Naboisho Camp

Naboisho Camp: Our full report

Rooms
9 tents
Traveller's rating
Excellent (98%) From 41 reviews
Children
Best for 8+
Open
Closed in April

Appealing both to safari purists and those seeking a little luxury, Naboisho Camp is the most upmarket of the handful of small, unfenced camps in the relatively little-visited Mara Naboisho Conservancy, just north of Kenya's Maasai Mara National Reserve. Surrounded by untouched savannah and dense thicket, it is located in a game-rich area where guests frequently witness spectacular wildlife events.

Naboisho Camp is the sister camp of nearby Encounter Mara, also located in the Naboisho Conservancy, and Rekero inside the national reserve, and it shares their focus on top-quality guiding. Guests at Naboisho often do an all-day game drive in the national reserve and the three camps occasionally share vehicles and guides. Guests booked into one camp often spend a night or two in the other, as the conservancy and the reserve complement each other very well.

The camp is a wonderful combination of raw bush and luxurious home comforts. The main area is built of stone and wood and is a more permanent structure than most of its neighbours. The lounge has a selection of comfortable sofas and armchairs and a large stone fireplace, while the dining area is dominated by a long communal dining table. Canvas flaps can be rolled down in bad weather making it warm and cosy inside.

Outside is a long wooden deck with comfy chairs, and the grass in front of this area is kept short, giving guests a safe garden area for outdoor meals. On a previous visit we arrived late, in a heavy thunderstorm, and were greeted by a hot chocolate around a cosy fire in the lounge, whilst more recently in February 2019 we were welcomed with a refreshing dawa, a traditional East African drink made with lime and honey.

There are plans to build a swimming pool near the communal area, which is due to be completed by June 2019. Naboisho is also in the process of building a second small dining area which they plan to use as a private dining location for guests looking for a higher level of privacy.

There are seven identical spacious tents and two very large family tents. With solid concrete plinths under the tents, stone walling in the open-air bathrooms and extensive use of decking, wooden pillars and makuti roof tiles, Naboisho Camp has something of the feeling of a contemporary country house, a mood accentuated by the stylish furnishings, including a pair of softly cushioned wicker chairs and a daybed in the vestibule at the front of each tent. Solar power in the tents allows charging of batteries at any time.

The en-suite bathroom includes a shower, double basins and flush toilet, as well as a storage area clothes and luggage. Through a canvas flap at the back is an open-air stone courtyard with spectacular twin bucket showers. They are supplied with hot water when required, which cascades onto wooden decking decorated with potted palms and kerosene lanterns. We were told that there were plans to upgrade all showers to be fully plumbed later in 2019.

Once you're inside any of the tents you are in very stylish and comfortable surroundings, but between them, you are essentially in the middle of the savanna, and after dark you'll be escorted every step of the way by a spear-wielding Maasai warrior.

Although physically Naboisho is an impressive camp, its raison d'être, like that of nearly all the Mara's camps is game viewing, to which its location and environment are supremely conducive. Most of the vegetation in the immediate vicinity of the camp has been left as wild as possible: after the rains, tall grass grows close to the tents and natural thorn-bush scrub provides both shade and a habitat for birds (the very rare Karamoja apalis has recently been spotted) and countless small – and sometimes larger – animals. On our recent visit we went to sleep to the sound of lions roaring nearby and giraffe eating the vegetation around the tents.

An expert local Maasai guide accompanies every drive or walk from Naboisho Camp and we have continually been impressed by the quality of the guiding here. Game walks are a stand-out feature and the game encounters close to camp can be vivid and impressive. To the south and west of the camp there are some stunning walking areas, including wide open, short-grass plains and some deeply carved canyons and viewpoints. There is the option to do some really long walks, which enable you to access certain areas where vehicles cannot go, and there is always the possibility of approaching big game on foot. On a previous game walk with an armed Masaai guide, we spotted lion, buffalo, topi, zebra and giraffe, and also learned a lot about the indigenous plants and trees in the area.

Naboisho also offers fly-camping which works particularly in combination with walking safaris. Walking out from camp accompanied by an experienced guide you will head to a scenic location where a small fly-camp has been set up. Here you can enjoy dinner under the stars before spending the night sleeping in small tents in the middle of the African bush. After a sumptuous bush breakfast you will slowly make your way back to Naboisho.

Another option is to visit a local village, a non-commercial experience with no selling or anything like that. The cost, an additional US$25, is payable to the camp, who hand it to the community liaison officer for fair distribution.

Naboisho supports a number of projects including the Maa Trust, which involves local communities in occupations as diverse as honey collection and bead making; they also support the Kenya Wildlife Trust, which runs various conservation projects. Please ask us for more information on either of these.

Very well run and smoothly hosted Naboisho Camp is hard to fault. Standards of service and food are excellent and the comfort and sense of space extend throughout the camp. While the generously spread tents are capacious and smart they have retained a feel of the bush with their open-air safari showers. The guiding is superb, and the wildlife experience first-rate. Most of all, while the camp is a substantial and permanent set-up, its impact on the local environment feels relatively low and guests can expect exciting wildlife action on their doorstep.

Our view

Very well run and smoothly hosted Naboisho Camp is hard to fault. Standards of service and food are excellent and the comfort and sense of space extend throughout the camp. While the generously spread tents are capacious and smart they have retained a feel of the bush with their open-air safari showers. The guiding is superb, and the wildlife experience first-rate. Most of all, while the camp is a substantial and permanent set-up, its impact on the local environment feels relatively low and guests can expect exciting wildlife action on their doorstep.

Geographics

Location: Maasai Mara Conservancies, Kenya

Ideal length of stay: Three nights minimum, allowing two full days to explore Naboisho Conservancy. With four or five nights at the camp, however, you could take a full-day game drive to the Maasai Mara National Reserve (which will incur an additional cost in low season).

Directions: The nearest airstrip is Naboisho, a 40-minute drive from camp.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Asilia

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: The food at Naboisho Camp is some of the best in the Mara. On each of our stays, most recently in 2019, we could have done with even more activities to work off each delicious meal – where everything was homemade, of course.

Dining is as a group, by default, but guests are welcome to request private dining or individual tables for special occasions

Breakfast is often a picnic in the bush: fruit salad, breakfast pastry and muffins, with tea and coffee from the thermos. Alternatively, there may be early tea or coffee, with biscuits or muffins, then come back to camp for brunch.

Mid-morning brunch, served on the lawn in front of the lounge deck, is a very welcome meal after an early-morning drive or walk. We enjoyed a bacon and tomato tart, homemade chocolate muffins, fruit salad, cereals and yoghurt. We didn't have room for more than a sampler of the cooked breakfast sizzling on the barbecue.

Lunch is served around 1pm and is typically a buffet of fresh salads. On our recent visit we tucked in to a selection of fish cakes, crispy spinach and serval salads; this was finished by a sweet cranberry ball.

Naboisho Camp is a reminder of how much travel can broaden the waistline as well as the mind. By shortly after 4.00pm, the staff were setting up for afternoon tea, accompanied by shortbread and chocolate brownies.

Dinner is always three courses with a choice for each, and is usually served communally. Typical first courses are homemade soup, avocado mousse, mushroom pancake with white sauce or a herby salad. Main courses might be battered fish with citrus sauce, rice and steamed vegetables, or an unusual couscous with pork steak and Moroccan spices. They do great puds here: the thick chocolate mousse was heavenly.

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: All available drinks are currently included but the camp plans to add some cellar wines, champagnes and specially imported spirits, which will cost extra. Filtered drinking water is provided in the tents.

Further dining info: Naboisho will do room service. Dining is as a group, by default, but guests are welcome to request private dining or individual tables for special occasions.

Special interests

Photography holidays: Excellent wildlife and beautiful landscapes lead to some fantastic photographic opportunities in Naboisho. The camp has a specific photographic vehicle, with rotating chairs and drop sides, and the experienced guides know how to position the car allowing you to get the perfect shot.

See more ideas for Photography holidays in Kenya

Walking safaris: The Maasai walking guides at Naboisho hold a large-calibre gun licence, enabling them to accompany guests on bush walks in this part of the Naboisho Conservancy. These go into some areas where dangerous wildlife may be encountered, making for a potentially thrilling walking safari in Kenya. You may well come across lion, buffalo or giraffe, as well as plains game and birdlife.

See more ideas for Walking safaris in Kenya

Walking: Led by an expert local Maasai guide, the walks at Naboisho offer some fantastic opportunities for walking in Kenya. Here you can explore a part of the Mara Conservancies on foot, learning about the landscape on the way.

See more ideas for Walking in Kenya

Children

Attitude towards children: Naboisho is happy to take children of five and above.

Property’s age restrictions: Minimum age 5 (12 for walking safaris)

Special activities & services: Short walks on the open plains, where there is very good visibility, can be done with younger children. Archery lessons with traditional bows and arrows are run by Maasai staff from the camp. Babysitters are available, but only from housekeeping: there are no trained childcare specialists.

Equipment: The camp has two superb family tents, but no other children’s equipment.

Notes: The camp is in a wild area, with dangerous wildlife, so parental supervision is essential at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: There is lighting and power in the tents 24 hours a day. This is fine to charge most electricals, however it is not suitable for hairdryers.

Communications: There is a designated WiFi tent away from the main area. Cellphone coverage in this part of Mara Naboisho Conservancy tends to be poor, but the Airtel network has the best coverage in camp.

TV & radio: No

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: There is running hot and cold water that is plumbed in inside the tents, and there is also the option of a safari ‘bucket’ shower outside the tents.

Sustainability

Encouraging local entrepreneurship per education

Encouraging local entrepreneurship per educationWithin 210km² private Mara Naboisho Conservancy sits Naboisho Camp, hosting only nine tented suites to provide an authentic wilderness experience. As the primary goal of Naboisho, which means ‘coming together’, is to create a balance between protecting wildlife and improving the lives of people, the lodge is especially committed to enhance opportunities for the local communities.

Working closely with Maa Trust, the lodge works to transfer the benefits of tourism in the region to the local community, in exchange for their support and acceptance. For every night tourists spend at Naboisho, $5 is donated to the Maa Trust. Through the teaching and guidance that the trust was able to provide, local people have been able to build their own businesses.

One example of a successful initiative is the Maa Beadwork. Whilst Maasai women are usually married off for cattle, the Maa Trust have taught them beadwork and helped them to earn money and become independent by selling their wares. Over 400 Maasai women are involved in the beading project, making everything from colourful beaded jewellery to home accessories such as candle holders. To further support the programme, Naboisho Camp has an on-site gift shop selling hand-made items purchased from the Maa Trust.

Moreover, for a $25 fee, the camp offers cultural visits to local Maasai villages. $15 goes directly to the community they visit, whereas $5 is donated to the community bursary fund. In the year 2015-2016 alone over $8000 was obtained from community visits.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There are several first aiders on site, who do refresher courses every year. There's a first-aid kit in every vehicle and one in the main camp. The camp has links to the flying doctor service and they also have an emergency drill in place. The nearest doctor is in Talek, a 45-minute drive away.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: There are askaris for escort and security duties. Radios and air horns are found in all tents. There is a safe in the manager’s office.

Fire safety: A fire safety procedure is in place with an assembly point. There are fire extinguishers in every tent, and in the main areas. There is also a fire break around the camp.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Laundry, hand washed and line dried, is included in the rate. No female underwear can be taken, but soap powder is provided in the bathrooms for you to handwash these items.

Money: Valuables should be given to the managers for keeping in the office safe; there are no safes or lock-up boxes in the guest tents. No foreign exchange service is offered.

Accepted payment on location: Cash payments may be made in US dollars, euros, pounds sterling or Kenyan shillings. Visa and Mastercard are acceptable, with a 5% surcharge.

X  Close