As our airplane approached the Kichwa Airstrip, we could see a myriad of animals from the window of the plane. This would set the stage for the next 48 hours of our trip.
Me, my husband, and 5 other friends went to Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp for several days - Nov 23-26. When we landed, we were immediately met by Daniel, who would be our guide for our entire stay. He had set out a lovely welcoming table with tea, coffee, hot chocolate, cookies, and other light snacks. We happily munched and ate while Daniel introduced himself (and John, the Masai guide for the camp) and told us about our upcoming stay. What a warm and wonderful welcome.
As we drove to the camp, Daniel immediately started his guide duties, as there were tons of animals to be seen. I think the drive would ordinarily take only 15 minutes or so, but we were so enthralled already, that Daniel thoroughly and patiently explained what we were seeing. And it wasn't even really our first "official" game drive - just the ride to the camp.
We were met at the camp gate by John (with cool, scented towels) and Esther (she was a staff manager) and we began our stay. Esther took our necessary information, explained where everything was, outlined our itinerary, introduced us to our room steward(Jackson) and dining butler (Kosen) and we were off to our tent.
Wow. Oh wow. That's what we said when we stepped into Tent #6 with Jackson. The lower number tents are DEFINITELY the best, as they overlook the Masai Mara plains. Incredible. The tent is unbelieveably comfortable, with a deliciously comfortable bed, and the rain shower was fabulous. Actually, in our 16 days in Kenya, it was the best shower we ever had. As a "basic" tent, I wondered if we would miss not having electrical outlets to plug chargers/devices in.....and we didn't. There is an area in the lounge/bar where you plug your things in, and it was not inconvenient at all. And actually, they have blow dryers in the lounge bathroom too. I discovered those on the last day, and still didnt' use them - it shows you how comfortable I was without outlets.
We headed out for our first afternoon game drive. BRING A JACKET. It was quite warm when we left the camp at 4pm, and as the sun began to set it got very chilly. So much so that we were very grateful that we had brought a fleece jacket and windbreaker jacket. Daniel was unbelievable. Simply the best. He took us straight to a pair of brother cheetah's eating a fresh kill. Amazing. Daniel's depth of knowledge, fun personality, friendly banter, and ability to take us to see something astonishing was absolutely fantastic. Note.....apparently there are 2 Daniel's. He is the "smaller" one, as I guess there is a Big Daniel.
The food at the restaurant is fabulous. Our dining butler - Kosen- could not have been more delightful. One of the couples with us was celebrating their 21st Anniversary, and he did extremely thoughtful things for them throughout the weekend - such as setting up a surprise lunch in the vegetable gardens, complete with personal chef on the grill, beautiful rose-petal-strewn table, and music. At dinner we were serenaded by the staff with a musical production complete with singing, instruments. dancing, cake and candles. Wonderful. And Kosen along with Esther oversaw every aspect of our weekend. Esther knew our names from the first moment, and greeted us personally whenever she saw us. It was wonderful.
The first morning, we elected to meet Daniel at 6:30am and do an early game drive, and have breakfast in the bush. Daniel packed us a fantastic breakfast,and we headed out for about 5 hours. It was an awesome decision, as it allowed us to go much farther into the Mara. We stopped at about 9:30am, at a bluff overlooking the river. The river had 21 hippos lounging on the banks of the river. Daniel set up our breakfast which consisted of: cheese/crackers, sausages, fried potatoes, eggs, rolls w/butter & jam, bananas, oranges, yogurt, apple juice, coffee, tea and hot chocolate. It was a feast.
We arrived back at camp at about 11:30am, cleaned up, rested, and had lunch. Our group spent a few hours in the pool, reading, napping, or on the internet telling the folks back home what a wonderful time we were having. The afternoon game drives start at 4pm and end around 6:30pm.
Every game drive was amazing. We saw the big 5, thanks to our wonderful Daniel. Our tent was meticulously taken care of by Jackson. Every meal was fun and delicious thanks to Kosen. We were well taken care of by Esther.
One other note about the game drives: the vehicles used by the camp were the best. We quickly saw how the "pop up" type of vans used by other camps, or the enclosed jeeps would be difficult. The land rovers were wide open, with raised seating, and gave every single person unobstructed views in all directions. They were covered with a canopy so we were not in the sun, and the ride was comfortable. We didn't realize the value of such a well-designed vehicle, until we saw what lots of other people were riding in.
My husband and I are very well traveled. We've been to all the 5 major continents, and stayed at many wonderful hotels and resorts. WE CAN SAY WITH ABSOLUTELY NO HESITATION THAT THIS WAS THE BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE WE HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED. Truly, our stay was THAT incredible.
As an example....as our plane was taxiing down the runway, about to go airborne as we left, Daniel had driven down near the end of the runway, and was standing on TOP of the Landrover with both arms over his head waving goodbye. It was the personal attention and service that made our stay fantastic. Needless to say, WHEN we go back, we will never, ever stay anywhere else but Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- AndBeyond Kichwa Tembo Masai Mara Tented Camp is set on a private wilderness concession leased from Maasai landlords in the legendary Masai Mara. Situated where forest and savanna meet, these elegant, spacious safari tents boast some of the most magnificent views of the Masai Mara, especially from the large swimming pool. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Kichwa Tembo Tented Safari Camp Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
- AndBeyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve