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Tucked away in the Mara Naboisho Conservancy is the intimate and permanent tent camp Encounter Mara. As mentioned in my post on my 1st safari experience, Encounter Mara had the privilege and (not so) difficult task of setting the bar for my first safari. Although I was blown away by all my safari experiences in Africa, Encounter Mara not only set the bar but stayed on top.
With that here are 5 reasons why Encounter Mara is your best bet for a Kenya Safari:
Encounter Mara is Quiet
Encounter Mara is located in the Mara Naboisho Conservancy and not in the Maasai Mara park where you will find plenty of vehicles spooking your animals. At first we thought the quiet was the norm but after spending time in the southern part of the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater we realized Encounter Mara’s quiet surroundings is a real treat. Although we didn’t see the animals in quantity like we did at Ndutu, to be on your own was worth it. The Conservancy has all big five animals minus rhinos but you can pay the $80 per-person per-day fee and head to the reserve if you are searching for your “big 5”.
Encounter Mara Hires Local
Like many camps in the area, Encounter Mara employees local Maasai people to work their camp. Although this is an agreement with the Maasai, the number of Maasai working at Encounter Mara is greater than the other camps we visited. From our awesome guide Dixon to the waiters and soldiers escorting us to our tent at night, the Maasai employees at Encounter Mara were great. This was most evident on Valentine’s Day when the Massai men got together to sing and dance. At first I thought this was something they did every night for tourists but turns out they actually really enjoy performing – and it was awesome.
Encounter Mara Eats
The food at Encounter Mara. Wow. Although we ate like kings at Chaka Camp and Isoitok, the food at Encounter Mara was tops. The fact that they created such awesome dishes in a tent camp is beyond impressive. We took a tour behind the scenes one day and got a look at the kitchen to see just how they pull these incredible meals off. It looked like a professional kitchen in a restaurant, complete with a head chef.
Encounter Mara is Eco-Friendly
But I mean, can’t every tent camp claim this? Although it may sound like a catch phrase we took a tour behind the scenes to see exactly what it means for Encounter Mara to be eco-friendly. From an massive solar powered bank of batteries to a complex solar system to heat their water, the environmentally friendly setup at Encounter Mara is impressive.
Encounter Mara Friendly Staff
Lastly, the Encounter Mara staff was great. We enjoyed long talks with Collin, Encounter Mara manager, about life in Africa and his passion for his bloodline in it. We would later get to experience this history up close in Ladysmith South Africa while traveling with Rovos Rail. There Collin’s passion for his past and people came to light.
Our guide Dixon, a Massai local, has passion for Encounter Mara surroundings – which was clear every time we went for a drive. Furthermore, his skills as a guide and spotter was by far the best we had in Africa. At Ndutu and the Ngorongoro Crater our guide only had to spot large gatherings of other vehicles to find animals. Dixon did not have this luxury and clearly used his knowledge of the land and animals to his advantage.
Then there was David, our waiter at Encounter Mara who gave us Swahili and Massai language lessons and was beyond courteous. He also brought us beer while we relaxed in the camps hide and watched zebras and impalas stroll by. That can make anyone great in my books.
For its seclusion, services, care for the environment, and warm people, Encounter Mara is a choice camp for those looking to safari in Kenya. Even if you are coming to visit the Serengeti or Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, Encounter Mara can offer a similar experience minus the crowds and price making the journey about the land, animals, and people instead of ticking off a list and fighting the crowds.
What say you?
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My awesome time at Encounter Mara was made possible by The Safari Partners through a travel professional educational trip. Although my time at Encounter Mara was discounted, the experience, opinions, and thoughts are my own.