Property Review : Governors Camp, Masai Mara, Kenya

The joy of a wildlife safari is to see the unseen, hear the unheard and feel the unfelt. It is a surreal experience to venture out in the jungle at the crack of dawn.The thrill of waking up to yet another action filled day, to feel the cool crisp air , to listen to the sounds of nature from rumbling of elephant, skittish cry of zebra to the roars of lion is addictive. It is truly an overwhelming experience for your senses and once you get used to it, it will be really difficult to enjoy anything else as much.

 

For an enjoyable safari experience, it is important to choose your game park and lodge carefully. It can really make or break the experience. I chose Masai Mara because of the open savannah, ‘big skies’, density of game, variety of bird life, tall red- robed Masai people and the spirit of the place. The Masai Mara lies in the Great Rift Valley, which is a fault line some 3,500 miles (5,600km) long, from Ethiopia’s Red Sea through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and into Mozambique. It’s a great place to see the Big Five of African game in their natural surroundings. We researched many properties and finalised Governor’s Camp in Masai Mara.


The Setting

On a safari holiday it seems that the animals are roaming freely, but there are usually barriers within which they have to stay if they are in a game park. In Masai Mara there are no fences because it is a game reserve. This means that you are seeing the animals in their most natural state, behaving as they have since time immemorial.

 

The Governors camp is situated within the reserve and is not fenced, which means animals prowl around freely and its like watching a live version of Discovery, right from your tent. The camp is situated right in the middle of forest, literally surrounded by wildlife and amazing scenery with river flowing past the camp, somewhat disconcertingly with a few crocs on the guard; we could not have asked for a better setting.

 

Camp is luxurious with total of 37 tents lining the riverbank, with uninterrupted views over the Mara River, its water teeming with bird-life, hippos and crocodiles. Some tents also have views across the sweeping plains. The spacious and luxurious en-suite safari tents have large comfortable beds and hot shower in the bathroom. Each tent has its own private verandah, where you can watch and listen to birds and you may even see larger animals , which wander into camp. It is quite possible to wake up to the sound of hippo feeding on the grass outside your tent.


 

Service

The camp was set up to host and entertain the governor’s guests, and the service till date is par excellence . The key are the rangers who know their craft extremely well . Our ranger literally had eyes of a hawk and was completely aware of the animal sounds and movements. He was with us on all safaris so he ensured that we saw the big 5 and explored a new terrain and had new experiences on every safari. The safari was an enriching experience with his in depth knowledge of the animals from their diet to their mating habits.

 

While swapping stories in the evening over drinks , the manager ( and your host) of the property speaks to each guest and makes sure they are comfortable. He had stories to last for days and you never miss the TV and internet. Manager also takes pain to introduce you to other guests, who are almost as keen as you, to discuss safari sightings of the day.

 

Askaris (security guards) escort you back and forth from your tent to the reception area. They ensure that we or animals don’t interfere with each other and no problem is caused, but it is quite an experience to wake up in the night hearing a munching noise from hippo or feel elephants scratching themselves against the tent.  Governors camp has a very well oiled machinery to give you the best possible Safari experience. It works like clockwork, where you will always find someone to :-

 

Wake you early in the morning with a hot beverage —– Escort you to your jeep for morning safari —– chase a kill or sparring elephants for you—– arrange bush breakfast overlooking a crocodile infested river —— guide you to local tribe village —– serve you lip smacking cocktails and sumptuous lunch —- plan your sun downer by the river —– lay down a lavish spread of dinner—- Escort you back to your camp.

Governors Camp


 

Food

Imagine enjoying a breakfast or lunch al fresco dining under a refuge of large old trees, when suddenly you notice giraffes grazing on shrubs literally a few meters from you or in the distance, catching a glimpse of lone elephants slowly making their way ahead. This is a routine affair for this camp. In the evening, hippos walk through the camp, while diners savour their evening meals. The dining tent and the bar tent are the centre of the camp. A traditional campfire is lit at sunset every evening and after dinner, you enjoy sitting around the campfire, reminiscing about the safari. Gas and paraffin lamps are used for lighting. Setting is captivating.

 

Excellent variety available for breakfast from cooked English breakfast, french toast, fresh hot bread, condiments, pancakes, good choice of fruits to lovely blend of freshly squeezed juices. But, I would recommend the bush breakfast – which combines the 2 morning safaris and breakfast is served along a crocodile infested river or under a tree on top of a plateau. Your ranger will prepare a picnic box for you, as per your request. Lunch and dinner are feasts made up of tasty choices. Eating a 5 course meal on a white cotton table cloth whilst overlooking the Mara river, watching hippos and baboons. It is hard to imagine such an elegant setting in the middle of a game park. On Sundays Indian curry is served for lunch.


 

Facilities

Governor’s camp offers 3 game viewing safaris in custom built 4WD vehicles, per day- departing early morning, mid morning as well as in the afternoon with experienced ranger in the Masai Mara Game Reserve.   Following excursions are also available from all Governors’ Camp properties in the Masai Mara.

  • Hot Air Balloon Safaris,
  • Masai Cultural Visits,
  • Lake Victoria day trips, Great Wildebeest Migration,
  • Specialist guiding: ornithology,
  • Champagne Bush Breakfasts, Bush Dinners and Sundowners.

The camp has a great bar perched on a cliff, overlooking a watering hole, which attracts lot of animals. It is an excellent spot to watch animals, relax, play board games, sway to african beats. They serve almost all cocktails and prices are reasonable too. You can also opt for a spa treatment in camp. In tents, beds are extremely comfortable and they place hot water bottles during night to keep you warm throughout. Shower has hot and cold water both.

Lioness

 


USP
The setting of the property within the main reserve with no fence ensures a wholesome safari experience. We saw many things on our three day visit to the masai mara reserve :-

 

–  Massive herds of wildebeest and zebra were grazing out on the grasslands, its an extra ordinary sight to see these ordinary animals in wild. All acting in synch to the slightest of roar from distance.

 

Baby zebra pulled down by crocs into the river, while crossing it. Mommy, kept looking for its brood for atleast an hour and crossed this river twice to find the missing baby. We could feel the emotions in its grunts. The sight evoked mixed emotions and the reality of life ” survival of the fittest ” !

 

Rare sighting of leopard taking its kill to the top of tree. Leopard is known to be the only animal, who can feast on rotten carcass. It takes its kill to the top of tree and survive on it for weeks. What, we saw was a full belly leopard going back to its carcass and rest, before it could start eating again.

 

Up close and personal with tigress and her cubs. It was endearing to see , tigress being protective for her little ones. They just finished their meal and were too lazy to move

 

Masai village, met the local tribe, chatted about their culture and rituals.

 

Highlights of Governors Camp

 

But what remains unbeatable is the Sundowner. It was made special by our ranger.On our last safari, he parked the vehicle at a secluded spot with sweeping views of the plain alongside the crocodile infested river. He set up a table cloth on a rock and placed champagne with flute glasses and cheese over it. Thats it , so simple ! We still talk about the experience, when we silently sat there on the rock with glasses in our hand, hippos playing in the river, crocs lying on land with their mouths wide open and setting sun. Nature at its glorious best, albeit the wine in our hands. We stayed mildly inebriated throughout the evening, not sure on wine or on nature.

Sundowner at Masai Mara

 


 

We headed back to a tiny airstrip to board our flight back to Nairobi (surprisingly piloted by the Manager)  carrying a plethora of unforgettable memories and new-found respect for nature & Wildlife. The three days passed away rather quickly. Now that you are convinced, lets bring you up to speed with the practicalities. Know more about Governors Camp

 

Get there :-

Governors Aviation operates flights twice daily flights from Nairobi Wilson Airport to Musiara Airstrip (duration approx. 45 minutes). Clients are met on arrival and transferred by vehicle to the camp (duration approx. 15 minutes). Return flights from Musiara Airstrip to Nairobi Wilson Airport twice daily. Road transfer:  From Nairobi is possible. Duration approx. 6 hours (depending upon road conditions)

 

Hole in your Wallet :-

Rates start from 331 USD per person per night. It varies hugely during The Great MIGRATION ( goes to USD 575). Do check their offers. Currently they are running 3 nights for the price of 2.  This includes your safari, meals and accomodation. Transfer from Nairobi to Masai Mara is extra.

 

Internet/ Television :-

There are no televisions and Wi-Fi signal is limited to the main reception area. They do have a laptop with internet connection, which can be useful for some urgent work or transferring photos.

 

What else
– Staff speaks excellent english  and is extremely polite

– Visit to Masai village and bush breakfast is must.

– Insist on one ranger for the full trip to ensure continuity

– Carry wide lenses for your camera and binoculars.

– Mornings and evenings can be cold. Temperature changes drastically. Carry layered clothing

 


The author of this article only profiles properties he has visited and where he would like to go again, without blinking an eye or changing anything about it.  Author paid for himself, during the visit. Any property is reviewed on five parameters, which are:

  • Setting :- The property needs to have its own personality.
  • Service:- I like being looked after,  without the staff being intrusive.
  • Food:- Has to be sumptuous, even if there are limited options.
  • Facilities:- No minimum requirement but should have basic comforts that should add to the character of the place.
  • USP:-  There has to be one unique quality, which makes it different than the other offerings out there.

 

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