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“A milestone in wildlife holidays!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Mara Explorer Camp

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Mara Explorer Camp
5.0 of 5 Cabin/Campground   |   C14 Keekorok - Talek River in the middle Masai Mara Reserve-, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Luxembourg
Top Contributor
89 reviews 89 reviews
70 hotel reviews
Reviews in 69 cities Reviews in 69 cities
89 helpful votes 89 helpful votes
“A milestone in wildlife holidays!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 24, 2013

Many have already well described this camp so this is just an additional grade to confirm that this place is close to perfection and most definitely in our top 3 for wildlife holidays.

After a short but rather bumpy flight from Nairobi we have been welcomed by Steve the Manager and Dickson our guide. We have then been brought to tent #4 and what a lovely sight to be so close to a hippo pool. We have had the impression of being part of the family of these big fellows for 7 days! Anyway, the tent was perfect and there is nothing to complain about it.

Surprisingly, we have not paid attention to election dates, but we were in just after the election and for something like 5 nights both Explorer and Intrepids were empty so we were like queen and king. At least this is what we felt as we have been so well taken care of by everyone in the camp: from Steve the excellent manager, Noor our waiter, James our butler, the chef (we ate so well!) and especially Dickson our great guide with whom we enjoyed 7 days of great adventure!

The camp is ideally placed in the northern part of the Masai Mara where there is a high concentration of predators and mostly lions so the photographic experience was tremendous (I am especially demanding on that side).

My wife has enjoyed baths with vision on a hippo pool which is not something one can do frequently and she also pretty much enjoyed the massages.

When leaving we felt like we were friends with everyone and my wife even got the recipe of the chef's chocolate eclair! We wish we can come-back soon and kiss everybody from here!

  • Stayed March 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BeutifulKenya64, Operations Manager at Mara Explorer Camp, responded to this review, April 11, 2013
Hello Guest,
We are so glad you enjoyed. We look forward to hosting you again soon.
The Mara Explorer Team
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196 people have reviewed this hotel

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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 (69)
Date | Rating
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English first
Cleveland, Ohio
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 23, 2013

From the moment we were picked up at the airstrip, it was like stepping into a dream! It is hard to believe that a tent camp could rival one of our stays at a Four Seasons hotel, but it did! Because there were only ten tents in this camp, we had a totally pampered experience. The chef, Josphat’s meals were prepared with fresh local ingredients and were equal to those served at expensive restaurants. They were all beautifully presented with linens and double plating. Even the box breakfast on our safari had so much food, that it was difficult to eat it all. All the meals, snacks, wine, beer and sparkling water were all included in the price of our stay. There is even free laundry service available. While staying in a camp may seem too primitive for those who don’t like to “rough it”, there is nothing to worry about here. Our tent suite had hot water with good pressure, electricity, flush toilet, a great shower and even a tub to relax in at the end of a safari drive. They will even bring a glass of wine and light a candle to give you a spa like experience! The bed was warm and inviting at the end of the day from the hot water bottle placed under the sheets and the morning wake up call was our cabin steward bringing hot tea, coffee and sweets to the private veranda.

While this may have seemed like a resort, we were always aware that we were out in the wild. Because the camp is right on the Talek River, we could hear the hippos and baboons at all hours of the day and night. And because it is not safe to come and go to your tent after dark without a guide, all the guests are provided with a two-way radio. Vincent, our safari driver was extremely knowledgeable and could name all the flora, fauna & birds that we encountered. He had a keen instinct for finding the wildlife, always trying his best to get us as close to the animals as possible, and to get the best camera shots. He brought us up very close to lions and cheetahs with their cubs, and lionesses sharing their meal of a freshly killed antelope. He even took us to the edge of the Tanzania border so we could get a picture at the border rock. Many thanks to Stephen, the hospitality manager who took time to teach us several versions of Mancala and made sure that we were never wanting for anything!

Room Tip: They have a tent that has 2 single beds if you prefer a room where guests can sleep separately.
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  • Stayed March 2013, 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BeutifulKenya64, Operations Manager at Mara Explorer Camp, responded to this review, April 11, 2013
Hello Guest,
We are elated you had a nice time. Thank you for sharing your experiences.
The Mara Explorer Team
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Salzburg, Austria
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 20, 2013

First of all we would like to say THANK YOU again to the whole staff of the Mara Explorer Camp.
Steve and his whole team were most friendly, helpful and hospitable. We were really treated like a family member.

From the very first moment we felt completely in love with this magic place. For us it is the HEAVEN ON EARTH! The most beautiful, peaceful and breathtaking place to be!

Steve, we will be back soon.

All the best and warm regards from Salzburg / Austria

Melanie & Wolfgang

  • Stayed January 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BeutifulKenya64, Operations Manager at Mara Explorer Camp, responded to this review, April 11, 2013
Hello Guest,
I wont add or negate anything on your review. I do agree it is "Heaven on Earth"
Good Day
The Mara Explorer Team
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 28, 2013

The camp is intimate and personal without being fussy. We were fortunate to have Tent 4 with the antics of our hippo and baboon neighbours to watch from the lovely outdoor bath. Remember to have wine or a cocktail served to your tent to enjoy in the bath! If, however, you prefer complete quiet at night, this may not be the tent for you. It is also the tent furthest from the common area. I would also agree with previous reviewers that the mattresses are quite hard, but that's a very small complaint. Steve is an excellent host, the waiting staff is very well trained and the food delicious and varied. Vincent was a knowledgeable guide who obviously loves his work and the bush. It was wonderful to travel the length and breadth of the Mara, and not just chase the big 5. He was happy to answer questions about birds and the flora. He is also keen on photography, so will position the vehicle for the best shots. Fortunately our vehicle companions also wanted to see the whole area. We combined the two morning drives and had boxed breakfasts out in the bush, which I can recommend.
This camp is simple enough that I felt I was out in the bush. The Mara always delivers when it comes to animal sightings - 4 leopard sightings, lions, hyaenas and cheetahs every day, herds of antelope and zebra out on those spectacular plains. What more could one want?

  • Stayed February 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BeutifulKenya64, Group Operations Manager at Mara Explorer Camp, responded to this review, March 8, 2013
Hello Guest,
Thank you for this review. Comment on Mattresses noted and I have started process of changing them.
So glad you came and more important you posted your review.
Remain Blessed.
The Mara Explorer Team
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 29, 2013

We stayed at Mara Explorer Camp in January for 4 nights. There are only ten tents and we stayed in Tent #7. All of the tents overlook a river that is populated with herds of hippos. The tents are spaced far enough away from each other that you have complete privacy from other guests.

The camp host, Steve, treated us like royalty our entire stay. He was gracious, knowledgable and wickedly funny. We felt as if we had known him for years within minutes of meeting him. Our tent was beautifully appointed, it was actually hard to remember we were in a tent with all the wood trim in the bathroom. The shower had hot running water at three intervals a day, better than a bucket shower because the water was unlimited, but you had to make sure you remembered to shower during the hours hot water was available. The tent had electrical plug ins for charging batteries which was convenient to have between game drives and at night. The one and only complaint I had about this camp is the quality of the beds and bedding. The beds are very hard, not just firm, but hard. We actually peeled back the sheets to check if we were sleeping on a boxspring rather than a mattress. It didn't detract from our stay overall but I would recommend asking them to layer a blanket or two under the sheets for some padding.

Each night the staff leaves a hot water bottle under the coverswhen they turn down the room. Such a treat! Notable for some, there is no internet or wifi access from the camp. However, there is a sister camp called Intrepids approximately five minutes away and a driver was always available to take you there if you wanted to get connected.

There was a menu with various choices for each meal and you were served as if you were in a five star restaurant. Warm towel to clean your hands, very proper service, several courses and excellent food. We arranged a breakfast in the bush day and were able to blend the two morning game drives together to get further away from camp. Highly recommend this experience (it was included free of charge), nothing like stopping for breakfast on the hood of your truck within a mile of seeing a pride of lions eating their breakfast! Unlimited beer, wine or gin is included and available any time and of course you can arrange a sundowner (again free of charge) in the bush which I highly recommend as well. The sunsets in the Masai Mara were spectacular. After dinner there is a bonfire with the sounds of hippos keeping you company.

Far and away the highlight of our stay at Mara Explorer was our guide/driver, Joseph. Not only was he excellent at spotting animals and providing detailed information about animals and the habitat, he was a great conversationalist with a great sense of humor which is essential when you spend 4-8 hours a day together in a truck. This was our second safari in Kenya and Joseph was by far the best all around driver/guide/spotter we encountered and we would insist on having him again if we return. He knows the Masai Mara like the back of his hand and knew exactly when and where to be to see certain animals.

The people that work at Mara Explorer Camp are friendly and sincere in their efforts to make your stay perfect. We expected to see animals and beautiful scenery on our visit to Kenya, what we didn't expect was to fall in love with the people. In contrast to Tanzania and South Africa, we hardly went 15 minutes on a game drive in the Masai Mara without seeing animals. Often, close enough to the truck you didn't even need a zoom lens on your camera. January is a perfect month to visit the Masai Mara, it was baby season - we saw baby lions, zebras, hartebeest, hippos, giraffe, elephant, cheetah and baboon. We also saw a cheetah stalk and run after her prey, a leopard in a tree with a recent kill and several prides of lions eating breakfast with hyenas circling. Even better, since it was off season, we often were viewing the animals without any other trucks in sight. Kenya is a spectacularly beautiful country with delightful people and we felt nothing but safe and welcome from the moment we landed in Nairobi.

Room Tip: Ask for tent #4 if you want the best view of hippos. But beware, they are incredibly noisy day and...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BeutifulKenya64, Group Operations Manager at Mara Explorer Camp, responded to this review, January 31, 2013
thanks you for this special accolade. Truly appreciated. I have noted your comments on the Hard Beds and will be discussing with Steve the solution after writing this note.
We are glad you came.
GOM
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Minneapolis, Minnesota
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 27, 2013

Jan 2013. 5 star experience. The camp was gorgeous. The service ( Godfrey, our wonderful server) and food was impeccable. I never heard the word No from anyone. Steve, our host, made it a fun experience even with his White Rhino joke. ;). The best part were the game drives. Our guide, Joseph, was FANTASTIC and extremely knowledgable about the animals, birds, vegetation, Ecco system, seasons.......He was a heck of a spotter and a great person to learn from. Joseph made our vacation. So glad we chose Kenya and the Mara. Very safe the the Kenyans are the nicest people I have ever met on vacation and we are well traveled.

Room Tip: Pick room 4 if you want to watch the hippos all day. My only negative is that the bed was extremel...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 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.
BeutifulKenya64, Group Operations Manager at Mara Explorer Camp, responded to this review, January 31, 2013
Hello Guest,
thanks for this review. We are glad you enjoyed. We all look forward to hosting you again soon.
Regards,
The Mara Explorer Team
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego
Top Contributor
61 reviews 61 reviews
33 hotel reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
115 helpful votes 115 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 26, 2013

I visited the Mara Explorer at the end of an eight day safari booked through Gamewatcher. On the recommendation of Julie from Gamewatchers, I stayed here for two nights in August 2012. This is a nice camp in the Mara Reserve. The nice thing is that it is only 5 minutes from the airstrip.

This was a different experience from the Porini Camps I had stayed at (Rhino, Amboselli, Lion) but I am glad I came.

I arrived at the camp after being in the Mara for 3 nights a the Lion camp. I was greeted by Steven the camp manager. He was really nice and pleasant. This place is 5 stars and definitely has the feel. Unlike other camps, you have the ability to dine and order off a menu. This is good and bad. You can eat when you want but you lose the group feel you get when everyone eats together. Luckily, the people at my camp were really social and we all sat around the fire before dinner and talked. I was traveling alone and was invited each night to sit with other people.

What is great about the Explorer is that it is small. I talked to some people who stayed at the Intrepids and that camp has far more tents. The Explorer is really intimate!

The game drives are different than Porini in that they are "scheduled" at 6:30, 10 and 3. Porini takes you out and its less structured and you stay out as long as you want. What I gathered is that the reason for the structure is that the drives are scheduled around the dining room times. However, they will pack a breakfast if you go on an early drive and take you out longer to 1 or so.

I enjoyed the game drives and the jeeps are really comfortable. I am going to go out on a limb and say this camp is for the less adventurous vs the Porini camps. However, it was GREAT to have a long hot shower and a bath tub to soak in at the Explorer. I even had a message in my tent on day! The tents are BEAUTIFUL and on the Mara River. You can see and hear the hippos all day and night! It is really special. The other thing that is nice about the Explorer is that they do you laundry for free. This was much needed after washing my clothes in the sinck for 8 days!

On our game drives, we saw three total male lions, leopards, a rhino (only one of 83 in the park) and many other animals. We also saw the migration.

The last night, Steven surprised us with a bush party! I was really special. I really enjoyed my stay but it was really different than the Lion Camp. I have posted my review separately on Trip Advisor along with tips for travel on your safari. Have Fun!

  • Stayed August 2012, 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BeutifulKenya64, Group Operations Manager at Mara Explorer Camp, responded to this review, January 27, 2013
Good Morning Guest,
It is always nice for us to read a review of one who has visited many products as a good comparison is made. this helps benchmarking and improving.
I have noted all your comments and particularly the generous words you had for Steve. These are all recorded and will be remembered as we plan his career progression.
So glad you came, you enjoyed and hopefully you will come back.
The Mara Explorer Team
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Mara Explorer Camp

Address: C14 Keekorok - Talek River in the middle Masai Mara Reserve-, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Maasai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #9 of 109 Specialty lodging in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Mara Explorer Camp 5*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located in the world famous Masai Mara, Mara Explorer Camp is set on its own private peninsula, with each of its ten luxurious tents opening to the Talek River and the stunning savanna. The tents, equipped with all mod cons are set on wooden decks opening out to a private verandah where you can enjoy time alone in the wild away from it all. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Mara Explorer Camp Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Mara Explorer Camp Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve

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