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“Best Camp in Trans Mara” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Sanctuary Olonana

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Sanctuary Olonana
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C14, Keekorok, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Nairobi, Kenya
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Best Camp in Trans Mara”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 3, 2014

Olonana is situated along the Mara River which makes it a cool environment to relax. The sound of the dashing river makes one quickly forget the hustle and bustle of the busy city life one is used to. It's close proximity to the river makes it a wonderful home for lots of hippos. The staff are very friendly and know everything about their surrounding. The food was quite exceptional and the welcome juice something to die for. The rooms are very spacious and comfortable. Thanks to all the staff at Olonana, continue with the good work. I will be back and that's a promise!

Room Tip: All rooms are well positioned facing the Mara River
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled on business
    • 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.
Sanctuary R, Manager at Sanctuary Olonana, responded to this review, July 10, 2014
Dear Guest,

Great review thank you !!

We are glad you had memorable experience with us at Olonana and we are very pleased to hear that you will be back, we are holding you to that promise!!

It would be great if you could keep up to date with the latest news from Sanctuary Retreats and Olonana by liking us on Facebook, just search for ‘Sanctuary Retreats’. We are also on Twitter (@SanctuaryRet) and Instagram (SanctuaryRetreats) if you would like to follow us.

Best wishes
Sanctuary Retreats
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178 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 (47)
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English first
Canberra, Australia
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2014

We spent 4 nights here and did not want to leave - could have stayed extra days just to relax and enjoy the lodge. Management and staff were genuinely frindly and helpful, food fabulous (thanks to 'Big John' and kitchen staff), 'tent' - spacious and very comfortable and the resident hippos made sitting outside most interesting as did the odd elephant and crocodile (thankfully, they were across the river!). The game drives were great and we highly recommend a hot air balloon ride across 'the Mara'. It was fabulous, especially arriving an hour later somewhere in the Mara Triangle to a fully cooked breakfast complete with white linen tablecloths, champagne and hot coffee. This visit was in March 2014; low season, so only few tourists but still saw all the animals. Would love to return in high season to witness the migration but don't know if I could take the crowds as we so enjoyed the quiet and easy pace. Highly recommend Sanctuary Olonana.

  • Stayed March 2014, 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sanctuary R, Manager at Sanctuary Olonana, responded to this review, July 10, 2014
Dear Barbara,

What a lovely review thank you!!

We are very pleased that you enjoyed your time with us and thank you for all the kind comments.

We shared this your review with the rest of the team and they were thrilled with your feedback, especially Big John and the kitchen team.

It would be great if you can keep up to date with the latest news from Sanctuary Retreats and Olonana by liking us on Facebook, just search for ‘Sanctuary Retreats’. We are also on Twitter (@SanctuaryRet) and Instagram (SanctuaryRetreats) if you would like to follow us.

Best wishes
Sanctuary Retreats
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Stratton, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 22, 2014

We spent 4 nights here in January 2014 and enjoyed every minute.
We took a flight from Malindi to the mara in a little cesna aircraft that took 2 1/2 hours and only had 2 other passengers ( Hi to ozzy and wife, sorry don't know how to spell your name!! ) much better than a long road journey. Picked up at the landing strip by Nelson who was to be our guide for the safaris and driven to our camp in about 15 minutes. A nice welcome followed with a cold drink and towel for dust removal and piper giving us a tune. Escorted to our tent- 5 - which was a two minute walk along a pretty pathway (escorted at night by a minder). They are called tents but are quite substantial with flushing toilet, pair of wash basins and a lovely hot shower. Our tent had two comfortable double beds with mossi nets (did not see any) two wardrobes and plenty of room to move around in. Outside was a lovely patio area with comfy chairs overlooking the Mara river and the hippo pool. You don't need an alarm call as they wake you up just before dawn with their 'fog horn' calling when they come back from grazing all night to enter the river.
In the morning you are delivered a tray of coffee/tea/chocolate with biscuits before you go to breakfast, which was a lovely choice of eggs cooked to order with bacon, sausages, etc ,cereals and fresh fruits - just what you need before a long day on safari. Lunch was a packed lunch which we ate in the wilds, a lovely picnic with all sorts of Chicken, pasta, rice, salads, fresh fruit and even a bottle of Sauvignon blanc if you fancied it!
The safari trips were amazing and we saw the big 5 plus lots more and our driver (Nelson) was so knowledgeable, parking up besides large male lions, cheetas, black rhino and even a hippo that was having a mud bath on the side of the track. Very scary at first but you get used to it. It was better than Tsavo East/West safari that we did last year(although we did enjoy it) because you could drive off the main tracks and get incredibly close to the animals who did not seem to mind you being there.
We also did a walking safari with Julius and an armed guard just outside of the camp, walking along the river and identifying all the different animal droppings and tracks for an hour - amazing!
The next day we walked past the masai village and up the side of a steep escarpment to the top of the ridge which gave us fabulous views of the river and the plains, quite strenuous and not for the faint hearted, but well worth the climb/scramble to the top which took an hour to get up.
The food in the lodge was great with a choice of starters and main courses, all well presented, and the service was very good, with some nice wines to go with it.
A hot water bottle was even put in your bed during the evening so it was nice and warm when you got in - a nice touch.
Thanks to Christine who gave me some burn cream after I managed to frazzle my knee whilst out on safari one day, the sun is very strong, and in the truck you don't notice it as you are moving about so much and there is a cool breeze.
All the staff were very attentive but not over the top, well done to all.
We had a really great time and would recommend Olonana as a great base to do your safaris on the mara. We intend to go back one day.
Our thanks to all for giving us a memorable time.

Room Tip: Only 12 rooms and all great
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  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sanctuary R, Manager at Sanctuary Olonana, responded to this review, July 10, 2014
Dear Steve,

Thank you for this amazing, detailed review!!

We absolutely loved your feedback and the staff we very happy to learn that you had a memorable stay with us. We cannot wait to welcome you back, hopefully soon...

Until then it would be great if you could keep up to date with the latest news from Sanctuary Retreats and Olonana by liking us on Facebook, just search for ‘Sanctuary Retreats’. We are also on Twitter (@SanctuaryRet) and Instagram (SanctuaryRetreats) if you would like to follow us.

Best wishes
Sanctuary Retreats
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new york city
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 23, 2014

Sanctuary Olonana was the first stop on a Kenya/Tanzania safari in January, 2014. We loved the place from the moment we arrived. Staff met us at the entrance with a cool drink; a "pied piper" led us to the elegantly simple main lodge. The setting of the lodge, on the banks of the Mara River, is glorious. Hippos swam back and forth in front our tents and the sound of bird song woke us each morning. (The tents, by the way, are more like spacious and well-appointed rooms.) Like other Sanctuary properties we stayed at, Olonana is extremely well-managed. The staff, led by Christine, were welcoming, attentive and kind. The food is good; the pool is a pleasant oasis after a long game drive. Our guide--Abdul Karim-- was exceptional. We were very impressed by his knowledge of the game and the habitat; he was fun to be with. We were grateful for his efforts to make sure we had a memorable experience. We recommend Olonana without hesitation. KWK, New York City

  • Stayed January 2014, 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SanctuaryRetreats_2, Manager at Sanctuary Olonana, responded to this review, January 28, 2014
Dear Jackie,

Asante Sana for this lovely review, we are delighted that you had such an amazing experience with us. Thank you for your kind comments about the staff they loved your feedback and will have the “pied piper” and a hippo or two ready and waiting for you should you return!

We would love for you to keep up to date with the latest from Sanctuary Retreats and Olonana by liking us on Facebook . Just search for ‘Sanctuary Retreats’. We are also on Twitter (@SanctuaryRet) and Instagram (SanctuaryRetreats) if you would like to follow us.

Mpaka sisi kukutana tena kutunza (until we meet again take care)
Sanctuary Retreats
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Saint Paul, Minnesota
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 21, 2013

Sanctuary Olonana in the Masai Mara is a wonderful, 5 star property just outside the Masai Mara. It is a 45 minute flight from Nairobi from the Wilson Airport There are 12 luxury tents overlooking the Mara River. Having stayed in various tented camps throughout Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana and Uganda, this is one of the best! In completing a survey, we could not think of anything that could be improved on!

The rooms are large and clean with running water and flush toilets. Each tent has a deck with day bed and chairs, overlooking the Mara River where the hippos spend their days. Each morning, we were awoken by the call of hippos returning to the river at around 5:45 am! The camp is fenced so there is limited risk of animals passing through camp (although this can provide an added sense of adventure to any safari). Peter, provided security at the entrance, as well as to escort us to our tent after dinner. His enthusiasm was refreshing.

Joseph took wonderful care of our tent, ensuring we always had bottled water (and they refill glass bottles rather than using individual plastic bottles). Joseph also woke us each morning with hot coffee and biscuits to enjoy while watching the hippos and preparing for our day of safaris. Each night our tent was freshened with beds turned down, a short story on the bed and a hot water bottle under the covers.

Shaddrack, Henry and Herman were professional, attentive and had a sense of humor! They ensured our glasses and stomachs were always full! We do not care for hovering service, but the staff at Olonana was attentive and there when you needed them, without the feeling they were looking over your shoulder. The food was delicious, nice presentation and plentiful! We always ordered one of each item so that we could share and enjoy everything! Breakfast included a choice of any (or all) fruit, granola, yogurt, pancakes, eggs to order, breads/pastries, fresh squeezed orange juice and I'm sure things I missed. Lunch and dinner always offered 2 starters (usually salads), 2 entrees (fish, chicken, pizza, pasta, lamb) and of course, dessert. Afternoon tea and sundowner were also offered before and after game drives.

Although we arrived at the 'end' of the migration (the end of November), the wildlife was still plentiful! We saw many elephant, giraffe, wildebeest, hippo, and zebra. Lukas fulfilled our requests and we were fortunate to see the Black Rhino (with baby) twice, 2 leopards, 7 lion cubs, 2 lionesses, 2 male lions and 2 cheetah! We also enjoyed watching the zebra and wildebeest crossing of the Mara River - fortunately (for me), we only witnessed one wildebeest kill by a crocodile.

Asante Sana to those noted above, Maurice, Christine and all of the others at Sanctuary Olonana for a relaxing and enjoyable holiday. We hope to return again!

Room Tip: All rooms overlook the Mara River. Tent 1 is closest to the dining/main area and Tent 12 is closest...
See more room tips
  • Stayed November 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.
Sanctuary R, Manager at Sanctuary Olonana, responded to this review, July 10, 2014
Dear Guest,

What an excellent review, much appreciated!!

We are so happy that you had a relaxing, enjoyable holiday with us, we loved hosting you and cannot wait for you to return..

Until that day, please keep up to date with the latest news from Sanctuary Retreats and Olonana by liking us on Facebook, just search for ‘Sanctuary Retreats’. We are also on Twitter (@SanctuaryRet) and Instagram (SanctuaryRetreats) if you would like to follow us.

Best wishes
Sanctuary Retreats
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Reading, United Kingdom
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 8, 2013 via mobile

We stayed here for the first part of our honeymoon. It totally exceeded our expectations, and we could not have asked for any more.

The staff were friendly and attentive. Nothing was too much trouble. They even set up a surprise candlelight dinner on our terrace the last night, which was amazing. They were all fantastic, and went above and beyond to make our trip perfect.

The room was stunning. So comfortable after a long journey! It was very secluded, and the terrace was gorgeous overlooking the river. There was a story put on the pillow each night, which we loved. We need to stay longer next time to collect them all!

The game drives were fantastic, Lucas took us all the way to the Tanzania border, we saw much more than we had thought possible.

The food was absolutely delicious, tasty and fresh.

We honestly couldn't have wished for anything more during our stay, except that it was longer!

  • Stayed November 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 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.
SanctuaryRetreats_2, Manager at Sanctuary Olonana, responded to this review, December 13, 2013
Dear Guest,

Congratulations on your marriage - we wish you a long and happy life together!

Thank you for this fantastic review we are honoured to have hosted you for this auspicious occasion and absolutely delighted that we exceeded your expectations.

We would love to welcome you back one day, hopefully for your anniversary next year…

We would love for you to keep up to date with the latest news from Sanctuary Retreats and Olonana by liking us on Facebook, just search for ‘Sanctuary Retreats’. We are also on Twitter (@SanctuaryRet) and Instagram (SanctuaryRetreats) if you would like to follow us.

Best wishes
Sanctuary Retreats
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Shanghai
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 18, 2013

great location and excellent management, the food was nice and tasting! almost every requests were granted without any hesitation.Our game driver Joe was so excellent that we spotted everything we wanted to see in a day.! Maurice and Christine were very helpful and even delivery the battery charger which I forgot to Nairobi. We will be back for sure!

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled on business
    • 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.
Sanctuary R, Manager at Sanctuary Olonana, responded to this review, July 10, 2014
Dear Patrick,

Thank you for this excellent review!!

We are thrilled that you were so well looked after and that your every request was granted without hesitation.

Glad to hear you will be back, we cannot wait..

Would be great if you could keep up to date with latest news from Sanctuary Retreats and Olonana by liking us on Facebook, just search for ‘Sanctuary Retreats’. We are also on Twitter (@SanctuaryRet) and Instagram (SanctuaryRetreats) if you would like to follow us.

Best wishes
Sanctuary Retreats
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sanctuary Olonana

Address: C14, Keekorok, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Maasai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #25 of 111 Specialty Lodging in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Number of rooms: 14
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Sanctuary Olonana is an award-winning tented camp on a private stretch of the Mara River, at the foot of the impressive Siria Escarpment close to where the famous last scene from "Out of Africa" was filmed. Located close to the border with Tanzania, the game concentration is high - and during the annual wildebeest migration, the action happens right on the camp's doorstep. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Sanctuary Olonana Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Sanctuary Olonana Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve

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