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“An incredible prologue to the 8 night Porini Birds and Big Game Safari”

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Porini Amboseli Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Mosman Park, Western Australia
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“An incredible prologue to the 8 night Porini Birds and Big Game Safari”
Reviewed December 22, 2009

An ecologically sustainable (environmental, social, and economic) camp in the wilderness of Kenya located next to one of the best known National Parks (Amboseli) provided a very different and challenging introduction to the 8 night safari. It was not just the uniqueness of the accommodation and associated facilities but the very personalised service, the very strong connection with the environment with the wild animals close by at night and the visit and discussions with the local people (Maasai) in their village. The challenges of saving water with a given amount for showers and realising how much can be done using solar power for lights and "wind-up" powered torches. Gamewise the conservancy provided the only place we saw the very timid and shy gerenuk during the whole 8 days.. such elegant and delicate antelopes - remarkable how they stand on their back legs to feed.

  • Stayed December 2009
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Thank Grandbabu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Charlottesville, Virginia
Level Contributor
8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed November 24, 2009

We had never been to Africa, (there were 3 of us) but knew that we wanted to really learn about the people, the country and the animals, to experience the REAL Africa. Through National Geographic we found Gamewatchers and stayed with them at the Amboseli Porini Camp and the Mara Porini Camp in Kenya and had a truly indepth, extraordinary experience.

In Tanzania we had our own guide from a much more expensive - well-known Tour Company and were very disappointed.

The Difference Between the Two:
Porini Camps: The tents are spacious with double zip windows, the beds very comfortable (water bottles in the beds when it is cool outside), immaculate - no bugs,
and eco-friendly which is important to us. Solar Power - bright enough to read - and no permanent plumbing. HOWEVER - each tent has it's own bathroom with a flush toilet, a sink with cool water (they bring you hot water to wash with) and the shower which is a "bucket shower". It works like a regular shower - turn on and off valve - with plenty of very hot water. The dining area is in a separate tent - whatever you want for breakfast - and the dinners are delicious - the soups and homemade breads are unbelievable!

In Tanzania we stayed in "Lodges" - we had stipulated no hotels. These lodges are fantastic - built around trees, high in the trees - lush greenery everywhere (in a 3-yr drought), great foods - and it all seemed more like Disney World - we had no real feeling that we were staying in Africa.

The vehicles are different - Gamewatchers - has custom built big open vehicles - you can see everything. We had animals - two huge male lions - come right up to the vehicle and look up at us. We could easily have touched them! The Maasai knew the lions - said they had just had a kill and had eaten (big stomachs and heavy breathing)that they were curious and looking for shade! The lions were very calm - just staring at us. They then walked around the vehicle, climbed under the rear overhang and into the shade! Amazing! I believe the lions knew our guides - knew not to fear them.

In Tanzania - all the vehicles of all the Tour Groups we saw were the same, 4W drive land rovers/range rovers withe pop-up hatches. You get jounced around, its windy, it's dirty, if you sit down you can't see anything as the windows are too small, and it's hot!

The Biggest Difference: With Gamewatchers you live with the Maasai. Gamewatchers leases the land from the Maasai - turn tthe land into conservencies which create a "buffer" zone around the parks to protect the wild animals. The Maasai build and run the camps. Gamewatchers helps them work towards their certification as "Guides" - Bronze, Silver, and Gold. There is only 1 Gold Guide - who lives in the US! Our guides were Silver and Bronze. Each day we went out with two Maasai Guides. They know the land - they know the animals, they know the personalities and habits of the animals and they have a deep respect for the animals. There is no timetable - a delicious lunch was packed for us each day so we spent all day out. We went places the other tours never go so we rarely saw another car. Because of their knowledge we were able to get very close to the animals. With no schedule we could spend as much time as we wanted just watching as we discussed the animals, our guides lives and traditions, and our lives. Unforgettable - the most extraordianry, loving, gentle people.

Tanzania was so different, and our tour was the same as everyone elses. We were parked right beside the most expensive, highest rated Safari Companies - all 19 of us at one time looking at a leopard. In Tanzania there are a few roads that run through the game parks and the operators have to stay on those roads. The radios in the vehicles are screaming as all the drivers talk to each other asking if they have seen any animals. We finally asked our guide if he could turn it off - we would rather have some quiet than race off to see any animals! When you do see animals - and there were plenty of them - they are far away as they have learned to avoid the roads and the people. Also - we always seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere. The Tour Company suggested the itinerary - they obviously did not consider taking any time to stop and look at anything. I have not named the Tour Company - they did a better job than most. Our driver realized that we felt rushed, and arranged for picnic lunches for us. Most people are taken back to the lodges after the morning drive for lunch and the afternoon, then taken out for an evening game drive! All the vehicles we saw - including ours - had a drive who was also our guide. He had obviously read all the books and knew all the facts, but he had no real feeling for the animals or the land.

Gamewatches is definately not "roughing it". We are not young and not great exercisers -and we enjoyed every minte. We were tired at the end of the day as every minute is filled - which we wanted. I thought this was a one time trip to Africa - now all I want to do is go back - to Kenya - and to Gamewatchers and stay at all four of their camps. I hope you all are lucky enough to go with Gamewatchers - it is truly a life-changing experience.

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank 3Kenya
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Colorado
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed November 18, 2009

We began a three-week journey across Africa in August, 2009 with a Gamewatchers Safari in Kenya. We were delighted with our experience. Beginning with their very informative website and our initial contacts with staff, we were assured that we had made the right choice.
With Gamewatchers we had the opportunity to stay in conservancies near the major parks, enjoying the environment and the wildlife from the comfort of the camp from the moment we awoke each day. We were also impressed with the model of partnership with the local Masai, something that sounded good to us before we arrived, but added an unanticipated dimension to the whole experience.
We stayed our first two nights at the Gamewatchers’ Selenkay Conservancy and our fifth and sixth nights at their Masai Mara camp. We found both camps to be wonderfully situated, well-appointed and well-managed. The tents were beyond comfortable, the food delicious, and the attention given by the staff superb. Our middle two days were spent at the Sunbird Lodge, from where we visited Nakuru. The Sunbird accommodation was beautiful and the service to a high standard.
We were particularly pleased with the Gamewatchers guides. We appreciated their attention to detail in description and their tireless efforts to help us understand the animals, the habitats, and the relationships between them. All were also very helpful in introducing us to the people of Africa we observed and encountered, and to the ways in which the human and natural environments are interacting.
We were fortunate to be in the Mara for the Wildebeest migration, but even without that, the quantity and quality of game we were able to view and photograph exceeded our wildest expectations.
Gamewatchers also handled all the details of our land travel superbly. Everything and everyone performed just as promised. We were met, transported, and delivered in comfort and with care. We simply could not have had a better time, and fully intend to visit Africa again with Gamewatchers, and we have already recommended them to friends and relatives for their Africa planning.

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank meloneer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington, DC
Level Contributor
17 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed November 2, 2009

This was our first of 4 Porini camps in Kenya and it lived up to its stellar reputation. While the food in other camps was a little better, the service and staff here were excellent, from the outstanding manager Tony to our great guide Eugene and spotter Willie, the Masai Tech.

This is a perfect place to spend your first couple of nights on safari, as the walk to the Masai village nearby gives you an introduction to the Masai culture and lifestyle. If you spend much time in camps in or near Masai lands, this will be helpful.

While the drive from Nairobi to Amboseli, about 4 hours, was interesting, you might want to try flying instead, which some Gamewatchers guests did.

The camp is lovely and very welcoming feeling, with impalas grazing among the tents all day. At night giraffes come into camp and feed on some of the acacia trees. The birds are also terrific. Despite the noises at night, you always feel very safe in your tent. The tent windows are zipped up at night, though you can unzip your windows if you want to look out at night (though we didn't).

As with the other Porini camps, this place is extremely clean, and we never saw a bug at all in our tent for the three days we were there.

The drives around the camp are fascinating, as there are giraffes and other wildlife just outside the camp. The drives in the national park nearby are also interesting, with an abundance of wildlife, including lots of elephants. The drought conditions were terrible in the park though, with most of the animals very lethargic and many animal carcasses lying around. But this is nature at work, as you learn to adapt the Masai outlook on life there.

We saw 3 of the big 5 here. The Porini Land Rovers are customized to provide a very open experience, with each passenger having his own window seat and the three rows of seats staggered in height to that none of the views are obstructed. Windows and roofs zip off for maximum view (and dust). You will get dirty, but have a ball doing so! Highly recommended

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank AddictedTravelers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Forest of Dean
Level Contributor
30 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed October 20, 2009

From the moment you arrive until the moment your flight leaves you are one of them - you are welcomed to their world and treated in the way you would want in all respects.

Utterly brilliant.

Go to the local village, no tourist rubbish here, real Kenya and really superb.

Go to the local school (Iloirero Primary School), no really, go there, it may well change the way you look at life - one 16 year old with us changed there and then, he really did.

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank mattyc1965
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Colorado
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviewed October 7, 2009

This is a private conservancy bordering the National Park. Guests enjoy the kind of solitude you would expect on your grandparents' ranch, with the convenience of driving into the park through the back door. The conservancy has fantastic sights as well, and Porini in effect owns the land as far as you can see, so they can set up night game drives, sunset campfires, and bush dinners for the surprised guests. A walking tour of a Masai village including a visit into one family's home was another unusual flair (and not one single pushy vendor.)
Like all the Porini camps we visited, the emphasis was on guest service with respect for the environment. Imagine discrete wait staff that magically appear when your drink need refilling or when it's time for the next course of your elegant dinner. Cold night? No problem, there will be a hot water bottle in your turned-down bed. Now imagine the staff all in traditional garb, and you're in a tent camp miles from any power lines, water mains, paved roads or permanent structures. Think of the organizational skills needed for them to rise before dawn, prepare hot breakfast dishes to order, and have the day's game drive depart on time, always. If this sounds like your kind of roughing-it, then try Porini. And if you ever dreamed of renting out the entire tour, just bring a few friends. That's all it takes. Sound too perfect? Ok, one flaw: ice cold drinks are as rare here as they are in many countries. You'll survive.

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank screenname7921
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed September 22, 2009

This was our first safari experience, and what an incredible way to start. As soon as we landed at the Amboseli airstrip we were welcomed by Wilson and Emanuel (our guide and driver). The vehicles Porini use are comfortable, and afford a great view of all the animals for everybody on board as there are no windows. In the first hour on safari we had seen elephant up close, buffalo having a fight, as well as zebra, gazelle, hyena, ostrich. And it wasn't long until we came across our first lion. Although the camp is a 2 hour drive from the centre of the National Park, it is an interesting drive past a large number of traditional Maasai villages. There is also the possibility of seeing more animals. The camp is nicely spread out, with the mess tent in the middle. On arrival, Harry gave us a quick briefing while we had a refreshing drink and cake. Then there is the option to go for a sundowner, which is a drink out in the conservancy while watching the amazing sunset; followed by a night safari. Back at the camp, you can have a nice hot bucket shower, and then sit around the camp fire until dinner. Dinner was always delicious, and of amazing quality given you are in the middle of nowhere! The next day we went for a safari walk with Wilson, and then Wilson and Emanuel tracked down a herd of elephants for us. The quality of the guides and drivers is first class and they will do everything they can to make sure you see what you want. On our 3rd day in Amboseli we went to the local Maasai village, which was a very interesting experience, and we were thankful that they didn't try and sell us anything. Amboseli gave us a brilliant introduction to safari, and was a unique environment whereby it was often possible to see many types of animal mixing together.

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank James_Heather
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Porini Amboseli Camp

Property: Porini Amboseli Camp
Address: Selenkay Conservancy, Kenya
Phone Number:
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Amboseli Eco-system
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 20 Specialty Lodging in Amboseli Eco-system
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Porini Amboseli Camp 3.5*
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Selenkay Conservancy lies a few miles north of Amboseli National Park, is an important dispersal area and rangeland for wildlife migrating out of Amboseli. The number of tourist visitors is limited to eighteen per day. Accommodation is at Porini Camp. The facilities include 9 spacious tents, comfortably furnished with en suite bathrooms and solar-powered electric lighting. Game drives in open 4x4s with qualified guides, bush walks, sundowners and night game drives are all included ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Amboseli Porini Camp, Selenkay Conservancy Hotel Amboseli Eco-System

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