Angama Mara: Our full report
Situated in the western part of Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve, the luxury Angama Mara opened in 2015.It is set in a commanding position on the rim of the Siria-Oloololo Escarpment, looking down onto the Mara Triangle. The lodge comprises two identical, self-contained camps, each with 15 tented suites, its own central area, and independent services.
Angama Mara takes its name from the Swahili angama, meaning 'suspended in the air', and it is truly in a superlative position. The site was formerly occupied by Olkurruk Mara Lodge, which was built for the crew and stars of Sydney Pollack's 1985 blockbuster movie, Out of Africa. The original lodge sadly burned down, but it has allowed the brand new Angama Mara to make use of the outstanding location.
Angama Mara was built by Steve and Nicky Fitzgerald, who continue to own and help run the lodge. Over the past 30 years, they have created and worked at some of the best safari lodges in sub-Saharan Africa, and this new venture has clearly been influenced by some of their other projects – including Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater Lodge , which was built in 1995.
The 30 tented suites at Angama Mara, each covering an area of more than 100m2, are split evenly between the ‘South Camp’, which faces south-east, and the ‘North Camp’, which looks directly east over the Maasai Mara.
Although three walls and the roof of the suites are canvas, they feel more like modern, open-plan apartments than safari tents. All are glass-fronted, with superb views over the Mara from every part of the room – the bed, the bath, the sitting area or the shower. However, although you can choose to sleep with the sliding doors open, admitting fresh air and some sounds of the wild, some guests might feel quite removed from the surrounding wildlife. Each suite does, though, have a large, decked veranda with two modern red rocking chairs – a great place to while away the afternoon or indulge in a private dinner.
Inside, each suite is art deco in style: with polished dark wooden parquet flooring; high, well-lit, pink ceilings; and walls made from a combination of white quilted screens and exposed brick. Tasteful flashes of red, gold and bronze add to the sophisticated appearance. When we visited in November 2016 we thought that clever touches such as the attractive drinks cabinet (which comes complete with full decanters of gin and whisky); a writing desk that has an ingenious charging box with a variety of plug adaptors; Nikon binoculars; and a tablet that has information about Angama, and is connected to high speed WiFi, made the rooms feel modern and high-class.
All of the tented suites contain double or twin beds, and four of them (two in each camp) are interconnecting, with a shared balcony, making them suitable for families. The beds have electric blankets, which are surprisingly welcome at night, when it can be pretty chilly this high on the escarpment.
Since the suites are open plan, the bathroom is separated from the lounge only by a decorative screen. There is a free-standing bath, a vanity mirror with double basins and gold taps, a separate flush toilet and an excellent rain shower. A selection of Afro-chic toiletries is also supplied.
Each camp has its own main area, housed within one large building with a terrace, and this, together with the division of the suites, combines to make the lodge as a whole feel smaller than it really is.
The restaurant and bar area looks very professional, not dissimilar to a top-end restaurant in a major city. Polished red floors, rustic wood-beamed ceilings, exposed brick walls and yet more flashes of bronze and red continue the contemporary theme.
To one side is a cosy library, where a log fire is lit on colder nights and guests may choose to have a private dinner at the large dining table. There is also a TV here, with a selection of DVDs should you want to watch a film in the evening.
However, by far the most striking feature of Angama Mara is the splendid terrace and ‘baraza’ (meaning ‘meeting place’), which overhangs the Siria-Oloololo Escarpment and gives arguably the best views of the Mara to be found. Breakfast, lunch and often dinner are served on this terrace, and the sunken firepit with comfortable red cushions is an excellent place to meet for a drink before dinner. There is also a telescope here so that guests can look for wildlife in the Mara Triangle. This came into its own on our last visit, when we watched a black rhino browsing while we enjoyed our morning coffee!
The activities at Angama Mara are varied and flexible. Most guests will want to make use of the lodge’s open vehicles and go on game drives in the Mara Triangle section of the Maasai Mara National Reserve. This large district is visited by very few other lodges and camps, but gives excellent wildlife-viewing from a network of well-maintained earth roads. Parts of the Mara Triangle are also open to off-road driving. As well as game drives, you can do guided walks on the escarpment.
If you just want to chill, you’ll find a decent-sized infinity pool (12m x 6m) with suntrap walling around three sides, as well as a fitness suite, and the option of massages on your own veranda (at extra cost).
A visit to the local village, costing US$20 per person, can be a rewarding – and very immersive – experience. Guests will meet the village chief, who will give a talk, and you will be welcomed with a dance – but be prepared to be sold some souvenirs at the end!
Angama Mara has also built a huge vegetable garden, which provides seasonal, fresh produce to the lodge. Tours of this impressive shamba (meaning ‘farm’ in Swahili) are also very popular.
The team behind Angama Mara is doing a great amount for the local communities too. Each guest makes a US$10 per night donation, which is invested in community and conservation projects in the Mara Triangle. So far they have built a village for the staff that includes a clinic and dispensary, and on our last visit they had started building classrooms at a nearby school and dormitories so that teachers could stay there.
Guides from the lodge are also educating children about the benefits of conservation as well as working very closely with the Mara Conservancy, which manages the Mara Triangle, assisting them with anti-poaching. This is particularly important in this unfenced area, which has such a high population of elephant and rhino.
Angama Mara is undoubtedly one of the most luxurious lodges in the Maasai Mara. A stay here is going to be very comfortable and it particularly suits honeymooners and those with a strong romantic streak. However, the emphasis is not as focused on wildlife safaris as at many camps and lodges in the area and it is less likely to suit safari purists.
Country manager: Kenya
- Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
- The nearest airstrip is Kichwa Tembo, which is about a 45 minute flight from Nairobi and then a half hour drive from Angama Mara.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- When we visited Angama Mara in November 2016, one year after it opened, we were blown away by the quality of the food. Seasonal, fresh produce is a signature of Angama, and most of it is grown a few hundred metres from the restaurant in their very own shamba. All meals are served à la carte at private tables.
For breakfast we had a fruit smoothie, followed by homemade muesli and yoghurt, which was rounded off by creamy scrambled eggs, pan-fried halloumi and roasted tomatoes.
Lunch consisted of a Greek salad, then home-baked chick peas with lemon yoghurt and pitta wedges.
Our three-course dinner was perhaps the best meal of the day. We had an amazing prawn starter, followed by a juicy barbecued steak and a chocolate pot for dessert. All of which were delicious!
- Angama Mara offers a private honeymoon experience in a fantastic setting, with great food and extremely comfortable accommodation.
- See ideas for Honeymoons
- This ravishing new safari camp is the perfect base for a carefree luxury safari. The huge, glass-fronted tented rooms offer some of the region’s most striking views; the modern and stylish décor includes polished parquet floors and each room comes with a WiFi-enabled iPad.
- See ideas for Luxury
- Attitude towards children
- Children are welcome over the age of 6.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Special activities & services
- Children may go on nature walks around the lodge, learn how to bake in the kitchen and how to bead in the studio. Special sundowners can also be organised for children with roasted marshmallows. A childminding service is available so that parents can have dinner later than their children.
- Generally recommended for children
- This is a camp with a sophisticated style, generally more suited to older children and teens.
- Angama Mara is set on a very steep cliff edge and so children should be watched closely at all times.
- Power supply notes
- There is 24 hour power and guests can charge in their rooms using any number of adaptors which are provided.
- Free WiFi is available throughout the lodge.
- TV & radio
- There is a TV in the library room.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- Drinking water is purified and bottled on site.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- There are first aid kits in the main areas and in each safari vehicle. The managers are First-aid trained and there is a clinic nearby in the staff village.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- Askaris (gurads) are on hand to walk guests between the rooms and the main areas at night.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers in each room.
Hot air ballooning
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- A full laundry service is included and, from our experience, incredibly efficient!
- There is a safe in each room.
- Accepted payment on location
- Cash in all major currencies can be used to settle any extras. Mastercard, Visa and Amex credit cards are also accepted – there is no surcharge.
Other lodges in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Alternative places to stay in this same area.