Tipilikwani Mara Camp: Our full report
Tipilikwani Mara Camp is a fairly large, mid-range tented property just outside the Maasai Mara National ...... Reserve, overlooking the Talek River, and with a private footbridge over the river into the reserve itself. From here, your safari drives will be in the Sekenani sector of the main reserve, and you are well placed to drive to the banks of the Mara River during the migration season and potentially witness a river crossing.
In the simple reception area, a cool drink and a warm flannel will help to clean away the dust of your journey before a short safety briefing. It’s a simple room, with flagstone floors, pictures on the yellow walls, and directors’ chairs set around an interesting table made from the roots of a tree, as well as a formal reception desk. This is also where guests at Tipilikwani gather for the day’s activities.
The shop here is well stocked with curios, some made locally and others from further afield, plus essential items such as suncream, batteries and toothpaste.
A flagstone path leads to Tipilikwani’s main lounge and dining area, a vast thatched structure with a stone wall at the back, and an open front – although canvas flaps can be rolled down to offer protection from the elements. Clusters of sofas and armchairs are set atop burnt-red tiled floors, while furniture from Kenya, the Congo and the Swahili coast adds a rustic African quality. If it feels a little dark on cloudy days, it is certainly in keeping with its surroundings.
The dining area, where a blackboard details the lunch and dinner menus in advance, is simply furnished with separate tables – while alfresco dining is also an option at breakfast and lunch. The waiting staff are friendly, and a tea and coffee station is well stocked for you to help yourself at any time of the day. To the front, Tipilikwani Mara’s firepit is a focal point before dinner on pleasant evenings.
The 20 tented rooms at Tipilikwani Mara Camp are all quite well spaced, making some a fair walk from the main area, but all are reasonably private.
- 18 standard-size tents have a spacious bedroom area and en-suite bathroom, all raised off the ground by a few feet on a wooden platform. Some have a king-size bed while others are set up as twins.
- Two family tents comprise two full-size interconnecting tents on one large deck, sharing a balcony. The tents are of equal size but one is a double and the other a twin, both with their own en-suite bathroom with the added bonus of a bath.
Otherwise, most of the tents are decorated in the same style. Inside, they are quite smart with wooden floors polished to a high shine, woven rugs scattered across the floors and cream curtains hanging in front of the canvas walls. Matching soft furnishings on the bed and the day sofa balance soft cream materials with russet-red and green cushions. A writing desk stands in the corner, with an information sheet, insect repellent and a horn to attract attention in an emergency.
A cream curtain divides the bedroom from the bathroom, which has cream tiled floors and twin sinks set on a dark wooden table with mirrors in front, as well as a shower and flushing toilet. There is hot and cold running water in the sinks, and our shower had ample hot water. Drinking water is provided, as are some simple toiletries.
In front of each tent a few chairs and a table are set on a wooden veranda, all with views towards the river but not necessarily unobstructed river views.
Activities at Tipilikwani Mara Camp focus on morning, afternoon, or full-day game drives in the Maasai Mara National Reserve. The camp can also organise nature walks outside the park, and cultural visits to local villages (incurring a small fee paid direct to the village).
Back at camp, Tipilikwani offers in-room massage, manicures and pedicures. When we visited in 2014, work had already started on a swimming pool, which they hope to have ready for the start of the main 2015 season.
Tipilikwani Mara is larger than most camps featured by Expert Africa, and it feels more like a hotel, with service that is very friendly but not all that effective. Although it is located outside the natural reserve, a river bridge into the park means that your game viewing is barely affected. We thus regard it as one of the better camps in this area and for this price.
- Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
- Ideal length of stay
- 3 nights
- To reach Tipilikwani Mara Camp you fly into Olkiombo airstrip, and from there it is a 45-minute drive.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- The food at Tipilikwani reflected the overall standard of the camp – perfectly good and of a mid-range quality. We would certainly consider it good value.
Most guests will take out a bush breakfast, packed for you in a picnic bag with hot water, milk, cheese, bread, cereals, boiled eggs, sausage and bacon. This can vary depending on guests’ specific requests. It is also possible to have breakfast in camp from 6.30am before a game drive, or perhaps when you get back. This would then include a buffet with a range of cereals, fresh fruits, bread, pasties and a cooked breakfast to order.
Lunch may also be taken as a picnic if you want to go out for a whole day. Typically this will be a mix of salads, cold meat, pasta salad, fresh-baked bread and fruit. For those in camp lunch will be either a buffet of salads and cold dishes, or a three-course table d’hôte menu, depending on the number of guests. If it’s a menu, you’ll start with soup, followed by a choice of four main courses (usually including a meat, fish and two vegetarian options), and finished by a choice of two desserts.
For our three-course dinner, served from 7.30pm, we started with a warming mushroom soup, then chose chicken curry with rice and boiled vegetables and, for dessert, a chocolate mousse. The food was slightly reminiscent of a canteen – but very hearty, with ample portions and plenty of flavour.
- Attitude towards children
- Tipilikwani Mara Camp welcomes children of all ages, but they think it is best for children aged from about 8 years.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Special activities & services
- Tipilikwani guides in traditional Maasai dress can arrange bushcraft activities for children, such as making bows and arrows, and learning how to start a fire with sticks. They can also take them on short nature walks around the edges of the camp. Babysitting can be organised through the housekeeping staff, but note that the member of staff will not be specifically trained in childcare.
- Tipilikwani Mara Camp has family tents that are great for parents with older children who are happy to sleep slightly apart.
- Generally recommended for children
- Though Tipilikwani is outside the Maasai Mara National Reserve, big game does wander through camp. As a result, we consider that it is best suited to slightly older children.
- The camp is unfenced and children need to be closely supervised by their parents at all times.
- Power supply notes
- Tipilikwani Mara Camp has a solar system that provides 24 hour power, with an additional generator to top up the batteries. There are UK-style, three-square-pin sockets in the tents for charging batteries. Tipilikwani has hairdryers for guests to borrow, but these can be used only when the generator is running.
- Tipilikwani Mara Camp has cellphone coverage and is soon to have WiFi. Until then, they can offer guests the use of a portable modem at no extra charge.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- Water used for washing is pumped from a borehole and purified in a tank. Bottled drinking water is provided in the rooms and can also be bought from the bar.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- Tipilikwani Mara Camp has an extensive first-aid kit on site, with all guides and some of the camp staff first-aid trained. The nearest doctor is in the nearby town of Talek, where there is also a very simple hospital. In an emergency, the camp can contact the flying-doctor service.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- The manager has a safe for valuables. Guests are escorted around the camp at night.
- Fire safety
- Tipilikwani Mara Camp has fire extinguishers and fire blankets, and the staff are offered fire training.
Hot air ballooning
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is an extra cost at Tipilikwani Mara Camp. Items are hand washed, line dried and ironed. For cultural reasons, no underwear is allowed.
- Tipilikwani Mara Camp can exchange small amounts of currency.
- Accepted payment on location
- It is possible to settle bills at Tipilikwani Mara Camp with a Visa, MasterCard or Amex credit card without surcharge. Cash is also accepted in Kenyan shillings, plus US dollars, British pounds and euros – all on the exchange rate of the day.
Other lodges in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Alternative places to stay in this same area.