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!
- 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