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“Trip of a lifetime for the entire family, enjoyed every minute”

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Gamewatchers Adventure Camp, Selenkay
India
Level 6 Contributor
107 reviews
41 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 126 helpful votes
“Trip of a lifetime for the entire family, enjoyed every minute”
Reviewed November 11, 2011

Myself, my wife, my 9 year old son and 68 year old mother took the 6 day Mobile Camping Safari end of October 2011. This was our first visit to Africa and I was a bit concerned how they would take staying in a tented camp in the midst of the wilderness, but it all went very well. Neussy in the review a few days ago has reviewed the camp in detail, don't want to duplicate it, agree with all that is said there, and would like to add, that the Gamewatchers people are very flexible, we are vegetarians and had delicious vegetarian meals all throughout. Chief Guide Emmanuel and Chef Solomon are to be highly commended. They were warm, friendly, competent and nothing was too much to ask of them. The game drives throughout were excellent, saw numerous animals, birds too many to name. What you see on the night safaris depends on your luck though, we were lucky to spot a pride of 25 lions. The facilities are the camps are adequate including the toilets, showers, all equipped with solar lanterns, we had no problem. We visited some fancy lodges etc on the way but would never have traded this experience for the fancy one. I learnt that the guides and the safari vehicles make all the difference. I would say this holiday was worth every cent we spent and would recommend if you are the sort of person who wants an authentic safari experience, roughing it out a wee bit and not expecting a 5 star ambience, sterilised atmosphere.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with family
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2 Thank petertheobald
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Brighton, United Kingdom
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed November 2, 2011

We stayed at the mobile camp in Selenkay for three nights as part of the Gamewatchers 1 week mobile camping safari which also includes a further three nights at a similar style camp in the Ol Kinyei conservancy next to the Maasai Mara National Reserve. We had a fantastic week and saw all the big five apart from leopard plus around 12 species of antelope, cheetah, birds galore and even a black Rhino in the Mara.

This package is advertised as providing a top end safari experience with highly qualified guides and proper vehicles but at a reduced price in so much as the accommodation is more basic. A great idea and I have to say that at the Selenkay camp near Amboseli they not only delivered on this but exceeded our expectations. The camp at Ol Kinyei near the Mara however whilst still very good just didn’t seem to live up to its sister camp which to be fair was a hard act to follow. In particular we felt that the level of guiding provided at the second camp was inferior. The vehicles at both camps were great and much better than the nasty vans which many tourists from the up-market lodges in Amboseli Park seemed to be crammed into. Apparently they too could use safari style 4x4 vehicles but they have to pay a premium on top of their already very expensive holiday so a big thumbs up to Gamewatchers here.

The camp at Selenkay is an area ring fenced by Acacia thorns, tents are basic dome tents which are about 6 foot tall in the centre allowing for some standing with two single mattresses and plenty of space for two adults. You have your own private flush toilet and sink and a separate shower unit which uses a kind of bucket system. We had one shower a day (nice and hot) to conserve on water in this very arid area and found that one bucket was enough for us both if we shared.

Our guide Emmanuel at Selenkay was excellent. He normally works at the main Porini camp which is close by, more luxurious and much more expensive but had transferred to our camp for the duration of our stay. We are both interested in birds and his knowledge in this area was fantastic as were his general spotting skills. I can’t emphasise enough how important your guide is when on safari. It makes such a huge difference to your overall experience and Emmanuel must be applauded for his wonderful knowledge and personable nature. He was able to answer many of our questions and was always smiling and laughing.

The trip to the Masai village was interesting. They have taken their cattle off the land in the conservancy and effectively handed it over to the animals and in return part of what you pay for your holiday should go to them. Seeing how they live was fun as was the dancing, singing and jumping. I have to admit that seeing a demonstration on how to make fire from a dry stick and some donkey excrement by a Masai guy who has a mobile phone hidden in his clothes was a little surreal. I’m guessing he probably has a box of matches handy for every day use when the white man with camera is not present.

The food at the camp was excellent, buffet style and there was plenty of it. It’s a very British menu however, perhaps some more typical Kenyan style food might have been good, breakfast was sausages, eggs, beans, toast – just what you need before a long safari. On evening drives we stopped for sundowners (bring your own beers/wine) and we had some great chats with our guide whilst watching giraffe patrol the horizon with Kilimanjaro in the background, wonderful stuff. The staff would welcome us home after a long day with drinks, a cold hand towel to clean the dust off your face and lots of big smiles. The service here really was magic, For me it's the wildlife on a safari that's important and I can do without the bar/pool and hot water bottles in my double bed so I’d give a full five stars to the camp in Selenkay.

The camp at Ol Kinyei however was a slightly different story hence my overall rating of 4 stars. If you are reading this review then you are probably considering the 1 week package. Everyone we met on our trip was visiting both camps with the included internal flight to Nairobi.

After having such a great time at Selenkay we expected a similar experience at Ol Kinyei. The accommodation is in fact slightly superior. The tents are the same (this time ring fenced by a lion proof fence!) but the toilet and shower units are slightly nicer. The staff are also lovely and very attentive. We felt let down though by our guide and the general experience when on game drives. This was surprising as our guide introduced himself as the manager of the camp so we expected great things. However he turned up a little late for some of our game drives which I found annoying and I felt the morning drives were already scheduled to leave too late. Ol Kinyei is big cat country and as big cats and indeed all the other nocturnal animals are most active at night time I was keen to have breakfast in the dark and leave for the drive at/before first light thus increasing our chances of encountering them. This is a program I have experienced on other safaris. I mentioned this to our guide but we never seemed to leave camp much before 7am meaning that it had been light for a good 30-45 minutes already. We didn’t stop for sundowners as we had done in Selenkay every evening and we only had a spotter on our vehicle once whereas we had a guide + spotter on nearly all our drives in Selenkay. Our guide seemed more focused on driving than spotting animals to be honest and didn’t really talk to us. We did encounter the local pride of 25 lions (yes twenty five! It’s HUGE) but to be honest it was not due to our guide. He would have driven on had we not spotted a lone female ourselves and told him to stop allowing her to lead us to the rest of the pride. This was generally the story for the whole three days, unless our guide got word through from the radio or another driver on the road that there was something nearby (this happened with black rhino and cheetah) we generally had to look out for things ourselves and tell him to stop. He seemed fairly comfortable with this arrangement and beyond the big cats which everyone wants to see he didn’t ask us if we were interested in seeing other animals he kind of just left it to us to decide. We wondered perhaps if our guide just had work fatigue, maybe his management duties meant that he was just too tired to spot and drive as well. We also wondered if maybe we had got lucky with Emmanuel at Selenkay, it’s possible that the best guides are generally located at the main camps where clients pay more money and the less qualified guides (there are three levels in Kenya: gold, silver and bronze) are located at the adventure camps. This is only speculation however. To be honest there is so much game in Ol Kinyei that many may not be concerned by this. We already have a big interest in African wildlife however and we were looking for something a little beyond just being told the names of the animals which we already knew. In particular it would have been nice to be told a little more about the behaviour of the animals we were observing including what they were up to at the time.

The staff at Ol Kinyei camp were very friendly and once again the food was of an excellent standard. It’s just that the little touches from Selenkay were missing here such as the staff standing there to great you when you return from a drive and a spontaneous masai singing and jumping performance after diner to thank us for visiting. It was still great, it just felt like when compared to it’s sister camp it didn’t go that little bit extra. Perhaps you wouldn't notice so much if you did the trip in reverse (Amboseli camp last) as some people we met were doing.

To sum up, this is a great value trip and you’ll see loads of game. The accommodation is basic but still very comfortable and the food and service, especially at Selenkay, are great. If you are looking for top quality safari guides that have a great eye and loads of knowledge then it may be something of a lucky dip. In particular if you are interested in birds you might want to try requesting a guide like Emmanuel who has specialised in this area, our second guide really didn’t know much about them at all, even the names of some of the more common species. If you are less of a wildlife enthusiast and just want to enjoy looking at the animals then this may not be so much of a concern.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
6 Thank Neussy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
burton on trent
Level 3 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed November 1, 2011

My 12 year old son and I stayed at Amboseli Porini mobile camp for 3 nights at the end of August. We has the most amazing time.
Having researched about a million different itineries with various well known travel companies,
I kept coming across Gamewatchers along with some great reviews.This looked like just what i was after, non generic and away from the mass mini bus tourist route. A contact number put me through to Robyn whom helped me with everything i needed to know. I had various and some obvious questions i needed to know regarding everything from safety, itinery, food and staff who would be on camp. If Robyn did not have the answer she would call back within the hour after speaking to the staff in Nairobi.
After landing in Nairobi we were greeted by a rep from Gamwatchers and drove to a supermarket to pick up drinks.Selenkey conservancy is around a four hour drive and is remote! fun drive though with a free kenyan massage! On arrival in camp we were welcomed by the team with drinks and hot flannels.Seven staff,all Masai,four English speaking. Jackson was the boss, and also an expert guide. His knowledge and his ability to spot animas, birds and reptiles really were unbelievable.The camp itself is perfect, surrounded by a boma to keep wildlife out. Tents set up in an semi cicle with pathways and solar lights alongside.Tent itself was plenty big enough with comfy matresses and standing room in middle. Saffari shower, toilet, campfire and mess tent. Perfec! You can here the animals at night when you first settle down, but we both slept like logs! Safari vehicle the real thing, with spotters seat on front. Llangatan would use this seat on our night drives, with his Masai cloak wrapped over him whist holding the red lamp. We saw loads of wildlife, too many to name but between this and our next mobile camp, all the big five plus Cheetah, Serval, Hippo, and Croc. We did night drives, late afternoon drives with sundowners and early morning game drives with bush breakfast,. We had lunch in a treehouse over looking a water hole whilst watching Ostrich, Warthog,Giraffe,Zebra and Baboons! Nice touches with wicker hampers and chequered table clothes whilst on game drives! The food in camp and out on game drives is fresh, plenty and very good standard.Soloman was the chef with Richard his assistant and they all work tirelesly to look after you. Really enjoyed the two hour walk whilst Jackson Llangatan and Richard showed us how to track animals.Jackson moved us quietly along when a lone Bull Elephant appeared suddenly out of some trees!We visited a local Masai village which was very interesting but incredibly humbling. These mobile safaris along with the fellow gamewatchers Porini safari really is the way to go. So different to other safari lodges as the Masai still own the land and Gamewatches leases it of them therefore creating income and jobs for the local community. The land and wildlife is an asset to the Massai therefore protecting it all. The animals in Selenkay Conservancy really are wild an skittish when they see you. Even on our day into Amboseli national park i could see the animals were alot more used to vehicles and people compared to the raw nature of the conservancy. On our transfer to our next mobile camp in Ol Kinyei near the mara we spoke to people who had done both the main Porini and the mobile camp. Sounds as though only difference between them is the mobile camp is a tent where as the Porini is bigger more luxurios tent/room with beds. Everything else the same. Pay your money an make the choice. Forget that last minute book at the airport though, you'll be too busy to read it! ....thanks Robyn, Jackson an crew!

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
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Helpful?
4 Thank Matt G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, England
Level 4 Contributor
44 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
Reviewed October 16, 2011

We had a great time staying at the adventure camp site at Selenkay. The service from Gamewatchers staff, both at the camp and in the UK prior to departure, was excellent, the food was great, the game viewing and guiding really good and the campsite facilities much better than we expected - each tent with its own fully flushing toilet and bush shower, which (whilst outside) has warm water and excellent pressure. The tents were also a good size for dome tents - there is plenty of space for bags and you can stand in the middle of the tent. The matresses are a decent thickness given that you are camping. We thought this was a really enjoyable way to do safari and has the added benefit of making your money go much further. A great company and a great all round experience.

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank canihavearewind
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Gamewatchers Adventure Camp, Selenkay

Property: Gamewatchers Adventure Camp, Selenkay
Address: Selenkay Conservancy, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Amboseli Eco-system
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #13 of 20 Specialty Lodging in Amboseli Eco-system
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Gamewatchers Adventure Camp, Selenkay, is sited in the Selenkay Wildife Conservancy in the Amboseli eco-system. For those for whom the wildlife safari experience is more important than the accommodation, and who are prepared to sleep in small tents in sleeping bags with an element of “roughing it”, this gives an opportunity for an exceptional and exclusive wildlife experience with high quality guiding but at a much lower price than expensive up-market safari lodges. ... more   less 

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