We were originally booked at the Luxury Tented camp and checked into rooms 35 & 36. These are furthest away from the main areas and a good 10 minute walk. I generally prefer the rooms furthest away for their solitude and peacefulness but these were just a bit too far in the heat, and carrying heavy camera bags.
Luckily we immediately got offered an upgrade to Bateleur Camp, rooms 5 & 6, and our bags were moved whilst we were out on game drive. Again, this room was the furthest from the main area, but only a minute or two’s walk. The tents, in addition to the main tent opening at the foot of the bed, also have a proper door (so much easier late at night). There is a decked area outside the tent entrance with a couple of comfy leather armchairs.
There are two double wardrobes, a desk & chair, ceiling fan, large shower with good pressure, twin sinks and a separate flush toilet. Power is switched off in the camp for about 3 hours in the late afternoon, when guests are on game drive, and again about 23h30 until the early hours of the morning.
Large beds, with views over the plains. At night, only the fly screens were down at the front of the tent, enabling gorgeous views out over the Mara by the light of the full moon. Every night there were hot water bottles in the bed, although they weren’t really needed. Jars of sweeties were on the desk, although the food was so plentiful these didn’t even get touched.
Food was well cooked and plentiful, but unfortunately the menus are not quite up to the 5 star quality one would expect.
As darkness falls, you see the Masai security guards patrolling, some with spears, some with bow and arrows and, very occasionally, one with a rifle.
My thanks especially to Magdelle for the upgrade, for being the perfect hostess, and for managing such a well-run camp.
Although the camp is set on a private conservancy outside the Oloololo gate, it only took 10 minutes to get to the gate and into the Mara Triangle and we were able to drive on the conservancy outside park opening hours. On the first evening we saw a lioness kill a warthog and then the lioness and a young male go ousted from the pride, with a lot of snarling and plenty of blood.
During dinner it rained and chucked it down, but sleeping in a tent with the sound of rain hitting the canvas was strangely soothing. The tents are fully sealed, so there is no need for a mosquito net.
On our first full day we left early and saw four black rhino, two servals, three cheetah, a journey of over 35 giraffe, large herds of elephant, topi, eland, thomson’s gazelle, buffalo, zebra and, of course, wildebeest. We stopped on the border with the Serengeti/Tanzania where our guide Moses cooked breakfast – probably the best eggs in my entire trip. After returning to the lodge for a bite of lunch, we were soon back out for another game drive. Hurrying back to the gate before it shut for the evening, we came across two bull elephants pacing each other, one on either side of the road. One was is musth, and they were often challenging each other. Eventually they came to blows and blood was drawn. We had to radio the gate to let them know that we wouldn’t make it by the time the gate shut at 6.30pm and why.
Our second morning we were up at 4h45 in order to leave camp at 5h30 for the drive to the balloon sight. We crammed into a small landrover and the road we drove on should never be titled as such. Craters and potholes over a metre deep made this one of the worst road trips ever. It was still dark when we arrived at the balloon sight. We were lucky to be in a balloon where there were just 6 guests – some of the others could take up to 10-12. We took off before the sun came up and, for the early part, skimmed the top of the grass only rising to avoid crashing into trees or another balloon. It was a totally new perspective looking down on giraffe and buffalo. I’d thought it would be colder being high up, but there was no wind. There was no noise, other than basket brushing through the tops of trees and the sound of the gas burner. Later on, we rose up higher and higher, giving almost infinite views of the endless plains of the Mara. All too soon it was time to land. We crouched down in the basket and held on. The initial landing wasn’t hard and then we were being dragged through the long grass – until we hit a termite mound with an almighty thump, which hurt! After you land, there’s sparkling wine and a cooked breakfast. Yes the balloon ride is expensive, but I thought it was totally worth it.
After breakfast, Moses picked us up and off we went on game drive. My first wildebeest crossing, although small, was no less amazing. Moses had brought a picnic lunch which was just as good if not better than you’d get in the lodge.
On our final full day we had a lie-in until 7h00 when we rose and ate breakfast in camp before leaving for another full day’s drive. We nearly saw a second river crossing but, just as the first wildebeest got up the courage to venture down the back, a lone lioness rushed out of the bushes and smashed the wildebeest. The rest of the herd stampeded away from the river whilst the white vans full of tourists rushed in and surrounded the lioness with her kill.
I can’t wait to return to Kichwa Tembo.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.