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“Mara Explorer Tented Camp: Don't Wait, go! They'll spoil you! The Mara will wow you!” 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
Lagos, Nigeria
Top Contributor
78 reviews 78 reviews
47 hotel reviews
Reviews in 54 cities Reviews in 54 cities
572 helpful votes 572 helpful votes
“Mara Explorer Tented Camp: Don't Wait, go! They'll spoil you! The Mara will wow you!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 21, 2013

We have been on many safaris, but this was our first Kenyan safari. I selected this camp because I loved the comments found on Trip Advisor, and I got a very good feeling about the Mara Explorer. Also, compared to other luxury camps in the Mara, the price was right. We spent six nights at this camp, December 2012.

Originally, I had booked six nights at the Mara Intrepids (30 tents and fenced-in camp), as the nightly price was under $390 a night, for two, including three meals a day, plus two daily game drives.

After further research, I changed our reservations to the Mara Explorer, even though it cost $200 a night more because: there are only 10 tents (unfenced camp), there is a lot of privacy, all meals are included, as well as beer, wines, soft drinks, three daily game drives, daily laundry, a bush dinner, and a bush breakfast (awesome events).

The Mara Explorer is truly an all-inclusive LUXURY camp. The Intrepids costs less but after analyzing the fact’s sheet, it seems the Intrepids charges you for outside of your bed, meals and two game drives.

Arrival

When we landed, there were three safari vehicles near the airstrip. One was from our camp, one from the Intrepids, and the third from another camp. Steve, the manager at the Explorer welcomed us at the airstrip. Steve is a young, affable manager, and we liked him instantly.

As we arrived nearly lunch time, and we were invited to enjoy a welcome drink of our choice, relax, hear the camp rules (such as: don’t walk unescorted at night, for example), and then we were taken to our tent #4 (seems like it’s the most requested tent), where we relaxed for a little bit before going to the dining area for lunch.

Overall Impressions

We have been on many safaris, to include Orient-Express camps in Botswana. It is hard to believe that this small tented camp rivals many of the "luxury" camps we’ve stayed in, which cost a lot more. The Mara Explorer won us in so many ways, that I would return again, even though it is our policy not to visit the same place twice. The Camp's pristine location is just gorgeous, next to the Talek River.

Our Tent #4 (pros and cons)

Many guests who wrote reviews on Trip Advisor recommended staying in tent #4, and of course, immediately upon booking our stay, I requested tent #4, and the management obliged us.

Tent # 4 sits far removed from all of the tents, on a tip of a jutting piece of land where the river Talek snakes around. Not to fear, we were perched high above the water. At the bend of the river, the water pool deepens and creates a hippo haven. There must have been at least thirty fat hippos playing all day long, making alot of noises, some very funny to hear. However, one can only listen to their loud honks and grunts, and thankfully, about 6:30 pm, they would exit the water, and go out and feed in the grassed fields, but they return to the pool around 4:30 to 5:00 am, and again, they are NOISY!!

During our six day stay, the water levels dropped considerably (dry season), and the stench from manure and urine when the wind blew in the tent’s direction was pretty powerful! Never mind that, it was still fun, but my husband said he could do without the smells!

Though I would say that, if you are staying 3 days or more at this camp, when booking, ask to stay in a different tent after a couple of days in tent #4. Tent # 7 is on the other side of the river bend, and you get different visitors, such as lions, elephants, etc. One night a herd of elephants crossed right in front of tent #7, and the lady who was staying in the tent totally freaked out, she told us during breakfast. The guards chased the elephants away, ha, ha.

Accommodations

The tents are well-appointed. You can ask for a king bed or two single beds, and that determines the tent’s location. All tents have indoor showers, and an outdoor bathtub (claw foot) and it’s very private. A flushing toilet, double vanity, plenty of storage space is found. These tents are very large and very comfortable with various pieces of furniture.

The furnishings are made of mahogany wood, of very good workmanship. The effect is quite elegant, while retaining a touch of the outdoors.

The bathroom is all wood; it's beautiful. There is a hot water shower, though the hours are limited to early in the am, and after 4:00pm to 6:00 pm, as they must heat up the water. The camp’s toiletries are very nice, eco-friendly, and are low-impact.

Also in the tent, one finds two robes, slippers, mosquito repellant, a light (torch), and a two-way radio to call the butler or ask for help, should a lion decide that the verahndah lounges are very comfortable. We heard that happened recently!

When the weather is cool/to freezing, when you return to the tent from dinner, you will be surprised by a nice warm bed. The tent butler places a hot water bottle under the sheets.

Unless you request otherwise, there is a wakeup call, and the tent butler brings a tray with hot tea, coffee and sweets to the private veranda. Actually, we were shocked the first morning, when, after saying "good morning", he unzipped the front flats, and the butler actually walked into the tent with the tray, and placed it on the small table, while I hid under the blankets… eek! We requested from then on for him to leave the tray on the verandah table.

Every tent has a deck, and comfortable patio furniture is found here.

Meals

The chef on duty during our stay was quite competent and creative. Vegetables are grown in the fenced-in sister camp (Intrepids). All ingredients are first class, and rivaled many expensive restaurants we have been to.

All the meals, snacks, wine, beer and sparkling water were all included in the nightly rate.

Free laundry service available. Internet is not available at this camp, though if you are desperate enough, you will be driven to the Intrepids Camp.

Summary

The Mara Explorer Camp delivered an awesome holiday experience! It is a camp in the wild, there are no fences, and the animals walk through it any time they please. Of course the Masaai warriors are there to gently persuade the wild guests to leave the premises.

The Camp's location above the Talek River is uniquely wonderful because you hear the hippos honking and grunting, we even heard a leopard ambush a prey, and saw animals come for a drink on the river’s banks.

Because of the low-occupancy rate in December 2012 (something to do with elections, tourists stayed away), we had our very own driver (Matthew) and our own private car for the duration our stay. Normally, you’ll share a vehicle with four additional guests. Matthew, our very handsome Samburu driver was very good, and an expert on the wildlife that lives in the Mara. We also found him to understand photography and lighting, and he was always positioning the vehicle correctly. I let him play with my DSLR, and I have the “best” photos ever, of me with my husband, while on safari, a first and rare occurrence! Thank you Matthew.

Everything we could ever want we found it here: The Masaai Mara is exquisite and the animal life is abundant. The special treats bestowed upon us, yes, they are part of your fees, but nevertheless are so special, such as the surprise bush dinner party, complete with Masaai Warriors who came and sang for us, and the farewell bush breakfast, wow! Truly Magical.

Of special mention our Noor, the senior waiter, who's voice was almost always in a whisper, and the gentle smile on his beautiful Masaai face, were always appreciated. Not to forget Steve, the very congenial, happy-go lucky manager, whose sole mission in life is to make sure his guests are very happy and well-fed! Let me mention, again, our wonderful driver, Matthew.

For six days, everything was perfect! It was very sad to say good-bye to such sweet staff, even to the security Masaai warriors who took good care of our safety. I highly recommend this camp! Karibu!

Room Tip: Tent #4 is the most popular because it's quite secluded and it is above the hippo pool. Also, a...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
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, May 15, 2013
Thanks for taking time to give us this awesome review. It is truly appreciated.
The Mara Explorer Team
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209 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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English first
Meggen, Switzerland
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 29, 2013

After visiting Amboseli Nationalpark we went for our next stay at the Mara Explorer Camp.

Wonderful camp directly located at Talek River. You can watch hippos and crocodiles very close. Excellent food and very friendly staff. We felt very much at home.

The game drives were a highlight - a very special thank to Dennis Waweru our driver. He has a great knowledge about animals and nature, speaks excellent English, was very friendly and sympathetic and always responsive to our needs. For us, simply the best - thank you so much.
Another big thank to Steve Nzuki, the Manager at Mara Explorer Camp. He cares about all the guests and made our stay perfect with no complaints.

We can highly recommend the camp and wish to come back once. A big hug to everybody and take care!

Room Tip: Tent No. 4 if you wish to be very close to the hippos, but all the tents are in a beautiful location...
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  • 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, Operations Manager at Mara Explorer Camp, responded to this review, April 11, 2013
Hello Guests,
We thank you for visiting the Explorer and posting this WOW feedback. the Team is exhilarated that they were of service to you. We all look forward to seeing you again soon.
Kind Regards,
The Mara Explorer Team
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Coventry, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2013

We stayed here on our safari trip and this place is middle of nowhere but once you get there and see the place you will be blown away!!!
Service the staff the scenery no faults found really excellent and plan to go again.
2 nights was enough as plenty more places to see as well.
Nice and a belated thank you to all staff.
Will upload photos later.

  • Stayed July 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 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, April 11, 2013
Hello Guest,
We thank you for this wonderful review. We look forward to seeing the Photos that you will post. We are so glad you made it Mara Explorer.
Kind Regards,
The Mara Explorer Team
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Luxembourg
Top Contributor
96 reviews 96 reviews
72 hotel reviews
Reviews in 75 cities Reviews in 75 cities
97 helpful votes 97 helpful votes
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
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cleveland, Ohio
Senior Contributor
40 reviews 40 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
20 helpful votes 20 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
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,
We are elated you had a nice time. Thank you for sharing your experiences.
The Mara Explorer Team
Report response as inappropriate
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
8 helpful votes 8 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.
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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 112 Specialty Lodging in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Mara Explorer Camp 5*
Number of rooms: 11
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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