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“Outstanding Game Lodge in Mara North Conservancy” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Saruni Mara

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Saruni Mara
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C14, Keekorok | Mara North Conservancy, Maasai Mara National Reserve 20500, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
London
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Outstanding Game Lodge in Mara North Conservancy”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 26, 2012

We returned to Saruni Mara for 5 nights in mid September 2012 (one year after our first visit). Once again we had a fantastic stay and were pleased to meet the staff again. Saruni now has a family villa which was great for my wife, daughter and me. The villa has two seperate, luxury suites with a huge lounge/dining area linking the two suites. In the evening we experienced showering whlist watching a herd of buffalos grazing close to the tented suite. Lemeria was again our wonderful guide and we experienced some amazing animal sightings, including watching a lioness successfully hunt a wildebeest and gazelle within 10 minutes of each kill, and lions mating. There were large herds of wildebeest in the North Mara which attracted the normal predators (leopard, cheetah, lions and hyenas). Dining at the camp is mainly based on Italian dishes and was superb. One big plus is the small size of the lodge which enables one to interact with staff and other guests around the fire before dinner in the evening. This gives a casual and friendly ambience at the lodge. The spa facilities are also very good.We were also fortunate to visit the local livestock market and attend the Sunday church service (this lodge interacts with the local community) We will certainly be back at Saruni in the near future.

Room Tip: If you are a family, try for the family villa. However, all the tented rooms are outstanding
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  • Stayed September 2012, 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.
RiccardoOrizio, Owner at Saruni Mara, responded to this review, September 27, 2012
Dear Roy, many thanks for your review and thank you for coming back to Saruni and to Kenya. yes, the new family villa is really special... we have fantastic feedback about it. And I'm glad you mentioned how closely we work with the local community: the own the land we operate on and we owe them the existence of the Masai Mara! Hope to see you the next time and as we say here asante sana!
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120 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
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jackson NJ
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 22, 2012

We returned to Saruni again this year after our wonderful stay there in 2011. This year we spent 2 nights at Saruni Wild and 5 nights at Saruni Camp. Located in the Mara North Conservation area one has access to the Mara national reserve and the joy of game drives every day in the less crowded Mara North Conservation area. Our guide William was wonderful. We were on game drives with him from from dawn until dark every day. The staff art Saruni was very attentive and the accomodations top notch. The only thing we missed was visiting with host and owner Riccado Orzio who was away on business.

Special thanks to Martin, Thomas, all the staff at Saruni and most of William our guide and new friend. I would highly recommend Saruni if you plan to visit the Mara and Mara North Conservation area.

Room Tip: Cottage 5 or 6 killer views!!
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  • Stayed August 2012, 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
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RiccardoOrizio, Owner at Saruni Mara, responded to this review, September 27, 2012
Dear Kit, I'm enormously proud that we are getting such good feedback from return guests like you. It means that we have managed to obtain a consistency that is the most difficult aspect of any hospitality business. Above all, I'm very glad that your experience with us, especially with our super-guide William, was so meaningful and so satisfactory. Good guiding has always been a crucial element of the Saruni experience. Thank you for your encouragement: it means a lot to all of us.
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Leeds, United Kingdom
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 12, 2012

We still have huge smiles on our faces after landing home after our honeymoon - why? SARUNI MARA. We have wanted to do a safari since we met, 7 years ago, but decided to wait until our honeymoon - and I am so glad we did, as we have memories that will last a lifetime.

As huge animal lovers,we wanted to see animals in their natural environment and for it to feel authentic, rather than be surrounded by hundreds of other jeeps... and boy did we get our wish! We saw everything we wanted to see and more!!!!! The lodges are situated in the Mara North Conservancy, which is very quiet - you can go for hours without seeing other jeeps. We ventured down to the Masia Mara national reserve a couple of the days & in comparison we found it much busier - so in terms of location you cannot get any better than Saruni.

I think the most popular word we have used since we got back is "JACKSON" - our guide. Anything I write on him could simply not do him justice. His knowledge & his ability to spot animals at a glance was simply unbelievable! He worked so hard for us, on 2 days we set off at 4.30am & did 14 hour game drives - we wanted to make the most of our experience! Jackson was more than happy to start/finish whenever we wanted & made our experience so fun. He worked so hard to not only find the BIG 5 & many more, but also to find exciting experiences for us - a lion eating a freshly caught wilderbeest, 2 week old lions cubs play-fighting, a leopard's kill in the trees, a pride of lions teaching their cubs to hunt, a cheetah on the hunt with her 2 cubs... the list is endless! He was an absolute star - and made our honeymoon unforgettable.

All of the staff in the lodge were fantastic and so attentive - and the managers Marcus & Hen were so welcoming & really couldn't do enough for you. We felt like they were family by the end!

The location and standards of the lodges were simply perfect - luxurious & so peaceful! The food also has to be mentioned - simply incredible! The owner is Italian & offers the tastiest food ever! We expected the food to be quite simplistic - but it was far from it! The picnic lunches were equally as delicious! In fact, I wish I had asked for the recipe to the lunchtime quiche, so i could cook it as a "honeymoon reminder". It was also so lovely to be woken up with hot tea & cookies, yum yum - what a great start to the day!!

The jeeps that Saruni use could not be better - open sided for the best views, and picture opportunities - we took 1800 photos in 5 days!!!!!!

Another great touch was the free laundry service - we didn't realise this before we went - but in future it will certainly help with the 15kg luggage limit on the flight! The laundry basket was emptied each day & returned within 24 hours.

From the bottom of my heart I cannot recommend Saruni enough - especially after hearing some other safari experiences from other honeymooners in Zanzibar on the 2nd part of our honeymoon - BOOK SARUNI TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!

We just cannot wait to return & also visit their sister lodge in Samburu (Can Jackson meet us there?!?!)

Thank you all for such an amazing honeymoon - we miss you already xx

  • Stayed September 2012, 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RiccardoOrizio, Owner at Saruni Mara, responded to this review, September 27, 2012
Well, this is really a review that is difficult to comment: it makes me blush, almost! Let me keep it simple: we are incredibly , seriously happy to have given you the experience that such an important moment in your lives required. I'm so proud that we have been able to associated ourselves so happily to the beginning of your life as a married couple. And Jackson is really realy a happy masai after reading these. Thank you!
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Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 25, 2012 via mobile

I went to Saruni lodge in Masai Mara last year, at the end of september and the first week of October. It is placed on the side of the hill looking directly to the magnificent Mara conservancy. There are beautiful rooms with this view. Moreover, there is a little place in front of them where the animals go in the morning to drink and feed.
Concerning the guides, well, there is not a lot to say: they are all prepared about everything (eg: they don't just tell which animal is that, but also everything about their lifestyle and, if you go through a walking safari, they'll tell you about the flora and how it is used in their medicine). It must be added that they are available to every request of the guest and ready to satisfy her/his needs.
I also spent 3 nights in the tent camp. It is located in a valley, away from civilization, since there's no electricity and phones don't work there. All around there are giraffes, elephants, monkeys and so on: a wonderful experience.
Do you mind animal documentaries? Do you like them? Well, in this case you're part of it and you'll live it. It is something unforgettable and, I have to say, the accommodation and the guides played an important role too.

  • Stayed October 2011
    • 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
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RiccardoOrizio, Owner at Saruni Mara, responded to this review, August 26, 2012
Dear Luca, many thanks for your feedback and we all loved to have you here with us. I'm glad you liked both the accomodation and the guides. I believe that the African bush needs to be appreciated with guides who belong to the land where the safari happens, possibly own it and have a vested interest not only in understanding it but also in protecting it for the future generations.
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Abu Dhabi
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 17, 2012

It was a tough decision on where to go in the Masai, but we are glad we chose the Conservancy and Saruni Mara in April 2012. After spending the following week volunteering in other parts of Kenya, I learned from others how crowded it is in the Reserve at every animal viewing. And while yes, it was the rainy season so attendance is low, not once were we watching a group of animals with any other vehicle, though we did see a few others. So keep that in mind when choosing where you go.
As for the Saruni Mara camp, the staff were fantastic and attentive, especially about heating your water for showers since they couldn't rely on the sun during our time. Though we greatly enjoyed our breakfasts and lunches in the bush, my spouse and I both agreed the dinners weren't great especially compared to our safari camp in South Africa. But we have to say, Kenya does not allow serving game meat. We also felt if the owners had been there, the food might have been better. But the young Brits running the place in the owners absence were super friendly and made sure we had everything we needed.
And we certainly can only say great things about the guides. They are all local and ours, Jackson, clearly knew the surroundings and each group of elephants, lions and cheetahs in the Conservancy as well as any other bird or animal I asked him about. And as they can drive right up to the animals, we have some amazing photos to share with our friends and families.
We would certainly recommend Saruni to anyone who asks!

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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, Owner at Saruni Mara, responded to this review, June 25, 2012
Thank you very much for your thoughtful review. Yes, the Mara North Conservancy is indeed "the place to be" and it will become more and more so in the next years. You are correct to say that in the Masai mara there is a great deal of choice, but it is crucial for conservation and for the future of the masai that travellers like yourselves choose also according to how good are the efforts to protect the Masai Mara and the Masai community! Thank you again, Riccardo
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Los Angeles
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 14, 2012

We spent 5 days at this beautiful camp in April 2012. We saw elephants, lions, cheetahs (one kill), hippos, giraffes, buffalos in abundance, despite it being the rainy season. The rain was not an issue, despite being the heaviest in three years, apparently.

The lodges are very comfortable, the service extremely attentive and delicious cooking. We had our own guide/driver for the whole time, with delicious breakfasts and lunches out in the plains. Their philosophy is basically to accommodate you, rather than in some of the larger camps where you have to abide by a schedule, or the whims of others.

Staff were very friendly, to the extent that the managers and guides joined us for dinner in the evening.

Really good massages and treatments too. Highly recommended.

Room Tip: There are only six lodges, and all are wonderful, so no need to choose one over another.
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  • Stayed April 2012, 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.
, Owner at Saruni Mara, responded to this review, June 25, 2012
Thank you so much for making the point about the rain season. Actually, rain has become so unpredictable that is difficult to know if and when ti will wet our beloved Masai mara (more when than if, to be accurate), but even if you end up being on safari during the rain season the rewards are huge. I'm so glad you saw a cheetah kill: a sighting to remember for the rest of life. Thank you again. Riccardo
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uk
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 25, 2012

We arrived at Saruni Wild not having any idea what we were going to and were truly amazed when we got there. We were met by a young woman who had just arrived with her boyfriend to be managers (they arrived in Kenya on the same plane as us!). She was very charming but hadn’t really got a clue, although to give her, her due she spend the night in a tent to gain the experience so did take out hats off to her for that.

The camp is a long way from the actual Massai and my husband found that a little tedious driving backwards and forwards to it but the rest of us didn’t (my adult son and daughter) as there was quite a lot to see each time.

The camp was like no other. We had it solely to ourselves with our own “butler”, chef and staff. It was an amazing experience. There is no electricity and we had bucket showers!. When we returned from a drive we were asked when we would like our shower and low and behold truly hot water was put into the bucket outside the tent. It was then hoisted up and came out of the pipe inside – lovely!
The food was very Italian but then an Italian owns it so it would be!. That was a bit of a surprise but it was very good.
Nothing was too much trouble for them. Everything we wanted was there. The big beds (complete with mosquito nets, but no mosquitoes seen) were wonderful to climb into and to find a lovely hot water bottle was so comforting. We did find ourselves in bed by 9pm one night which we all thought was incredibly funny but there is not a lot to do when it gets dark!
They made a camp fire outside out tent to help keep animals away and of course we had evening drinks beside the dining/sitting tent which was very relaxing.
It was wonderful to see the Massai Mara and it all contained. Lots of things to see, birds and animals and our guide Surani (Kisimai) was excellent at tracking and finding.
The bush lunches were very disappointing and not particularly nice which, was a shame. One couldn’t go back to the camp for lunch as it was too far.
We had a fascinating bush walk with three guides. They made a bush fire, taught us to shoot a bow and arrow (badly!) and told us about all the plants. We found endless skeletons which was fascinating and found a dead warthog which had been taken up a tree by a leopard. The next day a boy got it down for his dog!
We did see local life first hand, which was very interesting and something we hadn’t really seen at the other places we had been to. A woman washing the clothes in a waterhole, the men taking their animals out each day, their homes, children going to school, the local “cafe” – a very hard life.
Kisimai was very knowledgeable but I found him a little arrogant. He had dinner with us each evening which was quite hard as he was clearly tired and being honest I think we would have preferred to have been on our own for the meal and I don’t think he would have minded not being there either!
On the last evening we went up a hill for our sundowner to look at the breathtaking view of the Massai. That really was a sight to behold. Here we met James, the Manager. We got the feeling that the staff didn’t really respect them as they had just arrived and didn’t seem to know anything. We gave them six months there, maximum!

Opinion
We wanted the true safari experience of living outdoors in a tent with basic amenities (although everything there that you could want, including a very comfy sofa to it on) and we definitely had that. It probably isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but it was fabulous for us. We laughed so much and really enjoyed it. We saw an abundance of animals. We were in our own little world and didn’t see other tourists. It was magical.

I wouldn’t go back but purely because we have been there and done it but if you want a true experience of Africa then I would recommend it. The lodges looked very nice too so might be worth looking into. My memories of it always make me smile and have a chuckle so it must have been good!

Room Tip: We were in a tent with two bedrooms and no one else was there. Obviously basic as we were in the bu...
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 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.
, Owner at Saruni Mara, responded to this review, June 25, 2012
Thank you very much for your review and I'm sorry that you did not like Kisemei's hosting at dinner. I have taken note of this: the guide is supposed to host you only if and when this suits our guests and he is not there to impose himself. Glad that the momories to Saruni make you smile and be happy: this is how it is supposed to be! best regards, Riccardo
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Additional Information about Saruni Mara

Address: C14, Keekorok | Mara North Conservancy, Maasai Mara National Reserve 20500, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Maasai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #16 of 112 Specialty Lodging in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Saruni is a small, luxury lodge in Mara North Conservancy, the best wildlife area in the Masai mara ecosystem. We have one family villa and 5 cottages. Our masai guides are among the best in Kenya and to discover the amazing wildlife of the Mara with them is an unforgettable experience. In July 2012 Saruni Mara opened the doors of a brand new family villa and completed the refurbishment of its existing villa’s in to six beautifully designed, themed rooms.The stylish new villa has two en-suite bedrooms and a large lounge complete with dinning area and comfortable sofa’s sounding the welcoming fireplace. There is also an impressive large veranda overlooking the magnificent scenery of the Masai Mara. The remaining villas have been refurbished to incorporate themes that will engage with guests passions whether that is art, astronomy, photography, literature, natural history or simply romance. All furniture, carpets, lamps and bedding was either sourced locally in Nairobi or designed by Kenyan interior decorator Larissa Hoops and then made by local craftsmen.The Art room will inspire creative guests with an easel and paint as well as a desk with drawing materials.For star gazers, the Astronomy room has a vintage brass telescope, moon map and selection of interesting material on all things cosmic.Book worms and budding writers will enjoy staying in the Literature room with its vintage typewriter, leather reading chairs, desk with brass reading lamp, quill pen and leather blotter. There is also a selection of classic and African literature. For clients that prefer to view life through the lens, the Photography room has an old box browning camera, antique photographic equipment catalogue and stunning prints adorn the walls. The Family villa also doubles as the Natural History room and is decorated with a selection of antique and vintage prints. There is also relevant reading material such a books on mammals, reptiles, tree’s and birds.The Honeymoon room has been simply designed for a relaxing romantic break with comfy furniture and beautiful antiques.Saruni Mara is owned and run by Italian author Riccardo Orizio. This resort is the Masai Mara’s smallest permanent lodge and guests enjoy an exclusive experience with their own private vehicle and guide. Evenings can be spent relaxing in the common area enjoying fine cuisine influenced by Riccardo’s Italian family heritage. Guests can also enjoy bush breakfasts and dinners in breathtaking settings such as in the middle of an acacia forest. Saruni Mara is extremely active in local community and conservation projects and works very closely with the local Masai communities. The lodge is the proud recipient on the Silver rating by Ecotourism Kenya.Rooms at Saruni Mara start from US$390 a night. Prices are based on two people sharing on full board including all house drinks, park fees, game drives and airport transfers. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Saruni Mara Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Saruni Mara Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve

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