Governors' Il Moran Camp has very large tents.
Governors Il Moran Camp: Our full report
Set on the inside of a thickly wooded bend of the Mara River in the Musiara sector of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Governors’ Il Moran Camp is just 1km north of the main Governors’ Camp as the crow flies. It’s designed as a more exclusive version of the original formula, with much larger tents.
The camp is similar in most ways to the main Governors’ Camp and, along with Little Governors’ Camp, shares its driver/guides and vehicles with the main camp. Even when full, however, Il Moran feels small and peaceful and has a fair proportion of honeymooners among its guests. Like the main Governors’ Camp, the physical set-up here is traditional and permanent, and few environmental considerations are taken into account in the operation of the camp.
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The central area at Il Moran includes a cavernous, open-sided, dark-red tiled lounge ‘tent’, scattered with small armchairs and tables. It’s a place to sit and have a drink, but it could do with a few homely touches. The dining tent is similarly functional, and the terracotta floor tiles – which seem to be a bit of a theme in the Governors’ camps – lend it a curiously institutional feel. Perhaps fortunately, they generally aim to eat outdoors.
Tents at Governors’ Il Moran CampThe ten extremely spacious tents at Governors’ Il Moran are set on very large concrete, stone-paved plinths, and are fully mosquito-proofed, yet with their heavy steel frames, they don’t look very attractive. All have robust double beds made locally from reclaimed wood. An extra bed can be added if a twin set-up is required. The bedroom floors are laid with a heavy-weave carpet and simple rugs. Furniture is somewhat basic: a pair of small armchairs and an occasional table, a writing table and chair, and a hanging rail and shelves.
The very large bathrooms, separated from the bedroom by zipped flaps, have terracotta-tiled floors and half walls of varnished wood panelling. The rear tent wall and overhead tent roof have welcome, extensive areas of mosquito-screen. As well as a big walk-in shower (with no curtains or shower screen), there’s a free-standing enamel bathtub with shower attachment, a bidet and flush toilet, and a vanity unit with twin washbasins. The fragrant toiletries are by Kenya's natural manufacturer, Cinnabar Green.
The generator is always on, and charges an inverter. Batteries can be charged in the tents, using the UK-style, three-pin sockets, at any time.
The front verandas have simple dining-style chairs and a table, plus either deck chairs or directors’ chairs, and a canvas hammock hanging from the frame. It’s unfortunate that the access path to several of the tents runs along the riverbank, in front of the verandas, interfering with guests’ privacy, rather than weaving through the trees at the rear.
Safari activities at Governors’ Il Moran CampActivities at Governors’ Il Moran are similar to those at the main Governors’ Camp. As there, the game drives are conducted in the Musiara and Sekenani sectors of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, with well-trained driver-guides who are pooled between all three camps. Game drives take place in the early morning, and in the late afternoon, with the option for the morning drive to be extended with a packed breakfast, returning to camp mid-morning. Most of the vehicles are open-sided Land Rovers, which have two rows of three seats in the rear, and one passenger seat in the front. Each driver-guide at the Governors’ camps is based at a particular camp, with his own vehicle. Governors’ guides are increasingly well-trained, with most having passed their Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association bronze exam and several having passed silver.
Game drives from Il Moran usually radiate out around the national reserve’s Musiara sector across Paradise Plain and up to Rhino Ridge, This is the busiest part of the Mara eco-system in terms of visitor numbers, and in the peak season, when the wildebeest migration is in the reserve, there can be hundreds of 4WDs and minibuses prowling the landscape in search of river crossings and kills. Even in the quieter seasons, however, you are likely to be sharing some of your most memorable wildlife sightings with a number of other vehicles.
Balloon flights can be organised our of Il Moran Camp, at an additional cost of around US$500 per person, best booked in advance. They take off from the launch area right behindLittle Governors’ Camp.
Our viewAlthough it is the smallest and most expensive of the Governors’ camps group, Governors’ Il Moran doesn’t tick enough boxes for us to be at the top of the list. Like the main Governors’ Camp, location is all: the wooded setting is fine, and with lots of birdlife, and crocs down in the river, we would be happy just sitting on the lawn soaking up the environment. But the whole feel here is rather utilitarian and the lack of softening details or any coherent style suggests a camp that’s resting on laurels awarded many years ago.
Ideal length of stay: Three or four nights
Directions: Musiara airstrip is about a ten-minute drive from camp, followed by a short ferry crossing.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Many guests go out for a long game drive, including a bush breakfast, which limits your options for the first meal of the day. If you’re in camp, there’s always a good selection of fruit and cereals, with a choice of pastries and bread, plus the option of a full, cooked breakfast or any of its ingredients, cooked to order.
The buffet lunch usually includes a cold soup, such as celery and apple, with maybe tortillas and a guacamole, with a buffet including burgers and balsamic relish, fish curry, jacket potatoes and desserts such as baklava and pineapple cake.
The four-course plated dinner might include roasted veg soup and fennel rolls, then a vegetarian tagine or chicken fillets with rosemary jus, followed by coconut crème caramel with granadilla, and Kenyan cheeses.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Unlike at Governors’ and Little Governors’ camps, soft drinks, local beers, house wine and spirits are all included. Premium wines and spirits are not.
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are accepted.
Property’s age restrictions: None
Special activities & services: No
Equipment: Cots and highchairs are available.
Generally recommended for children: Like Little Governors’ Camp this is a rather grown-up safari camp, so while children won’t be turned away, it’s not an ideal family safari base, for which Governors’ Camp is much better suited.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: Camp WiFi and mobile phone network are available.
TV & radio: No
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: Guides are first-aid trained, there is a first-aid kit in all vehicles, and heads of departments are first-aid trained. There is a doctor at Governors’ Camp, just five minutes’ drive away. The camp has links to the Flying Doctor service.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Camp askaris escort guests around camp day and night.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers around the camp and fire drills are occasionally conducted to ensure that staff know how to use them.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Included
Money: There’s a safe in the office for storage of guests’ valuables.
Accepted payment on location: They take credit card payments, including Amex, with no surcharge. They also take most major currencies in cash, but not travellers’ cheques.