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Big Cat & Wildlife Research in Kenya - Maasai Mara Reserve
Volunteers group photo Volunteers group photo

Big Cat & Wildlife Research in Kenya - Maasai Mara Reserve

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Yuki

It's perfect I will come back for sure. Life here is hard but we still cherish each other and learn things here as well. We can clearly see the transformations and hope these characters will help me my future.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Tales of Kenya

It was a magical experience. I had been waiting to come here for a long time and photograph. I feel one with African Impact and I will do my best to work here and do amazing photos in the future too. I believe that my passion to be a part of this organisation so whole-heartedly will take me far.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    8

My two weeks in Mara

What a wonderful time I've had in Naboisho conservancy, its amazing to be so immersed in the wildlife. I have been so lucky to see a leopard, a cheetah hunt and kill and everything else! I also really like that I am able to have the safari experience in a more sustainable way. Everyone has been so lovely and I've enjoyed the relaxed pace of life.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    9

Best volunteer experience so far

The local people are very nice-especially the students at the guiding school and the kids and the people who work here are excellent. It's the most wild animals I've seen during a volunteer trip. Also love the actual volunteer work that we do.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    N/A

  • Day to Day Life

    10

I had clear expectations for the outcome of this adventure, my reality far exceeded my expectations.

This has been the most memorable experience of my life. The Mara is beautiful, viewing the animals is an amazing experience and the camp is more than adequate. It was satisfying helping the community.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Day to Day Life

    8

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community Engagement

    6

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

My experience

this adventure in African impact project was very unique for me and different from what i experience so far, kind people, good environment and carrying staff. i learned alot about nature and so some views i never seen before.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    9

My first time in Africa

It was my first time in Africa and I was really impressed by the wildlife from the beginning on. I spent three weeks here in Naboisho Conservancy. Because it was my first time to Africa I did not really had specific expectations, but for sure I did not expect to interact so close with the wildlife and the community. Getting so close to the animals enables me to take hundreds of amazing photos and interacting with the local community, especially our personal guide and driver Francis, I learned a lot about the wildlife here in Kenya. I collected plenty of different new experiences every week, which I will never forget. The staff here at the project which includes the local manager, driver, cook and the cleaning lady is simply amazing. I highly recommend this project to anyone who would like to help help saving Africa`s wildlife while interacting with it and its local community.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    7

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    5

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Another day in paradise

Coming here to Naboisho Conservancy in Maasai Mara exceeded all my expectations! Entering the Conservancy on my first day, I saw five new antelope species in as many minutes and was awed at the beauty of this place. As a professional Safari Guide, I have been to many game reserves and national parks in Africa before, but this is what it must have looked liked hundreds of years ago. A green garden of Eden with wildlife in abundance and the Maasai community who have mastered the combination of their traditional way of lives, tourism and conservation.
However - where there is a paradise there must be a hell as well, I guess. We found our little hell within Dawn - a volunteer from Australia - who abused not only the staff and the other volunteers but also the locals, did not participate in any of the activities and managed to disrupt our peaceful group on many occasions.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

African Impact Naboisho

I signed up to take part in African Impact's Masai Mara Big Cat Monitoring program as a part of my gap year before heading off to university. I can honestly say that I have never experienced anything like what I experienced while here. I loved my time here, both my interactions with the staff and the other volunteers and helping out with the projects. I only wish that I could stay for longer.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    7

  • Day to Day Life

    8

Amazing!!

I full enjoyed for two week in Naboisho. We saw so many animal, including cubs.it was wonderful time.Staying space is clean so I spend comfortable. I visited in Kenya first time but I become loving Kenya! Because there are the great nature, a lot of wildlife and kindness people. I want to come back to Naboisho!! Thank you so much!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    N/A

  • Day to Day Life

    7

My experience in the Naboisho conservancy

My time is the Masai Mara project was great!!! I have learned so many things about wildlife, environment, Kenyan culture...I will never regret my time spent there!!!! The staff is really kind, good interaction with guiding school students. It is amazing to be in this country, so many animals, we have to protect it!!! One of the best days of my life when we saw a cheetah with her 4 cubs!!!! thank you very much!!!!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Iva's adventures

Let me try to summarize it in one sentence: I have never been so happy!
Coming here in Kenya, in Mara was my dream since early age! I have always been passionate about animals, wildlife and especially the African flora and fauna. I have read a lot of books about the savanah.These stories were stuck in my head and had accompanied my sleep a numerous times!
Staying here in Naboisho for 6 weeks was an indescribable and amazing lifetime experience!
The wildlife noises you hear next to your tent during every single night are amazing and unspeakable! Make you really forget who you are, to feel insignificant; to fully honor and admire the Savannah; Africa and mother Nature.
I am taking all these moments with me back home and will memorize them forever!

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    7

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    7

Review

Really enjoyed my time on the Big Cat Monitoring Project. The most enjoyable part of the project was being able to go on big cat drives every week day evening - this provided a really unique experience!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    5

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    N/A

  • Day to Day Life

    10

My experience in Mara

My time here has come to an end and I’m hoping with all my heart is not a forever goodbye, and how could it be, you guys have changed my life indeed forever, so how can that be a forever farewell? I mean, we will never be apart. I know certainly that we will always stay close, our hearts and souls will do so, because I’m sure you will stay in my memory and heart forever.

As my journey begun, and as the way I most live my life, I never build expectations about anything, I’m might sometimes sound a bit boring about this issue, but the truth behind my words is that since I live just the minute I’m living in, is not hard for me to forget about the future and so create expectations about what is going to happen or how is it going to be like. So, when things got started in Limuru I kind got the feeling that a whole new experience was about to come, meeting gorgeous and good-hearted people from the beginning, with sweets smiles and good intentions made me feel incredible secure and ready to star living all the Kenyan flavor I was surrounded by.

If I have had known what November 6th and the following days had prepared for me, I’m still sure any expectation I would have built, would have been turned over by the beauty of all I have lived. I’m in love, yes, I’m in love with all of you guys, all of you, every single soul and heart that came across these days, have totally changed me, you have totally moved my soul and the energy that enhances my body, and helps me smile and live fully.

When the group arrived in Olesere town and met Saruni (Francis), I still remember his first words. He pointed out that we were most welcome and that he was the person who was going to drive us around, how humble of him to say so, because he was not just a driver, not at all. I mean driving was the best and safest way to do what he was supposed to do, but his duty actually was not driving, he took us for a whole guiding experience, where he not only guided us daily about the wildlife in the amazing Naboisho, but he also guided us in a cultural way, and taught us what was to be a Maasai and how his beautiful and amazing culture has cocoon and sprayed its colors around the savannah’s heart. Getting to know the insights of the Maasai culture was my most pleasure and I feel so privileged and blessed, and now that I have to think about all this, about all that I have experienced, turns me blue, deep blue-hearted. How to find the words? How to find the right words to let everyone know how is it like to be here? I know I have the answer and there are none, none words, maybe I can say, it’s magical, but if you don’t believe in magic, maybe I might not touch your heart, yet.

What is African impact to me, has nothing to do with the company itself, actually now, I believe that what African Impact does, has nothing to do with the organization, but the people that makes this experience the most welcoming and heart filling I have ever experienced.

As soon as I arrived in the camp, a bunch of gorgeous smiles came across to welcome the group, and then I was sure, so sure… love came immediately.
Carol, Ben, Zoila, Michael and all the others that joined the organization during my volunteering were just so perfect, so beyond words. Their dedication and the love they input in whatever they are meant to do makes me feel like a little ant inside an anthill facing the world from down there, more so, makes me feel humble and really appreciate what life is all about, love and more love. Because they are not just filling the gap of what you are supposed to do when working, they put so much love in order to make you feel home and happy all the time, they truly give every single second, the best of them, really the best… and I have had never seen in humans such best. I admire every single one of you and I have learnt so much, I cherish these days like nothing else, THANKY YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU ALL, for giving me so much, so much that anyone could deserve, you all deserve the best out of best.

Days here were like weeks to me, and definitely two weeks is not enough, not enough for someone who really appreciates and wants to experience fully this amazing inspiring land.
How much I’m going to miss every single drive Francis took me, living the moment and enjoying what nature brought to my heart, enjoying the wind, the dust, the birds, the sound of the wildlife, the sound of my heart pumping and being filled with the most recharging energy. Learning every second I was living in, admiring how much Francis knows about wildlife and how much passion his puts in. Always open to hear and answer every question, not judging anything or anyone, giving his best all the time. I’m missing already the sunsets, the laughs, the wildlife surrounding me, empowering me and filling my soul. I admire you so much, surely you are one of a kind, the most good-hearted man that I have ever met, most passionate about life, thanks for sharing all that knowledge, for understanding me, for caring about me and who I am, for listening to all my stories and not ever judge me about my culture or the way I am, our cultures are deeply different and still you always were so interested about learning more and more of the world and the differences that helped us to learn about each other. I’m most sure that whatever adventure you decide to go through you will succeed and be blessed, because you truly deserve the best anyone can have.

Working with the community, helping to create and do something about this place makes me feel blessed and again privileged to have spent my time here. Maasai people are the nicest community worldwide I have experienced. Very welcoming, very interested in knowing who you are, passionate about god and their beliefs, colorful, and wherever they found me, they were always coming by to put hands together and making things happen.

Can’t ever forget either coming back home (camp), tasting all the love that Ben and Michael put in all the nice and delicious food they prepare for everyone, and I consider myself very annoying when is about food: I’m vegetarian, I don’t eat gluten, I barely eat lactose, neither I like to eat fat or oily food, and carbs are not really for me, so what could they have done for someone with such exigencies??... There wasn’t a day I didn’t feel like in a 5 starts hotel, and I ensure you, not even in a 10th stars one things are done with such love and dedication.
I feel whatever I do it can’t really describe or be enough to thank you guys for what you have given me, it’s really the most precious thing someone can do for someone else, it has infinite value and can’t really be explained.

The moments we spent at the camp with Carol and the team, laughing, learning from each other and connecting, I won’t ever forget them.
Thanks Carol for being so amazing and delightful, you are the soul of this place, the sun rises and hides in your eyes and your smile. Thanks for making everything possible, thanks for sharing your life with me, thanks for giving me your heart, your comprehension, thanks for tolerate my messiness, thanks for understanding me, for accepting who I am, thanks for loving me back… There are so many thanks I should give you, so thanks for everything, thanks for all of it. I won’t never ever forget the beautiful soul you hide behind those smiley eyes, the amazing woman you are, the mum of everyone here and as well the best boss someone can deal with, so professional, so passionate, I truly admire you.

I will take you everywhere I go from now and on, wherever I go in my life all of you will walk next to me, because like I said in the beginning we will always stay close to each other, for what we have lived and shared, it’s so magical.

I wish I could have done more for all of you, I shouldn’t even say “more”, because I feel like I did nothing compared to what you all have done for me, that is why I feel that I should have stayed here more, to be able to leave in peace knowing I gave you all enough to thank you for.

I hope my energy, my strong and loud laughs, who I am, my heart, our conversations about my beliefs and way I try to live my life stay forever in your heart and soul as well, I hope you never forget about me, I hope as well wherever you go, you take me with you, and most important I hope we all cross each other’s path once again, to live and love this hard, once more.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    7

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    9

Roscoe's review

My time here was a wonderful experience. From first getting in contact with Danny to book until Caroline handed me this laptop to write my review, I have had an incredible time. Everyone has been so caring and kind. Any request I made was listened to and a solution was found almost immediately. Being on a diet of Dairy and Nut-free food because on an allergy was my only worry about coming out here and that was put to rest very quickly with the Ben the Chef making sure anything he cooked was to my liking. I have had an amazing time and it will not be long until I'm back. See you soon!

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    5

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Community Engagement

    7

  • Health & Safety

    6

  • Day to Day Life

    7

The two weeks that I stay here where great

The two weeks that I stay here where great. It's was amazing to see lions for the first time and see a cheetah kill from so close. Food is ok, but the basic facilities are not that good if you stay here for long. I think an important thing is to improve the beds in the dorms. Staff is very friendly and helpful

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    9

Big cat & wildlife research, Masai Mara, Kenya

I loved being part of the project!! The location is amazing and the landscape is unbelievable! It's great to see the effort of the people that is working in different projects among the conservancy, protecting the wildlife of Kenya and achieving an equilibrium between the local communities and the animals. The project is well organized and the African impact staff is amazing!!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Day to Day Life

    8

Big cat monitoring

A fabulous experience of living in a conservancy and being able to share our experience with local communities. Great guiding enabling us to experience wonderful encounters with a huge range of wildlife! Many thanks to everyone who made the adventure so exciting!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Fabulous way to experience African wildlife

I joined the project as an inexpensive way to experience African wildlife, and to have the sense of involvement that you simply can't get as a tourist.
The wildlife was simply fabulous. Virtually every drive was rewarded with truly breathtaking views of animals. The weekend excursions were perfect, and the Wildebeest crossing the Mara river was one of the most profound experiences of my life.
The guides went out of their way to provide information and to allow us to get close views of animals. However, while I appreciate the effort they took, I did feel that at times they caused unnecessary disturbance - but I'll speak more about this at the end.
I had mixed feelings about the monitoring work, and did feel that the methods used for the grass surveys and game counts were rather haphazard. I did get the impression that the monitoring work was designed specifically to to keep us busy, while the tasks could have been carried out by the guides themselves far more efficiently and in a fraction of the time. I enjoyed the physical tasks like road marking, filling in holes, and scrub clearing, that we did on Wednesdays best. After so much time spent in vehicles it was good to do some physical hard work, and a lot of fun.
I was slightly disappointed not to have had more time to simply observe animals and monitor their behavior. Instead we were constantly on the move, seeking out animals, following them closely in the vehicle then moving on to find the next.
As a keen birdwatcher I was constantly frustrated by this, and very seldom had the opportunity to look closely at smaller or less spectacular birds. I think the project would benefit by encouraging volunteers to take more of an interest in ALL wildlife, and to overcome the 'big five' mentality that seemed to be shared by the majority.
Living conditions were great, and far more luxurious than I'd expected. My tent, however, was badly designed, having the rain flaps on the inside, so when it rained the water simply poured into the tent quickly flooding it. On one occasion the tent floor was covered in several inches of water. Luckily I was present at the time and was able to save my belongings from damage.
The washing and toilet facilities, too, were much better than I'd expected. The food was good - and there was plenty of it - and the catering staff absolutely charming.
One experience that marred the trip for me was the unfortunate behavior of one of the other volunteers which can only be described as vicious. The staff did their best to deal with this, and were very kind to me. As someone said - in this sort of situation everyone's out of their comfort zone so everyone should treat all the team members with respect and compassion.
The pre-trip information was excellent. I bombarded Danny Middleton, the project destination manager, with questions, and he answered them tirelessly. Two things were incorrect, however: firstly Danny insisted that I wouldn't be admitted into Kenya without a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate, despite information that travelers entering the country directly from the UK don't need this. I wasted a lot of money getting one.
Secondly, and more seriously, I was told specifically that I'd need to pay for ALL excursions and weekend activities in US dollars. This is incorrect: I discovered on arrival that it's possible to pay for the balloon flight, and for bookings at Encounter Mara by card. For a UK citizen at the moment, the exchange rate is so bad that I lost several hundred pounds by converting so much money into dollars unnecessarily.
Finally to return to my point about the disturbance to wildlife. If there's one thing I'd like my review to achieve it would be for guides to re-evaluate their priorities in this respect, both for the welfare of the wildlife itself but also for the message that volunteers take away with them. I'm speaking about one particular night drive when driving unnecessarily close to animals caused them to change their behavior. Resting buffalo all got up and walked away, feeding hippos and their young calves retreated into the vegetation, playing mongooses stopped playing and ran away (which was a shame because mongooses are such a delight to watch when they're playing!) and, most pitifully, a young hare interacting with its parent crouched in terror and the parent was forced to run away. All of these incidents could have been avoided if we'd remained at a distance and watched. It would also have given volunteers a greater appreciation of the values of patience and observation, and the privilege of what they're seeing.
We experienced some truly heart-wrenching moments on Mara excursions of guides acting inappropriately - in particular, blocking off an exit point from a river crossing and thereby causing zebras and their foals to scramble over dangerous gullies trying to find a detour. I realize that my voice against this will never be heard. However, hopefully the project guide will hear my words and think about hanging back a bit in future.
Guides are, I know, under a lot of pressure to get ever-closer to animals, and it's asking a lot to expect them to go against the wishes of the majority of their customers. But instilling a sense of privilege and wonder - especially in young people - is, I believe, of utmost importance, and something the project should stand up for.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

The wild west of Kenya with African Impact

Last year I spent two weeks in Antelope Park, Zimbabwe with African Impact. We walked with lions in the morning and elephants in the afternoon which was exhilarating but somehow slightly unreal. I volunteered for Naboisho with my son who is living and working in Nairobi.

The experience was remarkable, tough but absolutely real. To lie in your bed listening to wild lions, elephants and hippos passing through the camp every night was thrilling. The whole two weeks was made both possible and perfect by a brilliant team consisting of Caroline (Project Manager), Francis (super driver/tracker/guide), Soila (cleaning lady) and Ben (Super chef). There were only three of us as it was 'off season' but the team work and comraderie between everyone was a joy.

After 16 previous safaris I finally completed the Big 5 with three sightings of leopards. We must have seen over 250 elephants, 160 lions, 70,000 plus wildebeest and many more besides.

Unlike AP there is no bar, restaurant, swimming pool, wifi and other mod cons but that made it all the more real. For me it was digital detox par excellence

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

My stay at Naboisho conservancy

Being passionate by wildlife, my stay at Naboisho Conservancy was one of the most interesting moment of my life. Unfortunately it was too short, I stayed only two weeks, but I learned a lot of things and really enjoyed taking part in the day-to)day activities there.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Day to Day Life

    7

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community Engagement

    5

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

Charlie's review

My visit to Naboisho Conservancy was very pleasant. The staff really went out of their way to make us feel comfortable with the tasks we had to do.

One thing I would say is perhaps come up with 1 or 2 more projects for volunteers to work on as well as better understanding of how the project directly affects the local community - that part wasn't quite so clear to me

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    9

True wildlife experience

I have returned to the project five times, people always say you should always try something new, I have done other projects, and this is the best.
The bright colours and culture of the Maasai and the diversity and abundance of wildlife keeps me returning. Every time I visit I look at the wildlife as something precious, knowing that its existence relies on people protecting it, as a volunteer you play a role in protecting it.

Caroline is the project manager who goes above and beyond to accommodate the volunteers.

Volunteer work

Frances was our guide who is calm, focused and respects the wildlife, often finding animal sightings that only a trained eye could spot.
You will drive places tourists rarely go searching for animals such as the ever-elusive leopard. You never know what you're going to encounter, even though I have been to the project five times I still have lots of new exciting experiences a couple of examples are the time Francis noticed in the distance three vehicles chasing around an angry bull elephant. When we arrived on the scene, the elephant had been darted, and the Vets were just finishing up tending to a spear wound which happened outside Naboisho Conservancy. We were within feet of the majestic elephant, the vet Dr Limo took time to talk to us about what had happened and the work he does helping wildlife. On another occasion, Francis spotted a giraffe in the process of giving birth, something only a trained eye could spot. We hung out with her for about an hour watching her give birth and seeing the newborn struggled to stand.

part of our volunteer work involved collecting data, which meant counting wildlife such as the wildebeest which were in Naboisho in the thousands due to the migration.

We also removing invasive plants and helping maintain roads are also vital work volunteers do.

The big cat monitoring is always exciting, we know the four male lions that dominate Naboisho, we also see the females with their cubs that are often playing and up to mischief.

Community work

As part of our volunteer placement, We visited Naboisho primary school. The children sang for us, and they were friendly, curious and excited by our presence. One of my highlights was playing football with the children. We also helped prepare and taught a class.

Visiting school helps the children connect with people outside their community and gives you an insight to Maasai life it is something you won't experience as a tourist

The principal told us if the children encounter a dangerous animal on the way to school, such as an elephant not to come to school. Wish I could use that excuse to get out of work.

Please consider taking a donation such as pencils as this will be a great help.(check wish list).

Visited the Maa Trust which is a Community-based organisation which employs mostly local Maasai women that make beaded Jewellery and accessories.

Home Comforts
As a volunteer, you are well treated. You get three delicious meals a day by Ben who cooks with passion and will show off his dance moves. As well as three meals Ben sometimes made treats for us such as banana bread which was the best banana bread I have had.

The community area is where the volunteers eat, socialise and play games you also have the option of having a fire outside which is a great way of ending an evening.

Sewela makes your bed and cleans your room/tent daily and does your laundry. I stayed in a dome tent. At night you hear the calls of the lions, hyenas, hippo, zebra and wildebeest a true African experience.

Time Off
The Maasai Mara National Reserve is a day trip. On my visit, we saw coalitions of five cheetahs hunting and making a kill.

We were invited to a Maasai Wedding; Caroline was gracious enough to dress us in traditional clothing to wear to the ceremony, it was a once in a lifetime experience.

You also have the option to stay in a lodge at a discount price if they have availability. I stayed at EagleView which had a breathtaking view, great room and food.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    7

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Living Situation

    3

  • Community Engagement

    6

  • Health & Safety

    5

  • Day to Day Life

    6

Great location near the Maasi Mara but overall programme could be much better managed

Saw a wide variety of wildlife during my one month stay which I was most impressed with. Although the title of the project is called Big Cat Monitoring project there was not a clear focus on monitoring or learning about the big cats. As no animals were collared we had to find the cats on each drive. We often had to back off the cat sightings when other vehicles (paid safari lodge customers) were present. This was most disappointing as we could not stay and monitor the animal behaviour as the other vehicles had priority "right of stay" and we had to drive on and find our next sighting. This policy of the conservancy was not told to us beforehand. There was an orientation at the beginning of our stay but there was never an overview or orientation of the big cats, i.e. which prides there are in the area, the history of behaviour of the lions, which males or females had left the pride, which cats had recently been sighted etc. This information was only given when a question was raised and continuously asking questions got tiring and projected the image that the staff weren't that bothered in informing the volunteers unless they asked. There was a distinct lack of information relating to the factors affecting cheetah population and habitation. After sighting big cats, we would return to the camp and identify which ones we saw compared to the existing ID kits, there was no team effort in this, one or two volunteers would take over the task and the staff were not bothered if everyone did not get involved. The ID kits were laminated pictures of the cats, these ID kits were out of date on some occassions and it was not possible to create a new ID kit as the laminating was not done on site - as they don't own a laminating machine! I strongly feel the project staff (only 2) are happy if the volunteers are solely satisfied by only taking pictures and seeing the big 5, but when it comes to providing knowledge (animal behaviour) and real teaching of the management of the conservation and the stakeholders involved then there is a big whole. The project could invite guests from various partner projects (cheetah and lion watch) to give us a presentation or overview of their work, this would have been a real contribution to understanding the conservancy's issues. There is great, talented staff nearby and unfortunately it is not utilised by the project. There was a good source of books and annual reports to read and I found a lot of my questions answered in there.
There were other issues with the project....they offer a nature walk for 45$ which entailed learning about plants, trees and tracks and scat. Personally I believed this information should have been part of the general education given to us during the project, but is a money maker by the project. The bathroom facilities were less than desired, long drop toilets with flies and bad smells, and very poor showers where there is very little water pressure and at times no hot water and blocked shower heads. On weekends when there was nothing to do, you felt obliged to stay at one the discounted lodges mainly so to get a good shower.

  • African Impact responded to this review October 04, 2017 at 12:34 AM

    Hi Barry

    We very much enjoyed welcoming you to our Big Cat Mara project and hope that you had an overall positive 4-weeks volunteering with us and thank you for your contribution to our humble project. We are proud to showcase the Maasai Mara and Naboisho Conservancy and all that it stands for and would like the opportunity to respond to your points in question.

    Big cat monitoring covers, not all, but a large part of your week’s activities and one of the objectives of this is reporting sightings to neighbouring lodges. Conservancy rules dictate that only a limited number of vehicles are allowed together observing at one time, which is designed to minimise stress for the wildlife. It is of course always disappointing to leave a sighting especially when we were first on site, however, this is the right course of action to take and something we fully back. I hope you’ll agree that on the occasions that we are the only vehicle, we remain until a group consensus is reached to continue. The staff are always available to answer your questions especially on drives, in fact, we encourage as many questions as possible. I apologise that you feel like staff are content with volunteers just taking photographs, I can assure you this is not the case and we take our responsibilities as guides and leaders very seriously.

    As there is relatively little amounts of data to input after the drives back at camp, volunteers rotate this responsibility and we believe this works well. We are looking for alternative activities that the others can do during this time and are in the process of updating the induction. The day-trips options on offer are also being re-evaluated to ensure they offer value for money and plentiful enjoyment. We aim to make all information more accessible moving forward.

    Guest speakers from stakeholders and partners are always extremely well received but unfortunately, due to busy schedules and location, these don’t happen as frequently as we would like.

    Facilities at camp are quite simple but appropriately comfortable. We do our utmost to keep the camp as clean and sanitary as possible whilst taking into account the constraints of the surrounding environment. Given the remoteness, volunteers need to take the initiative to keep themselves occupied during their free weekends.

    Best wishes for all your future endeavours Barry, and thank you for being so passionate about wildlife conservation in Africa and beyond.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

For a wild experience, choose Mara Project

This project met every expectation that it set online plus much more. I was impressed by accommodation, food and activities. I felt extremely comfortable and had a lot of fun. I would return and bring many friends and family

Institution Affiliates:

World Youth Student & Educational Travel Confederation