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“Serian - safari of a lifetime..” 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
Stephenville, Texas
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“Serian - safari of a lifetime..”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 26, 2013

I am currently working for a year in Nairobi for a medical NGO. Subsequently I have had the time to review many different safari opportunities within Kenya and talk to many who have gone to the different parks within this beautiful country. The overwhelming majority of responses from Kenyans on where to go on a holiday safari is very simple, if you want the best in Kenya, you go to the Masai Mara.

Next you have to decide between the many different outfitters who provide safaris on the Mara. After extensive research and discussions, it was clear to me that I wanted to be in the Mara North Conservancy (www.maranorth.com). This is a section of the Mara that is on the northern border and consists of ~ 75,000 acres of non-profit managed ecosystem that has only 11 outfitters working there by lease. This Masai community-based organization benefits the people directly and limits the access intentionally to the north Mara. Therefore you have the lowest density of tourists on the Mara = a win-win-win for the Masai, outfitters and those who visit.

The trick is trying to decide which of the 11 camps you want to go with. I chose Alex Walker's Serian main camp for several reasons. First, it is small (7 tents) and caters to photographers. They are set directly on the Mara river - I had tent #6 and woke up every morning to the sounds of bellowing hippos that were < 50 yards away, how cool is that?

Secondly and critically important - you get your own Land Cruiser and two Masai guides, 24/7. You want to go early and shoot a sunrise? You want to stay out late and get a fantastic star shot panorama of the Mara? You want to take a walking safari along the Mara escarpment that no one else but Serian camp guests can go and come face to face with a lion? (Yep, did that...) The key is your daily itinerary is determined by you and not the couple from Queens (no disrespect) who want to go look for something you are not interested in.

Case in point: Second evening I was there we found 2 young cheetahs and their mother hunting. They then decided to take a late afternoon nap. The only other couple in the camp was radioed and they came with their guides over and saw the cheetahs. They were bored in 10 minutes and left. I asked my guides what they thought we should do - "we wait". Sure enough, 30 minutes later after a cold beer and a beautiful sunset, the cheetahs got up and put on a hunt for Thompson's gazelle that was at one point ~ 60 mph chase, right at our truck! Got back to camp the couple asked what happened - "nice sunset..." and some of the best images of the trip.

The camp is "eco-chic" according to their glossy. I will say that it is posh for sure, but not over the top. Take a look at Sir Branson's new Virgin camp in a different area if you want over the top. At Serian, the 4-poster bed, private stone baths, wake up coffee & tea service, fantastic food, wine, beer, etc - all included is 4 stars. How about a 4 course safari breakfast under an Acacia tree ~ 0900 after getting up for the sunrise on the Mara - did that every morning! Lunch can be relaxing back at the camp or you can do that on the main Mara, which I did, or especially if you are there during the migration.

I went the end of May, before the migration started. I have already booked a return trip in September this year to catch the end of the migration which started late. I think the Mara was fabulous during the low season of May - very few people and I saw the "big 5" easily. Saw lions daily. The Masai guides know where the 5 main different lion prides are at most of the time, we had no problems finding them. The Serian is also participating in the Mara Predator Project to help monitor and sustain this critical part of the ecosystem.

I stayed 4 nights, five days which was perfect. I would not stay fewer than two nights, you will regret that because of what will be missed. I recommend flying in via Wilson Airport in Nairobi and let Serian arrange your transport from Kenyatta Airport - traffic in Nairobi is a nightmare at best. You can drive in but it will take all day from Nairobi and you will waste valuable time, unless you have it to burn.

On a side note, you do not need anything longer than 300mm zoom to get fantastic images here. I had to leave my long prime lens at home when I left in January for work. Picked up an inexpensive 70-300 mm which I shot with most of the trip and worked fine. I did run into some guys with nikon D4s and 500mm prime lenses, but funny, they were shooting mostly with their 70-200mm lens... you get very very close to the animals here and do not need a pro camera to get fabulous images. Also note, the images I upload are small email-sized for easy of loading. They do not due justice to the full sized processed images I have.

The Serian is expensive. But it is a special place and if you want a once in a lifetime personalized safari, I would highly recommend it. Especially if you are a photographer or aspiring to be one. Can't wait to get back!

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled solo
    • 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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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
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Thika
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 11, 2013

We recently spent some time at Serian and their mobile camp in the Maasai Mara.
What a delight. We were amazed that Serian could improve on an already
wonderful setting, but that is exactly what we found. Wonderful staff, management, and tents - the Mara river rolling past and African at its finest!
The perfect place to be in Kenya.

Room Tip: If pricing is not a consideration..... cross over the river and stay at Ngare Serian - a more romant...
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  • Stayed May 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wiesbaden
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
24 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 19, 2013

We spent 2 nights at Serian Camp as part of a safari round trip and enjoyed it very much. Service, food, location and staff were all perfect as one could expect from a high class camp like this. What we felt truly was wonderful were our guides (Sam and Bajila) and also the opportunity to do great walks in the Mara North Conservancy right from the Camp. Also at Serian you always have your own guides and vehicle which is a great luxury.
The wildlife was plentiful and very varied and you honestly don't need the migration when you are here! We saw leopard, cheetah, lion, civet cats, mongoose, lots of zebra and wildebeest and other antelopes and gazelles, many elephants and wonderful birds.
The spaces between the tents are very generous and one thing to mention is the very open bathroom (no door - no window). To go there in the middle of the night with only a torch and all the sounds of the bush around you is definitely not for the very fainthearted characters!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 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.
London, United Kingdom
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 7, 2013

Great camp, great game, great food and great staff. The team running the camp are great fun and nothing was too much trouble for them. My wife and I stayed 4 nights at this small camp the first week of March 2013 and we had a superb time. Uncertainty surrounding the local elections in combination with low season meant we were the only guests and had the whole place to ourselves. The camp is situated on the Mara river in the Mara North Conservancy adjacent to the National Park. This means off road and night drives were possible. We saw an amazing number of animals and particularly liked the local genet Jen. Her nightly appearance in the dining room made dinner so much more special. A great thank you from Edward Pennings and Claudia Quintela.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 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.
Karlsruhe, Germany
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 30, 2012

Serian Camp Maasai Mara/Kenya

I had forgotten to ask what "Serian" (the name of the Serian Camp in the Maasai Mara) actually means. For me personally, the name of Alex Walker's camp on the Mara River represents one of the most beautiful and impressive trips I have ever embarked on. The camp standards are so high and service, cleanliness, food and security is so perfectly organized that one is free to experience the incredible vastness of the Savannah and its animals in the purest sense of the word.

Alex Walker's staff fulfills even the most unusual of requests: The power supply for my apnea machine was a car battery located next to my bed that was charged each day. This was also the case at the Nkorombo mobile field camp - something that simply must be experienced in person! And if I wanted to, the crew would have carried a battery to the Suguroi Hill Tree house for me: Access is possible on foot only, giving you that authentic Tarzan & Jane feeling!

  • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Knoxville, Tennessee
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2012

I recently spent 12 days at the Serian Camp on the Mara River in the North Mara Conservancy and I have to say that it was absolutely wonderful! Super staff, luxury bush accommodations, and great food! As a nature and wildlife photographer, I was especially interested in photographing a wide variety of wildlife and I was able to do just that! Lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, gazelles, dikdiks, elans, waterbucks, hippos, baboons, monkees, eagles, vultures, zebras, wildebeests, cranes, giraffes, hyenas, mongooses, antelope, buffalo, hyraxes, kingfishers, owls, warthogs, crocodiles, starlings, storks, and more. I highly recommend The Serian Camp!

Room Tip: Ask for a tent that has a view of the river. And to get the best experience a stay of 4-8 nights is...
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  • Stayed June 2012, 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.
Dallas, TX
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 5, 2012

From the moment we exited the small plane to a welcoming committee of Dominick (our guide), Dennis (our driver), and a rather large group of giraffes, we knew we were in a special place with terrific people.

We started the first game drive immediately-and the love affair began-each and every drive (two a day) brought something new and exciting. Just when you really thought you had seen it all, something unique happened and you once again experienced the awe that is Africa.

Adrian, Roshin and their staff met us at the end of the suspension bridge with a warm welcome and beverages. As they brought us to our 'tents' (really gorgeous rooms!), we were once again given a natures greeting with a large pod (maybe 30+) if hippos that seemed equally pleased to see us. Thoroughly enjoyed seeing and hearing them every day-what a wake up call! It could have been difficult to leave the comfort of the huge bed (complete with a wonderfully warm hot water bottle), but the excitement of the days possibilities had us up early and ready to go.

We were treated like family (actually royalty) and the meals could be considered fine dining-lots of variety, very tasty and the presentation impressive.

As a first time traveler to Africa I must admit I was a little concerned from a safety standpoint-my family fairly accuses me of being a worrier. All fears were allayed immediately as we could clearly see this team knows what they are doing and have tremendous respect for the surroundings.

Dominick and Dennis are extremely knowledgeable and freely shared information and patiently answered each and every question-and there were loads of those! They made it so fun and quite the learning experience as well. Our group included my daughter, son-in-law and myself. We traveled in a great vehicle with an open top that allowed for spotting and observing game with very close proximity. We spotted-at last count- 30 different mammals and 70 different birds.

Also enjoyed the mobile camp- Craig and his team were also extremely welcoming and provided at atmosphere of fun and safety. Meals once again shared the feel of a fine dining experience. Can't imagine how they do this, but they do!

If you have ever considered an African vacation-DO IT! Alex Walker's Serian Camp far exceeded my expectations and wildest dreams! If you have not considered an African vacation, I would encourage it-definitely the experience of a lifetiime and I'm so very grateful for having enjoyed the people and critters of Kenya.

  • Stayed June 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Serian

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 #53 of 108 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 
Also Known As:
Serian Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Serian Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve

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