Access to Ngare Serian is via a narrow suspension bridge…
Ngare Serian: Our full report
On the west bank of the Mara River, tucked between the river and the escarpment on its own 16-square-kilometre private conservancy, Ngare Serian is the sister camp of Serian, and faces the main camp, which is sited 100m upstream on the east bank within the Mara North Conservancy. The camp is owned by a veteran of the East African safari scene, Alex Walker.
The introduction to Ngare Serian is unusual: the camp is accessed by a 50m-long, single-file, suspension bridge from the parking area. Walking across, several metres above a fast-flowing and usually shallow stretch of the Mara River, is completely safe, but the bridge does bounce and wobble a little, hence the notice requesting “One at a Time" – a recommendation for your comfort rather than a safety rule. For children and many adults, Serian's footbridge is a joy, but if you suffer vertigo or simply know this kind of thing is not for you, then the main Serian camp will suit you better.
Immediately across the river, an imposing dark-wood-floored dining and lounge tent (usually known as the “mess tent") stretches along the bank to your left. There are comfy sofas and armchairs here, a nicely informal drinks table and a large deck overlooking the river, with recliners and more seating and a brazier for evenings around the campfire. On our last visit at the end of 2016 we were told that there were plans to build a new, much larger, deck.
One end of the lounge and dining tent is occupied by a large dining table that easily seats ten or more. Although meals are often taken out in the bush, or on the deck, this the default location for Ngare Serian's hosted dinners.
Ngare Serian's four capacious guest tents – they call them marquees, and that aptly suggests their size and appeal – sprawl along the riverside to the north of the bridge and dining-lounge tent. Widely spaced apart, they are mounted on relatively high-level platforms of chestnut-coloured, polished hardwood, and each tent faces out across the Mara River. The furthest tent, #4, faces a broad pool in the river, where the local hippo pod is usually to be seen slumbering and snorting through the day. The hippos sometimes graze around the tent at night. Tents #3, #2 and #1, closer to the central areas, are closer to the rapids section of the river.
The tents are very comfortably furnished in slightly retro style that stylishly sets off the beige and khaki canvas and soft, fawn drapes and ceiling liners. All have large, four-poster beds, with full mosquito nets, cane-woven luggage stands, armchairs and carved tables, oriental rugs and vases of local foliage. The tents open fully on three sides, giving views over the river and into the neighbouring bush at every turn, and offering plenty of space to discover your inner explorer. Staff arrive late every afternoon to close the tents before dark. There's 24-hour electricity from bedside lamps, and torches/flashlights are provided for the escorted walks in the evening between your tent and the mess. You're never in any doubt at Ngare Serian that you are in the realm of the wildlife.
The spacious bathrooms – located under canvas on the deck, but outside the bedroom area – have plumbed-in water (always hot in the mornings and evenings), standard flush toilets, twin basins and bathtubs as well as showers. Naturally sourced toiletries are provided by Kenyan company Cinnabar Green.
The Serian camps share a team of fourteen driver/guides, all at bronze level or above. One of the most unusual features here is the provision of a private driver/guide and vehicle to every party of guests. Depending on how full the camp is, guests will either have their own vehicle with a driver/guide as well as a guide/spotter or just a driver/guide. You will, however, be looked after by the same main driver/guide throughout the course of your stay. A private vehicle and guide has inherent advantages – allowing you to do exactly what you want and allowing your guide to understand what you want to do, especially after getting to know you for a day or two. In most camps, exclusive vehicle and guide use can be pre-booked, but at an additional charge. Drives usually take place in the extensive and varied landscapes of the Mara North Conservancy, but you can also opt to drive into the Maasai Mara National Reserve, which is most popular during the wildebeest migration season between July and October.
The other main activitiy at Ngare Serian is guided bush walks in Serian's private, 16km² concession on the west bank of the Mara. These are available for all ages. On these short walks, your armed escorts will be equipped with traditional weapons. For longer walks guns are carried. You can also do some great night drives in the Mara North conservancy.
An optional extra is a night in The Nest Treehouse a comfortable elevated fly camp a short walk north of camp. Subject to availability, a night here is included at no extra charge if requested, and you don't give up your tent at Ngare Serian.
Our viewThis is one of the Mara ecosystem’s most individual and attractive camps, with lovely river views and high levels of personal attention. With its four, huge marquee-style tents, the seclusion provided by its footbridge access and the exclusive vehicle and driver/guide made available to every party of visitors, Ngare Serian is the Mara North Conservancy’s top camp.
Ideal length of stay: 3 nights-plus
Directions: Mara North airstrip is about a one-hour drive from the main camp.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Alex Walker and shareholders.
Staff: Rosin and Adrian Allen
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: All drinks are included except for Champagne and premium wines and spirits.
Further dining info: Like the main Serian Camp, food at Ngare Serian makes great use of the camp salad, herb and vegetable garden. Otherwise food is flown in from Nairobi. Both camps serve excellent and copious meals. Full breakfasts are served in the morning, while lunch is a buffet of chilled soup, salads, cold meat, pastas and quiches. The three-course dinners are slightly more formal.
Honeymoons: With excellent, very attentive service and an exclusive vehicle and guide for each group of guests, honeymooners will feel particularly well looked after on their Kenya honeymoon. Enjoy the exclusive feel of this small camp and its beautiful, large and very private tents.See more ideas for Honeymoons in Kenya
Attitude towards children: As long as parents understand the need to supervise their children, Ngare Serian will happily accommodate families, though the family tent at the main Serian camp is probably the most convenient option.
Property’s age restrictions: There is no minimum age and under-fives stay free of charge.
Equipment: No cots or highchairs are currently available, but these could easily be obtained if requested in advance.
Generally recommended for children: With its provision of an exclusive vehicle and driver/guide for the use of each party of guests, Ngare Serian, like its sister camp Serian, removes one concern of a family safari, namely that other guests will be disturbed by your children on shared game drives. With the caveat that Ngare Serian is unfenced, and feels very much part of the local bush – so little ones will need constant supervision – we think this is a good choice for a high-end family stay in the Mara.
Power supply: Solar Power
Power supply notes: Back-up generator with inverter. Hot water is plumbed in and boosted by wood-fuelled kuni boosters morning and evening. There are charging points in the rooms.
Communications: There is no Wi-fi, but Internet access is available for guest use in case of urgent need. The camp has patchy mobile phone reception.
TV & radio: There’s no TV for guest use.
Water supply: Other
Water supply notes: Ngare Serian’s water supply comes from the Mara River, and their own spring. It is pumped to settling tanks and drinking water is then filtered and bottled for guests’ use.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: Staff and managers have had some first aid training. There is a basic clinic at Mara Rianta, about half an hour’s driver from camp.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Maasai askaris escort guests around camp after dark.
Fire safety: The river acts as a natural fire break. All the tents have fire extinguishers.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Laundry service is included, and clothes are hand-washed and line-dried. For cultural reasons, no underwear can be accepted. Soap powder is provided for guests. to wash underwear.
Money: There is a safe in the office for guests’ use. The camp doesn’t offer foreign exchange.
Accepted payment on location: Credit cards are not accepted. Only cash (Kenya shillings, US dollars, pounds sterling or Euros) are accepted in payment for any extras, and the crafts and curios shop at the main camp only accepts cash.