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“The place to see big Cats!”

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Gamewatchers Adventure Camp, Ol Kinyei
Reviewed August 27, 2013

I can not recommend Jonathan and his team enough for being such wonderful hosts. From the charming wake up calls to evening camp fire tales,every need of ours was thought of and taken care. The food was outstanding. Their knowledge of the African wildlife was superb! We were taken to see so many cats, cubs, lions, leopards, cheetahs and all the other wonderful animals. This was a real African experience and I am so pleased we chose game watchers as our guides for the week. An experience I will never forget, will always miss and hope to return to!

  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Carmella T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed August 22, 2013

After spending 3 nights at the Gamewatchers Adventure Camp in Selenkay Conservancy (next to Amboseli National Park), I and my wife stayed 4 nights in the camp in Ol Kinyei as a part of the safari package. Gamewatchers arranged the transportation from Nairobi to Selenkay then to Ol Kinyei and then back to Nairobi by airplanes, so we did not waste any time for long road transfers. The adventure camps in both conservancies were equally superb.

The idea about the private conservancies is a great thing, having visited three major national reserves in Kenya, we were able to see the differences. Gamewatchers Safaris are leasing the land from the local Masai sharing the profits with the community and also employing Masai in their camps (staff is 100% Masai, including camp managers). The major differences between the private conservancies and the national reserves is that in the conservancies there are a lot less visitors (in the cases of Selenkay and Ol Kinyei just the Gamewatchers Safaris guests), off the road and night drives are permitted as well as walking safaris. In the adventure camps we were able to enjoy the same quality of food, safari vehicles and guides as in the luxury Porini camps at a lot cheaper prices, the only difference was that we camped in a very basic tents, sleeping on mattresses on the ground. To us this was absolutely fine, even added to the sense of adventure and there wasn’t a single moment of discomfort.

We could not help not to mention the names of our camp manager, guide and driver Jackson who took us with the collaboration of David (our spotter) on daily morning and afternoon game drives within Ol Kinyei and Naboisho conservancies as well as on two full day game drives to Masai Mara National Reserve (one visit is included in the package, we got a second one, because we extended our stay at the camp with one extra night). Jackson did an excellent job as any of the functions he performed (camp manager, guide and driver). He did arrange a smooth transfer for us to our next destination – a camp in central Mara (we run into one of their vehicles while on a game drive there, Jackson talked to the driver, exchanged tel. numbers and made sure the transfer was coordinated in a proper manner). On the first game drive to Masai Mara Jackson and David managed to present to us two major Mara River crossings by migrating wildebeest and zebras in the same day (in most cases one must be lucky to witness such an event).

The camp was great – really comfortable with excellent food and staff (we should mention the fabulous chef Richard). The wildlife is great – there is a resident pride of lions (male, female and three cubs) which we were able to observe on daily basis not disturbed by other vehicles (only Gamewatchers guests are allowed in the conservancy), resident cheetahs (watched them on three different occasions), lots of antelopes, gazelles, birds, giraffes and pretty much any other African birds and animals except rhinos. There are also leopards, although we did not have the luck of seeing them, other visitors of the camp were able to spot them.

As we mentioned in our Selenkay Gamewatchers adventure camp review, Steve Sturton-Davies in the UK booked, co-planned and arranged the entire experience for us instantly replying to all our emails in a very professional manner. We were able to contact him by email or by phone regarding any possible question or issue that we had. Thank you Steve for your kind help and for making this trip of our lives possible!!!

Since we spent 3 days in a camp in central Mara after the Ol Kinyei adventure camp, we would like to point out the differences. In the private conservancy you are able to do the following activities which are not allowed in the national reserve:

1. The conservancy is a lot more intimate experience - no other vehicles except Gamewatchers visitors.

2. Ability to do night drives with spotlights.

3. Ability to drive off the road and chase animals in the bush.

4. Ability to do safari walks.

Looking forward to visiting the Gamewatchers camps again!

  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank FlyTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 31, 2013

Whilst in no way tired with luxury camps, travelling at the start of the peak season caused us to reassess our priorities and be a little more adventurous than we may otherwise have been, the happy conclusion being our arrival at Porini Adventure Camp.

At its simplest, a safari consists of 4 key elements, the game drives, the food, chilling out and sleeping arrangements. With the last of these often the least important of the 4 for us as the time we spend in our rooms is time we aren't seeing or listening to wildlife - and reason for being in Africa – the use of two-person tents provided a great experiment for us.

What we didn’t realise was that whilst the sleeping element may have been basic, through choosing this option, we super-charged the other key elements and had one of our best safari experiences ever.

The camp, set in a Masai conservancy area outside of the main Masai Mara park, was easily served by a short 45 minute flight from Nairobi meaning we were in camp within 12 hours of leaving London and it couldn’t have been a more different world. Limited to 6 tents behind a low fence – the lions and hyenas do get close - first impressions presented clean and simple, and as it turned out, comfortable sleeping on firm mattresses in our own sleeping bags. Coupled with a small enclosed individual bathroom and safari shower per tent - hot water requested by radio during drives and always welcome on return after a but exhilirating day's game watching - this was both low impact and more than adequate for our needs.

However we weren’t in Africa to sleep, and from the first drive we knew we were in for a special 6 days. Starting with tea, cake and sundowner orders, around 4.00pm in the main tent where all food was served, from a resting pose in one of the deckchairs or hammocks, we met our guide Josphat and driver Tipa whose passion and interest was evident from the first few minutes and whose knowledge was carefully shared – but not always remembered- by our small group of 3 travellers who also had them to ourselves for the duration of the trip.

We had so many wonderful wildlife encounters we could write a book - cheetahs (9 in total) or lions (including 6 cubs to two different mothers but the same father), and in some cases both, on every game drive plus a leopard devouring a kill it had made earlier which it had stored up in a tree, herds of wildebeest including views of them crossing the Mara river, more giraffe and zebra than we've seen anywhere else plus some wonderful birds, including on our final drive a brown snake eagle which had just killed and part eaten a black mamba.

But perhaps the best part of being in the conservancy (after experiencing the “Tokyo underground crush” in the main Mara park on a day trip there) was the fact that we were able to go off-road knowing that with so few vehicles allowed in the conservancy (we were often the only car sharing an “event” ), the impact would be minimal, and we often had no hard time deadlines for returning to the camp which combined made for a much more immersive experience then we’d had before.

With the support of Richard looking after our stomachs, and Jackson the overall camp, with our souls enriched by the nature and our physical well-being satisfied, to us the term Adventure is the now a byword to real luxury.

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with friends
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3  Thank Mandeville1322
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 31, 2013

I will start by saying this was the best experience of my life. After 3 days in Selenkay we came here. Just as amazing but different landscape. The guides have superhuman eyesight and would spot a lion in tall grass or a small bird that I needed binoculars to see. They take you right next to the wildlife. Lions just 6 feet away. We saw everything you would expect and more.An incredible wildlife experience in a bush setting. Not insulated from the real africa. This for people that want to experience africa closeup. Immersed in it. The accomodations were terrific. All the Maasai were delightful and so memorable. We actually cried when left each camp it was such a memorable experience. I would recommend this to anyone interested in real africa. Asante sana. Thank you so much Gamewatchers.

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank mashamarefu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 23, 2013

If you wish to experience a safari that delivers on all fronts look no further than Gamewatchers. Their Adventure Camp in Ol Kinyei conservancy, just outside the National Mara reserve is located within land leased from the local Maasai community who benefit from the tourists on many fronts, which ultimately looks after and protects the wildlife.
We stayed for three days, two spent within the conservancy and one in the Maasai Mara. Both areas are rich in wildlife but for me the best viewing was in the conservancy which allows night drives and guided bush walks, neither of which is possible in the Maasai Mara.
The bush walks were fascinating with every tree and shrub having some medicinal benefit and story attached to them. It was also amazing how much information could be gleaned from an animals pooh!
On one day we had an early morning game drive where we watched a fully maned lion dragging a wildebeest kill to a secluded bush, followed by a full breakfast, then a 2 hour bush walk, all before midday. The afternoon involved a late game drive ending with a sundowner atop a local hill surrounded by the endless plains, the finale being a classic African sunset which just got better and better. Many thanks Gamewatchers for a memorable safari.

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank safarijohn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 22, 2013

Arriving at the Naboisho airstrip, the experience started with Jackson, our guide and a warm welcome. Wildebeest scattering in a cloud of dust at the rocky river bed crossing into the conservancy, then, over rough terrain with numerous sightings to a lush clearing in the shade of yellow barked acacias, towels and a cool drink, deck chairs and hammocks and the camp staff to greet us. Everything is provided, a welcome blanket on the mattress (the nights are cool in July),
the food excellent and the conservancy itself is a joy. On the Northeast edge of the Mara, wildlife is plentiful with healthy populations of lions,elephant, cheetah, baboons,gazelles and so many more and so many birds. Good spotting produced some wonderful moments in the dawn and evening game drives, a lioness seeing and chasing a cheetah was my undoubted favourite.
The camp fire on our return at night for dinner, someone who insisted on leading with a torch to the tent, the lamp outside, the hot water for a wonderful safari shower before dinner, there are so many lovely touches to recommend this place.
Then, the Maasai Mara itself. We had a whole day exploring the endless savannah. My main reason for coming was to see the great wildebeest migration and although many animals were still in Tanzania, a huge number were already there, grazing, walking in columns as far as the eye could see. Driving slowly through tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of the animals and the zebra that travel with them was unforgettable, the confusion at small river crossings mesmerising. At the main Mara crossings, crocs and hippo were waiting patiently, vultures in the trees at the ready. For our lovely picnic lunch, a troupe of baboons quietly moved from their tree to watch as we ate.
For a first time visit to a 'real' safari, I find it hard to imagine how the experience, the friendship and the sheer value offered by Gamewatchers adventure camp could be matched.
If safari is your interest, there is just no better way to go. Rex39

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled solo
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1  Thank Rex39_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 7, 2013

My safari experience was awesome! This was the 3rd time I was travelling to Kenya for safaris in 2012 and there's my words are just too small to really tell how much I've enjoyed Ol Kinyei.
I've spent 6 nights there from 26st of december to the 1st of january.
Food is excellent, just like in the best restaurants!
Day and night Game drives in this beautifull wilderness will stay in my mind for ever. I also especially enjoyed walking safaris!
The accomodation in the adventure mobile camps is so nice. We had hot water every morning, hot showers when we wanted and blanket in the tent for the chilly nights.
Transferts by fly or by road always really comfortable and pleasant.
Being in this situation in the wild is justlike a dream.
The Maasai staff were so warm and welcoming. I felt just like home, totally happy and safe.
Emmanuel and Richard have been great! Their knowledge of the wilderness is endless and it's so much interesting to listen!
Just keep it like it is now, I think doing better is not possible!

I do warmly recommend the Ol Kinyei adventure camp to anyone's planning to discover the magic and beautiful Maasai Mara.

I miss it already so much.

Muriel from Geneva Switzerland

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled solo
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2  Thank MurielGeneva
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Gamewatchers Adventure Camp, Ol Kinyei

Address: Ol Kinyei Conservancy, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Maasai Mara National Reserve
Hotel Style:
Ranked #75 of 146 Specialty Lodging in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Price Range: $460 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Gamewatchers Adventure Camp, Ol Kinyei is sited in Ol Kinyei Wildife Conservancy in the Maasai Mara. For those for whom the wildlife safari experience is more important than the accommodation, and who are prepared to sleep in small tents in sleeping bags with an element of “roughing it”, this gives an opportunity for an exceptional and exclusive wildlife experience with high quality guiding but at a much lower price than expensive up-market safari lodges. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Gamewatchers Adventure Camp, Ol Kinyei Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve

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