Sala's Camp combines a forested location and old-style tents with light and stylish interiors.
Salas Camp: Our full report
Sala’s Camp is a small, authentic tented property that opened in 2004 at the confluence of two rivers. It is located in the far south of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, near the Tanzanian border, and so is one of the first camps in the Mara to greet the arriving herds of the great wildebeest migration. This area also tends to be a little quieter than other parts of the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Sala’s location has the added advantage of access to both sides of the park – the main reserve and the Mara Triangle. Most other camps are restricted to driving either in one area or the other. From most camps it takes too long to get to one of the two bridges over the Mara, one in the north and one in the south). Sala’s Camp, however, is near the southern Mara bridge.
Sala’s Camp is the sister camp to Sasaab in Samburu and Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, and is arguably the simplest of the three. Relatively small, Sala’s has one main mess tent, a large open-plan green structure, which incorporates a smart wooden deck and cream interior fabrics hanging from the ceiling. During the day, the canvas walls are opened right up to make it feel quite bright and cool.
To one side of the tent is a long table set for communal meals, which are usually sociable and enjoyable events. To the other, partitioned by a small bar area, is the lounge. A combination of angular, contemporary wicker furniture, with silk orange, green and cream cushions embroidered with beads, results in a very modern African style. The Persian rugs on the floor add a homely feel, but the overall look is contemporary and understated. There is also a bookshelf with a few books and games.
In front of the tent the canvas overhangs to create a small veranda where leather directors’ chairs are set around rustic natural-wood coffee tables. There is also a fire pit where we enjoyed chatting to other guests over a pre-dinner drink. Rather unusually there is also a trampoline behind the mess tent – though we’re not sure how often this is used.
The seven tented rooms at Sala’s Camp are very spacious, and dotted through natural bush which can be quite thick in parts, keeping the whole camp shady and private. The tents are made from quite a dark green canvas that seems a little dated, but the inside the tents, with light-coloured soft furnishings offsetting the dark green of the canvas, and the woven carpet and large, wooden-framed beds, with crisp white sheets and silky African cushions and throws, give a contemporary feel.
Other furnishings create a homely and practical feel, with an element of style: a wood-and-canvas wardrobe with a bathrobe; a wooden writing desk with books; and a wooden box full of items such as mosquito repellent and bug spray. We liked little touches such as the plant pot with a flower arrangement in it, and the solar lights set within old-fashioned storm lanterns. The deck chairs in front of the tent were also a nice addition.
Also located in the main bedroom is a brass sink with running water, set into a wooden table with toiletries at the side. A flush toilet and a hot-and-cold running shower are separated from the bedroom by a canvas door. Here in particular the heavy green canvas is very apparent, making the room quite dark and a little dated – though on the plus side, the shower was powerful and very hot.
Sala’s Camp also has a larger, honeymoon tent, with a second room furnished with a relaxing day bed. It can also work as a family tent, because this second room can accommodate a further two single beds.
Being inside the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the activities at Sala’s Camp are mostly restricted to safari drives. Guests can opt to head out for a full day with a picnic lunch, or to do separate morning and afternoon drives. All drives are led by experienced local Maasai guides who know the Mara very well, and are also often able to get away from the crowds.
Depending on the season, Sala’s will also offer activities such as volleyball, football and frisbee in the shallow river in front of the camp. Such options are indicative of the nature of the camp: relaxed and rather more fun than the norm.
Our viewThis is an unpretentious and welcoming camp with a great location. Though it is likely to be busy during the peak seasons, we would still expect it to be quieter than elsewhere. Sala’s isn’t the smartest camp we visited in the Maasai Mara, so those who are seeking a very high degree of comfort and style may wish to look elsewhere, but it is comparable with the better tented camps in the Mara and the team here is excellent.
Ideal length of stay: This depends on the time of year and the individual traveller. If wildebeest are in the Mara then a stay at Sala’s of four nights is good. Outside the peak season when there is less game around, three nights would be ample.
Directions: It is a 90-minute flight from Nairobi to Keekerok airstrip, then a 45-minute direct drive, or a longer game drive, to camp.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food at Sala’s Camp was varied and very tasty, and special dietary requirements can be accommodated with prior warning.
Breakfast can either be served in camp, or taken out as a picnic – depending on each guest’s schedule for the day. We enjoyed a slightly more leisurely breakfast in the camp. This started with a buffet of cereals, including cornflakes, Weetabix and homemade muesli, with yoghurt and fresh fruit also available. A cooked breakfast, made to order, can include eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes and baked beans. We understand that the picnic breakfast is largely the same, but instead of a cooked breakfast you might have a cold boiled egg and cold sausages with toast.
Whether taken in camp, or out as a picnic, lunch is usually the same at Sala’s Camp. We had a starter of chilli blinis and a tomato and avocado salsa. The main course buffet comprised grilled fish, beetroot couscous, fresh salsa, potato salad and cheeses. Pudding was a delicious tree-tomato sorbet.
Before dinner we were served nibbles of boerewors and drinks around the campfire. Our starter was a very tasty asparagus and cheese filo pastry, followed by a main course of pork chops with mashed potato and vegetables, served with a peppercorn sauce. Pudding was a very rich and tasty chocolate mousse.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Most drinks are included at Sala’s Camp, though champagne and specially imported wines and spirits are at additional cost.
Wildlife safaris: Sala’s Camp is the most southerly camp in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, making it the first to see the migrating herds heading north from the Serengeti. The surrounding open plains make this an ideal spot from which to view this great spectacle.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Kenya
Attitude towards children: Sala’s Camp is very happy to have children of all ages to stay.
Property’s age restrictions: None
Special activities & services: Sala’s Camp can arrange children’s meals, and the guides can do various bushcraft activities with them. There is a family tent that can accommodate up to four in two rooms.
Equipment: With some notice, Sala’s Camp can arrange cots and highchairs.
Generally recommended for children: This is a low-key camp and unpretentious camp, with the right sort of atmosphere for families. However it is located in quite thick riverine bush and is also unfenced, so we would recommend it for families with older, well-behaved children.
Notes: Note that children are the responsibility of their parents and should be supervised at all times.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: There is no WiFi at Sala’s Camp, but there is an external modem that can be connected to a laptop if guests need internet access. Guests may also use the office computer for important issues but not for browsing the internet. There is cellphone reception around the camp.
TV & radio: None
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The manager and guides at Sala’s Camp are first-aid trained. There is a comprehensive first-aid kit in camp and a smaller one in each of the vehicles. In case of emergency the camp has links to flying doctors in Nairobi.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There are Maasai guards and two armed rangers to escort guests around the camp at night.
Fire safety: Sala’s Camp has fire extinguishers in camp, and the managers practise fire drills with the team. There is a firebreak around the camp, and a fire assembly point.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Included
Money: There is a central office safe at Sala’s Camp for valuables. Currency cannot be exchanged.
Accepted payment on location: Sala’s Camp will gladly accept cash in US dollars, Kenyan shillings, British pounds and euros. They can also accept Visa credit cards with no surcharge, but Mastercard and Amex are not accepted.