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“Best place we've stayed at in the Mara”

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Ngerende Island Lodge
Vienna, Virginia
Level 6 Contributor
185 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
“Best place we've stayed at in the Mara”
Reviewed August 23, 2012

We have stayed at several lodges in the Masai Mara, and we found Ngerende to be the best one. We saw all of the Big Five. Our guide, Stephen, was extremely knowledgeable and friendly, as were all of the staff. They really went the extra mile to make us feel welcome and well cared for. The food was exceptional. We are planning on returning next summer.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Brian R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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154 reviews from our community

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Jakarta, Indonesia
Level 5 Contributor
37 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
Reviewed August 23, 2012

I could write a very long review of Ngerende, but I'll try to give the pros and cons based on our experiences at many safari lodges and camps. This was the third stop on our 9 night safari to the Maasai Mara and the most expensive so I hoped that we had saved the best for last but sadly, that wasn't the case.

Pros-
1. The Maasai warrior greeting and welcome are wonderful and special.
2. The grounds and layout of the camp are beautiful.
3. Each suite/tent is furnished beautifully and has a lovely deck overlooking the Mara river.
4. The service from the staff is very professional, warm and personal. Our butler for our room and meal service was Walter. He went above and beyond to make our stay at Ngerende as comfortable and unique as possible! He is a wonderful asset to their team.
5. The spa was very relaxing with it's location on the river. Listening to the sounds of the rapids as you relax during a massage or facial is wonderful! Their staff are very well trained.
6. Daniel, the resident Maasai expert and naturalist is very knowledgable and very excited about sharing all of it with their guests on bush walks or talks at the lodge.

Now for the cons and I wished that I had known these before I booked at Ngerende.

1. Their open sided safari vehicles have something going on with their suspension or wrong air pressure in the tires as these were the worst vehicles that we have ever experienced on safari and we have been in many or the last four years! After trying two different vehicles and cutting the second drive short, we decided to forego our game drives and just relax at the lodge. I had paid over $400 extra per day for a private vehicle and it was so uncomfortable making it impossible to enjoy. We were not offered a refund for the fee but instead offered a free massage and facial.

2. We were given suite #5 and our daughter and son in law #6. We immediately discovered that the way the tents are positioned, we could clearly see each other from the balconies! So much for privacy! I was extremely disappointed in this since it was the most expensive camp. Mara Explorer had much better layout providing privacy to each tent.

3. Not only did we not have privacy from tent #6, we soon discovered that a Maasai boma/village was directly across the Mara river from our tents complete with herds of cows, goats and sheep with bells around their necks. Several times a day they were herded down to the water or past the tents for feeding. Along with the animals came the people herding them who had clear view of us on the deck as well as inside the tent since the "walls" are rolled up for the day (including your open air tub and shower)! They would stop and stare or the children would start waving to us. Again, loss of privacy and didn't give you a great feeling of being in the bush! This would have been a deal breaker for us if I had known.

3. Saturday afternoon for 1 1/2 hours, a church in the Maasai village just across the river had church service with loud speakers. I asked someone at the camp if this was normal and they said yes, normally on Saturday and Sunday. Once again, not what I go on safari to encounter.

5. Food is always subjective, but the food at Ngerende wasn't nearly as good as it was at Entim or Mara Explorer and they offered fewer choices.

6. Ngerende is a fenced camp with only small monkeys in the camp.

7. It was a 3 hour drive from Mara Explorer on very dusty roads. We were in an open safari vehicle and were completely covered in dirt by the time we arrived.

All in all, Ngerende is a beautiful camp that has wonderful service and suites. If you don't mind the things I've listed above as our negatives, you'll love Ngerende. However, for the price we wouldn't send any of our friends to Ngerende as we know there are better options in the Mara. All four of us wished that we had stayed back at Entim and Mara Explorer and not moved to Ngerende, but hindsight is always 20/20.

Thank you to Walter, Daniel and the rest of the staff at Ngerende for trying to make our stay enjoyable!

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank marcianluanda
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nairobi, Kenya
1 review
Reviewed August 17, 2012

We recently spent three memorable nights at this property a couple of weeks ago and were amazed at the level of service and attention provided by all the members of staff. The resort has an excellent location within the conservancy and is a mere 5 min drive from the airstrip. But the minute you get into the resort, you will experience service at the highest level. Raphael, our butler was excellent!! There are no words to describe his personalized service! The quality of food was fit for a king and the accomodation facilities are out of this world! You have not experienced Mara until you experience Ngerende! Thumbs Up!

Room Tip: The honeymoon suite is awesome
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Rishi S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, USA
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed July 30, 2012

We spent 3 days at Ngerende with another young couple, after two in our group had been providing medical care near Nairobi for several weeks. Each of us had a bit of prior safari experience. Yet nothing we had previously experienced came close to the experience at Ngerende: the immersion into the Masai culture with the staff, our driver, and our guide; the unparalleled cuisine which was succulent yet regionally inspired; the full head-over-heels experience of early wakeups, unparalleled game drives, surprises throughout the day and evening as the staff sought to make the experience once-in-a-lifetime. Which it was. We cannot recommend Ngerende highly enough -- as a very cool, hip and fantastic safari retreat, yet also a deeply-moving experience with a very special group of Masai.

Room Tip: All of the lodges have fantastic river views
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank seattleafar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fair Haven, New Jersey
Level 5 Contributor
78 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed July 15, 2012

The service was perfect; better than any other hotel we've ever visited. Our butler, Rafael, felt like part of our family by the time we left. Not intrusive, just helpful at every turn.

We brought our 4 children ages 17, 15, 10 and 7. The two youngest stayed in a lodge by themselves, which allowed my wife and I to lodge together (and enjoy the romantic atmosphere). They have a walkie talkie system that allows quick communication between rooms. The system is monitored by the staff 24 hrs per day. The two youngest felt safe and comfortable throughout the stay (which is saying something because they are not particularly adventurous).

The game drives were awesome. Our driver, Leng, spoke perfect English and had encyclopedic knowledge about the animals. He helped us see the big 5, plus everything else. He was patient with our children and kept us safe.

The Maasai Mara is broken into two parts: the Conservatory in the east and the Game Reserve in the west. Because Ngerende is in the northeast corner of the Conservatory your game drives will be here. We spent a couple of days in a lodge in the Game Reserve before coming to Ngerende. Basically the Game Reserve and Conservatory have the same types of animals, but the Game Reserve has a higher quantity. We were a little bummed at first with the Conservatory, but by the end we had seen some things in the Conservatory which we didn't see in the Game Reserve (like watching a cheetah hunt and kill a Thompson's gazelle). One upside to being in the Conservatory is that the drive to Nairobi is a little shorter.

Every meal was an event. The food was spectacular and imaginative. Livingston, the chef, would prep us before meals to make sure we were happy with what was coming (they don't have menus). One of our children is a very picky eater, and they did everything they could to keep her happy. One unexpected bonus was that by the end of our visit our children had learned to manage silverware during a five course meal!

The rooms were awesome. All of them are situated on the banks of the Mara River. They are covered by a canopy of trees so they are cool during the hottest parts of the day. They have fireplaces, soaking tubs, beautiful furniture, basically everything you'd expect from a luxury lodge.

The spa was, well, minimalist. It was a room on the banks of the river with a couple of massage tables. My wife and two oldest daughters used the spa and enjoyed the experience. The cost was very reasonable.

One thing you must be aware of is that Kenya in July is COLD! At night and in the morning the temperature is in the 50's. They don't have heating or air conditioning, so bring warm clothing. You'll be up at 6 am to go on the morning game drive. Bring layers, bring jackets, bring a warm hat. Once you are in bed you'll be toasty. And they do everything they can to keep you comfortable.

One other thing to be aware of is that hippopotami are noisy. The rooms are on the banks of the Mara River. The portion of the river adjacent to the lodge is filled with hippopotami. It's really cool to watch them from the porch during the day. It's not as cool when they snort and bellow in the middle of the night and wake you up. You get used to it quickly, it's not a big deal, just be aware that animal noises are part of staying at a safari lodge.

Overall our family loved the experience. We will definitely stay here again if we return to the Mara.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Central_Jersey_NJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
153 reviews
65 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 108 helpful votes
Reviewed June 12, 2012

We enjoyed a memorable stay in the Honeymoon suite last week and with 35 staff looking after 4 guests it was a very special experience.

Walter, our exceptionally perceptive and attentive butler, Willington our chef who created extremely tasty food on the deck of our lodge overlooking the hippos in the river, Daniel who made great cocktails every day, Len our driver who took us on some great game drives, Dan, our wise and knowledgable Masai guide and Linet and Rosemary who massaged us for a couple of hours every day, together with the 15-20 Masai who welcomed us and returned for a surprise birthday ceremony collectively made the experience exceptionally memorable for us.

Thank you all for taking care of us and delivering phenomenal personal service.

Room Tip: The Honeymoon Suite is the best option even if you are not on your honeymoon.
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank ZM2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rome, Italy
Level 4 Contributor
37 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed May 19, 2012

If you're looking for a really special safari location then this is it! We had a wonderful honeymoon here last month. From the moment of arrival - when we were greeted by the local Maasai tribesmen performing a great welcome dance, to our departure - we were treated with the most wonderful personal service.

The level of service is truly remarkable, with personal butler service to take care of your every need. Evans really went out of his way to ensure everything was perfect. If the idea of arriving back to your lodge after dinner, to an open fireplace and hot waterbottles in the giant bed - then this place is for you! It does get quite cold at night, as you're at an altitude of c. 2,000m - so these little touches are really appreciated.

The food is also fantastic, time and again we shook our heads and laughed at the standard of food we were eating in the middle of the savannah. The Talapia was a particular highlight. Any allergies/dislikes etc. are discussed at the start of your stay and then after that you just sit back and be amazed at the meals that Edward and his staff are able to come up with! There is a large list of inclusive drinks to wash them down also.

Like any safari, the day does start early, anywhere from 5-6am but if you don't want to go on a game drive then that wouldn't be a problem either! We had Daniel as our guide, and John and Steve as our drivers - all were excellent. How Daniel was able to spot animals from hundreds of yards away we'll never know! The vehicles were very good also, modern soft-sided Landrovers and Landcruisers in excellent order. We saw so much wildlife that it was bewildering! Lions, buffalo, huge crocs, giraffe, hippos, elephants in large numbers - not to mention the endless antelope and wildebeest.

This is the type of place that you would be quite happy to go to even if it didn't have such an amazing backdrop as all that eye-opening wildlife, we wished we could have stayed an extra day or 2 just to relax there and go to the pool etc! The lodges are very spacious, with big verandahs are most comfortable. The honeymoon suite even has its own little plunge pool.

Most people will arrive, as we did, by small plane from Nairobi. It's not the smoothest experience in the world, but the staff are excellent. And then once you arrive all is forgotten, as you settle in to what we can honestly say was one of the best holiday experiences we will ever experience.

The minus points were absolutely tiny and you felt you had to search hard for something when the staff asked you to review the lodge on departure. Why only 4/5 for value you may ask, well it is an expensive experience, but actually for that money Ngerende does provide great "value". At the end of the day, not everyone is willing to spend that money, but we would encourage you however, to push the budget and go for it as Ngerende is truly an amazing experience and one that we have wholeheartedly recommended to everyone.

Go and enjoy!

Room Tip: Honeymoon suite was just perfect, has a little private dip pool and very large verandha
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  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank sunseaswim
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Ngerende Island Lodge

Property: Ngerende Island Lodge
Address: PO Box 1274 | Karen Connection Complex, Maasai Mara National Reserve 00502, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Maasai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #65 of 140 Specialty Lodging in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Ngerende Island Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 7
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Ngerende Island Lodge has only 7 luxury en-suite canvas and wood suites all with raised platforms giving panoramic views of the Mara River and the woods on the opposite bank. Each suite has polished Mahogany floors (including the terrace) and is very spacious providing open plan sleeping and living area complete with wood fire, a separate bathroom providing both Villeroy & Boch massage shower, open air bath (if desired) hand wash basins and flushing toilet. Comfortable seating is provided both in the living area and on the terrace so that the true tranquility of the lodge can be best appreciated. The distance between each suite has been maximised to reduce any risk of disturbance that may be caused by other guests. There is one honeymoon suite isolated from the main lodge, has a private plunge pool and Jacuzzi and has stunning views of the Mara river. Lovely touches as flowers on the bed, fire in the suites, bubble bath with essential oil prepared by your personal butler, hot-water bottle set Ngerende Island Lodge apart from the rest providing a memorable experience. The lodge has been designed to complement the safari experience so as to give comfort, luxury and service naturally. There is an abundance of wildlife both on the Conservation Ranch and of course within the Masai Mara Game Reserve to include Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Hippos and many others. A feature of the Conservation Ranch is an exclusive project to rear the White Rhino so that they can take their place back in the Mara society to which they belong in greater numbers. Over 180 varieties of birds have been spotted within the lodge itself and there are 3 Hippo Pods strategically located around the lodge. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Ngerende Island Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Ngerende Island Lodge Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve

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