We returned from a two week stay in the Diani area of Kenya on 9th February 2010 but due to a slight glitch with the computer and numerous hours editing the hundreds of photos and hours of video I have finally gotten around to writing a review. We stayed at Diani Reef Resort & Spa which is a fantastic hotel and well lives up to it’s five star rating. But the highlight of the holiday, was without doubt the 3 day / 2 night safari to the Masai Mara we booked with Julius Safaris - www.julius-safaris.com
I contacted JT before we travelled and although not necessary, wired JT a deposit prior to leaving UK as not knowing the demand of such trips we definitely didn’t want to be disappointed and miss out.
**Please DO NOT confuse www.julius-safaris.com with numerous other local companies with very similar names trying to cash in on the success and reputation of www.julius-safaris.com **
The day after we arrived I met Julius who travelled the few miles from his modest office to the reception of our hotel. He spoke great English, was very thorough with all arrangements and all seemed very promising- on Saturday we would be in the wilds of Africa!!!
Saturday came and Michael; JT’s trusted driver and a true gentleman collected us from our reception in a private air-conditioned mini van and drove us the short 3-4 mile trip to Ukunda Airport.
We bid Michael a farewell and waited to be called to the plane. Don’t worry if they have your names slightly wrong – I was Mr Daniel and the airport staff did not have a clue how to pronounce Phyllis, but it all added to the experience.
We need not have of worried a single jot. JT is a seasoned professional, and everything was taken care of.
After a fantastic 2 hour flight in a small plane which allowed us to take in the amazing sight of Mt Kilmanjaro from the left hand side of the plane we started our decent. The animals we had been longing to see soon came into focus – the odd tree somehow became Giraffe, the dark patches of grass turned to large herds of buffalo and the large grey boulders began to walk and somehow had bright white tusks. The plane got lower and lower until the wheels touched down on the gravel strip! WOW we were here!
Our guide Sammy was waiting for us at the air strip next to a canvassed roofed, but completely open 9 seat Toyota Landcruiser with a refreshing pot of Kenyan tea and biscuits.
I was so surprised to see so many animals on the 20 minute drive to our camp Kitchwa Tembo.
When we arrived at Kitchwa Tembo we knew our three day stay was never going to be long enough.
The luxury tent complete with colonial furniture and a stone bathroom at the rear was as good as any hotel room and very comfortable and warm.
The staff were nothing short of amazing, catering for our every need. The unique little touches which I will not mention, for fear of spoiling the staffs efforts, really felt we were being looked after by best friends or family who knew what we wanted when we wanted it - without even having to ask.
During our stay at Kitchwa Tembo we had four safari drives which are obviously all included. They each lasted 4-6 hours and covered upwards of 65 miles. The drives took us through grasslands, across and along the Mara River, through thickets and across baron scrub land. The variety and amount of animals we saw was truly everything we had wished for.
I think what made it feel so special was how isolated we were. Miles from anywhere with no other humans in sight and being truly off road, having the daily “African Massage” from the bumps and humps of the rough ground.
Our guide was truly amazing – never rushed, sharing his extensive and personal knowledge of the animals. We would decide if we wanted to move on or stay a little longer in one spot. His desire for us to see everything was strong, sometimes spending hours hunting for the elusive Leopard all the time pointing out the other animals that share it’s habitat.
Our meals times were considerately scheduled around our safari drives. The food was incredible, freshly cooked, lots of choice and alfresco under the stars, lit with romantic lanterns in the evening.
The mornings are something to behold. Get up early and get your room attendant to pull back your doors while you lie in bed and watch the sun rise over the Mara – wonderful.
The facilities are excellent at Kitchwa. There is internet connections to mail back home and share your day’s sights with friends. The pool is cool and fresh with wonderful views over the plains. There is modest entertainment courtesy of some local Masai dancers and numerous charging points for your cameras in the lobby area.
On our return to Diani Reef Resort we spoke with numerous guests who opted for the Tsavo Parks for their Safari. Although cheaper, I feel we made the right decision in going to the Mara. The flight only adds to it and is shorter than the uncomfortable drive to Tsavo. Also the true isolation of the Mara really adds to the true Safari feel. From what I heard the accommodation is far better on the Mara and the vehicles and guides far more comfortable and knowledable. The real reason for a Safari is obviously to see as many animals as possible and at close quarters. The Mara offers this in abundance and the frequency and intimacy of such encounters on the Mara far out way those in Tsavo.
Make no mistake – The Masai Mara is the place to Safari and Kitchwa Tembo is the place to stay - but above all trust www.julius-safaris.com to make the whole experience hassle free with a service second to none.
Please feel free to e-amil me for any tips or advice I might be able to give.
Dan & Phyl.
- 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
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with South African Hotels so you can book your andBeyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Kichwa Tembo Tented Safari Camp Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
- AndBeyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve