I was contacted by the good people at Rupu and asked if I wanted to try out one of their travel deals. Rupu is an online shopping platform and they offer a variety of discounted deals from household goods, to beauty and travel. They recently launched their new website, it is easy to use.
I was more than glad to work with them. I have used Rupu before (but not for travel) and have never had an issue with their services.
I have been meaning to go to Masai Mara for quite a while so when picking the deals I sifted through the Mara deals to find the one that suited me best. I ended up picking a deal by Rhino Camp whose original cost was Kshs 19,700 ($192.5) but was going for Kshs 11,999 ($117) on Rupu for a 3-day trip to the Mara. I wasn’t too fussy about the accommodation; I was more concerned about getting there so I chose the only deal that offered that.
Once I made my pick, I received an email from Rupu with the all the details I needed. Come Friday morning I was packed and ready to go. I had been told to be at the departure point in the Nairobi CBD at 7:30, I am a stickler for time so I was there on time. I was met by Ann and was dismayed to discover that I was only the 2nd person to show up. We were to wait for 3 more others who finally made it and we left at 9am. I was definitely peeved about the wait; I am not a patient person.
Off we went, first stop was at the view point at Mai Mahiu escarpment. Spare some time to go over to the Mai Mahiu Catholic Church which is across the road a few metres from the view point. Built in 1942 by Italian Prisoners of War it is the smallest church in the country and among the smallest in the world.
Next stop we made after that was in Narok town. I was asleep for most of the journey.
If perhaps you forgot to pack any essentials then make sure you stock up in Narok. For food I would recommend Dream King Hotel it is very popular with tourists and they offer a buffet lunch at a reasonable price.
We made one more stop just after Narok town because I needed to go to the loo. I’d asked to go in town but Julius, the driver told me to wait so that I could go to a clean toilet. We stopped at a curio shop. It was clean, there was tissue and soap.
Once we were back on the road we reached a point called ‘mwisho wa lami’ which translates to end of tarmac. By this time the fuel canister we had bought in Narok was making our journey very uncomfortable. The smell of fuel permeated the van and given the state of the road (rough and dusty) it was pretty much a nightmare. You couldn’t close the windows to keep out the dust as you wanted the fresh air in since the smell of the fuel was overpowering. I was seated at the front right next to a window and I was still really uncomfortable so I can only imagine how horrible it must have been for those seated at the back.
I did make a complaint to the manager about the whole ferrying of fuel for the generator issue so hopefully no other guests will have to experience what we did.
We finally arrived at 3 pm, Rhino camp is located outside Masai Mara reserve, a few kilometers from the Oloolaimutia gate. The camp offers beautiful views of the nearby hills.
The camp is basic, nothing fancy. We were welcomed by some of the staff and shown to our rooms.
The rooms are basic, they’re ensuite. You’ll be provided with a towel, bathing soap and a pair of slippers. Carry your own soap, the one provided isn’t the best.
The room was genereally clean but there was unsightly grime on the bathroom tiles. Hot water is available all day but you will need to leave the water running for at least 5-15 minutes before you get the hot water.
After freshening up we went off to lunch. The food was simple. To be honest I wasn’t expecting much. I didn’t take any photos of my meals except breakfast. Everything was served buffet style, for the meals we had a starch (rice or pasta) a stew and veggies. There was usually fruit for desert. Tea was available all day.
The food and dining hall. The dining hall took me back to my boarding High school days.
On Saturday we were out all day for the game drive so we all got a packed lunch consisting of an apple, banana, juice, ham sandwich, packet of juice and a piece of chicken. The room was clean, but there was unsightly grime on the tiles in the bathroom.
Power in the camp is provided by a generator. In the morning it is switched on at 5:30 up until 7:00 am. In the evening it is switched on at 6pm and switched off at 10pm.
If you’re worried about your valuables I suppose you can ask the management to store them for you. I had my laptop with me and I left in in my room throughout my stay. There’s no housekeeping so no one came into my room for the duration of my stay
What to carry:
-Water and snacks for the trip, a torch and shower basics. Anything you think you will need, do carry it. If you have a smartphone then a power bank is essential
-The camp does not provide drinking water with meals. If you want some you have the option of buying some at Kshs100 per 500ml bottle. You’re better off buying water in the village where it costs Kshs350 for a case of 24 . We bought some at a shop called Tawfiq and split the cost amongst ourselves.
Two of my fellow travelers Gacheri and Matt are actually bloggers. Make sure you check out their blogs.
Kshs 5000 ($48.80) for a single room per night full board
Kshs 6000 ($58.65) for a double room per night full board
Disclaimer: These are the charges I was told after I asked the manager. I just had a look at the website and the rates are different. Please confirm before making any booking.
Rupu covered the cost for the deal + park fees. In total the whole trip cost only Ksh.16,000 ($156.40) (this covered snacks+water, tips, a trip to a Maasai village and a night out in the club in the village )
Would I go again, hell yes. I had a great time on the trip plus the price was very reasonable and you definitely your money’s worth. The deal is still available online so if you’re looking for a budget trip to the Mara, I highly recommend it. It is perfect if you are going for a trip with your friends, the van seats 7. The deal excludes park fees but covers everything else.
I’ll cover the trip into the park and the Masai village in another post so stay tuned for those.
I suppose it really a case of you get what you pay for.
I thought those prices for a Masai Mara camp stay were to say the least fantastic, because when I stayed in the Mara over 10 years ago it was far more expensive – but then again the facilities and cleanliness were far superior.
It was definitely a case of getting what you paid for. That amount can’t get you a night in most of the lodges in the Mara so if one is willing to make a few sacrifices then it’s the best way to go.
Rupu looks very similar to the Groupon site that I use for discounts. I haven’t booked any travel, though, as I’ve been worried that all the offer won’t be good during the times I want to travel, usually peak season when they can charge high prices. Anyways, it looks like an interesting trip. Too bad you had to wait so long to get going and smell fumes in the van. I’m very glad for your honest review of the accommodations. I can’t wait to see what you thought of the actual game drive and if you saw anything good. I’m guessing that you did.
I’d hate to leave something out of a review then recommend the place and when someone decides to make the booking they feel misled. I’m looking forward to sharing about the rest of my trip, the game drives were fantastic.
Rachel, Did you get to see animals? Isn’t that the main reason for going? I’m all for roughing it if you get what you are going for…
The rooms don’t seem all that but sounds like you enjoyed the trip.
I love that tiny church along mai mahiu and the view there is breath taking
This looks like a fun getaway and the prices seem very reasonable. I’ll have to keep these services in mind when I come to Kenya (I hope sooner than later!). But the grime in the bathrooms…so gross!