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“A charming camp in the beautiful Mara!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Cheetah Tented Camp

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Cheetah Tented Camp
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Masai Mara National Reserve, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Accra, Ghana
Senior Contributor
48 reviews 48 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
55 helpful votes 55 helpful votes
“A charming camp in the beautiful Mara!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 24, 2013

Where do I start? ☺ Let me begin by explaining what kind of holiday planner I am. Usually before going to a new place/country, I do immense research for several months on end. It is not a chore for me. I love it! I love going through TA reviews and other websites to get a feel of the place (as much as one can possibly know a place through internet) and then finalize on the hotel/resort I want to stay in after analyzing all the key factors that matter to me. In the case of Masai Mara, I nearly ended up with an eyesight problem doing research late into the night for a month straight. ☺

So finally I chose Cheetah Tented Camp. Why you ask? The only riverside camp to offer an exclusive vehicle per tent at no extra cost and of course it didn’t hurt that they had the best peak season prices which no other ‘good’ camp was even remotely close to. Not to mention all the ‘excellent’ reviews it had on TA. Well, one might say the decision then ought to be very easy, why did I bother with a whole month’s research? One downside to Cheetah tented camp is that it is not within the main reserve. It is in the Mara north conservancy. You will understand why this is a problem as you read along. Also, since a Spanish couple owns this camp and most guests seem to be Spanish, I was a bit worried that we might be neglected. But all our worries were baseless. We were treated quite warmly and almost everyone speaks decent English.

Warning: Fairly long review. ☺ Most reviews I see here are in Spanish so I thought a detailed English review will help everyone.

Jorge and Mariela (the kind hosts) organized our pickup from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta airport, transfers to local airstrip and our local flight to the Mara. We just had to give them dates and international flight times and they organized the rest. They were always good with replying to our mails and answering all our queries. Once we landed in Mara North Conservancy we were picked up by Simitei and Patita (Masai guides). Patita was our guide for the next 5 days. We did a small game drive on the way to the camp and stopped at the river to see a large hippo family and promptly fell in love with Masai Mara. The landscape is beyond belief. You have to see it to believe it.

We received a very warm welcome at the camp with cold towels and apple juice. We were upgraded from the river tent to the Mara suite, which is huge! We were only a couple with a 2 year old so the tent/suite felt absolutely huge to us but we liked the space. ☺ We had a beautiful river view with the resident hippo family in sight. Btw, the suite has a thatched roof, so if you are looking for the traditional tented lifestyle that Mara is so famous for, you should stick with the Mara river tent accommodation.

The grounds of the camp are pretty though by no means sensational. They sort of merge into the surrounding wilderness and we actually preferred that to manicured gardens. The whole place looks beautiful in the night with oil lamps placed all around the camp. There is a huge open common dining area (thatched roof) where guests have lunch/dinner and a separate garden area next to the river where we used to have breakfast. Everything looks very romantic.

Now for the food! This was the only disappointing area for me. I am a vegetarian and I have to admit the chef did his best to accommodate my diet but the food was bland most of the time and I never once had a satisfactory meal. But I have to give them points for trying. The chef used to consult with me on the menu everyday but the end result was usually disappointing. The packed lunches used to be the same all the time. Same sandwiches everyday! ☹ Still, the chefs helped me immensely by making some simple food for my daughter for which I am really grateful.

Post dinner, guests are escorted back to the tents by the tireless askaris. Power is available only from 6:30 to 11 in the night. You have to charge all your electronic equipment in that window. The tents have several points so you can charge everything at the same time. This is one major difference between Cheetah camp and other camps in Masai Mara. Most camps provide only public charging points and I am sure it will be very difficult to charge everything when so many people have to share. More ‘points’ to Cheetah! ☺ As is the norm in Masai Mara, you will find hot water bottles in your bed by the time you return to your tent and I always looked forward to a warm and snuggly sleep after a tiring day. Best sleep of my life. ☺ And hey, bring lots of warm clothes (layers preferably) if you are traveling in August. It is brrrrrrrr. ☺

As mentioned earlier, this is the only camp that provides a private game drive vehicle for each tent. This was a key criteria for me as most camps offer only shared vehicles and if you want a private vehicle you have to shell out 250-300 USD a day extra. Please note that Cheetah tented camp charges an overall per day all-inclusive cost somewhere close to that figure. See the difference value wise? ☺
The problem with shared game drives is that kids won’t be allowed for the game drives and I knew my daughter would love to see the animals. So having our own vehicle meant that we could take her along with us all the time and she had a blast! She still talks about the animals she has seen and can’t wait to go back.

Patita was a good guide for us and he helped keep my daughter entertained all the time while my husband and myself were busy clicking away thousands of photographs. We had a wonderful time on the game drives. Unfortunately for us, we missed spotting the rhino and the leopard. Our fault really! We used to spend too much time near every animal trying to get the best photos. Also, as I mentioned previously, Cheetah tented camp is in a conservancy. It takes roughly 30-40 minutes (w/o stopping) to reach the gates of the main reserve. This 30-40 minute drive is usually amidst manyatas and the only animals you end up seeing are sheep and goats. Seriously! Even a 4x4 vehicle makes traveling on those rough roads very tiring. Add that to the cool breezes in an open vehicle and I used to be half sleepy by the time we reached the main reserve. ☺ This is something you need to keep in mind before booking any camp not in the main reserve. Of course the advantage of such camps is that night safaris and walking safaris are permitted which are great.

Jorge also organized a balloon safari for us that we enjoyed immensely. I would recommend that to anyone who hasn’t been on a balloon safari before. Don’t expect to spot too many animals from above though. The breakfast in the bush after the safari is very memorable.

The camp offers an all-inclusive package which includes all meals, drinks (alcoholic too), and unlimited game drives including night safaris and walking safaris, unlimited laundry and anything else that may catch your fancy. Yes, the only true all-inclusive offer I encountered in all my travels. If they have it, it’s yours to use.

Now coming to the hospitality. This is where Jorge and Mariela win over their customers. I shall forever remember the fireside meals with a lot of stories and jokes being shared, the love and affection shown to my daughter who quickly became the darling of the camp. She never had as much popcorn in her entire life as she did during those five days. The few times we needed a babysitter (the balloon safari for example) Patita took care of her w/o expecting anything in return. Most camps charge an hourly babysitting fees. To cap it all, Jorge surprised us by getting a Masai warrior dress stitched for my daughter. We went on a Masai village visit and we got her dressed up in the outfit and we have several beautiful pictures to remember those wonderful times. Jorge also took us on a few walking safaris with a lot of askaris to protect us, and those walks were quite fun too. We also got some practice with bows and arrows. Don’t miss that. It’s a hoot. The Masai dance performance, as a farewell to us on the last night was very good. Most of the staff in Cheetah tented camp are Masai people and they performed the dance themselves. Just before we left the camp, all the staff sang many songs for us including the famous ‘hakuna matata’ with our names included in the lyrics. Very touching, making it even more difficult to say goodbye to these wonderful people and the beautiful land.

I could go on and on but before you lose your interest I should wrap it up. If you are reading this review, it means that you are considering cheetah tented camp. Don’t think anymore. Just go. You will not be disappointed. If not for the food, I would give this camp a heartfelt 5/5 review. But maybe if you are a non-vegetarian you won’t have a problem. I am tempted to give only a 4.5/5 (which is not possible on TA of course) but as I said again and again during the review the value for money is so great compared to similar camps in the Mara, I can’t help but give it a 5!

Jorge, Mariela: keep it up! I am waiting for the time when Cheetah will be ranked #1 on TA. You guys deserve it.

Oh, please give our love and regards to all the staff. Do not forget Luna, Trufa and all the other quadrupeds including the hippos in the river, which always kept us company in the night with their grunts! Miss you all and you shall forever be in our hearts! Alekhya, Niran & Rohini

Room Tip: If you want the tent experience, go for the river tents. The Mara suite is huge but the roof is that...
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  • Stayed August 2013, 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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103 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (7)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Houston, Texas
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 19, 2013

My wife and I were excited to go to Maasai Mara, Kenya with another couple after "Big Cat Diary" painted a picture of an amazing and adventurous vacation. It was better than I imagined.

We picked Cheetah Tented Camp because the price was great compared to other camps in the area (and not to mention the all-inclusive alcohol was quite enticing). After the 4-day safari vacation, I'm convinced if I'm ever lucky enough to return for another safari trip, I'm going straight back to Cheetah Tented Camp.

The camp has 3 tents. My wife and myself had one and our friends had another. They were clean, beautiful, and have more amenities than you could need. Every night we were safe in our beds as the hippos in the river right below sang us to sleep. Every morning we had hot coffee or tea waiting for us at our own table overlooking the Mara River.

The staff is made up primarily of the Maasai people who were very friendly and helpful. From serving breakfast while we sat down by the river, to the beautiful dinners served to the sound of an amazing guitarist playing in the background, to the rooms always clean and warm when we come back from safari, the service is top notch.

Our guide, Sampimpi (this is probably not even close to the correct spelling) is a Maasai warrior miracle, finding all the animals we were hoping to see. He could spot them from a mile away then slowly drive toward them saying, "do you see it yet?" The animals hide so well, we would not see them until we were on top of them. Great to have a native guide. Not to mention that we so heavily placed our trust in him as we got 10ft from a Lioness with a baby buffalo kill to take pictures with the engine off. We found lions, leopards, cheetahs, and many many other animals, learning about them as well as seeing them. He also drove through the rough terrain like a champion after the rain turned it into a crazy obstacle course. The safaris were on our schedule. As we were there only a short time, we wanted to make the most of it. We wanted safaris early in the morning, throughout the day, and even night safaris where we came across a bunch of giraffes. Any time we wanted to go on safari, no problem, part of the "all inclusive."

Now for the hosts, Jorge and Mariola... I say hosts because you are not going to a hotel that the operate... you are being invited into their home to appreciate the life that they love. The story-telling, experience sharing, and pure love of the safari is felt very strongly and very sincere. The wine glasses stay full, the hospitality is rich, and you begin to feel part of their family.

The logistics can seem a little unsettling with a domestic flight on a small plane from a small airport in Nairobi, but fear not! Let Jorge and Mariola know your plans and they will take care of you and you WILL arrive safe and sound in the Mara North Conservancy. You will see their tents on the river as you descend, ready for the trip of a lifetime.

That's all I will say for now. I could keep going, but best to leave some things as a surprise :)
I highly recommend Cheetah Tented Camp... and if you go, please say hi to Jorge and Mariola for me.

Room Tip: The rooms are all good, but bring a flash-light, as it may really help you get around even the tent...
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  • Stayed September 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.
Houston, Texas
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 8, 2013

I stayed last week at Cheetah Tented Camp with my wife and another couple, and we absolutely loved it. I have only compliments for our warm and friendly hosts, Jorge and Mariola.

Our 3-night stay included everything we could ask for: day and night drives, delicious meals, cold beer, flowing wine, a comfortable tent with bathroom, and overall great hospitality.

Our safari drives were guided by a very competent Maasai guide, who was always eager to answer our questions. This being my first time in Maasai Mara, I was very excited for the drives, and they certainly did not disappoint. Every day was a new surprise -- the lions, the cheetahs, the birds and elephants -- always something wonderful to admire at every turn.

(My only recommendation here is to be aware that the vehicles do not hold water well, so when it rains, you will get wet. I recommend bringing a poncho.)

Although we all went for the safari, one of the best parts of the experience were the nights spent with Jorge and Mariola. We would share our stories over wine and engage in conversation about animals, Africa and life. The late-night conversations were deep, the feelings absolutely genuine. I can only express gratitude for their personal companionship and hospitality. They made us feel at home in paradise.

Room Tip: - Only 3 tents; all are good - Bring a good flashlight
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  • Stayed September 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Long Beach, California
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 2, 2013

We stayed with Cheetah tented camp for our first trip to Africa and it more than exceeded our expectations. The tents were huge and comfortable, the location was literally on the Mara River, and the staff was an incredible mix of our knowledgeable host Jorge and a team of Masaai warriors. Cheetah Camp provided all the comforts of vacation- great food, flowing drinks, great company, heated turned down beds, etc. But it also made you feel like you were in "real" Africa and not in a generic hotel or resort somewhere. At night, we shared dinner with the other guests (we were like a family, being only 10 or so of us) by the heat and light of their huge fireplace. The music was traditional Kenyan songs sung to us by a Masaai playing the guitar. The stories about the animals were based on first hand knowledge of coexisting with them for so long. They even have a pet warthog that likes to sleep on your feet under the table and the hippos sing to you all night. Beyond charming, and I would definitely stay there again. Also, and hugely important, Jorge was VERY helpful in making our trip seamless and successful. Having an insider assist with domestic flights, taxis, etc is a MUST in Kenya.

Room Tip: There are only a few tents. No need to pick, they are all great.
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  • Stayed August 2013, 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 1
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Barcelona, Spain
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 21, 2013

“You know you are truly alive when you’re living among lions.” Karen Blixen
“Excessive caution destroys the soul and the heart, because living is an act of courage, and an act of courage is always an act of love.” Paulo Coelho.

Since my first time in October 2012 i´ve been there three more times, always amazing, the camp wich is located perfectly in Maasai Mara, always plenty of animals, guaranteed extrordinarly sights. I´ve slept in Duma suite, wich is the biggest tent, amazing tent, the temperature is always perfect, very spacious, 2 bathrooms, you can stay there in couple, kids and family, friends or maybe you can enjoy alone. There are terrance with the great Mara views, sharing the river, with hippos and cocodriles, and maybe you could see herds of elephants, groups of monkeys, vervets or baboons, in the other side of the river.
The safari always have been amazings, a lot of spectaculars encounters, crossings in mara river, crocodile hunting, lions eating, funny cubs, cheetah racings, unexpected leopards, herds of buffalo... You are going to be always surprised.

All the activities you can do are very recomendable, all cains of safari; walking safari, day safari, night safari, wich is amazing, you share the scenary with the lions hunting...
Other things you can do is to go to visit a manyata the traditional maasai houses, or maybe go to see a school, you are going to live the real maasai culture.

In Cheetah Tented Camp you will enjoy the real safari, you will be in the routine of the animals, you can decide the schedule, you can go early or not, you will see and amazing escenes, you will hear and smell the breath of the animals. The safari car, are very confortable, and perfect to make photos, 360 degrees.

Everyday you will enjoy an spectaculars sunsets and sunrises, the sky have and extraordinarly colours, something special for the eyes, and if its possible you can make a sunset cocktail.
One of the special things is the night sounds, from the hippos, to hyenas, lions, just perfect.
The meals are great, all the ingredients are natural, all is cooked by the cookers in the camp! You are going to enjoy the dinner with the music of Peter, great songs! All the crew are maasai people, always helping you in what you need, always smiling.

Jorge and Mariola, the owners, special persons, no words to describe them, from my opinion i can´t stay in Africa without them, i can´t imagine go to Maasai Mara and don´t see them. Impossible. I don´t understand Africa without them. Happy to find them. My stars. Thanks for all.
ENJOY CHEETAH TENTED CAMP!!!

Room Tip: All the tents are perfect
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled solo
    • 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.
Alicante, Spain
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 8, 2013

My husband and I had booked the Cheetah camp for our honeymoon last month in June and I can truly say it was a wonderful experience. We both came back feeling we had holiday which memories are made from.
We had never been on a Safari before but the camp owners Jorge and Mariola made sure we were prepared and answered any questions we had beforehand. Mariola was fantastic in taking care of our connecting flights too, we had someone to pick us up from Nairobi and safely transport us to the small plan to Kenya.

The owners want their guest to get the full experience, allowing us to get up close to the animals, meeting the Masai mara people of whom work at the camp in their traditional attire.

The camp itself is beautiful, natural yet totally safe from the wildlife. We were given the honeymoon tent/house which is enormous, with a beautiful terrace right on the river (where you can see the hippos and often a crocodile)

The days would be planned as we pleased, but we decided to go out in the car, often with Jorge the owner to which we saw a variety of animals, lions, cheetahs, hyenas, zebras, elephants etc. they literally come feet away from the car. The cheetah’s in fact jump on to the roof. Jorge his colleagues totally understand the behaviour of the animals so although slightly daunting, we were very safe.

Jorge and Mariola, and the team did their best to make our stay as comfortable as possible. The service at the camp was out of this world. At breakfast we could dine by the river, or have it served in our tent. They served a huge selection of food, pastries, fruit, free-range eggs and sausages, anything you want they will do. In the evenings we had a 3 course dinner in the camps main social area. This was a magical setting, with a burning fire, candles lit and a guitarist playing most evenings.

The truly is a magical place, I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone who is interested in Safari, learning and seeing the wild animals up close.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 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.
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 3, 2013

I had the time of my life. It´s difficult to express how much we loved staying at the Cheetah Tented Camp.
I contacted them by email and they were always very quick and helpfull with their answers. They organizad picking us up in NAirobi and the internal flights.
Thanks for everything Mariola !!

I didnt look at many other camps because here I found what I was looking for:
- Exclusive Camp (only three tents)
-Unlimited safaris in a private land Rover with a Massai guide only for us.
-No rules and no schedules.

When we arrived Mara, two tall Massai, dressed with their red dress "shuka", gave us a very special welcome.
In our way to the camp we already saw a big variety of animals.
The welcome at the camp was also also very special, I don´t know how to put it in words.

We spent 7 days and each one was special and different.
We woke up when we wanted and we had a wonderful breakfast in the big terrace with the river view full of hippos. The decoration of the table with flowers and messages " we love you" ... so cute !!
Plenty and excellent food.

On the game drives we always went with our Massai guide, Simintei Sengeni, and our mecanic Musiri. Also the owner of the camp, Jorge, came with us several times and we really appreciated because of the passion and knowledge he puts in every thing he does.
It was rainy season so the paths where very muddy. We had to help others vans several times.
We never got stuck because of our good Defender Land Rover and our best driver.
Simintei was also full of knowledge. His ability to spot animals from miles away was nothing less than amazing. He founded lions, males and females, very difficult to see in with the wet land. Then he could hear some elephants and when we arrived he appreciated a just baby born elephant !!
I felt very save with Simintei. I can´t say enough good things about him.

The landscapes we saw were breathtaking. Big skies and open savannah of very green grass lands.
Hard working staff who always had smiles on their faces, received us back from the game drive.
Then we stayed at the restaurant, just talking with the owners and listening to the beautiful sound of Peters voice and his guitar. NAKUPENDA AFRICA !
Here we had plenty of snacks and alcoholic drinks in a real full board accommodation.
Free wifi was such appreciated.
The dinner was just excellent. Great soups and meat or fish. Delicious dessert.
The big fire we shared made it more charming.

We saw such an abundance of wildlife, but I will stay with the love of all the people we met at the Cheetah Tented Camp. They are the reason of the spirit of the place, which is hard to put in words, its what attracts you over and over.

If I could, I would give the location 6 stars.

  • Stayed May 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Cheetah Tented Camp

Address: Masai Mara National Reserve, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Maasai Mara National Reserve
Hotel Style:
Ranked #43 of 125 Specialty Lodging in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Number of rooms: 3
Also Known As:
Cheetah Tented Camp Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve

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