We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Olonana; Truly an Eco Sanctuary”
Review of Sanctuary Olonana

Best prices for -
Check In dd/mm/yyyy Check Out dd/mm/yyyy
Prices are for 1 room, 2 adults
Show Prices
Compare best prices from top travel sites
and 5 more sites!
Sanctuary Olonana
Certificate of Excellence
Ballarat, Australia
Level 6 Contributor
415 reviews
51 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 341 helpful votes
“Olonana; Truly an Eco Sanctuary”
Reviewed 7 October 2013

What a place to celebrate my birthday!
Greeted by a Masai Warrior playing a flute on arrival, reiterated by the resident hippo pod lounging in the Mara River as we were allocated our luxurious tents and a Masai village procession and song with my cake at dinner!
Nothing disappointed at this upmarket sanctuary!
My tent, number 12, was right at the end of a line of tents stretching along the Mara river. A perfect refuge and hide, for birding. At night the rapids soothed me to sleep. Even from my shower, I could survey the wildlife on the Mara and what joy, to have a selection of books about the history and people of Kenya right there on my desk, ready for my perusal.
Each night, staff would leave a local Masai etymological story on one of the many local animals on my bed. One of two luxurious mosquito netted queen beds in my amazing and huge tent.
But for me, along with the delectable food, a highlight was the sustainable ecological principals that are central to Olonana's operations and raison d'etre.
Olonana runs on a methane plant, that provides gas to run its lights, hot water and kitchens.
The source of the methane is from the Masai villages cattle, cow dung which they deliver, in exchange for fresh, clean water and briquettes, a bi-product of the methane plant.
The mix is 4 parts cow dung to one part water, producing heat and gas. It then goes through a system that includes the removal of the dung, the adding of molasses and waste paper, pouring this slurry into briquette moulds which are dried in the sun and distributed back to the Masai for cooking, sparing trees for firewood.
The water continues through a filtration system of four reed ponds. The final pond releases cleaner water back into the river than what came from it in the first place!
I was lucky enough to tour the eco aspects of Olonana Sanctuary with Josphat Omondi, the local Masai Philanthropy Officer, including the extensive, thriving kitchen gardens and staff kitchens and recreation facilities. His botanical knowledge was exceptional, including his knowledge of botanical names.
Part of Olonana's sustainable resort program is an extensive re-afforestation endeavour, to support plant species necessary to sustain the ecological balance, ensuring a plentiful food supply for future populations of hungry elephants, giraffe, rhinos and the Masai themselves. I had the privillige of planting a tree as part of that process.
Another highlight of my stay, was a solo guest walk up the side of the rift valley, with my ever patient and extraordinarily knowledgable Masai mentor and guide, Richard Ole Kamoiye. Richard, son of the local Chief, shared his knowledge of local edible and indigenous plants with me all the way up the side to the very top of the rift valley.The views were unsurpassed and my encounter with the herds of Masai goats, sheep and finally whistling with a big herd of cattle, close enough to touch them, was an experience that made my initial struggle with the high altitude walk more than worth the effort.
And yes, Masai eat from these plants, with fruits to prevent thirst, combat malaria and other infections and generally provide nutrients beyond the mythical diet restricted to blood and milk. These plants are their green grocer!
Then there were the game drives in quintessentially rift valley country, dotted with Acacias and euphorbia candleabra trees. Sightings of the hill where the funeral scene from 'Out of Africa' was shot, whilst a little further long the river was its bend, used in the hair washing scene. Magic, romantic stuff.
As for the game viewings; Hippos yawned, wrestled and nurtured their young within metres of the dining areas. A blue vervet monkey obliged with a 20 minute natural behaviour photo shoot session, including stealing my tissues from my pack and returning them, when realising they were not good to eat!
On our game drives we saw: lions, cheetahs, a black rhino, very rare, vast herds of elephant, buffalo, wildebeest, zebras, Grants and Thompson's gazelles, water buck, impala, giraffes in herds, a family of Hyenas tending and feeding their pups, pairs of jackals hunting, dik-diks and a vast number of amazing birds, large and small.
Our driver guides were knowledgible and careful. Vehicles were comfortable, luxurious and extremely safe.
If that's not enough, Olonana serves gourmet food of the highest quality, on an a la cart basis. Choices are not extensive, but the quality and freshness, coupled with fabulous presentation, meant any hope of losing a few kilos were well and truly dashed.Fresh produce and eggs are raised on site. Big John the chef, even ensured home made gluten free bread was available at every meal upon request.
Fellow travellers that found time to indulge in a massage, claimed it was the best they had ever had. Incredible views over the river soothed as much as the massage itself.
If you have time to visit only one place in Kenya, make it Sanctuary Olonana. Little wonder it has won so many awards from Eco Tourism Kenya.
If this is the future of minimal impact tourism, of Safari experiences that give back in so many ways, may Olonana lead the world to a truly brighter future.
An extraordinary "retreat". An exquisite treat and sanctuary for all of the senses.
Full credit to their extraordinary team of inspirational staff, for making my stay so individual, pleasurable and truly memorable!

Room Tip: Staff try and match visitor interests and fitness levels to their tents. One overlooks some very act...
See more room tips
  • Stayed September 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank fional943
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sanctuary R, Manager at Sanctuary Olonana, responded to this review, 10 July 2014
Dear Fiona,

Glad we could celebrate your birthday with you!!

We loved hosting you and look forward to welcoming you back one day in the not too distant future...

It would be great if you can keep up to date with the latest news from Sanctuary Retreats and Olonana by liking us on Facebook, just search for ‘Sanctuary Retreats’. We are also on Twitter (@SanctuaryRet) and Instagram (SanctuaryRetreats) if you would like to follow us.

Best wishes
Sanctuary Retreats
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Write a Review

283 reviews from our community

Traveller rating
    264
    14
    3
    0
    2
See reviews for
77
113
20
9
Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (80)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Canberra, Australia
Level 4 Contributor
30 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 October 2013

Our flight from Serengeti was delayed by more than 2 hours and yet when we arrived at Masai Mara, our driver Lucas from Olonana was waiting for us. Cold drinks at hand to quench our thirst. That was a very good start to our visit to Masai Mara.
Christine the Customer Relation Manager was there to welcome us when we arrived, check in was painless, and despite being three in the afternoon, kitchen still fed us a beautiful cooked lunch before we headed out on our evening game drive.
Our room was beautiful, it was huge, clean, fresh and elegant. It faces the Mara River with hippo lazing in the water. We had our own room attendant that does our laundry, which was included in the tariff. ( Not so at other lodges!) Overall, the service at Olonana was impeccable, the cook prepared us special dinner when we mentioned we would like to try something local, and Christine popped a bottle of bubbly for us at diinertime when she found out we were on our honeymoon. Everyone was so friendly and helpful, nothing is every a trouble. Lucas our driver/guide was amazing, we mentioned to him we haven't seen cheetahs, so he found us cheetahs, we wanted to see the wildebeest crossing, he took us there, we wanted to see rhino ( mind you, they are rare) and he found two!
We had such a wonderful time at Olonana, and it really made the trip to Masai Mara so much more memorable. We are definitely returning.

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Thehappytraveller145
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sanctuary R, Manager at Sanctuary Olonana, responded to this review, 10 July 2014
Dear Guest,

We are thrilled that you had a wonderful stay with us at Olonana and thank you for sharing your experience on Tripadvisor.

The team, especially Lucas and Christine were thrilled with your feedback and are eager to welcome you back again, hopefully soon..

Until then it would be great if you could keep up to date with the latest from Sanctuary Retreats and Olonana by liking us on Facebook . Just search for ‘Sanctuary Retreats’. We are also on Twitter (@SanctuaryRet) and Instagram (SanctuaryRetreats) if you would like to follow us.

Best wishes
Sanctuary Retreats
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Redondo Beach, California
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 29 September 2013

The camp itself was great. The food is fresh and made to order. The tents were clean and luxurious. They were very secluded and gave you a great sense of privacy.

The staff was very friendly and helpful. We were very fortunate to have Lucas as our safari guide. He was a wealth of knowledge and information. He knew where to find every animal we were interested in seeing and wasted no time waiting for things to happen. He was in constant communication with he other guides to get tips on where to find the animals. His English was fantastic and he was very entertaining. Phillip was our waiter. He was very kind and hard working. He took care of all of our needs with a smile. He even surprised us with a candle lit dinner on our last night. Joseph took care of our tent. He woke us up on time and with tea every morning. He was very helpful. Our room and laundry were done perfectly.

I highly recommend Camp Olonana. We look forward to returning and visiting other Sanctuary Retreats camps.

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Michael L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sanctuary R, Manager at Sanctuary Olonana, responded to this review, 10 July 2014
Dear Michael,

We are thrilled that "we exceeded all you expectations" and thank you for the recommendation!

We look forward to welcoming you back!!

Until then it would be great if you could keep up to date with the latest from Sanctuary Retreats and Olonana by liking us on Facebook . Just search for ‘Sanctuary Retreats’. We are also on Twitter (@SanctuaryRet) and Instagram (SanctuaryRetreats) if you would like to follow us.

Best wishes
Sanctuary Retreats
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Klagenfurt, Austria
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 September 2013

Five years ago, we have already enjoyed the Olonana. Now we have returned to our honeymoon.
Everything was just wonderful. Maurice and his team deserve the highest rating - a very warm welcome, attentive and charming staff, excellent food and a more than comfortable suite/tent.

In the morning, awakened by the hippos and then on the game drive - the miracle of nature - gorgeous sunrise - breakfast in nature - the unique scenery - to see the many incredible and beautiful animals up close - a very special thank you to Joseph our very best guide ever

We hope to come back soon. Horst & Christa

Room Tip: 14/15 Honeymoon Suite - sehr nahe zum Restaurant - sehr ruhig
See more room tips
  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Horst P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sanctuary R, Manager at Sanctuary Olonana, responded to this review, 10 July 2014
Dear Horst & Christa,

We are so happy that you had the opportunity of spending a second stay with us. We loved welcoming you back and glad that it was just as memorable as your first time.

It was indeed a great pleasure hosting you again and we do hope to welcome you back to one of our properties in the future..

It would be great if you can keep up to date with the latest news from Sanctuary Retreats and Olonana by liking us on Facebook, just search for ‘Sanctuary Retreats’. We are also on Twitter (@SanctuaryRet) and Instagram (SanctuaryRetreats) if you would like to follow us.

Best wishes
Sanctuary Retreats
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bergen County, New Jersey
Level 6 Contributor
187 reviews
51 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 233 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 September 2013

On arrival at Sanctuary Olonana (and upon every return from a game drive), we were greeted with damp washcloths to wipe our faces. We had already met our driver/guide at the airstrip. We soon met the camp manager, Maurice, and our tent attendant, Nixon (who we later saw working in the organic garden as well.) We got a briefing in the beautiful and spacious dining room, with tribal-style paintings on the ceiling. Through several sets of doors was the Mara River dining deck, where we had lunch and our local group briefing. We could see and hear hippos in the water just below us. Our bags were delivered (and at departure, picked up from) the tents. This camp has the feel of being in a forest, rather than on a plain. There is shade and dense greenery everywhere. We were on Abercrombie & Kent's "Wings Over the Great Migration" tour.

The tents here have a luxurious feel to them. They are large, about 16'x40', with 2 substantial wooden wardrobes, a room safe, 2 queen beds with mosquito nets, and attractive stone bathrooms, with fully-enclosed toilet cubicles. The stone shower alcoves are spacious, but not fully enclosed. Because the site is thorougly forested, the rooms are very private. Indeed, the farthest rooms (and the spa) are quite a long walk. I thought the river rapids were noisy from Tent 9 to Tent 12, but no one complained about it. We had Tent 2. The tent included one Imperial-to-American plug adapter for recharging cameras, and plenty of other Imperial outlets (We travel with adapters.) Two decorative trunks served as luggage racks, but the tent was so big that they didn't intrude on the living space. Up the path, the swimming pool water looked unattractive, but I could hear the filter running. I'm thinking maybe treated river water can't be made transparent? We didn't go into the pool.

Both the cocktail end of the dining room, and the library (the best lit place at night) had fireplaces, lit each night. (It's cold at night in August.) There's a Windows computer in the library, which worked well but downloaded slowly. (I never got my cheap Android tablet to connect properly, but I saw many other people with happy computers in use.) The food was good, and included a barbecue evening with a big buffet on the deck-dining inside. The chef frequently visited the tables.

Unlike the other camps we used, Olonana uses refillable plastic bottles in the Land Cruisers, and refillable glass bottles in the tents and dining rooms. This drinking water was replaced generously. We had electricity at all hours and it seemed like we had hot water anytime we wanted it. BTW, one of the civic investments of Olonana is allowing the nearby Masai village to fill their water containers from the camp's water treatment system. They also allow the Masai to sell merchandise just beside the camp's own gift shop-which was better than average. No one ever approached us with a sales pitch.

After all these good comments, why didn't I rate Olonana five stars? I don't know if it's actually older than their sister Sanctuary Kusini. But things just weren't as crisp and smooth here. There were a few water stains on the generally beautiful dining room ceiling. My shower had a broken strut in the drain grid that could have caught my toe. One sturdy member of our group had his patio chair collapse when he leaned back in it (almost needed a stitch.) Dining room service was slow (despite charming, helpful staff anxious to make us happy) when the room was full. We had bad milk in our coffee, twice, on one day. The coffee and tea (i.e. the beverages) were the least attractive of our entire trip. Nothing major, but that's the difference between top-level and just comfortable luxury.

I don't write much about animals and the game drives, since this is another hotel review. But I should note that inside this section of the Maasai Mara (Oloololo Gate, (-1.258863, 34.99743) in Google Maps) had the best dirt roads we used in two weeks. There are also rough trails to be negotiated, but the main roads were in decent shape. And our excellent guide Godfrey came up with a Black Rhino here, one of the hardest animals to find. Road condition is important because you have to go so far on an average game drive. And here, you want to go almost to the Tanzania border to check out the Great Migration river crossings. It's a long drive. We made two toilet stops at the even more luxurious and non-tented resort Mara Serena Lodge, inside the heart of the park.

Room Tip: Rooms 14 and 15 are near the lodge, but have less foot traffic. All the rooms here are nicely privat...
See more room tips
  • Stayed August 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank obsoperator
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 September 2013

We had an amazing 3-night stay at Sanctuary Olonana. Maurice and his team were incredibly welcoming, warm, attentive. Eunice kept our luxurious tent in perfect order, and brought us coffee every morning. Chef Big John's menu was delicious. Henry always served our meals with a big smile. We felt very pampered. We had a vigorous walk up the hill with Richard who generously shared details of his life as a Maasai junior elder. He impressed us with his ability to smell animals from many meters away, and to read the rain clouds perfectly (we succeeded in returning to the lodge just as raindrops started to fall)! Our guide Anderson was superb - we had breakfast in the bush next to hundreds of thousands of wildebeests and zebras (migration), witnessed them crossing, and saw the big 5 in one drive! Team Olonana, thank you so much for this wonderful experience. Everything was outstanding.

Mabel and Germaine

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank germaine c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 September 2013

We were fortunate to have spent 4 glorious nights at Olonana and words cannot express how much we enjoyed our stay. Maurice & Christine are an excellent management team and all the staff were so helpful and accommodating (Attitude is everything) from Joseph who ensured our room was always perfect to the chefs Big John & Ambrose who provided us with delicious, well presented food, to Henry,Herman & Shadrack who ensured we were well looked after, to Richard for taking us to the Masai village and a huge thank you to our dear Benson who was our guide and ensured we saw everything (except that elusive leopard...next time). The lodge is beautifully positioned on the banks of the Mara river and hippo's outside Tent 2 were quite considerate and only started snorting & cavorting when it was just about time to get up. Besides being one of the best lodges we have ever stayed at with excellent accommodation & food, what stands out is the attitude and teamwork of all the staff...THANK YOU....we hope to return again some day.

Room Tip: All rooms (Tents) are fantastic as all on the banks of the Mara River
See more room tips
  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Liesl E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SanctuaryRetreats_2, Manager at Sanctuary Olonana, responded to this review, 4 October 2013
Dear Liesl,

Thank you for taking the time to post this lovely review of your experience at Olonana.

We are thrilled that you had such an enjoyable stay with us and thank you so much for all your kind comments especially about Maurice, Christine, Joseph, Big John, Ambrose and Benson - we shared your feedback with them and the rest of the team and they were very happy to learn you appreciated their efforts.

It was an honour to host you and we look forward to welcoming you back for you to catch a glimpse of that elusive leopard!

In the meantime, keep up with the latest news from Sanctuary Retreats and Olonana by liking us on Facebook. Just search for ‘Sanctuary Retreats’.

Best wishes
Sanctuary Retreats
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hotels you might also like...
Travellers also viewed these Masai Mara National Reserve hotels
32.0 mi away
Keekorok Lodge-Sun Africa Hotels
Keekorok Lodge-Sun Africa Hotels
#4 of 8 in Masai Mara National Reserve
1,034 reviews
4.5 mi away
Governor's Camp
Governor's Camp
#13 of 140 in Masai Mara National Reserve
924 reviews
28.3 mi away
Sarova Mara Game Camp
Sarova Mara Game Camp
#2 of 8 in Masai Mara National Reserve
1,033 reviews
Show Prices
Show Prices
Show Prices
5.3 mi away
Angama Mara
Angama Mara
#25 of 140 in Masai Mara National Reserve
100 reviews
1.3 mi away
Kilima Camp
Kilima Camp
#34 of 140 in Masai Mara National Reserve
299 reviews
22.0 mi away
Naboisho Camp, Asilia Africa
Naboisho Camp, Asilia Africa
#3 of 140 in Masai Mara National Reserve
497 reviews
Show Prices
Show Prices
Show Prices

Been to Sanctuary Olonana? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Additional Information about Sanctuary Olonana

Property: Sanctuary Olonana
Address: C14, Keekorok, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Region: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Masai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #21 of 140 Speciality Lodging in Masai Mara National Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:4 star — Sanctuary Olonana 4*
Number of rooms: 14
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Sanctuary Olonana, our award-winning tented camp situated on a private stretch of the Mara River, recently undergone a significant upgrade to the public areas of the lodge as well as a soft refurbishment to the tented rooms and pool area. The interior decor reflects a contemporary design using a combination of light earthy tones and the local Maasai women played an active part in the refurbishment using the same traditional technique used in their own houses to “mud” the interior walls in all of the main areas and curio shop. From the main viewing deck see and hear the family of noisy hippos who colonise the banks below the camp. Relax with a good book in the library, cool off in the pool or for an extra special treat, experience traditional African remedies and spa treatments in the mini-spa. Oversized Safari Tents – Built on the banks of the Mara River, the twelve canvas tents at Sanctuary Olonana are extremely comfortable and spacious. The ensuite tents all have two four-poster beds with floor to ceiling mosquito netting – making them perfect for families travelling with small children. Each of the private verandas overlook the river and offer the perfect spot where guests can relax and watch the resident hippos wallow in the water. There are also two honeymoon suites with each featuring outdoor showers. ... more   less 
Reservation Options:
TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Expedia, Hotels.com, Booking.com, Evoline ltd and Agoda so you can book your Sanctuary Olonana reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
Also Known As:
Sanctuary Olonana Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Sanctuary Olonana Kenya/Masai Mara National Reserve

Is This Your TripAdvisor Listing?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing