Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve





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  1. #1
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    Default Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve

    Has anybody recently been (or has any recent info) on this campsite? We are going to camp there for two nights at the end of this year, but I have some fears that we will be refused to book this site at the gate.

    We were there last year for the first time and back then I was certain that this is a regular and official public campsite in the reserve. When entering at Sekenani gate, we have stated that we would like to spend a night at Sandriver Public Campsite. At that time officer gave me really blank look, that I really didn't understand at that time.But on my persistence, he silently wrote down the name of this campsite on our entrance slip and correctly charged us the price for public campsite (which is 30$ for nonresidents). However, it was only when we came to the Sandriver campsite and realized that all the campsite facilities are in derelict state, it occurred to me that this might no longer be an "official" campsite. The rangers at the Sandriver gate were very welcoming and didn't ask any questions though, but we still had a feeling that we were actually wildcamping there. It certainly was a public campsite in the past, but now I'm afraid it might be officially closed and we might be denied to spend a night or two there.

    I tried to find any firm info about its recent status, but to no avail. Also, apparently, "Two Monkeys (hugmin42 on this forum) were silently assigned some other campsite (outside the reserve) when they requested for Sandriver at Sekenani gate.

    So, is there anyone here that has stayed at Sandriver campsite (or has any firm information about it) recently?
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    Default Re: Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve

    Ortelius, I have no new info since we camped there in 2015. We booked our camping at the Mara Bridge entry gate when traveling east from the Mara Triangle and they had no hesitation in giving us a booking.

    However we were told that this used to be a special campsite but because of the derelict ablutions they had downgraded it to a public campsite. We were also told that the ablutions had been allowed to fall into disrepair as they no longer had a pump for water. But that there were plans to upgrade the infrastructure.

    I will also be interested to hear of any current reports.
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    Default Re: Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve

    EDIT: Sorry, saw now that you did mention reading our report. We were still in the reserve close to the old facilities. And like you say the rangers were friendly and show us the spot, so it didn't seem too unofficial.

    We were there earlier this year. Got the booking at the gate and camped under a tree on the opposite side of the river far from the potential ablutions, which most probably is not even accessible. It was an amazing spot so definitely worth it if you don't mind using the bush.

    See our blog for photos and more details and route map: http://twomonkeys.in/day-115-maa-trust-maasai-mara/
    Last edited by hugmin42; 2017/09/17 at 02:30 PM.

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    Default Re: Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve

    Thank you both. We'll see if they'll allow us to book it at Sekenani gate again this year. If not, we'll either drive immediately into Mara Triangle and use one of there public campsites, or maybe we'll choose one of the campsites just out of reserve around Talek gate for one night.

    I'll report back at the end of our trip.
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    Default Re: Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve

    Quote Originally Posted by ortelius View Post
    Thank you both. We'll see if they'll allow us to book it at Sekenani gate again this year. If not, we'll either drive immediately into Mara Triangle and use one of there public campsites, or maybe we'll choose one of the campsites just out of reserve around Talek gate for one night.

    I'll report back at the end of our trip.
    I must say that the Serengeti campsites outside the entrance gates did not appeal much to me. I cannot recall if you plan to stay in the Mara Triangle or not. If not reconsider as the Triangle (Mara Conservancy) is perhaps preferable to the Masai Mara Game Reserve to its east. It will only be about 20km and half an hour's driving to get from Eluai Public Campsite to the western entrance gate of the Game Reserve at the Mara Bridge.

    Thinking further, you probably know all of this already, perhaps it will help other readers.
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    Default Re: Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve

    Although I have never camped at Sand River in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, my understanding has always been that this is the only public campsite in the Reserve (as opposed to the Conservancy/Triangle). This is also backed by Sand River being marked as a public campsite on the two maps I have of the whole Mara. It is obviously rarely used hence the derelict ablutions, but if one is equipped for wild camping, then it will be a good place to go. I have Kenyan friends who always camp at or near Sand River and, obviously, Stan and Hugo have camped there with the permission of the rangers.

    My advice to Ortelius is to email the Mara Conservancy and ask them - despite the fact that Sand River is not within their remit of administration. Although the Mara Triangle is run by the Mara Conservancy on behalf of the Trans Mara County Council, and the Maasai Mara Game Reserve is run by the Narok County Council, there is some degree of interaction between the two parts of the greater Mara area. The Mara Conservancy is better run and they are more likely to answer emails. If you don't have any luck, let me know and I will get on to my contacts in Kenya.

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    Default Re: Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve

    Quote Originally Posted by ortelius View Post
    Also, apparently, "Two Monkeys (hugmin42 on this forum) were silently assigned some other campsite (outside the reserve) when they requested for Sandriver at Sekenani gate.
    I would have to reread the Two Monkeys' post on camping at Sand River, but they could not possibly have been "outside the reserve" if they were near the Sand River gate and the old Sand River campsite. "Outside the Reserve" in this case would be in Tanzania - in fact, the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania! So long as there is no unofficial payment involved with a ranger, and the due fees have been paid for camping in a public campsite at the gate, then I think you can feel reasonably confident that it is official and above board.

    Sand River campsite probably fell out of use etc due to the Julie Ward case some 20+ years ago. But in the real "old days" there were no campsites as such - or roads - ah, you should have seen it then...

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    Default Re: Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve

    To answer my own question about public campsite at Sand River.

    At Sekenani gate to Masai Mara Reserve they have had absolutely no problems with giving me a permit (and charging me accordingly) at this public campsite. And rangers at nearby Sand River gate also have not show any surprise or disapproval of our stay there. They only checked our papers and asked on which exact spot we want to camp. And upon request they provided us with firewood.

    A year before we have camped under a large tree just before the bridge across the river (you actually have to cross the gate to get there). This year we decided to rather camp under the big fig tree before the gate complex. That is where official ablution blocks for campsite used to be. The buildings (one for gents and one for ladies) are still there, but the interior is in a state of total disrepair.

    We spent two nights there and it was fantastic. This being the only option for camping inside the park in this part of the Mara reserve (in Mara Triangle there are a more camping options), I am surprised that this campsite is so seldom used. The area is beautiful and game is plentiful. From the campsite itself we have had constant entertainment observing resident herd of reedbuck in the nearby (almost dry) riverbed, one day we were able to observer two lioness crossing the hillside on the other side of the river and birds offered many observation and photographic opportunities. One must be very wary about some less visible and less pleasant creatures though: at one occasion a very bold boomslang descended from the low hanging branch of the camp fig tree to the ground not even a meter from where I was standing.

    I would recommend this campsite to anyone wanting to camp on this side of the park. You have to be totally self-sufficient though. There aren't any camping facilities there (at least not usable ones).
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    Default Re: Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve

    Thanks for the update Ortelius. This is exactly where we camped in 2015, at the fig tree on the northern bank of the Sand River. At that time they said there were plans to renovate the ablutions and that it might become a special campsite. Herds of eland, buffalo, zebra and wildebeest passed just to the north of the campsite and we could watch them from the comfort of our camping chairs in the shade. Wonderful!

    As a matter of interest did they charge you public or special campsite rates? Not that it matters too much as this is the only campsite available to self-drivers within the Masai Mara Game Reserve. As you mention there are public campsites (and special campsites) for self drivers in the adjoining Mara Triangle to the west.
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    Default Re: Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve

    Stan, they charged us the price for public campsite. And on the payment slip (they now accept -and actually prefer - payments with credit cards at all gates) clearly states that it is for "SAND RIVER PUBLIC CAMPSITE".
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    Default Re: Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve

    Thank you, ortelius, for this very useful update. Looking forward to your trip report which I know will be up to your normal high standard.

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    Default Re: Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve

    Quote Originally Posted by ortelius View Post

    A year before we have camped under a large tree just before the bridge across the river (you actually have to cross the gate to get there). This year we decided to rather camp under the big fig tree before the gate complex. That is where official ablution blocks for campsite used to be. The buildings (one for gents and one for ladies) are still there, but the interior is in a state of total disrepair. (...).
    Hi Ortelius,

    Do you have by any chance the GPS coordinates?

    Waiting for your report.

    Thank you,

    AP

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    Default Re: Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve

    apfac I hope I am not treading on any toes if I pitch in here. We stayed at exactly the same camp site at Sand River as Ortelius. It is on the north bank of the smallish Sand River next to a fig tree. It lies to the east of the ranger's post and the bridge across the Sand River leading into Serengeti. I suppose these are about 400-600m away. Of course the public can no longer use this route to reach Serengeti.

    There are some derelict buildings, previously ablution blocks, about 300m away to the northwest. I did not take the GPS points at the campsite but Tracks 4 Africa has it marked and our GPS led us directly to that campsite. I am confident T4A's GPS coordinates as taken by me off the program on my laptop are precisely accurate

    The coords for Sand River Public Campsite are S1° 39.209' E35° 13.080'
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    Default Re: Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve

    apfac, Stan is spot on.

    About my trip report: I'll probably start working on it this coming week, but can't make any promises. Except that it will be published eventually.
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    Default Re: Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve

    Hi Stan,

    Thank you so much for the help. Not intrusive at all! Now it makes sense! I was looking at T4A and they showed Sand River Campsite at S1º29.386 E34º 57.665. If you google it, way down on E176 there is a (Mara) bridge and a few buildings (Mara Conservancy gate), but the CS is way to far up.

    Thank you.

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    Default Re: Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve

    Apfac

    I haven’t actually looked at T4A, but I just want you to be aware of the difference between a camp (luxury tented camp) and a campsite. There is a luxury tented camp called Sand River Camp according to my Google searches. This may well be what you saw on T4A, but I am sure the public campsite at Sand River is on T4A. It is very easy to see on a map or Google Earth as it is on the road heading south from Keekorok towards the Kenya/Tanzania border (no border crossing though).

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    Default Re: Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve

    Thanks for the tip. Didn't know about that campsite

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    Default Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve

    Guys, can you please tell me exactly how much they charged for camping, foreign vehicle fee? Did you enter the Mara Game Reserve or just stay around the campsite? What do they charge S A people rates? When I drove there from S A in 2015 the Nat Park rates were higher at US$100, ‘foreign vehicle fee $45 (bastards) and camping in the Maasai Community Camp was great and only costs $10 each per night if my memory serves me. For what it’s worth we had the best photographic and wildlife experiences ever staying in Gamewatchers Porini tented camps in the private conservancies
    Last edited by TeriosGuy; 2018/01/22 at 12:30 PM.

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    Default Re: Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve

    Quote Originally Posted by TeriosGuy View Post
    ........ (bastards) ..........
    Somehow I would be surprised if you receive much in the way of a constructive response.
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    Default Re: Sandriver Campsite in Masai Mara Reserve

    Quote Originally Posted by TeriosGuy View Post
    Guys, can you please tell me exactly how much they charged for camping, foreign vehicle fee? Did you enter the Mara Game Reserve or just stay around the campsite? What do they charge S A people rates? When I drove there from S A in 2015 the Nat Park rates were higher at US$100, ‘foreign vehicle fee $45 (bastards) and camping in the Maasai Community Camp was great and only costs $10 each per night if my memory serves me. For what it’s worth we had the best photographic and wildlife experiences ever staying in Gamewatchers Porini tented camps in the private conservancies
    There is quite a lot of “fake news” in this post.


    1. There has never been a difference between foreign vehicles and Kenyan vehicles so far as vehicle fees for the Maasai Mara Game Reserve and the Mara Conservancy. There is in Tanzanian national parks, but not in Kenya.
    2. I don’t think that the Mara was ever USD100 for park fees. Please see this for the current 2018 rates https://www.maratriangle.org/conservation-fees-1/. The costs are the same for the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.


    Sand River campsite is within the Maasai Mara Game Reserve so park fees and camping fees apply. The private conservancies surrounding the Mara are not open for casual self drivers. You need to be staying in one of the luxury tented camps who have taken a concession and effectively run the private conservancy in which they are located. Yes, Porini run very good luxury tented camps, but they cost...

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