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“Plenty of potential, awful performance” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Mara Timbo Camp

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Mara Timbo Camp
Masai Mara, Triangle | near Olololo-Gate, Maasai Mara National Reserve 00621, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Canberra, Australia
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
“Plenty of potential, awful performance”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed August 2, 2013

Mara Timbo has a great location on the Mara River (albeit 35-40 minutes from the park gate, not 10-15 minutes as advertised), and the rooms are nice. That's about where it ends.

I compare this place to what I experienced in Elephant Bedroom Camp in Samburu, which cost less overall but gave what customer service should be about: going the extra mile to make your customer happy.

Mara Timbo, on the other hand, was about as close an example of trying to ruin a customer's experiences as possible. Lying, lack of communication, yelling, petulant e-mails were all part of the "experience".

The problems lie mostly with one part of the camp's ownership, Klaus. Klaus is about as unprofessional as it comes (apparently this has changed in the last year - from previously being good to deal with). Klaus is rude, yells at customers on the phone and doesn't communicate arrangements to his camp staff. He was arguably the most unprofessional tourist representative I've ever dealt with.

Here's some examples:
- we booked for a large group trip. When organising payment, Klaus refused to take credit card (international standard for these sort of things), demanding - within 48 hours - a local Kenyan money transfer system or SWIFT payment (not all banks have SWIFT agreements with all countries). Yet the camp had credit card facilities.
- when we sought alternate means of payment, Klaus did not respond for several days until further emails and phone calls, then became abusive and demanded payment by THAT NIGHT, threatening to cancel part of our booking if we did not meet his demands. As we had already paid a significant deposit, we were forced to impose on Kenyan friends to scrape together the money immediately to satisfy Klaus.
- when we arrived at the camp, instead of providing 1L of water per person, per game drive, as promised by Klaus, the camp attempted to charge us extortionate amounts for small bottles of water, refusing to accept the agreed arrangements. This is some of the worst service I've experienced in Kenya: drinking water is provided as a matter of course in every other camp I've dealt with, particularly for health reasons. Mara Timbo is not even a budget camp - yet another example of serious penny-pinching and poor service.

As part of the arrangement, I was staying on longer on our final day and returning by air to fit in another game drive. Klaus "forgot" to communicate this arrangement to the poor camp manager. He also charged me an extra USD80 for the final game drive, as it would require an "extra, separate cruiser" for the game drive. Not only was the extra game drive not organised (leaving me sitting at the camp until midday), I was then told it would be a shared game drive (never stated, never suggested, a complete nonsense) otherwise I would have to pay USD250 - an outrageous price given the costs we knew the camp incurred. The camp did not even bother to include a packed lunch, despite the extra cost and the long delay. (The food, given how accessible the Mara is and the price charged, was also of a mediocre quality.)

All of this comes down to poor service. When you have a similar comparison in Samburu, which goes to every length to make customers happy, Mara Timbo went to, it seemed, every length to screw customers over. Sadly, we spoke to other people staying at the camp who had also had bad experiences with Klaus and the head office.

Maybe with different management, this place could be great. But as it is, it isn't, and is one of the most disappointing experiences I've had in Africa - which fortunately didn't quite ruin the real reason we were there (the safari itself). But when there are so many other options in the area? Not recommended.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MaraTimboCamp, Public Relations Manager at Mara Timbo Camp, responded to this review, October 17, 2013
We like to comment this entry as follows.

This client had booked a mix of Road- and Flight package with Mara Timbo Camp.
This package (like every other package bookable at Mara Timbo Camp) was very clearly described in the confirmation voucher the client was send. Since our opening 2009 we not a single time had any discussion with a client about what is included and what is excluded. Therefore this all finds us quite astonished.

Mara Timbo Camp has clear payment conditions, which are indicated in our invoice. We don´t accept credit card payment up front but only in the camp for paying the extras. As payment we expect a bank transfer, payment by cheque (if there is enough time for the cheque to clear) or in cash in three different currencies. Those conditions were communicated to the client BEFORE he did the booking and later by the invoice and voucher.

The client was not able to pay by bank transfer through his bank by a simple Swift. Every other customer from wherever in this world in the past always was able to do that. That this doesnßt work for him, is not our fault. In a demanding manner we have not experienced since camp´s opening the client tried to dictate us our payment conditions. We told him, we are sorry, but we were unable to follow his demand.

The group this client intended to arrive with had asked for two separated invoices. The group booked a pure Road Package, this gentlemen first wanted to fly in, later changed his mind to a “drive in and fly out” and stay even longer than the group.

We had send two different invoices accordingly. The road package group paid their deposit. The single client was told, we cannot mix the down payments but only be able to accept and hold his booking, when even his down payment is done (Even we have to pay flight tickets upfront fully). This is not a “threat” but our simple duty to describe booking and the payment process. This is the same procedure in every hotel in this world. At the end his friends in the group paid for him.

For his extended time in the camp the client was told UPFRONT we would have to charge him a game drive fee, because his group (and their tour van he did the game drives with before) had left already. This was clearly communicated and is normal procedure, and we wonder why this becomes a matter of discussion at all.

In all: Mara Timbo Camp is accustomed to deliver more than just 100% of what our clients book and pay for. We are always going an extra mile for our clients. Our terms and conditions should be respected though.

We are very much happy and proud that all other guests reviews here on Tripadvisor and other guest review platforms proof which high standard of service and friendliness Mara Timbo Camp´s colleagues are showing towards our clients.

Jack Odhiambo
Mara Timbo Camp
PR
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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74 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (5)
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English first
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 31, 2013 via mobile

The location at the Mara river is just great. You will have breakfast and dinner in between bushes and next to the Hippos in the river. A real wildlife experience. Dinner was in particular excellent. Breakfast was very good too however few quantity. Only few rooms available.

Rooms and location is the highlight. Please be informed that the access road is very bumby and a less cool experience. But it is worthwile.
Definitely a place to recommend and to return.

  • Stayed July 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leuven, Belgium
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 16, 2013

We stayed in Mara Timbo for our honeymoon in August, 2012, after some problems with communications and booking, we finally managed to work it out. We enjoyed the setting of the camp, the tents are great, cozy, and clean. The terrace with the hamoc and the bathtub is great. the feeling of privacy you get in this camp is lovely too. One of the best parts was waking up and having the breakfast on the river with the little hippos family living there :)..the people are great and very helpful.

The only downsides I can think of about this camp, are first its a little far from the gate of the park, with a very bumpy road and a tiring ride, but you can consider that this drive is already the start of the game drive so it is not really that bad. Secondly, I can say that they could improve the food a little bit to make this amazing place even better.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nairobi, Kenya
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 6, 2013

We booked this camp through recommendation from friends, who stayed here over last Christmas and had wonderful time.However, we had a totally different experience when we visited on the second week(mid of January) 2013.

The rooms,game drives and service are excellent.the only disappointment was the food.On the first dinner,we ordered for grilled beef minute steak 'medium rear'.what we got was a dry, burnt out and tasteless steak.the potato mash was poorly prepared(this is always our preferred accompaniment),on the second day, the soup was still tasteless and thick,we opted for fish which still was served dry and burnt,however the roasted potato wedges were great.on both dinners, spaghetti was offered as the choice for vegetarians.The Desserts a cream caramel on the first day and a fruit strudel on the second day were also not keenly prepared.

Kate and Jimmy-Netherlands.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nairobi, Kenya
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 1, 2013

So a nice place, with a very perfect staff team!
We fell very comfortable.
We was there with our kids and was feeling very welcoming!!!
Great service, a welcome-massage, very good meals and great game drives.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Munich
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 17, 2012

When we arrived, we were strangers and just guests. 5 days later we had found new friends. We spent wonderful days in Mara Timbo Camp. The tents were wonderful. The meals were really good and we have got the Swahili meals we had asked for. We had wonderful days out in the park and we have seen so many animals. Thanks to the guides, who have done everything possible to make us happy. Back in the camp we had nice evenings with dinner and cocktails in the dark near the river with all those Hippos.
But the best was the evening of our 25th wedding anniversary. It was an awsome experience to celebrate this like a Masai wedding: with dancing Masai warriors, with singing Masai women and together with the whole staff of the camp. We will never forget this very special evening together with friends.
Thanks to the whole staff, to Gideon, Rakita, Steven, Stella, Anthony .... We miss you all.
We will come again.

Assante sana, Uwe and Iris

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ghent, Belgium
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 6, 2012

In the summer of 2012 I had the privilege to spend a couple of nights in this camp, and truly, no words can ever describe how wonderful the experience was.

First of all the location sets it apart from any other camp in the area. It's located right in the bush, on the bank of the Mara river. The view over the river with the hippos and crocodiles you have during breakfast, lunch or dinner is truly breathtaking. You can go to one of the other camps and feel like you're in a luxury resort, just like in any other place in the world, or you can get the real Africa experience at Mara Timbo, albeit with all the comfort you can imagine. Every tent comes with personal butler service, jacuzzi, shower, and a large but really comfortable bed.

As I said the view during the meals is great, but that's not the only thing. The meals themselves are prepared by a chef that could easily deserve his place in any European top restaurant. Truly, if gastronomy is your thing, this is the place to be!

Furthermore the service is top-notch. Every staff member is very skilled, professional and does everything to ensure you have an unforgettable stay. Being an ex holiday rep I have worked in many luxury resorts around the world, and to be honest I have rarely seen the hospitality and service delivered in this camp!

The entrance to the park is only a very short drive away. During our stay, we had to cross some rugged terrain to get there, but this was due to the heavy rainfall just before we arrived, as we were the first guests after the rain season.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Mara Timbo Camp

Address: Masai Mara, Triangle | near Olololo-Gate, Maasai Mara National Reserve 00621, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Maasai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #75 of 117 Specialty Lodging in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Number of rooms: 7
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A romantic camp under German Management ideally situated on Mara River with two large hippo families in front of only 7 spacious 45sqm luxury tents. They are situated on big terraces and offer outside bathtubs with view to the wild animals. A personal Butler Service pays very much attention to the maximum of privacy. Tent-facilities include king-size bed, safe, en-suite bathroom, hot shower, flush toilet, 220/240volt power supply. Activities: Game Drives, Nature Walk, Maasai Village, Balloon Safaris, Night Game Drives. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Mara Timbo Camp Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Mara Timbo Camp Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve

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