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Hidden Masai Mara – the top five lodges for escaping the crowds

The Masai Mara is probably the most famous game reserve in all of Africa and one of the greatest safari destinations. The Masai Mara is home to The Big Five as well as a host of other game and around sixty species of birds of prey. The Mara also holds a rich cultural heritage. Home to the Mara tribe, they still inhabit the lands and their relationship with the land and the game is an important element of any visit to the Masai Mara.

Every year between July and August, the Masai Mara is the site of one of the seven wonders of the natural world, The Great Migration.  Nearly two thousand wildebeest, zebras and gazelles cross the mara from the Serengeti in search of the lush green grass. This is an epic sight, often because of the river crossing where the animals are often caught by crocodiles or on land by other predators.

These incredible sights tend to come with a downside and the popularity of the Mara can mean that it’s hard to avoid the crowds or to have a truly authentic experience. This is why it’s particularly important to work with a specialist operator who know the best places to stay in the Mara away from the crowds. Read on for our pick of the best places to experience the hidden Masai Mara. 


Naibor is a luxury tented camp deep in the heart of the Masai Mara game reserve. The word naibor means ‘space’ in the Mara language and this camp is surrounded by wide open spaces as far as the eye can see.  Situated on the banks of the Talek river, nestled in a woodland grove, it is secluded, exclusive and far from the crowds of tourists yet just minutes from the site of some spectacular wildebeest crossing during the Great Migration.

The style here is discreet and elegant with classic safari style and all the barefoot luxury of the best safari camps. The tented suites allow guests privacy and yet complete immersion in the natural world. Daily game drives invite encounters with all of the Big Five plus plenty of other game. Return to a delicious meal overlooking the river and its resident pod of hippos and relax with a drink in the evening as you listen to the sounds of the bush outside.

Angama Mara

Angama is an exclusive-use tented camp in the heart of the Masai Mara. Offering just four private suites, the camp hosts a maximum of eight guests meaning that you can have a truly intimate experience, away from the crowds. Angama is set on the site of some of the most romantic scenes from the film Out of Africa.

You can even create the iconic scene from the movie poster and enjoy a romantic picnic on the crest of a hill overlooking the plains of the Mara. The tented suites are decorated with the classic red of the Mara and all feature floor to ceiling windows to make the most of the dramatic views. Guests here will enjoy a world-class safari and an exclusive experience imbued with traditional Mara culture and the best that this part of Kenya has to offer.

Serian The Original

Serian is a stunning camp located in the Mara North conservancy, which is home to only 11 camps  in the whole 80,000, meaning that you feel you have the whole conservancy to yourself. Serian means peaceful, calm, serene’ in the Masai language and this camp truly captures the essence of this. The five spacious tented suites exude classic safari style with neutral colours, dark woods and personal touches that complete the feeling of home from home.

Enjoy a bath in the bush bathroom as you look across the plains after a day out exploring the bush. Guests have exclusive use of their own private vehicle, departing early in the morning with their guide and a picnic breakfast and lunch – this is truly al fresco dining in the best possible sense. Serian encapsulates everything that is wonderful about Kenya and the Masai Mara in particular. From the safari experience to the warmth of the staff and the feel of the accommodation and its remote location, this is one of the best lodges in the conservancy.

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Hemingways Ol Seki Mara

A luxury camp of just nine tented suite, Hemingway’s Ol Seki is situated in the heart of the Naibosho Conservancy and entry is limited to guests staying in the conservancy, which allows for a truly private safari experience. The camp is small and personal and so each day is tailored to suit their guests, there is no typical day and this part of the charm of the camp. Each tent sits high on a vantage point and offers 270 degree views across the Mara and a private plunge pool.

The design is classic safari style with locally-sourced fabrics and furniture. Food here is something special with exquisite and wild cuisine served in a classic and glamourous setting. From elegant dinners to bush breakfasts and sundowner snacks, the offering here is exceptional. Enjoy daily game drives, guided walks-for an up close and personal safari experience, community visits and even hot air balloon rides. For a classic safari experience in a remote and private corner of the Mara, Hemingways Ol Seki is an excellent choice.

Mara Nyika Camp

Nyika Mara is a small, intimate camp located in the Naboisho Conservancy. Nyika means ‘large or great plains’ in the Mara language and the camp is perfectly positioned looking over wide sweeping plains. There are just four tented suites, sitting under umbrella-thorn trees, ensuring an exclusive and private experience for the guests evocative of a treehouse under canvas.

The suites are decorated in an elegant, neutral style, the rustic furniture complimented by opulent antiques. Head out on daily game drives in search of the Big Five plus zebra, giraffe, cheetah and much more. Conservation and sustainable tourism are at the heart of Nyika and each stay supports over 500 Masai families with a sustainable livelihood as well as encourage conservation of this vital part of the earth’s ecosystem. For a luxurious yet authentic safari experience in an intimate corner of the Masai Mara.  

Simon Williams

Simon Williams is Director of Humboldt Travel. Humboldt Travel is a luxury travel company specialising in tailor made holidays to Latin America, Africa and Asia. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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  1. Last year I had a quick look at accommodation in the Masai Mara and wasn’t looking at the right options. These would suit us better.

  2. I’ve seen so much fantastic film of the Great Migration that wanting to see it live and first hand has almost become part of my DNA. Another ambition has always been to stay in a tented camp.

  3. On our last safari we had our own private vehicle for the first time ever. To be honest we usually have a limited number of game drives and it makes such a difference when the driver knows what you want to see. When you have 6 people in a vehicle it usually ends up with each drive being a compromise which doesn’t fully satisfy anybody.

  4. Personally, I would be as interested in learning about the ways of the Mara tribe as I would in seeing the wildlife. We’re losing the knowledge of these indigenous peoples too rapidly. There’s a lot of their knowledge that we could use, even with all our modern technology.

  5. I’m glad you mentioned over 60 species of birds, too often Africa’s bird life is neglected. Don’t forget to look up when you are in the Masai Mara.

    1. Actually you don’t have to look up sometimes you see birds on the savanna. I don’t know if the Masai Mara has Secretary Birds but I’ve always enjoyed spotting them on my jaunts to Africa. I know there are theories on how they got their name but I like the one about the inspiration being secretary’s hairpins.

  6. Exactly we go to the Masai Mara to escape the crowds. If we wanted to see people we’d head for the city. The Masai Mara is where you go for the wildlife.

  7. Great article! The Mara is undisputedly the place to visit for an all-inclusive safari. The wide range of elegant lodges and tented camps in the park turn a traveler’s dreams into reality. This place never disappoints.

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