Basecamp Leopard Hill

Basecamp Leopard Hill: Our full report

Rooms
6 safari tents
Traveller's rating
Excellent (100%) From 1 review
Children
Best for 10+
Open
All year

Opened in January 2018, Basecamp Leopard Hill is the newest and most luxurious of the Basecamp Foundation’s safari camps in the Maasai Mara. It is set in a small clearing in the beautiful Naboisho Conservancy. With only six smart tents it offers good quality accommodation and the fantastic wildlife-viewing opportunities of the conservancy.

Basecamp Leopard Hill is the sister camp of Basecamp Eagle View and Basecamp Wilderness Camp. The camps’ owner is a Norwegian financier with a desire to conserve Kenya’s natural environment, and the Basecamp camps attract a diverse range of guests from Scandinavia and around the world.

The lounge tent is simply furnished but comfortable, the focal point being a large stone and brick fireplace which creates a cosy atmosphere on cooler evenings. Here you can find a couple of large sofas and a low table scattered with photo books. There is a selection of board games, a pith helmet or two dotted around and armchairs overlooking the open plains. The neighboring dining tent is set up with individual tables and a hot drink station where you can help yourself to tea or an espresso.

The six guest tents are well spaced out for privacy, each one overlooking one of three waterholes where animals frequently come to drink. The tents are raised on wooden decks with a veranda at the front. Each deck area has a small firepit and your room attendant will light a fire in the evening to accompany your sundowner drinks.

Inside, the tents are surprisingly spacious and attractive, with wooden floors, double bed or twin beds, coffee table and a daybed. The décor draws its inspiration from East Africa and India, using traditional wooden carvings and cow hides sitting alongside tapestries, Indian elephant cushions and oriental fabrics. Overall we liked it, and felt that the tents did deliver some wow factor, however the styling probably is a little confused – colonial safari camp meets Indian tea shop. The stand-out feature for us is the retractable roof. At the press of a button the fabric roof retracts to reveal the sky, leaving just a thin mosquito net for protection. At the back of each tent, the good-sized bathroom has twin washbasins, indoor and outdoor plumbed showers, a hairdryer and complimentary toiletries.

In addition to the four standard tents, Basecamp Leopard Hill has a family tent comprising two separate tents set together on the same wooden deck. There is also honeymoon tent which is the furthest tent away from the central area. This tent comes with its own private lounge furnished in a similar style to the rest of the camp.

Activities at Basecamp Leopard Hill revolve around game drives in the Naboisho Conservancy. As this is a wildlife conservancy, not the public Maasai Mara National Reserve, the rules are much more relaxed and you are can go on night drives here to look for nocturnal species such as white-tailed mongoose and bush babies. We found the guides very pleasant and keen to please, and we certainly saw a lot of wildlife, however we felt they have less experience than guides at the pricier camps, emphasised by their slight tendency to overuse the radio.

As well as shared game drives, Leopard Hill offers walking safaris, which are led by the camp’s safari guides and are typically escorted by a local Maasai warrior armed only with a spear. These typically last a few hours and aim to see the birds, plants and smaller species of the Maasai Mara ecosystem.

Walking safaris can be a great way to experience the Maasai Mara, however we have serious reservations about walking in a big game area without an armed ranger for protection. We were informed that for an additional cost of US$50 we could hire an armed ranger for the walk. If you would like to do walks while staying at Leopard Hill, we will only book them for you on that basis. You can also combine a walking safari with fly-camping, spending the night in a small dome tent in the middle of the bush.

When you’re weary of game drives and bush walks, you can indulge in a massage in the privacy of your tent. These are easily booked with the on-site therapist. In 2019 these started at around US$40 for 30 minutes. The managers told us about plans to build a small spa, however there was no projected date for this at the time of our visit.

All the Basecamp properties have strong environmental credentials. Basecamp Leopard Hill is run entirely on solar power, with no need for a back-up generator. The camps also have strong ties with the local community and support a number of charitable initiatives such as the Maa Trust, a women’s cooperative with a range of projects, from traditional beadwork making to the production of local honey. The Basecamp Foundation has also been instrumental in setting up and supporting the Koiyaki Guiding School which trains people from the local Maasai community to become safari guides.

Our view

We really liked Basecamp Leopard Hill when we visited in 2019. It’s very comfortable and certainly has all the appearance of a luxury safari camp. We loved the quiet, secluded location and we think it offers excellent value for money, too. What it perhaps lacks is the refinement and finesse of higher-end properties. However it’s a great choice if you’re looking for a stylish safari camp without a very high price tag.

Geographics

Location: Maasai Mara Conservancies, Kenya

Ideal length of stay: Stay here for three or four nights to explore the Naboisho Conservancy.

Directions: The closest airstrip is Naboisho-Ol Seki airstrip, which is around a 45-minute drive from the camp.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: We did not have a chance to sample the food at Basecamp Leopard Hill, however we have previously eaten at its sister property Basecamp Eagle View and we understand that the food at Leopard Hill is very similar. We found the food at the other Basecamp properties to be simple, hearty safari fare and actually rather tasty.

Breakfast can either be packed and taken in to the bush for your morning drive, or a more formal affair back at camp. You can expect a selection of fresh fruit, yoghurt and bread followed by a hot breakfast with eggs cooked to order.

Lunch is normally three courses, typically starting with soup, which may be followed by a creamy pasta dish, and then finished with a sweet course such as ice-cream. The three-course dinner can either be in the dining tent, or sometimes on your own private veranda.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Drinks are at extra cost, with a glass of wine costing around $6 and a local beer around $4. Soft drinks cost around $3.

Further dining info: Room service can be arranged on request

Children

Attitude towards children: Basecamp Leopard Hill accepts children of all ages.

Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions.

Special activities & services: All Basecamp properties operate the Dorobo Children’s Club, and guides can show children how to make bows and arrows and look for animal tracks around the camp. Childminding can also be arranged. However this is by camp staff and not professionally trained babysitters.

Equipment: Cots can be provided with advance notice.

Notes: The camp is unfenced and wildlife regularly wonders through, so children need to be supervised at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Communications: WiFi is available on the lounge and dining area. There is intermittent phone signal.

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: Showers are plumbed and solar heaters provides hot water. Filtered drinking water is provided in the tents.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: Staff are first-aid-trained and there is a first aid kit on site. For anything more serious the nearest doctor is in Talek, around 20km away and an hour by road.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: There are discreet 24-hour security guards around the camp and guests are escorted by askaris after dark.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the tents and communal areas.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Laundry can be arranged at an additional cost of around $3-5 per item.

Money: There are electronic safes in the tents.

Accepted payment on location: Cash payments in US dollars and Kenyan shillings are accepted. The camp can accept card payments with either Visa or MasterCard, and there is no surcharge.

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