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“First Safari” 4 of 5 stars
Review of andBeyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp

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C12 Keekorok, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Harrow, England
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“First Safari”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 2, 2013

We spent three days at the andBeyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp at the end of September last year, an add-on to our beach holiday at Diani Beach Resort, just south of Mombasa. We arranged our safari (including the hot air balloon trip) before leaving the UK through JT Safaris of Ukunda.

The camp is less than a mile from the airstrip, and although the road to the camp was quite rough and the going was slow, it didn’t matter much when we had so many animals to stop and admire - and that was even before we had gone on a formal game drive.

The camp has a central area with restaurant, bar, shop etc and then the tents are spread out through the grounds, all overlooking the plains. We had one of the standard tents nearer to the central area and were very happy with the facilities - hot and cold running water, electricity etc. We lacked the recharging facilities of the superior tents but iPhones, cameras etc could be charged in the bar at night, so that wasn't a problem. The staff couldn't have been more helpful, the facilities were good, and the food was varied and well cooked.

We took a hot air balloon trip with the Skyship Company, and this was a real highlight of the trip. Our pilot, a Canadian called Peter was very informative and with only six passengers in the basket, we all felt really involved. After our flight we were treated to a champagne breakfast, and that is a memory that will stay with us forever. Yes, it was expensive but it was worth every penny.

The game drives in the reserve were stunning. The roads were better than that between the airstrip and the camp, but we often went off road in search of the animals Our driver was Jackson - a bit gruff perhaps, but very knowledgeable and knew where to go for the best viewing opportunities. Our jeep was open-sided with three bench seats tiered behind the driver for optimum viewing, far better than many of the other vehicles we saw on our drives. We shared with two lovely couples, Jacqueline and Roland from the Netherlands who were holidaying in Diani Beach also, and Ann and Steve, two wildlife photojournalists from the UK. We were lucky enough to see a great variety of animals, including all of the Big 5, and our only regret was that we didn't manage to see any cheetah.......oh well, I suppose we'll have to go back again to put that right.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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271 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
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Lagos, Nigeria
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 1, 2013

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.

Room Tip: Tents 1-8 are closest to the bar and dining area, and have great view of the lawn.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maun, Botswana
Top Contributor
64 reviews 64 reviews
52 hotel reviews
Reviews in 40 cities Reviews in 40 cities
72 helpful votes 72 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 21, 2012

I stayed 5 nights beginning December at Kichwa Tembo. Having been already many times on Safari in Africa, I had a good idea what to expect. The trip was organized by a friend who chose this camp. Overall, I can recommend this place, they generally know what they are doing and are organized. With 40 tents, the camp sounds large, but they did a really good job when building it as the camp it tucked away in a little forest. Hence, it fits perfectly in the environment, and you won’t even know it’s there. The pool overlooking the plains is a great luxury to have, but personally I think it’s not a must-have. I was there on a photo workshop, and we spent as much time as possible on game drives and reviewing our pictures, so I did not even use the pool. One big improvement camp management should consider is the power situation. We stayed at the “regular” tents which do not have power outlets. Instead the only way to charge is in the lounge area where they installed 4 multi sockets [for various pins]. But these are all grouped together in two spots away from the seating. It would make more sense to have additional sockets installed around the walls we people then can sit with the laptop being charged. They do have so called “luxury” tents with sockets, but I don’t see a reason why I should pay more for this. A camp from the standard of Kichwa Tembo should have sockets in all tents. Another thing which I did not like so much about the tents is that none of the cabinets is lockable. Since there is also no safe and tents are only “locked” with a small simple string, it would be nice to have another option besides locking your stuff in the luggage. As a photographer, I carry some expensive equipment. I would just feel better as everyone can enter a tent. Or, maybe a padlock instead of the string would be an idea. Otherwise, I was really happy with my tent; all amenities were available, including insect repellent wipes. The shower has hot and with good pressure. I was able to wash my long hair without any problems. The staff provides some turndown service where they also put a hot water bottle in the bed, nice touch! The morning wakeup call with your choice of coffee/tea/chocolate and cookies is also very welcome. However, I found it uncomfortable having my male tent attendant come into the tent that early. I understand that they cannot leave the goodies outside as the monkeys will otherwise quickly take advantage. So I still used my alarm clock to be at least dressed. I was surprised that the towels were changed every day and no sticker or card was available to create awareness on the impact. Especially in Africa and a conservational area like the Mara, I think natural resources and the impact of human life should be addressed. Laundry service worked well and fast, only I think they should not deliver the cleaned linen in the same plastic bag which I used to drop the soiled. I would also recommend using rather a basket or linen bags, something reusable instead of plastic. In terms of food, the selection was generally good, a little disappointed were the breakfast boxes. They could have contained a bit more selection and food. As this was low season, we did not have a buffet all the time. Personally, I found too many curries and stews on offer. On the first evening, I had a weird incident whereby I had ordered a mixed juice and was charged for two glasses with the explanation that they had to open two packets. Rather unacceptable in my eyes. Also, I would have expected the orange juice to be fresh at least, not packaged. For the buffets, they should consider a bit more food protection i.e. fly covers and putting some foods e.g. cheese and cold cuts on ice. The last thing I was a bit disappointed was the bonfire, usually one of my favourite evening pastime when in Africa. They lit the fire early before sunset and it was off once we finished dinner. They should keep it until all guests retire to their tents; anyways there are always guards who would also benefit from the fire. As for the main reason come there: the wildlife! It’s quite funny to see some special residents roaming around such as warthogs, bushbucks and blue monkeys. They are quite relaxed and come really close, but obviously not for petting. From the pool area you can watch zebra, giraffe and buffalo pass by. The game drives were well organized with good vehicles. Our driver Daniel was a really good spotter and knows the area well. One afternoon we had a stronger rain shower, and it was brilliant to have Daniel pull out rain ponchos for each of us. As said, overall a good experience and I would stay there again. Thank-you Daniel, Joshua, Ether and James!

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 15, 2012

My friend and I stayed 4 days at Kichwa Tembo and it was everything we were hoping for and more!! The staff are the real delight at this camp - they are all so pleasant, friendly and so good at what they do. We booked the luxury tents and chose these due to the fact that they have their own power outlets. A charging station with a good number of outlets is available in the main bar area but it would be worthwhile to keep in mind that if you are into photography or travelling during peak times it might be a bit hard to recharge your camera(s) so it might be worthwhile paying the extra to have your own outlets. After a morning & afternoon safari I pretty much put my camera on charge every night when going to bed and it takes a few good hours to fully charge. So if you are into your photography keep this in mind - either bring a spare battery or spend the extra for the luxury tents. The food was exceptional - the menu for breakfast , lunch and dinner was varied and always of top quality. Internet in the bar area is relative good - especially considering you are in the Maasai Mara. Our driver was such a delight - he really went out of his way to ensure we had the best game sightings. One morning drive we stayed out until 1pm because the game sightings that morning were amazing. The shower is great - lovely big shower head. Each night your room attendant will do the turndown service and place a hot water bottle in your bed - a lovely touch. If possible ask for a tent in the lower numbers - I was in tent 39 and it was quite a hike from the tent up to the bar/restaurant each time. We also took the optional hot air balloon ride (Skyship Co.) - I cannot recommend this highly enough!!! Yes, its expensive but for what you get out of it, it worth every single cent!! Both of us agreed it was the highlight of our trip. We also did the Maasai village visit - this was also very interesting. Just beware that at the end of it you will be taken out to their Maasai Market to purchase items & don't expect a bargain.

Room Tip: Ask for a tent in the lower numbers to be closer to the restaurant/bar area.
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 13, 2012

I wouldn't mind if I had to sleep at the pool at Kichwa Tembo, it is somehow a magical place with a wonderful view over the plains. Yet the tents are also great and comfortable, providing just what one needs to feel at home and well. And then the sightings! Just amazing with an abundance of wildlife.
The staff is very friendly and attentive and the food good. Only the power sockets could work more comfortable, although its already great that there is wifi in the lounge.

Room Tip: great are the rooms 1-10 with easy access to the view over the plains.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Colorado
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
30 hotel reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
62 helpful votes 62 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 10, 2012

As our airplane approached the Kichwa Airstrip, we could see a myriad of animals from the window of the plane. This would set the stage for the next 48 hours of our trip.

Me, my husband, and 5 other friends went to Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp for several days - Nov 23-26. When we landed, we were immediately met by Daniel, who would be our guide for our entire stay. He had set out a lovely welcoming table with tea, coffee, hot chocolate, cookies, and other light snacks. We happily munched and ate while Daniel introduced himself (and John, the Masai guide for the camp) and told us about our upcoming stay. What a warm and wonderful welcome.

As we drove to the camp, Daniel immediately started his guide duties, as there were tons of animals to be seen. I think the drive would ordinarily take only 15 minutes or so, but we were so enthralled already, that Daniel thoroughly and patiently explained what we were seeing. And it wasn't even really our first "official" game drive - just the ride to the camp.

We were met at the camp gate by John (with cool, scented towels) and Esther (she was a staff manager) and we began our stay. Esther took our necessary information, explained where everything was, outlined our itinerary, introduced us to our room steward(Jackson) and dining butler (Kosen) and we were off to our tent.

Wow. Oh wow. That's what we said when we stepped into Tent #6 with Jackson. The lower number tents are DEFINITELY the best, as they overlook the Masai Mara plains. Incredible. The tent is unbelieveably comfortable, with a deliciously comfortable bed, and the rain shower was fabulous. Actually, in our 16 days in Kenya, it was the best shower we ever had. As a "basic" tent, I wondered if we would miss not having electrical outlets to plug chargers/devices in.....and we didn't. There is an area in the lounge/bar where you plug your things in, and it was not inconvenient at all. And actually, they have blow dryers in the lounge bathroom too. I discovered those on the last day, and still didnt' use them - it shows you how comfortable I was without outlets.

We headed out for our first afternoon game drive. BRING A JACKET. It was quite warm when we left the camp at 4pm, and as the sun began to set it got very chilly. So much so that we were very grateful that we had brought a fleece jacket and windbreaker jacket. Daniel was unbelievable. Simply the best. He took us straight to a pair of brother cheetah's eating a fresh kill. Amazing. Daniel's depth of knowledge, fun personality, friendly banter, and ability to take us to see something astonishing was absolutely fantastic. Note.....apparently there are 2 Daniel's. He is the "smaller" one, as I guess there is a Big Daniel.

The food at the restaurant is fabulous. Our dining butler - Kosen- could not have been more delightful. One of the couples with us was celebrating their 21st Anniversary, and he did extremely thoughtful things for them throughout the weekend - such as setting up a surprise lunch in the vegetable gardens, complete with personal chef on the grill, beautiful rose-petal-strewn table, and music. At dinner we were serenaded by the staff with a musical production complete with singing, instruments. dancing, cake and candles. Wonderful. And Kosen along with Esther oversaw every aspect of our weekend. Esther knew our names from the first moment, and greeted us personally whenever she saw us. It was wonderful.

The first morning, we elected to meet Daniel at 6:30am and do an early game drive, and have breakfast in the bush. Daniel packed us a fantastic breakfast,and we headed out for about 5 hours. It was an awesome decision, as it allowed us to go much farther into the Mara. We stopped at about 9:30am, at a bluff overlooking the river. The river had 21 hippos lounging on the banks of the river. Daniel set up our breakfast which consisted of: cheese/crackers, sausages, fried potatoes, eggs, rolls w/butter & jam, bananas, oranges, yogurt, apple juice, coffee, tea and hot chocolate. It was a feast.

We arrived back at camp at about 11:30am, cleaned up, rested, and had lunch. Our group spent a few hours in the pool, reading, napping, or on the internet telling the folks back home what a wonderful time we were having. The afternoon game drives start at 4pm and end around 6:30pm.

Every game drive was amazing. We saw the big 5, thanks to our wonderful Daniel. Our tent was meticulously taken care of by Jackson. Every meal was fun and delicious thanks to Kosen. We were well taken care of by Esther.

One other note about the game drives: the vehicles used by the camp were the best. We quickly saw how the "pop up" type of vans used by other camps, or the enclosed jeeps would be difficult. The land rovers were wide open, with raised seating, and gave every single person unobstructed views in all directions. They were covered with a canopy so we were not in the sun, and the ride was comfortable. We didn't realize the value of such a well-designed vehicle, until we saw what lots of other people were riding in.

My husband and I are very well traveled. We've been to all the 5 major continents, and stayed at many wonderful hotels and resorts. WE CAN SAY WITH ABSOLUTELY NO HESITATION THAT THIS WAS THE BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE WE HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED. Truly, our stay was THAT incredible.

As an example....as our plane was taxiing down the runway, about to go airborne as we left, Daniel had driven down near the end of the runway, and was standing on TOP of the Landrover with both arms over his head waving goodbye. It was the personal attention and service that made our stay fantastic. Needless to say, WHEN we go back, we will never, ever stay anywhere else but Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp.

  • Stayed November 2012, 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, Massachusetts
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 8, 2012

My wife and I enjoyed our third visit to Kichwa Tembo (KT) in June and as usual everything was perfect. The tents are comfortable and the grounds are beautiful. The staff is efficient and had positive attitudes; a sure sign of good training and a good working environment. Chef George was quite an upbeat personality that we really enjoyed chatting with (and a great cook as well!). One of the key reasons that we continue to choose KT is our guide, Mr. Benedict Kalului. He is very knowledgeable, cheerful and a great spotter. Benedict’s positive attitude and spotting skills stand out in comparison to the other guides that we have had on our five prior safaris in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa.

His skills have yielded us some great sightings of rhino and leopards for which we are truly grateful. Additionally, he does a great job teaching us about the animals, their behavior and how they interact with each other and local residents. We look forward to staying at Kichwa Tembo when we return to Kenya next year.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about andBeyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp

Address: C12 Keekorok, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Maasai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #47 of 116 Specialty Lodging in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 40
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 
Also Known As:
Kichwa Tembo Tented Safari Camp Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
AndBeyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve

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