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“Disappointment!”
Review of Kilima Camp

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Kilima Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 20 July 2010

After reading all the reviews about this tented camp I had high hopes and expectations.

The good things...the food was on the whole was very good. The view from the camp was stunning looking out over the Mara River. The staff kept the camp and tents very clean.

Now the bad things...

The reason to go on Safari is to see the animals. And whilst you are not guaranteed to see anything you can take certain steps to maximize what you do see. With that in mind the staff at Kilima Camp appear to not understand this. The game drives generally are scheduled to leave at 0630 hours, every day we left late for one reason or another, the drive down to the park takes up another half and hour, you then stop to collect tickets for entry into the park and for the driver to stand around chatting with his mates for another fifteen minutes and finally get into the park at 0715 hours...

The reasons for the lateness were simply...disorganization. The manager (David) was away during the first two nights of our stay at the camp and the owner (Axel) was in charge. They couldn't even get the number of picnic lunches right for the amount of people going on the game drives...which meant more had to be made up...resulting in more waiting around.

Kilima Camp markets itself as a 15 minute drive to the Masi Mara. Whilst this may be the case in perfect conditions and without any passengers on board it is certainly not the case when the vehicles are fully loaded. The quality of the road which leads to Kilima Camp is in an extremely poor state of repair and it is normal for the journey from the camp down to the Mara to take at least 30 mins. Due to the state of the road you then run the risk of getting a puncture or other damage to the vehicles. This happened to two vehicles during our stay of four nights. When it does happen you spend the best part of an hour sat there waiting for both the wheels on that axis to be changed.

The state of the vehicles that the camp utilize were on the whole poor. One of the vehicles had a broken rear axel which meant it was off the road. Quite simply there were insufficient vehicles available for game drives. The camp was full or nearly full for all four nights we stayed with between 22 to 24 people staying at the camp. This meant these numbers were cramped into three vehicles...seven people per vehicle on a game drive! Forcing an unfortunate person on occasions to sit in the front seat where there is a limited view.

The park itself opens at 0630 hours and closes at 1830 hours. Be careful that the entry into the park is included in the price you are charged...It was for us...but other people staying were surprised by a $60 per person per 24 hour bill for entry fees. Over a four day stay a family of three had to pay an additional $540...!

Invariably you get covered in dust but you have to remember that you are in the African bush...however, the water for our bush shower was normally cold. We stayed in Tent 12 the furthest from the main reception/lodge building. The water often took an hour to arrive so in the mean time you we just left waiting in your tent. They informed us on arrival that water would take 10 minutes once requested....not an hour!

Our tent leaked quite alot when it rained during the night resulting in pools of water forming in the bathroom area and the mats in the bedroom becoming soaked...

When David the manager returned...a number of these issues were brought to his attention, with one of the guests commenting that alot of people were unhappy...He replied, "Everybody seems to be enjoying themselves". It was explained to him that just because people are enjoying themselves does not mean they are happy with the disorganization, generally malaise or crumbling camp and vehicles.

At approx 1600 hours when I asked one of the drivers if we could go back via the airstrip (the territory of a cheetah) he smiled and stated no problem thats fine. He then dropped his speed from approx 30 km/hr to barely 15 km/hr...crawing back to the Mara entry/exit. Once there he stated, "I don't think we have the time to go to the airstrip".

This is the attitude towards game viewing!

The Mara itself however is stunning and I urge people to go and visit. The animals we saw were fantastic and varied as were the habitats.

My recommendation would be....don't stay at Kilima Camp. Go for one of the camps inside the Masi Mara. Spend the extra money and benefit from staff that are interested in showing you what you go on Safari for...The animals!

Mat & Caroline
Camberley
UK

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank PygmySeahorse
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
kilimacamp, Director of Sales at Kilima Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 18 April 2011

From the review it is obvious that the guests were unhappy regarding their stay at Kilima Camp. They also stayed during the same dates as the other “terrible review” we had from Rosie posted on the 19 July. Unlike Rosie, I am glad that the guests enjoy our fantastic view, like the food and find the tents clean and well maintained.
On the other issues, I would like to give some explanations:

Disorganization, late game drive, lack of vehicles:
At Kilima Camp there is no fixed time and schedules for the game drives. The manager together with the guides and drivers plan each game drives the evening before with each guest. They try to accommodate each guest the best way even if the guests have to share the vehicle. Some clients prefer to be at the gate at 6.30, other prefer to leave later. We usually propose and organize a full day on game drive if the guests stay 3 nights. If one guest is missing when a car is ready to go with the other clients, we usually wait for them and do not leave without them. That can imply some delay... and I understand that it could be very annoying for clients who are on time... Furthermore, our 4x4 have 7 seats on the back and 2 seats on the front. So in theory, 9 people could board in a car. Usually a car board 6 clients unless we have a specific request. Boarding 6 clients allows each clients to have a window. The clients did a game drive with 5 other clients in the same vehicle and one of the guest had to seat either in the middle of the last row on the lack or at the front... In fact one of the client who board the vehicle was supposed to board another 4x4 ! So this should not have happened. It was a mistake. The vehicle that should have board the additional client had left and did not wait for the late client... .. That is also the reason why the number of lunch boxes was not correct. I sincerely regret this mistake and put now put in place a number of procedures in order to avoid this kind of issues...
Also we have bought since last summer 2 additional new open sided 4x4 for our game drives which will really help our manager and drivers to organize the game drives and accommodate our clients needs.


Location and access to the Reserve:
The Reserve and entrance to the Mara Triangle is about 6.5 - 7km away from Kilima Camp and it takes 15-20 minutes depending on the weather and road conditions and assuming there is no stop on the way.
The road is a private road used by the 3 camps which are on the top of the escapement. The 3 camps maintained it twice a year just after the rains. Like other roads in the Mara, the road conditions can damage the vehicle and it is in our interest as well to maintained regularly. The maintenance work are done during the low seasons before and after the rains. But it is true that the road could be very bumpy... In another hand, we are in a quiet, remote and unspoiled part of the Mara Reserve, and it would not be the same if we had roads with Tarmac !
We are in a great location and benefit from a fantastic and unspoiled view over the Mara Reserve.
It is common to see many animals (elephants as well as giraffes and zebras) on you way to the game reserve and coming up the hill toward Kilima Camp and the top of the escapement at the end of the day (when you return at 6.30 – 7pm from your game drive) to seek for fresher grass and quite nights. Kilima Camp has a privileged localization. Other camps are indeed more that 30 minutes away from the Reserve Gate (without any stop). There is no boundary of the Mara Reserve and your game drive starts when you leave Kilima Camp and board our 4x4, doesn't it? Furthermore we have an unspoiled view which will remain as we overlook the Mara Reserve (unlike other camps which are surrounded by Masai Villages for instance or other camps...).

Park Fees:
In order to be able to go on game drive in the Mara Triangle, each clients has to pay a Park Fee. It was $60 / adult in July 2010. From 1st July, it will be $80 / person valid for 24h. This Park Fee is always separate from the accommodation and even if you stay on the only lodge which is located in the Mara Triangle, you still have to pay it. It is quit a lot of money but is is use to maintenance the roads, protect the wildlife against poachers and pay the rangers … You will find more information on the official website of the Mara Triangle.
The Park Fees paid by our guests were included by the Agent who sold them the Package. Kilima Camp bought the tickets on your behalf from KAPS in Nairobi and in advance. The Park fee ticket is then collected at the gate for each client siting in the car. Generally we encourage and propose our guests to include the Park Fees in order to avoid bringing a lot of cash and having a lot of cash at the camp. Also it is usually easier to give the relevant ticket at the gate rather than paying in cash (as something the rangers do not have any charge and it is quick to give the relevant ticket...). When Invoiced, the Park fees are always separate from the accommodation. whether the lodges or camps are in the Reserve or outside.
It happens that some Agents or direct clients prefer to pay directly the Park Fees rather than been invoiced before. Kilima Camp (and the Agents who we work with) always mentioned clearly of the Park Fees are included or not on the invoice.

Shower and water:
The guest stay in Tent 12, the furthest from the main tent as we consider this tent to be one of the best location (especially for privacy). The guests have to order shower and the hot water is then delivered to each tent manually. So it is true that the shower can take longer that 10 minutes if 24 clients ask for a shower at the same time when they return from the game drive.
Our water plant and dam have been upgraded recently as well as our water boilers and set up which supply our standard tent. Also we will operate 2 Deluxe Tents with running water (in April 2011) and a Spa with a shower with hot running water. So this kind of problem should exist anymore in our standard tent as we upgraded the whole system. For the time being we are keen to keep the bucket of shower system upon request. It is part of our green philosophy (water is limited and is precious).
Clients who prefer not to have this kind of bush experience and prefer to have running hot showers and more comfort, will be able to book our Deluxe Tents from April 2011.

Tent & camp maintenance:
The tent fly sheet have been charged in September and we did a lot of maintenance work in the camp after the high season. We have done a lot of new investment and improvement since the last 6 months. As you have noticed also the staff keep the camp and the tents very clean and maintenance of all our equipment (tents, infrastructures and vehicles ) is a key aspect our business.

Management, driver attitude:
Please note that David has left Kilima Camp in September. Our new manager, Tom has been trained and makes sure that when a problem is mentioned he addressed it and makes all efforts to sort it.
Kilima Camp has a number of avenues to comment or express dissatisfaction in order to allow the staff and management to address whatever issues may arise.
All our drivers guides are qualified from KPSGA, the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association, which is an examining body whose aim is to improve the quality of Driver Guides for the Kenya tourist industry. Our driver are either Bronze or Silver and this qualification ensure they have knowledge of wildlife, conservation & tourism, flora and fauna; great attention is given also to ethics and standards relating to all aspects of tourism as well a a good level of English. Our guides go on the Mara Triangle every day. Hence they know exactly where to look for the games and know how to stop them and it is not rare to spot the 4 or 5 of the five in a day ! I am surprised also to read that your driver did not want to please you. As you know, tips are part of they remuneration and they are keen to please each client in order to maximize their tips. Also our clients usually really enjoyed our guides!
In conclusion, I am sorry that you were disappointed about your stay at Kilima Camp. We improve the facility at Kilima Camp since the last 6 months and always try to satisfy our clients. I am also release that the clients enjoy at least some part of they stay : the food, the view, cleanness of the camp and tents as well as the wildlife and the Mara …

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Reviewed 19 July 2010

So, I went with my father five nights at the beginning of July. On their website it said Kilima Camp was a mere 15 mins from Kichwa Tembo airstrip but however it was actually 30-40 mins which meant everyday four times a day we had to make this journey which took a lot of time out of our game drives.
The food at Kilima (when it came) was ok, yet nothing special. Often me and my dad were eating at completely different times because they didnt bring our food together (half an hour apart!!!). The service at Kilima was INCREDIBLY SLOW. I have never been anywhere where it took 3 days to get something and 3 hours to get a drink. It was shocking.
Next, the rooms. The rooms were ok, nothing amazing ( apart from the view which was mind blowing- but the hotel didnt make that, surprise surprise). The zips on the tents kept braking, the bathroom was never re-stocked and the bed was not changed, neither the towels. When I returned home, I woke up a few days later to find I had bed bug bites all over my legs. Bed Bugs hide in luggage and so had obviously come from kilima as this was the only place I had stayed recently (i have a new bed aswell!), so Kilima Camp has bed bugs.

I would not recommend this hotel to anyone ever, because it wasnt clean, the beds had bed bugs,, the staff weren't particularity friendly, the food wasnt very good, it was far away, the game drivers were silent and you could tell they got bored (apart from Justice who was ok).

Having stayed at Governers camp two years before, I would most definitley recommend it because Governers was the most amazing experience of my travelling life. So if you want to stay in the masai mara and really, really experience it, go to Governers camp where you can see and hear lions, instead of being 40 mins away from the gate to the park at Kilima Camp.

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled with friends
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1  Thank Rosieposy123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
kilimacamp, Director of Sales at Kilima Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 14 April 2011

From the review it is obvious that the young guest who was 17yrs, was unhappy with aspects of her stay with her father at Kilima Camp. We are sorry to hear that and always aim to accommodate our guests and solve issues when the may rise. This is exactly what we did when we gave the guests a private vehicle for a couple days even though they had not asked for a private car when they booked their holidays. They were fully aware when they confirmed the booking that they had to share the vehicle with other clients staying at Kilima Camp.

Location and access to the Reserve:
The Reserve and entrance to the Mara Triangle is about 6.5 - 7km away from Kilima Camp and it takes 15-20 minutes depending on the weather and road conditions and assuming there is no stop on the way. It is common to see many animals (elephants as well as giraffes and zebras) on your way to the game reserve and coming up the hill toward Kilima Camp and the top of the escapement at the end of the day (when you return at 6.30 – 7pm from your game drive). Kilima Camp has a privileged location.
Other camps are indeed more that 30 minutes away from the Reserve Gate (without any stop). There is no boundary of the Mara Reserve and game drive starts when you leave Kilima Camp on board our 4x4, doesn't it? There is only 1 lodge located in the Mara Triangle Reserve official perimeter and it has about 80 rooms and a swimming pool, so not exactly comparable to our small eco-friendly camp. Furthermore we have an unspoiled view which will remain as we overlook the Mara Reserve (unlike other camps which are surrounded by Masai Villages for example).

Our Driver & Guides:
All our drivers guides are qualified from KPSGA, the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association, which is an examining body whose aim is to improve the quality of Driver Guides for the Kenya tourist industry. Our drivers are either Bronze or Silver and this qualification ensure they have knowledge of wildlife, conservation & tourism, flora and fauna; great attention is given also to ethics and standards relating to all aspects of tourism as well a good level of English. Usually our guests have no problem at all with our guides and love them! Our guides go on the Mara Triangle every day. Hence they know exactly where to look for the games and know how to stop them and it is not rare to spot the 4 or 5 in a day !

Food, service, staff:
I am surprised that your dad or you did not mention any of the issues mentioned while you were at Kilima Camp. Kilima Camp has in place a number of avenues to comment or express dissatisfaction in order to allow the staff and management to address whatever issues may arise. In addition, one of the founder and owner of Kilima Camp was on site at Kilima Camp during your stay .
He clearly said that when you and your father checked out, all seemed to be fine and was very surprised about such bad comments somehow especially after we offered you and your father a private vehicle eventually for the last 3 days. Saying that it took you 3 days to get something is a bit misleading, isn't it? May be you are thinking about the 4x4 vehicle that you wanted without paying any extra?

Bugs:
Unless you specifically ask our staff to change the bed sheet and towels, we usually change them every 3 - 4 days. Cleaning is done twice a day in the tents (even more when it rains). If you have some bites from bed bugs from Kilima Camp, I am pretty sure that you would have noticed them while you were there... Also I can not understand why you are so sure about the bed buds? If I recall well, your father told me that he had booked a hotel in Nairobi directly before your return to the UK (and therefore just after Kilima Camp). You took some taxis in Nairobi and stayed at the airports (JKIA and Wilson) a couple hours before departure…
I also wanted to add the following: the guest staying with her father at Kilima Camp at the same dates as an other couple who posted a “review” on the 20 July. They were not happy about their stay but they acknowledge that the “food was on the whole was very good” and “the tents were very clean”. So I am very surprised to have a completely different point of view on similar aspects for the same dates...

I sincerely regret that our guest did not enjoy her stay at Kilima Camp. We always listen to our clients comments and try to improve ourselves. But also I wanted to clarify some of the issues reported as I disagree and feel that the review is not objective.

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Reviewed 15 July 2010

The sounds of all the birds and animals in the morning...I will never forget...
Service minded and nice staff...
The feeling of been taken care of by the masai's with flashlights in the night when walking to our tents...
The safari walk with the masai guys in the morning...
The hippo that lived in the pond nearby (extremely scared of people)
Living close to the Antilopes and Giraffes..
The view from our luxary tent...
The closeness to the national park (Masai Mara) and all the wonderful hours we spend there..
We simply loved this place and regretted we had just booked it for four days...
I love to come back one day...
Thank you you people who made this possible for my family and I..:)

  • Stayed: January 2010, travelled with family
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Thank mesmerized095
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 February 2010

We arrived at the Kichwa Tembo airstip amidst Giraffe, Gazelle and Zebra with endless rolling savannah, the Mara was everything we had imagined. We were staying at the eco- friendly Kilima Camp, which was perfectly situated on the edge of the escarpment overlooking the park, a 15 minute drive (on a very bumpy track) outside the park. However the view from the camp was unbelievable, with a perfect view of the Mara River. All the tents overlooked the Mara below and were very practical and comfortable, we were even impressed with the bush shower!!

The food at this camp was perfect, with tasty soups and tender steaks, there was a varied menu and in our opinion too much food!

Our guide was very knowledgable and enthusiastic as were the Masai warriors who hosted bush walks around the camp. We saw the Big 5 on the first day and had an encounter with a leopard and were fortunate enough to see a cheetah hunting.

We were very impressed by Kilima, it was the perfect escape with magnificent views and would consider a future visit during the migration.

  • Stayed: February 2010
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Thank lazygirl78
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 December 2009

I will say a word or two on Kilima. Stayed there for just 1 night in early October (didnt get a booking so spent rest 2 at KT). One of the most memorable stay in life. best possible location at 1800 metres on top of Siria Escrapment (had entire Mara traingle bare open in front of us ); Extremely spacious tents; Very friendly staff; Awesome food and an endless canopy of stars - that's how I will summarise our one night there.

Everything was picture perfect to give us a true Bush Camp experience - 12 tents; no Fence, Laugh of the Hyenas, Resident Giraffes, Safari Shower, Pale blue lights matching perfectly with the ambience and always smiling staffs.

We will surely go back soon!

  • Stayed: October 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank mnk73
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 October 2009

  • Stayed: September 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank Philippe M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 September 2009

  • Stayed: September 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank HonestReview86
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Kilima Camp

Address: Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Phone Number:
Region: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Masai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #28 of 146 Speciality Lodging in Masai Mara National Reserve
Price Range: £310 - £498 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Kilima Camp 4*
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Kilima Camp is a small and intimate eco-friendly tented camp with a stunning view over the Mara rive and the Masai Mara Reserve.Like all our standard tents, our two new Deluxe tents benefit from fantastic and unspoiled views!We offer excellent game viewing in the Mara Triangle with our 4x4 vehicle and our qualified and experienced guides. Being this close to nature , with panoramic views of the Masai Mara, we guarantee you that you will see amazing wildlife ! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Kilima Camp Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Kilima Camp Kenya/Masai Mara National Reserve

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