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“Excellent mobile camp in the very heart of The Mara” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Serian

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Serian
5.0 of 5 Lodge   |   C14, Keekorok -Siria Escarpment Masai Mara Reserve-, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Oxford, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
77 reviews 77 reviews
26 hotel reviews
Reviews in 37 cities Reviews in 37 cities
41 helpful votes 41 helpful votes
“Excellent mobile camp in the very heart of The Mara”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 7, 2011

As first timers to The Mara, we did not know what to expect with our 3 nights in the Serian Mobile and 2 at the Serian lodge. Our experience far exceeded any expectations we had, so much so, we asked to spend all 5 nights in the mobile camp, which we did.
The mobile camp, hosted by Mike with a staff of about 9 is on the banks of The Mara river. We arrived just after the Wildebeest migration and we saw nature at it rawest with dead Wildebeest in the river, crocs, hippo's, vultures and other bird life. This may not be for everyone, so if you need hair straighteners or need a hair dryer, we suggest the main camp, but for us, this was the experience we were looking for. We were lucky to be the only family in the camp and quite frankly were treated like royalty by the staff. This is a rustic setting with many creature comforts akin to the golden age of safari, but if you are expecting the elements of the concrete jungle, then maybe this jungle would not suit you.
The tents were spacious and clean and well equipped with flush toilets and bucket showers. The beds have feather pillows and duvets and were incredibily welcoming and comfortable. We would recommend mosquito repellent although the tents were netted. The hot water bucket showers were some of the most refreshing showers we have ever had and were ordered as and when you wanted them.
The staff were so very attentive and made sure we had drinks, snacks, clean laundry etc.They welcomed our children and took great care of us all. No electricity in the tents, but the staff were able to charge camera's etc for us when the generator was on. This all added to the rustic charm and minimal impact of modern life.
At night we felt very safe with Ascari's escorting us to and from our tents as needed. One morning we woke to find Hyena and Leopard footprints....AMAZING!
Now on to the food, wow, wow, wow. It was like eating in a Michelin star restaurant. My only complaint was that sometimes there was too much food! Breakfast consisted of cereals, fresh fruit, home baked bread, sausages, eggs, bacon, pancakes and Kenyan specialities. Lunch was buffet style with ribs or chicken, salads and fruit desserts. Dinner was always a minimum three course affair - fillet of beef, dauphinoise potatoes, rhubarb crumble and custard, lamb curry, homemade soups and bread rolls. All accompanied by soft drinks, wine, spirits, beer, whatever might take your fancy. We ate better at the camp than anywhere else on our 2 week holiday. After dinner, we sat by a roaring campfire, next to the sound of the river having those life changing and thought provoking conversations the surroundings ultimately gave rise to. We also experienced a local speciality "Dowa" translated as "medicine" - crushed ice, washed in vodka, drizzled with honey and topped with small wedges of lime, all muddled with a bamboo stick! Our New medicine !!
Mornings included a wake up call at a time set by you and included hot drinks of your choice, chai, filter coffee, juice and a basin of hot water, followed by a bucket shower if requested. A refreshing and natural start to the day in the Mara, delivered to your tent.
The game driver and spotter, Masai guides, Dennis and Stephen were phenomenal.
We tried different combinations of game drive, early morning/late evening, early morning with packed lunch, all of which were accommodated. We planned the next day at dinner the night before. Both Dennis and Stephen were excellent and knowledgeable , they were very attentive to your group and individual needs and nothing was too much trouble including finding appropriate Mara PeePee stops. They were able to share many Masai traditions and animal facts with us. We also felt they were extremely sensitive to the animals and the surroundings. Not all land cruisers/drivers were, some got too close, some did not control their guests, especially when it came to noise, acceptable behaviour and appreciation of the animal needs! We had a treat one evening on our way back from the game drive, when we were surprised by the opening of the bonnet bar of the land cruiser, by the team, incorporating gin and tonics( on the rocks with a wedge) in what was one of the most beautiful sunset backdrops in the world.
Mike was a wonderful host and the camp leader Moses, made our stay unforgettable for all the right reasons. If your wish is to be at the heart of The Mara, and in sync with nature, whilst retaining some of those small creature comforts, then the Serian mobile camp, with its attentive staff, excellent guides and wonderful cuisine is the right choice, in fact, we believe, there is NO other choice!

Room Tip: Serian mobile camp for those looking for the real African safari.
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  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 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 (8)
Date | Rating
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English first
nomadic
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2011

We recently took a long weekend here and absolutely loved it. Its about 45 mins outside the Mara in a private conservancy - lovely rocks and right by a river.

Big tents, each very private, lovely views over the river, plenty of game (spent lots of time watching hippos from our tent terrace). It is clear the layout and design of the accommodation has been well thought through. Bathrooms have big bathtubs for lovely al fresco bathing. Hot water bottles in bed were a bonus.

I travel extensively and this has to be one of the nicest camps I have been to in a long time. Food could be a little better but was tasty and the breads made there are delicious.

Ngare Serian across the river over the footbridge is also beautiful with slightly larger tents and greater privacy.

Our guides and drivers were excellent, staff were friendly, and the place well looked after - a bit like being in a home in atmosphere rather than a formal lodge atmosphere. Walks in the conservancy were lovely. All in all one of the best safari experiences I have had for a while.

Room Tip: If you don't mind a walk, the rooms by the river are best in terms of view. The ones closest to...
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  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
sydney
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 18, 2011

We stayed here for 3 nights in Jan and to be honested were disappointed overall with serian.

Firstly the positives! The position is excellent, right next to the river and the tents were well equipped and clean etc. The main dining area was attractive and it was nice to have a log fire at night.

The guides, although not "polished" were good and were able to spot a lot of animals and we saw all that we wanted.

This is on the top end of the safari lodges and I think you should be aware that there are certain things that you would not expect from 'luxury lodges". Firstly there is nowhere to charge your equipment so you either have to sit in a separate tent watching your equipment (in our case very expensive cameras, computers etc) or leave it there, exposed to the world!

The food is very disappointing. It is unimaginative and boring. For example for a packed lunch we had boiled pasta, cold lamb chops, garden salad and then mixed fruit salad. No wine, dips etc or anything remotely gourmet which had been the case at other places we stayed in. We were not the only ones who were unhappy about the food - other guests said it was disappointing and way overpriced.

The general service is poor and unwelcoming. The staff for some reason seem surly and gruff and not remotely interested in helping you really. There was no atmosphere in the place, but that was prob as the camp was so empty.

Service was erratic. For example, a nice gesture was to put hot water bottles in the bed which we loved but then one night they forgot! They also forgot to bring tea to our tent one morning.

If you have breakfast, dont order eggs. The chef obviously has no idea at all how to cook eggs and on every occasion they were completely runny. Everything seems too hard. Admittedly the owner Alex was away and so possibly when he is there the camp is run more efficiently. However, that would still not solve the issue of the very average food. Little things I felt were unacceptable - chipped coffee mugs and stained serviettes. Dont expect that in a 'luxury lodge' .

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 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.
New York City, New York
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 2, 2011

For a first time safari goer and first time visitor to Africa - yet long time lover of the Masai Mara/Serengeti - picking a safari camp was no easy task. Luckily my travel agent strongly recommended Serian, and we decided to go with them. We stayed for 4 nights in August, during the peak of the Migration.

We were amazed by the luxurious feel of the camp. And not only that - despite the accommodations being luxurious, they were also extraordinarily tasteful and felt appropriate to the Mara, while still retaining somewhat of a rugged, camp aesthetic. Not that we came for the camp aesthetics - our first afternoon of arriving through the herds of wildebeest and driving out for the sundown was an unforgettable experience.

The staff - mostly Masai - were extremely friendly. Getting to know some of them was an unexpected highlight of the trip. Isaac the camp manager went above and beyond in helping us with some special requests. Another unexpected benefit was the time spent with other guests around the dinner table. The small, intimate setting of Serian and the camaraderie of relaxing and sharing stories after a long day of being on safari provided a great chance to make some new friends from around the world.

Serian offers a number of options which your travel agent can explain better than me. Because our stay was short we did not visit any of the other camps. We did the short walk outside of the camp which was a relaxing change of pace. I wish I had time to do the longer walk because it's quite a different experience and not a common opportunity. We also did a balloon ride one morning from another camp - pricey, and very difficult to get up at 4am in the cold, but a good experience. Zip up your tent at night because it gets cold!

The only downside for us was the food - it was good but too Americanized, didn't match with the authenticity of the camp. We would have preferred if they offered maybe one local/regional style dish and one western style dish. Also at times we felt it was too luxurious for us - being the youngest couple in our twenties we felt a bit out of place. Maybe my fault for booking a higher end camp, but after seeing some of the other 'factory' style camps we definitely saw the benefit of a more intimate setting and having our own guide and car. (If traveling with kids a bigger camp might be better.)

Overall an amazing experience and we hope to visit again.

  • Stayed August 2010, 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.
Crows Nest, Australia
Top Contributor
53 reviews 53 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
81 helpful votes 81 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 13, 2010

As part of 3 weeks in Tanzania and Kenya, we booked 2 nights in the mobile camp and 3 in the main. The mobile camp was empty, only the two of us, which we loved. It is nothing fancy, but comfortable and right on the river where hippos live, so we had up close and personal hippo watching. We had bucket showers and a drop toilet in the back part of the tent. Food was better than any we had in Tanzania. Game spotting here was excellent.

The main camp, which is in a private conservancy next to the Mara, is beautiful. We had a big 'tent', with a big bathroom outside (all private, just not in same building). The food was very, very good. The atmosphere throughout was really elegant and beautiful, and the staff friendly.

But, some things were just not to my liking. First, one of the reasons we booked here was to have the private car and driver. The vehicle we had was basically a truck, modified to have two benches in the back. It was a high climb up on the runner, stepping on the tire, and then over the side to get in. Not easy if you are short, heavy, or older. Although the seats had some cushions, to say it was comfortable would be a stretch. The seats only came up to shoulder height, so no putting your head back to rest. The truck was completely opened. Some people think this is wonderful, and 'authentic', but as far as I am concerned it was no better than riding around in an opened pick up truck. In the morning it was very cold with the wind blowing. Even having 2 fleece jackets and a hat didn't help. When the sun got high in the sky, it blazed down on us and was very uncomfortable. The only protection from the hot sun was a thick, green canvas cover that the drivers had to spend 10+ minutes unrolling. Because it was so much work to do that, it wasn't something one could take on and off as conditions dictated. Unlike a vehicle with one or two pop tops that passengers can have some control over. When it rained heavily, they had to roll down the sides of the canvas, leaving us to sit in the dark. Not exactly what I wanted to experience on an expensive safari. One day it was so cold with wind blowing, that while freezing in the back I watched the driver and guide roll up their windows to protect them in the cab. Not a good look. In fairness to them, they offered me to sit in the front, but somehow that didn't appeal much either. Also, our driver/guide never had a pair of binoculars, and were constantly borrowing ours. I know many people love the opened vehicles, but after spending 10 days driving in the Serengeti in Tanzania in our own private Land Cruiser with a pop top, I felt like we really came down several notches in this car. Although I asked our guide if we could change the vehicle once we got to the main camp, they said that this was the only type that they had. I don't think this was the case, but it's what I was told.

Then, in spite of our tent and the main camp being just beautiful, and in a beautiful location, there were some things that were just not acceptable for such a high priced camp. Firstly, after arriving from the mobile camp, where we had only gas lanterns, having only gas lanterns in the main camp seemed to be par. It was very dark in our tent. Our bathroom was opened to the river, and this seemed very rustic and nice. Although I did notice a man walking on the pathway just below the tent, and I could definitely see him, just don't know if he saw me. However, on our second night, we came back to the tent to find a mosquito net which was not there the first night. Also, we found we also had a battery lantern which went out nearly immediately. On the third night, we not only had the mosquito net, but now we had 2 battery lanterns which also went quickly out, but this time they had put up a screen across the opened bathroom, so we could not be seen from the pathway. So, to re-cap, It wasn't until our third night in the main camp that we had a mosquito net, 2 battery lanterns that were not fully charged and went out, and a privacy screen across the bathroom which up until then had been open. Since all these shortcomings did not fall into place until our last night, we could only mention it to the manager before we left. Also, when I told him about the vehicle, he said that he had other people making the same comments.

In a nutshell, the camp and tent were beautiful, the food was probably the best we had, but the attention to details was sorely lacking, and the vehicle was awful, and having to loan our guide our binoculars regularly was unprofessional at best.

Although I would not say don't book this camp because of this, being aware gives you a chance to make certain that all the details are in place and that the vehicle you get you are comfortable with. Probably a good idea to contact the camp prior and ask what the vehicle is like.

On the up side, there is a resident leopard close to the main camp that we spent many hours watching, and the guides were pretty good at finding cats, and courteous and helpful.

I'd also recommend that you have your guides go into the Masai Mara conservancy as there are definitely more animals there than close to the camp. We also went to the Rhino conservancy which I would have to say is NOT worth the time it takes to get to. Unless you absolutely have to see the rhinos, give this a miss. It takes several hours on terrible roads with nothing interesting to see on either the drive there or back. Go into the Masai Mara conservancy instead.

  • Stayed September 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
AlexWalker, Guest Relations Manager at Serian, responded to this review, May 21, 2012
Dear Tiny Dancer,
Thank you for your review of Serian, all the lovely things you had to say and the compliments on the food.
We completely agree it would be a very goood idea to contact the camp before your trip to state your preference of vehicle. We are aware that our guests spend alot of time in their vehicle, especially if they are driving further afield like the Maasai Mara conservancy, and as past experience dictates there tends to be a preference for open cars so one can appreciate a full safari experience. We have a variety of vehicles available but for those who would prefer there are also two closed vehicles available at Serian Camp. We do guarantee sole use of vehicle with your own guides and spotters as well. We are so glad you got to regularly see Leopard on your safari...
At Serian and the mobile camp we do have other lights in place now which are much more efficient than the lanterns.
Finally we would like to add here that we are always continuing our training at the camp for our guides and staff (even as we speak!) who are all employed from within the local area, se we can look to continually improving our standards of luxury for all our future guests.
Thanks again for your review here, and if we can help you with anything or with any more information please don't hestitate to contact our direct email address safaris@serian.net
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UK
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 22, 2010

We have stayed before in camps in the Mara and this one was one of the better ones for comfort and privacy. Our tent was very private and comfortable with a lovely view of the Mara River and noises of the hippos. The verandas are so big you could have a party on them. The bathrooms were definitely the best we had had in the Mara loads of hot water in a stone bath and a wonderful shower overlooking the Mara river. Lanterns were put around the outside of the tent which is a lovely feel but the one thing we felt was lacking in the tent at night and early hours was electric light to be able to see. The single solar light lantern was not sufficient and one could only use this for short times. We understand solar panels are going in at a later stage. The food was very good and we all sat at the same table. We were pleased to hear much of the salads were grown with in the camp and no bad tummy problems. Sadly we felt the place lacked people and depended on Kenyan residents to fill their tents. It could do with some TLC. The game drives were very good with a safe driver and excellent guide. We did however feel the Land cruiser needed updating as they looked old and were somewhat uncomfortable and slighty dirty compared with what we had in Tanzania. We saw most game including the migration crossing. We have visited the Mara over a number of years and sadly we find it has become like a circus with cheap tours from Nairobi and no policing in crowding the animals. However I will say our guides were very careful and played by the rules.

  • Stayed September 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
, Guest Relations Manager at Serian, responded to this review, July 2, 2012
Dear WiltshireUK57,

Thank you very much for your comments posted a couple of years back now, and we delighted that, on the whole, you enjoyed your stay at Serian... and the sounds of the hippos! They are still very much our next-door neighbours. We are also happy to tell you that since your stay in 2010 a few additions have been made to Serian, and we continue to train our staff in all areas so as to continue to try and maintain our high standards! For example there is new lighting in all of Serian Camp’s tents (although lanterns are still used for a little ambiance!) derived from solar power and charging is also available in a central secure area. I might add here that in our other camps, Ngare and Nkorombo Mobile, there are also full power-charging facilities in the rooms (lighting and sockets).

There are over eight vehicles now at Serian, in good condition and which allow people to stand up and view wildlife from the best possible vantages - they can even be slightly modified for serious photographers needing a variety of angles and rests for cameras.

We are not sure, due to the pseudonyms on this site, if you have been back to visit us at Serian since your last stay, but we sincerely hope you do in the near future as we are sure the experience will be even more enjoyable! We look forward to seeing you again and best wishes from us all at Alex Walker’s Serian!
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Adelaide, Australia
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 21, 2010

We had intended to stay in Serian Main Camp for only three nights, however a bush fire approaching to their other camp forced us to return for another two nights and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. Accommodation was not only lovely, but private - ie could actually could not hear your neighbours but the hippos at night time. Dinners were lovely prepared around a large table in the lounge giving plenty of opportunity to talk to other guests at night time, the private safaris were amazing and credit has to go to the wonderful staff. Some of them never had the opportunity to attend any formal education and their caring and thoughtful personalities would rank them amongst the gentlemen and ladies of the world!
Worthwhile a stay of a few days!

  • Stayed September 2010, 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
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Additional Information about Serian

Also Known As:
Serian Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Serian Hotel
Serian Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve
Address: C14, Keekorok -Siria Escarpment Masai Mara Reserve-, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Maasai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly )
Hotel Style:
Ranked #54 of 109 Specialty lodging in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Serian 5*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A traditional bush camp most suited to adventurous outdoors characters in search of a real experience. "Serian" means peaceful, calm or serene in the Maa language. An artists haven and one of the most picturesque sites in the Mara. Located in the heart of the Mara North Conservancy "Serian" operates throughout the year. A traditional tented camp focusing on quality game viewing and providing clients access to some of the very best game viewing in Africa. The migration of wildebeest occurs from June through October and sometimes November, quickly followed by the birthing season from October to March. April May & June offer opportunities for ornithologists and those who enjoy the solitude of the quiet season. Serian guarantees exclusive use of vehicle at no extra cost. This is the key to a quality experience and not a shared compromise. The Nest is a tree house perfect for a picnic after a bush walk in the private conservancy, where guests can also spend the night in the two oval double beds and watch nocturnal game on the infra-red cameras! ... more   less 

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