I took my daughter, Rebecca (Becky) for her dream 21st Birthday present, a week long safari on the Masai Mara in Kenya. Our first 3 days were spent in the Mara Intrepids camp and wow what a start to the week. A very warm welcome when we arrived at the Ol Kiombo airstrip, just minutes from the campsite. A further warm welcome at the camp itself and met with refreshments and a quick introduction to the staff and guidelines for our stay. We were then taken to a beautiful large tent (18, right by the river), where we were met by an unexpected host, a lone hippo in the river, approx 50 m away. The tent itself was luxurious with a large and very comfortable 4 poster bed and a single bed, both with mosquito nets although we never saw any, plenty of furnishings for storage and hanging clothes, a desk with 2 UK style plug sockets above it, a toilet cubicle (proper flush toilet) and a wet room style tiled shower area. There were twin sinks, with hot and cold running water (hot water provided between 5:30 and 8:30 morning and night, but requests for other times, as required, can be made) and a few toiletries provided (essential to take toothpaste with you. Small shampoo and shower gel provided plus bars of soap, shower cap, facecloths, bath and hand towels) floors were dark wood with mats and the walls were canvas with meshed windows and roll up covers, which were closed at night. Outside, overlooking the river, was a lovely deck with seating and lots of trees around, for the local monkeys, bush babies and lizards.
Duncan, who took care of our room, was a very chatty and smiley young man, who always addressed us by our names and made sure we had everything we needed, every time he saw us. He put hot water bottles in our beds in the evening, while we were at dinner, which were very welcome in the chilly evenings.
The food was delicious, with plenty of choice at the lunchtime buffet and a well balanced 5 course evening meal menu (you can have as many or as few of the options as you like). Note that cold drinks, including bottled water, and alcohol are charged as extras but hot drinks are free. The dining staff were great fun, in particular, Julius and George, who were a great double act and played along with us in many jokes and japes. They also played a big part in organising a staff gathering for a Happy Birthday song and dance for Becky, including presenting her with a beautiful cake, with Happy Birthday Rebecca written in it. A great way to round off her special day, so thank you all once again for all your hard work and such a touching gesture.
There is a small but well kept pool, with sunbeds and plenty of towels provided, close to the bar area, overlooking the river. Attentive staff make sure you are supplied with refreshments whilst sunning yourselves.
The reception area provides ideas of trips you can do, at an added cost e.g. Fishing on Lake Victoria or a Hot air balloon trip, including a champagne bush breakfast, which we did for Becky's Birthday (fantastic experience). Suzanne was extremely helpful in general and made sure Becky got her balloon trip on her a birthday, despite there being a full booking for that day (great service once again).
Now, to the game drives...our guide was the legendary, extremely knowledgeable and fun, Raphael. The jeeps were open topped and open sided so you always got a great view, no matter where you were sitting. We tended to head out at 06:30 to catch the sunrise and the big cats on the move. We always saw plenty of the resident impala, Thomson's gazelles, Zebra, Topi (blue jeans), Eland, Elephants, Hippos, Cape Buffalo, vultures, eagles, ostriches, olive baboons, wildebeest, crocodiles...and then there were the lions, cheetahs, hyenas, jackals and eventually a leopard. The only thing we didn't see was the elusive black rhino. Next time... We did, however, see an unexpected lone Roan Antelope, which hasn't been seen on the Mara for many years. An exciting spot by the eagle eyed Raphael! The drives were always fun, albeit bumpy at times, understandably, and with the chilly June mornings, several layers are advisable, which can be peeled off as the sun becomes warmer. The jeeps have blankets in them to keep you warm.
Overall, we had a 5*+ experience at the Mara Intrepids camp, which was not only due to the accommodation, the location and the fruitful game drives but also mainly due to the very friendly staff, who always greeted us by our names and with genuine smiles and waves as they shouted "jambo" (hello). Edwin, the camp Manager, came to bid us farewell and we saw him again when we touched down at the airstrip on our way back to Nairobi. We really hope to be back in the not too distant future. Thank you all.