We spent 6 days in Kichwa Tembo, arriving there on Christmas Day, and we were blown away by how special the camp staff made us feel that particular day. We were welcomed at the airstrip with tea, coffee, cookies, and nuts then promptly whisked on our first game drive. We saw 7 kinds of animals within the first hour, and that’s just around the airstrip. When we arrived at the camp they offered welcome champagne and refreshments.
Our son was given a gift bag that included drawing pencils, bug viewer, and bath soap with rubber insects in them. We were also introduced to the waiter and steward who took care of us for the duration of our stay. Upon learning that our son eats only chicken tenders the waiter made sure he got it everyday. But everyone was friendly and we had different people bringing us food and drinks when our waiter was unavailable.
This is a kid-friendly camp. On some days there would be families with 2-3 kids around the camp. We thought our 5-year old would be the youngest, but there were also toddlers and other young kids. The camp staff entertained them and organized activities, but usually the kids were with their parents at the pool or playing chess and other board games at the bar area. We saw one family with a Maasai guide out for a nature walk close to the camp.
Yes, the tents are not locked and it felt uncomfortable to leave our iPad and laptop to charge at the bar area – but nothing bad happen. We kept our valuables locked in our luggage and with the camp office. By the way, the best place to access the Internet is also at the bar area, and the best time is in the morning or late afternoon when most people are out on game drives.
The meals were great, like the fresh fruits and salads, but breakfast was the same everyday and it got boring very quickly. We recommend going on a game drive at sunrise then having breakfast out in the bush at least once. You get to see the hot air balloons going up and down, and some nocturnal animals if you’re lucky.
We like the morning wake up call with hot chocolate and cookies, but decided it was not necessary, as we prefer to wake up after sunrise. So you can say no if you don’t want it. Our steward was good with cleaning our tent and the turn down service in the evening with hot water bottles, but did not replace the washcloth or shampoo when we ran out of it. Still he was efficient with having our light fixed and bringing back laundry on the same day as promised.
Every other night we would have a performance by the Maasai, who afterwards sold some souvenirs and trinkets. Negotiating is necessary as they often start with prices that are higher than what the same items are selling in the camp’s gift shop. I’m not a good bargainer and ended up paying more than what the beads cost in Banana Box in Nairobi, but I’m pleased to make a “direct donation” to the locals.
Overall we had a great experience, and having an excellent guide makes all the difference in the world. Thanks to Sigei we saw everything in our list plus more. We saw 15 kinds of animals on the first day alone, but maybe we were just lucky. We saw lions everyday, as well as the elusive leopards (three), cheetahs (two brothers), black rhinos (a male, a mom and her baby), jackals, and the nocturnal serval cat – while others would be there for a week without seeing a cheetah, leopard, or black rhino. My favorite is being in the midst of a herd of 200+ elephants!
More important though, is the fact that Sigei is a good driver. He knows how to drive on and off road, especially when it rained and everything was slippery and muddy. 4WD is the best way to get around here, and I personally think Kichwa Tembo had the best vehicles for viewing and photographing animals. We once had to pull out a van that got stuck in a ditch. Our vehicle never stalled or got stuck, and my husband can attest to this when they went “mud-bogging” one rainy afternoon, while everybody else decided to remain dry in the camp. Sigei also kept a safe distance from the animals, but somehow always managed to give us the best angle to take photos so backlight was hardly an issue. Sigei knows how to please and deliver but is not reckless with park rules.
At the end of the day we enjoyed dinner with wine and tasty dessert. A guard escorted us back to our tent where we happily crawl into our comfortable beds.
Lastly, the guide will provide ponchos if it rains. Sigei had extra binoculars but it’s probably better to bring your own. The camp provides insect repellent towelettes, a flashlight, and umbrella for each tent. The gift shop sells wood carvings, flatware, fashion jewelry, Maasai bead merchandise, safari hats, shirts, fleece jackets, books, CDs, etc. We booked everything through Concorde Safaris by e-mail and highly recommend them. From the moment we landed in Nairobi and every time we’re bound to and from a destination the manager Deena Patel phoned us to make sure everything was okay. She even instructed the driver to wait and make sure we’ve checked in and our flight to Maasai Mara was in order.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- AndBeyond Kichwa Tembo Masai Mara Tented Camp is set on a private wilderness concession leased from Maasai landlords in the legendary Masai Mara. Situated where forest and savanna meet, these elegant, spacious safari tents boast some of the most magnificent views of the Masai Mara, especially from the large swimming pool. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Kichwa Tembo Tented Safari Camp Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
- AndBeyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve