For each park it was a little bit different. Safari packages include the accommodations and you can find anything from five-star lodges (or five-star tented camps) to bring your own tent sites. Here’s where we stayed for each:
we went medium budget route (3 stars)
Kibo Safari Camp: The tents rested on concrete slabs under rain roofs which also kept them out of direct sunlight. Beds were foam with mosquito netting. A simple shower, sink and toilet were inside the tent and there was electricity until 10 pm so we could charge devices and such. Meals (not drinks) were included, a simple buffet that offered some meat, veggie options, salad, and dessert. I’d say “nothing special” but then the price wasn’t much and we were on a safari for cryin’ out loud. We could order sundowners at the bar and sit alongside a fire at night.
From the swimming pool (clean, but unused by us) you can look up right at Mount Kilimanjaro. The service is careful, like newly trained. Most are members of tribes. Some of them speak uncertain English. All smiled.
we stayed at a hotel in town
Genevieve Hotel (maybe 2 star?)
And the power went out. Not just the hotel, the whole town, and most of the night. The room was basic but clean, foam bed, mosquito net (we didn’t need to use). The bathroom was one big shower. We had a candlelight dinner, which sounds romantic but for the melting wax on my hand as we carried that candle down the steps to the dining room. The food was really not good. Mashed potatoes, some sort of powdered vegetable soup I ended up using as gravy for the potatoes. Tough beef strips in gravy, fried cabbage. It did the job. Almost. Just one night, then off to Maasai Mara.
For Maasai Mara
we went budget tented camp
Rhino Tourist Tented Camp: Two tents are set back to back on concrete slabs with cinder block enclosures for the private bathrooms between them. Very basic, painted concrete floor in a long room with a toilet, sink and a leaky hot-water shower that couldn’t fully be shut off in any of the tents (among our group). Just one big room for all. A zippered flap separated it from the rest of the tent. We had electricity until about 10 pm for charging batteries, etc. Breakfast and dinner were in a main hall (expect mosquitoes) and was quite basic: four big crockpots containing a meat dish, mashed potatoes, some form of vegetables, and rice. Breakfast was plain omelet pieces, sausages, thin pancakes/crepes, bread with jam, and coffee or tea. Not terrible. But during high season the chef insinuated they ration the sausages per person. The camp provided a box lunch during our all day game drive which was basic as well.
we went luxury tented camp (4-5 star?)
Larsen’s Tented Camp: After going the budget route, this was quite a switch. Three meals a day is too much here. A set menu with choices: a starter, soup, salad, main courses with veggies, potato, and/or rice, dessert, possible Kenyan cheese tray, Kenyan (or Kona, oddly) coffee. You won’t be hungry here. Ever. Drinks not included. We ate either in the dining tent (mosquito netting around) or out on a deck overlooking the river where you may be exposed to critters (part of the fun, I say). When the monkeys are at their worst, staff are assigned guard duty. One even has a sling shot, the snapping sound of which is enough to send them all running for cover.
The tents (20 total, almost all right on the river) were huge. Gleaming wood floors, ceiling fan (no mosquito nets, but arguably not needed), a big bed with a real mattress, a writing desk, charming lanterns at the bedside, wardrobe space. There’s a flashlight for each bedstand (the power goes out at night and parts of the day). The bath had a rain shower with separate enclosure, a large sink area with a hair dryer, and a partly shielded toilet. And a scale that lied like a damn liar… I hope.
We had coffee or tea brought to us at requested times (before sunrise on game drive days) and we drank it on the stone porch in front. The tent is under another tent which has a tented vent at the top, and the whole thing is shaded by towering trees. All walls can be opened to screens and can still be shaded by flaps from the larger tent. It’s an excellent system.
The front tent flaps MUST have their zippers fastened together with a mildly tricky wire loop. The bigger monkeys understand zippers. NEVER leave the front flap open. EVER. Once Mr. Monkey is inside, chaos takes over. Be assertive.
One game drive is included. Staff are very attentive. The pool is small but nice, and the jacuzzi was being repaired when we were here.
we went private residence in Spring Valley (5 star I say!)
Charlie’s Fine Living Estate and Spare Bedroom: We have our host Charlie to thank a thousand times over. A lovely home, housekeeper William to make coffee and breakfast for us, guards, electric fence atop the surrounding wall, a terrace overlooking the backyard which is filled with more flowers and birds than you’d believe possible. Plus some amazing hospitality from the host.
See some of my other photos and blogs from safari.
Go to the main site of The Mad Traveler for an Amboseli photo gallery and more!