I know there but are many camps in the fabulous Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya, including many that would be far more luxurious (and expensive) than Fig Tree Camp, but for the money and experience I think it rates as well as any. Here's why with photos to accompany the comments.
Fig Tree Camp is operated by Mada Hotels, which specializes in game camps in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. It sits on a bend in the Talek River with the vehicles parked on one side and the camp itself on the other side of a pedestrian bridge.
We were here in the dry season so that was not a lot of water below. However, there was enough to keep the largest crocodilian I have ever seen, dwarfing even the largest American alligators, happy. He was there faithfully each day sunning himself on the shoreline, perhaps dreaming of the return of the wildebeests.
He was famous too. When we returned to the Serena Hotel in Nairobi and the desk clerk asked where we'd journeyed from and we told him, he immediately asked if we'd seen the camp's famous crocodile.
The chalets and tents are, thankfully, high up on the banks of the river, well away from smiley. We had tent #2 which was spacious, had a fridge and nice bathroom. The best thing about it was the outdoor patio where we could sit and enjoy a glass of wine.
Across the river was a tree that had a colony of weaver birds. The males of the species put on an endlessly entertaining display as they clung upside down to the nests they had created and fluttered their wings, hoping to attract one of the drab females to move in. The females were very fussy and while they did inspect the nests as the male waited outside in trepidation they almost invariably declared them unsuitable and flew off. I know it's personification, but you could actually see the look of dejection that came over the males when this happened.
For wifi you needed to go to the bar, but hey that's not the end of the world, having a cool Tusker or White Top while checking emails. Or you could do it by the pool - a lot safer than a dip in the river.
The meals at Fig Tree Camp are buffet style, like all the places we stayed in Kenya, and by buffet standards, very good with a wide selection of dishes to cater to the many different nationalities that visit these game camps. I probably ate more Indian dishes while in Kenya than other other type cuisine. Unlike Egypt, nobody in our group had any stomach or intestinal problems from the food, although we did drink only bottled water.
The Masai people are, of course, native to the Masai Mara area and some them wandered about the grounds of Fig Tree Camp dressed in their traditional garb. Costumes would not be the right word because this is how most of the Masai men dress every day. They do expect to be tipped for posing for a photo, but how often do you get the opportunity to get a shot with a Masai with the Talek River in the background?
Not long after the sun goes down the camp puts out food scraps for genets that make a ritual of coming to the bridge railing for their nightly snack.
Of course the real measure of a game camp is how much game did you see and how many species. In three game drives we saw all of the big five including the elusive leopard. We also came across several cheetahs including one that had just killed a young wildebeest. There was also a fresh Cape buffalo kill by a pride of lions. We got face to face with many lions. We saw infant suckling elephants, a spotted hyena pup and a very young masai giraffe. In terms of birds we saw a number of the top draws for birders on the Masai Mara including a secretary bird, saddle-billed stork, hammerkops and a rare wooly-necked stork as well as the national bird of Kenya, the lilac-breasted roller.
Finally, Fig Tree Camp is home base the ballooning company Adventures Aloft. We had a fantastic early morning balloon ride of the savannah followed by a champagne breakfast.
All told, I really don't think we could have asked for more, both in terms of what we experienced and the price we paid.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Fig Tree Camp, located in the prestigious Masai Mara National Reserve, is a luxurious lodge with top-class amenities and service. You have a reason to adventure, we give you the hospitality to go with it. This 72 roomed property is ideal for game drives and nature walks. Our rooms comprise of the superior Ngaboli tents, executive standard tents and lodge rooms, all fitted with facilities to make your stay as comfortable as possible. The Talek River also snakes its way around the camp, to give you that serene and tranquil feel from the hustle and bustle of the city. We do hope you enjoy your stay with us. Welcome to Fig Tree Camp. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Fig Tree Camp Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
- Fig Tree Camp Kenya, Africa