A Guide to Masai Mara: Luxury Camp Safari

I knew as soon as I moved to West Africa that I wanted to go on a safari in the Masai Mara. It may be the most well known reserve out there in the travel world. At least to me it was. I looked into options for the first week of January, and of how to do it and really the only way I saw fit was to book a tour. There are many tour companies out there and options of how to do it, but I only had a few days to work with for my trip, and not a whole lot of money. Tip number one from me, you don’t need to go on a safari for longer than a few days. I honestly think our 3 day and 2 night safari was the perfect amount of time. The only way I’d be able to do longer is if we were visiting other reserves and seeing more than just the one place.

Tour Company

There are so companies to choose from that it can definitely be overwhelming. I didn’t know anyone with recommendations or blog posts on the matter, though I did search through to find some. In my search I found Beacon Safaris, which seemed like the best and most affordable tour for what we needed. We would be in Kenya for 5 days and with timing of our flight we really only had 3 days to work with to do a safari of the Masai Mara. They had such great options from short to long travel options. I chose the 3 day, 2 night luxury camp safari; which included pick up and drop off in Nairobi, a driver/guide, accommodations, all meals, water and a great time, for $600US per person.

Our guide, Kenneth, was so great. He was so informative and did everything he could to make sure we got to see everything we wanted to. The vehicle was an 8 seater but only had myself and my partner in it. I loved that the roof moved up so that we could stand and view the animals while in the car. It was the perfect safari vehicle. The best part is, we saw the Big 5. All of them, even the leopard, though it was in a tree.

Accommodations

There are lots of options for safari accommodations. Our tour company booked ours, as a part of the tour, and it turned out more perfectly than I could ever have imagined. The luxury camp option is definitely the way to go, for my personal preference, and Ilkeliani Camp was a great choice.

We had a big tent that had a comfortable bed, with a working washroom, with shower. We had a Masai warrior available to walk us around the camp ground, whenever it was dark out, to protect us; not that we felt that threatened, but we were in the company of animals out there after all. We fell asleep to the sound of hyenas laughing, which was the most interesting sound I have ever fallen asleep to. And to top it off, the food; it was incredible. With our tour it was all included, there was a simple buffet breakfast but perfect for what we needed. They even made our packed lunch to bring with us on safari, in order to have a picnic. And a 3-course dinner that was absolutely delicious.

Masai Village 

When we first heard we had the option to stop at a Masai village, at an extra cost, to see how they live, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. It seemed cool, but I wasn’t sure if this was exploitation of some kind. I looked into it a bit and I found out there are definitely reasons why this was a good thing to do.

We decided to do the visit and I am glad we did. We talked to the leader of the Masai warriors and he told us of how the money we paid goes towards the school. The school does not get any government funding and needs the money to be able to provide their children an education. It was also very interesting to see how different their lives are from ours, or even the lives of people in Nairobi, only a few hours away. I only wish I had more cash on me to buy something they made, and contribute a little more.

Something to Keep in Mind

Here is the key to safaris, remember that these are wild animals out there. Nothing is guaranteed to be seen during your trip. We discussed with our driver how angry some people get at not seeing this animal or that one. People tend to forget that these animals are not there for you, they are just living their lives. You are very lucky if you get to see things like all of the Big 5. That, to me, is what makes it all the more special. So go on a safari without expectations and you will come out of it forever grateful for the experience.

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51 thoughts on “A Guide to Masai Mara: Luxury Camp Safari

  1. I enjoyed this post very much – you took me back to my own times on safari, but I also like the observations you make about being in the animals’ world and keeping your expectations realistic. I’m also glad for your comment about visiting the Maasai village: these experiences can definitely feel (be!) voyeuristic, but if the villagers choose to encourage it as a vital form of revenue then fair enough in my book, and I’ve had some sobering lessons from visiting places like this. Great post.

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    1. Thanks! I definitely think it’s important to be cautious in travels of experiences that seem voyeuristic. But I really enjoyed that it wasn’t something the tour company provided, we paid the Masai people directly and nothing is given to the tour company at all. I liked that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lucky you for getting to see so many animals! It must have been a beautiful experience. Also interesting to stay with locals – I usually avoid tours whenever I can, but staying and making friends with locals is probably the most important part of traveling for me.

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      1. Unrelated but FYI when I click on your profile it takes me to a page that says this: girlastray.wordpress.com is no longer available.

        The authors have deleted this site.
        And doesn’t let me go to your blog. Might want to fix that in your profile.

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      2. Oh, that sucks, thank you for pointing this out! Which profile exactly, the Gravatar? I changed that one…you mean when you click on the photo next to my comments?

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      3. Yeah when I click on it in my comments on my actual blog it’s fine, but when I click on it from the side when approving comments on my wordpress dashboard thats what it takes me to. I didn’t want you to miss out on others being able to check out your page cause of it!

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      4. Now I see what you mean. I´ll try to figure out a redirect of some sorts. Thanks for letting me know!

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  3. THis looks super amaxing! I’ve always wanted to do a safari great tips! I can’t believe people think they are guaranteed to see whatever animal …

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    1. Hey! I visited in January 🙂 I am going to go edit that in.. I should’ve written. And honestly it was a great time to visit. Though if you want to see the Great Wildebeest Migration, it’s best to go in July/August or early November from what I remember. Just not April/May, cause then it will be raining a lot!

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  4. Spotting the Big 5 is still on our bucket list! Looking forward to doing a safari one day, and will keep your suggestion in mind. 😉 I’m always feeling akward when thinking about visiting a tribe like that too, but it’s good that you know you contributed to the local school there! You helped them.

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  5. Wow! What a unique experience! You definitely made me curious enough to want to experience this myself. I especially love the disclaimer​ at the end. I think that is something that definitely needs to be thought about beforehand.

    What time of year would you suggest? And if you could do one thing differently, what would you do?

    Thanks for the great post!

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    1. oh and as for doing anything differently, I would’ve spent more time talking to the Masai warriors at the camp ground. They were fascinating to talk to and hear about how they live. And so friendly and inquisitive about our life too. It was enlightening.

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  6. Thank you for your article, Sara! I was happy to read it, I had the chance to visit the Masai Village a few years ago and I left with a bittersweet feeling – like the Masai warriors were just taking advantage of the heavy tourism to ask for a lot of money. But I had no idea they were not funded by the government and it’s great to know that the money goes towards education!

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    1. Yeah we spoke with a few Masai warriors, not in that tribe that we visited and he told us how they receive no money for education and it’s very expensive to send their kids to school, so they often choose one kid to send and the others don’t get an education.

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  7. I love your accommodation, it looks so cool! We were also unsure whether the Masai Marai Village was just an exploitation because the kids were gathered to sit there and and we had to choose who we wanted to ‘sponsor’ to go to school. How that really worked out eventually nobody knows but we can only trust ‘the system’.

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    1. Yeah we spoke with a few Masai warriors, not in that tribe that we visited, but at the camp ground, and they told us how they receive no money for education from the government and it’s very expensive to send their kids to school, so they often choose one kid to send and the others don’t get an education. We didn’t have to pick a kid, we actually didn’t interact with the kids at all, though there were a few around the village we stopped at. The money was for the school in general I believe.

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  8. I’ve only ever safari’d in South Africa, and it was a mind-blowing experience. I have no doubt Kenya will be even better when I eventually make it there. Thanks for the daydreaming and inspiration!

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  9. I’ve done lots of safaris, but I’d love to go to the Masai Mara one day. I have visited the Serengeti, but I heard the Masai Mara is so different, nature wise.

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  10. What an informative post! I loved that the money goes toward the school. I think you were really lucky and got to see quite a few animals. The luxury camp looks great and comfy. I would love to do this someday. Great pictures .

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  11. Gosh, that seems like such a great price for an incredible experience! I’ve always wanted to go on an African safari and this one sounds too good to be true! I’ll totally be checking out this company when I finally book my trip.

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  12. Loved your guide. I always dreamt of going to Africa but didn’t have the chance yet. Hopefully, I will go in a near future so I can use your guide 🙂 Must be amazing seeing all of these wild animals in their natural habitat and meeting the locals.

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  13. Great post to read,I find myself in the hesitation you had of travelling to a Maasai village in fear of contributing to cultural exploitation. I used to criticize this type of tourism in Africa myself, until I finally tried it for myself visiting a luxury resort and doing that type of vacation in Zanzibar. The truth is that there is no shame in going with tour companies or staying at luxury facilities, or even visiting a local village, because tourism in all its forms is what keeps the economy of many countries going. The old me would have never liked the idea of a luxury camp, but the me of nowadays is absolutely intrigued at the idea of falling asleep to the sound of hyenas while at the same time in that badass bed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. I never would’ve seen myself doing a lot of this, but I have learned a lot over the years about it and I fully agree with what you say. Tourism helps the economy in many places, and honestly after talking to the Masai men and hearing their opinions, I am glad I went and did what i did 🙂

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