Reviews of Offbeat Mara
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Offbeat Mara review
Really enjoyed the stay. Lots of game, great staff and an excellent guide. Good to do the two nights under canvas.Read more about the whole safari
Fantastic stay at Offbeat Mara
We had a wonderful time at Offbeat - staying in this tented camp was a great contrast to the lodge accommodation we'd enjoyed at Borana. It's a fabulous little camp and very well run by Jesse (who, for 19-years-old, has a ridiculously old head on his shoulders and obviously commands the respect of the staff). We thought it was very cool to have two Maasai for guides - Josphat and Komani - and liked it that they sported Maasai dress rather than 'corporate'/lodge-branded attire. Josphat was a mine of information (going for his gold soon, I think) and we had a thoroughly brilliant time with the pair of them.
Activity-wise it was all about the drives (although we loved our visit to a local Maasai village one afternoon/evening) - I believe Jesse is waiting on his rifle licence, which will mean he can offer walking safaris which I think would be a good addition. But the drives were amazing and we loved it that one day we got back to camp after a whole day out - and Jesse said 'jump in the jeep, a leopard's been spotted close to camp'. And we found her! So lucky and so glorious to have a local resident leopard - we saw her a couple of times after that, including one incident when she dispatched an infant warthog (cue lots of noise!). We really appreciated that genuine want on the part of the management to ensure we had the best possible experience.
Seeing a crossing was epic (our all-day excursion into the National Reserve was just brilliant) and the guides seemed to know place after wonderful place for breakfast stops. Having bacon and eggs - and a coffee - by a watering hole for zebra in the sunshine and by a hippo and croc-infested river was really special.
We also did an AMAZING night drive with our fellow seriously good fun guests... tearing around the plains on the roof of a Landcruiser with a couple of bottles of wine in tow was absolutely brilliant (though I don't want to get anyone into trouble!).
I feel a bit unfair marking the food and activities 'good' rather than 'excellent' - but that's just because I'm comparing them with Borana (which had a full-service kitchen whereas of course Offbeat doesn't!)... I thought it was all seriously good.
Overall - the Mara is in a league of its own in terms of the sheer abundance of game. Offbeat Mara was a fabulous base and we'd love to go back some day. Special mention to Jesse, Sam, Josphat and Komani for the laughs, attention to detail and general marvellousness!
Offbeat Mara review
Like its sister camp, Offbeat Meru, this is again a small rustic safari camp, slightly better appointed than the Meru (is that because there are so many other camps in the Masai to choose from), but without loosing that rustic individual charm.
The contrast in the landscape with Meru could not be greater, open plains compared to deeper bush, which is why the 2 camps makes an excellent combination. Lucky enough to see 2 separate prides of lions eating their kill, large herds of Zebra and Gazelles as well as Topi, water buck and different birds to that seen at Meru. Both camps offer morning game drives taking picnic breakfast with you, which makes game drives longer then normal, but does give you the opportunity to stay out and see more wildlife.
An opportunity that I took up on every occasion, and very worthwhile.
A little piece of HAVEN!!
What can I say about this tented camp.......
From the moment we turned into this camp it was WONDERFUL!! Karl and Lara were there to meet us with some of their great staff. They made us feel so welcome and very comfortable. The whole experience here was truly amazing, the tents bucket showers(you could have a few a day - if you wanted) the quality of the food their chef produced was fabulous. One night we had this camp to ourselves, what a special treat.
One night, Karl had set up sundowner drinks in a location which he didn't realised was being shared with a group of lion cubs how special was that.
We had the most incredible four nights staying in Offbeat and would love to go back.
Kyle and Lara met us and made us very welcome, we again saw the big 5 and Cheetah. The walk with Kyle who was armed was delightful and the trips excellent.
One guest did complain, it seemed she wanted 5 star service and bucket showers did not meet this but for us it was perfectly good and All we needed.
The Mara experience without the crowds
Offbeat Mara is in the Mara North Conservancy. There is about 100,000 acres in the conservancy with 70,000 of it being reserved for wildlife. We had tent number 5 which along with #3 have the best view out on the plains. We saw elephant, giraffe and even a lion walk past the front of the tent.
It had been a rainy period and also rained at night while we were there so there was lots of grass. Our guide David said that there had not been this much grass in ten years. He was a really excellent guide along with spotter Kapen. They knew my wife is a birder so helped her add lots of new birds to her checklist. Also, they shared with us the culture of the Masai people. Most of the time we were the only two in the vehicle with the guide and spotter. January is a good time to visit if you want more of a private experience and are not wanting to be there during the migration.
We still saw lots of wildlife. The first evening safari drive we got the "cat trick" ( leopard, cheetah, and lion). We had one other day that we repeated the cat trick with a leopard mother and cub, cheetah on a kill and a whole pride of lions, two big males, four lionesses and 7 cubs. This camp seems to be located in a real game hotspot. Most of our good sighting were within a mile of the camp. It sits along the river where the leopards hang out and the open plains are just up the hill where the game and the other big cats are hunting.
The conservancy is very pristine and beautiful with the open grassy plains dotted with flat top acacia. There are rivers running through with trees lining them. There are some really large elephants and lots of giraffe.
The tents were large and comfortable with king size beds and in suite bathrooms. The staff were all extremely friendly and the managers, Kyle and Lara were helpful and had lots of interesting stories to tell at meal time. The chef was really good and created lots of variety in his menu. We took breakfast with us to eat out on safari.
You are able to do night drives and walks since it is in the conservancy. We did both and they were both fun.
Great safari but contradictory feelings
The comparative advantage of the lodge is its location and its driver guides. The guides are excellent. I haven't seen such knowledgeable people in any other safari.
Another advantage is that you go on safari and you can stay as much as you like without any fixed timetable from the lodge. The landowner of the lodge is very flexible and accommodative.
On the low side, the activities and the service. Although we spent there our New Year's Eve, nothing special was planned and the service was very poor, even the fruits that are so numerous in Africa were so much limited in variety. We had also hard time with the bucket of water in our shower.
Expert Africa comments
Offbeat Mara have got back to us to say that while they are delighted these guests found the camp’s location and the guides so good, they were surprised and concerned to hear they were not happy with the service and activities on New Year’s Eve. That evening there was a group fireside sundowner drinks before dinner with the camp's Maasai dancers on their nearby “Top Plains”. This was followed by a large New Year’s dinner back in camp. However, with most guests rising early for a game drive on 1st January, there was no planned late evening entertainment, nor any expectation that guests would necessarily want to stay up until midnight. This is quite normal on New Year’s Eve at small, tented camps and as usual, most guests retired by 10pm.
The camp received a full supply delivery to the kitchen on the 30th of December and had a plentiful variety of fruit in camp so they are very sorry if these guests missed it. They also apologise if these guests were unaware of the safari shower system when booking the camp and we at Expert Africa should have taken more care to explain that to these guests.
Excellent safari at offbeat Mara
Enjoyed four nights at offbeat mara, game drives with breakfast in the bush followed by a delicious lunch. Evening drives with sundowners.
Excellent location, great food and hospitality from Kyle and Lara.
Enjoyed a walk with Kyle and Kapeen, very informative and gives a different view of the bush.
Good choice in the conservancies
Offbeat Mara is well located sufficiently close to the river crossings (just over an hours' drive) but also within a stone's throw away from the hill that is home to the Offbeat lion pride. The route to the crossings across the plains is enjoyable and we were lucky to spot baby leopards and some hyenas but the actual crossings can be a bit hit and miss of course.
Our walking safari and night safari were particularly interesting and unique - we saw a rare Aardvark and a lioness hunt a baby gazelle, which got away twice! The opportunity to spend a lot of time in close proximity with the Offbeat lion pride during the day and at night was excellent and it was great to watch the young cubs play.
The lodge was nicely laid with space between the tents. The atmosphere was relaxed and laid back, but at times this felt like bordering complacency. We noted that some of the tents were being refurbished, which is timely as they're beginning to look a bit tired!
A True African Safari Experience
Wildlife Paradise. Seconds after touching down at the Mara North Conservancy Airstrip the animal sitings began and the landscape was abound with lions, hyenas, ostrich, wildebeest and giraffe, and we had not been in the Mara for half an hour. We had to pinch ourselves to make sure it wasn't a dream. The camp was nestled right into a heavenly landscape, and barely noticeable until we were right on top of it. A huge welcome from Kyle, Lara and Ponto (the dog) and the staff at Offbeat Mara, all lined up and waiting for us as our car pulled in the drive with hot towels an refreshments. We were welcomed like family coming home after a long journey, and were treated as such throughout our stay. We were escorted down a stone lined path and thru grassy plains to our tents with a view of zebra in the plains before us. The tents were well equipped with gorgeous beds, working toilet, and bucket sinks and showers. The four of us had plenty of space, and each bed had a spectacular view. It was so peaceful and quiet, only interrupted by the sounds of nature.
The communal tent and dining area invited you in with comfy cozy lounges and pillows, bar, games, and books, and a variety of animal skulls for the kids to investigate. Drinks and snacks around the campfire in the evenings to share game drive stories and highlights of the day, and communal dinners by candle light and lantern in the open air dining was fantastic, with a special visit from a little bush baby friend. Food was excellent and varied and dietary needs for finicky eaters (3 and 6 year old) were met. We arrived on my birthday, and the chef and staff surprised us with song and a gorgeous birthday cake to help us celebrate. It was lovely. When it was time to retire, the night watchman walked us back to our tents and stood guard all night long. Kyle walked with us as well, because our youngest wouldn't let him out of her sights. ;-) We felt very safe and well looked after.
Massai Mara is a wildlife wonderland, and this visit did not disappoint. We saw so many amazing things and any expectations we may have had were shattered. We witnessed The Great Wildebeest Migration, one of the seven wonders of the world, with our very own eyes and it was more than we ever could have imagined. Thousands and thousands of wildebeest and zebra nervously gathering at the river banks to drink, cautiously pressing forward and then retreating until one takes a leap of faith and the rest follow. What surprised me the most was that the animals go back and forth, at one point wildebeest crossing one way, and zebra crossing the other. It was hilarious and confusing and wonderful. Hungry crocodiles circling and waiting for opportunity to strike. Hippos grunting and nudging and positioning for the best spot. We were watching a National Geographic special live, with our own eyes, and I do not think anything will compare to this experience.
We saw lions, lots and lots of lions and cubs too, a rare black rhino, leopards, elephants and elephant babies, zebra, wildebeest, gazelle, topi, hyena, giraffe, eagles and birds, cheetah, hippos fighting and more. I could not get over the abundance of animals we saw, and the experiences we had in three short days. David and Kapen were our Massai game driver and spotter, and I cannot stop telling people about them and how wonderful they were. They were fantastic, period, and especially with our two girls, and so very knowledgeable and personable and fun. We had an exceptionally hard time saying goodbye, and I tear up writing this just thinking about it. This was a dream, a trip of a lifetime, and a dream come true.
We hope to inspire people to visit Kenya by sharing our stories and our photos, because this place is truly special, truly magical, and everyone should experience it at least once in their lifetime, and Offbeat Mara should be part of the plan.