We were upgraded from Basecamp's original property to the newer, more upscale Wilderness Camp and had an amazing, fabulous experience. We were hesitant to accept the upgrade due to the lack of information on Wilderness (and great reviews of Basecamp), and are SOOOOO happy we agreed. Read on for more...
THE LODGE: Wilderness is in a rather remote area to the north of the Masai Mara Game Reserve. By "remote" I mean unspoiled, spectacularly beautiful, and the abundant wildlife without seeing a single other vehicle except the camp's other truck. Wilderness has just 5 tents and the main lodge, all set on a hill ("escarpment") with spectacular, wide and long views of the savannah. With a watering hole just below, we saw zebras, giraffes, baboons, topi, wildebeest, elephants and more right from our deck from the moment we arrived. The main lodge and the tents are luxuriously crafted from local materials and incredibly comfortable - and the tents are HUGE. There is a large, lovely bathroom with shower carved from wood and a flush toilet, an entryway with extra sink, closets, and counter space, a large bedroom, and a HUGE shaded deck overlooking the savannah - with lounge chairs, a sofa, sitting chairs and a table. Spectacular sunrises or sunsets depending on which side of the main lodge you are at. On top of this, Wilderness is a true eco-lodge engaged in all sorts of community projects and with all Masai staff - the friendliest, most helpful people you can imagine, and a true cultural encounter from the moment you arrive. The food was OUTSTANDING, according to my traveling mate (because I arrived with a nasty stomach bug, all my food (what I was able to eat) was prepared for me and brought to my room. Although I spent two days sick and unable to go on game drives, the amazing views and abundant animals I could watch right from my deck made me feel that I wasn't missing a thing). The Basecamp Board of Directors was staying at our lodge at the same time, which shows the organization's dedication to its principles and facilities. The size of the camp, with just 5 tents, means that you become friends with other visitors, but eliminates noise, crowding, and competition - a truly intimate, exclusive, luxurious experience. Truly, I could not say more about the camp, the staff, the facilities, and (according to my friend) the food. Did I mention that 30 lions spent the night in camp one night - two prides competing for territory, roaring and growling all night long? Along with the elephants that were fighting, we didn't get a whole lot of sleep, but what a reason!
THE AREA: We saw everything you could hope for in a safari and then some. Our guide, Derek, is Masai and was not only expert in finding animals, but took genuine pleasure in being among them, just as we did. He answered our many questions about Masai life and talked eagerly about his one trip to Norway (to promote the camp). The drive from the Ol Kiombo airstrip is long (about 1.5 hours), but on the very first day we saw so much just driving to camp that it took about 4 hours to get back - lions, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, warthogs, topi, gazelles, and more - and then we watched a calf being born. That evening, Derek asked what else we wanted to see and we said "elephants" - and 10 minutes later we were surrounded by 150 elephants eating, munching trees, walking around, interacting with each other. Bulls, mothers, and babies. It was so mesmerizing we spent an hour just sitting among them. The rest of the trip was the same. And on every drive, we were alone (I believe my friend went out with two other people one time while I was sick; the other drives she had Derek all to herself). So no cramming 6 - 8 tourists into a vehicle for 4 hours game drives and waiting while the one photography buff sets up to capture the perfect shot - just the two of us and Derek, driving around at our own whim, experiencing nature in addition to photographing it.
Need I say more? We never visited the main Basecamp camp, so I can't comment on it - people seem to love it - but if you have the opportunity to go to Wilderness Camp, which may be a bit more expensive, you will LOVE LOVE LOVE it. It is a dream come true.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.