We were offered this lodging choice through our safari tour organizer. It is a relatively new camp (which is still under construction) outside the border of the Masai Mara National Reserve. DO NOT GO THERE.
First, the term "luxury" is very loose here. We experienced luxury tented camps in two other locations and they truly were luxurious for a tented safari camp. I have NO problems with staying in a tented camp, but don't call it luxury if it is not.
Getting to this lodging was torturous. We drove for three hours from Narok to Masai Mara. Most of it was bumpy, potholed, and just horrible. It was not a long drive by kilometers, but be prepared. The tour vans had to cross a few riverbeds and mud. There were some stuck vans. People had to get out and push.
Upon arriving at the border of the camp, we saw the long line of tour vans go off to the right. They were going to the lodge inside the Reserve. We went left. Uh oh. This was not a good sign. We immediately hit muddy roads and then a virtual impasse. We had to cross a muddy strip of road, right into a riverbed, and up the other side. Needless to say, all of us in the van got out, put rocks, branches, and sand into the deep grooves of the road. We had to push the van up the other side....this is a private road and should be maintained by someone, but whom? Certainly, the tented camp owner didn't think it was his responsibility. We were already late for our "buffet" lunch -- it was after 3 pm and we hadn't eaten since 6:30 a.m. that morning so the blood sugar was low and I was very cranky. At the camp, the dearth of clients should have been another clue that we'd made the wrong mistake. We were taken to our tents where the bathroom is ensuite. It was very rustic, there was no hot water, and far from what we'd experienced at Amboseli (Sentrim) and Nakaru (Flamingo).
Lunch was quite bad. There wasn't really enough left of the gamey stew and there were flies on the apple streudel looking dessert. It was quite sad, really. Dinner was not much better. The best part of the meal was the hot milk and cocoa mix. After dinner, we wanted hot showers. Our tent's plumbing wasn't working properly so someone had to come and fix it. During the night, there was a leak discovered and our hot water shut off. It took awhile to get someone to fix it.
The camps and lodges have to hire Masai as employees. In most places, it is professionally done and they are wonderful. At this camp, as with others, they were porters and provided security. The security was against zebras and cattle? I wasn't really sure. However, it was a bit creepy to see a band of three Masai with arrows hovering outside a tent. Each tent contains beds, usually enough for two or three lodgers. During the night, our friend's tent was "broken into" by someone at 0300. By this, I mean they unzipped the tent and was about to go in but my friend was awakened by the noise and scared the intruder away with a flashlight. We were all freaked out by this. Her children were staying in the tent next door and so were vulnerable to a night-time intruder. My friend's husband got up and looked for staff members or security. It is a small camp. He couldn't find anyone to help. There is supposed to be 24-hour support. We told our guides what had happened and we packed up and left, never to return.
This was a very poor experience, but reflective of the rather haphazard running of this business. The staff hired by the Kenyan owner (himself a tour operator) was very eager to please. They tried very hard, but between the chef and the lack of true security, I would never return or recommend this camp to anyone.
Again, the accessibility was an issue. When we'd first gotten there and relayed the news about the impassable riverbed, the answer was to send two Masai with shovels and machetes to the riverbed with us in the hopes of creating a makeshift path. In reality, all of us pitched in, got muddy, dirty, and had some fun (admittedly), but it got old the third time. Again, would never go back.
- Also Known As:
- Elangata Olerai Luxury Tented Camp Kenya/Masai Mara National Reserve