When my sister and I visited my parents in Kenya, they treated us to a safari with Encounter Mara. I think my dad summed it up best: "When we were planning this, I thought to myself 'Well, this is a once-in-a-lifetime-thing', but by the first afternoon I was lounging on the daybed on our tent's porch thinking 'How can I manage to do this again.'" We traveled overland from Nairobi (flights are also available). A warning -- the road into the Mara is bad. Worse than bad, actually. But I enjoyed seeing more of Kenya than we would have from the plain. Our guide, Daniel, met us at the road, in a little village to drive us into the Mara Naboisho Conservancy, picnic lunch in hand. We enjoyed our first meal -- delicious beef wraps, fresh fruit, and cheesecake squares -- under a beautiful acacia tree. Daniel was a capable, knowledgeable, professional, patient and good-natured guide throughout our stay. I thoroughly enjoyed our game drives, and how attuned he was to our interests. Pro tip: if there's something you're really interested in seeing or learning about, let your guide know; they're very flexible. We were also treated to FIVE meals a day ... an early morning "light" breakfast (if you're like me, this breakfast of cereal, fruit, coffee, juice was pretty much the size of your everyday "normal" breakfast) before the 6:30 a.m. game drive; a delicious brunch after the morning game drive, High Tea at 3:30 p.m., sundowners and bitings on the evening game drive (one evening we sat in the truck and watched the lions; the next we enjoyed it out of the truck, watching the zebras amble past); and glorious 3-course meal (preceded by drinks around the campfire).
And the tent! Put out of your mind everything you know about "tents"... this is truly "Glamping." Soft queen-sized beds, turndown service with a hot water bottle tucked in the sheets, flush toilets, hot showers ... wonderful! I hope to have the opportunity to return to Kenya some day soon, and when I do, I'll definitely visit Encounter Mara again.
My only tips, if you go: Call ahead to check the weather the day before you go. Even though it was supposed to be the dry season, it had been unseasonably rainy and the camp was muddy. Also, wear shoes around camp that you can slip on and off easily, since you'll want to take them off before entering your tent, the lounge tent or the dining tent.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- With natural simplicity and elegance, Encounter Mara provides a completely unique and eco-friendly approach to safari lodging. Built with only completely removable structures, with a focus on conservation, Encounter Mara offers luxury in their twelve custom-designed, spacious tents, positioned for privacy as well as optimal game viewing. Located in the Mara Naboisho Conservancy, guests experience unparalleled game-viewing in a low-tourism-density area and opportunities for night drives and bush walks. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Encounter Mara Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve