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Review of Rhino River Camp

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Rhino River Camp
Reviewed July 9, 2012

Andrea and crew have made this a gem. It's a perfect launching off location for our second safari. We had never been to Meru, and after lots (lots!) of research, Rhino River seemed like the perfect choice. It offers everything other camps do, for about $100 to $200 less per night per person. We have stayed at more expensive camps, but some did not have the heart and soul of RR.

We were met by a welcoming Benson at the air strip, who would be our guide for our 4 days stay. An easy game drive of about 45 minutes to camp, we arrived to cold drinks and towels. The main lodge and dining area are comfortably elegant and overlook the jungle, pool and river that runs in the small valley below.

Tents: Our tent was the first tent downstream from the main lodge. If we had concerns about being so close to the lodge, they were unfounded. There was complete privacy and the soothing sound of the river blocked any noise that we might have heard from the lodge. Our tent was actually two tents - spacious bedroom and bathroom, deck over looking the river, and the library/lounge tent. Gorgeous. Plenty of space for us to spread out, take naps, read between game drives. Very clean, and nice amenities (shampoo, conditioner!, soap). Our tent was well shaded from the sun - surrounded by jungle it kept cool during the hot days. I spent time viewing wildlife from our deck - water monitor, monkeys, tons of birds.

Pool: Priceless. I love pools, and the mid-day heat of Meru called for swimming. I usually had it to myself. It was clean and crisp with a nice view of the upstream waterfall. Staff would bring drinks down if requested.

Food: Best food of our trip. Lots of variety, fresh veggies and fruits, pastas and proteins.

Camp: We were offered a tour of the camp, and we eagerly accepted. The garden is gorgeous, so well kept. The kitchen was huge, tiled and state of the art. It has to be the best bush kitchen ever created. The staff tents were similar to ours, with a little less space, but the staff seem very happy about them. Every thing was new looking - or very well cared for so as to look new.

Game Drives: Totally flexible with our photography needs. We chose to leave very (6am) early so we could get way into the park by the time the sun came up. We took a snack with us, and ended up being very late for breakfast two days, staying in the park until 11am or so.

Sightings: Elephants, rhino, birds, buffalo, grevy's zebra, cheetah. We got very close to the rhino. Lots of more common herbivores. The elephant herds were huge and lots of babies.

Staff: It was obvious the staffed liked working at Rhino River. They were very helpful, gracious and knowledgeable. Benson, our guide, was very knowledgeable, and a good driver. We loved his company and he made our experience rich. Thank you, Benson!

Highly recommend Rhino River. Andrea was over the top helpful during our planning, his knowledge of Kenya is extensive and his suggestions were perfect. We will be back!

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled with family
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3  Thank Living_The_Dream_9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Otocione, Manager at Rhino River Camp, responded to this reviewResponded July 17, 2012

Dear Living The Dream,
Thank you very much for a most complete and comprehensive review.
The staff, whom are flattered, printed it to show-off jokingly with their colleagues working in other lodges and Parks!

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviews (142)
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69 - 75 of 142 reviews

Reviewed June 18, 2012

With only 5 tents you are never going to feel crowded here! Tents are huge (with your own extra 'living room' tent!), on the river, and surrounded by so much greenery you feel as if you are in the middle of nowhere. Lots of space between the tents for privacy too, which is good. Andrea has made a little piece of heaven here.
He's also taught the chef some great Italian cooking, the food was wonderful. We used a local guide Joe who took us all over the place on unmarked roads, and eventually found us our rhino!
The rest of the staff were very friendly and helpful, and also extremely flexible in meal times, wake up calls, with morning tea. The cool towels on returning to camp are a nice greeting to wash off the red dust. We enjoyed the bushbabies at 6.45 p.m. and a visit from George the hyrax! The beauty of Meru is that you don't see many other vehicles in the park, and it certainly didn't disappoint on that score. The frog/toad chorus at night is unbelievable! I would definitely go back here over other lodges in the park itself.

Room Tip: they're all good!
  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank gmn23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 10, 2012

We had two amazing nights hosted by Andreas and his expert team. The food, African with an Italian spin was some of the best we had in Kenya. Our guide Dixon had an in depth knowledge of the game in Meru. We had a very special early morning encounter with 4 Rhino - unforgettable. One piece of advice would be for a trip of 2 days or less fly to the Meru national park airstrip, Andreas will arrange collection. In short Rhino River was a brilliant part of our amazing honeymoon.

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Badders81
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 1, 2012

We stayed here in February and had a fantastic time. The tents are located on the river, and it's like staying in a tree house. There is plenty of privacy as the tents are spaced well apart from each other. Everyone was extremely friendly and accommodating. They want you to enjoy yourself and are happy to help make that happen. This meant always asking us about our time preferences for game drives or activities. Here you actually feel like you are on vacation and not stuck with someone else's strict timeline that you can't deviate from. This was our first camp in Kenya, and we loved the experience of seeming as if we were the only ones out game driving. We didn't have to fight the crowds to see anything. After a game drive, you are always greeted with a nice cool towel to clean off the dust.

The pool is lovely and a nice relaxing way to spend the afternoon. The food was delicious, and they even made me a special pizza one night when I requested it! Make sure to go to the lounge area as it starts to get dark because there are some bush babies that come by for a visit.

We loved our visit to Meru and Rhino River Camp. We wished that we had chosen to spend a few more days here!

  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Jethro
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 22, 2012

We stayed here for two nights. The camp is set in a wonderful bush location, with a very comfortable and private tents, and a lovely pool set down by the river which makes this a great place to relax after a long day on Safari. The staff were very friendly, aways on hand to help - and the food was simply the best we experienced on our entire two-week honeymoon. We had some difficulty getting to and from the camp due to localized flooding. - but this was a small price to pay for such and wonderful and private location. The camp were very helpful when we left, sending their own land cruiser as an escort to ensure we made it out of the camp. We would definitely recommend this camp.

  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank Gerry H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 12, 2012

This is the place to stay if you visit Meru National Park. When you pull up to the camp, you are initially surprised because the scene in front of you doesn't match what you saw in the brochures and on the website. However, it is only the bland front entrance hiding the beauty and luxurious attention to detail inside of the camp.

From the warm greeting you receive upon your arrival(accompanied with refreshing towels) to the delicious Italian pasta served at dinner, this is a unique place. Our host, Lorenzo(the brother of Andrea) welcomed us to the camp in the same way that you might expect to be welcomed into someone's living room.

Our family of six stayed in the large tent located at the far end of the property. It provided us with the privacy we were looking for while enabling us to be as loud as we wanted. Another feature of this particular tent is the large stone outdoor bath-tub. We used it once. It seemed like a good idea that has been poorly executed. The tub is too large to fill up before the hot water runs out and the water cools very quickly. Perhaps a better idea would be to convert it into a jacuzzi?

The night-time sleeping(without the need for mosquito nets) was awesome. The sounds of bush-babies, monkeys and other creatures filled our ears. In the distance, the white noise of the waterfall could be heard in the background. We were woken up each morning by a servant who delivered tea, hot chocolate and cookies to our front porch prior to our game drives.

If you have children, you will appreciate the swimming pool. We made good use of the swimming pool(located on the edge of the river). The pool is clean and feels as though it may even be slightly heated. Because of the limited number of guests at the camp, there are plenty of towels and lounge chairs available. Although we did find a couple of large water-bugs in the pool, we weren't bothered because we recognized we were swimming in the middle of the jungle. While swimming, the children kept one careful eye on the crocodile basking in the warm sunshine on the edge of the waterfall. It was an incredible memory the children will not soon forget.

We also took advantage of some of the outings provided by Rhino River. First was the sundowner hike we did on Kilimajero, an extinct volcano about a 15 minute drive through khat(miraa) plantations. The whole family managed the climb(including our youngest) and took in the view from the top. We also enjoyed an afternoon of casting our fishing lines on the Tana River inside the park. Our oldest caught a large catfish that was fried and cooked for dinner by our guide.

The game drives in Meru National Park are more wild than you will experience in other parks. Those who are light on safari experience will find this frustrating(and perhaps even a little boring). They are used to the Masai Mara where you first look for other vehicles to find the animals. Here, you might not spot another vehicle all day, and therefore you must actually look for the animals.

Occasionally, we wished there were more animals in the park. However we did see plenty of the usual African animals like giraffes, zebras and warthogs. All the animals we saw were reserved and reticent of vehicles. The animals in this park are not like the ones in your local zoo---they have had very little human interaction. We saw four of the big five: Buffaloes gave one look and then headed for the bush, a rhino grunted and snorted as it charged our vehicle, elephants appeared timid and shy and a female lion moaned as we observed it searching for her pride.

If you are looking for a unique bush camping experience with a touch of class, great food and is child-friendly, this is the place for you.

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled with family
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Thank Jonathan M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Otocione, Manager at Rhino River Camp, responded to this reviewResponded April 17, 2012

Thank you Jonathan M for a comprehensive and flattering review. We have noted your point about not having enough hot water in the large bathtub in the deck outside our suite, and made a note about your suggestion to put a jacuzzi. We'll do our best to have it for your next visit!

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Reviewed April 1, 2012

We knew this place would be very special. How? The many email conversations we had with Andrea Maggi, the owner, prior to our booking and arrival. Andrea made us feel like we were personal friends and he was vested in making sure we had a wonderful and unique experience on our second trip to Kenya.

This was our first trip to Meru and we had a lot of questions prior to booking. Andrea not only answered our questions, but also gave us a myriad of ideas about scheduling the remainder of our trip. This was very important since we did our own travel planning and scheduling this trip.

We decided to start our trip at Rhino River Camp. We were picked up from the airport and immediately into a game drive on the way to Rhino River Camp. The vegetation was very pretty and unlike anything we had seen in Kenya. The camp is tucked into a jungle-like setting just beyond the Rhino Conservancy. We were greeted warmly by the staff with fresh juice and those wonderful face clothes to take away the grime of travel.

The food was exceptional but it is no wonder with a vegetable garden that any gardener would admire. We even went back to the kitchen to thank everyone and discovered a state of the art kitchen. Andrea understands “happy cook---great meals.” The staff obviously loves their work and that is demonstrated by the care taken with the guests. We felt like we were surrounded by friends the entire stay.

You have a large canvas sleeping cottage that is beautifully appointed and a reading/Zen-like cottage on a separate platform giving you the opportunity to have more privacy if you wish. They are placed on a ridge above the river, so you have beautiful water sounds to lull you to sleep. In the late afternoon the Sykes monkeys and occasional Baboon troop move into the trees above the cottages. You don’t even have to go on a game drive for a lot of laughter.

One afternoon we just hung out at the pool and treated ourselves to a massage. The masseuse, Faith, was one of best I have ever had. And we live in a health spa area.

We were very surprised at the animal sightings on our game drives as we were aware that poaching had decimated the animal population a number of years ago.
It has definitely come back. We actually found our game drives more satisfying because you truly discovered the animals. We have been to the Masai Mara and felt at times we were driving through an exceptional zoo. In Meru you are “discovering” the wild animals. Benson and Joel were both excellent guides with great personalities. Won’t take the time to name all of the sightings we had but I will say we were not disappointed.

All in all we would place “Rhino River Camp” and Andrea Maggi at the top of our return list.

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank sagjourney
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Rhino River Camp

Address: Kindani, Meru National Park, Kenya
Phone Number:
Location: Kenya > Eastern Province > Meru National Park
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 6 Specialty Lodging in Meru National Park
Price Range: $220 - $750 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Rhino River Camp 4.5*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A collection of six luxury cottages built out of sumptuous caramel canvas and sustainably grown wood, raised on platforms above the gently flowing Kindani River will turn your stay at Rhino River Camp into a quiet, exclusive experience. ... more   less 
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