This was our last stop on a safari through Kenya with three nights to enjoy the incredible sights of the Masai Mara. This property is very well setup and located to do this, and while the scenery was absolutely 5-star, Tipilikwani Camp struggles to deliver the same kind of experience.
There is a lot to like about the accommodation: firstly, its only a short drive to the National Park, which is a good thing as the roads are so awful (this is not the fault of this property). Actually, as a general observation, I found the dirt tracks inside the National Park to be better than the roads outside, which are supposedly "maintained" by the government. Please see my comment below about travel to the Masai Mara.
Secondly, the buildings/tents are quite spacious and we thought very comfortable, well provisioned with toiletries, generally well maintained and were always kept clean by the housekeeping staff. The evening turn-down service was discreetly done, and involved closing the blinds for additional privacy at night. Like the other tented camps we stayed at, security escorts at night made sure that you could move around safely.
The general areas were well maintained, like the tents, and the restaurant in particular was very large. A pedestrian bridge over the river connects you to the National Park (this was a blessing as it meant we didn't have to endure the road trip back on a couple of occasions) which provided a really delightful means of seeing some of the wildlife: we caught some spectacular views of a journey of giraffe on our final night.
What lets this property down is the manner in which it is managed: like another TA reviewer, we stayed at this property as it was run by the same operator as the fantastic Elephant Bedroom camp in Samburu (which we also stayed at - see my review on that!). It came as a surprise to us that everything that had been done easily at Elephant Bedroom, was a chore at Tipilikwani. Almost every service interaction, while always friendly and polite, was slow, involved regular reminders ("may I please have that coffee"?) or had some condition (you could settle your room bill with a credit card, but had to pay cash for the laundry service) that didn't reflect the premium price paid.
On one morning, we were offered breakfast leftovers after returning from our early game drive where you would expect food to be available. We searched for kitchen or management staff, but everyone had gone missing. Someone was ultimately found after about half an hour and food was promptly cooked and served, but clearly there is a disconnect in the way the property should be, and is, managed.
We also noticed that there was also nothing "special" done by the camp: our visits to Elephant Bedroom and Mbweha (in Lake Nakuru), both run by the same operator, we had been spoiled by outstanding service and both had sprung a really nice "surprise" to enhance our stay. Clearly the operator knows how to do this, it just isn't executed by the property management.
One final recommendation for guests travelling to the Masai Mara: we got there by 4wd Landcruiser, travelling from Lake Nakuru. The last 2 hours of that 6 hour drive were spent on dirt roads getting to Tipilikwani: I found it to be almost the worst experience of our safari and I wouldn't recommend it. We flew out of the Masai Mara to Wilson Airport in Nairobi, and I would certainly use this method again. There wasn't much to see on the road trip and the violent shaking and jolting of the Landcruiser on the very poorly maintained roads removed whatever pleasure was left in viewing the landscape.
All that said, nothing can detract from the brilliant experience of being on the Masai Mara: there is so much to see and experience that we would definitely go back, however we would probably try another property as there is plenty of good options available.
- Also Known As:
- Tipilikwani Masai Mara Camp Hotel
- Tipilikwani Masai Mara Camp Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
- Tipilikwani Masai Mara Camp Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve