This camp was recommended by a family member who had stayed there and we were certainly very happy with it. In fact I was quite shocked to read it's not Trip Advisor's #1 Masai Mara camp and can't see why not.
From the moment you are collected at the Kichwa Tembo airstrip, the welcome begins. Freshly plunged coffee and biscuits, and the freeze-dried banana pieces were on offer as we were welcomed by the Kichwa Tembo guides and chatted to other guests.
As you leave the airstrip you start your first game drive and before we knew it we'd seen zebra, topi, impala and a hippo. Also from the start your guide knows, and remembers, your names. I thought this was quite remarkable given how many people they meet in the course of a season. Our guide was Albert and he was absolutely fantastic! Knowledgeable, intelligent, informative and with eyes like a hawk for spotting game where those less experienced are wondering "where?". Albert made our stay at Kichwa Tembo!
After your arrival game drive you are again welcomed, this time in the main lodge, with a fresh drink and info on the place. We noticed that some who arrived for a special event, like a birthday or wedding, had the added bonus of an all singing and dancing welcome....icing on the cake, so to speak.
Our tent was one of the distant ones without a view over the plains but that didn't matter too much as we were rarely there. It was also a little more private. The tent itself is definitely glamping not camping with all mod cons except power points. We've lived without 24/7 power and also go camping, so having restricted times for power in the tent (when people are most likely to be in camp), was no bother to us. Torches are also provided so there's no hassle with that. Each night the security guide was there with his bow and arrow, and torch, to walk us to our tent so we never felt unsafe.
We had one night in the tents overlooking the pool and the plains and the different view was nice to experience. It wasn't really hot enough for us to be keen on swimming but the pool was delightful to look at.
In fact I think the absence of power to the tents is an advantage because it means people migrate to the public areas to charge their technology and get to chatting to other guests rather than disappearing into their own space.
The bar area was very friendly and we coffee-holics were thrilled to find that coffee was "on tap" and free. Not that there wasn't beer or wine when it was time for sundowners ;-)
We also had great massages with Esther to erase those kinks from long-distance flights.
Henry was our room butler, bringing us our coffees in the morning along with some fresh biscuits so we could get up and on the road for balloon flights or safaris. Love the little note he left on our pillows too :)
Others have commented that the food wasn't great which I found strange as there was so much choice it's hard to imagine how anyone could be unhappy. I had told them in advance of my food allergies and they made sure I was alerted to any problem foods and special dishes offered to me (half a chicken anyone?). The cakes and biscuits (always the way to my heart) were delicious and the influence of a former chef, an Aussie, was evident in the lamingtons and Anzac biscuits. Each table generally has an allocated service person and Kosen was so attentive to our needs and such a friendly presence. Each night during dinner one of the managers would come to each table and check if there were any issues that needed sorting (thanks James!).
If I had one quibble I would ask that "&Beyond" make their tipping policy more explicit, in advance as well as in the tent compendium. It's disconcerting to not know who you should be tipping, worrying that the behind-the-scenes people might get left out, and also frustrating that you may find you haven't brought as much cash with you as you need.
Of course none of us go to Africa for just the food and the service. It's all about the animals and what a great time we had! Albert was superb, as I've mentioned, and so patient with the clicking cameras, trying to help us find that perfect shot and explaining the animal behaviour we were seeing. It was also his patience that helped us to see an amazing Wildebeest migration across the Mara River -some 3000 animals. Thank you Albert...we'll be talking about you and our experiences for years to come.
The &Beyond part of the Kichwa Tembo name refers to their company's intention of going beyond the norm, and that each staff member is part of the "secret ingredient". Albert, you are one of KT's secret ingredients!
Thanks to all the staff for giving us such a wonderful experience.
- 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