Tangulia Mara: Our full report
Tangulia Mara opened in 2016 in a small section of privately owned land, sandwiched between the Mara North ...... Conservancy and the Maasai Mara National Reserve. There was previously a camp here called Salt Springs Camp, dating from 2010. The emphasis here is on quality guiding and game viewing, rather than overly luxurious accommodation. Tangulia means ‘come before’ in Swahili, implying 'the leaders' or 'the avant garde'. This is an appropriate name since it is the first camp in the Mara to be owned, managed and run by the local Maasai community – in this instance by the charismatic guide and TV presenter Jackson Looseyia, of BBC series Big Cat Diary fame.
The main draw to Tangulia is the chance to be guided by one of Kenya’s most famous and personable guides - Jackson Looseyia. Apart from when he is out filming, Jackson spends all his time in camp, hosting, managing and guiding. He heads up a team of three expert guides, all of whom have grown up in the Mara and know the surrounding area and its wildlife exceptionally well.
The main activity at Tangulia is game drives, with vehicles having a usual maximum of four passengers (though groups of five or six can easily be accommodated in the vehicles if required). Guests have access to the Maasai Mara National Reserve and the Mara Triangle, as well as the area of privately owned of land in front of camp.
Most game drives are done in the Musiara marsh region of the National Reserve which is fantastic for lion sightings – all of which the guides know on a first name basis. Drives to the quieter Mara triangle area are also popular because of the opportunity to see black rhino and the five-vehicle limit per sighting, which makes for a more relaxing drive.
Being within touching distance of both of these prolific game viewing areas makes Tangulia a great base for witnessing wildebeest crossing the Mara river. This phenomenon happens frequently, roughly between July and September. However when we stayed in March 2017 we hardly left the confines of Tangulia’s privately owned concession. We sat and watched two male giraffes fighting over territory right in front of camp, without another vehicle in sight.
For guests wanting to view wildlife from a different perspective, hot air ballooning can be arranged from nearby Little Governors Camp which is a 30-minute drive away.
Safari walks are also possible both in the area in front of the camp and up on the Siria-Oloololo escarpment. Walks currently costs US$20 per person, which is a fee for the park ranger who accompany the walks.
Jackson and his business partner Dominic Nchoe are leading the way in locally owned community conservation in Kenya. All their staff come from the surrounding villages which means that Tangulia can also offer some fascinating and genuine village and school visits.
While staying at Tangulia Mara, we also had one of the most memorable sundowners that we’ve had anywhere in East Africa. Following an evening game drive we were taken to an acacia tree out on the plains where a drinks table and camp fire had been set up. Being on private land, there were no time restrictions, so we sat and watched as bat-eared foxes and hyenas emerged for the night as we sipped gin and tonic.
Back at camp, the main mess area faces south and looks out over the Olotulo-Murt salt lick and the Maasai Mara National Reserve beyond that. To the west, the meandering bends of the Mara river and the steep walls of the Siria-Oloololo Escarpment are also clearly visible. The mess is built on a rocky outcrop and is completely open-fronted to make the most of these stunning views.
The main area doubles up as a lounge and restaurant. There is a large wooden dining table where communal dinners are served; a stone bar built into one of the corners; and a few comfortable sofas that are covered by red chequered Maasai Kikois. Tangulia Mara Camp has a traditional, Maasai feel which is a nice break from the old colonial style that many camps have adopted. Wildlife pictures taken by Jackson hang on the walls; these depict dramatic scenes, such as hundreds of wildebeest crossing the Mara river. But aside from these canvases, the mess area is relatively plainly decorated.
When we visited in May 2017, a year after Tangulia had first opened, they were embarking on an elaborate refurbishment project. A new main area has been rethatched, extended and redecorated. A fireplace has also been built inside as well as two decks among the trees. We're looking forward to revisiting once these changes have been made.
The six standard guest tents are all simple, rustic, and relatively comfortable. One of the tents overlooks the salt lick and river in front. The other five tents are built in a forested area, which doesn’t get the same views but they do feel very close to the wildlife at night. They measure 7m x 3.5m and have a cement floor and a thatched roof. Each contains a Queen-size double plus a single bed, each covered by a bright throw and scatter cushions. Maasai beaded clothes hangers add a bit of colour to the dark clothes hanger made of reclaimed leadwood. The lights work 24-hours a day and are solar powered, and you can charge batteries in your tent from around 7am to 10pm, but overnight charging can only be done in the main area.
The en-suite bathroom takes up about a third of the space inside the tent. Canvas partitions segregate the shower from the flush toilet and the basin. In keeping with the rest of the camp, the bathrooms are perfectly adequate (the water pressure is very good, in fact), but far from lavish.
In front of each tents there is a small cement or wooden deck, a directors’ chairs and a wooden table – great for relaxation between game drives.
In a different part of camp, a much larger new tent (making seven in total), which will have a Kingsize bed, was under construction when we visited in 2017.
Tangulia Mara is perfect for wildlife enthusiasts and those interested in Kenyan culture. Being within striking distance of one of the best big game safari areas in Africa means that Jackson and his team of superb guides can take some exhilarating game drives. While it might not be luxurious enough if you really relish your creature comforts and value first-class standards of hospitality, we are delighted to offer Tangulia Mara. We hope it's the first of many Maasai-owned and managed camps.
- Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
- Ideal length of stay
- Four to five nights.
- The nearest airstrip to Tangulia is Musiara which is a 20 minute game drive away. For guests coming from other camps in the Mara shared road transfers can be arranged.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- In keeping with the rest of the ethos of the camp, the food at Tangulia is inherently Kenyan. So expect wholesome home-style cooking rather than haute cuisine.
When we stayed in March and May 2017 we had breakfast in camp, although most guests go out for a bush breakfast. 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. Breakfast in camp consisted of fresh fruit, muesli, toast, and pancakes which was followed up by a full cooked breakfast.
Lunches might also be in camp or out in the bush. In the bush it's usually cold salads and pasta dishes, fresh bread and sliced meat. In camp we had lamb stew, curried vegetables, coconut rice and an avocado and tomato salad.
- Solo Travel
- Tangulia is a small camp with an intimate, friendly atmosphere. There is no single person supplement except during Jul-Sep and Christmas, so you can enjoy the communal game drives and meals without having to pay extra for travelling solo.
- See ideas for Solo Travel
- Wildlife safaris
- Being owned and managed by the former BBC Big Cat Diary presenter, Jackson Looseiya, gives Tangulia extra cachet to add to a very good location which seems to dominate this wildlife-rich corner of the Mara ecosystem.
- See ideas for Wildlife safaris
- Attitude towards children
- Children over the age of 8 are welcome at Tangulia
- Property’s age restrictions
- Around 8, depending on the children and the parents
- Special activities & services
- Visiting the children at the local school can be really rewarding for other children. The staff are also happy to take children fishing or teach them how to throw spears and make fire.
- Generally recommended for children
- Tangulia is 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 Tangulia Mara
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Tangulia Mara 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 a generator for backup. There is electricity in all the tents, powering the (excellent) lights 24/7, and you can charge batteries in your tent from around 7am to 10pm, but overnight charging can only be done in the main area. Handheld solar torches are provided for moving aroud camp after dark, which can only be done with an escort.
- There is WiFi in the main area and most cellphone networks get good coverage.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Transported in
- Water supply notes
- There is running hot and cold water in all of the tents which is fine to was with, but a separate jug of drinking water is supplied.
Health & safety
- Medical care
- All the guides are first-aiders and there are first aid kits in the main area and in all of the vehicles. The nearest doctor is at Governors camp, which is just a 15 minute drive. Tangulia also has links with the flying doctors service.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- Askaris are on patrol all the time at Tangulia
- Fire safety
- Tangulia has fire extinguishers dotted around the camp and staff are trained to use them.
Guided walking safari
Hot air ballooning
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is 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).
- There is a safe in the office, but Tangulia cannot offer any currency exchange.
- Accepted payment on location
- All major currencies are accepted in cash at Tangulia. They also take Amex, MasterCard and Visa credit cards with no surcharge.
Other lodges in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Alternative places to stay in this same area.