Encounter Mara

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About Encounter Mara

  • Rank
    Advanced Member

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  • Category 1
    Lodge Owner/Manager
  • Category 2
    Born in Africa

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  • Location
    Mara Naboisho Conservancy
  • Interests
    Community conservancies, conservation, low-impact tourism, responsible tourism, exclusive safari experiences
  1. Dear Safaritalkers, We at Asilia Africa are delighted to announce that as of today Encounter Mara in the Mara Naboisho Conservancy is part of the Asilia Africa portfolio. Rich game viewing, combined with community interaction and the freedom to walk and fly camp has made Mara Naboisho Conservancy one of the most exciting safari destinations in Kenya. Testimony to this is that Naboisho Camp is the Number 1 camp on Trip Advisor and Encounter Mara number 4 – say no more! We are very excited about this step. In March we celebrated 5 years of conservation in Mara Naboisho Conservancy and everything that has been achieved. This short film illustrates some of the facts below. Today Mara Naboisho Conservancy has one of the highest densities of lion in the entire Mara eco-system, as well as elephant, cheetah and leopard. There are thriving populations of wildlife species which were just not seen here 5 years ago; such as buffalo, eland and warthog. The communities are benefitting from a regular monthly income from the land lease, employment within the Conservancy, improved medical facilities and schooling. With Asilia’s leading role across the Mara Conservancies and now increased footprint in Mara Naboisho we intend to continue to build stability in the conservancies. You can read about what has been achieved so far on our Asilia Giving site. What does this mean for existing and new bookings? We will accept bookings for Encounter Mara Camp immediately – you can contact your usual booking contacts at Asilia Africa for any requests. Encounter Mara will reopen on June 1st. Rates and service offering for 2015 will be as communicated by Encounter Mara Camp. We will honour all existing bookings made through Encounter Mara or otherwise, and we will honour all existing rate contracts until December 31, 2015. From January 1, 2016 onwards, new rates will apply (these 2016 rates will be distributed as part of our regular rates in the coming two weeks). Who will run Encounter Mara? Encounter Mara will be fully owned and operated by Asilia. Gerard Beaton and his team in Kenya will manage the property and as such you can expect the same level of focus and determination to offer the finest wilderness experience the region offers. Why book Encounter Mara? Encounter Mara offers a competitively priced Naboisho and Mara experience – this will be an offering similar to that of Ubuntu Camp in the Serengeti where we have made the same service standards accessible to those on a lighter budget. The Reserve continues to be accessible for a day trip to witness the great migration crossings. Guests can enjoy bush walks and cultural experience at Encounter Mara. Encounter Mara is part of our 4 for 3 special offer Exclusive standalone 3 for 2 offer for Encounter Mara (bookable until 31st July, travel before 31st March 2016). In the coming weeks you will receive more information on Encounter Mara and our plans for the future. You can find the first information and images on our online agent zone already! Furthermore please meet us at We Are Africa or Indaba personally to find out more. Simply reply to this email to make an appointment! Our team is available for any questions or bookings regarding Encounter Mara and Mara Naboisho Conservancy – we look forward to your support, particularly during this crucial time for Kenya at large, and its wildlife conservancies in particular. We thank you for getting us and the conservancy to this point in time. Kind regards, Bas
  2. Dear @@amybatt, Thanks very much for your message. It is true that Encounter Mara has now joined the Asilia portfolio. We can assure you of a smooth handover with your booking information as well as a fantastic stay at Asilia's newest property. Asilia has a reputation for attention to detail, a first-class service, fantastic food, and a very high standard of guiding. We are confident that your experience at the camp next year will exceed your expectations, and we look forward to having you! We will be posting an official note on the transfer here on Safaritalk soon. Thanks again! The Encounter Mara Team
  3. @@pault, I'm sorry we did not explain this very clearly. The 5-Night offer of $1895 is valid for low season. In High season, the same offer will be $2395. (We've called it the 6-night Itinerary below because it includes one night at Eka Hotel in Nairobi) It's probably easiest if we just attach some PDF's for you to look over to get ALL the information in one go. EM 6 Night Flying Safari Special Itinerary.pdf EM 11Night Flying Safari & Zanzibar Special Itinerary.pdf
  4. Experience a luxury flying safari with 5 nights at Encounter Mara from $1895 USD. We're pleased to offer our newest special - a luxury flying safari with five inspiring nights of wildlife at the award-winning Encounter Mara where you will have twice-daily game drives, bush walks with Maasai guides, and days capped off with a traditional sundowner. OR 12 Days Luxury Kenya & Zanzibar from $2595 See the amazing beauty and wildlife of East Africa at a special price.Experience a luxury flying safari with five nights at Encounter Mara, Kenya’s leading tented camp*. Enjoy twice daily game drives, bush walks with Masai guides, and days capped off with a traditional sundowner. Combine this with the ‘spice island’ of Zanzibar where you’ll explore historic Stone Town and relax on the white sand beaches at the luxurious five star Dream of Zanzibar resort. .......................................................... $3295 USD JULY TO DECEMBER 2015 $2595 USD JANUARY TO JUNE 2015 Email us: info@encountermara.com *As voted at 2012, 2013 & 2014 World Travel Awards Rate includes all accommodation, meals, drinks, game drives, flight to the Mara. Rate excludes tips, visas, insurance, optional services, international airfare and airfare from Nairobi - Zanzibar. Not available April 1 - 30, 2015.
  5. @offshorbirder, thanks for this. - We used to have a pretty decent selection of beers, with a few "low-end" lager types and a few higher-end international brands. However, we found we were wasting money. Most people sit down at the campfire and ask for "cold beer". They don't ask what type of beer we have or ask for a specific brand. You may be one of a very few serious beer connoisseurs who would visit us. However, if you told us you were coming and you wanted a specific beer, we'd be happy to order it in advance for you. - Unfortunately we do not have control over the vehicle situation. Naboisho has come up with a formula for a maximum number of vehicles per acre in order to minimize the impact on the environment, to keep vehicle numbers down at sightings, and for accountability purposes. If you have outsider drivers/guides conducting game drives, it is harder to keep them accountable, to follow the code of conduct, and to discipline/follow-up in the case of bad behaviour. One of the biggest selling points for the conservancies is low vehicle density. Allowing for grey areas, or a few exceptions, waters down the appeal and opens up room for abuse - a slippery slope to white-minibus traffic jams. - As mentioned in a previous post, we're considering how we can help out single travellers. - Special offers on private vehicles is a good idea! Thanks. - What's your budget for Nairobi Hotels? Both Eka Hotel and The Boma Hotel are very good value for money. They're both almost exactly halfway between JKIA and Wilson Airport, so they're in prime locations for safari-goers who need a day room or overnight room between international arrival and regional travel. There are a few other options as well, but we'd recommend those two for medium/lower budgets. Still very comfortable, clean, well-kept rooms, so you're not compromising on quality. The other alternative, is Nairobi Tented Camp, as mentioned in @@JakeGC's post above. - If you remember anything else, do let us know.
  6. Sadly the more terrorist attacks that happen in Kenya, even if they are way up in Mandera (near the Ethiopian border), the further down Kenya will fall on travelers' wish-lists. Kenya has recently gone through a process of 'devolution', creating official counties and giving more power to the individual counties, rather than placing it all on the central government. Though it's not exactly a federation like the United States, it would be nice if it would work in our favour in the same way. A school shooting in Colorado doesn't even register in the minds of tourists planning their holiday to neighbouring New Mexico as a reason not to go. Now, considering Africa is still viewed as a country by much of the western world's middle-class, we suppose it's a bit of a tall order for people to start recognizing different counties/provinces within one country in Africa - but just imagine!
  7. Thanks! See our edited post now.
  8. Sorry, @@Game Warden, feel free to edit if you feel we've overstepped the advertising line. Obviously we'd love for everyone on ST to visit Encounter Mara, but the point we'd really like to drive home is more about the quality of "The Conservancy Safari" in general. We understand that in many people's minds, the idea of a Kenyan safari conjures images of white minibus traffic jams and bored drivers (as opposed to field guides). What many people do not realize, however, is that there are many places in Kenya that offer a much higher quality experience, but that it doesn't have to be financially unattainable for the middle income safari-goer. A Conservancy Safari will be/provide: 1. Safe from terrorism 2. Ebola-free 3. Low environmental impact 4. High local community impact 5. Low density tourism 6. Uncrowded 7. Excellent game-viewing 8. A high standard of guiding (All guides operating in the main conservancies are required to have at least KPSGA Bronze, and more than half have Silver). 8. Value for money
  9. @Atravelynn: Thanks for your response. 2. Our guides are all trained at the Koyiaki Guiding School (and 3 members of management with FGASA qualifications who regularly get involved with guiding). Our schedule is flexible and with a bit of prior notice, we can tailor each day to your needs. We're experienced with photography groups who like to spend the whole day sitting with one cheetah, with a packed lunch. We can do that, no problem. There's no pressure to rush back for breakfast at 9am. 3. Naboisho does exactly what you want! There are less than 85 beds in an area greater than 50,000 acres (200km square). There are 5 camps, each with a limited number of vehicles, and there are strict rules about numbers of vehicles per sighting. Naboisho also has one of the highest densities of Lions in East Africa, certainly the highest density of Giraffe in the whole mara ecosystem. Cheetah and elephant obviously move around a lot, but a very high number of cheetah use Naboisho year-round. Leopards are becoming more and more bold, with several sightings per week (and sometimes per day, now). In conclusion, we have a HIGH density of wildlife and a LOW density of tourists. - Also, you can chat to other ST'ers who have visited Encounter Mara (Pault) and ask them about the levels of "comfort". We're probably a bit biased, but we certainly stay away from the word "luxury". We want to provide a comfortable, authentic, down-to-earth place for you to recharge, while still being surrounded by great natural beauty. No manicured lawns, no plunge pools, no hardwood floors, and fancy chandeliers here (but yes, we do have plenty of sockets and 24hr solar power for you to recharge your batteries). 4. We're discussing this as management, and will update ST members once we reach a conclusion @@AKChui, thanks for your response. Please allow us to respond: Pricing: We have two special offers for 2015. In the low season, you get 50% off from your second night onward. In the high season, you get your 4th night free (or two nights free, for an 8 night safari). Exclusive Vehicle: We have priced our exclusive use of vehicles based on what we have calculated as a daily expense for both vehicle and guide. We charge $250 per day, which couple with our special offers, we feel, is quite affordable. Varied locations: The conservancies are working on a traversing rights-trade-off plan between conservancies, but it's quite a complicated thing to implement to keep vehicle numbers even across the conservancies. In high season, for every 3 nights you stay with us, you get 1 free trip into Masai Mara National Reserve. Naboisho generally does not suffer from long grass as our conservancy management has implemented a very successful rotational grazing programme that sees Naboisho benefit greatly in many ways. We'd be happy to send you further information on this, should you be interested. @Tdgraves: Thanks for your response. I think you'll find that the conservancies, and Encounter Mara specifically, can address some of your concerns about travelling to Kenya. Our guides are all members of the Kenya Professional Safari Guides' Association, and 3 out of 4 of them are Silver Level. Our manager, Colin is a FGASA Level 3 Advanced Trails guide, our Guest Experience manager is a FGASA Level 2 guide, and our Operations manager is a FGASA Level 2 back-up trails guide. A safari with us is not the typical East African minibus safari. We have open-sided vehicles, that can be specially modified for photographers. Our guides are well qualified and passionate about the area, as they have grown up there. We offer long bush walks, night drives, and star gazing. Secondly, as mentioned above, Naboisho has one of the lowest tourist densities in any protected area in Kenya. With strict game-drive etiquette rules that the guides must follow, you won't have a crowded safari. Thirdly, please see our special offers mentioned above and @@pault's very kind comments about the value we offer. @graceland: If you come in low season, our "50% off from the second night onwards" is essentially what you're looking for. Also our rates are always inclusive of Conservancy fees. Thanks so much, @@pault for the plug! We really appreciate that. @@Kitsafari, why don't you come for a conservancy safari and see the difference. It's very unlike what you experience in Masai Mara National Reserve, Nakuru, or Samburu in terms of vehicle number, noise, and animal harassment. We hope to see you here one day! Thanks again to everyone for your very well-thought-out responses. We cannot respond to each one, but we have read each post and are thinking critically how we might put some of these suggestions into effect. Kind regards, The Encounter Mara team
  10. Thank you all for your opinions so far. We're reading through each of these posts carefully and taking each suggestion and opinion into consideration. Obviously, as many of you have stated, much of it is out of our control, but there are some things we can take a lead on. We'll be posting here soon with some news. For everyone's information, we DO in fact have two great specials on for next year: - Get 50% off from your second night onwards in low season (2nd January - 14th July, and 1st November - 19th December) - Pay for 3 nights and get a 4th night FREE in high season (15th July - 31st October, and 20th December 2015 - 1st January 2016) As we mentioned in our first post, we're also looking for the opinions and input of your friends and family - those people who are NOT seasoned safari goers. Thanks again!
  11. We've been quietly reading many of the posts across this forum (Safaritalk as a whole) recently. One post stuck out to us. @@Soukous says: Perhaps what Kenyan operators should be doing is asking "What would it take to make you book a safari in Kenya?" So here we go - we're asking you, Safaritalkers, "What would it take for you to book a safari in Kenya at the moment, all things considered?" Several of you have already mentioned that you had booked safaris before Ebola started scaring people away, but you're sticking to your plans. Good for you! And thank you! Kenya needs your business. So perhaps you can go to your friends, family, and fellow travellers and ask them the same thing. What incentives do people need in order to make that step and book a safari in Kenya? We all know there have been no Ebola cases in Kenya. Will big discounts on safaris attract more travellers? Will more dissemination of reassuring information about the lack of Ebola here attract more travellers? We look forward to seeing some feedback from you as seasoned Safari-goers, but also perhaps from your less-seasoned family members or friends. Thank you all! And here's to some super safaris across Africa for 2015!
  12. @@Jamesinchobe, Thanks for all that detail. Seems like it would require quite an investment to install enough power generation to charge 1 vehicle (we have four game viewers and 1 utility pickup). And if it can only handle water up to the hubs, we'd be (excuse the pun) up the creek on a daily basis in the rainy season. Still, it's an extremely impressive achievement for a safari lodge in Africa. And certainly a huge step in the right direction of where we should all be headed. Silent game drive vehicles that don't pollute is the answer to so many issues. Cheers!
  13. Great stuff @@Jamesinchobe! We had known a little about Freedom Won's work, but this is a great summary of what they've achieved for Chobe's vehicles. We're fully solar powered, and our panels, inverters, and battery bank are good enough to run all the lights, fridges, charging stations, etc. for our 12-tent camp. How much more do you suppose would be needed per vehicle for charging. Rather, what kind of output is required to fully charge a vehicle battery? How does the vehicle fair with big water crossings? When it rains in the Mara, it really pours. Our rivers flood quickly, and we sometimes find ourselves driving through water up to the bonnet. Would this pose a problem for the electrical connections, etc? I realize the blog piece states that there's no maintenance, but what about the interface between the electrical system and the drive-train? Could a 'jua kali' bush mechanic with a spanner and screw driver still fix it relatively easily? I suppose if you do away with the traditional engine, there's no reason to fight about land rovers and land cruisers any more. Land Rovers are more comfortable, and a 130, like I see you've got, is the perfect platform for a game viewer with minimal modification.
  14. Hi @@madaboutcheetah, Cheetah viewing has been excellent since the conservancy was started in 2010. It has, however, improved a fair bit over the last year and a half or so. Have you "liked" our Facebook page? The two most recent posts (15th and 17th Nov 2014) by our assistant manager at the camp focus on cheetah and leopard sightings very close to camp. We get some of the usual suspects that most people know from the National Reserve, but also a few young pretenders from outside that we haven't been able to identify. The Mara Cheetah Project, run by Femke Broekehuis is getting some very good data on which cheetahs frequent the area. Have you downloaded the Spot-A-Cat app from the google playstore? It's a great way to help out with data collection and to get to know more cheetahs in the area. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.djurrebroekhuis.spotacat Check out the project website: http://www.maracheetahs.org/mara-cheetahs/ Keep an eye on our own facebook page, the Volunteer project facebook page, and the Mara Naboisho Conservancy facebook page for more updates on cheetahs (and other characters) in Naboisho. I hope this is helpful! Kind Regards, Encounter Mara
  15. Unique Safari Cuisine We're constantly looking for new recipes and new ideas to keep our chefs challenged and motivated. They have yet to disappoint, and have come up with astonishing surprises. We strive to keep our meals healthy, balanced, satisfying, and tasty, as well as visually pleasing. We also have quite a unique meal schedule, which we feel helps to maximise your time out with the wildlife without depriving you of good sustenance. You can read more about it on our website. Our dedication to conservation and the environment From our organic soap and shampoo (above) to rainwater harvesting, we're doing all we can with what we have to reduce our impact on the environment as a whole and to conserve what we have. We're 100% solar powered, both for electricity and water heating, and for every guest that stays at our camp, we plant, and nurture to maturity, one indigenous tree in a well-managed forest in Limuru (North of Nairobi). We have achieved a Silver Eco-Rating the Ecotourism Society of Kenya, and were Short-listed for the Eco-Warrior Award for Eco-rated facility of the year 2014. You can read more about our efforts here. Culture and Community Besides being able to interact with our Maasai staff at any time, we give our guests some other unique opportunities to get an insight into Maasai culture. Why not check out a genuine Maasai Market? This is not a tourist market full of trinkets and sharp businessmen, but mostly a cattle market, with plenty of colour and flare to keep anyone interested. Take a visit to a non-commercial village. Stroll around with your Maasai guide at leisure without feeling rushed to go off and buy trinkets. This is a purely cultural experience with no shopping and hassle involved. Visit the Koyiaki Guiding School and spend some time with the young men and women training to become the next generation of Safari Guides. An Award-Winning Camp! We have been voted "Kenya's Leading Tented Safari Camp" in the World Travel Awards for three years in a row (2012, 2013, 2014). We have been nominated twice in the Safari Awards, and this year were Runners-Up as "Best Value For Money" in Kenya in the Safari Awards. We have received the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence 2 year running, and maintain a high position (currently 5th) on the Trip Advisor ratings for Maasai Mara. As mentioned earlier, we were also nominated for two, and short-listed for one Eco-Warrior Award through the Ecotourism Society of Kenya. An Affordable Exclusive Camp With a whole range of special offers throughout the year, coupled with already very reasonable, all-inclusive rates, we believe an exclusive safari experience should be accessible. Do you have questions about Encounter Mara or Mara Naboisho Conservancy? Check out our FAQ and/or contact us for more details. We hope you've found this informative and helpful! And we hope to see you in Naboisho in 2015!

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