If you like a little luxury on safari, you’ll love Sand River! Leather seating, Persian rugs, billiards… this property provides a glamorous 1920s-style base from which to go on safari in the wildlife-rich Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Sand River Masai Mara is owned and run by Elewana Collection. This company operates 16 high-quality properties across Kenya and Tanzania. Its name is Swahili for ‘harmony’, and Elewana is passionate about working with local communities to create a positive impact while respecting the environment. The accommodation at Sand River can be booked on a full-board or game-package basis. Both include all meals, a selection of alcoholic and soft drinks, and a laundry service, while the latter also features shared and scheduled game drives, sundowners, bush breakfasts, and transfers between the camp and the local airstrip. The camp is open all year round.
Access & location:
The camp is accessed via road transfer from the local airstrip. Its site is made up of two sites – Sand River and Little Sand River – amidst trees and close to the Sand river, within the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Accommodation & facilities at Sand River Masai Mara:
Guest accommodation consists of 16 tents over the two sites. The larger site has ten tents, while Little Sand River has six. All tents are positioned in the shade of trees and constructed from timber and canvas. Inside, the camp’s 1920s theme is very much in evidence, with each standard-size tent offering a gorgeous four-poster bed or twin beds, bedside tables and lighting, sumptuous seating in leather and brocade, a storage chest as a table, Persian rugs, and beautifully draped curtains – you really will feel as though you have traveled back in time! The en-suite facilities comprise a flush toilet, twin washbasins and mirrors, and a bathtub with shower attachment. All fittings are simply exquisite, recalling Hollywood in their glamorous style. Four tents contain a day bed that can be used as an extra bed. All tents have great views across the narrow sand river in front, which often sees a lot of wildlife passing through so enjoy a rest on your veranda and let the game come to you. The family unit has all the features of a standard tent, in addition to a twin bedroom for children and a separate seating area where families can relax together.
Both communal or mess tents at Sand River Masai Mara are made out of canvas, supported on sturdy timber frames. Each has a lavish lounge and dining room, in addition to outdoor dining areas. The lounges feature comfortable chairs, sofas, and other seating in a variety of fabrics including leather. Classic storage chests function as coffee tables, while telescopes and Persian rugs add a little explorer style! Both dining rooms contain very smart leather chairs around individual tables, while additional dining furniture is set up in the grounds. The views throughout both sites are superb – down to the Sand river with its resident wildlife and across to the game-rich plains. The larger camp also has a billiards room, as well as a plunge pool flanked by inviting sunloungers! This is the perfect place to relax in between excursions into the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Activities at Sand River Masai Mara:
Sand River offers well-guided activities within the MMNR:
Expertly guided game drives- Game drives within the reserve are available during early morning, late afternoon into evening, and as a full-day excursion, complete with picnic lunch. Whatever the time of year, this is one of the best places to see the Big Five – lion, rhino, leopard, elephant, and buffalo! Other wildlife frequently spotted includes cheetah, zebra, giraffe, and loads of other predators and herbivores. The bird count here is also seriously impressive – remember to pack your binos and enjoy looking out for over 470 species such as ostrich, raptors, the secretary bird, and all sorts of colorful parrots besides. From July to October, the MMNR plays host to the famous Great Migration, when huge herds of wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle storm through in search of food, with plenty of big cats stalking them on the plains.
Hot air balloon safaris- This is an extra cost. As well as enjoying vehicle safaris from camp, you can take to the skies in a hot air balloon, for the most spectacular views imaginable! The balloon rises shortly before dawn, and you’ll have a bird’s-eye view over the reserve for a couple of hours before you descend to a champagne breakfast in the bush – a real treat.
Cultural experiences- These include a trip to a local school that’s supported by Land & Life Foundation, the charity operated by Elewana with Nairobi’s Cheli & Peacock safari company. Looking around the school makes for a fascinating add-on activity to your safari in the MMNR.
*This property is unfenced and located in a wildlife area, so large and potentially dangerous animals do pass through. If you opt to stay here, always be alert when walking around the camp and request for a member of staff to escort you if you have any concerns. Any guest is escorted after dark as a matter of course.