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“Amazing place with fantastic hosts”
Review of Kicheche Mara Camp

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Kicheche Mara Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 27 October 2013

I rarely write reviews. It isn't until you come somewhere like this that you realise you aren't feeling compelled to write anything for mediocre experiences. This is somewhat different.

We arrived (late) on our bush flight from Nairobi and were collected by our guide, Jimmy. More on Jimmy later. When we arrived at camp (about 45-60 awe-inspiring minutes later), Sammy and Colin were there to greet us and take us up to camp. We'd missed lunch but had food brought out to us and offered drinks. Just what we needed after a bumpy and sweaty ride on plane and jeep. With profuse apologies (with absolutely no need) for the quick turnaround, off we went on our first afternoon's drive.

You get one morning drive (roughly 6:30am - 12pm) with breakfast in an amazing location, followed by lunch outside with the rest of the visitors, then siesta until 3.30-4pm, when you set out on your afternoon drive, complete with sundowners. Driving back in the dark just adds another dimension to your experience - something I understand not all the camps and lodges do. After a quick freshen up, it's back up to the main tents for drinks around the camp fire and dinner, before more drinks and bed.

Tent - we were in Kongoni, one of the nearest to the camp entrance and the main tents. The tent itself is well laid out (we had a family tent, so two twin beds we used for bags, clothes, general dumping ground) with a bed in the middle of the room and the bathroom at the back. We were warned about the bucket showers but I don't think we ran out of water and one night, when I was faffing about too much, they refilled the bucket in case it had gone cold. You do need to keep the zips shut at all times though - from a bug, bushbaby and monkey perspective - which is a pity but it's better than being eaten alive or being mugged by a monkey. We were pre-warned about the bush babies using the tent as a trampoline and, sure enough, it was quite noisy at night. However, each of the tents have their quirks and I'd rather an exuberant bush baby having a jump about than the tent who had the amorous hippos outside! The camp is not fenced off, so you do have animals wandering through the camp, especially at night. A highlight for us was a family of zebra hanging out at our tent as we walked back from dinner one night. A word on after dark - you will have a guard with you at all times when it's dark and you're wandering about. Just to be on the safe side.

Food and drinks - it starts with your wake up call: hot drinks of your choice and biscuits. Breakfast out is fantastic and even enabled us to introduce our American jeep-mates to Marmite overlooking a hippo pool...! Lunch is a fantastic buffet (anything from bobotie to asian-spiced noodle salad. Desserts come with every meal, as does tea and coffee. Sundowners out on your drive come with snacks (always yummy) and then dinner is generally an informal sit-down 3 course dinner. Many people said they didn't expect to come away from a tented camp after 3/4 nights one dress size larger, but I think we all feared it! I had an allergy and it was carefully noted and I was brought a different dessert at lunch one day - fantastic.

Guides - our guide was Jimmy, a chap who clearly loves his job and the animals. He was great for anticipating animal movements ("He's going to yawn - get ready!") and getting the jeep into the best possible place to watch from. We saw just about everything it is possible to see, only narrowly missing a few kills. The timing was bad for the migration, but we still saw a group of stupid zebra cross the Mara River three times... My only thought about Jimmy was that while he was fantastic at knowing the usual places to see the animals and for listening out on the radio for great sightings to get us there, he seemed stumped at the times when the other jeeps had gone back to camp (on the two occasions we stayed out longer) and the sightings were more lean. Having said that, we had the most amazing few days with him and he showed us some great animals and birds. We knew we were seeing something special when Jimmy got his camera out!

Staff and service - impeccable. The mains staff knew our names and would bring personality and friendliness to their professional service. Colin and Sammy, the current managers, deserve special mention. Nothing was too much, they were so knowledgeable, friendly and organised, and they absolutely contributed to making this camp so special. They arranged a private dinner for us on our final night, which was magical up until the point we got freaked out at a large moving shape near us (a buffalo it turned out) so we scarpered back into our tent.

It's worth recapping on why you should come to a camp in a conservancy rather than the National Reserve. Firstly, you can go to the Mara NR - it's a fully day out but we did it and it was great. The conservancy is an area leased from the local people with the purpose of protecting the landscape and animals. The animals can come and go as they please - they don't know about the arbitrary line drawn on a map - so you see what you'd see in the NR. Secondly, there are restricted numbers of camps and vehicles in the conservancy, and restricted (and regulated) numbers of jeeps allowed at any one sighting. This is not the case in the NR and you can quite easily find yourself at a sighting in the NR with 10+ jeeps. Not ideal. Finally, the conservancy works directly with the local people - meaning a partnership that is more sustainable for all concerned.

I cannot recommend this camp highly enough and we do plan to return at some stage.

Room Tip: Each room has it's own quirks for animals. If you'd prefer to not have too long a walk (max...
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  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Fiona G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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129 - 135 of 344 reviews

Reviewed 20 October 2013

We had such a great time in February 2007, we came back and it was as good, if not better than we remembered. Hosts, Sammy and Colin were great, food excellent. The situation of the camp in an acacia valley is lovely - you can view the wildlife from your tent!

Our guide George was expert at spotting wildlife and selecting the best spot for photos. We had a memorable day in the Mara reserve and saw a male lion being chased by buffalo and two zebras crossing the Mara River. An exciting morning walk watching elephants, giraffe and a jackal, followed by a hyena and a baboon, chasing a baby thompson gazelle (it escaped).

  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Lynda M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 October 2013

Spent 2 nights at Kicheche Mara in early Oct 2013. It was our first safari experience in the Maasai Mara and we couldn't believe how many animals we saw in just 48 hours (many just on our journey to the camp from the airstrip!) and this was all thanks to our excellent safari guide - George. All the camp staff were very welcoming and the tents were surprisingly luxurious - we got quite used to our daily bush showers, although not so used to some of our night-time wildlife visitors (all part of the safari experience!) The food was very good and the evening meal always came with a thought of the day from Michael. Camp managers - Colin and Sammy - were very good hosts and made evenings round the camp fire and dinner table entertaining.

  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Jo_Rich2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 October 2013

Spent 3 nights at Kicheche Mara in late July 2103, probably the best camp we have ever stayed at in Kenya (out of 6). Maybe we were lucky as the camp was only half full but Colin and Sammy, the managers were excellent hosts, cheerful, helpful, knowledgeable, caring and involved. The camp staff were so good, knew our names immediately and gave first class friendly service at all times. The accommodation - tents - was fine, the bucket bush showers worked well, the food was first class, and nice that Sammy and Colin ate with us all the time. We had 2 grandchildren, aged 13 and 11, with us, and they were so well looked after

Our guide, Jimmy was also first class; we nicknamed him 'Jimmy Two Kill' because on one day he led us to watch 2 cheetahs kill a wildebeest and then a lioness play with and kill a gazelle, as well as a fascinating 30 mins watching the Acacia Lion pride. He is very knowledgeable, always seemed to find the best place to park to watch the game, being also sensitive to make sure other vehicles (if there were any, because he was usually first on the scene) had a good view and weren't in our sights

So much quieter to be based in a conservancy than the crowded Mara National Park, but game still very good. Found nothing to fault in our stay.

  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled with family
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3  Thank 735Roger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 September 2013

We went for our honeymoon and had the most incredible time. The camp is beautiful, we were taken care of from start to finish and the attention to detail was amazing. The views are incredible, the tents luxurious and the food is great (we bought their cookbook) but the main reason to go is the game viewing. In a week we saw all the big 5, including rhinos in a nearby sanctuary where you get within 6 foot of them (on foot). The guides are brilliant, knowledgeable and share information well. We have amazing memories and I would recommend to everyone!

  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank David_W_S475
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 September 2013

Kicheche Mara is a wonderful place to stay. Sammy and Colin met us as we arrived and were always on hand to help and give advice when needed. The staff were so nice, they were really friendly and very kind. The food was excellent. I cannot say a single bad word about Kicheche because it was a truly great place.

Room Tip: Tents are great.
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  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled solo
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Thank jacqui2502
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 September 2013

Kicheche Mara Camp

From being picked up from the Mara North Airstrip our adventure properly began. Right from the off we were greeted by numerous zebra, wildebeest and gazelle, and somewhere in the region of 20/30 hippos! We were so distracted with the wildlife that we forgot that we were in fact just on our way to the camp. Sammy and Colin greeted us and Sammy gave all the new arrivals a briefing of how the camp worked (the amazing bucket showers, torch / night-time escorted system etc.). We were put straight at ease and quickly got into the flow of things.

The ‘tents’ were incredible and well distanced from each other (ours was called ‘Kiboko’ which means Hippo), and during the nights we had elephants, buffalo and other animals wandering freely between the tents and I really enjoyed the wild noises at night! A good night’s sleep was fairly important as the days were quite long, sometimes stopping briefly for a tasty breakfast or lunch whilst out on safari. It is quite a strange feeling nibbling on a bit of toast with half an eye out for lions, hyenas, vultures etc. (we had our breakfast pretty close to a cheetah and her grown cubs who were also tucking into their ‘fresh’ breakfast aswell)!

Our guide during the drives was an amazing Maasai chap called Jimmy Tinka who knew everything about everything. His knowledge of the animals, plants, ecosystems, terrain and seasons was second to none. He knew how to approach animals so that they were not disturbed from doing what they would normally do, and he always managed to get the vehicle into the perfect position for photographs (this also included consideration for other vehicles so that our vehicle wasn’t in their photographs). Jimmy is a very patient man and clearly adores his work and his country. His love of nature is an inspiration and he has very strong environmental and conservational beliefs which are strengths that should give hope to Kenya and her future.

We decided to visit the Maasai village and were very happy that we did. They’re a tad cheeky with their prices, however I am notoriously difficult to extract money from however I did dip into my pocket! If you decided to go be prepared to get a little involved! Great people, and thank-you to David for telling and showing us how his tribe survive (and good-luck with your education too!). We also visited the Rhino sanctuary and got extremely close up to these beautiful animals. How can someone murder one of these animals just to cure a cold or ache? Idiots, have a lemsip instead or lop-off your own body parts and grind them up. A rhino horn is made of hair so why can’t they just gulp down a wig? Anyway…

We also decided to do the guided walk with an armed guard which was very interesting. Once again Jimmy excelled with his knowledge, this time with tracks, trees and shrubs etc. The animals were a little quiet and we were beginning to get a bit suspicious as it usually clears of animals when the lions are in town! We bumped into a couple of Elands and Hyenas and some very big and busy ants though and it was all very interesting. I kept lagging behind to take photos which probably wasn’t the best idea…

The food was amazing and every night was different. We would all gather by the fire-pit in the dark and have a drink and a chat about the day’s adventures, then sit down at the big table. It seemed people came from all corners of the globe which is always nice as well. It was also nice that Sammy and Colin; the camp managers, joined us throughout the evening.

We were very sad to leave and the whole experience was incredible. If you want an environmentally considerate first class safari experience look no further than Kicheche Mara Camp.

Alex & Aleks

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Alex A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Kicheche Mara Camp

Address: Acacia valley, Mara North Conservancy, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Region: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Masai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Free Breakfast
Hotel Style:
Ranked #38 of 146 Speciality Lodging in Masai Mara National Reserve
Price Range: £788 - £1,042 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Kicheche Mara Camp 3*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Our bush hideaway welcomes you to a different world, centered at the heart of the African wilderness. Experiencing a traditional luxury camp is a must on safari and, with Kicheche, one that is intimate, secluded and in an area surrounded by prolific wildlife. Staying in a bush camp doesn't mean compromising on comfort, the food and service are first class, as are the warmth and experience of Kicheche's staff making your safari an unforgettable experience. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Kicheche Mara Camp Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Kicheche Mara Camp Kenya/Masai Mara National Reserve

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