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“Ilkeliani - Perfect!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Ilkeliani Camp

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Ilkeliani Camp
2.5 of 5 Cabin/Campground   |   Masai Mara | P.O Box 64196, Maasai Mara National Reserve 00620, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Ottawa, ON
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
“Ilkeliani - Perfect!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2013

This was our first safari, so we cannot compare to any other camps, but we loved Ilkeliani. Where to start? Of course, the game drives were amazing, and the jeep we used was particularly good because it was open, but it did have a roof, so you felt much more interactive with the surrounding environment and animals, but well protected as well. Our tent was wonderful - the king-size bed was very comfortable, and there were plenty of covers for the cool evenings. The shower and toilet were unexpectedly good. We did have a problem with a leaking sink, but it was fixed very quickly once we reported it. The housekeeping service was twice daily, usually while we were on our game drives. Our tent, like most of them, overlooked the river. We enjoyed sitting outside, trying to read, but being distracted by the amazing bird and animal life in the camp (nothing too scary, though). The food was very good. We are definitely foodies, and we were pleasantly surprised at the quality and presentation. Perhaps not a great gourmet experience, but certainly delicious and beautifully presented. We loved the bar tent, and enjoyed a drink there before dinner each night. But by far the best part of Ilkeliani is the staff - from the safari and nature guides to the dining room staff, to the housekeeping staff, to our Masaii warrior escorts (who also patrolled the camp at night) - everyone was friendly, efficient, helpful, and caring. I arrived at Ilkeliani suffering from a pretty bad intestinal problem, and everyone showed concern and asked about me (word must get around quickly). One of the bar/restaurant guys even made me a special drink one night to help restore my electrolytes. All in all, one of the best travel experiences of my life. We would go back to Ilkeliani in a heartbeat.

Room Tip: If you request an East tent, you will see the sunrise, although you will be out on the game drive be...
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  • Stayed February 2013, 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.
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (15)
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English first
Lisbon, Portugal
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
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 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.
Abilene, Texas, United States
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 22, 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 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kenosha, Wisconsin
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 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.
Nairobi, Kenya
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
21 helpful votes 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 Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
7 helpful votes 7 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 Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dublin, Ireland
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
22 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
28 helpful votes 28 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 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
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 #46 of 108 Specialty lodging in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Ilkeliani Camp 2.5*
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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