The safari hotel Mahali Mzuri belonging to Richard Branson has been named Best Hotel in the World by the Travel + Leisure Awards 2021 and I can attest to the fact that it’s a truly special place. I had the great honor of being among the first guests to ever stay there when it first opened in 2013 and it was an unforgettable experience. Here’s my trip report from that amazing stay:

From June 2013
Jambo! I have the honor to be among the first guests to stay at Sir Richard Branson’s Mahali Mzuri Kenya Safari Camp. It’s located in the Motorogi Conservancy in the Masai Mara in Kenya. The 12 unique tents sort of resemble the shape of a spaceship … and are making ordinary safari lodges extraordinary. Not surprising since Richard Branson is anything but ordinary. The tents were designed and constructed by Kenyans and the general manager says it’s a testament that things can get done in Africa.

Richard Branson’s Mahali Mzuri Kenya Safari Camp

What’s interesting is that each tent is named after one of the 12 Masai tribes located in the conservancy. Mahali Mzuri has a jaw-dropping backdrop, set on the ridge of a valley. Sprawling plains can be seen as far as the eye allows. Like most safari lodges, all the rates include all meals and drinks (including alcoholic beverages), daily game drives, unlimited access to the exclusive Olare Orok and Motorogi Conservancies, transfers from the Mara North airstrip, guided bush walks, visits to the local markets, complimentary laundry service (dry cleaning not available) and all taxes. Mahali Mzuri also has a spa treatment room, an infinity pool and free Wi-Fi in throughout the property.


  • Rack rates starting from $945 are quoted per person, per night and are priced in US dollars. But you can probably find cheaper rates through a travel advisor/agent
  • Sir Richard Branson’s Mahali Mzuri Kenya Safari Camp doesn’t officially open until August 1, 2013.
  • Mahali Mzuri is 45 minutes from the commercial airport.
  • It’s 20 minutes from a private landing strip.
  • Due to conservancy rules, only 24 guests can sleep at Mahali Mzuri a night. That means that if the two family tents (#7 & 8) have two children each, they can’t sell two of the other rooms.
  • Children under 8 are not allowed.
  • Tent #1 and #12 are the furthest away from the lobby tent, which is smack in the middle of all the tents.
  • Tent #3 is closest to the valley floor, tent #7 is highest and closest to the lobby.
  • There’s 41 staff members; only three are expats. The rest are locals.
  • Altitude is 1,700 meters above sea level.
  • Log on to Mahali Mzuri’s website and you’ll find that it’s informative and that their “Things To Do” page is hilarious!
  • There are iPads for guests to use.
  • Guests are welcome to grab drinks from the bar fridge anytime, really  making you feel at home.
  • Electrical outlets are on the ground and not easy to get to, nor do the bulky battery chargers/universal plugs always fit. Best to bring an extension cord and UK adapter.
  • Internet is a decent speed and you are able to Skype, which is amazing – especially when you remind yourself you’re in the middle of the African savannah.
  • Game drives depart at 6:30am and 4:30pm.
  • Afternoon tea is served at 4pm.
  • There are electrical outlets in the safari jeeps.
  • In the spirit of conservancy, they don’t use plastic bottles; water is filtered.
  • You need to be escorted to/from your room at night by a Masai carrying a spear or bow and arrow. There’s also security with machine guns. They are most worried about lions.
  • The rooms do come with keys but I never locked our door.
  • The ‘do not disturb’ sign is a spear – you stick it in the hole closest to the door for privacy.
  • You have a choice to keep the curtain ‘flaps’ zipped up at night or keep just the screen setting.
  • The chef is the GM’s brother. They are both originally from Australia. He used to be Sir Richard’s cook on Necker Island. The two have been camping on the site’s location for about five years.
  • The food is very good.
  • There are mini bars in room – everything is included in price.
  • Towels are long and soft and they encourage you to use one to conserve water.
  • Pillows are long and soft, comforter is heavy.
  • Since it’s so close to the equator, things stay relatively the same year round. Sunrise is around 6:30am and sunset is at 7:30pm.
  • Meals will be at a communal table unless guests want to eat alone or in room.
  • There’s a 136 steps down to the spa treatment room
  • They offer guides and protection to go on a walking safari.
  • Having lunch outside and watching a herd of elephants walk by down below through the green lush field felt like I was in a Steven Spielberg film.
  • Below is a selection of photos that I took within the first hour of arrival. I hope you like them!

If you’re interested in planning a trip like this or exploring other high-end vacation options, please contact my travel agent partner, Royal Travel & Tours by contacting Kendra Thornton at kthornton AT or call 800-747-7695 ext. 108.

Note: This trip sponsored by Micato Safaris

Driving to camp
John our guide
They welcome all guests with a local bracelet
This is the one I picked out
Jeeps have electrical outlets
The drive from airport is also a game drive
Lots of wild animals
Casual team helping with road repair
Richard Branson’s Mahali Mzuri Kenya Safari Camp
Trunk of the jeep
Grace with welcome towels
Welcome drinks
Welcome champagne
Tents 7, 8 & 9
Olpul (feasting place in Masai)
Olpul (feasting place in Masai)
Path to pool
Infinity pool
Their “Things To Do” webpage
Telescope in lounge
Lounge & Bar
Our tent
The ‘do not disturb’ sign
Local art
In-room mini bar
Locally produced cup
View of bedroom from living room
More loca art
Four poster bed with mosquitto netting
Welcome treats
Mahali Mzuri duck
In-room safe
Tissue box
Working desk
Registration card and pen
Universal electrical outlets
Distance between tents
Laundry basket
Outdoor dining table
Outdoor dining table overlooking the valley
Inside restaurant
Grace & Alex
Beet salad
Corn salad
Lunch wraps
Elephants in the valley
Elephants in the valley
River gorge
Strawberry, basil and champagne soup
Elephants in the wild
Gift shop
Inside gift shop
Bracelets in gift shop
Sundowner drinks
Dinner table
Kaeko, Liam & David
Mahali Mzuri spa tent
Inside Mahali Mzuri spa tent
Going on a walking safari
Rambo looking for animals
Johnny Jet on a walking safari
Natalie on a walking safari
Masai cattle herder
Masai walking their sheep
How the locals dry their clothes
School kids waving us goodbye

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15 Comments On "First Look at Richard Branson's Mahali Mzuri Kenya Safari Camp"
  1. Anonymous|


  2. Renan Ferrer|

    Beautiful pictures! Kenya should really be an amazing place, and very dangerous! Do not know if I’m wrong, but I met tourists who were stolen in a cool safari. Either way the scenery is amazing! Congratulations to the photographer!
    Great post.
    Thanks for sharing with us!
    Renan Ferrer

    1. Preston Kool|

      mr. Renan,i live in chicago and people are short and robbed every day.what mis your point?you live in heaven?ha

      1. Preston Kool|

        i meant shot you like bullets and guns

  3. Spencer Samaroo|

    Looks like a fabulous place to stay! The scenery looks amazing and the property looks lush!

  4. Crab Shack Mike|

    Wow!!!! Those pictures from the balloon ride made me so jealous!!!! What incredible beauty. What an awesome adventure. I’m living vicariously so thanks for the pictures!

  5. amichai from israel channel 1|

    Hello. We are doing a report on RIchard Branson’s resorts and would be happy to interview you via skype on
    Mahali Mzuri
    Is it possiable?
    thankyou very much

  6. wasabi|

    Wrong! It cost 1000usd per head per night!

    1. Johnny Jet|

      At the time of the article was written they were offering an introductory rate.

  7. moses mutai|

    Thanks for having initiated such idea.Be blessed sir and long life.

  8. h|

    Hi Johnny, Do you mind sharing what type of camera/lens you used on this trip? We will also be staying here and I really like your photos. Thanks!

    1. Johnny Jet|

      That was a Nikon D7000 and a 55-300 lens

      1. handy|

        Was this used for all photos? I wasn’t sure if I should also bring a camera with smaller lens / wide angle. Also, I’m staying at Mahali Mzuri in a few months. Did you notice a lot of mosquitos during your stay in June? And was it ok to drink the filtered water they provided? Many thanks! I can’t wait!

        1. Johnny Jet|

          Was what used for all photos? I was using a Nikon D700 with a zoom. Water was good to drink and no mosquitos when we were there

  9. Susan (Between Naps on the Porch)|

    Johnny, thanks so much for this fun post and for all the great photos. I’ll be visiting Mahali Mzuri and Giraffe Manor in three weeks, my first time traveling outside the U.S. So excited about this trip and loved reading about your experience!

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