Located in the Enonkishu Conservancy, I had the privilege of staying at a private family - owned boutique lodge named ‘House in the Wild’; a beautiful remote location in the Greater Mara ecosystem with an incredible wildlife experience and a mix of luxury, comfort, warm hospitality, good food and stunning nature. It felt like a home away from home where I didn’t want to leave after a 4-night stay.
Kenya is without a doubt one of the most incredible wildlife and safari destinations in the entire world. Staying in safari-style (luxury) eco-lodges in the conservancies around the Maasai Mara National Reserve is in my opinion one of the best options to experience a safari of a lifetime.
13 Reasons to stay at House in the Wild
In this article, I will share 13 reasons why you should add House in the Wild to your Kenya safari-itinerary.
1. Perfectly located on the Enonkishu Conservancy in the Maasai Mara with an abundance of wildlife
House in the Wild is located on the banks of the Mara River in Naretoi, a private estate in the Enonkishu Conservancy situated at the northern boundary of the Maasai Mara.
The accommodation is easily accessible by a 30-minute charter flight from Nairobi to the Ngerende airstrip, a private airstrip located 25 minutes from House in the Wild. Another option is a 4.5-hour self drive or transfer from Nairobi to Naretoi. Flights are faster and maybe more convenient, but I love the scenic road trip with stunning views of the Rift Valley and buying mais or fruits along the road. The famous Maasai Mara can be reached in about 2.5 hours by car.
The Enonkishu Conservancy is part of the Greater Mara Ecosystem and covers an area of 5.928 acres where you can find amazing flora and fauna with over 50 species of mammals and 350+ bird species.
The Enonkishu area is home to the ‘Big five’ game animals that includes lion, leopard, white rhino (at the Rhino Sanctuary), elephant, and buffalo.
Apart from that, you will find many more animals like Thomson and Grant’s gazelle, cheetah, eland, impala, wild dog (rare), hippo, hyena, giraffe, and zebra.
From your private terrace, you’ll have great views over the Mara River bank where you can watch hippo’s, crocodiles, birds and even monkeys, like Sykes’ monkeys. Vervet monkeys are also regular visitors of House in the Wild.
2. Private safari game drives by experienced Maasai guides
House in the Wild offers marvelous game-driving opportunities through the Enonkishu, Lemek, and Ol Chorro Conservancies. Together with a knowledgeable Masai guide, you will go on daily private game drives to explore these beautiful areas full of wildlife.
Depending on your wishes, the guide explains all kinds of aspects of wildlife, nature, and the ecosystem. Our guide, Joseph, knew the area very well and has many years of experience. He made us feel comfortable from the moment we arrived and made sure we had a wonderful time. We had four lovely days with him and learned a lot more about the Maasai tribe and about the surrounding trees, mammals, and birds.
Because we love game drives, we tried to spend as much time as possible ‘in the bush’. We started our day with an early morning game drive, sometimes even before sunrise, to watch the sun come up. Watching the sunrise is an amazing start of the day. If you have trouble waking up early the staff is more than happy to give you a wake-up call!
Normally you will be back for breakfast around 10.00, but It’s also possible to take a packed breakfast on your drive to stay out in the bush longer. I personally love doing that, as you will be enjoying a breakfast somewhere on the Maasai plains; for example, under an iconic Desert Date tree.
During midday, we had lunch with views over the Mara River at House in the Wild and afterwards, we went for another evening game drive including a sundowner. Enjoying the sunset on the plains of the Maasai Mara is the perfect ending of a day exploring Africa’s nature.
On arrival back in the camp, you can enjoy an indoor or outdoor fire, waiting for dinner to be served by the lovely staff of House in the Wild.
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3. A home away from home, surrounded by nature
You don’t have to go outside of the property to enjoy the peaceful and natural environment of the Mara ecosystem. From the main area, you can admire various animals like colorful bee-eaters nesting in the river bank, crocodiles and hippos resting in the river, or a troop of African Blue Monkeys foraging for food in the surrounding trees.
House in the Wild offers a lovely ambiance, including comfort and privacy. There is a relaxing lounge area in the main building.
The main building and cottages are surrounded by a well-maintained garden, a swimming pool, and a (cocktail) bar.
In the evening you can enjoy an outdoor campfire or the indoor fireplace. If you like games, you will absolutely like the badminton court and table tennis.
If you don’t feel like going on a game drive twice a day, there’s no need to be bored. Staying at House in the Wild feels like your home away from home and it’s also nice to take some time to relax around the house, have a walk through the garden or exhale at your private verandah.
4. Enjoy a plunge in the pool while watching the hippos in the Mara River
Because of the location, just south of the Equator, the climate in this area is pleasantly warm, with cool nights, all year round. Depending on the season, temperatures and rainfall varies a bit but most days you can enjoy the lovely, well-maintained pool during your stay at House in the Wild.
After a long day of exploring Enonkishu’s wildlife, it’s a delight to have a dip in the pool while still enjoying the sights of hippos or crocodiles in the Mara River.
After cooling off in the pool, there are some sun loungers waiting for you to have a little rest before your next game drive.
5. Visit the Rhino Sanctuary, Maasai Village and other activities around House in the Wild
Aside from game drives, there are a number of other activities to do at an additional price like visiting the Rhino Sanctuary, or the local Maasai village and their school.
There’s also the opportunity to go for a bush walk, night drive, farm visit, or book a relaxing massage or an adventurous balloon safari. Apart from exploring the three conservancies: Enonkishu, Lemek and Ol Chorro, you can also opt for a game drive to the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Especially during the Great Migration it’s a must do to catch a glimpse of herds of Wildebeests and Zebras crossing the Mara River.
We visited the Maasai village after a morning game drive. Seeing their homes and talking to these lovely people is a great way of learning more about the Maasai culture and their way of life, especially when it’s your first African experience.
Although it’s a bit touristy, you should know that by visiting the semi-nomadic Maasai, you support their local economy and their living. The money they collect is invested in for example education for the younger generation.
Mara Training Center
You also have the chance of visiting the Mara Training Center, part of the Enonkishu Wild Hub, to learn more about the conservancy work in this area. Conservationists regularly visit the training center to talk about their projects, for example cheetah project or lion monitoring projects.
Apart from that, the Mara Training Center is also the base for Field Guide courses to train future nature guides. Read more about my 35-day guiding course experience with EcoTraining at the Mara Training Center.
6. Stunningly decorated cottages with an authentic African feel
With 4 cottages, two en-suite doubles, and two family lodges, House is the Wild offers various options to stay.
For example, the original cottage has a large verandah with two double rooms, both with ensuite bathrooms including a bath and outdoor shower and the ‘Hippo cottage’ has its own huge verandah and bath overlooking the river.
All rooms are artfully decorated and spacious. The mattresses are comfortable, and they make use of high-quality linens.
We were offered the ‘Warburgia cottage’ for 4 nights, which is situated under the shade of a huge Warburgia tree.
This double ensuite cottage has an amazing view over the river, a spacious bathroom with outdoor shower, and an upstairs loft lounge area.
Apart from that there was also a lounge area on the first floor with two comfortable chairs and a coffee table (with a jar of chocolates or nuts). In case it rains you can still enjoy the amazing river views.
There were no mosquito nets around the beds, but this cottage has a zippered screen door, so we didn’t have any problems with insects. We really loved the space and privacy of this cottage.
7. Private Verandah with Mara River Views
The private verandah overlooking the Mara River is definitely one of the reasons to stay in the eco-friendly House in the Wild.
The Warburgia cottage has a spacious verandah with sun loungers and a garden set. You can easily spend a day relaxing at the verandah: soaking up some African sun, reading a book on one of the sun loungers, spotting birds through your binoculars or just peering over the Mara River, listening to the sounds of the African bush.
Something that made me very happy was slowly waking up with a cup of coffee - sitting on the verandah while watching the sunrise over the Mara River before heading out on our morning drive.
8. Bathroom with a view and outdoor shower for that extra ‘bush feel’
The ensuite bathroom is very light and spacious. The bathroom is equipped with everything you need, from eco-friendly shampoo, handwash, lotion and hand sanitizer to fresh water and cosy dressing gowns.
In between the private safaris, take your time to create the perfect bath with their bath salts. Open the windows of the bathroom to enjoy stunning views of the Mara River right from your bathtub.
What I also love about the bathroom, is the outdoor rainshower to experience that extra connection with the African Bush.
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9. Delicious food straight from the local ‘shamba’
Food can be an issue in Africa, but not at House in the wild. The chef, who always wears a big smile, served excellent and beautifully presented meals prepared with love. They use homegrown ingredients from their local garden, called the ‘shamba’, which is part of their ‘wild food philosophy’.
I absolutely loved the daily fresh and healthy salads. The chef does not only serve local meals but also global dishes like Vietnamese summer rolls, quiches, pizza, and steak.
Before departure for the game drives, there were always homemade cookies available and hot water for coffee and thee. There were no set times for the meals. The staff was very flexible, they adjusted the times of the meals to our wishes. Also, in case of any dietary requirements, they will take care of it.
10. Private dining with a view
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were served in different places throughout the property of House in the Wild, always with a nice view and far enough from other guests to create an exclusive experience.
We enjoyed lunch at the bank of the river and one day we enjoyed dinner on our private verandah under the stars.
11. Enjoy a highly personalized experience because of the amazing staff
Service and hospitality make or break your stay. House in the Wild shows a perfect example of excellent service. Upon arrival, we were welcomed by all the staff members, and they made us immediately feel at home.
The chef, our guide, housemaid, and all other staff members welcomed us personally. Communication was on point and they like to give you the best possible experience, always with a smile!
Without a doubt, the hospitality of House in the Wild is of the highest caliber. Even kids are more than welcome, House in the Wild is a child-friendly boutique safari lodge.
12. Ecological quality House in the Wild
The owners of House in the Wild attach value to sustainable tourism and conservancy. In different ways they make sure that luxury is sustainable.
95% of the energy is run on solar, they recycle water through constructed wetlands, source firewood from their own sustainable plantation and grow vegetables in their wild shamba to serve their guests fresh vegetables on a daily basis.
All of their building material is sourced from sustainable suppliers, and they give back to the Maasai community as much as they can. Their staff are local Maasai and all guests pay a conservation fee per person per day.
This fee allows guests to explore the Enonkishu, Lemek and Ol Chorro conservancies and in return, they get rewarded with some spectacular landscapes and wildlife.
The owners of House in the Wild also created a program ‘Futures in the Wild’ which allows guests to contribute and get involved in community and conservation initiatives before, during, or after their stay.
They are also a proud member of the Long run, one of the world’s largest sustainable development initiatives led by nature-based businesses.
13. Enonkishu’s unique approach to conservation and livestock management
The charm of conservancies is not only their exclusivity but also the value of good conservation management. Income generated through tourism goes directly to the landowners, in the case of private conservancies.
Enonkishu managed to transform an overgrazed and barren area of marginal land into a vigorous conservancy. They use research, technology, and monitoring to take important livestock management and conservation decisions.
One of their major projects is a rigorous grazing plan to maximize available forages for livestock and wildlife. Mobile bomas, additional artificial water points, efforts to control erosion, and cattle have been used as tools to rehabilitate degraded grassland.
The beautiful result of these efforts is the improved condition of this conservancy where humans, wildlife, and livestock can coexist. And that is exactly how it needs to be: working with the local communities and nature instead of against it.
Book your stay at House in the Wild, on the award-winning Enonkishu Conservancy and tell them you came through Traveltomtom! Click here to visit the House in the Wild website.
Check out the latest prices for House in the Wild here. In case you have any questions about House in the Wild or traveling to Kenya, feel free to contact me through my Instagram @ourplanetinmylens.
This article is written by travel and wildlife photographer Kim Paffen, part of the Traveltomtom team. She also wrote amazing Africa articles about Uganda, Madagascar and South Africa.