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“A true cultural experience and home away from home - Enjoy!”
Review of Oldarpoi Mara Camp

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Oldarpoi Mara Camp
Reviewed 30 September 2010

Anita and I stayed at Oldarpoi for 10 days in August 2010. Okay so you want to go to the Maasai Mara? Do you want to have the Game Reservation on your doorstep? Do you want an authentic cultural experience? A personalised, tailor made service with warm friendly hospitality that makes you feel as if you are home from home? Would you like to know that your money is going towards sustainable projects that truly benefit the local community? What is more it is far more affordable than most other camps you will find, however it isn’t money you will be thinking about after your visit rather the richness of the experience. Therefore I recommend that you stay at Oldarpoi, seriously!

To start with this camp was founded by Masai Elder Nelson Reiyia who really is a shining light amongst men. His idea of a sustainable tourist tented camp that is an extension of the Maasai community itself is a stroke of genius that brings real benefit to so many in different ways, tourist and Warrior alike. It’s not only his ideas and many humanitarian projects that are to be admired but his stories, charisma, smile, the fact that he seems to know everyone in Kenya, oh and his awesome shirts! Because of his vision, the local Warriors that help run the camp and the natural friendliness and consideration they all show their guests, staying at Oldarpoi was a very special experience for us. The Warriors are so aware of their environment making them the perfect hosts. Before you even know you need something they are already one step ahead and there handing it to you.

Nelson helped us arrange our entire trip via email, from our first night accommodation in Nairobi, to transfer to and from camp, all our game drives, treks, excursions etc. Before we finalised he very patiently answered our many questions and reassuringly laid our neurotic concerns to rest. Also, because he is so well connected and runs an East African tour agency you can tailor make your trip with him in and beyond Kenya if you like and as they say in Africa, anything is possible!

The camp is situated just outside one of the main gates to the park so it is just a short ride before you are experiencing all the Mara has to offer. One morning we must have seen close to twenty lions spread between 3 kills, it was amazing! That’s not to mention Nelson finding Lions mating… we were a bit off the beaten track mind you and the park rangers came to tell us to move on in the end but it wasn’t a problem as like I said Nelson knows everybody!

The camp is a nice size, not too big or too small allowing for a very friendly and personal service. Many of the tents have en-suite toilet and shower facilities and there are also stand alone showers and toilets for those that don’t. All showers by the way are nice and hot and are heated by eco-friendly solar energy. You wont go hungry at Oldarpoi either as Willy, who seems to be a 24 hour cooking machine will make sure you are well fed and then some! Willy can accommodate for any taste so don’t hesitate to ask as he seems to really enjoy pleasing his guest. The time you eat, what you eat, how much, it is all negotiable and Willy will oblige. The food is tasty and plentiful and I really do not know where the Kenyan’s put it all because Willy’s idea of a ‘light lunch’ is my idea of a big dinner! But better to have too much than not enough. Ever present, polite and helpful, the kitchen and Willy are the warm nurturing heart of Oldarpoi camp and you will feel very welcome – Karibu Sana!


We didn’t only go out on game drives while there although when we did we saw a lot of game as the Mara is just teaming with wild life. August is a good time to go as you get to experience the Wilder Beast migration. There are so many at this time you will be seeing Wilder Beast when you close your eyes at night. We visited a local village (make sure you bring plenty of colouring books, pens, educational materials for the local children as I am sure you will wish you had brought more after as I did) and helped with some of Nelson’s projects. Currently he is building a school and soon a refuge centre for young Maasai girls who have left their villages because of not wanting to undergo the inhumane ceremony that is Female Circumcision. So we helped paint the school and put up its doors. The highlight of the trip for me was the two day trek through the Mara with two warriors. The first night we camped out in the middle of the Mara with three Warriors to protect us all through the night while we slept. At first we had to gather enough wood to light a fire for the entire evening to keep lions and elephants away and then they cooked us goat over the open fire. It was amazing being with these people in this natural way. Their kindness and consideration knew no bounds and their connection to the environment was nothing short of mystical. On the second night we were welcomed into a traditional Maasai Manyata (village) and slept in a traditional hut. The villagers were very welcoming and friendly and it was a privilege to have stayed one night with them in their Manyata. To finish off we visited Hell’s Gate and cycled and trekked round the park and through the gorge which is very beautiful and made a change from the landscape of the Mara. Finally we visited Lake Naivasha in the late afternoon while it was bathed in a dream like blue haze but we still managed to spot some Hippos. Kenya’s landscape is very diverse and I left for home wishing I had more time to discover it.

It was sad leaving the Camp and all the staff because if you make the effort to get involved you begin to feel like part of the Oldarpoi family and I encourage you to make the effort and get involved. Sure experience the amazing game drives but if you have the time spend a day or two volunteering and if you are adventurous think about trekking and camping in the wild with the Warriors as it helped remind me that really all we need in this life is to spend time with those who are warm hearted, a place to shelter and rest and roasted goat (vegetarian option also available)! All in all you cannot go wrong with Nelson and Oldarpoi Camp, enjoy!

  • Stayed: August 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Cesare82
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 24 September 2010

I was going to Africa to visit my daughter.From the time we met in Nairobi until we left 5 days later, we were completely taken care of by Nelson, our tour operator-owner-guide extraordinaire.We were picked up at the airport by the hotel (Country Lodge) which was part of the package deal with Nelson ( great choice Nelson!) He picked us up at the hotel early the next morning and drove us out to his campsite.
The camp is located just outside of the park , situated on the gently sloping side of a mountain.The tents were bug-free, clean and roomy enough for the two of us.The beds were surprisingly comfortable. A bathroom is built on the back of each tent , and thanks to a solar panel at the camp, you have electricity and warm water.The food was delicious and plentiful.Everyone was sooo friendly and truly wanted you to enjoy yourself.
The fact that the money earned stayed locally made me feel good.The Maasai own the camp and the money goes back to the village, helping with education and for shelters to protect girls from FGM. At night, there is a guard from the village on duty.
Each morning, Nelson and his driver, Cosmo, would take us into the park and educate us on the land, the animals and the Maasai people. We saw cheetah, a leopard in a tree, wildebeast, zebra, giraffes, elephants, vultures, hippos, crocs and lots of lions. One lion strolled by our van and took a dump close enough for us to realize that digested wildebeast smells awful! Ha! Nelson has a knack for knowing where the animals are and uses his C.B. radio to keep in contact with other guides to find animals and alert others to where the animals were.Don't let the fact that he wears glasses fool you...this man has the eyes of an eagle and the hunting skills of a hungry lioness.He will find the animals.
At the river, we kept waiting for the wildebeast and zebra.It looked like they would not cross that day and we were ready to give up when Nelson spotted a herd of wildebeast behind us charging toward the river. We were the first to get to the edge of the river and had a perfect view of the charging, snorting wildebeast, the clouds of dust as they descended into the water and climbed the rocky hillside on the far side of the riverbank. It was just like you see on nature shows , only, WE WERE REALLY THERE!! WOW!!!!
We also got to visit the village where the villagers welcomed us with songs and a tour of a home and got to buy locally made crafts.I regret that we didn't ask to visit the school.
We then went on to Lake Nakuru which was gorgeous and saw more animals: rhino, hyena, jackals and many , many flamingos.
It was a wonderful trip. Nelson and his staff will take good care of you , the money stays locally ,you will see many animals and this man even has a picture of his lovely mom on the dining hall -how can you not like this man!! My daughter has been on many safaris before but ranked this safari as the best ever.Our pictures are getting tons of compliments.I hope to visit again someday, but, until then, thank you Nelson, for a wonderful time.Keep up the good work!

  • Stayed: September 2010
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1  Thank mom_usa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 September 2010

I'm not even sure where to start with Oldarpoi, other than to say you shouldn't even consider anywhere else in Masai Mara. Really.

I fell in love with the idea that the camp is owned and run by someone actually a part of the Masai people, and that the profits support wonderful initiatives there. Why give your money to some corporation or rich person who lives in Europe or whatnot? That enough was reason for me to choose this camp.

After sending the initial request for info, Nelson (the owner) called me up just to say he had received it and could he answer any questions right then? Wow. I booked right there, and the price was cheaper than most (actually all) other camps I had looked into. A second and third reason to choose this camp (service and price).

Nelson sent me periodic emails or google chat messages to check in and ensure he had the details right on our arrival date afterwards. By the time he picked up my mother and me from our hotel in Nairobi, I felt like he was an old and dear friend. He and our driver, Cosmo, were funny and pleasant and so incredibly knowledgable.

The oldarpoi camp itself is a rather no-frills place just outside the park. The room are large permanent army-type tents with bathrooms built onto the back. The beds were twin size and oh-so-comfortable (though they didn't look like it at first, but even my mother raved over how great the mattresses felt). The bathrooms were very basic but functional, with hot showers and all. We didn't have water one morning for about 20 minutes due to a pump problem, and the next morning had trouble with hot water, and the staff were SO upset about this. We got profuse apologies and it was fixed immediately. I've learned that even plush hotels often have issues with the plumbing or hot water, but I rarely get this kind of service in response to minor complaints. The food at the camp was excellent. My mother plotted on how to steal their cook and take him back home with us. Reason 4 for this camp - good accomodation with great food.

The safari drives were out of this world. I've been on safari in Amboseli, Lake Nakaru, Krueger (S.Africa), Park W (Niger), and a few others. This one topped them all. I got close up pics of a cheetah with 2 cubs, a leopard in a tree, over 2 dozen lions (no joke), the wildebeest migration, you name it. Nelson was so good at using the radio and colleagues plus his instincts to find the right places, that we were even backtracking to find a german group of tourists and lead their tour guide to the good spots. I felt sorry for anyone there with any tour guide other than ours! Reason 5 to choose this camp - experienced guiding in the park.

We spent our last day and a half in Lake Nakuru, which was also arranged through Oldarpoi. Nelson couldn't be our guide, as he was picking up a new group, but he made all of the arrangements and ensured that we had a top notch guide that would lead us through the last part of our trip (which was also excellent). We were dropped off at the airport for our outbound flight on time and exceedingly happy with our entire experience.

So there you have it. Your money goes to a good cause, you get fantastic service, the price is right, the accomodation and food are great, and the safari tours are excellent. I will be recommending Oldarpoi to all of my friends and family.

  • Stayed: September 2010
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Thank AmyMoz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 July 2010

We arrived in Kenya knowing little about the country, knowing nothing of the Mara and knowing no one at all. After spending a week at Oldarpoi, we left with greater knowledge of the land, the people, the plants and animals and we felt we now had family and close friends at Oldarpoi. Stay at this authentic Masai safari camp and you will leave with the same feelings as our family did. Nelson and his camp staff are simply some of the best people we have ever had the good fortune to meet. Not only are they wonderful hosts, polite helpers and knowledgable and trustworthy guides and protectors, but they open their own lives and homes to you in a way that is truly special. We spoke with several other travellers during the subsequent week we remained in Kenya after we left Oldarpoi and while most had visited Masai villages and spent time with Masai guides, none had the truly authentic experience with the Masai that we had - We went to the villages and met the families of three of our hosts and I was welcomed to join our hosts in a Masai bar to watch the World Cup final. We shared food, stories, card games, language and culture with our Masai hosts and we fell in love with the children whom we taught at the local primary school. Oldarpoi is not a luxury camp - the accomodations are comfortable but consist of basic tents - the food is plentiful and filling but not gourmet - the bathrooms have flush toilets and hot showers but are not fancy in any way - yet we would not chose anywhere else to return to but Oldarpoi as the modest natureof the accomodations are more than made up for in the exceptional people who run this camp. Best of all you truly have an opportunity to give back by simply staying at Oldarpoi as the proceeds of the camp are shared directly with the local Masai villages - and if you have the time and the inclination see if you can arrange some time to visit and teach at the local school - it is a poor community with a rich cultural heritage and warm, welcoming and friendly people - young and old. You will not regret booking at Oldarpoi - Enjoy!

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled with family
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Thank kengor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 July 2010

As a solo female traveler, I was a little anxious when I first arrived at the camp. However from the moment I arrived, the staff at the Oldarpoi Camp made me feel very welcomed and safe. They introduced me to members of their own families and after just a few days I began to feel like a part of their community. The game drives were wonderful and the guides very knowledgeable and skilled at finding magnificent animals. My experiences at the local school were life changing and I will carry many precious memories of the students in my heart forever. Oldarpoi provides a very personal experience of community involvement and allows the serious traveler an opportunity to really know the Maasai Mara and its people. I recommend Oldarpoi Camp to anyone who wants a genuine Maasai safari experience.

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled solo
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Thank Nolatuesha
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 July 2010

There isn't anything to not like about my experience staying at the camp. Its location close to the Mara makes for easy access for game drives, and the surrounding Maasai villages added the sounds of singing to the birds.

The facilities were great - very comfy beds, own toilet & hot shower, huge tent (I haven't even had hot showers in Nairobi yet). For a tented camp I couldn't ask for any more. The staff were great doing their work and then a pleasure to sit around and relax & chat with, they all felt like friends by the time I left. And the food cooked up by Willy always hit the spot too :)

Mike drove some great game drives - we saw pretty much everything including a leopard just metres away from the vehicle, while also giving the animals room when they were moving around.

The camp benefits the local community as well through the school and rescue centre, so not only is it a great spot to stay, it's doing good as well.

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled solo
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Thank Matt_Werner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 July 2010

If you're going on safari to the Maasai Mara, you have plenty of options. There are guides, camps and hotels to suit every possible budget and every set of expectations. For my wife and I, we wanted relatively comfortable accommodations, competent and friendly guides, edible food and a fair price. The Oldarpoi camp exceeded every one of our expectations.

Our tent was very comfortable...two beds, table and chair, private shower & toilet (!) & very effective bug-proofing (I freak out at even small insects, and there are much bigger ones found in the Mara...I love this camp for keeping me from shrieking in front of the Maasai warriors who staff the camp).

Nelson, our guide, is a Maasai junior elder. This proved helpful as he knew everyone in the park (who gave us recommendations on where the "action" was that day). He helped us understand the Kenyan & Maasai cultures, pointed out camouflaged animals on safari and made sure that every detail was taken care of. He even found us in Nairobi afterwards to return some things we left behind!

Every meal was prepared by Chef Willy at the camp. Our expectations were exceeded in both quality and quantity of food. He made a spaghetti sauce that is literally the best I've ever had...which is even more astonishing given that it was prepared over an open fire in a small room on a hillside! The camp also provided a bag lunch on our safari days and a surprise sunset "snack".

The price was very fair. We traveled during the high season and booked very last minute. We felt we got a good price, especially knowing that there are camps with the exact same facilities, literally around the corner from Oldarpoi, that charge 5x as much. And, and the end of the day, we're all looking at the same lions, the same scenery and driving the same roads!

But most importantly, as we left to return to Nairobi, we stopped by the school and rescue center that our money went to support. We were able to meet the children, many without shoes, who were getting a basic education in a three-room schoolhouse. We also saw the work that volunteers had done to create a rescue center for girls facing FGM (look it up, if you don't know what that means).

We left Oldarpoi & the Mara with the knowledge that, while we came for the selfish purpose of having an enjoyable safari vacation, our money was going towards improving the lives of children who don't have very much and are at risk of enduring terrible things. Nelson and the Oldarpoi camp are on the front lines of improving the lives of hundreds of children and you can support their work by experiencing the majesty of the Maasai Mara.

  • Stayed: June 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank jimkrunk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Oldarpoi Mara Camp

Address: 3 KM to Sekenani Gate,Maasai Mara | Sekenani-Keekorok Rd, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya (Formerly Oldarpoi Maasai Safari Camp)
Region: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Masai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #65 of 141 Speciality Lodging in Masai Mara National Reserve
Price Range: £115 - £118 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Oldarpoi Mara camp, is operated in partnership with the local Maasai community. The camp is concerned with the welfare of the local community .Our vision is to transform the local community, socially and economically.We support the Ole keene primary school with teacher's salaries, children sponsorship programs etc.The school has more than 300 children and we built classrooms for them including a rescue center unit to accommodate young girls running away from cultural practices such Female Genital Mutilation ( FGM ) and early marriage.We also plan to establish a community library which will include a learning center and conservation projects.Guests who would like to volunteer in any of our projects as part of a unique safari experience are highly encouraged to do so..This will make a difference to the community.The camp has permanent tents with beds, bedding, complete solar Water heating and lighting system, flush toilets and hot showers - all the trappings of home! We are also an accomplished safaris outfitter with best trained Maasai guides! We offer safaris and tours to different destinations throughout East Africa. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Oldarpoi Maasai Safari Camp Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Oldarpoi Mara Camp Kenya/Masai Mara National Reserve

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