“Offbeat Mara was by far one of the best tourism experiences of our lives. We came from Nairobi for two nights and could not have been more impressed with every aspect of the hospitality there. Game drives were just amazing. Our guide Joseph was so incredibly skilled and knowledgeable about every aspect of wildlife and the conservancy, and was always patient and enthusiastic to share. I asked non-stop questions and he was able to answer each one. I felt like I learned so much and formed a really strong connection with the wildlife thanks to his deep insight and professionalism. The camp and room were beautifully decorated and very comfortable. King-size bed, solar lighting, hot water showers and with a view looking right onto the conservancy to see all the animals. The food was fresh, tasty, healthy and in abundance, and the staff were very attentive, friendly, knowledgeable and all-round great people. They were always available to pour a glass of wine or chat, but respected our privacy and space. Jennifer is a fantastic manager, very professional, fun and helpful.”
Set on a bend of the seasonal Olare Orok river deep within the Mara North Conservancy, Offbeat Mara Camp is a small and traditional semi-permanent safari camp that encapsulates the classic Kenyan tented safari experience. The conservancy contains a limited number of lodges and camps with a strict number of vehicles permitted at game sightings, and this ensures that guests enjoy an uncrowded and relatively private and exclusive safari experience – something that is becoming a rarity elsewhere in the Mara ecosystem.
Offbeat Mara boasts some of the very best wildlife viewing in Kenya and the resident pride of lion – the Offbeat Pride – are almost part of the family. They are always within a short distance of camp and can regularly be heard roaring close by in the Offbeat Valley. The camp’s excellent and experienced guides – each of them silver-rated by the Kenya Professional Safari Guide Association – know every member of the pride and all their history over the past two decades.
Combined with regular sightings of cheetah and leopard and a huge variety and quantity of other creatures great and small, the viewing opportunities at Offbeat Mara really are unmatched. From July to October there is the chance to experience the annual wildebeest migration in their hundreds of thousands. The ‘Secret Season’ of January to March is often just as rewarding, with clear skies, short grass and the Loita wildebeest migration coming to Mara North Conservancy.
“I could not recommend Offbeat Mara more highly for a family safari. The staff were fantastically helpful and incredibly good with our children (aged 4, 6 and 7). The food was utterly delicious and amazingly varied for every meal. We saw every animal and bird you could ever want to see, and were treated to some wonderful Masai entertainment. Some people are reluctant to go on safari with children, but Offbeat could not have organised our trip better, with shorter game drives that the children adored, broken up by football games, archery, bush breakfasts and dinners, and all manner of other entertainments. The tents are perfectly designed to accommodate families and are extremely comfortable. We would go back in a heartbeat – what an amazing place!”
Game watching is at the heart of the Offbeat Mara experience and all stays include unlimited day and evening drives in fully-equipped, custom-designed Land Cruisers (all vehicles are open-sided with roof hatches for each row of seats) as well as bush breakfasts, dinners and sundowners. Walking safaris from the camp with an armed guide are a very rewarding way to explore the secrets of the Olare Orok Valley, most of which cannot be reached by vehicle. Walks can be any length guests prefer, but typically take 2-3 hours.
With two spacious family tents, this is a very child-friendly camp, with rates to suit. If parents prefer a relaxed afternoon in camp, the team of guides are more than happy to entertain the youngsters. Whether it’s learning to shoot a bow & arrow or throw a spear, beading with some of the ladies from the community, fishing for catfish or even baking a cake for afternoon tea, there is plenty to keep children entertained between drives and walks. Special or early meals can easily be arranged and if children want to go to bed early, a Maasai guard will sit outside their tent until parents return – or radio the main mess tent if they wake up – so the grown-ups can enjoy drinks and dinner in peace!
Offbeat Mara has taken the traditional tented camping experience and turned it into something rather special. Simple, comfortable and unfussy accommodation, a relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff, delicious food and outstanding management make every guest feel very much at home. At the centre of the camp is the main ‘Mess’ tent with its bar, dining area, sitting room, fireplace and outside forest dining deck. The Mess has wi-fi and charging facilities in the evenings, and all the camp’s game drive vehicles are also equipped with charging sockets.
“Offbeat Mara is a camp not a lodge so it’s solar-powered and the bathrooms have bucket showers but the experience is still absolutely wonderful. They camp manager Jennifer and is as sweet as can be, with a super can-do attitude and 100% success rate with every request. The meals are five star and special diets are accommodated. The entire staff is very friendly and accommodating. We would not trade this experience for anything. It was great in every way. Game drives are spectacular and the guides are great like the rest of the staff. We had a perfect stay.”
The camp sleeps a maximum of 20 guests at any time. There are 5 tents that are set up as either doubles or twins, with a large double bed and a large single bed in each tent. All tents have flush lavatories, hot safari/bucket showers and jugs of water for the basins. There are also two family tents – each has two sleeping areas, one with a large double bed and the other with two or three single beds, together with two safari showers, lavatories and basins. All tents are furnished with large restful cedar beds, solar lighting and all have fantastic views across the conservancy from their verandas which have tables for private dining and chairs to relax on.
As one of the founding members of the Mara North Conservancy, Offbeat Mara is committed to helping preserve this vital piece of the Masai Mara ecosystem. For the first time, Maasai landlords are being rewarded fairly and equally for protecting their land and its wildlife. As a result, the area has improved dramatically as a wildlife conservancy, providing and ensuring long term benefits to those with the foresight to keep protecting it.
Over 90% of the camp staff are local Maasai who helped build the camp in 2005. They are now employed as guides, cooks, room stewards and waiters and all are gaining valuable skills to pass on to future generations. Offbeat Mara are key sponsors of the area’s Aitong Primary School which educates more than 950 local children. The school has expanded rapidly in the last few years, introducing a boarding facility to help those families who live too far away.
Offbeat Mara is also conscious that it operates in a fragile ecosystem. As such the camp has a light footprint with no permanent structures and is constructed purely of wood and canvas with some local rock and soil to level and support the tent bases.
“We had a great stay at Offbeat Mara, and really enjoyed the rustic yet comfortable and relaxed, friendly style of the camp. We managed good lion, cheetah and other sightings with our excellent guide Stanley, and very much enjoyed seeing large numbers of topi and other grazers tucking in to the lush grass in the open landscape of Mara North – quite a contrast to the other, more densely thicketed, conservancies we have visited. Much of our enjoyment was down to the wonderful manager Jennifer, who was always cheerful and unflustered. The food was delicious and hot and cold water for showering and washing was always on hand.”