservancy, which is chock a block with lions right now and Kicheche Bush is in Olare Motorogi Conservancy and had a great balance of lions, leopard and cheetah when I was there. They have Kicheche Mara in Mara North. Kicheche is priced slightly higher than Porini but the difference is noticeable and worth it, in my opinion.

Sorry for so much info, I hope this helps.
amyb is offline  
Old Mar 17th, 2023, 03:45 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 303
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks Amyb, Lots of helpful information. Kicheche and Off beat camps are over budget however we are able to consider Saruni Camps. The location of Saruni Mara put me off due to the distance to Mara North conservancy, mentioned in quite a few trip advisor reviews - bumpy and dusty drive of 25 mins both ways for every safari drive! Saruni wild off course is perfectly located however there're no recent reviews and with only lamps at night and 3 tents, I was wondering how this experience compares to a Porini camp.
nikidi is offline  
Old Mar 18th, 2023, 05:42 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,974
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
I’m surprised Offbeat is not in budget because according to the rates I see, they are very similar, and with mult-night stays you get a night free.

I would look at Africa Travel Resource and Expert Africa’s sites for honest reviews by experienced people (not by first time travelers, but by safari planners) of your camps. I tend not to put much credence in a lot of Trip Advisor reviews only because when it’s people’s first safari they don’t know any better and have nothing to compare with.

Anyway, ask your tour operator to look at Basecamp Eagle View, which is known to be the most budget friendly in the Mara conservancies. Several people I know who go to Kenya a lot seem to like them. I have not been there myself so cannot vouch for them.
amyb is offline  
Old Mar 18th, 2023, 07:16 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,974
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
Niki, one more thing, if you are not already, you should work with a safari planner to do all this for you. Any prices you are seeing on the camps’ websites are “rack rates” which is before any discounts a safari planner or tour planner can get for you. Many have been recommended here, but I would strongly advise you to leverage what they can pull together for you (including internal air and road transfers) at prices much better than you can do on your own.
amyb is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2023, 07:52 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,364
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
we have stayed with our teens at kicheche mara camp twice. private vehicle guaranteed for a party of 4. could you stay at a family tent? can't recommend kicheche more highly.
plambers is offline  
Old Mar 23rd, 2023, 08:05 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 3,106
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I stayed at Porini Lion Sept. '22 -- and it could not possibly have been more incredible on every level.
Songdoc is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Hanuman
Africa & the Middle East
8
Jun 9th, 2010 12:11 PM
KyleNYC
Africa & the Middle East
7
Aug 18th, 2008 04:41 PM
Tere
Africa & the Middle East
20
Sep 25th, 2004 10:28 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -