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“Serena Mara Lodge, game drive, balloon ride and champagne breakfast”

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Mara Serena Safari Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 2 May 2012

On the 3rd day of my 5 day safari trip my husband and I stayed at the The Serena Mara Lodge in the middle of the Masai Mara. En route from the previous lodge we saw lots of Masai tribesmen and women along the way wearing vibrant clothes and carrying spears. These people look incredible and are really tall and thin and graceful. It was a bit strange seeing some of them in traditional vibrant Masai clothing or rags, herding goats and talking into the latest model mobile phones. As we entered the reserve we stopped at a checkpoint, where we were approached by colourful tribes’ people begging us to buy their handmade jewellery. There were hundreds of monkeys scampering all around and beautiful exotically coloured birds. Once in the reserve we came across elephants, zebra, rhinos and wildebeest. The wildebeest quickly became my favourite because they were so funny, as we passed them they would all turn round to face the minibus and it looked like they had a really dirty look on their long strange faces, really comical. We stopped at a famous crossing point where the herds of animals cross the river into the Masai Mara from the Tanzanian Serengeti. We went for a walk with a squaddie with a huge rifle which he was worryingly really clumsy and careless with. The squaddie showed us some crocodiles across the bank and a huge herd of hippos wallowing in the water. We were entertained by two tone red and violet lizards performing weird dances to their mates. We then boarded our vehicle again and came across huge ostrich and lions and we screeched to a halt as a huge black spitting cobra slithered across our path.

We reached the Serena Mara lodge and were welcomed by much needed fragrant damp flannels and cool drinks. This was a really wonderful lodge with swimming pools and wonderful views over the Mara. That evening we sat out with drinks after a wonderful meal and were entertained by watching buffalo and baboons visiting a small waterhole close by. We were also entertained by the sight of lots of mongoose, and unknown furry little animals, beautiful birds, lizards, butterflies and insects in close proximity to us whilst we were lounging by the pool.
After a really peaceful sleep, we got up at 5 o clock as we had a balloon ride booked. So once dressed we set off with our pilot whose name was JP to the site where the balloon would depart from. It was pitch black outside and the plan was to be in the balloon to watch the sun rise. We watched the crew inflate the balloon and then JP, Steve and I and two other tourists and a couple of staff for ballast got into the balloon. Once high up we were struck by the silence and the incredible views and we watched the sun rise, it was amazing. Unfortunately there weren’t masses of wildlife to be seen although we did see huge herds of zebra and wildebeest. We were ballooning for about an hour and then we set down on the Mara. JP had radioed ahead to some Serena catering staff that had arrived by jeep and had prepared a wonderful champagne breakfast in the middle of the jungle. It was just like a restaurant as we could order anything we wanted to be cooked there and then, bacon, eggs, sausages etc or we could have any omelette we wanted, juices, cereals, fruit and of course there was loads of champagne. We sat at tables complete with white tablecloths and silver cutlery and ate, drank lots of champagne and got to know the other passengers, who were a lovely couple from Columbia. We then drove back to the lodge where we slept off the champagne and afterwards had a lovely lunch and then set off for the evening game drive.

This game drive was incredible we saw so many amazing animals’ lot and lots of zebra, giraffes (fighting), elephants (accompanied by sweet and humorous looking babies), wart hogs, vultures, jackals and a pride of lions sleeping off a meal of buffalo the bloody carcass of which was laying close by. Just as we were approaching the lodge on the way back Dominic slammed the brakes on as there was a lioness crossing right in front of us. The lioness stopped really close to us (within two strides eating distance) and just stood there for ages looking around not being bothered by us being there at all, and then she just turned and it looked like she was smiling at us, then lay down in the long grass. We then headed off to the Lodge for sadly our last evening in the Mara. Once again the meal and the hospitality of the staff was really good and I would thoroughly recommend this lodge to anyone.

  • Stayed: July 2011, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank iloverock
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 28 April 2012

The first thing that struck me from the moment we arrived at the Mara Serena Lodge was the view. There is a spectacular view of the Maasai Mara from every room! We saw giraffes, warthogs and various ungulates just by gazing out from the balcony. The sunrises in the mornings were absolutely breathtaking. My group also enjoyed the bonfire that was built near the main lodge in the evenings, perfect for enjoying a few drinks and listening to the hotel's guitar player. The beds were comfortable and the food was pleasing towards most palettes.I would like to go back and try the hot air balloon ride safari.

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled with friends
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2  Thank cheekytiki
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 April 2012

This was my third stay at the Mara Serena, and I loved every moment. My only advice is that if you are handicapped in any way, ask for a room near the lodge, as the rooms are built on the side of a hill, and it can be quite a climb from the lower ones. The lodge itself is spacious and the food excellent. It is well situated for exciting game drives along the Mara River.

  • Stayed: August 2011, travelled with friends
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3  Thank lajollabob
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 April 2012

What a location; right above the crossing point of the Great Migration; Loved the pool and having margaritas while looking over the Mara plains. The rooms all have views I think of the Mara River below. The buffets are very good quality. The staff try to give top class service. The drivers are top quality also. Overall a fantastic experience.

Room Tip: Ask for a night drive; we got lucky and saw a kill bty a pride of lions on a wildebeest
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  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank njenga n
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 April 2012

My husband and I stayed at the Mara Serena last September.it was heaven...
The place is so comfortable,cozy and exactly my type of place.
The evening guitar singing with the guitarist Michael is awesome!!
The view from the rooms is awesome.Just sitting on your bed you can see herds of elephants and giraffe in the wild which is an experience words cannot express!
The staff is very courteous and smiling.they even talk with you creating such a rapport.
It is worth every penny.
The rooms are beautifully made,clean.equipped,.no mosquitoes.

Room Tip: rooms 51/50/49/48.they are the best.
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  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Animalover911
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 April 2012

My husband and I stayed at the Mara Serena Safari Lodge for five nights in late March 2012. While a bit on the pricey side (for us), it was a cozy, comfortable choice. We'd had difficulty getting answers to most of our questions about costs beforehand, so I will include such information in this review for the benefit of others.

We arrived at the unpaved Mara Serena Air Strip in a little 11-passenger prop-plane, via Air Kenya. Air fare from Nairobi was $334 per person, round-trip. A driver from the lodge was waiting when we landed. We paid a $700 park entrance fee (2 people X 5 nights) before leaving the air strip.

For $160 (that is $40 per person, each way) the lodge provided our round trip transfers for the 1 or 2 mile drive between the air strip and lodge. Our room was $335 per night and included our wonderful meals, but not drinks. Three small bottles of water per day were provided in our room. They were not chilled, but were fine for brushing our teeth. We ordered cold water with lunch for 270 Ksh per liter. A bottle of coca cola was 130 Ksh. Cocktails started around 700 Ksh, Tusker beer was 340 Ksh, and bottles of wine were 2300 Ksh and up. As is obvious by now, some charges were in shillings, and some were in dollars.

The whole hotel complex was just darling! Our ride brought us to the center of the Mara Serena Safari Lodge, which consisted of the reception area, gift shop, restaurant, and lounge. Just outside the lounge was a sitting area with several natural terraces overlooking the swimming pool below. Two walkways met in this central region. Paved in natural stone, they were lined with inter-connected cottages. The outermost side of each cottage offered long-range views of the rift valley from a mini-balcony. It was ideal for viewing game out on the savannah. From our balcony, we immediately spotted a heard of giraffes with wart-hogs not far behind, and gazelles grazing near one of the water holes. We had taken our own binoculars, but they can be borrowed from reception if needed.

The rooms are small, but adequate, and decorated to look like a cute ideation of Maasai huts. House-keeping tends to each room twice a day, so supplies of shampoo, shower gel, moisturizer, insecticide towelettes, clean linens, and bottled water are always available. Storage space for our belongings was more than enough. Every evening after dinner, we found the mosquito net drawn about our turned-down bed. There was a phone for wake-up calls, but no television nor air conditioning in the room. We did request a hair-dryer and oscillating fan for added comforts.

We went for 1 - 2 game drives per day ($80 per person, per game drive), and had seen four of "The Big Five" by our second game drive! We never did see the elusive leopard, but saw lots of other big cats instead. We were able to closely observe several prides of lionesses with cubs, solitary male lions, a pair of adolescent male cheetahs, and cerval cats. We also enjoyed spotting water buck, gazelles, cape buffalo, impalas, giraffes, wart-hogs, jackals, hyenas, topis, zebras, herds of elephants, a black rhino, hippos, crocodiles, baboons, ox peckers, and small antelope known as kirk’s dik-diks. Our driver was Paul; he was not only a great person to chat with, but he really knows the Kenyan wildlife and his way around the Mara too!

Besides game drives, we also took a nature walk ($15 per person) with a Maasai man named Reko. Later, Reko gave a lecture about his people, followed by a Maasai dance performance ($10 per person.) Their singing is more of a chant. It sounded scary to me initially, but after hearing it several times over our five day stay, it grew on me and soon I actually enjoyed the sound! The dancing always concluded with lots of jumping, and they took us by the hand to jump with them. We felt completely ridiculous doing this at first, but by our 4th day, we rather enjoyed the jumping too!

Twice we attended breakfast by the hippo pool ($40 per person, each breakfast) and we had one dinner in the bush ($45 pp.) Massage services were available, but we did not utilize this amenity. We did tour the “Hard Rock” Maasai Village ($70 per person.) Absolutely everything could be paid on credit card, if you wish, except for postage stamps purchased at the gift shop, and souvenirs bought at the Maasai Village. We were told that even tips to the game driver could be paid on credit, but we didn‘t choose that route.

We booked this hotel through AfricaPoint.com. With them, my one complaint would be that they didn’t tell us there were less expensive options for air/hotel/transfers/game-drive combo-packages. We talked to other guests who had utilized this option. They said that it hadn’t been mentioned on the Mara Serena Safari Lodge website, and they only learned about it through their booking agent. I think we could have saved a lot of money, had we packaged it all together, but we didn’t know we had this option.

Room Tip: Every room has a view of the savannah.
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  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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7  Thank CGGlobeTrekkers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 March 2012

Great view of the mara, beautiful room, clean and spacious. hardly any mosquitos.

  • Stayed: September 2011
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Thank amran k
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Mara Serena Safari Lodge

Address: C14, Keekorok, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Region: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Masai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #20 of 146 Speciality Lodging in Masai Mara National Reserve
Price Range: $374 - $981 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Mara Serena Safari Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 74
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Mara Serena Safari Lodge, set on a saddle of a hill, overlooks the 1,800 square km of rolling plains at an altitude of 1625 meters at the Masai Mara Triangle, one of the world's richest wildlife sanctuaries. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Mara Serena Safari Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Mara Serena Safari Lodge Kenya/Masai Mara National Reserve

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