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“What an experience!”

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Great Plains Conservation Mara Plains Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 10 October 2012

Mara Plains is fantastic! First of all the camp is just outside the Maasai Mara National Reserve in the Olare Orok Conservancy and only the camps in side Olare Orok Conservancy can travel within the Conservancy. This means that there will be very few vehicles when there is a siding. There are 4 lion prides in the conservancy, so on every outing we would see lions. There are also many cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, zebras, and etc. You also have easy access to the National Reserve since it is only a couple of kilometers away.

The camp itself is very unique. It is on the edge of a river and you actually cross a bridge to enter the camp. There are lots of trees that shade most of the camp. The gathering area is very inviting and comfortable. Our room was like a tree house. It was about 6’ off the ground. The living area was very roomy with lots of storage areas. It had a outside veranda that was about 10’ x 20’ and overlooked the river. The bathroom had a toilet, shower and sink. In the river there are 2 crocodiles (Bonnie and Clyde) that you could see them swimming around all the time.

The best part of the camp is the staff. Richard and Lorna are great hosts. They have a wealth of experience and knowledge and are happy to share with there guest. They eat every meal with us and had plenty of great stories to tell. Our guide Daniel was one of the most pleasant people I have ever met. He is Maasai and has spent his whole life in the area of the camp. He new all of the animals and there history and often new what they were going to do before they did it. He always put us in the right spot to get the best shot. The food was excellent!

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank HappyTraveler200862
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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133 - 139 of 163 reviews

Reviewed 17 September 2012

The atmosphere at this camp was quite nice. Our tent (#6?) was very comfortable with a good porch view of the plains. Our guide Kevin was incredible - he always knew where to go and his instincts were remarkable. He's from the area and knows every part of the park. With him we were able to see some of the most incredible sights ever, our pictures stunned our friends and family. Yes it was quite expensive but it was a good value in my opinion.

Rooms - I think all of the tents are similar except the one with the hammocks. Ours was very comfortable. The guy comes by a few times a day to light the fire for your hot water heater if you want a shower. They sneak in and out to clean the room and drop off your laundryl. Sometimes the flashlights of the guards woke us up at night if they were shooing a leopard out of the camp, and there is a hippo that lives in the river that barks at night like Jabba the Hutt. Also the Bush Babies climb on top of the tent at night. But if you have a sense of humor and a bottle of wine before bed none of this is an issue. It is nature after all. This camp also has 24/7 electricity which we did not have in another camp we stayed in. They even offered a special low-voltage hair dryer for anyone who requested it.

Food - The majority of the food was good. There were a couple of dinners that weren't to my personal preference, but in general the meals were quite nice. Whether dining under the stars, or from a cooler in the bush, food was very satisfying. And they were never lacking in quantity of food. And remember they are cooking this in a camp kitchen, so lots of credit there.

Game drives - As mentioned, Kevin was amazing. Highly recommended. He brought us to sights where we were the only car there, and where we felt like we were the only people on Earth.

Management - You may have read other reviews about the interim management, Giovanni and Kari. Although Kari was quite lovely, Giovanni left something to be desired. We found him also to be quite repetitive with stories and unable to remember guest's names. For $1,200 a night you'd think that might be important. Also he made a number of sexist remarks against women in general and towards one of the female guests which was offensive. We found him to be rude to the staff, in both how he spoke to them and how he spoke about them. He referred to them as 'servants' and spoke about how they couldn't be trusted to do daily tasks without him checking on them. He also said that the camp would never hire a woman to work there because it caused too many problems with the male 'servants.' He also stated that he would never hire a female 'servant' for his own home or ever allow the families of his 'servants' to ever enter his own home. I found the staff at the camp to be extremely hard-working, attentive, polite, and friendly. I do not think they deserved that kind of treatment. I hope the regular managers reconsider appointing him as a representative in the future.

The solitude of the camp is breathtaking, and a truly special place.

Room Tip: We were told that this camp is shutting down for a few months at the end of this year for a complete...
  • Stayed: August 2012, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank itsjen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 August 2012

We stayed here for 4 nights as the third African camp after staying in 2 camps in the Okavango in Botswana the week before.

I have conflicted opinions about this camp. I think 99% will love it.

The Maasai Mara is a beautiful place. Mara Plains Camp is a leased property from the Maasai people on a small part of the Conservancy (which is a portion of the Mara owned by the Maasai) next to a small stream/river. It is in the style of the colonial tented camps and is beautiful. There is a small wooden rope bridge to walk across which makes it feel like you are being taken away to somewhere special. There is nothing particularly special about the main area. It is quite small and there are some pleasant furnishings.

There are stone paved paths to the tents. We were in number 7 and the balcony overlooked the plains. Beautiful. The 'tents' were the best we stayed in Africa. They have large beds, lighting and ample shelf space for things. The bathrooms were functional. The flush toilets were average, often requiring multiple flushes for lack of 'oomph'. The dual copper basins were showing the characteristic green coloured oxidation and had a metallic smell. There was laundry powder for ladies smalls (these are the only things the Maasai male staff don't wash), body lotion and very nice shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Unfortunately, housekeeping decided to remove/throw away the loofah we brought along.

The meals were excellent and prepared by Juma, the resident chef. Breakfast has a small continental selection and hot portion of bacon, sausage, eggs of your choice. There are the requisite morning tea, afternoon tea and sundowners. Lunch was excellent and if in camp a cooked selection (awesome battered fish one day) or packed lunch if out on game trails. Dinner was excellent, usually out on the lawn near a firepit. The alcohol is unlimited should you be so inclined.

There are around 14-16 guests at any one time and the other guests on our stay were all very very nice, very considerate and well mannered.

The game drives were excellent. The Maasai Mara is an amazing place, the best we saw in Africa. This is postcard stuff; savannah grass, herds of animals, lions, cheetah, elephants, giraffes, hippos. Our guide was good but not as good as those in Botswana. I think he was a little burned out. The highlights we saw were a cheetah kill and the Mara River crossing.

So to the problems. Mara Plains Camp is not cheap. At USD$650++ per person per night it was just about three times as expensive as the other camps (Botswana) we stayed. Other Maasai Mara camps are similarly priced.

Another issue was the management/hosts. Or lack thereof. There have been glowing reviews on tripadvisor regarding Richard and Lorna. Neither were there during our stay; we were told they were on separate 2 week vacations. Their replacements, for clientele and a camp of this calibre, were inadequate. One, Giovanni, was a friend of Richard (I was lead to believe) who was doing it as a "favor". He was an elderly gentlemen who could not remember our names or tell my wife and I apart from our travelling companions (note we were the only Australians in this small camp apart from an Australian travel writer who was there courtesy of the camp). He seemed not to know anything about the camp function and I grew weary of hearing the same colonialist stories again and again. The other, Kari, was from the office in Nairobi. I had the impression it was her first time out to the camp. And every single night she would ask my travel companions and I which tents we were in. It is not that hard. I got the impression that although very polite, they saw their time there as an inconvenience.

These sound like small things but often it is these things that make the difference.

Perhaps it would be sensible to not allow the managers/hosts to have leave at the same time during the high season?; orient the incoming managers; or send replacements with experience.

The other regular staff were excellent. It was evident that the camp could run without the hosts.

I am a fairly non-fussed low maintenance guest but if you have specific requirements, requests, needs, the staff will accomodate you.

  • Stayed: August 2012, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank spiderpig01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GreatPlainsConservat, Director of Sales at Great Plains Conservation Mara Plains Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 10 September 2012

Dear Spiderpig01

Thank you for your feedback on Mara Plains, and for the positive evaluation of the camp, the tents, the food, the staff and the game viewing experience.

We are sorry that you did not really enjoy your guide, nor the managers in camp during your stay - all three of whom have a wealth of experience and have received many rave reviews from guests during their respective careers.

Richard and Lorna, our regular management team are a happy couple, so they take holidays together, to enjoy a well-earned break. Now that we see how popular they are, we will have to start paying them more to forfeit all holiday time!

Just so you are aware, both of the relief managers you mention have many years of experience, and are much respescted in the tourism industry.

Kari is the regular relief manager for Great Plains Conservation in Kenya, as well as a very important part of our head office marketing team in Nairobi.
Giovanni is a celebrated Kenyan character who has managed up-market camps in Kenya for years.
We are sorry that their style of management did not suit your stay.

You might be pleased to hear that Dereck and Beverly Joubert have just been visiting Mara Plains, making the final touches to an exciting refurbishment plan for the whole camp which will commence in early 2013

We look forward to sharing the new camp with our loyal Great Plains Conservation guests and followers in the near future.

Yours in Conservation Tourism
Hilton Walker

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 August 2012

Words really cannot do this camp justice; it is more an experience than a place!

I recently spent three nights at Mara plains with my two teenage daughters. This was our second stop on a 17 day safari and was by far our favorite camp. Richard and Lorna are terrific hosts and made us feel very much a part of the Mara Plains Family. The camp is small (7 tents), so it was very easy to get to know all of the other guests (I believe the previous reviewer from Florida was actually there at the same time!) and the camp staff. Our guide, Dan, was terrific. He made our trip very special. On our first day at camp we managed to spend extended periods of time observing and spending time with both a cheetah (with two cubs) and a leopard; the following day we spent more than an hour with a pride of 17 lions! Our good luck continued throughout our stay; each animal encounter was more spectacular than the last. I would definitely recommend Dan as a guide, although I suspect that all of the Mara Plains guides are phenomenal.

The tents are well equipped with very comfortable beds, 24 hour electricity, charging points, full bathrooms with all of the amenities and a wonderful deck over the river that runs through camp. At night, we fell asleep to the sounds of hippos splashing and snorting in the river below.

Meals were a definite highlight at Mara Plains. We truly enjoyed the intimacy of this small camp and LOVED our time at the dinner table and campfire with the other guests. If I am ever lucky enough to return to Kenya, Mara Plains will definitely be on my itinerary!

  • Stayed: July 2012, travelled with family
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2  Thank CaliforniaLori
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 July 2012

We have stayed in the Mara Plains Camp before, and returned because of just how special this place is with the feeling of personal attention, and the conservatory and Mara Reserve out your tent.

Richard and Lorna are great hosts making you feel at home from the moment you arrive. They cannot do enough for you to increase your enjoyment.

Our guide Ping, is simply the best. He can almost tell what an animal is thinking and where he should place the vehicle for the best possible vantage point. In our stay we saw leopards, cheetahs, and over 40 lions. Not to mention elephants, etc.

Conservatories provide the experience of learning about he culture, and how to conserve the environment, and at the same time provide an almost private exposure to the animals. If you have ever heard the stories of multiple vehicles surrounding an animal in the reserve, this simply cannot and does not happen in the conservancy.

If you are planning a vacation in the Masai Mara, please include this place in your plans.

Room Tip: They are all good, room six has the most privacy.
  • Stayed: July 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank nrhareiner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 July 2012

My husband and I agree with those who say our reviews cannot do this place justice. It's just such a great place with a homey, family type atmosphere. We were encouraged to be a part of the small community that is the plans camp. Lorna is a doll and very helpful. I'm fussy, and I was thrilled. Even my husband, who can be a bit of a crab enjoyed it tremendously. Cannot say enough good things!!!

Room Tip: They're all great, and for famiies.... they're adding a family suite.
  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank tulsacats
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 June 2012

We had a fantastic stay at Mara plains. Our host, Lorna, and the staff were excellent.

The tents are very comfortable, with a bathroom facilities. The view from the deck in front of the river, hippos, monkeys and crocodile are pretty amazing. The common lounge area has an amazing view of the plains in front and the sunset is breathtaking.

The guides are knowledgeable and polite. We saw a lot of animals and the camp ensured it was always comfortable, with packed food when necessary and plenty of drinks.

The camp is in a conservancy just outside the national park. So it doesn't get crazy busy and there are few over-noisy loutish types that frequent the 100 bed facilities. Its well worth the money.

The food at the camp was excellent. For lunch, it was buffet style, with one meat or fish and lots of salads. For dinner there is usually choice between meat/fish and vegetarian.

Sundowners (drink at sun set) out on the plains and pre dinner drinks around the fire on the lawn was fantastic. Most of the drinks are included, so it was easy.

The camp was very accommodative. They gave us a packed lunch on the way back home, when we realised there wasnt enough time between planes and airports.

We would definitely stay here again. Loved the experience and the people.

  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank eaqubs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Great Plains Conservation Mara Plains Camp

Address: Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Masai Mara National Reserve 0000, Kenya
Region: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Masai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #48 of 141 Speciality Lodging in Masai Mara National Reserve
Price Range: £1,175 - £2,308 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 7
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This is a small, high quality, seven tented camp under canvas, located within the private Olare Motorogi Conservancy and just a few hundred meters to the north of the Maasai Mara National Reserve boundary. Guests can game drive in both the Maasai Mara National Reserve and the private Conservancy away from the crowds. It is a fabulous wildlife reserve of 30 000 acres, rich in wildlife (with all the predators and big cats in particular), with the lowest vehicle density in the Mara, no mini-buses and only one guest room per 700 acres. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Mara Plains Camp Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Great Plains Conservation Mara Plains Camp Kenya/Masai Mara National Reserve

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