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“Such a Cool Place To Stay”

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Elephant Pepper Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Vancouver
Level Contributor
15 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Such a Cool Place To Stay”
Reviewed 24 January 2010

This was also an amazing camp (we were in east Africa for a month), and almost tied for first place with Kicheche Laikipia... we actually liked the setting better, because the camp isn’t fenced, and animals wander in and out. While having lunch our first day we were looking out at zebras, buffalo and giraffe. How cool is that? In bed in the middle of the night I could hear big animals chewing grass just beside my head, about two feet away. Zebra? Buffalo? Who cares, as long as they’re vegetarians! When I giggled, they all stopped, it must have really startled them.

All animals are free to roam the camp, so they have Masai guards escort you to and from your tent in the evenings, complete with spear. This is the real deal. One afternoon they also had a Masai warrior come to camp and show my son how to shoot arrows, throw a spear, chuck wooden stick-things and start a fire with two sticks and grass.

Our driver/guide Stanley picked us up at the airport, and the camp host Barbara was there to greet us on arrival with cold towels and juice. She is a ‘relief’ manager, as regular camp managers were on holiday. We really liked her. She’s professional yet casual, very efficient and organized, but approachable and fun.

There were a few more people here, but not much, never more than 7-8 during our stay. Given that the camp employs 30 people, you can imagine how great the service was!

Bucket showers aren’t as bad as I thought, you just need to be efficient with your time. Also, if you don’t turn the water on ‘full blast’ you can really make it last quite awhile. Shower caps would be a good idea, for when you want a quick rinse but don’t have time to wash hair. There is a little slit in the side of the tent by the sink, so at the requested time in the morning (or any time, I suppose) someone will slip in a big jug of hot water onto the counter beside your sink.

Our driver/guide Stanley is bronze certified and very knowledgeable. He is quiet, humble and unassuming. Not as outgoing as our guide at the previous camp, not as chatty... more the strong silent type. He has worked for Cheli and Peacock for 25 years, and is their longest serving employee. I suspect he is very knowledgeable, but just not as outgoing. Because we learned so much from our last guide, it was okay that he was quieter, he was certainly able to answer any questions that we had. He could spot game that to us was a mere blur on the horizon. Stanley was really nice, and clearly it was very important to him that we had great drives, saw lots of stuff and enjoyed ourselves. We saw animals we hadn’t seen in Laikipia, like the topi, wildebeest, masai giraffe, dik dik and hartebeest.

We had an awesome walking safari here that took most of the afternoon. We went out with a ranger/guide and also a masai warrior guide, the camp manager Barbara came with us, and also another guest. Being out of the vehicle gave us a whole new perspective, and we learned all the different dungs/droppings, and the animal tracks, different flowers, fauna, trees, bushes. Between the two guides they had some neat stuff to say about just about everything. The masai guy was hilarious, he kept stopping for everything... a rock, a hole, a web, a feather, a mound. But in a good way... we got to see details that we would otherwise overlook in the vehicle. It turns out that Barbara had planned a surprise sundowner for us, but just as we were approaching and could see it all set up in the distance under an elephant pepper tree, it started pouring rain, really really heavily. We ran and jumped into the vehicles, soaked. What a shame, they had gone to quite a bit of trouble.... campfire, chairs, little bar area. We saw them taking it all down as we ran to the cars. Oh well, we grabbed a vino and snack in the car instead, and watched the sun go down from inside the vehicle.

We really had a lot of FUN at this camp... there were some really great guests staying here, and the humour kind of snow-balled. I suppose it didn’t hurt that there was an open bar for guests to just help themselves to at any time!! Seriously, it was a nice touch, for the kids too... this way they didn’t have to ask someone every time they wanted a juice or soft drink, everyone could just go to the Dining Tent and help themselves to whatever drinks they wanted, and they always kept ice and glasses out. Alternately, if you’d prefer the bartender to mix you a cocktail there was always someone handy for that too. Interestingly, I thought only wine was included in the package, yet they had about 20 types of alcohol in the open bar, and I was never charged. I don’t know if this is regular policy, or if it was a holiday season thing, or maybe in the evenings we were all just having so much fun that it was overlooked.

We really enjoyed sitting around the campfire in the evenings.... before dinner they’d serve appetizers and drinks, and it was very social. After dinner, we’d sit out there and look at all the eyes looking at us in the dark! As mentioned, we had a lot of fun at this camp, all the staff and guests seemed to be very jovial and have great sense of humour. Lots of laughter and jokes, and a great group of other guests rounded it out nicely.

The dinners at this camp were awesome, definitely on par with Kicheche. However, their ‘packed’ breakfasts and lunches were a little lacking. Don’t get me wrong, they were fine, but very basic. I likely would not have thought anything was lacking if I hadn’t just left Kicheche where they were so imaginative and over the top. Also, we ate on the hood of the vehicle, not a little table/chairs.

A few small holes in the screens in our tent. I patched them with tape, which I had brought with me just for this purpose. Again, lots of spiders, I think I’m just getting used to them now.

We did do the ‘masai’ village visit... Our travel agent warned us against it, I should have listened. But quite frankly, they looked so cool and I wanted to take pictures. It was $15 each, pretty short (maybe we were there 30 minutes or so), they sang and danced, showed us their homes, and then tried to sell us the highly priced jewellery. I really don’t like to bargain, although I know it’s a way of life there, but instead we just ended up not buying anything.

  • Stayed December 2009
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1 Thank anonymouse
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (43)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
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  • Portuguese first
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English first
Montjoi, France
Level Contributor
56 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 January 2010

What a great Gem, we saw every animal there was to see including Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino, and lots of other game. The camp is small and has a great ambiance, the food and service are fantastic. Sleeping is in full size Meru tents with ensuite toilet and shower filled by the staff each morning with hot water. You can lie in bed at night and listen to the Lions, etc. around the camp.

  • Stayed December 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Michael P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
bensville
Level Contributor
10 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 January 2010

What a great place. We were given the luxury of the honeymoon tent as it was our 5th wedding anniversary. The camp, host Barbara, staff and guide Francis were amazing. Wonderful food, amazing game drives and the peaceful setting that is Elephant pepper.
This was the last of three Cheli and peacock places we stayed and they were all spectacular and all very different.
Although Elephant pepper was the most basic in terms of services it was the best for game viewing. The drives made up for no running water and short buckets showers and we had the unusual experience of having the camp tp ourselves for 2 of the 3 nights we were there. On the second night i was frigthened by a herd of buffalo grazing on all sides of our tent. To be this close to the wild is remarkable. My wife was also only feet from a male lion as they set out for their evening meal which thankfully was not her.
Thanks for the effort. Well worth the money and an experience we will never forget.

  • Stayed December 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank bradio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tampa, FL
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 October 2009

We absolutely loved this safari camp and we have been to several over the past 2 years. We were able to book the Honeymoon Tent because it was open during our stay and it was wonderful. I was a little weary of the "bucket showers" but the water was warm and there was plenty of it so it wasn't an issue at all. We had a lion pride and buffalo outside our tent but never felt unsafe. Our driver, George, knew a lot about the different wildlife and where to look for animals. He was very accomodating too. We went to visit a nearby village and he also took us to the rhino sanctuary upon our request. The Masai Mara has so much wildlife it is very impressive just landing at the airstrip. Overall it was a great stay and we enjoyed everyone we met at this camp.

Stayed March 2009, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank raeshan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bournemouth
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviewed 15 October 2009

Sleeping in tents, complete with Masai guard, with full size beds that were very comfortable, and all bathroom facilities (shower was an ingenious one-bucket pipe mechanism). Very ecologically friendly camp - everything that could be was homemade, with memorable cheese! Very much in the style of old colonial hunting camp, but a tasteful and lovely camp, tucked in the trees.

Game was incredible - never been hunted in that area so animals are completely unafraid, got within 2 meters of a pride of lions. Great to have a chance to go bush walking as well.

Took a day trip into the National Park - saw cheetah kill, crocodile kill - having been on safari a few times before, I would say that our game viewing in the Masai Mara was unsurpassed.

Lovely couple run the camp, great atmosphere, very homely and friendly.

Cheli & Peacock are the company that own it - visit another of their camps which was superb [Elsa's Kopje in Meru]. Organised our whole trip and were very helpful and obliging.

  • Stayed September 2009, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank skantrobus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
United States
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 August 2009

I cam in July with my two boys - and WOW - what a fabulous place. not only is the camp super luxurious - fantastic tent - highly recoment the "honeymoon" tent - it is divine - but the whole camp is furnished so stylishly and appropriately for place - very Out of Africa
Everyone on the staff is great - perfect everything - the food is sublime
the real treat is the couple running this camp - so beautifully - Calum adn Sophie - my children loved Calum and his encyclopedic knowledge of animals - great manner with kids
Sophie runs the place gracefully - and with her Kenyan background is a wealth of information on almost any topic in Africa! They are a delight to spend time with.
i have stayed at many camps - many much more expensive - this is one of my favorites - my children's favorite - even compared to MOMBO - which is fabulous. our guide was top notch - knew what he was doing.

What can I say we loved it and would love to go back. my children are vowing to.

  • Stayed July 2009, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Itravelexperience
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Denver, Colorado
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 3 June 2009

First so sorry for getting this posted so late but my views and memories have not dulled with time! We were here in early March of 2008. This was a turbulent time in Kenya with the political issues they were having at that time. Many people cancelled their reservations and as a result our original camp closed and we were upgraded to Elephant Pepper. Our lucky day. We arrived after a long flight from London. We overnighted in London which if you are coming from the States I highly recommend. We were greeted by our Guide Leng who had a jeep and drinks ready for us. The flight from Nairobi which has caused me concern, not liking small planes, was wonderful. Being able to see the landscape from the low flying plane was wonderful. On our drive to the camp it was an immediate landscape of animals. Hippos, Ostriches, Giraffes, Elephants. I could not believe what we saw just from the airport. After our short drive we were taken to the camp where we were greeted by the camp manager Topper. A wonderful young man with a great future ahead of him. He made us feel so at home and welcomed. We had the luck to be the only people in the camp for 2 nights. We had the jeep to ourselves the entire 3 days we were there and after seeing other vehicles from other camps that were packed with people we felt like the luckiest people in the world. Leng and Sedera were wonderful guides. Young Masai warriors. We had a wonderful time with them. Knowledgeable and lots of fun. You usually do 2 drives a day, early morning and late afternoon. The animals will amaze and humble you. They will stop in the evening and have cocktails. What a happy hour experience. Nothing like a drink while watching the sun go down on the plains. Our meals were outstanding and we had 2 meals, one breakfast and one lunch, on our drives - can't beat the views you will have eating those meals. You will eat the rest of your meals at a long table with the others in the camp. We were later joined by a group of Germans and the owner of the camp. Discussing politics around the camp fire was a hoot! I hope we made a good impression! As my husband had cigars to share with the other men I think we did. He called it cigar diplomacy! Our tent was extremely nice. As I have never even camped I was thrilled. Comfortable bed, a sink with running water that you can wash your hands and face with and a toilet! They will put out hot water in a thermos in the mornings to wash your face with through the zipper window in the back of the spacious tent. Water is always available in the room to drink . The bucket showers were nothing to worry about. Get wet, soap up, and rinse off. Your water will only last a couple of minutes, if that. But its enough to get you clean. Best memories? Taking a bubble bath our first night there in a huge tub under the stars, quite romantic even for the un-romantics. Magically coming upon a group of 30+ giraffes driving out of a clearing, meeting Leng, Sedera, Topper and the Masai people at a village we visited. I will tell you, we cried when we left....a trip of a lifetime.

  • Stayed March 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Denver3000
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Elephant Pepper Camp

Property: Elephant Pepper Camp
Address: Mara North Conservancy | Mara North Conservancy, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Region: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Masai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #37 of 137 Speciality Lodging in Masai Mara National Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Elephant Pepper Camp 4.5*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Elephant Pepper Camp is situated within the Mara North Conservancy. Small and exclusive, the camp is located in the heart of the African Bush. Our spacious canvas tents are comfortably furnished, featuring en suite bathrooms with flush toilets and traditional safari showers. Nothing rivals sitting around the campfire enjoying the sounds of the African night. Elephant Pepper Camp brings people back to nature – no traffic, no permanent structures, just the sights and sounds of the African bush. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Elephant Pepper Camp Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Elephant Pepper Camp Kenya/Masai Mara National Reserve

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