Amanda Marks

Ngare Serian

A bridge too far?

Amanda Marks, Tribes managing director


I am sitting on the huge verandah of our vast and gorgeous tent, watching hippos and listening to the Mara River burble happily past the dark rocks, and rush underneath the narrow rope swing bridge that we just crossed on foot to get into Ngare Serian camp.

I should say from the outset that not everyone will like this camp. Some won’t like crossing the Mara River on said bridge (the only way in). Some won’t like the fact that there is no wifi. Others might not like the genteel house party atmosphere of everyone eating together on one big table. And it’s possible that the sound of the Mara River wending its beautiful way through the savannah will bother some sensitive souls if you get the tent by the small rapids.

Mara river hippos

Photograph by Amanda Marks

Me, I love it. I loved it the moment I stepped off the rope bridge to meet friendly managers Sophie and Fred, and was handed a tree tomato juice by Joel, the huge and wonderful waiter who looks like he should be a prize fighter yet who is gently attentive. I loved our tasty 3-course lunch in the main area. I loved our beautiful tent with its stunning position right by the river, looking out onto the acacia-dotted grasslands of Mara North conservancy (there are zebras in the distance as I write). And lastly, wilderness-lover that I am, I loved that there are only 4 tents here so only a few like-minded souls to share this little slice of Kenya with.

“James is a story teller. He makes the Mara come alive for his guests”

Our stay started well when we were picked up at Mara North airstrip by our private guide, James. A silver-level guide, he is knowledgeable, confident, and keen to show us as much of the Mara as he can in the short time we have with him. By the time we had driven the roughly 30 minutes to the camp, we’d already seen ostriches, warthogs, wildebeest, zebras, giraffes and 3 cheetahs asleep under a tree, and we’d been regaled with the story of how the cheetah and leopard got their different style of spots. James is a storyteller. He makes the wildlife of the Mara come alive for his guests, which is a skill that not all safari guides, however qualified, are blessed with.

Following a delicious lunch, our afternoon game drive started with spotting a leopard with a kill, continued with watching a newborn Thomson’s gazelle take his first tottering steps, and ended with watching a pride of lions with two male brothers. Since off-road driving is allowed in the Mara conservancies, you can get surprisingly close to the wildlife, and the rules of a maximum of 5 vehicles per sighting are mostly adhered to. Safe to say, we went to bed very happy.

Leopard with kill

Photograph by Guy Marks

Next morning we took a short bush walk with James, and visited the treehouse for breakfast, as last night’s occupants had already left. Serian has its own private conservancy west of the Mara River, and they offer walks here at the foot of the Oloololo escarpment, and even up to the top if you fancy it. Being in the African bush takes on a whole new perspective when you’re on foot, especially when you know there is a pride of lions in the area!

One night was absolutely not enough here. I’m sure I’ll be walking the rope bridge to this beautiful little piece of the Mara before too long.

NOTE:  Ngare Serian has a sister camp, the original Serian Camp, just next door. The two camps are not within sight of each other; they are quite separate. The original Serian is very similar, however, but with 5 tents, which, whilst still by the river, are higher up on a rocky bank. And since the camp is on the eastern side of the river, there is no rope bridge to negotiate!


Amanda Marks went to check out camps and lodges in the Masai Mara in June 2017. See her articles about other camps, and about safariing in the Mara:

Amanda Marks

Amanda Marks

Amanda Marks is the founder and managing director of award-winning tour operator, Tribes Travel. Having started travelling professionally in her mid-twenties as a tour leader in Africa and the Middle East, she set up Tribes with her husband Guy in 1998. She travels regularly both alone and with her family, and is committed to sustainable travel so we can protect the earth's diversity and beauty for future generations.