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amybatt

Encounter Mara, Naboisho Conservancy, Maasai Mara, Kenya

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1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well)

Encounter Mara (an Asilia camp), Naboisho Conservancy, Maasai Mara, Kenya

 

 

2) Website address if known:

http://www.asiliaafrica.com/destinations/kenya/greater-maasai-mara/encounter-mara/

 

 

3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known).

February 2016

 

 

4) Length of stay:

5 nights

 

 

5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what?

Having stayed in conservancies in Kenya in 2014, I wanted to stay in a different conservancy near the Mara when I returned.

 

6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently?

Safari planner handled the booking

 

 

7) How many times have you been on Safari?

This was the third

 

 

8) To which countries?

Tanzania, Kenya x2

 

 

9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to?

Porini Lion Camp, Porini Mara Camp, Porini Rhino Camp, Serengeti Wilderness Camp, Ndutu Wilderness Camp – all tented camps

 

 

10) Was the camp/lodge fenced?

Yes, a 50,0000 volt electric fence, but was told it "only keeps out the buffalo, rhino and hippo" LOL!

 

 

11) How many rooms/tents does it have?

10

 

 

12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private?

I was in tent 11, which is quite a distance from the pick-up location and the common areas, but that remoteness is rewarded with no noise from fellow guests. It was not overlooked and looked out over a field that yielded to a riverbed of some sort. I was told that Osirata, the conservancy's resident leopard, spent much of her time on the other side of that field.

 

 

13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent?

Very comfortable. Nice big bed, one chair, plenty of room to spread out. Bathroom had double sinks, which I don't think I've seen before in a tent! Standard bucket shower

 

 

14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why.

The food was good; I certainly did not starve. Although I think I've had stronger meals at the other tented camps I've stayed at. They handled the vegetarian request fairly well. I suspect it might have been better had I eaten meat, as a lot of the variety and creativity seemed to go towards the meat products in themed meals like the Indian meal and the barbeque. The "Unbelievable Red" blend wine is not to be missed! Very good!

 

 

15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?)

Vegetarian was available, requested in advance. But otherwise a set menu.

 

 

16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes?

A communal table, but there looked to be a couple stand-alone tables too. Whether that is for overflow from the large table or for eating alone on request, I’m unsure. At least one manager was at each meal, eating with us and helping to serve, as well as one of the guides, which is a very nice touch. I appreciated getting to know and talk to other guides over the pre-dinner firepit and during the meal.

 

 

17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives?

The breakfasts on the gamed drives were wonderful. Very plentiful and hearty.

 

 

18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible.

Land Rovers

 

 

19) How many guests per row?

Three rows behind the driver, two passengers in each row except the last row, which held three.

 

 

20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken?

Routes varied based on what was seen the night before and what guests hadn't already seen. For example, we saw a leopard before sunset the night before, we'd head out in the morning to see if she was still in the same location.

 

 

21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you?

Mornings were 6:15 – 11 or 11:30. Afternoons 4:15 – 7:00 or so. There is the option for night drives, which is really just taking longer to get back for dinner.

 

 

22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like?

We saw vehicles frequently from the other Asilia camps in the Naboisho conservancy as well as other camps. There were never more than 7-8 vehicles at any one sighting (four immediately on it, three waiting to get in per answer to #25)

 

 

23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity?

Didn't go into Mara Reserve with Encounter.

 

 

24) Are you able to off-road?

Yes

 

 

25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting.

Limit is four vehicles per sighting. It is enforced. I couldn't ascertain though who was meant to give up their spot on these sightings. A few times we were the fourth on the sighting, and the first to surrender the final spot, especially to other Asilia vehicles (and sometimes to the detriment of our enjoying the sighting). It did not seem to be a "first in, first out" situation, but that's purely anecdotal.

 

 

26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings?

The Mara conservancies are known for their big cats. I thought the sightings were good, but not the quality or quantity I've had on a previous stay in the Mara. Talking sheer numbers: 85 individual cats in 2014, 41 on this safari. Not nearly the number of "enlarge this photo for the office" experiences. But this could be due to Mother Nature, tall grass due to El Nino and just the luck of the draw.

 

 

27) How was the standard of guiding?

The guiding was good, but not as strong as I've had at other camps. Knowledge of resident animals was not as strong nor was the eye for setting me up for ideal photos.

 

 

28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue?

N/A

 

 

29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why:

N/A

 

 

30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs?

Yes, the camp staff were excellent. Everyone who interacted with me was personable, friendly and cared about my experience. I suffered a logistical snafu with my booking and Andrew and Sammy handled it for me as if it was nothing at all, for which I’m deeply appreciative.

 

 

31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known.

Unsure.

 

 

32) Safaritalk trip report link:

http://safaritalk.net/topic/15901-my-safari-3-kenya-again-and-again/

 

 

33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add:

I cannot say enough about Andrew and Sammy. Both really lived and breathed the safari experience and did what they could to add to it. Sammy "heard" leopard sightings from the camp on a couple of occasions, went out to investigate the noise, then radioed to the guides where he'd found them. Unbelievable talent and willingness to go the extra step for guests.

 

 

34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings.

 

Interior of tent #11

 

gallery_15489_1481_2692442.jpg

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@@amybatt

I'm interested to know who your guide was there, as you mentioned he was "good", but that you'd had better experiences elsewhere. Having spent a fair bit of time in Naboisho, I know most of the guides at Encounter. Some of them really blow people away, and a couple are just "good", sadly.

 

Interested to hear that you stayed in Tent 11. Were there lots of other guests filling up the rest of the camp at the time? Curious why they put you all the way out there when they advertise only 10 tents.

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@@armchair bushman, I had Dixon Nabala from Encounter Mara. His work ethic is really good, his commitment to his culture and the conservancy was excellent (we learned a lot about his family and tribe) but for game spotting and overall wildlife experience, I still find it hard to top Jackson Ronko at Porini Lion in OMC.

 

The camp was pretty full up based on how full the dining tent was every night. I actually think there were 12 tents, since where the path to my tent veered off, it was #11 and #12 on the sign. Maybe they don't number a couple? The website says 10 though. I never saw all the others for myself.

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25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting.

Limit is four vehicles per sighting. It is enforced. I couldn't ascertain though who was meant to give up their spot on these sightings. A few times we were the fourth on the sighting, and the first to surrender the final spot, especially to other Asilia vehicles (and sometimes to the detriment of our enjoying the sighting). It did not seem to be a "first in, first out" situation, but that's purely anecdotal.

 

 

Excellent report Amy

 

However #25 was the reason I changed my 12 night booking here from Encounter to Ol Pajeta.

 

Being a wildlife photographer, who always books a PV, I'm often at a sighting for many hours and based on my experience @ SSGR, with their queing/radio system, that is

 

not conducive to observing & photographing animal behaviour.

 

A shame really, as I was looking forward to this (relatively) new conservancy with off roading and it's reported less vehicle traffic.

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