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“Fantastic Safari Experience!”
Review of Mara Bushtops

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Mara Bushtops
Certificate of Excellence
Leicester, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Fantastic Safari Experience!”
Reviewed August 2, 2012

This was our first time in Africa and first ever safari so we didn't really know what to expect. The reviews here looked good, and the website certainly is impressive - but what would the reality be?

We needn't have worried. From the moment we were met at the airstrip by Japhet and John the guides, and Joseph the Masai spotter, who took our bags from us and offered us a glass of chilled Chardonnay (much appreciated!), the tone was set. This may be a 'camp' but the camping is unlike any under-canvas experience I've ever had. The 'tents' are really luxury lodges, with stone-built bathroom, shower and toilet sections, and very cool spacious bedrooms. UK standard electrical sockets and 24/7 power and hot water mean this is really a 5 star hotel experience set in it's own private wildlife conservancy. The views are fantastic - 180 degrees of Kenyan bushland with Elephant, Giraffe, Wildebeest, Zebra and 15 types of Antelope roaming just a few yards away.

We 'met' our first Giraffe on the drive back to Bushtops from the airstrip - almost close enough to touch and magnificent to behold. On the subsequent game drives we saw all of the 'big 5' (except Leopard, so we'll have to go back!) and an amazing variety of bird and animal life. We also saw the Wildebeste migration. A sea of moving, grunting, animals, surprisingly noisy when you land your balloon amongst them!

Talking about the game drives - Mara Bushtops, like some other safari companies, use Toyota Land Cruisers as their vehicles. However UNLIKE other companies, they modify them themselves to a design they created and the result is simply the best possible safari experience for the guest. The cars are VERY comfortable with well sprung padded seats (which is important when you are out for hours driving 'off road'), and with open sides that give a full view all around and makes taking photographs very easy. Other vehicles we saw forced their occupants to squeeze their cameras through windows or stand up and shoot out of the roof. Whoever designed the Mara vehicles knew absolutely what they were doing. They also come with well stocked cold boxes offering a choice of chilled wines or beers as well as an excellent buffet lunch, to be taken under the shade of a Leopard Tree (hopefully unoccupied!)

Back to the 'Camp' itself and Bushtops offers an excellent and interesting dining experience, with a superb menu that can be taken indoors in the atmospheric restaurant, or out on the 'verandah' while watching the wildlife come down to the nearby salt lick. It only takes a few days of this for you to become used to watching Elephant and Zebra while eating your lunch.

The pool is small, rather than olympic sized, but perfect for a cool dip after a hot afternoon's drive, and with only 12 'tents' it was never busy (in fact when we used it we had it to ourselves).

At this point I should mention the staff. In addition to the guys who met us off the plane we were looked after by Edward - our 'butler' - a Masai lad from the local village who's english was impeccable and whose local knowledge fascinating. Ferdinand was our day to day guide and James (also Masai) our spotter and the two of them taught us more about Kenyan wildlife and the Mara region than I would have thought possible. I also learned the Swahili way to say 'two beers please, my friend will pay' - the most essential phrase in any language.

All the restaurant and camp staff were great and very friendly - but in particular Samuel a recently qualified young sommelier was a delight. He could do stand up comedy if he ever fancies a change of career, and be warned - his Rum-Pot once tried is irresistible.

Other good points? The complimentary daily laundry service (turnaround in less than 24 hours,) is a real boon – you only need half as many clothes when you can have them washed every day. All soft drinks are included in the full board price and best of all, for charging purposes, the local 'Tusker' beer is classed as a soft drink!

Criticisms? well none really. The menu could perhaps be a bit more varied - we were there for 6 nights and so had to go back and have some dishes a second time (such hardship!). The wardrobes in the bedrooms would be better if the sliding doors were removed - to save the two of you having to fight over who has access. (Ok we didn't fight much - I just left my stuff out on a shelf). Oh and the Africa dawn could have been put back an hour to give us that bit more time in bed before the early drives (which leave at 6.30) or the Balloon ride (which leaves at 4.30!) but I guess not even the Mara management team, good as they are, could alter the sunrise.

Other reviews have commented that being outside the Mara reserve itself is a disadvantage - I disagree. For a start it is a VERY short drive to the reserve - 15minutes at most and you see wildlife from the moment you let out. More importantly being in its own conservancy Mara Bushtops can offer night game drives and local guided walks (accompanied by a Masai spotter, a guide and an armed ranger - something just not possible in the reserve itself. We actually saw more of the animals in the Bushtops conservancy than in the mara itself (apart from the million or so Wildebeest) , possibly because there are NO other tourist safaris in this private reserve with its own water hole and salt-lick. At night Masai guards accompany you to and from your tent because on occasions the wildlife have come very close indeed! In fact one afternoon we watched a small herd of elephant eating the bushes less than twenty feet from our verandah.

For us our introduction to Africa and safari trips set the bar very high indeed. I'm not sure anywhere else will be able to match Mara Bushtops as a safari destination, except perhaps Serengeti Bushtops! We'll let you know next year.

Room Tip: All the 'tents' are great - spacious airy and very comfortable. Take a fleece though, the ni...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank AxsMan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed July 20, 2012

Maybe it was the rose petals floating on the foam of our hot tub as we wallowed by lantern-light on our private deck.
Or was it the friendly variations of "welcome for dinner please" (or breakfast, or lunch)?
Perhaps the answer was the hot water bottle thoughtfully provided on early morning or evening game drives (and of course when retiring to vast beds unders swathes of canvas).
Could the real reason be the padded stanchions on our superbly-equipped-and-adapted Landcruiser, protecting us against the buffetting of rocks and potholes as we set out to spot Mara wildlife?
Actually, we decided it was all and none of these special touches which won our hearts - and told us what no image or description could.
We knew the camp was luxurious: we'd seen the pictures.
We knew the meals would be good: we'd seen the menus, winelist and cellar.
We knew the rooms would be stunning: we'd read the reviews.
And we knew what to expect - after all, this was a return visit to Mara Bushtops.
But what we'd forgotten were the multiple smaller gestures and inspired comforts which make the difference between the merely excellent and the truly exceptional.
The Masai guards walking us to our palatial tent in the dusk.
The flickering lanterns, magically lighting the way.
Our butler waking us to breakfast on our spacious verandah.
And it was the little things which distinguished the wildlife too - the myriad less glamorous (but equally fascinating) animals: a spring hare, bounding like a kangaroo; a family of dwaf mongoose; a bright green chameleon crossing in front of a leopard tortoise.
They added to the undoubted excitement of searching out the big five.
And nothing could compare to a lion's cough as it passed our tent in the night, setting our pulses racing.
And when - on the following day - you stop to admire a family of giraffe or hippos, your realise that a foolish smile has become plastered across your face.
What really keeps that smile in place is the fusion of ALL these ingredients into something which is, in the end, indescribable.
Like a perfect meal, or falling in love - you simply have to experience it.
So don't trust me. Or travellers' tales.
Visit Bushtops. It's the only way to find out for yourself how a host of little things and big things come together - unforgetably.

Room Tip: Allthe 5-star tents are superb but Leopard is astonishing, being more than twice the size and the ep...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
7 Thank Angela M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oslo, Norway
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed July 18, 2012

This was my third time at Mara Bushtops, and I can't wait to return. Everything was perfect, and we were well looked after. I was staying with a couple of friends at the end of June for two nights. I wish we could have stayed longer.

We were welcomed as usual at the airstrip with drinks, very refreshing. There is also a gamedrive on the way back from the airstrip in the bushtops private conservancy. We saw elephants, giraffe, buffalo, zebra, impala and thomsens gazelle just outside the camp. The camp itself is located by a saltlick which attracts a lot of game to the area. You can enjoy your meal, while looking at the wildlife going about their daily lives. The resturant is beautiful, I love the weaver bird nest-inspirated lights. Fantastic design! The tents, well I wouldn't really call the tents, far too luxurious: A big double bed, an indoor and outdoor shower, a bathroom, a hot tub and an outside deck. With of course a great view!

We went on a full day game drive in the Masai Mara game reserve. An early start is well worth it, with the possibility of seeing rhino and lion kills. Mara bushtops will of course have a blanket and hot water bottle ready for you in your car seat, as the mornings are cold. We saw an amazing 2x near lion kills, elephants, cheetah ++ Stuff you only see on national geographic. Credit to our fantastic guide Peter. And the best thing is that after the gamedrive a hot tub can be made waiting for you when you get back!

I highly recommend a stay at Mara Bushtops, your will get a fantastic safari experience.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Trekker-AR
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois, United States
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed June 15, 2012

I was at the Mara Bushtops in the end of May with my brother for 2 nights. It was such an amazing experience. The tents are extremely luxurious and the view from the deck of the tent is a sight that you only see in magazines and paintings. It is on its own conservancy so it was really nice to be able to drive around wherever you wanted during the game drives in the conservancy. We saw 2 jackals attack a baby impala and it was great that we could follow it without having to stay on a certain path. Our guides Daniel and Joseph could spot animals that I could hardly see on the binoculars, it was unreal. I don't know how they managed to spot the animals. Not only were they great at their job, they were super friendly and great to be around during the drives. We found a leopard in a tree and sat underneath it for a little while which was wild as well as seeing 4 male lions who looked like they had just been in a fight with the older males in the pride, who had most likely been kicked out as our driver had explained. I saw all the big 5, except for the rhino, who we tried to find on our last day but were unsuccessful.

The food at the camp was also great, but even better was the waiting staff. They were so friendly, and since it was the was the low season, there weren't very many other people there. That let me and my brother joke around and talk with the staff, and it made lunch and dinner so much more enjoyable.

Words can't explain how great my time was there. It is pretty hard for me to afford and make it all the way out there, so I can only wish to come back. Now that I know how great it is, I will make sure that I can come back for another weekend. I have been telling everyone I know how great the Mara Bushtops is and if anyone asks what camp to go to, that is the only place I will recommend. They will need to have the same guides as I did though, because those guys were great.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank Joey D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed May 20, 2012

Mara Bushtops exceeded all of my expectations - so much so that I'm writing a review while I'm still here! All the other reviewers have covered most major advantages of staying here and it is all true - you feel like a VIP every second of your stay. I happened to be here in low season, so all of my safari drives were private - such luxury! My guides - Martin and Joseph - were terrific, they made me feel absolutely comfortable while going out of their way to make sure that I saw the best game. Lions, giraffes, elephants, and even a leopard - and this is in low season! The food is delicious, the chef comes out every night to offer his specials. As I was traveling alone, the manager and my guide dined with me one night and in general went out of their way to make me feel comfortable, taken care of, and special. I received massages every day, which were great. The tents are tastefully luxurious without compromising the setting, and the views are stunning. Literally, every need of mine was anticipated and every wish catered to. It will be hard to go back to the real world - but I look forward to returning or visiting the Serengeti camp.

Room Tip: I am sure all the tents are phenomenal. If you want more privacy, choose one farther from reception...
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
2 Thank Tatyana2307
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bengaluru, India
Level Contributor
22 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed April 20, 2012 via mobile

My wife and I were at Mara Bushtops for 3 nights. I'm a wildlife photographer and I had the best experience. The 4X4 land cruiser used for game drives are wonderfully planned and equipped. It comes with a power socket, flood lights for night driving. We stopped in the middl e of Masai Mara national reserve for lunches and breakfast. We were served very good food for lunch which meant they carried it even before we left the camp at 6:00AM. I strongly recommend this place, very safe, most friendly staff, amazing food and lovely location facing the forest.

Stayed April 2012
Helpful?
4 Thank Preetam D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
alicante
Level Contributor
32 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed April 13, 2012

I went to mara bush tops for 4 nights with my husband and 2 boys aged 10 and 7 , this was our first safari and it was a truly fantastic experience , the food , the service from all the staff at the bush tops is one we will never forget . Alex our driver and Stanley the spotter truly made our holiday we had such fun with them every day it was sad to say goodbye . We stayed in the family tent called leopard whic was pure luxury to sit and have lunch watching the giraffes and zebras was just a dream that came true.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank diamondinthedust
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Mara Bushtops

Property: Mara Bushtops
Address: C14, Keekorok - Masai Mara Reserve | in front of the largest natural salt lick in the Masai Mara, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Maasai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #19 of 137 Specialty Lodging in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Hotel Class:5 star — Mara Bushtops 5*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The words "exclusive" and "luxurious" are often exaggerations: at Mara Bushtops they fit like a glove. Watching from your own 100 square metre private deck as an abundance of wildlife congregates around the adjacent salt lick is, literally, unforgettable. Having your butler draw your hot tub after a spectacular game drive is heaven while our award-winning safari spa takes Wild Luxury to new heights. Together, these experiences create an oasis of five-star luxury, blending peace with adventure. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Mara Bushtops Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Mara Bushtops Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve

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