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“Superb tented camp in the Mara” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Mara Toto Camp

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Mara Toto Camp
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Northern Central Maasai Mara Game Reserve | on the border of the Olare Orok & Mara North Conservancies, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
sydney
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
“Superb tented camp in the Mara”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 6, 2013

Mara Toto was the final stop on our family safari. Travelling as a group of ten we took out the entire camp which suited us perfectly.

The new, spacious tented accommodation is breathtaking in the quality of luxury fittings, thoughtfulness and attention to detail. The uncurtained rain shower in the centre of each bathroom requires booking as the water is manually lifted into place - always done at the precise allotted time and frankly, a delight.

The unfenced location is beside a sub-tributary of the Mara with resident crocs and hippos visible from the deck and lions and hyenas clearly heard nearby. The attentive security team at the camp assured no nerves on the very short walks after dark.

The tents are compactly spaced and all meals are taken in a central bar and dining area with a firepit for later. The food here was the best of our safari - super soups, spicy curries, traditional kenyan food on our final night.

The outdoor picnic breakfasts were also a delight, in the shade of an acacia, looking down on the Mara plains, game everywhere.

Camp host Kim looked after us brilliantly, helped craft menus for us, flexed our schedule as required, and arranged a visit to a Maasai village on the final day. Her team could not have been friendlier.

And finally what can we say about the guides Duncan and Patrick. Firstly Mara Toto has the best vehicles for the job. Opensided, with shade, and beautiful fleecy ponchos for those early starts. Duncan and Patrick took supreme care on the many stream crossings, respected the game, took us up close with cheetahs and lions, solo, in groups and on the hunt. They were supremely friendly, patient and fun and our farewell at the airport was poignant for all of us but especially our kids.

Our safari holiday was brilliant, and Mara Toto was a complete highlight.

  • Stayed October 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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19 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
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (4)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Oakville, Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 29, 2013

We just completed a 5 week trip to Africa which included camps in the Masai Mara, Tanzania and Botswana. Our time at the beautiful Mara Toto will always remain as a special, magical time of our 5 weeks because of Kim, the manager, all the staff, excellent tent, wonderful food but mainly because of Edwin, our AMAZING guide. He was so very respectful of the wildlife, was extremely knowledgeable, we always felt safe with him (excellent driver), funny and warm. We spent three wonderful days with Edwin, and because of him we have many incredible photos and memories of the magical Masai Mara. The Mara Toto tent was fabulous and as we mentioned above Kim, the manager and all the staff went out their way to make us feel at home and we did. This is our second trip to Africa and we have visited 11 camps so far. We would definitely go back to the Mara Toto camp and we would REQUEST that Edwin to be our private guide!!

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Palo Alto, California
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed September 16, 2013

There is no question that the camp facilities were very nice, fancy and comfortable, but that was pretty much the nicest thing I can say about this camp experience until the very last day of our three night stay. We got stuck with a HORRIBLE guide (named Edwin) and I felt cheated and disappointed that we spent so much time and money for this camp since it was exactly the over-crowded, animal-harassing experience I thought I had paid enough money to avoid. I really wish I could have my time and money back from this portion of our trip. I felt like the guide resented us and his poor treatment of the animals and his use of his cellphone, texting while driving, and chatting up the other camp employee/visitor who was added to our party, really made me feel unhappy, stressed, and unsafe. He made no effort to explain what we were seeing beyond proudly exclaiming the name of an animal every once in a while and was always seemingly impatient, racing off to something "better". We seemed to spend an extraordinary amount driving aimlessly with no explanation of where we were going or what we were trying to do/see. I spent so many miserable hours sitting there wishing I had not come to the over-crowded Masai Mara to disturb the animals. Finally, after a most unpleasant experience of chasing down a lion (this was after previously chasing an injured hippo, chasing a baby gazelle and separating it from its mother, chasing some giraffes and many near misses with wildebeests among other unpleasant animal encounters) I decided to speak up and ask the camp manager Kim about switching guides. I'm so glad I finally worked up the nerve because that last afternoon after some negotiations we were taken out by a guide from the other Mara Plains camp named Jackson and he was extraordinary! It was like a breath of fresh air, keeping respectful distances from the animals and he actually took the time to teach us about what we were seeing and why the animals were doing what they were doing. The contrast to our experience with Edwin was shocking and the next morning after forcefully declining the offer to go out with Edwin, again expressing my dissatisfaction, we had another nice but brief outing with Richard, the manager of the Mara Plains camp in which he brought Edwin along and seemed to be trying to teach him how to be a guide. I find it hard to believe the person we had distractedly driving us around is the same one spoken of in the rest of these reviews and to get such small and disproportionate glimpses of what our experience could have been like was nice, but was also very discouraging and frustrating.

Room Tip: All the rooms seemed pretty equivalent, close to the river, with an equal amount of night animal noi...
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with friends
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GreatPlainsConserve, General Manager at Mara Toto Camp, responded to this review, September 30, 2013
Thank you for your feedback which we also received from your agent upon your departure. We have, since then, tried to reach out to you numerous times (via your agent ) to discuss your experience as it is not at all consistent with the reputation and ethics of our founders, company, guides or general staff. As you note, other Trip Advisor reviewers have had consistent positive experiences at Mara Toto, and its sister camp. We certainly take your feedback very seriously, and have solicited input from our staff, your fellow guests as well as our senior management, and would hope for the opportunity to discuss it with you.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 31, 2013

Kim, the manager, and Edwin, our guide did everything perfectly when my 3 daugthers (ages 15, 11 and 8) and I visited the Mara. Tent was fabulous, high "ceiling" with lots of bathroom space and place to put our gear, plus internet connection in both our tents and the dining/sitting area. Hammocks for each tent by the little river. And you could hear the "music" of the wildebeest (we were there during the migration.) Laundry service impeccable - such a change from the 9 other places that we stayed at. And each night Kim watched with us DVDs of lions and leopards that the owners of the camp had made in collaboration with National Geographic. Food - what can I say - the first meal we had in the sweltering heat had mango ice cream for dessert! And it just got better. Kim also loaned us a really good camera and we took awesome shots. Edwin made sure we saw everything we wanted to see. The elusive leopard (which I had not seen despite going on safari many, many times) and we stalked a cheetah mum and her 2 cubs as they made their kill, following them from 6:30 in the morning when they "woke" to 8:00 when they took down a baby wildebeest. (Hint: just when you think that wow cheetahs can run really fast, they put on a burst of speed and disappear from the camera view screen). Totally wonderful place.

  • Stayed July 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.
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2013

This what I call camping! Not one for traditional camping (I like my little luxuries, thank you!) this is the way to go. What a beautiful location, wonderful staff, great food and all the game viewing you could ever wish for. Our guide, Edwin, had fantastic knowledge and a great sense of humour! Kim, our camp manager, also with a great sense of humour, could not do enough for us - we had to tell her on more than one occasion she didn't need to run everywhere to get things for us. We were on holiday after all and had all the time in the world!

The camp itself is small and intimate, 5 tents only ( if you can call them tents!) which are more than comfortable and spacious. You dine at night communally in the main tent with other guests, with pre dinner drinks around the open fire, with the local family of hippos providing their own kind of background music! The food was lovely with the option of choosing what you would like in lieu of what was on offer.

As for game viewing, well what more did we need to see! The great migration, numerous families of cheetah, lion and leopard, elephant, hyena, crocodile, various species of antelope, bird life, hippo and the list goes on!

The only downside to our trip after six nights of staying, was we had to leave!

  • Stayed July 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Perth, Australia
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 25, 2013

Game, game and more game, we saw it all. Edwin our guide made sure we saw everything possible during our 6 night stay. We wanted for nothing thanks to Kim – our Camp Manager who made sure every little detail was perfect. The food was wholesome and tasty and our 10 year old was offered her own personal meal choices which made her feel very special. Our room was spacious and very comfortable for the 3 of us over our 6 night stay. With only 5 tents it is intimate and homely which we loved and shared heaps of laughs. We have stayed in in other camps and compared to Mara Toto, the intimacy was sadly lacking in most of them. Thank you Kim (and Sten) for a wonderful time.

Room Tip: All the tents are the same.
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  • Stayed July 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Taipei, Taiwan
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
22 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2013

We spent three days at the very eco-friendly Mara Toto and loved it. The safari experience for us isn't solely about the game. We enjoy nice accommodations, great food, and having time to interact with and get to know the managers, and also getting to relax and sit in the hammock, listening to the birds and soaking up the atmosphere. Toto exceeded expectations on each front. It is small enough that it is really intimate, but doesn't cut corners in any aspect of their operation. Our guide, Duncan, was fantastic, and his love for and commitment to wildlife and conservation was apparent, as was the case with everyone with whom we came in contact from Great Plains Conservation, the owners of this camp and a nearby sister camp Mara Plains, which is re-opening after a retrofitting.

We weren't there during the peak season for the great migration, but it really didn't matter, as there was plenty of game to see, including all the big cats.

This camp provided us a great set of binoculars and top quality camera equipment during our stay, meaning that we didn't need to lug this gear with us. Lorna, one of the managers, was always really happy to provide any assistance or advice on how we could get some great shots.

She, along with Kim and Richard, the other managers when we were there, are lovely people and did everything they could to make us feel part of the family. Nothing was too much trouble. Having expressed our interest about the cultural/social side of things in the Mara, we visited a Maasai village and school one day, which as promised was an unforgettable experience.

Food was wonderful, with a vegetarian choice available at each meal.

The only shortcoming for us is that we had to leave after three days. Thanks to everyone who made our stay so enjoyable.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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 Mara Toto Camp

Address: Northern Central Maasai Mara Game Reserve | on the border of the Olare Orok & Mara North Conservancies, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Maasai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #57 of 111 Specialty Lodging in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
'Toto' means baby in Swahili, and was often used as a term of endearment in reference to young safari staff in the days of early exploration. But today, in our context, it is simply meant out of respect to its sister camp, Mara Plains, which has developed a phenomenal reputation. We are certain Mara Toto will follow suit. Just a few kilometres downstream from Mara Plains, Mara Toto resides in a small bend in the Ntiakitiak River, where thick forest meets savannah, and we've made a home. A perfect blend of comfort, adventure and intimacy make this a gem in the otherwise confounding matrix of camps in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. Mara Toto positions itself squarely in the heart of magnificent predator country, and the camp's traversing rights of both Mara North Conservancy and the Maasai Mara Game Reserve give guests the flexibility to explore far and wide in search of arguably the finest wildlife sightings on earth. This site was handpicked by National Geographic Explorers-In-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert. After searching tirelessly for hours in search of the 'perfect spot' for this magical camp,they ended up for a sundowner on the very spot where Mara Toto is located today. They looked around and realised 'this is the place'. And so Mara Toto was born. The camp itself consists of five custom-designed tents of light-colored flowing canvas open on the horizontal side with canopied ceilings. Set at ground level, and shaded by the riverine forest, this camp is designed for those who want the particulars of a Great Plains Conservation property but are willing to forgo some of the fancier amenities. Still, you will not want for much. En-suite facilities including flush loos, bucket showers and tapped hot/cold water ensure utter comfort. 24-Hour electricity, fine dining and exceptional hospitality round out what can hardly be called sparse. Each of the tents is decorated with a nod to the style of early exploration and discovery - an eclectic yet coordinated assembly of what early travelers may have carried - items such as brass chandeliers, old Indian chests, local natural materials - hand-picked by us at markets throughout Africa. The whole aura is refreshing - of romance and exploration. Mara Toto is, despite its romantic appeal, a place for the ardent safari-goer. One does not beget the other and in fact we believe they both make for a spectacular camp. Spend your days out - all day - exploring the 70,000 acre private Mara North Conservancy, shared with just an handful of other small boutique camps, or go in deep into the famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve to catch the river crossings or a foray around Paradise Plains in search of Notch & sons. You'll not have to look far for wildlife - the glade of trees surrounding the camp is prime leopard territory, and the camp is a superior location to witness the great wildebeest and zebra migration from your tent. The new open-sided vehicles are custom designed by Dereck & Beverly Joubert (National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence, acclaimed filmmakers and Great Plains Conservation co-founders) allowing for the very best equipment for photographic opportunities. Mara Toto, in maintaining the caliber expected of a Great Plains Conservation property, offers among the widest range of activities anywhere in the greater Maasai Mara - extensive game drives, balloon safaris (at extra cost), local village visits (authentic) and unrivaled access to superior wildlife habitat as well as visits to local schools and Great Plains Conservation community projects in the surrounding area. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Mara Toto Camp Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve

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