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Kenya Safari: Ngerende Island Lodge, Mara Bushtops, or Porini Camps?


Jun 12th, 2010, 09:29 PM
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Kenya Safari: Ngerende Island Lodge, Mara Bushtops, or Porini Camps?

Has anyone been to these that could give a recommendation of which is best. We have only a week so are deciding between a week at Ngerende, a week at MaraBushtops or a week with the Porini Camps. We want to see tons of wildlife but also have great ambiance. I'm torn between staying in once place and moving around. Also, thoughts on the locations of the camps in terms of seeing wildlife... the first two are outside the Mara but do safaris in their conservation areas as well as trips to the Mara, and the porini camps are within their respective parks I believe. Thanks
blondeinbombay is offline  
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Sep 1st, 2010, 08:36 AM
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Hi there!
Just wanted to say Mara Bushtops is fantastic in terms of its location because it is surrounded by its private Conservancy and the entrance to the main park is only 15 minutes drive away. The advantage of being in a private Conservancy is that you can enjoy off road game drives, game drives in privacy (no other vehicles allowed in the private Conservancy) walking safaris, night game drives, sun downers. All this is not allowed inside the park. Yet the park is very close so its best of both worlds.
Bushtops also offers extreme luxory which is great for guests staying long i.e. hot tubs, a la carte dining, 24 hour butler service, 24 hour power, wine cellar, swimming pool. It really is fantastic!!
travelround is offline  
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Sep 1st, 2010, 09:56 AM
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This is a current trip report re Porini camps

Elizabeth_S is offline  
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Sep 1st, 2010, 10:05 AM
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Of course you can spend an entire week at one camp, but you have sufficient time to split the stay with 3/4 or 4/3 and the transfer between a camp inside the Reserve/Triangle and another on the private conservancies is easy enough..

Besides, if traveling soon, the herds and other game can be all over the place, so good to split the time to cover as many areas as possible. Remember, if you stay on the private conservancies, you're daily park fee only allows for game drives here (but for 1/days where you can go into the Reserve); if on other days you wish to go into the Reserve another $60/day/person fee. Why I suggest splitting your time.

Bushtops would be my #1, then Porini Lion #2 for the private conservancies. Maybe even Mara Plains. While a recent review of Ngerende Island was excellent, the camp is surrounded by large fences and razor wire and reminded me of a concentration camp... a complete turn-off. The other two camps and the one additional suggested are more welcoming.

Inside the Reserve you can consider: Entim (5/tents), Rekero(8/tents), Little Governors (17/tents); Naibor (6/tents), or Sala's (5/tents) right on the Sand River... all unfenced; adjacent to the Triangle area of the reserve is Olonana (12/tents).

Your decision in the end.
sandi is offline  
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Sep 1st, 2010, 01:26 PM
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We recently stayed at Ngerende Island Lodge and it was fabulous. Sandi's comments on this lodge are unfounded and unfair as she obviously has not stayed there. I suggest you read the reviews from people who have actually been there and then decide:
If you have a week I would split it between a camp in the private conservancies such as Ngerende and a camp in the actual reserve. Alternatively do what we did which is a few days in the Mara followed by Amboseli to see elephants and other animals under Mt. Kilimanjaro. Magical!
You can click on my name and read my recent Trip Report which contains pictures of Ngerende and the game drives in the Mara to get a better idea.
AKR1 is offline  
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Sep 1st, 2010, 02:39 PM
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I second Sandi regarding the camps within the reserve except Naibor which I didn't like.
Entim is going to increase tents so I would go there as long as it's so intimate.

Private conservancies I would prefer Kicheche Bush or even the main camp and book a sole-use-vehicle for the entire stay.

spassvogel is offline  
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Sep 1st, 2010, 02:44 PM
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I should add why I didn't like Naibor:

The tiny basin in the bathroom area and the two basin outside were just too weird for my taste.

As guests are required to get an askari escort after dark/before sunrise I found it quite strange to stay outside the tent at night and use those basin. Also I don't like to become leading role in a bush TV series ;-)

Hospitality was good. Nice atmosphere but for bush breakfst and luch they simply coulnd't get a decent vegetarian meal together. Even after two reminders....always sausage, bacon, meat balls etc. - no cheese - nothing.

Finally the thought that we contribute towards the cash flow of someone who kills the animals in other parts of Africa wasn't particularly appealing.

spassvogel is offline  
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Sep 1st, 2010, 02:47 PM
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Something more

Regarding Ngerende Island Lodge:
We drove past that place on our way from Kicheche to the airsprip last Feb. Frankly - not something I would consider a kind of bush retreat. Swimmingpool was still under construction.
The idea of that huge swimming pool and the "main road" passing that thing isn't something I would frequent.

When I visit the bush I would like to have the bush feeling. Maybe I am totally wrong here - but that was my first impression and that rarely misleads me.

spassvogel is offline  
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Sep 1st, 2010, 02:48 PM
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I highly recommend the Porini camps for location, guides, flexibility, authenticity, vehicles, abundant wildlife and general awesomeness. Another tremendous plus is their philosophy: your money goes to the local community and to conservation efforts.

But I haven't stayed in the others you mentioned - they might be fabulous as well.
crosscheck is offline  
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Sep 1st, 2010, 03:02 PM
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"When I visit the bush I would like to have the bush feeling."

... and wash basins outside the Naibor tents didn't give you "that bush feelng?"
sandi is offline  
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Sep 2nd, 2010, 01:45 PM
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That was a bit over the top for me. I neither want to become a TV star not the first/last meal for a lion;-)

You know - there is ALWAYS a first time which makes camps to enhance the safety measures!

No thanks - I leave that for others ;-)

spassvogel is offline  
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Sep 2nd, 2010, 02:35 PM
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SV - funny! funny! funny! Simba probably doesn't even like human meat! Add some excitement to your life and where better than while washing your face
sandi is offline  
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Sep 25th, 2010, 08:41 AM
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I must chime in here. I haven't been on Fodor regularly lately. I only check in once in a while. Too much going on in my life these days. Anyway, Naibor happens to be one of my favorite camps inside the Mara because of the reasons Irma doesn't like it. Rekero too has the washbasins outside and their tents aren't anywhere near as big or as fancy as Naibor. Still, I like both very much, also because of their location. Another alltime favorite of mine is the Mara Explorer.

About Bushtops, I have to add to that they don’t have a “proper” conservancy. They have leased just under 1,000 acres around them I think and now someone else has built a crummy camp right next to them.

When Sandi rates the Bushtops conservancy as No 1 and Porini Lion’s conservancy as No 2 I'm surprised to hear it. Porini Conservancy is 30,000 acres and has over 50 resident lions while Bushtops doesn’t have a proper conservancy at all, I thought, is under 1,000 acres and too small for a resident pride but has plenty of cattle and manyattas all around! Bushtops is a very luxurious camp with hot tub, private butler, fancy restaurant but not great for wildlife unless you drive on a terrible bumpy track to the main road to drive to Sekenani gate and into the reserve. It feels more like a lodge than a tented camp to me. They cater to the mass-market, groups by Kuoni. That area is full of minivans from Nairobi as it's easy to get to for them. I don't mean to bash Bushcamps as it's a very nice camp, just in the wrong location for me.

Porini Camps are authentic bushcamps, no frills but comfortable with the emphasis on great guiding and privacy and in exclusive wildlife conservancies of minimum size 8,000 acres. Just the way I like it.
safarimama is offline  
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Mar 10th, 2014, 10:22 PM
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Definitely don't stay at Ngerende Island Lodge. They are operated very poorly and their staff are obviously not prepared to accommodate tourists.
Was there last year in the migration season and the manager of the camp was just out of line. There are definitely better options.
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