Saruni Mara is terrific for travellers who want the best of both worlds – the hectic pace of the Masai Mara National Reserve and the relative peace of a private conservancy. This really is a brilliant base for exploring two game-rich regions!
ACCESS & LOCATION:
This location is remote compared with other properties in the area and travellers hoping to see a lot of the wildebeest Great Migration might prefer camps closer to the Maasai Mara National Reserve. However, if you are happy to be based away from the tourist trail and you are looking for a more serene safari experience, Saruni Mara is absolutely ideal! The property is approached via a road that winds along the plains of the private conservancy before ascending the hill.
ACCOMMODATION & FACILITIES:
The main communal lounge and dining area, and all the other buildings, are situated in gorgeous garden grounds featuring well-kept lawns and neat paved pathways. The main communal area, known as Kuru House, has stone walls, wooden beams and a thatch roof for a very homely appearance! It is open fronted, so guests can enjoy amazing views over the grounds and into the conservancy. Inside, there are some comfortable sofas and armchairs around a coffee table, with a fireplace for cooler climes. The palette is mainly earthy tones, with splashes of interesting patterns and wildlife prints adorning the walls. The dining area contains formal chairs and a large table made out of old railway sleepers! This provides a very characterful focal point. Further seating is available on a delightful deck close to Kuru House. There is also an office, a shop selling a good mix of curios, a library with plenty of wildlife books, and a Maasai Wellbeing Space or spa run by trained Maasai masseuses.
The guest accommodation at Saruni Mara consists of five charming cottages, one family villa and one private villa, set either side of Kuru House and well apart from each other within the garden grounds. They are similar in appearance to Kuru House and each has a distinct theme – The Artist’s Studio, The Observatory, The Literary Room, The Photographer’s Studio and The Love Shack! All are spacious and comfortable, with shiny wooden floors beneath woven rugs and intriguing pieces of antique furniture that recall the colonial era. The cottages have either a double bed or twin beds, plus their own lounge area with sofa or armchairs, writing desk and chair, luggage rack, and wardrobe incorporating a safe. The en-suite facilities are enclosed in a section to one side – here, there is a flush toilet, twin ceramic washbasins, and power shower with hot running water! Each cottage also has its own veranda, perfect for relaxing and enjoying the views. The Family Villa is effectively a double unit, with two en-suite rooms and a large lounge, while the Private Villa is entirely self-contained – named Nyati House, it is situated in a secluded valley and is a fantastic option for groups of families hoping for a little privacy.
The lodge’s owner is Italian and this is in evidence in the food, which features some very tasty pasta dishes! Typically there is a la carte breakfast, set-menu lunch, and three-course dinner.
Saruni Mara offers an excellent assortment of activities – day and night game drives, bush walks, birding, hiking, hot air balloon safaris and cultural visits! There are also things to do for children. The game drives take place in the Mara North Conservancy, 320 sq. km of savanna and bush in addition to plenty of seasonal streams! Loads of plains animals are sighted here, as are the famous Acacia and Gorge lion prides. Guests staying at camp for three nights may venture into the Maasai Mara National Reserve too, to observe all Big Five animals and the wildebeest Great Migration from July to October!
Birding in both areas is brilliant, while bush walks through the Conservancy present the opportunity to get to know Mara North really well. Guests who like to take a hike will love trekking up Kilelioni, the Mara–Serengeti ecosystem’s highest peak! A hot air balloon safari is a wonderful way to see all this from the air, while back on the ground a visit to a local village is fascinating for learning about the life of the Maasai. Children’s activities include the Warriors Academy, which provides courses in animal tracking and other bush skills. We guarantee that no one will complain of being bored here!
The quality of guiding from Saruni Mara is truly first rate – and service standards at the lodge are equally impressive. The Maasai Wellbeing Space has a full menu of massage and spa treatments and is definitely worth a visit!