Best luxury lodges & camps in the Masai Mara
We recommend staying in the private conservancies within the Masai Mara National Reserve. The conservancies are set on tribal lands and are administered by the Maasai, so you’ll have the opportunity to visit Maasai villages or see large herds of their beloved cattle.
With a harmonious approach to wildlife, domestic livestock and local communities and cultures, the conservancies are a great example of conservation in the region.
They also provide an exclusive and private experience, as visitors to the reserve cannot enter the conservancies unless they are staying there (although guests of the conservancies can enter the reserve).
Here are our top picks for luxury lodges & camps in the Masai Mara:
Set in the private Mara North Conservancy, Saruni Mara is an incredible place to spot animals in a protected wildlife area. Located just a 40 minute game drive from the nearest airstrip, the lodge is the only small boutique lodge in the Masai Mara.
There are just five beautiful cottages, one family villa and one private villa, all luxuriously decorated with a distinct theme, featuring breezy decks with breathtaking views.
The conservancy is owned by the Maasai, and you’ll have special access to the Maasai warriors’ centuries-old wisdom of the wildlife and environment.
You’ll venture out on private safaris with professional guides and trackers, thrilling night game drives, bush walks, and enjoy visits to local Maasai markets and romantic hot air balloon rides at sunrise.
Saruni Mara is also the perfect place to relax after a long day of adventure, with a fantastic wellbeing space offering massage services, and a restaurant serving up delicious gourmet Italian food, crafted by expert chefs.
If you’d prefer a luxury tented camping experience, Saruni Wild is the perfect property. Hidden within a magical forest between Mara North Conservancy and Lemek Conservancy in the Masai Mara, Saruni Wild is surrounded by impressive game populations and exhilarating migration activity.
Located just a 40 minute game drive from the entrance to the Masai Mara National Reserve, you’ll have easy access to all the hotspots, while staying in a remote location rich in wildlife, with few other visitors around.
With only three luxury tents, featuring high class amenities and modern comforts, you’ll relish having this incredible space all to yourself, and you can even spot wildlife from your tent.
Your stay will be guided by the Maasai, who will share their deep knowledge and wisdom of the region as you venture out on day and night game drives, bush walks, and migration river crossing experiences.
You can even watch a performance of Maasai warriors dancing around the campfire, visit a local Maasai village, or partake in the unique Warrior Academy Program for kids.
Health & Safety in the Masai Mara
In general, Kenya is a safe country to visit as a traveller, with relative political stability.
However, like with many tourist destinations, there are instances of petty theft and pick-pocketing, particularly in the cities. Keep valuables out of sight, avoid walking alone at night and use taxis booked through your guide or hotel.
In the Masai Mara, you can ensure your safety by listening to your driver and guide’s instructions at all times. They are the experts and it’s their job to keep you safe on safari.
It’s also important to remember to stay hydrated, wear sunscreen and a hat, never keep food in your room or tent (to avoid unwanted visits from the wildlife), and never go swimming in rivers or walking around the reserve by yourself.
Read our Safari Safety Guide for more information on safari safety and etiquette, and read our Responsible Travel Guide to Kenya for tips on responsible and sustainable travel in Kenya.
Vaccinations & medications
Visit your doctor at least six to eight weeks before your departure to ensure you have all necessary (or recommended) vaccinations before your trip.
Malaria in present in Kenya, so malarial medication should be taken before, during and after your trip. You should also use strong mosquito repellent, and wear long, loose clothing to protect against mosquito and insect bites.
There is a low risk of yellow fever in some parts of Kenya, and a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required if your are arriving from a country with a high risk of yellow fever. Visit the FitForTravel website for more information on vaccinations and malaria in Kenya.
Read the Wayfairer Travel Guide to Kenya for more practical information on travelling to Kenya.
What to pack for a safari holiday in the Masai Mara
It’s tempting to overpack for a safari holiday in Kenya, however you only need a few essentials to come prepared for the adventure of a lifetime.
Note that domestic flights usually have luggage limited to 20 kilograms per person and it’s best to use a soft case or holdall to maximise space.
Here's our advice on what you should pack for a safari holiday in the Masai Mara:
- Clothing in neutral colours and light fabrics which are easy to layer up, as morning and evening game drives can get cold. Avoid blue or black clothing as these colours attract tsetse flies, which have a nasty bite and spread disease. Military-style camouflage clothing is not permitted.
- Long sleeved shirts and long trousers to protect from the sun and insect bites. Kenyans tend to dress conservatively, so knee-length pants and skirts and shirts that cover the shoulders and midriff are best, even outside the national parks.
- Comfortable walking shoes that have been worn-in (to avoid nasty blisters).
- Swimwear and clothes for water activities.
- Hat and sunglasses.
- Toiletries such as sun cream, insect repellent, after-sun, bite relief cream and lip balm.
- Binoculars and camera equipment (bring more memory than you think you need).
- Reusable water bottle to limit waste, though note that tap water in Kenya is not drinkable unless your water bottle has a filtration system.
- Multi-way travel adaptor. Kenya uses plug type G (three rectangular pins). The standard voltage is 240 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
- Supplies for local community projects. Take a look the Pack for a Purpose page for Kenya, which recommends supplies which you can bring to donate and drop off at partnering hotels, camps and lodges.
Note: Kenya has an outright ban on plastic bags. All travellers entering Kenya will be required to leave any plastic bags at the entry points, including duty-free plastic bags and the small ziplock bags generally used to carry toiletries. We request that you seek alternative carrier bags do not carry plastic bags whilst visiting Kenya, as there are strict penalties for those found in possession of them upon inspection.
Other places to visit on your Masai Mara safari holiday
Kenya and east Africa is an incredible region, packed with wildlife, natural wonders and fascinating cultures. We recommend combining your Masai Mara safari with other top destinations in Kenya, see the gorillas of east Africa, or end your holiday on the beaches of Zanzibar.
Other destinations in Kenya
If you’d like to get off the beaten track, we recommend heading to the wild northern lands of Samburu, where you can go in search of the ‘Samburu 5’, including the Grevy’s Zebra, Reticulated Giraffe, Beisa Oryx, Gerenuk and Somali Ostrich, which can only be found in this part of Kenya.
You can also experience the colourful culture of the Samburu tribe, go on a thrilling walking safari, and camp out under the stars of northern Kenya.
Another off-grid destination is Laikipia, home to spectacular scenery, special wildlife encounters, and dedicated conservationists working tirelessly to preserve the Kenyan bush. Venture into the bush on foot on a unique camel safari experience, where you’ll camp in the remote bushland and keep watch for elephants, lions, giraffes, wild dogs, oryx and even leopards.
If you’d like to relax at the end your Masai Mara safari, head to Diani Beach on the southern Kenya coast, where you can lounge on white sandy beaches, and explore the dazzling marine life with snorkelling and diving expeditions.
Other destinations in Africa
You can see the most iconic sites of east Africa by combining your Masai Mara safari with a trip to Rwanda's Parc National des Volcans (Volcanoes National Park), to track wild mountain gorillas.
You’ll trek through the dense forest of Rwanda with an expert guide, and once you find the mountain gorillas, you’ll have up to one special hour in their presence. It’s a truly magical experience that we promise you’ll never forget.
We think the best way to end your east African adventure is with a blissful week in Zanzibar, a tropical paradise of white powdery beaches and turquoise waters.
You can explore the the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stone Town where you'll wander the maze of alleyways and discover the rich history, go diving and snorkelling to find manta rays and colourful marine life, or simply relax on the stunning beaches or in a luxurious infinity pool overlooking the ocean.
Plan your Masai Mara safari holiday in Kenya