It isn’t too often that Andy and I would get a chance to stay where the President and First Lady have stayed, so we were excited when we heard that the Obamas had been at Basecamp Explorer when they visited Kenya in 2006.
Our expectations for the camp were high and upon hearing that Obama had been there, I jokingly told Maurice, our safari director, that we wanted to stay in the Presidential tent. He made a call and we would have had the presidential tent had the couple staying in the room not extended their stay.
Tent 14 at Basecamp Explorer
We were fortunate to get room 14 as this was one of the more secluded tents on the grounds. It was very large and was very well decorated and maintained. There was a double bed and a twin bed in our room. This worked out well as we were able to put all of our gear on the twin bed.
Off our room we had a large balcony with a view of the river. After some intense rain at night, we were shocked at how much the water level of the river had risen during the 2 days that we were at the camp.
Similar to Elephant Bedroom Camp, we needed an escort to walk us to and from our rooms in the dark. Since the camp is right next to the national park, there are sometimes animals that get onto the grounds.
Different from other places that we stayed on our trip, the bathroom was outside. While this seemed fun, in actuality I didn’t end up enjoying it as much as I thought I would.
Since our game drives are always early in the morning, the best time to see wildlife, we always had to wake up very early. Going outside in the cold can be bad, going outside in the cold when you’re naked and then getting wet can be really miserable. I decided to take all my showers in the afternoon when the weather was warmest and the water, which is solar heated, would be at its hottest.
With the bathroom being exposed to the elements, this means that monkeys can also get into the bathroom and take things. The camp figured out that the monkeys don’t know how to open drawers so there was a small wicker dresser to store any items that are needed by the sink. We decided to keep everything locked in our tent as we didn’t want to chance anything getting taken.
Until recently the camp was on bio toilets which meant that after you did your business, you had to throw wood chips over it, then the staff would clean out the toilets into a compost bin. As you can imagine, there were some people who stayed at the resort which were bothered by the setup. Recently, the camp changed over to a septic system. This means that all of the water is filtered and reused. This is much better for the environment, but leaves a chance that there could be bacteria in the water so bottled water is needed to brush your teeth.
To keep the water usage as low as possible, in addition to the toilet, there was also a urinal. It was funny to have a private urinal in our bathroom but made total sense from an eco-friendly perspective.
Basecamp Explorer – Amenities
Unlike the other camps, there was not much of a selection in the dining. There was typically one meal choice offered. If for some reason, you did not like what was offered, the camp would come up with an alternative meal for you. While I wasn’t sure if I would like this set up, all of our meals were great.
When we arrived at the camp for lunch, the staff set up our table out in the yard. This made our meal seem extra special. Plus, after coming from Lake Nakuru Lodge, we were pretty happy to have really good food again.
The staff at the camp was truly special. Everyone did anything that they could to make our stay special. The entire time that we were at the camp, we had the same staff members waiting on us, something that I really appreciated since we started to develop bonds with the workers.
We got particularly close to Richard, a local who came on game drives with us. It was nice to have him in the jeep as he was another set of eyes looking for animals, plus he really knew his way around the park.
Bridge to the Park
The only way that our lodge could have been closer to the reserve would have been if we were inside the park. The camp had a suspended bridge which crossed the river into Maasai Mara National Reserve.
The best part of the bridge for us was when we were picked up for our game drives in the park. When we left the lodge from the parking lot, we had to drive all the way through town which was a muddy mess. When we got picked up from the bridge, we were able to go right on our way.
To make sure that you enjoy the scenery and disconnect from the modern world, there are no power plugs in the tent. This means that everything needs to be charged in the charging tent only. While it seems strange at first, it was really nice to not be connected.
On our first evening the power kept going out at the camp. The manager came over the next morning and apologized on the camp’s behalf. Evidently there was not as much sun as is typical and since the main source of the power is solar, when the backup battery failed, there was no power running to the tents.
We had a great time staying at Basecamp Explorer in Maasai Mara. It was our favorite park that we visited and the entire staff was great, making sure that we had an amazing time. I can see why the president decided to stay there when he visited Maasai Mara as it is a very special, unique place.
The only negative experience that we had was that the credit card machine was down when we checked out. Luckily our room was prepaid so we just had to cover our bar bill. It did make me wonder what would have happened had we not had enough currency on us to cover the bill and all of the tips that we needed to pay.
If we were to return to Maasai Mara, I would absolutely stay at Basecamp Explorer again. The people were great, the room was nice and I could suck it up when it came to using the outdoor shower, especially if the weather was warmer than it was when we were there.