What is there to say that hasn’t already been said by so many? Amani Mara is a paradise in the Mara, and the owners make their guests feel like part of the family. We were fortunate to be there over Christmas, and there happened to be no other guests there at the time. Even for an intimate place, Ashif, Shelina, their two sons, Boniface, Sammy and all of the staff, made us feel like family. Everyone was so generous with their time and attention. They adored our young sons (5 & 2) and made every accommodation, and never once made us feel stressed in having kids spill food, not eat, or be noisy. Heck, we also learned tons about animals, local environment, local culture, history, and child rearing!
The game drives and nature walks were first rate. We saw 4 of the big 5 (excluding elusive rhino), and Sammy our guide pointed things out and explaining at every chance. Within our first 30 minutes on the way from the airstrip to the camp, we probably saw just about every animal, except a male lion, leopard and cheetah, which we saw on other days. Otherwise, we saw them all immediately. They took us to a marketday in town for a real local masai flavor. Ashif arranged to take my family (esp our sons) to a local fishing hole for their very first fishing trip. As it turned out, our older son caught his first fish ever in a few minutes. needless to say, a great memory.
Starting on Christmas Eve, the team arranged for a Christmas tree and trimming session complete with wonderful traditional Christmas meal of turkey and all the side dishes too! They even brought in a surprise performance of a masai youth choir to sing and dance masai Christmas carols. The food was different everyday, cooked to order and wholesome without additives. We ate western, African, and even Indian specialties.
The camp’s setting, though technically not in the bush, is wonderful. Set up on a ledge, overlooking a hippo pool and crocs, you can see animals in the distance, not to mention see and hear animals just outside your doorstep. This is real nature, not some fenced in version of African wildlife. I watched a croc devour a baby hippo, just like out of a national geographic special. and each night, we heard the hippos grunting and splashing. If you listen closely, you could hear the lions roaring too.
It was a huge plus not to have internet/wifi. This was the first vacation where we weren’t checking emails each day, and I quickly forgot what day it was. It is a relief for us city dwellers to take a break from our gadgets. It was entertaining enough for our five year-old son to forget about playing on the ipad.
While the staff encourage guests to make plans each night for the following day’s activities, there was no pressure to be on time or actually do anything at all. Having said that, in such a wonderful place, with so much to see, it would have been hard to sit too still and let the wildlife go by.
I highly highly recommend Amani Mara if you are visiting masai mara. It was nice to hear and see how Ashif and staff are making efforts to be ecologically friendly in Masai Mara with land surrounding the lodge. Before departing, they provided an opportunity for our sons to plant their first trees. This was our first African safari, and we look forward to being back for more at Amani Mara.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Amani Mara is a peaceful haven located in Olare Orok on the the banks of the Ntiak Ntiak river in the World Famous Maasai Mara National Game Reserve. It is a small and exclusive boutique lodge with exquisite accommodation, with each structure beautifully designed to give unobstructed views of the scenery with minimal impact on the environment. Guests are able to view a variety of game right from the comfort of their own rooms. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Amani Mara Lodge Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve