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Reviewed 1 September 2011

From The Bull to The Buffalo Part 5 Masa Mara
Sarova Mara Lodge 24 to 26 Sept 2010

The journey was fascinating from Lake Nakuru to the Mara. We stopped for our boat trip to see Hippo and birds. Then to purchase copper coloured Kenyan tea and rich flavoured ground Kenyan coffee.

Perhaps the most Kenyan feature were miles of brand new tarmac road covered in boulders and thorn bushes while we negotiated craters and mud ridges. Why? Government or local authority forgotten to pay the contractor? No dash in the godfather’s back pocket? Are there really so many tourists happily enduring the back jarring Safari Van ride who will come again that the Kenyan authorities can afford to ignore their comfort? How much extra do lorry repairs add to food bills?

Eventually we reached Serena Mara Lodge what a paradise. We could hardly wish for better equipped more beautiful safari tents, see photos Time for a quick registration, wash and lunch al fresco. Even though it seemed we were the last party to arrive and much was being cleared up there was more than sufficient to re-fuel Dariusdave ahead of the real business of the day the afternoon game drive.

The afternoon game drive seemed limited. Yes we spent an hour looking and photographing the tail and buttocks of a lonely leopard up a tree. Every other Safari vehicle seemed to be circling round to obtain the best view. Our driver guide had the crazy idea that the leopard up a tree surrounded by 30+ vehicles would soon come down for tea!

Eventually we drove away and found a pride of lions enjoying their siesta. Yes we did eventually find a few elephants and buffalo and zebra. However remembering 2008 I felt game was scattered and scarce.

We returned at dusk to our Paradise Camp, which had a wonderfully designed bar including Kenyan heating (although I never felt cold or chill) and a fair selection of drinks to wash the dust from our throats.

Dinner was an epicurean feast with seemingly unlimited choices for all courses. Even the fussiest of eaters would have been spoilt for choice. Maybe a night cap or two after dusk in the classically Kenyan bar and soundly to sleep.

Early to wake, early to rise with rich Kenyan coffee then out on the first game drive before breakfast (our party had not won the lotto so no hot air balloon flight). We had not gone far and encountered herds of Zebra and Wildebeest. Running almost like members of a relay squad this was The Migration. Sad we only watched for a few minutes then off.
We next found three Cheetahs travelling in line abreast. Sometimes spreading out then coming back together almost comparing notes on targets for breakfast. This Safari drive was the Mara at its best. We also saw ostrich, buffalo, lion, elephants, vultures and many gazelle. We would happily have postponed or gone without breakfast to have continued this wonderful game drive.

Sadly Pollman’s inflexible timetable set in stone forced an early return. Why after the disappointments of Shaba and the manicured lawns at Lake Nakuru could we not stay out and enjoy the Mara at its best viewing the animals we had travelled thousands of miles to see?

Yes breakfast at Sarova Mara Lodge was a banquet. I cannot speak highly enough of Mara Lodge. There was a letter of thanks on the Notice Board from Sir Richard Branson. The local management had made arrangements for all night electricity so my breathing machine would run. I’m not sure the photos do justice to the quality of our safari tent. Plenty of furniture to keep our possessions safe in case monkeys came to visit. A first class bathroom with flushing loo, basin and power shower was located at the back of the tent. The bed more Mount Kenya than Kilimanjaro was comfortable well made and warm no complaints.

We had time for a leisurely inspection of the Safari lodge, but felt frustrated that we had abandoned the best game drive and felt like active soldiers confined to barracks when we wanted to be out at the front. Eventually we enjoyed a light lunch and waited for our Safari Van to take us out to the Mara for our last scheduled game drive.

After the joy of the morning we departed Mara Lodge full of hope and expectation. Sad to say this was the most disappointing Game drive ever on The Mara. My camera records a buffalo, a giraffe, a small pride of lions and a jackal. At one point we set out along the foot of a ridge, every safari van coming in the opposite direction relayed there was no game to be seen. But still we plodded on to the very end seeing zero. Could we not have ventured to the Mara river to see the crocodiles? We returned unhappy feeling extremely disappointed. Talking with other guests in the Safari bar we soon heard that they did not suffer our disappointments. It was clear our Pollman’s “guide” did not have a clue where to look. Perhaps had the radio worked and been used it may have been a different storey. We did ask for a morning game drive as compensation for this failure, no chance. Complaints to Pollman’s agent at The Baobab Hotel were greeted with incredulity and promises of an Enquiry.

We departed 26th September for Nairobi, feeling disappointed that an expensive Safari in wonderful Lodges was so poor. Worse was to follow our tyres failed on the road to Nairobi. One redeeming feature was “Sunday Road Rules” in Nairobi totally confusing. We still arrived early at Nairobi Airport.

Next Final stop The Sarova Baobab Beach Resort.

Room Tip: Make sure you zip the doors
  • Stayed: September 2010, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Dariusdave
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
MaraManager, Manager at Sarova Mara Game Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 19 September 2011

Dear Guest,
Greetings from Sunny Mara!
Wow what a review!!
This is undoubtedly one of the most comprehensive reviews we have! We are happy that you found our food, accommodation and service meeting and indeed exceeding your expectations. You have used words like paradise, designer bar, epicurean feast, banquet and many more to describe our services and this makes us quite proud of our services. We assure you that your comments will go a long way in propelling us to greater heights of performance so that the next time you visit us you will be even more wowed by our Paradise in the Mara.
Kind regards

Msengeti Francis

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Reviewed 31 August 2011

I travelled here with my parents and brother, and had a truly great experience. We stayed in the club tents which are comfortable, spacious and extremely clean. The bathroom part of the tent is a proper bathroom, with brick walls and wooden doors, which I much prefer to tent bathrooms.
The club tents are right at the border of the property, which itself is in the middle of the Masai Mara, so you can hear the animals at night, and wake up to dik-diks right at the verandah! At night we could see the buffalos walking right beyond the fence. It could be scary, but the property is properly fenced , and they have gaurds patrolling all night.
The hotel is beautiful, we had a 5 minute walk to the main lobby and restaurant from the tent, which is lovely, accross a little bridge, and surrounded by trees on all sides. You get to see a variety of birds on the walk.
The food is excellent, a huge buffet spread for every meal, and the desserts especially were very nice.
The staff is friendly and courteous, and very helpful. We ran out of memory space on our camera, and discovered that we did not have the camera cable with us. They were very nice about getting us a cable, and selling us a USB stick onto which we could transfer the pictures.
The room is very luxurious, and the four poster beds with mosquito nets make you feel like a princess in the middle of the jungle sounds all around you!
This is one place I would love to go back to.

Room Tip: If you can afford it, the club tents are way better than the regular ones, both their location and standard.
  • Stayed: June 2011, travelled with family
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Thank tara466
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
MaraManager, Manager at Sarova Mara Game Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 19 September 2011

Dear Guest,
Thank you for taking your time to review our lodge and our services. I am glad that you had a great experience here in Sarova Mara Game Camp. We pride ourselves in provision of best of Kenya cuisine and are pleased to note that you found our food to be excellent. I will share your comments with my team and this will surely further motivate us to greater heights. We hope to have the opportunity to be of service to you once again and welcome you and your family once more.

Kind regards,
Msengeti Francis.

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Reviewed 30 August 2011

We were a small group of seven that I brought to the Mara Sarova Tented Camp. I must mention that my comments are based on the fact that this property was not at its' full capacity when we were there. When you drive in to this lovely property you do not get the sense that it is actually as large as it is. I was fortunate in that my husband and I were upgraded to one of the higher level categories of tent. The Tent was certainly Deluxe with a wonderfull comfortable King Sized bed, the furnishings were in the African tradition and the bathroom was nicely appointed and spotless! Some of my group were situated in the Standard tents which they enjoyed as well, they were definitely more basic, but I was told the beds were very comfortable. What I must comment on this property is the beautiful public areas, bar, gift shop, lobby. It has a nice swimming pool as well. The dining area is divided up into different stations, all refrigerated and wonderfully laid out. The Food was terrific here. However, as the Camp is so large I wonder how noisy it would be with a full Dining area, that would be my only concern. I actually am returning with my next Group this coming November and will stay for 2 nights with them. I am very much looking forward to my return to this lovely property.
The property is located close to the gates of the Mara, the Game is a bit more timid in this area compared to the central Masai Mara.

  • Stayed: March 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank Tanzaniatravel_9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
MaraManager, Manager at Sarova Mara Game Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 19 September 2011

Dear Esteemed Guest,
Thank you for your patronage of Sarova Mara Game Camp and your comments. We are happy that you and your group found our services to meet your expectations. Indeed we have a newly renovated buffet which is fully temperature controlled to ensure that we are able to serve food at the best temperature for maximum enjoyment. I would like to assure you that the design of the restaurant ensures that guests are able to feel cozy even when we are full house. The buffet being spread out with different stations for different food and someone always at hand to take you through the spread makes our meal times an experience on its own.
We look forward to hosting you again to be able to deliver our Refreshing African Hospitality once more.

Kind regards,
Msengeti Francis

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Reviewed 29 August 2011

The accommodations were equal to that of a nice three to four star hotel in the US. Clean, roomy bathroom shower and nice tent. Don't be fool (worried) this isn't a typical camping tent. These tents provide privacy and comfort while still attempting to capture the experience of 1940's safaris.

Food at the restaurant is always buffet style with many meat and vegetable choices. Not as much regional cuisine as I would have liked, but they did have some regional dishes in with more mainstream meals. The desserts were the one downfall. Having had croissants in Paris and scones in England, the attempt to create desserts that mimicked these tastes fell woefully short. In fact, with a new pastry chef, I could easily justify a five rating of this property. Unfortunately, most of the desserts were so poorly executed, it left a never negative overall impression of the dining hall.

Being right inside the Mara, this resort provides ample opportunities to see a great variety of animal. We saw the big five, and as the Wildebeest were migrating through the area during our stay, we saw thousands of them along with Zebras, Impala, Topi... the list was seemingly endless.

Staff was courteous and attentive - the same type of hospitality we enjoyed in Nairobi carried over here. A great stay and well worth the money.

  • Stayed: August 2011, travelled with friends
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Thank ERB1969
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
MaraManager, Manager at Sarova Mara Game Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 19 September 2011

Dear guest,
Greetings from the Mara!
I would like to thank you for choosing to stay with us during your trip to the Mara. I am glad that you found our services your money’s worth.
I truly appreciate your reviews of our property especially our meal experience and will identify the gaps and improve. We have already taken steps to improve our desserts and pastry section and hope that next time you visit us you will find our dessert and pastry section meeting international standards yet maintaining a local touch.

Kind regards,
Msengeti Francis.

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Reviewed 19 August 2011

I stayed here with my girlfriend and her parents in March for four days. Overall, we had an extremely great time. The hotel is clean and comfortable, the tented rooms very homey - somewhat luxurious but still feel kind of rustic. The lounge/bar area was great, and they had a wonderful guitar player singing every night. The pool area was lovely as well, with a bar that was always stocked to keep your day drunk going. The food ranged from poor to very good, with most of it being solidly in the middle, though there was always enough variety to ensure there is something you will like.

We booked directly with the hotel, and so we had a hotel driver, who was fantastic. As a result, we were in one of the great Sarova SUVs - by far the best and most comfortable vehicles we saw out there and way better than the mini buses that so many people use. We saw all the big five, plus a pack of cheetahs stalk, hunt and then kill a gazelle, as well as elephants having sex. Hilarious.

All in all, a great trip. Beware - though it is full board, drinks are not included, and the four of us ran up about a $600 dollar drink bill while there. So, very good overall, but nothing that really made me say 'wow.'

  • Stayed: March 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank africaforlife
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
MaraManager, Manager at Sarova Mara Game Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 19 September 2011

Dear Guest,
Thank you for staying in our lodge and we truly appreciate your patronage. I would also like to thank you for taking time to post your review of our property here. Your comments on the food will give us the insight to strive to improve our meal experience. We pride ourselves on the quality of our vehicles and guiding and your comments will be passed to our guiding team.
We say Karibu Tena – Welcome again to Sarova Mara Game Camp and hope to have another opportunity to be able to wow you with our services.

Kind regards,
Francis Msengeti

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