Our Best Masai Mara Safari Lodges for your Kenyan Safari
If you've dreamed of an African safari, Kenya’s Masai Mara is likely it! Scenes of vast, rolling plains dotted with grazing animals and iconic umbrella acacia trees. Herds of wildebeest and zebra stretch as far as the eye can see, elegant cheetah moving through the long grass and in the evening, the thundering roars of lions in the distance and the distinctive whoops from hyenas. This is the land of the Maasai, custodians of an ancient culture. Spectacular game viewing combines with unique cultural experiences and amazing opportunities to get to know the Maasai and Samburu people and their ways of life.
An iconic safari destination it may be, however the Masai Mara’s popularity with safari tourists has unfortunately resulted in some negative press of late, with recent media reports about ecosystems like the Masai Mara suffering from aggressive tourism and overcrowding. The Mara ecosystem is made up of national and private parks and depending on where you go, you could be faced with more than 200 vehicles in a small area. With every vehicle competing to get a better view, travellers’ expectations of an authentic and idyllic safari holiday can be quickly crushed. But fear not, we are here to help you avoid being a part of this and get the incredible Kenyan safari experience you are dreaming of!
In this blog, we'll guide you through three of our personal best lodges in Masai Mara that promise not just a stay but an unforgettable safari experience. As with all safaris we curate at Wild Wonderful World, we choose Masai Mara safari lodges and Masai Mara tented camps that offer the best possible safari experience, whilst ensuring the preservation of the wild spaces and respect towards the wildlife that inhabits them.
Mara Plains Camp
Mara Plains Camp is a one-of-a-kind camp located in the private 13,300-hectare Olare Motorogi Conservancy, just on the Maasai Mara National Reserve’s northern boundary. This intimate camp blends the finest in wildlife viewing with the best of safari hospitality and guiding. No other Maasai Mara based camp offers the extensive traversing area of Mara Plains Camp, with access to a total of 40,000 hectares of private conservancy land and the world-renowned Maasai Mara, home to the Great Migration.
Olare Motorogi Conservancy is reputed to have the lowest vehicle density in the Maasai Mara region, while also having the highest concentration of big cats anywhere in Africa. There is only one guest bed per 350 acres, leaving the land unadulterated for the wildlife to roam and thrive, as nature intended. Each guest at Mara Plains Camp contributes considerably to the success of the Olare Motorogi Conservancy’s flourishing ecosystem; conservation fees paid to safeguard this habitat while supporting over 1,000 Maasai families. This partnership agreement ensures the survival of an astounding volume and variety of wildlife.
Wildlife drives take place in some of the Mara’s most coveted vehicles. Each of the camp's Toyota Land Cruisers is open-sided, canopied and customised for photographers (fold-down screens, raised roofs, photographic bars, multi-plug invertors), with just four to six guests each. Game drives typically start at sunrise, returning for lunch and depart again in the mid-afternoon. However, very often guests will go out all day, deep into the Reserve or Conservancy with a packed breakfast and lunch. Wildlife drives can also continue into the night because of the camp’s location on a private conservancy.
Kicheche Mara Camp
Kicheche Mara Camp is a classic tented camp hidden in a beautiful valley in a prime wildlife area of the Mara North Conservancy. The luxury tents are laid out alongside a seasonal stream from where you can observe the resident birdlife and plains game beyond. The location is ideal as game viewing frequently starts in the camp itself and there is prime wildlife habitat on all sides providing an ideal base for your safari in the Masai Mara.
Bordering the Mara Reserve, the Mara North Conservatory is one of the biggest conservancies in the area, with amazing game viewing all year round. Eight luxury safari tents offer an intimate and relaxed atmosphere and overlook the Olare Orok stream and the western escarpment of the valley. Triple and quad family tents (one double & two single beds) are also available.
Asilia Naboisho Camp
Adjacent to the Masai Mara National Reserve, the 200km2 Mara Naboisho Conservancy is a ground-breaking success story of conservation and community development. The conservancy experience boasts a variety of activities amidst spectacular year-round game viewing with high concentrations of predators, combined with authentic community interaction. In the heart of it all is the recently upgraded Naboisho, a stylish haven with nine elegant tents, offering a level of safari solitude almost unheard of so close to the Masai Mara.
Naboisho Camp is designed to be as open as possible, taking full advantage of the Mara surroundings. Spot zebra or impala from its thatched-roof main lounge and dining area or swimming pool, and dine with the sights and sounds of the bush as your entertainment, be it the whoops of hyenas at night or the fluttering of weaver birds in the morning. You’ll be taken care of by a warm and hospitable team, all are highly experienced and have worked together for years.
The camp is also home to one of Asilia's photographic safari vehicles, which has space for three photographers and one other guest. Capture eye-level images of the Mara’s photogenic lions and cheetahs and move around easily with 360° swivel seats and beanbags and foam camera rests to help the keen photographer take steady low-light shots.
The nine guest tents have been built to create a heightened sense of space and luxury, without losing the soul of the camp. Spacious bathrooms include thoughtful design features to frame a view right through to the Naboisho valley from the solar-heated outdoor shower. The family tents have been fully designed to create two spacious family suites, with two ensuite bedrooms connected by a central lounge area, ideal for families or couples travelling together alike.
Aggressive tourism and overcrowding in the Kenyan Masai Mara has put the spotlight on a much larger problem in sub-Saharan Africa. Could Africa become a victim of its own success, destroying the pristine wilderness it is selling? If you are looking for the best place to stay in Masai Mara to avoid the crowds, gathering advice from experienced Africa travel specialists will ensure that you get the best experience on your Masai Mara luxury safari. Other than choosing eco-conscious lodges that treat the environment and wildlife with respect, we also recommend looking into travelling in the low season - with the added bonus of lower rates!
Done right, the Masai Mara promises a safari adventure like no other. Each of these lodges and Masai Mara tented camps offers a unique perspective on this incredible ecosystem, allowing you to connect with nature and witness the wild in all its glory. So, pack your bags and embark on a journey to the Masai Mara, where adventure and luxury go hand in hand, and the wildlife roams freely across the endless savannah plains.
Written by Evelyn Poole