Reviews of Offbeat Mara
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
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.
Perfect in every way.
A truly amazing place!! surpassing our expectations and well suggested by RIchard at Expert Africa.
Just returned from a two centre holiday in Kenya and as always had the most fantastic time. First time however taking our three children who were blown away!!!
This camp was so perfect in so many ways, it's peaceful carefully considered location- stunning!! No man made boundaries or hard landscaping, just sitting within the natural environment, allowing stunning views and perfect viewing of passing wildlife including families of elephants and lions.
The small selection of well spaced out tents provided both comfort and privacy and a real sence of adventure. All amenities you would need well provided for, lots of little extra touches too,favourite being the hot water bottle awaiting in your bed after a great supper and nightcap with fellow travellers.
All the meals were beautifully presented, cooked and varied. No repetition over our six day stay. A real achievement from two great chiefs in the most unlikely of kitchens! Most certainly worth asking to visit them.
All of the above can only be achieved with the great leadership and orchestration of our hosts Kyle and Lara, the most welcoming warm and friendly couple. Who with the benefit of such great staff, guides and drivers make not just a holiday but a heart warming experience.
From Kyle and our special guide,David, as well as all the other staff nothing was unachievable. Their diversity of knowledge and passion was inspiring and tangible.
We had a very special reason for this trip and could not of have had our hopes and wishes better executed, for which as a family we will always be eternally grateful.
If a camped safari is your desire, within an exclusive yet prolifically diverse game viewing location, this camp would certainly be worth a visit. We as a family will certainly be returning hopefully for many more years to come.
Thank you Kyle,Lara and the "Gang"
Like visiting the Garden of Eden
We came to Mara after 3 days in Meru and this was a step up. The tents were bigger and the bathroom area was nicer and larger. Good beds and clean room. We could hear lions during the night, had a herd of elephants walk by our tent (they were a safe distance away, no concern for safety), and had multiple species of animals just grazing in the field in front of our tent.
The staff was Excellent. The food was good (ok, my picky husband who doesn't eat vegetables got a little hungry) and the beer was Ice cold. They were accommodating for special requests for meals, and served good wines with dinner. The guides were great, the jeeps were in good condition, and in July, the weather was perfect. It got a little cold at night, but they had nice warm comforters on the beds, so it was very comfortable.
The Mara was a lot different from Meru, and I totally enjoyed seeing both areas. We missed the migration, but didn't mind, because driving through the open plains was such an experience. The Lions that live in the Offbeat reserve were fun to watch and we were able to see them everyday.
We spent 3 nights in Mara and wasted almost a whole day traveling due to Air Kenya changing our reservation, but that was still plenty. We actually spent one day at the camp without getting in the jeep, and were able to take a guided hike in the afternoon. Overall GREAT experience!
Wonderful Safari at Offbeat Mara
We had a fantastic time at Offbeat Mara - Game drives were full and exciting with plenty of game. David and Joseph were our guides during our stay and they were fantastic and always happy to stay at animals for as long as we wished.
Enjoyed a night drive, and also had a brilliant walk with Kyle - fantastic experience and felt totally safe at all times. The animals were plentiful with sightings of Lion everyday and Leopard sightings on 2 days! We saw a baby impala born and within 15 minutes of watching it was on its feet.
The food in camp was excellent, as was the service from all of the camp staff, nothing was too much trouble.
The tents are new and very spacious with comfortable beds. We had a fantastic view from the tent, plenty of game directly in front of the tent. Tents spaced out throughout the camp.
Kyle and Lara were wonderful hosts and managed the camp extremely well, dealt with any concerns promptly.
Here we saw The Crossing and the Leopard
This tent camp was great. The tents were very well appointed, the food was wonderful as were the hosts and guides.
Here we took a night safari, which I thought was outstanding. We also were lucky enough to see the crossing to the wildebeasts. Amazing. The leopard in the tree was awesome. Our guides were so helpful in making sure we saw these rare amimals. They really went out of their way to see that we had an exceptional experience.
One day as we arrived back at camp, there was a herd of zebras just outside our tents. Friends and family really can't believe that we were that close to the animals.
Offbeat Mara review
So glad to have upgraded tents. Great wild game sightings including the Wildebeest Crossing.
Often heard lions in the distance and zebra grazing outside our porch.
Offbeat Mara is absolutely incredible. Every single element of the whole experience comes together to make the whole thing totally unforgettable - a truly life changing experience. The camp managers, Kyle and Lara are two of the friendliest, welcoming and fun people that we have ever met. From stories around the campfire to expertly led walking safaris, they covered everything. We were waved off and welcomed back from safari drives, fed amazing food at all times of the day, and never witnessed an empty glass. We can't even begin to do justice to how great Offbeat Mara was and we urge anybody interested in a true Kenyan experience to book here immediately.
The rooms were not only clean and spacious, but also stylish and comfortable. The staff were all so funny and sociable, not to mention educated in all things safari. We asked many questions and received insightful, interesting answers. Lunch and dinner with the rest of the guests (in our experience, this was between 6 - 10 other people) was an absolute joy. We met so many interesting people with such varied lives. Kyle used to be a cook and so the standard of food was incredibly high given the camp's location in the middle of the bush. Everybody would sit around telling stories and sharing experiences. There are also lots of fantastic photography books to look at, further adding to the enjoyment. It's unbelievable to think that you have seen these things in books and films and then minutes later, you're sat in a jeep staring into the eyes of a pride of lions. Breathtaking.
The drivers at Offbeat were simply unbeatable. It's as if they were orchestrating the animals themselves and we were constantly finding ourselves in the right place at the right time. At first we thought this was luck, but then it dawned on us that it was the highly expert driver (David) and his spotter that were working so hard to make sure we had the best possible time. Not only this, but they had a passion for the wildlife that rubbed off on us, teaching us about animal psychology, local whether movements or bush-craft.
We saw the Marsh Pride of Lion with young cubs, 2 Leopards; one on the way from the airport strip to our lodge and one from the hot air balloon, lions mating and 2 river crossings we were very spoilt!
Offbeat Mara was quite a contrast to Offbeat Meru, including in the weather. We had one of the old tents which was fine but a little small. Food and guiding were good and we enjoyed the experience. As always, the wildlife in the Mara is everywhere.
However, organisation of the camp was a little weak when we were there. Everything was too relaxed really, so we had to shift our own luggage ( I have no problem doing this but it is kind of annoying when someone says they will bring it: we arrived after a four hour flight, keen for a shower and after ten minutes I just went to fetch the luggage myself). Power for the lights did not get switched on until an hour after dark one night. Showers were forgotten on occasion too and it was hard to find someone to sort these fairly minor issues out.
We enjoyed ourselves and the guiding was good but changing guides each time was odd (although all were good). Despite a lack of organisation on our visit, they were flexible so we did everything we wanted. However, we had a sense of being a little abandoned in comparison to the excellent service and management at Offbeat Meru.
Expert Africa comments
Offbeat Mara has responded to these travellers comments and although the camp is happy that they rated their overall experience as "excellent" they regret the disappointments. As of December 2013, the camp has been fully upgraded with brand-new, bigger tents with solar lighting available at all times. It appears that when these guests were in camp normal practice was not in place, possibly due to the absence of one of the two managers while the camp was full. Normal practice is to have two managers in place at all times. Guest luggage should always be delivered straight away to their tents and hot safari showers normally take no longer than 10 minutes at the most to be delivered. The camp has held a staff meeting over these issues and they should never be repeated again. They emphasise they are sorry that Mr and Mrs J felt things were not as efficient as in their sister camp Offbeat Meru.
A true safari camp
A different experience to its sister camp in Meru but nonetheless excellent. A very relaxed camp which ran well with a variety of options for drives including the day drive into the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Our guide Josephatt was a charming knowledgeable guide who did his utmost to give us the best possible view of any sighting.
A leopard at last!
Great Safari at Offbeat Mara
The camp itself is in a wonderful setting and we were lucky to have one of the new tents which were very comfortable. The manager and staff at the Mara were very friendly and relaxed and nothing was too much trouble.
Each day you decided what you wanted to do ie: full day, half day, night drive etc. The food was very good and the area is abundant with wildlife.