Will Jones’s Kenyan hideaway, Kiserian Cottage & Bush Camp, is located on Naretoi, a private 1000-acre wilderness estate within the Enonkishu Mara Conservancy on the northern border of the Maasai Mara.
Situated overlooking the Mau Dam with hippo and crocodile, and surrounded by vast plains of roaming giraffe and zebra, Kiserian consists of a two-bedroom solar-powered cottage and a bush camp. Simple and beautifully detailed, the cottage includes a central open-plan dining, kitchen and living room with a fireplace, and a veranda with seating and a fire pit outside. The bush camp includes a separate and beautifully designed mess area and three en suite sleeping tents, called Kiboko, Twiga, and Kilileone. There is WiFi available across the camp.
Food & service
Informal and friendly, Kiserian is beautifully managed by the wonderful Jacob Ngetich, who ensures that guests’ stays are comfortable, effortless, and delightful, whether that is fixing the evening fire, checking the water is pumped and hot, or preparing delicious meals. Please note that the cooker in the cottage kitchen uses gas and the water is heated by ‘kuni’ – Swahili for wood. Water is also collected from the roof and stored in a large underground tank.
Kiserian Cottage is a two-minute walk from the bush camp and has two large en-suite bedrooms overlooking the Mau Dam and surrounded by birdlife. There is a smaller children’s annexe, which only works if parents want to be close to the children and are happy to share the same bathroom. There is a central dining room and kitchen set between the two bedrooms.
The three sleeping tents at Kiserian Bush Camp include a double bed, en suite bathroom with flush toilet and shower, and a private veranda. Each tent balcony also has a large four-poster bed for those guests keen to sleep out without compromising levels of comfort. The tents Kiboko and Twiga both face the dam while Kilileone faces its namesake, the mountain of Kilileone, which towers over the northern Mara. The shared mess tent includes a dining room, bar, and lounge, and faces out onto the plains and is lit by the setting sun. Giraffe and zebra in search of fresh grass and acacia are regular visitors.
Being totally off-grid, the rooms are all solar-powered and fed by rainwater.
Activities at Kiserian include fishing from the dam wall, guided walks along the nearby nature trail, and visits to local Maasai communities. Cycling is also on offer and the preferred way to get around the camp. Wildlife drives can be arranged within the conservancy with a local Maasai guide. Other activities include hot air balloon rides, horseriding and swimming. There is also a small hide for wildlife and bird watching. The wildlife outside the Naretoi fence in Enonkishu Conservancy includes cheetah, lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and most recently wild dog.
Since 2013, Naretoi Estate, once an old green bean farm, has been working to rewild the area by using responsible land management techniques, including the restoration of natural water courses. Naretoi works closely with Enonkishu, who protect the surrounding landscape.
Enonkishu Conservancy is a cooperative of pastoralist families living on the edge of the Mara Ecosystem. With 6,000 acres the group is committed to sustainable rangelands management and balancing the needs of livestock and wildlife. Commercial enterprises such as Mara Beef, Mara Training Centre and bee-keeping contribute to improved economic livelihoods. The preservation of Maasai culture is also emphasised, and critical to the enterprise.