The recent reviews for Encounter Mara are spot on and reflect the reality of this superb camp.
I travelled with a Newcastle upon Tyne (UK) company called HAWK'S HEAD PHOTOGRAPHY with the aim of encountering the wildlife of Kenya and to improve my photographic skills. The company arranged all the travel and connections as well as overnight accommodation in Nairobi. All my expectations were exceeded with the help of Hawk's Head's leaders Alan & Trai and the camp's guides Moses, Sammy and Dickson whose skills and knowledge are immense.
The site: In the middle of the savannah, miles from anywhere and surrounded by the animals I wanted to photograph: a local pride of lions, herds of elephants, gazelle, antelopes, hyena, warthogs, giraffe, hippo, crocs and a wonderful variety of beautiful birds; kingfishers, splendid starlings, rollers, birds of prey. The list goes on.
The accommodation: would rival any 5 star hotel. Spacious tents with toilet & shower, tented lounge and dining room. Beds made up and turned down in the evening with a hot water bottle for good measure. Luxurious little touches. There's a day bed on the verandah and a hammock slung in the shade of two trees with a fine view over the savannah. Mozzie nets and a spray keep the unwanted wildlife at bay...
The food: A recent review mentioned tv's Masterchef which was a comment I made when we sat down to our first dinner - the food was first class with dietary requirements catered for all served with finesse after evening drinks by the campfire under the stars.
The staff: Nothing was too much trouble. Ask and they would do their best to oblige. They were helpful and most polite as well as knowledgeable about the surroundings. Chris & Sam have the camp running like a well-oiled machine and the dining staff wouldn't be out of a place in a top hotel.
The drives: Early morning starts and late afternoon outings in well-adapted Landcruisers which the guides can take almost anywhere. Every drive was an eye-opener as Moses, Sammy and Dickson dressed in traditional Masai clothing knew how to find those animals. We even spotted the elusive leopard albeit a brief encounter! Their driving skills in rough terrain are incredible as is their respect for the animals they track.
Culture: We visited a local school (we took small gifts such as pens and pencils) and enjoyed the enthusiastic curiosity of the youngsters. We also visited a boma which is a traditional Masai settlement. The brightly-dressed women of the camp gave a demonstration of singing and dancing.
Why would I recommend Encounter Mara?
For all the reasons above and more but especially how they make every effort to limit their impact upon the land and its wildlife. If you want to see these species before they are lost for ever but don't want them to feel threatened then Encounter Mara is the place to do it.
If you don't mind joining the hordes of second-rate vehicles chasing the animals as they do in the parks then go elsewhere. If you're concerned about the welfare of the wildlife and our impact on the environment, Encounter Mara is the place to be.
If you're considering a Kenyan safari I recommend, without any reservation whatsoever, Encounter Mara.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Set in the sought-after Mara Naboisho Conservancy, award-winning Encounter Mara is the stuff safari dreams are made of. Enjoy some of the best game viewing in Africa all year round from the low-key yet lavish comfort of this superb eco-camp. Shaded by a thick acacia forest, Encounter Mara enjoys glorious views of the surrounding savannah, while closer at hand a salt lick attracts a range of animals throughout the day, from plains game to big cats. The sheer comfort of the traditional-style safari camp combined with the opportunity for bush walks and night drives mean that there are few more rewarding places from which to experience this slice of wild Africa. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Encounter Mara, Asilia Africa Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve