Sala's Camp: Our full report
Sala’s Camp is a small, luxury tented camp that first opened in 2004 at the confluence of the Sand River ...... and the Kebololoet (aka Keekorok) stream. It is located in the far south of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, near the Tanzanian border, and is thus often one of the first camps in the Mara ecosystem to greet the arriving herds of the great wildebeest migration. This area also tends to be a little quieter than other parts of the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Sala's Camp is the sister camp of Solio in Laikipia, Sasaab in Samburu and Giraffe Manor in Nairobi. If you're staying in one of the Garden Manor rooms at Giraffe Manor, then you have to be booked into one of the sister properties as well.
Although it's a relatively small camp, Sala's makes a big impression on arrival, as you sink into one of the armchairs or sofas in the stylish main lounge and dining tent or walk out onto the lawn and deck overlooking the Sand River. You'll be offered a drink and briefed about how the camp works and what to expect during your stay.
In most weather, breakfast and lunch are eaten out on the lawn or the deck above the river, either en groupe or at individual tables, depending on how many people are in camp and the composition of the parties. The river deck incorporates a fire pit where guests gather over a pre-dinner drink and solo travellers are likely to quickly make friends.
The main lounge tent has screen windows and glass doors, a bar and a tea and coffee station. It's furnished in a style that blends contemporary African with safari motifs and thoughtful comfort. Wildlife guides and Africa Travel magazines are scattered around and games are available for the rare occasions when the weather closes in.
Sala's has a small gift shop with souvenirs and local artefacts and a simple gym with a cross-trainer, rowing machine and spin-bike. You can also request massages, manicures and pedicures.
The seven tented rooms at Sala's Camp are scattered through the natural bush which can be quite thick in parts, keeping the whole camp shady and private. The glass-fronted tents are magnificent and extremely spacious, set on decks, accessed by a lockable front door, and each with its own, private plunge pool in the front deck.
The interior of each tent has a lounge area separated from the bedroom area, with the bathroom and toilet tucked away behind. Water pressure from the hot shower was excellent and the bed wonderfully comfy. All the rooms have UK-style, three-pin sockets for charging batteries.
'Tent' implies more canvas and rusticity than these rooms have, and combined with the front door and heavy, plate glass, they won't appeal to bush-seeking safari purists. However, if you're looking for comfort and lots of thoughtful detail, or you're a first-time safari goer not sure how you'll take to it, then Sala's would be a very comfortable bet.
If you're a group of four, or have a young family, then choose one of the two family tents ('Keekorok' or 'Forest'), which sleep 4 adults or 2 adults and up to 3 children.
As the camp is within the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the activities at Sala's are principally safari drives. You can opt to head out for a full day with a picnic lunch or do separate morning and afternoon drives. All drives are led by experienced local Maasai guides who know the Mara ecosystem very well and are also able to escape the crowds. We had an excellent guide on our visit in October 2019.
Depending on the season, the managers also sometimes organise activities such as volleyball, football and frisbee in when the Sand River in front of the camp is dry. Such options are rather indicative of the nature of this camp: relaxed and fun-loving as well as being a serious wildlife base.
Sala's location near the southern Mara bridge also gives you relatively quick access to the Mara Triangle portion of the reserve, on the west side of the Mara River. Most other camps are restricted to driving either in one area or the other.
Sala's is a high-quality, luxury tented camp in a wonderful location and the team here is excellent. Although this area of the reserve is likely to be busy during the peak seasons, we would still expect it to be quieter than elsewhere. If you're looking for a very comfortable camp, with some extra levels of architecture between you and bush, then Sala's is a great choice.
- Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
- Ideal length of stay
- This depends on the time of year and the individual traveller. If wildebeest are in the Mara then a stay at Sala’s of four nights is good. Outside the peak season when there is less game around, three nights would be ample.
- It is roughly a 40-90-minute flight from Nairobi to Keekorok airstrip (depending on how many other airstrips you touch down at en route), then a 45-minute direct drive, or a longer game drive, to the camp.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- The food at Sala's Camp is varied and very tasty, and special dietary requirements can be accommodated with prior warning.
Breakfast is either served in camp or taken out as a picnic – depending on each guest's schedule for the day. Cereals, yogurt and fruit are followed if you like by a traditional, cooked English-style breakfast, made to order. Bush breakfasts included similar items, with modifications for easy transport.
Whether taken in camp, or out as a bush picnic, lunch is usually the same at Sala's Camp. On our recent visit we had chilled pumpkin soup served with onion focaccia. This was followed by a selection of small dishes – beef mishikake, lentil melanzane, cauliflower and bacon stacks, niçoise salad and fresh salad leaves from the camp's garden. Dessert was a delicious ice cream sundae. On another trip, we sat down to chilled tomato and tarragon soup, pulled pork mini burgers and a fragrant butternut and feta couscous with beetroot, and Chinese-style wraps. All followed by a fruits of the forest tiramisu.
Before dinner we were served bitings of boerewors and drinks around the campfire. Our starter was a very tasty asparagus and cheese filo pastry, followed by a main course of pork chops with mashed potato and vegetables, served with a peppercorn sauce. Pudding was a very rich and tasty chocolate mousse.
- Dining style
- Mixture of group dining and individual tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Sala’s Camp serves early morning wake-up tea or coffee, and private meals in guests’ tents by prior arrangement. There is no room service.
- Drinks included
- Most drinks are included at Sala’s Camp, though Champagne and premium wines and spirits are at additional cost.
- Wildlife safaris
- Sala’s Camp is one of the most southerly camps in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, making it the first to see the migrating herds heading north from the Serengeti. The surrounding open plains make this an ideal spot from which to view this great spectacle.
- See ideas for Wildlife safaris
- This small, luxury tented camp is located in the far south of the Maasai Mara reserve, an area which is generally quieter for game-viewing than elsewhere. Beautiful views, spacious tents, a gym and spa contribute to the camp’s pampering atmosphere.
- See ideas for Wellbeing
- Attitude towards children
- Sala’s Camp is very happy to have children of all ages to stay.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Special activities & services
- Sala’s Camp can arrange children’s meals, and the guides can do various bushcraft activities with them. There is a family tent that can accommodate up to four in two rooms.
- With some notice, Sala’s Camp can arrange cots and highchairs.
- Generally recommended for children
- This is a high-end camp, which nonetheless welcomes children – partly because the owners' own young family frequently visit. However it is located in quite thick, riverine bush and is unfenced, so we would recommend it for families with older, well-behaved children.
- Children are of course the responsibility of their parents and should be supervised at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Sala's Camp
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Sala's Camp 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
- Solar powers the camp most of the time, with a generator as backup. All the tents have UK-style, three-pin sockets for charging batteries. The tents are also equipped with hair dryers.
- There is WiFi in the main central dining area and lounge at Sala’s Camp, but not in guest tents.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- The bathrooms at Sala's are fully plumbed-in using the camp's borehole and treatment facilities. A reverse osmosis system is used to produce pure drinking water which is provided to all guests.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The manager and guides at Sala’s Camp are first-aid trained. There is a comprehensive first-aid kit in camp and a smaller one in each of the vehicles. In case of emergency the camp has links to flying doctors in Nairobi.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- There are Maasai guards to escort guests around the camp at night.
- Fire safety
- Sala’s Camp has fire extinguishers in camp, and the managers practise fire drills with the team. There is a firebreak around the camp, and a fire assembly point.
Hot air ballooning
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Full laundry service is included in the rates, machine washed and line dried.
- There is a central office safe at Sala’s Camp for valuables. Currency cannot be exchanged.
- Accepted payment on location
- Sala’s Camp will gladly accept cash in US dollars, Kenyan shillings, British pounds and euros. They can also accept Visa credit cards with no surcharge, but Mastercard and Amex are not accepted.
Other lodges in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Alternative places to stay in this same area.