Elephant Pepper Camp

Elephant Pepper Camp: Our full report

Rooms
10 tents
Traveller's rating
Excellent (100%) From 3 reviews
Children
Good for 10+
Open
June to March

Elephant Pepper is a small, tented camp located in the protected Mara North Conservancy. Originally built in 1984, it was named after the grove of elephant pepper trees it's nestled in. From here you can explore the game of the Mara North Conservancy, or venture into the National Reserve itself, this is particularly appealing during the months when the migration will be in the area (roughly July to October).

Although a permanent tented camp, Elephant Pepper Camp has a real bush feel. Its ten tents are nestled amongst the trees and, although not all spaced particularly far apart, enjoy private outlooks over the grassy plains.

The tents enjoy a refreshingly simple design, with woven floor coverings and dark furniture brightened with splashes of red. Inside they're well equipped, with a small desk, luggage rack and bedside tables where you'll find insect repellent, and a radio and whistle for attracting attention.

At the back of each tent is an en-suite bathroom, partitioned by a canvas flap. Here you'll find a flush loo, hot shower, and two brass basins. At the front, the hammock is a popular relaxation spot.

There are two honeymoon tents which are similar in style, but positioned slightly further away, and have small garden areas with firepits. They are much larger, with king-size beds and sofas, and can take up to two extra beds so are good options for families too.

The main areas consist of two large tents, in the centre of camp, which we really liked on our most recent visit in March 2018. The generous use of leather, brass and heavy wooden furniture lends quite a luxurious, campaign-style feel to the main areas. The dining tent is set with one large dark wooden table, where everyone eats together hosted by the managers, and a second long table for the breakfast and lunch buffet. A small cupboard in the corner acts as a shop, with some Elephant Pepper branded gifts.

The lounge tent, furnished with sofas and directors' chairs, is usually left open at the sides, so is a good spot to catch the breeze on hot days. Guests are welcome to help themselves to drinks from the small bar. There is a smaller tent to one side which serves as a Wi-Fi, library and chill out area.

There is plentiful outside seating dotted around the main areas, including a swing chair built by one of the camp staff, so there are numerous spots to observe the activity on the plains in seclusion. On our last visit, elephants were seen on multiple occasions as they marched through the grass – we understand that this is an area in which they particularly like to spend time.

Generally, your day's activities will revolve around game viewing in either the conservancy or the national reserve. Guests are usually woken at 6.00am, before meeting by the campfire for tea and coffee at 6.30am and heading out at 7.00am. Most guests staying at Elephant Pepper will be sharing their activities with other guests, so there complete flexibility in this schedule isn't always possible, but the managers will do their best to accommodate everyone's wishes. If you have a private vehicle you can, of course, set your own timings. They'll try and make sure that you have the same guide throughout your stay, which enables you to get to know each other.

Night drives are also possible. After an afternoon game drive and a relaxed sundowner they'll drive slowly back to camp with the spotlights so you can look out for some of the conservancy's nocturnal creatures. Lion are particularly interesting to try and find as dusk turns to night. If particularly keen to be out later into the evening, the camp can arrange an early supper before you head back out with your guide at about 8.00pm.

Elephant Pepper Camp also offers bush walks with one of the two walking guides. Walks are only for adults (and children over 12 at the guide's discretion); the maximum group size is six people. For younger children who can’t partake in these bush walks, camp staff can take them on nature walks throughout camp (even while parents are out on the longer walks).

Village visits can also be arranged for US$20 per person, and the camp also supports a local primary school which you may be able to visit. Horse riding is also an option although this is best arranged in advance.

Our view

We really enjoyed our last stay at Elephant Pepper – it's comfortable and well designed, without being too fussy. The style of the tents is just right, so that you feel like you're staying somewhere quite luxurious, whilst also knowing that you're very much in the bush. We think it's a great choice for anyone who wants to take advantage of the fantastic game viewing that the Mara North conservancy has to offer.

Geographics

Location: Maasai Mara Conservancies, Kenya

Ideal length of stay: Stay for three to four nights to explore the Mara North Conservancy and the Maasai Mara National Reserve itself.

Directions: Elephant Pepper is half-an-hour’s game drive from Mara North airstrip

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Elewana

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: We have consistently enjoyed the food at Elephant Pepper over the years. Unusually for a safari camp, there is a bit of an Italian feel to elements of the menu as the chefs have been trained by a real Italian mama of a previous manager – so can expect plenty of homemade pasta. Many of the salads and herbs are grown in the camp’s own garden. Tom, one of the managers, has a keen interest in increasing the produce of this little plot.

Breakfast is usually taken as a picnic to enjoy while you're out on your game drive. Expect boiled eggs, bread and jam, juices and teas and coffees. If you stay at camp then it will be a similar style buffet with hot dishes cooked to order.

Lunch is a buffet which on our last visit in March 2018 was light and fresh. We had a warm dish of vegetable quiche, accompanied by sliced ham and salads, followed by a fruit based dessert.

Dinner is served to the table. Our starter was a delicious creamy pea tagliatelle. For the main course we had roast chicken with potato croquettes and vegetables, followed by a delicate apple tart with cinnamon cream.

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Most drinks are included apart from premium wines, champagne and a special selection of whiskies and cognacs that are offered after dinner.

Further dining info: Room service is possible, but as there are no phones in tents this has to be arranged in advance. (Radios in the tents are for use only at night in case of emergencies.)

Children

Attitude towards children: Elephant Pepper accepts children of all ages, but walking is limited to over 12s for short walks and over 14s for longer ones.

Property’s age restrictions: None.

Special activities & services: Elephant Pepper Camp will do bushcraft such as spear throwing with children and also take them on short walks around camp. They can arrange for an askari to watch over children in the evenings and toasted marshmallows are served at sundowners.

Equipment: There are cots and highchairs available.

Notes: Parents should note that this camp is not fenced and big game is frequently in the vicinity, and children must always be under their supervision.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: There is 24 hour power and charging can be done in all of the tents. If someone needs a CPAP machine to sleep then Elephant Pepper can arrange for a plug to be put in their room.

Communications: There is WiFi throughout camp. Signal can be variable in tents furthest from the main areas.

TV & radio: No

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: The showers and sinks are plumbed with hot and cold running water. Filtered drinking water is supplied.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There are first-aid kits in camp and in all of the cars. The nearest doctor is in Aitong which is about an hour’s drive away, and the camp also has links to the flying doctors.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Askaris are on duty day and night. Guests are always escorted around the camp at night.

Fire safety: There is a fire safety plan and extinguishers in the rooms.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Full laundry service included - items are hand washed and line dried. As with most camps, underwear is not accepted.

Money: There are digital safes in the tents.

Accepted payment on location: Visa and Mastercard are accepted with no surcharge. They accept all major currencies in cash.

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