Reviews of Encounter Mara
Wildlife sightings and reviews
12 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"
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
"Encounter Mara review"
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!" See all these reviews: 10n in Kenya
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." See all these reviews: 14n in Kenya
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