Basecamp Eagle View is set in the Maasai-owned Mara Naboisho Conservancy…
Basecamp Eagle View: Our full report
Sister camp to Basecamp Maasai Mara near the reserve’s Talek Gate, Basecamp Eagle View is located in a stunning spot, with arguably the best views in the quiet 211km² Mara Naboisho Conservancy, a Maasai-owned conservancy north of the Maasai Mara National Reserve. It is small and relatively simple, with nine chalets set high on a hill. Each of these is cantilevered to the hillside, overlooking plains dotted with acacia trees of various species.
Originally this camp was part of a guide-training facility at the nearby Koiyaki Guiding School. However in 2009, the Basecamp Foundation agreed to help support the guide school and take over the site which was known for three years as Basecamp Wilderness. Just before our visit in January 2012, Basecamp had their application for a long-term lease confirmed. The camp had a major overhaul in 2012 and re-opened at the end of the year under its new, slightly confusing name, Basecamp Eagle View. We have yet to visit the refurbished camp, which we understand has better infrastructure, amenities and furnishings than its predecessor. The same staff are still here, however, and the camp’s links with the guiding school and its focus on sustainability remain just as important.
The main areas at Basecamp Eagle View consist of two decks alongside each other, both with great views over the plains. Shaded by a canvas roof, the lounge and bar have polished stone floors and are simply furnished with some comfortable sofas and chairs. Directors’ chairs look out across an open-air fire-pit to the views beyond.
On the second deck, the dining area is sheltered by a large sail-like roof of canvas, with separate tables and chairs for individual dining and a buffet table alongside.
Spread well apart, the tented chalets are accessed via sandy pathways. Smart, modern, wooden floors and stylish furnishings throughout include comfortable beds and clothes and luggage storage, twin washbasins and flush loos in the bathrooms and private, outdoor shows with views of the plains. The real highlight of each room, however, is the veranda – accessed via canvas flaps that open right up. From here, cooled by the breeze, you have wonderful views across the Naboisho Conservancy and – with a sun lounger, small sofa and a few directors’ chairs to choose from – you can sit and game watch from your high vantage point.
Activities at Basecamp Wilderness include safari drives in 4WD Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles. These are closed-side vehicles with roof hatches. Each guest has a window seat. The vehicles take up to five or eight guests, depending on size. The camp can also offer night drives, starting at around 4.30pm, and continuing until around 8.00pm when you return for dinner.
Rates at Basecamp Eagle View include the option of a full-day safari into the Maasai Mara National Reserve (reserve fees payable).
Walking is another option from Basecamp Wilderness, although when we were last here the walks were led by a Maasai guide armed only with a spear. Although this isn’t unusual practice in the Mara conservancies, we question the safety of such walks considering the high density of dangerous big game in the area, and we don’t currently recommend them. The camp plans to get an armed ranger as soon as possible, however, so ask us for the latest details.
When we visited, Basecamp Wilderness, as it then was, had two silver-qualified guides (a Kenyan qualification set between bronze and gold) and a bronze guide – which is the country’s ‘entry-level’ guiding qualification. All the guides are Maasai from the surrounding communities and all had a good degree of knowledge. We left feeling we had learnt a lot about the conservancy and the wildlife to be found here.
All the Basecamp properties operate with a strong focus on responsible tourism, and this is one of the reasons we have included them in the Expert Africa programme. They are key funders and supporters of the community Koiyaki guiding school, located right next to Basecamp’s Eagle View. This is the only community guiding school in Kenya, and with the help of various supporters it trains local Maasai in safari guiding. Around 80 percent of the young men and women who have passed through the school have been able to get full-time employment as a result.
Basecamp has also installed computers at the guiding school, and when the guides are not training there, the school offers heavily subsidised computer courses to the local community. If you're interested, it's normally possible to make a brief, informal visit to the school: talk to the lodge manager.
Among other Basecamp projects are HIV outreach programmes, the construction of four boreholes and tree planting, with 30,000 saplings planted to date.
Our viewLocation, community engagement and responsible tourism are the key elements here. The views are exceptional for the Mara, where the terrain is generally fairly flat. Although we haven’t visited since the camp had its complete refit in 2012, all the signs are that it will now hold its own in terms of comfort and style against most mid-range camps in the Mara.
Ideal length of stay: We would spend at least three nights at Basecamp Eagle View, in order to fully experience the Naboisho Conservancy. However if you wanted to spend longer in the conservancy, then consider a few nights in the simple Basecamp Dorobo – which is more of a fly-camp and just a few kilometres from Basecamp’s Eagle View. If you’d like to experience a different part of the Mara, another alternative would be to combine Basecamp’s Eagle View with Basecamp Maasai Mara, an hour’s drive away near the Talek Gate of the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Directions: The flight from Wilson Airport in Nairobi to Naboisho airstrip takes about an hour followed by a short drive to the camp.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: When we stayed at Basecamp Eagle View, as it then was, in January 2012, we thought the food was unfussy, hearty and really quite good.
For breakfast toast and fresh fruit were on the table, and the waiter took our order for a cooked breakfast. This included eggs of your choice, bacon, sausages, baked beans and a sweet pancake.
We didn’t have lunch when we were here, though understood that it is a set three-course menu, much like the dinner described below, though perhaps a fraction lighter.
For dinner we had a thick and tasty bowl of butternut soup served with a hot bread roll. The main course was chicken in a slightly sweet coconut sauce with rice and vegetables. Pudding was pineapple upside-down cake, followed by tea and coffee.
Dietary requirements can be catered for – but the camp does need advanced notice in order to be able to accommodate guests properly.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Drinks are not included at Basecamp’s Eagle View.
Attitude towards children: Basecamp Eagle View is reluctant to take children below the age of 12 years, as the camp is unfenced and in an area with quite a lot of big game.
Property’s age restrictions: Children under the age of 15 are not permitted to do safari walks.
Special activities & services: None
Equipment: Basecamp Eagle View do not have any special equipment for children, although they can do special meals and have some board games in the lounge. They can also arrange for someone from housekeeping to watch the children should parents which to do an activity without them. However please note that members of housekeeping are not specially trained in childcare.
Generally recommended for children: Basecamp Eagle View is quite a wild camp without any family chalets. It is set on a steep hillside, with sheer drops from the verandas and main areas. Expert Africa don’t recommend it for children under 12.
Communications: There is cellphone reception at Basecamp Eagle View, and we understand that they usually have Wi-Fi internet access. If online access is important to you, please check with us before arranging a trip here.
TV & radio: No
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The guides at Basecamp Eagle View have basic first-aid training, and there are first-aid kits in the vehicles and at camp. The nearest doctor or hospital is in Talek, 20km away and about an hour by road. The camp has links to the flying doctor service for more serious emergencies, and there is a private airstrip in front of the camp that they can use.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Basecamp Eagle View has several askaris patrolling the camp for animals, and guests are escorted to their chalets at night.
Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are installed in every chalet and in the main areas, and the staff are trained to use them.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Extra Charge
Money: Valuables should be stored with reception.
Accepted payment on location: Guests at Basecamp Eagle View can settle their bill in US dollars and Kenyan shillings. They can also use Visa and MasterCard credit cards, though Amex is not accepted. Travellers’ cheques are not accepted.