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“The safari experience of a lifetime”

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Ol Seki Hemingways Mara
Certificate of Excellence
Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
60 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“The safari experience of a lifetime”
Reviewed August 25, 2013

I've been dreaming of going on safari in Kenya for many years, and in my mind I had the idea of what a perfect experience would be. Ol Seki made that dream a reality. First and foremost, the camp staff members were incredibly friendly, helpful, and accommodating. The camp can only host around 20 guests, so the service is very personal. Our camp manager, Jeff, was a delight to interact with. David, our tour guide who is the head guide at the camp, did an excellent job on our safari drives and was very knowledgeable about the area. Most of our drives were focused on the Naboisho Conservancy which is a private conservancy next door to the Maasai Mara National Reserve. We went into the reserve one day to watch the wildebeest migration which was an amazing experience, but you are around many more tourists in the reserve. An advantage of staying in the conservancy is that you don't encounter many other people while driving around, and the scenery was a bit more lush and there were more hills than in the reserve - while it's a personal preference, I thought the conservancy was more beautiful than the reserve, so being located there was definitely a benefit in my mind. I also enjoyed learning about the projects of the conservancy including the tour guide school that is exclusive to training members of the Maasai tribe to be tour guides, and their specific efforts to encourage more female Maasai to pursue tour guiding careers.

Besides the safari drives, other favorite experiences included a dinner in the bush and going on a night drive to spot animals with an infrared spotlight. As with any tent camp, the accommodations, while luxurious, are also slightly rustic, but that's to be expected with such an experience - if you're looking for marble tiled bathrooms and strong water pressure and fully controlled environment, you probably shouldn't stay in a tent camp anyway! I really, really loved my 4 days and 3 nights at Ol Seki and highly recommend it for anyone looking for a special experience while on safari in Kenya.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
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1 Thank Heather L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Melbourne
Level Contributor
28 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
Reviewed August 22, 2013

We spent 3 nights at Ol Seki and were treated to wonderful hospitality, fabulous game viewing, excellent dining and extremely comfortable accommodation. Ol Seki is located on a private conservancy bordering the Masai Mara. The beauty of camps located within a private conservancy is the ability for off road driving whilst game viewing and there are far fewer vehicles in the conservancy than one would find inside the National Park. Melinda the camp manager made us feel welcome from the very 1st minute as did all the staff. The food was sensational and they catered for guests with various dietary requirements. A highlight was the bush dinner - set up in the middle of no-where everything is carried in and out - just amazing. As we travelled during the "migration" of the wildebeest we spent one full day inside the Masai Mara National Park. As others have reported it is a long drive to the Mara River (in excess of 2 hours each way and longer when you stop enroute) so my recommendation during migration season would be to spend 2 nights at a camp close to the river and 2 nights at Ol Seki. The tents are enormous with hot showers, decks look out to beautiful views of the plains, lovely comfortable beds, timber floors, plenty of power points. Internet can be slow and is only accessible in the library tent - but who wants to check emails whilst on safari ? Somehow the hot water bottles that are popped into the beds whilst you are enjoying your evening meal stay warm until morning. The game viewing is incredible - lion prides, cheetah, rhino, elephants, buffalo and a river crossing of the wildebeest and zebra. We didn't find the elusive leopard - have to save something for next time. We travelled as a couple and I hope to return with our teenage daughters - the suites are awesome for families.

Room Tip: The suites for families are enormous and private with amazing views.
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank dhnafrica
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kampala, Uganda
Level Contributor
382 reviews
193 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 264 helpful votes
Reviewed August 1, 2013

The Ol Seki experience begins already at their own airstrip after landing, when their staff approach you with an iced and scented towel to wipe the sweat off and then hand you a chilled drink. Transfer time to Ol Seki is a mere 8 minutes though this can vary as a result of game sightings and a first round to capture them on - in the old days film and now on disk.
Melinda, the camp manageress, was waiting for the cars to drive into the camp parking, her staff lined up to escort guest to their tents, after being given a short briefing.
Did I say tents? Oh well, these supersized creations, made of canvas, leave nothing to be desired in terms of furnishings or other facilities. Electric light, using a combination of generator and photo-voltaic panels, is available 24 / 7, not a standard everywhere in similar camps, the water pressure is high and hot water available, though a shower after lunch, when the temperatures have rising in to the high 20's or low 30's may be best enjoyed cold.
In the morning however, the lower temperatures demand hot water, and again, unlike in other locations experienced in the past, the water was indeed piping hot, at 5 in the a.m. ahead of a full morning gamedrive a well appreciated feature.
The public areas, like the tents with extended timber decks and sweeping views across the vale below and the hills in the distance, are limited to the Library and the dining tent. In the Library, which also serves as lounge, bar and general meeting place for the guests - with 6 tents and 2 suites there never will be a crowd - is where one meets for aperitifs before and digestives after a meal, to check on bird and game sightings in the available reference books, read a little or just even drift off for a nap. The cushions on the sofa sets are certainly inviting enough for that.
Drinks, wine, beers, spirits, soft drinks, juices and of course tea are included in the accommodation and meals package, a gesture not too common yet in other establishments of this quality.
Evans, the head chef, makes a regular pre-meal appearance to explain the menu of the day, and dietary requirements, non gluten, non dairy, vegetarian, vegan even, are strictly observed.
Bread and buns are camp baked, what else, the soups rich in flavour and the main courses, during my stay, varied, well presented and tasty. The camp is not striving to be Michelin rated but succeeded in putting excellent meals on the table every time and the silence, as the main course was devoured by the guests around the communal dining table, spoke volumes, of being hungry but equally of appreciating a good meal. Veggies and herbs are grown in a vegetable garden near by, hence fresh and guaranteed of organic origin, while all other items on the menu come from Nairobi, such as meat and fish. All biodegradable refuse is used for composting while empty bottles and plastic waste go back to Nairobi for proper disposal. Notably have many of the wine bottles been turned into glasses, pitchers even, at a Nairobi based glass workshop, with stunning results, and of sizes which could easily find use in an episode of Cougar Town.
Lunch and dinner conversations tended to go back and forth across the table and Melinda's tales, combined with every one else's, made for animated discussions.
At night, when the stars illuminate the sky above, telescopes are available to do some star gazing, while others may wish to lounge about in the Library, a final night cap in hand, perhaps using the hotspot to send some tweets or post the day's pictures on Facebook, or write some mails home, which content no doubt will turn every one there green with envy.
The location of the camp, on a ridge overlooking the valley below, gives sweeping views and game coming to the waterhole below makes for a constant stream of coming and going, action with predators apparently included on a regular basis.
Located on the Naboisho Conservancy, one of 8 lining the boundaries of the main Masai Mara Game Reserve, the camp is set far apart from the maddening crowds of minibusses, and for most of the year, visitors not even need to go into the reserve proper, unless during the 3 months of the great migration sweeping through the Mara. The river crossings and the countless wildebeest and zebras are then best, if not only seen inside the reserve. For the rest of the year though, predator sightings, elephant, buffalo, giraffe and plains game, AND birds, are aplenty on the conservancy, where, an added bonus, guests can do night game drives and escorted walks with the bronze (minimum standard) and silver rated guides of Ol Seki.
Every stay there is too short, certainly mine was, and it takes a hard swallow when saying 'Kwaheri ya kuonana' to the staff and to Melinda, all of whom will have become friends while staying at Ol Seki, but friends with one thing in mind, to make one's stay most comfortable by being at guests beck and call.
Be it a bush breakfast, a picnic lunch along the river or a bush dinner, weather permitting, they will make it happen to provide those very special memories, as for most, after all, it will be the holiday of a life time. Well done all round Ol Seki, and remember, I VILLL BE BAGGG!

Room Tip: Treat yourself to something special - book one of the two suite tents! Located away from the other...
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled on business
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Helpful?
1 Thank Safariafficionado
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
atlanta
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed July 5, 2013

We traveled to Ol Seki in June of this year....my husband, 18 year old daughter and her friend, and my mom and her husband. What a treat to pull up our home at Ol Seki, a tent called Simba, truly the penthouse of tents....a stunning two bedroom "home" with a living/dining room and kitchen in the middle....spectacular! We were introduced to George, our driver/guide and after a delightful lunch in the tent we headed off on a game drive. A spectacular morning drive the next day with a special coffee break under an acacia tree...the scenery of the Masai Mara never gets old. Our last nite I reluctantly agreed to a night drive (do it, there is NOTHING to be afraid of), and was treated before the drive to the most delightful, unexpected bush dinner. Melinda, you, Evans, Josephat and the team are spectacular and meeting Marcel from Fly4Elephants was a bonus! The library tent at camp is awesome, the views over the endless plains do not disappoint....and the sounds at night are such a treat. To Melinda, James, Josephat, Galgallo and the team at Ol Seki, we cannot thank you enough for such a magical stay.....

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank umbrellagirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level Contributor
13 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed May 9, 2013

We spent 4 wonderful days at this wonderful bush camp over looking the Mara plains. Wild game could be seen from the many decks of each individual tented unit. The staff were excellent, catering and caring for our every needs.

Our Guide "Patrick" went out of his way to find us Cheetah, lion and Elephant. Apart from this he was extremely knowledgeable on the flora and bird life.

Even though we went out of season, not one day went past that we did not see an abundance of wild life.

A camp and experience not to be missed.
Bev & Chris Bennett

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank cameo_8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stockholm, Sweden
Level Contributor
31 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed February 27, 2013

We just returned after spending three nights at Hemingways Ol seki and I am overwhelmed by the experience. Service was fantastic. Game drives wonderful. WIld animals all over. Hotel better than many I stayed even though it was a tent! When we arrived at the airport five minutes away from the lodge we were immediately asked if we wanted to go on a game drive before heading to the lodge. In the very near distance of the lodge we saw several kinds of gasells, giraffs and zebras. The same afternoon, during another drive, we saw lions, elephants, cheetas and more gasells. There is no need to endure the two hour drive to the Masai Mara because there is nothing more to see there then what you can find in the Ol Seki Conservancy. The hotel organised a bush dinner for all the guests one evening. We also visited the home village of one of the masai that worked at the lodge. All in all a fantastic experience that I really recommend. It was only the food that did not quite meet the standard of the lodge. And the massagist was on leave.

Room Tip: If you are more than three guests you should choose the Simba suite that comes with a private cook a...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Annikika
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Winchester
Level Contributor
92 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
Reviewed February 23, 2013

Following a few days at Hemingways, Watamu, we went on for a three night stay at the magnificent Hemingways Ol Seki. On arrival at the airstrip, we were taken on a game drive and stopped for lunch under an acacia tree. The table and chairs were set out and a light luncheon appeared before us. Sitting beneath the tree, looking out across the plain with zebra and giraffe, it was a true, 'Out of Africa' experience, magical. We arrived at the camp and were welcomed by James the camp manager and led to the most luxurious tent (if you can call it that!) I have ever seen. Plenty of room, an enormous bed, comfortable seating and a view to simply die for. A very thoughtful touch was the inclusion of a giant, lockable trunk for valuables. I didn't at any time feel that there would be a problem with the security of my possessions, but having lap top, blackberry etc. with me, it was good to know all these things could be locked away safely. Our whole experiences was beyond belief. Being in the Mara Naboisho Conservancy meant we were not subjected to the myriads of visitors found in the Mara Reserve and rarely saw other vehicles. Our driver and guide, Rafael and Joel were outstanding, taking us to the most beautiful areas for our early morning game drives, which leave at 6.30am and finding idyllic spots to stop at 8.00am for a welcome coffee and again in the early evening, game drives which included a 'sundowner stop' in the peace and quiet of the whole area; who could wish for more, sipping a G and T, in the middle of nowhere whilst watching the sun set. The camp has a 'library tent' and after the morning game drive and a delicious breakfast, with freshly prepared omelettes or pancakes, I enjoyed sitting drinking in the view, catching up on e-mails, reading or simply dozing.
Dinner is 'en famille' with other guests, who proved to be excellent dinner companions; a professional photographer, elephant conservationist and even someone who knew Joy Adamson of Born Free fame, really made me feel transported to the very heart of Africa. If you do not wish to have meals with fellow guests, you can eat on your private terrace outside your tent or in the dinner area in the family tents.
Now I am back home, I will regularly close my eyes, especially after a busy day, to be transported to this little piece of paradise on earth. It was the most magical experience and the beauty of the area, the animals and the incredible tranquility is the best antidote to stress I have ever experienced.
I am aware that Hemingways Nairobi will be opening shortly with a boutique hotel in Karen and I look forward to staying in this hotel, then going on to Ol Seki and finishing at the Coast at Hemingways, Watamu. I am not one for repeat holidays, but the Hemingways Collection has made me change the habit of a lifetime,simply stunning. Go and see for yourselves!

Room Tip: All the tents are in a great location and being a very small camp, there is only accommodation for a...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
3 Thank PennWinchester
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Ol Seki Hemingways Mara

Property: Ol Seki Hemingways Mara
Address: Naboisho Conservancy, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya (Formerly Ol Seki Mara Camp)
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Maasai Mara National Reserve
Hotel Style:
Ranked #47 of 137 Specialty Lodging in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Ol Seki Hemingways Mara 4.5*
Number of rooms: 10
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Also Known As:
Ol Seki Mara Camp Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Ol Seki Hemingways Mara Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve

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