Hotel review: Mara Bushtops, Kenya

Kenya has long been on my must-go list, largely because I’d love to spend some time on the vast Masai Mara, preferably staying in a luxurious game lodge and spending my days spotting the Big Five. Today, I’m delighted to have Kate Marston‘s fabulous review of the amazing Mara Bushtops  in Kenya – it sounds like a fantastic place, and reading through this I was really quite envious. 

This was our second trip to Kenya. Our first was in December/January the previous year and the land was very dry. This time we decided to visit in late Feb when the rain was due. After landing at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport we took a taxi to Wilson Airport for our first flight in a small aircraft.

As we crossed the country on the short flight to the Masai Mara the rain and a thunder storm set in – what an amazing, if a little scary, experience! Having travelled by mini bus on our previous trip it was a fabulous way to start and see the landscape from a different view point.

On landing at the Keekorok Airstrip we were greeted by a Mara Bushtops ranger and a Maasai guide. The truck was ready and waiting – not for an immediate drive to Mara Bushtops but with a selection of cold drinks to welcome and refresh us. We were struck by how high and green the grass was this time due to the recent rains, it was such a beautiful view being surrounded by acacia trees, hills and, we suspected, lots of animals.

After drinks we hopped in the truck for the journey through the national park to Mara Bushtops which is set just outside the park in its own private conservancy. Although not officially a “game drive”, we had the opportunity to see animals on this journey. It was a great introduction to the environment.

On arrival at Mara Bushtops we were greeted by Georget Guilbert, the camp manager, Lawrence, the assistant manager and other reception staff – we couldn’t have felt more welcome. We were shown to our tent (No 4 Dik Dik), or rather, our luxurious tent with a lovely comfy bed (complete with hot water bottle for those chilly nights) and a large decking area on which to sip our sundowner cocktails or to take a relaxing dip in the hot tub with snacks and a gin & tonic. There was a shower indoors and a shower outdoors – in case we fancied showering while watching the warthogs trot by! During our five-night stay we also witnessed Thompson gazelles and baboons bouncing past the decking and lions could be heard roaring away during the night. It was so exciting to hear the different sounds and try to identify the animals. We were told that giraffe and zebra quite often visit but unfortunately we didn’t see any.

We went on early morning game drives, a full-day game drive and evening game drives – and we were lucky enough to see the Big Five (buffalo, rhino, elephant, lion, leopard) by the end of the second day. We saw the leopard snoozing in tree with its kill in the branch above and we kept our distance when a lion was tracking a herd of topi. The cheetahs, my favourite, were beautiful – we saw them on two separate occasions, each with a tiny fluffy cub. During our full day game drive we took lunch under the cooling shade of an acacia tree and watched the butterflies flutter by.

Food at Mara Bushtops was absolutely amazing – from the delicious hot chocolate brought to our tent before a morning game drive through to three-course lunches and dinner – there is even an underground wine cellar stocked with a vast amount of bottles. We always headed for the dining room for dinner although it can also be taken on your private decking. We preferred to chat with Georget, Lawrence, Philip (our ranger guide) and the other guests about animals sights of the day. One evening we also sat round the fire in front of the salt lick.

During the day we saw zebra, crested cranes, gazelle and a host of other animals visit the salt lick. As Mara Bushtops is located in a private conservancy we were also able to go on a walking safari, where our Maasai guide, Joshua, made us toothbrushes from olive branches and taught us to recognise different animal tracks and birds.

In the afternoons, we relaxed by the pool or on our decking, hoping for a lion to sneak past. We also devoured the cake and tea and coffee served in the reception area – apparently anytime is tea time in Kenya!

We were extremely sad to leave Mara Bushtops and all the people that help to make it such a special place. We hope to return soon.

 

 

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