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“The best 1st time Safari Experience !!!”
Review of Sanctuary Olonana

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Sanctuary Olonana
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed December 6, 2012

Words seem insufficient for my experience at the Sanctuary Retreats !! This was my first experience in the wild and was completely worth it !
We spent 4 nights here, with the best intuitive service and excellent Gourmet food!

Rosemary (based in Nairobi) assisted us with all the booking, picked us up at the Nairobi airport and drove us to the local airport to take the short flight to the Masai Mara. Tip: Carry minimum luggage, cause the local flight has a weight restriction.

About an hour later we landed in the jungle on an airstrip used by Zebra's to roll on....We were greeted by the Resort Staff with a local Masai....do not forget to click pictures with them :)

On arriving at the hotel, they welcomed us with a refreshing drink and the whole staff singing a welcome song with a guitarist accompanying them....a really special welcome I must say !

We had a corner cottage overlooking the river full of Hippo's that woke us up every morning, just in time for the Morning Game Drives...

The cottage comes with a butler...and ours the most pleasant and intuitive as ever! Beautiful shower here (overlooking the river) !
Tip: Test the walky-talky that is provided to you, since that is the only mode of communication with the reception/other staff for any kind of service.

Since we were here in December 2011, the climate was perfect (warm during the day and chill during the nights).

The chef created a new dish every singe day, and kept our likes n dislikes in mind...Food, drinks, everything was just perfect.
It starts with a flask of hot tea and some cookies, as your wake-up alarm before your morning game drive....then either breakfast on returning or a super safari breakfast in the middle of the jungle can also be arranged!
It moves onto lunch and then a light snack before the evening game drive.
Then sun-downers on the way back to the resort..followed by an excellent much awaited dinner!!!

The evenings are the best at the Sanctuary Retreats, with the fire place, wine, beautiful live strumming of the guitar, candle-lit ambiance and really hospitable and interesting people at the resort to spend time with. They share their experiences and can tell you about the Masai Mara like nobody else !!

Lucas was our guide for the 4 days of awesome Safari Experience we had here. He knows the jungle and is one of the best guides you can get !!!
Tip: carry your rain-jackets, since it rains during this time...

This was my first safari experience and ever since have had 5 more, but Sanctuary Retreats was by far the best....

PS: Don't forget to try the spa as well !!!!!

Room Tip: For a romantic experience, the corner last cottage on the left was what I loved !!
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  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Soniya A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SanctuaryRetreats_2, Sanctuary Management at Sanctuary Olonana, responded to this reviewResponded December 7, 2012

Dear Guest,

Thank you for sharing your feedback on TripAdvisor following your recent stay with us at Sanctuary Olonana.

We do appreciate your kind comments with regards to the welcome you received, the chef, your wake-up tea and cookies and your meals. We will definitely pass your comments onto Rosemary, Lucas and the rest of the team who will be happy to learn that you appreciated their efforts.

We are delighted that you had an awesome 04 day safari experience with us and that you found Santuary Retreats by far the best!.

Thank you once again for taking the time to post your review on TripAdvisor, and we hope that we will have the pleasure of welcoming you back to Sanctuary Olonana in the near future.

Warm regards

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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157 - 163 of 294 reviews

Reviewed December 1, 2012

I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I arrived at Olonana. Greeted with a pan-flute-playing Maasai, a tropical drink, several staff and a chorus of noisy hippos playing in the river below, it was a magical arrival and the entire experience for the next three days continued in the same way. Exquisite food, exceptional service, awesome setting, beautifully furnished luxury tents and amazing attention to detail across the board. It was a faultless stay and I can't wait to go back.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank soniajonestravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SanctuaryRetreats_2, Manager at Sanctuary Olonana, responded to this reviewResponded December 4, 2012

Dear Guest,

Thank you very much for taking the time to post this wonderful a review on TripAdvisor.

We are very pleased about your lovely comments regarding "the exquisite food, exceptional service, awesome setting, beautifully furnished luxury tents and amazing attention to detail across the board"

We are delighted that you enjoyed your stay with us and look forward to welcoming you back in the not too distant future.

Warm regards

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 16, 2012

This was our first Safari in Kenya although we lived in Mombasa for a long period of time, it never crossed my mind Masai Mara will be such magnificent and wonderful place for a family specially teenagers to enjoy to such extent. Our stay at Olonana was a magical and sweet memory to cherish for a long period of time. The place is so hidden in the bush it mixes with the surrounding environment , food was not that good apart from the picnic breakfast which we had 3 times. The guides are well informed and such polite people I have ever met. Overall the staff were very good I give them 10/10 . Location is very near to. A Masai village which you get the chance to meet the local inhabitant and buy locally made souvenir needed for your loved one back home.

Over all 10/10 satisfaction

Room Tip: Tent no 6 is having a very good view to the Mara river..
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  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled with family
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Thank Khalididris
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SanctuaryRetreats_2, Manager at Sanctuary Olonana, responded to this reviewResponded November 28, 2012

Dear Guest,m

I would like to thank you for taking the time to post a review on Tripadvisor. We are very pleased to learn that your stay at Sanctuary Olonana was a magical one and a memory that you will cherish for a long time.

We would be grateful if you could let us know which aspects of your dining experience didn’t please you so that we can work on improving it. We are however happy to hear that you enjoyed the picnic baskets.

Thank you for the kind comments regarding our staff, what an absolute pleasure to read that you have rated them 10/10.

Thank you once again for this review and we hope to see you again in the not too distant future,.

Warm regards

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 13, 2012

We spent four wonderful nights in Ololanda lodge, and had the opportunity to compare it with two other lodges, one just outside the conservancy, like Ololanda, and one in the heart of it. Ololanda was in another class: with only twelve “tents”, the lodge’s guest lounge and terrace felt expansive and luxurious. To be truly top notch, the public and private areas could use a few extra touches, but they’re still lovely.

The staff was excellent, without exception. When I came down with malaria on my second day, a camp doctor was on hand to get me back on my feet and raring for action within 24 hours, thanks to what a subsequent Wikipedia search suggested was the latest and best treatment. My partner was ill when we arrived, and was also well looked after, with hot water bottles and concerned visits. Both of us had people we had only just met coming to our tent and asking how we were feeling, and whether they could do anything for us.

Every wish was attended to, not least by a lovely chap called Nixon, who seemed to have been allocated as our personal servant. He brought us hot water bottles at night and hot chocolate (or anything else we wanted) in the morning. A walkie talkie was provided for emergencies, like needing an extra portion of passion fruit or being charged by a hippo (though apparently the bank under our deck is too steep for them to climb, and the camp is fenced off from the surrounding land.) The tent itself may have a canvass roof, door and walls (with window screens in, don’t worry) but the inside and outside decks were made of wood, and the bathroom was tiled stone. If we wanted to, as we often did, food was brought to us in the tent, or served on our deck. A pair of blue monkeys snatched food off the table right in front of us, dozens of bright yellow birds made their nests in the tree between us and the river just in front of our deck, and the river itself was full of hippos, hanging out in the water or sunbathing on the opposite bank. And this is all a distraction, anyway, from the main event: the wildlife inside the conservancy. Even though we had missed the migration, we saw plenty: the Big Five plus countless other species, a cheetah killed by lions, two black rhino, fighting zebra and so much more. The only minor criticisms we could level are that the ambitious menu could have been better executed, and the visit to the Maasai Village felt more like a themed tour than an authentic experience. The craft market was particularly embarrassing. We were the only customers there, being escorted around a circle of stalls offering stone and wood carvings, Maasai jewellery and fighting sticks. Instead of haggling for individual items, we were encouraged to put everything we were interested in in the centre of the circle at the end of the tour, then haggle over a total price. Despite promising to “help us in the negotiation”, our Maasai guide handed over to a designated negotiator and stood back as we were offered an outrageous starting price of $100. That’s the price of a cow in exchange for an unadorned fighting stick and a couple of trinkets! We finally settled on $25, which was too much, judging by the prices we subsequently saw in smart souvenir shops and at the airport. Still, the fighting stick was top quality, unlike the tat peddled in most of those shops. Be prepared for a tough negotiation, and don't worry about offending them with offers way below what they ask.

Our guide, Nelson, was a legend. Ask for him in advance if you can, because he seemed to be the best of them all. The transport provided – long wheel base converted Land Rovers and Toyota Land Cruisers – was comfortable and robust enough to negotiate the rough terrain without shaking you to death. (Some of the other vehicles we saw looked distinctly less accommodating.) Still, the longer safari outings give your core a good work out, and you’ll be wind-battered and exhausted by the time you get back to your tent for a hot shower and a snooze. Take at least a pullover and jacket, because it gets chilly at night, especially racing back to the camp after sunset.

This place isn’t cheap, but you won’t regret going for it.

Room Tip: As for room 2.
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Akleanthous
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 5, 2012

I used to live in Kenya and did many safaris in several parks and in many resorts in the Mara. Olonana is the only resort that I've returned to. They do not disappoint. The location along the Mara River is spectacular. The staff are outstanding. The food rivals the best restaurants in the world. The tents are incredibly comfortable and beautifully appointed, with a huge veranda overlooking the river. The drivers are knowledgeable and friendly, speaking English clearly. With only 12 tents at the site, it's nice and quiet. You feel as if you own the place. I would highly recommend Olonana to anyone looking to safari in the Mara.
We traveled the first week in November when the prices are much cheaper, and we were blessed with being able to see the migration, one of the great wonders of the world. We stayed in tent #3, and had a family of hippos right across the river from us. Their grunts and snorts are amusing. They may keep you awake if you're a light sleeper. Further down the path towards tent 12 gets you closer to the rapids. In my opinion, the rapids were a bit too loud, but some may like it.

Room Tip: Tents 1-3 are near the hippos. Even though they are closer to the lodge area, you still feel isolat...
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with friends
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1  Thank AfrTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 27, 2012

I didn’t even think service of this caliber was possible.
Olonana really is a Sanctuary.
EVERYTHING from the welcome, the meals, the hippos in the river, the cocktails before dinner, the food and the massages overlooking the Mara River were incredible.
We were both very sad to be leaving.
To King, Maurice and Christine, you made our anniversary unforgettable and it will be very hard to even try to match this for next year.
A private dinner was arranged on our veranda which completly blew us away with the food, the thought, the staff singing and a cake. WOW.
I loved the little touch of wake up calls with Coffee and cookies, the turn down servcie with a little story left on our pillows.

I want to be back there now. It will be very hard to top an anniversary like our stay at Olonana, this is a place that I will 100% return to in the coming years because it really and truly is a paradise.

Thank you for such an incredible stay.

Room Tip: Book a massage - there is something about a deep tissue massage by the river that calms the soul
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  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Ivona S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 12, 2012

It was such a great experience to sleep right next to the beautiful Mara River. Hippos were our alarm clock every morning. The staff was great. They all greet you by your first name, which is awesome. They make you feel really at home. Our driver was amazing. He was very patient and really committed to show us what we wanted to see. And we were not an easy crew, since we wanted to see as much as possible. The food was brilliant every time. Everything was flawless: from the products in the bathroom to the safaris, the tents, the staff. In the national park, the animals are incredibly near. More than once we were unable to move, because we were surrounded by elephants or zebras. If you have the opportunity, stay in Olonana and give my regards to Maurice. It was a wonderful place that my family will ever forget.

Room Tip: Some rooms are very far away from the restaurant and lobby, but since you spend almost the entire da...
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  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank LovellyRita
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sanctuary Olonana

Address: C14, Keekorok, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Maasai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #34 of 146 Specialty Lodging in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Price Range: $225 - $450 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Sanctuary Olonana 4*
Number of rooms: 14
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Sanctuary Olonana, our award-winning tented camp situated on a private stretch of the Mara River, recently undergone a significant upgrade to the public areas of the lodge as well as a soft refurbishment to the tented rooms and pool area. The interior decor reflects a contemporary design using a combination of light earthy tones and the local Maasai women played an active part in the refurbishment using the same traditional technique used in their own houses to “mud” the interior walls in all of the main areas and curio shop. From the main viewing deck see and hear the family of noisy hippos who colonise the banks below the camp. Relax with a good book in the library, cool off in the pool or for an extra special treat, experience traditional African remedies and spa treatments in the mini-spa. Oversized Safari Tents – Built on the banks of the Mara River, the twelve canvas tents at Sanctuary Olonana are extremely comfortable and spacious. The ensuite tents all have two four-poster beds with floor to ceiling mosquito netting – making them perfect for families travelling with small children. Each of the private verandas overlook the river and offer the perfect spot where guests can relax and watch the resident hippos wallow in the water. There are also two honeymoon suites with each featuring outdoor showers. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sanctuary Olonana Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Sanctuary Olonana Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve

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