Kenya - July 2014 - Acacia House in Masai Mara area

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Aug 18th, 2014, 06:22 PM
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Kenya - July 2014 - Acacia House in Masai Mara area

We flew British Airways, arriving in Nairobi late Thursday evening (July 3rd). Unfortunately, only one of our bags made it onto our flight. We had made arrangements to stay at the Ole Sereni hotel for one night - flying to Kisumu the next day - but changed our plans to wait for our luggage. Fortunately, our missing bags arrived on the next British Airways flight. Phew!

Ole Sereni Hotel
This is an excellent hotel not far from the airport. Traffic moves very slowly in Nairobi, so we were very glad that we stayed outside the center of the city. The breakfast buffet is very nice and there are plenty of options for lunch and dinner. We enjoyed looking out on the Nairobi National Park, sighting several birds and mammals. We spent 2 nights at the Ole Sereni hotel at the start of our Kenya trip and one night at the end.

Lost Luggage
Two friends (who flew British Airways the day after us) were also missing luggage. We couldn't stay in Nairobi to wait for it, but all of the luggage eventually made it to our hotel in the Kisii area. Two of the bags were filled with clothing and gifts donated for a local orphanage, so we were very happy when they arrived safely!

Sameta Lodge
We spent the majority of our trip visiting a school and orphanage near Ogembo. We stayed at the Sameta Lodge which was built about two years ago. (Much nicer than the hotel in Kisii where we stayed on previous visits.) The beds were comfortable, the staff was very nice, and the food was quite good. The chef, Isaac, prepared some delicious meals for us! We would be happy to stay here again.

Acacia House (one of the Mara Bush Houses managed by Asilia Africa)
This is a great place to stay with family or friends who want to experience the best Masai Mara has to offer! I did a lot of research before our first trip to Masai Mara in 2010, and Acacia House was perfect for us. So when friends suggested a second trip to Masai Mara, we were delighted to be able to come back here. We requested Salaash Ole Morompi as our Masai host and guide, and it was great to spend time with him again. Other staff included Evelyn (the chef who prepared our delicious meals) and 3 young Masai men who took care of us - when we weren't off on game drives.

Salaash is truly an excellent guide. We had several photographers in our group, and he carefully positioned the landcruiser in a way that gave everyone an opportunity to get great shots. We had our share of magical moments such as a group of lionesses with cubs preparing to hunt with the setting sun providing a lovely backdrop. Two cheetah brothers running on the savannah and stopping to play with each other. Lilac breasted rollers catching the eye with their beautiful coloration. Salaash was great at answering our questions, identifying all of the birds we saw, and helping us get the most out of our experience.

As for Acacia House.... It is a beautiful home, with comfortable beds, luxurious bathrooms, a welcoming living area, and a veranda looking out onto a watering hole. A typical day might start with a game drive at 5:30 am, stopping for a delicious breakfast along the way. Home for lunch (overlooking the water hole) and some time to relax. Then off for another game drive, followed by drinks and a delicious dinner back at the house. But you could choose to spend the day at the house - swimming and watching the waterhole - or go off to the Masai Mara Reserve for a full day. Some of our best sightings were in the northern conservancies but we were also glad we made time to go to the Reserve.

So glad we were able to come here again! I can't imagine staying anywhere else in Mara - unless it was one of the other Mara Houses like the Topi House.

Safari Vehicles
On our 2010 visit to Masai Mara, we we rode in an enclosed vehicle with openings in the roof. This time we were in an open-sided vehicle. I prefer the open sides for photography and feeling "immersed" in the Mara - especially when there are a lot of photographers in the group - but would be contented with either vehicle.

Driving Around Kenya
For a variety of reasons, we chose to hire a driver for portions of our journey. I had heard about David Kimani on another forum and knew several people who had hired him in other trips to Kenya. Our group of six hired David for several airport runs as well as longer trips from Kisii to Masai Mara and from Masai Mara to Nairobi. He took great care of us and was very reliable. We wouldn't hesitate to call on him again.

Hope this trip report is helpful to those who are contemplating a trip to Nairobi, the Kisii area, and/or Masai Mara!
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Aug 19th, 2014, 11:05 PM
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Great report. What animals did you see from Ole Sereni?
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Aug 20th, 2014, 04:33 AM
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We saw ostriches, 2 giraffes, some kind of antelope, lots of smaller birds from Ole Sereni. My husband had hoped to see a saddle billed stork while we in the Masai Mara Reserve and instead, spotted one from Ole Sereni just before we flew home. (Good binoculars and a long camera lens confirmed this.)

During our extra day in Nairobi (waiting for our luggage), we asked David Kimani to drive us through the Nairobi National Park even though we would have several days in Masai Mara. It was enjoyable and provided one of my favorite photo ops of the trip. We came across a herd of zebras with the setting sun and city skyline in the background. At some point, several of the zebras kicked up their heels and started running around. The light was fading fast but I was lucky enough to capture some usable shots of this beautiful sight!
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Aug 26th, 2014, 05:17 PM
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Acacia House sounds wonderful - definitely a different option from the tents and well worth considering for a return trip to Kenya. Thanks for the report!
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Sep 7th, 2014, 09:18 AM
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Excellent write-up. Would be interested if you are serious photography enthusiasts?
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Sep 8th, 2014, 04:57 PM
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RedAdair - Not sure how to respond but might describe myself as a "fairly serious" photography enthusiast. I shoot RAW and process with Lightroom & photoshop but don't use a full frame camera. I have a photography website and have won first prize in a couple of photography contests but I'm always learning new ways to improve....

I think it would be difficult to come home without some great photos if one is able to spend a few days with a guide like Salaash and is able to bring appropriate equipment and put it to good use. Did we capture everything we saw? No. Sometimes it was just too dark to get a good photo. But we did photograph lions mating, a newborn giraffe walking on wobbly legs with umbilical cord still attached, a lioness nudging her cub to move a little faster, a hyena nursing her young, cheetah brothers playing and then marking their territory, a giraffe nursery, lions enjoying a meal, and an array of scavengers fighting over another meal and demonstrating their hierarchy (of hyenas, jackals, vultures, etc.).

Hope this helps!
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Sep 25th, 2014, 04:59 AM
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Wow!Your experience is awesome...this sure helps and it does illuminate what Kenya has to offer! Thank you.
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Sep 29th, 2014, 01:33 AM
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Thank you, asante sana, for the report!
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Sep 29th, 2014, 08:57 PM
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Glad my report is helpful. Masai Mara is such a beautiful part of the world!

CaliNurse, karibu.
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