Saruni Mara Lodge

Pampering in the wild

“…And they’d even made us a heart-shaped fire to sit by as the sun went down!” said the excitable young woman to her fellow dinner companions.

She’d just become engaged earlier this evening. Her fiancé had planned a very special surprise by bringing her to Saruni Mara, here in Kenya’s Masai Mara, proposing as the sun set over the wilds of Africa, and arranging a Maasai blessing the following day. Along with her team, Cecilia, the friendly and professional Maasai lodge manager, had arranged everything, and was beaming with the success of the day.

Saruni Mara was quite an inspired choice in my view. The luxury lodge is in a remote northern hilly area of the Mara North Conservancy, part of the greater Masai Mara ecosystem. The thatched cottages are well positioned for great views down over the wooded hillsides, with the savannah in the distance. They are very comfortable, with big beds, polished wood floors, a lovely verandah and huge bathroom. Whilst I’d class this as a lodge, in fact the windows are gauze (covered with canvas blinds at night) so you have that feeling of being somewhat connected to the wilderness around you. It’s a good combination, particularly for anyone who is concerned about being in a tented camp.

“Even within the luxury of the room we felt connected to the wilderness surrounding us”

The huge main building with a sitting room facing a big fireplace, and a long elegant dining table made from reclaimed railways sleepers (it worked, believe me!) was open to the view all down the long side. Cecilia’s team was attentive and professional, and the food … well, suffice to say I’d have got very fat if I stayed here long. There is even a small spa here, and I can vouch for them offering an extremely good massage – always worth considering after a few days of the ‘free African massage’ over bumpy tracks in the reserve!

From the lodge you can go wildlife viewing in the conservancies of Mara North, Ol Chorro and Lemek – so quite a choice. Plus they have lovely spots up in the hills for sundowners with a view, and the nearby Maasai village is fascinating for an insight into the modern Maasai way of life.

We had a lovely guide called Tinka. With two wives and 9 children, I’m surprised he has the energy for work, but he was passionate about his wildlife guiding, and knew his stuff.

“We had gorgeous views over the woods down to the savannah below”

All told, we had a wonderful two night stop here, and all the guests we met were loving their stay too. Many were moving on after 2 or 3 nights, for a 3 night stop at Saruni Wild, the small tented camp a forty minute drive away in the thick of the wildlife area of Lemek conservancy – a very different experience, but a good combination.

It’s fair to say that if wildlife viewing is your first priority, Saruni Wild is much closer to the action than Saruni Mara, which is at least a 20 minute drive away from where the wildlife is mostly found. However if you’re looking for a bit of pampering and luxury, Saruni Mara will leave you smiling.


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 - Author

Amanda Marks is a founder and director of Tribes Travel. She believes travel opens hearts and minds.

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