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“Nice, but not exceptional”

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Sweetwaters Serena Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Austin, TX
Level 5 Contributor
48 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
“Nice, but not exceptional”
Reviewed October 8, 2011

Our trip to Sweetwaters, part of a 2-week visit to Kenya, started poorly. They had no record of our reservation and claimed they had no tents available, this despite me presenting them with two separate confirmations, a credit card receipt and a welcome email. Their response to the problem was very good. Maybe even over the top, but a sign, I think of their commitment to good service, which was especially evident in the dining room.

The food is plentiful but nothing special. The lodge caters to a large south Asian clientele, so Indian food is common and very good.

The lodge also caters to a fairly large crowd of roller-suitcase toters. If you're looking for that unique African rustic/luxurious combination you find in places like the Maasai Mara, this isn't it, but it's clean and comfortable - the Hyatt or Marriott of safari lodges.

We had a driver/guide, so only used the lodge's guide for a night drive. It was good, but ridiculously expensive. Game viewing in the Ol Pajeta reserve is good but not great, not nearly as good as other reserves in Kenya. The "highlights" are the chimp and rhino sanctuaries. Worth visiting for sure, but each more like a zoo than a wild reserve.

We stayed one night as a stopover - that was plenty.

Room Tip: Get a tent facing the waterhole, but away from the main lodge.
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  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
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Helpful?
3 Thank ewebber
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Richardvigne, Owner at Sweetwaters Serena Camp, responded to this review, November 22, 2011
Dear ewebber - many thanks for your review, we value all customer feed-back. I was somewhat surprised to see that you thought the game viewing was "good but not great", and not as good as some other Kenyan reserves. We are the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa and carry some of the highest densities of predators (lions and cheetahs in particular) ever recorded in Kenya. The problem is that these species are not always cooperative in providing viewing opportunities!! However over the next 12 months we are embarking on a program to enhance our road infrastructure to enable access to more parts of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, and we hope this will help with game viewing. In the meantime thanks for your support and I hope you will be able to visit again at some stage in the future - we are a not for profit organization so all the money you spent here will be used in support of conservation and community development.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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592 reviews from our community

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Laos
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed October 5, 2011

Sweetwaters was our first camp on a 6-night safari-tour through Kenya. We chose to drive to all camps and not take a plane. The drive from Nairobi to the camp was long (5 hours), but interesting to get a first impression on the country outside Safari camps.
The tent was pretty spacious and clean. The staff was friendly and attentive. The food was in form of a buffet with a wide variety and good.
The gamedrives take place in the Private Game Reserve around the camp. We saw 7 Rhinos (animals appearently really hard to spot in most other parks in Kenya) and 3 more of the big 5 (no leopards) plus a cheetah and lots of other animals. Also in the reserve is the Chimp sanctuary. The stories about the chimps and how they were abused before being transfered to the sanctuary are pretty shocking, but the chimps seem to be in good hands there.
Only drawback was that the game-drives could only be done on roads of which there weren't too many so you often had several cars around you, especially at sightings so it was lacking a bit of the feeling of being out in the wild.

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Nissysd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Victoria
Level 3 Contributor
9 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed September 19, 2011

In March 2011 I took a small group to this wonderful place! We only had one overnight there, but I highly recommend you have two nights. The tents are very comfortable and nicely appointed. The tents are in two lines; the first line of tents are ground level looking onto the Water-Hole and then the second line of tents is behind this, but above group with stairs up to them. We were in the second row, but it was still wonderful. The property has a nice small pool, which was welcomed at the end of a dusty day on the road. The true highlight of this property is that the property is on a water-hole where the animals will come to drink during the day and then under the lights at night. The water-hole has been constructed so that the animals cannot get to you, as there is a large ditch between the property and the water, but it has been hidden so well you don't notice it. While eating dinner we were up and down from the inside dining room to pop outside and see the animals come..the lights do not seem to bother the animals. We saw elephants, impala, giraffe. it truly was marvelous. The food was very good, but I did find the Dining Room a bit sterile compared to some of the other camps we visited. Very nice bar area as well. Will highly recommend this property to you!

Room Tip: If you can have your tent in the lower first row, I think this would be your best choice.
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  • Stayed March 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Tanzaniatravel_9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mexico City, Mexico
Level 5 Contributor
65 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed September 13, 2011

Don't think twice obout staying at this hotel. It is just superb! The service is second to none. Food is fantastic. Stay at least three nights to really enjoy it.

  • Stayed July 2011
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Helpful?
Thank Robprad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Albury, Australia
Level 5 Contributor
70 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed September 4, 2011

The staff are exceptional, the food is fantastic and the quality of the tented accomodation is very good.

The highlight of my short stay was returning to my tent after dinner to find that two hot water bottles had been placed in my bed. That made my day.

  • Stayed August 2011
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
Thank Hamish09
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
UAE
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed September 3, 2011

My family and I took a Kenyan safari holiday, and we started our trip here (from Nairobi). When we arrived, I felt it was one of the most serene places on earth! And was not disappointed through my stay.. My only regret was that we had only booked ourselves for a day in this place!
The tents themselves are very spacious and comfortable. We had two kids, who are not very grown up, yet do require decent bed space, and that aspect was well taken care of. We were provided three fairly spacious beds, and managed very well. Also, they paid such attention to detail as placing hot water bottles a good two hours before bed time...
The area surrounding the tents is wonderful, there is a watering hole right in front of the tents, where one can spot impala, zebra, waterbuck, malibu storks, wild boars and even an occasional rhino. The area is well protected with electric fencing, so one does not have to worry about a rhino charging in!
They provide mosquito repellent wipes, but we did not need to use any.
The staff is extremely courteous, and almost go out of the way to accommodate every single need even before you spell it out!
Loved the place and will be back...

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank KRaghu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ingersoll, Canada
Level 4 Contributor
16 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed September 1, 2011

Unbelievable experience with 15 giraffes visiting the waterhole directly across from our tent - less than 100 feet away! With giraffes, warthogs, zebras and waterbucks visiting every day this was a fantastic break from the dusty game drives. Attentive staff, excellent food and luxurious tents made for a memorable holiday. The occasional lion roar in the middle of the night added a very special "extra!.

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled with friends
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank Sheri24_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sweetwaters Serena Camp

Property: Sweetwaters Serena Camp
Address: Central Kenya near Nanyuki, Nanyuki Town, Nanyuki Municipality, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Laikipia County > Nanyuki Municipality > Nanyuki Town
Amenities:
Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 36 Specialty Lodging in Nanyuki Town
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Number of rooms: 30
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A sheltered oasis, clustered around a waterhole and set in the pristine calm of its own private reserve, Sweetwaters Tented Camp is in a class of its own. Abounding with wildlife, unfettered by the more rigorous strictures of the Kenyan National Parks and designed to offer a charming blend of under canvas ambiance and uncompromising luxury. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Sweetwaters Tented Camp Hotel Nanyuki
Sweetwaters Serena Camp Kenya/Nanyuki Town

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