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Tangulia Mara Review: How to avoid the crowd in Masai Mara?

Tangulia Masai Mara Lions

Tangulia Mara is the first Masai Mara safari camp to be owned by the Masai. It offers tents with the best view of the Masai river and the best guides in the Masai Mara. If you're looking for luxury, this camp isn't for you, but if you want the best safari experience you can get, this is the best choice. Read on to learn more about Tangulia Mara.

How to get to Tangulia Mara

Tangulia Mara is located in a private conservancy near the entrance to the Masai Mara. The Musiara airstrip is located only a 15-minute drive away from the camp, and it's a scenic drive with the chance to see some magnificent wildlife right away.

Safarilink flies daily to the Mutiara airstrip, and the flight is a short and scenic 50 minutes from Wilson Airport.

Review of the Tangulia Mara Camp

Tangulia Mara is a safari-themed bush camp near the Mara River, between the Mara North Conservancy and the Masai Mara game reserve. It is centrally located, which allows guests and travelers to enjoy either side of the Mara River.

Tangulia Masai Mara tent

The most unique aspect of the Tangulia Mara camp is that it's the first Masai Mara camp to be owned and managed by local people.

Tangulia means “to lead.” They are hoping to show local people that tourism can be a viable alternative to farming. The camp is situated on a conservancy of about 800 acres, and over 90 percent of their staff comes from the local community.

Location is everything, and Tangulia Mara has the best place for their camp: on a private conservancy, overlooking the Olotulo Murt salt lick pool. It is a strategic location as the animals need salt and pass by every day. The view was the best of any camps I have been to in Africa. And there was lots of action: from hippos and elephants to hyenas, There were lots of animals just below us. I slept less than 30 meters from a hippo, and we even witnessed two zebras fighting near my room.

Tangulia Masai Mara patio from the bedroom

 

Dining at Tangulia Mara

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served in the camp central pavilion and on the terrace with a front-row vista of the hippos playing in the water, a display that never gets old. The dining area also has a fantastic view of the salt lick pond. We had an excellent breakfast at Tangulia Mara, and while we ate we could watch giraffes, hippos, elephants, and hyenas. It's definitely one of the most memorable dining views I've seen!

The food is enjoyable and straightforward. Don’t expect Michelin star quality food, but you will not go hungry. The food was simple but plentiful.  All the standard drinks are also included. They were very accommodating of my dietary needs. Dinner was served at a large table, enabling all the guests to mingle and share stories of their day.

Tangulia Masai Mara salt lick view

Review of the Tangulia Mara rooms

Tangulia Mara is a camp, so the rooms are in the form of tents. There are only 8 tents in total, so the camp always feels very intimate. The camp has a very natural, crafty look that complements the surroundings.

The tents extend from the heart of the camp, overlooking the salt lick pond where animals congregate in their natural habitat. All the tents have a king-size bed and most rooms have an additional single bed.  Some tents have a double and single bed which looks a bit weird if you are traveling as a couple but is great for a family. There is also a family tent with 2 bedrooms. The rooms provide very private and intimate vibes, so it is perfect for couples who love adventure.

Tangulia Masai Mara bedroom

Most of the tents provide the most beautiful scenery you can imagine, facing the Mara River and the salt lick pool. I could have spent hours on the comfortable private terrace watching the animals. It was so good that I didn’t want to nap in between drives. I'd end up staying awake on my terrace, watching all the action down below.

Tip: If you can, get a tent that overlooks the salt lick. The one with the best view is number 2.

There will be animals around your tents. But don't worry: you are absolutely secure there. A security guard is available to walk you between your tent and the main lodge.

Every tent has its own bathroom, perfectly equipped with a full toilet and shower. Hot water is available throughout the day. I really liked that a gallon of drinking water was provided in every room. It is so much more environmentally friendly than the individual plastic bottles that most places offer.

A solar power system generates all power for the lodge, all lighting is LED-based and hot water heaters were replaced by solar heathers.

Tangulia Masai Mara bathroom

The game drives in the Masai Mara

When it comes to activities, Tangulia Mara game drives are second to none. On a game drive in the Masai Mara or the nearby conservancies, it’s common to find zebras, giraffes, buffalos, lions, wildebeests, hippos and even rhinos roaming freely. One of the more exhilarating experiences, however, is the river crossing during the migration time between July and September.

Day One: the first encounter with the lions on our afternoon game drive

We took two drives on the first day. The first one was when we arrived in the morning, on our way from the airport to the Tangulia Mara lodge. Our guide for the trip was Sam. He has over 20 years of experience and is one of the best guides around.

The number of animals was astonishing. We were there at the end of September, and it was still migration season, so there were millions of zebras and wildebeests roaming the park.

We had a glimpse of the Mara River, and while it's beautiful, I definitely wouldn't swim in it. There were tens of crocodiles and hippos relaxing in the water. I don't think I have ever seen more hippos and crocodiles in one location.

Tangulia Masai Mara crocodiles

After a few hours of relaxation at the lodge, we went back for the second drive of the day. It started with a torrential downpour.

Tangulia Masai Mara rainy day

In the late afternoon, we met a family of lions. It was fun to see them interacting with each other. There is a lot of communication going on between them. The babies' play fighting was also very cute.

Tangulia Masai Mara baby lions fighting

Tangulia Masai Mara lioness

Day Two: the ultimate animal-viewing experience on a full day game drive

Our second day was a big one: we spent the whole day driving in the park. Most lodges offer a morning and an afternoon game drive, but Tangulia Mara also offers full-day rides. We were out for a total of 11 hours, and we reached some of the most remote parts of the Masai Mara park.

Our goal was to find a migration crossing, which was far from guaranteed. We were there at the end of September, which is usually the end of the migrations. It had rained recently in the Masai Mara, though, so the grass was still plentiful, which encouraged the herds to stay instead of crossing, so we were hopeful.

As we drove, we saw a rhino from afar. Most other cars were very excited to see it, but we had just seen some rhinos mating in Nairobi while staying at the Emakoko, so we were not that excited by this single rhino that was too far to see clearly. If you specifically want to see rhinoceros, the Nairobi National Park or the Lewa Conservancy offers much better chances for rhino sightings.

There were countless little moments of wonder throughout the day. The next thing we came across was a family of 12 lions. We were still in the busy part of the park, so there were 5 or 6 other cars watching the lions as well.

Tangulia Masai Mara Lion

Sam, our guide then drove to the area between Kenya and Tanzania, and suddenly we were alone: no other cars in sight.  5 male lions were relaxing by a tree.

Tangulia Masai Mara Lioness

We then had a delicious lunch, with elephants in the background. (I got a bit worried when one started flapping his ears and looking at us...)

Tangulia Masai Mara Elephants

Tangulia Masai Mara elephants

We got escorted by a hyena that ran alongside the car for more than 5 minutes.

Tangulia Masai Mara Hyena running

The hornbill bird eating a serpent was fun to watch.

Tangulia Masai Mara horn-bill eating a snake

Witnessing the astonishing migration crossing

The earlier part of the day was great, but undoubtedly the pinnacle of the day by far was the migration crossing. We got to witness over 100 animals crossing the river.

Tangulia Masai Mara migration herds

Tangulia Masai Mara wildbeest migration

I am not sure if it was just luck or the skill of our guide Sam (I suspect the latter), but we got to the place where herds of zebra and wildebeest were gathering.

We could see a few going down the cliff, but not daring to cross and coming back up.

After about 15 minutes of hesitation, they finally started to cross. What a spectacle! The migration crossing is touted as one of the greatest shows on earth, and it is easy to see why.

The energy of all those animals risking their lives to cross a river is riveting. The come down a sharp cliff, jump in the river and have to fight strong currents to make it to the other side. You can only hope that they all make it, and find yourself wishing you could go and help the young one and the ones who are struggling.

Tangulia Masai Mara wildebeest migration river crossing

Tangulia Masai Mara wildebeest migration river crossing

But the drama was not over yet.

All the wildebeest made it across, but about half the zebras were too afraid and didn’t cross the river.

The zebra all were distressed and calling each other from both sides of the river.

It was a moment that was both dramatic and emotional, as the zebras who had made it were crying to encourage their family to also cross. It was useless, as half of the zebras got too scared to cross and were not planning to.

Three zebras eventually went back to join the rest of the group. They again crossed the river in the other direction to be reunited with their people. One zebra was still very distressed on our side of the river. A few other zebras came to console him, giving him head hugs. It was like a dramatic Hollywood movie!

Tangulia Masai Mara wildbeest migration river crossing

Day Three: an exciting morning drive to the airstrip

On our last day, the trip to the airport was also full of adventure. We saw a lion who had just found some prey and was trying to carry it to its hiding place. It was hard work, as the dead animal must have weighed over 100 kg, and the lion was panting.

Tangulia Masai Mara Lioon feeding

We stayed with a family of baboons for a little while, and it was cute to see the babies learning to come down the trees. Some were not successful with their climbing and came tumbling down.

Tuesday morning was apparently family day, as we also came across a family of hyenas with two cute babies.

Internet connection on the Masai Mara

The Massai Mara park is surprisingly well connected with 3G and 4G.

I bought an Airtel sim card with a data plan when I arrived at Nairobi International Airport. It cost me 7 USD for 2 GB of data. I had a data connection in the Tangulia Mara camp as well as about 80 percent of the park.

Safaricom is also an excellent provider that has a network in even more regions, so that is probably the best option (their system was not working when I arrived in Kenya so I could not get a Safaricom card). Tangulia Mara camp has good internet in the lounge/restaurant area but no internet in the tents.

Tangulia Masai Mara Elephants

Tangulia Mara price and booking

A night at Tangulia Mara in the Masai Mara costs about 600 USD per person. This price includes all food, drinks. It also includes the game drives ( with a fully stocked minibar :-)  ) and the airport transfer.

You can book via Bush and Beyond. Bush and Beyond is a safari organizer in Kenya that specializes in Luxury boutique lodges. Most of them are family-owned and provide an authentic experience of Kenya. They booked our Kenya trip and the whole organization was flawless so I highly recommend them for your safari in Kenya. You can find more info on their website.

Conclusion of my Tangulia Mara review

The Masai Mara is the center of Kenya's thriving safari industry. It offers unrivaled game viewing but can sometimes feel very crowded. Staying at Tangulia Mara is a way to counterbalance that.

If you want gourmet food and champagne in your jacuzzi, pick another camp. But if you're going to Kenya to see some animals in action and experience the wilderness, I don't think there is a better camp. With stunning vistas, a friendly staff that makes you feel like a part of their family, small cars and remarkable guides, it's a winning proposition.

The Masai Mara is the center of Kenya's thriving safari industry. It offers unrivaled game viewing but can sometimes feel very crowded. Staying at Tangulia Mara is a way to counterbalance that.

 

For more information about the best safari lodges in Kenya, read my articles about the Nairobi National park, Ol Malo lodge and the Lewa conservancy.

If you love luxury tented camp, also check out my review of Nightfall luxury camp in Australia

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3 thoughts on “Tangulia Mara Review: How to avoid the crowd in Masai Mara?”

  1. The photos are unbelievable! I really like that the Tangulia Mara is owned by the locals. I hope to visit Kenya someday.

  2. I hope all of the zebras eventually got to reunite! 🙂 Love the photos. I would love this camp.. I wouldn’t go to Africa for the champagne and gourmet food anyway 🙂

  3. Tangulia Mara is the first camp where it seems like you are truly in the middle of it all! Fantastic review.

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I’m Julie and Icurrently spent about half of my time in Bali and the other half traveling to fantastic destinations around the world. I LOVE traveling, Yoga, and Scuba diving. I am sharing extraordinary places and adventures with you. This is not a backpacker type site. If you are a busy business executive who want to maximize your holidays and have amazing experiences, this site if for you! I want to give you practical tips on how to enjoy amazing vacations in the most comfortable way possible. From long luxury week-ends to diving trips or 2 weeks adventures to very remote places.

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