Olonana Tented Camp - Wow!!

Oct 23rd, 2006, 05:28 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 13
Olonana Tented Camp - Wow!!

I have been on this board for months prior to my safari (which sadly just ended this pat week). I spent many months laboring over where is the right place to stay in the Mara. After all, it was my honeymoon and you only get one chance at that. And so I took a risk on Olonana, although there were only 2 TripAdvisor reviews at the time and not much from this message board. All I could say after staying there for 3 days, is how is that possible? Maybe people want to keep this little gem a secret from everyone else?

This wasn’t just a trip; it was an experience. The people of Olonana brought the spirit and soul of the Mara to life. I have been with other lodges, other guides, and what makes a safari so meaningful to me is the passion that the people bring to their work. At Olonana, from our 1st arrival to our departure, the staff and guides treated us as family; they went out of their way to ensure we went home with something so memorable.

First and foremost, our game drives were beyond imagination. Our guide, Ellie, brought us an experience of a lifetime, not only with what we saw (The Crossing, an alligator bringing down a wildebeest, a family of cheetahs, a lion dragging a newly killed wildebeest, the list goes on…), but he was passionate about explaining the complex nature of what we were seeing (and great sense of humor)

Back at the camp, the wait staff (Phillip) and management (Shawn, Minnie) were so gracious, and “flexibility” is what they are all about. They cater to you, without constraints. We would be specific in what foods we could and could not eat, and they were very accommodating. We asked so much from our room steward, Duncan, and he did everything with a smile on his face.

The tents were great, the main/restaurant area was beautiful (always with hippos to be seen) looking right on the Mara river, and I could go on and on, but words can’t do this justice. Just trust me on this place….it’s so intimate and personal, and was clearly the highlight of our 2 week long honeymoon. I hope that for those of you debating where to go in the Mara, you give Olonana a long look. By the way, I know this post sounds so sale-sy, but its coming from experience and I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about it.
dmunk2000 is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2006, 07:39 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 532
thanks for your post, my husband and i will be staying there the end of next month and i was beginning to doubt my pick as you do not hear very much about Olonana. But the few posts i have read have been in the same vain as yours.

Did you go on any night game drives while you were there? and will you be posting any pictures.

thank you,

joeyi is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2006, 07:44 PM
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Posts: 830
did you marry someone new or take a four month honeymoon?

(you posted in july that you were getting married in two weeks time).

can you tell us the rates? in your prelim itinerary you had mara serena or similar listed...was this in the same range?

thanks and congratulations.

kerikeri is offline  
Oct 24th, 2006, 05:17 AM
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Welcome home Doug!
Glad you enjoyed.
Oct 24th, 2006, 05:22 AM
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Was the cheetah family near the Kichwa Tembo airstrip? If so, I believe the mother is called Honey. Last I heard her five cubs were down to three. (We saw four in August) How many cubs did you see?


stakerk is offline  
Oct 24th, 2006, 05:48 AM
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r u getting kickbacks/comission ?
pls declare !!!
aby is offline  
Oct 24th, 2006, 05:49 AM
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i was just ;-)

aby is offline  
Oct 24th, 2006, 11:59 AM
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Olonana in Kenya is under the Sanctuary Lodges umbrella (an offshoot of A&K) along with Swala and Kusini in Tanzania; a number of other camps in Southern Africa.

See: www.sanctuarylodges.com

for information and rack rates.
Oct 24th, 2006, 03:32 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,354
Thank you for remind us about Olonana! I agree completely! It needs more exposure because it is a very good camp!

Your post also highlights the wonderful dilemma we have in the Masai Mara. It has so many great camps - even the lodges are good - so how do we choose one above another?

I've said many times there is no such thing as a bad bushcamp in the Masai Mara! They are all good! It comes down to being the right client at the right camp at the right time at the right price!

Some clients will have an issue with the fence around Olonana, the drive to/from the crossing areas, the grazing Maasai cattle around camp, and the lack of a vista across the Mara plains.

Such clients will probably be happier at the unfenced tented camps inside the Mara on the Talek and Mara Rivers where wildlife is free to roam through camp and every night is exciting and surprising!

On the other hand, families with kids, people seeking deeper interaction with the Maasai, those in search of luxurious relaxation away from the crowds, and lovers of the bush experience with a personal touch will really appreciate the camps on the conservancies outside the Mara!

In the greater Mara, there is truly a camp for every kind of taste, budget and interest! The secret is to find and book one that's best for YOU!
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Oct 24th, 2006, 04:37 PM
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thanks for your answer, sandi! i'll have a look for next time.

kerikeri is offline  
Oct 24th, 2006, 06:16 PM
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Hi dmunk2000,

I have also stayed at Olonana, but a long time ago before I began posting here. It was in a superb location and it was in May 2000, my very 1st gameviewing experience. The manager at the time was Peter, who was also our ranger, and his wife was Louise and they had a ridgeback called Floss. It was Peter who made our stay exceptional, nothing was too much trouble. His knowledge was outstanding and I can remember that 3 huge black maned lions were new to the area and one day while watching them, the cattle herders were way in the distance and the second the lions heard those bells on the cattle, they ran in the other direction! It was amazing to see. The other thing that remains in my mind is the hippo at night, unbearably noisy and it always seemed they were in the tent with us!

Kind regards

KayeN is offline  
Oct 24th, 2006, 08:39 PM
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From your experiences, do you feel you have had better cheetah sightings inside the immediate mara triangle or even outside in some of the more remote camps located away?....i have only stayed inside the triangle, but, my assumption is..... perhaps, there are probably fewer lions outside the immediate triangle in order to stay away from the masai.....if so, is there a chance that cheetahs thrive outside? or is my assumption wrong?

Oct 25th, 2006, 04:59 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 13
Joeyi - You'll love your stay there; be sure to ask for Ellie if he is around! And I did not go on any night game drives there, but a couple that was there did and loved it!

Kerikeri - Good investigative skills...I'll have to keep that in mind if I ever decide to snoop on anyone. Yeah, wedding & honeymoon was with the same woman (just took a 3 month break between b/c we had our wedding in Hawaii...would have been too much traveling). As for the rates, I couldn't tell you since it was a package deal, but I assume it would cost more than the Serena (and I have stayed at the Serena before so I could tell you that it's worth the premium)

Stakerk - I did see honey and her 3 cubs -- I'll try to attach some pics here in a bit. They were within the gates and are the most picturesque animals that we've ever seen. I could have probably spent the day just following them around.

Hi Sandi!! Promise to call soon and give you all the key highlights. Thank you so much for all of your help/advice!!!


dmunk2000 is offline  
Dec 21st, 2006, 02:22 PM
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OK Doug where are the photos?


stakerk is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2006, 10:08 AM
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We stayed there in 2001 and rated it hightly for activities and accommodations.
Jed is offline  
Jan 30th, 2007, 10:07 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 18
could you email me so that I can chat offline about Olonana. [email protected] is where you can reach me.
I am having a tough time between Bateleur & Olonana. You were not bothered by the drive into the Mara area? Could you see the fence from the camp? And the fence did not bother you?
skier1 is offline  
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