We visited the Royal Mara at the end of November. This was our second visit - we loved it so much last year, we just had to go back!
We booked through Abdul at Tunda Tours again and went for the 2 night, 3 day safari. Because we knew exactly what we wanted to do, we booked early from the UK. He sorted everything for us and we paid no money until we arrived in Kenya. He collected us from the hotel in Watamu and we travelled to Malindi for the flight out to the Mara. We were the only ones on the flight so we really did feel like Royalty.
On arrival at the airstrip, we were met by James and taken back to the Lodge. Stephen checked us in very speedily and then we were shown to our 'tent'. As we had previously visited last year, we knew exactly what we were getting, although we both still had a grin from ear to ear when we walked in. The tents are fantastic - spotlessly clean, well equipped and have a perfect outlook of your very own hippos in the Mara River and your own monkeys trampelling over the roof.
Words can't quite describe this place - you have to experience it, but it really is magical. The staff are amazing, the acommodation is amazing, and the food is fantastic.
Apparently we were visiting in low season so the camp was very quiet, on our second night there were only 2 other guests. In some ways this was great because you really did get a personal service - but in other ways, the camp lacked the buzz of the guests talking about what they had seen. It by no means affected our trip though and I think pretty much every member of staff endured our tales about the lions, the cheetas, the tiny baby zebra, the tiny baby elephant and his family in the herd of 50+ elephants.
Our guide was James - he's a relatively new game drive guide (last year he did the walking safaris) and he was fantastic. He talked to us about what we wanted to see and he did absolutely everything he could to make sure we saw everything on the list. He is so knowledgeable about all the animals and as a Masai himself, he told us lots of things about the Masai way of life. The only animal we missed this time was the elusive leopard, which means that we'll have to go back!
We did the walking safari with Regan and Sammy which was really interesting too. We tracked along the river to find the crocs and hippo families and then walked out into the Mara where we were up close to buffalo, giraffes and water buck. We thoroughly enjoyed it.
The food is just superb. We were in the middle of the Masai Mara and how on earth they produce the abundence and quality of food they do escapes me. Some of our local restaurants could really do with taking a leaf out of their book.
We visited the Masai camp this time. Very very interesting, although when you see the market, maybe it's a little commercialised. There must have been in excess of 25 stalls all selling exactly the same things. We obviously weren't forced to buy, but as the only 2 visitors at that time we did receive 'one-to-one' service !
All in all, a fantastic safari - we wouldn't hesitate in recommending Abdul or the Royal Mara. We're already planning our return. Thank you Abdul, James (the camp manager), James (our fantastic safari guide), Stephen (reception and waiter), Karia (housekeeper), Regan, Sammy (guards and walking safari guides) and the rest of the team. See you next year !
Alison and Mark
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