lodging in Masai Mara questions.

Sep 16th, 2008, 09:06 AM
  #1  
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lodging in Masai Mara questions.

Would appreciate input on where to stay in the Mara for three nights (September 10,11,12, 2009). Had pretty much decided on Mara Sarova Tented Camp for the tent camp experience but now am not convinced it is the right location. How much of the Mara would be accessable to game drives without paying the additional fees I read about on this forum? Is the closer you stay to the Mara Triangle better? Is the Mara Triangle, Siria Escarpment, Olypunyata Swamp or the Hippo Pools reachable on game drives from Sarova? Are those areas important to see? Serena Mara Lodge is the same price in a great location but not a tented camp. Would love to stay at one of the Govenors Camps but are budget busters. Is there any other choices to consider? Really appreciate all of your advice.
leerob is offline  
Sep 16th, 2008, 01:24 PM
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I stayed at Kicheche Mara, which is outside the national reserve. The area surrounding the camp seemed to be more beautiful and to have more wildlife than the reserve. I loved it and plan to return.
Londonres is offline  
Sep 16th, 2008, 06:47 PM
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Although, I have not stayed there - I loved the area around the Serena in the Mara Triangle. Truly some of the most breath-taking views and vistas out there ....... that area is also a cheetah magnet. Saw quite a few in a single day.

Another area to consider is the Talek area - your options would include Entim, Explorer, Intrepids and Rekero. That is another great area to consider and various camps to suit different needs.

I was very happy with Serian which is outside the Reserve. They also have mobile locations inside the reserve.
HariS is offline  
Sep 17th, 2008, 02:06 AM
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london
i must agree in view to kicheche mara!
excellent value for money and unlimited game drives. not to mention supuu with her cus) and the kicheche pride.......

despite it's a long way to the crossing points - it's my favourite besides the governors.

serian (some fodorite's favourite) is an absolute NO GO for us as alex is a professional hunter (not in kenya thanks god but TAZ!) and therefore a contradictionm in view to ANY conservation idea!

we are going back to kicheche next sep

div
divine54 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2008, 03:18 AM
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Div, I only discovered Alex Walker was a professional hunter when I was given his business card for the email address as I asked about options for returning next year.

Initially, I found it very offputting but, I think that we would still go back to this camp even knowing his profession.

On his card he describes himself as "Professional Hunter, Filmmaker & Guide" APHA TPHA KPSGA

My dad has stayed at the Mara Explorer and is considering it for a second visit next year.

I've stayed at Governor's but find it far too large. That said, it's cleverly laid out so it doesn't seem as large as it is apart from at meal times when you see quite how many other guests are there. Also note that whilst most of their vehicles are open-sided, they do have some remaining closed vehicles with pop top roofs because of a few repeat visitors who insist on them. If you book there and don't want one of these, make sure you include your preferences in your booking details.

Kavey is offline  
Sep 17th, 2008, 07:01 AM
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DEAR GOD .......

HariS is offline  
Sep 17th, 2008, 07:26 AM
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Hari, does that mean you didn't know he was a professional hunter or that you are expressing surprise that it's an issue?

I must confess, had I known about the hunting before I researched/ booked I may well have booked elsewhere. Then again the private vehicle is a big incentive!

One of the negatives about our stay was that 2 other guests we met were hunters / pro-hunting. One was a very friendly gentleman there with his wife and young son. He is a business partner of Alex' and was interesting to talk to, though he didn't discuss the hunting. The other was a rather obnoxious Brit who runs a travel agency in the UK. His girlfriend/ wife was very sweet but he was supercilious and exuded a rather smug colonialist attitude. He asked me what I thought about hunting at breakfast one morning (I was honest but not rude) but refused to respond in turn. Prat!

On one hand, I feel conflicted about returning to the camp now. On the other hand, we had such incredible experiences there and such a wonderful guide that's it's hard not to want to go back there right now!
Kavey is offline  
Sep 17th, 2008, 07:34 AM
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Have started a thread on safaritalk to discuss this as a broader concept as I don't want to hijack leerob's thread for this.
Kavey is offline  
Sep 17th, 2008, 02:11 PM
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kavey
in view to governors:
i love their concept in view to gamedrives. 3 a day and you can extend if everybody onboard agrees, get packed lunch and/or breakfast and get off!
also quite an incentive!
we have never ever had a pop-up car at governors!
and we stayed at il moran which is quite intimite.



div
divine54 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2008, 06:21 PM
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Kavey, where did you post this on safaritalk? I read the articles/interviews but not the forums. I would like to learn more--without a broader perspective, I'd say for me this would be a dealbreaker.

Sorry, leerob, I hope a few more Mara experts (which I most certainly am not--never even been) can answer your questions. What does the rest of your itinerary look like? Any other tented camps? If so, you could forgo one here and stay at the Serena if it appeals both in terms of location and price.

Best of luck!
Leely2 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2008, 06:26 PM
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Hi Kavey,

I knew of the aspect. It's on their website, i think. He is honest about it and doesn't bat an eyelid. I said "Dear God" as we are judging induvidual people on a public forum. Some have never met the person.

Besides, how do we know about the principles of many people that run camps and lodges in Africa?

One last thing - While I did like Governors during my visit back in the day ......... I would now consider it more or less herding people in and out of the Mara. But yes, the gameviewing out there is very very good.

Hari
HariS is offline  
Sep 17th, 2008, 10:45 PM
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Hari,
We've always discussed camp ownership and hunting associations here so the fact that Serian is owned by an individual doesn't mean, to me, that it's off limits for discussion any more than those camps owned by business groups.
Absolutely, Alex has been open about the hunting, but I simply hadn't realised before I booked.
But I enjoyed our stay there so much and was really impressed with the conservancy too that I would like to return.
As for Governor's, it would not be my choice of camp, though I stayed there once for a special wildlife festival where our group took over the entire camp. But I thought the developments may be of interest to others.
As for their pop tops, I don't think they have many but they have retained some for those visitors that request them, which means, when the camp is full, visitors who don't request them may end up assigned to them.
Kavey is offline  
Sep 17th, 2008, 11:05 PM
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You probably mis-interpreted - I didn't say it was off limits for discussion. My point was, who knows about the absolute background or stance of many business models, operators or for that matter other induviduals in the field.
HariS is offline  
Sep 18th, 2008, 01:24 AM
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Ahh, sorry, yes I'd misunderstood.

I completely agree that we probably have no idea of the stance/ associations and involvements of the owners/ managers of most of the camps. And I agree with you completely that it's refreshing to come across openess in that respect, as on Serian's website.

Thanks again for you input...

Can't access safaritalk from here but will check/ add to it tonight.
Kavey is offline  
Sep 18th, 2008, 10:12 AM
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Leerob, I haven't stayed at the Mara Sarova but we did stop there for lunch on the way into the Masai Mara last year. Yes, there are tents... but generally it felt just like a lodge to me -- a big dining room/fancy buffet and indoor reception area with modern restrooms, and the tents were close together. It seemed quite different from the smaller tented camps we stayed at in Samburu (Elephant Bedroom) and Tarangire (Oliver's Camp), if that's the kind of experience you're imagining. But maybe someone who has stayed overnight at the Sarova can comment on that. It reminded me most of Sweetwaters. A lovely lodge with tented rooms, rather than a "camp." For what it's worth (it was mid-day), we saw almost no wildlife in that area.

We stayed 3 nights at the Mara Serena, primarily because of its location and because it fit well with our budget. As it turned out, we really loved it there. The view was amazing, location was excellent for game drives out into different areas (this was in late Sept.), and we were able to do a night game drive inside the park from this lodge. Despite the fact that it's a lodge with walls, we could hear hippos, hyenas and lions from our room at night, there was a little bat living in a tree right beside our balcony, and rock hyraxes, agama lizards and gorgeous birds all over the grounds of the lodge. So we did feel very close to the animals!

For my two cents, if I could return to the Mara and had to choose between these two (Sarova and Serena), I would definitely choose the Serena.
MyDogKyle is offline  
Nov 27th, 2008, 05:16 AM
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@leerob
Reading through this forum, I've seen a particular situation that tourists seem to get into that I do not understand.
Kenyan tour guides know that most travellers that go anywhere near a game reserve are there to see game.
This is what tourism is based on in Kenya. Game Drives.
So, when you pay for a safari that includes visiting the Maasai Mara or Amboseli etc, you are expected to view game.
You should not have to pay extra for game drives if you already paid for transportation. Most companies/guides charge transportation per day or in KM meaning the guide is available to you to see all game.
That's the reason you have a tour guide as a driver and not just a regular driver.
The only situations I can envisage where you would pay extra for game drives are:
1.
You found your own way to the hotel/lodge and have no transportation of your own. Meaning you have to hire the hotel transportation every game drive.
2.
Specialist game drives you decide on last minute (eg a night time game drive).
3.
Ballooning etc.

More details available if needed.
amon is offline  
Nov 28th, 2008, 12:31 PM
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Hey I was just at Serian. Thoroughly enjoyed both Ngare and the original. I was most impressed with Alex. He and his partners are immersed in conserving the area with some really great ideas to assist the Masai and other locals to improve their lifestyles and of course the ecology of the region. If you are boycotting him because of his past profession, my word you are narrow minded as the bigger picture is far to important to ignore and needs all the support it can get.

Back to Sarova Mara: No problem for the game from this area & yes you'll be able to access many quarters of the greater mara without additional cost including some crossing points and decent hippo pools.
mkhonzo is offline  
Jan 18th, 2009, 10:31 AM
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Well said Mkhonzo!
Hari i will be at Serian again in Feb, are you coming to Mara?
Alejandra is offline  
Jan 18th, 2009, 04:38 PM
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I'll be there again in June/July.
mkhonzo is offline  
Jan 18th, 2009, 05:27 PM
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Hi Alejandra,

Enjoy!!! Unfortunately, can't make it this February - hopefully at some point in the future.

Regards
Hari
HariS is offline  

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