Overall, we had a great stay at Kichwa Tembo! The staff was friendly and welcoming, our driver/guide was fantastic, and the food was very good.
One of the best features of Kichwa Tembo is the presence of Maasai naturalist guides - when we were there it was Johnathan and Erik, who are just fantastic. They are available every day to talk about the Maasai culture, and they lead daily walks in the areas surrounding the camp. We loved talking with them, and they were so nice to our 10 year old son. They made a bow and arrows for him and spent a lot of time teaching him how to use it. They also bring in other Maasai warriors for a little show and jumping competition every few nights. One night they brought our son some Maasai clothes to wear had him participate in the jumping competition with them. What a fabulous experience for him! We've been to other camps and have visited Maasai villages, but we feel like we learned much more about the culture and way of life by just chatting with Johnathan and Erik after lunch a couple of times.
Our driver/guide Jackson was amazing as well. He always did a great job of positioning us perfectly for taking great pictures. He had a knack for getting to the good animal sightings early so that we always had a great view. He really went out of his way to make sure we had a good experience.
Food is served buffet style and is quite good. There is always a meat and a vegetarian option and plenty of fresh salads, and the desserts are great. We stayed 4 nights and found there to be a very nice variety in the meals. You also have the option of taking a picnic breakfast or lunch on game drives, which makes for a nice change of pace and lets you stay out on the drives longer.
The staff is very attentive. Someone from the office stopped by our table each night to make sure that everything was going well. We had no problems during our stay, but I'm sure if there had been any issues they would have been addressed promptly. They had a great surprise for us during our last dinner - they brought by a "going-away" cake, saying they hoped we would come back soon. Our son absolutely loved that little impromptu celebration, and we were very touched by that kindness.
The classic tents are clean and well-appointed, with plenty of space for an extra bed for our son. The room steward even puts hot water bottles in the beds at night, which is a very nice touch. We followed a TripAdvisor suggestion to request a tent with a view over the Mara plains, but as it turned out the view is obstructed by trees. Our tent overlooked a nice lawn but we couldn't see much of the actual park and we were quite close to other tents. When we sat on our porch we could see all of the neighboring tents and guests - it felt kind of like being in a busy campground rather than a luxury tented camp. It would have been better to be in one of the tents that was more concealed by trees, and get our views of the plains by sitting at the pool. Some reviews have recommended staying in the tents closer to the main lodge so you don't have to walk as far, but I would recommend the farther tents. It really isn't that long of a walk unless you have mobility problems, and you will get more privacy. Note that there are two types of tents - classic and luxury. The luxury tents are slightly larger and have hairdryers and a plug for charging batteries. If you stay in the classic tents, you'll have to charge your things at the charging stations in the bar area (get there early in the evenings!). Luxury tents are farther away from the main lodge.
The one downside is that this is a very large camp (over 40 tents), so it can feel pretty crowded, especially when large groups come through. Some travelers don't seem to understand the concept that tents don't have actual walls, so other guests can easily hear all the noise you're making. Most of the time things quieted down by 10:30 pm (which isn't all that early when you're getting up for early morning game drives!). But on our last night we were kept up by loud talking well into the night. The next morning we discovered that the loudest of the voices belonged to the leader of a large tour group, who also liked to discuss plans with his group loudly in the middle of the restaurant during meals - I would expect more considerate behavior from a travel professional. I don't think the Kichwa Tembo staff can do much to mitigate the effect of people like him, but it certainly left a poor impression in an otherwise excellent stay. Maybe some gentle reminders to guests (and tour leaders!) to be considerate of others would help. We were staying in the classic tents, which were very close to each other. It might be a bit quieter in the luxury tents? I'm not sure if they have any more distance between them. I suspect in order to guarantee a bit more quiet one would have to pay a whole lot more and stay in the Bateleur Camp, where you probably would be buying more considerate neighbors.
Really though, you can't go wrong with Kichwa Tembo. We would definitely recommend it and hope to come back again sometime!
- 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
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- Also Known As:
- Kichwa Tembo Tented Safari Camp Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
- AndBeyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve