This was our second trip to Kenya but first with our kids. We decide that the highlight of the trip from the 24th to 27th Dec would be the final few days over Christmas at the Masai Mara. So I read several reviews on the trip advisor and decided on the Muthaiga Camp.
Unfortunately this choice was to prove a very disappointing and extremely poor value for money.
Having stayed in many luxurious hotels and camps around the world and in Africa this was one of our all time worse experiences to date!
Cleanliness/Rooms- we stayed in the Family room-Berkely Cole Villa( having been charged ludicrous rates for it) which was a double room with two bathrooms-having been told we could not be accomodated in a normal tent which all the other luxury camps we stayed at in Kenya seemed to be able to offer us as our kids are only 3 and 5yrs. The room appeared modern,spacious and well furnished it was two rooms attached together with a big balcony and outdoor area looking out to the bush. On subsequent inspection we realised it was very dusty and not cleaned well. The second bathroom on the right had an awful smell-combination of mould and poo. My kids kept complaining the bathroom on the right stunk and refused to use it. We had to agree with them. We all ended up sharing the other bathroom. Our rooms were not cleaned during our stay there. Our towels were not replaced and the same wet towels were left for us folded up on our return. The room butlers did not dust on a daily basis despite there being two of them for our room alone and we were the only guests at the camp.
Location: Avid safari goers (like ourselves) this is NOT the place for you. The drive from the camp to the main Masai Mara camp is close to one hour each way! Which means you lose two hours of potential safari viewing each time you go out for safari and this means missing the early morning hours when animals are more plentiful and greater chances of seeing leopards (which we did not see).This also prevents you going further out into the park where the animals are more plentiful.
Our driver promised to take us to the Mara river during our stay which is amazing and filled with hippos (my daughter's favourite) as we had stayed close to it last visit and then refused to take us saying it was too far from the camp. Instead he drove us to a small stream somewhere and showed us 3 hippos which were mostly submerged in the water. The camp is in the bush and there are NO BIG FIVE animals to be seen close to the camp or any other animals near the camp. It is surrounded by villages and goat and cattle farms. At nighttime you can hear the village dogs barking.
The camp is situated close to one hour from the Keerkok airstrip. It is a nice drive on the first occasion over long bumpy roads and through deep ravines with streams but after several times and especially in the evening hours or when it is raining it becomes rather treacherous and tiresome.
On our last afternoon safari on our way back to the camp it began raining as it had the previous nights and our driver got the jeep stuck in the deep ravine. It was very frightening as we were perched precariously on a steep incline with the back of the jeep stuck in the stream which had now become a mini river. We were stuck there in the dark for over 1 hour. Then another jeep from the hotel came to help winch us out and the first attempt failed as the winch broke and the jeep went sliding back towards the water.We were very frightened especially with our two little kids in the jeep. Thankfully on the second go we skidded and twisted and managed to make it up the incline.
The driver Leonard told us this had happenned to him many times before and once he had to wait over 3 hours! We were glad that we were leaving the following morning.
If I had known before about the poor location of this camp I would never have stayed there. This is not a place for children. NO child-friendly activities.
Service: On arrival we were picked up at the Keerkok Airstrip by our driver Leonard and Masai guide in a nice open jeep. They both seemed friendly. However during our trip our driver became rather rude and argumentative and also quite deceitful. He had promised to take us to the Mara river to show the kids the hippos which he did not do and on questioning later said it was too far although on our arrival day he told us he would take us there!
Then he did show us many lions which was amazing but despite us telling him we now wanted to try and seeother animals such as leopards and rhino. It took an argument with him to make him stop going to all the lion sightings. And the day there was a rhino sighting and we could see over 30 jeeps lined up observing it and we were informed about it he completely messed it up by driving in the wrong direction and by the time we got there the rhino had run off into the bushes. The last morning however he did show us a rhino and it was an excellent sighting. For this we gave him a big tip although I'm not sure he deserved it with his bad attitude and trying to argue with us and hurting my son (as mentioned below).
He told us he could show us leopards but did not take us further into the park to even try.
He had a tendency to circle around the same areas of the park driving very slowly and then close to lunch time saying ok let's go back to the camp!
Also another thing he did which really upset us was one afternoon we were finishing off afternoon tea and then he came and carried off my three year old son without asking us and when I walked out after him I could not see them I called out for my son and there was no answer. Then I saw our jeep coming down a steep track from the bush and when it stopped the driver opened the door and I saw my son crying on the passenger seat with no seat belt on. I was very upset and took him away immediately. My son said he had bumped his neck on the steering wheel. Leonard the driver did not apologise he said to my three year old son "Be tough be a man!" I was shocked and very upset. I felt this driver had behaved in a very irresponsable manner taking my son into the bush without telling us and then injuring him!. I should have complained but I was worried as earlier that day we had already had the argument with him as he was not listening to our wishes and he had to drive us around for another day so I kept quiet at the time but in hindsight now I should have complained. Taking my child without my permission into the bush was bad enough and then driving without seat belt and injuring him and not even apologising.
This same afternoon he made the big miss on the rhino sighting!
ON arrival we were introduced to our two room butlers who we were told were available for our every beck and whim and to help us carry our bags to our room. The first day they showed us to our room. One butler told us "Now the most important thing of all is please read this paper on the table." He gave it to me and I was shocked to see it was the suggested tip card for himself and all the service staff at the hotel. After paying over USD5000 for this stay we expected great service. These butlers were not seen again during the day and were not there to help us carry our bags back to the room on arrival from safari . However they did surprisingly re-appear on the morning of our departure. To collect their tip no doubt!
The restaurant staff were polite and helpful and the best staff. Friendly with the kids as well.
Chef-he was in fact one was not helpful and very unaccomodating considering we were the only guests staying there!
He refused to make a plate of chips for the kids on the last night despite us pre-ordering them in the afternoon saying there were baked potatoes !
Canadian Manageress- whilst pleasant and appeared to be helpful disappointed the kids on Christmas day promising special activities and then nothing happening at all and her not even appearing to apologise! Our kids were in tears. This was extremely disappointing! No special christmas meal , no singing or carols by staff after or before dinner, no little gift for the kids (even a bag of cookies wrapped up would have been fine). After being charged christmas supplement the Christmas was a disaster!
Also she kept telling us there was a resident leopard close to the camp and guests had seen it two weeks ago and then on asking our driver he said the contrary . He said there were no leopards anywhere near the camp and he had not seen any for over 3 months!
However other Masai camps -Bateleur etc have seen them.
FOOD! This was the absolute worse food I have ever had on safari anywhere.
Firstly we were not asked from arrival to the day we left what we would like to eat and unlike all the other luxury camps no menu card with two or three choices was given.
We were not asked what the kids would like to eat there was no special attention or consideration at all given to this.
The first lunch we were serviced spicy chilli pork and capsicum salad. MY kids could not eat this and I don't eat meat . I spoke to the Canadian lady and I asked for fish or seafood or vegetarian. I asked her why no menu or few meal options were given to us as we were the only guests.
She said she could only offer me vegetarian and then a large plate of tasteless capscium salad came out! A printed menu card appeared for the first dinner with no options however and was never seen again.
The kids left there meals on most occasions and not once were we asked is there anything special we can make the kids!
On the second day I was told fish had arrived from Nairobi and I was served a tiny dry over cooked piece of fish. I was rationed out this same fish in tiny portions cooked in the exact same way for 6 meals! By the 5th meal I felt nauseous when I saw the plate.
The kids and my husband received various meat meals which were of very poor standard! Lamb cutlets arrived with just a bone with literally one mouthful of meat! The rest of the meat being obviously cut away from the bone.
We felt like we were in a army camp where food was rationed out to us- we had no choice and if we did not like the meals no one cared or bothered to make us any other options. Desserts were awful.
The christmas dinner was the most disappointing! No special fare for me the same fish.
A tasteless cake for dessert which reappeared over the next few days in various forms.
The highlight was the Barbecue on the last night. Same fish for me again.Meatless lamb cutlets and this was the night we had asked the Canadian manageress in the afternoon to make the kids some sausages and chips for dinner. As the kids had eaten very little the whole stay as they did not like the food and despite us telling the staff this no special attention was given to remedy this!
Again our request ignored and on enquiry at dinner the chef refused to make this! We could not believe how thoughtless and inconsiderate the staff here were.
This is definitely not a value for money stay. Over priced for poor service, horrible inedible food with no choice for money paid and worse location for safari.
Will we go to this camp again? NEVER! Not even if the stay is given free! Save your money and stay elsewhere in Masai Mara.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Black Leopard Retreat is your home away from home in the Maasai Mara. The camp offers you a unique personalized experience, in one of the last remaining unspoilt areas of the Mara. The camp is situated in 380 acres of our private leased land, nestled on the side of a hill with magnificent views over one of the most beautiful sceneries in the world. The lush woodlands, hills and two fresh water springs on our site, offer a unique experience of total privacy, away from the busy Masai Mara minibus's. Located in the Olderkesey Conservancy, the camp can be reached from the Keekorok airstrip served by scheduled flights from Nairobi, Mombasa, Malindi & Diani. The drive from Keekorok takes you through valleys and plains, across seasonal rivers and over hills, made famous by "Out of Africa". An experience that will stay with you for many years to come. As you approach the camp you will encounter roaming Masai Morans, dense woodlandsland with lush vegetation, fresh water springs, sweeping views, and grassy hills. The camp is located at an altitude of 1800 Mts, malaria free with no required vaccinations. The Mara is world famous for its abundat wildlife; Elephants, Giraffes, Zebras, Gazelles, Lions and Wildebeests live undisturbed following the rhythm of nature. Buffalo, Zebra & Impala regularly visit the camp's fresh water hole at night. The camp consists of seven luxury safari tents (each one is dedicated to a famous person who has lived in Kenya : Karen Blixen, Beryl Markam, J. Alexander Hunter, F. Courtney Selous, Philip Percival, Denys Finch Hatton and Roy) and two safari villa (dedicated to the famous hunter Berkeley Cole and to Lord Delamere). The safari villas have two en-suite bedrooms respectively 180 and 205 sq. M., With comfortable colonial furniture and a personal butler.The cuisine is a highlight of Black Leopard Retreat. We are proud of our home made Italian food, served with good Italian , South African and French wines.For the the more dynamic the first safari starts at dawn, the best time to view the animals. Guests can wake up with a cup of coffee or tea served on the tent veranda. Breakfast consists of a rich buffet with cakes, croissants, sandwiches, toasts, cornflakes and accompanied by coffee, tea & fresh fruits. Lunch is served at 1.Pm, but clients can choose to have a bush lunch served on along the river banks, on top of hill overlooking the Masai mara and Serengeti, or simply on teh wide open plains. Tea time at five o'clock is a ritual with homebaked cakes. If you wish, you can go for a safari at dusk, exactly when the lion starts hunting. Appetizers with 'pizzette', 'samosa' and 'bruschette' wine and beer is served around the fire at sunset. Candle light dinner is generally served at eight thirty p.M. Consiting of two first courses of your choice, two second courses, several side dishes, dessert. Coffee or spirits are served around the fire, in the starlight. This is the magic time of Maasai story tales : legend tells about a big black leopard that lurks near the camp, difficult to see in the dark but always present and heard. The safari villa, with a surface of about 185sq.Ft., Is located in a wonderful area surrounded by a luxurious woodland served by natural fresh water source. ... more less