Reviews of Encounter Mara
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Encounter Mara review
What a delightful surprise this camp was! I was a little dubious about staying on a Conservancy but Encounter Mara complemented our stay within the Mara Reserve (Governors Camp) beautifully.
I was travelling with my adult nephew on his first trip to Kenya and wanted him to have the experience of bush walking and night drives. Richard suggested Encounter Mara and I am so glad that he did.
Our Masai guide Senchura picked us up and never let us down. He was gentle and so knowledgeable and patient. Staying on the conservancy allows you to view at your own pace and with limited other vehicles (if any). I think the limit was a maximum of 4 which was a huge and pleasant change from inside the Reserve itself. Among many sightings, watching a cheetah family for an hour when they were playing and relaxing was amazing and then finding them again the next day getting prepared for a hunt was even more special.
My nephew did a lovely walk with Senchura and an armed guide one morning while I did a game drive. We then combined to complete our morning drive.
We also visited a local boma to learn about the way the Masai live. It was a totally uncommercial visit and we learned so much. The way that the Conservancy balances the needs of the Masai with those of the tourists was an eye-opener and seems to work very well for all.
The night drive we combined with our evening game drive and saw a pride of over 13 lions, elephants and hundreds of wildebeast walking along getting ready to cross over to Tanzania. We also saw a bushbaby and numerous other animals. Night drives give you a different perspective of the bush and I highly recommend them.
The camp is enclosed by an electric fence which only prevents buffalo and elephant from coming in. There are guards to take you to and from your tents. The large tents were fabulous with each having a wonderful view, comfortable beds. The 'bucket' shower worked very well indeed.
There is a large dining tent where you can dine as a group or individually hosted by Andrew or one of the other lovely managers which we thought was a great idea. The food was very nice but the desserts could use a little refinement. The packed picnic breakfasts were tasty.
The other tent is full of sofas and is a perfect place to relax with a book or chat. This is where there are charging stations for you to charge all of your electrical gadgets and batteries. No Wifi which I loved!
There is a little hide down by a natural salt/mineral lick (take water with you) . I spent a long peaceful time down there and saw many wonderful animals behaving naturally.
All of the staff were wonderful and welcoming - our thanks to them all. We loved our stay here and I will definitely return.
ps The 'loo with a view' has to be experienced!
This camp is very different to Saruni being a proper tented camp with a big Eco theme.
So it is solar everything and lovely bucket showers etc. The camp managers Colin and Chala were a delight as was our excellent guide Andrew.
One thing in particular we liked is being invited behind the scenes for a tour of how the camp is run, you have no idea how much work goes on just to live day to day! At peak times they employ 36 staff for just 12 tents!
The location is good with Zebra etc munching away right outside your tent and indeed a very pregnant Cheetah! but being quite low down on the plain views are not stunning.(Re Cheetah see their Facebook page)
There were a few minor niggles the Vegetarian food for Loz was not good (They have since been in contact and are getting in outside advice, so they are on the case) Other silly things we would ask for some beers to be sent to our tent no problem just no bottle opener like wise a bottle of wine and no corkscrew! Bless em!
But lets no forget what we are there for, the wildlife and it was very good. Overall would recommend.
Encounter Mara review
A simply brilliant place. When I arrived it was once of the busiest weeks for them in the year but they coped very well and it did not feel over crowded.
The guides on the property were absolutely fantastic and new where to avoid the crowds and we saw absolutely all of the animals you could want to see. I saw a very rare sighting of two leopards (male and female) out in the open which the guide was very patient to find (we were the only care there for 5 minutes at least in the Mara) and we saw all of the Big 5 in a single day. Colin also managed to organise a second trip into the Mara when I didn't see a crossing the first day which I greatly appreciated as I managed to see one the next day.
The tents were really fantastic and the hot water bottle in the rooms each nice was a nice touch. Food and drink were also fantastic and the local conservancy was nice and quiet with not too many vehicles and the guides really new where to look for the animals.
Overall again I would highly recommend.
Encounter Mara review
lovely large well appointed tents with good view but not as well served as Meru so no morning tea or fresh hot water for washing. Very good guide, knowledgeable, interesting and did a very good job.
The camp was very impersonal after Offbeat Meru. The manager Chris who I believe had only been in post for a couple of months met us on arrival and gave us an introduction although he did not introduce us to any other staff but after that was not available and we only saw him and his wife briefly on our last evening.
Unfortuanately 3 out of 4 of us had acquired a nasty stomach bug on the way to Encounter and we spent 24 hours confined to our tents and whilst Immodium was provided along with rehydration sachets that were great it was very difficult to find out who if anyone was in charge during the managers absence and so took some time initially to get some assistance.
Meals were served at individual tables and so there wasn't the opportunity to meet the other guests in the way that there had been at Meru and again no way of knowing who was who among the staff.
The tents were very well appointed except for the shower which I had to operate using two coat hangers as the controls were too high to reach.
Expert Africa comments
We had a response to these comments from Encounter Mara, who are pleased that the H. family enjoyed the tents, views and guiding, and sorry that their stay wasnt perfect. It was unfortunate that the family were unwell, which may well have tainted their overall impression. The manager thought he and the staff had done all they could to make them family comfortable with their illness, though he acknowledgess that in the middle of the day during siesta, it can sometimes be difficult to locate a senior team member.
On the question of hot water, the camps usual policy is to fill a thermos flask in guests bathrooms every evening for washing the next morning. It would seem that their thermoses were not being refilled and Encounter have addressed this. They have also altered the height of shower chains and apologise for the oversight.
Encounter do provide wake-up calls with tea/coffee on request, and it has been stressed to the waiters that they must offer this the evening before.
The dining arrangements are very flexible here and the manager believes guests should have a choice. This may not have been communicated clearly to the family, who obviously enjoy the group-dining experience, and the camp apologises for that.
Encounter Mara have assured us that they greatly value constructive feedback. As a result of this they have tightened up their early morning hot water procedure and improved the way they communicate information about wake-up calls and dining options.