About Mara Serena Safari Lodge
- high speed internet in room
- swimming pool
- free internet
- fitness center
- bar lounge
- free parking
- business services
- room service
- dry cleaning
- meeting room
- non smoking rooms
- laundry service
- concierge desk
- family rooms
- bath shower
- seating area
- multilingual staff
- airport transportation
- breakfast buffet
- outdoor pool
- baggage storage
- conference facilities
- currency exchange
- fax photocopying
- game room
- free breakfast
- private balcony
- gift shop amenities
- wake up service alarm clock
- vip room facilities
- complimentary toiletries
- kids activities
- special diet menus
- mosquito net
10 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
My mother and I stayed at the Mara Seren...
"My mother and I stayed at the Mara Serena with friends that have stayed there many times before. We have never had such a fantastic holiday! We were vey lucky to have booked independently via my friend and stayed only in The Mara Serena for the whole holiday (no travelling every 2 days!).
What a fabulous place!! The rooms were beautiful, spacious, clean, comfy beds, pristine bathroom, white fluffy robes and even slippers!! The maids even turned the toilet rolls into a point everytime they came into the room! Our view out of the french doors was of the African plains and the river Mara. You could hear the Hippos at night and the occasional roar of a lion!.
The lodge itself is beyond belief! The food is out of this world, with so much to choose from and plenty of it! You can have pretty much anything you want. The swimming pool was heaven (if not a bit cold). Where else in the world can you lay on a sunbed with towels provided by the hotel and watch the wildlife of Africa whilst topping up your safari tan????. The bar is well stocked, but I suggest you stick to the local beer Tuska as it's a bit on the expensive side for imported drinks. The house wine is pretty good too and not too expensive. Nothing tops of a fine day of sun and safari then sitting around the fire at night being serenaded by The Mara Serena's resident musician Michael singing a few old classics and some traditional African songs too (Hakuna Matata etc).
The staff in the hotel are so friendly and can't do enough for you. I have never know a nation of people that smile as much as the Masai folk do!
As for the Mara Game Reserve.... It's mindblowing!! We had our own driver Simon (who doesn't work for the lodge as he is a friend of our friend) who realy knew his stuff and we saw pretty much everything, from Wildebeest crossing the Mara river (and getting eaten by BIG crocs) to Cheetah's looking for breakfast, Lions procreating, Vulchers scavaging, elephants.. just being elephants, a white Rhino who wasn't very happy, to Masai puppies in the village (what an eye opener, people actually live like that!). the only thing we didn't see was the elusive leopard, but to be honest we saw so much it didnt really matter.
I highly reccommend that if you are thinking of doing a safari, do the Mara Serena and stay there for the whole time, who wants to move from place to place when you can see all the animals you want to see on the Mara game reserve and then go back to 5* luxury at the end of the day!!!!"
- Travel date: Mon 11th of August 2008
Great Lodge, Great Location!!
"This is one of the best lodges I've stayed at (of about 10!!). Food was very good, I think the highlight is the pool, you can cool off after your game drive and still watch animals (bring binoculars though!). I pretty much saw all the animals I expected to see (as my photos testify!). The lodge organises hot air balloon trips as well.
There's a bar as well, sometimes with evening entertainment
Most of the rooms face the plains as well, so you can view the game from the comfort of your own room.
On the last day, a pair of warthogs came right up to the fence."
- Travel date: Thu 1st of March 2007
- great service
- v. friendly staff
- wonderful views from bar\pool\room
- food (don't forget you are in the middle of a national park)
- safari drives = 100s of animals
- nature walk
- swimming pool
- hot air balloon ride = fantastic
- Travel date: Sat 17th of February 2007
"I've just come back from a week's safari and we spent 3 days at the Mara Serena Safari Lodge. After a terrible bus journey from Lake Nakuru (9.5 hours) I though I had arrived in heaven!
The setting is breath-taking, the views are amazing and the rooms are great. The staff could not have been more helpful and the food was lovely.
A truly awe-inspiring place and I can not wait to get back there."
- Travel date: Fri 29th of December 2006
"I stayed at the Mara SERENA lodge for two nights last july.
( It took over 6 hours to get there by road from NAIROBI !
If you have back problems you had better consider going to the MASAI MARA by plane or at least make sure that you are going to travel with a 4 wheel drive and not a minibus).
That said, the Mara SERENA is a wonderful place to stay.
Like all SERENA lodges, the architecture is authentically "local"
which I think is a real plus. The setting is just gorgeous.
You have to walk down hill to go to the rooms and some are a bit far from the reception so that's something you have to be aware of.
Be prepared to find a few guests in your room ( I found a few lizards crawling on the ceiling but I'm sure they were harmless)
The most extraordinary thing was hearing the wild beasts at night.
The food at the hotel was excellent."
- Travel date: Fri 27th of October 2006
Best experience ever!
"My husband and I stayed at this lodge at the end of one week safari tour for our honeymoon (we are from UK). I did a LOT of reseach before booking this holiday and were extremely pleased that I chose to stay at the Serena lodge. What makes it special is the staff - they are just wonderful, nothing is too much trouble EVER. They really look after you well and we had a fatastic time there.
BEST THING about this lodge has to be a view from the hotel ground. It's absolutely amazing!! It's set on a hilltop so it overlooks the Mara plain and Mara river - you can see its vastness and it makes you feel you really are in a middle of Africa! I had seen the 'photo' of this view on their website before I went but when you see it in real, it just blows your mind. It's also wonderful to be able to see all the wild animals in a distance (or sometimes even in a close distance) such as giraffes walking around with their two long legs and herds of elephants just next to them! if you're visiting during the migration season then you'll also see millions of wildebeasts forming a long, long (almost endless) line from one corner to another - all from the hotel ground. So don't forget to pack binoculars!!
TIPS 1) Like all the Serena lodges we stayed during this tour (Samburu, Montain lodge), they've got a Kodak PHOTO KIOSK in a souvenir shop for digital camera users. You can obviously print a photo instantly (100 shilling per photo, approx. 70~80 pence) so you can post your favorite photo of your own to your friends rather than ordinary postcards - or more importantly, you can burn all the contents from your camera onto CD (1500 shillings) to FREE UP YOUR MEMORY CARD. My memory card could hold upto 2GB (bought at Heathrow duty-free shop before we flew) so I didn't need to use it but I think lots of people with not-so-large capacity on their memory card will definately find this service very useful as you end up taking so many photos when you're in Kenya (I took about 350 shots during my one week safari) and you're very unlikely to have a chance to buy more memory card anywhere.
TIPS 2) Try the BREAKFAST BY THE HIPPO POOL(US$40 per person) - it was a wonderful experience! You are seated at the table by the Mara river overlooking the hippos in water. Tables are laid out nicely by Serena staff (properly done with table cloth, napkin, etc + wooden deck chair.... not a cheap plastic garden furniture!). As you walk into the bush, firstly you are given a glass of Champagne. Well, it was in fact a 'Sparkling wine' (as it was from Italy, not from the Champagne region in France) so it is not the 'Champagne' as we call in Europe as such (But I think this is quite common outside of Europe to call any Sparkling wine as Champagne) but it was still very nice and refreshing! Breakfast itself is served in buffet style with sausages, bacon, fruits, etc and the chef also cooks you the eggs on a spot (Omlette, fried, etc). The freshly brewed coffee (or tea) are also served at table. They have a clean 'tented' toilet (with a zip to open/close) on site as well (not just a hole on ground!). The local Masai man with wooden stick is hired as a guard to keep off any animals which may come closer to the table. When we had our breakfast, a waterhog did come very close to our table, which added to our bush experience! They do a similar thing for lunch, called CARNIVAL LUNCH at US$45 with a small grilling station (chicken, lamb, etc..) on the spot. Try either or even both!!
TIPS 3) Anyone going to Kenya, don't forget to pack your unwanted PENS and SWEETS to give away to local children. I mean 'any' pens, pencils, crayons, etc, even the half used ones.... You will find there are still lots of under-previledged children in some region (especially around the Great Rift Valley, when we passed through from Nakuru to Mara) where children are still running around with very basic clothes if not half-naked. You will see them come running after your van, hoping someone might give them something and pens and sweets are very much appreciated by them. My friend who'd been to Kenya told me so I knew about this so I brought along lots of them, but the other people who didn't were saying they wished they had known it beforehand!
TIPS 4) Those from UK (like us), or other countries rather than USA, remember to bring some US$ cash along as well as KSH(Kenyan Shillings). At almost all the hotels/lodges in Kenya, the payment for the excursions (balloon ride, breakfast by hippo pool, etc...) are to be made in US$ - if paid in cash. Of course they can convert them into KSH as well if you don't have US$, but it's a lot easier if you've got US$. On the ther hand, all the goods at the hotels' souvenir shops we went are priced in KSH (so are the drinks at the hotel bars/restaurants) so it's best to bring both. The Duty-free shops at Nairobi airport are mostly priced in US$ but some in KSH, depending on a shop. If you pay in KSH for the goods priced in US$ at airport, the exchange rate you get is pretty bad, so again paying in US$ is better - especially those from UK as GBP is quite strong against US$ at the moment (GBP1 = US$1.90?)
TIPS 5) BUYING SOUVENIRS, if you are buying anything at the souvenior shops (the ones your driver stops en route) rather than the one at the hotel/lodge, remember to barter it down to AT LEAST the HALF the asking price and if they don't agree to the price you asked, then WALK AWAY. They normally come after you outside (after 3 mins or so) agreeing to give you the price you asked for. However I recommend the shops at Serena lodges as they are very reasonably priced and almost the cheapest around without having to haggle!
Overall, it really is a 'once in a lifetime' experience! We had a fantastic time there - BEST EXPERIENCE ever. Already looking forward to going back there again!! Going on safari is NOT cheap but it's definately well worth it!"
- Travel date: Sat 16th of September 2006
Fabulous location - Food a Huge dissapointment, Guide a Major dissapointment
"We just returned from a 4 night stay at the Mara Serena. We chose this lodge for its location and great reviews. The location of the Serena is AWESOME with some spectacular views and just a few minutes drive from the Mara river where we saw one Wildebeest crossing which was an amazing sight. On our gamedrives we saw LOTS of lions as well as many other animals. We drove to Kitchwa Tembo on two occasions to view a cheetah mum with 5 cubs. This was managable from the Serena but meant that the visit to the Cheetah family was short as you had to be back at designated times for lunch and for curfew (6.30pm). The rooms were quite large and well maintained with robes and VERY comfy beds and insect repellant wipes along with the usual toiletries which were replinished each day. These are the PLUS points of the Serena.
The MAJOR MINUS points are two:
NUMBER ONE - The food was a MAJOR let down. Choices were very limited with the same small salad bar selection each day for lunch and dinner. A SMALL bread sellection and a very small mains selection which ALWAYS included fried cubed potatoes - for breakfast, lunch AND dinner! On the plus side there was always some delicious fresh pineapple and two melon types but after 4 days even this got boring. Throughout our stay, neither my husband nor I found one desert we liked. On one occasion they had a rhubarb crumble - my favourite, but it was far from appetising. The rhubarb itself was nice but the base and crumble both gooey.... yeuck! In the end we were actually glad to leave the Serena because we just couldn't take any more of the food. Maybe if we were only staying there for two days the food would have been managable but after 4 days we were almost dreading mealtimes... and this is coming from people who are VERY fond of their food!
I see reference to champagne at breakfast but this is definatelt NOT something which we saw except for at separately booked activities such as the champagne breakfast after oour balloon flight and at the Hippo pool breakfast which was part of our package but certainly not at the standard Serena breakfast.
NUMBER TWO - Our guide / driver was in two words 'not good'. The evening we arrived a guide named Samuel picked us up and we went on a short game drive. Samuel was a FANTASTIC guide and quite obviously loved his job. He gave us lots of interesting information and interacted with us. Unfortunately Samuel was not to be our guide for the remainder of our stay - SAMMY was. Sammy definately did NOT love his job and we felt like we were just 'nusiances' to him. He did his own thing regardless of our preferences for example, on the third morning we pointed out some Elephants which we would have liked to have stopped at but Sammy just carried on and then a while later he stopped the vehicle and pointed out a Topi far away!!! Bear in mind that during our drives Topi are a VERY common sight... we just couldn't figure him out! He NEVER explained / told us where we were headed, what we were going to look for, when we were going to return to the lodge etc etc. On one occasion DH asked in reference to a Hippo out of water 'Is he [email protected] Sammys reply was typical of him 'Hes not old' DUH!! Also, when we gave Sammy his tip on the last morning he never once said thank you, just took off with his new clients from the airstrip... Anyways, what I suppose I'm getting at is this... If you DO decide to stay at the Mara Serena and think you can cope with poor quality food to gain the fabulous views, make sure your guide is NOT Sammy or you will certainly be dissapointed.
Two more things
- Lilian the beauty therapist is lovely and gives a fabulous massage for only 2000KSH.
- I didn't see ANY baboons or monkeys around the lodge during my entire stay so keeping the patio doors shut was not an issue.
Hope this review helps someone make the right decision for themselves. At the moment the Mara Serena is No.2 rated on this site and I , based on our recent experience, don't think it deserves to be so high up on the list."
- Travel date: Sun 6th of August 2006
In a word, Wow!
"This is the best full service lodge in the Masai Mara Reserve, without a doubt. The staff is very attentive and the rooms are very well appointed and all have views from a comfortable and private sitting room across the Mara plain. From the pool you can watch animals on the plain just below and the grounds are luxurious landscaped. One does need to watch for monkeys and baboons which enter rooms if the balcony windows in the sitting room are left open. If you are not sitting directly in front of the windows, you must close them and latch them, monkeys and baboons are very clever and have opposingthumbs for truning knobs and pushing latches. Even if you are sitting with the windows open, it is a good idea to invest in a stout stick or club which you can get in the gift shop as the animals respond quite quickly to a sharp rap on anything solid, if they get too close. Do not hit the animals, as they will readily fight back.
You need to be a polite tourist here and remember to greet everyone with "Jambo" (Hello) and thank people who do things for you with "Asante" or "Asante Sana" (Thank you or thank you very much).
The 6:30 AM game drives are always the best, before the big noisy tour groups arrange themselves for their morning game drive. Discipline yourself to get up at 5 AM, tea and cakes are served for early morning game drives and you are greeted when you return at 8:30 or 9 with chanpagne and a full English."
- Travel date: Fri 7th of July 2006
Quite simply; the best hotel on the planet.
"My wife and I spent three spectacular days at Mara Serena in September, 2005. Excellent time of year to visit the Mara as the Great Migration has found its way north and is in full force. Location is everything and if you are a wildlife enthusiast there is no better setting. Rooms are average in size but the decor is very modern and cheerful and makes for a comfortable stay. The view from the balcony is unparalleled, in the evening the animals came up from the valley below to graze; zebra, waterbuck, buffalo, and even hippos within a few feet from our room. The Masai Mara offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and we were fortunate enough to witness in excess of 10,000 wildebeest crossing through the crocodile infested Mara river.
As a travel agent I've been fortunate enough to have visited many of the world's great hotels; while this hotel may not offer the finest cuisine or the most elaborate pool or bar areas the service is impeccable and when combined with the location, I feel this is the best hotel I've ever had the pleasure of staying."
- Travel date: Thu 29th of June 2006
Great Lodge..definately worth a visit!!
"We stayed at the Mara serena hotel for 2 nights at the end of a 1 week safari with Somake. Was a great lodge- really quirky cave like rooms..with great views and lots of space. I did find the service & food wasn't quite up to the rest of the Serena lodges we stayed in, but was OK. It was also quite difficult to get a decent table at dinner/lunch so maybe ask when you check in. Lovely location & DEFINATELY worth doing the Balloon flight.. it is awesome..will do it again some day!"
- Travel date: Thu 13th of April 2006