The guest tents at Sand River Camp all have amazing views of the river.

Sand River Masai Mara | The Masai Mara Luxury Kenya Safari Lodge

Set along the Sand River in Kenya with three crossing points, there’s no better place to watch the Great Wildebeest Migration than at Sand River Masai Mara. When not witnessing this miracle of nature, enjoy billiards, swimming, bush meals and sundowners, or go out and meet the Maasai.

The place

We sit at a private table on the water’s edge, enjoying a gourmet lunch served by our personal waiter. On the other side of the Sand River – from which this luxury Kenyan safari lodge gets its name – are the sweeping plains of the Serengeti. Every year, masses of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle cross this very river on their northerly passage into the Masai Mara as part of the Great Wildebeest Migration. When deciding where to stay, friends had told us there are three river-crossing sites at Sand River Masai Mara, so here we are. Come a day or two, we’ll be smack in the middle of the action! The manager, George, pointed out that one site has a sausage tree next to it. He says that lion sit there and simply pick off wildebeest at their leisure. I’m equally thrilled and mortified… In the meanwhile, we’re enjoying the camp, and hoping to see the Big Five.

We sit at a private table on the water’s edge, enjoying a gourmet lunch served by our personal waiter. On the other side of the Sand River – from which this luxury Kenyan safari lodge gets its name – are the sweeping plains of the Serengeti. Every year, masses of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle cross this very river on their northerly passage into the Masai Mara as part of the Great Wildebeest Migration. When deciding where to stay, friends had told us there are three river-crossing sites at Sand River Masai Mara, so here we are. Come a day or two, we’ll be smack in the middle of the action! The manager, George, pointed out that one site has a sausage tree next to it. He says that lion sit there and simply pick off wildebeest at their leisure. I’m equally thrilled and mortified… In the meanwhile, we’re enjoying the camp, and hoping to see the Big Five.

The room

Morning in the Masai Mara. I walk across the carpeted wooden floors of our tent to the outdoor shower, perched on the edge of the river. There’s a slight chill to the air but I’m warmly wrapped in my robe. Within seconds, the massive showerhead releases a strong jet of hot water. From where I wash, I can see over the river into the Serengeti, catching a glimpse of the mounting wildebeest as the rising sun turns the sky a mottled pink. As I walk back towards the tent, the fresh smell of coffee wafts towards me, and I see a tray of tea, coffee and biscuits laid out on our private wooden deck. Sitting on the edge of our enormous four-poster bed, I gently wake my companion. Looking around, I think again how lovely our tent is: the bathroom with its massive bath, the marble-topped double sinks, the colonial-style interior – all leather and wood, which, apart from the mixed-blessing of Wi-Fi available throughout the lodge, makes me feel like a 1920s explorer.We sit out on the deck to, sipping our tea and coffee and enjoying a little pre-breakfast theatre on the river’s edge. It’s a prime location to watch wildlife activities – hippo grunting in the river beneath us, birds darting down into the grass to feed, vervet monkey swinging in the trees. And before us, the Serengeti, Tanzania’s most famous national park.

Morning in the Masai Mara. I walk across the carpeted wooden floors of our tent to the outdoor shower, perched on the edge of the river. There’s a slight chill to the air but I’m warmly wrapped in my robe. Within seconds, the massive showerhead releases a strong jet of hot water. From where I wash, I can see over the river into the Serengeti, catching a glimpse of the mounting wildebeest as the rising sun turns the sky a mottled pink. As I walk back towards the tent, the fresh smell of coffee wafts towards me, and I see a tray of tea, coffee and biscuits laid out on our private wooden deck. Sitting on the edge of our enormous four-poster bed, I gently wake my companion. Looking around, I think again how lovely our tent is: the bathroom with its massive bath, the marble-topped double sinks, the colonial-style interior – all leather and wood, which, apart from the mixed-blessing of Wi-Fi available throughout the lodge, makes me feel like a 1920s explorer.

We sit out on the deck to, sipping our tea and coffee and enjoying a little pre-breakfast theatre on the river’s edge. It’s a prime location to watch wildlife activities – hippo grunting in the river beneath us, birds darting down into the grass to feed, vervet monkey swinging in the trees. And before us, the Serengeti, Tanzania’s most famous national park.

What sets it apart

I love having an outdoor shower; what an experience to watch the activity on the Sand River while going about your daily ablutions. That said, you can bank on incredible viewings no matter where you are at the lodge … we were able to see wildebeest crossing the river during lunch in the dining area! And once, during the sudden African dusk, we heard the chilling sound of a lion roaring nearby. Other than game viewing, we had great fun playing billiards and swimming in the pool. I also loved the elegant luxury, and the colonial memorabilia used as decor.

I love having an outdoor shower; what an experience to watch the activity on the Sand River while going about your daily ablutions. That said, you can bank on incredible viewings no matter where you are at the lodge … we were able to see wildebeest crossing the river during lunch in the dining area! And once, during the sudden African dusk, we heard the chilling sound of a lion roaring nearby. Other than game viewing, we had great fun playing billiards and swimming in the pool.
I also loved the elegant luxury, and the colonial memorabilia used as decor.

At a glance

  • Luxurious, colonial-style tented camp, with games room and pool. It has 16 tented rooms (four twins, 11 doubles and one family) spread across two separate but adjoining areas – Sand River and Little Sand River.
  • Personal butler on request, private dining, private vehicles available (additional cost) and set in a secluded area of the Masai Mara National Reserve, right on the Great Wildebeest Migration route with three river-crossing points.
  • Game drives, bush meals, bush sundowners, dinner under the stars, hot-air ballooning (additional cost) and cultural visits (additional cost).
  • Children permitted, and children’s activities on offer. One family tent, plus four others have day beds that can be used as extra beds.

  • Luxurious, colonial-style tented camp, with games room and pool. It has 16 tented rooms (four twins, 11 doubles and one family) spread across two separate but adjoining areas – Sand River and Little Sand River.
  • Personal butler on request, private dining, private vehicles available (additional cost) and set in a secluded area of the Masai Mara National Reserve, right on the Great Wildebeest Migration route with three river-crossing points.
  • Game drives, bush meals, bush sundowners, dinner under the stars, hot-air ballooning (additional cost) and cultural visits (additional cost).
  • Children permitted, and children’s activities on offer. One family tent, plus four others have day beds that can be used as extra beds.

Prices

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

When to Go

This is the most popular time to visit the Masai Mara, and for good reason. The Great Wildebeest Migration returns from the Serengeti from July to September, and at its peak the plains of the Masai Mara are covered with the animals as far as the eye can see. You’ll also get to witness a Mara River crossing at this time – an awe-inspiring experience. While it can get somewhat crowded, there are many luxury properties in private conservancies that offer greater exclusivity. The weather also plays along now, being dry and cool, perfect for game drives.

As it dries out after the short rains in November, large herds of resident game and predators congregate closer to the Mara River and other water sources during these months. This, combined with thinning vegetation and fewer visitors, makes for exceptional game viewing, comparing favorably with safari experiences across Africa – despite that the Great Wildebeest Migration has moved on by now. To combine exclusivity with the migration, merge a Masai Mara safari now with a visit to the Serengeti, where the migrating herds will be.

The Masai Mara’s long rains, which fall steadily throughout April and May, are followed by short rains in November – generally quick afternoon bursts. While muddy roads can make getting around an adventure, as it’s a quiet time for tourism wildlife experiences are highly exclusive. As the vegetation is in a growth period, the game is easy to see too. All in all visitors get good-value holidays during this time, provided they pack their sense of humour (and their gum boots!).

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