9 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Exceptional.............we loved it
"It was our first trip to Kenya and we certainly wont forget it. This camp is 10 luxury tents, each with its own private veranda overlooking the Talek River.
We'd come down from Samburu and we wondered if this camp would be as good. What can I say, it was so much more than we had ever expected.
Everything from the early morning tea and biscuits served in your tent, through to the open fire in the evening where guests sat around with their drinks before dinner, was superb. Nothing was too much trouble for Mariana and her staff.
The food was excellent, with several choices at every meal from a daily changing menu. Beautifully prepared and presented dishes. No buffets here!
There were three game drives each day with experienced and knowledgeable guides. Samson was our guide for the duration of our visit, and we would recommend him to anyone who hopes to visit Mara Explorer. His knowledge of the area, including animals, birds and plantlife was amazing.
Would we go back? You bet we would."
- Travel date: Fri 11th of September 2009
Great start to Honeymoon
"Our trip to Kenya in July, was our 7th and final continent, having previously ventured as far South as Antartica, during our world travels in 2006. Our trip to Kenya, was our Honeymoon, & our trip to Kenya, wouldn't have been what it was, had we not visited the Mara Explorer in the Masai Mara.
We wanted an intimate & unfenced tented camp, and the Explorer exceded our expectations. We wanted good food, romantic surrountings, 5 star service, and the Explorer again met all these criteria.
From the moment you arrive, until the moment you leave, you're treated like royalty. And you don't have to be honeymooners, every guest that we met spoke with the same delight of the service.
Each tent has a walkie talkie, and it's expected that you call in for an escort each evening to dinner. Why? Well as it's an unfenced camp, inside the triangle, & the chance of four legged friends hanging out with you is high.
Dinner is top class. No menu was the same during our stay, and the Mara Explorer's kitchen really produced some creative dishes during our stay. In terms of ambience, they have the fir lighting in the evening, and the bush dinner really was a great surprise.
The safari at Amboseli and Meru, in all honesty couldn't compete with the Mara, and that's due in no small part to Vincent (our guide), who knew exactly where the resident leopard hung out. We were treated to a range of sights and experiences, including the mass migration of the wilderbeat, playful & mating lions, as well as a croc eating a baby hippo.
No accomodation will suit every individual. Different strokes for different folks, as they say. We are the types of traveller, who like to go off the beaten track where we can, and escape the mass tourism where we can. It depends on what you're after really. We always thing it's paying above your budget, if you're getting something different for your money, and that we certainly did. I mean, where else in the world can you take a bubble bath, in a victorian tub, while listening to the soundtrack of the wild. When was the last time you hopped into bed on holiday, to find a hot water bottle awaiting you? And where else will a 'spear in the ground' function as your 'do no disturb' sign. Absolutely fantastic stay, and would highly recommend."
- Travel date: Mon 31st of August 2009
"What was wonderful about Explorer Camp?
Being greeted by a family of hippos on the sand bank in front of our tent on arrival.
Having a luxurious bubble bath on the veranda at dusk watching two elephants feeding on the opposite bank, then waking in the middle of the night to watch the same elephants feeding right outside our tent.
The staff, especially Susan, John (WOW), Samuel who woke us each morning with a hot cup of tea and our fabulous driver Joseph who went above and beyond to make our game drives memorable.
And the most wonderful of all was what the whole staff did for us on our last night which will always be a major highlight of our African Adventure!!!!"
- Travel date: Mon 22nd of June 2009
Fantastic location with fantastic service
"We spent 4 nights at the Mara explorer camp and can't praise it enough. This was our first safari to Kenya and wern't to sure what to expect. If you want lively night life, swimming pools and all the "normal" tourist trappings then don't come here.
If however you want first class service in a fantastic location look no further. The game drives were amazing, our guide Joseph was well educated (he new his stuff) he was full of usefull knowledge, and could spot wildlife miles away. We managed to see the big 5 together with everything else you could possibly want to see.
O.K. so the tents arn't brand new. But be under no illusion, they are in great condition, well furnished and spotlessly clean and that outside bath tub WOW. The food served at the camp was as good and if not better than any we have had at any 5 star hotel. All the staff were attentive and went out of their way to ensure we had a good time.
All the little extra's they do for you really make you feel special, from stopping on the way back to camp for sundowners to suprising you with a full evening meal on your tent veranda, it was truly superb.
The camp manageress Marianna was the perfect hostess, she runs a truly great camp and takes the time to talk to all the guests to make sure everything is o.k.
If your thinking of going here just do it, you'll love it."
- Travel date: Tue 31st of March 2009
Not 5 star, more like 2 star, if that!
"The website says it offers 5-star luxury, but after staying there for 2 nights and 2+ days in Oct 2008, I completely disagree and feel cheated of a great end to our journey in Kenya. Our travel agent Maniago should have known better, but the website misrepresents what it offers, as well. We started our safari at Lewa Wilderness, followed by Loisaba, and both properties did not disappoint. Mara Explorer compared to these two, was terrible.
This hotel company seems to have put together the bare bones basic physical structure to say they offer 5-star but it failed us on many levels.
Food was terrible, almost inedible.
They didn't change the dirty tableclothes in the meal area!
The meal area smelled like rotting moldy laundry. Maybe the canvas was not cleaned propery, but it was disgusting, very noticeable, and inexcusable for a luxury tented camp!
Ambiance was that of a ghost town.
Robotic staff disappeared except during meal time.
No soft sofas to lounge on/play games in the down time.
No area rugs covering the hard floors.
Spartan uncomfortable furnishings in their lobby/ reception/ library/ dining area.
The library looks like an afterthought of moldy weathered books. You wouldn't choose to relax in the lobby/reception/library area. You'd stay in your room until meal time, so hopefully your room has a view!
No facilities for changing money
No gift shop
No one around to order a drink or snack from.
No pool. They apparently have a pool at their "sister" tourist class resort which is short drive away, but coming from one's tent to then board a rover and go to another resort to a pool is not a 5-star experience.
After returning from afternoon game drives we'd find no replacement bottles of water in our tents, so we'd have to walk back to the lobby to find someone to get some.
No flowers in the tents.
No cocktail hour, and when we ordered wine to be delivered to our tent, with some peanuts or crackers, they didn't seem to understand. The wine showed up, but no snacks with it.
The food was not prepared in a kitchen at this camp, but was probably brought in from the "sister" camp, and it was terrible, served on steaming hot plates, but not hot itself.
No raw fresh vegetables served - all were roasted and covered in sauce indicating lack of freshness. I saw the catering dishes in the dining prep area when looking for staff, indicating the food was not from the Mara Expl's kitchen itself.
They had ginger ale the first day we arrived, but not on the consecutive days. Just an example of why this is not 5-star, again.
Lunch choices were heavy hot meals - inappropriate.
We asked about what activities they offered. Mara Explorer offered nothing except game drives, but had laminated pages from other tour operators for a couple of side trips that we found on a bookshelf in the "library". We were so fed up with our arrogant guide and the lack of comfort and hospitality in the camp that we took a side trip to an island on Lake Victoria to a Governor's Camp property where we finally got some decent food.
I advise against using this particular hotel in the Mara, but because the website so misrepresented itself I would never trust the Heritage Properties or Maniago Tours again for that matter. Pity for all of them, because we will be visiting Kenya again next year."
- Travel date: Sat 15th of November 2008
"My husband and I stayed at the Mara Explorer for 2 nights as part of a holiday with Virgin. From the moment we arrived we were thoroughly impressed. The location is superb - right on the Talek river. Whilst relaxing with a welcome drink we saw Zebra, Waterbutt and a crocodile. From the veranda of our tent we saw a family of hippos on a daily basis plus at least twenty monkeys making their way through the woods one afternoon. The tent has everything you need and the beds were possibly the most comfortable beds we had ever slept in. The outdoor bath was a treat and bathing in the evening with the sounds of the animals around you was an experience.
The service, staff and food was excellent. The house wine was so good we never needed to order from the wine list.
We had a regular driver named Joseph who was full of information on the wildlife and was a pleasure to spend time with.
During our time we did a hot air balloon ride which I thoroughly recommend. Through this we met some guests at other camps in the area and as their camps were fenced they said they didn't really feel part of the safari experience. Whilst at Mara the camp is open to the animals which makes the walk to dinner in the evening exciting (a guide does escort you for safety reasons). An excellent camp that we have recommended to everyone. Would definitely go back."
- Travel date: Thu 25th of September 2008
Great Location and Staff
"My wife and I travel extensively internationally, and we loved some things about Mara Explorer!... The good - the staff are tremendous, the Manager Mariana kind and attentive, the food absolutely fantastic, the location amazing, and the guides (our guide, Vincent) brought so much value and knowledge and love of the land.... We saw so much animal life, including the great migration and the crossing, but it was also the explainations over the small animals, and the nuances of the land and environment where Vincent really took it to a top tier..... The not as good - the rooms themselves need updating and while it is a tented camp, at the prices it does not compare as favorably as some of the other rooms at alternate resorts... My wife and I would go back there in a second, but would not pay full price unless they updated the rooms a bit...its not that the rooms are bad, they are just very, very plain...a bit worn, and lack the style that should be present at this level of price."
- Travel date: Fri 29th of August 2008
Beautiful location, great service
"Mara Explorer is a small 10 tent camp in the Masai Mara. All tents face the Talek River (but watch out for tents 1 and 10 as they are not very private). The camp is not fenced so wild animals are free to roam in the camp. We had elephants just outside our tent one evening. For guest protection radios are provided to call for an escort after dark or if you need anything delivered to your tent at any time. The service is delightful.
The food was wonderful. Small portions by American standards but once you have had soup, salad, a main course and dessert, you may say as we did - "that was just perfect". The kitchen staff delights in fun presentation of the delicious food. The food is served outdoors overlooking the river. There is an outdoor bar and camp fire (also overlooking the river) for relaxing and trading stories either before or after dinner.
I can't say enough wonderful things about the camp and the staff. Our driver, Vincent, has passion for his job even after 8 years of guiding tourists in the Mara. If he is your driver - be sure to watch his eyes as he watches for animals. We saw so many animals within a short drive of the camp but if you are there to watch the migration across the Mara River, its about 30 minute drive - non-stop (which we never actually did as you are sure to see lions, cheetahs, zebra and more on the way).
The hot water was ample, the indoor plumbing clean, the bathrobes soft, the outdoor tub a delight. The generator was on for an ample number of hours a day and there wer plenty of outlets in the room (no shaver outlets). A flashlight was provided in case you got up in the night when the generator was not running."
- Travel date: Fri 14th of September 2007
Loved Mara Explorer
"We booked our Safari to Mara Explorer Luxury tented camp through Ben Nzomo of Sunset tours in Mombassa. The camp was first class, the tents were pure luxury and the food, guides and safari was outstanding. What made it for us was the fact that there were only 10
tents so the camp was not over run with people.
The camp was recommended to us by Ben Nzomo and even if you have a particular camp/lodge which you want to stay at we would strongly recommend that people book through Sunset tours as it was half the price of booking through a UK company.
Ps make sure you do the Balloon ride it is out of this world!!!"
- Travel date: Tue 31st of July 2007