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“Very good camp, but could consider single travellers a little more.” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Royal Mara Safari Lodge

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Royal Mara Safari Lodge
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4.0 of 5 Lodge   |   Masai Mara North Conservancy | P.O Box 260, Maasai Mara National Reserve 00621, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Manchester, UK
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
48 helpful votes 48 helpful votes
“Very good camp, but could consider single travellers a little more.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 22, 2014

Firstly I would like to pass a small comment on some of the less than positive reviews placed about this camp – and thankfully there are only a few. To my mind when you come on safari, you come ‘bush prepared’. Ideally you would sleep under the stars in a small tent in a sleeping bag, and eat from food made around a camp fire ‘at one’ with the animals and surroundings. Now I know that this isn’t always possible, and that we all like a little more luxury than that, but moaning about not having wi-fi and telephone reception? Moaning about not being provided with mosquito repellent? Moaning about open bathrooms? Seriously???
I spent 3 days and 2 nights here a couple of week2 ago, and whilst I could not fault the accommodation and service, I do have a couple of observations from my perspective as a ‘lone’ traveller particularly as we incur the additional cost of a single supplement.
I think that this camp could, with just a little thought and at no real cost, make the experience better for single travellers. Don’t get me wrong, the staff are friendly and helpful, but there were little things that just might have been done better to help the socialisation within the camp. Firstly remember this camp only has 8 tents that are spread over a very large area, and you are expected to being accompanied when moving around the camp, so socialising with your camp neighbours is not easy. For example I found myself being placed in a 4x4 with two people who didn’t speak my language, even though there were other English people in the lodge, and it would have been the easiest thing in the world to have partnered me in the same vehicle as them. Now I appreciate that this isn’t always possible, but on this occasion it was but this didn’t seem to be a consideration.
Secondly, at meals, I was always placed on a dining table by myself (fair enough)but and at the far side of the couples and family tables. Now again I’m not sure this was totally deliberate, but I did feel somewhat like an outcast. I did have some minor issues with the menu options but I fully understand the difficulties of cooking for comparatively small number of guests – it was just that to be offered T-bone steak as a sole lunchtime choice for 2 of the 3 lunches I took at the camp was a surprise, especially when I don’t eat steak. But that’s just a personal thing, and I certainly wouldn’t complain about the quality of the food or how it was cooked.
Lastly was that I was just expected to undertake a bush walk safari as a replacement to a late morning vehicle safari – I wasn’t asked, and when I queried what my options were I was told that the next vehicle safari was at 3:30pm, which was a little ridiculous as we had only just returned for breakfast at 9:30am. My hesitancy was because I have two dodgy knees, and I had no idea how they would react to a 2 hours bush walk. I did approach the manager, and whilst he did rather reluctantly suggest that he might be able to get a driver back to take me out in a vehicle I felt this would be difficult for him. I therefore did the walk with the proviso that someone might have to bring me back to the camp if my knees reacted to the walk – luckily they didn’t but the point is that this really should be an option, and if people do not want to do this or feel physically incapable of this, then they should be able to take a game drive without feeling that they are asking for something extraordinary.
Now it does sound as if I’m having a right moan, and that the lodge is not good – that really isn’t true as it has lovely accommodation (way in excess of what I would be prepared to accept when on safari, albeit a little like being in ‘Middle Earth’ and somewhat cavernous for me on my own) and the staff are very friendly and the game drives very good. My comments are just about some of my specific experience of being a lone traveller, and in that respect I believe that the camp could, without too much effort, do a little better and be a little more thoughtful. But certainly if you are a couple, group or family I am sure you will love this lodge and will certainly love the Mara North Conservancy.

Room Tip: All rooms are positioned wonderfully on the Mara river with hippos just below you. they do however b...
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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.
george741, Owner at Royal Mara Safari Lodge, responded to this review, February 23, 2014
Thank you for your review. We generally do not reply to reviews but in order to give guests a proper perspective we thought ity apprpriate to comment on this occasion.

Regarding your perception of value guests should consider when booking safar packages that the facility only receives a small portion of the total rate. Safari packages consist of airfare, park fees, travel agents commissions both overseas and local ground handlers, VAT of 16% and 2% government levy even before income tax charges, local Masai community bed night fees in addition to monthly lease rent and finally the facility rate. We generally receive after the above third part charges less than 25% to 30% of the total rate a guest may pay to a travel agent which in most cases is unknown to us and beyond our control. In your case this was a last minute heavily discounted rate to fill an empty room,that you paid an unknown to us amount, of which we did not receive even the value of your meals after taxes let alone the accommodation and game drives cost. We also did not charge any single supplement in your case as reported. Thus what may appear as costly to a guest is in many cases not reflective really of the facility charge.

Our security escort guests to and from their suites as the camp is unfenced and wildlife may roam about posing a threat to at all hours of the day even in the daytime..We have over 200 resident hippos in our midts. Some guests are offended by this attention but the safety orf our guests is of paramount importance to us and we have never had any guests presented with any risk of any danger since we opened six years ago.

Guests tend to choose who they prefer to enjoy game drives with or dine with. We have very limitefd control over that and we cannot impose guests on other guetss during dining. Whenever requests are made to the staff they try to accommodate while trying to maximize guests comfort. Joining other guests for dining is really up to guests to make such arrangements among themselves and is not a function of the staff to organize. Unlike some camps that use communal dining for all guests we have found that some guests get upset if they are forced to enjoy their meals with others. Thus our staff simply go with the flow of what guests indicate as their preference. As a single guest the staff simply offered you single dining unless you requested otherwise. We apologize if you were not able to befirend some of the other guests and felt as an outcast during yiour stay.

For your game drives you were combined with some other guests who did in fact speak English also albeit as a second language but presumably communicated among themselves most of the time in their native language. We sometimes offer guests exclusive cars for their maximum comfort at no extra charge. You visited us when the facility was at full occupancy and that was not possible. We apologize if you were not able to befriend further the guests who accompanied you on game drives. If you had indicated a request for a change in game drive companions the staff would surely have made an effort to accommodate your request.

Our meals include salads, vegatarian soups that alternate every meal, vegetarian and other appetizers, main meals and desserts. When guests indicate they are vegetarians the staff also prepare vegetarian main meals. We regret if you did not make your preference known to the staff to offer a wider variety of vegetarian main meals to you during your stay.

Our regualr game drives are between 6:30 am and 9:00 am and again between 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm. After breakfast when cars are required to make the airtsrip transfers for arriving and departing guests we offer a complimenatry bush walk with armed guides. Most camps charge extra for such bush walks which we do not. After the bush walk guests enjoy lunch and thereafter the afternoon game drive. Thus we offer a full day schedule of events. We also cannot do full day game drives for all guests while also handling airtrip tarnbsfers as our conservancy limits the number of cars we can operate in order to minimize the overall presence of cars in the area.

In your case on one morning you were given a complimentary extended game drive from 6:30 am till about 11:30 with a packed breakfast that you opted for. On the second morning you were again offered a complimentary extra exclusive game drive after breakfast when you indicated that you may have had a knew issue and a car and driver were brought up to the bush walk departing area for your opted choice. You instead opted to go on the extra bush walk. We apologize if the complimentary bush walk was not pleasurable. An extra game drive in lieu of the complimenatry game walk was, however, in fact offered to you on a complimentary basis.

Overall we apologize if the experience was not fully memorable for you.
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360 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (75)
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Riihimaki, Finland
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 2, 2014

We stayed in The Royal Mara Lodge for 3 days and 2 nights safari. Location in the Mara North Conservancy is excellent.

The lodge is lovely. There are 8 "tents", so it is quite small place, peaceful and pleasant. Tent was spacious and decorated African style, with king sized bed. We also had a wonderful big porch, which we were able to look hippos and crocodiles in the river. At night, you could here the sound of hippos that were walking around tents eating grass.

Free laundry service was nice.

The food was good. My wife does not eat meat or chicken, so the chef prepared fish/vegetable lunch and dinner just for her few times.

The staff were great! Each employee was very friendly and polite. Special thanks to our wonderful driver, James, who took us to spectacular game drives. We saw 4/5 big five, not rhinos this time. But we took amazing photos of sunrise and sunset, lions, leopard etc. We also did walking safari, it was awesome, thanks to Regan for that.

We can recommend Royal Mara Safari Lodge to all.

  • Stayed January 2014, 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
    • 3 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.
Pasadena, California
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 24, 2014

In my 30 years of travelling in and out of Kenya, I've stayed at most of the 4/5 star camps: none is as personalized, private and luxurious as this. Since Royal Mara opened 8 years ago, we were fortunate to be among the first guests. I've stayed exclusively here ever since, and have brought over 100 guests along with me. That should tell you how much I appreciate their extrordinary professionalism, service, & dedication to protecting both the natural beauty and the Masai people. You will not be disappointed at all. In fact, you will be amazed, and writing one of these as soon as you get home, as I am.

Room Tip: All tent cabins are along the edge of the Mara River, with hippos frolicking 50' below your deck...
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  • Stayed January 2014, 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nairobi, Kenya
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
28 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 12, 2014

The lodge has just six rooms all by the Mara River. There is no perimeter fence and at night some hippos clamber up the steep path to graze inside the property. Elephants and Impala wander in as well and one morning we saw fresh lion pug marks just a few metres away from our room. The rooms are very big and each one has a large verandah that overlooks the Mara River that flows right in front.
Wilson, the driver who took us around on most of our game drives is the best we've ever seen. An expert tracker, he actually led us to a pair of lions sleeping below a bush by tracking their pug marks and hair snagged on branches of bushes. Because the lodge is in a private conservancy with very few lodges, you feel as if you have the park to yourselves. We had the most amazing 30 minutes with five lion cubs playing and two lionesses. Our car was the only one there. In Masai Mara we would soon have had ten other vehicles, each jostling for the best view.
The service at the lodge and the food are very good as well.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 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.
Huntington Beach, California
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 9, 2014

Our family stayed in two rooms at the Royal Mara. When you walk into your room you are really wowed with the splendor and African decor. No detail is left out. The room is spacious and beautiful, and you also have a wonderful porch which overlooks the river and the rhinos.

We had excellent game drives and saw the big 5. Staff was so attentive. Food was delicious. We visiting a nearby Masai Village and thorougly enjoyed meeting the villagers and mingling with them. The women danced for us and the children sang. We also enjoyed the walking safari and got very close to buffalo and giraffes.

What an incredible experience.

Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
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Chicago, Illinois
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
30 hotel reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 6, 2014

The Royal Mara Lodge was by far the highlight of our 2 week long Kenya safari. The RML is actually located in the Mara North Conservancy, which is a private conservancy adjacent to the actual Masai Mara Reserve. Because the Mara North is private, drivers can offroad at any time (in the actual national reserve, vehicles are generally required to stay on paths). Offroading permits you to get closer to and seem more animals. We had the closest and best animal encounters of our entire trip while in the Mara North.

The lodge itself is perfection. There are only 8 tents, so it offers a very personal, private experience. Each tent comes with its own staff - you have your driver, your housekeeper and your server, who stay with you throughout your stay. Each tent is spacious and immaculately decorated, with a very comfortable king sized bed and an extra large bathroom. Each tent also has a large porch overlooking the Mara River and the resident hippos. At night, you can fall asleep to the sound of wildlife (particularly the hippos that come out to graze). No tent is better than the next - they are all equally wonderful and spaced reasonably far apart so you have a great deal of privacy.

The food was excellent. Every meal began with a delicious cream of ___ (some vegetable) soup and ended with a lovely homemade dessert.

The best part of the RML experience was the staff. Everyone went above and beyond to make our stay wonderful. Each employee seemed genuinely happy to be there, which says a lot for the way the staff must be treated. In particular, our wonderful driver, James, showed us all of the Big 5 in our short 3 day stay, including THREE leopard sightings. Reagan, Steve, Simon, Tom, Alex, to name a few of our wonderful staff.

We will be recommending RML to all of our friends. I can't speak highly enough of the entire experience.

Room Tip: All of the rooms appear to be similarly great.
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  • Stayed December 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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London, United Kingdom
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 2, 2014

This review is long overdue, but none the less it’s still worth writing as I know how helpful these reviews were when me and my friends were planning our trip. Pictures cannot express well in words how amazing this Lodge is. If you like what you see, be prepared to be blown away. The exterior and natural surroundings are absolutely breath taking and it was so surreal having wild animals crossing the grounds so peacefully. The Lodges are beautiful and the wood craftsmanship is simply gorgeous, this even beats the best of hotels around the world.

Another great thing about the Royal Mara Lodge is that all the staff are friendly and provide you with all the information that you need. Guards are at hand 24-7, so you can rest assured that you are safe as they are there to protect the visitors. In regards to food, I was pleasantly surprised that the food was so good. So the fact that you are all inclusive, this worked out very well.

Lastly, the game rides were an absolute highlight to the trip. By the second day, we had already seen the big 5 and some exciting hunts through the course of the three days. I would highly recommend Royal Mara Lodge and a Trip to the Masai Mara is an absolute must add to the bucket list. Great honeymoon destination also. 

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Additional Information about Royal Mara Safari Lodge

Address: Masai Mara North Conservancy | P.O Box 260, Maasai Mara National Reserve 00621, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Maasai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #19 of 117 Specialty Lodging in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Royal Mara Safari Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Royal Mara is a luxury safari and game viewing lodge located in Kenya's world famous Masai Mara, home to the annual Great Migration of the Wildebeest. We are situated directly on the Mara River with six riverfront guest suites. All suites are raised upon wooden decks with full mahogany flooring and original hand carved furniture. See the same wildlife-rich areas as broadcast on the BBC Big Cat Diary. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Royal Mara Safari Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Royal Mara Safari Lodge Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve

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