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Mara West Camp
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Reviewed July 15, 2013

We booked 4 nights in a cabine in the end of june 2013.
The cabine was gorgeous.Surprinsingly well furnished and decorated considering the place : the wild Masai Mara.
Nested on the olooloo gate escarpment,with all the silence and privacy needed for that kind of experience, the cabine and its terace offer you (even from your bed) one of the greatest view on the Mara triangle you ever dare to dream of (see the one attached, taken from ours).
After a all day long Safari and a hot shower, you can still enjoy finding animals with binoculars from your own terace.Great experience.
The staff was very nice, careful and discrete and the food was good (a slight improvement can be made on the lunch box).
Considering some comments about the "bad road" that lead to the resort, i'm surprised because we did not spend more than 15/20 mins to get back to the resort from Olooloo gate.We were self driven with a Pajero 4wd and i did not find the road particulary tricky.Some other parts by approching Mara triangle are much worse.

If you're looking for a secluded , a nice and a good taste place to enjoy and contemplate wildlife far from the tourist mass, this is definitly the place.

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Lionel_GRARE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Grace G, Marketing at Mara West Camp, responded to this reviewResponded February 5, 2014

Hello Lionel_GRARE,

Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback.

It is always a joy to hear positive feedback from our guests. We are glad that you found the secluded chalets well furnished and the views spectacular, as well as a friendly and helpful staff.

We hope you will return to the Mara and stay with us.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 10, 2013

Thats where i stay mostly during my business trips to Mara lasting at most three nights. Food is good quality, very consistent. Service is good too. The road up the escarpment is hell, needs some work.

Room Tip: The cabins are the best with great views. They cost more though.
  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled on business
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Thank Martin M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Grace G, Marketing at Mara West Camp, responded to this reviewResponded February 5, 2014

Hello Martin M,

Thank you for taking the time to post your review.

We endeavor to create a wonderful experience for our guests. We apologize that during the time of your stay the road was a bit of a challenge. However, the camp graded the road from camp. Please find pictures of how the road looks now on our trip advisor page.

We look forward to having you stay with us the next time you are in the Mara.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 29, 2013

Just returned from a rainy-season visit to Mara West over the weekend!

I've worked in Kenya for a while now and "been around the block" when it comes to accommodation and getaways out here. I was bringing an old friend to Masai Mara during her 10 day visit to Kenya, and wanted to keep things at a reasonable price, while comfortable.

I found Mara West on Sleepout Kenya, when looking for something in the "economy" category for less than 100 per night, with GOOD food included (my last low season visit to Mara had terrible cuisine results at a different camp, possibly because the normal staff were not around!). Mara West has 3 levels of accomodation--we signed up for the bandas.

I booked Zaria tours to take us from Kisumu to Mara West and for game drives (saves a lot of $$). The road from Kisumu all the way to Kisii is very good (some repair spots but not bad). When the tarmac ends between Kisii and Kilgoris things get very rough (but if you rent a nice land cruiser it'd probably be not so bad, just slow). It took about 6.5 hours in total via Kisii, and would've been longer if we had to go through Kericho/Narok had it not been oddly dry for a few days.

The thing that stands out about Mara West upon arrival is that A) Zebra, gazelles, giraffe and other herbivores really like hanging out there B) The main buildings (dinner hall, tea room etc) are incredibly tasteful and well put together! The staff are great (and clearly proud of the camp!)---and doted on us (the only guests for the weekend!) but not in a smothering way at all.

Other highlights: the bandas were perfect for us--staff kept us equipped with torches and lantern at night, water was HOT, zebras and impala munched grass alongside our windows as we slept (loved hearing their quiet sniffles and shuffles!).

THE FOOD IS SUCH A GOOD DEAL! The chef on call that weekend, Jimmy, was great. They were cooking only for us, and each meal clearly had all of the "little things" done right. Fish was tender with great tartare sauce, roasted chicken in packed lunches was perfectly done, beef stew made with a delicious red wine sauce, appetizer soups were simple and comforting, free tea and coffee at all times....and we were only getting the" economy" option!

The views from Mara West are spectacular. If you walk the grounds in the daytime, there are paths along the escarpment leading to the luxury and mid range options, and we found ourselves reading and scanning the Mara from a common lookout point with table and chairs. Lots of birds among the well-maintained gardens.

The Infamous Road:
We adjusted to it, and I'd do it again with colleagues or other friends that are not too picky about that kind of thing. We had a 4x4 van with pop up roof, and I bet a Land Cruiser would be a bit faster. Does take about 30 minutes to go down or come back from the gate. However, you can view game on the way down, if you keep your wits about you you can take a little driving break, walk alongside your car during the rockiest points, or maybe discuss with the local piki piki (motorcycle drivers) if they can take you down to the gate after breakfast/lunch and your vehicle can go ahead of you. Going by motorbike would probably bring the time down to 15-20 minutes--much more agile. I almost started in on that plan, but didn't want to risk getting stuck in the rain on a moto. Dry season would be a better time to enact that plan!

Our big hiccup was that the rain was intense on the last couple of days. This made the shortest route back to Kisumu impassable. My friend needed to get to an international flight, so she had to spend another $200 on a Safarilink connection to Nairobi. Super convenient back up plan (Kitchiwa Tembo airstrip is super close) but expensive! At this point, Mara West could have been better prepared to assist us with my friend's transfer to the airstrip. The negotiation started with their recommended driver asking $100 for a 10 km drive. We got it down to $40. A reasonable price and plan should already be available in the event that this kind of thing happened. It was the only "low" point of the trip-but it was at the very end--the WORST time to upset clients (first impressions AND last impressions matter most).


All worked out---friend made the flight, I took our safari driver on the LONG route out of the park via Narok when conditions dried up---was fun to see the game one last time!

Well done Mara West! Keep up the great food tradition, keep your prices where they are, the accommodation is great, the animals are great, the Mara Triangle area is FABULOUS! Try to make the road a little better where possible, have a fair airstrip transfer plan and fair road-washout plan ahead of time, and I'll see you next time!!

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with friends
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2  Thank kalieg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 30, 2013

Ok... this is a bit tricky....

I just read a bunch of the reviews posted for this lodge and I think I know why they are so consistently high despite some very serious flaws and despite the fact that I would not return. I'll let you come to your own conclusions.

My family and I stayed here for 4 nights in March 2013. We were booked here by Kensington Travel. I think it's worth noting that Kensington has an affiliation with Mara West and despite the fact that they are able to book anywhere they will book Mara West first. If you're booking this through Kensington then be aware of this.

MW is on the escarpment outside the Olooloolo gate to the Mara Triangle. It consists of two parts - 4 cabin/tent units that are 'high end' and a tent camp that is much larger. We stayed in the tent cabins.

First - the good
The rooms all have a beautiful view over the Mara. They face East and give you an unparalleled view of the sunrise. The tent cabins are really quite nice. They are very large and well appointed. The beds are great. The linens are top notch as are the pillows.

The food was a bit hit and miss. Some meals were quite good - others not so much. Overall it was decent. They have limited refrigeration so don't expect much in the way of cold drinks.

The restaurant is very small. It has 4 tables of four. Dining is sitdown with a fixed menu. There is a meat and vegetarian option with each seating. Beverages are not included and are very, very expensive - including bottled water (not included).

The animals come and go in the camp area. It's common to see zebras etc. close to your cabin. The flip side to this is that the resort is kind of 'ugly' as there is no landscaping/planting of any significance. I'm not sure on balance what I'd prefer. There isn't really much of an outdoor area to hang around in and if you're not eating or in your room then you've really got no place to be. There isn't really a bar or lounge to speak of.

The bad:
The road
The road
The road.
Seriously... this road thing is a deal killer. It takes 25minutes up and 25minutes down to go 3km. That means that 50min of each game drive is killed going up and down the road from hell. Till the road is fixed I think you'd have to be out of your mind booking here. There are no plans to fix the road at the moment.

The missionaries.
This camp has an affiliation with some African Missionary organization. I don't mind missionaries but when there are 49 of them and 6 tourism guests that kinda kills the ambience. If you love hanging with people who are talking about their sheet metal project in the village then good for you. I wanted to hang with people who were talking about the animals they saw/wanted to see.

Power
Power is not available all the time - only between 6-9am and 6:30-10pm. This is not atypical for Mara lodging but if it's important to you then check around

Internet/WiFi
There is none.

Water
Hot water is available similar hours to power.
The hot water is heated by a wood stove outside your unit. That means that at 5:30am every day of your stay someone will come with an ax and chop wood/light a fire 10ft from your sleeping head. Good luck sleeping through that.
The water is not filtered well if at all. The water comes out of the taps noticeably brown. You won't want to use this for anything.

Ice
There is none. Well, there are 4 or 5 ice trays in the kitchen fridge like you might have at home. This is bizarre to me. They send a truck full of people out for the day, sometimes with a cooler full of food, with no ice to pack food or beverages in. It's my understanding that they are the only lodge without ice making facilities (don't hold me to this as it's secondhand information).

Snacks etc.
Coffee, tea, and cookies are left on a table for you at all times. Sometimes the water is hot, sometimes the coffee is fresh, most of the time not so much. There are no snacks to be had during the day which is just as well as there's no where to eat them if there were.

The staff
The people working there were, for the lack of a better word, 'kinda creepy'. They were nice enough but in a very superficial way. The manager, Rose, was alternately nice/almost hostile. The last day we had had enough and didn't want to go up/down the darned road again so we left before breakfast. They wouldn't even pack us some fruit or drinks despite the fact they didn't end up having to feed us breakfast or lunch that day that we had already paid for. The staff tended to watch you all the time as if you were trying to steal something and it made for a rather unpleasant environment.

The grounds
The grounds are spartan. This is primarily because the property is not fenced and animals can come and go as they please. That's nice when you walk out of your room and see giraffes or zebras in the near distance but it sucks when you have 5 hours to kill before your next game drive and nowhere to be but in your room. It would have been nice to have an outdoor gathering area protected from the sun or a pool or something to help kill the time.

Conclusion
There are far nicer resorts to choose from - many of them at a significantly lower cost. The drive up and down to this resort completely ruins the fun of the game drive. The staff require some serious polishing. They have very little in the way of customer service skills. My personal view is that the reason for many of the reviews being higher than mine is the affiliation with the missionary services. This is entirely speculation on my part but I cannot imagine that anyone without an agenda would rate this lodge 4 or higher with the road trip up and down.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
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11  Thank MarkfromtheIsland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Management response:Responded January 30, 2014

Hello MarkfromtheIsland,

We are grateful that you took the time to share details about your stay with us.

Since your stay in March, we did take matters into our own hands, without the help of our government, and graded the road. Please find that we have uploaded pictures to that effect on our Trip Advisor page. We apologize for the inconvenience you had during that time.

We are affiliated with Africa Mission Services, and at times, we have missionaries coming down to help with community projects. While we do not discourage guests around the camp from mingling, despite their reason for staying with us, we are sincerely sorry that you did not enjoy that aspect of your stay. We now have happy hour around a campfire where guests can hang out and talk about their safari.

Mara West is remotely located. While this is a good thing, being away from the hustle of the city, one major disadvantage is that power lines have not reached our location. The generator runs from 5:00 am to 7:30 am and from 6:30 pm to 10.30 pm. Guests are usually on their game drives during the day, but the business office remains open and with power in case some guests are around and wish to charge their devices. Mara West is the perfect place to be if you wish to "disconnect" yourself with the busy world we are in, so there is no internet, or Wi-Fi, or even a Tv. We are all about being out in the wild with nothing but nature. We apologize if that information was not given to you before you arrived.

We deeply regret that you were unable to get sufficient rest during your stay. We forwarded your grievances to housekeeping and we now chop our wood during the day, away from the guests and have them mounted on our stoves. The water goes through an extensive filtration process. We recommend bottled water for drinking, which is provided daily in each room. However, if you wish to have more drinking water than is provided, then that is an additional cost.

It is important to us that our guests receive exceptional service. It is inexcusable that you found our staff hostile and unfriendly. We are constantly trying to make sure that our staff makes our guests feel comfortable and relaxed. We thank you for your helpful and reasonable criticism.

We do have a lounge, where there are books about the wild provided, and a deck where you can watch activities going on at the Masai Mara Reserve, in case you don't want to stay in your room. We also have plenty of other activities that should have been offered to you, like, a walking tour or a Maasai Boma visit or even have a massage done while you waited to embark on your next game drive. We apologize for that oversight.

We have not taken your feedback lightly and we have used it to better the experience at Mara West. We hope that the next time you are in the Masai Mara, you will give us the chance to provide better service.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 28, 2013

The food and lodging at Mara West were amazing. The lookout points from the rooms and all sides of camp are fantastic, and safari services are excellent. My 11 year old son and I stayed as part of a Mission group. We were waited on hand and foot and felt so privileged to be able to stay at this camp which is affiliated with African Mission Services. Zebras were eating by the tent at night. Giraffes, babboons and all kinds of antelope roaming around the grounds. The gardening was simply beautiful. The staff were just lovely and cared for us like family. But what really made an impression for us most was that all the staff including the owners of the lodge were involved in the missionary work on a daily basis, including the hard stuff like hammering nails into roofs to build new schools and clinic buildings, and running and organizing bush clinics and the main clinic a few miles away. It was inspiring to be around such leadership, and this shows in how they run AMS and Mara West also!

Room Tip: We stayed in the high end rooms which were excellent.
  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled on business
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1  Thank MZRobertson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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