Reviews of Encounter Mara
Wildlife sightings and reviews
14 independent comments and wildlife information from our travellers who have visited Encounter Mara and kindly agreed to share their thoughts. They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa
"Encounter Mara review"
I am probably a bit spoiled but did find the days when it was full, inc with families or seemingly large groups, mealtimes were a bit hectic." See all these reviews: 7n in Kenya
"Encounter Mara review"
Great location, the game viewing platform doubles up as lunch/dinner venue at times.
Food is delicious and healthy - a nice bonus.
Game drives were superb - so much wildlife and our guides Nickson abd Daniel were so determined to give us the opportunity to see Leopard and Cheetah which we succeeded!" See all these reviews: 9n in Kenya
"Encounter Mara review"
At lunchtime you would also have an individual buffet with another member of staff to provide an audience of two. Also, the habit of the waiting staff leaping forward to pull the chair out for you and push it under you as you sit down is just weird and unnecessarily formal. The manager didn't do much to facilitate any mingling or socialising between guests at the camp fire, and also seemed to have no knowledge or interest in safaris or wildlife. I am not sure why Asilia feels it appropriate to employ managers with no bush experience (I had the same experience at Kwihala 2 years ago). Managing a safari camp is completely different to managing a city or beach hotel.
The game drives were enjoyable with great sightings, particularly of lions, and my guide was personable and friendly although a bit lacking in bird knowledge. The camp itself was nice but the atmosphere meant I just couldn't wait to leave." See all these reviews: 12n in Zambia; 10n in Kenya
"Another great safari at Encounter Mara"
Lovely tent, very comfortable. Again a buffet lunch and then a 3 course dinner, all delicious.
My guide, Sam, was terrific and very informative and managed to show us a good selection of animals - several cheetahs, hunting lions, a leopard and, on the way home one night, an aardwolf and an African wild cat." See all these reviews: 11n in Kenya
"FANTASTIC stay at Encounter Mara"
THE GUIDE: Our guide Francis was OUTSTANDING!! If anyone visits here they should request Francis. First off, he was hilarious! Second, he was so incredibly knowledgeable and did such a great job on sightings. Francis also truly cares about the animals, and ensured that we got great sightings, but also that we weren't crowding the animals or doing anything that would stress them out. It was so nice to see someone who cared about not just his job of driving us, but also making sure the animals were comfortable. We had such a great time with Francis and were actually truly sad to leave because we enjoyed getting to know him and experiencing the Mara through his eyes.
THE CAMP: The camp is rated as "simple luxury," but if this was "simple" then I don't know what greater luxury is, because this was AMAZING! The tents themselves had fantastic views out into the plains and were secluded giving a sense of privacy and being actually out in the Mara. The tents felt like luxury hotel rooms in terms of comfort, but without the "hotel" feeling. The different tents including the "tea" tent, the meals tent, the outdoor toilet, and the wifi tent are all set up in a way that gives you AMAZING views but also spread out enough that you can walk along the pathway and just take in the scenery. The viewing deck is absolutely amazing, and the plethora and variety of animals that we saw from just relaxing on this deck was so great. My family and I seriously never wanted to leave and I was actually sad driving away from Encounter.
THE FOOD: The food was OUT OF THIS WORLD! There are breakfast picnics out in the Mara, lunches with the staff, tea and cake with the staff, and 3 course meals with the entire camp. I have celiac's and am used to not having great options on foods. Encounter Mara changed all my expectations!! The staff prepared separate cakes for me for tea time, prepared separate biscuits for me for dinner, created AMAZING desserts that I could eat, and each meal was so much better than I would ever get at a 5 star restaurant in the States. I never wanted to stop eating, and never stopped being astonished at how AMAZING the food was. The food alone was worth the stay. To top it all off, when we were on our last morning drive, Sammi came out and met us with a "to-go" lunch for my family to enjoy while were were waiting at the airport for our trip home!!
THE STAFF: Last, but certainly not least, the staff at Encounter is PHENOMENAL!!!!!! THE BEST!! A special shout out to Sammi, Ezina, Edwin, and Lama (hopefully my spelling is right). The entire staff knew everyone's name from the moment we entered the camp. After our first order of drinks the staff also had our drink preferences memorized for the entire stay. The staff was always checking on us, chatting with us, and generally entertaining us. Every conversation we had with the staff my family and I were cracking up with laughter because they are so funny! Sammi and Edwin also spent so much time educating us on the conservancy and answering our continuous questions! During the campfire and after dinner I never wanted to turn in for the net because we had such a FANTASTIC time talking Sammi and Ezina and just spending time with them. The staff was always around to answer questions, to chat with you in the viewing deck, and to make sure we got safely to our tents each night. The morning wake up "knock" with coffee and cookies also didn't hurt! I wish I could go on and on, but if anyone ever has a chance to stay here, DO IT! My family has already talked about returning because we had such an amazing time.
Sammi and Ezina should be so proud of the camp they are running, and anyone visiting the Mara needs to book their stay with Encounter Mara ASAP!!" See all these reviews: 4n in Rwanda; 4n in Kenya
Encounter Mara is a well run camp with gorgeous tents and fantastic food. The drives are extremely well done - there is a sense that the guide is not going out to tock a box but to seriously find things you have not seen before. We saw cheetahs, a leopard and of course the pride of lions with small cubs were a highlight.
The nature walk is a little over produced and certainly if you have done many other walking safaris it might not be for you. But the guides are very knowledgeable, they just do need to relax a little whilst of course keeping security as the chief concern.
The camp is closed off by a fence to the bush although there is plenty of space in front of the tents and a feeling of total privacy. Nevertheless at times Encounter Mara can seem like you a bit too cut off from the more open experience of the other camps we went to." See all these reviews: 14n in Kenya; 6n in Tanzania
"Overall the best camp we visited..."
We saw so many animals, roaring and mating lions and 12 cheetahs, being the highlight of the stay and our knowledgable and kind guide, added to the experience. The food was interesting and Dixon, the chef made samosas especially for us. All drinks were included which made life easy... I would strongly recommend this Camp and the Maasai village visit ($25).
1. There was a WiFi tent with power, which worked well and was situated away from the dining area to avoid disturbing other guests...
2. Hand sanitizer, insect repellant and sun cream were provided in the safari vehicle, a nice touch...
3. Bush breakfasts were different every day....
4. We received personal water bottles on arrival... very welcome!
5. There was an interesting shop with local items.
6. The Maasai village visit was interesting and not at all touristy... I hope that ALL the money DID go to the village/ community.
7. We had 3 nights, 4 would have been better, as elsewhere...." See all these reviews: 10n in Kenya; 8n in Tanzania
"Encounter Mara review"
The guides were excellent & my cousin & I very much enjoyed not only seeing the wildlife but also visits to Maasai villages. Again, the personnel were kind & helpful, & they arranged a birthday tea party for my cousin, with dancing & cake, which we appreciated.
I found it slightly off-putting that the toilet & shower were separated from the main room only by a curtain, so one didn't have a great deal of privacy." See all these reviews: 10n in Tanzania; 10n in Kenya; 3n in Zanzibar
"Encounter Mara review"
The food was really good and the tents clean and comfortable. We were very well looked-after. Our driver/guide was Nabala who was both knowledgeable and fun to be with. Two nights is not enough; we needed more time here!
Very highly recommended." See all these reviews: 11n in Kenya; 5n in Tanzania
"Encounter Mara review"
Staff, the tents, the f&b were all superb and the vehicles they use are proper landcruisers with open sides. My only gripe is that the landcruiser hadn’t had the windscreen removed or like a landrover was one that could fold down so you had to look out through glass at the front
The Naboisho conservancy is very different to the main reserve and although more bushy I had some great wildlife sightings – leopard, lion, cheetah and hyena cubs all featured together with lots of birds and other more “usual” mammals
We did a half day to the main reserve which was perfectly doable and even at this non-peak time of year (November) we saw a big zebra crossing at the main crossing point – without all the cars!" See all these reviews: 4n in Kenya
Holiday styles & special interests in Kenya
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Other lodges in Maasai Mara Conservancies
Alternative places to stay in this same area.
Kicheche Bush Camp
Kicheche Bush Camp is a smart and intimate tented camp with a relaxed atmosphere and the perfect base in the Mara for keen photographers.
Kicheche Mara Camp has just eight tents and a rustic and comfortable feel. It is set by a stream in a pretty area of the Mara ecosystem's Mara North Conservancy.
Naboisho Camp is one of the most luxurious of the handful of camps in the Naboisho Conservancy. It offers day and night game drives, game walks and full creature comforts in the bush.
Kicheche Valley is a boutique tented camp in a wooded district of the Mara ecosystem's Naboisho Conservancy, with plenty of wildlife in the area.
Offbeat Mara is a small traditional camp that appeals to safari traditionalists, located in one of the Maasai Mara’s quiet conservancies.
Mara Plains Camp
Mara Plains is one of the very best camps in the Mara ecosystem. Located in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, just outside the Mara reserve, it has access to three wildlife-viewing areas.
Elephant Pepper Camp
Elephant Pepper Camp is a small 10-tent bush camp, put together in the traditional "campaign" style, and including a large honeymoon/family tent.
Serian is a luxury tented camp on the east bank of the Mara River in the Mara North Conservancy. It is the sister camp of Ngare Serian, on the west bank.
Porini Lion Camp
Porini Lion Camp is a pioneering, community focused eco-camp, with excellent guides and game viewing, in the predator-rich, Olare Motorogi Conservancy.
Ol Kinyei Adventure
Ol Kinyei Adventure Camp is a satelllite of the larger Porini Mara Camp. Both of them are located in the Maasai-owned Ol Kinyei conservancy, the oldest community conservancy in the Maasai Mara ecosystem.
Hemingways Ol Seki
Magnificently located tented lodge on a bluff looking south across the Naboisho Conservancy toward the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Basecamp Eagle View
Basecamp Eagle View is a community-focused safari camp in the Naboisho Conservancy, with a strong emphasis on responsible tourism and a spectacular location.
Kicheche Fly Camp
Kicheche Walking Wilderness Fly Camp is a temporaray dome tent camp set up for participants in Kicheche's two-day walking safari between Kicheche Valley and Kicheche Bush Camp.
Saruni Wild is a rustic and traditional safari camp in the Lemek Conservancy, with just three tents and limited electricity.
The luxurious Ngare Serian and its sister camp Serian face each other across the Mara River on the western side of the Mara North Conservancy
Porini Mara Camp
Porini Mara Camp is a small, pioneering eco-camp in the first private conservancy in the Mara region, with comfortable accommodation and a range of activities.
Cottars 1920s Camp
Cottar's 1920s Camp is a classic, luxury tented camp with a 1920s safari theme, located in its own conservancy on the southeast border of the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Basecamp Leopard Hill
With six beautiful tents, Basecamp Leopard Hill is a smart safari camp in the Naboisho Conservancy in the Maasai Mara ecosystem.
Karen Blixen Camp
Karen Blixen Camp sits on a meander of the Mara River in the Mara North Conservancy, just beyond the northern boundary of the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Small and intimate, Offbeat Mara is set in a valley above the (often dry) Olare Orok River within the Mara North Conservancy.
Mahali Mzuri is a strikingly modern tented camp in the Virgin Limited Edition group, in a remote part of the Mara ecosytem's Olare Motorogi Conservancy. It has lovely views and all the luxuries of a five-star hotel.
Leleshwa was a delightful, boutique safari camp on the picturesque banks of a tributary of the Talek, with an extensive, little visited game area on its doorstep.
Mara Nyika is one of the newer additions to the Naboisho Conservancy and offers a luxurious and exclusive safari.
Basecamp Wilderness Camp is a simple, traditional tented camp, set in a remote valley in the Naboisho Conservancy in the Mara ecoystem.
Saruni Mara is a luxurious permanent lodge, on the remote northern edge of the Mara North Conservancy, with stunning views, good guiding and very private and comfortable rooms.
Mara Bushtops is a luxury safari hotel on a private concession, outside the Maasai Mara National Reserve, with the emphasis on comfort, relaxation and good food and wine.
Entumoto is a high-end tented camp, with a swimming pool, situated in a very pretty location on the east side of the Maasai Mara ecosystem.
Cottars Private House
Cottar's Private House is one of the few truly luxurious, modern private houses in the Mara ecosystem, spoiling its guests with first-rate staff, a swimming pool and wonderful views.