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“Amazing experience” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Ilkeliani Camp

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Ilkeliani Camp
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Masai Mara | P.O Box 64196, Maasai Mara National Reserve 00620, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Lisbon, Portugal
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Amazing experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 23, 2013

It was my first safari so I have no terms for comparison but I had the most amazing experience.
I was extremely well received and the staff was always very friendly, welcoming and available.
The tents are excellent, well arranged, with hot showers and hot water bottle in bed at night!
The location of the tents is also excellent, on the riverside and completely hidden and away from each other. They told me that all the tents were occupied but most of the time I had the feeling there was just me ...
The safaris were great and our guide (Petro) was fantastic.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Gatamarela
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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190 reviews from our community

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Abilene, Texas, United States
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 21, 2013

... And I lived in Kenya for 7 years. I have probably been on 5 to 7 safaris, depending on how much time spent with an actual guide you would say counts as a safari. I moved back to the States for college and when I returned for a short visit to Nairobi in 2010 (not 2012, I just can't go back further on the time scale provided), my parents booked our family here and I must say, it was gorgeous and luxurious. We happened to be there at a time when there were no other families either, so that was an added bonus. Although, the tents aren't particularly close to each other so it probably wouldn't have mattered if there had been other people. The tents are spacious, they make the beds every day, bring you hot tea or coffee in the morning as a wake-up call and leave a hot water bottle under the covers at the end of the bed every night. It was simply amazing. I forgot I was staying in a tent rather than a hotel. The food was amazing and fresh and the staff was very knowledgable (with good English skills, I might add). I really couldn't say enough about Ilkeliani. I'm just sad that I had never heard of it until just a couple years ago. Amazing place. It's my first suggestion to anyone safari-ing in Kenya.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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Helpful?
4 Thank Rebecca H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kenosha, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 11, 2013

We stayed in several camps when we were in Kenya. This one was by far the favorite. And from looking at the pictures they just keep improving. Romantic, accommodating, fabulous. Can't say enough good things about this place. The phots are not imaginary, this really is what it looks like...in fact it is even better in person. I liked it so much I want to go back again..

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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Helpful?
Thank LastMinutel1962
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York
Level Contributor
13 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 29, 2012

I have not been to other safaris, so I cannot properly compare this to other safari experiences, but I found Ilkeliani to be thoughtfully conceived and well executed. There are a number of cultural and environmental hazards foreign tourists encounter when traveling to a place like the Mara, but Ilkeliani does everything it can to ensure visitors have an enjoyable, even luxurious, stay while leaving the lightest possible footprint on the environment and assisting the fragile local economy.

First, the basics: The camp is very comfortable. The tents have foundations and furniture, but are real tents. There have hot water and flush toilets, but it's a more rustic experience than staying in a lodge. The individual tents are a fair distance from the communal areas (dining tent, lounge tent, etc), so one has the sense of being alone with the chirping frogs and things that go bump in the night.

The food was quite good, especially considering that everything must be flown into the camp from Nairobi. They clearly work a lot of the same ingredients into several dishes out of necessity, so one should not expect a broad selection of options at every meal, but we were not disappointed. They were even quite accommodating: I emailed several days in advance to request vegetarian meals, and the vegetarian meals provided were very enjoyable.

For tree-huggers: We saw cheetahs, a rhino, elephants, giraffes, buffaloes—the works—but throughout our game driver seemed very responsible, even chastising other drivers who crept too close to the game. (Though we still got very, very close.)

The camp's electricity and hot water come from solar cells, and the waste appears to be well handled. I've read that poorly maintained "eco-camps" will attract marabou storks, which like to feed on the food waste, but there were no signs of any such garbage-feeders.

For people-huggers: There is something distasteful about descending into a foreign place and gawking at its natives, but the camp goes out of its way to foster real interaction with the local Maasai and to support the local community. Maasai from the nearby village are invited to perform dances and sell their wares at the camp, and visitors are encouraged to go to pay the village a visit. Be warned: the village tour does apply pressure on visitors to purchase souvenirs, but we walked away empty-handed without too much hassle.

The village tour is also an elegant solution to a problem I've read about in other Maasai areas, where the locals' income derives largely from asking or demanding payment for photographs taken of them. This actually seems fair, if you ask me (they are part of the attraction and should be compensated, plus the safari economy has disrupted their traditional way of life, making a cash income very important, etc.), but tourists often take umbrage, and unhappiness ensues. With the village tour, visitors are asked for a donation in advance (something like $25 per person), with money going directly to the community, and then visitors are welcome to take as many photos as they like.

Ilkeliani also hires Maasai as staff, and they are friendly and welcome questions about their culture, so it is a real opportunity to learn and interact.

Again, I have not been on other safaris, but this experience was tremendous, and highly recommended.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars
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    • 4 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank R071
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 23, 2012

My wife and I spent five wonderful nights at the Ilkeliani Camp in Massai Mara in October and can not praise it enough for the incredible experience that we had. The Camp is well situated on the border of the Masai Mara Reserve, making easy entrance into the park. The Safari drives were spectacular! We saw all of the big five and more, including 12 lions in one day, 30 elephants, cheetahs, leopards, hippos, etc. The safari guides were outstanding!!! The camp was also very nice, with beautiful and comfortable accommodations. The hospitality staff was first rate as were the meals. All in all a great place and highly recommended. Dale & Suzanne

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 4 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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Helpful?
2 Thank needles_dale
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
39 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 5, 2012

I loved every minute of our stay here! The tents were spotless, comfortable and had a very private veranda. The camp itself is peaceful, relaxing and homely. The food was amazing, we cleared our plates every night! As a vegetarian, I was amazed at the food provided and the attention that was paid to my food. Nothing was a hassle! The staff were amazing, always on hand, discreetly. I would stay here again, for longer next time! Only tip is to bring a decent flashlight, one is provided, but didn't work properly. Loved, loved, loved my stay here!

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
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Helpful?
Thank Adcat_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Zurich, Switzerland
Level Contributor
96 reviews
65 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 20, 2012

Our trip started with Ilkeliani and they set the standard really high! Tents are very good - but if you expect too mu luxury, you will probably won't appreciate a lot. All is stylish, clean and charming. You have hot water all the time! When in the evening you have to go to the lounge and restaurant, someone always waits for you and accompanies you (it could be dark and you are in the nature after all and if you don't remember your way, it is helpful) - the people accompany you back to the tent when you decide to go back. The beds are always made and you have a bottle of hot water, sufficient blankets.

Wake-up calls, coffee in the morning before the games and all is greatly organized. About the food - great! Ok, you don't have a menu to choose from but the chef Jonathan, a masai, does an amazing job with the limited electricity, no drinking water in your tap. The taste and presentation of the dishes deserves a recognition and a particular remark! A note about the service and attention to details, one evening we had fish and it was served with a knife for fish, which is not common in many restaurants etc. The diversity of the dishes was another point to make!

The staff - absolutely friendly and helpful! You can easily engage in conversations and those are great guys to take care of you while you are there - starting at 5am till you go back to your tent! Compared to all other places we visited, this was the most friendly , helpful and superb staff (at least for me).

The games are the usual - wake up at 6, game drives start at 6.30 - our guide was another special guy. We did one full day trip to Mara river as well.

Our tent had a view to the river, we had also rain but it didn't interrupt our trip at all. There were a few options for a visit to a Masai, village, walks, dinners in the bushes, they can assist you in getting to a balloon ride.

For some the fact that you do not have internet access could be an issue but you can enjoy the nature more.. Electricity is available in the morning and the evening and you can charge your batteries in the lounge.

You don't have a safe and when we asked for a safe they were surprised which demonstrates that it is also a safe place!

The location of the camp if convenient because you are a few mins from the Masai Mara park entrance, easy drive from/to the airport.

All I can say is Bravo to this true Kenyan place!

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
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    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
5 Thank LoraTraveling
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Ilkeliani Camp

Address: Masai Mara | P.O Box 64196, Maasai Mara National Reserve 00620, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Maasai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #59 of 140 Specialty Lodging in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Number of rooms: 17
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Nestled in a riverine forest in the Masai Mara Game Reserve, the area is a favourite for elephants coming to drink from the Talek River. Ilkeliani camp consists of only 17 tents, each commanding views of the plains and the wildlife action throughout the day. The tented rooms are raised up slightly on earth mounds, overlooking the river and the plains. These mounds are covered in vegetation, and feel quite natural, and each one has been sited under its own cluster of shady indigenous trees and you do feel like you are out in the wilderness. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Ilkeliani Camp Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Ilkeliani Camp Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve

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