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All reviews watering hole silver rated masai mara real highlight luxurious accommodation sun downer water hole game drives out of this world amazing animals infinity pool main building whole experience evening game wildebeest crossing local community early morning
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Reviewed April 18, 2017 via mobile

A '5 star' hotel standard rating simply can't do justice to the facilities on offer with this boutique lodge and conservancy package (which is, and truly does reflect 'The Spirit of the Masai Mara'). This place is committed to giving its guests the very best that can be offered in East African amazement and wildlife safari adventure, while simultaneously focusing on networking opportunities between them, the dedicated wildlife researchers working within the park, and the Maasai tribespeople living there to promote sustainable growth of their communities and conservation in their reserve. It is a truly top class wilderness experience, and a cracking (I would say the best) lodge experience in the Mara. From the moment you step from your vehicle on arrival, you are in paradise!

Without reservation I must recommend this place to those of you who seek that something truly unique in a 'game watching' safari in this awe inspiring park. You locals (if you haven't visited yet): find that special day that deserves a special memory to share with your loved ones - whoever you treat to a visit here will be forever grateful! And us overseas visitors would be all the poorer for not including 'The Spirit' in our National Parks itinerary during our East African holiday.

To all the wonderful staff: I can't try to thank everybody: From Zebedee busily smiling in the laundry unobserved, to Carlos the askari who walked us to our rooms at night (patiently spotlighting for bushbabies as well as lion or buffalo along the way), and Leonard the wonderful barman, the cheerfully accommodating chefs in the kitchen to our eagle eyed mud wrestling super encyclopedia of zoological knowledge (Silver Driver Guide and about to become Gold) Dominic, who can make a Landcruiser go anywhere without it's passengers feeling a bump, and the multi tasking super manager Jules Tatton who seems capable of putting a man on the moon, (while putting any nervous guest at ease with her calm, easy going knowledgeable energy, Kenyan anecdotes, stories and wonderful company), nothing ever was too much trouble. You guys are magic - like our own 'pop up' Mara family, with a level of attentive professionalism and manners fit to serve royalty. We are overwhelmed with our experience to the point of sadness at leaving, and look forward to the day we will return!

Exclusivity is what really sets this place apart. No buffet or 'a la Carte' repetitive drudgery here! Every delicious meal somehow relieves the need of making worn out choices from the same generic list each day, yet caters to every taste. High quality food and preparation, bread and pastries baked on site, and fresh ingredients garnished with (just this minute picked) organic vegetables and salad greens from the garden just can't be beaten. The menu can only be described as 'lavish and abundant' (whether meals came piping hot from the kitchen to the sumptuously laid out table in the lodge - or appeared as if by magic beside our dramatic 'sundowner' fire in the conservancy, (or were laid out on a trestle table under a tree in the park just as we were getting peckish during a game drive). All touring in the Mara punctuated by impossibly cold drinks perfectly prepared picnic breakfasts and scrumptious lunches (whilst watching hippos jostle for space in the world famous river setting below). Thanks Dominic, for sharing your favourite secret spots with us!

I would like to say, 'don't be surprised' by those little extra personal touches that can make a holiday so memorable - but you will be constantly surprised! (I mustn't give the game away by telling all!)

The 10 'banda' style rooms retain just a hint of that 'olden day' tented campsite look. But round ended buildings and 'makuti' thatched roofs are where any idea of 'roughing it' stops. You are pampered with modern facilities, acres of spotless viewing glass, comfort and space. And everything about the place is built to last. A seamless, spacious, well designed haven for its guests, (yet very low impact on the environment as a guided tour of the backstage infrastructure will identify). From the huge baths with a view of the waterhole to the telescopes supplied in the 'mess', and from the beautifully appointed and capable safari vehicle, you get a once in a lifetime opportunity to view the abundant wildlife that populates the stunning landscape which unfolds before the lodge, (even while the bubbles in your Prosecco - or in your warm bath soak away the aches of a long day spent in Wonderland!

And yes, we had a lion right outside our room roaring at night to mark his territory, and saw all the 'Big 5' before breakfast. (but after frequent visits to the Mara since leaving my Kenyan birthplace in 1978 I have almost come to expect that here!) What really makes this place unique is its energy towards its guests, it's private conservancy and the responsible proactive relationship with the people it shares the land with and employs. (And not being driven around in a 'rally van', with some hotel's name emblazoned down the side, while Jockeying for position with other rally vans to get closest to the lion - A most refreshing change for me!) This outfit is way above all that, respecting the animals health and space (Dominic always found us another opportunity to get that perfect shot) and is focused on conservation in its truest form, with local community involvement. This is reflected in the high morale of the motivated and knowledgeable, multi tasking staff that run the place so efficiently, and the truly unspoiled beauty of the wildlife conservancy that all this energy supports.

Hats off to Justin and Nadia who built this wonderful place, to the wonderful wonderful staff who make it really sing, and to Jules - who pulls all the cords to keep things working as they do..... Awsome... Don't change a thing.

Our one complaint - Two nights just wasn't enough!


Stayed: March 2017, travelled with friends
Thank simon t
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
JustinMcCarthy, Owner at Spirit of the Masai Mara, responded to this reviewResponded April 26, 2017

Dear Simon T,

Thank you so much for your review. You definitely made the most of your stay! It was a pleasure to have you at the lodge. I will pass on your kind words to all the staff at the lodge. It is so rewarding for all the team that you had such a fantastic time. The Big 5 before breakfast must have been a highlight and we are very happy you enjoyed the lodge so much.

Our efforts with the community and the wildlife specialist is core to our goals and ethos and your appreciation of these efforts and thier success means the world to us.

Please keep in touch and we look forward to seeing you again soon

Justin McCarthy
Owner

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed March 20, 2017

I spent 2 nights last year February .It remains my best hotel while in the Mara from your room the view is beautiful and the rooms are so spacious and with privacy.They have They have the best staff(team) very respectful.

Room Tip: its a home away from home.Very good for families.
  • Stayed: February 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank migrationsafaris
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
JustinMcCarthy, Owner at Spirit of the Masai Mara, responded to this reviewResponded April 26, 2017

Dear migrationsafaris,

Thank you for your kind review of the lodge. We are very happy you enjoyed the suites and you found our team so helpful.

We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Justin McCarthy
Owner

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Reviewed March 20, 2017

I had seen photos of Spirit of the Masai before arriving, but they didn't skim the surface of this paradise. On arrival we were greeting with glasses of prosecco and towels to freshen up, and at the watering hole directly in front of the resort there was a herd of elephants drinking. We were greeted by owners Justin and Nadja who were friendly, hospitable and made us feel like family from the moment we arrived. Our host for our stay, Julia, was to be our main point of contact for our days, and she did everything within her power to ensure we had an unforgettable stay.

On our first night we went on a night time drive and met our guide Dominic, warm hearted and unbelievably astute to his surroundings having grown up in the Mara.

On the days to come, Dominic was just phenomenal. I had been on a safari in the Mara just a few months earlier in June 2016, and at the time had thought it was brilliant. It pales in comparison to our time with Dominic. He was able to hear and see the most incredible animals and draw our attention to them. On the previous safari I had been on, I had seen 4 of the big 5, but in rather busy areas (busy with vehicles that it). I told Julia and Dominic that I would love to see the one animal I didn't see, the black rhino, and they said they would try their hardest, but there were only a small number in the reserve.

You would not believe that on our safari with Dominic, we saw 4 black rhinos in one day...I'm still dumbfounded when I think about it. And not a single one in a sanctuary, they were all out in the wild, and for two of them we were the first vehicle there, just alone and peaceful with the rhino. It was nothing short of spectacular.

Dominic also used his super-senses to follow a group of baboons that were running toward something... it turned out to be a leopard hiding in the bushes. We then parked nearby (excited and petrified) watching a stand-off between baboon troop and leopard. It was unforgettable.

Besides the safari, the lodges were luxury. With one entire side of the lodge being glass, you can see out into the wild from your lounge, bed and shower. The food was absolutely delicious and abundant, and to top everything off, I mentioned to Julia that we were hoping to celebrate my Dad's birthday on our final night, and she and the chef's prepared a special cake for him and came out dancing with Champagne and singing for him! It was truly a Birthday to remember.

Huge thanks to all the staff at Spirit of the Masai, and to Julia, Dominic, Nadja and Justin for showing us an incredible holiday. I couldn't recommend it more highly, and without a doubt I will be recommending this to everyone and anyone planning on doing a safari and wanting an experience of a lifetime.

Room Tip: All the lodges are beautiful, you couldn't possibly be disappointed.
  • Stayed: November 2016, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
1  Thank Julia S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
JustinMcCarthy, Owner at Spirit of the Masai Mara, responded to this reviewResponded April 27, 2017

Dear Julia S,

It was a pleasure to meet you and your family, and we are all very happy you had such a wonderful time. You did very well with your game spotting especially the baboon's harassing a leopard myself and Nadja are very jealous! I will pass your thanks on to Dominic.

We are thrilled that your father had such a great birthday and that all the staff were able to make it a special day. I know Jules will be thrilled that you enjoyed the food so much.

We look forward to seeing you there again soon

Justin McCarthy
Owner

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Reviewed March 7, 2017

We expected 5 star and expectations were far exceeded. Amazing accommodation, superb food, excellent staff, brilliant host (Jules) and exceptional driver/guide (Dominic). They encourage a tour of back of house as well to see the kitchen, food satires and staff accommodation. There is a real commeraderi amongst all staff and it makes one feel even happier. Can't praise it enough

  • Stayed: March 2017, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Malcolm H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
JustinMcCarthy, Owner at Spirit of the Masai Mara, responded to this reviewResponded April 26, 2017

Dear Malcolm H,

Thank you for your kind review of Spirit of the Masai Mara. We are very happy you got to see the back of house and all the efforts we have made with our organic vegetable garden, and staff accommodation. I will pass your greatinbox on to Jules and your guide Dominic. We all look forward to seeing you again soon.

Justin McCarthy
Owner

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Reviewed February 10, 2017 via mobile

It's always pleasing to see someone's vision become a reality and Spirit of the Masai Mara is such a dream come true! Set in a beautiful conservancy teaming with wildlife, brilliant guides and driven by passion, this place is the perfect destination for those wanting a great wildlife experience! (We saw the big five before breakfast and all of the super predators by lunch!)

Stayed: February 2017, travelled as a couple
Thank Geoff Mayes S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
JustinMcCarthy, Owner at Spirit of the Masai Mara, responded to this reviewResponded March 7, 2017

Dear Geoff Mayes S

Thank you for your kind review of Spirit of the Masai Mara. It was a pleasure, easier to host a fellow hotelier and conservationist. We were so happy you enjoyed the conservancy and how lucky you were to see the big 5 before breakfast. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Justin McCarthy

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