mara river camp

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Apr 8th, 2003, 02:57 PM
  #1
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mara river camp

hello all, i can't beleive i found a site where everybody is as crazy about africa/kenya as i am!!! i was there in january 2001 and am planning on going back in late august/early september 2004. while in the mara i stayed at kichwa tembo and little govenors. i was planning on staying at the mara river camp for the migration this time. however, i am getting conflicting reports about this camp from people on this forum. my main interest is photography so the closer to the action the better. the guides at mara river are supossed to be very good and you can stay out all day if you want. and it seems to be where the pro photographers want to be. i would appreciate any additional info on this camp and if it is better than little govenors(for the migration).thanks
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Apr 8th, 2003, 11:43 PM
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I have also read in this forum about Mara River Camp. In my opinion staying at Kichwa Tembo or any of the Governors camps will get you closer to the action. Mara River Camp is at least 20 minutes further from the Park than Kichwa Tembo. As its name suggests the camp is actually on the river, but the wildebeest are unlikely to cross there as it at the point that the Mara River runs against the Escarpment. As you look out of the tent you don't see endless plains but a sharp wall of rock ! I have looked on their website and it does appear that they attract professional photographers, but I think you'll find you have to drive into the park. BBC's Big Cat Diary film crew stay at Governors if that helps !
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Apr 9th, 2003, 03:17 AM
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jaegermeister, my husband and I visited Kenya twice. The first time June 2000 we stayed in Mara River Camp and in February 2002 in the Governors camp.
Mara River is far, far away from the Masai Mara so you have to spend half hour or more on a terrible road which looks and feels more like dry river bed.
For this reason and because we had a guide who was rude (I got scolded for asking whether he can turn his engine of as I wanted to take a picture of lilac-breasted roller)and just didn't have any passion for wildlife every other guide showed on both of our safaris. My husband just reminded me that when in Mara River Camp the camp run out of food one day and for lunch and dinner we had the same soup and nothing else. Not even bottled water was available. Masai Mara was unforgettable experience so we returned there but didn't even think about going back to the Mara River Camp.
Governors Camp on the other hand was fantastic and is much closer to the the river where migration happens. Once you are out of the gate you are in Masaii Mara. The guides are wonderful and extremely accommodating which is very important if you want to get some great shots.

But don't be dissapointed if you won't witness migration. There are people who go to Masai Mara every year to witness migration and so far they had no luck. I hope you will see this unbelivable show. Once you see it you will never forget it.

Katycee is right that the wildebeest are unlikely to cross at the Mara River area. I can assure you this is not a place where they cross the river. Governors Camp is the closest to the action. I don't know about Kichwa Tembo camp. I know that the Little Governers Camp is a fantastic place to stay but it is much farther to the place where you have the best chance to see migration. Have fun and good luck
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Apr 9th, 2003, 03:41 AM
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Little Governor's and Governor's are near each other. L. Gov's faces a swamp while main Gov's is on the banks of the Mara River. Both are in delightful locations but I prefer main Gov's location by the river. Kichwa Tembo is at the base of an escarpement and overlooks the Mara plains where the wildebeest gather but it is by no means the best place to be for the real action. Also i don't like the fact that it is fenced to keep the wildlife away.

You will definitely see the migration at some point in the Mara between July and September/october but the real prize is the river crossing with crocs in a frenzy. That is as difficult to see as a lion or a leopard kill. You will need to spend a lot of days in the Mara to witness something like that.

One of the things you might want to do is have a private vehicle (can be expensive but worthwhile if you can achieve your objectives). Generally the camp vehicles include other camp guests who may not be interested in the migration alone which will affect your chances of following the migration closely.

In fact if you prefer a private vehicle then it may be better and cheaper for you to be driven by a driver, who will also be your guide, to the Mara in a minibus (cheaper than 4x4), stay at 2 or 3 cheaper but larger camps or lodges, such as Serena Lodge, Fig tree Camp, Mara Intrepids, and go on full day game drive at your own convenience and to the places where you wish to go.

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Apr 9th, 2003, 04:28 AM
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I must put my two cents in about the Mara River Camp. We stayed there for four nights in September 2002 and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our stay. Yes, the Mara River Camp is outside of the park and it does take about 20 mins. to get to the park's Oloololo Gate. Yes, it is at the base of a "sharp wall of rock" as Katycee put it, otherwise known as the Great Escarpment. For all of you who tout Kwicha Tembo, John Cook, current manager of the Mara River Camp, built and operated Kwicha Tembo for years before retiring from that responsibility. The camp never ran out of food when we were there. Also, we enjoyed the company several nights of a National Geographic photographer, who relayed delightful tales of some of his African adventures. Our guide was phenomenal and we did see a wildebeest crossing, a magnificent leopard and ate our picnic breakfast as two male lions ate a wildebeest. The Mara River Camp uses the same airstrip as Governor's, which means they are in relative close proximity to one another. As King is well aware, there is never any guarantee where the wildebeest are going to cross either the Talek or Mara rivers. Trying to catch one is always a game of chance, but I believe that our Mara River Camp guide played a critical role in getting us to see some of the spectacular offerings of the Mara, which included a crossing. We stayed at numerous upscale camps/lodges during our stay in Kenya and Tanzania (Tortilis Camp in Amboseli, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and Sand Rivers in Selous), but the ambiance and staff at the Mara River Camp made it my favorite.
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Apr 9th, 2003, 06:17 AM
  #6
Jed
 
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We stayed at Olonana, which was next to a river. Across the river from our tent was a group of Hippos. There was a lot to do and we would recommend it.
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Apr 9th, 2003, 06:34 AM
  #7
 
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You can camp or stay in medium to luxury camps and lodges anywhere in Mara and still track the migration. Te most important thing is that you are able to follow the migration for the whole day. Generally most guides are pretty good (I haven't had one bad guide yet in the Mara ) but a guide who cares about nature and knows his/her birds and flora will be a better guide than the one who is involved in mass tourism and rushes from one place to another for the sake of 'Big 5'.

Mara Rivr, Gov's, Kichwa tembo, Intrepids all have good guides. I am surprised about the bad experience that someone had at Mara river Camp as it is a very friendly place in a delightful location. Yes you have to travel 20 to 30 mins to get into the reserve but the reserve has no fences so essentially you are starting your game drive as soon as you leave the camp. Mara River Camp has a masai village nearby which may put off some wildlife in the vicinity, unlike Gov which is far away from any Masai village, but you can still have excellent game drives from the camp.

I think debating about various lodges and camps detracts from the real stars of the Mara - the wildebeest. It should not matter where you stay as long as you are able to follow the wildebeest with the help of a good guide. A 4x4 vehicle will help if you are on the Mara river or Governor's side but is not essential if you are on the eastern
side of the Mara.

Re: photographers - I have met several photographers who have camped or stayed at places other then the Mara River Camp and Govs and have got successful pictures of the migration so keep an open mind based on your budget and objective. Also as i said spread your accommodation around the Mara to improve your chances of seeing the river crossing which of course you may never see. Half the pleasure comes from
searching for the river crossings.

Once when searcing for the crossings I came across a group of bloated wildebeest that had drowned in the Mara River during a failed crossing. It was a devastating scene equally as gory as the crocs killing the wildebeeste. The point is that the wildebeeste migration has so many twists and turns and such incredible drama that you will see and experience things that you never expected, no matter where you stay!
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Apr 10th, 2003, 09:54 AM
  #8
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i would like to thank everyone for their input. it has helped me narrow my choices. one definite choice is rekero camp which i would like to thank king for making me aware of. this place is right up my alley from the guides to the great location of the camp. i also think i will go with gov's instead of the mara river camp(why drive an extra half hour every morning?).
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