Ngerende Island Lodge is an exclusive, boutique safari lodge on an oxbow of the Mara River. Oozing character, charm and serenity, Ngerende is expertly hosted by an all-Kenyan team and has earned a reputation not only for its splendid cuisine, sincere service, rewarding game viewing, but also for its commitment to conservation and empowering local communities.
Ngerende Island Lodge stands within an oxbow loop on the Mara River, almost encircled by water – it’s a beautiful setting in the Olchoro – Oirogua Conservation Ranch, a game rich area of largely open savannah bordering the Masai Mara Game Reserve and the Mara North Conservancy.
Ngerende has just seven distinctive and luxurious wood and canvas suites. Each stands on a raised platform to ensure optimal views to the Mara River below – with its two resident hippo pods – and the woodland on the bank beyond. The open-plan suites appear solid, an illusion sustained by double skinned tented walls, the interior framework around the gauzed windows and the wooden door opening onto a private terrace with contemporary chaise longues. Within, you will find comfortable seating polished mahogany floors, striking artwork, chic furnishings, an enormous, comfortable bed and an open fireplace. An archway leads into a tiled bathroom with a massage shower, twin basins and a bath with a view. As you are heading back from a game drive, your dedicated room attendant will draw a candlelit bath, complete with essential oils, achieving the perfect temperature with impressive precision.
Set apart from the main camp, the honeymoon suite offers a private plunge pool and jacuzzi bath for a modest supplement.
The stylish main area comprises a library and sitting room, both with log fires, a small bar and dining area. The décor is contemporary, employing earthy tones. You can relax on the extended open terrace with a cup of freshly brewed Kenyan coffee and watch the hippos below. In addition to the swimming pool and gym, a small craft shop showcases items created by local Masai women. Overlooking the hippo pods and the crocodiles basking in the sun, the Ngerende Island Spa offers holistic treatments for individuals and couples.
Using mainly organic vegetables and herbs from the lodge garden, Chef Kati stirs magic into every meal. With just 14 guests, menus are discussed with you each day and adapted to individual tastes.
In addition to candle-lit dinners in the restaurant, Moses and his team create a variety of imaginative dining locations on the lawns or beside the river – to say nothing about Ngerende’s bush banquets, with Chef Kati and crew in a remote location cooking an unforgettable luncheon complete with china, silverware (and a portable loo!).
Morning, afternoon and full-day game drives are in specially adapted 4x4 safari Landcruisers with qualified guides – most have the KPSGA Silver Award - and spotters. Guests can set off on a bush walk guided by a local Maasai naturalist and, for a small additional conservancy fee, a night drive in search of nocturnal species. The nearby Olchoro – Oirogua Conservation Ranch White Rhino Project may enable you to watch a creature not often seen elsewhere in the Mara.
You can learn more about the Maasai way of life. At Ngerende, you will usually walk to a village and, because of the organic connection between the lodge and the village, the interaction is more natural and enjoyable.
You can plant a tree or arrange to volunteer in the local school or dispensary.
In creating Ngerende Island Lodge, owners Robert and Eunice Glenie sought to provide guests with a superb safari and intense relaxation and contribute to conservation and empowering the Maasai community. Seventy per cent of staff are local Maasai, trained to excel at their posts and provided with in-service and college training so they can rise in the tourism industry.
Ngerende built and gave a stunning craft shop to the local Maasai women so they would have an outlet for their work. The revenue benefits the craftswomen and guests can purchase reasonably priced crafts and curios.
Ngerende has invested in inverters for lighting and kitchen equipment, so that the generator is run for just four hours per day. Solar panels provide hot water and will eventually replace the generator completely. Water is supplied by a solar pump, rainwater is harvested and a recycling plant has been established.
Ngerende is a rather special place, made more so by their exceptional staff – including the manager, Moses; guides Daniel, Boniface and Matthew and Chef Kati - who spoil you with their sincerity and with lovely, thoughtful touches. Oh, yes – and it is a worthy project which you can support just by there!