3 nights 4 days
Naboisho Camp is located in Kenya within the Naboisho Conservancy in the Maasai Mara
“The 50,000 acre Mara Naboisho Concervancy, where the density of game including at least 70 lions – is among the highest anywhere on the continent.” October 2013 Departures Magazine
This is my last stop before heading to Nairobi. So far we have done the Arusha Coffee Lodge, Little Oliver’s Camp in the Tarangire, Plantation Lodge for the Ngorongoro Crater and Sayari Camp in the Serengeti. If you’ve read any of the previous reviews you know that the trip has been phenomenal so far.
The airstrip is very close to the Sayari Camp – about a 20 minute drive. After a 20 minute flight we landed in Tarime. Next we took land transportation over the border through immigration into Kenya then onto the next airstrip for the flight into the Masai Mara – Naboisho.
This put us in camp about lunch time. My expectations were that Naboisho would be the most rustic of all three Asilia camps as Sayari was the most luxurious. We were met at the airstrip by our guide Dickson and met by Helen one of the camp managers upon arrival at the camp.
Just as with the other camps we headed to the main lounge tent to review and sign all forms and get an overview of the camp before heading over to our tent #5. So the managers and co-managers where Helen, Moses, Roger and Relof. We had quite a bit of interaction with everyone except Relof. I got the impression that Helen was responsible for the bulk of the duties that keep this camp together and for some reason it appeared as more of a challenge compared to the two other locations.
Let me mention that my goal here is not to compare the camps as I mentioned each camp has its own unique foot print but I think it is fair to say for instance that my opinion is that overall, the food was best at Sayari Camp. Naboisho’s food ranked last of the three overall – having said that from 1-10 while Sayari would be a 9 Naboisho would be 7.5 to 8 on the best day – still not horrible but not outstanding. I make this conclusion based on a bush breakfast that was pretty bad in that I couldn’t find anything other than fruit that was appetizing and that was followed with lunch where the fish cakes were extremely breaded.
We did see some areas within our tent that housekeeping overlooked (minor) and when we tried to contact someone over the walkie-talkie for help, no one answered even though minutes before we thought we were told someone always monitors our contact. Without the walkie-talkie you have to walk back up to the main tent for help so this was not what we expected. Oh and one other thing was that I received someone else’s item along with my laundry on one occasion – yikes.
This camp like the others was primarily supported by men and in this case Maasai men. Now I thought this very interesting as these are traditionally warriors and herders which do not lend themselves to ‘helping’ around the boma but here they are doing washing and folding clothes, making beds and fluffing pillows…..so I wasn’t surprised at all, actually pretty impressed that there were not more issues.
To the credit of the team, Helen and the Asilia addressed every concern and seemed sincerely determined to make things right and you can’t ask for more than that. For example I didn’t mention anything to our guide about the breakfast, I just didn’t eat anything and he took it upon himself to mention this to Helen when we returned because he was concerned that I didn’t enjoy breakfast and well, this is a good thing. Bottom line is any inconvenience that I experienced was small and did not affect my experience at Naboisho and by providing this blog it’s imperative that I let everyone know what I experienced as I would appreciate the same level of detail from someone else.
There are only 8 tents at this camp so it is very small. There is one main lounge tent with one side for dining and the other for lounging. Meals are served on the lawn area during the day while dinners are normally under the tent. The vibe is very relaxing with over sized cushy and leather chairs. Wi-Fi is pretty much non-existent here so don’t count on it but cellular connection was okay.
I will just mention this right up front, for me Naboisho tent is my least favourite out of the three camps for these reasons. One, the configuration of front to back versus left to right. I prefer the configuration where when standing in the tent you can see everything versus having the bathroom and dressing area behind a wall. I think this gives a roomier feeling instead of having to walk on either side of the bed to reach other parts of the tent. Now the person I travelled with selected this tent as his favourite so it’s all in what you have a preference for not something that is right or wrong. This tent does not have a long outdoor deck; instead there is a ‘front lounge room’. An area that is screened and slightly partitioned from the bedroom area. Although it was not my preference I appreciate being able to experience a different set up instead of all venues being the same.
Second, the tents here are located closer together and I could hear conversations from the tents located on either side. The situation of the tents, which are pretty much aligned in a row lacks privacy in that when your shades are up you can see directly over into the next tent, especially at night when the lights are on.
Don’t get me wrong, the tents are not right on top of one another but just compared to the two other pervious locations this was noticeably closer.
Naboisho has flush toilets and indoor /outdoor (for two) showers but unlike the others the showers where authentic ‘bucket’ showers. Now if you don’t know, bucket showers require a person to actually gather the water in buckets and bring to the tent then haul them up into position for your shower.
This means that you pretty much need to request showers as needed because the water only stays hot for so long. So the night before Helen or Dickson would ask us if we wanted a shower before or after the morning drive and what time. So the guy would show up at the appointed time and we’d sing over the wall…’good morning, we’re ready’ then he’d fetch the water and set up the shower.. I know…fascinating right….Take a look at the video. It was actually very cool to experience the whole thing from bucket to bucket. I live in DC so I don’t get the opportunity to experience outdoor bucket showers very often……so very cool experience!
As I mentioned, Helen, the manager was outstanding and although she did not sit for meals with the group she made sure to sit with us and enquire about our adventures with Dickson that day. Roger and Moses did everything else from getting us set up in the tent to just being companions while we were in the common areas. Making sure everything was going smoothly for guests and everyone did an outstanding job.
Dickson, our guide, is a traditional Masai. Not only did he extend himself to make sure that we saw every single animal on the continent, he was so kind to make sure that we left very small foot prints. Dickson would always as us to “please be careful of the little ones” when we were viewing the babies. On our second day, with his recommendation we decided to do a box lunch (which was very good) and head out for the day to the Mara.
Not only did we see this HUGE migration crossing, but we also spotted all of the big five too. Yes, even the Rhino!
So Dickson got us up super early on the last morning, hoping to find a pride before we headed home and wow did we ever. The night before we heard lions roaring very close to the camp – our tents. Well, these were the same lions that we spotted that morning. It was a pride of 8 with 2 kills….oh gosh I forgot what they are called but take a look at the pic.
I know, you just have to keep thinking…its the circle of life. We were so incredibly close and this say’s it all. Dickson was outstanding, and I keep thinking does he realize that he is making lifetime memories..?! Such a gift and wow, we couldn’t ask for a better guide – outstanding!
You will definitely need to check back for my post on the details on all the game drives because I am going to post a video that you will not want to miss!
Let me just interject something here. This is Christine. Christine is a Masai and possibly the only female guide in the entire country. As a Masai woman her role as a guide is extremely unusual. Although she was not our guide we were able to spend a little time with her and she is so exceptional. “She Can Do It”.
I felt so proud standing next to her she felt like a little sister!
So other than the 2 snafus I mention above about the bush breakfast and one lunch everything else was very good. I especially loved eating out on the lawn area under the trees, surreal experience.
So you get the feeling for Naboisho, its more rustic and I knew this was going to be the case and this is exactly what I signed up for. I really enjoyed my stay here and the game viewing was outstanding.
Again, these Asilia posts concentrate on the accommodations. I will post soon on the different parks and game drives. You wont want to miss the pictures and video!
I’d love to get your feedback if you’ve been to these camps or comments about what I have posted here!