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“Fantastic experience” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Gamewatchers Adventure Camp, Ol Kinyei

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Gamewatchers Adventure Camp, Ol Kinyei
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Ol Kinyei Conservancy, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Sheffield
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Fantastic experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 16, 2013

We don't camp but the 5 of us were warm and comfortable in our sleeping bags and roomy tents. The food was great and plentiful. The wildlife was stunning and the guides did everything they could to track down everything we wanted to see. The early starts were no problem although it was a little chilly at first. We would totally recommend this site and we would say that you don't need more expensive or up-market accommodation.

Stayed September 2013, traveled with family
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42 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 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 (5)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Coventry, United Kingdom
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 16, 2013

Just been from a 6 nights Gamewatchers Safari trip ... 3 nights in Ambesoli (Selenki Conservancy) and 3 nights here in Mara Oi Kinyei conservancy and what an experience .. Amazing!

The camps are brilliant ... toilet/shower facilities are surprisingly clean with flush toilets n hot showers. The tents area is all properly fenced so no security risk of unwanted wild visitors in the night. Staff is very good and takes care of all your needs and the food is lovely .. they really take care of you!

Guides - probably the best safari guides in the world! Simon and Jeffrey - they know their business very well .. where to spot wildlife and how to give you the best experience. Very flexible according to your needs and very pleasant people both of them - we saw lions, cheetas - everything. They know Mara very well too - they know how to keep you away from the crowds but still find the best of the wildlife in the reserve.

A small note on the comparison between Ambesoli and Mara Adventure camps (both from Gamewatchers) - Mara camp has slightly better facility than Ambesoli probably because its a bit older whereas the service and staff in Ambesoli was a bit better than here. There is no problem with Mara but in Ambesoli, staff was everywhere and just always there to attend you .. in Mara we felt at a few occasions that they've less people than Ambesoli and they are busy in themselves. But again this comparison is also because we visited Ambesoli first so may be we were kind of spoiled there... otherwise we'd not even have noticed it.

All in all great - we'll go again and are highly recommending them to all out friends. And the same recommendation goes to all the TA readers - a must do - it may be a bit expensive than the ordinary safari - but the experience I think outweighs in multitudes!

Take Care!

  • Stayed August 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Forest of Dean
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 8, 2013

It may be dome tents but that is as far as 'roughing it' goes.

You get a mattress to sleep on (bring your own sleeping bag or hire one), a pillow, ensuite shower and toilet, charging facilities for laptops and batteries, superb food, comfy chairs, hammocks................. and then there is the main reason you go, the wildlife.

Games drives in 4x4 open sided vehicles in a private conservancy that directly benefits he locals. The manger, Jackson, is superb as are all the staff from water carries to guides..... they are all I would say, better than anything you will get in a lodge.

We have stayed both here and at the camp in Amboseli and to show how good it is as I type this next years trip is already booked.

Simply fantastic.

  • Stayed August 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.
Brighton, United Kingdom
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 7, 2013

I was travelling with 3 kids and wanted three things to work out on a safari trip...1) see a good variety of animals 2) be with guides who can spare time to talk and explain the landscape and animal behaviour 3) not have a load of other characters exclaiming 'Oh My God' every 10 seconds in the same vehicle.
And what a winner this place is....first of all, the drive from the airstrip to the camp is about 30 mins, and you'll see plenty of game straight away to whet the appetite. As it was mid-day, there was a take it easy approach until time to do the 4 pm to sundown drive...and it was then that I realised we had hit the spot. We were in our own truck with Jesphat and Tipa and I can tell you that is a team to be with...they tootled around, and then within a little while J said 'Listen' and sure enough you could hear some gazelle 'coughing'...and your man T starts figuring out where the cheetah/leopard/lion was likely to be. We found the cheetah shortly afterwards, 3 of them padding gently through the bush..and J eased the landrover to have a decent watch. My kids were fascinated, and I realised that my love of Africa was being passed on...with the help of J and T.
That same evening we drove around seeing lions, more cheetah and a whole host of other animals. Then stopped for a sundowner and saw the clearest views of Venus I can recall. It was a grand evening...we returned back to the camp and met the other people for dinner. Mixture of Brits, Italians, very easy company. The next day we went into the Mara proper, and it is there you realise what you'd get if you were based there. Frankly, stacks of vehicles seemed to be roaming around...full of Chinese with telephoto lenses that stuck out a yard or two. Makes you wonder why they don't simply line up on a hill and snap away from there. But we ducked and dived a bit with J telling us more and more, and T working his way down and through river crossings that looked 100% impassable. We saw the lot...wildebeest doing their swim with death across the Mara river, crocs looking lazily on..leopard, lions..and so on. It was as if the J and T team were on a mission to show us the best of the park in one day...and they gave it 100%...just rhino to see close-up next time.

We had a bit of a ear-flapping experience with an elephant...causing T to use the reverse gear for the first time that day...but as the tusker was making it clear that we should shove off...we wisely did so. It is a wonderful place to spend a day, the wide open savannah is as you'd expect, and it is the right way to see wildlife.
So you return...back to the camp, tired, and full of what you've seen..swapping stories with others there around the campfire.
The camp is perfect..the tents are just what you'd want, with two comfortable mattresses. Food was excellent, and the camp manager (Johnathan) has it all running smoothly. My three kids will not forget the experience, and the icing on the cake was that they all got up early (6ish) to see animals AND had a shower. Now you try getting that to happen with 16 and 13 year olds....
I'd definitely recommend the camp to those who don't want the whole rose-petal strewn bed malarky...but want a base, friendly staff, and plenty of animal viewing. And if you get that team of J and T assigned to you..you'll not go wrong. Jesphat has excellent English, is extremely knowledgable on the wildlife and is a massively interesting person to talk to about Maasai customs and practices. Tipa too, and his expertise with the driving was something to behold.

I've been to a fair few places in Africa, and I'm putting this one high up there...I like the proximity of the animals, simplicity of the camp, the quality of the staff/guides, the organisation (which was faultless), and the care and attention that was given to us...even though we passed through for just 2 nights. My kids said the whole 2 days was 'rad..sick' and so on. And were smiling big time when saying so.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 6, 2013

This camp is brilliantly run, friendly and focused on ensuring it's guests have a great time. The staff seem to genuinely love what they do and share their enthusiasm and extensive knowledge of the animals - and the local community benefits. A slight blip with transfers was sorted out swiftly at some cost to Gamewatchers (who had to pay for a plane just for us)- demonstrating the excellent calibre of the company and the people who work there. The camping was actually very comfortable - with proper mattresses, clean bathrooms and the food great. This is a great option for families where you get the benefit of expert guides, without having to pay for "luxury" accommodation. We would love to return

  • 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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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bristol
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 27, 2013

I can not recommend Jonathan and his team enough for being such wonderful hosts. From the charming wake up calls to evening camp fire tales,every need of ours was thought of and taken care. The food was outstanding. Their knowledge of the African wildlife was superb! We were taken to see so many cats, cubs, lions, leopards, cheetahs and all the other wonderful animals. This was a real African experience and I am so pleased we chose game watchers as our guides for the week. An experience I will never forget, will always miss and hope to return to!

  • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 22, 2013

After spending 3 nights at the Gamewatchers Adventure Camp in Selenkay Conservancy (next to Amboseli National Park), I and my wife stayed 4 nights in the camp in Ol Kinyei as a part of the safari package. Gamewatchers arranged the transportation from Nairobi to Selenkay then to Ol Kinyei and then back to Nairobi by airplanes, so we did not waste any time for long road transfers. The adventure camps in both conservancies were equally superb.

The idea about the private conservancies is a great thing, having visited three major national reserves in Kenya, we were able to see the differences. Gamewatchers Safaris are leasing the land from the local Masai sharing the profits with the community and also employing Masai in their camps (staff is 100% Masai, including camp managers). The major differences between the private conservancies and the national reserves is that in the conservancies there are a lot less visitors (in the cases of Selenkay and Ol Kinyei just the Gamewatchers Safaris guests), off the road and night drives are permitted as well as walking safaris. In the adventure camps we were able to enjoy the same quality of food, safari vehicles and guides as in the luxury Porini camps at a lot cheaper prices, the only difference was that we camped in a very basic tents, sleeping on mattresses on the ground. To us this was absolutely fine, even added to the sense of adventure and there wasn’t a single moment of discomfort.

We could not help not to mention the names of our camp manager, guide and driver Jackson who took us with the collaboration of David (our spotter) on daily morning and afternoon game drives within Ol Kinyei and Naboisho conservancies as well as on two full day game drives to Masai Mara National Reserve (one visit is included in the package, we got a second one, because we extended our stay at the camp with one extra night). Jackson did an excellent job as any of the functions he performed (camp manager, guide and driver). He did arrange a smooth transfer for us to our next destination – a camp in central Mara (we run into one of their vehicles while on a game drive there, Jackson talked to the driver, exchanged tel. numbers and made sure the transfer was coordinated in a proper manner). On the first game drive to Masai Mara Jackson and David managed to present to us two major Mara River crossings by migrating wildebeest and zebras in the same day (in most cases one must be lucky to witness such an event).

The camp was great – really comfortable with excellent food and staff (we should mention the fabulous chef Richard). The wildlife is great – there is a resident pride of lions (male, female and three cubs) which we were able to observe on daily basis not disturbed by other vehicles (only Gamewatchers guests are allowed in the conservancy), resident cheetahs (watched them on three different occasions), lots of antelopes, gazelles, birds, giraffes and pretty much any other African birds and animals except rhinos. There are also leopards, although we did not have the luck of seeing them, other visitors of the camp were able to spot them.

As we mentioned in our Selenkay Gamewatchers adventure camp review, Steve Sturton-Davies in the UK booked, co-planned and arranged the entire experience for us instantly replying to all our emails in a very professional manner. We were able to contact him by email or by phone regarding any possible question or issue that we had. Thank you Steve for your kind help and for making this trip of our lives possible!!!

Since we spent 3 days in a camp in central Mara after the Ol Kinyei adventure camp, we would like to point out the differences. In the private conservancy you are able to do the following activities which are not allowed in the national reserve:

1. The conservancy is a lot more intimate experience - no other vehicles except Gamewatchers visitors.

2. Ability to do night drives with spotlights.

3. Ability to drive off the road and chase animals in the bush.

4. Ability to do safari walks.

Looking forward to visiting the Gamewatchers camps again!

  • Stayed August 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 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Gamewatchers Adventure Camp, Ol Kinyei

Address: Ol Kinyei Conservancy, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Maasai Mara National Reserve
Hotel Style:
Ranked #31 of 127 Specialty Lodging in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Gamewatchers Adventure Camp, Ol Kinyei is sited in Ol Kinyei Wildife Conservancy in the Maasai Mara. For those for whom the wildlife safari experience is more important than the accommodation, and who are prepared to sleep in small tents in sleeping bags with an element of “roughing it”, this gives an opportunity for an exceptional and exclusive wildlife experience with high quality guiding but at a much lower price than expensive up-market safari lodges. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Gamewatchers Adventure Camp, Ol Kinyei Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve

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