Kicheche Bush Camp: Our full report
Located in the quiet Olare Motorogi Conservancy and with only six tents dotted through the bush, Kicheche ...... Bush Camp is an intimate tented camp owned in partnership with photographer Paul Goldstein. As a result, there is a keen focus on wildlife viewing and photography here, making this a popular camp that safari enthusiasts flock to year after year.
Kicheche Bush Camp is one of three Kicheche camps in the Maasai Mara ecosytem, the others being Kicheche Mara Camp and Kicheche Valley Camp.
The main communal tent at Kicheche is simple yet stylish, made mostly from a crisp cream canvas but with an added shade sheet to help keep things cooler. Entirely open at the front and looking out into the surrounding bush, the tent has no view as such, but that just enhances the bushy nature of the camp, whilst plants in terracotta pots add a homely slant.
Inside is a lounge, with cream sofas and comfortable cushions. Coffee-table books, including the inevitable one of Paul Goldstein's photographs, are strewn across a central table making this a great place to sit in the afternoon with a coffee. On the other side are two tables that are usually set together for communal dining – indoors in the cooler evenings but outside under a shady tree for lunch and breakfast. In a small neighbouring tent, a shop offers some curios such as jewellery and branded T-shirts, hats and fleeces. This is also the only place to pick up WiFi signal in camp.
The attentive staff are always around to help with drinks and requests, bending over backwards to make sure that you enjoy your stay. The engaging and approachable managers, who host meals and greet you off every drive, create a very homely and welcoming atmosphere.
The six identical tents at Kicheche Bush Camp are spread far apart, making each very private. They are vast and much more complex than your average safari tent, with rooms created by canvas walls. During the day these are opened right up to create quite an open-plan room, but at night the various areas can be separated off, enclosing you in a smaller and cosier bedroom.
At the front is a lounge with comfortable chairs and a coffee table. It is here that your coffee or tea is left in the morning, while during the afternoon it is a nice spot to while away your siesta. In the spacious bedroom, pale-wood furniture and cream fabrics look very contemporary and stylish, and the odd bit of Maasai jewellery dotted around reminds you that you are in Kenya! A large decanter of drinking water, radio for emergencies, and wellington boots for wet weather offer some useful practicalities too.
The bathrooms can be separated off by a canvas flap for privacy. A free-standing wash basin sits atop a white wooden table, with a plumbed-in tap and mirror. There is plenty of hanging space for clothes, a proper flush loo and lovely toiletries too. The tent's bucket shower is set over a beautifully crafted wooden shower stand, this is always ready for you when you return from your evening game drive, or can be requested at any time of day.
You'll need to tear yourself away from the lovely tents to join the activities at Kicheche Bush Camp, which focus mainly on game drives in comfortable, open-sided 4WD vehicles, with only four seats (there's also one six-seater). They all have plug socket strips with inverters, for charging your batteries. The vehicles are very well set up for serious photographers and the guides are superb. You will spend most of your time exploring the Olare Motorogi Conservancy which has few other vehicles around and some superb wildlife viewing. For guests who spend three nights here during the migration season (roughly defined as July to October inclusive), you may wish to spend a full-day visiting the main Maasai Mara National Reserve to try and catch the wildebeest herds. There is an additional charge for this. In the national reserve driving is restricted to the roads and during the day only, but in the conservancy drives can take you off-road and extend after dark as well. Most evening drives bring you back to camp after a short night drive, in time for dinner at 8.00pm.
Nature walks can easily be arranged and these are led by a Kicheche Bush Camp guide with a radio, and an armed ranger and typically last two to three hours. If you're really adventurous you can also arrange an overnight fly-camp – you leave Kicheche in the afternoon and walk to a very simple bush camp consisting of dome tents and a single bush shower and toilet. There is also an option to go on a longer walk, departing from Kicheche Bush Camp, overnighting in a small fly-camp, then walking on to Kicheche Valley Camp the following day.
We feel that Kicheche Bush is a great choice for photographers, both amateur and professional, and guests return time and time again for the excellent photographic opportunities offered by the conservancy. Many of the guides themselves are excellent photographers, and you will see their photographs adorning the walls of the camp. They can happily give you camera tips and know how to position the vehicles in order to allow you to perfectly capture the moment. The managers have started up a lens hire service with a range of super telephoto and wide angle lenses available; when we were here in February 2019 these started at around $30 per day.
Kicheche Bush Camp is a real favourite of ours, with fantastic managers who create a very convivial and friendly camp. This, twinned with the high quality of the camp itself, which is spotlessly clean, well kept and stylish, makes it a first-rate choice for people who like bush camps but with a high degree of comfort. The most telling thing we noticed when we were there was that out of ten visitors in camp, eight were repeat guests. For us that says it all!
- Maasai Mara Conservancies, Kenya
- Ideal length of stay
- 3-4 nights
- Kicheche Bush Camp is reached via a 90-minute flight from Nairobi to Olare Motorogi Conservancy Airstrip. It is then a 15 minute drive back to camp, or longer when you inevitably pause to watch wildlife on the way. It is also only a 10 minute drive to the main Maasai Mara National Reserve.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- The food we had at Kicheche Bush Camp was really good – tasty, well presented, varied and a cut above the norm that we have experienced in the Mara. The managers used to own a restaurant on the Kenyan coast and have a history of producing excellent food. We mostly enjoyed the fun and chatty atmosphere around the table at mealtimes.
Breakfast is usually a picnic taken out in the bush. We had boiled eggs, cold bacon and sausage, as well as yoghurt, cereal, fruit salad, coffee or tea, and fruit juice. In camp, you'll also be offered a proper cooked breakfast.
On most days lunch is a cold buffet, with dishes such as spinach frittata, green salad, avocado and papaya salad, couscous and bean salad along with irresistible fresh sourdough bread. Cheeses and dessert are also a daily feature; we particularly enjoyed the homemade passionfruit ice cream.
Dinner is a set menu with starters such as caramelised onion and feta tart or tomato and mozzarella salad. For a main course we had chicken with mustard mash potatoes and buttered green beans. For pudding, the homemade profiteroles topped with caramel were exceptional.
- Solo Travel
- With its fun and unpretentious atmosphere and informal group dining, Kicheche Bush Camp is very good for solo safari holidays. Wildlife activities like 4WD game drives are shared with other guests and outside peak season, they charge a relatively low single supplement.
- See ideas for Solo Travel
- Photography holidays
- With keen photographer Paul Goldstein a major shareholder and frequent visitor to the camp, Kicheche is well geared to photographers. The guides are very good at using light in their positioning, and the vehicles have bean bags, tables to rest on, and bars to attach lenses.
- See ideas for Photography holidays
- Attitude towards children
- There are no formal age restrictions at Kicheche Bush Camp, but they pointed out that, aside from a few games in the main area, there is little to accommodate children.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Usually 8
- Special activities & services
- With links to the MAA trust, Kicheche can arrange for children to learn how to bead, or to visit one of the local schools. The guides are also always keen to show children how to make fire and use a bow and arrow.
- Kicheche Bush Camp will do separate children’s meals and can fit a third bed in each tent, however there are no specific family tents.
- Generally recommended for children
- We felt that Kicheche Bush Camp is quite wild and better suited to adults. It is also a small camp and it is likely that boisterous children would impact negatively on other guests.
- Children are their parents’ responsibility at all times, and will need supervising extensively. Any families with under-7s will need to book exclusive vehicle use.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Kicheche Bush Camp
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Kicheche Bush Camp have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- There is generator backup. Charging is possible in the tents 24 hours a day.
- There is cellphone reception all around Kicheche Bush Camp with a choice of networks and 3G available, so you will be able to stay in touch if you want to. In 2016 they introduced Wi-Fi for guests' use which is available in the WiFi tent.
- TV & radio
- There is no guest TV, though the staff have TV and guests could share that, for example for an important sporting event.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- The camp's borehole water isn't potable, though it is fine to shower and wash with. Drinking water is brought into camp in large plastic bottles and provided in flasks to each guest.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The nearest clinic to Kicheche Bush Camp is at at Mara Intrepids lodge which is 45 minutes away by road. There are also some local health centres in Talek, which is about a 35-minute drive. Kicheche Bush Camp has links to the flying-doctor service in case of emergency and private charter planes can land at the nearby Olare Motorogi airstrip.
When we visited recently, the guides and managers were all first-aid trained and told us that they had annual refresher courses. The vehicles all had first-aid bags, whilst in camp the first-aid box was slightly more substantial and contained basic medicines.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- Kicheche Bush Camp has askaris on site and an armed ranger. Guests are escorted around camp at night due to the presence of wildlife.
- Fire safety
- There are fire breaks all around the camp, and fire extinguishers at every tent and in the main area. Staff have regular training in fire safety.
Guided walking safari
Hot air ballooning
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- A full laundry service is included (except ladies underwear, for cultural reasons)
- There is a central safe for valuables. Kicheche Bush Camp can exchange small amounts of cash and when possible will offer cashback against credit cards, with a 5% surcharge. However, guests cannot rely on this service as it depends on the petty cash (and phone signal!) being available in camp.
- Accepted payment on location
- Kicheche Bush Camp accepts payment for any extras in cash – euros, US dollars, Kenyan shillings and pounds sterling – or by credit card; there is no surcharge on purchases.
Other lodges in Maasai Mara Conservancies
Alternative places to stay in this same area.