We have thought long and hard about this review, and decided on a 4 and not a 5. The reason is that the lodge is excellent, with superb staff who are very dedicated to your needs. The food was wonderful, and the rooms very clean with good furniture. From a hotel perspective, we found this to be an excellent location to stay.
Our main concern was the quality of the guide, who while friendly didn't seem to be as committed to us and our experience as we would have liked. We worked out that he was on his phone 20-30 times per day on what seemed to be personal calls. While there is always a need to liaise with other guides on animal sightings, he often took or made a call, and then didn't change course or direction. It was also extremely disconcerting that he would drive on very rough terrain with one hand on the wheel and one on the phone chatting to his friends. We also were extremely unimpressed at the way on one day, when after a long day out in the Mara, he took us back in a different route, and pulled up without explanation at a group of locals by a truck in the middle of a field. He then proceeded to spend nearly 20 minutes loading a cow into the back of the truck.
After we drove off he explained that it was his cow and it needed medical help, and he needed to be there. While I fully appreciate the importance of cows in Mara values and society, I was not impressed that he'd spent a lot of the day when guiding us focusing on sorting out his cow via phone calls, and not our guiding experience. I was also not impressed that he didn't tell us his plans until after the event - it is very disconcerting to pull up in the middle of nowhere to be greeted by a group of strange people and not know what is going on. I was also struck by the way he said 'don't tell anyone' which seemed to imply he knew he shouldn't have done what he did. Therefore, with some reluctance we've giving this place a 4, not a 5, simply because the game drive experience is so integral to the stay.
The only other advice we would offer is to pack an extra layer for here, as the lodge is at 6000 feet and can get very cold at night (although the beds get wonderful hot water bottles).
- Also Known As:
- Saruni Mara Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
- Saruni Mara Hotel
- Saruni Mara Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve
- 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