Satao Camp

Reviews of Satao Camp

Good(89%) From 9 travellers
Excellent
5
Good
3
Average
1
Poor
0
Terrible
0
Below are independent comments from 9 of our travellers who have visited Satao Camp, and have kindly agreed to share their thoughts.

They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Mr & Mrs LN from London
Arrived on: 18-Jan-2020 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Average
Average
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Good
Good
Service:
Good
Good
Food:
Average
Average
Activities:
Terrible
Terrible
Facilities:
Average
Average

Mixed time at Satao Camp

As in our review of Satao Elerai this review needs to be divided into Satao Camp and the guide

The camp is in a nice location in front of a waterhole. It is larger than most camps we visited. Due to local flooding the waterhole did not have many visitors while we were there.

The tents are scattered all over the site. If a view of the waterhole is important to you then make sure you ask for the right one. The named rather than numbered tents are closest to the waterhole, and are bigger. The inside of the tent was nice and there was a small fridge in it. The bathroom was the same as at Satao Elerai which was lovely. The tents themselves are looking very tired and probably in need of renewal. The mosquito netting in the front of the tent has many holes and you could see daylight through the roof over the bathroom

The communal area is split into sitting and dining areas separated by the bar. Some people were smoking in the sitting area while we were there. The dining tables are under trees so be prepared for some of the leaves to land on the table. Breakfast has cold choices, fruit is cut to order which causes delays (it is usually already prepared in the buffet), a cooked buffet is available and eggs can be made to order. For lunch and dinner the starters and desserts are served to your table and the main meals are served buffet style. There are several choices for each meal. We had packed lunches which were absolutely awful. Our food was not in the cooler so was in boxes in the heat from the time you left (and however long before that it had been prepared) to the time you ate. The bread for the sandwich was dry with a few bits of grated cheese in it. There was cooked chicken in foil that was not chilled. There was also unchilled yogurt. This lack of concern over food poisoning was a health risk and made you wonder what hygiene was like elsewhere. There was a small bottle of water included in the lunch box which was also warm.

We had to arrange for all of our water on our trip (including the transfer from Amboseli) as neither our Guide nor the camps did. One day we asked for ice and our guide put a frozen bottle of water in the cooler but it did not last for long. The lack of water provided, let alone chilled water was inexcusable and we still do not know what should have happened but it should not have been our responsibility!

The staff were very pleasant with our waiter and the barman very good. The management were not as visible as at other camps. More energy and enthusiasm would benefit the lodge as the atmosphere feels a little tired.

We had a Sundowner trip provided which was very nice.


Our major complaint was our unprofessional guide: He was a driver/guide supplied by Southern Cross to transfer us from Amboseli, guide us in Tsavo West and East and then a final transfer to Watamu over a 4 day period.

This was the worst part of our entire trip and caused us to contact Expert Africa immediately. Due to problems with some of the guiding at Satao Elerai we were promised a good guide for the next stage at Satao. This was certainly not the case!

- The transfer did not go as planned. We had discussed with Expert Africa how the transfer should go from Amboseli to Tsavo West and then into the nearby gate into Tsavo East. However, when we got to the closest Tsavo East Gate he did not enter and continued along the highway to Voi which we had specifically said we did not want to do. We were given no explanation as to why the changes occured but our guide did stop to pick up a package in Voi which he said was for the camp and which we can only assume was the reason for going to Voi..

- Our guide frequently drove at very high speeds well above the speed limit (50 kph) in the park. There is no way a guide can drive at 70 - 90km per hour in a park while watching for potholes and also spotting animals. We could not spot anything at that speed either and sat in our seat holding on. Over the course of the next few days we asked him to slow down which he did for a while then sped up again. We were so frustrated with his behaviour that we told the Assistant Manager at the Lodge but he laughed at us and said he would get the Manager to talk to him. No-one got back to us. The next day, our now very sulky driver then drove at 20 km looking straight ahead without pointing out any animals and ignoring the other vehicles and radio which were talking about a cheetah and cub. We eventually saw the mother for 2 minutes before she moved off.

In addition to the above there were a number of further issues with the driver/guide:

- Due to the speed at which he was driving we hit 3 birds (on separate occasions) which could not get out of the road fast enough. One actually ended up in the vehicle having bounced off of the windscreen.

- We had to organise/provide our own water although he should have done this.

- His routes were unusual and never discussed with us.

- At an owl sighting he started making loud noises in an attempt to get the owl to look our way- no respect and very unprofessional.

- He frequently drove away from a sighting without warning us or asking if we were finished leaving us lurching. We were still taking photos!

- At one point we hit a pothole at such speed and with such force the cooler went up in the air landing and breaking a bottle on the inside. Never any apologies or concern for us

- We did speak to him numerous times as well keeping Expert Africa in the loop.

- The management of the camp must have known the situation, the main management of Southern Cross certainly did but no-one bothered to discuss anything with us to help improve the situation. This part of our trip was spoiled.


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Expert Africa comments

Expert Africa takes rare problems like this extremely seriously. We were assured by Southern Cross that the driver-guide meeting these clients to conduct their game drive transfer from Satao Elerai to Satao Camp was an excellent, experienced guide with a silver qualification from the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association. These travellers emailed us immediately from Kenya to complain about his fast driving and lack of care for them and we contacted Southern Cross to complain about his behaviour, which they promised to address. We were appalled to read their detailed written feedback. This driver-guide’s abysmal conduct, disregard for park rules and total lack of respect for these clients’ wishes, interests and even basic comforts is the worst case we have ever encountered in Kenya – in fact the very rare problems we have ever had with driver-guides in Kenya pale almost into insignificance in comparison. This driver-guide was subsequently suspended, pending a decision on when or if he would be able to resume safari duties. In all our dealings with Southern Cross we have never experienced anything like this. They sent us their deepest apologies to pass on to these guests and refunded them their costs for the private transfer and their stay at Satao Camp.

Shortly after these guests stayed at the camp the owners sent a senior staff member to give the camp a thorough inspection and to review staff standards and management style in order to improve communication between the management and guests and upgrade standards throughout the camp. They agreed that poorly prepared and unsuitably stored packed lunches are completely unacceptable. They also confirmed that a litre of drinking water per client, stored in an ice chest, should be provided as standard on every day’s drive. There was no explanation from Southern Cross as to why this didn’t happen in the case of these clients and they sincerely apologised for this inexplicable lapse of care.

Mrs J from kakira
Arrived on: 7-Mar-2019 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Good
Good
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Good
Good
Service:
Good
Good
Food:
Average
Average
Facilities:
Good
Good

Satao Camp review

We loved the elevated lookout over the waterhole, though it could get crowded at times .. Perhaps they could add another one?

It was lovely having lunch under the Tamarind tree every day watching the elephants so close with no fence.

The wifi was not working when we arrived and was a bit unreliable at times ... It didn't really matter to us, but if you were expecting it to work well it could have been a frustration.

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Steve H from Leeds
Arrived on: 3-Feb-2019 Stayed for: 2 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Special Satao

Satao is a lovely unfenced camp with spacious well-appointed tents set out facing an amazing waterhole. Elephants of all ages wander in from all directions throughout the day and night to splash drink and socialise, leaving little room for the abundant plains game to get a quick drink. The gathering of solitary old bull elephants and their social behaviour is fascinating.

The tally of recorded visitors to the waterhole daily is amazing. Birdlife in camp is prolific including vivid Vulturine Guinea Fowl, sunbirds, woodpeckers and Grey headed kingfishers along with many other common birds. Impala wander between the tents. Truly never a dull moment and a photographer's paradise!

The staff were brilliant and the food was excellent.

The wildlife in the surrounding areas was also very good. Highly recommended.

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Mr C from Harvest
Arrived on: 3-Jun-2017 Stayed for: 1 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

You don't have to leave the camp

There is plenty of game in camp. I think the herbivores must think they are safe there. The food is great. The tents are as expected, with reliable hot water and electricity. I researched this place before I went there and found it appeared to be the best place in East Tsavo -- and it lived up to the promise.

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Mrs E from Edinburgh
Arrived on: 29-Dec-2016 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Good
Good

Great safari at Satao Camp

We loved Satao and found the staff really helpful & friendly. Service was swift and efficient too.

Very comfortable tents & great bathrooms.

The lack of fences made you feel you were really in the bush - the two lions very near our tent roaring loudly one night was amazing as was the hyenas' "laughter" the next night!

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S family from Victoria
Arrived on: 29-Dec-2015 Stayed for: 2 nights
Overall:
Good
Good
Location:
Good
Good
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Good
Good
Facilities:
Good
Good

Excellent set-up at Satao

Satao Camp was an excellent facility that was very efficiently run.

The accommodation was extremely comfortable, the staff friendly and the food fantastic

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Ms C & Mr S from Dublin
Arrived on: 20-Oct-2013 Stayed for: 2 nights
Overall:
Good
Good
Location:
Good
Good
Rooms:
Good
Good
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Poor
Poor
Facilities:
Good
Good

Satao Camp review

It's a long, long road trip from Pinewood Resort to Satao. 7 hrs by road each way. Too long!

If it was our first safari or we were keen photographers it would have been a disappointing trip. Plenty to see but not enough tracks or roads in the park to get close to the animals. The result is that a resting pack of lions and cheetah and cubs could barely be seen as they were so far away. Certainly over 300 yards away! As well felt that the hide at the camp was too far from the waterhole.

Accommodation was very nice as was the food. Again the staff were terrific.

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Expert Africa comments

The road transfer from Pinewood to Satao Camp is normally around five hours, with the last hour through the park in a 4x4 safari vehicle. Unfortunately there are no scheduled light aircraft flights to Tsavo East National Park, so aside from chartering a plane, road transfers are the only option. On a safari of only two nights, luck plays a prominent role in determining the success of wildlife sightings. Nevertheless, as the Expert Africa photos show, big cats are often seen very close to the tracks and roads. Satao Camp itself is well known for the quantities of wildlife that frequently come into camp. The hide is positioned in a location where guests can normally safely reach it (and return from it) without being stranded while animals are active below. We are sorry that these travellers felt the wildlife experience was disappointing overall.

Ms S from Sheffield
Arrived on: 25-Aug-2013 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Satao Camp review

Confusion regarding transfer from Driftwood to Satao - driver arrived before 6.00 am for 6.30 am pick-up and insisted that we were going back to Mombasa. I could not understand why this was - connected with German couple for journey from Mombasa to Satao Camp - this seemed like a very long winded way and wasted a considerable amount of our time.

Satao Camp excellent - tent excellent, food good, jeep excellent, driver/guide excellent.

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Expert Africa comments

We are very sorry for any lack of clarity about the transfer to Satao Camp.

We now understand that transfers to the park gate are usually conducted in a road vehicle, sometimes with other passengers, and invariably via Mombasa (as the direct road from Malindi to the park is rough and dusty, there's not much in it in terms of time). At the gate, travellers change vehicles to a 4x4 safari vehicle for the drive through the park to the camp. We were not aware that this was the case, and in future all travellers making road transfers from the coast to Satao Camp will be clearly advised of how they are conducted. The option of more expensive, private transfers is also available.

Ms P & Mr C from London
Arrived on: 13-Aug-2013 Stayed for: 2 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Good
Good

A unique experience

Needless to say the location of Satao by the watering hole is breathtaking, and we found it extremely relaxing to be somewhere so peaceful.

The quality of the accommodation was fantastic, we felt extremely secure in the tent and the bathroom and other facilities were exceptional. I would have preferred to have had a mosquito net over the bed, but there were nets over the windows and door and we were supplied with room spray.

The food was especially excellent, and again the staff extremely friendly. It is a meticulously well thought-through experience at Satao, and we felt completely safe there and had huge confidence in everyone. Incredibly they also had free Wifi access!

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