Researching which Safari would be best for our honeymoon took far longer than we imagined it would. It was made all the easier once we contacted "Imagine Africa" who went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure we had a great holiday and a stress free experience and a company we would recommend.
We spoke to several so called specialist companies and were staggered to find them either not really interested in what WE wanted or pitching holidays that we really couldn’t afford (despite explaining our limits).
One thing we learned is that this is an expensive and “easy to get wrong” experience and whomever you chose to book your holiday with, make sure the person you are being advised by has been to the resort you are looking at going to. That’s why we ended up talking with and buying our holiday from Imagine Africa. We planned to go from Safari (in Kenya) to spend 10 days on Zanzibar, so it wasn’t just the safari we needed guidance on, it was the whole trip. Fair play to Imagine Africa, the staff were able to give advice on every aspect and we knew the people we were speaking to had been to places we needed advice on. Not only that but when we went to check in online (the day before we were due to fly) and the Kenyan airways website wouldn’t take our check in details, Imagine Africa took a very panicked phone call from us and talked us through how to do it etc…so we could relax and enjoy our holiday (huge thanks to them for that).
So..to Kilima camp, a beautiful tented safari experience from start to finish, one we can wholeheartedly recommend. We chose it because it was mid priced and tented, it is also a small camp and feels very exclusive as a result. The views from the camp are stunning , don’t be put off by the comments some reviewers have made about the length of the drive to the reserve gates. Sure it takes 30 mins but there is wildlife wherever you go. We had a zebra feeding right outside our room one night and we saw a lonesome hippo on the lower slopes as we drove up to Kilima on the first day.
We opted for a deluxe tent upgrade and we were thrilled that we did. The difference between these tents and the basic ones is enormous. Hot water is in short supply in the basic rooms, you only get an hour a day to shower and when on safari it is really nice to know that you can have a hot shower whenever you please – albeit that the water pressure is very low so the shower is more of a dribble than a power shower (as you are in quite a remote spot). On arrival we were met with a very warm greeting and shown to our room. Our tent was separated and our veranda was totally exclusive and crucially not overlooked. The view here is stunning (see photo’s below). The kingsize bed with hot water bottles provided at night and the facilities in the tent (shower and toilet) were lovely – real luxury. Food in the camp was good and our Masai waiters were quite funny as they put the food down under cloches at every meal and we had to wait until a count of three was given so we could have the “reveal” and find out what we were being fed. The chef catered fantastically for my wife who is vegetarian, he even did a pizza for her, which was greatly appreciated.
All the safari drivers are brilliant and our driver (called Nixon), was fantastic. A lovely man, who clearly had studied in order to be able to answer any question thrown at him and he was fun too. On the first day when he asked what animal we would like him to find and we said “a dolphin” – he wasn’t phased and promised that he’d sort it out (it was his only failing though).
We also chose Kilima as it is close to the migration sites (in September) watching the anticipation of the lions and crocs was fascinating.
I have been on three Safari’s in Africa and the Mara is by far the best. We saw the big five and we saw Lions every day, one of which had just made a kill. If you chose to go on safari and are considering the balloon ride then unless you really can’t afford it, make sure you do it. It was the highlight of our honeymoon. It appears to be pricey but when you’ve finished the trip, you feel amazing and very privileged to have had the opportunity. We were taken very early in the morning to the launch site by another great driver called James. He was a really interesting man who explained a lot about the history of the region (and Kenya) and if you want to be educated he is the man for a day’s safari. After an amazingly smooth ride in the balloon and a very exciting landing we found ourselves sipping champagne and being treated to an amazing cooked breakfast in the middle of the Mara was simply wonderful. James then took us on our own personal safari (just the two of us) for the rest of the morning which was fabulous.
Kilima is a very relaxed and efficient camp, the food is good and the views and ambiance simply stunning. The staff are lovely, we did the Masai Village trip (walkable) and had a spa massage. Our Masai guides were relaxed and helpful and our masseuse was a lovely girl from Nairobi who treated to an early evening bath with the best views anyone can expect to see from a bath tub!
The only disappointment in the whole experience (and it is true of everywhere I’ve been in Africa), is that the owners of the hotels and resorts are clearly getting rich while the people working there rely heavily on the tips of the patrons. I engaged most of the staff in conversation whilst there and whilst they have good jobs for which they are grateful, they really aren’t paid very much. This is particularly galling when you consider the cost of the holiday to us the customers. Our staff deserved tips so we gave generously but really this shouldn’t be necessary and note to owners, makes you feel more than a bit exploited. That said Kilima has a good method for tipping which is a central box which you contribute to (if you want to). I have always been concerned that this method would be open to exploitation and not everyone would get their fair share, however, I witnessed them sharing the week’s tips and it was clearly equitable and fair. As we were leaving I realised I had left my jumper at the bar so ran back down the track to find the manager (who was another nice guy) sharing out the pile of cash from the tip box into equal piles while all the staff looked eagerly on.
So in summary Kilima is an amazing camp which is reasonably priced (all safari’s are expensive). We left having had four exquisite nights (about the right time for us) to go onto Zanzibar. A brilliant start to our holiday of a lifetime made all the better by the lovely people working at the camp and the beautiful surroundings of our temporary home.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Kilima Camp is a small and intimate eco-friendly tented camp with a stunning view over the Mara rive and the Masai Mara Reserve.Like all our standard tents, our two new Deluxe tents benefit from fantastic and unspoiled views!We offer excellent game viewing in the Mara Triangle with our 4x4 vehicle and our qualified and experienced guides. Being this close to nature , with panoramic views of the Masai Mara, we guarantee you that you will see amazing wildlife ! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Kilima Camp Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
- Kilima Camp Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve