Our family of 5 (children 11, 9 and 7) had a simply outstanding Christmas trip to Kenya, highlighted by 4 days at the Porini Lion Camp.
Robyn at Gamewatchers was very helpful in setting up all of the logistics for us in Kenya. We stayed at the the lovely Fairview Hotel for our in-bound and outbound hotel stays in Nairobi. Though it has obviously grown in size over the years, the Fairview has retained much of its unique charm - and reflects the "country inn in the city" feel that it advertises. The rooms at this hotel more than met our needs and the staff was very attentive to our requests.
Gamewatchers also arranged our AirKenya flights to & from the Mara - all of which came off without a hitch.
Lastly, Robyn provided all of the pre-trip information and guidance that we needed to ensure that we had advice on all of the immunizations, medication and equipment required for a great safari experience.
THE MARA EXPERIENCE
First-off, I must say that it took some effort to convince my wife that we could not pass up the chance to travel to Kenya before repatriating home from my job in the Middle East. After all - an african safari is not an inexpensive trip for a family of 5. Although she eventually agreed… I knew that she secretly harbored fears that the trip would be fraught with the hardships of "roughing it out on the African plains."
We began our trip to the Mara the only way that one can - by jumping in with 2 feet. No 4-hour overland drive from Nairobi to the Mara for us - we opted for the aforementioned 1hr flight to the Olo Kiombo airstrip into the heart of the Masa Mara. Though a large, 50-seat quad turbo-prop, the Air Kenya plane flew quite low while making its 4 Mara stops, giving it the feeling of large crop-duster. None the worse for wear, the 5 of us landed on the dusty landing strip and disembarked for what would turn out to be the most wonderfully fascinating family trip that I daresay we will ever take.
THE LION CAMP EXPERIENCE
We were promptly greeted at the stairs of the plane by our Masai guide and spotter (Jackson & Nick) who would lead us during our next few days on Mara. Our 4 Days / 3 night safari began immediately after they placed our 5 large backpacks into the Land Rover - and featured the following notable highlights:
+ Visited a Masai Boma and learned about Masai culture
+ Saw all of the Big 5 (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino, Cape Buffalo)
+ Got up close & personal to a mating pair of lions, a family of 10 Cheetahs, and a den of 20 Hyenas
+ Took great photos of all other major wildlife (zebras, giraffes, antelope, hippos, crocodiles, baboons, etc.)
+ Stayed in 2 spacious tents, each with comfortable double beds, toilet, running water and safari shower
+ Slept amidst the raucous night sounds of Africa - some surprisingly right outside the tent!!
+ Saw more stars than we'd ever see from our home in the US
+ Had fantastic breakfasts, lunches and dinners in the Lion Camp Mess Tent
+ Only had 1 mosquito bite among the 5 of us, over our 4 day stay
During the planning of our trip, we had the opportunity to stay in both the Lion Camp and the Amboseli Camp. Unfortunately, our travel budget limited us to only one of the two, so we sacrificed the Amboseli's views of Kilimanjaro and chose the Lion Camp, based in part on several TripAdvisor reviews. We certainly made the right choice - and in hindsight, we do not believe that we missed out on anything.
Reflecting on our trip, my wife was thankful that we did not pass on the truly "once-in-a-lifetime" experience of traveling to Africa. The Porini Lion Camp offered the benefits of access to the adjacent National Park (traveled heavily by all safari company vehicles) and the large Olare Orok Conversancy, which limited to Porini vehicles. To be honest, it seems to me that the animals have figured this out as well. More of the animals (especially the lions) that we were looking for were found on the Conservancy side of the river.
Phillip and the Porini Lion Camp team did a marvelous job of taking the rough edges off of "roughing it", while leaving the safari experience largely intact. We had all of the creature comforts that one wants when on vacation (even hot drinks delivered to our tents every morning) - but we always felt like were out "in the wild". This led to a far more memorable experience than we could have ever had in one of the larger hotel-type resorts.
In sum, we have been fortunate to have travelled to many places as a family (Japan, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Middle East, North Africa and several island nations in the Caribbean), but we found the people of Kenya to be most pleasant people we've ever encountered. We would certainly recommend the country of Kenya, Gamewatchers and the Porini Lion Camp to anyone / family considering a safari trip to Africa.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Porini Lion Camp is located in the exclusive 20,000 acre Olare Orok Conservancy bordering the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, home to an abundance of animals. With 10 spacious comfortably furnished tents, each with private verandahs and en-suite bathrooms, the camp is small and exclusive giving a real bush experience. Guests enjoy the game drives in open 4x4's, escorted bush walks with Maasai warriors and sundowners. The Camp is the perfect base to experience the annual wildebeest migration. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Porini Lion Camp Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
- Porini Lion Camp Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve