Saruni Wild: Our full report
Saruni Wild is located in the Lemek Conservancy, on the border of neighbouring Mara North Conservancy, close ...... to the Mara North airstrip. The location provides a wildlife-rich experience particularly between July and September when the wildebeest migration moves into the Mara. With just three simple tents, Saruni Wild is also one of the smallest and most intimate safari camps in Kenya.
Saruni Wild is the sister camp of nearby Saruni Mara, the stylish Saruni Samburu and the newer Saruni Rhino.
Tucked into the bush in a shallow lugga or stream valley, Saruni Wild has lovely views out across the plains to the southwest. This area has resident elephant, giraffe, buffalo and impala. When we last stayed, three lions walked past our tent at about 8pm one evening, just as we were about to go to dinner, to the excitied surprise of the askari waiting nearby. Wild dogs have also been known to pass through the area, which is a rare occurrence across much of Kenya.
With just three tents, Saruni Wild is sometimes booked out privately for groups or families. We imagine that a group would have great fun in a wild bush camp like this with the main areas and the guide all to themselves. But the camp is also sold by the room, and so you don't have to take the whole camp over if you are travelling as a couple or on your own.
The central lounge and dining tent is simply furnished with a number of cream sofas set around a dark wood coffee table from the Swahili coast. The sofas are covered by colourful throws and red cushions which gives a really welcoming and homely feel. There is a communal dining table here too which is sometimes set inside, and sometimes outside for dining under the stars. Meals are sociable and usually hosted by the manager and/or a senior guide, though the managers from Saruni Mara often drive down to join you as well. There are directors chairs on the veranda in case guests want to sit outside and bird-watch. At night, a campfire is lit which is a lovely place for guests to relax, have a drink and listen to the sounds of the bush.
There are just three dark cream canvas tents at Saruni Wild, and it's this small size that differentiates Saruni Wild from other camps in the area. All the tents are decorated in the same way with woven rugs on the floor, large comfortable beds with chunky and rustic wooden frames and bed side tables. Bottled water is provided in the rooms, as is bug spray and a sound horn for emergencies. Little luxuries such as bathrobes make this a comfortable camp, though we felt that some furniture was lacking inside - at least a chair and table. There are no power points in the tents and electronics can only be charged in the communal area.
One of the tents is a family tent consisting of two adjoining tents with a zip between them. This can be opened up into one large tent – with a double and two twin beds.
The ensuite bathrooms are simple, and include a beautifully made wooden sideboard with a mirror in front, and a single wash basin with a tap and cold running water from a tank outside. This same tank feeds the surprisingly pretty flush loo that feeds into a hygienic soakaway. The shower is a traditional safari shower, in other words a bucket filled with warm water hoisted up outside your tent by the room attendant on demand. This then allows gravity to draw the water down through a shower head inside the tent. Warm water is always available – you just have to ask. Toiletries are provided.
Activities include day and night game drives, walks, birding and village visits. Guests can also go up to Saruni Mara for the shop and spa. Saruni Wild use a comfortable open sided Land Rover for their game drives. There is usually just one vehicle and guide based at the camp, who also acts as your personal host. However more are arranged if the camp is full. Saruni Wild have rights to do their game drives in Lemek, Ol Choro Oirouwa and Mara North Conservancy, as well as the main Maasai Mara National Reserve, which opens up a vast area to explore.
It's hard to think of a camp in the Mara that is as remote as Saruni Wild. We loved its simplicity and were impressed by the standards of guiding and hosting. Though it's larger and more permanent than a fly-camp, it has that kind of feel and works really well in combination with a longer stay at the more established Saruni Mara. The result would be a really varied experience and for those looking for a touch of adventure we think this is a really fun option.
- Maasai Mara Conservancies, Kenya
- Ideal length of stay
- A night or two is perfect when in conjunction with a longer stay at Saruni Mara
- Saruni Wild is a 20-minute direct drive from Mara North airstrip, from where a direct flight to Wilson Airport, Nairobi takes around 45 minutes.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- The food at Saurni Wild is the same menu as Saruni Mara and so as with the main camp, it is also influenced by its Italian owner. You can expect lots of flavour and excellent pasta dishes. Saruni Wild, Saruni Mara and Saruni Samburu operate a shared weekly menu so as to avoid repeats for guests who are doing the circuit.
Saruni Wild offers both a bush breakfast, and a breakfast in camp depending on what suits each guest. If you decide to take breakfast out with you then it is still a good spread with yoghurt, cereals, bread, boiled eggs and cold sausages. There is also coffee, juice and fresh fruit. If you have breakfast in camp you simply have more choice of all the same items as well as a full cooked breakfast.
Lunches might also be in camp or out in the bush. In the bush it would usually be a number of cold salads and pasta dishes as well as fresh bread and some sliced meat. In camp the lunch is a bit more substantial with a pasta starter, a main course and a desert.
Then the evening dinners at Saruni Wild start with nibbles, and then three courses are served to the communal table.
- Dining style
- Group Meals
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Meals at Saruni Wild are usually communal and hosted by one of the guides or a manager from Saruni Mara who will often be in camp.
- Drinks included
- All drinks are included except for premium wines and spirits, and Champagne.
- Attitude towards children
- Children are welcome at Saruni Wild.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Special activities & services
- For children over the age of six, the “warriors for a week" programme brings Maasai boys into interaction with visiting children.
- There's a baby cot at Saruni Mara, but no high chairs are available.
- Generally recommended for children
- Saruni Wild, is as the name suggests - quite a wild camp better suited to older and more mature children.
- This camp is unfenced and located in quite a bushy area. Parents must be vigilant, and be responsible for their children at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Saruni Wild
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Saruni Wild 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 no electricity in the tents, so guests charge their batteries in the lounge tent, which has power 24 hours a day.
- There is limited phone signal (patchy Safaricom and Airtel, but no 3G), and no WiFi at Saruni Wild. Guests who urgently require these will have to pop up to Saruni Mara which is about a 30 minute drive away.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Transported in
- Water supply notes
- Water is brought in by bowser from Aitong spring. Hot water is brought for washing and showering via safari bucket showers. Bottled drinking water is supplied.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- All the guides at Saruni Wild are first-aiders. Aitong clinic is not far away and for serious emergencies medevac helicopters can land nearby.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- Askaris are on patrol at night at Saruni Wild.
- Fire safety
- Saruni Wild has no fire extinguishers at present.
Guided walking safari
Hot air ballooning
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry from Saruni Wild is hand-washed and line-dried and included in the rates, but in common with most camps, ladies' underwear is not washed for cultural reasons (washing powder is provided in the bathrooms for hand-washing any items).
- Saruni Wild cannot offer any currency exchange.
- Accepted payment on location
- All major currencies are accepted in cash at Saruni Wild. Saruni Mara up the road will also take Mastercard and Visa credit cards for which there is a no surcharge.
Other lodges in Maasai Mara Conservancies
Alternative places to stay in this same area.
Kicheche Bush Camp
Kicheche Bush Camp is a smart and intimate tented camp with a relaxed atmosphere and the perfect base in the Mara for keen photographers.
Kicheche Mara Camp has just eight tents and a rustic and comfortable feel. It is set by a stream in a pretty area of the Mara ecosystem's Mara North Conservancy.
Naboisho Camp is one of the most luxurious of the handful of camps in the Naboisho Conservancy. It offers day and night game drives, game walks and full creature comforts in the bush.
Kicheche Valley is a boutique tented camp in a wooded district of the Mara ecosystem's Naboisho Conservancy, with plenty of wildlife in the area.
Offbeat Mara is a small traditional camp that appeals to safari traditionalists, located in one of the Maasai Mara’s quiet conservancies.
Encounter Mara is located in the private Naboisho Conservancy – a game-rich area of the Mara ecosystem – and offers a contemporary take on the traditional, low-impact luxury safari camp.
Mara Plains Camp
Mara Plains is one of the very best camps in the Mara ecosystem. Located in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, just outside the Mara reserve, it has access to three wildlife-viewing areas.
Elephant Pepper Camp
Elephant Pepper Camp is a small 10-tent bush camp, put together in the traditional "campaign" style, and including a large honeymoon/family tent.
Serian is a luxury tented camp on the east bank of the Mara River in the Mara North Conservancy. It is the sister camp of Ngare Serian, on the west bank.
Porini Lion Camp
Porini Lion Camp is a pioneering, community focused eco-camp, with excellent guides and game viewing, in the predator-rich, Olare Motorogi Conservancy.
Ol Kinyei Adventure
Ol Kinyei Adventure Camp is a satelllite of the larger Porini Mara Camp. Both of them are located in the Maasai-owned Ol Kinyei conservancy, the oldest community conservancy in the Maasai Mara ecosystem.
Hemingways Ol Seki
Magnificently located tented lodge on a bluff looking south across the Naboisho Conservancy toward the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Kicheche Fly Camp
Kicheche Walking Wilderness Fly Camp is a temporaray dome tent camp set up for participants in Kicheche's two-day walking safari between Kicheche Valley and Kicheche Bush Camp.
Basecamp Eagle View
Basecamp Eagle View is a community-focused safari camp in the Naboisho Conservancy, with a strong emphasis on responsible tourism and a spectacular location.
Porini Mara Camp
Porini Mara Camp is a small, pioneering eco-camp in the first private conservancy in the Mara region, with comfortable accommodation and a range of activities.
The luxurious Ngare Serian and its sister camp Serian face each other across the Mara River on the western side of the Mara North Conservancy
Cottars 1920s Camp
Cottar's 1920s Camp is a classic, luxury tented camp with a 1920s safari theme, located in its own conservancy on the southeast border of the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Basecamp Leopard Hill
With six beautiful tents, Basecamp Leopard Hill is a smart safari camp in the Naboisho Conservancy in the Maasai Mara ecosystem.
Small and intimate, Offbeat Mara is set in a valley above the (often dry) Olare Orok River within the Mara North Conservancy.
Karen Blixen Camp
Karen Blixen Camp sits on a meander of the Mara River in the Mara North Conservancy, just beyond the northern boundary of the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Leleshwa was a delightful, boutique safari camp on the picturesque banks of a tributary of the Talek, with an extensive, little visited game area on its doorstep.
Mahali Mzuri is a strikingly modern tented camp in the Virgin Limited Edition group, in a remote part of the Mara ecosytem's Olare Motorogi Conservancy. It has lovely views and all the luxuries of a five-star hotel.
Saruni Mara is a luxurious permanent lodge, on the remote northern edge of the Mara North Conservancy, with stunning views, good guiding and very private and comfortable rooms.
Mara Nyika is one of the newer additions to the Naboisho Conservancy and offers a luxurious and exclusive safari.
Basecamp Wilderness Camp is a simple, traditional tented camp, set in a remote valley in the Naboisho Conservancy in the Mara ecoystem.
Mara Bushtops is a luxury safari hotel on a private concession, outside the Maasai Mara National Reserve, with the emphasis on comfort, relaxation and good food and wine.
Cottars Private House
Cottar's Private House is one of the few truly luxurious, modern private houses in the Mara ecosystem, spoiling its guests with first-rate staff, a swimming pool and wonderful views.
Entumoto is a high-end tented camp, with a swimming pool, situated in a very pretty location on the east side of the Maasai Mara ecosystem.