Saruni Wild

Saruni Wild: Our full report

Rooms
Three tents
Children
Best for 12+
Open
All year

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 – 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 brand new Saruni Rhino.

Tucked into the bush in a shallow lugga or stream valley, Saruni Wid has lovely views out across the plains to the southwest. This area has resident elephant, giraffe, buffalo and impala. When we last stayed, in 2017, 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. This is also one of the very few parts of the Mara where wild dog are occasionally seen too.

With just three tents Saruni Wild is often 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.

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. 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 if they like. 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.

Our view

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 stadards 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.

Geographics

Location: Maasai Mara Conservancies, Kenya

Ideal length of stay: A night or two is perfect when in conjunction with a longer stay at Saruni Mara

Directions: 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: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Riccardo Orizio, journalist, author and safari guide

Staff: William Santian (head guide) and Cecilia Rono share management duties at Saruni Wild and Saruni Mara and host guests and join them for meals.

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

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

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: All drinks are included except for premium wines and spirits, and Champagne.

Further dining info: 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.

Children

Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Saruni Wild.

Property’s age restrictions: None

Special activities & services: For children over the age of six, the “warriors for a week" programme brings Maasai boys into interaction with visiting children.

Equipment: There's a baby cot at Saruni Mara, but no high chairs are available.

Notes: This camp is unfenced and located in quite a bushy area. Parents must be vigilant, and be responsible for their children at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

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.

Communications: 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: No.

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: Yes

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.

Extras

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).

Money: 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.

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