We stayed at Olonana for 4 nights before coming to Royal Mara so it was hard not to compare the two camps since they were almost the same price.
What I loved about Royal Mara:
• You can drive off road in the Mara Conservancy so you can get closer to the animals. If not for this we would not have seen the amazing things we did including: several leopards, 2 leopards mating, a pride of lions with a kill, and a beautiful bull elephant feasting on a tree.
• The 2 hr walking safaris were amazing. Getting up close to the hippos was great. Reagan is very knowledgeable and a trained sniper if need be.
• The staff are lovely, hardworking people, who deserve better from management.
What was disappointing:
• The food was very basic and a world away from the lovely food we had at Olonana. Repetitive menu, recycled sauces, frozen vegetables and in some cases I am fairly sure at least the tomato soup was canned. A bottle of wine we ordered before dinner was not chilled, so I asked if they could put it in the freezer for 20 minutes but it was served warm!
• Tents are modern, the bed was comfortable but our hot water was never hot. We didn’t even use the cold water tap when having a shower and the pressure was a drizzle at best. The zip on our tent was constantly jamming, which didn’t happen with our kids’ tent (different style of zip). Also our front door on the balcony was very difficult to close. I asked if it could be fixed and was told, yes, but when it wasn’t, I was told, “the guy who does that was not around.” It was tent No. 7. I’m sure whoever is in that tent several months from now will have the same problem.
• Internet was extremely bad. Only functioned properly in the middle of the night. It was possible to get emails at times but to send one with an attachment was not possible. When I asked about this, I was told “look where we are, what do you expect?” If that is the case, then don’t advertise that you have “high-speed internet.” Our internet was fine at Olonana btw. Unfortunately both my husband and I needed to stay in contact with work, so Internet was essential.
The general feel of the place is everything is done on the cheap: Vehicles are old and uncomfortable; staff don’t have nametags; there was no conditioner in the shower; no umbrellas so we walked to dinner in the rain one night. Whenever tea was served, it was already made and quite strong. The teapots were badly stained as were the teacups in the rooms. There were toothpicks on the toilet floor and bathroom in the kids’ tent and our bidet was not clean. There was also no mosquito repellent available. We bought some with us but because we were in 2 tents and needed security to walk us everywhere, I thought it would be good to buy another. Not possible unless they went to a nearby town, so I didn’t bother. In an area like this, and paying such high prices, these sorts of things should be available and in fact are at other camps!!
The final straw for me was the morning of checkout. We were going on a walking safari at 10am and were supposed to checkout at 12:45. However, 5 minutes before the walking safari, we were asked to vacate both our rooms “because other guests are arriving at 12pm.” It was just very unprofessional. If we had been told in advance I could have prepared and packed properly. Instead we all scrambled to quickly pack before the safari. I found out from another staff member that the next guests were arriving at 2pm and they had not arrived when we left at 12:45pm, so they treated us badly for nothing. It’s purely a lack of direction from management.
This is marketed as a luxurious camp and it is just isn’t, although the prices certainly are. Do your research; there are better camps out there for the money.